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Michael Symon's plans to make Cleveland a barbecue destination

 lamb ribs

Several US regions are known for their particular barbecue styles: Texas beef brisket, Eastern North Carolina's vinegar and pepper sauced whole hog, Western North Carolina's pork shoulder with a tomato-vinegar sauce, and Memphis' dry-rub ribs, to name just a few. Now former Iron Chef Michael Symon aims to add a new city to the list. Symon recently opened a restaurant called Mabel's BBQ, which features what he calls "Cleveland-style" barbecue. "From the sides all the way through the meats, we made a very conscious effort to make it feel like the hometown that I grew up in, and the hometown that I grew up eating food in," says Symon, who has established himself as a local restaurateur as well as a cookbook author.

The chef aims to imbue both the meats and the side dishes with a Cleveland flavor. You won't find coleslaw or mac-n-cheese as the sides here. Instead, expect items that draw on the Eastern European and German influences long part of the city's own rich culinary tradition, like sauerkraut, spaetzle, and cabbage. Symon uses spices like celery seed and coriander, and a sauce made with a local brown mustard. The menu also features Ohio's garlicky kielbasa. The chef also relies heavily on local ingredients, like wood from the area's many fruit trees, which he uses to fire his offset smokers. 

Symon isn't abandoning already established traditions, however. He uses brisket supplied by the same company that services the Austin's Franklin Barbeque, and his beef ribs also echo the Central Texas style. Says editor and cookbook author Douglas Trattner, "Of course he didn't invent brisket. Of course he didn't invent the beef rib. He's standing on the shoulders of giants, but he's putting it through his Cleveland lens."

Photo of Grilled lamb ribs with quick preserved lemons from Food and Wine Magazine by Michael Symon

The foods you will always find in Anthony Bourdain's kitchen

macaroni and cheese

Anthony Bourdain's new cookbook, Appetites , comes out this fall. The subject matter in this book could hardly be more different than his earlier novels or even his Les Halles Cookbook. Appetites is a family cookbook, something that even the 59-year-old Bourdain couldn't have imagined several years ago, as he explains in a recent interview.

He notes that family life has been a novel experience for him, since he didn't have a child until he was 50: "To wake up in the morning and prepare school lunch for a small child, to concern yourself with what is she going to eat for dinner today, tomorrow, the next day. To cook for people on Thanksgiving and Christmas. These are completely new experiences for me, and I embraced them with rather more zeal, I think, and enthusiasm and organizational skills than perhaps is attractive," he explained.

In addition to discussing the book, Bourdain answered questions about a wide range of topics. When asked about his thoughts on YouTube food stars, Bourdain replied with a positive perspective: "I don't know any of them, but I'm all for it. I think it's a wide open space. People are clearly interested in it. Even the worst of them in principle do good for the world, and the more we talk about food, the more people that are interested in food, the more people that are interested in cooking."

Bourdain is known for eating an astonishing variety of foods in his various television shows, but the items he always has in his pantry are rather mundane. He says that he always keeps fresh mozzarella or burrata in the fridge, along with butter and heavy cream. High-quality olive oil can always be found in his pantry, along with elbow macaroni, which he pairs with "some processed or not particularly good, easily meltable cheddar-like stuff that I can make macaroni and cheese with. I have a deep love for that," he says.

Britain's top 50 influencers in food

 food industry collage

If you think back to 'who's who' lists in the food world pre-internet, celebrity chefs, cookbook authors, television personalities, and a handful of food industry executives dominated the rankings. Some of those people are still there, but the most recent list of UK's top 50 influential people in food also features several social media and other digital stars from platforms such as Instragram. The list is compiled by advertising agency Telegraph Hill and featured in The Grocer magazine.

While established food personalities are still prominently situated - Jamie Oliver tops the list and Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay and Paul Hollywood all appear in the top 20 -  the "digital generation is hot on their heels and several names here, such as Madeleine Shaw or Izy Hossack, only started reaching big audiences in the past couple of years," according to The Guardian. Popular author Yotam Ottolenghi clocks in at 21, and blogging sensation Ella Woodward is number 10. Rounding out the list are food industry executives like Andy Clarke of Asda and Dave Lewis of Tesco

The method in which the list is compiled leads to a few anomalies. For example, few would argue that TV farmer Jimmy Doherty (in at No. 12) was more influential than activist Jack Monroe (17) or Heston Blumenthal (30). But despite its flaws, the "list does highlight interesting developments, most strikingly the rise of the clean-eating movement, with its promise to cater for an ever-expanding catalogue of food intolerances," according to the article. You can see the entire list on The Grocer's 's website, and view an expanded list of 100 influential food industry people on the Telegraph Hill site.

