HUDSON VALLEY LOCALVORE DINING DEALS

Restaurant Week Supports Local Purveyors
By Seánan Forbes

Bistro Rollin- Scallops

Restaurant Week. It’s a phrase associated with cities, with buzz, first-time patrons, and publicity. New York’s Hudson Valley has taken Restaurant Week to its seven counties, and turned it to an anything but urban advantage. Hudson Valley’s Restaurant Week has more than one purpose. Yes, its organizers want to bring attention, cash and customers to restaurants’ tables – but they also want to keep some local foodstuffs on their home turf.

The regions produce is worth attention. That causes a strange problem. The rural products have a habit of streaming straight to urban centers. From carrots to cheese to chickens, the Hudson Valley’s products are popular in professional kitchens and city farmers’ markets. Until Restaurant Week started, foods from the Valley went to New York City.

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (www.hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com) has multiple purposes, and every strategic decision works to forward them. One aim is to create routes within the county, letting regional products star in local restaurants. Jeff Kroner, chef/owner of Terrapin Restaurant (www.terrapinrestaurant.com) and Hudson Valley Restaurant Week advisory board member, says that Restaurant Week “was designed to drive up business for restaurants in the Hudson Valley.” Kroner had always been involved in the farm-to-table movement; he brought that drive to Restaurant Week. In the Hudson Valley, the aim is to entice patrons from the city and to tempt people from one part of the Valley to another, expanding their knowledge of and appreciation for the Valley. When it started, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week was a brand-new concept for the region. It was a needful one.

Photo by Kevin Ferguson Weddings

Photo by Kevin Ferguson Weddings

Janet Cranshaw, publisher of The Valley Table Magazine (www.valleytable.com), says, “When we started [the magazine], we found that the great food that was grown here, in the Hudson Valley, was impossible to find here in the Hudson Valley.” Not that she’s complaining. “The New York City chefs helped to save the Hudson Valley. “ Locals – professional and home cooks alike – were frustrated.

For Cranshaw, the solution was to create a biennial Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. Held in the spring and autumn, it would drive traffic – from the city or from county to county – to restaurant tables. It would also showcase the best of the region. “From the start,” Cranshaw says, “we had chefs and restaurants feature something local on their menu.”

Cranshaw’s aims were large and practical. “We had set our sights on bringing people from the outside in – some of the 25 million mouths within a one-hour drive of the Hudson Valley. Surely, we could woo some of them.”

Maybe even some from New York City. A few of the Hudson Valley’s restaurants are an easy 20-minute train ride from Manhattan – useful, when you consider that many of that city’s residents don’t drive. Others are hours away from the city, and a healthy drive from one another.

Cedar Street Grill - Exterior

Over time, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week has drawn some useful and impressive sponsors, including Metro North, the city’s commuter rail line, and the Culinary Institute of America (www.ciachef.edu), which is in Dutchess County and part of the Hudson Valley. From the start, Kroner says, Cranshaw organized “a kick-off event, where all the chefs and restaurants are invited to come, and a lot of local producers come.” Chefs and producers could meet, talk, and begin to form relationships. Call that fertile soil for communication and cooperation. Since then, like a black dirt onion, the upstate restaurant week has grown organically.

“After a couple of years,” Kroner recalls, “[Cranshaw] wanted to associate the event more w/having farm-to-table With routes growing between Valley producers and restaurants, and locals supporting their farmers and chefs, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week “is definitely something that has evolved over the years.”

Eric Gabrynowicz, chef/partner of Restaurant North (www.restaurantnorth.com) and A Hudson Valley Restaurant Week advisory board member, offers credit for his involvement in Hudson Valley Restaurant Week to a New York City restaurateur. “I was part of eleven restaurant weeks in New York City. I worked for Danny Meyer in NYC, so I learned very quickly.” Wherever it happens, Gabrynowicz sees Restaurant Week as “a great thing. It’s an epic way to get new butts in seats.”

In Restaurant North, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week’s farm-to-local-kitchen connection isn’t a huge change. “We like to live in the thought and philosophy of Blue Hill Stone Barns – The farmer is right in front of me right now. We are local producers.” (www.bluehillfarm.com)

Dishes from the new Bocuse Restaurant, Mont Blanc hazelnut Dessert

At Restaurant North, the price point is around $80. Gabrynowicz muses about a place across the road, which has a much lower price point. Places with $25 price points don’t tend to have lots of local, but Gabrynowicz says, “I see them utilizing more and more.” Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, with its pull of new customers and push toward connecting with producers, may have something to do with that.

Visitors to the Valley are offered tours of breweries, farms, and cheese-makers. A short journey from many restaurants, patrons can see where their food came from. In some cases, visiting the Hudson Valley is the only way to taste its good.

