For years I’ve wanted to devise a new way to present how-to cooking information on a show. There’s a reason why they’ve been dubbed dump-and-stir; because they’re inherently rote. Given that there are only about twenty things you need to know to cook just about anything, it’s inevitable that presenting a few of those techniques is going repetitive after oh, 40 or 50,000 shows.  Yes, people are pushing the format.  Michael Symon does a good job with Cook Like an Iron Chef. Others are trying to put cooking info in the framework of a story, adding layers of media. My old friend from Cooking Under Fire, Ming Tsai, invited me out to be part of his ninth season of “Simply Ming,” a how-to, yes, but always interesting, always informative, with travel, and knowledgeable guest chefs Read On »

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Just returned to snowy Clevelandtown, a twenty-two hour haul from Lyon via Heathrow and O’Hare, thinking all the while on the Bocuse d’Or competition and feeling bad for Team USA, and wondering what to make of it all. “This was a tough one to swallow,” Chef Kaysen wrote in an email, hours after the competition.  “I think I need some months to really draw all the inspiration that was seen there.  I realized in the beginning of the day after seeing both Denmark and Sweden that we did not play the game—we went there and did our food, we did what we thought was right because we loved it so much, but clearly there is a defined game in the way that food that should be presented.  Once that is figured out, then we have Read On »

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Flew out to southern California last week to be with one of Donna’s oldest and dearest, almost entirely beaching it, but found time for one great restaurant meal and one day exploring little Saigon south of LA with the extraordinary White On Rice Couple, Todd Porter and Diane Cu. Diane, born in Vietnam two years before the family fled in 1975, and Todd, a native of Oregon, are photographers, videographers, writers, cooks and gardeners.  I met them in Ixtapa last January and was immediately impressed with their energy and work, but I didn’t quite appreciate how fine these two souls were until they invited me and Donna and the kids into their home, gave us a tour of their truly remarkable garden, then took us on a culinary tour of Little Saigon, including a bahn Read On »

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What began as a Bourdain initiated boondoggle turned into a great break in NYC for me and Donna with several restaurants I’d been eager to try. We arrived early, unloaded our bags at the most excellent Ace hotel (I highly recommend), then headed south to Balthazar, where we had hoped to get some breakfast—love their shirred eggs; it’s the perfect way to enter the city.  Alas, closed for renovations! The young ladies posted at the door to preserve customers sent us several blocks east to Bowery and Houston to the McNally’s pizza joint, Pulino’s, where we had our eggs, on pizza. (Why eggs on pizza aren’t more common, I have no idea; want to try it? Here’s a recipe.)  We’d just taken a seat at the bar when the chef, Nate Appleman, strolled in and Read On »

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I rubbed the brass pig snout in Florence hoping to rid myself of bad Florence karma (first time there, my girlfriend left me for another guy, second time there, Donna and I parted for what was planned to be a year’s separation; this time, only a crummy dish of carbonara happened to me, which wasn’t bad at all, so it seems the brass pig works). But even in May the place is thick with tourists, so I was only too happy to say arrivederci and head for the rural shelter of the Spannocchia.  This trip was filled with out-of-the-way places not much written about.  Like, Spannocchia.  Loved this place.  They raise the hogs on beautiful pasture and in woods, the interns take them to slaughter in as stress free a way as possible; they do Read On »

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