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21 Club has announced that they have appointed Sylvian Delpique, of the Savoie region in France, as their new executive chef
The outside of the 21 Club, decorated with horse jockeys, is classic, and now the interior will be going through some changes with the new executive chef.
21 Club, a New York gastronomical destination for almost 85 years, has announced that they have appointed Sylvian Delpique as the new executive chef. Delpique began his career in his native Savoie region of France and most recently worked at L’Escale in Connecticut. He will be replacing John Greeley, who had served as head chef since 2006. A representative from the 21 Club said that chef Delpique plans on breathing new life into the West Midtown restaurant’s classic dishes while still “paying respect and homage to the decades of history before him.”
Chef Delpique has been stateside for the past 14 years, working at such prestigious venues as Terrance Brennan’s Artisanal and the David Burke Restaurant Group. Delpique will announce new menus for the restaurant later this spring.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi
Famed New Orleans restaurant shares its mac and cheese recipe
Now is a great time to get cooking and perfect a tried and true American classic comfort food -- macaroni and cheese.
With an array of recipes that boast to be the best, Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans’ historic Treme neighborhood knows a thing or two about the southern staple. The customer favorite packs all the flavors of Mississippi and Louisiana cuisine.
The popular restaurant from the late, great chef Willie Mae Seaton -- who was honored with the prestigious James Beard Award for America’s Classic Restaurant for the Southern Region -- has been serving the local community and donating meals in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Check out the full recipe below for the classic, creamy and cheesy comfort food.
Willie Mae’s mac and cheese
2 cups yellow mild cheddar cheese (shredded)
2 cups white American cheese (shredded)
1/4 lb melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes dry or fresh
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 teaspoon of all-purpose flour
Bring 3 1/2 quarts of water to a rolling boil and then add pasta to the salt water. Boil for 12-15 minutes until al dente. Drain the pasta saving one cup of pasta water.
Return pasta to pot with cheese, milk, heavy cream and butter immediately, on a low fire stirring frequently until cheese is melted.
Add spices, flour, and drizzle in pasta water as needed while stirring. Pan the mac and cheese. We use a steamer but you can place in the oven for 15 mins on 350 degrees.
Mac and cheese should be creamy and cheesy. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and enjoy!
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Phillip Frankland Lee
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, The Gadarene Swine and Scratch|Bar
CULINARY EDUCATION: Trained at Le Cordon Bleu
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: Roasted Mushrooms with Burnt Sweet Potato
Chef Phillip Frankland Lee began his career as a dishwasher at 18 and quickly rose from the ranks working under some of the best chefs in the country. He became a Sous Chef at 21, an Executive Chef at 24, and a chef and owner at 25 when he opened his first solo restaurant. He currently owns vegan establishment The Gadarene Swine in Studio City and is working to move his Beverly Hill's restaurant Scratch|Bar to Encino. Phillip and his restaurants have been featured on Zagat's "30 Under 30" lists and he was also named as one of the "Best Young Chefs in America" by San Pellegrino. No stranger to television, Phillip has appeared and won several cooking competitions including "Chopped," "Guy's Grocery Games" and "Cutthroat Kitchen." Phillip aims to take elite fine dining and make it more approachable, affordable, accessible, fun and nutritious.
Padma Lakshmi is an Emmy-nominated food expert, television host, producer and The New York Times best-selling author.
She is the creator, host, and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Hulu series Taste the Nation, which received a 2021 Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series. The series has just been greenlit for a second season.
Lakshmi also serves as host and executive producer of Bravo’s two-time Emmy-winning series Top Chef, which has been nominated for 32 Emmys, including her two-time nomination for Outstanding Host for A Reality-Competition Program. Its new season will be premiering in spring 2021.
Lakshmi is co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America (EFA) and an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Artist Ambassador for immigrants' rights and women's rights. Lakshmi was also appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Born in India, she grew up in the United States, graduating from Clark University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts and American Literature. Known as India’s first supermodel, she began her career as a fashion model and actress working in Europe and the United States.
Laskhmi established herself as a food expert early in her career hosting Padma’s Passport, where she cooked diverse cuisine from around the world and Planet Food, a documentary series, both on the Food Network domestically and worldwide on the Discovery Channel. She also co-hosted Rai Television's Domenica In, Italy’s highest-rated variety show.
She’s a prolific author, writing the best-selling Easy Exotic, which won the “Best First Book” award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Lakshmi followed this with the publication of her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet and her memoir The New York Times best-selling Love, Loss and What We Ate. She later published The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs. In August of 2021 she will publish her first children’s book Tomatoes for Neela.
In addition to her food writing, Lakshmi has also contributed to Vogue, Gourmet, both British and American Harper's Bazaar, as well as penning a syndicated column on fashion and food for The New York Times.
Lakshmi created a fine jewerly line The Padma Collection, which sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. She also designed a home décor line under the same name featuring tabletop dishware, stemware and hand-blown glass décor pieces, was sold nationwide in Bloomingdale’s. In addition, Lakshmi created Padma’s Easy Exotic, a collection of culinary products ranging from frozen organic foods, fine teas, natural spice blends and home goods. In 2018, Lakshmi collaborated with MAC Cosmetics for a worldwide capsule collection called MAC Padma which quickly sold out in both India and the United States.
After unknowingly suffering from endometrisis for decades, in 2009 she co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America (EFA) alongside Advanced Gynecological Surgeon Tamer Seckin, MD. The EFA launched the first interdisciplinary research facility in the country for Gynepathology, as a joint project between Harvard Medical School and MIT and Lakshmi gave the keynote address at the Center’s opening in December 2009.
