Memorial Day Weekend
I went to the National Restaurant Association Show at the McCormick Center in Chicago this last Memorial Day Weekend for the first time. If you can imagine anything food related, it's probably there. The event is billed as the largest foodservice and hospitality show in the Western Hemisphere and draws over 50,000 attendees. It is said that it literally takes 2 full days to actually see the entire show. It has an amazing collection of commercial kitchen equipment, chinaware, glassware, silverware, and a myriad of food-type services.While I was at the show, I did a series of cooking demos with Chef John and Chef Brooke from McCain Foods. We were trying out a brand new product line called Chef Sensations which features a lot of premium grilled and fire roasted vegetables and fruits. The line was developed to help mid-range and chain restaurants to put a regional and ethnic spin on their menus without requiring a lot of extra labor hours. We had a great time creating new takes on favorites. We used two unique blends: fire roasted corn, bell pepper, and black beans, and fire roasted onions, peppers, and pineapple.During one of my evening stays in Chicago I had a chance to join an old friend and fellow hockey father, Bill kohl. Bill and I had an extraordinary dinner at Les Nomades. Les Nomades, a four star restaurant, serves classical French dishes with a contemporary flair. We had a great meal of lobsters, sweetbreads, wraps, truffles and other delicious items. Excellent cuisine.....great service. You can check out the complete menu at http://www.lesnomades.net/.My next stop led me straight to New York to do the CBS Early Show on Memorial Day. It was a great way to kick off the cook-out summer season.Hannah Storm and Harry Smith joined me for a little barbecue grilling. Watch the video by clicking here.
It has been a very hectic four months. I have made over sixty appearances between January and April of this year which has helped to develop my business, The American Chef, and promote my book.Recently, I was in Dallas as a guest speaker at the Best American Teen Chef Competition. This is the second year that I have had the honor to attend. The competition is run by Art Institutes International . Art Institutes does a tremendous job educating the next generation of young chefs. I think that the regional finals competition could be the highlight of a young chef’s career.After Dallas I spoke and cooked at the opening dinner for the American Council of Engineering Companies annual convention here in Washington D.C. I had a great time at the convention. I got to move around the room and talk with over 400 attendees. There were lots of hilarious questions to answer; I think the amount of wine consumed had something to do with that. Another highlight of the evening was a tongue in cheek comedic debate between impersonators of Hillary Rodham Clinton and George W. Bush. This mock debate was very funny.On May 8th I headed off to Wisconsin for a couple of days. There I talked to students and the faculty of the Waukesha Technical College which is located just outside of Milwaukee. I spoke at both a lunch and a dinner. The highlight of this visit was going behind the scenes to give a cooking demo and talk to about 20 of the students at the school. The students there are very inquisitive folks. They asked lots of good questions on how to succeed in the food and beverage business. The culinary program at Waukesha Technical College is very progressive and is taught by some extraordinary chef instructors. You can learn more about Waukesha Technical College at http://www.wctc.edu.Finally, I got to do something I have wanted to do for quite a while! I did a book signing with an old friend of mine, Marvin Sturman, of Calistoga Estates Vineyards. Marvin makes five great varietals, that are really like good old friends - each one is fun and easy to be around and not overly self important. Marvin's Wines are approachable enough to want to drink everyday. If you get the chance, give Calistoga Estates Vineyards a try.The book signing and talk was in my old neighborhood here in D.C. at Calvert Woodley, Direct Importer and Retailer of Fine Wine and Spirits. The event had a good turn out and I signed about 120 books.Now I am off to Chicago for The National Restaurant Association Restaurant Show. This event will be big. There will be celebrity book signings by many celebrity chefs, including: Marcus Samuelsson, Thomas Keller, Ming Tsai, Cat Cora, and Rick Bayless.
City by the Bay
The Acme Chophouse Restaurant in San Francisco was the perfect setting for a local Bay Area tv program I interviewed for back in February. It's a swanky upbeat steakhouse that was started by Chef Traci Des Jardins of Jardinere. The restaurant sits on the eastside of the PacBell Park where the Giants play ball. When I entered the restaurant I was warmly greeted by exec. chef Thom Fox, formerly of Colonial and Fog City Diner. Thom Fox is strikes me as extremely personable man. It was a pleasure to be in his kitchen. www.acmechophouse.com I was told by Lorraine Battle, the food stylist on the set that day, that the CBS-5 "Eye On The Bay" show is one of the better local feature shows in Northern California. And, after finishing the shoot I could see why she made that comment. Liam Mayclem did a great job with the interview. Liam is a Scot who built a good portion of his career through British radio. Now, Liam is a major correspondent for the "Eye on the Bay". Liam and his crew handled the whole segment with ease and professionalism. It was easy to joke, laugh, and have fun while we cooked. We prepared a pecan crusted lamb with morel sauce and talked about some of Presidents Clinton and Bush's favorite foods.For my friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can catch "Eye On The Bay" on KPIX channel 5, Tuesday, May 8 at 7:00pm. http://cbs5.com/eyeonthebay
photographs by Kiyomi
I had the opportunity to be the headliner at Capital Cooks!, a benefit for Habitat for Humanity here in Washington D.C. The Washington Design Center’s kitchen, bath, and building products showroom opened up its doors to host the Capital Cooks! fundraising party. Twelve chefs from all over D.C. were featured, including Roberto Donna from Bebo Trattoria, Michel Richard of Citronelle, and Tracy O' Grady from Willow Restaurants. The house was full of several other top level chefs who served up some spectacular signature dishes. There were about 1,000 people there. Each one of the chefs had a chance to cook in the model kitchens and speak with guests as they moved through the showroom. The Design Center is a spectacular venue; it is an interior design and equipment showroom for high end residential designers. The showcase has about 50 different kitchens, each one more spectacular than the last. They range from traditional to way over the top modern. merchandisemart.com/dcdesigncenter It was a great time to meet up with some of my old Washington friends, both chefs and clients. And as always, the Red Curried Sweet Potato Soup that we served was a big hit. Well, I'm off to Dallas to speak at the Art Institute’s Best Teen Chef Competition. Take a look at http://www.artinstitutes.edu/btc/ for more info. It should be a lot of fun.
I am out promoting my book in Nashville, Tennessee. I spoke at the Southeastern Regional ACF Conference. ACF regional conferences include a large mix of industry professionals and young culinary apprentices. I got the chance to talk about the industry perspective of what it was like to work in the White House. Most of my audiences typically consist of associations, private parties, or corporate groups. Today I talked with my peers. Usually, my only interaction with culinary professionals is with those who cook with me for an event. It was a pleasure to answer questions that were more professional in nature than social. Approximately 300 copies of my books sold to attendees. Proceeds from the book sales were donated to the ACF.
I've had a lot of fun, but I'm looking forward to going back home. Tomorrow night I will be back in Washington D.C. at the Merchandise Mart. It will be good to do something in Washington for a change.