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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Feature Archive 'Profiles in Food: Interviews'

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« Previous Entries

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Newer Entries »
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12.05.06

Rhapsodic Return

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Steve Chiappetti made his bones at Mango, Grapes, and Rhapsody. He was really one of Chicago’s first celebrity chefs. In 2000, he closed all of his restaurants and took some time off to raise his kids, pursue photography, work on a book, and start a bakery with his wife. He returned in 2003 with Café Le Coq in Oak Park, where his sweetbreads in a vanilla and Moroccan BBQ sauce were one of my favorite dishes in 2003. Now, Chiappetti’s breathing new life into Viand (155 E. Ontario St.; 312-255-8505), an American bistro that he’s patterning after Mango. In this podcast we touch on life before and after the break, what it’s like to cook for movie stars and their dogs, and the famous Chicago based family business, Chiappetti Veal and Lamb.

If you have Adobe Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Steve Chiappetti Interview

11.13.06

A Singular Gastronomy

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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A scene from the movie Blow between Johnny Depp (George), who plays a drug dealer, and his father Ray Liotta (Fred):

FRED
I just don’t know what you’re thinking. I don’t understand your choices. You know, the police are looking for you.

GEORGE
I know. I’m great at what I do, Dad. I mean, I’m really great.

FRED
Let me tell you something, son. You would have been great at anything.

The thing I’ve learned in the last year of interviewing food personalities is that great chefs, like Depp’s character, would be great at anything they do. Great chefs don’t bow to economic pressure and buy substandard product, poorly sauce plates, or overcook protein when the weeds are high. They adhere to their principles and an idea of quality no matter the consequence.

Great chefs work clean, treat the mincing of rosemary, the segmenting of citrus, and the sweeping of the floor with the same importance as writing a menu and inventing a new dish. Great chefs are always in the moment. Chef Rick Tramonto once told me that Charlie Trotter’s philosophy was that “If everyone in the restaurant came in and did one thing better than they did the day before, then you’d have 50 people doing one thing better each day.” That’s a powerful message and it’s ultimately the hallmark that great chefs strive to do each day better than the one before. Grant Achatz is one of those chefs.

Achatz’s restaurant Alinea was recently named the #1 restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine for many of the reasons outlined above. In this podcast Achatz talks about what it means to be committed to a vision of constant evolution, perfecting something, throwing it away, and starting again. We also talk about customer expectations, why molecular gastronomy isn’t a meaningful label, how family meal or “comida” is different for the Alinea staff, and of course the most important question, what is Achatz favorite Potbelly sandwich?

If you have Adobe Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: GrantAchatzInterview.mp3

11.01.06

Red Hot

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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maneet

Chef Maneet Chauhan - photo credit: Tuan Bui

40 men were interviewed, but only she was hired. Chef Maneet Chauhan is burning it up with a new fusion of spicy Indian and Latino fare at Vermilion restaurant. In this podcast, Chauhan talks about Indian food in America, where she likes to eat in Chicago, and how to pair wine with Indian food.

If you have Adobe Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: ManeetChauhanInterview.mp3

10.30.06

Matador

Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Andrew Zimmerman plates Octopus Terrine

Restaurant kitchens are the secular hells of our society, where oppressive heat is the devil. Yet heat is also the inescapable philosopher’s stone that transforms food through the alchemy of cooking, and on this Saturday night, where a flashing LED sign on Western Avenue registers 92°F, the Del Toro kitchen in Wicker Park swelters like an August afternoon in a Madrid bullring. More »

10.23.06

Counter Agriculture

Profiles in Food: Interviews


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covelli

Chris Covelli of Tomato Mountain Farms

The last time I was awake at 4a.m. I was drunk. This time, it would have helped. Rousing myself at that hour, driving in a half-bleary state and shooting across the inky blacktop of the Kennedy, I was sure that the thin threads of my neural network had finally snapped. More »

10.09.06

All In A Day’s Work

Profiles in Food: Interviews


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michael maddox

Luxuriant plants dance in the stream coming from the hose trained on them. The tall, sandy-haired farmer’s son who is doing the watering strides gently but confidently among the tidy rows of healthy herbs, vegetables, fruits, and flowers. However, this farmer’s son is not attired in overalls. Instead, he sports a spotless, white jacket with a line of embroidery that identifies him as Michael Maddox, chef/owner of Le Titi de Paris, the celebrated French restaurant in Arlington Heights. More »

10.03.06

Always in Good Taste

Food Production, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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cinnamon

The heady fragrance of black pepper and cinnamon began to tease my senses while I was still a block from the store. As I entered the attractive Evanston shop, a rich, almost intoxicating blend of aromas enveloped me, drawing me into the warm, woody interior, towards the walls and shelves of jars filled with tantalizing delights from the four corners of the earth. Before me was an astonishing array of lovingly prepared, freshly ground herbs and spices—from ajowan seed to za’atar. No wonder Julia Child loved this place. More »

07.28.06

Seasonal Spirits

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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green drink

Adam Seger is the Charlie Trotter of cocktails. Actually, Trotter doesn’t serve spirits in his Lincoln Park restaurant, so it might be more appropriate to call Seger the Grant Achatz of spirits. The important thing is that Seger, also the general manager and sommelier at the Nuevo Latino restaurant Nacional 27 in Chicago, is blurring the distinction between the bar and the kitchen. He’s leading a wave of mixology that focuses on creating balanced cocktails from farm fresh locally sourced produce, with homemade liquors, aromatic infusions and spiced drink rims. As Seger puts it, “I think about food and how I can translate that to a liquid form.”

