Yearly Archives: 2016

Chef’s Choice with Michael Anthony & Marcus Samuelsson at The Japan Society

D Gabor IntroDon Gabor, co-author of Chef’s Choice introducing the event at The Japan Society 
(photo courtesy Ed Lefkowicz)

“‘Influence,’ as a word, means to have an impact on people,” said Don Gabor at the introduction of the Japan Society’s event Culinary Masters on Their Japanese Influences.  Sometimes influence makes people change, and it can also be something that we give to others whom we mentor and nurture, he added.  Chefs Michael Anthony and Marcus Samuelsson are two of the culinary personalities who contributed to the book Chef’s Choice: 22 Culinary Masters Tell How Japanese Food Culture Influenced Their Careers & Cuisine written by Mr. Gabor and Ms. Saori Kawano, founder of The Gohan Society, a Japanese culinary non profit, and president and founder of Korin, the Japanese culinary shop.

S Kawano talkSaori Kawano, President and Founder of Korin, and Founder of The Gohan Society 
(photo courtesy Ed Lefkowicz)

Back in 1982, when Ms. Kawano first opened Korin, there was just a small group of American customers who came to her shop and who knew about Japanese cuisine.  At that time, there was a big barrier between Western and Japanese chefs in New York.  Most of her clients were Japanese chefs; she didn’t think that American chefs would use Japanese cooking tools.  Thanks to chefs like Michael Anthony and Marcus Samuelsson, that has changed.  Chef Anthony added, you can look around almost every kitchen in NYC these days, even in the one at Gramercy Tavern, and see Japanese knives in the kits of most of the cooks and chefs.  They are often used for more precise cuts and knife work than Western knives.  As Ms. Kawano stated, this is because “the presentation is like art.”

They also discussed the impact of The Gohan Society, a non-profit organization that seeks to share Japanese culinary heritage with chefs around the United States.  For Ms. Kawano, this is about “making Japanese food more accessible to American chefs.”  Chefs participate in exchange programs and in sharing ideas and information, taking them back to use in their own cooking or as Chef Anthony explained, “there’s a dialogue.”  They also have a scholarship program that brings Japanese chefs into American restaurants to work on an internship and that sends American chefs to Japan to do the same.

M Anthony talksChef Michael Anthony discusses the influence of Japan on his cooking
(photo courtesy Ed Lefkowicz)

Chef Michael Anthony shared his experiences working in Japan after finishing university.  The country and culture hold a special place for him as it was where he fell in love with cooking and discovered “what he wanted to do.”  Once he managed to work up the courage to go to a restaurant and to ask for a job, he gained a position in an establishment run by chef-owner Shizuyo Shima.  “I learned from her my foundation as a chef,” he shared with the audience.  “There’s not a single day that I don’t think of that experience.”

It was not only the technical skills and dedication to good craftsmanship that he took away with him; he also took away something inspirational and directional.  The sensibilities underneath the surface of his cooking – American food combined with creativity and seasonality – reveal the influences of his time in Japan.  He considers himself “lucky to be able to serve that food.”  Even in his James Beard Award-winning cookbook, V is for Vegetables, Chef Anthony uses Japanese ingredients and flavors, distilling them for the home cook.

M Sameulsson talkChef Marcus Samuelsson shares his experiences with Japanese cuisine and culture  
(photo courtesy Ed Lefkowicz)

For Chef Marcus Samuelsson, his introduction to Japan came through meeting other young chefs who were culinary students alongside of him.  He was impressed by their discipline and wanted to travel to Japan to experience that culture.  He also wanted to eat fugu.  What he found was that they “didn’t share a language but shared a passion for food.”  For him, Japan was very transformative and provided another lens through which to view his new Scandinavian cooking, as both are island nations, have cuisine built upon seafood, and were not in the culinary mainstream.