“There is some exclusivity going on,” Cranshaw says of producers. “I’m only going to provide this particular chicken to this particular chef.” That benefits the farmer, who has a steady client, and the chef, who can provide a dish that can’t be had anywhere else. “The more restaurants involved in it, the greater the effect on the farmer and the community at large,” Kroner says.

Gabrynowicz is in accord. Meyer, he says, “gave everything at every time to his community. Always made time for his community, his staff and his guests, before he worried about his profitability. . . I want the restaurant across the street to be successful. I want to go there three times a week. Anything I can do to increase the restaurant community – for me, that’s a no-brainer.” As Kroner sees it, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week’s participants do just that. “You’re promoting local products, and local products help the economy and the community.”

He offers a concrete example: dairy farmers, Hudson Valley Fresh. “Hudson Valley Fresh, while it does not have the organic label, they use no hormones.” They don’t have to send their milk across the country, so the carbon footprint is small. Kroner breaks down local mathematics: “Use their stuff; they have more money to spend on the economy.”

Bistro Rollin- Sliders

A TASTE FOR WHISKY LIVE!

International whiskies tasting event touches down in NYC and debuts in Washington, DC
Story By Joyce Appelman Photos by Gabi Porter courtesy of Whisky Live

Whisky Live Danny Neff pouring Makers

Don’t know where to get the best Whisky? Here’s a place to start: Whisky Live (www.whiskylive.com); the annual, internationally renowned tasting event held in dozens of cities around the world, making a stop in NYC at Chelsea Piers in New York City on Wednesday, February 25 and then makes its debut in the Nation’s Capital on Saturday, March 7.

Produced by Whisky Magazine, the show is in its 11th year and offers New Yorkers an opportunity to check out over 300+ of the world’s best whiskies including Scotch, Bourbon, American, Canadian, French, Irish, Japanese and others. Washingtonians attending the first-ever Whisky Live DC will close to 200 of the world’s best whiskies.

Really, where else are you going to find this volume in one room? And be able to attend Master classes where you’ll learn how Whisk(e)y is produced around the world and taste the most interesting and most popular and newest ones on the market – they are all going to be here.

Whisky Live multiple bottles with Russell's and Michter's etc

In New York, The James Beard Foundation nominated Dead Rabbit will be among the bars making cocktails, plus a full buffet, live music, Master classes, and the ease of getting there and home safely thanks to a partnership with Uber – makes it truly a full and exciting night out. In DC, look for James Beard nominee Derek Brown’s bar Southern Efficiency alongside Jack Rose Saloon and others shaking and stirring up whisk(e)y cocktails.

Whisky Live is a prime opportunity to sample premium single malt Scotches, bourbons, ryes and Irish whiskies, along with those from France and elsewhere while you are chat with distillers about their work and other scotch fans to compare your experiences. Titan brands like Johnnie Walker, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, The Glenlivet, Beam and Heaven Hill will be featured side by side with dozens of spirits from boutique distilleries, including New York’s own Tuthilltown Spirits and Utah’s High West Distillery, and award-winning world whiskies from producers in the US, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere.

This is a great event to learn the stories behind them from master distillers, brand ambassadors and industry experts. Guests at Whisky Live NY can also take Master Classes on: scotch production with Ewan Morgan and Gregor Cattanach – Senior Masters of Whisky from Diageo; wood management with Craig Vaught – Master of Scotch The Glenlivet and Aberlour; and an exploration of vintages from Balbair’s Distillery.

The Diageo Master Class will include pours from 1956 bottlings for example, while Balblair will feature a new release and introduce four new vintages to the US in its master class –and these are just you just two of the many things you can learn about and taste at Whisky Live and nowhere else.

VIP Tickets to Whisky Live New York are $149 and include unlimited tastings from 5:30 to 10 PM, a lavish dinner buffet, live entertainment, a souvenir Glencairn tasting glass to take home and a one-year subscription to Whisky Magazine. Standard ticket ($119) entrance is from 6:30 PM with a souvenir glass and access to the buffet and live entertainment as well. Master classes are ticketed separately at $20 and hold just 40 people per class. Tickets to Whisky Live DC are priced at $129 and the event runs from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.whiskylivena.com .

Whisky Live men in kilts drinking

*INSIDE F&B Editor in Chief, Francine Cohen, collaborated with Whisky Live on their marketing efforts in 2015.

EAT HERE NOW- CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY

By Kristen Oliveri

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Though a recent trip to wine country was initially planned simply for Napa Valley, adventurous travelers know you can’t stop there and so, our jaunt took us through Napa to Sonoma to the beautiful hills of Alexander Valley and back again. No stone—or vine—went unturned in a quest for the ultimate food and drink experience.

