August 29, 2013
Courtesy of United States Tennis Association
Forget Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. A new set of stars is taking over at the US Open: celebrity chefs. The 700,000 fans attending the Grand Slam tennis tournament, which started this week at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens and runs through September 9, are in for a real gourmet treat.
David Burke, Tony Mantuano and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto are all setting up shop, as well as New York barbecue eatery Hill Country and its pit-smoked turkey or chopped-brisket sandwiches (pictured here). In all, a culinary team of 250 mans five restaurants, 100 suites and 60 concessions stands throughout the complex.
“No sporting event in the entire world matches the US Open," says Mantuano. "It's the best of the best and the food matches the tennis.”
Along with dishes like sushi (Morimoto), dry-aged, bone-in rib-eye steaks (Burke) and marinated artichokes and tomatoes with rosemary breadsticks (Mantuano), a new oyster bar is offering caviar, lobster rolls and shrimp cocktails, while a Pat LaFrieda filet mignon steak sandwich joins the menu at the popular East Gate Grill. The Honey Deuce (Grey Goose vodka, lemonade, raspberry liqueur, honeydew-melon-ball garnish) remains the Open's signature cocktail.
Players are, of course, also getting the royal treatment. Balance Kitchen, featuring items developed by chefs, trainers and nutritionists to maximize wellness, serves juices, nutrient-dense dishes, gluten-free options and varieties of chocolate milk for recovery. Who knows? This year’s winning moment could come down to whoever has the healthiest appetite. Flushing Meadows Corona Park Rd.; usopen.org.
July 04, 2013
With its sumptuous beachfront suites, palatial spa and 24-acre property accessible only by a private tunnel from Cabo San Lucas, the Capella Pedregal resort hardly needs a special event to lure in visitors. But its second annual Food & Wine Festival (July 10–14), a decadent culinary occasion limited to just 120 guests, is sure to impress.
The celebration of Baja cuisine features cooking demonstrations by some of the most notable chefs in the west, including Tim Hollingsworth, current chef de cuisine at the French Laundry in Napa; Kent Rathbun of Abacus in Dallas; and Yvan Mucharraz, Capella Pedregal’s new executive chef, who hails from Mexico City’s Tezka. Local vintner and master sommelier Humberto Falcon of Mariatinto winery will orchestrate daily tastings of wines from Baja’s Guadalupe Valley, which has a growing climate similar to that found in Napa and Sonoma.
According to Marco Bustamante, food and beverage director at the resort, the festival’s small size gives guests unparalleled access to the culinary stars. Each cooking demonstration—highlighting locally sourced produce like Baja-farmed organic pork, mangoes and line-caught fish—will have just 60 to 70 attendees. The opening-night wine reception, tequila seminar and after-party make for easy mingling.
The main draws, however, are likely the two evening meals: One is a barbecue beach party at the resort’s Beach Club, with chefs cooking on open grills and a team of mixologists serving Baja-themed cocktails, and the other is a grand five-course dinner prepared by the chefs and complete with dancing.
Given all the planned indulgences, Bustamante has only vague advice for guests worried about their waistlines. “There’s an excellent fitness center here,” he says. “So if you really want to be virtuous and head there between seminars, you can.” Good luck with that. Festival rates start at $3,820 (including accommodations, airport transfers and meals); Camino Del Mar 1; 52-624/163-4300; capellahotels.com.
June 27, 2013
Courtesy of Estia's Little Kitchen
If fans of grilling thought outdoor cooking couldn’t get much better, GrillHampton is about to elevate it. The inaugural event, held July 12 (8 P.M.) at Sayre Park in Bridgehampton, puts a competitive spin on cooking with fire. Hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian, chef and partner of The Lambs Club and The National, the celebration involves two teams—one from New York, one from the East End—of accomplished local chefs. Vying for two awards, from the official judges and from the (lucky) crowd, the likes of Elizabeth Karmel (Hill Country in New York), Chris Santos (Stanton Social in New York) and Colin Ambrose (Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor) will square off.
“I can say that these chefs will be creative while still sticking to the classics,” says Zakarian. “There will be great steaks, burgers and ribs, but think deconstructed steaks from Delmonico’s of Southampton and dressed-up burgers like the French-onion-soup burger from chef Paul Denamiel.”
GrillHampton takes place the night before Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, a popular event featuring more than 40 restaurants from the Hamptons showing off their culinary prowess. But for that one Friday night, it will be all about the undeniable allure of the grill.
