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Andrew Zimmern on ‘Delicious Destinations,’ What’s Next for ‘Bizarre Foods,’ and the 2015 South Beach Wine & Food Fest

Andrew Zimmern on ‘Delicious Destinations,’ What’s Next for ‘Bizarre Foods,’ and the 2015 South Beach Wine & Food Fest


Andrew Zimmern is one of the most interesting people in the world of food television. Host of Bizarre Foods and Bizarre Foods America, he rose to fame as the man who would eat just about anything, and his worldly and inclusive perspective is one we all wish we could have. At the upcoming 2015 South Beach Food & Wine Festival, Zimmern will be hosting the Best of the Munchies: People’s Choice Food Awards. The Daily Meal spoke to him about what he loves most about the festival; his favorite things about Miami; his inspirations; his newest show, Delicious Destinations; and what he has in the works.

The Daily Meal: What are you most looking forward to at SOBE this year?
Andrew Zimmern:
Swimming in the ocean with my son, of course. Walking on the beach with my wife early in the morning. Seeing all my chef friends and hanging out late into the night. SOBE is the one time of year I routinely get to see the dawn come up after a long night of fun. The Miami music and dance scene is spectacular. And I am really excited to be hosting The Munchies closing party on the beach once again. It’s a superb event and I think it’s got the best food you can taste the whole weekend.

What first inspired you to start cooking?
My grandmother. She was very old, and not active in any other room but the kitchen. So when I was five she would sit me on a stool and I would watch her cook. My father had me traveling around the world from an early age. I'm just a paler version of him.

What are your favorite foods to cook at home?
Roasted whole birds, one-pot meals, and anything I can throw on or in my Cowboy Cauldron. I want to get one of those cool Mario Batali wood burning ovens for my outdoor kitchen— that’s the next big move.

What inspired you to launch Delicious Destinations?
Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations is a “recommender” show. It’s attempting to fill the void for the fans who kept asking, “When I go to Paris, what are the five or six foods I shouldn’t miss?” This isn't about the best place to eat: it’s about a type of food you shouldn’t miss, and a good example of where to find it. It’s about iconic foods in wonderful places. The original title was Edible Icons, which I really liked a lot, but the idea of putting it under a Bizarre Foods umbrella was the best way to clue fans in to its presence. Starting a show is tough, and now that we have 16 episodes under our belts I think, in our second season, if we have that chance, we need to make the show smarter. I really like the general idea of it, but, like most new things, all I am seeing are the things I want to improve for next year.

What are you working on these days? What's next for Bizarre Foods?
I am in an airport on my way to South America, shooting more Bizarre Foods. I have 2 more concepts rolling out over the next year: one on Travel Channel and one on Cooking Channel. I just launched a production company called Intuitive Content that you will be hearing a lot about over the next year… I'm busy!

Do you ever want to go brick-and-mortar with Canteen or a different concept altogether?
We are. There’s hopefully a big announcement to come in the next month or two. We have several things that my restaurant group will be announcing before the end of March, including lots of Canteen expansion news.

What is the best meal you've ever eaten?
Because it impacted my life every day since I ate there, I would have to pick the first meal I ate at Paul Bocuse in Lyon in 1974. I had no idea that type of dining, insane food quality and precision, service or freshness existed in the restaurant world. Squads of bonneted grandmothers picking herbs and lettuces through the windows is an image I haven't been able to shake for 40 years.

What do you love about Florida, and Miami in particular?
What’s not to love? It’s the sexiest city in America. It’s international. I think of it as the unofficial capital of South America, actually. Great food, great weather, superb people. We are there five or six times a year for family fun.


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Sizzling Steaks

In Buffalo Gap, Texas, Roger Mooking meets Tom Perini at his restaurant, Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Roger is put to work lighting up burn barrels for the metal pits, then dessert is baked in a coal-covered cast iron Dutch oven. At Pitchfork Fondue Western Cookout in Pinedale, Wyo., owner Matt David invites Roger to his outdoor kitchen where steaks are skewered onto pitchforks and deep-fried in giant cauldrons.

Carolina 'Cue

Roger Mooking heads to North and South Carolina to visit a couple of old school restaurants that have upheld a long tradition of mouthwatering barbecue for several generations. At Sweatman's in Holly Hill, S.C., whole hogs are cooked low and slow and then pulled and chopped into juicy, meaty perfection. In North Carolina, Roger visits Stamey's Barbecue in Greensboro for their Lexington-style barbecue. Succulent pork shoulders are chopped and piled high on a bun, kissed with vinegar sauce and crowned with slaw.

Pig Roasts

Roger Mooking heads to Napa Valley, Calif., for two unique pig roasts. In St. Helena, chef John Fink is famous for his portable Cuban Pig roasts. Over a custom built oven, a whole pig is butterflied and seasoned with mojo and slow-roasted over wood coals. In Calistoga, Roger meets Todd Spanier to feast on a whole pig that's stuffed with truffles and trumpet mushrooms, then roasted over a rotisserie that his grandfather constructed in the 1970s.

South American Grilling

Roger Mooking meets two chefs celebrating South American grilling styles in northern California. At Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena, Chef Stephen Barber built a "live fire" cook area, for Argentinian Asado, where Roger and Stephen slow cook spring lamb. In Healdsburg, Roger and Mateo Granados, chef of Mateo's Cocina Latina, build an outdoor oven out of bricks and cinder blocks. Marinated whole ducks, pork loins and leg of lamb are placed onto large Brazilian skewers and cooked on top of the oven.

Light It Up!

Like a moth to a flame, nothing grabs Roger Mooking's attention like a raging wood-burning fire. Roger heads to Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop in Long Beach, Calif., where Neil and Phyllis Strawder spread their smoked meat love. Roger and Neil load up the smoker with beef briskets and pork butts, then back in the kitchen, Roger and Phyllis roll up their sleeves and build unique barbecue sandwiches. In Door County, Wis., Roger is bowled over by the area's legendary fish boil. At the Old Post Office Restaurant, boil master Jeremy Klaubauf cooks local white fish, potatoes and onions in a cauldron by engulfing it in flames.

Generations of Smoke

Barbecue is in the blood at two family-run institutions where the dedication for perfecting smoked meats spans decades. Burns Original BBQ in Houston, Texas, is the definition of a family business. Grandpa Roy Burns started cooking barbecue in 1973 on the side to help support his NINE children. Four decades later, over a dozen family members continue to keep the flames burning and the meat smoking. Roger is welcomed into the family and the pit room with open arms. He learns the ropes of East Texas style 'cue - tender chopped brisket, pork ribs that fall off the bone, and football-sized loaded bbq baked potatoes. Next, Roger heads to Poche's Market and Restaurant, which has been a one-stop shop for smoked meats in Breaux Bridge L.A. since 1962. Owner Floyd Poche gives Roger a sampling of their legendary 'cue. Pork ribs, pork steaks, sausages and whole chickens get rubbed down with spicy cajun seasoning before getting loaded into their 40 year old wood-fired smoker.

Hawaiian Heat and Texas Meat

Roger Mooking heads to the Aloha State, where Chef Lee Anne Wong fires up a custom-made stainless steel unit with local kiawe wood and prepares a tropical feast of beer-can chicken, slow-roasted fruits and vegetables and fresh mahi-mahi fillets wrapped in banana leaves. In Bellaire, Texas, Roger steps into the smoke at Blood Bros. BBQ, where brothers Robin and Terry Wong and their childhood friend Quy Hoang cook up classic Texas 'cue mixed with global flavors. Roger and Quy season and smoke brisket flaps and then cube, sauce and slow-cook the meat for addictive Brisket Burnt Ends. They stuff the delectable nuggets inside soft bao buns with strips of cucumber, scallions and pickled jicama. Smoked St. Louis-style pork ribs are slathered with a sweet-and-spicy Thai peanut butter glaze and finished with a sprinkling of hot chilies.

Feasts Over Fire in Hawaii

Roger Mooking's first visit to the 50th state promises big fires and big feasts. Right off of Nimitz Highway in Honolulu is family-run restaurant Koala Moa, famous for whole chickens roasted over fire. Roger and owner Chris Shimabukuro burn wood pallets and unopened bags of charcoal in a thirty-five foot rotisserie trailer and cook up over 100 seasoned chickens. At Ma'O Organic Farms in Wai-anae, Roger meets local chef Bob McGee who roasts half a cow over a custom-built metal grill.

Seafood Feast

The best place to celebrate the foods of summer is The Place Restaurant, located in Guilford, Conn. The kitchen for this roadside eatery is an outdoor grill, fueled by slabs of local wood. Brothers Vaughn and Gary Knowles take Roger Mooking to the lumberyard for wood and the docks for fresh-caught lobsters and clams for a breathtaking wood-fired New England seafood feast. In Olympia, Wash., the Nisqually Tribe teaches Roger two traditional ways of preparing seafood.

Wine Country Cookouts

California's wine country is the perfect place for an outdoor cookout and Roger Mooking has been invited to two parties there. Executive winemaker Neil Collins of the Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles designed a contraption that can cook a whole pig over a wood burning fire for an annual party held for members of their wine club. The town of Healdsburg is famous for their wineries, their olive oils and a historic landmark called the Dry Creek General Store. In the summer months, they load up the grill and prepare amazing feasts. Roger helps Chef Gia Passalacqua fill an eight-foot grill with Dungeness crabs that have been rubbed with a chili pepper sauce, and legs of lambs that have been rubbed with a Mediterranean spice paste.

Backyard Blowouts

Roger Mooking is in Southern California for two unbelievable backyard blowouts. Roger meets Chef Ben Ford in Tarzana for a unique California-style clambake, using an old wine barrel as the cooking vessel for clams, mussels, Dungeness crabs, artichokes, corn, potatoes and onions. In Chula Vista, Roger meets Francisco "Paco" Perez for traditional Mexican barbacoa which is whole lamb cooked in the ground, low and slow. Together they preheat an underground brick pit with a wood fire, and then season the lamb with a bright red chili marinade before covering it with dried avocado and fresh maguey leaves and cooking it in the pit overnight.