Christopher Kimball moving on from America's Test Kitchen

Christopher KimballWhether you loved him or hated him, there is no denying that for many years, Christopher Kimball was the driving force - not to mention the face - of America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated. In a move that shocked many people, the board of ATK essentially demoted him last fall when they hired the organization's first CEO, and later announced that he would be leaving ATK altogether.  Now Kimball explains to The New York Times how he is moving on from America's Test Kitchen.

Kimball is not planning to retire - far from it. In fact, he has a number of brand-new ventures in the works. One such project is called Milk Street Kitchen. According to The Times, Kimball has already received $6 million from investors, and he is remodeling the ground floor of the Flour & Grain Exchange building on Milk Street in Boston's financial district.

The inspiration for Milk Street Kitchen came from Kimball's travels, a newfound interest in spices, and by authors like Yotam Ottolenghi. According to the project's website, Kimball promises to "elevate the quality of your cooking far beyond anything you thought was possible." He continues, "I still love the cooking of New England - apple pie is still my favorite recipe of all time - but the American repertoire is only part of the story. The rest of the world has created flavor by using spices, textures, fermented sauces, chiles, and fresh herbs. This new style of cooking is more about layers of flavor, about contrast, about combining ingredients in new ways."

But Milk Street Kitchen is not all that is on Kimball's agenda. Later this year, he plans to publish a new magazine and begin writing more cookbooks. He is also starting a cooking school, which he will promote in live road shows. He's even designing a chef's knife for the retail market.

Behind the scenes at BAKED


David Lebovitz is one of the most popular authors in the EYB Library. So, too, are Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, co-owners of Brooklyn-based BAKED bakery. If you are a fan of any of the three, you may be interested in viewing David's Facebook video, in which he joins Matt for a behind-the-scenes tour of BAKED's Tribeca Manhattan location.

Matt describes the bakery's offerings, which he says focuses on American baked goods, although they have branched out to other items like croissants. David praised the croissants on display, which is even more impressive when you remember that he now lives in Paris. In the 18+ minute video we learn that coconut cake is David's favorite, and Matt describes some of the bakery's specialties like Candy Bar Tart, a rich concoction with gobs of chocolate, nuts, and caramel. Matt also confirmed that a fifth BAKED cookbook is in the works, but its contents are still "top secret".

After you are done drooling over the goodies on display in the video, you can make your own BAKED treats with these recipes from the EYB Library: 

The Baked brownie from The Global Gourmet by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Chocolate whoopie pies
from Baked Explorations 
Toffee coffee cake surprise
from Baked Occasions
Lime angel food cake with lime glaze and pistachios
from Bon Appétit Magazine by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
from Baked Elements(pictured above)

Eric Ripert on how his mother's cooking kept them close

Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert is the chef and part-owner of Le Bernardin, a Michelin three-starred restaurnt in New York City. He is a frequent guest on such national shows as Bravo's Top Chef, Today, Charlie Rose, and more. Chef Ripert's new memoir, 32 Yolks, hits bookstores this month. 32 Yolks follows in the tradition of Jacques Pépin's The Apprentice and Marcus Samuelsson's Yes, Chef, as a coming-of-age story of a true French chef and international culinary icon.

Before he earned those Michelin stars, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef, or became a regular guest judge on Top Chef, and even before he knew how to make a proper omelet, Eric Ripert was a young boy in the South of France who felt that his world had come to an end. The only place Eric felt at home was in the kitchen. His desire to not only cook, but to become the best would lead him into some of the most celebrated and demanding restaurants in Paris.

Ripert shared an excerpt from his book on Oprah.com about how dining with his mother and watching her cook was the salve that helped to heal the wounds caused when his parents divorced. Ripert's mother never told him about his father's philandering, instead allowing the young boy to hold his father in high esteem. Because he didn't know the truth, Ripert blamed his mother for his father leaving.

But as he explains in the essay, dinnertime with his maman helped to repair their relationship. "As soon as she got home from work, she put a white apron over her silk designer blouse and slacks. That apron was like a superhero's costume; the minute she put it on, she was no longer the evil witch who'd cast my father out, destroying our family and my happiness in the process. She was just Maman. Lovely, capable, loving Maman. And although I would not allow myself to hug and kiss her with abandon as I had before, my anger melted and I let her feel my love," he says. 

Mark Bittman departs Purple Carrot after less than a year

 Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman made waves last year when he made two big announcements: first, that he was stepping down from his position at The NY Times, and then a few months later, that he was joining forces with vegan meal-kit delivery service Purple Carrot. Now, less than a year after he started, he is no longer working for the company.

He is retaining an ownership stake in Purple Carrot, but he's not an employee. In a phone conversation with Tom Philpott of Mother Jones, he was circumspect about his departure: "I wish the company nothing but the best," he said. "I did everything I could do to help [with its recent West Coast expansion], and now I'm ready for something new." Bittman told Philpott that he's still deciding what to do next.

