Like Father, Like Son: For Father and Son Chefs, Cooking Is a Family Affair

Being a great cook might not be a genetically inherited trait, but having a parent who is a gifted chef definitely helps. In honor of Father’s Day, we talked to a trio of father and son chefs, the latter of which credit their dads’ work in kitchens for their own culinary success. These three sons are shining brightly as they carry on the family business.

Father and Son Chefs

Fabio and Luca Trabocchi

Fabio Trabocchi has a James Beard Award and has been named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef. But the chef-owner of Fiola, Fiola Mare, and Casa Luca in Washington, D.C., didn’t want to push either of his children to become chefs. Nonetheless, when his son, Luca, turned four, Fabio put him to work doing small tasks to help make Sunday suppers at home. By age six, Luca was using a dull knife to cut up ingredients. A year later, he asked his father if he could join him in the kitchen at Fiola. “I saw how hard he worked,” says Luca, who is now 12-years-old. “I thought what he was doing was pretty cool.”

The young toque started working the pastry station because his mother, Maria, didn’t want him next to open flames and hot grills in the kitchen. The pastry team taught him how to make a multitude of treats, including macarons, ice cream, chocolates, and bomboloni. The experience proved equally enriching for Fabio but on a different level. “Luca reminds me of the joy of being in the kitchen,” he says. “It’s refreshing and energizing.”

As Luca grew up, he helped his father with more complex cooking, such as grilling fish at the end of service when the kitchen calmed down or coming in early to help him make pasta from scratch. As they worked together side by side, his father has taught him culinary skills and imprinted his overriding philosophy of never giving up. “Cooking is an art,” says Luca. “There are mistakes you have to make in order to learn how to do it right.”

Luca still isn’t sure if he wants to pursue a career as a chef, but Fabio is content knowing his son will know how to cook a meal – and a good one, at that – after his training. “I just want him to be happy,” says Fabio. “I found ‘my voice’ through what I do. If he feels the same way, he’s more than welcome to have a career in the kitchen. If he doesn’t, that’s okay, too.”

Father and Son Chefs

Martial and Mathieu Noguier

Growing up, Mathieu Noguier spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his father, three-time James Beard Award nominee Martial Noguier and chef-owner of Chicago’s bistronomic. His dad would place him up on the pass, so Mathieu could watch the action unfold. When he was six-years-old, his father gave him a more active role by moving him to the pastry kitchen, where Mathieu would be charged with making macarons, madeleines, and soufflés. Occasionally, when he was bored with baking, Mathieu would be placed on salad duty. He helped out in this capacity until he was a teenager, but it didn’t inspire any desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. “I didn’t want to work in the industry,” he says. “I saw how hard it was and I knew the hours he was working. I wanted to stay away from all that. Plus, everybody who was doing it told me not to do it, so I figured they knew what they were talking about.”

When it came time to think about a career, he enrolled at King’s College in New York City and began working toward getting a degree in economics. However, the coursework didn’t ignite his interest. Mathieu began cooking at home to relax after class and finally decided to take a break from school to try his hand at cooking professionally. Back at his father’s restaurant, he began helping out with the morning prep work and doing the dishes. “My father is an old school guy, so he wanted me to start at the bottom,” he says.

He didn’t want his first full-time culinary job to be with his dad, though, so he pulled some strings to score at job at Melisse in Santa Monica, California. After that, he began a two-year stint working under his father at bistronomic.

His father likes to dole out lessons to the now 22-year-old chef, who recently took a break from the family business to do stages at In de Wulf in Heuvelland, Belgium, and Pottoka in Paris. “He’s entered his sage era,” says Mathieu. “The one piece of advice he’s given me that has made the biggest difference is that people who are successful are the people who are on time. He’s also always told me that cooking is easy; managing is the hard part.”Continue Reading

2016 RAMMY Award Winners: Cheers to DC’s Top Culinary Professionals

2016 RAMMY Award Winners

Last night, the capital’s culinary community gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., to fete the year’s finest industry people and places at the 2016 RAMMY Awards, presented by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW).