Smokin' Sides and Sweets

No cookout is complete without some outrageous side dishes and craveworthy desserts, so Roger Mooking is putting the main course aside to honor everything that tops off the best barbecue meals. He scrambles up a poblano pepper hash at a Houston hangout, and he checks out a new take on mac and cheese in New York, pressing an entire dish into a mouthwatering Belgian waffle. For dessert, there's an apple hand pie that fits right in Roger's pocket and a peach crisp cooked in a coal-fired Dutch oven on the ground. Finally, a French side dish steals the show as Roger cooks up a fresh veggie summer ratatouille prepared on an outrageous outdoor grill.

Weekend BBQs

Roger Mooking visits two Southern California barbecue joints that serve smoked meat specialties on weekends only. First, he meets a husband and wife team running a pop-up restaurant called Moo's Craft Barbecue in their own backyard. He helps load their 2,000-pound smoker with Texas brisket and pork butt for tasty tacos and samples their signature side dishes, Mexican street corn and coleslaw kicked up a notch with tequila. Then Roger finds Calabasas Custom Catering in the parking lot at Jim's Fallbrook Market. He helps caterer Paul Varenchik fire up a big Santa Maria grill to cook beef tri-tip, chickens and baby back ribs, and the waiting customers complete their barbecue plates with crusty garlic bread, macaroni salad and potato salad.

Fired-Up Chefs

Roger Mooking visits two chefs from Texas who love to play with smoke and fire in their restaurants and in their backyards. By day, Tom Spaulding serves classic Texas-style barbecue at his Austin restaurant Live Oak. But for special occasions, Tom builds a grill out of cinder blocks and a metal sheet and grate for a South American parilla-style spread. At Chicken Scratch restaurant in Dallas, Tim Byres spins spice-rubbed chickens from his unique wood-burning rotisserie. But in the middle of his vegetable garden, Tim has dug a deep hole and lined it with bricks to make delicious Mexican Lamb Barbacoa inside and Pork Carnitas on top.

Cowboy Cooking

Roger Mooking explores cowboy cooking deep in the heart of Texas, where Sandra Julian preserves the tradition of cowboy cuisine in her rustic chuck wagon. She cooks up her famous chicken fried steak over an open fire and bakes peach cobbler in a cast iron Dutch oven. In California, the Righetti family continues to fan the flames of Santa Maria-style barbecue in their restaurant and in their backyard. Metal skewers lined with 30 pounds of spice-rubbed top sirloins are grilled to juicy perfection and served with traditional pinquito bean salad and strawberry pies.

Pit Masters

In Lexington, Texas, folks line up early on Saturday mornings for Snow's BBQ. 77-year-old Tootsie Tomanetz is a custodian worker at a local school during the week, but a serious pit master on Friday nights. Roger Mooking clocks in a night shift to help this pitmaster, her son and the owner prepare hundreds of pounds of brisket, ribs, pork and chicken. In Pacifica, Calif., Hawaiian-style barbecue is prepared right on the coast. Roger helps pit master Darin Petersen wrap a whole pig in taro and ti leaves and lowers it into a deep pit to cook low and slow over a bed of hot lava rocks.

Monster Rigs

Smokers and grills come in all shapes and sizes, but Roger Mooking has found two extreme examples. In Grain Valley, Miss., mechanic Bill Rousseau transformed a retired Cessna airplane into a smoker and transports this impressive rig to a local airport and smokes pork butts and ribs and serves them with grilled chicken for guests, including skydivers who "drop in." In Ridgecrest, Calif., Ed McBride Sr. and Ed McBride Jr. weld salvaged metal into pieces of art, including dragons that are working barbecues. They cook up juicy rib eye roasts in the belly of this metal beast.

Texas BBQ

Roger Mooking visits two legendary barbecue joints in Central Texas where just the right amount of smoke and heat transforms the meat into delicious eats. At Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas, they have eight pits for cooking, acres of wood for burning and hundreds of pounds of delicious barbecue for stick-to-your-ribs eating. At Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas, third generation pit master Wayne Mueller gives Roger an experience of a lifetime.

Carnivore's Cookout in California

Roger Mooking cruises through central California for two spectacular, meat-filled cookouts. This area is home to many vineyards, but Paso de Record Vineyard in San Miguel has piqued Roger's interest. The vineyard hosts wine release parties for its customers and serves barbecue prepared in a deep pit built in the picture-perfect property. In Santa Barbara, Roger visits a local caterer famous for creating an Argentine Asado.

Meat on a Stick

Roger Mooking visits two chefs in Texas who created the craziest cooking contraptions and prove that everything's bigger in Texas. Chef Johnny Hernandez designed a massive grill for his restaurant El Machito in San Antonio and it takes fire and food to the extreme. Roger and Johnny skewer every meat imaginable -- chickens, pork and beef sausages, racks of ribs and whole goats. Roger then heads to Vintage Heart Farm in Stockdale to meet Chef John Russ who designed a 7-foot tree made out of stainless steel that can roast food over a wood fire. Roger and John fill the tree with quails and sausages for an outdoor feast.

Out of This World BBQ

Roger meets a pit master with a PhD who cooks Carolina-style whole hog barbecue in Louisiana. Dr. Howard Conyers is an engineer for NASA by day, but a pit master at night, on weekends, and every moment in between. His family has been cooking whole hogs for generations and he is preserving a time-honored tradition, taking the pig out of the rig and right into the ground. Roger and Howard break out the heavy machinery and flex their muscles to dig out a pit, and build a raging fire in a towering burn barrel.

Rad Rigs

Roger Mooking is on the hunt for the most radical barbecue rigs, and he starts at The Pit Room in Houston, Texas, where special events call for a custom-built trailer that can cook up to 600 pounds of meat. Roger helps load up six whole goats for tacos. In Napa Valley, Calif., he checks out Oak Avenue Catering's custom-made asado grill that can cook a huge side of beef. For a side dish, fermented cabbages are hung on the grill to cook low and slow with the meat. As they wait for this feast to cook, Roger learns how to transfer a tree stump into a flaming stove for boiling potatoes that are then crisped on a hot plancha to complete this feast in the heart of wine country.

BBQ for Breakfast

Roger Mooking visits two Texas pitmasters who give breakfast a wake-up call by adding barbecue. Reid Guess' custom-built rigs and smoked meats are on full display at Guess Family Barbecue in Waco, Texas. Reid and Roger fire up a 1,000-gallon offset smoker and fill it with seasoned pork butts and tri-tip steaks. They pull the pork, add it to fluffy pancakes and top with whiskey butter and maple syrup. The steak is seared on hot coals, dressed with chimichurri sauce and served with fried eggs. Then Roger heads to Derek Allan's Texas Barbecue in Fort Worth, Texas, for the signature Brisket Kolaches. Helming the unique upright smokers is Derek Crudgington, an IT systems engineer and self-taught pitmaster. Derek and Roger smoke wagyu beef brisket and stuff the melt-in-your-mouth meat inside soft, pillowy dough with cheese and hashbrowns. They also smoke housemade wagyu beef sausages made from a blend of chuck and brisket and serve the legendary links in breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa.

Hamming it Up

Today it's all about Roger Mooking's favorite animal, the pig. He's hamming it up at some of the country's best suppliers of pork. Roger heads to Edwards near historic Jamestown, Va., to visit Sam Edwards, a third-generation "ham master" who pays tribute to old world Europe with his cured, smoked and aged country hams. Roger also stops by Benton's delicious Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Madisonville, Tenn., where Allan Benton has turned the dry curing of ham and bacon into a culinary art.

Mediterranean Seafood Feasts

Roger Mooking heads to Northern California for two spectacular wood-fired Mediterranean seafood feasts. In Napa Valley, the Steltzner family is famous for their wines and their towering outdoor oven called the Infiernillo. Roger helps encase whole fish, potatoes and onions in salt before they're baked in the enormous oven. In Tomales Bay, caterer Tom Meckfessel prepares a delicious surf-and-turf Spanish-inspired paella over a wood fire right on the water. Roger harvests local clams for the paella with John Finger, owner of Hog Island Oyster Farm.


Andrew Zimmern on ‘Delicious Destinations,’ What’s Next for ‘Bizarre Foods,’ and the 2015 South Beach Wine & Food Fest - Recipes

In Sept. 2019, Hurricane Dorian battered Ocracoke, a barrier island 26 miles off the North Carolina coast. Floodwaters reached unprecedented levels and damaged homes and businesses, including many restaurants that are key to the island’s tourism industry. This fall, Vivian initially sold T-shirts emblazoned with the saying “One Island Under Tacos” to benefit Eduardo’s, a beloved taco stand destroyed in the storm.

Get inspiration for your food-loving family members and friendsYou may be one of those holiday shoppers who already has stacks of beautifully wrapped presents under a sparkling Christmas tree. Or you may be like the rest of us who still have a long list of holiday shopping to do. Either way, you’re in luck. This week on Vivian’s Instagram story, she shared some of her favorite items to give away as gift

Friendsgiving has become. a thing. Like its name implies, it merges the best parts of the holiday season — companionship and generosity. If you’re invited to a Friendsgiving dinner this year, don’t show up empty-handed. And if you’re hosting a Friendsgiving gathering, be sure to offer guests suggestions of what to bring. We’ve asked a few of our chef friends to share side dishes they would bring to a Friendsgiving dinner. Take notes. Their choices are guaranteed to be

For most fans of “Deep Run Roots,” quite a few recipes jump out as must-trys. Scarlett’s chicken and rice as a comfort food standby. Stewed tomatoes to preserve the last garden delights of summer. The entire sausage recipe chapter when feeding a crowd.But Allyssa Floyd’s passion for the tome of rural South cooking goes the extra mile. The Oklahoma native has already cooked 80 “Deep Run Roots” recipes

As an October side dish, this recipe helps you get crafty with those leftover jack-o’-lantern seeds. Below is Vivian’s description and recipe from “Deep Run Roots,” plus a quick, easy way to roast fresh pumpkin seeds. In “Deep Run Roots,” Vivian wrote: Turnips and oranges bring out the best in each other in this salad that lightens the sometimes heavy combination of roots and greens. Make this bright version of the combo with baby turnips of any kind, but Harukeis are

North Carolina ranks No. 1 in sweet potato production. Most of the state’s sweet spuds are grown on farms in the swath of land known as eastern North Carolina (“ENC”). Vivian Howard, a native of ENC, calls the sweet potato “a cornerstone of our cuisine.” If you open her 2016 cookbook, “Deep Run Roots,” to its center, you’ll find what amounts to a manifesto entitled “Sweet Potato

Durham chef Ricky Moore, owner of two locations of Saltbox Seafood Joint, has published his first cookbook, which takes its name from his restaurants. “A Chef’s Life” fans may recognize Moore from season three’s honey episode where Vivian tasted a variety of honey dishes at Durham restaurants, including Moore’s signature “hush honeys.”

