Q & A with JBF Award Nominee Sam Calagione

James Beard Award nominee Sam Calagione

 

When it first opened in 1995, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery was the smallest commercial brewery in the United States. Now, thanks to its line of quirky, small-batch beers, the company pulls in a cult-like following. We got in touch with Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head’s founder, president, and a 2013 nominee for our Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional award. Read on for his thoughts on collaborations between chefs and brewers, the ancient ale he cultivated with a molecular archeologist, and a beer that was like “tongue-kissing Mother Nature.”

 

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JBF: We’ve read that you strive to create beers so unique that they can’t be judged by ordinary standards. Can you tell us a bit more about the philosophy behind Dogfish Head?

 

Sam Calagione: We brew beers that are beyond stylistic borders and far outside the modern tradition of using just barley, water, yeast,... Read more >

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Q & A with Evan and Sarah Rich of the JBF Award–Nominated Rich Table

Evan and Sarch Rich of San Francisco's Rich Table

 

When Evan and Sarah Rich opened the doors at San Francisco’s Rich Table, they presented a refined sensibility gleaned from combined backgrounds at high-end restaurants like Bouley, Quince, and Michael Mina with a convivial, relaxed environment. We caught up with the husband-and-wife team behind the Best New Restaurant nominee to learn about the inspiration behind their concept, their favorite cookbooks, and the unusual recipe that launched a culinary career.

 

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JBF: What is your favorite item on the menu at Rich Table right now?

 

Evan Rich: Asparagus with pork belly and sorrel. I love this dish because it really represents what we do here. At first glance, it seems very simple but there's a lot of complexity of flavor and texture—and a great deal of work that goes into both the preparation and the pickup of the dish. It was inspired by sweet-and-sour... Read more >

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Q & A with Mike Lata of the JBF Award–Nominated The Ordinary

Anna Mowry interviews Mike Lata, the chef behind Best New Restaurant nominee the Ordinary in Charleston

 

No discussion about Charleston’s on-fire food scene is complete without a nod
to Mike Lata. His first solo project, FIG, was a pioneer of the city’s latest generation of eateries, while the Ordinary, his follow-up concept and a 2013 Best New Restaurant nominee, is a reconsideration of the classic seafood restaurant. In the interview below, Lata discusses how he applies nose-to-tail philosophy to seafood, the Carolinas’ unique “merroir," and his favorite dishes at the Ordinary.

 

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JBF: Your menu celebrates the “merroir” of the coastal Carolinas and the East Coast. How would you describe the merroir of the Carolinas? What's unique about it?

 

ML: What's unique to the Carolinas is pluff mud and the high salinity content of our ... Read more >

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Q & A with JBF Award Nominee David Wondrich

Anna Mowry interviews JBF Award Nominee David Wondrich

 

After Prohibition virtually extinguished America’s rich cocktail culture, mixology entered a bleak age of sour mix, cranberry juice, and abuse of the “-tini” suffix. But thanks, in part, to cocktail historian David Wondrich, many of the recipes from bartending’s Golden Age are alive and well once more. Below, Wondrich, who is a nominee for our Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional award, tells us about his latest project, favorite new bars, and first non-liquid food memory. 

 

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JBF: You've been tapped to write The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails. How is that going? Is there an ETA?

 

DW: It's a huge job, that's for sure, but I'm already learning a great deal. We're trying to bring all kinds of Asian and African spirits into the discussion, from arrack to akpeteshie, baijiu to bukha. I've really just begun working on it—I've got a list of headwords and we're figuring out who... Read more >

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Q & A with Alex Stupak of the JBF Award–Nominated Empellón Cocina

Anna Mowry interviews Alex Stupak of Empéllon Cocina, a 2013 nominee for the JBF Best New Restaurant awards

 

Whether you initially thought that Alex Stupak’s decision to hang up his pastry chef hat and open his own taqueria was a brilliant move or a madcap experiment, everyone can now agree that the detour has paid off. His two young ventures, Empellón Taqueria and Empellón Cocina, have earned raves from local and national media, and the latter is one of our 2013 Best New Restaurant nominees. Below, the freshly minted Food & Wine Best New Chef tells us about the future of his restaurants, a regional Mexican cuisine that deserves more attention, and his favorite unwieldy Mexican dish in New York City.

