Shopping for Chefs: Trends + Numbers from the Pebble Beach Food and Wine 2016 #PBFW

Pebble Beach Food and Wine 2016 kicks off on March 31 and runs through April 3, and offers guests the chance to take part in enjoy once-in-a-lifetime tasting opportunities, cooking demonstrations, wine-paired luncheons and intimate dinners, elite wine seminars, and more. Continuing its reign as the premier food and wine event in the world, the festival will play host to 8,500 guests and feature 124 chefs, including Daniel Boulud (Daniel), Matthew Peters (Per Se), Joshua Skenes (Saison), Bryce Shuman (Betony), Stuart Brioza and Nicola Krasinkey (State Bird Provisions), Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood), and 250 distinguished winemakers. The Ment’Or Cooking Demo and Dinner alone will count 13 Michelin stars among participating chefs.

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As we look forward to this delicious event, we wondered about all the ingredients it takes to create these experiences. Enter Dorothy Maras, senior culinary event manager for both Pebble Beach Food and Wine and Los Angeles Food and Wine. Her job, in a nutshell, is to get the chefs there — and then get them whatever they want to ensure they can put out wow-worthy dishes and drink. From chef coats and credentials to itineraries and food equipment and disposables, Maras helps make it all happen. She and her team also source every ingredient, which is no small task when you’re talking about feeding almost 10,000 people. “It can be scary,” notes Maras. “Whatever you provide from growers has to be impeccable.”

This year alone, her team will stock up on a whopping seven to eight tons of food. That includes:

  • Two pallets, or 1,200 pounds, of octopus
  • 1,100 pounds of butter (900 salted, 200 unsalted, if you were wondering)
  • 480 pounds of cheese, 20% of which is of the blue or Roquefort variety
  • 300 pounds of berries
  • 300 pounds of carrots
  • 60 cases of Little Gem lettuce
  • 40 gallons of fish sauce
  • 22 cases of cauliflower

Before worrying about the quality and quantity of ingredients, however, she and her staff must be sure they understand what the ingredients are. With 35 years in the culinary industry, she’s no stranger to virtually anything, but with a roster of chefs from around the globe, there can often be language barriers. “What people call certain ingredients varies around the world. — as do measurements. Thank god for Google!,” she laughs. There are also at first-sight-misunderstandings, like the time a chef from the Caribbean put “1 kid” on a shopping list. “We all knew he meant a goat, but it was definitely funny upon first read.”

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Or when another asked for(ahemmerken, which turns out to be a spice, ICMYI. After a chuckle and striking at through their usual network of local growers and purveyors, they turned to Amazon. We typically source from within a 100-mile radius, but when a random request comes in, Maras admits, “Amazon is our friend.” Extreme requests can inspire growers to go to somewhat extreme measures. “We had a chef request cherry blossoms — only there weren’t any to be found on this coast.” She called a grower down south to make an inquiry and while he didn’t have any, he was able to clip them from a neighbor’s trees and overnight them, saving the day (or at least that chef’s dish).

As she’s been a part of the festival’s evolution over nearly a decade, Maras has had a front seat to the evolution of cooking. “It’s been fun to watch,” she says. “Everything old is new again.” Some hot trends Maras is seeing for 2016 include:

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Chefs are 86ing molecular gastronomy and too much fuss. “We’re seeing chefs utilizing a lot more heritage techniques, such as pickling and preserving.” Tweezers, too, are scarce. “Chefs are recognizing that people want food that is satisfying and substantial that doesn’t look like it was assembled with surgical tools.”Continue Reading

Let’s Go to the Mall: Where to Eat on Black Friday

Are you ready for the madness and the mayhem of the holiday shopping season? Black Friday marks its frenetic beginning as everyone realizes there are just a few more weeks left to purchase presents for their loved ones and they hit up the nearest mega-mall. Shopping becomes a competitive sport, so you’re going to need to bring your A game. But you can’t do that without fueling up. A good meal or two is requisite. However, you’re so much better than the puck-like burgers and fried-beyond-recognition nuggets being hawked in the food court. Here’s where to eat on Black Friday when shopping at America’s biggest malls.

Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota: Tucci Benucch
Believe it or not, this home-style Italian eatery is a longtime favorite of Mr. Bizarre Foods himself, TV host Andrew Zimmern, who lives nearby. He’s a big fan of their chopped chicken salad, egg-topped pasta carbonara, and focaccia. The whole menu is rife with comfort foods – ‘zas galore, a hearty chicken parm, handmade mozzarella, and a thick block of meaty lasagna. The kids menu is equally impressive, offering more than half a dozen different types of pastas alongside pint-sized pizzas. It’s the perfect pick-up during a midday rest stop or a nice finale after a long day of consumerism. Find other restaurants near Mall of America.

