Tag Archives: Serious Eats

On Food Writing and Interviews with Chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Amanda Cohen and Will Horowitz

copyright Brent Herrig

Chatting with Chef Morimoto at his new Tribeca Canvas, copyright Brent Herrig

I’ve been having a crisis of faith, recently.

Not about this week, with Passover and Easter coming – though there is some angst there that is in tomorrow’s post (lucky you!)

But about the value in what I do.

I write, mostly about food. I interview people and build recipes and am a part of the pop culture world that partly gives me the willies. I was never the one to know what restaurant was hot and worth going to. I’m still not, really, other than that I now know about 50 chefs who are creating amazing food. I don’t like going out to eat to be seen. And did you know that chef groupies are a thing now? Quelle horreur!

I want the work I do to have value. I want to be a part of something because it contributes, because it helps give our world shape, and because it connects people on a visceral level. And while food does that in intimate and beautiful ways, it’s also become such an eye-rolling point of focus in New York that I want to yawn and pour a whiskey and watch Frasier or something.

That is, until I actually sit down and work.

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Why are Women the Gluten-Free Gladiators?

Screen shot 2013-03-24 at 2.18.49 PM

Why are Women the Gluten-Free Gladiators?

This is a question I’ve asked myself many times while researching or calling in products, or scanning a list of ingredients at my grocer’s.

I interview high-profile chefs weekly for my Serious Eats column, and there I have to conscientiously focus on bringing more women into the mix; there are plenty of incredible female chefs out there, but the majority of the chefs owning and running high-end kitchens in New York are still men.

Yet when I scan my mental list of bloggers, writers, editors, developers, PR representatives and producers in the gluten-free field, the steep majority of them are women: editors Silvana Nardone and Alice Woodward at Easy Eats and Living Without; writers/bloggers/developers Amy Green, Nicole Hunn, Shauna James Ahern, and Karina Allrich; producers Pamela’s Products, Jules Gluten-Free, Better Batter… I could show you my address book and guarantee that at least 85% of those in the gluten-free world are women.

Alex Thomopoulos has an incredible blog and a web show on Hungry - Gluten-Free With Alex T - that I'm addicted to

Alex Thomopoulos has a beautiful blog and an insanely amusing web show on Hungry – Gluten-Free With Alex T – that I’m addicted to.

As someone who hasn’t eaten gluten-containing products in almost 20 years (minus an incredibly unhealthy and disastrous period in college), I’m mesmerized by how grandly the food world has changed, and the gluten-free food world has developed from a few ingredients and progressive health food stores to the insane trend – yes, trend – that it is now. This community basically made me a food writer, as other ambitions melted away when people around me wanted to know more about how to eat on an adapted diet.

I, personally, am probably not the best advocate for this way of eating.

When someone mentions to me that they’re cutting out out gluten and expects me to be excited and supportive, my response is always, “why?” I have a very specific illness that makes gluten dangerous to my health when eaten with any sort of regularity. It doesn’t stop with gluten, and two-thirds of my life I’ve spent having the same conversation with waiters, relatives and new friends about what I can’t and why I can’t eat certain things. Those with Celiac Disease have it even worse than I, and in support of them (and for many other reasons) I think those who can digest gluten should digest gluten. Yes, eating less simple carbohydrates and more healthy vegetables and proteins in general is better for everyone, and even more so for those with health conditions. But if I could enjoy the crackle of a crusty piece of bread or a slice of pizza, you can be damned sure I would.

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I Chat With… NYC’s Finest Tastemakers

At the table with Executive Chef April Bloomfield, photo Brent Herrig

At the table with Executive Chef April Bloomfield, photo Brent Herrig

I get all reflective around the holidays.

My birthday, too, when I come to think of it.

