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Ina Garten's posh new kitchen

Ina GartenWe've all seen Ina Garten whipping up fabulous dishes in her spacious East Hampton kitchen. Now the television show host and prolific cookbook author has another grand kitchen, this time in her new apartment in New York City.

Ina and Jeffrey recently purchased the two-bedroom unit on the Upper East Side for $4.65 million. The real estate listing describes the kitchen as being "perfect for an enthusiastic cook." Ina definitely qualifies for that description. 

The sleek kitchen features white cabinetry, a professional-grade gas range, and a cozy, marble-topped eat-in island. It's not difficult to imagine Ina saying "how easy is that?" in her elegant new digs.

How chefs are tackling the cause of hunger

Tom ColicchioAs chefs have become more and more well known to the public, thanks in part to television shows like Top Chef and Chopped, they've started to use their celebrity status to promote causes that are important to them. One of the most prominent causes shared by many in the profession is hunger. It's a natural fit, as it deals with their stock in trade. Edible Manhattan showcases the efforts of several celebrity chefs who are vocal anti-hunger activists.

For decades, chefs and restaurants would participate in fundraisers for charitable groups in their communities. More recently, chefs like Tom Colicchio and Bill Telepan have been using their newly minted celebrity status to speak out on a national and global level to policymakers and others. They are appearing on talk shows, lobbying their elected officials, and writing opinion pieces for major publications.Inspired by Ingredients

This activism isn't surprising, says Edible Manhattan: "It's expected that chefs, the rock stars of our time, get involved in the issues of the day like many celebrities-and nothing hits closer to home to someone who cooks for a living than imagining a life without good food." Not everyone is on board with chefs becoming so vocal. In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Julie Kelly argued that because of the problems with low wages in the restaurant industry, chefs shouldn't claim a moral high ground on the issue of hunger. 

After calling Colicchio out by name, Kelly received a lot of backlash from supporters of chef activism. One such defender is Kevin Concannon, who spent eight years as President Obama's chief of the nation's nutrition programs. "When chefs weigh in, they are rightly viewed as experts on the importance of food in all of our lives," he says. 

Chef and author Michel Richard dies at 68

Michel RichardMichel Richard, the innovative chef who successfully blended French and American cuisine and helped to put Washington, DC on the map as a culinary destination, died yesterday at age 68. Longtime associate and spokeswoman Mel Davis said that the chef suffered complications from a stroke.

Richard's first DC restaurants, Citronelle and Central, helped create a genre of French cuisine interpreted by American sensibilities. Citronelle was one of the first upscale restaurants to feature an open kitchen, where the chef and his staff prepared food in full view of diners.

Richard found inspiration in everyday foods, "borrowing elements from Kentucky Fried Chicken, potato chips and candy bars for his daring style of cooking." His use of crispy ingredients like nuts, chips, and puffed rice earned Richard the nickname of "Captain Crunch."

In 2007, he received the James Beard Award as the country's outstanding chef. Richard wrote three cookbooks, all popular with EYB Members: Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, The Art of Eating Michel Richards Home Cooking With a French Accent, and Sweet Magic: Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts.

VH1 to launch new food-themed reality show

Snoop Dogg & Martha Stewart 

Yesterday we learned that VH1 has ordered a new food themed program starring Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg. Tentatively titled "Martha & Snoop's Dinner Party," the unscripted show will feature the duo hosting a dinner party for celebrity guests. It's scheduled to premiere this fall on VH1. 

While a team comprised of Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg might seem unusual, it's not the first time the two have worked together. Snoop has been a guest on Martha's talk show (see screenshot above), they recently appeared together on ABC's "100,000 Pyramid,"and both were featured in the comedy roast of Justin Bieber. 

It looks like the show will have some type of competition. In a press release, Stewart announced that "'Martha & Snoop's Dinner Party' will redesign the traditional food competition shows in a new, different and very funny way." Snoop Dogg added, "My homegirl, Martha and I have a special bond that goes back. We're gonna be cooking, drinking and having a good time with our exclusive friends."

Watch the video of Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart making brownies and rapping about baked goods on Stewart's show.

Why the GBBO is so successful


Classic chocolate fudge sandwich cake

As the Great British Bakeoff enters its seventh season, it remains one of the most popular shows in the UK. When the show first premiered, no one could have predicted that it would become such a phenomenal success, but its popularity is evidenced not only by the continued high ratings, but also by the dozens of bestselling cookbooks from the contestants and creators. Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood talk with The Guardian about the keys to the show's continued success.

While the show has drama, it's not the type of mean-spirited competition evidenced by other reality shows. Says Berry, "It appeals to children, grannies, workers, everybody, because it's gentle." This is not to say that the contestants aren't serious about winning. Hollywood notes that as the program gets bigger, the participants want to challenge each other to be the best baker in the show's trademark tent. 

The GBBO's influence can be measured by more than the number of viewers or cookbooks it produces. Stores have noted an increase in the sales of flour and cooking chocolate as each new season premieres. The show has inspired people to bake more at home, especially young people. But as the show becomes ever more popular, the number of applicants to the program is actually shrinking. People have seen the level of competition increase, and think they may not have the skills necessary to compete. There are still plenty of hopefuls, however, so the new season should continue to please.

Cooking advice from Lidia Bastianich

Lidia Bastianich

EYB Members love Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's many cookbooks. In addition to writing several books, Bastianich has been a regular contributor to the PBS cooking show lineup since 1998, including her most recent series, 'Lidia's Italy'. Viewers of her program often ask her what is the one thing they can do to improve their cooking. Since teaching people to become better home cooks is one of her biggest passions, Bastianich is happy to answer this question. She recently shared 7 tips for becoming a better home cook.

Number one on her list: respecting the seasons. Fruits and vegetables purchased from local producers in season have the best flavor, are more affordable, and can offer better nutrition. Another important principle that she adheres to is adding flavor at the end of the cooking process. "We all love the flavor of butter and olive oil in our foods, and we usually begin the cooking process with them. But to maximize that flavor, save most of the butter or oil to add at the end of the cooking process since heat dissipates flavor," she says.

Keeping an eye on temperature is also key, as the level of heat often affects the final texture of the dish. Bastianich, like many chefs, extols the virtues of a good cooking thermometer. The article provides a few other tidbits, offered with Bastianich's signature saying: "Tutti a tavola a mangiare: Everyone to the table to eat!"

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.

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