Warren and Lillie will appear in the Family Pictures USA premiere episode at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CT!On August 12, “Family Pictures USA” premieres on PBS. The show travels the country to dig into family photo albums, revealing more than just quirky hairdos and baby pictures. Thomas Allen Harris, host, director, and executive producer, is a venerated filmmaker whose lens of

So, you’re about to make Vivian Howard’s delicious stewed tomatoes (check out the recipe on BlueCrossNC.com/Nutrition)? Before you do that, you have to choose your tomatoes, which might be the hardest part of the recipe! Most tomato connoisseurs have their favorite heirloom tomato variety and Vivian is no different. In a memorable episode of “<a t

For North Carolina barbecue fans, 2019 has brought two worthy additions for their cookbook collection: “Whole Hog BBQ,” by Sam Jones and “https://www.amazon.com/Southern-Smoke-Traditions-Treasured-Reimagined/dp/0760364028/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=Southern+Smoke&qid=1560272792&a

Summer is here. With those scorching temperatures and smothering humidity, we all could use a way to cool off. Here’s our suggestion: make a pitcher of Vivian’s Watermelon Tea. Vivian shared the recipe in her book, “https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Run-Roots-Stories-Recipes/dp/0316381101/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3FTJOQ7IPQG6Z&keywords=deep+run+roots+vivian+howard+cookbook&qid=1560272608&s=gateway&sprefix=deep+run+root%2Caps%2C593&s

With its mission to highlight the bounty of flavor that North Carolina offers and to promote healthy communities, Thrive NC sold out its two-day festival in downtown Raleigh this year. On May 9 and 10, 50 restaurants from all across the region packed City Market, handing out hearty samples of their locally focused food. (The kitchen squad from Benny’s

If life is about the journey, then road trips are about the delicious pit stops. And for a state that stretches from the mountains to the coast, North Carolina has plenty of snacks and big meals to break up long drives. We asked a few of North Carolina’s favorite chefs where they stop for lunch on a big road trip, starting with Vivian.VIVIAN HOWARDof Chef and the Farmer

Last month, Vivian Howard was a featured speaker at Leadership North Carolina’s annual forum, held in downtown Raleigh. Vivian took the stage with Raleigh restaurateur Van Nolintha to speak about “Why North Carolina? A Rural and Urban Perspective on Hospitality.” Vivian and Van shared their stories about how they came to call North Carolina home — and now both run successful restaurants in different parts of the state.

Sausage balls rank up there with cheese balls as our country’s most cliched and beloved party foods. The difference between the two is that most sausage balls are made with a little cheese and a little sausage bound by a whole lot of Bisquick. They taste like dry, porky balls of flour, and every time I take a bite of one I’m disappointed. These sausage balls are more like meatballs bound by a little starch and punctuated by cheddar. To me that’s what something called

For her new cookbook, Vivian developed a twist on Szechuan Green Beans and Pork using sliced cabbage and ground turkey instead. 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided½ head green cabbage, medium1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil2 tablespoons minced ginger root1 pound Farm to Family by Butterball ground turkey (the kind with fat)¼ teaspoo

The new year brings New Year's resolutions. A perennial favorite for many is to eat healthier.Chef Vivian Howard, star of the PBS show, “A Chef's Life,” has been thinking a lot about her healthy eating routine while writing her next book, a part-cookbook, part-memoir exploring her body image and weight loss ups and downs. “I did Weight Watchers in college. I learned that there are foods that will take you far and there are foods that will just take you around the block,”

Vivian Howard will admit to being one of those moms who made all of her kids’ baby food. It was one way for her work as a chef to be meaningful to them. She used the baby food aisle as a guide, mimicking the textures and combinations that coincided with their increasing age. Vivian started with this combination of sweet potato, ground turkey and spinach when her twins were eight or nine months old, and she just developed the same healthful ingredients over time into something we al

On PBS’s “Autumnwatch New England,” Vivian took the risk of testing out what she believed could have been the first pumpkin pie recipe. We can assure it’s the most creative! This crust-less pie uses the pumpkin itself as the base, filling it in with a custard. Vivian recommends a fairytale or Cinderella pumpkin for the best flavor. Watch her explain the recipe on episode 3 of “Autumnwatch New England”

A busload of “A Chef’s Life” fans took a road trip to Kinston for last month’s premiere of the show’s series finale, “The Final Harvest.” For some, it was a return visit. For others, it was a first chance to explore this eastern North Carolina city that’s now building a reputation as a food, drink and art destination. The bus trip, organized by the folks behind the NC Food & Beverage Podcast, turned

With all the holiday meals on the horizon, you may be in need of some expert advice on how to choose wines for those feasts. Peter Watson, who runs the wine programs at Biltmore Winery in Asheville, N.C., was happy to share his wisdom. Watson, who is originally from England, said he and his wife fell in love with North Carolina after visiting their daughter in Wilmington in 2001.

All parents strive to feed their children healthy meals — and Vivian Howard is no different. When it comes to this challenge, Howard, host of the award-winning PBS show, “A Chef’s Life,” has realized that she is drawn to leaner meats and dishes that allow her to add some vegetables but leave the eater unaware. Turkey has become one of her go-to lean meats over the years with her children. It started when the twins, Flo and Theo, were eating baby fo

What may be the largest pawpaw patch in North Carolina belongs to Wynn Dinnsen, owner of Full of Life Farms nursery in Chatham County. Dinnsen, 63, didn’t set out with such an ambition. He fell into it after tasting a pawpaw for the first time about 20 years ago while working as a landscaper. One day on the job, a man installing solar panels held up the strange, mango-like fruit and asked him h

Sheri Castle has been writing cookbooks and teaching cooking classes for more than 20 years. You’ll recognize her from season three’s episode “A Casserole Says Plenty” when Vivian exalts her as a “Southern food storyteller of the highest degree.” Sheri can spin a hilarious tale with comedic timing as sharp as a butcher’s cleaver, whi

From “Instantly Southern: 85 Southern Favorites for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot®” by Sheri CastleSALTED CARAMEL BANANA PUDDINGMakes 6 ServingsBanana pudding is my favorite Southern dessert that isn’t pound cake. Among my pudding prin

Every second Saturday of July, the unincorporated town of Ridgeway hosts its annual Cantaloupe Festival. In its 10th year, the fest celebrates a deep history of growing a fruit that put the name of this Warren County crossroads on the menu at the country's finest restaurants and hotels, including New York's Waldorf Astoria.Ridgeway Historical Society vice-president Dan Bender says

It’s always a bit tricky to call a farmer during the day, a person who will inevitably be busy either chugging along on a tractor or knee-deep in the weeds.But when we called our beloved farmer Warren Brothers one recent morning to bombard him with questions about watermelons, we found him just as cheerful as usual.“You caught me at the right time,” he says. “We were just out here thumping and looking at the curly Qs.” Watermelons are a favor

With twins and a busy career, there’s always a lot of laundry to be done in Vivian’s Kinston home. Vivian shared her laundry challenges and routine. Electrolux is a sponsor of “A Chef’s Life” and your resource for a full line of front-load washers and dryers. What is the laundry routine in your house? Everybody does laundry. I hate folding laundry. I’m re

We may be late to the Atlantic Beach pie party but this recipe is still worth sharing.This creamy, citrusy pie with a cracker crust is the work of Bill Smith, the executive chef at the landmark Chapel Hill restaurant Crook’s Corner. Longtime fans of “A Chef’s Life” will be familiar with Smith, who showed Vivian how to make persimmon pudding in season five and corned ham in the “A Chef’s Life Holiday Special.” </

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, we’re sharing Vivian’s recipe for grilled corn with — drumroll please — bacon mayonnaise. Once you try this recipe, you will not go back to plain, buttered corn. This recipe makes more bacon mayonnaise than you need but it’s also really good on baked potatoes, grilled asparagus and more. Here’s one more suggestion: If you are enjoying a grilled feast this weekend, we recommend you pair it with a beer from one of our show sponsors: Summer

If you have been following the food television awards season, you may have heard that a video starring Vivian for Panna Cooking won a James Beard Foundation's broadcast award. The video featured Vivian making Black Bean-glazed Salmon with Ginger Cabbage, one of her family's favorite recipes. Panna Cooking is a website that offers online cooking classes from some of the best chefs in the co

In an interview about Duke’s Mayonnaise, Vivian Howard shares her conversion to the Southern brand and why mayo is so important to Southern food. The iconic Southern mayonnaise, based in Richmond, Virginia, is a proud sponsor of season five of A CHEF’S LIFE. Q: Did you grow up with Duke’s Mayonnaise?A: I grew up with Miracle Whip. I didn’t really understand Duke’s until I became part

In case you haven’t noticed, Vivian Howard is busy. Season five of her James Beard- and Emmy Award-winning PBS series “A Chef’s Life” recently wrapped. In March, she was able to squeeze in a 40th birthday celebration after several days of filming and cooking in Charleston, S.C.. She then scurried back to Kinston to host a retirement party for a friend at her farm-to-table restaurant, Chef & the Farmer. Then it was off to Hawaii for a week of appearances and book signings before landing b

Marty and Donna Harper are peanut farmers. Betsy Owens, and her husband, Jack Lawrence, are peanut roasters. Beyond an affinity for this lowly legume, the couples have another connection: a patch of farmland in eastern North Carolina.The Harpers both come from long lines of farmers. Marty’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all small-scale farmers. Donna’s family was the same: “I’m a Lenoir County farmer’s daughter. I swore I’d never marry one. Now I’m raising two.” The

My husband Ben is a pizza junkie. He grew up in Chicago where he delivered pizzas for Lou Malnati’s and eventually moved to New York where he made it his mission to try and critique every famed pizza joint the city and its boroughs had to offer. Then Ben settled in eastern North Carolina where the pinnacle of the pizza scene is Papa John's and Little Caesars. Bless his heart. The lack of quality pizza was difficult for Ben to accept, so I went to work on making pizza with a chew

