On the Menu: Chefs Share Dishes Inspired by Mom

Mothers love us, care for us, and, of course, feed us. Our earliest experiences with food are largely shaped by the caring folks who cooked for and with us as we grew up. Not surprisingly then, many chefs are using their menus to pay homage to the mothers who delighted them with homespun recipes, often using garden-fresh ingredients. In honor of Mother’s Day, chefs share dishes inspired by mom.

Sergio Emilio Monleón, La Marcha, Berkeley, California
Chef Sergio Emilio Monleón was raised California but in a Spanish household and he spent eight years in Madrid. His mother made paella all the time when he was growing up and hers is the inspiration behind the restaurant’s version of Paella Mixta, which features head-on prawns, chicken, chorizo, garlic, sweet peppers, saffron, and rice. Make a reservation at La Marcha.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Jesse Souza, Six Seven, Seattle, Washington
Executive Chef Jesse Souza says, “Spring in New England was always a time to shake off the long, dark winter and ready for the precious summer months.  My mother was and is partial to vegetables that are vibrant, bright, and bursting with the flavors of spring and early summer. She grew up spending summers in the garden, dousing sun-warmed tomatoes with fresh coarse salt. This flavor profile and garden-to-table ethic continue in Six Seven’s Heirloom Tomato Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella with Arugula Pesto and Sea Salt.” Make a reservation at Six Seven.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Jennifer Russo, The Market by Jennifer’s, Phoenix, Arizona
Chef Jennifer Russo shares, “Our spring lamb dish with potatoes and peas is an homage to my mother Gwen in so many ways. She has always had a garden and stressed the importance of cooking seasonally to me in my childhood. She’s also a health nut and would approve of my whipped cauliflower as an alternative to potatoes. And, of course, she’s very Irish and lamb is something she’s made for me since I was a kid.” Make a reservation at The Market By Jennifer’s.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Erik Lowe, Spaghetti Bros., San Francisco, California
With a name like Spaghetti Bros, you might assume spaghetti and meatballs are on the menu, and you’d be right. Sort of. Chef Erik Lowe makes several pasta dishes including Radiatori with Smoky Pork Sugo and Fermented Chili Oil and a scrumptious Spaghetti with Local Uni Butter, but his savory meatballs are of the Swedish variety. They are based on his grandmother’s recipe and served with plenty of lingonberry jam and crunchy bits of fried shallots. Make a reservation at Spaghetti Bros..

Dishes Inspired by Mom

William DeMarco, Crush at MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada
DeMarco, the property’s corporate executive chef, recounts,  “I have a lot of happy memories from spending time in the kitchen and learning how to cook from my Italian mother and grandmother. As any true Italian knows, Sundays are meant for pasta, and gnocchi has always been one of my favorites.” DeMarco’s classic Italian Ricotta Gnocchi at CRUSH does have some American influence; it’s served atop a pea puree and topped with braised short rib. Make a reservation at Crush at MGM Grand.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Todd Kelly, Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
Chef Todd Kelly says that growing up, his mom would make a slow cooked lamb on Mother’s Day. She prepared the dish with home-canned vegetables from the garden. Today, he recreates it for guests at the restaurant on Mother’s Day using many of the flavors his mom did. He rubs the leg of lamb with a paste of garlic, rosemary, and parsley, and then sears it and slow cooks it. The sauce is a simple red wine and lamb stock reduction finished with Dijon mustard. Preserved carrots, spring onions, Brussels sprouts, hedgehog mushrooms, and, if available, foraged morel mushrooms round out this spring offering. Make a reservation at Orchids at Palm Court.

Dishes inspired by mom

Rupesh Shetty, Inde Fusion, Scottsdale, Arizona
Fusion cooking allows restaurateur Shetty to combine flavors from his childhood with American influences. He says, “The shrimp and grits dish reminds me of growing up in Mumbai and experiencing my mother’s homemade shrimp curry and all of her incredible cooking. In keeping with our theme of the restaurant, we took a typically Western dish and infused it with a dash of Eastern flavor — so local comfort food meeting masala spice is like a hug from my mom.” Make a reservation at Inde Fusion.

