Together with her mentor Nancy Silverton, pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez has crafted some of the most legendary desserts in the city of Los Angeles. We got in touch with the 2012 Outstanding Pastry Chef nominee to look back on how she joined the restaurant industry and find out which sweet on the Mozza menu is her favorite.
JBF: As a native of Los Angeles, did any of the food of your childhood inspire what you make now?
DH: I actually didn't grow up with a ton of homemade desserts. Dessert just wasn't something my mother made. But she did made good food, getting complex flavors out of simple ingredients.
JBF: We read that you once fudged your résumé and talked your way into your first professional kitchen, the Conga Room. Can you tell us a little more about that?
DH: That probably was not the smartest thing I've done for my career—after ten minutes on my first day, it was clear... Read more >
If you missed our live coverage of the 2012 JBF Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards, here's a quick recap:
2012 James Beard Foundation Book Awards
Presented by Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate
For cookbooks published in English in 2011.
Cookbook of the Year
by Nathan Myhrvold with Chris Young and Maxime Bilet
(The Cooking Lab)
Cookbook Hall of Fame
Home Cooking and More Home Cooking
A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen
by Hugh Acheson
Baking and Dessert
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
by Jeni Britton Bauer
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All,... Read more >
All those flashing camera bulbs on the red carpet won’t be the only things lighting up for this year’s Beard Awards.
On Monday, the day of the Awards gala, the iconic Empire State Building will beam orange and yellow, two colors that have special meaning for JBF. The walls of the Beard House were painted orange when James Beard resided there ("It's like living in a bowl of tomato soup," he would say), while yellow represents the pineapple, a symbol of hospitality and a motif in the Beard House décor during the Foundation’s early years. A framed piece of the old pineapple wallpaper now hangs in the Beard House vestibule, welcoming all guests.
Alton Brown, who is hosting Monday’s festivities at Lincoln Center, will flip the ceremonial switch for our Empire State Building illumination. If you’re in New York City on Monday evening, be sure to look up!
Now that the original Mission Chinese Food seems destined to endure as one of San Francisco's most popular spots, its chef and Rising Star award nominee, Danny Bowien, is about to introduce New Yorkers to his progressive Chinese-American cooking at a soon-to-open Lower East Side outpost. We phoned Bowien to talk about what he's putting on his new menu, his favorite Chinese restaurants in the city, and more.
JBF: We read the recent Bon Appétit piece about your trip to Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan province. Did you find any dishes there that you’re now adapting for your menu?
DB: There will be six or seven new dishes on our New York menu, and those things are definitely based on a lot of the flavor profiles that we... Read more >
At her three Flour Bakery locations, Joanne Chang gives Boston-area dwellers their sugar fix with her menu of wholesome, like-you're-a-kid-again cookies, tarts, cakes, and other baked goods. Chang took a break from her packed schedule to answer our questions about her favorite pastry, where she likes to eat in Beantown, and the childhood treat she misses most.
JBF: What’s your favorite item on the menu at Flour right now?
JC: We just introduced our kouign-amann, which is my favorite pastry ever.
JBF: Your sticky buns famously won in an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Any other baked goods in your arsenal that you would confidently take into battle?
JC: Many things: our banana bread, our midnight chocolate cake, our carrot cake, pop tarts, blueberry... Read more >
A repeat nominee for our Rising Star award, chef Thomas McNaughton channels an Old-World commitment to top-notch product and time-honored techniques at San Francisco's flour + water. Read on see what he has to say about nose-to-tail cooking and the East Coast food he craves.
JBF: We’ve read that you attribute some of your success to eight grandmothers at a pasta factory in Bologna, Italy. Can you tell us more about that?
TM: It was inspirational to see Old-World techniques and cuisine executed on a daily basis, and it was an honor to be in the presence of people who execute the craft they have been dedicated to for the past 40 years. For me that was the definition of finding refinement in simplicity.
JBF: You snagged your first restaurant job at age 14, working as a dishwasher. Did you already... Read more >
At the Miami hotspot Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s whimsical yet sophisticated treats have earned an ardent following. We called up the Outstanding Pastry Chef award nominee to learn about her debut cookbook, the unexpected star of her repertoire, and how a Philly cheesesteak changed her life.
JBF: We’ve read that you like to draw on local fruits and herbs in your desserts, and that you use unexpected techniques like smoking. What are your favorite combinations?
HG: Smoked bittersweet chocolate with pickled mulberries; I was blown away at how great the flavors were together. I actually just served this dessert recently. Mulberry season is so short, so I try to jam-pack them with different flavors before they’re gone.
JBF: What’s your favorite dessert that you’ve made for Michael’s Genuine... Read more >
After years of cooking faithful renderings of authentic Italian cuisine at Il Buco, chef Ignacio Mattos crossed the East River and introduced Brooklyn to his "modern primitive" aesthetic at Isa. Now that the restaurant is up for a Best New Restaurant award, we caught up with Mattos to talk about his plating philosophy and cooking in Brooklyn.
JBF: Smoke and wood play a big role in Isa, from the food to the décor. What’s the weirdest ingredient you’ve ever smoked?
IM: One time I smoked some butter, but I can’t remember what it was for. At Isa we have smoked pretty much everything.
JBF: Many of Isa’s desserts are rooted in vegetal and other unexpected flavors. What’s the thought process behind creating a dessert?
IM: Pam Yung, our very talented pastry chef, has a very refined and elegant... Read more >
At San Francisco's AQ, which is nominated for a Best New Restaurant award, chef Mark Liberman merges Northern California's hyper-seasonal style with a rigorous but discreet use of modernist techniques. We got in touch with him to discuss his cooking philosophy, the best dish on the current AQ menu, and his favorite American foods.
JBF: AQ is very devoted to seasonal cooking. Are there particular ingredients at the markets that you can’t wait to get your hands on each year?
ML: Right now we’re heading into spring; we’re at the strange seasonal place where it isn’t quite spring yet, but it isn’t winter anymore. I’m looking forward to cooking with purple artichokes and young fava beans.
JBF: AQ is clearly a disciple of the California philosophy of cooking, but you’ve also cooked in very technique-driven restaurants, like Daniel and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. How do you find a balance between the two? What guides you?
ML: I think it’s... Read more >
A Vermont-raised chef may not be the likeliest candidate to serve the most sought-after tapas in New York City, but ever since Seamus Mullen and his slow-grilled turbot scored a rave from the Times, it’s been nearly impossible to score a seat at his restaurant, Tertulia. If you have eaten there, you know why it’s nominated for a Best New Restaurant award. Read on to see what Mullen told us about the lessons he learned while cooking in Spain, the challenges of cooking authentic Spanish cuisine in America, and where he likes to nosh on his days off.
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