Cornbread is close to my heart it is savory, chewy, crisp on the outside and dense within. This is not that but it is a cross between coffee cake and the sweet fluffy cornbread outside the South and which I call corncake. Corncake is light, airy and sugary all the way through. I hate to admit this but it tastes good. This Strawberry Cornbread Coffee Cake is my stab at a corncake with substance — one that no one is going to mistaken for cornbread.This baked deliciousness can work for

The Dutch oven is the workhorse of my kitchen. It is the one I reach for when boiling water or making any soup or stew, like this fish stew, thick with onions, potatoes, poached eggs, and a rich tomato-y, bacon-laced broth. This dish defines both my childhood and my region — eastern North Carolina. For me, it’s the eggs that make the stew special and distinct from all the other seafood stews of the world. But I’ll admit that as a kid, the white bread used for sopping up the leftover bro

If you are going to make Easter eggs, you might as well boil some extra to make deviled eggs for the holiday meal. We’ve got some fun twists on Mrs. Scarlett’s Deviled Eggs from the egg episode in season two — added country ham, collards and chowchow to our filling. A few tips: make sure the butter is room temperature soft or it will be too hard to squeeze through the piping bag and nozzle. Read the recipe through first if you want to do a variation the added ingredient can change the

Apple butter and fried green tomatoes are Southern staples, but not necessarily things you think of eating together. Apple butter on toast? Yes. On a fried green tomato? No. Pimento cheese and bacon on green tomatoes? Yes. With arugula, apple and cheddar? No. But from my perspective apples and green tomatoes are both early fall ingredients. And because I believe what grows together goes together, apples and green tomatoes are a match made in the seasonal, preservation-minded kitche

We asked “A Chef’s Life” fans to share stories about their beloved Le Creuset pots and pans. And boy did they have stories to tell — about their family heirlooms, how they splurged on a set for themselves or received them as gifts. One lucky fan even rescued a Dutch oven from a South Carolina landfill! Read all the endearing Everyday Le Creuset stories from A CHEF’S LIFE fans below.Family HeirloomsRussell Smit

There’s nothing quite like the sight of a beautifully-laid table and the feeling of being fussed over enough for the hostess to pull out “the good china.” It’s a little known fact that Vivian is a sucker for elegant dishes, glassware and the other items that grace festive tables. Replacements, the Greensboro-based company

No one may know more about eastern North Carolina history than David Cecelski, an accomplished historian who has spent his entire career focused on the place where he grew up. A Chef’s Life fans will recognize Cecelski from season five’s pear episode, where he and his daughter, Vera, showed Vivian how they make pear preserves. We wanted to share our interview with the Harvard-trained historian, encourage our fans to read his blog, and maybe be inspired by his advice to do their own

Last summer, Vivian visited Sierra Nevada brewery in Mills River, N.C., outside of Asheville. She went to watch Sierra Nevada’s vice president Brian Grossman and his team brew a cucumber thyme Saison for the “A Chef’s Life’s” premiere party this past September. Beyond helping create a refreshing beer, Vivian left with a ton of knowledge about the brewing process, Sierra Nevada, and how challenging cucumber is as a beer ingredient. She and Brian, whose father Ken started <a ta

Are you looking for holiday gifts for the home cook in your life? We asked a few North Carolina cookbook authors to share their favorite books this year. Their suggestions and a few of our own are sure to make someone on your list very happy. Sheri Castle has written a number of excellent cookbooks including “https://www.amazon.com/New-Southern-Garden-Cookbook-Hom

In season five’s final episodes, Vivian visited two well-known barbecue restaurants in Eastern North Carolina: Parker’s BBQ in Greenville and Kings BBQ in Kinston. At Parker’s, Vivian dined on chicken livers. At Kings, she took away an order of “pig and a puppy,” a barbecue and coleslaw-stuffed hush puppy. If you are headed to eastern North Carolina this holiday season, you

This is the time of year when you can knock two items off your to-do list: • Make a dent in your holiday shopping• Support your favorite PBS showAll purchases in the Chef's Life online store go to support the making of the show, which viewers have grown to love over the last five seasons. The funding

Viewers of “A Chef’s Life” know that there may be no bigger fan of mayonnaise than Vivian’s husband, Ben Knight. In episode 10 of season four, Vivian staged a blind taste test of various mayonnaise brands. Chef & the Farmer staff dipped their spoons and tasted, and competed to see who could identify them. While the taste test was a lot of fun, it also revealed Ben’s deep love of mayonnaise, like when he sneaked another tablespoonful or dipped a piece of bread full on into

Sunburst Trout Farms, tucked away in the picturesque landscape of the North Carolina mountains, began in 1948 as the South’s first commercial trout farm. With help from state agencies like North Carolina Department of Agriculture and its Got to Be NC Seafood entity, the family-owned farm has become a vital part of North Carolina’s diverse seafood industry.Today, North Carolina is ranked

In June 2017, nearly 100 volunteers descended on Kinston to build a playground in about six hours. As daunting as the task sounds, Wash., D.C.-based non-profit KaBOOM! has built 3,000 playgrounds around the country in a day’s time by gathering hundreds of volunteers to assemble slides, swings, and ultimately, make thousands of kids super happy. In partnership with Blue Cross an

Fans may recognize Jamie Jones from his previous brief appearances on “A Chef’s Life.” He built the henhouse for the family’s flock of chickens and competed in the potato salad contest in the “One Potato, Two Potato” episode in the third season.What fans don’t know is that Jones has been a longtime fixture in Vivian’s life. They went to middle school together and Vivian says, “Jamie was the hottest guy in the whole school. He was something.” Jones and his wife, Rebecc

Check below to find out when A CHEF’S LIFE Season 5 is airing on your local PBS Station!* If you do not see your station listed, check your local listings or call your station to let them know you are a fan of A Chef’s Life. ALABAMA • WBIQ AL PTV, Birmingham, AL at 11am Saturdays starting Oct. 28CALIFOR

You might remember Sam Jones from season four’s “Stand By Your Cabbage” episode. Sam and his family are legends in the world of whole hog barbecue: his father and uncle own the Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden, N.C. and Sam owns Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, near Greenville, N.C. As autumn and pig

Vivian and the A CHEF’S LIFE crew are gearing up for the big party in downtown Durham on Sunday Sept. 10! We’ve already told you about the screening of “Two-Mato,” the first episode of season five at Carolina Theatre, but below is a list of the (FREE!) events we have planned to make our season five shindig fun for all!We are throwing a day party. And it’s free to all!What: #ACLHiFive Day PartyWhen:<

Driving to the beach for vacation not only offers the opportunity for good food at your final destination but also along the way. With that in mind, we offer three tasty destinations no matter where you are headed along the North Carolina coast. Crystal CoastFor those going to the Crystal Coast, enjoy the shrimp burger at El’s Drive-In in Morehead City, which Vivi

Despite the crazy spring weather where warm fronts were followed by late freezes, the strawberry crop survived and pick-your-own strawberry farms are now open.“We are looking at a very good year for strawberries,” said Dexter Hill, a strawberry marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. “We’re looking at very good yields.”For those headed out to pick strawberries, we sought advice from Curtis Smith, owner

This month, home cooks across the country are putting up jars of pickled beets, baking sweet potato and turkey shepherd’s pies and salivating over plates of marinated turnips with orange and pumpkin seeds.That’s because Vivian’s cookbook, “Deep Run Roots,” was selected by Food52’s readers to be the second book for its inau

Ted Katsigianis is a walking encyclopedia of all things Biltmore. His extensive knowledge of the Biltmore grounds is a result of 33 years of service on the 8000-acre estate. He currently serves as Vice President of Agricultural Sciences, working to keep up George Vanderbilt’s original vision for the estate to be a self-sustaining working farm. Ted maintains that emphasis on agriculture, a daunting task that includes oversight of Bil

Please join us in welcoming Andrea Weigl to Team ACL! Many of you may know Andrea from her years as a respected journalist. She is not one to brag, but she brings a ton of know-how to our team that spans a plethora of subjects as proven by her recent James Beard Foundation Award nomination in a new journalism category for local impact for her stories: “Southern Season’s Woes Ripple Through State” “The True Story of a Chef’s Chef” and “Pitmaster: Sam Jones Takes ’cue to the Next L

On A Chef’s Life, Vivian quite often yields to the knowledge held by community home cooks. We are proud to uphold the wisdom of African American elders in our own community like Miss Lillie Hardy and her mother, Miss Mary Vaughn, whose personal stories of the south and its food include both hardship and happiness. In celebration of Black History Month, we pay homage to the inspiration and recipes shared by African American cooks who’ve been featured on A CHEF’S LIFE over the

Back in September, Vivian and the A Chef’s Life crew were invited up for a long weekend at Biltmore and a behind-the-scenes tour of the estate’s glorious grounds. The weekend was chock full of events for which the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains made the perfect backdrop. An intimate village stroll and a shuttle tour showcased Biltmore’s endless acres of farmland and introduced Vivian to a handful of the 2000+ employees who

With 10 episodes added to our growing roster of ingredients, we thought it would be fun to compile our favorite moments from this season in our first ever “Best Of” Awards. 1. Best Holiday Gift Inspired By An EpisodePigtails, Ham hocks, and fatback, oh my! The gift of seasoning meats Vivian distributed at her New York book launch dinner was so peculiar, Ben couldn’t keep his opinion to himself, exclaiming, “I’m not gonn

The Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm is a special place. The six-year-old, 30-acre farm in Concord, North Carolina is basically a hands-on classroom where a new generation of farmers learn the skills necessary to eventually start their own farms. One of Lomax’s former Farmers In Training, (or F.I.T.s as they’re known on the farm), is Ben Street whose produce is featured in the first episode of season 4 of A

Andrew Zimmern is known for trotting the globe in search of the world’s most Bizarre Foods, however, his mission is much more than uncovering strange cuisine. He considers himself a food historian charged with the task of celebrating the international nooks and crannies where food traditions are well-kept. A few days before he and Vivian faced off in the “Best Personality/Host” category of the Jame

Blaire Johnson, ACL’s lone female ‘camera dude,’ is also a pirate. When she’s not capturing amazing aerial shots of North Carolina bean fields or wielding her badass camera rig, she’s buckled down in a shanty on the NC coast doing pirate-like things. Blaire is a skilled cameraperson with many probing documentary projects under her belt. We asked her a few questions about her eclectic life on land and at sea.Q: Tell us all the interesting tidbits about yourself.