Her efforts were recognized on the floor of the New York State Senate, where she succeeded in passing a bill related to teen health initiatives. The organization’s ENPOWR program has currently educated over 32,000 students about endometriosis in high schools across the state of New York.
Lakshmi is a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has received the 2018 Karma Award from Variety, as well as the 2016 NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
When a Farewell Season Was Wiped Out, the Outfield Became a Diner
This was supposed to be the Pawtucket Red Sox’s final season in Rhode Island before moving to Massachusetts. Without any games for fans to attend, the team got creative.
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — The long goodbye to McCoy Stadium began in August 2018, when the Class AAA Pawtucket Red Sox of the International League announced the franchise would be moving 50 minutes up Route 146 to Worcester, Mass., starting with the 2021 season.
The news added even more weight to the team’s 2020 season, which was also the 50th anniversary of the Boston Red Sox’s minor-league presence in Pawtucket. The club’s president, Charles Steinberg, had events planned throughout the season, drawing on the memories of star players like Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn and Mookie Betts who had passed through en route to Boston.
Then the coronavirus pandemic closed the door on the season, which was officially canceled this week, leaving McCoy Stadium like the host of a going-away party with no guests.
Officials for the PawSox, as they’re known locally, feared they would have no chance to formally say goodbye to the community. They did what they could, holding virtual events with players and inviting fans to post personal messages on the stadium’s video board.
But when Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island announced in May that the state would permit outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people, “It turned a light on for all of us,” said Mike Tamburro, the team’s vice chairman who has been involved with the PawSox since 1974, including a long stretch as general manager.
The collective brainstorm created “Dining on the Diamond,” an outdoor picnic on the pristine grass of McCoy Stadium. What started on the first weekend in June with 20 tables, two seatings, and basic ballpark fare (hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and nachos) has expanded to include a third seating, more tables, and a menu that includes a Rhode Island lobster roll, a barbecue platter, and chicken caprese.
With the minor league season canceled, McCoy will be used as an alternate training site for members of the Red Sox’s 60-man active roster, potentially interrupting “Dining on the Diamond,” but Steinberg said the club “will continue to explore ways to have a fitting farewell to McCoy Stadium.”
There is clearly an appetite. When the team announced the promotion on its website, tables for the first two days — June 6 and June 7 — sold out in 88 minutes. When June 8 was added, it sold out in the same amount of time.
For Father’s Day weekend, the team expanded to 33 tables, a nod to the 33 innings played at the stadium between the PawSox and Rochester Red Wings in 1981 — the longest game in professional baseball history. And at the urging of fans, the team’s executive chef, Tom Whalen, added more expensive items, including his favorite, eggplant Parmesan. The tables also were moved from the dirt infield to the outfield grass.
Fans reserve tables, order their food and pay for it in advance online. At the ballpark, the green metal tables are set up at least 14 feet apart and restricted to five people. Servers wear masks, but they’re not required of diners.
On each table, which is cleaned between seatings, sits a placard with the table number and an image of a notable PawSox alum or member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame (Naturally, Ted Williams represents Table No. 9.).
Finally, diners at each table receive a miniature replica of McCoy to take home.
Like other members of the club’s front office and full-time staff, Tamburro has chipped in to help run the makeshift restaurant, escorting diners to their tables and soaking in stories of McCoy memories.
Seated at Table 4 with his wife, son, and daughter on a recent Friday, James Vierra of East Providence said he had seen his first game at McCoy in the mid-1960s, when it was home to the Cleveland Indians’ Class AA team. He recalled attending a Red Sox-sponsored activity one Saturday morning with his son, Brad, who ended up playing catch with Nomar Garciaparra.
“In fact, it was right about here,” he said, noting their spot in the outfield grass. “And here I am sitting at this table.”
Under the former owner Ben Mondor, who passed away in 2010 after holding the club for decades, the Pawtucket Red Sox became a local institution with strong ties throughout Rhode Island for its charitable works. In 2015, a group led by Larry Lucchino, then the president and chief executive of the Boston Red Sox, bought the club and tried to build a new stadium replace McCoy, which opened on July 4, 1942.
After failing to reach an agreement with the state legislature, Lucchino signed a letter of intent in August 2018 to move into a new ballpark in Worcester, Mass., 42 miles away.
But the team is making the most of its last few months in Rhode Island. Steinberg, whom Tamburro calls “the master of event planning” from his work with the Red Sox, Orioles, Padres and Dodgers, marveled at the tableau in front of him last month. “Look at any place on the field and there’s a story,” he said. “A who’s who of some of the greatest players in baseball history have been here.
“It’s also a reminder,” he added, “of the vital role ballparks play in our lives.”
At Table 21, honoring Clemens, Tina Trahan remembered working in the souvenir stand as a teenager during the years when the star pitcher himself had passed through. Joining her were two friends and her father, Fred, 90, who saw the Class B Pawtucket Slaters play at McCoy in the 1940s, including a 19-year-old Chuck Tanner in 1948.
Alex Richardson, 23, the club’s community relations assistant, said he revels in the tales he hears at each table. One night, he said, he served a family that told him they had chosen McCoy for their first night out of the house since the beginning of the pandemic.
“This is an unbelievable experience,” he said.
The immediate popularity of the PawSox’s ballpark bistro was noticed across the country, and Tamburro figured it could be just the beginning. “This kind of idea could be groundbreaking for the industry going forward,” he said. “Can you imagine Fenway Park doing this when the Red Sox are on the road?”
