Interview with Eric Johnson of Bar Agricole

Anna Mowry interviews Eric Johnson of Bar Agricole, a nominee for the 2014 James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program

 

At San Francisco’s Bar Agricole, ingredients are only used at peak condition and spirit producers are closely vetted. Even the bitters in the bar’s version of an Old Fashioned had to earn the team’s stamp of intensely discerning approval. We talked with Eric Johnson, bar manager and co-owner of this Outstanding Bar Program nominee, about his new spinoff, favorite watering holes, and more.  

 

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JBF: How would you sum up Bar Agricole's approach to making drinks to someone who has never had one there? 

 

EJ: We are an ingredient-driven bar that uses traditional recipes as our inspiration. We look for spirits that have a sense of place and tradition in how they are made, without added flavors or colors to make them more appealing to the heavily commercial spirits market. A... Read more >

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Interview with Rising Star Nominee David Posey

 

Now nearly 17 years old, Blackbird isn’t just one of Chicago’s most dependable fine restaurants; it’s still striving and innovating under the confident vision of chef de cuisine David Posey. A repeat nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year, chef Posey tells us what to order on the current menu, his favorite new Windy City spots, and more.

 

 

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JBF: Dana Cree, Blackbird’s pastry chef, is also a nominated for a Beard Award this year. How do you two work together? Does she have total autonomy over the dessert program? What do you like about her desserts?

 

DP: Dana and I work and collaborate very well together. We bounce ideas off one another, share inspiration, and test dishes on each other. Both Dana and I, for the most part, have complete autonomy over our menus. However, executive chef Paul Kahan has the final say. I like seeing the evolution of her pastries from inception to the final plated... Read more >

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Interview with Outstanding Chef Award Nominee Suzanne Goin

Anna Mowry interviews Suzanne Goin, a nominee for the James Beard Foundation's 2014 Outstanding award

 

On the family tree of California restaurant empires, Suzanne Goin’s branch is sturdy, and still forming rings. Over the past decade and a half, along with business partner and fellow Beard nominee, Caroline Styne, she has built one of the most respected and acclaimed restaurant groups in Los Angeles. She also authored Sunday Suppers at Lucques, an essential title for many home cooks, and, last year, The A.O.C. Cookbook. In the following interview, Goin gets us up to speed on her latest venture and her last great meal.

 

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JBF: In February you and master baker Nathan Dakdouk opened ... Read more >

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Interview with JBF Award Nominee Jessica Largey of Manresa

 

Epicureans from around the country travel to the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains to get a taste of Manresa, where chef de cuisine Jessica Largey executes thoughtful, inventive, and elegant fare that’s steeped in the rich terroir of Northern California. Below, the 2014 nominee for our Rising Star Chef of the Year Award fills us in on her ideal kitchen playlist, earliest food memory, and thoughts on gender politics in the restaurant industry.

 

JBF: How would you describe your culinary style? 

 

Jessica Largey: I’d say that I have a naturalist approach, which is definitely something I’ve developed while at Manresa. I like using techniques that are purposeful and preserve the integrity of the product.  

 

JBF: What’s... Read more >

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Interview with the Violet Hour’s Toby Maloney

The Violet Hour

 

The Violet Hour beckons discerning clientele with many luxuries: a romantic, serene space with floor-to-ceiling curtains, high-backed blue leather chairs, flickering candles and chandeliers; fine-tuned volume levels and elbow room; and an eclectic selection of artisanal cocktails made with painstaking precision. Below, partner/mixologist Toby Maloney tell us how the 2014 Outstanding Bar Program nominee is influenced by its Chicago environs, the poetic inspiration behind its name, and his favorite spring cocktail.

 

JBF: How would you describe the Violet Hour’s mixology style? 

 

Toby Maloney: We’ve been described as minimalist, traditionalist, and culinary-focused. I think we are an amalgamation of all of them.

