Chefs

Winter Salad Wonderland: 6 Winter Salads for Delicious Clean Eating

We’ve been celebrating foods both comforting and clean this month, and we hope by now you’ve come to realize that both brands of cuisine are equally delicious. While we cannot wait for the arrival of spring and all the ingredients that will bring, winter has its own bounty, from root vegetables to perennially healthful kale. Thanks to these ingredients, winter salads have a personality all their own – plus, they’re good for you. Here are six to try this winter while you’re keeping it clean.

Crossroads, Los Angeles, California
You won’t be surprised to learn that plant-forward pioneer and chef Tal Ronnen serves salads at his forward thinking vegan hotspot. But you may be surprised to know they’re even available at brunch. The classic Chopped Salad is a medley of persimmons, cool-weather fave kohlrabi, pumpkin leaves, apples, purple radish, pomegranate seeds, Marcona almonds, and white balsamic vinaigrette. If you vowed to start your day in a veggie kind of way, this one’s for you. Pro tip: It’s gluten free! Make a reservation at Crossroads.

Winter Salads

Left Bank, New York, New York
No discussion of winter salads can ever be complete without mentioning the rock star veggie that is the Brussels sprout, and thanks to Left Bank’s guest-favorite salad, this will not be the exception. Chef Laurence Edelman shaves raw Brussels sprouts and tosses them with radicchio, hazelnuts, and Pecorino. They are then napped with Olivar SANTAMARIA olive oil and lemon for a dish that’s rich in vitamins C and K. Make a reservation at Left Bank.

Winter Salads

Glen Ellen Star, Glen Ellen, California
If we lived in Glen Ellen, we’d resolve to eat this every day. Executive chef-owner Ari Weiswasser combines the bitter with the sweet for a salad to remember. The Winter Chicories Salad delivers a canvas of hearty chicory adorned with Bartlett pears, Vadouvan-spiced nuts for crunch, and rich and creamy Roquefort dressing – all for just $15. Make a reservation at Glen Ellen Star.

Winter SaladsContinue Reading

Experts Predict the Top Restaurant Industry Trends for 2016

 

Restaurant Trends for 2016

It’s a new year, and there’s no shortage of new challenges and opportunities for the restaurant industry. From minimum wage hikes and tech innovations to guests’ evolving tastes and preferences, it seems restaurants are constantly breaking new ground to stay current in an ever-competitive landscape.

We asked some of the top chefs, restaurateurs, and experts in the industry to share their predictions for restaurants in the year ahead. Here are the restaurant industry trends for 2016 that they expect to see in food, drinks, business, and beyond (and take a look back at last year’s predictions to see where experts got it right).

BUSINESS BREAKTHROUGHS

Eamon Rockey“We will see the ground-up restructuring of restaurants as we know it. There are major changes ahead for restaurants legislatively, and with technology, labor, tipping, etc., restaurants will have to rethink operations and how they take care of their customers across the board.”

— Eamon Rockey, General Manager, Betony

Laws and regulations have never been more important to the restaurant industry, changing the way businesses fundamentally operate. Kevin Boehm, Co-Founder of Boka Restaurant Group, predicts that 2016 will be an experimental year for the economic framework for restaurants. “From increased kitchen pay to tipping structures to the inevitable menu cost inflation, we will all be keeping a close eye on what works and what doesn’t,” he says.

Maureen Cushing, Director of IT at Union Square Hospitality Group, says that identifying back-of-house efficiencies will be a major priority for her team in the coming year.

Maureen Cushing“We are always looking for ways to control costs. Scheduling software is something we implemented in 2015, and integrating it with real-time data to control payroll expenses is a focus for 2016. Purchasing software is critical, but the challenge of all businesses is maintaining the recipes for accurate costs.”

