Posts Tagged ‘Tony Abou Ganim’

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.

DON’T MISS – FEVER-TREE MEDITERRANEAN TONIC

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Hot for the new Fever-Tree mixer
By Francine Cohen

Our love affair with Fever-Tree’s Mediterranean tonic is, as with most love stories, a long and complicated one.

We were first introduced to this perfect for vodka pairing mixer in a clandestine way…Fever-Tree’s rep had just four bottles to share with Englishman Ben Scorah (also known as the head bartender for Chef John DeLucie’s exclusive restaurants The Lion and The Crown – www.thelionnyc.com, www.crown81.com) and lucky for us we were at the bar when the precious package was presented. Thankfully Scorah is the sharing type.

So, a few sips of deliciousness and we were hooked. The crisp bubbles! The fresh herbal notes that balanced well with quinine and made us want to order the entire left side of the menu! Vodka tonics, we finally had a reason to order you again. But alas, this elixir with its rosemary overtones wasn’t to be available in the States for over a year. Despite strong sales in the UK.

Leaving us lovelorn and suffering a stereotypical fate of begging the brand owners to make it available here. Finally, they listened. Charles Rolls, Fever-Tree’s co-founder says, “Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic is the next natural progression in our line of all natural premium mixers. Our goal has always been to optimally showcase premium spirits in cocktails and we recognize that certain different spirits require different flavor complements in cocktails. Our Mediterranean Tonic’s unique

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ROCKS STARS – TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011

Friday, August 19th, 2011

A Few Of My Favorite Things
By David Ransom

Photo by Charles Steadman

Once again this past July in New Orleans, Mrs. And Mr. Cocktail (aka Ann & Paul Tuennerman) put on what those of us in the business have affectionately come to consider the triathlon of liver survival (drink-filled seminars, drink-filled tasting rooms, and drink-filled dinners and parties… not to mention the obligatory night-ending swing through Old Absinthe House on Rue Bourbon every night just to prove you didn’t expire during the course of the day) that is Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com).

Having just completed its ninth year, Tales has grown from a tiny industry-focused event that brought the nation’s top bartenders together for a few days of camaraderie, events, and parties, into a truly international symposium, complete with a “Spirited Awards” program (like the movie industry’s Oscars) that hands out honors to establishments and industry leaders from around the world, and now brings in professionals and consumers from all over the globe to celebrate the world of cocktails in the city that created them.

Rocks Stars and I feel honored to be given the chance to attend each year, and as always, I’m thrilled to be able to share some of my experiences…now that I have recovered enough to be able to write again…

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from this year’s Tales, both good and bad, but really all good, as nothing that includes having a well-crafted drink could ever really be bad… and in no particular order:

Best Hosts Under Pressure: Ann & Paul Tuennerman. Nine years into it, Tales could probably have run itself, but Ann and Paul were everywhere. Every event. Every day. Every night. What amazes me about this is that Paul was recovering from a health scare and had just spent time in the hospital. I have to tip my hat to these two intrepid souls for not staying in the background and recuperating at home while “their baby” was staged. Quite to the contrary, they were all over the place from Tuesday’s Media Welcome Party at Arnaud’s French 75 bar (beautifully run by Chris Hannah, one of NOLA’s finest drinks-smiths – www.arnaudsrestaurant.com),to the final Sunday Brunch with Mr. & Mrs. Cocktail, and everywhere in between. I even ran into Paul solo, visibly tired yet surely on the mend, at the Suntory Suite (www.suntory.com) one afternoon where we chatted on the balcony overlooking Bourbon Street while enjoying a glass of Japan’s finest single malt.

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DON Q RUM MIXES UP THE COMPETITION

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Mix It Up NYC with Don Q from Francine Cohen on Vimeo.

Leave it to DonQ rums (www.donq.com) to hold their cocktail competition in a space (almost) nobody had seen before, revealing the country’s best rum cocktails that (almost) nobody had tasted before in New York.

