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Q & A with First Prize Pies' Allison Kave

Posted on Jun 8, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

How many people enter a pie contest and win first prize on their first try?  Not many, but cooking runs in Allison Kave’s family.   Her mother owns Roni Sue’s Chocolate and her brother is the executive chef at the new Brooklyn bbq joint, Fatty ‘Cue.   Allison’s bourbon pecan pie took top first prize at the Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-off.    That’s just a glimpse of the delightfully imaginative pies she creates, including Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie and Shoo-fly pie.   Most of her thin-crusted creations were inspired by childhood sweets, like root beer floats &  S’mores.  She’s just as talented with seasonal classics, like a light & flaky, rhubarb & frangipane tart and ingenious savories like a Thanksgiving Leftover Pot Pie with turkey, gravy & stuffing. Single/Married/Divorced?  I’m in a relationship, but not married. What was your first...

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The Men Behind The Meatball Shop

Posted on Jun 1, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow have been talking about opening a restaurant together since they were band mates at LaGuardia High School, right here in Manhattan. This past February, they turned their dream into a reality, opening The Meatball Shop on the Lower East Side.  This one-of-a-kind eatery muses on meatballs of all sorts, everything from lamb to rabbit for “Easter Bunny Balls” in spring.   Clearly, they’re not your average red sauce joint proprietors: Chernow graduated from the French Culinary Institute, while Holzman began working at the early age of 14 under Eric Ripert at Le Bernadin and went on to head a slew of acclaimed California restaurants.  But these best friends grew up on feasting on meatballs from a neighborhood pizzeria, so when it came time to collaborate on a restaurant, they came up with a house...

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Savoy's Spring Blush

Posted on May 21, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Recipes

By Mixologist Michael Cecconi For the rhubarb stock: 1 lb. rhubarb, cleaned and sliced into 1-inch pieces ½ lb. peeled, thinly sliced ginger Place ginger and rhubarb in a pot then cover an inch over with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer until roughly one-quarter of the liquid is gone (around 20 minutes. Let cool, then strain out solids using a fine metal strainer. Reserve extra stock in fridge or freezer. For the drink (serves 1): 1½ ounces gin 1½ ounces rhubarb stock ¾ ounce fresh lime juice ¾ oz simple syrup 2-4 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin. Add ice, then shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Savoy Phone: (212)219-8570 Address: 70 Prince Street, at Crosby...

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Q & A With Los Feliz's Julieta Ballesteros

Posted on May 18, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

It’s not often you see foie gras tacos on a menu.  Julieta Ballesteros has quite an imagination, prone to taking liberties with Mexican cuisine.   Her cooking style is unique to say the least — a mix of French and her native cuisine.  That’s what happens when a native of Mexico moves to New York to study at the French Culinary Institute.   After graduating, Julieta cooked at Mexicana Mama and also created the opening menu for Crema.  She’s even worked as the consulting chef for Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.  Right now,  she cooking at Los Feliz,  a new Mexican restaurant in the former Suba space on the Lower East Side.  Her French training is evident in dishes, like the foie gras tacos with mango compote and salsa as well as slow-cooked beef cheek wrapped in a banana leaf and served...

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Q & A with Patroon's Bill Peet

Posted on May 12, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Bill Peet has done just about everything from washing dishes to cooking at Cafe des Artistes, and even Lutece before the legendary French eatery closed years ago.  But a lot has changed on the dining landscape since the chef first began cooking in 1972.  During his thirty-seven-year career, Peet opened his own restaurant in Westfield, New Jersey that managed to draw critical attention and monthly visits from my family growing up.  He’s also served as the corporate chef for all twenty-six restaurants of the ARK restaurant group.   These days, Peet’s the executive chef at the new Patroon 2.0, where he’s revamped the menu and introduced some terrific dishes, like dark beer-braised short ribs with polenta and glazed carrots as well as pan-roasted halibut with roasted corn chowder.  He’s also reworked the rooftop bar menu, which newly offers angus prime...

