Missed Out On Noma? That’s OK, We Got All The Hygge At Home

dessert at Agern, in New York City
dessert at Agern, in New York City

So, Noma’s original location has finally closed. If you’re like me, and have never had the extra cash to fly over to Copenhagen for one of these elusive reservations, Noma is meaningful mostly because of its wide span of influence around the globe. (If you aren’t well-versed in Redzepi and his influence, check out my review of the 2015 documentary about Noma, The Perfect Storm.)

Here in the U.S., young chefs who have staged at Noma–or one of Copenhagen’s similarly styled newer restaurants like Relae or Amass–are flexing their New Nordic muscles at their own restaurants, around the country. Until I can get myself over to Scandinavia for some hang time with Réné Redzepi and a glimpse of the Northern Lights (or to the Noma pop-up in Mexico?!?), I’m content to experience the cuisine and culture at any of these wonderful spots. I wrote about some aspects of New Nordic dining, and mentioned a couple places to try it, for Vogue.com–check it out hereWith love and hygge, from me.

 

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Mange La Résistance: How NYC Chefs Are Fighting Back Against Trump

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-9-11-15-amHere’s the best news you’ve had in the past few weeks: New York City chefs have made a bold gesture to demonstrate that they support immigrants who live in this country, and created a way for people who are devastated by the election results to get involved in resistance. It’s a really simple idea that can have serious impact.

Over the coming months, there will be a series of ticketed “family meals” at some of the city’s best restaurants: Wildair, Olmstead, Café Altro Paradiso, and Reynard. Family meal, if you don’t know, is the communal meal served just before a restaurant staff brings into action and opens its doors. It’s something of a sacred, intimate ritual–and these meals will be focused on generating conversation about what we can do to support immigrants, and each other, during these next four years. In partnership with Bon Appetit magazine, these restaurants will be donating proceeds from these ticketed meals to various immigrant rights organizations; they are listed at the ticketing site.

Bravo to these chefs and to BA mag for finding a simple way to create community and kickstart the resistance.

 

Of Grain Bowls, Chopsticks, Hidden Gems, and L.A.

rice-bar-langanitsa
the longganisa sausage at Rice Bar, photo mine

For a New Yorker, visiting L.A. conjures up cultural references from Woody Allen films, visions of Hollywood galas, and clichés about grain bowls at sidewalk cafés. Well, the latter, at least, rings one hundred percent true in my recent experience–but the grain bowls these days are not so plain, as I found out during a culinary journey through L.A.

During these few days in the city of angels, I experienced some meals that I can only describe as moving–and some of these were at hole-in-the-wall spots where no dish cost more than $10. The meals were moving not because of extravagance, but because they originated from a deeply personal source, connected to the chefs’ families or home countries, or a journey abroad. But on top of the personal layer, there was also technical prowess, and powerful creativity.

Find my story here about the tiny, hidden-away, new wave of chef-driven Asian restaurants in L.A. Thanks for reading!

Meet Sauvage’s Chef, The Ambitious, Fiery, Producer-Obsessed Lisa Giffen

IMG_1511Greetings, and I hope your 4th of July weekend was filled with delicious food and wine! Just one update here: I’m sure some of you who live in New York have already checked out Sauvage, which opened recently in Greenpoint (if you haven’t, I recommend it!). I profiled the ambitious, young, producer-obsessed chef there, Lisa Giffen, for Food Republic. I really admire her forward-thinking approach to sourcing ingredients, as well as the way she takes inspiration from the restaurant design and bar program. Read here

Meet The #LadyChef Who Cooks For Marc Jacobs (And Throws Secret Dance Parties)

Squid course Heatonist popupWhy is Marc Jacobs’ personal chef throwing secret dance parties in Chinatown? How did she come up with that insanely beautiful activated charcoal-dusted squid dish, served at a pop-up dinner in a hot sauce boutique? Who is Lauren Gerrie, anyway, and why is she so damn talented?

Answers in my profile of this dynamic, self-made chef, on Taste Talks. If you haven’t yet checked out Taste Talks, it’s a fairly new media endeavor from Northside Media (same folks running Brooklyn Magazine and L Magazine, plus the annual Taste Talks event in Brooklyn, which is this year expanding to L.A. and Chicago). Read my story here

Dear Harper’s: I really hate this article, here’s why.

I understand, roughly, what you were going for. Let’s make fun of the rich, and their excesses, hahaha, by sending a writer who has a degree from a top university (specifically, Oxford) to dine at obscenely expensive restaurants and make fun of how ridiuclous they arefor a magazine read mostly by privileged people — because we (the intellectuals) aren’t that kind of privileged people. We’re the good kind of rich, you know, because we publish a thoughtful magazine.

In fact, let’s send this writer to restaurants that normal people, who work in the food industry and actually love food and appreciate how it can be elevated to an artform — an artform which, yes, at times is excessive and outlandish — save up for months to be able to eat at. Because it’s really not just rich people who want to eat at these places, Harper’s; they aren’t just for the 1 percent. And if you think that, then it’s a miracle that you can appreciate Picasso, or Richard Serra, or certainly Jeff Koons.

Sure, the world of food gets really weird, sometimes. It is totally understandable that any diner would be disappointed with these high-end meals on any given night, because they do aim more for bravado than simple, basic flavor. Hell, I’ll take pasta shells with homemade pesto any night of the week, but I still made sure to eat at wd~50 before it closed because I understand that food is an art form, and that top-performing chefs influence all of us and our daily diets. Remember that line in The Devil Wears Prada when the exec chews out her naive new employee, who thinks fashion doesn’t matter — by explaining that the color of her crappy sweater would not exist, were it not for high fashion? Read more

The Key To Chef Jason Atherton’s Success Might Be At Roberta’s Pizza

Mmm, pizza . . . sorry, what was I saying? It wasn’t supposed to be about pizza. Filet mignon, wasn’t it?

IMG_2704 Right, I profiled British celebrity chef Jason Atherton to see what he plans to do to make his new fancy resto The Clocktower one that New Yorkers will be buzzing about for decades to come!

Answers to that curiosity, plus the scoop on Atherton’s favorite fashion designers, at Food Republic.