Posts Tagged ‘Tyler Florence’

I Resolve to Seek Inspiration

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Literally and figuratively in the eleventh hour (p.m.) of January 1, 2010 I was looking for inspiration. Cooking inspiration, that is. Although I love perusing through cookbooks, even reading them cover to cover sometimes, I rarely use them when I cook. That is, I almost never have a cookbook cracked open on the counter for me to refer to pre-chopping or mid-saute. But when I find myself short on ideas, unable to unearth all the dishes, dinners, meals, and masterpieces in my mind, I turn to my cookbook collection to get the ball rolling.

Seldom bought, mostly given by a publicist, publisher, or t.v. producer, the cookbooks in my collection are a bibliographic timeline of my culinary career. Tonight I flipped through some old favorites: Michel Nischan’s “Taste Pure and Simple,” which he gave to me the first time I ever worked with him a few weeks before the book hit stores; Tyler Florence’s “Tyler’s Ultimate,” which I read cover to cover the night before I worked with him for the first time on The View four years ago; and “Modern Mexican Flavors” by Richard Sandoval, one of the only cookbooks I have bought for myself post-culinary school simply because his food inspires me.

And then I stumbled upon Susan Herrmann Loomis’s “Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin.” The moment I cracked open the book I remembered why I first liked it so very much. It is written the way a cookbook should be – with depth, history, culture, anecdote, and nostalgia. All that, and the recipe writing is meticulous, the techniques tried and true, the French cuisine utterly authentic, AND she offers a wine recommendation with each dish. What a good book! The words and flavors jump off the page and it is as though you are right there with Susan Herrmann Loomis in her Normandy kitchen.

I had the pleasure of meeting the author once several years ago in New York when she was touring for her book. I listened to her talk, watched her cook, and tasted her delectable fare. She inspired me then, and she did again tonight when I landed on page 55 (see excerpt below). May her words inspire us all for a scrumptious 2010!

How to Eat Like the French

I am often asked how the French eat so well, yet look so thin and healthy. Here are some tips I’ve learned:

1. Buy ingredients as close to the source as you can. Go to a farm, a farmer’s market, a shop featuring farm ingredients. Buy organic ingredients whenever you can. They may cost more, but realize that their cost is the real cost of producing food, for most organic farmers don’t get government subsidies.

2. Serve a green salad with lunch and dinner.

3. Serve bread without butter at mealtimes.

4. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

5. Avoid snacking between meals.

6. Always have seasonal fruit available. I often cut up fruit – apples, pears, melons, peaches – when my children are agitating for a meal and I haven’t quite finished preparation.

7. Serve vegetable soup often; it is a delicious and satisfying way to enjoy vegetables.

8. Have a glass of wine with your meal. Wine, particularly red wine, is believed to have health benefits when taken in moderation.

9. Avoid processed foods and soft drinks.

10. Don’t be afraid of your food. If you are comfortable with your food, you will enjoy it more and eat less.

11. Take time at the table so you can enjoy the meal you’ve prepared.

Inside the Mind of a Chef

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Getting inside the mind if a chef isn’t as elusive as it might appear. Thanks to master chef Daniel Boulud, now you can walk right in seven days a week at his new restaurant, DBGB Kitchen & Bar, on the Bowery. Just steps away from what once was CBGB’s, this new venture was designed to be a place that a cook would want to frequent with a menu to match. The menu is eclectic and substantial, ranging from the scrumptious and very modernly presented escargots to matzo ball soup. There is a beer sommelier, a house-made sausage menu, and a hamburger whose garnishes include Daisy May’s pulled pork. Need I say more? Well, maybe I should just mention that they have ice cream sundaes with homemade marshmallows, cookie bites, and mini meringues so fantastical in appearance they put Willy Wonka to shame.

I have had the pleasure of eating there twice so far, most recently Saturday night with my good friend, Tim. Chef Daniel was there, and he came by to say hello (he so generously endorsed Notes on Cooking). We were praising the food and service, of course, but I was most excited to share my husband’s observations with him about the space (Sean and I had eaten there together the week before). As good as the food is at DBGB, the design and decor are even more clever.

Interior of DBGB Kitchen & Bar

Interior of DBGB Kitchen & Bar

When you approach the restaurant, you are confronted with a wall of glass windows, covered in quotes from culinary gods like Brillat-Savarin and Julia Child. As you enter the restaurant, the surrounding walls of mirrored glass in the bar area display more quotes and the extensive menu. Once you enter the main dining room, you are in a giant and handsome charcoal grey dining room that is remarkably light and open. The bright white and stainless steel kitchen is visible through glass and forms an “L” along two walls. Wherever else there is wall space in the room pantry items like kosher salt, matzo meal, and wine are displayed on wooden shelves. The finishing touch that makes the whole concept come together is a full border of copper pots and pans from all the great American and French chefs, a veritable culinary heritage museum. Everyone of Chef Daniel’s friends from Alain Ducasse to Tyler Florence has donated a favorite copper piece to be displayed. It is both thrilling and humbling to walk around the the perimeter of the dining room to admire this cookware and ultimately their owners.

There are other amusing details like bathroom wallpaper – pages of a French cookware catalogue from another century that feature such frivolous items as a jambonniere (a ham-shaped pot to cook…what else?…ham). This type of detail might be lost on those who are ignorant of or uninterested in food history; to them it’s likely just an attractive aesthetic choice. But to those in the know, to a cook like me who lives and breathes this stuff, it was so stimulating. My husband and I absorbed all these details when we first waked into DBGB. As is typical, Sean put it best: “This restaurant is like the inside of a chef’s mind.”

So, I quoted this to Chef Daniel, telling him all the reasons that led us to feel that way. No one had put it that way to him before, he noted, and he loved that way of seeing the space. “I’m going to use that!” he said. Well, just when I thought it was not possible for him to flatter me more…then again, all the credit for articulating that observation goes to Sean!

I can’t wait to get back to DBGB Kitchen & Bar. It is a delectable and authentic journey into the mind of a GREAT chef.