Daniel Boulud

Review: Jonathan Waxman’s “Italian, My Way”

When foodies talk about chefs they speak in hushed tones about the likes of Mario Batali, Emeril Legasse and Todd English.  When those chefs get together they speak in hushed tones about chefs like Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pépin and Jonathan Waxman.

Johnathon WaxmanChef Jonathan Waxman is one of the all time great American chefs hailing from the “Provence of the US,” Northern California.  But Waxman’s early days were spent chasing the rock and roll dream (been there) relying on his trusty trombone to lead him to fame and fortune (done that).  Eventually he gave up his dreams of rock stardom in lieu of becoming a chef (got the T-shirt).

When many think of Waxman they think of the French trained chef that helped define California Cuisine as the executive chef of Alice Water’s famed Chez Panisse in Berkley.  But it wasn’t until 1979 that people began to realize his brilliance.  That was when he left Water’s tutelage to open Michael’s Restaurant in Santa Monica.

Soon the accolades came flooding in and it didn’t take long for Waxman to move to the bright lights of New York.  It is there that he opened Jams Restaurant on East 79th Street and it has since been followed by Bud’s, Hulot’s, Jams of London and Table 29.

Through the years Waxman has played mentor to dozens, perhaps hundreds of young chefs including Iron Chef Bobby Flay.  Flay worked the line at both Bud and Jams and it was Waxman who first introduced the young chef to Southwestern Cuisine.  Flay says of his mentor, “Jonathan Waxman was the first person to teach me what good food was.”

So it came as some surprise to me that Jonathan Waxman, master of California Cuisine and a pioneer of Southwestern had just published a cookbook of Italian recipes entitled Italian, My Way: More Than 150 Simple and Inspired Recipes That Breathe New Life into Italian Classics (available at amazon).

So I got a review copy from the publisher and decided to take it for a spin around the block.  First thing you see on the cover are the words, “Forward by Tom Colicchio.”  Man, if Colicchio is writing your foreword it is a testament to the regard other chefs of caliber hold you in.

If you are one of those people that simply cannot stand a cookbook that is not overflowing with brilliant and colorful food porn then this is not the book for you.  If you love innovative recipes from someone who is truly one of the great cooks of our generation then saunter on over to amazon and order a copy.

Not that there are no pictures.  There are a few, mostly in black and white and crafted in an artistic, almost nostalgic format, like looking through an old photo album with your 90 year old Sicilian grandmother.

But the heart and soul of every cookbook are the recipes and Waxman has put together 150 where he re-imagines classic Italian cuisine.  Nothing drastic, mind you, the chef simply applies the spirit of Italy to the ingredients found stateside.  Take for instance this little gem:

: Hanger Steak with Salsa Piccante
  • 1 24-ounce hanger steak
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Hatch or red Fresno chilies
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamico
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Trim steak and season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Bring it to room temperature.
  3. To make the salsa: Put the garlic, onion, chilies and olive oil into a cast-iron skillet. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, deglaze with the balsamico and then puree everything in a food processor fitted with a metal blade until chunky.
  4. Prepare a medium-hot grill. Sear the hanger until dark mahogany in color and crispy on all sides – this takes vigilance, but only about 8 minutes total. Hanger should be rare to medium-rare. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes, then slice.
  5. Serve with salsa.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4-6

Meal type: supper

Culinary tradition: Italian

 

7 Questions with Mindy Kobrin

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

Since I started the 7 Questions series I have had the opportunity to interview some incredibly talented chefs, innovative bloggers and even a radio host who specializes in the cuisine of Disney.  But this is the first time I have ever interviewed a Lifestyle & Celebration Specialist.

Mindy Kobrin is the founder of Mindy’s Meals on Heels, a catering and party planning venture that is way more than just a catering and party planning venture.  Kobrin draws on an amazing manifest of professional experience to create one-of-a-kind celebratory experiences for her clients.  She also teaches you how to do it via her blog.

Kobrin was the Development Director of Fundraising for the Princess Grace Foundation and HSH Prince Albert of Monaco II and The Princely Family where she headed fund raising and corporate sponsorship for all events including two annual galas that raised over a million dollars.  She was also a member of Daniel Boulud’s culinary team at Feast & Fetes that organized special events such as the Jazz Aspen Festival and South Beach Food & Wine Festival.

Additionally Mindy has flexed her fashionista muscle having worked as a merchandise analyst for Saks Fifth Avenue.  She has also studied graduate courses in International Relations in London.  Recently Mindy Kobrin answered 7 Questions:

1. What exactly does a “Lifestyle & Celebration Specialist” do?

Mindy Korbin of Mindy's Meals on HeelsThe go-to Entertaining and Celebrations Expert site, MealsonHeelsbyMindy.com, fuses food, fashion and travel to create menus and parties with international flare and panache.  Every party I plan, no matter the size, is a unique cultural experience that bridges the gap between formal gala and affordable dinner party. As founder of Meals on Heels, I feel the best part of event planning is building menus and creating an idea from scratch–no rules.

Eat well.  Feel well.  Entertain well.

2. When did you decide that you could turn your passions into a career?

As a young girl growing up in Orlando with Walt Disney World and Epcot Center practically in my backyard, I grew up feeling  inspired to entertain with wonderment, travel and great food–all components of a successful “Cultural Ambassador” so to speak.

