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Monday, August 22, 2011

Chef makes eating fresh, local seem easy

Chef makes eating fresh, local seem easy

Paul Buchanan is one of the city's premier chefs. An educator, culinary consultant and caterer, Buchanan runs Primal Alchemy, which promotes using fresh food, in season, grown locally, whenever possible. You can check it all out on

Q: Growing your own food or buying it at farmers markets is fine for produce, but what if you eat the occasional animal?

A: You can do that locally, too, or at least you can know where it's coming from. We have livestock raised for us by the Buena Park FFA (Future Farmers of America). We recently butchered a 240-pound Red Duroc pig.

Q: You didn't name it, did you?

A: No, of course not. "Pig" is what we called it.

Q: What did you have for breakfast?

A: Let's see ... I had lowfat yogurt with blueberries and granola. I bought the granola from Sconeage Bakery at the farmers market on Sunday. It's a local business.

Q: What's the best farmers market in the area?

A: It used to be the Friday one in downtown, but now it's been taken over by leaps and bounds by the Sunday farmers market at Alamitos Bay Landing behind the Whole Foods.

Q: Do you buy all your produce there?the farmers there. I'm not a health nut, but I want to know where my food comes from.

A: We grow a lot of our produce at gardens around town just for my family - me, my wife and our daughter. But I buy everything that we use in the business mostly at the farmers market. I know and am friends with most of

Q: I've seen some of the tomatoes you grow. They're beautiful, but don't they kind of gang up on you this time of year?

A: They do, but there are things you can do with them when you get too many. I grow about 15 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and several non-hybrid varieties. You can can them, make sauce, dry them. There's nothing easier than making tomato soup.

Q: Easy for you, or easy for me?

A: You just fill up a blender with tomatoes. Just take the stems out and throw them in to the top. Put in a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of kosher salt, three cloves of garlic and set the blender on high for one or two minutes. And after it's smooth, pour a slow stream of olive oil - two tablespoons at the most - down the center of the funnel. All you do then is pour it through a fine strainer to remove the seeds and the skin and you're done. You can make soup in all different colors - red, yellow, orange, green.

Q: Before I forget: Dogs or cats? I mean as a pet, not an ingredient. Or, you can do it as an ingredient if you'd like, but you're gonna get letters from the cat people.

A: I'm a dog person, definitely, for pets. We have a 13-year-old dachshund, a brindle named Ziggy, and we have another dachshund named Dasher.

Q: Labor Day is coming up. If I wanted you to cater it, what would you make?

A: I'd probably go with barbecued chicken chili. Chicken is good, but sometimes it takes too long to grill, so it's good to go with the chili. I'd serve it with sweet corn pudding; the corn is really good right now. Not too much bread, because it's too filling and not that great, unless it's a killer garlic bread, then it's worth it. I just smear some fresh garlic and butter on a good sourdough and grill it. Then, a big salad, or a big platter of heirloom tomatoes with a little basil and sea salt and balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I go to We Olive on Second Street in Belmont Shore and get their peach white balsamic vinegar. For a salad dressing all you need is that, with olive oil and salt and pepper. Maybe some diced shallots, and that's all you need.

Q: You ever just go out and grab a burger somewhere?

A: I'll eat at In-N-Out about once every three or four months. I have steak maybe about as often. Short ribs a little more often. In general, we try to eat better quality. I pay about twice as much for meat than you would at a grocery store, but I only eat about half as much beef as most people, so it comes out about the same.

Q: Where do you do all your cooking for catering?

A: My kitchen is at 19 39th Place. Anyone can come by. If the curtains are open, we're there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

'MasterChef' axes chef after failure to replicate Gordon Ramsay dish

'MasterChef' axes chef after failure to replicate Gordon Ramsay dish
By Lara Martin

Ben Starr has been eliminated from theMasterChef kitchen.

The travel writer from Dallas, TX lost his chance to scoop the $250,000 prize and title of 'MasterChef' on Tuesday night's episode of the Fox competition.

