#NYCWFF Dinner Series: Chefs Markus Glocker of Bâtard + Cédric Vongerichten of Perry St

The New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) kicks off on October 15 to pay homage to one of the greatest dining cities in the world while fighting to end hunger. One hundred percent of the net proceeds benefit Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry. To date, NYCWFF has raised $8.5 million to help fight hunger. Some of the most exciting events are the intimate dinners series, which feature the nation’s best chefs joining forces to create one-of-a-kind dinners together. We chatted with chefs Markus Glocker of Bâtard and Cédric Vongerichten of Perry St about their upcoming collaboration, “A Dinner with Markus Glocker + Cedric Vongerichten.

#NYCWFF Markus and Cedric

Did the two of you know each other prior to this? Have you sampled one another’s cuisine?

Cedric: I met chef Markus a few times before, and I have sampled his delicious cuisine. This is our first time working together, and I am looking forward it.

Markus: I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy Cedric’s food on a few occasions at Perry St. Officially, we met a few months back, but we’ve known of one another for some time through mutual industry friends.

What are some of the challenges around working with another chef at this level? You both have your own creative vision and staff who execute that – what is it like to be equally collaborative?

Cedric: I don’t see it as challenging, but more as complementing each other. It is very exciting for the guests and for us as well, and it is a way to showcase our styles and cuisines.

Markus: It’s always a challenge when you’re putting two different visions into one menu, but, at the same time, we learn from each other, and I think that makes the menu that much more interesting.

#NYCWFF Markus and Cedric food

What are your current culinary passions? How will they be incorporated into the meal?Continue Reading

#NYCWFF Dinner Series: Chefs Ashley Christensen + Alex Raij Talk Collaborating, Kinship + More

The New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) kicks off on October 15 to pay homage to one of the greatest dining cities in the world while fighting to end hunger. One hundred percent of the net proceeds benefit Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry. To date, NYCWFF has raised $8.5 million to help fight hunger. Some of the most exciting events are the intimate dinners series, which feature the nation’s best chefs joining forces to create one-of-a-kind dinners together. We’re highlighting two of these events. First up, chefs Alex Raij of La Vara and Ashley Christensen talk about working together on “A Dinner with Ashley Christensen, Alex Raij, and Gabrielle Hamilton.”

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The event is billed as “Dine with Three Female Powerhouse Chefs!” Do you feel a special kinship with other female chefs?

Alex: I actually had no idea the event was billed that way. I could actually find so many other ways to draw parallels between us. I don’t feel a random kinship or obligation to all women who cook, but I like to pay special attention to what women are doing and try to be helpful to them when I like what they are doing. So there is a kinship born of being interested in what others are doing in my profession and trying to catch the contributions of people who may not be getting the attention they deserve. I think I always feel a little like an outsider, and I like to support other outsiders. Those people are often making bigger contributions with less noise and really inspire me.

Ashley: I feel a connection anytime I’m cooking with friends in the kitchen, regardless of if they are women or men. That said, I think friendships between women are unique from those between women and men. Not to say that they are closer or stronger; they’re just unique. For that, I think there is something uniquely special about the opportunity to cook with two female chefs with whom I share a friendship.

Did the three of you know each other prior to this? Have you ever worked together previously?

Alex: I have a personal history with these two chefs because Ashely is one of my best friends, and Gabrielle was “my” chef/employer. And while I know our priorities in cooking are deliciously aligned, I’ve never been in one room with these two women before. Ashley and I overlap a lot, cooking at each others’ restaurants and socializing. I love all her places. And Gabrielle I see at one or two events a year, but I’m happy to be collaborating. I don’t think that has happened in like twelve years. Gabrielle even cooked at my sister’s wedding!

Ashley: Alex and I go way back, and we have cooked together and traveled together several times. I love Alex’s food, and all of her restaurants. I met Gabrielle just a few years back, but I have been eating at Prune for years and years. I find great inspiration from each of their work.

What are some of the challenges around working with two other chefs at this level? Continue Reading

Waste Not, Want Not: 6 Dishes + Drinks for Root to Shoot Dining #vegforward

Chefs dream of an ideal kitchen in which there is zero waste. Every part of every ingredient is utilized in some fashion. This lowers food costs, reduces environmental strain, and forces them to get creative with those remainders and byproducts. It’s a boon for diners, too, by exposing them to palate-expanding flavors and creative textural components that elevate dishes in unexpected new ways.