— Maureen Cushing, Director of IT, Union Square Hospitality Group

Anthony Rudolf, Founder of Journee, a community for restaurant professionals, sees a future of gratitude over gratuity. “Service included is here to stay,” he says. “That’s a great thing! While guests may be resistant at first, once they understand that the perceived power of tipping was only an illusion, they will realize that leaving behind their gratitude instead of their gratuity is far more satisfying and productive to everyone. Even more so is honest feedback provided in the moment, whether positive or negative.”

Sabato Sagaria, Chief Restaurant Officer at Union Square Hospitality Group, agrees that tipping is on its way out.

As the cost of doing business continues to rise around the country, the traditional model of tipping will further fuel the disparity between dining room teams/culinary teams and make it more of a financial hardship to enter into management,” he predicts. “As a result, more restaurants at varying price points will shift to an all-inclusive pricing model in order to fairly compensate the ENTIRE team, in turn providing more inspiration for others to follow and bring us one year closer to saying… ‘Remember when we used to tip?'”

ADVOCACY

Erin Fairbanks“We’re gonna get more political! 2016 will be a huge election cycle and so many of the core policy issues facing the restaurant industry are influenced, mandated, or stymied by our elected offices (think mandatory minimum wage, tipping laws, alcohol sales and distribution). I think industry leaders and trade groups will be looking to advocate for enhancements in the dining/beverage sector.”

— Erin Fairbanks, Executive Director, Heritage Radio Network

Leaders in the industry are using their voices to raise awareness and protect their interests. Paul Kahan, Executive Chef and Owner at One Off Hospitality Group, adds that chefs play a particularly important role in fighting for change.

“I would hope that 2016 would be the decline of the celebrity chef, and the rise of the chef as a contributor to food education and advocacy,” he says. “The only way we can institute change in our country is through younger generations.”

Continue Reading

Très Bien! Celebrate National Cassoulet Day

Blog BENOIT_NY_Cassoulet_Pierre Monetta copyYou know what we love about cassoulet? EVERYTHING. You know why? Because the delicious French dish comes in so many forms. There are the classic cassoulets from Carcassone, Castelnaudary, and Toulouse — and dozens of variations created by inventive chefs around the globe. (Pro tip: If you’re in a particular region in France, don’t say which you think is the one cassoulet to rule them all — you’re sure to get into quite a row if your answer hails from another location). So revered is it that, according to Saveur, there is even “a gastronomic brotherhood devoted to that epic French dish” known as the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet de Castelnaudary. While we may not boast such an organization in the U.S., we do have National Cassoulet Day. And, many restaurants are extending the savory celebration. Instated by Alain Ducasse’s bistro Benoit in New York City, this year, more than 30 of the country’s top restaurants will honor the hearty French winter classic all week long.

From January 9–15, Benoit and participating restaurants, ranging from French restaurants, steakhouses, and farm-to-table New American concepts to Italian and even vegan eateries, will offer their own interpretations of cassoulet. Benoit will prepare a special three-course Cassoulet Experience. To start, guests can expect a selection of hors d’oeuvres including celery root and red cabbage remoulade and for dessert, a Vacherin with pineapple and vanilla.

The full list of restaurants can be found here. Dozens of other restaurants are participating unofficially or merely serving this dish because they (as we) are crazy for cassoulet. Below are a few of our faves to inspire you to celebrate National Cassoulet Day today. 

Benoit Restaurant and Bar, New York, New York
Chef and U.S. Cassoulet Ambassador, from the Universal Cassoulet Academy in Carcassone, Philippe Bertineau’s iconic one-pot meal of white beans, pork, and duck is served in its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole. Make a reservation at Benoit Restaurant and Bar.

National Cassoulet Day

River Roast, Chicago, Illinois
Throughout his career Chef Hogan worked with the some of the finest French chef’s – including Chef Jean Joho – and even spent time studying the culinary arts in France. These experiences have shaped a deep love of traditional French cuisine.  He is a master of charcuterie, which he incorporates in all of the elements of this dish — from the duck confit to the pork sausage. Combining all of these elements allows him to make a truly traditional French cassoulet which also includes pork shoulder,  white beans, white wine, garlic, and smoked bacon. Make a reservation at River Roast.

