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The items that chefs take on vacation

 coffee beans

For those of us for whom cooking is a near obsession, there are essential culinary items that accompany us even when we travel, especially if we are driving. Even when we fly, some of us have certain gear or foods that we hesitate to leave behind. Chefs are just like us in this regard, as The Boston Globe reports. The newspaper takes a look at the culinary items that Boston chefs take with them on vacation.

Chef Tom Borgia of Boston's State Street Provisions always travels with a purse-size bamboo cutting board, a gift from his mother. The tiny board has stood up to ten years' worth of vacations to beaches in six countries and two continents. Patrick Campbell, chef at Cambridge's Café ArtScience, doesn't take equipment with him on his beach travels. Instead, he stocks up on items from his favorite hometown deli. 

For Aran Goldstein, chef at Concord's Saltbox Kitchen, the morning cuppa joe is key. "I enjoy the ritual of coffee. The steps involved [are] really calming and kind of Zen," he says. When he travels, gourmet coffee beans, a scale, and a fancy coffee grinder always make the trip, along with a Chemex carafe, filters, and his favorite kettle for boiling the water.

Steve Johnson, formerly of Cambridge's Blue Room and Rendezvous, bring a spice assortment with him to his Costa Rican getaway. "The last thing you want to do on day one [of vacation] is go to the local supermarket and drop $50 on a bunch of generic dried herbs and spices," he says. Bringing your own is not only economical, it can allow you to put your personal imprint on the local produce.

Do you have certain tools or foods that you always bring on your travels?

What a literary agent looks for in a cookbook

 open cookbooks

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in cookbook publishing? Food writer and former editor Dianne Jacob sure knows. She knows the industry inside and out and shares her knowledge through her blog Will Write for Food. Dianne recently interviewed literary agent Lori Galvin, who formerly worked on the team that produced over 70 cookbooks for America's Test Kitchen. Lori  has also edited cookbooks for Houghton Mifflin, cooked in restaurant kitchens, and managed a bed-and-breakfast. Now she is a literary agent for Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. She spoke with Dianne about what she looks for in a cookbook pitch.

You may think that you have to have a television show or a blog with hundreds of thousands of followers in order to score a cookbook publishing deal. While these are helpful, other criteria can come into play, like whether the book fits a particular niche. Social media following is important, but big numbers are only part of the story. Having impressive growth with lower numbers of followers can work, too. 

According to Lori, the biggest mistake that people make when they approach her with an idea for a book is that they don't fully explain it. "It creates more work for me to ask for more information if all they say is 'I want to write a book about olive oil,'" she says. Rather, you should develop a short but thorough pitch that provides the story behind your book. You should explain why it's different from others in the genre and why you think there's a market for it.

Gordon Ramsay's list of 'must-know' dishes

roast chicken 

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently participated in a Reddit AMA in connection with the launch of his new mobile game. As one would expect in an AMA ("ask me anything") the conversation veered away from promotion of the app, allowing fans to get a glimpse into the mind of the sometimes controversial chef.

A Reddit user named Tortoist asked Ramsay what five things the chef thought that everyone should be able to cook. The list included several items that you would expect, including the first skill that Ramsay thought was essential: how to cook a great burger. The second item on Ramsay's list was how to make a healthy breakfast. "Whether it's poached eggs, smashed avocado, or an amazing omelette. Now that is crucial!" he wrote.

Other 'must-know' skills were how to make a good chicken dish and being able to make a braised dish. The last item on the chef's list was the ability to make an amazing dessert. "It could be a Blondie or a Chocolate Brownie, something you can give as a gift," Ramsay said, noting that giving a food gift allows you to share the moment with a friend or family member.

I agree with most of Ramsay's recommendations, like the ability to cook eggs well and make a delicious dessert, but I might change one or two of the others. The ability to make a spectacular soup would rank higher on my list than a great burger, for example. If you were making a list of items that everyone should be able to cook, what you would put on it?

Photo of Roast chicken with chickpea stuffing and big green salad from Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Home Cooking by Gordon Ramsay

Author of 'The Food Lab' accuses Buzzfeed of "idea theft"

 halal cart style chicken

If you follow J. Kenji López-Alt's Twitter feed, you probably know that he has a serious beef with Buzzfeed's food site, Tasty. In a series of tweets, he claimed that the website had basically stolen his recipe for halal-cart style chicken (pictured above) without giving him any credit for it. "If you watch videos, you are supporting shameless thieves in profiting on the original content of others," he proclaimed. 

López-Alt explained his story to The Independent, noting that while recipes can't be copyrighted, he feels someone shouldn't be allowed to profit off of another's hard work without giving credit to the person or entity that did the research and development. "There's no question of legality here," he told the newspaper, but added that he felt it was more a "question of integrity". He said that when he first contacted Buzzfeed about the striking similarities between his recipe and the recipe found on Tasty, an editor apologized profusely and admitted that it was plagiarism. However, a subsequent email from another editor said that the nearly identical recipes were mere "coincidence".

This isn't the first time Buzzfeed (or other aggregating food websites, for that matter) have been accused of plagiarism. But as noted above, it's not question of copyright infringement, since you can't copyright a list of ingredients or a cooking method. If Buzzfeed had simply provided attribution, noting that the recipe was inspired by his recipe (and possibly providing a link to it), López-Alt said wouldn't have a problem with it. 

Lopez-Alt pointed out how Serious Eats handled a very similar situation. They were testing a waffle iron that had been supplied to them. They also happened to have some stuffing left over from a recipe development project and they decided to see how it would reheat in the waffle iron. It was delicious, so they wondered about what else might also be great to make in the waffle iron. Before embarking on that venture, however, they did a bit of Google research, which led them to the website willitwaffle.com. Instead of ignoring (or stealing) ideas from the site, Serious Eats instead pointed to the site and began a collaboration with it, promoting the Will It Waffle cookbook directly on the Serious Eats site.

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. 

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