New cookbook store to open in Brooklyn

We've got another exciting cookbook store announcement to share with you, especially if you live in or near New York City. A small cookbook store called Cooking, Cocktails, and Culture is set to open soon in 212 Degraw Street in Cobble Hill (south Brooklyn), according to GrubStreet. The store is owned by rare bookseller Elizabeth Young. 

open books

Young believes there is a market for another cookbook store in the city and plans to set hers apart from the others with a slightly different focus. As the name of her store suggests, she will offer a good selection of cocktail books. In addition, CCC will have a section devoted to food memoirs and historically significant works, plus other books people might remember from their childhood. New books will also be on the shelves, as will part of Young's collection of memorabilia such as vintage restaurant menus. 

"I'm trying to bring people who are already interested, to have authors doing their signings and talks for new books, and then introduce them to the older stuff," Young says. She's already lined up an author event in late November - make sure to check the World Calendar of Cookbook Events in the coming weeks to see what other events are happening. 

Are you ready to 'Cook Like a Pro'?

Ina Garten has been a go-to resource for cooking advice and recipes for nearly 20 years, ever since the publication of her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa. A string of wildly successful books and a television series followed in short order. Tomorrow marks the debut of the third series of her latest show, 'Cook Like a Pro.' 

Cook Like a Pro

While her first show,  Barefoot Contessa, mainly showed Ina cooking and entertaining in the posh neighborhoods of East Hampton, New York, 'Cook Like a Pro' focused on specific ingredients in its first two seasons. The show is expanding on that theme in the third season, engaging in broader topics throughout its run. One episode is even themed around Mary Poppins - an intriguing concept that also includes special guest stars. 

To coincide with the new season, Ina's latest cookbook is also being released this  Tuesday. Also titled Cook Like a Pro, the book features some of Ina's most irresistible recipes and very best "pro tips," from the secret to making her custardy, slow-cooked Truffled Scrambled Eggs to the key to the crispiest and juiciest Fried Chicken Sandwiches. 

For Ina, cooking like a pro also means hosting like a pro, and the book is replete with ideas to boost your cooking and entertaining skills such as how to set up an elegant home bar. Tune in tomorrow to catch Ina at her best, and don't forget to check the World Calendar of Cookbook Events to see if her current tour is bringing her to your city. 

2018 Observer Food Monthly Awards

The 2018 Observer Food Monthly Awards were presented last evening at a gala held at the Freemasons' Hall in London. The awards celebrate the best in food across the UK, highlighting the work of celebrity chefs as well as local producers and eateries. There are 10 categories of reader awards, plus six other categories judged by a professional panel.

Without further ado, let's turn to the evening's winners. We'll begin with the awards and people who are near and dear to the hearts of EYB Members. Anna Jones took home the prize for Best New Cookbook for her latest, The Modern Cook's Year. The Best Instagram Feed winner was Julie Jones of Soulful Baker, and food writer Jack Monroe went home with the Best Food Personality award. Chef and cookery writer Simon Hopkinson received a well-earned Lifetime Achievement award.

cookbook collage

Some of the awards honored those who used food as a medium for doing good works. Randeep Singh and Manpreet Lall from Nishkam Swat, were winners of the Outstanding Achievement award for their work feeding the homeless. Ryan Riley (who we profiled earlier this year), took home the prize for Best Ethical Food Project for his organization Life Kitchen. Hannah McAdam and Janine Waters of the Dressing Room Cafe in Chorlton, were winners of the Local Food Hero award for their work with adults with learning disabilities.

You can see the complete list of winners, including the Best Restaurant, Best Producer, and Best Independent Retailer, at The Guardian's Observer Food Monthly website.

Is The Great American Baking Show coming back?

Although ABC is being coy and hasn't yet confirmed it, word on the street is that The Great American Baking Show will return to the airwaves. As one would expect, disgraced host Johnny Iuzzini is out, and talented pastry chef Sherry Yard, who has made several appearances on other cooking shows, will be taking his place.

