Saveur Blog Award winners announced

 Saveur blog awards

The 8th Annual Saveur Blog Awards were announced last evening in Charleston, South Carolina. In each category, awards were given to the choices made by the editors at Saveur and by readers in the online polling. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who voted for the EYB blog during the nomination process; your support means the world to us. 

Now on to the winners. The Blog of the Year award went to StrangerTalka photographic journal by Eloise Basuki and Leigh Griffiths, which "aims to tell the travel stories that aren't being told - the stories of locals passionately fostering their history and traditions, of recipes and crafts being passed down from generation to generation, and capturing the day-to-day moments that exist within any community." Griffiths and Basuki gave up their jobs in Sydney to travel around the world to search for "real experiences with real people."

StrangerTalk also nabbed the Editors' Choice award for Best Travel Blog. Readers selected the blog potato chips are not dinner, written by food-loving flight attendant Paulina Farro. Paula shares recipes, illustrations, and stories about the people, places (and, of course, food) she encounters in her travels. 

Blogs Cardamom and Tea and Chicano Eats nabbed Best New Voice awards by the editors and readers, respectively. Cardamom and Tea, helmed by Kathryn Pauline is dedicated to Assyrian food. With recipes like Crispy lentil and carrot salad with quick-pickled lemon and Sheetpan kirtopie, it's easy to see why her blog rose to the top of the rankings. Esteban Castillo created Chicano Eats after noticing a dearth of Latino representation food blogging.  Esteban "strives to create visibility, educate and provide context behind authentic dishes, and also strives to redefine how people in the U.S view Mexican food, presenting dishes with a very vibrant and minimalistic treatment."

In the Obsessives category (which we were vying for), the Editors' Choice award went to Let's Taco Bout It, which is a blog "for people who love literature and creative meals." Every month, the blog features a book used for inspiration to create delicious recipes. The readers chose The Necro-Nom-Nom-Nomicon, all about "putting the "gore" in gourmet." The dark website includes plenty of foods that fool the eye, resembling things like spiders, skulls, worms and more. If you are planning a frightful Halloween party, you should definitely check out this site. 

Other categories included Baking, Style and Design, Food Instagram, Podcasts, Food & Culture, Inspired Weeknight Dinners, Food Blog Photography, Drinks, and Food Video. See a complete list of winners here, and learn more about all of the finalists and winners at Saveur

The books that shape a career

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainWhen Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly burst onto the scene seventeen years ago, it ushered in boom times for celebrity chefdom and a golden age for food television. J. Kenji López-Alt is one of many chefs and culinary professionals who credit the book with inspiring their career choice. On Facebook, López-Alt posted a missive about how the book  launched his culinary aspirations

The chef and author of the smash cookbook The Food Lab was studying architecture when he first read the book after his father loaned him his copy. The gritty descriptions of kitchen life intrigued López-Alt, "After flying through the last macho, drug-fueled, exhillerating page," he says he told his then-girlfriend "I think I want to be a cook." She and others encouraged him to continue his pursuit of architecture, but thankfully for us, he did not heed their advice. 

This post is the beginning of a daily series for López-Alt, who will recommend books that had a major impact on his cooking career. He plans to do this for the next thirty days, which may mean more books to add to your Amazon wish list. In the comments are hints of what other books might appear in this series. Some people recalled López-Alt discussing how The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin influenced his career, so watch to see if that tome makes the list. 

Food & Wine's surprising benefactor

Food & Wine magazine 

You may have seen the news that Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine, died yesterday at the age of 91. "What's that got to do with food?" you may wonder. As it turns out, a great deal: Hefner was instrumental in launching Food & Wine Magazine

Food & Wine was first published as a "preview issue" tucked inside the March 1978 issue of Playboy. Two months later, the first stand-alone edition hit newsstands. The founders of Food & Wine, Robert and Lindy Kenyon, Michael and Ariane Batterberry (who would later go on to run the much beloved Food Arts), and Peter Jones convinced Hefner that "there was an opportunity to create a magazine for an emerging passion group: Epicureans."

The magazine's founders had found it difficult to raise funds to launch their new publication. Investors were not convinced that Americans would care enough about food to support such a venture, and it took the group seven years to pull together enough money to begin operations. One of the entities the founders approached to back their idea was Playboy. Ariane Batterberry recalls working with Hefner, whom she says "was wonderful to work with. He was really an editor, he really loved the editorial. And he respected that it was our magazine and left us alone-he really liked Food & Wine." 

