James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists

 Semi-finalists

The James Beard Foundation has just announced its 2018 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists. The list recognizes the best new restaurants, established restaurants, chefs, bakers, and bar programs across the United States. Many of the chefs on the list have written outstanding cookbooks, including Hugh AchesonJoanne ChangAshley ChristensenRenee EricksonGabrielle HamiltonDavid KinchDonald Link Vikram SunderamJody WilliamsVivian Howard and Alex Stupak

According to Eater, this year the JBF added a new criteria regarding chef behavior for judges to consider when choosing semifinalists this year. In correspondence sent to judges earlier this year, the JBF said "If you have concerns about a chef, restaurateur or beverage professional, or about the culture around a restaurant or restaurant group, leave the person or business out of your nominations."

In mid-March, the JBF will winnow this "long list" down to a shorter list of nominees, and also announce the nominees for Media and Restaurant Design Awards. The nominees will be live-tweeted during an event that is being held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 14. Once the cookbook award nominees are announced, we will provide a list for you just as we did for the IACP 2018 Nominees. You can see the complete list of JBF Restaurant and Chef semifinalists on the James Beard Foundation website.

Meet 'Feast', The Guardian's new food supplement

Guardian Feast supplementCooks in the UK, including hundreds of EYB Members, have long considered The Guardian Cook supplement to The Guardian newspaper to be an indispensable resource. The slim weekly volume is packed with delightful recipes and articles from esteemed chefs and food writers like Rachael Roddy, Sam Clark, Anna Jones, Vivek Singh, and Jeremy Lee. Last week, the beloved supplement received a significant makeover, including a new name. The change was part of a broad revamp of The Guardian newspaper.

While the format of the new publication is smaller in size, the new supplement -titled Feast - is richer in content. That's because the publication has combined most of The Guardian's food writers including those mentioned above plus Thomasina Miers, Tamal Ray, Ruby Tandoh, Felicity Cloake, Yotam Ottolenghi, Meera Sodha, and others, under one cover. The articles and recipes that formerly appeared in the Weekend magazine, Cook, and in the Thursday G2 are now contained in Feast.

Reactions on social media have been mostly positive. You can follow the publication on its Twitter and Instagram accounts, where you can get sneak peeks into the new format. All of the recipes will be available online (so it's worth adding to your Bookshelf even if you don't subscribe to the paper), and EYB is currently indexing the first issue. Please let us know what you think about the new Guardian Feast.

Major layoffs at Saveur Magazine

Saveur magazine 

Saveur ranks as the one of the most popular magazines in the EYB Library. We've often linked to articles on the magazine's website in our blog posts, and we've featured the magazine in our monthly newsletter. This high level of interest in Saveur by our Members makes today's news about layoffs at the magazine all the more distressing. 

Editor-in-Chief Adam Sachs is among the many staff members who were let go. The moves were part of parent company Bonnier Corp.'s across-the-board staff reductions wherein the company laid off approximately 17 percent of its U.S. workforce. The publication schedule for Saveur will allegedly take a hit too, as rumors indicate the magazine will be reduced from six to four issues per year. 

The past few years have seen a lot of turmoil in the magazine publishing industry. In November of last year Meredith Corp., publisher of titles like Martha Stewart Living,  announced it would acquire Time Inc., which holds Food & Wine Real Simple, and several other food magazines. We have also lost several high quality magazines like Lucky Peach and Food Arts in recent years. The only bright spots of late have been the Bake from Scratch and Cook from Scratch titles. Let's hope this Saveur shakeup will only be a temporary setback.

Australian food blog awards announced

 Australian blogs

Just over a week ago, we learned the winners of the restaurant awards given by the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide. The AGFG has also announced its picks for the top 10 Australian food blogs

Several of the blogs are focused on restaruant reviews, like the Melbourne-based Eat and Be Merry. This blog is a group effort, featuring friends from Melbourne who love eating out collaborate together to write the articles, which features local restaurants as well as far-flung destinations. 

A few of the blogs also feature original recipes. Spooning Australia is the work of a single blogger, Jason King, who intersperses restaurant reviews amongst his own recipe creations. King describes himself as a "food loving, wine obsessed, restaurant indulging foodie" who has "embarked on a Brussels Sprout cooking odyssey with the goal of being known in the world as 'the Brussels sprouts guy.'" Other blogs with both recipes and reviews include FoodieLing and The Spice Adventuress.