National Cassoulet Day

The Breslin Bar and Dining Room, New York, New York
April Bloomfield and her Christina Lecki executive chef at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room are participating in Cassoulet Week, serving their take on Cassoulet for Two: Duck confit, Toulouse sausage, and lamb belly, ayocote beans, and herbed bread crumbs for $65. Make a reservation at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room.

National Cassoulet DayContinue Reading

Where to Tuck into Carbs + Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

This month, we’re celebrating clean eats and comfort foods – because January. Whatever route you choose, you can be sure deliciousness abounds in both.

Baby, it’s cold outside. And since it’s going to stay that way for a few more months, these picks will get you through deep winter by warming you up from the inside out. Discover where to feast on carbs + comfort foods in the Pacific Northwest this winter.

Local 360 Café & Bar, Seattle, Washington
Local 360’s mandate is clear: to source the majority of its ingredients from within 360 miles of Seattle and to get back to a simpler, better way of cooking. “Our take on comfort food isn’t too modern,” chef Stew explains. “We’re more about what’s best rather than what’s new or innovative.” To that end, they offer comfort classics like fried chicken and waffles, where the meat (a skin-on chicken thigh, “God’s gift to fried chicken!” exclaims Chef Stew) is double-dredged and fried, and also apple fritters, which are basically fried, fruit-filled dumplings served with vanilla ice cream and bacon brittle. (Behind-the-scenes info alert: when Local 360 replaced the fritters with another apple dish chef Stew wanted to try out, the restaurant was inundated with phone calls and emails begging for the classic dish to be returned to the menu.) Vegetarians craving comfort food should opt for the Mushroom Bolognese, which features ground up portobello and shiitake mushrooms cooked with tomato paste and milk, which is the traditional method of achieving a thick, creamy sauce. Make a reservation at Local 360 Café & Bar.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Stonesedge Kitchen, Whistler, British Columbia
For chef Erin Stone, comfort food is about memories. Her versions, however, don’t quite resemble grandma’s take. Sure, there’s mac ‘n’ cheese on the menu, but Stone’s version includes roast duck — as does the filling shepherd’s pie. Craving something starchy? Then you need the Chicken Meatball Bowl with rice and coconut curry broth or the Woodsman Bowl (on the breakfast menu) which features arugula, squash, shredded venison, and poached eggs. “People are often too busy to cook these days,” Stone says. “But everyone needs something homey and comforting in winter.” Make a reservation at Stonesedge Kitchen.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Bell + Whete, Seattle, Washington
The thing not to miss at this Seattle gastro pub: the eggs benedict served on house-made English muffins. “Most people believe the baguette is the best example of ‘perfect’ bread,” explains chef Jenny. “But it’s actually the English muffin.” And hers are made with dough that has plenty of air bubbles, which result in cavernous nooks and crannies. Also a treat: her cinnamon-and-sugar-dipped sour cream donuts, which are fried to order and have a crispy exterior but a soft center. At dinner, don’t pass up the Belgian fries, which are fried in wagyu beef fat to give them a buttery taste without adding butter. PS: You’re welcome. Make a reservation at Bell + Whete.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Golden Beetle, Seattle, Washington
Chef Maria Hines is famous among adults for competing on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters, but she’s loved by kids for having a Mac ‘n’ Cheese Mondays, where they — and actually anyone — can design their own version. Start by picking a pasta (gluten-free or regular), add in a béchamel sauce (roasted garlic or spicy harissa are options), and complete with cheese (white cheddar? Smoked gouda? Check and check!). Include some bacon or lamb sausage and have it baked in the kitchen until the panko crust is crispy. Pro tip: This is the staff’s favorite night to work — so you know it’s extra good. Bonus: Chef Hines’ sister restaurant Tilth, serves up a waffle made from 100% sourdough (the sourdough “mother” was actually started a few years ago and is used in all their breads) accompanied by maple whipped cream and candied pecans. Make a reservation at Golden Beetle.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific NorthwestContinue Reading