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Q & A with The Chocolate Bar's Alison Nelson

Posted on May 5, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Let’s just say Alison Nelson was born to make chocolate.  She grew up addicted to Hershey’s dark chocolate bars and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, and she turned her obsession into an international business.  Her dream was to make familiar & nostalgic chocolates with high quality ingredients, elevating the everyday chocolate bar to something refined.  What started as a small shop in the West Village has expanded to New Jersey and even Dubai.  Chocolate Bar is best known for its rich hot chocolate and spicy, chewy brownies, and her Graffiti Bars with wrappers designed by local artists.  Her Jersey Shore also makes gelato, shakes, and even sno cones.  Single/Married/Divorced? Married What did you want to be when you grew up? An Olympic long distance runner and high school English teacher What was your first job in food?  What did...

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Q & A with Jake the Butcher

Posted on Apr 27, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Who would’ve thought “Sam the Butcher” would become the sex symbol for the 21st century?  Chefs, bartenders, chocolatiers, and butchers are all experiencing a moment in the spotlight.  Jake Dickson takes the concept of the local butcher to a new level.  He’s determined to provide New Yorkers with top quality, artisanal meats from local farms.  He launched Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in 2008, and a year later, opened his first storefront in Chelsea Market with housemade charcuterie, like lamb sausages or a tongue & leek terrine.  Dickson’s not your average twenty-something New Yorker.  He gave up his marketing job and moved upstate where he learned the business at farms and butcherhouses in upstate New York.  He even worked as the livestock manager at Stone Barns.  Now, he’s selling pork, lamb, beef, and creative charcuterie to prominent restaurants as well as...

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Q & A with Peter Hoffman

Posted on Apr 22, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Fresh and local are unwritten laws in the dining world nowadays.  That wasn’t the case in 1990 when Peter Hoffman opened Savoy in Soho.  That was the era of Continental cuisine.  Hoffman was one of the original Greenmarket chefs, who shopped at the market for seasonal produce and changed his menu accordingly.  “I first started buying from local farmers when I was at Huberts on 22nd St in the early ‘80’s, but it took a few years for the farmers to educate me before I had a deeper understanding of what went into growing delicious and healthy food,” Hoffman explains. Just a few years ago, he opened Back Forty, his second American restaurant with classic drinks and imaginative cooking.  After twenty years, he’s still creating inspired dishes, like salt crust-baked duck with ruttabaga and cherry risotto. Single/Married/Divorced Married. What did you...

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Q & A with Aldo Sohm

Posted on Mar 31, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

It’s not often the world’s best sommelier gets punked by Frank Bruni.  Just another day at Le Bernardin apparently.    Fortunately, Aldo Sohm loves challenges, which might explain how he earned the title, “Best Sommelier in the World.”  Sohm entered the competition on a whim and held has his title four years in a row.  He isn’t one of those people who claims they’re “born with a wine palate.”   In fact, he hated the taste the first time he tried it.   And up until he was 19, Sohm stuck to dessert wines because regular wines were too sour for him.     He grew up in Austria, where he attended a hospitality high school and quickly fell in love with the culture of sommelier competition early on in his career.  Especially winning.  Aldo Sohm moved to New York to work...

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Q & A with 21 Club's Christopher Smith

Posted on Mar 23, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Everyone has a story.  When you work at the 21 Club, you have more than most.  Christopher Smith is the captain of “Upstairs at 21,” which means he’s the maitre d‘ and sommelier every evening.  He’s witnessed four proposals and four anniversaries on the same night.  He’s also a trained opera singer with a diploma from Italy.   How does an opera singer end up working at the 21 Club? Vegas, of course.  Then Christopher moved to New York, where he spent time at both Vento and Gotham Bar & Grill.   He’s a character to say the least.  He may look young, but he fully embraces old world traditions, like the jacket policy and even wishes they’d bring back the tie requirement.   He’s not afraid to make a face if you order the mixed grill more than medium rare and...

