Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Boulud’

SIMON SAYS…

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Kerry Simon Says Fight MSA Event
By E.C. Gladstone

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 rock and rolling active with Bill Murray

A few days ago, Bill Murray made headlines for taking ten seconds out of his Academy Awards appearance to pay tribute to his deceased collaborator Harold Ramis. But just three nights prior, the actor spent an entire, lengthy evening February 27 clowning onstage and off as co-host of a Las Vegas fundraiser for another former collaborator, Chef Kerry Simon.

What got the relatively publicity-shy Murray involved in Simon Says Fight MSA? This was more than just a random good cause: He and Simon started their respective careers making pizzas as teenagers at a Little Caesars in Evanston, Illinois. “He was a blues guitarist, I was trying to be an actor, and we were both starving,” Murray recalled, ruminating on the joys of eating raw pizza dough. The comedian spent much of the night cracking up the audience (most of whom paid $500-1000 to attend) and gently roasting Simon, including leading everyone in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to the chef–about four months early–and referring to him as Jerry and Barry at times.

Murray was far from the only luminary to appear at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center that evening. Chefs attending and cooking included some of the biggest in the industry: Simon’s mentor Jean-Georges Vongerichten , Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, Charlie Palmer, and Wylie Dufresne, as well as several of the Vegas Strip’s most prominent names. On the liquid side, Francesco Lafranconi assembled a who’s-who of Vegas mixology to helm the bar, including Tony Abou-Ganim, Max Solano (Emeril’s Restaurants), David Cooper (Carnevino) and Chris Hopkins (Wynn/Encore resorts) , each of whom served original cocktails with spirits donated by SWS.”The room was full of people that have a personal, vested interest and a true love for him,” Palmer told Inside F&B afterward. “It says a lot for the kind of person Kerry is and how many lives he has affected.”

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 chef group image 2

If you’re getting the picture that this event was a bit different than the average culinary charity gala, here’s why: Simon, who owns and operates restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and the Dominican Republic, is not only raising awareness for Multiple Systems Atrophy, a degenerative neurological disorder similar to, but more severe than, Parkinson’s Disease. He was also recently diagnosed with the condition, for which there is no established treatment or cure. His diagnosis was announced in a column by Robin Leach only about ten weeks ago. “Once that happened, there was this, crazy outpouring and overwhelming show of support,” Simon business partner Elizabeth Blau tells Inside F&B. “So many people saying they wanted to do something.”

Simon, once dubbed “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Chef” by Rolling Stone for his many connections to the music world, managed to assemble a list of performers that would rival a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame event, including Vince Neil, Alice Cooper, Slash, Sammy Hagar, Todd Rundgren, and Lisa Loeb, who performed separately and together, including a closing ensemble cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together.”
Considering that they donated their own food (according to Blau), the chefs certainly weren’t skimpy with what they served. The menu included thick-cut black-jack spiced lamb chops from MacPherson, Kona kampachi tacos in taro root shells from Rick Moonen (RM Seafood), and an incredible leek vinaigrette with carrot confit and soft poached quail egg from Boulud, among many other refined bites. Balanced, of course, by a healthy offering of Simon’s own “junk food platter” recreations, one of the many ways in which the chef helped kick off the creative comfort food trend.

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 cotton candy junk food

“This wasn’t some promotional event,” Blau emphasizes, noting the event came together in less than two months’ time. “Daniel Boulud flew in that morning and out the next [just so he could participate].”

Although Simon once defeated Cat Cora in an episode of Iron Chef America, in the era of celebrity chefs he has been a relatively low-key presence considering his pedigree, including running the Plaza Hotel’s Edwardian Room, earning four New York Times stars at the Drake Hotel, and having his first Vegas restaurant, Simon Kitchen & Bar, named one of “America’s Best New Restaurants” by Esquire in 2003.

“He’s always very generous, with his time and his knowledge,” Dufresne told Inside F&B of Simon, under whom the WD-50 chef worked at Vongerichten’s Prime. “He’s like my guardian angel.”

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 Kerry in wheelchair

Nearly $525,000 was raised during the evening, co-organized by Simon business partners Elizabeth Blau and George Maloof, including funds from silent and live auctions. An after-party at Simon Restaurant & Lounge, with Murray and many of the chefs and rockers in attendance, went into the wee hours.

Donations to Simon Says Fight MSA can be made through Keep Memory Alive at www.keepmemoryalive.org.

PPX – CHEF ALEX STRATTA

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

By Vincenza Di Maggio

Photo courtesy of Wynn Las Vegas

“We have an opportunity to do something really special here, and things that are special take time,” says Chef Alex Stratta as he casually raises his hot cup of coffee and motions towards his surroundings.