As the sun was setting behind left field, casting shadows from the patrons and tables toward home plate, three young boys were rolling around in the outfield after finishing their dinner. Their parents were a pair of couples from Boston who had gone to high school together.
A.J. Shepherd, the father of one of the boys, looked toward where they were playing, as a Frank Sinatra song played on the stadium’s sound system, and remarked, “How many times can you sit on a real baseball field and put your toes in the grass?”
Added Claudison Jean-Francois, “The temperature is right, there’s music, and the kids are having fun. It’s perfect.”
More than 2,600 families currently are on the waiting list, anticipating when the promotion resumes. “Amazing,” said Bill Wanless, who started with the franchise in 1985 as an intern, worked as its public relations director for 29 years and became senior vice president for communications in 2015.
His new job — greeting patrons as they enter the ballpark through a gate in right field and helping them get their table number — provides a front-line opportunity to assess the success of Dining on the Diamond.
Share All sharing options for: Georgetown’s New Replacement to Cafe Bonaparte Just Switched Chefs
French onion soup at Lutèce by Bonaparte Channing Foster/Lutèce by Bonaparte
There’s a lot happening behind the scenes of D.C.’s hospitality industry. Here’s where Eater tracks significant changes to the front of the house, back of the house, and any other personnel vital to local restaurants, bars, or purveyors of food and drink.
GEORGETOWN— In December 2019, Georgetown’s long-running Cafe Bonaparte underwent a revamp with a new name – Lutèce by Bonaparte — and a new Parisian chef in Martin Senoville, who planned to cook classic French recipes with a 2020 twist. Just a few months later, a new chef from NYC is now cooking at Lutèce. Matt Conroy is taking over at the Wisconsin Avenue cafe, incoming from Greenpoint’s hip wood-fired Mexican restaurant Oxomoco. Conroy is snapping photos of new dishes like dry-aged duck with smoked endive and beet and roasted carrots with burrata, blood orange, and sunflower seeds on his Instagram.
Alexandria— Tom Cardarelli is out as chef at Old Town staple Vermilion, and Brabo’s Inti Villalobos-Coady is stepping into the role, reports Northern Virginia magazine. Cardarelli, a veteran of NYC’s Jean-Georges, brought freshly-baked sourdough bread and butter to Vermilion. New executive chef Villalobos-Coady is envisioning fried fingerling potatoes meant to taste like salt and vinegar potato chips and strawberry rhubarb pie.
November 19, 2019
DOWNTOWN—Marriott’s Mayflower hotel recently hired the first female executive chef in the nearly 100-year-old history of the venue. Lindsey VandenToorn, who has been with the company for 10 years, is now the executive chef in charge of lobby-level Edgar Kitchen & Bar, along with catering and in-room dining programs. Marc Rios, most recently bar and beverage manager at Marriott’s Camelback Inn Resort in Arizona, is the new creative director of mixology and spirits and managing partner. Madison Fredricks is the new general manager of Edgar Kitchen & Bar.
WEST END—Chef Pedro Baroso joins Ritz-Carlton’s Westend Bistro as executive sous chef. The Portugal native, who recently relocated to D.C., kicked off his career in 2005 at the Ritz-Carlton in Sintra, Portugal. His global cooking stints have also taken him to Istanbul Abama, Spain Dubai and Miami. He replaces Westend chef Alvin Dela Cruz, who moved back to California this year to lead the kitchen at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills at the Waldorf Astoria. Baroso’s currently busy prepping for a Thanksgiving day meal, complete with butternut squash pumpkin soup, turkey, and all the trimmings ($95 per adult, $45 per child) a to-go version for eight is $340.
August 8, 2019
Mintwood Place pastry chef Stephanie Milne Mintwood Place [official]
ADAMS MORGAN—The timing of pastry chef Stephanie Milne’s move to Mintwood Place dictated that one of the first tasks she’d undertake at the trusty neighborhood bistro would be to come up with new flavors of ice cream. After a couple years at Ashok Bajaj’s Nopa Kitchen + Bar (now Olivia), Milne helped open Dacha’s sprawling Navy Yard outpost in May. She made a move to Mintwood Place by June because she wanted to work at a smaller restaurant that offered her more flexibility to try out new things on regulars. Mintwood Place succumbed to the stunt of National Ice Cream month, rolling out a 11 ice cream desserts in July, so Milne developed flavors such as fernet, smoked bacon and vanilla, and caramel popcorn, as well as a bloody mary sorbet.
The most ambitious idea might have been to make an ice cream-based grilled cheese, an idea that arose after a friend told her about the popularity of cheese ice cream in the Philippines. Milne incorporated “regular old Kraft singles” into the base, producing a flavor she describes as related to cheesecake. She toasted bread in butter before sticking it in the freezer and assembling the sandwiches. That dessert is off the menu now, but Milne says she might bring it back. She’s rotating specials in and out of the bar menu to test her more creative projects. Next up: a s’mores sandwich made with house graham crackers, chocolate ganache, and marshmallow ice cream.