That preview issue included a quote from James Beard on the cover: "At last, a magazine about food in all its aspects." The inside was no less impressive, featuring writing by top food writers and journalists. Articles included essays by George Plimpton and others, tips on souffles from Jacques Pépin (who at the time was a personal chef), and a rating of canned tuna. 

Barry Callebaut announces a new kind of chocolate

Ruby chocolate 

Move over dark, milk, and white chocolates, there's a new kid in town: ruby chocolate. Last week chocolate giant Barry Callebaut announced that after 10 years of research and development, it is releasing a new type of chocolate that boasts a naturally reddish hue.

This new variety of chocolate - the first since the development of white chocolate 80 years ago - is said to offer 'a totally new taste experience, which is not bitter, milky or sweet, but a tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness," according to the Barry Callebaut press release. 

The naturally reddish/pinkish color will allegedly appeal to millenials, who apparently love all things pink. The color may be a gimmick, but it's all natural. Again according to the press release, "Ruby chocolate is made from the Ruby cocoa bean; through a unique processing Barry Callebaut unlocks the flavor and color tone naturally present in the Ruby bean. No berries or berry flavor is added. No color is added."

Ruby chocolate made its international debut at an exclusive launch event in Shanghai, China, on September 5. You can't purchase Ruby chocolate quite yet, although Barry Callebaut is planning to work with chocolate manufacturers to make the product available to consumers around the world. 

Photo courtesy Barry Callebaut

At My Table - Nigella Lawson - UK Tour Dates and BBC Six Part Series

The domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson's At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking is slated for publication on September 21st in the UK. It seems in our book loving universe, we are always longing or anticipating publication dates. Here in the US, At My Table will be available in the Spring of 2018. Those of us who are not keen on waiting can order from UK book sellers using our BUY BOOK button (Book Depository typically has free shipping and Amazon UK has a minimal charge).

Nigella has scheduled a number of events to celebrate her book in the UK which have been added to our calendar. As things are planned for the US release, I will update you.

Today's Sunday Times published Nigella Lawson: so long as it tastes good, I'm happy where she states "Home cooking is not about impressing people, it's about enjoyment and making memories". In this piece, she shares how certain dishes bring back memories of either her children, family or friends and states that she doesn't feel that anyone should jump through hoops in the kitchen to impress anyone. Her comment about not wanting to hate people that are invited to dinner due to the unnecessary stress we have burdened ourself with - really hit home. All anyone ever wants is a lovely meal and good conversation - I need to remember that. Nigella helps us with that by providing simple recipes with complex flavour - all dread free in this cookbook.

Eight recipes were also excerpted from her cookbook in The Times. I have an account wherein I can view two free articles a week - so for those interested in reading the entire piece you are able to go this route as well. Also, for those members in the UK, the paper has a contest going giving away ten copies of At My Table

More good news, Nigella fans, she will be returning to the BBC with a six part series based on this cookbook this Fall.

Gourmet Traveller announces 2018 Restaurant Award winners

Australian Gourmet TravellerIndexed magazine Australian Gourmet Traveller announced the winners of its 2018 Restaurant Awards on Wednesday. The awards included ten categories including best restaurant, best chef, best wine list, and best new talent. The winners were culled from the semi-finalists announced earlier this year

For the first time in 20 years, the Restaurant of The Year honors went to an establishment in a city other than Sydney or Melbourne. Glascow-born chef Jock Zonfrillo's Adelaide eatery, Orana, was awarded the prize. Orana is unique among major Australian restaurants in that it celebrates indigenous foods. Zonfrillo traveled across the country, asking elders about harvesting and cooking techniques, and exploring native ingredients. He brings the lessons he learned to bear in food that has traditional roots but which makes use of the continent's unique flora and fauna. 

The 2018 Chef of the Year award went to Mat Lindsay of the Sydney restaurant Ester, which he opened in 2013. New Restaurant of the Year honors were bestowed upon Fred's, also in Sydney. The establishment's head chef, Danielle Alvarez, cut her culinary teeth at the legendary Chez Panisse. Alvarez is breaking new ground in Australia; only 3 of The Australian's top 50 restaurants for 2017 is headed by a woman

See all of the 2018 award winners on Australian Gourmet Traveller's website

The best food television shows of 2017

GBBO contestantsFor cookbook lovers, nothing beats cracking open a favorite book and settling in to browse and dream of new tastes and techniques. Sometimes you have to put down the book, however. Thank goodness for a plethora of television shows to fill the time in between book reading sessions!