3. Professionally, who has influenced you the most?

So many people and places around the globe have played a big role in shaping my career.

Historically, both Amelia Earhart and Dorothy Draper, both dynamic innovators of their time, encouraged women to be fearless, unique, adventurous and full of individuality.  Their spirit remains priceless and near to my heart.

Secondly, New York City and its many outstanding chefs inspire me 24-7, 365 days a year!

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and the Princely Family with whom I worked with directly on numerous events domestically and internationally, demonstrated glamour with goodness and unwavering commitment to philanthropy and the environment.

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

Foreign Service and Diplomacy.

5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?

Traveling the world and befriending some of the best chefs and entertainers.

An over the top experience which left an indelible mark on me was with Bugatti in Baden-Baden, Germany.  On an airstrip, in-between flight take-offs, I was so lucky to have a ride in the Bugatti Veyron– a 1001 horse-power car valued over $1,000,000.  With speeds close to 200mph, it felt like we could lift off and fly over the Black Forest!

6. What is your guilty pleasure?

Extravagant guilty pleasure: Traveling to the Mediterranean every summer–especially Greek Isles.

Frequent guilty pleasure:  Making homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cups and sharing them with friends over a robust bottle of Mendoza-Argentine wine.

7. What’s next for Mindy Kobrin?

With dear friends, the exciting journey continues to unfold – Book, TV and nibbling the world one great recipe/event at a time while giving back to the community.

7 Questions with Chef Gui Alinat

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

Most folks have seen Chef Gui Alinat whether they are aware of it or not.  In the commercial for eDiets.com there is a chef that looks too pretty to be a real chef.  Clearly he is a model or actor.  Nope, that’s Chef Gui.

Gui Alinat is an ACF Certified Executive Chef, food writer and a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Tampa and the Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy in Tarpon Springs. He also published his first book, The Chef’s Répertoire, in January 2010.  Gui regularly contributes to the St Petersburg Times food section and Creative Loafing’s blog: Daily Loaf.

The Chef’s Répertoire has earned Gui a great deal of notoriety and accolades.  Here’s what the experts are saying about it:

“In a flash, you are reminded of a recipe or technique that you might need to reference. This book will be attached to my kitchen counter!”
Chef Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan

Chef Gui’s répertoire is a short version of many international recipes which will delight professionals and cooks with basic culinary knowledge.”
Chef Marie-Annick Courtier, author of The Saint-Tropez Diet

“Alinat’s répertoire lists the modern classic recipes chefs must have at their fingertips. This book should be on the desk of every high-end restaurant chef.”
Chef Hugh J. McEvoy, President, Chicago Research Chefs

Chef Gui was kind enough to take time to answer 7 Questions:

1. How old were you when you first started to cook?

Gui:  Well, coming from the south of France, you never really “start” cooking. Everything revolves around food, and making it. So of course I have memories of a culture almost essentially made of long lunches at the table, family dinners, wild mushroom foraging, and pantagruelian feasts revolving around wild boar, hare and partridge. I remember learning the obscure technique of “flambadou” grilling, making grand aioli Provencal, and pitting apricot pits (yes, there is a slightly bitter, velvety, eatable nut inside the pit of an apricot) for my grandma’s jam.  But I started cooking professionally when I was 16 years old, when I went to chef school in Marseilles, France.

2. When did you decide that you wanted to make food your career?

Gui:  I actually started chef school upon recommendation from my mother, and because I didn’t know what else to do at 16 years old. All I knew was that I wanted a school as far away as possible of my hometown. Chef school was it. It’s only after the first year there that I really started to enjoy this. I stayed 6 years (chef school + 2 years of restaurant management) and really enjoyed it.

3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

Gui:  Many. Cooking professionally is a journey. You never stop learning and looking around for what others are doing. Early on, I was impressed by the local chefs whom I worked under: chefs Gerald Passedat (now a 3 Michelin star in Marseilles), René Alloin, Michel Siepen of Le Revestel, Jean-Claude Rouyer. At the time, back in the 80s, I was influenced by the Nouvelle Cuisine chefs, especially those from the south of France like Roger Vergé and Alain Ducasse. More recently, the chefs I really admire are Michel Bras, Grant Achatz, Nobu, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Pierre Gagnaire. And of course chef Rick Tramonto of TRU who’s not only a fantastic chef but a genuinely nice person.

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

Gui:  I think I would have directed independent movies. Or be a photographer.  Or become an interior designer.  I am very attracted by the visual aspect of things.

5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?

GA:  Besides meeting you, you mean?  Opening my own fine catering business has been an outstanding source of enjoyment, and that would probably not have happened anywhere else than in the United States. So that was a big highlight of my career. My team and I have become somewhat of a local culinary hallmark. We cooked for head of states and celebrities, and we have catered some really, really cool events, like the 300 VIP donors event at the Dali museum.  And of course, publishing my first book this year, The Chef’s Repertoire, and winning a Cordon d’Or International Culinary Award for it is a big deal for me.

6. What aspect of your professional life do you enjoy the most?

Gui:  I enjoy many parts of it. But what never ceases to attract me is the passion for crafting food. I love cooking of course, especially at home for friends and family, and I love writing.

7. What’s next for Gui Alinat?

Gui:  I am planning my second book and focusing on the promotion of my first. I’ve also been approached by a TV producing company so who knows, maybe you’ll see me somewhere else than in those cheesy eDiets commercials!

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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