The region is bustling with plenty of new restaurants and bars, all offering exciting options alongside some old favorites. Swiss Hotel Bar & Restaurant (www.swisshotelsonoma.com), is a great place to kick off, sharing dishes like the burrata appetizer with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and roasted peppers and entrees including the beef filet mushroom and red wine sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and creamy blue cheese mashed potatoes. Given the Swiss Hotel restaurant allows diners to indulge in their own bottles (for a nominal corkage fee), you can take full advantage of this and open many bottles purchased along a wine tour which, quietly likely hits some highlights like Russian River Vineyards, Thomas George Estates, VML Winery and Sbragia Winery.

Arguably, one of the best meals to be found is one hosted at the VML Winery (www.vmlwine.com) where one picnics in the vineyard’s private space while enjoying a tasting of their wines and noshing on local produce, meats, cheeses and fruit. Picnics in wine country are a popular way to dine and at Vine Cliff winery the sommelier dines with you which adds to the authentic experience.

Napa AO at night closer

Even the briefest of wine tours wouldn’t be complete without a stop in to the Alpha Omega winery. It is famous for its wine maker, Jean Hoefliger, taking a complex, yet approachable process to winemaking, not to mention breathtaking scenery.

Keeping with the scenery as a side dish theme the Carneros Inn in Napa offers al fresco meals at their on-site FARM restaurant, though you’re also welcome to stay warm by their beautiful fire pit while nibbling on dishes like lobster risotto with Meyer lemon and a side of truffle fries. Breakfast, however, is truly a highlight there. The hotel’s Boon Fly Café is known for its warm and sugary breakfast (or anytime) doughnuts.

The restaurant offers gluten-free bread which makes a morning selection as easy as could be for those who need that consideration and was the perfect bookend for their BELT (bacon, eggs, lettuce and tomato).

Gluten free diners will also find total satisfaction at dinner, at an old favorite, Jackson’s in Santa Rosa where they serve the most delicious gluten-free prosciutto and pear pizza paired with acorn squash and mascarpone and Brussel sprouts with bacon.

A well-traveled and well-fed network of friends also led me to Goose and Gander. I was told to stop by not only for the food but also for Scott Beattie’s retro-fresh libations that are known for attracting many local industry folks when they’re not punching the clock. Taking their lead landed us with a table in the picturesque garden where wild salmon with roasted delicata squash, puy lentils, appelwood smoked bacon and celery root veloute on the menu had to be tried. The ingredients were of the freshest quality and the vibe was essential California cool.

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

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We asked the locals what some of their favorite spots on the island are for beverages, places to picnic, romantic date-night dinners and beyond. Here’s what industry insiders had to say:

Paul Tilson, Director of Hospitality: Alpha Omega Winery
Favorite Winery?
Alpha Omega
1155 Mee Ln, Rutherford, CA
Of course, but I’m biased. The following wines are my favorites: 1155 Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, Reserve Chardonnay, 2011 ERA and our Future – 2012 (not yet released) Sunshine Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. www.aowinery.com

DANA Estate
1500 Whitehall Ln, St Helena, CA
My other favorite winery is Dana Estate. It has such beautiful architecture and delicious Phillipe Melka wines. www.danaestates.com

Favorite spot to picnic?
Yountville Park
www.townofyountville.com/index.aspx?page=176

St. Clement Vineyards
2867 St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA
www.aowinery.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
The Restaurant at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Ln, St Helena, CA
Chef Christopher Kostow is brilliant – amazing place on all accounts! www.therestaurantatmeadowood.com/food?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=PPC2p&DCSext.ppc_kw=the+meadowood+restaurant&ppc_ac=Brand&ppc_ag=Exact+Match&ppc_mt=Exact&platform=c

Best Seafood?
Morimoto
610 Main St, Napa, CA
www.morimotonapa.com

Best budget friendly restaurant?
Norman Rose Tavern
1401 1st St, Napa, CA

Also besides the Norman Rose, the hidden gem is The Grill at Meadowood in St. Helena (the Grill is the secret local joint, totally under the radar and amazing, Chef Victoria Acosta is a true talent, they also have very special wine and cocktail programs. www.normanrosenapa.com

Best Splurge?
The French Laundry
6640 Washington St, Yountville, CA
www.frenchlaundry.com

Augie Kersting, Sommelier and Manager at Meadowood

Favorite Winery?
DANA Estate
1500 Whitehall Ln, St Helena, CA
Howard Backen built the winery into the ruins of the barrel room of the old Livingstone Moffitt winery. Everything about it—from Mr. Lee’s private cellar to the high tea room to the wrought iron and glass door that open back onto the courtyard enclosed by the walls of the original barrel room is – is gorgeous. They have three different fermentation rooms for their three different single vineyard Caberenets. The wines aren’t half bad either! www.danaestates.com

Favorite spot to picnic?
Vineyard 29
2929 St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA
The best “picnic” I’ve head is on the deck up at Vineyard 29. Meadowood provided the picnic and the winery provided the view. www.vineyard29.com