Though New York City’s fire department officially frowns on Albert Trummer’s pyrotechnic show at his Chinatown cocktail den, Apotheke, thankfully they were nowhere to be found on May 17th during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com) as the judges for the DonQ cocktail competition’s US finals dodged workmen busily putting the finishing touches to Trummer’s latest venture, Theater Bar.

After an hour or so of ducking out of the way as wallpaper was smoothed and lighting fixtures affixed to the wall, a sneak peak taste of the soon to be released Blackbeard Spiced Rum was shared before the taste tests began.

15 cocktails were sipped and assessed; each featuring DonQ Rum. The competitors were evaluated on their use of the spirit, drink flavor, and presentation by judges Tony Abou Ganim, Francine Cohen, James Menite and Albert Trummer. The prize? Five winners were to head to Puerto Rico in June to represent the United States in a cocktail throw down against the Puerto Rican team.

The fabulous five selected to represent the United States: Tony Devencenzi of San Francisco; Noah Heaney of Denver, CO; Charles Joly of Chicago; Brian Matthys of New York City; Darren West of Las Vegas.

Ultimately, the overall competition winner was from Puerto Rico, Hiram Avila.

Cucumbertini
By Hiram Avila of Puerto Rico

Ingredients
½ oz. DonQ Cristal rum
½ oz. DonQ Añejo rum
½ oz. DonQ Coco rum
½ oz. Monin ginger syrup
1 oz. Fresh cucumber juice

Method
In a cocktail shaker, add rums, ginger syrup, fresh cucumber juice and ice.
Shake vigorously and strain over martini glass.

Garnish with cucumber slice and a sprinkle of sparkly sugar.

To make cucumber juice, use 2 cucumbers and a juicer. If a juicer is not available, add 2 unpeeled cucumbers and ¼ oz. of water to a blender. Blend on high speed and strain mixture.

ROCKS STARS – TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2010 TOP 5

Friday, July 30th, 2010

By David Ransom

Photo courtesy of Tales of the Cocktail

Rules are made to be broken, and while Rocks Stars, originally conceived as a profile column focusing on “Movers and Shakers” in the sprits industry, will for all intents and purposes remain that way, from time to time I may just throw in some thoughts on experiences I have along the spirits trail that I find need some play.

To that effect, I would like to bang a few keys on the keyboard, updating you on this year’s 8th Annual Tales of the Cocktail conference held in New Orleans this past hot and steamy week, by bringing to light what I consider to be the week’s top five events:

Here we go, in no particular order, except the last one:

5. Wednesday evening’s Beefeater Welcome party. Held in the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, This “welcome party” had it all: Alice in Wonderland characters floating through the room, trapeze artists floating through the air, and some beautiful cocktails with the “always classic” Beefeater gin, made by some of the world’s great bartenders, like Jamie Gordon and Audrey Saunders, while others, like Tony Abou-Ganim and Dale DeGroff roamed the room. A great way to kick into the week’s festivities.

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MASTER OF YOUR DOMAIN

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Insights into becoming a happier and healthier bartender
By Francine Cohen

You’ve copiously studied recipes from the patron saint of cocktail recipes, Jerry Thomas ; Tony Abou-Ganim, Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, Paul Pacult, Julie Reiner, Audrey Saunders, Andy Seymour, and Dave Wondrich, have taught you valuable lessons in technique, ingredients, and tasting and now, at Tales of the Cocktail 2011 it is time to learn how to become the master of your own domain.

This seminar asks: Ever wonder how some nights when you worked so hard – you were at the end of the night physically tired but in good spirits and appeared not to have lost a lot of energy? Remember also the nights when at the end you were not only physically tired and exhausted but also emotionally drained and “heavy?” If you can answer “yes”, even if it’s just for one shift, then you need to be in this room on Saturday afternoon.

Join Dushan Zaric (Employees Only www.employeesonlynyc.com, Macao Trading Company www.macaonyc.com) and Aisha Sharpe (Contemporary Cocktails www.contemporarycocktailsinc.com) for a journey into yourself that results in better bartending. And a better, more peaceful, productive, and profitable you that you’ll get to after understanding how to look at service as an art, maintain balance and sense of self and, essentially, break down the bartender.