“It’s man versus nature,” says Zakarian. “It’s just in us, and it allows you to feel formidable!” Tickets, $115; Sayre Park, 156 Snake Hollow Rd., Bridgehampton; danstasteoftwoforks.com/grillhampton.
June 13, 2013
Photo by Galdones Photography
The white tents that take over Aspen this time of year mean summer has officially arrived and the Aspen Food & Wine Classic—the country’s premier culinary event—is underway. The 31st annual festival (June 14–16) features more than 80 cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and panel discussions led by chefs, vintners and up-and-coming talent. Tickets this year were the toughest yet; the classic sold out in March, the earliest in five years. Even so, here are some highlights, a few with tickets still available.
Food & Wine Best New Chefs
A pass is required for entry, but the Grand Tasting Pavilion in Wagner Park is the heart of the festival. Don’t miss the Best New Chefs station, where the class of 2013 will present signature dishes. We have the exclusive on the menu—here is a sampling:
- Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food (New York)
Hokkaido scallop, Genovese pesto, country ham, rye
- Justin Cogley, Aubergine (Carmel, California)
Poulard, liver, seaweed vinegar, coastal herbs
- Matthew Gaudet, West Bridge (Boston)
Warm baby carrot salad with picked, raw and braised carrots, savory granola, fresh cheese
- Michael Voltaggio, Ink (Los Angeles)
Egg-yolk gnocchi, golden trout roe, smoked crème fraîche
- Jamie Malone, Sea Change (Minneapolis)
Abalone, asparagus, bone marrow, yuzu, chili
Last Bite Dessert Party
Tickets ($125) to this salute to the sweet tooth (June 14, 10 p.m.) are still available. Held at the historic Hotel Jerome and hosted by culinary personality Gail Simmons, the Art Deco–themed evening features desserts by pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini and local notables. “Last year, this party was my favorite moment,” says Simmons, “but there’s just something about the mountains, the chefs—the whole spirit of the weekend that is undeniably magical.”
Tac au Vin: Best Wines for Tacos
Twenty-five wine seminars (limited to pass holders) will cover regions from around the world. Our pick is this program (June 15, 3:45 p.m.), where Union Square Hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer and John Ragan will pair wines with tacos by chef Floyd Cardoz of New York’s North End Grill.
Tickets (from $175) are still available for one of these tastings, featuring rare varietals and hosted by winemakers and sommeliers. Try “A Piedmont Superstar: The Wines of Angelo Gaja” or “Two Legendary Rioja Vintages: 1994 & 1995.”
June 14–16; for official festival coverage, follow @fwmag #fwclassic; foodandwine.com/classic.
June 06, 2013
Whenever Alain Ducasse opens a new restaurant or a charming countryside inn, the cognoscenti immediately take notice. So it is no surprise that his recent venture into chocolate making—Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse (40 Rue de la Roquette; 33-1/48-05-82-86; lechocolat-alainducasse.com), which opened in February in the Bastille neighborhood of Paris—has heads turning. Instead of relying on premade couverture (bulk chocolate), as many high-end brands do, the Frenchman enlisted his former pastry chef, Nicolas Berger, to source and roast beans for the ultimate pod-to-bar creations.
From a workshop attached to the store, 42-year-old Berger does everything from cracking the cocoa pods to tempering. Treats include milk- and dark-chocolate bars in different percentages, nine praline varieties and a dozen ganaches (dark vanilla, lime, coffee). The head chocolatier spoke with us recently about the hard work involved and why eating the sweet treat shouldn’t be so serious.
Q: There are some high-quality brands out there that you could use for your chocolate. Why make your own?
A: Mr. Ducasse and I have had a dream to open a chocolate workshop since 2005, but we always knew that we wanted to put our hands on it from the very beginning, where we actually source the beans. It’s in line with his philosophy of always using the best of the best, and we felt we could only get that by doing it ourselves.
Q: How did you choose the plantations?
A: I visited a few dozen of them in the Dominican Republic and Peru and from other places we source from, including São Tomé, Madagascar, Trinidad and Ecuador. Plantations actually sent me bean samples here in Paris. I looked at the quality of the pods and the beans to make sure they were clean and without stones. If I was satisfied, I would roast the beans and make small batches of chocolate to see how they turned out. Then, based on the taste, I made the final decisions.