As the year comes to a close my current focus is on my health – following your passion into the kitchen and on the city streets as a writer puts a lot of stress on a body with a chronic illness. I love my jobs. Cooking, nourishing, interviewing, covering events, working on building up Easy Eats Magazine… they really fulfill me. But sometimes I let the balance tip too far towards overworking and too far from sustaining my health. As proven by having to take a day completely off of work this week – literally, calling in sick which I never do – because of back pain limiting my capability to cook.

But while my health is wavering, reflecting on the beautiful things I’ve gotten to accomplish this year is so satisfying.

One is the insane amount of talent I’ve gotten to sit from across a table, as I’ve interviewed chefs, restauranteurs, writers and mixologists/sommeliers. I’m blown away by who I’ve gotten to speak with.

The faces below are my most recent – taken before, during and after Hurricane Sandy ravaged my city. I have interviews on the calendar through January and am excited by the endless list of tastemakers to speak with.

For my entire gallery, visit my I Chat With… page. And for links to all the interviews, including the most recent ones pictured here, check out my page on Serious Eats.

Happy Friday,

– Jacqueline

I Chat With: Chef Floyd Cardoz of North End Grill

“When you do something good for people you don’t do good because you want something good to come out of it: you do it for the goodness of your heart and soul, what your parents teach you to do. I believe that if everybody does their part this would be a better place to live in.”

It’s not often that a chef moves me to tears in an interview, let alone twice.

Yet Chef Cardoz did just that.

Our chat together inspired many such moments, where his balanced belief system gave me confidence that kitchens aren’t always about ego, celebrity doesn’t always mean drama, and good food can be created by happy hands.

I could go on about how special this interview was, and how much I look forward to heading down to North End Grill again for a long lunch. Or how much I hope that Chef Cardoz and I do get to share a Portuguese meal together in Jersey (he’s from Goa, a Portuguese part of India where my Indian godfather is from which is how he met my Portuguese family). Or how the world, this city and my profession do seem friendlier knowing that such chefs are out there.

Head over to Serious Eats NY to read the full interview.

Stay dry and warm,

– Jacqueline

Oh, and if you missed it earlier today, check out my new “Private Chef-ing By the Book” post with Seamus Mullen’s HERO FOOD. I also interviewed Chef Mullen for this Serious Eats series!

I Chat With James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief of Saveur Magazine

When I set out to start shaping my writing career around the culinary world, I had no real expectation. At the time I was more focused on getting in front of a camera, sharing my dusty little recipes in a friendly environment for those struggling with food allergies. But, honestly, it takes a lot of energy to be a performer, and after 10+ years of pushing to find it I’ve realized sometimes my body doesn’t have that energy.

So writing became the focus. I’ve always been a reader, and an observer, and been most excited by what excites others – hence why I wanted to slip into the skin of another person as an actor, or make documentary films on other kinds of performers, or now interview chefs in their own kitchens.

I remember my first issue of Saveur Magazine… or at least the first I purchased and the one that made me sign up for a subscription shortly after. It was #123: Why Lamb Rules. Along with a diagram of cuts of lamb and recipes from all over the world on how to prepare it, the issue also featured different types of cinnamon and which apples proved to be best for baking (I remember all of this, including the images of lamb, cinnamon and apples, as I sit here… I didn’t have to look this up).

I read a lot about food. But Saveur has a special place in my heart. Reading it – both in print and now on my iPad – takes me all over the world and into the kitchens and dining tables of places I could only dream of eating at and exploring.

So today’s interview on Serious Eats was a special one for me. James Oseland is incredibly kind, passionate, energetic. His love of food and his trajectory with how he got to Saveur is delightful. He talked for over an hour, and it was a nightmare cutting down some truly entertaining tidbits for the article. He uses such colorful language so fluidly, and paints incredible pictures with his words.

One thing I pointed out in the interview is how much I admire how Saveur’s stories really do tie together food with family, culture, the earth, and god – however the subject perceives those to be. When Brent and I went to the Acores last year, several of the stories we were working on I had with Saveur in mind. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get back there together.

Until then, please check out this very special interview on Serious Eats.