 

JBF: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the... Read more >

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Interview with Rising Star Nominee Katie Button

 

After jumping ship from academia, Katie Button has shot up the culinary ranks at warp speed. With a coveted stage at the late el Bulli under her apron strings, she now showcases her technical prowess and knack for innovation at Cúrate and the new Nightbell, her two family-owned and operated establishments in Asheville, North Carolina. We spoke with Button about her favorite dishes from her menus, her forthcoming cookbook, and why she never wants to stop learning.

 

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JBF: You just opened a new bar called Nightbell. Can you talk about what you're doing there? What’s the menu like? What's the story behind the name?

 

KB: The idea was to create a cocktail bar that offered the whole package: delicious bites, surprising desserts, and well-crafted cocktails. And we didn't stop there: we also handpicked a great variety of large-format, 22-ounce beers, and we offer... Read more >

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Interview with Outstanding Chef Award Nominee David Kinch

David Kinch of Manresa

 

Critically acclaimed for his inventive, Michelin-starred California cuisine at Manresa, David Kinch has followed his 2010 Best Chef: Pacific win with three straight Outstanding Chef semifinalist nods. Here, the 2014 JBF Award nominee tells us about his new cookbook, a recent food-filled jaunt to Japan, and where he finds his inspiration to continue evolving as a chef.

 

JBF: What’s your favorite item on the current Manresa menu?

 

David Kinch: Our menu changes before you can get really comfortable with any particular item. However, at the moment, we have these tiny, sweet carrots served in an Asian-style beef broth with toasted buckwheat and breadcrumbs that I’m very fond of.

 

JBF: Can you tell us about... Read more >

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JBF on the Air: Foie Gras with Michael Ginor

Michael Ginor on Taste Matters

 

On this week's episode of Taste Matters, JBF's Mitchell Davis welcomed Michael Ginor into Heritage Radio Network's Brooklyn studios to delve into the, er, rich topic of foie gras. As co-founder, co-owner, and president of Hudson Valley Foie Gras and New York State Foie Gras, the most comprehensive foie gras producer in the world, Michael is an expert on the details of foie gras production, consumption, and culinary history. In addition to the fatty-liver delicacy, Michael and Mitchell also discuss each part of the duck as it relates to food, why duck fat is so revered among chefs, and how the foie gras industry actually has lower mortality rates than any other operation. Click here to listen to the full episode.... Read more >

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Interview with Outstanding Chef Award Nominee Sean Brock

Sean Brock is a nominee for the 2014 James Beard Award for Oustanding Chef

 

For the second year in a row, the well-rounded Sean Brock, whose obsessions stretch from fine-tuning burgers and fried chicken to resurrecting heirloom seeds and studying Senegalese cookery, is nominated for the JBF Award for Outstanding Chef. Below, Brock tells us about his sprawling cookbook, an upcoming Charleston concept, and much more.

 

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JBF: Let's start with a subject that's near and dear to your heart: burgers. You do such an admired one at Husk. What are some other chef-driven burgers that have you have tried and really loved?

 

SB: For me, burgers are an enormous passion. But anything that's an icon like that is going to result in some really bad versions of it. For every ten bad ones, there's a half-good one. People try to do too much to it. You have to keep it simple. So, my favorite burgers? The one at... Read more >

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Interview with JBF Award Nominee Blaine Wetzel of the Willows Inn on Lummi Island

 

Tucked away in an archipelago off the coast of Washington lies the elegant Willows Inn on Lummi Island, where chef Blaine Wetzel helms the nationally renowned kitchen. Here, the four-time nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year tell us about his formative culinary experiences, how he draws inspiration from the Pacific Northwest’s terroir, and the ubiquitous food trend he hopes will disappear.

 

JBF: How would you describe your culinary style? 

 

Blaine Wetzel: My culinary style is determined by geography. The Pacific Northwest offers an abundance of beautiful ingredients that shape the way we cook. Whether it’s wild salmon, our garden's cherry blossoms, or the first nettles of the season, we just try to showcase that particular item. 

 

JBF: The tagline for your... Read more >

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