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Q & A with Gabe and Katherine Thompson

Posted on Mar 15, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Who would’ve thought a blind date could lead to marriage and two thriving Italian restaurants?   Gabe & Katherine Thompson even get along at work in not one, but two kitchens.  Gabe does the cooking, while Katherine oversees the dessert menus at both dell’anima and L’Artusi.    Before becoming a pastry chef, Katherine worked as a food runner at per se, cooked savory at Italian Wine Merchants, then honed her pastry skills at Del Posto and Brasserie 44.   Gabe traveled through Italy, got yelled at while working at Le Bernardin; both gave him the knowledge and New York kitchen experience he needed to run his own.  Still, Thompson didn’t expect the fanfare or the crowds for that matter. This culinary duo have two restaurants under its belt, and a bar in the works next door to dell’anima.  Until they...

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Q & A with Cesare Casella

Posted on Mar 1, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

If you see a chef wtih fresh rosemary in his shirt pocket, it’s Cesare Casella.  “I think the Italian cuisine in New York has improved a lot over the past two decades.  Most of the time the Italian food here can be even better than you find in Italy,”  Casella asserts.  One of New York’s quirkier chefs, the chef drew attention at Beppe with his unorthodox Tuscan cooking before opening Salumeria Rosi Parmacotta on the Upper West Side.   He grew up handing out menus at Vipore, his family’s restaurant, only to return home after cooking school to earn Vipore a Michelin star before moving to New York.   His latest project, a market-cum-restaurant, features an impressive selection of Italian charcuterie, cheeses, as well as handmade desserts.  Salumeria Rosi also puts his spin on  “Tuscan-style tapas,” like rigatoni all’Amatriciana with a...

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Q & A with Riccardo Buitoni

Posted on Feb 24, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Riccardo Buitoni isn’t an Italian-American chef raised in an Italian family on American soil.  He’s the real deal.  Born in Piedmont, Italy, he learned his craft on Italian soil, making fresh pasta with his mother.   His first cooking job was at a local restaurant in his hometown.  From there, Buitino cooked his way through London, with a stint at a five-star restaurant in Sardinia, before landing in New York in Tocqueville’s kitchen.   Buitino fell in love with Williamsburg and opened Aurora, his flagship restaurant in Brooklyn before it was fashionable to do so.  His innovative, regional cooking quickly earned critical attention over dishes, like chestnut pappardelle with wild boar ragu, roasted cauliflower fontina cheese fondue, and fresh bread baked daily.   A few years later, he opened a Manhattan outpost in Soho with ambitious Piedmont cooking, including his mother’s...

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Q & A with Eleven Madison Park’s Angela Pinkerton

Posted on Feb 9, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

  Until recently, Daniel Humm oversaw both the dinner and dessert menu at Eleven Madison Park, one of NYC’s most spectacular restaurants.   But what most people don’t know is that Angela Pinkerton was working right alongside him in the kitchen for over two years.  In September, Humm handed over the reigns to Pinkerton, who was named executive pastry chef.  The former biology major is no stranger to the culinary sciences.  She worked  as a clerk in a bakery through college and ran her own cake-decorating business before she officially decided to study pastry at L’Academie de Cuisine. Considering how fundamental science is to dessert, it’s no wonder Pinkerton’s so accomplished in the kitchen.  She’s already integrated her style into the menu with new creations, like “Milk & Chocolate” with dulce de leche and “Caramel Apple” with toffee, walnuts,...

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Q & A with Bar Blanc Bistro's Sebastiaan Zjip

Posted on Feb 2, 2010 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Some restaurants just need a little time to grow up.  That was certainly the case with Bar Blanc Bistro.  When it first opened, the restaurant was called Bar Blanc and the chef was Cesare Ramirez.  The space was stunning, but the food proved inconsistent and overpriced. Now, it’s called Bar Blanc Bistro and the chef is Sebastiaan Zjip, who’s determined to reinvent the cooking’s reputation and lower the prices.  Chef Zjip, a Bouley protege, got his start washing dishes and peeling potatoes at a friend’s bistro in Toronto.  After graduating from culinary school, he literally had no choice but to leave Canada for New York.   Luckily, he ended up in David Bouley’s kitchens, working at Bouley,  as well as the chef de cuisine at Upstairs at Bouley.  He’s already received recognition for his refined, but rustic cooking at...