You can see the full list at the AGFC website. Hat tip to EYB Member debkellie for the link. 

René Redzepi prepares to open the new Noma

 Noma cookbooks

René Redzepi was living the dream: two Michelin stars plus many other accolades for a destination restaurant where you couldn't get a reservation for months. After sitting at or near the top of every worldwide restaurant ranking for several years, the chef closed the doors of Noma early last year and announced that he was moving the restaurant to a new location and completely revamping the menu. Why take such a risk? "Routine can be comforting, but it's also a killer for your creativity," Redzepi says. "It was time to change, not just the physical address but shedding off the old routine, moving into something new, building a small urban farm."

The new Noma will feature three menus, starting with seafood, rotating to vegetarian and then game. The restaurant will retain its focus on local, often foraged, ingredients and a Nordic sensibility. The new version of Noma is scheduled to open February 15. The first batch of reservations sold out in hours last November. Another around of reservations (for tables in May) opens at 4 p.m. local time on January 18.  Even though Redzepi has built the new space from the ground up, the restaurant only seats 40, plus about a dozen more in the private room. 

Although he is currently focused on opening the new Noma, Redzepi hasn't ruled out doing more popup restaurants. He has had incredibly well-received popups in Australia, Japan, and Mexico, but if you are waiting for one to come to the U.S. you'll have to be patient. The chef has no plans to come to the U.S. although he is eyeing other spots in Asia. 

Meet the baker behind the beautiful pies of Instagram

 fancy pie

Internet fame can be overwhelming and fickle, as Lauren Ko is discovering. Ko is the baker who has quickly developed a huge following - over 100,000 people follow lokokitchen on Instagram - over her intricately decorated pies. Even though most of the comments she has received are positive, a few people have sent her hate mail

In Ko's interview with Munchies, we learn a lot about the pie-making sensation. She hasn't been baking long, only for just over a year. Her inspiration was a fancy pie she saw on Pinterest. She wondered if she could make something like that, and the result was, as the saying goes, Instagram-worthy. Ko doesn't sell her gorgeous pies, and she works a regular day job as an Executive Assistant.

In case you're wondering, yes, she does make her own pie crust. Her favorite is Stella Parks' old-fashioned flaky pie dough. Even though the intricate designs on her pies make them seem too pretty to eat, Ko definitely makes them to be enjoyed for their flavor as much as their aesthetics."Well, if it's food, flavor is really important. It's meant to be eaten," she says. "I don't like to waste food. I would hate to spend all this time and make something that's inedible, as much as I enjoy the process of actual baking."

It's good that she enjoys the process, because some of her creations take five hours or more to make, start to finish. Some of that time is when the dough and pie are chilling in the refrigerator, so it's not all hands-on time, she notes. But the pies are definitely a labor of love.

Those who can only view the pies from afar via the internet don't have the luxury of eating them, but they are inspirational to many people. A few folks, however, have posted negative comments and Ko has even received hate mail. Some people don't believe that she actually makes the pies herself, and others chastise her for not often showing the post-baking results. Ko brushes off this criticism. "There are definitely people with negative things to say, but, hey-I'm just baking pies," she says. "There must be more important things for people to be fighting for, right?"

Hat tip to EYB Member sir_ken_g for alerting us to this interview. 

The New Yorker adds a food department

 open magazines

The New Yorker is known for in-depth, thought-provoking articles about a variety of topics, including the occasional food article. We won't be able to say "occasional" much longer, as the magazine announced today that it now has its own food department. As editor Michael Luo notes in his announcement, The New Yorker has a long tradition of offering quality food journalism. Previous contributors include M.F.K. Fisher, Calvin Trillin, and A.J. Liebling.

Joining the magazine as a "roving food correspondent" is James Beard award winner Helen Rosner, former executive editor at Eater. Rosner has also worked at Saveur and as a cookbook editor. Former New Yorker staffer Hannah Goldfield will serve as the magazine's food critic, in addition to other writing duties. Goldfield frequently contributed to the New Yorker's "Tables for Two" column, which offers brief reviews of restaurants around the city from rotating writers. 

Michael Luo tells Eater that the team anticipates Goldfield will most likely primarily write about New York City restaurants, but she may travel for criticism as well. She also won't be limited to just providing restaurant reviews and will write about other food topics, although Luo says the final details about what the food coverage will look like are in flux. He notes that they are still "figuring out what TNY's criticism should look like online."