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Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges: Where to Spend Your Refund

April showers bring May flowers or if you’re really lucky, the month itself brings a big fat tax refund. Since experiences bring more happiness than possessions, a big splurge dinner on the town seems like the perfect way to spend it. Here are some top picks Tax Day 2016 dining splurges to live and eat large if only for one night. please note that the most exclusive wines are available in extremely limited quantities, so it’s best to inquire ahead of time if you have your heart set on a particularly splurge-y selection.

Daniel, New York, New York
Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant on the Upper East Side just off of Central Park is the epitome of contemporary French extravagance. The seven-course tasting menu clocks in at $234 or $459 with wine pairings and includes signature dishes like velvety Minted Pea Soup with chicken mousse and Louisiana crayfish and garlic pennycress and can include courses of langoustines, beef, and quail with foie gras. The wine list has selections such as Chateau D’Yquem 1918 for $10,000 or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2009 for $15,000. Or if you’re celebrating with similarly flush-with-cash friends, how about a magnum? You can’t go wrong with the Domaine Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Cros Parantoux”1995 for $20,000. Make a reservation at Daniel.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Providence, Los Angeles, California
Chef Michael Cimarusti’s 2-Michelin star paean to fine dining in the heart of Los Angeles features the chef’s menu, a 12-course tasting menu with sustainable seafood from the U.S. and beyond, as well as other delicacies like prized A5 wagyu beef. Decadent touches include ossetra caviar and white truffle and black truffle fondue. It’s $220 or $325 with wine pairings. But if you’re really looking to splash out, begin your evening with a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Champagne for $3,500 and then move on to a bottle of 2012 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for $4,000. Finish the evening with a bottle to remember in the way of a 1959 Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Riesling Auslese for $3,500. Make a reservation at Providence.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Saison, San Francisco, California
Chef Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright have crafted one of the most unique high-end dining environments at Saison, with its open floor plan encompassing the dining room, bar, lounge, and kitchen — effectively removing all walls. The goal is to bring diners into the chef’s world, in this case, a minimalist redesign of the California Electric Light Company building. Dishes have vague and poetic names such as Fire in the Sky Beet, Bone Marrow Roasted over Coals and Sea Urchin, Liquid Toast. The prix-fixe Discovery menu is a luxe $398 for about 16 courses with an additional $298 for wine pairings. But if you want to really max out the credit cards (assuming you can pay it off with your return dough), you might consider ordering the Domaine Georges Roumier ‘Bonnes-Mares’ Grand Cru 2009 for $15,408 or ending the experience on a truly sweet note with Château D’Yquem Premiere Cru Supérieur, Sauternes 1942 for $6,888. Make a reservation at Saison.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

StripSteak by Michael Mina, Miami, Florida
Located in the historic Fontainebleau hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami, StripSteak is swank and clubby with its wood tones and rich browns. Start your meal with rare golden osetra caviar service for $295, and then indulge in a beefy entrée like the 50-ounce Australian tomahawk for $150 or the Japanese Miyazaki prefecture A5 striploin for $32 per ounce. Then gild the lily with add-on extras like half a Maine lobster tail or seared foie gras. The restaurant prides itself on having one of the largest pre-embargo Cuban cigar collections in Miami, all dating back to 1962 and earlier with prices generally in the $100-200 range but topping out at $395 for a 6-inch Montecristo. To accompany your stogie, choose a tableside Japanese whisky ceremony or perhaps a glass of 25-year Macallan for $370. Make a reservation at StripSteak by Michael Mina.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Grace, Chicago, Illinois
This Michelin three-star restaurant is also one of the biggest splurges in Chicago. Elegant and understated, chef Curtis Duffy’s Windy City gem is upscale without being fussy. The menu offers an 8-12 course tasting menu format at $235. The dishes are described in classic minimalist style such as Alaskan King Crab, sudachi, cucumber, lemon mint or Pig Tail, endive, cauliflower, oxalis. Many dishes have Asian accents and the vegetarian “flora” menu is as captivating as the “fauna” menu, which showcases seafood and protein. The wine list features saves and splurges among 1,400 selections. Teetotalers can splurge on bespoke teas that cost upwards of $20 each. Make a reservation at Grace.