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Q & A with Cesar Ramirez

Posted on Dec 16, 2009 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

It’s not often a chef moves from an ambitious restaurant kitchen to a gourmet market, but Cesar Ramirez couldn’t be happier about the dramatic change.  Ramirez trained at Bouley where he met his then, future partners for Bar Blanc.  Other than its name, it wasn’t really a bar at all.  The food was sophisticated, sometimes precious, and there was even a $72, four-course tasting menu.   His cooking earned him attention and positive reviews.   Suddenly, he parted ways with his partners and disappeared for awhile. Just recently, he resurfaced as the executive chef at Brooklyn Fare, a gourmet market where he prepares takeaway lunches.  Instead of roasted red snapper with dashi broth and tofu puree, he now makes daily soups, chicken fingers, and salads.  But more importantly, he still gets to be a chef five nights a week where he...

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Q & A with John Fraser

Posted on Nov 25, 2009 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

The Upper West Side wasn’t a trendy dining destination until late last winter.  It certainly wasn’t a neighborhood where most young chefs dreamed of opening their first restaurant.  But John Fraser fell in love with the neighborhood while working as the executive chef at Compass where he managed to turn the kitchen around.  Fraser left Compass to open his own restaurant called Dovetail, where he’s earned considerable praise for his refined American cooking.  And just a few weeks ago, he expanded the dining room and added a 15 seat bar with a bar menu and a roving Armagnac cart.  Fraser went from anthropologist to dishwasher, bartender, line cook, quickly moving up to chef de partie at The French Laundry.  After traveling through France, he helped launch Snack Taverna in the West Village, where he fainted his first night on...

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Q & A with Sam Talbot

Posted on Nov 11, 2009 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Most people hate losing.  Not Sam Talbot.  He was eliminated in the finals of Top Chef in season two.  “It was a blessing in disguise,”  Talbot says.  Instead, he seized the opportunity to head up the kitchen at The Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York where he takes full advantage of the local waters.  Talbot grew up in the south and trained with chef James Burns at J Bistro in Charleston, North Carolina.  By age 23, he moved to New York to become the executive chef at The Black Duck alongside a 42 year old sous chef.   “We lasted about two weeks together,” he says.  Two years later, he opened his first restaurant, Williamsburgh Cafe, to rave reviews.  Chef Talbot, who is diabetic himself, volunteers with The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This winter, he’ll return to the city to...

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Q & A with the Ladies of Levain Bakery

Posted on Nov 3, 2009 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Who would guess the country’s best cookies were created by two triathalon runners?  Yes, really.  In fact, the two used to bake them to eat for energy during competition pre-power bars.  That’s the story behind Levain Bakery’s gooey, six-ounce chocolate chip cookies.  Pam Weekes and Connie MacDonald met training, but it was an unlikely parternship.  Pam worked in fashion and Connie worked at a bank, Long John Silver’s, Amy’s Bread for a stint.  Connie wasn’t even allowed to have sweets.  The two came up with a line of sinfully oversized cookies, including oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate peanut chip, dark chocolate, & chocolate walnut cookies.  Their cookies are so phenomenal that they’ve shipped them as far away as Alaska.  They also took down Bobby Flay on Throwdown and even appeared on Oprah for their sweet creations.  They’re also selling bread,...

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Q & A with Anita Lo

Posted on Oct 6, 2009 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

2009 hasn’t been the best year for chef Anita Lo.  Her Asian barbecue spot, Bar Q, as well as the Rickshaw Dumpling Bar on Eighth Street shuttered this year.   And just this summer, a fire shut down Annisa, Lo’s highly noted, Asian-fusion restaurant in Greenwich Village.  But Anita Lo’s not one to call it quits.    She proved that recently when she appeared on Top Chef Masters.  She’s forging ahead with a cookbook, plans to reopen Annisa late fall, and even leading culinary tours through South Africa. Single/Married/Divorced  (What’s the latest?)Seeing someone… You were recently eliminated from Top Chef Masters following the buffet lunch challenge.  What went wrong during that challenge?   Is it different to cook on tv or are you not thinking about the cameras while you’re in the kitchen? Coming from a small, fine dining restaurant, buffets are...

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