Sherry Yard

Also out for the alleged reboot is Ayesha Curry, who has moved on to do her own show called 'Family Food Fight'. Her replacement is rumoured to be Spice Girl Emma Bunton, a.k.a. Baby Spice, who will join remaining judges Paul Hollywood and Anthony "Spice" Adams.  Since no official announcement has been made, we're left guessing as to when the program will return.

Will the program be able to overcome its tarnished reputation? Will it ever catch on with US audiences in the same way that GBBO did? Will Season 3 winner Vallery Lomas take part in the relaunch? Are they ever going to release great cookbooks like GBBO? These questions remain unanswered, and we'll just have to patiently wait for an announcement from ABC to find out. 

Master Sommelier cheating scandal results in loss of titles

If you have ever eaten at a fine dining establishment, you've likely used the services of a sommelier, whether to choose a wine pairing or because one was used to develop the restaurant's wine list. Only the best of the best sommeliers earn the designation of Master Sommelier. The path to that highly desired title includes a battery of difficult tests, the hardest one being a blind tasting. Only a handful of people each year pass all four portions of the exam. This year, 24 people earned the rights to call themselves Master Sommeliers, but a recent cheating scandal has resulted in all but one of them being stripped of the title. 

corks

Since the regimen of tests that designate Master Sommeliers was developed fifty years ago, only 274 people have managed to earn the honor. One of those 274 was implicated in the cheating controversy. He or she passed along information about the six wines used in the blind tasting, in which the applicants have to identify each of the six wine's grape variety, region of origin, and vintage.

Having advance knowledge would be extremely helpful in passing this test, and that is what is alleged to have happened. There are no details on who provided the information or what exactly the information included, but the best guess on the former is that an exam proctor was the one who spilled the beans - or in this case, the wine. 

It's difficult for most Master Sommeliers to imagine why someone would do this, because it demeans the entire testing process and has now put a dent in the sterling reputation of the remaining sommeliers who have worked hard to earn the distinguished title. The one member of this year's class who was not stripped of the title, Morgan Harris, passed the tasting section of the exam last year so he was not implicated in the controversy. He said: "It's heartbreaking and incredibly disappointing for me and for everyone else who passed the exam in a fair and honest way."

Are America's country hams on the verge of disappearing?

Nothing lasts forever. While that truism may be accurate, it does little to temper the disappointment that accompanies the loss of a food tradition. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but every time I read or hear about a foodstuff that is going away I get a little teary-eyed. Even though I do not like Necco wafers, part of me was saddened when I learned that the company that had made them since the mid-1800s had shut down

The latest food that is teetering on the edge of extinction is the country ham. The heavily salted, long cured product has been referred to as "hillbilly prosciutto", and star chefs like Sean Brock showcase it in their restaurants. Various factors have contributed to the loss of many of the smokehouses that produce country hams, and now one of the most famous, Smithfield Foods, closed its smokehouse in the city of Smithfield, Virginia.

country ham

What is contributing to the decline in the number of smokehouses dedicated to this iconic American product? Part of the problem is that because the ham takes such a long time to cure, it's difficult to sell it at a profitable price point. Despite the reverence bestowed upon it by chefs like Brock, consumer demand has not been sufficient to attract new people to the trade. In fact, most of the people who produce country hams are at or near retirement age. 

However, some experts remain optimistic that we won't completely lose the product. They predict that, similar to the craft beer industry, home enthusiasts will carry the mantle and inspire a renaissance of the trade. The story of Necco wafers also provides hope, as The Spangler Candy Co. has purchased the rights to the candy and plans to resume production in 2019. If Necco wafers can get a reprieve, anything's possible.

Photo of Sweet tea-brined country ham from Garden and Gun Magazine

Change is coming to the Beard Awards

"If every restaurant team had an equal number of men and women, what effect would that have on the work environment? On the service? On the food? What if racial equity were the norm in kitchens and dining rooms across the country?" Those are the questions posed today by the James Beard Foundation in a blog post announcing changes to the organization's annual awards.