Zaric explains why he’s bringing this seminar to Tales after offering it to bartenders around the world. He says, “There are a lot of bartenders who are very well versed in mixing cocktails, knows history, when it comes to service and help themselves that’s where they are not well equipped, and don’t have the tools.”

He continues, “I’m doing this to make people’s lives easier. It breaks my heart to see

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EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Cherry Heering Vintage Bottlings Make a Fashionable Splash During The Manhattan Cocktail Classic
By Francine Cohen Photos Courtesy of Cherry Heering

Fashion designers often reach to the past to inspire the future, while most distillers are busy producing spirits in the past they look forward to sharing with appreciative patrons in the future. Thanks to Cherry Heering (www.cherryheering.com) the two concepts collided most pleasurably during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com) when vintage 1890 and 1950 bottles of the classic cherry brandy were uncorked to the sounds of jazz age music under the vaulted ceilings of Grand Central Station’s Campbell Apartment (www.hospitalityholdings.com) – formerly the luxurious office and salon of ’20’s mogul John W. Campbell.

Campbell, with his obvious taste for exquisite luxury, would have applauded these two very special pourings. Both had aged to a fine sherry or port-like flavor, pleasing all who were on hand to sip along with the official tasting panel: Jörgen Tilander, owner of the Cherry Heering liqueur brand, Jackson Cannon, famed Boston bar man from Eastern Standard, Akiko Katayama, an established international writer and former Iron Chef judge and Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist and MC/Host of the Cherry Heering liqueur vintage event (www.themodernmixologist.com).

One of the exciting things about exploring the world of spirits is experiencing a variety of expressions, vintages and new products. However, rarely does the chance occur for spirit aficionados to taste something over 100 years old. Adéle Nilsson, CEO of the Xanté & Peter F. Heering Company, was quite delighted that the elixir within the bottles had so beautifully stood the test of time. She commented, “We didn’t know

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LEBLON BRAZILLIONAIRE IS WSWA’S TOP LIBATION

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Tobin Ellis’ Cachaça-Driven Tipple Wins Hearts and Palates at Beverage Tradeshow
By Francine Cohen Photos Courtesy of Leblon

Keynote speaker Sarah Palin couldn’t hold WSWA (www.wswa.org) attendees’ attention like Tobin Ellis (www.barmagic.com) did when he introduced his award winning drink, The Brazillionaire, at the show’s first ever libation challenge.

Ellis’ cocktail, which features Leblon cachaça (made of pressed sugar cane that then rests in XO cognac casks) was named “Judges Choice” Winner at the First Annual WSWA Call for Cocktails: Mixology Competition held at the 67th Annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) Convention in Las Vegas on April 8, 2010.

BarMagic Principal Tobin Ellis has 20 years of bartending, hospitality, and nightlife experience. Currently running the wildly popular Social Mixology industry event, Ellis began training bartenders in 1991 and also spent six years in advertising in New York and Washington, D.C. A former President of the Flair Bartenders’ Association, Head Bartender for Caesars Palace (Las Vegas), NSO Bar Trainer for TGI Friday’s, Ellis is a 3-time Mixology Champion (2009 USBG Leblon Caipirinha Competition, 2009 Tales of the Cocktail Barmade Bitters Winner, 2005 Blue Blazer Mixology Champion) and a 9-Time World Finalist in competition (Legends, Quest, Best in the West, Blue Blazer, Cayman Masters). Ellis has organized and judged bartending competitions of all styles all over the world since 1997 and has served as a technical advisor and judge for a number of television networks, including A&E, Travel Channel, Food Network and NBC.

His winning cocktail combined Leblon Cachaça (www.leblon.com), Cherry Heering (www.cherryheering.com), Perfect Purée of Napa Valley passion fruit purée (www.perfectpuree.com), fresh lime sour,

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