July 19, 2019
DUPONT CIRCLE—Six months after opening inside the reinvented Dupont Circle Hotel, the Pembroke restaurant already has a new executive chef. Harper McClure, most recently chef de cuisine at 14th Street NW’s perennially packed Le Diplomate, replaces chef Marlon Rambaran. GM Joel Freyberg says Rambaran, a Fontainebleau Miami Beach alum, started out in a consulting capacity and “made it clear when taking on the partnership that he would eventually be seeking other interests and opportunities.” The 127-seat restaurant — formerly Cafe Dupont — got early glowing reviews from Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema, who called out Rambaran’s gold leaf-adorned saffron risotto and a lamb tagine “that would taste at home in Morocco.” McClure’s hotel resume also includes time as an executive chef at Brothers and Sisters, the essential American-Asian restaurant at the Line, and at Brabo by Robert Wiedmaier at the Kimpton Lorien in Alexandria. McClure is expected to roll out a new menu this fall.
July 11, 2019
SOUTHWEST—Mandarin Oriental just named Claus Olsen its executive pastry chef. The Denmark native has clocked 20 years of experience working in Forbes Five-Star restaurants and cake shops around the globe. He most recently helmed dessert stations at a Shangri-La Bangkok hotel in Thailand, following stints at the Mandarin’s Malaysia, Bangkok, and Las Vegas properties. Olsen, who grew up watching his grandfather bake at his Copenhagen-based bakery, has cooked for kings, queens, presidents, and dignitaries around the world.
OLD TOWN—Peter Saletta was recently named Union Street Public House’s new executive chef. The barbecue pro’s revamped menu draws inspiration from Union Street’s historical life as a late-1700s warehouse. Think locally-sourced ingredients, fresh catches of the day, and smoked ribs. A new, “My Bar, My Rules” sandwich comes on an English muffin with pan-seared aged filet mignon, Swiss cheese, garlic butter, rosemary, roasted red pepper, and Tabasco aioli. Saletta, a Sarasota, Florida, native, honed his culinary chops as a chef at various locations of Fleming’s Steak House, where he was named as one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best Chefs Under 30. He’s also an alum of Sullivan’s Steak House and D.C.’s Black Finn.
July 2, 2019
BRAMBLETON, VIRGINIA—Suburbia’s critically-acclaimed AhSo just plucked its new chef de cuisine from Dupont Circle’s Firefly. Rich Falbo was executive chef at the American restaurant tucked inside the Kimpton Hotel Madera for the past 18 months. He tells Eater he was attracted to AhSo’s farm-to-table focus, its close relationships with local suppliers, and chef Jason Maddens’ passion for wine. “It will be a refreshing change from the urban scene,” he says. AhSo’s frequently-changing menu currently includes boneless pork loin sourced from Warrenton, Virginia’s Whiffletree Farm and Virginia asparagus. Falbo, a 20-year restaurant vet, worked his way up at various Hyatt Regency resort properties before leading the kitchen at Austin’s seafood-centric Perla’s. He starts his latest gig alongside Maddens, a Central alum, next week. Eater reached out to Firefly’s Kimpton team regarding a replacement.
April 26, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC—Award-winning restaurateur Ashok Bajaj of Knightsbridge Restaurant Group just made a huge move by hiring chef Frank Ruta, reviving the James Beard Foundation Award winner’s cooking career after nearly a year out of the kitchen. The former White House chef, who’s cooked under three presidents, was most recently helming glitzy French power spot Mirabelle, which closed and reopened last summer with a new chef. Now he’s got a new job, but it’s unclear which kitchen he will call home (Bajaj’s prolific restaurant empire currently includes Bibiana, Oval Room, Bombay Club, Olivia, Bindaas, Rasika, and Sababa). Ruta could be a big part of reviving the space that housed Restaurant Nora — the eponymous restaurant from organic dining pioneer Nora Pouillon that shuttered last year after a 40-year run. Bajaj bought it last fall for $4 million and plans to turn into a new spot called Annabelle.
CAPITOL HILL—Tony power spot Charlie Palmer Steak has a new wine director and head sommelier. Phil Prifold replaces Brandon Anderson, who’s reportedly headed to New York City’s Michelin-starred Per Se. This is the third go-around for Prifold and chef Mike Ellis, who worked at the Watergate and opened Knightsbridge Restaurant Group’s Bardeo Wine Bar & Cafe together. Prifold, who was most recently consulting for luxury hotel brands, plans to continue to stock Charlie Palmer’s glass-enclosed vino vault with lesser-known producers while bulking up a tannic-driven red category that pairs best with steaks.
Cabernet Sauvignon is currently the No. 1 varietal by the glass and bottle inside the recently refurbished restaurant, reports Prifold, followed by popular Pinot Noir and Malbec pours (reds will be flowing even more than usual tonight at its fourth annual all-you-can-eat Beefsteak dinner). Its large by-the-glass program recently shrank under his watch to encourage keeping more fresh bottles on-site. Going with more Sonoma vs. Napa labels has allowed prices to drop bit, he says, which helps accommodate D.C. regulars with nonprofit and government incomes. Most whites by the glass are around $13, and reds are $13 to $15. “But if you want to spend a few thousand dollars we have a bottle for you,” he says, name-dropping a 1958 vintage of Napa Valley’s Beringer.
The steakhouse earned “best wine program of the year” in 2017 by the local restaurant association, thanks in large part to then-wine director Nadine Brown’s tireless pursuit of interesting pours. Brown and Prifold share a past: She worked for him while he was wine director at Penn Quarter’s now-closed Signatures.
RESTON, VIRGINIA—Red’s Table just named Nelson Erazo its new executive chef. He was most recently was working in the city, helming Melrose Georgetown Hotel’s Jardenea. At his new post in suburbia, a recently released lineup of spring dishes includes coriander-dusted diver scallops, Chesapeake Bay crab bisque, and roasted beet and goat cheese salad.
