Lauded Chicago Chef Carrie Nahabedian Starts a New Chapter

Carried Nahabedian chatted with me about her emotional decision to close Naha, one of Chicago's most popular restaurants after 18 years, and completely revamp it in a new location. She also speaks out on women in the industry and the pride she takes in her Michelin stars. It's always a pleasure to hear her open and honest opinions on just about everything.

Lauded Chicago Chef Carrie Nahabedian Starts a New Chapter

She'll close her one-starred NAHA at the end of the month. Chef Carrie Nahabedian never stops. At the end of the month, she's closing and reconceptualizing NAHA, her 18-year-old Chicago stalwart, despite tearful pleas from neighborhood regulars. Reservations for the last few nights are pouring in. "It's exciting and mentally draining," she says.

NYT: Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking

Gullah chef BJ Dennis discovered hill rice in Trinidad, an important clue to the history of slave cooking. Read about it here in this New York Times article. We were honored to have BJ cook a Gullah lunch for our Flavor Foray group in Charleston. His collards cooked in coconut milk are to die for!

Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking

That's why B.J. Dennis, a Gullah chef from Charleston, was stunned to find the rice growing in a field in Trinidad, tended by a farmer descended from slaves who once lived in Georgia.

Congratulations Jose Andres!

Congratulations to Chef Jose Andres, who will receive the humanitarian of the year award from the James Beard Foundation for the wonderful work he did feeding the people of Puerto Rico following the hurricane. We are proud that his World Central Kitchen is a beneficiary of the Championship BBQ and Cook-Off coming up in Chicago May 20.

Click below to read more.

James Beard Foundation Names José Andrés Humanitarian of the Year

Global restaurateur and Eater Icon of the Year José Andrés is now also the James Beard Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year. A previous recipient of James Beard Awards for his cooking and empire building, JBF is recognizing Andrés this time around for the millions of meals (over 3 million and counting) he's provided to residents of Puerto Rico still working to piece together their lives following the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017.



Sweet Memories with Bâtard Pastry Chef Julie Elkind

Blueberries are Julie Elkind’s madeleines. They trigger memories of childhood summer days spent picking berries and baking with her much loved grandmother. There’s the day she’ll never forget when the blueberry cobbler they were baking exploded all over the oven. “It blew the oven door open and splattered all over the walls and the floor. We were covered head-to-toe in blueberries. We just laughed and laughed hysterically, and then started eating it off the counter tops,” she recalls.

Sweet Memories with Bâtard Pastry Chef Julie Elkind

A pastry chef paints her past in artfully plated desserts.

Regaining the Human Connection Through Food, by Jason Stemm, Padilla, Prosciutto di Parma

Regaining the Human Connection Through Food - The Buzz Bin

I can be old school. I like phone conversations, handwritten notes, and a drink (coffee or cocktail) with someone, rather than Skype, text or email. The latter are efficient, but I sometimes wonder if we lose personal connection with the kind of connection that technology empowers?

Hello, World!

All Avocados All The Time


Internet sensation Avocaderia built a whole menu around avocados—and New Yorkers are loving it.    Avocaderia hopes its Brooklyn location will spur many more in the years to come.

   Many restaurants have a love story behind them. But Avocaderia’s romance is an unusual one.

Founder Francesco Brachetti fell in love with avocados when he was living and working in Mexico City. He had never eaten one in his native Italy, where they are not part of the pantry. He was taken with the avocado’s creamy texture and admired its health benefits. He was so enamored with the fruit that he convinced a friend, Alessandro Biggi—who had immigrated to Seattle and was disenchanted with the lunch options available—that they should open an avocado bar.

“I believed we could fill the gap with healthy fast food people our age are interested in. Avocados have the good kind of fat, and they fill you up,” says Brachetti, the 29-year-old entrepreneur who exudes a kind of casual charm reflected in the “Hi, I’m Francesco” printed on his business card.

He enlisted the help of his chef cousin, Alberto Gramini, to develop a menu that would go beyond the trend unleashed by wildly popular avocado toast. When it came to location, the business partners picked the epicenter of emerging trends: Brooklyn.