Ben had started the episode on a high, winning the Mystery Box challenge with a shepherd's pie that Gordon Ramsay called "delicious". The Mystery Box ingredients had included ground pork, ground veal, ground beef, vegetables, potato and rice, and Gordon admitted that he had never had a shepherd's pie made with veal until now.

Adrien and Jennifer were also in the top three for the Mystery Box challenge. The former made three different meatballs with three different sauces, although the judges thought it was too salty, and the latter made a meatloaf with roasted corn and homemade ketchup.

Ben's prize for winning the Mystery Box was to choose which dish personally created by Gordon the cooks would replicate in the elimination challenge. As an added advantage, he could ask Gordon three questions about the dish that would help his cooking, while the other chefs would have to cook without a recipe. He chose for the contestants to cook roasted loin of venison.

Unfortunately for Ben, he was forced to admit he "squandered his advantage" when he served an overcooked venison. Graham said: "This is a far cry from Chef Ramsay's dish and it's a shame to see a beautiful animal and a lovely cut go to waste."

Christian, Jennifer and Adrien were also criticized for their offerings. Christian's venison was too peppery and not the star of the dish, while Jennifer overcooked her meat, and Adrien was so unhappy with his dish he told the panel there were "no excuses" and apologized to Chef Ramsay for wrecking his signature creation.

Suzy, however, fared much better, despite earlier admitting she's never cooked or tasted venison before. She was named the winner for her well thought-out dish that was the closest to what Gordon had presented.

Jennifer, Adrien and Christian scooped the remaining places in the final four, meaning Ben was sent home. Before eliminating him, Gordon said the judges had "truly thought" he had a shot of making the final two or three.

Gordon said: "Your excitement and enthusiasm is legendary. You have a career in this industry and you have to take that and reach for the stars."

Before exiting, Ben predicted that Adrien would win MasterChef. He later said: "This has been a life changing experience for me and ultimately I go home with happiness and incredible friendship and such intense education because cooking is my life and I'm walking away from this whole experience much the richer for having spent the last few weeks of my life here at MasterChef."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is it OK to breastfeed in restaurants?

Is it OK to breastfeed in restaurants?

by Michael Bauer

“That crying baby is really annoying,” I heard someone say at newly refurbished Dosa on Valencia earlier this week. “Why do people bring babies to restaurants?”

I followed the sound and looked over to the middle of the room to see the originator of the noise; instead saw the mother expose her breast and feed the baby. The baby quieted immediately and the woman went on talking to her dining companions.

I was surprised, and admiring, of the young mother’s seeming lack of self- consciousness. She made no attempt to hide the process, even when the waiter came over to take the order. Every once in a while I saw someone look her way, eyes widening as they took in what was going on.

It made me contemplate our public mores and my own surprised reaction. Most states, including California, have laws that allow mothers to breast feed in public. It’s certainly not a legal issue, though in some areas breast-feeding mothers will be cited for indecent exposure or public nuisance. It becomes more a conflict between the rights of the mother and the comfort of some diners.

It’s easy to dismiss this as the diner’s problem, but living in society is all about getting along, which entails compromise and looking out for others. As we’ve seen with the recent actions of Congress, compromise isn’t easy to achieve.

I may be offended by that woman in her purple and yellow outfit, or that man with the plumber’s butt hanging over the seat, but it’s their right to wear what they want. Is it the same with breast feeding?

Trying to dig deeper into the issue, I went on line and discovered that this is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and last week was World Breast Feeding Week. recently did its second annual survey of 1,600 women and found that 44 percent of women feel uncomfortable with public breastfeeding.

So what do you think? Please weigh in.

I know one thing: Seeing the mother breastfeeding was better than listening to a crying baby.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chefs, culinary students bake birthday cake for 1000 at state fair

Chefs, culinary students bake birthday cake for 1000 at state fair
by Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS — Students in the UAF culinary arts department have been baking and frosting about 30 square feet of sheet cakes to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Tanana Valley State Fair today.