As a recent graduate of Duke University’s documentary program, Christine Delp brings a fresh perspective to the ACL Team. Christine, like many of A CHEF’S LIFE team members, has family ties to eastern North Carolina and personally identifies with the tone of the show as well as the wealth of personalities highlighted in each episode. As the youngest member of the team, Christine is what we might call, spry. We talked to her about the energy she brings to the team as well as he

Deviled eggs are a classic, crowd-pleasing hors d’oeuvre diverse enough to make an appearance at church suppers, potlucks, and holiday tables. If you’re reading this right now, it's likely you have your own special way of preparing deviled eggs. Maybe it’s a no-frills recipe passed down from your grandmother, or maybe you’ve concocted your own recipe with an extra punch of flavor. Whatever it may be, it’s safe to say, the deviled egg is versatile enough to grace any

Wonder why you’ve never seen Tom Vickers? The answer is simple. He’s headquartered in a bat cave surrounded by screens and knobs and high-tech trinkets that allow him to organize the images you see each week on A CHEF’S LIFE into a cohesive, beautifully-crafted story. He only emerges for food and a good film, but, we lured Tom into the light long enough to ask a few questions about his unique role as editor of A CHEF’S LIFE. Read all about it here, before he disappears.<b

It’s very likely that you’ve seen Holley Pearce lurking in the background on any given episode of A CHEF’S LIFE. Holley, a Mississippi native and Kinston transplant, has served as Chef Vivian’s personal ‘coordinator of chaos’ since August 2015. She basically has Chef Vivian’s schedule memorized, and imposes some sense of normalcy in the roster of festivals, appearances, and food demos that are growing as a result of the show’s (and Chef Vivian’s) popularity. We forced Holley

Keep this blog post handy. Vivian Howard is one busy chef these days! From speaking panels to fundraisers and her upcoming book tour, we want to make sure you have every possibility to see her in action. We'll update this page as we are informed of new engagements. Don't forget to follow A CHEF'S LIFE on Facebook, Twitter, _

Among many things, Shirlette Ammons, (self-proclaimed) Wielder-Of-Wit, pens the first drafts of all of the ACL newsletters you receive in your inbox. We forced her to be featured in this month’s “Behind-the-Team”. After much convincing, her cover has been blown. Tell us all the interesting tidbits about yourself:I’m a native of Mount Olive, down in eastern North Carolina, just a

When we think soul food, certain dishes automatically come to mind-- collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken-- all the foods we trace back to our grandmother’s kitchen table sprawled out and inviting us to feed our bellies and our spirit. Talking to Chef Ricky Moore about soul food is a lively experience. Fans of A CHEF’S LIFE might remember him from Chef Vivian’s romp around Durham (Ep8: Honey, I'm Home

In a recent interview, Scott Barton, Chef Vivian's mentor, and respected soul food authority, offered in-depth, scholarly insight on the influence of African-American culture on southern food.1) First, what led you to care so deeply for the culture of southern food and the contribution of African and African-Americans to it?Shirlette, there are several reasons that I first became interested in southern food in general, the contributions of African and African-Americ

Full disclosure: Jenn was a reluctant participant in our “Behind-the-Team” romp. A self-described “introvert with extroverted tendencies,” Jenn is the ACL Team Ninja, stealthily completing tasks in the dark of night, constantly crossing t’s, dotting i’s. and taking names. She humbly admits, "There's a lot of talent on our team, so knowing yourself and being your own kind of awesome is important and powerful. My style is quite yet assertive and to the point. 

You may know Rex Miller as the taller half of A CHEF’S LIFE’s camera dudes and photographer extraordinaire behind the images in Chef Vivian’s forthcoming cookbook. Beyond his work on A CHEF’S LIFE, the NY native is the father of two lovely daughters, an avid tennis buff, and has a long, rewarding career in both photography and filmmaking, which makes you wonder how he makes time to do it all. His most recent

According to fans and critics alike, A CHEF’S LIFE’s third season was a real appetite-quencher. Appearances on The Today Show and the penning of her upcoming cookbook revealed Chef Vivian as a celebrity-on-the-rise who, somehow, manages to wear many hats. In the course of her busy life, Chef Vivian made time to take us into the home kitchens of the folks who’ve influenced and inspired her—cooking “old timey squash and onions” with Mrs. Scarlett, plucking Falling Creek Produce

Ever since her initial appearance on A Chef’s Life, Miss Lillie Hardy has emerged as a series favorite. Fans from all over the country have fallen completely in love with Miss Lillie’s “it’s all about me” charm. Her dishes, especially those buttermilk biscuits, make us all long for the invention of smell-o-vision. Miss Lillie’s generosity is exemplified in each episode where she shares the wisdom of old foodways with Chef Vivian at a kitchen table that seats 2.5 million viewers per episode.<

Nestled in North Carolina’s culturally rich, socially isolated Blue Ridge Mountains, Sheri Castle was inspired to write her first original recipe at 4 years old and mailed it to a television show. One could say this initiated a lifelong relationship with both writing and food. The writing portion of her career began as a student at UNC where she studied English and, subsequently worked as a writer in numerous industries. The food portion of her career began in the 1990s when she sw

Both Cynthia Hill and Vivian Howard are natives of down east North Carolina. Five years ago, they came together to create what they thought would be a documentary about preserving endangered southern foodways. What resulted is the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning PBS docu-series, A CHEF’S LIFE, which, upon conclusion of its second season, boasts over 2.5 million viewers per episode. With Season 3 set to premiere in early September on PBS stations nationwide, we sat down with Chef Vivian and Cy

Jason Vincent rose from the ashes of his own semi-retirement to make a cameo appearance on the nail-biting Tom Thumb episode of A CHEF’S LIFE, which aired as a two-parter in season two. At what some called the height of his career, Jason exited his role as Executive Chef at Chicago’s renowned Nightwood Restaurant to tackle the ultimate gig of full-time father. As of late, he's been raising a toddler while tweeting and <a targe

PART 1: Inventing the Dream When it comes to branding and bottling a dream, not much has changed since 1868 when Edwin Mcllhenny used discarded cologne bottles to distribute his now-iconic Tabasco sauce to family and friends. Each batch of his sauce boasted the exact same flavor profile, with branding as distinguishable as its taste. McIlhenny’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Tabasco set the standard way before the m

I’m from San Francisco where there is an embarrassment of culinary riches on almost every block. That doesn’t make me a likely candidate for a trip to the middle of Eastern North Carolina, yet I was inspired by a PBS TV series starring a rising chef who found her own catharsis by going back home and opening a restaurant, Chef and the Farmer. A CHEF’S LIFE makes me care about Vivian Howard’s demanding life and the local people who support her on her journey. Each week I learn something unique abou

What is it about the combination of shrimp, ketchup, slaw and a buttery bun that makes us slobber like newborns? Whatever the answer, there’s a family restaurant on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast where it behooves you to bring a bib.El’s Drive-In is one of those places who do it simple and get it right. The building itself is no bigger than a hut, but the flavors inside are humongous. Their shrimp burger is featured in a few fleeting bites of A CHEF’S LIFE

Brian Roberts, Head Bartender at Chef and the Farmer, and “A Chef’s Life” Family. On Moonshine. I often view life through the lens of cinema. Much of what I experience in “real life” is a reference point for something from film or television. Cocktails are a prime example. I think “cocktail” and my mind – for better or worse – goes immediately to Sex in the City to Carrie Bradshaw & Co. in all their Jimmy Choo, Prada-clad glory, convening at

There’s this myth surrounding chefs these days, building us up to be much more than just folks going to work and doing their best to create tasty food that we feel good about. Instead, the job title suggests we know every technique, every temperature, and every thought process behind every dish out there. I would like to blame the media or the celebrity-chef consciousness for these assumptions, but the fact is, we as chefs don’t do much to discourage these misconceptions. As a

Phoebe Lawless is the pie maven behind the award-winning Scratch Bakery, a beloved neighborhood spot in Durham. Crowds flock near and far for their signature doughnut muffins and their Buttermilk Sugar Pie. The Ohio native got her start as a pastry assistant along

Every time I see John T. Edge, I am struck by his sense of sartorial flair. At last sighting (talking his newly-edited compendium, The Larder, at _

I’m often asked how the series, “A Chef’s Life,” came to be. Truthfully it’s a long, drawn-out story involving about 3,000 phone conversations and lots of miles driven between Durham and Deep Run. I won’t share with you all the logistics of the near nightmare but I will share the beginnings of my desire to docume

If I have any culinary regrets, one would be moving to the Triangle too late to eat at Ben and Karen Barker’s legendary Magnolia Grill before they closed their doors forevermore. Fortunately an award-winning cookbook survived to tell the tale, along

When I think of sweet potatoes, I think of my Grandma Hill and of Thanksgiving. The youngest of 10 children, Grandma Hill began life as a farmer’s daughter in Duplin County, NC. Over time she would become a farmer’s wife, mother and eventually grandmother. She moved and loved like someone who’s work was never done and rarely noticed. Grandma Hill was strong, always digging in the yard under a white brimmed hat, or making work in her kitchen look ea

I’ve been dreading the writing of this blog post. I like peanuts, particularly in Snickers Bars or candied by a street vendor in New York and shoved into a little white bag, still warm. I just don’t have a whole hell of a lot to say about them. My dad didn’t grow them. I didn’t eat them boiled as a kid and I don’t

You could call Martin Weeks "the peanut man." The Mount Olive, NC native worked in textiles and industrial engineering for most of his life, but when his father passed away six years ago, he discovered an unusual new venture. Instead of enjoying leisurely rounds of golf with other retirees, he found himself cooking peanuts in his church's kitchen until late into the night. He followed in his father's footsteps and became head of the "Peanut Crew"—a 15-member group of