Happy Tuesday,

– Jacqueline

I Chat With Chef Markus Jernmark and a Missed Milk Bar Monday!

Last night at around 9pm I sat down on the floor in my office at my dad’s house – empty and dark and quiet – and cried for about five minutes.

Life is just… full… right now.

I love everything I get to do… almost. But evidently it’s catching up with me. I cried for another 40 or so seconds today.

I need sleep. Everything is more dramatic when you’re sleep deprived.

I have a feeling more than 27 of you out there understand.

I picked 27 because it’s the first number that came to mind. No further reason.

Anyway, two fun things are out in the world today.

The first, my We Chat With… interview with Marcus Jernmark of Aquavit in NYC is out today on Serious Eats NY. I loved sitting down with Chef Marcus, and once again found myself rejuvenated and motivated by someone’s passion, dedication and sense of humor in the chaotic field of food. And his plates are seriously gorgeous and you want to eat them immediately – two things that don’t always go hand in hand in NYC nowadays. And look at that smile! Nice, nice guy. Click on the image to be directed to the interview. They come out Monday mornings, all by yours truly.

Chef Marcus Jermark, photo Brent Herrig Photography

The second, my Milk Bar Mondays ladies! I haven’t had enough days off to make the deliciously lengthy Christina Tosi Milk Bar creation for this week, which makes my heart sad. This week Audra of The Baker Chic and Erin of Big Fat Baker made a Sweet Corn Cereal Milk Ice Cream Pie that is about to set me into a third round of tears, it looks so good and I wish I had a gluten-dairy-free version waiting for me RIGHT NOW! I even bought the ingredients two weeks ago, then didn’t have a day to make the recipe. Sniff. Check out these beauties (and click the images to be directed to their sites). Only 2 of 6 of us posted this week… I have good feelings about the next one.  I hate missing this swap. But what can you do?

From Audra of The Baker Chic

From host Erin of Big Fat Baker

Now I’m back to balancing books, driving, transcribing, researching, chatting, eating and, always, inevitably, cooking.

Happy Monday folks,

– Jacqueline

Thai Basil Daiquiri from Dave Arnold of Booker and Dax

This is Dave Arnold of NYC’s Booker and Dax, a Momofuku creation on 2nd Ave. I interviewed Dave for my We Chat With… column on Serious Eats, NY. As he whipped this baby up – perfectly chilled and bright with Thai basil – he told me how we could recreate it quite similarly at home. Within a week, my photographer Brent was slugging them down and I was still thirsty for another one. A week later at the mess of the Great Googa Mooga festival, Booker and Dax mixologist Tristan Willey pour liquid nitrogen on the ground and passed a plastic container with the bright green concoction the small crowd in their VIP tent; after fighting for food and finagling profile and plate shots out of busy chefs, it was liquid perfection.

Head to Serious Drinks for Dave and Tristan’s recipe.

And if you’re in NYC, I’ll most likely be stopping in at Booker and Dax tomorrow night.

Slainte.

I Chat With… Some Really Awesome Chefs

In case I haven’t barreled you over the head about it enough, one of my favorite gigs is interviewing NYC-based chefs for Serious Eats NY. From the lauded and prestigious Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park to the oh-so-New-York Daniel Holzman of the Meatball Shops to the super-sweet pastry chef Stephen Collucci at Colicchio and Sons, I find so much inspiration and fun in these discussions!

So here are the past few weeks of interviews. You can also check out the whole series on my Words… page. If you have a few leisurely minutes of computer reading time ahead, I hope you enjoy seeing how we get food done in good ol’ NYC. Click on the images to be directed to the interviews.

Kenny Callagan of Blue Smoke, and this week’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party (photo Joshua Bousel)

Alex Stupak, owner of Empellon Cocina and Empellon Taqueria (photo Brent Herrig)

Harold Dieterle, Owner of Perilla and Kin Shop (photo Brent Herrig)

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