Bure Family Wines
2825 St. Helena Hwy N. St. Helena, CA

The view next door at Bure Family is equally spectacular. Neither are regularly open for picnic but upon special arrangement it may be possible. www.burefamilywines.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, CA

The deck at Auberge du Soleil is pretty phenomenal to make a lasting impression and make some memories. The food and wine list stack up pretty well too. www.aubergedusoleil.com

Best Seafood?
Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA

The best seafood I’ve eaten in Napa was the Sea Bass with Lobster and southwestern corn salsa at Bouchon (seasonal special). www.bouchonbistro.com

Best budget friendly restaurant?
Cook St. Helena
1310 Main St, St Helena, CA

Cook in St. Helena delivers good value for the nuanced palate at lunchtime. Ciccio in Yountville has a decent amount of diversity as well as lively atmosphere. Food isn’t complicated but it’s well executed. www.cooksthelena.com

Best Splurge?
Etoile
1 California Dr, Yountville, CA

Perry Hoffman at Etoile is using some of the most unique and delicious ingredients in the valley in his little hidden away spot in Yountville. The Caramelized Pear Mille Fueille may still be the best dessert in the Napa Valley. www.chandon.com/etoile-restaurant.html

Eric Franco, Guest Relations, Silverado Vineyards
Favorite Winery?
Schramsberg Vineyards
1400 Schramsberg Rd, Calistoga, CA

I really enjoy sparkling wine, however this is a nice winery located in Calistoga (appointment only) with a lovely private tour. I feel that Schramsberg is the best sparkling wine in the valley and their cave tour is very informative and an overall fun experience. Also, check out Pride Mountain Vineyards on Spring Mountain. Bring your own food and enjoy a bottle of their wine on top of their looking down on a beautiful scenery. www.schramsberg.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
Celadon
500 Main Street, Suite G – Napa, CA

It’s just really good food, quiet atmosphere with inside and outside eating areas, great service, and a great place to make an amazing impression on a first date. It’s even a great spot for an anniversary dinner. www.celadonnapa.com

Best Seafood?
Morimoto
610 Main St, Napa, CA

Expensive but their spicy crab legs are amazing and of course the sushi is great too. www.morimotonapa.com

Best Budget Friendly Restaurant?
Gott’s Roadside
933 Main Street, St. Helena, CA

Well, in Napa there are no cheap deals, however on Tuesday nights Gott’s has locals’ night and their cheeseburger and beers are $3 to $4 dollars cheaper. www.gotts.com

Boonfly Café
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA

Another restaurant I would recommend is Boonfly Café for breakfast. Their Eggs Benedict is to die for and once a week they will have chicken and waffles. www.thecarnerosinn.com/dining/boonfly-cafe

Photo by Katie Newburn

Photo by Katie Newburn

Best Splurge?
Zuzu
829 Main St, Napa, CA
This is a tough choice, for a local I would say Zuzu’s for Spanish tapas. http://www.zuzunapa.com/

Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA

Thomas Keller Bouchon is amazing and, of course, French Laundry, but you need to make reservations ahead of time and expect to drop close to a grand per person if we are including wine pairings but it is a multiple course meal. bouchonbistro.com

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS: A SPARKLING SUCCESS

By Sara Kay

CWCocktailContest-17

With events like New York Champagne Week, which is only in its second year and has already experienced an incredible amount of notoriety, it brings to mind an important question about the future of champagne as not just a celebratory beverage on its own, but a key player in the cocktail world.

The French 75 and the Kir Royale – both cocktails that feature champagne – are staples in the classic cocktail category, but as we’ve seen from events such as this one on Nobember 4th, versatility is the name of the game.

CWCocktailContest-102

Champagne and cocktail lovers alike came together for the first consumer event of New York Champagne Week 2014 to see bartenders from around New York City compete for the title of best champagne cocktail. Sponsored by Nicolas Feuillatte, these competitors took over Evelyn Drinkery and created some truly outstanding tipples for people to sip on and enjoy as they talked about all things bubbly.

For Rob Bigelow, Master Sommelier and Senior Director of Wine Education and On-Premise Development for Ste Michelle Wine Estates, the future of champagne cocktails looks bright, and won’t be slowing down any time soon. He says, “It’s my opinion as a master sommelier and the opinion of most mixologists that champagne is the superior choice for sparkling wine in a cocktail, and that has to do with the quality of the grapes it comes from. At the end of the day, it’s just better.”

The competition ended with a bit of a twist; two competitors came away with the first place trophy, that trophy being a magnum bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte and the possibility of having their cocktail featured at Tales of the Cocktail 2015. Marlo Gamora of Jeepney and James Menite of The Plaza Hotel were crowned the two winners of the evening, with Micaela Piccolo of Distilled NYC coming away with the People’s Choice award.