I’ve mentioned my mom’s life-long bout with rheumatoid arthritis before. Through two shoulder replacements and many other reconstructive surgeries, she raised four girls, taught school, and bred Doberman Pinchers for spending money. As you might imagine, meals were simple at my house. Mom didn’t fry chicken, can pickles, or roll out biscuits. Instead, when Scarlett geared up to make a soul warming meal for our family, it was almost always a pot of chicken and rice. Hands down, this is

John Currence got his culinary start in the galley kitchen of a tugboat, honed his chops with Bill Neal of Crook’s Corner and in some of the best kitchens in New Orleans. Fast forward to 2013. John is the benevolent ruler of

Inez Ribustello is one hell of a storyteller. When she talks I see the hammock-shaped branches of her parents’ scuppernong tree. I feel the headiness that only a humid summer in Eastern NC can produce. I taste the sweetness of the muscadines. Her approach to wine is fun, accessible, and above all, perso

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family that loved to eat, but my most powerful childhood memories center around food. I don’t remember tearing into presents on Christmas morning. Instead, I recall shoveling down sausage biscuits and orange juice, and I smile when I think about how Uncle Bunk lost a toot

Matt Lee is one of those lucky people who call Charleston home. He and his bespectacled brother, Ted, grew up in one of the city’s fabled homes along Rainbow Row, fishing in its waters for crabs and shrimp, and learning the names of the edible flora and fauna of their region. Food talk—especial

As a kid I didn’t think too much of the oyster. Far too often, my parents' love for the bivalves got between me and The Baron and The Beef, Lenoir County’s best dining experience. The name says it all: imagine a steak and baked potato shrine with an “excellent” salad bar (including the most tender meatballs in

As summer comes to a close, so, too, does the season of fresh tomatoes. For a short few months, fresh, sun-ripened tomatoes are plentiful across the state, filling up backyards and farmers markets. That taste—so tart and sweet and fresh—is fleeting, though. It's perhaps one of the most accessible and loved seasonal vegetables around, but getting a really good tomato means eating seasonally and locally.And if you, like many of us here, subscrib

Chef and the Farmer is a seasonal restaurant. That mantra manifests itself all over the place these days, but really what it means is this: our menu reflects the natural world. When the leaves start to turn and there’s a little nip in the air—like now—I turn to things like apples, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and game birds to spell autumn. The funny thing about our world today is that I could spell autumn all year long using a food service provider and, honestly? You

Kevin is a thinking man’s chef. Every which way you could think about food, he’s thought about it. And then some. That organic intellectualism came from his Georgia mountain homeplace, where his close-knit family ate the food they grew. His family's ways of cooking, and his strong sense of identity as a Southe

The preacher of pork the porcine professor the prince of barbecue—whatever you call him, Sam Jones makes some damn good Q: whole hog, no sauce, cooked open-pit over wood fire for hours and mixed with plenty of hand-chopped cracklin. His barbecue is one of the best history lessons you'll ever learn

My dad always says the person who makes the most out of the least is really doing something. Much of Southern food and the pork cracklin for sure grew out of this mantra. Don’t waste anything. You may think it’s trash, but we’re gonna make it tasty. Pork cracklins, historically, were just a by-product of rendering lard after a hog killing a snack, meant to be eaten with a roast sweet potato at the end of a long day spent stuffing sausage, salt rubbi

As a kid I microwaved my grits. My mother would no more have slow cooked the suckers than slaughtered a chicken. So instead, I stirred my Uncle Ben’s together with Velveeta singles and crumbled sausage, plopped myself down in front of Pee Wee Herman and called it a fine Saturday morning. I knew I lived in the South of

Jay Pierce gets southern food. He grew up in a suburb of New Orleans and has long been exposed to the bold and vivacious flavors of The Big Easy. Several years spent working in some of the best kitchens in New Orleans and Orlando have made him into a true Southern chef. Since planting roots with his family in Greensboro, NC, he's been a devoted advocate in the local food movement there and is passionate about making hi

If you’re reading this, you probably know I grew up in rural, rural Eastern North Carolina. Living in the country meant our water came from a well and unlike “Little House on the Prairie” and the Dear Liza song, our well was serviced by a pump. We had what I grew up calling a pump house, a little structure that mimicked the design of our home, surrounding the pump. a pump house. My mom planted a strawberry patch around it sometime shortly after I was born

April McGreger is a pickling pro and her preserves are probably better than your granny's. Growing up on a sweet potato farm in Mississippi, her mother and grandmother taught her southern-style canning. In 2007, she started The Farmer's Daughter in Hillsborough, NC, making preserves, pickles, chutneys, and chow-chows, sellin

I’m spending the week with my family at Emerald Isle, NC. We take a week every summer, rent a beach house here and spend every hour in each other’s presence. We do not go out for dinner in small groups, and spending time with friends or inviting non-family members over is frowned upon. This week is pretty much family time, all the time. As you might imagine, I do most of the cooking and it’s actually something I enjoy. The week before our trip I treat like the lead-

With the exception of visible tattoos, Matt Kelly is what I would call a chef's chef. By choice, he still cooks in his kitchen. His food is creative without being self-indulgent. And he relies on proper technique and an acute sensibility rather than micro/chemical pyrotechtronics to produce some of the


See an active volcano
See a tornado
Amazon Rain Forest
Check out haunted stuff
See the Aurora Borealis
Jam with a rock star
Meet a president
Meet a famous director
Meet a comedy icon
Be a Magicians Assistant
Tug on Carol Burnett’s ear
Meet Gary Larsen (the Far Side)
Meet Travel Channel Stars
Meet Little Debbie
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
New Year’s Eve in Times Square
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland
Oktoberfest in Germany
Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Running wit Bulls in Pamplona
Tomatina (Tomato Food Fight)
Memphis in May International Festival
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – NYC
Tournament of Roses Parade
Tailgate at every stadium in the SEC
Attend the Rose Bowl
Attend the Orange Bowl
Attend the Fiesta Bowl
Attend a Super Bowl
Attend the Kentucky Derby
Play golf in Scotland
Attend the Masters Golf Tournament
Learn how to Grow a Garden
Learn to Mediate
Film a documentary
Help someone realize their dream
Help make someone famous
Go one year without wearing socks
Own a Viking Range
Tweet from the Twitter headquarters
Google myself in Google headquarters
Write a book
Write a hit song
Ride a Cable Car in San Fransisco
Raft down the Colorado river
Go clamming in New England
Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist Tour


The 26th Annual 2021 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

2021 is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival's 26th year. Last year, the name of the festival included "Taste of" and for 2021, that appears to have been dropped. While your Epcot admission is all that's needed to participate in this popular event, it's important to know that guests must not only have valid theme park admission, but also a theme park reservation in the Disney Park Pass reservation system in order to enter the theme park.

Disney has announced that there will be 20 signature global marketplaces such as Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the Caribbean, and they will be spaced out around the theme park.

Additionally, Disney has announced that they'll be sprinkling in the "floral fun" of the Flower & Garden Festival with the global goodies of the Food & Wine Festival. Guests will be able to see the Remy topiary in the France pavilion along with special Flower & Garden merchandise. Scavenger hunt fans will be glad to hear that Remy&rsquos Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt will return. Later on, after the Festival begins, Food & Wine merchandise will be added in.

The musical acts during the &ldquoEat to the Beat Concert Series&rdquo are so popular and "often pack the house" but in an effort to accommodate proper physical distancing, these concerts will not take place this year. Guests will be able to enjoy music at the America Gardens Theatre with local EPCOT entertainment such as Mariachi Cobre, the JAMMitors, and more. These performances will be spread throughout the day in order to give audiences more options to enjoy them.

There are typically more than 30 global marketplaces featuring food, wine, and beer at the Festival, however for the 2020 event, there will only be 20. The appetizer-sized portions typically range in price from $4.00 – $8.00 and provide the perfect opportunity to try traditional cuisine from around the world.

Additional tables will be in place throughout the park where guests can stop and remove their face coverings to enjoy festival dishes while maintaining physical distancing.

The International Food and Wine Festival plays host to seminars, tasting events, and delicious meals overseen by top Disney Chefs as well as renowned guest Chefs.


On the Market: A Berkshires Beauty with Mountain Views and Gorgeous Gardens

People flock to this area in the fall to enjoy the colorful foliage, but you can enjoy it right from the glass porch on this 1900 Stockbridge home.

How Did Juul Rise So Fast and Crash So Hard?

Time health correspondent Jamie Ducharme explores the saga in Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul.

Editors’ Picks: Cane, Reimagined

A staple of ’70s décor, the plant-based beaut gets a modern upgrade.

Found Art: Out of the Blue

Photographer Susan Murie experiments with an antique printing method.

Cities unseen, a groundbreaking artist’s 60-year career, and nature as an element of design.


Tyson Cole

Thank you JBF for amazing hospitality and a super fun weekend!

A post shared byChef Tyson Cole (@cheftysoncole) on Nov 11, 2017 at 6:50am PST

Instagram: @cheftysoncole

Bio: Tyson Cole co-founded Uchi in 2003 as the restaurant’s Executive Chef. Before Uchi, he was a passionate student of the Japanese sushi tradition, training for more than 10 years in a variety of roles from dishwasher to head sushi chef in Tokyo, New York, and Austin, under two different sushi masters. Formative years were spent at Musashino, one of Austin’s top sushi restaurants, where he completed an intensive traditional apprenticeship under owner Takehiko Fuse. He later trained at Bond Street, one of the busiest sushi restaurants in New York City. After Uchi opened in 2003, Tyson was recognized as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2005. In 2010, he opened Uchiko and in 2011, he celebrated the release of the Uchi Cookbook. Later that year, Tyson also received a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest.


Andrew Zimmern on ‘Delicious Destinations,’ What’s Next for ‘Bizarre Foods,’ and the 2015 South Beach Wine & Food Fest - Recipes

It's a tradition, here and everywhere else in the known universe, to do year-end "best of" lists. It's cheesy and facile, but it's also a good opportunity to reflect on the year that's passed – the highs and the lows. In a year that had a brutal number of untimely demises, the Miami restaurant world had some as well. The first four dishes in this Part 2 of my Best Dishes of 2016 (click here for Part 1) were all served at restaurants that are no longer with us.

