Sometimes, I look at these shows and I just laugh. The worst show — I can’t remember the name of it [I believe he’s referring to “Restaurant: Impossible”] — is with the crew-cut guy, I think he’s an ex-Marine. He’s got giant biceps and he’s barking at everyone, “You guys suck. We’re going to reinvent your restaurant.” Why is this a show? Because in reality, we’ve all known how to open a restaurant. When we did Next and Aviary, we came into a space that we knew we were going to totally renovate, but we did it in a more romantic fashion where we got six to eight key people who understood what we wanted to accomplish. It was a conversation. It wasn’t “I’m going to take a sledgehammer and blow out this wall!” Come on. I get that it makes for good TV and it pays everybody, but it would be nice if the dining and viewing public would be less interested in drama and more interested in true creativity.
Chef Grant Achatz on reality cooking shows, the new documentary Spinning Plates, his kids and more. Read it: More Interested in True Creativity: A Conversation with Grant Achatz
(Illustration by Dmitry Samarov)
What’s the oddest/most interesting ingredient combo?
KP: It’s a moving target, always adapting and evolving. One of our insights was we learned you can intensify the flavor of blueberries if you cook them with cinnamon. Likewise, if you’re doing something with pumpkin. You want to make pumpkin taste even more like pumpkin? The secret is bay leaves.
Read more in Drive-Thru: The Flavor Matchmakers: Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg
After my first look through Paula Haney’s The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie: Recipes, Techniques, and Wisdom from the Hoosier Mama Pie Company with Allison Scott (Agate, $30) I wanted to send her an urgent email. “There’s been some sort of error,” I would write. “You’ve listed your key recipes. How to make your dough, what flour to buy, how to knead it, what apples to use…you’re going to go under, Paula! Recall the book immediately!”
Fear not, and read more: Slicing Into Hoosier Mama’s Book of Pie
When you butcher 150 chickens a day, you have more chicken bones than God, and we’re turning as much as we can into stock—in fact, we’re doing them more as demis. We put the chicken bones in the biggest pots we have back there, cook them down for several hours, then change them to a smaller pot, cook them down more, and then we’ll take what was 150 chicken carcasses and turn it into three quarts of what we call “chicken gold.” Totally gelified, golden chicken stock, chicken demi. If you took that and just put it in a bowl with some water and a little salt, you’d be very happy with your life.
There’s nothing like the scent of charcoal and burnt meat that makes my inner Texan twitch with involuntary pride. Because you see, modern BBQ has its roots in the South, where people learned to tenderize tough cuts of meat by slowly roasting them over fire. And when you grow up on Jesus and BBQ, the taste of smoky meat trumps sex, friendship, money, and basically anything important in the world. So it was no surprise that I was Person #25 in line for the Windy City BBQ Classic event at Soldier Field, quivering in fervent anticipation for an afternoon of pure bliss.
—Judy Wu, waxing rhapsodic about barbecue. Read more: Ribs ‘n More at Windy City BBQ Classic
The ballots are in and the first Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff was a big win! Five teams of chefs fearlessly pushed the boundaries of what the humble red hot can do, while celebrity judges and hundreds of attendees deliciously decided whose was the top dog.
Read the full write-up in Drive-Thru.
Photos by Brad Snyder
Whether it’s lactose, sugar, or cholesterol, Americans tend to vilify nutrients or various foods as the root cause of food-related problems. Eliminating gluten apparently cures everything from OCD to infertility. Public health campaigns, mommy-at-home blogs and ideologically driven research (where funding is always a struggle) tell us that meat is bad, olives are good! But let’s use a bit of logic: what if the actual problem is not that red meat contains saturated fat but that we’re eating too much of it, thus lessening our consumption of fruits and vegetables? What if eating a raw-based diet only cured your asthma because you stopped fucking eating Oreos? A puritanical, fingerpointing mindset not only stigmatizes actual food, but it also leads to unnatural alternatives (e.g. tofurkey) that human stomachs have never processed.
Read more: Real Food “Dieting”
Every form of assistance includes waiting in line. It becomes painfully obvious when you have time to sit because you are unemployed. Sitting at the unemployment office, sitting at the food bank. Life becomes a waiting room, unsure when your name will be called and you’ll move up rank. I sat with my ticket in hand, 12 people in line in front of me. The room is mostly women with children (not surprising, as nearly 37% of those receiving help from the Food Depository are children). After about 35 minutes, my number is called. I hand over my driver’s license to confirm I am in the service area. Most pantries only serve individuals within their service area, so you usually go to a pantry based on your zip code. I signed my name, told them how many were in my household, checked off whether I was getting food stamps or not, told my next visit could be in two weeks, and then was sent to the food tables. At this pantry, people were working separate stations. A woman handed me some canned goods, then let me pick two canned soups from a box. At the next table a man handed me a box of cereal, and let me choose two dry goods. A woman then handed me a bag of produce, then a man gave me meat. I was suppose to get bread and eggs, but I was confused on the packaging of my things and was holding up the line, so the guy stopped to yell at another worker for not giving me correct information, thus forgetting to give me the rest of my food. It was a quick and well-oiled machine, and once my name was called I was done getting my food in less than 10 minutes.