Q: What is involved in making the chocolate?
A: It’s an elaborate process with several steps and machines. We usually get about a half ton of beans a month. First we sort through them and throw away the ones with the broken pods. We roast them for 25 to 30 minutes and crack the shells to get the nibs, which we mill into a cocoa paste and mix with sugar and milk if we are making milk chocolate. Then we refine this mixture through big cylinders, conche it and temper it before it’s ready to be used in bars and pieces.
Q: How often do you produce?
A: We do it once a week—200 kilos of pieces and 500 kilos of bars. Since the chocolate is available only in Paris, that amount is just for our store.
Q: Do you eat it every day?
A: Yes, at least a pound. My favorites are the bars from Ecuador and Peru and also the pralines.
Q: And how is it best enjoyed?
A: Anytime and by itself. Some people try to make chocolate intellectual by pairing it with wine or doing formal tastings. Eating chocolate should be fun, not serious.
May 23, 2013
New Taste of the Upper West Side
In a city like New York, the multitude of food options is as varied as the numerous neighborhoods that populate it. The sixth-annual New Taste of the Upper West Side (May 29–June 1), which celebrates the robust restaurant and culinary scene of the uptown enclave, gives a nod to the chefs, restaurateurs and food that bring it all together there.
Two main events anchor the festivities. On Friday night, Comfort Classics will feature neighborhood chefs and eateries showing off their versions of comfort fare. Food Network’s Adam Richman will host and a People’s Choice Award will allow visitors to vote on what moves them the most. Saturday brings Best of the West, facilitated by Gail Simmons and this year honoring Danny Meyer and Randy Garutti of Shake Shack.
“Danny and Randy can take credit for contributing in a big way to several New York neighborhoods, from Madison Park to Downtown Brooklyn, but their impact on the Upper West Side is undeniable,” says Simmons, a Top Chef judge and special projects director at Food & Wine magazine. “By opening Shake Shack, they have created a vibrant hub for all ages and walks of life to gather and nourish themselves.”
Well-known chefs and restaurants will appear, including Marc Murphy from Landmarc (a six-foot porchetta hero sandwich with pickled vegetables and parsley pistou), Alex Asteinza from Cafe Luxembourg (lobster roll), Shake Shack (buttery caramel-cocoa-nib frozen custard), Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud (of Boulud Sud and Bar Boulud).
Proceeds will benefit the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District’s Streetscape Project, the Wellness in the Schools program at the O’Shea School (where the New Taste tent is based) and Roosevelt Park at the American Museum of Natural History. Ultimately organizers hope that attendees walk away with a better sense of the neighborhood’s culinary charisma, from the farm-to-table fare at Telepan to the upstairs café at the Fairway grocery store. “I think the Upper West Side is characterized by a great mix of approachability and elegance in its dining scene,” says Simmons. “There’s lots to choose from for any taste.” Columbus Ave. btw. 76th and 77th sts.; 212-721-5048; newtasteuws.com.
May 02, 2013
While fried chicken and grits aren’t the first foods that come to mind when one thinks of California cuisine, Brad Johnson, owner of the month-old restaurant Willie Jane, said the decision to start a farm-to-table Southern eatery in Los Angeles was an easy one. “The first venue that I opened in L.A. was a nightclub called the Roxbury, on Sunset Boulevard,” says Johnson. “And one of the most popular items on our menu was fried chicken.”
The restaurant is Johnson’s second venture with chef Govind Armstrong and is named after Johnson’s aunt, who turned 100 years old last month and is his oldest living relative. Many dishes on Armstong’s menu are inspired by Willie Jane’s family recipes, albeit updated for West Coast diners. California quail is paired with cornmeal dumplings and collard greens and rainbow trout is served with peanut-and-black-eyed-pea hummus and Brussels-sprout coleslaw.
Johnson isn’t exaggerating when he says the restaurant is farm-to-table. He is planting a 4,000-square-foot vegetable and herb garden in a vacant lot behind the property, meaning fresh vegetables will have a very short trip from the plot to your plate. But most of all, Johnson wants to retain the authenticity that Southerners are known for. “We want to be warm and welcoming so that people feel the embrace of a cool L.A. neighborhood,” he says. “But not too cool—we’re still in the hospitality business.” 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310-392-2425; williejane.com.