March 20, 2019
LOGAN CIRCLE—After joining Birch & Barley and Churchkey as executive chef late last year, Jarrad Silver introduced his first revamped menu last night at the Logan Circle brewpub run by local powerhouse Neighborhood Restaurant Group. Silver, who got his start in D.C. as a server and prep cook at Mike Isabella’s Graffiato, was chef de cuisine at Kapnos Taverna, Pepita and Yona before Isabella’s restaurant group dissolved in the wake of a sexual harassment allegations against the celebrity chef.
Like Hazel, an NRG restaurant that’s undergone a Turkish makeover, Birch & Barley has incorporated Middle Eastern flavors into its modern American menu. For example, Silver is serving house-made labneh on wild mushroom toast, throwing ras al hanout crumble in a roasted beet salad, pairing muhammara with whole cauliflower, and putting braised lamb shanks on top of Moroccan couscous. Silver’s travels to Israel inform the new menu along with flavors normally found in a delicatessen. Silver is baking challah rolls as a tribute to his grandmother’s bread. A foie gras toast comes on pumpernickel with pastrami spice and mustard seeds.
March 11, 2019
GEORGETOWN—Gerard Cribbin is the new executive chef at High Street Café, the recently opened American brasserie with a Latin bent. The new post marks the reunion of Cribbin and managing partner Miguel Iguina, who opened Italian mainstay Filomena a few blocks away in the early 1980s. Cribbin later went on to cook in Puerto Rico and immerse himself in Spanish cuisine. The months-old restaurant also just introduced lunch under Cribbin’s watch, adding pigeon peas two ways with hummus and escabeche pan roasted calamari with shitake mushrooms and a crispy cod sandwich. All month, a $22 lunch deal includes an appetizer, an entrée, and a glass of house wine or dessert.
February 28, 2019
WEST END—There’s a new leader in the kitchen at Rasika’s West End outpost. Award-winning restaurateur Ashok Bajaj of Knightsbridge Restaurant Group just named Rakesh Singh head chef. Singh, who hails from the northeast region of India, was most recently executive chef at the 427-room Westin Hyderabad Mindspace in Telangana, India. He joined the resort in 2011 as chef de cuisine, climbing up to the top culinary post in 2016. Singh’s resume also includes cooking at Michelin-rated London restaurants Tamarind and Amaya. For his first stateside gig, Singh’s adding smoked eggplant golgappa with cilantro, tamarind and pomegranate smoked duck with cashew nut, foie gras, and marmalade and spinach dumplings with dill leaves and tomatoes to Rasika’s menu. The fine dining destination, which turns seven this year, will remain spearheaded by group executive chef Vikram Sunderam.
February 18, 2019
NORTH BETHESDA—Jonathan Collins, a sous chef at Hazel when former chef Rob Rubba was charming diners with foie gras zucchini bread and sticky, crunchy ribs, is now the executive chef of Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s outpost in North Bethesda. Collins took over the kitchen at Owen’s Ordinary at the Pike & Rose complex in August. He recently rolled out a winter menu that brings on a suckling pig garnished with pomegranate and za’atar, seared Virginia scallops with Brussels sprouts and bacon lardons, and a rotating burger of the week. Before NRG (Bluejacket, Birch & Barley) sent Collins to its Maryland tavern, he cooked at Plume, helped open Radiator, and worked in kitchens in New York. The Southern Maryland native got his start working under Kinship chef Eric Ziebold at now-closed CityZen.
February 1, 2019
BLAGDEN ALLEY—Oaxacan restaurant Espita Mezcaleria is ready to share its star chef with the Big Apple. Robert Aikens, who was hired in summer 2017 from the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center, just announced plans to move back to New York City to help re-open Parisian bistro Pastis in the Meatpacking District with James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr:
Shakewell Restaurant, Oakland
As Chef Biesty of Shakewell Restaurant can tell you, Oakland is where it’s at.
S he studied at the Culinary Institute, she’s done Top Chef, she’s worked internationally from London (where she trained with Jamie Oliver) and New York’s Aquavit to New Orleans’ Sazerac. She was executive chef at San Francisco’s legendary Sir Francis Drake Hotel. So where will you find Jen Biesty these days? At Shakewell
Restaurant (www.shakewelloakland.com) in Oakland, of course. The stunning Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant, her first venture as an independent restaurateur, opened with longtime friend Tim Nugent in mid-2014.
As Biesty can tell you, Oakland is where it’s at. Having worked for years in San Francisco, upon deciding to open her own place, Oakland beckoned with its burgeoning foodie scene. “I had been in San Francisco since 1995,” she recalls, “and we looked at spots there, but were having a hard time finding the right size, the right location. The realtor said, ‘Hey, what do you think about Oakland?’”
It was an idea that hadn’t occurred to her: “I went into it slightly blind. I’d never spent much time here.” People she knew weren’t exactly gung-ho on the idea either. “We would talk to people to invest, and they’d say, ‘Oakland? Why would you not open in San Francisco? You’ve been there 20 years now.’ Well, this was the right place for it.”
For Biesty, having the right place is key. She points out the (already in place) wood-burning oven, the street location on a much-trafficked, popular avenue, the high ceilings. “So this was risky,” she notes, “but it was the right decision. We like being part of this new thing that’s been happening in Oakland.”