Congratulations to all the 2016 RAMMY Award winners, including:

Chef of the Year: Scott Drewno, The Source by Wolfgang Puck (pictured)

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year: Northside Social Coffee & Wine

Upscale Casual Brunch: Blue Duck Tavern

Everyday Casual Brunch: Duke’s Grocery

Favorite Fast Bites: Bub and Pop’s

Cocktail Program of the Year: 2 Birds 1 Stone

Beer Program of the Year: Right Proper Brewing CompanyContinue Reading

7 of the Best Prix-Fixe Menus in Boston

Let’s be honest; there are prix fixes, and then there are prix fixes — the multi-course meals to remember that really are a steal. The ones for which you pay less but still enjoy an experience that tastes like a million bucks. Whether you’re headed to Boston or you live local, here are nine of the best prix-fixe menus in Boston (including one just north of the city) where you’ll find prix fixe lunches, brunches, and dinners that also show off the chef’s culinary chops.

Bar Boulud, Boston, Massachusetts
The menu at Bar Boulud in the Mandarin Oriental hotel is French-inspired with seasonal New England dishes, too, and then there’s that’s wine cellar (think Burgundy and Rhone Valley). Come for the Bouchon dinner prepared by chef de cuisine Jonathan Kilroy — you’ll choose two courses for $36 (add an additional course for $6 for more bang for your euros.) Featured appetizers include Celery Root Veloute (lardo vinaigrette, pickled shallots, and celery leaves) and Pâté de Campagne (country pate, wild mushrooms, and sourdough toast). Featured main courses like Coq au Vin Traditionnel (red wine-braised chicken, bacon lardon, and pearl onions), and Fish and Chips (beer-battered local haddock, hand-cut French fries, English peas, and tartar sauce) are solid options. For dessert, pastry chef Robert Differ’s Gateau Basque (traditional Basque custard cake, brandied cherries, and vanilla anglaise) is a trip to Paris without the jet lag. Make a reservation at Bar Boulud.

Best Prix-Fixe Menus in Boston

Davio’s, Boston, Massachusetts
A power prix-fixe lunch is served Monday through Friday “for the busy young professional.” You’ll get an appetizer, an entrée, and dessert for $22. Highlights include Grilled Petite Ribeye (with Parmigiano potato puffs, pepata sauce) and Seared Haddock, Cauliflower (with golden raisins, peppadews, and toasted pine nuts), and, for dessert, Davio’s homemade cookies and gelato. Perfect for the power hungry. Make a reservation at Davio’s.

Best Prix-Fixe Menus in Boston

Gaslight, Boston, Massachusetts
Start the day with savings with the prix-fixe brunch special at the South End Parisian-style bistro that is Gaslight. Served from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and 9AM to 11AM on Sundays. What you’ll get: fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice, coffee or tea, Julia Child’s Spiced Shortbread with raspberry jam, and a choice of Vanilla French Toast (with sautéed apples and sweetened fromage blanc), Omelette Lyonnaise (with gruyere cheese, potatoes, and caramelized onions), Scrambled Eggs Forestiere (with roasted mushrooms and Boucheron cheese) or Omelette Florentine (with garlic spinach and French feta cheese). And, it’s all for just $11.95. Make a reservation at Gaslight.

Best Prix-Fixe menus in Boston

The Elephant Walk, Boston, Massachusetts
Hurry up and make a reservation for lunch on Thursday or Friday at this South End French and Cambodian-inspired restaurant. The prix-fixe Fast Lunch is promised to be served in half an hour and features a two-course tasting menu for $15. Expect items like Poulet a la Citronnelle (available vegan with organic tofu) and a Braised Duck Sandwich. This is fast food redefined. Make a reservation at The Elephant Walk.

Best Boston Prix-Fixe MenusContinue Reading

The Evolution of Restaurant Menus

The evolution of restaurant menus

As we shared the results of a survey around confusing menu jargon, we couldn’t help but wonder about the evolution of restaurant menus. Here, contributor Nevin Martell takes a look at how they’ve changed throughout history.

For centuries, when diners walked into an eatery, they simply ate what the chef was cooking that day. Slowly, as restaurants became more formalized, guests were given options for what they’d like to sup on. Paper menus codifying those choices first started appearing in the mid-18th century in Paris. What began as a phenomenon became an integral part of the dining experience around the world.

The evolution of restaurant menus

But don’t mistake menus as simply a list of what’s to eat. They have become barometers of the shifting tides of history. “They are a great reflection of pop culture, the eating habits of Americans, and a way to follow larger trends,” says Jim Heimann, editor of Menu Design in America, 1850-1985 and a collector with more than 6,000 menus in his archives. “For example, speakeasies in the 1920’s had coded language on their menus. It might say, ‘Ginger ale is available for your consumption.’ This meant you had a mixer for your booze. During World War II, there was an absence of a lot of items due to rationing. And in the 1960’s, you see artwork reflective of the counterculture.”

The evolution of restaurant menusContinue Reading