A lot of this philosophy comes from Seger’s time working with Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand at Tru and Thomas Keller at the French Laundry. Seger was even hired as the pre-opening GM of Keller’s new york outpost Per Se. For this podcast, Adam and I met at Chicago’s Green City Market so I could see how he constructed his weekly market based cocktail list.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Adam Seger Interview

If you would like to read about the experience, view the companion article I wrote for Newcity Chicago here

06.28.06

Dirty Sugar Cookies

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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This week I speak with Ayun Halliday, a saucy, hip New York City mama. She’s written a food memoir called Dirty Sugar Cookies, which is a wry romp chronicling Halliday’s path from fussy childhood eater with a “pinched” sense of culinary adventure, to wanderlusting adult chomping on Bahn Mi in Vietnam and Mangosteens in Thailand, and then karmically back to her current role as a mother of her picky eating daughter, Inky. It’s a great read for frustrated parents, gourmands, and even the pickiest of eaters.

In this podcast, we talk about great Bahn Mi in New York, raising picky eaters, ramen noodles, the hazards of writing food memoirs, and more.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Ayun Halliday Interview

06.10.06

Grape Conversation

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Alpana Singh

This week, we catch up with Master Sommelier Alpana Singh. Singh is the director of wine and spirits for Chicago’s Lettuce Entertain you restaurant group in Chicago. She’s also the host of Check Please, Chicago’s popular PBS restaurant review show.

At 26, Singh was the youngest person ever to garner the Master Sommelier title. There are only 120 Master Sommeliers in the world, and only 13 women have earned the distinction in North America. The MS diploma exam includes a blind tasting of 6 wines, for which the sommelier must name the grape varietal, country of origin, district of origin, and vintage. This is certainly a monumental task, even for the most distinguished palate.

In the podcast interview we talk about fusion cooking, whether the newest generation of wine drinkers is being exposed to good wine, the hazards of dating a sommelier, and drinking champagne with Mahatma Ghandi, Bill Clinton, and Larry David.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Alpana Singh Interview

05.22.06

Cool Beans

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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beans

Throw away the Folgers.

If your coffee comes from metal cans or has been sitting in the icebox for months next to that freezer burned box of Fudgsicles, throw it out, and then listen to this week’s podcast.

This week I sit down with Thomas Meinl, the fourth generation from Vienna’s Julius Meinl coffee roasting family, and Doug Zell, the founder and CEO of Chicago’s craft coffee roaster, Intelligentsia. We talk about issues of fair trade, the economics of coffee, the best way to brew coffee, the story of how coffee came to Vienna, and eating mole and drinking Mezcal in Oaxaca.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Thomas Meinl and Doug Zell Interview

Go inside Intelligentsia’s newest cafe with a photo slide show from Hungry photographer Tuan Bui.

Go inside Chicago’s Julius Meinl Cafe with a photo slide show from Hungry photographer Tuan Bui.

05.11.06

The Kitchen Economist

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Bruce Sherman

In this week’s podcast interview we sit down with Bruce Sherman of Chicago’s North Pond Restaurant. Bruce Sherman was named Food and Wine Best New Chef in 2003. He’s a graduate of Penn, the London School of Economics, and spent years living in India learning to cook seasonally from what was available each day at the local produce vendor or “wallah”. Chef Sherman is one of the most socially conscious chefs in Chicago. He’s been a huge proponent of the small family farmer, instrumental in growing Chicago’s Green City Market, and a member of the Chef’s collaborative, an organization that that teaches about local, artisanal, and sustainable cuisine. In this week’s conversation we talk about Chicago’s foie gras ban, the economics of running a restaurant, his time in India, and what it’s like cooking for Julia Child.

Also, listen for details on how you can score some free Julius Meinl coffee and Tea.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Bruce Sherman Interview

Go inside North Pond’s kitchen with a photo slide show from Hungry photographer Tuan Bui.

04.27.06

Surgeon of Saltaus

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Nader Salti

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.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Nader Salti Interview

Check out our photo slideshow of Saltaus by photographer Tuan Bui.

04.21.06

Blackbird Cooking in the Dead of Night

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Paul Kahan

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.

Like an indie band, Kahan makes sure he’s saying something with his art. He pays attention to the politics of the plate, using organic products, developing relationships with independent purveyors, and always respecting seasonality. This is no mere lip service. Kahan was instrumental in building up Chicago’s Green City Market which supports small family farms.