I dropped in on them Thursday afternoon at the UAF Community and Technical College kitchen in Hutchison High School. Instructor Luis Martinez figures the completed cake will contain about 50 pounds of flour and more than a smidgen of sugar in the rolled fondant icing. The kitchen brigade featured nearly a baker’s dozen of helpers this week.

The eight sheet cakes are on individual pieces of cardboard topped by gold foil for ease of slicing and dicing. That is important when you try to serve 1,000 to 1,200 small pieces in a short period of time.

In the center of the sheet cakes, there will be a carousel. The fair theme will be expanded to the sheet cakes with decorations representing fair staples such as fireworks and giant cabbages.

The Midnight Sun Chefs Association, a local chapter of the American Culinary Federation, and students from the culinary arts and hospitality program have been working on the cake all week.

It is to be served about 2 p.m. today after a ribbon cutting and dedication of the new Usibelli Stage.


TIMELY ITEMS: The time capsule at the state fair, a hefty container provided by Hector’s Welding, will be buried about 2:30 p.m. today as part of the opening day festivities.

Twenty years from now, when the Tanana Valley State Fair turns 100, here is some of what should be inside when the time capsule is opened.

Expect lots of fair documents, including the land purchase agreement, a 2011 fair schedule and poster, a 50th anniversary cookbook, a photo of the fair board and staff and exhibit guides from years gone by.

There also will be fair T-shirts, a GVEA shirt, a North Pole shirt, a Donut Man shirt, a borough pin, a North Pole coin, a folder from the Breast Cancer Detection Center, a Usibelli Coal Mine paperweight, a folder from Joel’s Place and a Glee Notebook autographed by Lauren Potter, an actress on the show.

There are several letters to the future. The authors include Fair General Manager Randi Carnahan, Sen. Mark Begich and the three local mayors.

Jan Mitchell Weaver has included a detailed fair scrapbook that covers the years 1970-1988, along with a letter asking that these be given to her daughter.

Fair Operations Manager Annette Gerlitz has written a letter to her son, Elijah David Gerlitz, and Carnahan also has written a letter to her children.

There is a vendor apron from Aunt Linda’s Funnel Cakes and another from Denali Cream Puffs, along with a letter to the future. A third vendor apron represents the Patty Wagon. There are photos of owner Don Burt, who was preparing the wagon for its 41st year at the fair.

There is an autographed copy of Miles Martin’s book, “Going Wild,” a food inspection certificate for Machos Nachos and information on Tim Welby’s history with the fair. Vendors Jeff and Nancy Anderson provided a rubber pork chop on a stick, which is sure to confuse people in the future.

Someone 20 years from now may remember the daily printed form of a newspaper, as the July 31 edition of the Daily News-Miner is included in the package.

There are two CDs, one from KUAC-FM and one from the KIAK-FM morning crew of Pete, Kathryn and the Cruiser. Anyone want to take a guess if there will be CD players in 20 years?

I’m guessing that someone in 2031 will know enough about ancient technology to enjoy what Pete Van Nort, JB Carnahan (aka The Cruiser) and Kathryn Harris had to say way back in 2011.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eating healthy food costs more money in US

Eating healthy food costs more money in US

By Anna Yukhananov

Eating healthier food can add almost 10 percent to the average American's food bill -- and that is just to boost a single nutrient like potassium.

Researchers from the University of Washington looked at the economic impact of following new U.S. dietary guidelines, which recommend eating more potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium, and avoiding saturated fat and added sugar.

The diet recommendations try to fight rising rates of obesity in the United States, but the study findings underline some of the obstacles to adopting new habits.

In an article in Health Affairs published on Thursday, the researchers reported that eating more potassium, the most expensive of the four nutrients, can add $380 to the average person's yearly food costs.

Americans spend about $4,000 on food each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At the same time, getting more calories from saturated fat and sugar reduces overall food costs, the study said.