(You can see pictures of all of the dishes listed in this Best Dishes of 2016 flickr set).

vitello tonnato - Andrew Zimmern at Vagabond Cobaya / SOBEWFF dinner
The story picks up here in late February with our second Cobaya dinner in conjunction with the South Beach Wine and Food Fest, which was hosted by Alex Chang at the Vagabond (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from the Cobaya / SoBeWFF dinner). Chang and the Vagabond parted ways several months ago. He's now back out in Los Angeles but still has some Miami connections: he'll be heading up the new Broken Shaker / Freehand restaurant in L.A., The Exchange. But it was actually Andrew Zimmern's dish that was one of my favorites of that meal, and of the year:

Most folks probably know Zimmern from his James Beard Award winning Travel Channel program, Bizarre Foods. What they may not know is that the guy can also flat out cook. In addition to a silky vichyssoise with a citrus-cured oyster that was served as guests gathered around the Vagabond's poolside bar, he also was responsible for my favorite course of the evening: a riff on an Italian classic, vitello tonnato, done here with thin slices of veal tongue, a tangy anchovy-laden dressing, citrus segments, chile oil spiked fried capers and slivered olives for some punch, and crispy chickpea crackers for scooping.

Whenever we do a Cobaya dinner on our own, people generally know they're going to be in for something a bit different and adventurous. But seats at the SoBeWFF dinner get filled by all sorts of folks, including many who may not quite know what they're in for. So one of the highlights of the evening for me was Zimmern making sure to wait until everyone was about four bites into the dish before giving its description, and letting everyone know that he'd used veal tongue. I'd guess that about a quarter of the diners' jaws dropped. It makes me even more grateful for the support and open-mindedness of the group who come out to our regular dinners.


One of the really great things about this event was to see the teamwork of the chefs and their crews in the kitchen. As Carlo Mirarchi and his pastry chef Sam Short started to plate their dessert, everyone else jumped onto the line to help. The end result was outstanding: a nutty, burnt lemon cake, surrounded by a couple globes of coconut "fluff," with puddles of fragrant meyer lemon curd, a sort of celery jam, and sweet poppy seeds. Too often, these savory-leaning desserts feel contrived but here, everything improbably made perfect sense together.

sweetbread, tomato, fennel, pickled strawberry - Cena by Michy
Another casualty of 2016: Michelle Bernstein's Michy's, which last year renamed itself Cena by Michy (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Cena). She's still plenty active and engaged, between Crumb on Parchment, a Michy's pop-up for Art Basel, TV gigs, and her work for Common Threads, but it is a real loss to Miami that Bernstein closed what has been one of the city's best restaurants since it opened ten years ago. Nobody cooks foie or sweetbreads like Michy.

The decor and menu have changed at Cena by Michy (f/k/a Michy's), but at least one thing remains the same: if there is a sweetbread dish on the menu at a Michelle Bernstein restaurant, it will be outstanding. Case in point: this sweetbread milanese, like a cloud encased in a crispy shell. It's served with a tangy sort of stew of cherry tomatoes and fennel ribbons, with a wonderful little surprise: pickled strawberries, which provide little jolts of refreshing, sweet-tart contrast.

clams and rice - Bazi
Michael Pirolo's Bazi, a high-end Asian venture for the chef whose Italian restaurant Macchialina is one of my favorites on the Beach, wasn't around long enough for me to really mourn its closing (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Bazi). Truth is, I only got there once, for a multi-course "kaiseki" dinner he did for a small seating at the bar. There were several very good dishes, and one in particular stood out.

This is the kind of thing a chef does because they really want to, and maybe because they're a little crazy. Let's not dwell too long on how much this truly resembles a traditional Japanese kaiseki dinner (short answer: not too much). Instead, let's talk about the best thing I ate there: the clams and rice dish Pirolo served as one of the courses.

In this one dish, Pirolo ties together his Italian background and his Japanese ambitions. Diced razor clams are combined with chewy but tender viaolone nano rice, all served in the clam's shell. The rice is prepared in classic "all'onda" fashion, and bound with the clams by an uni vinaigrette which further highlights the flavors of the sea. A shower of fresh lemon balm adds a bright, herbaceous, citrusy note. It's a beautiful dish.

valley between Andes | avocado, tree tomato, kiwicha - Alter / Central dinner
Many of the best things I ate this past year were found in Miami, though not necessarily from Miami chefs. Here's another from an Alter collaborative dinner, this time with Virgilio Martinez of Peru's Central (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from the Alter / Central dinner).

"Valley Between Andes" – I later figured out that Martinez's menu at Central features dishes inspired by the products of different elevations of the Peruvian topography. This one included avocado, tree tomato (a/k/a tamarillo), and kiwicha (amaranth seeds). The avocado was so creamy and rich that it almost ate like tender braised beef, napped with a tangy sauce and speckled with the nutty, quinoa-like kiwicha, with shards of translucent, herb-dotted crackers for some textural contrast.

fallen tree | heart of palm, snails, fungi, moss, spores - Alter / Central dinner
While the Alter dinners are collaborations, Brad Kilgore and the visiting chefs tend to alternate courses rather than create dishes together. Even so, sometimes the inspiration of working together can cause the identities of each chef to fade into the background. I would have been hard pressed to know if this was Kilgore's or Martinez's dish if I hadn't been following the back-and-forth cadence of the menu.

"Fallen Tree" – Brad started with a caramelized tranche of heart of palm as the base of the dish, with the other components evoking a tropical forest floor: snails, dehydrated mushrooms, a tangle of green (seaweed?) moss, a pouffe of spring garlic mousse with pickled honshimeji mushroom "spores" poking up out of it.

(continued . )

carrot risotto, orange, coriander, feta - Little Park
During a quick spring weekend trip to New York, we met up with family at Little Park, one of Andrew Carmellini's newer venues there (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Little Park). This is the kind of place I would visit every week if it was nearby.

I was particularly smitten with the carrot risotto, whose bright orange hues were matched by the brightness of its flavors: wisps of raw carrot contrasting against those cooked into the risotto, the zip of fresh citrus, a scatter of tangy feta cheese, a mysterious whiff of coriander.

cebiche coco - El Boliche Cebicheria
A good friend's wedding provided a great reason to travel somewhere that I would have never really considered otherwise: Cartagena, Colombia. The wedding was beautiful, a baby is now on the way, and the whole weekend in Cartagena, food included, was just wonderful. The coastal town tends to favor seafood over the heavier foods of Colombia's mountain regions, and we mostly subsisted on ceviches and fresh tropical fruits the whole weekend. My favorite of those ceviches was at a charming little spot called El Boliche Cebicheria (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from El Boliche).

The ceviche de coco was possibly the best I had the whole trip: a mix of seafood including whitefish, shrimp, squid, conch and octopus, swimming in a marinade of coconut milk and aji amarillo, all laced with ribbons of fresh and dehydrated coconut. It's hard to imagine anything could taste more like the Caribbean coast.

kohlrabi marinated with cherry leaves and lemon balm - Birch
My dinner at Ben Sukle's Birch in Providence, Rhode Island was simply one of the best meals I had all year (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Birch).

I keep lists of restaurants for dozens of cities I've never visited, as if I might get airlifted one day without warning and need to find a good meal. I didn't have a long list for Providence, but I did have at least this one name. So when I had reason to visit Providence in June, I didn't look that hard for a same-day return flight, and instead lingered for dinner. It was time well spent.

I lost count at fifty. So let's just say there are at least fifty sheets of kohlrabi, layered in soft, translucent ribbons, that made up this dish. They're marinated with cherry leaves, interspersed here and there with apple, Vietnamese coriander and lemon balm. The whole fragile assemblage is laid atop a base of tangy creme fraiche. It's beautiful, delicate, brightly flavored, unexpected – and also the best kohlrabi dish I've ever tasted.

sweet peas, beach rose, basil, fennel seed and lamb's quarters - Birch
These sweet peas were another delicious celebration of the season, more sugar than starch, bound with cultured butter and brightened with magenta-hued beach rose, basil, zesty fennel capers, and delicate wilted lamb's quarters. I loved the dish.

lightly grilled cabbage - Birch
Instead of the usual slab of meat that invokes the end of the savory dishes on the tasting menu, Sukle went with a tranche of grilled cabbage. The edge was black with char, the interior was soft and silky without being cooked to sulfurous mush. Folded within was creamy rutabaga and caramelized sauerkraut. Speckled on top was an assortment of toasted seeds – sunflower, cumin, sesame. A broth of dried apples was poured tableside. This was a fantastic dish.

Hokkaido uni sushi - Shuko
Fourth of July weekend was a chance for another quick trip to New York, rendered even shorter by a flight delay which nearly botched our reservation at Shuko, one of the more recent crop of omakase sushi dens in NYC (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Shuko). But they were good enough to squeeze us in the following night, for which I was incredibly grateful, especially after this.

Some sort of sound had involuntarily come out of my mouth. I'm not sure exactly what it was it may have been a moan. It may have been a giddy chuckle. But when I came back to my senses, I saw that everyone on the other side of the counter was looking at me with an expression somewhere between bemusement and shock.

Shuko is not a stereotypically austere, somber sushi bar: the soundtrack is dominated by old-school hip-hop, and the chefs fist-bump regulars across the bar. But still, whatever I'd done had caught everyone's attention.

It was triggered by this bite of Hokkaido uni: the lobes of sea urchin cold and creamy, with a flavor both briny and fruity, like an oceanic peach, tucked over a pillow of rice into a gunkan maki of crisp nori. Beautiful stuff, worth embarrassing yourself a little bit.

caviar Benedict with corn and ham - Eleven Madison Park
It's a little curious that I had lunch at what is thought of as one of the top restaurants in the country – Daniel Humm's Eleven Madison Park – and I never got around to writing about it (see all my pictures from Eleven Madison Park). EMP is a very lovely place, ever so posh and polished and perfect. Almost, is it possible, too much so? Like the craftsmanship on a luxury yacht, it's all smooth surfaces and fine joinery – there are no rough edges, nothing to jolt you out of your comfortable leisure, no real surprises. And maybe, as a result, not quite as impactful as some other meals?