It’s a very different experience from her work at the Sir Frances Drake, where she was overseeing the preparations for over 1,000 covers a day. “We had a whole engineering department,” she laughs, “and if things went wrong you just called engineering.” By contrast, she now is the engineering department. “I worked for so many people who owned restaurants, and had to watch them clean the graffiti off the walls, plunge the toilet. I had 65 cooks to schedule, now I have 12.” She pauses, grinning. “Well, every once in a while.”
Jen Biesty and Tim Nugent
Her partner, Tim Nugent (who was executive pastry chef at the Sir Francis Drake and is himself an alum of Top Chef: Just Desserts), was a natural for the restaurant, deftly handling the front of house while Biesty oversees the cuisine. It’s a mutually helpful relationship that goes back years. As Biesty reminisces, Tim pops by to make sure everything’s okay, as if by magic sensing he’s about to be talked about: “My first chef job,” Jen says, “was at Universal Café in the Mission. It has like 18 booths. When I got hired, I needed to come up with a pas- try menu. I had met Tim, who was pastry chef at Rouge in Berkeley. I called Tim, and he faxed me over these recipes, then we spoke by phone, and he talked me through it. And that was our first major interaction.” She looks at Tim with the fondness of old friends, and states, with affection, “We connected by helping each other.”
Not only does Nugent handle the front of house (“Tim is such a great personality, he loves kissing babies,” laughs Jen), he also provides recipes for desserts. Biesty describes the process: “Holly (my sous chef) and I will be talking about what’s going to be on the menu next week, then Tim will come into the conversation. We’re always collaborating and talking, we’re a team. Which is really awesome. Holly worked with us at Scala’s (the restaurant in Sir Francis Drake), so we’ve all known each other a long time.”
Nugent’s contribution to the success of Shakewell can’t be underestimated, as the atmosphere is so important: five-star service meets amiable front of house, with a portion of amazing food thrown in for good measure. “We want to have really good friendly proper service,” notes Jen, “that service you get in a fine dining restaurant but without a stuffy feeling. Both of us have that same hospitality background. We want to be a little gem in the neighborhood.” The philosophy even extends to the bar, under the guidance of James Gatts. Biesty raves, “James is an amazing bartender, he’s charming and sweet. We’re a neighborhood restaurant and he has that charming charisma.”
Try a Croquetas de bacalao and
Chicken and almond albondigas small version
recipes at home. Click here.
Still, all the friendliness wouldn’t mean much without Biesty’s amazing cuisine, and that’s the thing that’s been the key to the restaurant’s success. Her philosophy? “Use beautiful ingredients, pick a certain ingredient, find things that work really well with it, high- light, and show it in a simple, elegant, beautiful way. I tend to be more on the rus- tic side. Don’t overdo it. Keep it simple and highlight the ingredients.”
Stop in for dinner, and you’ll see exactly what she’s talking about. Try tapas from duck confit lettuce cups or turkey-zucchini albondigas with goat cheese to anchovy/ahi, pepper-stuffed olives, and falafel with chorizo. Splurge on a bomba, a mountain of rice with delights that might be a chicken/prawn combination, or squid and its ink accompanied by a carrot/jalapeño sofrito. End with a luscious flan adorned with lemon and fennel pollen, or dig into churros and their complementary bitter- sweet and spicy chocolate sauce.
Gaze around as you taste the sweetness that stops just shy of too sweet. With its high ceilings and urban/rustic décor of wood and stone, Shakewell just feels like the place you’d want to spend an evening (or the rest of your life): in Biesty’s words, “the right place.”
Best of all, Biesty’s creativity means an ever-changing array of delights. “It’s fun coming up with different tapas,” she asserts, “mingling different cultures’ cuisines and making small plates. We change it up: we always do a bacalao cro- quette, then we started a ham croquette. We do a deviled quail egg wrapped in Serrano ham (I never saw that when I was in Spain) fried anchovies, smelt, albacore. We even do a Mediterranean eggplant caviar with poppadom.”
It seems like a lifetime ago that she appeared on Top Chef with her then-girl- friend, and while her memories of those days are fond, it’s definitely something that’s in the past. “It took a little coaxing (or some drinks) to get me out of my shell,” she jokes. “After being on the show, I had to do a ton of interviews, I got invited to every gay pride party in town. Not only my career but my social life was through the roof. It opened up doors. I was perceived well, and left with my integrity.” She pauses and looks around at Shakewell, her current life. “We don’t talk about it a lot now. We don’t put it out there that much,” she concludes.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, though, it’s the difficulty female chefs can face. Biesty recalls being at the Sir Francis Drake, where “even with a full 100% chefs jacket with my name on it, they’d say, where’s the chef? and look at the first tall guy.” Even now, she admits, “There’s still work to be done on that score. When we have a new delivery person or driver come in, they sometimes make that fatal mistake.” Things are improving, though: “Out here, in the Bay Area, we have a lot of female chefs.” It’s one of the things, in fact, that drew her back to the area after her time in the East and in Europe.
What Biesty has accomplished in a year and a half is nothing short of miraculous, with diners flooding through Shakewell’s doors for its unique mix of Spanish/Mediterranean cuisine, top-notch service, and stylishly simple décor. She’s recently gotten married to her girlfriend, and like a true Oaklander held the ceremony at the town’s stunning Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses. Still, this is not a chef, or a person, to let the good life go to her head. She’s still in the restaurant practically 24/7, and it’s unlikely that devotion will change. For Biesty, the secret of success is a hands-on involvement that a lesser chef might find daunting. “I work the line three nights a week. I love it. I had a ball working the wood oven last night. I did a wine dinner the other night at a winery, and I was telling the chef I do the line three nights a week. He said ‘That’s crazy!’ But if I’m working the line, I can figure out a better, more efficient way of doing something and share that with the cooks. I can say, hey, I worked station last night, and I realized if we do this, this way, we can do it better.”