CWCocktailContest-208

A tie in a cocktail competition is fairly unheard of, but it signaled something exciting that industry insiders have known for a while; that Champagne cocktails are on the rise. It also means that competitions like these are finally being seen as ways to showcase the creative use of a base spirit like Champagne, and not just for bartender bragging rights or awareness of a certain spirit brand. In a display of excellent sportsmanship, Gamera and Menite accepted their equal first place win with joy, hugging it out and congratulating each other on a job extremely well done.

Gamera’s win with his drink The Pastry War meant first taking on the job of thinking about champagne in a whole new way. He explains, “I never thought mezcal and champagne would go together, I’ve never made a mezcal champagne cocktail before and I figured, why not? Mezcal is a great spirit and champagne as well. I took a dash of absinthe to tie them both together, then added a form of Asian expression from my background into the cocktail to really balance them out.”

Menite had similar sentiment about his approach to creating his winning cocktail, the Doit Anoir, which featured Salerno Blood Orange Liqueur as the base spirit. He notes, “I wanted to do the first egg white champagne cocktail. I’d never seen it done before and I thought it would work really well with the Salerno blood orange liqueur and the Ramazzotti Amaro. I don’t know if Salerno has ever been used as a base spirit, people mostly use it as a mixer. I wanted people to see it can be used as a base spirit. I wanted to showcase the Salerno and the champagne and how well they worked together.”

Whereas most champagnes ring in with a fairly hefty price tag, making working them into a drink menu not the economical choice for using in cocktails, Bigelow believes it’s brands like Nicolas Feuillette that end up coming out on top based on the low price point and the younger and hipper personality.

CWCocktailContest-87

Cocktail innovation tends to be the focus for many of these competitive events, but there is also an element of education that comes in as well. Mixologists of this caliber know what makes a good cocktail great, and by discovering that champagne serves as the perfect balancing agent, it’s only a matter of time before the bubbly becomes a regularly featured ingredient in many a cocktail.

Charlotte Voisey, Brand Ambassador for William Grant & Sons, which provided all the spirits, comments, “It’s nice to see champagne in the industry getting the recognition it deserves. Champagne is a fantastic source of acidity, and that’s the key ingredient in any cocktail to balance everything out, and as we saw tonight, it goes well with every spirit category too.”

The cocktail industry sees its fair share of changing trends, with a particular drink being all the rage one day and yesterday’s news the next day, but when it comes to champagne cocktails, the attitude is fairly clear; they aren’t going anywhere.

“Whether it’s a cocktail or champagne straight up, it’s always going to be a good time,” says Gamera. “And, to quote Coco Chanel, she said t’here’s only two times that I drink champagne, when I’m in love or when I’m not.’ Anytime is a good time for champagne, even if you’re feeling down or feeling up. Champagne cocktails are always going to be there.”

We’ll cheers to that.

CWCocktailContest-154

OVER THE TOP TEAM BUILDING

Hyatt chefs strut their stuff at a culinary extravaganza
By Beverly Stephen
Photos courtesy of Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort (by Russ Coover photography)

Andaz Maui chefs paddling

Some people draw straws or flip coins to decide who goes first. But the 12 chefs competing in Hyatt’s Good Taste Series at the beginning of November raced outrigger canoes cheered by onlookers on the beach in front of the Andaz Maui at Wailea. The winning team would be the first to present their dishes to a panel of five industry professionals. The chefs were psyched before they got to the stoves. And a troupe of Japanese drummers gave new meaning to the term drum roll when they heralded the announcement of the winners. Talk about team building!

The contestants, all junior chefs at Hyatt hotels throughout the United States, had already shown their mettle by wining regional competitions. Just to be pampered in a luxury hotel in one of the world’s most awesome vacation spots, be wined and dined, and be put in a position to gain the attention of the big brass made every competitor feel like a winner. But they still gave it their all reaching for the big prize of a week’s vacation for two at any Hyatt resort in North America, Canada, or the Caribbean. Second and third place winners took home commercial Vita-Mix blenders.

Iron-chef style staging and a professional emcee–Mark Walberg of Antiques Roadshow—lent drama to the event as did enthusiastic cheering by the chefs’ friends and families in the audience.

Andaz Maui friends and family cheering

Judges were Beth Weitzman, vice president of editorial for Modern Luxury: Naomi Tomky, blogger The GastroGnome; Sam Bhandarkar, director of events for American Culinary Federation, chef Sheldon Simeon of Migrant restaurant in Maui; and yours truly. Each contestant presented two dishes—one street food and one that represented either the regional culture of his hotel or his own heritage. And each was required to use two mystery ingredients which turned out to be bacon and lilikoi, the Hawaiian passion fruit.

Paying homage to his Southwest roots, Rodney Ashley of Hyatt Regency Atlanta took first place for his veal cheek and anasazi bean stuffed sopapilla with Hatch green chile and his charred wild boar tamale with New Mexico red chile. Patrick Mohn of Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in New Mexico came in second with cochinita pibil arepa and a juniper scented elk tenderloin with blue corn gnocchi. Matthew Garelick of Grand Hyatt New York placed third for his bacon, egg and cheese pupusa and his “Ode to the New York Delicatessen” which included pastrami duck breast and smoked leg, stuffed cabbage, caraway and prune mostarda, slow roasted and pickled roots and potato knish.