In the last decade, the tip-to-tail movement has seen a huge resurgence, as chefs have turned offal and offcuts into menu stars. Now they’re taking the same approach to vegetables. Call it root to shoot. No longer are pea shells, tomato skins, or potato peels merely going into the stockpot, on the compost pile, or, worse yet, the trash. Now they’re playing key roles in some of the chefs’ most memorable creations. Here are six dishes and drinks for root to shoot dining.

Garrison, Washington, D.C. 
Tomato skins are full of flavor and nutrient dense. But oftentimes they end up on the proverbial cutting room floor. Chef-owner Rob Weland is a longtime admirer of what our grandma used to call love apples. While heading up the kitchen at Poste years ago, he offered a 20-course, tomato-centric tasting menu. At his latest venture, he dries the skins of various heirloom varietals and uses them to garnish his colorful tomato salad.

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Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, California
Dehydrated beets create the “soil” in executive chef Jeremy Fox’s signature Beets and Berries dish. Not wanting to throw out the resulting juice, he infuses it with rose geranium and turns it over to bar manager Aaron Ranf. Ranf devised the Beet Royale, a play on the Kir Royale with beet juice, prosecco, gin, and lemon. Waste reduction has never tasted so good. [Photo by Aaron Ranf]

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Ribelle, Brookline, Massachusetts
Chefs Tim Maslow and Brandon Baltzley wouldn’t dream of tossing out a single scrap of tomato. The skin is dehydrated and ground into powder. The excess juice is transformed into smoked tomato vinegar. And the seeds are mixed with chia seeds to create mock caviar. The whole tomato is then compressed in the vinegar and speckled with the “caviar” and powder, as well as fresh cheese, burnt shishito oil, brined horseradish leaves, and fresh grated horseradish. [Photo by Brandon Baltzley]

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Chef Jason Alley on Growing up with Food Insecurity + Why #NoKidHungry Matters More Than Ever

Jason AlleyAs we continue to celebrate Dine Out for No Kid Hungry Month, Share Our Strength supporter chef Jason Alley, co-owner of Comfort, which just marked its 13th year in business, and Pasture restaurants in Richmond, Virginia, discusses his experiences with childhood hunger, why school breakfast and lunch should be available to all students, and the worst thing you can donate to a food bank.

You faced food insecurity regularly as a child. How did that affect your everyday life?

It creates massive stress. I grew up in southwest Virginia around the Appalachian Mountains, and we were certainly not alone in being poor in that area. There’s a lot of poverty. Food was always scarce. Growing up rural was nice because we had plenty of friends that hunted, and my grandmother had a garden, but that didn’t always make the cut. So food was always first and foremost on our minds all the time, like, how are we gonna make this happen? How are we going to get everybody fed?

Can you remember some of the toughest periods?

There were many times when I moved to Florida with my mom when there were weeks and weeks in which it was literally school lunch and white rice at home. That would just be it for extended periods of time.

As a child, how did you sit through school and succeed when you’re so undernourished?

I didn’t really succeed. I was unmotivated to be at school. Think about if you’re sitting at your desk and you had to skip breakfast, and now it’s lunchtime. You bottom out. You find yourself dozing off at your desk. You get hangry and cranky. Now, imagine that being a habitual thing. To think anyone is going to be successful under those circumstances is just unreasonable.

The free breakfast and lunch programs that a lot of schools have gone to are crucial in setting the stage for success for these kids. Our kids are starting public middle school for the first time this year, and their school has free breakfast and free lunch for every kid in the school.

When it’s available to everyone, I would imagine there is less of a stigma.

When I was a kid I had my little free lunch card. You’re going through puberty, kids are already starting to get bullied, you don’t have the cool clothes, and now, oh yeah, here’s your poor kid card. Have a great day! That’s just an added stressor. I think it is really progressive for a school to alleviate that stress. You know what? It’s free for everybody. Nobody pays, nobody gets singled out.

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Were there other resources to help you and your family?

We benefited from local food banks and a lot of church food closets. There were plenty of days where we would have been even hungrier had that not been available.

I feel like it’s hard for some people to take that step and go to food pantries, as if there were shame in it.

We’re a shaming culture. We’re really good at it. If you’re hungry and you need help, there’s nothing wrong with that. It sucks to feel as though you have to ask for charity, but it’s more important to look at the positives it brings. It makes everybody feel good. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s working at or going to a food pantry or food bank that is going to be looking down their nose at you. It’s a shared experience. If you can accept the help for what it is, which is help and generosity, and you can use that to get yourself moving forward, then everything is working how it’s supposed to work.

Being surrounded by the bounty of food you are able to serve, are you ever conflicted?Continue Reading