Interview with Rajat Parr, Nominated for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional

 

Vintner and sommelier Rajat Parr can point to the exact vineyard and vintage of wine that changed his life, setting him on the path toward his nomination for this year's James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional. We spoke with him about that seminal sip and his current adventures in winemaking.

 

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JBF: You've had a multi-faceted career in wine: the wine director for a restaurant group, part owner in a wine bar, and winemaker. How do you balance it all?

 

Rajat Parr: I am a full-time winemaker now. We have two vineyards: Domaine de la Cote in Santa Barbara and Seven Springs in Oregon. I oversee the wine programs within the Mina Group, but do not work on daily operations. The same is for [the San Francisco wine bar and restaurant] RN74. We have a great team that makes sure the restaurants are successful. I live in Santa Barbara now. It's quite a change, but after working in restaurants for 18 years, it's a good change.

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Interview with Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, Nominated for Best New Restaurant

Photo c/o Spoon and Stable

 

After JBF Award winner Gavin Kaysen left his post at Café Boulud to return to his roots in Minneapolis, the long-missed-local received a hero’s welcome, and Twin Cities residents are now flocking to Kayen's Spoon and Stable, a 2015 Best New Restaurant nominee. We spoke with him about his homecoming, his penchant for pilfering flatware, and his vision of Heartland cuisine.

 

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JBF: Your restaurant is called Spoon and Stable. What’s the story behind the name?

 

Gavin Kaysen: The building we took over was a horse stable that was built in 1906, so the stable part comes from that. The spoon part comes from something I’ve been doing for years, which is "collecting" spoons from places all over the world. They come from places that have inspired me, perhaps while eating dinner, or working there. We now sell spoons at... Read more >

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Sponsored Post: Let Enjoy Illinois Be Your Chicago Concierge

The dining room of Best New Restaurant nominee Parachute

 

If you're visiting Chicago and love food, you know the city's Beard Award winners and latest crop of nominees are sure bets for top-notch dining. But the offerings don't end there.

 

The official Enjoy Illinois blog, published by the Illinois Office of Tourism, is a one-stop guide to restaurants, museums, historical sites, and more in Chicago. Head over there now for a roundup of where to eat during JBFA weekend. We also love their inspired Instagram Challenges, with themes like "... Read more >

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Sponsored Happy Hour: The BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Old Cuban

BACARDÍ Brand Ambassador Juan Coronado

 

The Italian tradition of serving a pre-dinner cocktail, or aperitif, dates back to ancient Rome. But like many imbibers, I want that experience to last longer.

 

Thanks to the care and pride that restaurants are putting into their beverage programs, we can now enjoy cocktails throughout an entire meal. When made correctly, cocktails can be extremely food-friendly, and can pair with any style of cuisine. However, some spirits are more versatile than others.

 

Mixologists prize rum for its incredible flexibility. The spirit ranges from light and dry to rich and aged, and can be flavored or spiced. This diversity allows for a broader spectrum of cocktails that can be mixed with infinite ingredients to fully complement a culinary experience.

 

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Interview with Markus Glocker of Bâtard, Nominated for Best New Restaurant

Photo c/o Bâtard

 

Using what New York Times food critic Pete Wells called "a sniper's accuracy at the stove," Austrian-born chef Markus Glocker crafts show-stopping prix fixe menus for a range of budgets at Tribeca’s elegant Bâtard. To learn more about the white-hot nominee for Best New Restaurant, we spoke with Glocker about his European pedigree, culinary style, and ultimate springtime dessert.

 

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JBF: How would you describe your culinary style?

 

MG: I’d describe my culinary style as simplicity refined. I try and send a clear, focused message through flavor.

 

JBF: How has your background influenced your food at Bâtard?

