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.
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!
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.
Hotels are finding that bars are even more important than beds when it comes to drawing customers. The Living Room at the Dewberry in Charleston is a prime example of a hotel bar that plays a starring role. Our Flavor Forays group fortunately has ample opportunity to visit with celeb bartender Ryan Casey during our stay at the Dewberry.
You can read more about the fabulous bar the Dewberry here.
Flavor Forays went to Portland to eat. True, there are numerous other attractions, but we were there to check out the vibrant food and wine scene. Read here to eat along.
Click below for our latest Flavor Forays Newsletter.
An amazing Russian tea created by the dean of Portland chefs Vitaly Paley was one of the highlights of Portland Potager, our recent Flavor Foray out West. Please enjoy the story on the Guide Michelin site.
Preserved lemons provide a wallop of flavor that chefs are embracing. The linguine at Tulio in Seattle is served with clams, preserved lemons, chili flakes and garlic breadcrumbs.
Photo by Margo Helgen.
Beverly Stephen, along with other FSR contributors, predict the hottest menu trends for the coming year.
By Beverly Stephen and Barbara Mathias
“Food Arts absolutely chronicled the American Food Revolution,” Ed Brown said when he introduced us at the annual meeting of Restaurant Associates chefs held at the Culinary Institute of America in October. “They did much more than report it, they helped shape it!”
We were honored to be able to take the chefs down that meaningful 25-year memory lane. Now, through Flavor Forays, we are bringing people who were Food Arts readers to see the people and places we reported on.
A lot happened in these last few decades. And for 25 years, Food Arts was at the front lines reporting on this Great American Food revolution: farm to table, the rise of women chefs, science and technology in the kitchen, the love of all things artisanal and heirloom and local, local, local.
As journalists we were excited by our scoops. We were the first to cover Ferran Adria at El Bulli, the Nordic manifesto which led to NOMA, Emeril before he was Emeril.
We can’t talk about Food Arts without talking about founding editor Michael Batterberry. It was his style and vision that made the whole thing happen. His background in art enabled him to put food and art together on center stage.
Michael and his wife, Ariane, believed there was a need for a new magazine celebrating the chef-led American food revolution and in 1988, they launched Food Arts. Their mission was to give chefs the respect they deserved as artists and business people. They believed that chefs needed information no one else was providing. This was before instant news on the internet, blogs, Beard awards. A chef in New York didn’t necessarily know what a chef in California was doing.
Working with Michael at Food Arts was like being seated next to the most interesting guest—at the kind of fabulous dinner parties most of us never get invited to. When chefs were in town they would come by to visit—Charlie Trotter, Jose Andres, Emeril, Susan Fenniger. Cookbook authors came to plug books—Nathan Myrhvold brought the page proofs of Modernist Cuisine to us first. Writers came to pitch stories, a duchess from Palermo described her palazzo turned bed & breakfast, young visionaries like Dave Arnold came to brainstorm his dream of a Museum of Food and Drink (now open in Brooklyn). We met with top writers and photographers who were willing to work within our rather modest budget—all for love of Michael.
Michael had props—a Venetian party mask, a Japanese samurai sword, a stuffed chicken all waiting their turn for whimsical cover photo shoots. A great raconteur, he had stories: helping Greta Garbo home after a late night in Rome, lunching with Isak Dinesen, hanging out with Julia or the Brennans, returning to the U.S. from England on an ocean liner which stopped at the statue of Liberty and Gene Autry came on deck on Champion the Wonder Horse, reared up and waved his hat in salute to Lady Liberty.
Accolades poured in after his death. Anthony Bourdin: “Michael was one of the first people anywhere to treat me like a writer. Back when I was an anonymous, line cooking journeyman, long before Kitchen Confidential.”
The magazine always had a sense of humor too. One of our best loved features was “Hits and Flops” where chefs could commiserate about the dishes nobody bought. For example, Paul Canales of Duende in Oakland decided to make a really classic paella with rabbit and snails. “It should have been a slam-dunk,” he said. “But The snails really freaked people out. …I may bring it back I still have five cans of snails.”
We’re proud that chefs today are not only respected professionals, you’re rock stars. In Food Arts you were bold face names just like celebrities in the gossip columns.
If there’s one person who shows that working hard and doing the right thing are the real keys to success, it’s Dominique Crenn. She's one of three female chefs in the United States with two Michelin stars. And yes, she was named World’s Best Female Chef by San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2016. But remarkably, she’s quick to point out that it’s important not to “let awards go to your head”—and she means it.
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.
By Beverly Stephen
Huron, Ohio--Some 250 culinary professionals gathered at the Culinary Vegetable Institute at Chef’s Garden for the 5th annual Roots Conference in late September. During the two-day conference, organized around the theme of innovation, participants listened and learned, shared their expertise, and networked with peers. Farmer Lee Jones called the conference “a successful, memorable and innovative event!”
The Chef’s Garden provides a magical setting. The farm is widely considered to be the leading grower of artisanal produce, one seamlessly devoted to respecting tradition while also focusing on innovation, developing new products, and pioneering food safety programs. A tour of the farm is a highlight of the event. An alfresco dinner, literally farm to table, and featuring vegetables, vegetables, vegetables, was served on tables set up in a spectacular wagon wheel formation to ease service.
Panel discussions ranged from business and employment nuts and bolts and the rise of fine casual to neuro gastronomy and the culinary diaspora.
Creativity, innovation, and always staying true to “soul” in the words of Steelite CEO John Miles, were the overriding takeaway.
