Q&A with Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy

 

Amanda Cohen does not run a vegetarian restaurant. Instead, Dirt Candy, her perennially packed New York City hot spot, is a palace for produce, simultaneously a shrine to and science lab for the myriad possibilities of vegetable-based cooking. Cohen is taking her green thumb to the Hamptons for the 25th anniversary of our Chefs & Champagne® fundraiser, so we chatted with her about moving to “Big Candy,” the public’s appetite for vegetables, and what’s she’s bringing to Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

 

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JBF: What is the inspiration behind your dish for Chefs & Champagne?

 

AC: I’m serving one of Dirt Candy’s most iconic dishes: tomato! It’s tomatoes with smoked feta, tomato cake, and tomato leather. A long time ago, I was developing a tomato dessert, but rapidly realized that I could have a lot more fun making... Read more >

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Trending: July and August at the Beard House

 

Arguably the most compelling part about dining at James Beard’s historic townhouse in New York City’s West Village is experiencing the constantly evolving snapshot of what’s happening in restaurants around the country. Over 250 nights per year, celebrated chefs from coast to coast take the stage in our kitchen, preparing one-night-only menus that showcase their culinary style. 

 

Summer is in full swing because here at the Beard House, menus are bursting with heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, and watermelon in ways we never imagined (watermelon butter, anyone?). In July and August we're featuring the renowned international cuisines of Oaxaca, Lima, Austria, as well as chefs and restaurants closer to home—Indianapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Virginia Beach. We caught up with JBF director of house programming Izabela Wojcik to fill us in on what's trending this month.

 

 ... Read more >

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Jonathon Sawyer: Not a Sustainability Peer-Pressure-ist

Photo by Billy Delfs

 

Jonathon Sawyer is a toque of all trades. When he’s not in the kitchen at one of his five Cleveland-area hot spots, developing new varieties of his proprietary vinegars, writing a cookbook, or foraging, fermenting, and pickling at home, this year’s JBF Award winner for Best Chef: Great Lakes somehow finds the time to advocate for transparency and sustainability in the food system. In our continuing series on alumni from our JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change initiative, we talked to Sawyer about opening Ohio’s first certified green restaurant, his ingredient-sourcing hierarchy, and what needs to change about the way we label our food.

 

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JBF: You opened Ohio’s first restaurant that was certified by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). Can you explain what some of those requirements are for that certification, and your own... Read more >

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Trending: June at the Beard House

Chocolate Budino

 

 

Arguably the most compelling part about dining at James Beard’s historic townhouse in New York City’s West Village is experiencing the constantly evolving snapshot of what’s happening in restaurants around the country. Over 250 nights per year, celebrated chefs from coast to coast take the stage in our kitchen, preparing one-night-only menus that showcase their signature culinary style. This month, we'll be tasting spring turn to summer with chefs from Oakland, Charleston, Miami, Denver, Honolulu, New York City (of course), and just across the Hudson in New Jersey. The menus reveal what we all know—chefs love spring ingredients (asparagus salad! lacto-fermented ramp sabayon!)—and what we all want to eat right now: strawberries, greens, lamb, and local fish in all forms. We asked JBF director of house programming Izabela Wojcik to fill us in on the tasty trends she's seeing this month. 

 

... Read more >

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Small Batch Cooking

 

Suzanne Cope is a Brooklyn-based author and food studies scholar whose recent book, Small Batch: Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, Spirits and the Return of Artisanal Food, gives a history of artisanal food in the United States and looks at the issues surrounding craft food production through conversations with over 50 food entrepreneurs. She talked to us about the inspiration for the book and the future of artisanal food, and gave us a recipe for Mediterranean greens that incorporates one of her favorite small batch foods.

 

(Join Suzanne for a conversation and tasting with local food artisans at the 92nd Street Y in NYC on Wednesday, June 3.)

 

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JBF: How did you become interested in small batch food?

 

Suzanne Cope: Both of my... Read more >

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Bill Telepan, Part II: From Blubber Burgers to Boot Camp

Photo c/o Telepan

 

In part two of our interview with Bill Telepan (read part one here), the celebrated chef tells us how he addresses issues outside the cafeteria, how our Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change made him uncomfortable, and why his ultimate goal is to become obsolete. 


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JBF: Wellness in the Schools (WITS) covers more than just than the food served in school cafeterias. What else do you address? 

 

Bill Telepan: Right now, only about three-and-a-half to four hours per year are spent on food and nutrition education in schools. We started WITS Bits, which are 20-minute classes where we teach kids nutrition through real examples. Some things we do include are building a “blubber burger” to show with lard what goes into a fast food cheeseburger, and showing them how much sugar is actually... Read more >

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Bill Telepan: It Started with a Sandwich

Photo c/o Telepan
 

Chef Bill Telepan’s message is simple. We all deserve to eat better. When he’s not personally making sure the customers are well fed at his eponymous Upper West Side eatery, Telepan, he’s in a few unlikely places—New York City public school cafeterias and Capitol Hill—seeing to it that good food is something that everyone grows up with access to. In part one of our series on James Beard Foundation Boot Camp Alumni, we talked to Bill Telepan about how he gets kids to eat salad, how to convince politicians in D.C. to take up a cause, and how some of his famous friends are joining him on the front lines of the city’s school cafeterias. 

 

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JBF: You’re known for your passion for improving school food. How did that issue capture your attention in the first place?

 

Bill... Read more >

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Interview with Chris Gould of Central Provisions, Nominated for Best New Restaurant

Photo: Meredith Purdue

 

It's hard to get more local than Portland, Maine's Central Provisions: the kitchen sources ingredients from regional farmers, foragers, and fishmongers, and the entire restaurant was built and decorated by Maine craftsman. We spoke with chef/co-owner Chris Gould (whose wife, Paige Gould, manages the front of house) to explore how the seasonal restaurant has handled acclaim, the challenges of a Maine winter, and Portland's burgeoning dining scene.

 

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JBF: You’ve both worked in restaurants for many years. What experiences have each of you brought to the table?

 

CG: Attention to detail is the biggest thing. It’s something you only can develop through years of work.
 


JBF: The menu and space feature lots of products and details from Maine-based craftsmen. Can you talk about how local artisans are expressed in the food and... Read more >

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Interview with Ludo Lefebvre of Best New Restaurant Nominee Petit Trois

Petit Trois is a 2015 Best New Restaurant Nominee

 

It's tempting to refer to Ludo Lefebvre's ​Petit Trois as the little sister to his Trois Mec, but this Hollywood spot is a fully formed homage to Parisian bistro culture, from the space's feel-good, lively ambiance to the kitchen's technically precise omelette. Read on for Lefebvre's insights on his 2015 Best New Restaurant nominee. 

 

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JBF: What made you want to open this restaurant? Had you been wanting to do a bistro? It’s a familiar concept—what details did you particularly care about getting right?

 

LL: I really wanted to do a restaurant with classic French food. I miss that a lot, as well as the ambiance. I wanted a little bistro where you know everybody and where you feel like you're in Paris, where life is happening, where there's magic, where there's good energy. No tables, just counters.The food is... Read more >

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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.

 ... Read more >

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