Andaz Maui chef cooking

The long weekend was about more than just cooking and eating. There were educational tours of the last working pineapple plantation in Maui and a taro farm and exposure to a different culture and its ingredients. And it was an unparalleled opportunity to network with their peers and shine in front of their superiors.

“It was a very bondable weekend,” said Bradley Duboy of the Park Hyatt Washington, characterizing how well the chefs worked together. “I made 12 new friends.”

Susan Terry, vice president of Culinary Operations for the Americas and the mastermind behind the event had the lofty goal of “providing food for their souls, not just their minds.” She said, “It shows our top talent we’re invested in them and their education The contest was only four hours in total but we spent five days with them. We really got to know each other and I can guarantee that each of them feel connected to the company in a different way now. And it shows me who my next executive chefs are going to be.”

Finally, a slew of creative new dishes is going to be showing up on Hyatt menus across the country.

Andaz Maui chefs cheering on beach

FEAST YOUR EYES ON THESE FOOD FILMS

THE 8TH ANNUAL NYC FOOD FILM FEST OPENS TONIGHT WITH SPECIAL TREAT FOR OUR READERS

By Francine Cohen

FoodFilmFest Logo

Most movies about food leave you hungry. For years filmmakers have been using food and lushly shot meals to comment on society or simply as vehicle to drive home their central theme. What better tool is there than the universality of food to convey moods, uncover cultural differences and highlight relationships? Movies like Babette’s Feast, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I Am Love, Ratatouille, Sideways and Tampopo, all of which appear on the Epicurious.com (www.epicurious.com) Top Ten Best Food Films list have become classics, as have individual scenes like the orgasm at Katz’s scene from When Harry Met Sally. While not yet classics, newer films like “Chef” and The Hundred Foot Journey also turned to food as the focal theme. These are all films you’ll see, and leave with some food for thought, and a hunger for a restaurant meal or a trip to the grocery store.

The Food Film Festival, which was founded in New York City in 2007 by George Motz and Harry Hawk, and has grown to include the Chicago Food Film Festival and one in Charleston as well, takes things one step further; featuring food films that don’t leave you hungry. And why not? Because audience members are fed DURING and after the film. With food and drink from and inspired by the movie they seeing.

FoodFilmFest calling chefs in field

This year’s festival, the 8th annual, kicks off tonight, October 29th, with the theme, Cocina Peruana and features Patricia Perez’s film Finding Gaston, a documentary on the intersection of social change and cuisine in renowned Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio’s life. It will be followed by a chat with the director and Chef Miguel Aguilar of Brooklyn’s Surfish Bistro www.surfishbistro.com (and winner of the seventh season of Chopped) serving up Peruvian specialties like ceviche alongside some Pisco cocktails and the Peruvian lager, Cusquena (www.cusquena.com).

Later in the week you can check out films on oysters, sriracha and more. To do that you’ll want to get your tickets here and use our discount code just for our INSIDE F&B readers that offers 10% off all tickets purchased for the festival. USE CODE INSIDE10 when purchasing tickets at www.thefoodfilmfestival.com

FoodFilmFest guests eating

We spoke with the festival’s Executive Director, Seth Unger, to get a taste of what lies ahead for hungry moviegoers later this week.

IF&B: How did this food film festival first come about?
SU: George Motz served regional hamburgers during the premiere of his film Hamburger America in 2005. After that, he and restaurateur Harry Hawk thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to do this for all kinds of food not just burgers?” The NYC Food Film Festival debuted in 2007.

IF&B: Why did you decide to open this year with the Peruvian film/Peruvian themed film?
SU: One of the challenges of the Food Film Fest is that the selection committee has to accept the films before we know how challenging it will be to track down the chefs and purveyors that are featured in those films. In recent years, as our festival concept is more widely understood, directors seem to have a much better understand of how the Festival works. Often, they submit films having already arranged for the featured chef to cook the dish from the film.

In 2011, we took a chance and screened a film called “Mistura: The Power of Food” by director Patricia Perez. She pulled out all the stops and brought in chefs, musicians and dancers. Patricia went above and beyond the call of duty. It was an amazing event. So after the committee selected Finding Gaston this year, and we learned it was Patricia’s film, we knew we could trust her to work with us to make it come alive for the event…and what a great way to kick things off.

IF&B: Can you expound a bit on the formula of the evening which is all inclusive film & food?
SU: Most events have 3 segments…A VIP Pre-Party, an in-theatre food-film experience and an After-Party. Tickets are all inclusive of entry, food and beverages. The driving concept is quite simple…That food tastes better when you see it on a big screen before you eat it. Our signature Taste-screenings are instantly gratifying for the guest, but very complicated to execute for the staff. We have to time food service to specific a specific frame in a film…and then do that 10 times in a row.