April 18, 2013
Courtesy of Relais & Châteaux
Relais & Châteaux launched its World Culinary Tour three years ago, taking its Dîner des Grands Chefs to Versailles in 2011 and to New York in 2012. This year’s installment, on April 22, descends upon London, with “The World’s Kitchen by the Thames” theme giving a nod to all (delicious) things British. Held at Old Billingsgate, formerly the largest fish market in the world, the dinner showcases the handiwork of 45 chefs, grouped into teams of three, who will prepare 15 menus as guests watch.
“London is at the heart of the rebirth of British cuisine,” says Jaume Tàpies, international president of Relais & Châteaux. “An exciting mélange of cultures, the presence of some top culinary talent and the availability of excellent local, traceable and sustainable produce have all contributed to this transformation.”
Those contributions will be prominently on display. Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones of Oxfordshire’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons lead the U.K. team. North America’s talent includes Michael White of Marea in New York, Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia and Barbara Lynch of Menton in Boston (the only female Grands Chef on the continent).
The ingredients are treasures, offering a survey of the United Kingdom’s culinary sourcing prowess. Seafood covers lobster hailing from Cornwall and Jersey, cock crab from Devonshire, diver-caught Scottish scallops and Cornish oysters. A wide variety of vegetables (bobby beans, purple sprouting broccoli, samphire, sea purslane) accompany specialties like Aberdeen Angus beef and estate-reared poultry.
While guests at the table are certainly lucky, the event is out to spread the wealth: A silent auction will benefit Action Against Hunger, a charitable organization dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger. Tickets, $850; 1 Old Billingsgate Walk; dinerdesgrandchefs.com.
March 06, 2013
Courtesy of Food University
Learning how to cook from a TV show is one thing. Learning how to cook straight from a star-chef source is quite another. Food University at Caesars Palace (March 27–29)—an intensive, three-day culinary school of sorts in Las Vegas—gives just that opportunity to everyday chefs who are eager to learn more.
“This is going to be the next-level food experience,” says Robin Leach, a cofounder of Food Network and one of the University’s organizers. “We felt the time had come for a food event to actually provide meaningful culinary information and education executed in a fun way so the audience can take it away and use it in their daily lives.”
The nine cooking classes and various seminars feature a host of chefs and culinary experts, including Claudine Pépin (daughter of Jacques), Christina Wilson (the season-10 winner of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen) and Colman Andrews (of the Daily Meal). François Payard will lead a course on chocolate, Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes fame will teach cake decorating, and Frank Pellegrino of Rao’s will show the ins and outs of classic Italian fare.
Participants will also enjoy field trips to a handful of Las Vegas eateries and receive all the utensils, tools and cookware needed for 72 hours of chef duty as well as a special rate on accommodations at Caesars Palace. Proceeds benefit Keep Memory Alive, an organization that researches brain-disorder cures, which sweetens this experience even more. March 27–29; $1,995; 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 866-840-8822; FoodUniversityLasVegas.com.
February 14, 2013
It seems that the pig is destined to take top billing in culinary circles for a long time to come. And Cochon 555—a ten-city-tour cooking competition set on spreading the gospel of sustainable production and heritage pigs—is out to prove it, stopping in Atlanta on February 17 before continuing to the likes of the Four Seasons Resort Vail (March 10), Washington, D.C. (April 7) and the House of Blues in Los Angeles (May 5). The journey ends at the Grand Cochon, held at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on June 16.
“Pigs are the most magical animals in the world,” says founder Brady Lowe. “They are a canvas of flavor for chefs, and consumers are learning about the benefits of heritage breeds and how to find them and cook them at home.”
The competition is fierce; judges score on flavor, utilization and presentation. Fifty chefs throughout the tour will create a snout-to-tail feast (butchering included) using heritage pigs such as the Tamworth, Red Wattle and Mulefoot. Guests taste it all (including wines from family wineries), judges weigh in and ten finalists meet in Aspen for the finale.
Lowe has seen just about everything in the competition’s five years. “Pork-eos,” sandwich cookies filled with lard by chef David Varley of the Michael Mina Group, have crossed his path, as has a whole roasted pig stuffed with $10,000 worth of truffles. And while this year’s creations are sure to impress, his main objective is simple. “To get everyone to put heritage pork in their mouth,” he explains. “Once they do, it’s a game changer—it’s like trying chocolate cake for the first time.” Tickets, $125 (general admission) and $200 (VIP); cochon555.com.