“If you can prove your concept here, you can do it anywhere,” he says, acknowledging that he hopes Avocaderia’s first location, which he believes is the world’s first avocado-only café, will be the incubator for a fast-casual chain.

The team settled on a 450-square-foot space in the food hall of Industry City, a colossal development in the far reaches of Brooklyn that encompasses 19 former warehouse buildings on 35 waterfront acres. The food hall is housed in Building 2 of the vast complex, which welcomes a mix of big-box stores, tech start-ups, work spaces, art galleries, and small retail.

Some 7,000 people already work on this futuristic campus and supply a steady stream of lunchtime business. Avocaderia is feeding about 250 people a day, which requires at least 25 cases of avocados a week.

The cheerful, colorful space is decorated with Moroccan tiles. The founders didn’t want to give the impression that Avocaderia is a Mexican restaurant.

“We want to be international,” Brachetti says. Guacamole is the only Mexican thing on the menu, and even that is served with baked pita chips. The restaurant offers salads, smoothies, and a best-selling “Avoburger” whose “bun” is a whole avocado, while the fillings are salmon, herb yogurt, watermelon radish, and arugula. The other best seller is a Mediterranean sourdough toast with tapenade, avo mash, cherry and sundried tomatoes, feta, and pistachio dukkah. All menu items, with the exception of the burger, are made with half an avocado. The average price of a sandwich is $10.

All of Avocaderia’s organic pebbly-skinned Hass avocados are sourced from a free-trade cooperative in the Mexican state of Michoacán, which is the avocado capital of the world. The founders schooled themselves in the cycles of ripeness, which can be frustrating for avocado lovers.

“You can’t ripen one in two hours,” Brachetti says, but he adds that you can speed up the ripening process by wrapping the avocados in newspaper with a banana, and you can slow it down by putting them in the fridge. “The ideal temperature to ripen is 65–68 degrees Fahrenheit.”

He recalls that when buying an avocado in a market in Mexico, the vendor will ask whether you want to use it right away in guacamole, have it firm for slicing, or wait a few days for it to ripen—a service not performed in U.S. supermarkets.

Avocaderia opened on April 10 with two employees. In short order, the restaurant added another 10 workers, most of whom have some restaurant experience. It ran out of avocados on the first day. On Memorial Day weekend, 1,000 hungry customers swarmed the restaurant. A video went viral and increased business by 80 percent.

But Brachetti, who has a solid footing in finance, feels things are progressing smoothly now—so much so that the team is already scouting a location in Manhattan.


Written by Beverly Stephen for QSR

A Spa of One's Own

Hotels are bringing the spa and wellness experience into the privacy of the guest bathrooms.

“We’ve had the mattress wars and the pillow wars,” says Don Genders, CEO of Design for Leisure, a company that builds spa and wellness facilities around the world. “Once they’ve given you a good night’s sleep, hotels are going to the wellness and relaxation elements.”

The Royal Monceau has jumped on the current Parisian rage for hammams and installed them in 20 larger rooms and suites. In the Park Hyatt Istanbul, the traditional Turkish bath, offered in 25 spa rooms and four terrace suites, provides an authentic local experience. General Manager Gözde Eren compares in-room spa treatments to “ordering room service.”

A private sauna can double as a piece of furniture or be built into the room, as at the Hotel Forsthofalm in Leogang, Austria. The 200-square-foot bathrooms at the Bardessono in Yountville, California, double as private spas. Massage tables are cleverly concealed in bathroom cabinetry, and the massage takes place in the bathroom. When the treatment ends, the guest is conveniently close to the steam shower or the adjacent outdoor shower. Very California.

Written by Beverly Stephen for Hotels Magazine

A private hammam at the Park Hyatt Istanbul   

A private hammam at the Park Hyatt Istanbul


Why San Francisco is America's Gastronomic Paradise


By By Beverly Stephen | June 2017 | Flavor

Why San Francisco is America's Gastronomic Paradise

Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients. Those are the first words every chef shouts out loud and clear when asked what makes San Francisco a gastronomic paradise. Small wonder the city has more restaurants per capita than any other U.S. city-some 5,000 establishments providing 62,000 jobs.