 

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JBF: Empellon Cocina is about a year old now. What are you and your team focusing on over the course of the next year?

 

AS: Right... Read more >

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Q & A with JBF Award Nominee Dominique Ansel

Anna Mowry interviews JBF Award–nominated pastry chef Dominique Ansel

 

Hopes were high when Daniel alum Dominique Ansel launched his eponymous bakery in New York’s Soho neighborhood in November of 2011. On its opening day, the store sold out by 3:00 P.M., and the enthusiasm has only barely waned ever since. Now a nominee for our 2013 Outstanding Pastry Chef award, Ansel chatted with us about the unexpected success of his most popular item, the other pastry chefs he admires, and a perfect glass of milk.

 

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JBF: What is your favorite item from the current menu at Dominique Ansel? Which creation are you most proud of?

 

DA: Well, the DKA, a.k.a. Dominique’s Kouign Amann, changed my life. The kouign amann is a pastry from Brittany that’s been described as a “caramelized croissant”.  I remember first making it back at Fauchon, and later I baked some for the manager’s meetings at Daniel. Never once did I think that... Read more >

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Q & A with Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of the JBF Award–Nominated State Bird Provisions

Anna Mowry interviews the chefs behind the 2013 James Beard Award nominee State Bird Provisions

 

When State Bird Provisions opened last New Year’s Day, it offered a novel vision of dining from husband-and-wife team Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski. Instead of taking orders tableside, their staff wheeled around a cart, dim sum–style, piled with the couple’s intricate, globally inspired small plates. The format—and the Rubicon graduates’ exciting food—seemed to win over just about everyone in San Francisco and beyond. We spoke with Stuart and Nicole about their follow-up project, the versatility of pancakes, and where they eat on their days off.

 

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JBF: There's a section on your menu that's just pancakes, so we have to ask: why pancakes?

 ... Read more >

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Q & A with JBF Award Nominee David Posey

Anna Mowry interviews 2013 James Beard Award nominee David Posey of Chicago's Blackbird

 

Last winter, a four-star review from the Chicago Tribune gave Blackbird a ticket to join the city’s crème de la crème. The clincher? Chef de cuisine David Posey’s daring bill of fare, praised by critic Phil Vettel for its unusual ingredient combinations. Here, the first-time Rising Star Chef of Year nominee tells us about his formative work experiences, cooking philosophy, and memorable meals.

 

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JBF: You worked at Alinea before Blackbird, and you cite Grant Achatz as an important  mentor. What were your biggest takeaways from that experience?

 

DP: I had the pleasure of working with chef Achatz at both Trio and Alinea. My externship was at Trio. I was a much younger and less experienced cook, which meant it took far more effort for me to focus on discipline and attention to detail. Whether it was folding towels... Read more >

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Q & A with JBF Award Nominee Garrett Oliver

Elena North-Kelly interviews Garrett Oliver (photo by Michael Harlan Turkell)

 

As brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery, author of The Brewmaster’s Table, and editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer, Garrett Oliver is an undisputed authority on America’s favorite alcoholic beverage. We got in touch with the 2013 Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional award nominee to find out about what chefs and brewers have in common, the restaurant with the best beer selection in New York City, and the wildest brew he’s ever concocted.

 

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JBF: What is your favorite beer from Brooklyn Brewery’s current collection?... Read more >

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Q & A with JBF Award Nominee Brooks Headley

Brooks Headley (photo by Glen E. Friedman)

 

When former punk rocker Brooks Headley took over the pastry department at New York City’s four-star Del Posto, it didn’t take long for his playful spirit to seep through the menu. We caught up with the Outstanding Pastry Chef award nominee to learn about his “buzzed Italian grandma” cookbook, the Del Posto dessert that was inspired by a Looney Tunes episode, and the childhood food memory that still haunts him.

 

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JBF: You were a drummer for many years before you were a chef. Do you like to listen to music while you’re in the kitchen?

 

BH: I still occasionally play drums in a crummy... Read more >

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