Pablo Monsivais, acting assistant professor at the University of Washington and one of the study's authors, said the government should consider the economic impact of food guidelines.

"We know that dietary guidelines aren't making a bit of difference in what we eat and our health overall," he said. "And I think one missing piece is that they have to be economically relevant."

"They emphasize certain foods without much regard for which ones are more affordable."

More than one-third of children and two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.

In the study, the authors collected questionnaires on the typical eating habits of 1,123 people in King County, Washington, and calculated how much each diet cost based on retail food prices in three local supermarkets.

However, they did not factor in costs for food bought outside grocery stores, such as fast food -- which would likely increase the food cost for each person.

The study also found that it is more expensive to eat more dietary fiber and vitamin D, and that people with higher average incomes were more likely to eat healthier food.

Monsivais said when talking about eating more fruits and vegetables, the government should also mention the most cut-price options. For examples, bananas and potatoes are the cheapest sources of potassium.

"(Guidelines) should tell people where you get the most bang for your buck," he said. "By putting the economic dimension on dietary guidelines, it would be very helpful for those on the economic margins, but also for everyone ... trying to save money in the current economy."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Grilled Cheese Should Be Made by Moms, Not Restaurants

Grilled Cheese Should Be Made by Moms, Not Restaurants

My heart sank a little when I read about a new restaurant franchise opening this month in San Francisco. Called the Melt, and founded by Jonathan Kaplan, the inventor of the Flip camera, it promises aerated soups and grilled-cheese sandwiches that you can order ahead of time via a smart-phone app. It's a great idea, like finding a soul mate in a strip club, or electing a government that can simultaneously protect the interests of 300 million people. But like those things, this restaurant concept will never work out. The very qualities that drew Kaplan to grilled cheese — its elemental character, its universal familiarity — are the very things that will be missing from the Melt.

The grilled-cheese sandwich may be the most perfect of all American foods. I say this with all due respect to the hamburger, pit barbecue, chocolate pudding, fried chicken and any number of other native wonders. I will even go so far as to say that it is my favorite food. But of course, I'm not alone in this. It's everybody's favorite food. That's why Kaplan wants to make it the centerpiece of his new venture, which he told me will be an "amazing fast-casual restaurant experience" that appeals to our nostalgia for this particular sandwich and its ability to make people happy.
But the problem with a restaurant serving grilled cheese is that the sandwich is too simple. It has three elements — white bread, American cheese and margarine — which are generally held in low esteem by the sandwich-buying public even though these ingredients come together in an amazing bite, simultaneously crisp and soft, double-buttery and starchy sweet, lush and delicate. Who could object to that? But as the judges recently told another aspiring grilled-cheese franchiser on America's Next Great Restaurant, to carry the weight of a restaurant concept, the sandwich needs to have what entrepreneurs call "added value": something that will make it worthwhile to the consumer to seek it out instead of just making it at home. 

So, inevitably, the white bread gets swapped out for some fancier, coarser, denser substance that will obscure and distort the sandwich's taste. The American cheese, whose supernatural meltability, evenness and quick-setting viscosity make the whole thing possible, gets replaced with waxy, greasy cheddar, smoked Gouda or whatever; and the thin, even coat of fat, which suffuses the delicate airiness of the white bread, gets tinkered with as well.

"Our technology allows us to make the sandwich with very little fat," Kaplan proudly told me the other day. As if that were a good thing! He also claims to have idiot-proofed the grilled-cheese sandwich, using nonstick silicone-coated sandwich presses that can crust up a sandwich in less than a minute, while at the same time shooting microwaves into its interiors, melting the cheese at a rate calculated by Cray supercomputers to coincide with the browning time.