He’s sitting at a table inside of his latest culinary endeavor, his newly opened New York City restaurant, Bigoli — http://bigolirestaurant.com/. It’s only 2pm and the restaurant has not yet opened for dinner. It’s quiet… peaceful – well, except for the occasional sounds of clinking plates and running water emanating from the kitchen as the staff prepares for the dinner crowd. The chairs still sit on top of the wooden tables. Light floods into the dining room through the enormous skylight above, and the brick oven has just been turned on, the fire slowly warming up the room. The relaxing atmosphere suits him.

He’s right, things that are special do take time. And who would know it better than him? For over 30 years the renowned chef has worked and succeeded in developing an exciting career; the majority of which was spent working in the kitchens of Michelin two-star restaurants. Stratta’s name has become synonymous with “fine dining” and often evokes images of white tablecloths, elegantly folded napkins, mahogany coffered ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and tiny food portions. But with the opening of Bigoli, a casual neighborhood Italian restaurant located in Greenwich Village, he has decided to leave the luxurious dining experience behind. In fact, he’s stepping away from heat of the stove entirely and exploring a different aspect of the culinary industry – restaurant consulting. He says, “After 30 years of experience I’m doing something completely new which is what’s exciting about the restaurant business.”

It’s a business that’s in his blood. Stratta’s roots in the hospitality industry reach back to his great great grandfather who once owned a hotel in Piemonte, a Northern region of Italy bordering France and Switzerland. Generations later, across the Atlantic Ocean, Stratta’s father continued the family tradition by running a hotel company that required Stratta to make frequent trips from New York to Connecticut. As a fifth generation hotelier Stratta says, “I grew up surrounded by good food and good service. It became a part of who I was. I naturally gravitated towards the kitchen.”

Stratta started working his first kitchen job at the age of 15 at Manero’s Steakhouse in Greenwich, Connecticut. He slowly worked his way from dishwasher, to line cook, and 20 years later to executive chef at Mary Elaine’s restaurant at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Years later he was invited by Steve Wynn to the Wynn Las Vegas Resort where he worked as executive chef of his two namesake restaurants, Alex and Stratta. It was in the kitchen of these fine dining restaurants that he really established himself as one of Las Vegas’ most notable chefs.

Stratta, who has become somewhat of a celebrity, thinks back to the beginning of his career and recalls, “When I was a cook and becoming a chef it wasn’t such an admirable position as it is now. The biggest challenge for me is finding the balance between

Read the rest of this entry »

BOCUSE BATTLE IS ON

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Culinary all-stars are at it this Sunday and you can be there.  VIP style.

By Francine Cohen

The battle for USA’s world domination in the 2013 Bocuse d’Or competition begins at home this Sunday as four highly qualified contestants pit their skills against one another in the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation’s USA Finals Competition.  The winner will be attending the big dance in Lyon, France next January and representing the USA.

“This weekend is about selecting the very best American chef to represent the USA on the international stage. It should be a matter of great pride to our entire American culinary community,” said Chef Daniel Boulud.

The Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to inspiring culinary excellence, led by Chefs Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller,Jerome Bocuse,opens the finals to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

But, as always, INSIDE F&B has a special inside track for you. Courtesy of Nespresso, a 2012 Member Sponsor of the Bocuse d’Or USA, two tickets in the comfortable VIP section are available for the first person to correctly tell us the number of grand crus offered by Nespresso to their fine dining and hotel customers.(For a clue take a look at www.nespresso.com/pro).

As business tool for the culinary world Nespresso is thrilled to get behind this competition that demands the same exacting standards as their regular customers.  Jim Frisby of Nespresso Business Solutions notes, “Nespresso offers

Read the rest of this entry »

ALL RISE FOR JACQUES PEPIN

Monday, December 12th, 2011

The man, the myth,the legend (and the truth about being humble, beloved, and having a sweet tooth)
By Francine Cohen

Photo courtesy of the International Culinary Center

When tickets for the NY Wine & Food Festival went on sale a few months back almost instantaneously some of the most popular events featuring Food Network Stars and industry luminaries were sold out. With prices for most events hovering around just $100 per person or so it’s no wonder; in this age of foodie madness, and the spotlight on celebrity chefsevents like these are a big draw and easily accessible.

Draw as they may, and with no disrespect intended for folks like Giada DeLaurentis, and Bobby Flay and his sold out event popular Tacos & Tequila hosted by Bobby Flay, the real celebrity event for the whole festival was a coveted ticket to the Jacques Pepin tribute dinner on Saturday night.