Still and yet, it was a really, really nice few hours we spent in that gorgeous dining room, a beautifully paced and presented lunch with several highlights, including this reconstructed eggs Benedict with a ring of soft custard, good ham, fresh sweet summer corn, and a generous dollop of caviar in the middle, topped finally with a frothy hollandaise sauce, with some miniature English muffins riding sidecar.

asparagus en vessie with potato and black truffle - Eleven Madison Park
EMP has toned down some of the dining room theatrics I've read about (no card tricks or picnic baskets or carrot tartare grinders) what there was during our meal was more in the nature of old fashioned table-side service, like the asparagus "en vessie" poached inside a pig's bladder, then napped with its black truffle poaching liquid alongside a puddle of a silky potato purée. I can't honestly say if the dramatic preparation method really adds to the flavor, but it's a lot more elegant than cutting open a sous vide bag at the table and it's a really beautiful, delicious dish.

maitake mushroom dinuguan - Pao by Paul Qui Cobaya dinner
Back home in Miami, we had lined up a Cobaya dinner at Paul Qui's intriguing new restaurant Pao in the Faena Hotel on Miami Beach. It was one of the best Cobaya dinners we hosted all year, and maybe all time (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Cobaya Qui at Pao).

I'd been to Paul Qui's restaurant Pao in the Faena Miami Beach once before, very shortly after it opened. I had a good meal – some dishes were great – but it felt restrained, like there was a lot more reverberating under the surface. It almost seemed as if he was cooking for this room, trying to match the polish of the gilded (literally!) ceiling and multi-million dollar Damien Hirst sculpture that is its centerpiece. I wanted to see what he could do if unburdened by those expectations, and just allowed to cook.

This may have been one of the best dishes I've had all year. It starts with fat cluster of maitake mushrooms (a/k/a hen of the woods). The whole thing is glazed with a dense, thick dinuguan sauce, typically a Filipino offal stew enriched with pork blood. Some pink pickled onions provide some tart contrast. Both the glossy brown appearance and the velvety texture here would explain why dinuguan is sometimes called "chocolate meat." Bathed in that intense, rich sauce, this mushroom may have tasted meatier than any steak I've eaten this year. It was a stunning dish.

orange chocolate souffle, creme anglaise - Pinch Kitchen
While Miami restaurant news this past year was mostly dominated by big name out-of-town chefs' openings, we also saw some younger local chefs – particularly those who have trained in some of Miami's best kitchens – get the chance to go out on their own. I wrote about a few of them in this piece in Edible South Florida, including John Gallo and Rene Reyes' Pinch Kitchen (see all my pictures from Pinch).

I'm not much of a dessert person, but there are certain things that hit certain spots for me. The combination of orange and chocolate is one of them, going back to a childhood fondness for the mandarin chocolate sherbet at Baskin Robbins (the flavor was discontinued many years ago, but memories persist). So when I see a dessert with orange and chocolate, I have trouble not ordering it.

Somehow I missed it on my first visit to Pinch Kitchen, a new-ish restaurant opened up on the northern periphery of the "MiMo District" along Biscayne Boulevard by a couple Pubbelly alumni, John Gallo and Rene Reyes. But their short list of desserts includes an orange and chocolate soufflé, baked right inside hollowed out oranges, and served with a classic creme anglaise. I went back for brunch this weekend to try it (and a couple other things).

The soufflé is airy and light but intense with chocolate flavor, drawing some extra citrus perfume as you scrape your spoon across the inside of the orange skin. I don't know if Baskin Robbins is ever bringing back mandarin chocolate sherbet, but this is a good substitute.

chupe de hongos de Quintay - Boragó
Our summer family trip was to Chile, a place which I had seriously underestimated as a culinary destination. What I found was a country with a rich, complex and delicious culinary culture fueled by the incredible bounty of seafood from its extensive coast and a combination of pre-Columbian and colonial ingredients and influences, with a sense of history and tradition as well as creativity and playfulness. That's all embodied in its most internationally well-known restaurant, Rodolfo Guzman's Boragó (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Boragó).

Boragó operates as a crash course in the cuisine and culture of Chile. One of the challenges of that approach is that if you don't know much going in, it's like showing up for class without having read the materials first: a lot of it may go over your head. I cannot recall the last time I tasted, in one meal, so many things that were unfamiliar and new – used not just for novelty, but because they have a story to tell. The more I understood of the reference points this meal invoked, the more I appreciated it.

This course was served in a wide ceramic bowl, which was brought to the table wrapped in cloth. Inside the bowl was a "chupe" – a stew – of wild mushrooms from Quintay, a town on the Pacific coast due west from Santiago. At the base of the bowl was a thick purée of the richly flavored mushrooms, which had been hung over embers for five hours. Arranged above the purée were several pickled and dehydrated leaves. The server finished the dish by pouring into the bowl whey from pajarito (kefir?) yogurt which had been infused with eucalyptus. This was like the flavors of a forest, concentrated in one bowl: the earthy, meaty mushrooms, their flavors deepened over the smoke the pickled leaves the woodsy scent of eucalyptus, all of it pulled together in the lactic tang of the whey. It was a unique and memorable dish.

cuchufli de rosa del año - Boragó
The first dessert, a "cuchufli" of almond paste and preserved rose petals, was a striking visual presentation with a fascinating backstory. The flower petals come from the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on earth, where there is typically less than an inch of rainfall per year. As you might expect, it's a rather barren landscape. But in seasons where there are heavier rains – typically only once or twice a decade – the desert floor blooms for just a few weeks of the year with these roses, whose seeds can lay dormant for years. Last year was one of those years (see some amazing pictures here and compare to what the desert looks like now), and Guzman preserved its bounty for use at the restaurant, These delicate candies, mounted in the brittle branches of desert bushes, were deliciously sweet and nutty and floral.

grilled pineapple, macerated strawberries, mascarpone cream - Los Fuegos Cobaya dinner
While we were doing our Cobaya dinner at Pao, Qui's neighbor at the Faena – legendary Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, who also has a restaurant, Los Fuegos, in the hotel – popped by. He was intrigued. And so a couple months later, we were back, doing a dinner with Mallmann. Needless to say, it involved lots of wood fire and grilled meats. But the surprise favorite for me was the dessert:

Then Los Fuegos' chef Vitor Perim set about slicing the whole pineapples which had also been cooking over the fire as we arrived. In fact, they'd been cooking for the past seven hours. Still juicy and sweet, and silky soft (the core was as tender as the flesh), the pineapple was also entirely suffused with the smoky perfume of the fire. It was a pretty magical combination. The rounds of pineapple were served simply with macerated strawberries and a mascarpone cream the fewer distractions, the better.

And that, my friends, wraps up Part 2 of my best dishes of 2016. Read Part 1 here, and Part 3 here.


Review: How to Eat Like a Samurai Event on September 26, 2017

Cover image: Discussion with Kanna Himiya at the Japan Society © Meg for WhereNYC

“In order to conquer the world, we need to live a long life. And in order to live a long life, we need to eat properly, having the best food at the proper time.”

From the moment Ms. Kanna Himiya stood up from her seat, I was mesmerized by her pure elegance.

Mr. Romano introducing Ms. Himiya © Meg for WhereNYC

After New York City-based executive chef and restaurant owner in Japan, Mr. Michael Romano, presented Ms. Himiya, she stood up perfectly from her seat without moving her back, which was already formed in perfect posture. Then, before she climbed up the steps to the stage, she faced the audience, revealing her beautiful blue kimono, and bowed in a perfect 45-degree angle. I heard gasps and various “Wow” whispers from people sitting around me. As an American-born Japanese person, I, too, felt the urge to straighten my back in my seat.

For the Japanese, eating is a “Godly act” (i.e. shinji), because one shows grace to honor life, earth, peace and love. The term “Itadakimasu” used before eating, roughly translates as, “I will gratefully have your food.” “Gochiso-samadeshita,” said after eating, means, “I have finished your food and I thank you for giving me this food.” Ms. Himiya adds through an interpreter, “Even though Japan is a tiny island, I believe that it has the best cuisine, full of the most profound history and culture.”

Samurai Cuisine Introduction © Meg for WhereNYC

For Ms. Himiya, Kanazawa, in the Ishikawa prefecture of Japan, has the “healthiest cuisine” and is the “birth place of samurai cuisine.”

What is the samurai diet?

Essentially, it consists of healthy, well-balanced food with the freshest and most seasonal ingredients. It served both to entertain and represent the samurai’s land and power. The origins of the “samurai diet” started in the Sengoku Period, which directly translates to the “Period of Battle Country.” During this period, the samurais held miso shiru (i.e. miso soup) parties, or shirukou, allowing them to forge alliances. The samurai regimen featured “ritual foods for good luck” before they went to battle. This led to “Kyouoh” (i.e. banquets) during the following long, peaceful Edo Period in Japan, led by Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu. Under Tokugawa, the daimyos had to entertain each other, and they did this through Kyouohs, which were full of the “spirit of thanks,” or omotenashi as they honored each other.

Beer from the Ishikawa Prefecture was also a hit. © Meg for WhereNYC

The samurai’s philosophy of a healthy diet contributed to the betterment of Japanese culture during the Edo period. The samurai regarded fresh, seasonal ingredients as “medicinal.” Staples such as miso, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and umeboshi (i.e. pickled plums) were key to “umami,” which “can only be expressed in Japanese food,” explained Ms. Himiya, who believes that naturally delicious food made with the “spirit of thanks” (i.e. omotenashi) can help achieve world peace.

Soy sauce and dried soy sauce.. along with dressing. Soy-yummy! © Meg for WhereNYC

“I believe [cultural exchange] is the key to having a better world,” said Ms. Himiya through her interpreter. Perhaps a reference to today’s political climate, Mr. Romano, bluntly remarked, “If only our government could see that…” followed by rapturous applause in the audience.

The reception following the talk showcased an array of delicious food and sake samples from Ishikawa prefecture. One could feel like a true samurai in Edo Japan. The exchange of good food, sake, and conversation was almost therapeutic, making me feel very peaceful.

Sake tasting- tastic! © Meg for WhereNYC

The talk by Ms. Himiya was truly sublime, and the sake and food tasting from the Ishikawa prefecture added to the whole experience. It was so enjoyable that I unfortunately missed my chance to receive a signed copy of Ms. Himiya’s book, The Samurai Gourmet. Ah, well… Gochiso-samadeshita.

For more information on upcoming events including Escape East @ 333, Fri. Oct 20, please visit the Japan Society.


Watch the video: Delicious Destination Lisbon