Where to Eat on Black Friday

King of Prussia Mall, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania: Seasons 52
This time of year comes with a free E-Z Pass to decadence and overindulgence. However, one cannot survive on eggnog, white peppermint M&Ms, and sandwiches forged out of Thanksgiving leftovers alone. You need some moderation in your diet. That’s where this health-conscious concept comes in. Almost every dish on the menu is under 500 calories, which will help you start to make up for the entire bourbon pecan pie you scarfed down the day before (their mini pecan pie with vanilla bean mousse and whipped cream only clocks in at a modest 370 calories). Plus, there are plenty of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-sensitive, sodium-friendly, and lactose-free options available, so it’s easy to accommodate a bunch of diners with a variety of dietary regimens. Find other restaurants near King of Prussia Mall.

Where to Eat on Black Friday

Aventura Mall, Aventura, Florida: Bourbon Steak
Located just across the street from the mall in the Turnberry Isle Hotel, this primo steakhouse from Michael Mina is worth the walk. Plus, you could use a stretch and stroll after all the calories you consumed the day before. That being said, we do love to indulge once we get there. Start off with Petrossian caviar or Alaskan king crab before moving on to Maine lobster pot pie and Japanese Wagyu New York strip steak. Every meal includes a trio of French fries with three dipping sauces, but you should supplement them with the truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, roasted cauliflower, and grilled Vidalia onions. PS: You’re welcome. Find other restaurants near the Aventura Mall.

Where to Eat on Black Friday

South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, California: Marché Moderne
Earning raves as the “best French bistro in California,” this Gallic standout is powered by husband-and-wife team Florent and Amelia Marneau. Their dishes are familiar but elevated to new heights with unexpected accents. Pickled mango confiture brightens cold foie gras terrine while the richness of the sweetbreads is cut by the addition of licorice root. We are always drawn to the salad topped with pink centered rectangles of tuna crusted with fennel seed, coriander, and black pepper — and we always get the twice-fried pomme frites. So simple, yet so unbelievably good. Find other restaurants near South Coast Plaza.

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Banana Republic Desk to Dinner Party: Shopping + Snacking with Bon App‪é‬tit

Last night, in six cities, Banana Republic shoppers were treated to Desk to Dinner parties! Top chefs, including Justin Smillie of Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria of Manhattan, prepared elegant finger foods and Clos du Bois wine flowed, as fashion-minded foodies revamped their wardrobes with pieces from Banana Republic’s Desk to Dinner collection. We’ve rounded up a few shots of the Manhattan event.

The Banana Republic Desk to Dinner collection is available in all Banana Republic stores. And, you can make reservations at Bon Appétit’s list of hot summer dining spots on OpenTable.

Department Store Dining; Please Don’t Camp Out When You Dine Out; Dressing for Dinner; Communal Table Etiquette; Best Bay Area Burgers; The Bobby Flay Diet

Tiffany Derry's new Private Social restaurant in Dallas is sure to be a success!

Dining and restaurant news…

* You don’t have to shop ’til you drop. In-store fine dining lives on at high-end stores. []

* No camping. When you finish your meal in a crowded restaurant, please relinquish the table to other hungry diners. [Chicago Tribune]

* Dress you up. Should restaurants have dress codes? Maybe. [Eatocracy]

* Dining with strangers. Does communal dining have to be really communal? [CHOW]

* Money changes everything. Are the affluent influencing the D.C. dining scene for the worse? [Washington City Paper]

* Top cheftestant makes good. The talented Tiffany Derry previews Private Social, her new restaurant. [Pegasus News]

* Show me the dough. Surcharges for healthcare in San Francisco costs come under scrutiny. [Wall Street Journal]

* Go green. Follow these eco-conscious chefs on Twitter. []

* Tragic victory. Chef Michael Solomonov lost his brother and found his way in the kitchen. [The New York Times]

* I don’t know how he does it. Bobby Flay, that is. He has a restaurant empire, writes books, hosts TV shows, runs marathons, and even managed to appear on Entourage, and now he’s just revealed that he recently lost 15 pounds. If he weren’t such a great guy, I might not like him. But he is, so I do. Rats! [Washington Post]

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