The future for meal-kit delivery services is unclear. Venture capital firms have invested boatloads of cash into several startups like Purple Carrot, which sets itself apart by delivery vegan meals. Brita Rosenheim, founder of a consulting firm focused on food-related tech companies, reports that nearly half a billion dollars were invested in meal-kit companies in 2015. But few - if any - of these companies have turned a profit so far.

Has Tartine Bread turned into a culinary movement?

 Rye bread

It's fair to say that country-style breads, enriched with whole grains, are a hot trend in bread baking. Today you can walk into almost any US grocery store and find a "craggy-edged bread with a custardy crumb tinged the color of a plank of walnut by the presence of whole-wheat flour." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, this trend is no less than a culinary movement and can be traced to Chad Robertson of SF's Tartine Bakery.

The story offers anecdotes from several up-and-coming bakers who say they were inspired by Robertson and his books, 2010's Tartine Bread and 2013's Tartine Book No. 3. The latter book came out "just as interest was spiking in local heirloom wheats and ancient grains, many of which lack the right gluten to produce high and delicate-crumbed breads on their own. Tartine Book No. 3 suggested ways of folding in grain porridges, or blending small amounts of alternate flours, to capture their flavor without sacrificing texture."

But is it fair to credit Robertson for this movement toward high-hydration, low-knead breads with long fermentation times? After all, many other cookbooks in the same vein predated his books, as wonderful as they are. For example, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François was released in 2007. Two years after that, Jim Lahey published My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method and baking veteran Peter Reinhart released Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. (I would be remiss not to include Reinhart's 2001 opus The Bread Baker's Apprentice in a list of influential baking books.) Nancy Silverton came out with her groundbreaking book Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery in 1996. This short list just scratches the surface of the many respected books in the genre.

Perhaps we can forgive the Chronicle for a bit of home-town pride, and Robertson's focus on incorporating ancient grains does set his more recent work apart. But he builds on a long tradition that should not be overlooked. As Peter Reinhart told the newspaper, there are no real secrets in the baking world. "It's more about execution than it is about formula," he said.

Photo of René's rye from Tartine Book No. 3 by  Chad Robertson

Women win big at Beard Foundation restaurant awards


Although it's been a long, slow journey, women have made inroads in the mainly male-dominated restaurant chef sphere. This progress was illustrated at Monday's James Beard Foundation awards ceremony, where women topped several categories.

Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles won the title of Outstanding Chef. Dahlia Narvaez, also based in Los Angeles, took home the prize for Outstanding Pastry Chef for her work at Osteria Mozza. Daniela Soto-Innes, of Enrique Olvera's New York City restaurant Cosme was named Rising Star Chef. 

JBF representatives said that the last time all three of those awards had gone to women was over 10 years ago, in 2004. This year more women took home more awards than ever, showing that the restaurant scene is slowly but surely changing. Other women taking home prizes include Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery & Cafe in Boston, who was named Outstanding Baker. Renee Erickson of the Seattle restaurants the Whale Wins and the Walrus and the Carpenter was named Best Chef in the Northwest. 93-year-old Leah Chase, one of the founders of Dooky Chase's Restaurant in New Orlean, received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other notable winners include veteran chef Jonathan Waxman, who took home the title of Best Chef in New York City. Chicago restaurant Alinea won the coveted Outstanding Restaurant honor, and the New Orleans restaurant Shaya was named Best New Restaurant. You can find a complete list of winners at the JBF website.

Jacques Pepin on when not to follow the recipe

 caramelized pear custard

Have you ever followed a recipe to the letter only to have the dish turn out terribly? It might not be the recipe's fault, says veteran chef and television host Jacques Pépin. He recently spoke to Judy Woodruff of the PBS Newshour on why following a recipe exactly can lead to disaster.

Pépin notes the contradiction between writing a recipe and cooking from it. "When writing a recipe, one records a moment in time which can never be duplicated exactly again," he says. "The paradox is that the recipe tells the reader, this must be done this way, when, in fact, to get the result you're looking for, the recipe has to be modified each time."

The example he provides is a recipes for pears in caramel sauce that he has made many different times with different pears in varying stages of ripeness. "When I first created this recipe, the pears were done in 30 minutes. That amount of time only reflects the unique set of circumstances I faced, ripeness of the pear, type of roasting pan I used. This is what happened on that particular day," Pépin notes. But on subsequent occasions, the pears took different amounts of time to cook, and once actually needed a bit of water to help them along. Had he followed the 30 minute instruction to the letter, he would have had mushy pears or rock hard, scorched pears.

You might wonder what is the point of a recipe if it's always in flux. Pépin believes recipes are important, however. "A recipe is a teaching tool, a guide, a point of departure. You have to follow it exactly the first time you make the dish. But as you make it again and again, you will change it, you will massage it to fit your own taste, your own sense of aesthetic," he says.

Photo of Caramelized pear custard from from Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin

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