Also, during this culinary celebration, guests will learn about and meet the actual people who grow, harvest and cook the food. By learning their true stories of hard work and hardship, we gain a massive appreciation for who they are and what they do…and that makes it taste even better.

IF&B: What’s different this year in NYC?
SU: The 1st-ever Halloween Edition of the Food Porn Party…complete with food burlesque and a food porn costume contest….all hosted by the world’s first food porn star, Larry Cauldwell.

IF&B: In what other cities does the Food Film Festival take place?

It’s an annual event in NYC, Chicago and Charleston, SC. We’ve also done one-offs in places like Copenhagen and Connecticut. Other cities are on deck for the next few years.

IF&B: Anything else you want to share?

SU: Most guests comment that the Food Film Fest is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced, and that they remember being present for some special moment that we created years back…like the first Lowcountry oyster roast we did in Chicago, or when we brought Keizo to America to make his ramen in-theatre (which was the launching point for his ramen burger craze that ensued). The way that we make those moments is by treating the entire guest experience, from entry to exit, as one long theatre production. What a guest sees, smells, hears, tastes…is all intentional and it all helps tell the story of the event (each of which has a different theme).

The reason that the Food Film Fest is able to do what it does is the incredible group of people that it attracts to work on it. It’s a group of creative, friendly people of all ages, from many different places who all understand that the event production they are doing is its own work of art. Though most volunteer or receive just a stipend, they each place their own heart into it and by doing that affect it in a way where the outcome is always a unique merging of both planning and happenstance.

FoodFilmFest calling all chefs holding crabs

2014 FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

On Thursday, October 30th, Michelin-starred Chef Phillip Foss of Chicago’s EL Ideas (www.elideas.com) will host the VIP pre-party before the Edible Adventure #011: Just Add Sriracha, which includes French Fries + Ice Cream, a film inspired by one of Foss’ signature dishes.

Then things get turned up a notch with a screening of Sriracha, the documentary that traces the origins of everyone’s favorite condiment. This will be the hottest Edible Adventure yet, with an after party of sriracha-inspired dishes.

Be sure to come in costume on Halloween night as Chef Chris Shae cooks up a VIP pre-party feast before the The Food Porn Party: Halloween Balls. The notorious party (and crowd-favorite) returns with an array mouth-watering shorts, costume contests, food burlesque, and porchetta di testa from Chef Ian Kapitan during Hog on Hog, a film that follows the making of Kapitan’s famous dish. Larry Cauldwell, the world’s first Food Porn Star returns with his new short film, Balls!, along with an assortment of his favorite ball-shaped foods – meatballs are just the beginning.

On Saturday, November 1st, Brewmore Baltimore, a feature-length documentary that chronicles Baltimore’s rich brewing history will be celebrated with the Brewmore bash. Expect an entire evening of Charm City’s best brews paired with salty snacks and sweet treats from Baltimore, New York, and more.

Closing out the festival will be The Night Aquatic, an evening of sea-centric films that begin with a VIP pre-party hosted by Open Oyster and features all-you-can-eat oysters from Fishers Island and more. Chef Brad Farmerie (www.public-nyc.com) will be creating a dish with fresh California sea urchin alongside local oysters and crab from Alabama during the film. And at The Night Aquatic after party, enjoy wild-caught South Carolina shrimp at a huge Beaufort Stew feast.

FoodFilmFest su propialiga

*Disclosure: INSIDE F&B Editor in Chief Francine Cohen has also served as a consultant to PromPeru and the Trade Commission of Peru in New York but said affiliation had no bearing on this story.

BOTTLES OVER BROADWAY

The Imbible Still

Ever hear the one about the bartender who wanted to be an actor… In what BourbonBlog calls “a first-of-its-kind production,” Anthony Caporale, co-founder of Broadway Theatre Studio, proudly presents THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING as part of the 18th annual New York International Fringe Festival – FringeNYC.

The drinks are on the house as you join world-renowned mixologist and raconteur Anthony Caporale for a boozy romp through the history of spirits and cocktails as he tells the story of spirits and cocktails from 10,000 BC to present-day, accompanied by The Backwaiters acappella group, comedy sketches, costume changes, and even on-stage demonstrations of fermentation and distillation. After seeing the preview performance of The Imbible at this year’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic, The Huffington Post declared the show “an absolute must-see!”

You must see how Anthony Caporale figured out how to bartend while he’s acting. He says, “We’ve been working on a one-man show that tells the story of spirits and cocktails from about 10,000 BC to present day. I’m fairly sure no one in the beverage industry has done this before in a stage play format, and I think it will give us an entirely new way to engage consumers.”