The cooking technology sounds promising enough. The truth is there aren't enough skilled short-order cooks to make the sandwich well. I've spent a lifetime drunkenly pleading with or threatening inept cooks who couldn't be bothered to butter the bread or to brown a grilled cheese evenly. But regardless of whether Kaplan's high-tech panini presses can get their part right, the Melt, which is planning on doing a huge takeout business, will still have to wrap the things up. And that will almost certainly kill them even deader than cheddar cheese and nine-grain bread will.
Grilled-cheese sandwiches can't be wrapped up. That's why they are a dream of home life, an idyll of childhood. Someone (your mom) has to make them, put them on a plate and serve them immediately. The sandwich is only good for three minutes, and can't last even one second once it's been wrapped in any kind of container. The Melt will use unbleached paper, but that won't help — even if the sandwich were placed in a box equipped with a dozen tiny exhaust fans, I have trouble believing it would not steam itself to death, because, really, what is a grilled cheese but the quintessence of everything lightest and crispiest in our cooking? The violence done by wrapping it in paper or plastic or tin foil is almost sadistic; you might as well just pour a glass of water on the thing, and then throw it against a wall, before bashing your own head against it in frustration.

Of course, your mom would never do that to a sandwich. She doesn't care about the faux-progressive ingredients, the added value, the canned nostalgia or the need for speed. All she wants is to make it taste good and for you to eat it. If that moment and the meal it represents could be bought and sold, that really would be an amazing fast-casual experience. But fast-casual experiences, by definition, aren't amazing. And perfect foods don't get better when you change them.

Josh Ozersky is a James Beard Award—winning food writer and the author of The Hamburger: A History. He is currently at work on a biography of Colonel Sanders. Taste of America, Ozersky's food column for, appears every Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monroeville Restaurant Ban on Kids Sparks Predictable Reactions
The restaurant has banned kids under 6. For us, it should have been age 10.
By Kelly Burgess

The news that McDain's Restaurant in Monroeville is banning kids under age 6 spread like wildfire, making the national news and talk show forums such as the RidicuList on CNN's Anderson Cooper, and sparking predictable reactions about discrimination.
Feedback seems to be pretty mixed, with some people welcoming the move and others pointing out that there are plenty of rude/obnoxious/smelly/whatever adults as well.  
This has been a hot topic in our household as well as we reminisced about not being able to go to a restaurant any more upscale thanMcDonald's until our oldest son was 10 or so.
No matter what we did, what distractions we employed, what threats we used, he always became restless and disruptive in restaurants. Our other two were fine from a very early age.
The thing is, at least we recognized that going to a restaurant wouldn't work with him. It's parents who don't seem to notice their child is crawling under my table or throwing mashed potatoes who are the problem.
My husband and I have both been to McDain's a number of times. Our youngest son used to belong to a theater group out that way, and we'd drop him off at his group, go hit a few golf balls (McDain's is also a driving range) and have dinner.
The owner is right. It is an adult atmosphere and not for very young kids.
We've definitely had our share of bad dining experiences having to do with children misbehaving in restaurants, but kids can be wild anywhere.
Recently, I did a story on fireworks safety and visited our local fireworks stand. While I was walking around looking at the merchandise, two little boys were careening up and down the aisles, screaming and punching each other and bumping into the other customers. Meanwhile, their mom and dad shopped, completely oblivious to the havoc they were wreaking.
A few days before that, my husband, son and I were at a rather upscale restaurant in Ohio and the two children at the table behind us were so loud we could hardly hear each other talk. It was the parents and grandparents who were the problem.
The parents, apparently wanting to show off their children's amazing recall, had them singing the "Fifty, Nifty United States" as well as math songs and "how many days in the month" songs at the top of their lungs until we were longing for earplugs. And the check.
Their relatives thought it was cute, but it was beyond annoying to those of us who were not actually related to those children. I also would like to add here that the son who was with me is known for his amazing voice, but I certainly would not ask him to start belting out something from my favorite musical while other people were trying to eat.
Not that he would have if I had asked anyway. He's 17 now, old enough to realize that's not appropriate restaurant behavior. Also, old enough to get annoyed when the small children at the next table are so disruptively loud. So, they do grow out of it, but it's up to us parents to keep them home, or just dedicate ourselves to kid-friendly places like McDonald's until they do.
Recipe: English Muffin Pizzas
As we reminisced about some of the crazy stuff our kids did when they were little, it prompted our kids to also start talking about some of the "kid food" we used to make that we hadn't even really thought of in years.
This was one of my daughter's favorites, and she said she wished we still made them. They're so easy and versatile and can be made for a quick lunch, a quick dinner, or by the babysitter while mom and dad go to a nice restaurant.  Let the kids help. They love to do so and are more apt to eat something they make themselves.
  • English muffins, at least one per child
  • Pasta sauce or pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of choice, such as vegetables, sliced olives, cooked meat, pepperoni, sausage, etc. If you like it, you can put it on a pizza.
  1. Preheat broiler
  2. Split English muffins with a fork (you can toast them first, but don't need to)
  3. Spread each half with pasta sauce
  4. Top with favorite toppings
  5. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese
  6. Broil for about 2 minutes until cheese is melted