Will she ever relax and just let go? She smiles. “If I find another me, I can let go a little more.”
Discovering LGBTQ Medellin, Colombia
Medellin has sprung onto the world tourism map in recent years with a diversifying culinary and design scene, as well as new hotels and tours expanding their offerings like never before.
When Arizona native Sam Castañeda first visited Medellin in 2013, the South American city wasn’t exactly a gay vacation paradise. “There was nothing for gay travelers or gay foreigners,” he recalled. Nevertheless, Castañeda loved the city so much that he not only extended his stay, he moved there permanently. He also founded Out in Colombia, the nation’s first LGBTQ tour operator that’s focused on making the destination more accessible to foreign visitors.
Since his first visit, Castañeda said, Medellin has gotten even better. “Today there’s more social acceptance,” he explained. “People here are amazing, gay or straight. They’re so friendly. It’s a very welcoming and safe place, and a lot of fun.”
Medellin is much more than an increasingly gay-friendly hotspot for travelers from around the globe. Savvy travelers of every orientation know that Colombia’s second-largest city is no longer the “no-go” destination that drug lord Pablo Escobar called home. Medellin has sprung onto the world tourism map in recent years with a diversifying culinary and design scene, as well as new hotels and tours expanding their offerings like never before.
Out In Colombia Tour Guide Brian Schon
“We’re in style now,” said Julio Casadiego, general manager of Colombia Travel Operator, an affiliate of Viva Expeditions, which offers a variety of LGBTQ-friendly tours in Medellin and elsewhere in Colombia. He credited the Netflix series “Narcos,” which focused on the life of Escobar, for making the public more aware of Medellin, although he added it wasn’t always positive publicity. “The Netflix series put us on the map,” he said. “But we’re much more than a city of narcos. That series is bullshit.”
Today, so-called “narco tours” are still popular, and even regular city tours take in some sites affiliated with the drug kingpin who died during a shooting in 1993. But the city is moving on. The Monaco, an apartment building that Escobar owned and lived in, which still attracts tourists, is slated for demolition. And another Escobar-owned building, the Dallas,
has been reborn as an attractive hotel called the Viaggio.
There is still plenty of interest in Medellin’s difficult past, to be sure, but visitors are balancing that curiosity with decidedly forward-thinking activities like art and design tours that provide access to the city’s museums, galleries, and burgeoning fashion scene (you may be wearing clothes made or designed in Colombia right now, without knowing it). People are also savoring the creations of local chefs and spending the evenings enjoying the thriving LGBTQ nightlife. Medellin has blossomed into a multifaceted place to vacation, and there are many ways to enjoy it.
The climate here is also a big draw for travelers. Set scenically in the foothills of Andean mountains, Medellin is known as the city of eternal spring, thanks to its year-round good weather, with temperatures that average between 60 and 80 degrees. As the capital of the Antioquia province, Medellin is also a gateway for exploring the region’s picturesque mountains, valleys, coffee plantations, and flower farms. The city and the surrounding area are prime examples of Colombia’s growing allure as a tourism destination.
Dine Roundup: News on Ruth’s Hummus, City Club, Jay Ducote at the James Beard House and more
Ruth’s Recipes, the maker of Ruth’s Hummus, doubled its retail footprint in May, putting the Baton Rouge-made hummus in more than 80 stores in the region. The expansion came about via agreements with Associated Grocers and Associated Wholesale Grocers to put Ruth’s Hummus in stores from Lake Charles to Gulf Shores, Alabama, as well as 43 Rouses Supermarkets and five Breaux Mart Supermarkets.
The team behind Ruth’s Hummus is producing and packaging more than a ton of hummus a month, according to a press release.
“It’s so exciting to see our little family startup have such great success and growth over the past three years,” company founder and co-owner Kathy Broha said in the press release.
Chef Eric Brandt Returns to the City Club
The City Club of Baton Rouge has announced the return of Eric Brandt as executive chef of the high-profile club’s kitchen. He will replace chef Eric Arceneaux, who has left for a new opportunity in Georgia.
Brandt is a Baton Rouge native and graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. He trained under his father, the legendary Charles Brandt, at Chalet Brandt from 1984 to 2002.
Jay Ducote takes his talents to the Big Apple
Baton Rouge chef and Food Network Star alum Jay Ducote will cook an LSU-themed tailgate dinner for 80 guests at the world-renowned James Beard House in New York City on July 21.
Ducote will cook a five-course dinner, inspired by some of the dishes he has cooked at tailgates. The dinner will also include appetizers paired with cocktails and wines featuring Ducote’s Blanc Du Bois from the Landry Vineyards, the Vending Machine Winery and Donner-Peltier Distillers.
Lit Pizza comes to Baton Rouge
Lit Pizza, a new fast-casual, wood-fired pizza eatery by the founders of Izzo’s Illegal Burrito, is coming to 3930 Burbank Drive in the Southgate shopping center this summer.
The restaurant will offer a “craft your own” experience, giving guests the opportunity to customize their pizzas. Prices start at $6 for a cheese pizza, and range to $8 for unlimited topping selections. Dough will be freshly spun, made daily and fired to create light, crispy thin crust pizza. Lit Pizza will also feature locally sourced proteins and vegetables, gluten-free dough and vegan cheese options.