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5 Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza Pies To Try Before You Die

The word pizza doesn’t always mean the same thing. Ask someone in Naples, New Haven, or New York City, and you’ll get three different answers. If you pose the question to a Chicagoan, they’ll invariably say deep dish. But what is deep dish? As the name implies, it’s a super thick pizza baked in a high-walled pan. Usually, the formidable crust is on the slightly crumbly side, but it’s still not okay to eat a slice with a fork and knife. This is pizza, people – use your hands [Ed. note: That means you, Mr. Kasich]! On top of the crust goes a gooey lagoon of mozzarella, followed by toppings, and a finishing layer of chunky style tomato sauce. Though there are plenty of pizza parlors around Chitown (and beyond), there aren’t many where you can make a reservation to ensure you get your dose of deep dish when you want it. In celebration of National Deep Dish Pizza Day, here are five Chicago-style deep dish pizza pies you need to try before you die.

Pizzeria Ora
A relative newcomer to the deep dish scene, this standout ‘za joint opened in 1996 in the River North neighborhood. Their monstrous pies are three-inches deep and packed to the brim with mozz, chunky sauce, and toppings. The aptly named Supreme is a standout, boasting pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. No matter where you order a deep dish pizza, it can take up to 45 minutes to bake, so bide your time by digging into appetite-suppressing apps, such as mozzarella sticks, aromatic garlic bread, and wings. Make a reservation at Pizzeria Ora.

Deep Dish Pizza

Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta
Owner Rudy Malnati Jr. has deep dish in his blood. His father, Rudy Malnati Sr., is considered in some circles as the creator of the original deep dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno (others claim it was the restaurant’s founder, Ike Sewell, who devised the recipe). No matter what, his son has raised the deep-dish tradition to new heights with his version of the crust, which tastes like a buttery pastry with well-caramelized edging. Mark’s Special is a deceptively simple creation featuring sweet slices of tomato, vibrant basil, and lots and lots of garlic, but it’s a memorable taste of the Windy City that will linger long after you’ve blown out of town. Make a reservation at Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta.

Deep Dish Pizza

Gino’s East
Not much has changed since this iconic pizzeria opened its doors in 1966. You can still scrawl your name or some graffiti on the walls while their hefty deep dish ‘zas are still baked in well-seasoned cast iron pans. They don’t do half measures here, so check your low-carb, gluten-free, paleo diet at the door. Classics include the Chicago Fire (spicy sausage, fire roasted red peppers, and red onions), Meaty Legend (bacon, Canadian bacon, sausage, and pepperoni), and the Jalapeño Blue (bacon, blue cheese, and sausage, plus jalapeños stuffed with bacon and blue cheese). Make a reservation at Gino’s East.

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April 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Celebrate Your City’s Dining Scene

Spring is the perfect time to get out and dine, and, bonus, there are restaurant weeks cropping up around the nation! Find out where you can save on your next meal.

April 2016 Restaurant Weeks

Dine out for Autism NYC is your chance to help change the face of autism all month long. A percentage of your bill will be donated to Autism Speaks when you dine at a participating restaurant in New York City through April 30. Make a reservation.

Newport Restaurant Week started April 1st, but it’s no joke! Dig into delightful $16 lunches + $35 dinners through April 10. Make a reservation.

Hamptons Restaurant Week heats up LI’s East End with $27.95 lunches + dinners, April 3-10. Make a reservation.

Talbot Restaurant Week rolls into Maryland’s Eastern Shore with two-course $20.16 lunches + three-course $33.16 dinners, April 3-9. Make a reservation.

Seattle Restaurant Week is sure to please Jet City foodies. Don’t miss two-course $15 lunches + three-course $30 dinners, April 10-21. Make a reservation.

Western New Yorks Local Restaurant Week is your opportunity support your favorite local spots in the WNY with $20.16, $30.16, and $40.16 lunches + dinners, April 11-17. Make a reservation.Continue Reading