Monday, August 1, 2011

El Bulli: World's best restaurant serves its final meal

El Bulli: World's best restaurant serves its final meal

On the final menu on Saturday were 50 dishes with intriguing names such as Clam Meringue, Olive Spheres and Hot Cold Gin Fizz.
For 14 of the 24 years that the virtuoso chef Ferran Adria has been in charge of its kitchen, the restaurant has maintained the almost unattainable Michelin three-star status and been rated the world's best restaurant five times by British magazine The Restaurant.
After a final dinner and drinks party for faithful clients and staff families, Mr Adria will close down the restaurant and begin turning it into a top level cuisine foundation he hopes to open in 2014.
"People think I should be sad but I feel the happiest man in the world," said Mr Adria. "El Bulli is not closing. It's just transforming."
He himself was not sitting at a table for dinner on the final night. Instead, as usual, he was in the kitchen, cooking.
El Bulli's location in a beautiful and isolated seaside cove on Spain's far north-eastern tip inspired Mr Adria, who started off as a hotel dishwasher, to think about the essence of what makes food taste delicious, prompting him to deconstruct ingredients to what he calls the molecular level. He would then reconstruct each dish using unexpected recombinations of the original components, presenting them in mouthful-sized portions.
Most required instructions on how to eat them, sometimes with bare hands. Food took on unexpected shapes, textures and temperatures as the chef used liquid nitrogen to produce vegetable or fruit foam, airy, ethereal reincarnations of solid food, combining seaweed and tea, or caviar with jellied apples.
His bunuelo de llebre is a small ball with an external surface of chilled delicate pastry that conceals "hot liquid hare which you must bite into with your lips closed", enabling its caramel-like taste to explode inside your mouth.
The restaurant's average price of €270 (Dh1,427) per head - not including drinks, tax or tips - was another of its distinctive features.
The restaurant had more than a million reservation requests every year. It seated only 50 and opened just for dinner, and usually for only six months a year.
Mr Adria used the other six months to travel the world in search of ideas and then to conceive and painstakingly practise preparing dishes that have astounded gastronomy critics and dedicated foodies alike.
"El Bulli will be opening again, just not for reservations," said Mr Adria at a farewell press conference in the rock garden outside his restaurant surrounded by dozens of colleagues, former and current. Among them were some of the most famous chefs to come out of the restaurant - Rene Redzepi of Denmark and Grant Achatz of Chicago.
"For me the spirit of this place has always been its freedom," said Mr Redzepi, adding that "the courage and bravery" with which they work in his Noma restaurant "came from here. It was like finding a treasure".
Four of the world's top five chefs trained at the restaurant, which takes is named from a pet bulldog owned by the German couple who first established a restaurant in the Cala Montjoi cove in the late 1950s.
"I thought that I knew cooking," said Mr Achatz, who now runs two restaurants, Alinea and Next, both considered among the leading lights in molecular gastronomy in the US. "When I arrived here and walked into the kitchen for the first time [12 years ago] I felt I was on another planet."
Achatz, like others, highlighted Mr Adria's daring and insistence on constantly breaking new ground.
"When I came here, cuisine in America was very stale. Everyone was following each other. So to see someone taking risks, expressing themselves through real food - it lights a fire."
Back in the US "it was very exciting to watch that seed grow and watch it spread over the country," he said. At 49, Mr Adria said he and his crew need to replenish their inspiration to come up with something new. 
"There comes a time for change in everything so that we can maintain creativity," he said.
He added that the foundation "will create every day" and present its findings free to the world online. Last year, Mr Adria acknowledged that El Bulli was struggling financially, but on Saturday he flatly denied that it was closing for financial reasons.
His biographer Colman Andrews said that while the restaurant may have lost money, Mr Adria made substantial amounts through books, conferences and side businesses that depended on his name and that of the restaurant.
Besides functioning as a think-tank and laboratory with the best chefs and food experts from around the world, Mr Adria said the new establishment would be open for visits to everyone, from multinational executives to school children. He said it would also be organising benefit meals for charities and non-governmental organisations.
Although the premises may be closing to the public, Mr Adria said he would not be stopping.
"With things as they are, with the economic crisis, it would be a total lack of respect to take holidays," he said.
Mr Adria's immediate plans are to travel, spreading the Bulli word with trips to China, Peru and the United States, where he will give classes at Harvard.
He said serious work on the foundation will begin next January although he hopes to make an important announcement in October in Madrid.
At the news conference, Mr Adria was presented with a giant-sized white nougat sculpture of a bulldog, in memory of the "bulli" - a local Catalan word - that inspired a name that is now legendary in the culinary firmament.
Ferran Adria, the chef of El Bulli restaurant, celebrates with his team in Cala Montjoi, near Roses in Catalonia, on Saturday. The world-renowned and award-winning restaurant will be closed down until 2014 when it will open as a culinary research centre, the El Bulli Foundation.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Miami Spice Brings Affordable Fine Dining To The Magic City