This fall, everyone's favorite baking show, The Great British Bake Off, debuts on its new home. The contestants have been announced, and everyone is eagerly anticipating what changes are in store for the program and its freshened cast. Meanwhile, former GBBO host Mary Berry is gearing up for her new show, but unfortunately we will have to wait until next year to see it. 

Another GBBO alumnus, Nadiya Hussain, recently debuted Nadiya's British Food Adventure on BBC 2. Viewers have been singing her praises; she is an effortless host and her bubbly personality shines through. We are busy indexing the cookbook that accompanies the show, also titled Nadiya's British Food Adventure.

We recently discussed Jamie Oliver's new program, Jamie Oliver's Quick and Easy. On this side of the pond, fellow Brit Gordon Ramsay's new program on Fox (US), The F-Word, began airing early this summer. Based on his popular UK show, each hour-long episode features groups of friends and families battling in an intense, high-stakes cook-off. The first season is nearing its end; you can stream full episodes on the Fox website

Ina Garten also had a new program debut earlier this year. In Cook Like a Pro, the veteran host "teaches the essential recipes and techniques every cook must know to achieve success in the kitchen," according to Food Network. There is no word on when a cookbook from this show will be released, but rest assured it will happen. 

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Television airs on PBS starting next month. The billing for this new show claims to "bring the best of home cooking to public television, adapting new techniques, flavors, and recipes to produce bolder, simpler, better food to home cooks everywhere." It will be interesting to see how the program differs from America's Test Kitchen, which soldiers on without its iconic host. 

What shows are you watching (or planning to watch)?

In Search of Israeli Cuisine

In Search of Israeli Cuisine
is a film that highlights the dynamic food scene in Israel. The film's chef/guide is Michael Solomonov, a James Beard Award winning chef and co-owner of acclaimed Zahav in Philadelphia. He is also the author of the cookbook Zahav (one of my most treasured books). The chef was born in Israel and has lived and traveled there frequently. This documentary follows Michael into hot restaurants and home kitchens, wineries and cheese makers, he eats street food and visits markets. All over the country, he discusses traditions, ingredients, the origins, and the future of Israeli Cuisine.

Check the film's page for more information or to request a screening in your area. 

October 20th, 2017 Update:  The documentary is now available on Netflix. I know what I'm doing next weekend.

Photo courtesy of Florentine Films.

Legendary editor Judith Jones has died

The Tenth Muse by Judith JonesThe culinary world is in mourning today after learning of the death of legendary cookbook editor and author Judith Jones. Jones passed away last evening at her summer home in Walden, Vermont, from complications of Alzheimer's disease. She was 93. 

Jones was a long-time senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf. She was instrumental in the publication of several monumental books including Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl  and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The latter had been rejected by several publishers when it landed on Jones' desk in the late 1950s. "Here was the cookbook I had been dreaming of - one that took you by the hand and explained the whys and wherefores of every step of a recipe," Jones recalled in a 2004  New York Times article

In addition to her ground-breaking editorial work, she co-authored three cookbooks with her late husband Evan, two of them on breads and one on New England cooking. After Evan passed away, Jones began cooking for herself and in 2009, she published a solo book titled The Pleasures of Cooking for One. She also wrote an autobiography, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food

Food trend predictions from the Fancy Foods show

 beef jerky

Every year, thousands of people gather for the annual Summer Fancy Food Show, where more than 2,600 specialty companies showcase their goods to the press, consumers, and potential buyers. This year, Cook's Illustrated sent one of its tastings and testings team members, Hannah Crowley, to the show. After eyeing and sampling hundreds of products, she made some predictions for trends we're likely to see on store shelves

Hannah reported that many items were continuations of previous trends that seem to have some staying power. The word "superfoods" kept popping up in booth after booth, and cold-brew coffee and tea were ubiquitous. Honey continues its upward trajectory, finding its way into more and more products. There's even a vegan alternative to honey that is making its way to market. 

Two foods that are night-and-day different from each other are both predicted to be big in the next year or so. The first is jerky, which is branching out to include different meats and a variety of flavors. At the show, Hannah saw "beef, pork, chicken, turkey, salmon, trout, coconut, and eggplant jerky and interesting flavors like maple bourbon churro, korean barbecue, sriracha honey, and pink or szechuan peppercorn."

The other food blasting its way to the top is chickpeas. Move over hummus, as chickpeas are claiming new ground, with products that include crackers and chips, miso, and popped (to make a healthier snack that resemble Cheetos).  

Photo of Beef jerky from Paleo Perfected (A Test Kitchen Handbook) by America's Test Kitchen Editors

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