Gastro Obscura brings you weird foods and more

Kransekaka

You might have heard about Atlas Obscura, the self-described "definitive guide to the world's wondrous and curious places." Their articles about unique and undiscovered places have been  responsible for more clicks than I care to admit from my social media feeds. Now there's even more to love about the quirky site, as they have launched a companion website called Gastro Obscura, which is all about food.

The new site features three catagories of delights: Food & Drink, Places, and Stories. Under the first category you can browse over 250 "wondrous" foods, ranging from exotic tropical fruits to cocktails made with a red-hot poker to kransekake, the Norwegian holiday tower of cakes.

Places introduces you to the world's largest pecan (in Texas, naturally) and the world's oldest grape-producing vine, which is located in Slovenia. The vine has survived four centuries of turmoil and even has its own anthem. Or you can learn about the National Cookie Cutter Museum in Joplin, Missouri and the world's largest cashew tree in Brazil, which covers over two acres. 

There are currently over 380 articles under Stories, about anything food-related that you could imagine. Discover a grocery list sketched by Michelangelo, learn about Heinz's decades-long attempt to convince Australians to buy ketchup, or find out how pumpkin pie sparked a culture war.

If you are currently snowed in on the East Coast of the U.S., Gastro Obscura provides a good way to pass the time. Even if you aren't facing the "bomb cyclone" weather event, you might find yourself spending hours on the site perusing the fascinating articles. Thanks to EYB Member sir_ken_g for alerting us to this new resource.

Photo of Kransekake from Sweet Paul Magazine

The new and improved Taste of the South magazine

Hoffman Media Publications is tearing up the magazine world by delivering periodicals that are pretty damn amazing. Magazines that we want to hold on to and not rip up to save an odd recipe here and there. Like those desserts that folks say are too pretty to eat (yeah, I don't believe that line either) Bake from Scratch is too fantastic to destroy. 

Hoffman took the Bake from Scratch formula and applied it to their newest magazine, Cook Real Food, which I reviewed earlier this year. In the spirit of strike while the iron is hot, they have given a spiffy make-over to one of their older titles, Taste of the South

The old, dowdy Taste of the South magazine didn't do a thing for me. However, the new and improved style blows up my skirt. Bake has taken over the magazine world with gorgeous photographs and must-have recipes and now Taste of South has the same look. From the eye-catching cover with biscuits slathered in butter and dripping with honey, to the section featuring those biscuits with plenty of sweet and savory variations, the whole magazine looks like a winner. I have at least ten stickies on recipes that caught my attention from the Birthday biscuits from Carrie Morey author of Callie's Biscuits and Southern Traditions to a Lemon fried chicken with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and sausage gravy to an Orange marmalade twist bread that I want to make for Christmas morning.

This magazine has transformed from old sweats to the little black dress. However, those tempting Southern recipes won't help us fit into that little black dress; but it's the holidays, we don't have to worry about that until January 2nd. Hoffman Media is setting the standard of what magazines should be - beautiful, interesting, innovative and as many recipes as a standard cookbook. A sneak peek at the magazine can be found on Hoffman Media's site.

You can find the magazine at most book stores, supermarkets and online

Heads up the Bake from Scratch Volume 2 which shares all the recipes from the prior year's issues is available for preorder as well as Ultimate Pound Cakes which I am excited about. If you do not have Volume 1 in your collection, you need it. Trust me. 

Another cooking school bites the dust

L'Academie de Cuisine 

It's been a rough few years for cooking schools in the U.S. Despite the glamorization of chefs, including many television shows and even a few movies, mainstream cooking schools have struggled to find students and several have shut down. In 2015, Le Cordon Bleu succumbed, and now we have learned that another school is closing.

The latest casualty is L'Academie de Cuisine, based in Maryland. Although not as large or famous as Le Cordon Bleu, L'Academie launched the careers of many of the region's best chefs including Aaron Silverman, Aggie Chin, and Katsuya Fukushima. Former Top Chef contestant and co-host of The Chew,  Carla Hall, is also an alumnus.

The school has not provided any formal announcement of the closing or any explanation of why the institution, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, is shutting its doors.  Founder Francois Dionot allegedly informed staff late Friday that the professional facility was closing immediately. A secondary location that offers recreational classes will be closing at the end of the year. 

Photo from L'Academie de Cuisine's Facebook page

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