Miami Spice Brings Affordable Fine Dining To The Magic City

Miami Spice Runs From Aug. 1 - Sept. 30

Grab a friend and your appetite for another one of South Florida’s mouth-watering restaurant promotion events.
Miami Spice will kick off its annual Summer event which provides delicious deals at some of the Miami’s best restaurants.
Foodies all over South Florida have been waiting for the 10th annual Miami Spice to begin and now it’s almost here.
Miami Spice begins August 1st and runs for two months until September 30th.
During those two months, diners can enjoy mouth-watering three-course, $22 lunches and $35 dinners at more than 130 participating restaurants across Miami-Dade County.

Freegans go Dumpster dining at Trader Joe's

Freegans go Dumpster dining at Trader Joe's

A new documentary about food waste could dampen grocery chain Trader Joe’scrunchy image.
"Dive" illustrates the waste of wholesome food by following a group of “Dumpster divers,” people who mine trash bins for usable products. In the film, the divers are not homeless or even particularly poor; they just don't like to see good food go to waste, and they like to get stuff for free.
“In the United States, even our trash cans are filled with food; you just have to go get it,” director Jeremy Seifert says during the film’s opening sequence.
The “freegan” divers – Seifert, his wife, Jennifer, and a bunch of their friends – discover large quantities of fresh meat, vegetables and fruit in bins behind a couple of Trader Joe’s stores in the Los Angeles area. Seifert is appalled that so much food that is not spoiled and not past its freshness date is being discarded.

