Sometimes it’s easier to save a life than serve a diner. This is some of the wisdom I recieved from Nader Salti, a Jerusalem born practicing surgeon, who owns and operates Saltaus restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood in his free time. In this week’s podcast we talk about street food in Jerusalem, the challenges of restaurant entrepreneurship, and Saltaus chef Brad Phillips, previously of Nomi and Blackbird restaurants. Advertisements
In Boston, some folks consider the proximity of a Dunkin Donuts franchise when purchasing a new home. According to a short New Yorker piece last year, allegiances to a particular store can be measured in the number of steps it takes to reach the front door.
If Paul Kahan was a musician, he’d be a critic’s indie darling. Kahan makes a career of flying below the radar, all the while turning out sublime cuisine. Even though he won the James Beard award for Best Chef Midwest and was named Food and Wine Best New Chef in 1999, he skipped the limelight, avoided writing ego driven cookbooks, and focused on his craft. In contrast to his fellow Food and Wine Best New Chef classmate, Rocco Dispirito, there was no reality show restaurant meltdown for Kahan.
If the writer thing didn’t work out, Michael Ruhlman could have always opened a restaurant. On the afternoon I interviewed the writer and James Beard Award winner, he cooked a lunch of sweet cured confit pork belly which we ate on crusty French bread with Dijon mustard and a few glasses of Pinot Noir. It was exceptional. Thankfully, his food writing is even better.
Chef Rocco Whalen of Fahrenheit Like a geographic Rodney Dangerfield, the Midwest gets no respect. Our culinary consciousness, much like our artistic one, veers to the coasts. Whether it’s the California stylings rooted in locally grown politically vetted food of Chez Panisse or the celebrity studded tables of Mario Batali’s neo-Italian empire in New York, there is often no in-between.
Lelolai bakery’s coconut flan I hate champagne. Well, I used to. On a preposterous whim, I asked my folks to get me a bottle of Dom Perignon to celebrate my college graduation. My dad took me seriously and came through with the trademark bottle – a dark shade of green, almost black, bearing the golden shield marking the house of Moet. I stared at it reverently for almost a year, in two separate apartments, as an unmistakable talisman of the fine things to come.
Besides my Polish grandmother, no one, except Chef Michael Symon, has done more for the humble pierogi. Using his father’s recipe, Chef Symon incorporated the lowly dumpling into gourmet cuisine by stuffing it with lobster and crab. Chef Symon calls upon his heritage, whether it’s his mother’s Greek and Sicilian ancestors, or his father’s Eastern European roots , and refines the best examples of those cuisines. He also likes to throw in a dash of Cleveland, avoiding pretension and striving for accessibility in his food.
The wacky interiors of Opera If you were binging on absinthe and someone dropped you in the alleyway of a Beijing brothel, it would probably be pretty akin to dining at Opera restaurant in Chicago’s South Loop.
La Sardine’s Bouillabaisse I never met an organ meat I didn’t like. This has become my eating mantra. It makes me sound like a culinary bad ass and makes the chicks swoon. Food network chicks anyway.