Culinaria Group.

March 11, 2009

Chef Greg Grossman

Who is this kid, Greg Grossman? First popping up in full page color in the N.Y. Post, Pulse Section (followed a week later by none other than the amazing Gordon Ramsay) I got to personally meet him at the James Beard Foundation Benefit “Chefs and Champagne” Award Ceremony for Wolfgang Puck this past summer in the Hamptons.

Seeing him speaking to press, I decided to trail after him as he spoke to chefs at tasting tables. Many people seemed to know him (living in the Hampton’s) but listening to the conversations he had about food, ingredients and methods of preparation with some of the top talents in the food service industry was pretty incredible.

For a young man of 13, he was gracious , funny and extremely mature for his age. I asked him for a card, Chef Greg Grossman of Greg Grossman Catering but I already knew about the catering crews he put together for some local high end Hampton’s events as well as him working in kitchens and cooking dinners for private familys. He ran into a person who actually thanked him for a recipe he emailed her!

Striped Bass, Local Fruit Gastrique, Mango Foam , Saba Crudo

There was an impressive interview on Plum

TV with Chef Michael Romano of Union Square Hospitality Group where young Mr. Grossman was erudite and respectful after preparing 3 amazing dishes right on the set with his Waring cooktop and ISI cream whipper of course, served on his favorite Steelite dishes.

So, I was not surprised to see Greg at the NY ….at the Javits Center a few weeks ago. He said he was there to visit suppliers that he has become friendly with and meet new vendors that he could introduce to members of the 3 web…he administrates…with almost 4,000 members and soon to double if he convinces 2 other sites to join forces.

What I did find out was that Greg is passionate about helping raise money for charity, and works for free to help any charitable effort that might need him. He wants to plan a fundraiser this summer for Share our Strength, the group that raises money to feed children in the U.S. and backed wholeheartedly by many in the Food Service industry.

After seeing him again, I made it my goal to set up an interview over the phone yesterday. Chef Grossmans newest project is Culinaria Group.(CulinariaGroup.com) Though Culinaria Group web presence is under construction, that does not stop young Greg from reaching out, making connections and continuing his knowledge of cooking with the wonderful people he has been able to meet. Culinaria Group is a culinary testing and promotion company, that will help chefs around the world get connected with new techniques, recipes, ingredients, and equipment, in order complete Molecular Gastronomy oriented tasks in commercial and home kitchens world-wide. “Our mission is to teach, develop, learn and promote” Grossman said. Through the grape vine, I also heard that a TV show is in the works, Greg had no comment. I think we will be seeing a lot of this young man.

Greg was heard saying, “ This is a very tough economy and people in the business need to help each other. We need to come up with creative ideas especially in the food industry to protect our farmer, manufacturers and suppliers. People all around the world are starving and most people don’t even realize that so many children in this country go to bed hungry. If we all figure out how to help each other then we can make sure we have the ability to be charitable and help others while keeping our businesses healthy. Development is important, and we are here to connect chefs with new technologies to enhance THEIR dishes and the DINERS experiences. Molecular Gastronomy is not a way of changing food, but enhancing it, and we will do everything in our power to keep it fresh, and delicious.”

Keep it up Greg!

-Danny

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Alinea, the cookbook

March 9, 2009

Only it’s not really a cookbook.  I received a copy last week and am posting now about it to say that it is real and that it is extraordinary.  I wrote the introduction, which is not why it’s extraordinary, and Jeffrey Steingarten wrote an essay on what it’s like to dine at Alinea, and Michael Nagrant and Mark McClusky (Wired editor who wrote about Achatz here) also contributed essays, good stuff all, but that’s to be expected.

Alinea is a big fat book weighing more than 6 1/2 pounds (3 kilos), exquisitely photographed, designed and packaged.  Again, to be expected, all of which it excels at, and the book will surely hold it’s own against this season’s big books from the most innovative chefs working today.

Fen_0153What makes Alinea extraordinary—beyond the difficult task it set out to accomplish, which was to create a sense of the restaurant in book form and which it, in my not-unbiasesd opinion, achieves—is the nature of its creation.  Grant and his partner Nick Kokonas, along with designer Martin Kastner and his wife, photographer Lara Kastner, wanted to do it on their own and so they have.  Kastner, I believe a sculptor by trade, had never designed a book.  His wife had never photographed a book, food or otherwise.  Grant and Nick had never done a book either.  And they were told by numerous publishers (in a nasally dismissive tone, Kokonas suggested) that they just didn’t have the skill or experience to do what they wanted to (“Gray pages?!  You can’t do gray pages!”  “You can’t sell a book like this at that price.”)  And yet here they have excelled at every level.  And they’ve created a website that works in tandem with the book, eventually to be available to all.  Not least of the group’s accomplishments may not be visible when you see the book—the publishing model Kokonas created, which allows the publisher 10 Speed Press, to sell it at a competitive price (Kokonas discusses it here).  How competitive a price?

Donna, mouth open at the beauty of it, leafing through my early copy asked, “How much is this?  Like a hundred and fifty?”

“Fifty,” I said.  She couldn’t believe it.

Fen_0147_2

Tilapia, a tasty farm-raised fish originally from Africa, has become more and more popular here in the states. I recently brought home a whole tilapia from our local Asian fish market and made quite a mess of trying to fillet it myself. Dad pitched in, with no more luck than I, and we ended up throwing the pieces (you couldn’t quite call them fillets anymore) into a fish stew. Now we know better. Just buy the straight fillets. Tilapia are delicious, and relatively inexpensive compared to other fish. Here is a quick and easy, one-pan way of preparing this versatile fish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 6-8 ounce tilapia fillets

METHOD

tilapia-pimiento-1.jpg tilapia-pimiento-2.jpg

1 In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute more. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring sauce to boiling.

tilapia-pimiento-3.jpg

2 Gently place the fish fillets in the pan and scoop some of the sauce over the fillets. Return to boiling. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. With a wide spatula, lift fish from skillet to a serving dish. Spoon sauce over fish. Serve with rice, and/or crusty bread.

Serves 4.

Beetle juice?

March 9, 2009

I watched a Canadian news show last night. It stated that a certain beetle is being killed, dried and ground and then added to food – it adds a red colour to food and this is done apparently, so the food labels can claim, “natural colour” is used, as opposed to “artificial colour.” In Canada, that is all the label needs to say, however, in the USA, the rules are more stringent and this additive”beetle juice” is given the name, “cochineal” or, “carmine.” The report stated that rarely, someone has an allergy and one little boy was critically ill until it was discovered that this additive was in his yogurt. I have to say I was gobsmacked to find out that dried beetles are being used as an a food additive. Is it just me, or were any of you aware of this?