But Seifert says the target of his film is wastefulness, not Trader Joe’s.
“In our consumerism we‘ve become wasteful,” he told CNN. “And I try to bring it back on us because of the food waste in the home.”
A typical household of two adults and two children loses $600 in food per year through spoilage and mishandling, University of Arizona professor Timothy Jones estimates.
Still, “I don’t get mad at people when they don’t think about food waste, because I didn’t think about food waste,” said Seifert, 34, who holds a master’s degree fromFuller Theological Seminary.
“I didn’t think about food waste until I started eating trash.”
That began when some friends brought food they had pulled from a bin behind a store.
“Half of it was inedible and half of it was amazing,” he said.
“Dive” is Seifert’s first film. The 53-minute documentary cost $200 and innumerable hours to make as he taught himself how to edit video, he said. Gaps in the video storytelling are filled in with animated graphics and long stretches of archival stock footage. It has won awards at 21 film festivals and was released July 19th on DVD and through Netflix and iTunes.
Seifert said egregious waste occurs at most grocery stores, but Trader Joe’s bins simply were more accessible. Some food gets donated to food banks, but not nearly enough, he said.
“Trader Joe’s are doing a pretty damn good job, and doing a lot better job than a lot of other stores,” he said.
“This is like a family quarrel. I like Trader Joe’s. I shop there. I Dumpster dive there. And I want them to do better. So I’m not really trying to go after them or harshly criticize them, I just want them to do better.”
Seifert has started a petition on demanding that Trader Joe’s make zero waste a part of its corporate identity.
The petition, which had garnered nearly 77,000 signatures by Tuesday morning, is unnecessary, said Matt Sloan, Trader Joe’s vice president of marketing.
The company works with each of its more than 250 stores to arrange with local food banks and other charities for daily pickups of food the stores don’t plan to sell or aren’t able to sell, Sloan said. The program isn’t perfectly executed, but there is a program, and it’s not optional, he said.
“In 2010, Trader Joe's donated more than 25 million pounds of food – that's equal to almost 656 truckloads of food or 20 million meals,” the privately owned chain’s website says.
“Trader Joe's long-running policy is to donate products that are not fit for sale but are safe for consumption,” it goes on. “Each store has a designated Donation Coordinator, whose responsibilities include working with local food banks, food pantries, and/or soup kitchens in their communities to facilitate donations, seven days a week.
“We continuously strive to improve our processes in our efforts to reduce food waste and provide hunger relief.”
Even so, the chain has no national donation agreement with Feeding America, the network to which most food banks belong, said Feeding America spokesman Ross Fraser.
“Nearly every other retailer has a donation arrangement with us - Wal-mart, Sam’s, Kroger, Target, Food Lion, and just about any other grocery chain you can think of,” Fraser added. Feeding America rescues nearly half a billion pounds of fresh food yearly, and most of that comes from Wal-mart, Fraser said.
Given Trader Joe’s carefully cultivated progressive image, many customers are pained to learn of waste at any Trader Joe’s store.
“They have such an earthy feel, they feel so funky, and I would think they would want to do something more about it,” Deborah Buczarski told CNN.
“Now when I go in there and I see them pulling all this stuff off the shelves, I know what they’re doing with it,” she said.
Buczarski, a librarian in Santa Ana, California, said Trader Joe’s may have a policy, but it needs to make sure whoever is responsible for coordinating a store’s food donations actually has the time and resources to do it.
“The change would have to come down from the top. Allow them some time to do this, some leeway,” she said.
“Trader Joe's is my favorite store so I really hope you will step up to this important task,” petition signer Cheri Acita wrote on “PLEASE help fight hunger and stop your waste of food. It is very sad to know about this because I love all you stand for.”
In 2010, about 5.7 million people came to food banks seeking help, Feeding America’s Fraser said.
“We need every morsel of food we can get at this point,” Fraser said.
“It’s very common that we simply run out of food before everyone standing in line gets what they need.”
He acknowledged that individual Trader Joe’s stores regularly donate to local food banks, but Feeding America would prefer a nationwide plan.
“If they’d like to work with us, we’d be delighted to work with them,” he said.
“It’s about more than not wasting food,” Seifert says in the film. “It’s about making sure everyone has enough to eat.”