Although he has been there many times, he remarked, “Japan always humbles and inspires me as a curious chef.”  It’s not just about the ingredients, like fresh wasabi, not what we get that is green and comes out of a tube, it’s also about eating on a spiritual compass where there’s explanation needed as to why there’s no pork at a fish restaurant.  He also feels that the Japanese have done one of the best jobs of incorporating food as an ‘ambassador’ by way of introducing their culture to others.  He often feels like an outsider looking in when he’s there, not fully understanding it but adoring it all the same, which keeps a bit of the magic of the Japanese culture for him.

Chef's Choice book

Chefs Anthony and Samuelsson are only two of the chefs who talk about the influence of Japan on their culinary style in the book Chef’s Choice: 22 Culinary Masters Tell How Japanese Food Culture Influenced Their Careers & Cuisine.  This book is now in paperback and is available on line and in stores.

Thank  you to Don Gabor, Saori Kawano, and The Japan Society for inviting me to cover this event for them. The photos this article, except the final one, are courtesy Ed Lefkowicz.

#Pie Day with #UpSouthCookbook’s Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk Pie in Pie PanButtermilk Pie

I’ve been waiting for a while for just the right moment to post about this recipe. #PieDay seems like an appropriate time, donchathink?  This custard-like, fragrant concoction is a Southern staple, and I’d heard about it for years, although my mother didn’t make this kind of sweet really ever.  For all the desserts I’ve made, I’d also never tried my hand at this one until Nicole Taylor (aka Food Culturist) asked if I’d recipe test it for her Up South Cookbook last year.  Now, I’m hooked on it and can think of all sorts of events at which it would be perfect to bring to the table.

Buttermilk Pie in Tart Pan

Buttermilk Pie in tart form

The original pie in the photo that leads off this post found an audience at a shiva for a friend’s father.  The creamy, cool interior and flakey crust was admired and devoured by the assembled guests.  The photo at the top of this paragraph was a bit of a re-creation on my part.  For the annual #PieParty that is put together by a couple of fellow NYC food bloggers, I swapped out the pie plate for a tart pan and let it cook a tiny bit longer for some more color and a brûlée effect.  One of the chefs at our host location, the Institute of Culinary Education, happily consumed the few leftovers that remained, calling it one of the best baked goods he’d ever eaten.

UpSouth Cookbook

 Up South Cookbook

For my next cooking adventure with this recipe, I think I’m going to morph it even more and make tartelettes.  I have this great Nordic Ware pan that I’ve used to make mini crostate that I think will work out really well.  Nicole includes the pie crust recipe as well in her cookbook; it’s one that is super easy to pull together.  I’ll likely double that and make one batch of the filling, with its scent of cardamom, nutmeg, and vanilla that casts a lovely, warming perfume as it bakes.  That way, more guests can enjoy this taste of the South and of the regional hospitality that goes along with a slice of pie.

Kitchen Witch Tip:

Use the best-quality, full-fat buttermilk in this recipe.  It is so worth the end result to spend that bit of extra time and money to track it down.  In the NYC area, you can find Five Acre Farms products or visit the Union Square Greenmarket and pick up some from Tonje’s Farm Dairy.  

Food & Drink Events and Conferences for 2016

Food Styling prop tableFood Styling Workshop at Eat, Write, Retreat 2012

For several years now, I’ve hosted pages on this website of NYC Food & Drink Events as well as one featuring Food & Drink Conferences. Each of these is updated on a rolling basis, so that the information is as current as I can keep it, given when events and conferences are posted and when my schedule allows me to spend a few hours at the computer at home working on these pages.  With some delay, allowing me to relax from a hectic 2015 year-end, here are links to the pages updated for 2016:

NYC Food & Drink Events (updated continuously throughout the year, with the current month as the lead)

Food & Drink Conferences (updated throughout the year)

Here’s a link to a post that I wrote in 2013 about some of my favorite conferences from 2012, many of which are also being held in 2016.  I also list a few of my reasons for attending conferences and what you can gain from participating in them.  Although I might not be attending as many of these events as I have in past years, I still think that they are a valuable personal and professional resource.  My hope is that one day my budget for taking part in them will come back so that I can go to them once again.  In the meantime, I look forward to hearing about everyone else’s adventures on the conference and event circuit.

Buon appetito!