Panelists grappled for solutions for staffing and paying cooks a living wage. “Why do cooks get paid less than the guys who give them tattoos?” asked Zane Holmquist, vice president of food and beverage and corporate chef of Stein Erikson Lodge Deer Valley.
Chefs like Bradford Thompson and Rich Rosendale who have left the restaurant kitchen for other venues proved that it is possible to reinvent yourself and “say yes to your dreams.”
The evolution to fine casual is a “huge wave” in the words of Brad Nelson, vice president culinary and global corporate chef of Marriott International “It’s more focused on quick service and has evolved into a real food play,” he said noting that “while it’s less formal” it still requires “quality execution.” Overall, he believes, “it’s the way people prefer to eat.”
John Miles says he first caught wind of the trend when he noticed prominent business people wearing expensive casual clothes rather than suits. “A lot of super creative chefs coming up recognized that. We’re very fashion driven. People were dressing differently and going different places to eat. Fine casual is where you would like to eat every day.”
Keynote speaker Dr. L. Tim Ryan, president of the Culinary Institute of America dissected the creative process in his keynote address and explained “how we can learn from the greats.” He noted that the creative spectrum runs from copying to new but cautioned that “It’s very rare to come up with something wholly new. Most of us play in the murky middle.” To illustrate, he gave examples of artists and popular songwriters being “inspired” by others and brought down the house playing snippets of popular songs that weren’t exactly original. “It’s Now or Never” by Elvis Presley sounded strikingly similar to Mario Lanza’s “O Solo Mio.” In 1918 Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America” for the first World War. Kate Smith recorded another version for World War II. Woody Gutherie responded with “This Land is Your Land.” Bob Dylan’s “House of the Rising Sun” was inspired by Lead Belly. Then the Animals took it and had a big hit.
On the culinary front, he noted that Paul Bocuse’s iconic Truffle Soup served under a dome of puff pastry was inspired by Marc Haeberlin’s Truffle en Croute and an image of a chicken pot pie that popped into his mind. Thomas Keller’s idea for his savory Salmon Cornet was triggered by seeing the paper wrapped ice cream cones at Baskin-Robbins while his famed Oysters and Pearls dish came from a Eureka moment of seeing a package of tapioca pearls in the supermarket and thinking about pearls coming from oysters.
The takeaway: creativity is not a flash in the pan. It’s a process that involves “making the choice to be creative, focus, research and hard work, drafting and editing and evaluating and then finishing.” In short, the process is available to everybody willing to put in the effort and see it through to execution.
And that’s innovation.
Thank you one and all for joining Portland Potager, our Flavor Foray in Portland October 16 to 18, 2017. We enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones and hope you will all come with us on future journeys.
Watch this for some serious pork chops!
Wasn’t Peter Cho’s Han Oak magical? As one of our chefs exclaimed, “That guy can cook!” And so can Earl Ninsom of Langbaan who wowed us with those perfectly cooked Duroc pork chops and that delectable Dungeness crab salad. Hats off to Troy MacLarty at Bollywood and Aaron Adams of Farm Spirit and Melissa McMillan of Pastrami Zombie and David Sapp of Park Kitchen for their stellar contributions. And what about David Martin’s xurros at 180 and Pip’s donuts!
And the wines! What an honor to have Veronique Boss-Drouhin herself lead our tasting at Domaine Drouhin and Chris Cullina certainly pulled out all the corks on the bubbly at Argyle. We also appreciate the wines both poured at our dinners. The Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission couldn’t have picked a more scenic location to show off their berries than Domaine Serene. Plus who knew Oregon produced olive oil before we went to the Oregon Olive Oil Mill at Red Ridge?
Many thanks as well to Aria Gin and Bull Run Distillery for their cocktails and to Christian Di Benedetti of Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery. And who knew you could get Sangria in cans before we met the guys from Portland Sangria?
Have you ever been to tea in a hotel that rivals the Samovar Russian Tea Service Vitaly Paley created for the Heathman drawing on his Russian heritage?
Don’t you love all the energetic artisans? Ben Jacobsen started his company with just him in 2011 hauling salt water in the back of his pickup truck from Netarts Bay to Portland. Now he sells his salts and other products nationwide. The antique oyster-trailer-turned-table, set with sparkling Krysta Sequence Collection wine glasses provided by ARC Cardinal, seated our entire group for a welcome dinner in his loft. Salumist Elias Cairo put Olympia Provisions on the map as Oregon’s first USDA approved salumeria. Sarah Hart was inspired to start making those delectable Alma chocolates in 2005 because she couldn’t find an acceptable chocolate Easter bunny. Matt Higgins started Coava coffee roasters in his garage in 2008. These are the makers who are making Portland a special food scene.
Many, many thanks to all our wonderful sponsors: IMS/Bigelow Tea, Jade Range/Beech Ovens, Smithfield Foods, Chefwear/Landau Uniforms, ARC Cardinal, the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission. We couldn’t have done this without you.
Thanks to Oregon expert Judiaann Woo (@judiaann), a former colleague at Food Arts, who introduced us to so many of these wonderful locals.
We couldn’t have enjoyed a better home base than the Dossier Hotel. Thanks to Stephen Galvan and the wonderful staff for taking such good care of us.
All along the way, our terrific photographer Nannette Bedway was on the job making memorable pictures. She’s happy to share if you need anything.
Barbara Mathias and Beverly Stephen
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?
Berlin's iconic street food, the doner kebab makes its way to Brooklyn food halls in Industry City and the new DeKalb market. Beverly Stephen wrote about it for The Daily Meal
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 https://www.qsrmagazine.com/exclusives/avocado-based-restaurant-ready-more
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