PPX – FRANKLIN FERGUSON

Restaurant Experience From A Life Experienced
By Darren Atkins

There is something to be said for life experience being helpful when it comes to success in the restaurant business. Franklin Ferguson has sure had his fair share of experience. The son of a Professor and Dean of Orthodontics and a Part-time Nurse and teacher, Ferguson was purposely moved around the globe by his parents in order to appreciate and remember his life experiences. Coming from such an educational parental background ignited the fire in Ferguson for learning and teaching others what he had learned. Coupled with curiosity and tenacity he adopts the mentality of a “break it and see how it works and let’s see if we can do it better “.Ferguson says, “Curiosity best describes it, as it pertains to food and beverage- my maxim is, I’ll try anything twice. Call it masochistic but I seek out the strange and inventive, and if I don’t like it, I’ll seek it out elsewhere and try it there.”

Ferguson grew up in several countries around the world such as the Middle East, Europe and Central America, he says “Whenever we lived in these places my family and I tried to live as the locals do, we’d eat the same foods, go to the same events and try and immerse ourselves in their culture was the food. We tried everything from haggis to bull intestine “.Ferguson’s inspiration for food and culture also came from his mother, he was always fascinated at the flavors she used in the kitchen and what spice went with what food, and it was here where his curiosity increased to a love and passion for food and wine.

Ferguson’s first foray into the food world was washing dishes at Burger King at 13 years old. Not exactly the culinary arena one had hoped. Ferguson says, “I was trained in the school of hard knocks, starting in fast-food, I always yearned for fine dining.” Ferguson immersed himself in literature, reading about French and American style of culinary service. To follow in his father’s footsteps, Franklin temporarily sought a scientific education; he graduated with degrees in Pre-Medicine, Biology and Psychology. Surprisingly his father, whom he wanted to follow, talked Franklin out of medicine and decided that a career in Food and Beverage would be better suited given his son’s dream of becoming a restaurateur.

After college Ferguson moved to Los Angeles from Milwaukee to learn about the wines of California, he lived in his car and couch hopped around Los Angeles until he found work at Morton’s of Hollywood. His old boss Pam Morton Ferguson recalls, “Was quite the bear, but I was able to help run a couple of Vanity Fair parties for the Oscars which was a tremendous opportunity.”-no doubt a fledgling leadership spark of what was to come. Ferguson left Morton’s to get his first real sense of opening a restaurant with Peter Mavrikis and Citrine on Melrose. Ferguson had made the transition back to his culinary senses that were so passionately instilled in him from his youth. This would be the training ground for what his life would become. Read the full article here »

FORAGING FOR FOOD

Johanna Kolodny brings the farm to the table
By Francine Cohen

Pop culture is full of references to people on a quest; there’s Don Quixote and that whole windmill thing, and we can’t forget Monty Python’s search for the Holy Grail. But in real life many of us are on a personal quest too; quests to live longer, happier, more productive lives, lose weight, succeed in new business ventures, not tumble down the slope the first time we try to ski. Johanna Kolodny, forager for Print restaurant at Kimpton’s Ink48 hotel in Manhattan (www.ink48.com), is one woman who has turned the quest for fresh food into a full time job.

Kolodny, who joined the restaurant as soon as it opened has an enviable job – she spends her days chatting up farmers and sharing their bounty with her chefs. She explains just what she does, “My official role title is forager. My job consists of seeking out farmers or artisans both in the region as well outside, when it comes to food items like citrus/dates things that don’t grow in our climate, and bringing Read the full article here »

PPX – CHEF ERICA WIDES

Culinary School Instructor Molds The Next Generation of Chefs
By Darren Atkins

Photo by Adam Rosenberg

From an early age Chef Erica Wides had an obsession with food; she would painstakingly craft and sculpt miniature fake representations of food, housing them alone in her doll house. Now an instructor at The Institute of Culinary Education (www.iceculinary.com), Wides is now sculpting the next generation of chefs and teaching them how to carve their own niche in food.

Wides took a while, as most people do, to find her own niche. As a young woman she attended the School of Visual Arts (www.schoolofvisualarts.edu to study art and photography. In her final years of college, her artwork and photography started to incorporated food; Wides created still lives out of food with a political/feminist theme and then photographed them. She remarks, “I guess I was working a few things out through my work.”

Her explorations in college led her to pursue her career dreams of being a photographer in New York, but she quickly realized it was an expensive and difficult way to make a living here and so she took stock of the situation and realized that she didn’t have anything else, but her love for food. So, she did what every other struggling artist does in New York, at some time or another- she waited tables. While doing that, Wides realized she was much more interested in what was going on behind the scenes. But then, something happened that would force her to make a change. Wides explains, “I was waiting tables and thinking about food a lot, and then all of my photography equipment got stolen. I saw it as a sign Read the full article here »

PPX – CHEF MICHAEL PSILAKIS

Spice and Sentiment: Chef Michael Psilakis Opens Up About His Latest Understanding of Food
By Jenny Adams

Many New Yorkers, and visitors drawn to the city for its culinary prowess, probably feel as though they know Chef Michael Psilakis through his food, his three restaurants in the city – Anthos, Kefi, and the latest, Gus & Gabriel –from his appearances on The Food Network and consistent accolades in Esquire, Bon Appetit and the New York Times. What Chef Michael Psilakis wants is for you to know, however, is yourself – through his food. It’s an interesting approach to the true heart and soul that lies within marrying ingredients and creating great dishes. He’s aiming to bring you flavor, but also memories – spice as well as sentiment.

Read the full article here »