Want to avoid advertising?

Join as Premium member »

Dana Cowin steps down as editor of Food & Wine

Dana Cowin cookbooks

There is yet another departure from a major food publication as Dana Cowin is stepping aside as editor of Food & Wine magazine, a post she has held for 21 years. She will retain a tie to the publication, however, as her new job will be "chief creative officer of Chefs Club International, the parent of Chefs Club by Food & Wine, a restaurant group with locations in Manhattan and Aspen, Colo. The restaurants are showcases for prominent chefs, notably those selected as "Best New Chefs" by the magazine."

Cowin will stay on at Food & Wine through mid-January to finish the March, 2015 issue. At Chefs Club, she will join culinary director Didier Elena, who worked with Alain Ducasse; chef Matthew Aita, formerly of Le Philosophe; and business development director Louise Vongerichten, daughter of Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

In addition to staying on through the March issue, Cowin will help select her successor at Food & Wine. Cowin said that she hadn't considered leaving until she was approached by Chef's Club president Stephane De Baets. "I'm surprised that I could find something new that's this exciting," she explained.

Julia Child's French kitchen for sale

Julia Child's kitchen in France

Want to own a piece of culinary history? Julia Child's French vacation cottage, complete with kitchen designed by Paul Child, is on the market for slightly less than $1 million. The home was built on land owned by Simone Beck, Child's friend and co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Called La Pitchoune (The Little One), "the 1,600-square-foot getaway is exactly what you'd hope of the world's first celebrity chef, who brought French cooking into the everyday American kitchen." It features Child's trademark pegboard kitchen storage, tall countertops, and plenty of light.

The vacation cottage was built in 1963 on property owned by her best friend, Simone Beck, who co-authored "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" with Child. They had a "handshake deal" agreeing that the Childs would give the house back to Beck and her family when they were done using it. Until recently, the cottage was used as a cooking school by an American named Kathie Alex, who knew and studied with Child and Beck. Health issues caused Alex to put the home on the open market - the first time it has been offered to the general public. 

Chris Kimball leaving America's Test Kitchen

Christopher KimballAnother shakeup in the food world caught many people off guard. Today the Board of Directors of Boston Common Press (parent company of America's Test Kitchen), announced that Christopher Kimball's employment with ATK is ending. Kimball was one of the founders of Boston Common Press, which started with a single publication, Cook's Illustrated, back in 1992. While Kimball's departure is effective immediately, he will still be the host of the 2016 seasons of the America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country television programs.

A contract dispute is blamed for the breakup. David Nussbaum, CEO of Boston Common Press, said in the announcement that "We made every effort to offer Chris a reasonable contract that reflected his significant contributions to the company and are disappointed that we could not reach agreement." Grubstreet reported that were signs of a big change in the company earlier this year, when "Boston Common Press essentially surprised Kimball with a boss back in September - the company's first-ever CEO, a media executive from the outside." While Kimball hasn't said anything about the breakup, rumor is that he and his wife are considering forming their own company.

Other new additions to the Boston Common Press management team were announced last week, including the naming of its first Chief Digital Officer. Jack Bishop was promoted to to Chief Creative Officer. He will be "responsible for the creative strategy of the America's Test Kitchen television program, Cook's Illustrated magazine, Cook's Country magazine and television show, and America's Test Kitchen's digital and book content, as well as for new projects."

Reaction by fans has been mixed. Some lament Kimball's departure, feeling that the soul of the programs is being removed. Others, however, are not disappointed to see Kimball go, as they felt that his folksy missives and no-nonsense demeanor had outlasted their appeal. What do you think of this development for ATK and CI?

Russ Parsons to leave LA Times

Another long-time food writer is leaving a major US newspaper. This time it's Russ Parsons, food columnist at the Los Angeles Times, who is leaving the paper after more than 20 years. Parsons announced his retirement in a tweet yesterday afternoon:

Russ Parsons tweet

The second tweet read: "but I'm really excited to see what the next chapter will be. What is this thing called "real life"?" He explained a bit more on his Facebook page, noting that the newspaper offered a generous buyout package that he decided to take. He continued, "I've had unforgettable experiences and made friends I'll always cherish,but I'm excited to see what the next chapter will be."

In addition to his food column at the LA Times, Parsons is the author of the cookbooks How to Read a French Fry and How to Pick a Peach. Following his announcement, Parsons did not elaborate what he plans to do next. A few followers tweeted suggestions, including one that he become a farmer. Parsons replied: "c'mon mas! me a farmer? I've got more sense than that. wait ... 40 years in newspapers. maybe i don't. :)"

Nigella Lawson on "bowl food"

Simply Nigella

Nigella Lawson remains one of the most popular authors in the EYB Library. NPR's Steve Inskeep recently talked with Nigella about her latest cookbook, Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food, which explores the breadth of food you can serve in a bowl.

Noting that "bowl food" sounds a bit similar to "soul food", Nigella explains that it has a similar connotation, that of food that bolsters you. She goes to on say that while some people associated comfort food with bland flavors, she goes in the opposite direction: "You know, I do want flavor. I want it to be punctuated by heat. I like fire. I like tanginess. But most of all, I do like the feeling of eating when every spoon or forkful is reassuring me the same as the last. And for me, that is one of the most wonderful ways to eat. "

Nigella also discusses the versatility of eating from a bowl, as the shape lends itself to everything from soups to salads. She describes some of the different recipes in the book, including the split pea soup, which is often considered to be quite bland. This is partly due to the inherent qualities of the legume, she says, "because split peas are almost - they've got a way of blanketing spices, you do have to be a bit more full throttle. And you can spice them quite firmly, and it won't be frightening. It won't be blow your head off time." Listen to the entire interview on the NPR website.