The Imbible Sheik

He continues, “If you’ve ever seen Robert Wuhl’s Assume The Position or Colin Quinn’s Long Story Short, you’ll have some idea of what I’ll be doing, though I’ve added live demonstrations of things like fermentation and distillation, lots of comedy, and even a barbershop quartet to provide musical transitions as the story moves across the centuries. Just to really put it over the top, I’ll also be serving drinks to the audience throughout the show! The whole point of the show is to help audiences appreciate spirits for their cultural and historical significance, as opposed to viewing them primarily as intoxicants or as part of a rite of passage. In short, we’re encouraging responsible consumption and promoting the beverage industry in the most positive light.”

The Imbible will run from August 8th through the 23rd at The New York International Fringe Festival (www.fringenyc.org), North America’s largest multi-arts festival that hosts over 70,000 attendees and is the birthplace of many New York theater hits. The audience will be treated to several of Caporale’s famous craft cocktails during the performance, including a classic Old Fashioned and the cleverly named Rusty Ale. By the end of the show, they just might be singing along with the cast! Drinks are included with the price of a ticket at all performances.

Broadway Theatre Studio (www.broadwaytheatrestudio.com) was founded by Caporale and DiMattei in 2009 as a development workshop and incubator for new American plays and musicals. Hundreds of actors have attended BTS workshops since its inception, and the company has collaborated with some of the best writing talent in New York. Past projects have included renowned playwright Jack Feldstein’s new comedy The Ansonia and award-winning playwright/composer Zoe Sarnak’s original musical The Quad. Last season, BTS produced original works in both the Manhattan Repertory Theatre One-Act Play Competition and the Strawberry One-Act Festival, advancing to the finals in the latter while earning DiMattei a Best Actress nomination along the way.

The Imbible Barbershop with Bombay on table

EAT HERE NOW – NEW ORLEANS 2014

A Local’s Guide to Where to Eat in New Orleans 2014
By Abigail Gullo

New Orleans narrow alley slightly larger

Welcome back, my Tales brothers and sisters! Did you survive last year? Good. How will you survive this year? By filling up on some of that good New Orleans cuisine. And guess what? Most of these places have very fine cocktails as well so you don’t have to stop the Tales of the Cocktail party!

I don’t know if you have heard, but New Orleans is the food capital of the world; and has been for some time, if you ask anyone from here. They’ll tell you that this is the last holdout of truly unique regional American cuisine. They’ll tell you there is nothing more American the melting pot of culture that you have in Cajun and Creole cuisine. And there isn’t. What there is is a host of places that have opened up since I gave you some solid advice last year. And there are new old places I have discovered and fell in love with here in my third year as a Nola resident. So here is a rundown of some of my favorites:

People asked me if I missed the Chinese food of NYC when I moved down here. How could I when there is such amazing Vietnamese food available here?! It’s no wonder since New Orleans and the surrounding areas have the highest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. Since the 1970’s they have merged their culture into the continuing flux of cuisine here in NOLA and most of the best places can be found on the West Bank across the river, including the mind-bending Hong Kong Market (www.hongkongmarketnola.com). If you have a friend with a car, get them to take you here – it is a warehouse full of groceries, snacks and drinks that you would have trouble finding outside of Asia otherwise. I get my supply of Lady Slimming Beauty Tea here too. Yup. It’s all there in the name, folks. The market also has a noodle house, a sandwich shop and bubble tea so you can shop and fill your belly with a tasty Banh Mi or “Vietnamese Po Boy.”

You don’t have to wander far to get a taste of the authentic Vietnamese food New Orleans has to offer. Crasian is a new place that opened on Canal Street just a short walk away from the Hotel Monteleone (www.hotelmonteleone.com). It has some of the biggest Garden Rolls I have ever seen! They also have a nice selection of frozen bubble tea that will be perfect on a hot day. Remember, pouring some sample booze from Tales into your bubble tea to go is perfectly legal here in New Orleans. Personally I am looking forward to trying the Jasmine Green tea with some Tanqueray Old Tom Gin. Or any one with Mezcal… Seriously….any one.

Speaking of boozy Bubble Teas, Mopho (www.mophonola.com) up by City Park does a handsome business in modern Vietnamese food with a Nola twist and even has some booze filled Bubble teas on the menu. The Guns and Roses, with strawberry and Mezcal is my favorite, but there is nothing like a good Piña Colada and the Beachbum, served with either Flor de Cana or a spiced rum, is amazing. Also, the chicken wings there will change your life.

You should rent some bikes and do a chicken wing tour. Bike up my favorite street, Esplanade Ave until you hit City Park. Get some wings and cool drinks at Mopho and then bike down Orleans to Willie Mae’s Scotch House (www.zagat.com/r/willie-maes-scotch-house-new-orleans) for the world’s greatest fried chicken. Seriously. They hold the title, and for good reason; the chicken is Read the full article here »