How could it not be? Pepin has been cooking on television almost as long as DeLaurentis and Flay have been alive, the chefs preparing dinner were a culinary pantheon of who’s who (Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Laurent Gras, Alain Sailhac, and Jacques Torres), the wines which were provided by Prince Robert of Luxembourg (Pepin’s co-honoree) and his house of Domaine Clarence Dillon, were described by dinner co-chair Roberta Morrell (Morrell & Company) as “absolutely stunning” and Martha Stewart appeared to MC the whole shebang.

Over a leisurely lunch with Chef Pepin over at L’Ecole, the student run restaurant at The French Culinary Institute (www.frenchculinary.com) where he is Dean of Special Programs, he opened up and about the dinner, his career, and his new book (more on that later in our Brain Food column)- Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food.

While Pepin graciously pooh-poohed all the hoopla as he says, “They’re just using my birthday as an excuse for this party,” everyone else in attendance (all 450 of them) was thrilled to fete this charming mentor.

Dinner co-chair, and current President of Les Dames d’Escoffier (www.ldny.org) Melanie Young of The Connected Table (www.theconnectedtable.com) shares the sentiment of those who attended and raised $83,00 for Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Make A Difference Scholarship Fund in Pepin’s honor. She remarks, “Jacques is a teacher, mentor and chef who has touched many lives in this industry. He was a dear friend and television collaborator with Julia Child, one of Les Dames d’Escoffier’s “Grand Dames.” His body of work is incredibly impactful and impressive: author of 26 books, host of 11 acclaimed public television series and the highest accolades both here in the U.S.A. and in France.”

She continues, “This October Jacques is releasing one of his most comprehensive books ever, Essential Pepin, which features the best recipes he has created over his 60 -year career. The book is being released in tandem with a 26-episode KQED PBS series of the same name.”

While Pepin was the reason they were all there, he wasn’t the only big name in the house happy to be there. Alain Sailhac had stopped by the table at L’Ecole and to share his excitement for the evening as well as waxing poetic and reveal details about his planned menu (along with a fair bit of ribbing directed Pepin’s way after which Pepin declared themselves just like two of the three Stooges). Sailhac’s excitement was matched by the other chefs who joined him in thethe kitchen that night as Young notes, “All of the chefs were very enthusiastic from the start. After all, what a privilege it is to cook a dinner to honor an industry legend like Jacques Pepin who was chef to three French presidents, has taught and mentored countless chefs and whose cookbooks are considered classics!

Read the rest of this entry »

MEAL MUSIC

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Hitting the right note with a restaurant playlist
By Patrick O’Neill

Photo Courtesy of The Breakers

It’s often the first thing people notice when they walk into a restaurant or bar, sometimes before they walk in. Yet for many eating establishments, it’s the last thing on their impress-the-customer list, if it makes the list at all. It’s the music.

One of the worst things a new restaurant can do, says Lori Hon, President and Co-Founder of Gray V (www.grayv.com), which curates music for restaurants, hotels and retailers, is waiting until the last minute to focus on the music. “Many people think they’ll do it themselves. Then they get very busy and realize it’s not a good idea.”

Allowing only a couple weeks for the task not only makes it harder to put together an appropriate playlist, it leaves little time for logistics, like deciding what type of sound system to use and where to discreetly place the speakers for maximum effect.

For most successful restaurateurs, music is part of the planning process from day one and considered a crucial element in defining the restaurant. “The audio helps set the stage,” says Patric Yumul, Vice President of Operations for the Michael Mina Group (www.michaelmina.net),

Photo Courtesy of The Mina Group

Read the rest of this entry »

MARCUS SAMUELSSON HONORED FOR DEDICATION TO C-CAP

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Chefs Michael Lomonaco and Alfred Portale take a moment at C-CAP Benefit 2009

C-CAP’s 20th Anniversary Benefit features NYC Celebrity Chefs and High School Student Volunteers at Gala Tasting Event

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., at PIER SIXTY at Chelsea Piers, The Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), the non-profit organization that since 1990 has awarded high school students $28 million in scholarships, and donated $2.3 million worth of supplies and equipment to classrooms, will host its 20th Anniversary Celebration.

This year, C-CAP is honoring chef, author and TV personality Marcus Samuelsson for his extraordinary achievements and contributions to the culinary industry, his long time dedication to C-CAP and his commitment to nurturing the next generation of chefs. As this year’s honoree, Marcus Samuelsson will receive the C-CAP Honors Award for his ongoing work with C-CAP providing internships, job shadows and jobs for students, and serving as a judge at the annual C-CAP NY Cooking Competition for Scholarships.

Past recipients of the C-CAP Honors Award include Drew Nieporent, Alfred Portale,

Read the rest of this entry »