Rene Redzepi set to embark on a new chapter

NomaRené Redzepi has been described as the most influential chef in the world. His Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, has sat atop the world rankings for several years, and has spawned any number of imitators. Now the Danish chef is releasing a new documentary called Noma: My Perfect Storm, and has also announced big changes at Noma.

You can view the stunning trailer for the film exclusively on Apple Trailers. Regarding the changes to his restaurant, we'll have to wait until 2017. Redzepi announced that he will be closing Noma at the end of next year, and will be reopening it at a new location in Copenhagen, with an "urban farm" supplying the kitchen. 

Redzepi's playful approach to food and his belief in using local and sustainable ingredients--which he often forages to find--has won him many admirers. But although foraging for ingredients brings to mind a relaxing and bucolic experience, that isn't always the case. Says Redzepi, "We go there and it's like harvest time. It isn't as romantic as you think where you are with your little wooden basket, picking things while listening to music and soaking in the sun.

"Sometimes it's rainy, pouring down and you're in your rain suit, mud everywhere and it's cold and your fingers are trembling and you have to pick [tiny leaves] and you need a kilo of them." While foraging for many of Noma's ingredients has been a lot of work, relying solely on an urban farm in the middle of Copenhagen may be the chef's biggest challenge yet.

Baking tips from Claire Ptak

The Violet butterscotch blondieClaire Ptak is a California pastry chef who moved to London in 2005 after working at Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. She owns Violet, a baking company in East London which supplies her popular Broadway Market stall and is best known for its American-style cupcakes with buttercream frostings that change with the seasons. Her latest cookbook, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, has been a hit on both sides of Atlantic. Indexed magazine Bon Appétit recently caught up with Ptak to get her suggestions for home bakers

Her first piece of advice? Think like a cook - meaning approach your desserts in a similar manner as your savory food items, taking into consideration the balance of flavors. "You're thinking about flavor all the time, adjusting it and balancing it, just like when you make a soup," Ptak says of baking at Chez Panisse. "I really took to that. Because even with something like a chocolate chip cookie, you're still looking for the perfect balance of sweet to salt to butteriness."

Another tip for home bakers is to taste everything, right down to the flour. Taste any fruit you will be using before you add it to a batter or dough - you can adjust the sugar level depending on how sweet it is. Using buckwheat flour for the first time? Ptak says you should taste that, too. "It's going to feel odd to have a little lick of some raw flour, but you'll really get a sense of what you're working with, and I think that's what people should think about doing a bit more when baking," she says. Read more of Ptak's advice at the Bon Appétit website

Photo of The Violet butterscotch blondie from The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak

See David Lebovitz's Paris kitchen

David Lebovitz

Pastry chef turned food blogger David Lebovitz remains one of the most popular authors in the EYB Library, thanks to his recent hit My Paris Kitchen. Now he is letting readers into that very kitchen in an interview with The New York Times.

While his previous kitchen was small and cramped, like most big city kitchens, this newer space in the 11th Arrondissement is open and light filled. In addition to a slideshow of kitchen photographs, Lebovitz answered several questions about his workspace. Colorful LeCreuset gratin dishes and pots decorate the space, as does another collection: "moka express" pots by the Italian company Bialetti. "They're low-tech," he says. "They're very well made. I like having them around."

One of the reasons Lebovitz wanted a larger kitchen is to accommodate his cookbook collection. He elaborates on how cramped his old space was, saying "Friends would publish cookbooks and say, "I want to send you one." I'd say, "There's no room." They were like, "It's just a cookbook." "No, you don't understand." I wanted space to keep cookbooks on, paper to take notes." Although he has many cookbooks, a cherished collection of books that he had shipped from the States when he moved to Paris was lost en route. Lebovitz was heartbroken over the loss. Lucky for us it didn't dampen his enthusiam for cooking.

Bittman to join food delivery service Purple Carrot

 Mark Bittman

When Mark Bittman recently announced that he was leaving his job at The New York Times to join a startup with the goal of helping people eat more plants, speculation swirled as to where he was headed. We now know the answer - Bittman will be joining food delivery service Purple Carrot

The company, which launched late last fall, has been making vegan dinner kits, available in the Northeast US. The service is planning two-person meal kits in addition to the four-person kits it now sells, and will begin delivering meal kits on the West Coast in addition to the Northeast. The kits feature ingredients and recipes to make two meals for four persons at a cost of $59 USD.

Bittman's role will be multi-faceted: he will help develop menus, write for the company's website, hold online chats on social media sites, and serve as the "face" of the business. "We'll be presenting a new website, incorporating Mark and a new image and language he's helped develop," said Andrew Levitt, founder and chief executive of the Massachusetts-based Purple Carrot. "We'll also be starting a subscription-based business, where we currently are pay as you go." 

Iconic Providence chef and restaurateur George Gorman has died

 Germon cookbooks

Influential chef George Germon, co-owner of the landmark Providence (RI, USA) restaurant Al Forno, died Tuesday following an unspecified illness. Germon, along with his wife and co-chef Johanne Killeen, together opened Al Forno in 1980 and quickly won a loyal following, rave reviews, and many awards for their superb food. 

Germon is credited with inventing grilled pizza, a specialty at the restaurant. In 1990, Al Forno was named the best restaurant in the world for casual dining by The International Herald Tribune.

"George Germon was a quiet genius," longtime friend and restaurant owner Bob Burke told NPR. "He was a person who completely changed cooking not just in Providence, but all across the nation. He took cooking back to roots that people had long since forgotten."

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!