Louisiana shrimp season to begin May 23
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has set the statewide spring inshore shrimp season for May 23 at 6 a.m.
The commission disregarded data found by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that indicated the shrimp season should start earlier in the Barataria, Timbalier, Terrebonne and Vermilion-Teche basins.
Culinary School vs. On-The-Job Training
As the landscape of the culinary industry shifts, those looking to break into the industry (and those responsible for hiring new talent) are reconsidering the proper path to take, weighing the pros and cons of culinary school against jumping into hands-on experience, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“I just think culinary school is antiquated,” said Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Marc Vetri, who learned to cook on the job. “They’re teaching things you can learn working. They have just not evolved with the restaurant world.”
Nonetheless, he now teaches a culinary class at the city’s Drexel University.
While culinary school offers the hope of fast-forwarding past years of chopping onions or working at a restaurant for free to gain experience, it comes at an ever-growing cost, The Inquirer reported. Certificates now start at about $12,000 at community college or a small private school. An associate’s degree runs $25,000 one at places like the Art Institute or the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia costs nearly twice that. A bachelor’s degree at Drexel costs more than $250,000.
A 2014 survey by researchers at Cornell and Ohio State universities found that kitchen workers with degrees earned just 8 percent more than those without. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that chefs and head cooks earned a median income of $42,490, and cooks earned a median salary of $20,550 in 2012, The Inquirer reported.
“It’s not a very lucrative field. It’s not a medical school or business or engineering school where you can do a clear return on investment,” Jonathan Deutsch, director of Drexel’s hospitality program, told The Inquirer. “Culinary education has become a little fetishized by the whole Food Network, celebrity-chef thing. I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who have very good professional lives and say, ‘I wish I could quit everything and go to culinary school.'”
The number of people pursuing culinary certificates grew by 63 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to the Education News Career Index, and enrollment in bachelor’s programs nearly doubled.
“When I started, virtually everyone went the apprenticeship route,” said William Tillinghast, director of the International Culinary Institute at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. “There were four or five apprentices running around most restaurants and good country clubs there was a saucier, there was a pastry chef and a chef who would do the soups, sauces and stocks.”
Today, kitchens are smaller and chefs busier. “The chefs don’t have enough time to spend with the apprentices,” Tillinghast told The Inquirer.
Schools have picked up the slack with expanded offerings. At the Culinary Arts Institute at Montgomery County Community College, the curriculum includes more hands-on classes in a new 15,000-sq. ft. facility with four kitchens. There’s a new, student-run retail bakery and café, and a second restaurant is set to debut this month, The Inquirer reported. Francine Marz, the director, said enrollment has increased 50 percent since 2013, to 165 students.
Christina DeSilva, 21, who was recently named executive chef at Taproom on 19th in South Philadelphia, told The Inquirer her education at JNA was crucial, providing a connection with an alum for an externship at Stateside. After jobs there and at Morgan’s Pier, she felt ready to run her own kitchen. “It definitely gives you the foundation. You need to know the technique before you can start to be creative with it, and that’s what culinary school gives you.”
Culinary degrees aren’t always an indicator of success, though, The Inquirer reported.
Marcie Turney runs four restaurants in Midtown Village, and is preparing to hire for a fifth, Bud & Marilyn’s. “I’ll get someone who went to CIA, which is supposedly our best culinary school, and they can’t do three things at once. Everyone is different,” she said. (She herself attended the Restaurant School but never graduated she was too busy working as a chef to finish her final project.)
While some of Philadelphia’s young chefs are CIA alumni, there is an impressive list of young, successful, informally trained stars, The Inquirer reported.
Colin Mason, the 29-year-old executive chef at Sola in Bryn Mawr, got his education in the city’s top kitchens while working long hours for free. He took jobs where he could work with mentors. “For a while, I had a rule that I was only going to work at places that had three bells,” he told The Inquirer. “It was like going to culinary school and getting paid.”
Some chefs say they prefer to hire educated people, but not necessarily culinary-school graduates, The Inquirer reported.
Chip Roman, whose newest restaurant is the Treemont, said: “For a serious position, I like to see some kind of higher education, whether religion, philosophy, or engineering. Culinary is a plus.”
Others told The Inquirer that, given the current pace of restaurant openings, managers aren’t worried about education: Anyone with experience has a shot, especially since there’s a lot of competition among restaurants looking for cooks.
Whiteface Lodge Appoints New GM, Executive Chef and Spa Director
Shawn Goodway has joined the Forbes Four Star Whiteface Lodge as general manager, bringing nearly three decades of upscale hotel management experience. Goodway comes to the High Peaks from the Saratoga Hilton in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he began in 2008 as director of finance and was elevated to general manager in 2010. Prior to that, he was at Saratoga’s historic Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa for 20 years, serving as controller/IT manager and then general manager.
Also new to the all-suite resort are Executive Chef Brandon Schatko and Spa Director Mark Lumpkin. Schatko joins Whiteface Lodge’s premier restaurant Kanu and more casual Kanu Lounge from Top of the Pontch in Detroit, where he was named Best Chef 2016 by the Detroit Metro Times. Schatko was one of the Motor City’s youngest executive chefs at 21, having worked as executive banquet chef at the Twin Lakes Golf Club in Rochester, Michigan and executive chef at the Andiamo Detroit Riverfront in Detroit. He describes his cooking style as “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.”