 

MG: When you work for influential chefs like Charlie Trotter, you can’t deny the influence that they have on your cooking. That being said, after learning these techniques from great chefs before... Read more >

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Tune into the Beard Awards Gala on Monday, May 4

Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

Time to unroll the red carpet and polish the Champagne flutes: next Monday is the culinary industry's biggest night. What's more, it's the 25th anniversary of the Beards, and, for the first time ever, we're bringing the show to the great city of Chicago.

 

Not joining us at Lyric Opera of Chicago? That's okay—It's easy to follow along at home. And why not invite a few friends over for a JBF Award viewing party? Just tune into our live broadcast at jamesbeard.org/awards. The ceremony begins at 6:00 P.M. Central. We'll also be covering the chef-studded red carpet on our Periscope account (username "Beard Foundation") starting at 5:00 P.M. Central. As always, we'll be live-tweeting the ceremony @beardfoundation and, here on our blog, posting videos from the show, winner recaps, and great reads about the America's... Read more >

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Sponsored Post: HMSHost's Innovative Dining at O'Hare

Chef Susumu Shibata in the O’Hare Urban Garden

 

When the best of America’s culinary industry descends on Chicago for the James Beard Awards Gala next week, they’ll touch down at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, one of the busiest aviation hubs in the country.

 

The 80 million travelers who traverse O’Hare’s terminals daily are no strangers to culinary excellence, thanks to the abundant dining options provided by HMSHost. One of the world’s largest restaurateurs, HMSHost has developed an innovative dining program that’s in step with current food trends, including restaurants that source from local farmers and use fresh herbs from O’Hare Urban Garden, located in Terminal 3.

 

Like the James Beard Awards, HMSHost is invested in nurturing culinary talent. The company’s recent “... Read more >

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Viewing Party Recipe: Monferrato Cocktail

 

Snacks by JBF Award–winning chefs? Check. Entertaining tips from a consummate host? Check. Your viewing party plan for the James Beard Awards this coming Monday, May 4, is almost complete. But what about some tipples to tip your hat to our beverage nominees? Don't worry, we've got you covered there, too. Leo Robitschek, of the 2014 JBF Outstanding Bar Program Award–winning NoMad Bar, developed the Monferrato Cocktail to equal parts celebratory and refined. This Champagne-anchored drink is the perfect way to toast all the winners on Awards night. Get the recipe here.

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Interview with Ted Lemon, Nominated for Outstanding Wine, Beer, Spirits Professional

 

Ted Lemon, founder of Littorai Wines, has worked at wineries the world over, running a Burgundy estate (as the first American to do so) and consulting in New Zealand. His breadth of experience and passion for ethically growing and sourcing his ingredients make him a strong nominee for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional. We spoke to him about the naming of his vineyard, the impact of the California drought, and more.

 

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JBF: Among your 2015 releases, what are you most excited about?

 

Ted Lemon: All of the vineyard-designated 2013 Pinot Noirs. They have muscle, grip, and a sense of place. Pretty is not the descriptor I would use.

 

JBF: Littorai means “coasts” in Latin. What’s the story behind this name?

 

TL: In 1993, [my wife] Heidi and I did not have the money to afford a trademark, so we needed something that was sufficiently obscure that no one would trademark it... Read more >

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Interview with Eli Kaimeh of Per Se, Nominated for Outstanding Restaurant

 

Although Per Se debuted a decade after a certain acclaimed sibling restaurant in California, this fine-dining temple, perched high in New York City's Time Warner building, has enjoyed its own abundant successes. The three-Michelin-starred property is an oasis on every level, beckoning epicureans from all corners of the globe with its unparalleled luxuries and cuisine. Below, we caught up with chef de cuisine Eli Kaimeh to get the inside scoop on the Outstanding Restaurant nominee’s tasting menus, the team's pioneering work with vegetables, and their take on gluten-free substitutions. 

 

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JBF: While some of Per Se’s signature dishes (such as oysters and pearls) remain, we know that the world-renowned menu is constantly evolving. Can you tell us about a dish or two that’s currently on the menu that really captures the restaurant’s point of... Read more >

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