Julia Child and James Beard

The JBF recognizes the role its valued awards play in the culinary industry, and is revamping some of its rules and policies in an effort to increase access, representation, and transparency. One of the first changes is that the organization is dropping its entry fees for the first two weeks of entries for the Book, Broadcast Media, and Design Awards. In addition, the entry fee for first-time submissions will be waived for the entire entry period.  The goal of these changes is to remove any financial impediments and encourage a wider variety of contributions. 

Other changes include increasing diversity on the Foundation's committees, including judges, to be at a minimum reflective of the US census. The JBF is working to make its processes more transparent, and to that end has published its complete submission, voting and judging processes. You can find them on the JBF website at www.jamesbeard.org/awards/policies.

The Duchess of Sussex has been busy in the kitchen

Life in the Royal Family is always filled with events and engagements, but despite her busy schedule, HRH The Duchess of Sussex finds time to do volunteer work. One of the projects she contributed to was a communal kitchen located at the Al Manaar Centre in West London. Last year, following the Grenfell Tower fire, a group of women gathered there so they could prepare fresh food for their families, friends and neighbors. Out of their efforts a cookbook was born

Our Community cookbook

The Duchess is supporting the new charity cookbook, Together: Our Community Cookbook (US edition, UK edition can be found here), which celebrates the power of cooking to bring communities together. The book showcases over 50 recipes from the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen and including a foreword by the Duchess.
 
The women invite you to make their favorite simple dishes-many handed down over generations- from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean for you and your loved ones.  Every dish tells a story of history, culture and family, and each has been developed to use few ingredients and easy methods so that anyone can cook these personal recipes.  A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will help the Hubb Community Kitchen to strengthen lives and communities through cooking. 

Update: The Duchess's good friend, Serena Williams, posted her support and appreciation of this project.

Cooking Light ends subscription print publication

Over the course of my cooking career I have subscribed to many different food magazines: Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Saveur, and Cooking Light to name just a few. In the past few years, these elder statesmen of culinary journalism have faced the mounting pressures that are devastating most of the print magazine industry. Gourmet was the first to succumb, folding in 2009, and Saveur experienced extreme restructuring last year.  Now we have learned that Cooking Light is suffering a similar fate. Its last subscription print release will be the December, 2018 issue.

Cooking Light magazine

Cooking Light was one of the first subscriptions I ordered when I was first out on my own, and I still use a cake recipe pulled from its pages in the early 1990s. Now the magazine will no longer be available as a subscription. Less than a year after scooping up all of Time Inc.'s food magazine holdings, Cooking Light's parent company,  Meredith Corp., announced plans to scale back on both Cooking Light  and Coastal Living. About 200 people will be laid off during this transition.

Merdith will merge Cooking Light with similar healthy-cooking title Eating Well under the latter's name.   At the end of the year, Cooking Light will transition from a subscription-based magazine to a special interest publication available on newsstands six times a year. The magazine will continue its online presence. 

Netflix announces lineup for the next two seasons of 'Chef's Table'

The Netflix series 'Chef's Table' has been one of the best streaming food shows around since its debut in 201x. The streaming service recently announced which chefs would be featured in seasons five and six of the popular series. 

The program is being more inclusive than past years, when it featured mostly white, male, Euro-centric chefs. Upcoming chefs are more diverse, and there is a bigger emphasis on their roles outside of the kitchen. According to Neflix, new episodes will focus on "chefs and cuisines whose stories have for too long been hidden." 

cookbooks

The first episode of the new season will feature  Cristina Martinez, chef/co-owner of acclaimed Philadelphia restaurant South Philly Barbacoa. Martinez has been an outspoken advocate for immigrant rights, using her status as an undocumented worker to call attention to issues in the U.S. immigration system. Her story is nothing short of amazing. 

In addition to chefs, a butcher will be profiled in one of the shows. Dario Cecchini is a world-renowned butcher who operates a  shop and a string of restaurants in Panzano, Italy. He has instructed hundreds of chefs in the art of butchery, including Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

While most of the subjects are lesser-known by the public, a couple of familiar chefs are included: Albert Adrià , profiled in Season 5 and Sean Brock, coming in Season 6. You can begin streaming the new episodes on Netflix beginning September 28. 

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