Along with Charlie Trotter and Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan and Blackbird paved the way for independent restauranteurs and played a role in defining Chicago’s current fine dining scene.

Fans of Kahan will be exicited to hear he may be opening a gastropub in Chicago later this year. In our podcast we talk about the vision for this new concept, sustainable agriculture, meat cures, the power of chefs, the influence of architecture on food, and whether chefs take themselves too seriously.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Paul Kahan Interview

Check out our photo slideshow of Blackbird restaurant and Paul Kahan by photographer Tuan Bui.

04.14.06

Soul of a Food Writer

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Michael Ruhlman

Writer Michael Ruhlman - Photo by: D.T. Ruhlman

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.

Ruhlman penned The Making of a Chef, a behind the scenes look at what it takes to make it at the Culinary Institute of Arts, and The Soul of a Chef, a profile of top chefs including Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Napa Valley.

His new book, coming out in May, The Reach of a Chef , examines Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago, Masa Takayama of Masa in New York City, and topics like Food Network’s impact on the culinary world.

Ruhlman also coauthored the French Laundry Cookbook, Bouchon, and Charcuterie:The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.

In this podcast we talk about, the impact of chef driven cuisine, whether chefs are artists, food personalities like Anthony Bourdain and Chef Thomas Keller, and charcuterie.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Michael Ruhlman Interview

04.07.06

Symon Says

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Mike SymonBesides my Polish grandmother, no one, except Chef Michael Symon, has done more for the humble pierogie. 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.

At Lolita and the soon to reopen Lola in Cleveland, along with his New York City venture Parea, Chef Symon is practicing what might be classified as New Midwestern Cooking, a unique style that has earned him honors such as Food and Wine Best New Chef, a James Beard nomination, multiple appearances on the Food Network including an Asparagus battle with Iron Chef Morimoto, and even his own chapters in the book, Soul of a Chef.

In this week’s podcast, I spoke with Mike Symon about curing his own meats, James Beard, his Iron Chef dream ingredient, and what’s going on in his new restaurants.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Michael Symon Interview

03.27.06

It Takes Matzo Balls

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Brad Rubin

No gutbombs or paperweights allowed. You need fluffy matzo balls, the kind that suck up rich chicken broth. You also need freshly steamed moist corn beef, peppery handcut pastrami. Throw in a syrupy frothy egg cream, a couple of crusty charming countermen, deep vinyl booths, and a healthy dose of chrome, and you got yourself a old style delicatessen and late night diner.

A student of the legends like Katz’s, Langers, and the Rascal House, Bradley Rubin, the owner and visionary behind Chicago’s soon to open Eleven City Diner (March 30, 2005, 1112 S. Wabash ) knows this. It’s why the only sleep he gets nowadays is a few winks curled up on the diner’s leather banquettes shrouded by a thin blanket and guarded by carved art deco wood patterns.

Rubin’s devoted his days (and his nights) to the details, whether it’s installing an old Bastian Blessing soda fountain or pinching the kreplach right. Rubin is a firebrand, slinging stories like a good counterman slings corn beef, and he’s devoted to keeping alive the community and spirit of the old coffee shops, late night diners, and jewish delicatessans with Eleven City Diner.

In this week’s podcast, we talk to Rubin about the old deli legends, whether you need Brooklyn water to make a good bagel, the elements of a great deli/diner, and the perils of entrepreneurship.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Bradley Rubin Interview

Go inside Eleven City Diner with a photo slideshow from Hungry photographer Tuan Bui.

03.20.06

Good Eats

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Alton Brown and a Dinosaur

Alton Brown attacks - Photo by Tuan Bui

We don’t swoon at the feet of food celebrities. In fact, everytime Giada De Laurentiis pops up on our tv screens with her carefully orchestrated cleavage and soft focus kitchen, we feel a little ill. It’s not that we don’t think she can cook, because we know she can. It’s just that it is such an overt attempt at capturing the 18-43 year old hormonally challenged male demographic. It’s food porn where the food isn’t even in the money shot. Besides, everyone knows that young males are watching Stone Cold Steve Austin throwing down on WWE Raw with bikini clad ladies dancing in the backround.

That being said, we were at the Home and Housewares show at Chicago’s McCormick Center last week when we ran into Alton Brown of Good Eats. He is clearly a food celebrity, but a celebrity who is teaching America about the science behind our favorite foods. He tackles the food we cook everyday and demonstrates the best techniques for success. It’s an idea we love.

In this week’s podcast, we talked about how Americans don’t break down their own poultry anymore, why Alton thinks Shun knives are the best bang for the buck, and in light of his own personal health scare, what he’s doing to promote healthy eating. We also caught some of Alton’s cooking demonstration at the show, and feature the question and answer session that followed. Find out what new shows the Good Eats staff has planned.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Alton Brown Interview

You can also view a slideshow of the Home and Housewares show, including pics of Mario Batali, from Hungry magazine photographer Tuan Bui.

Alton has also put out a couple of great cookbooks. You can order them here.

03.15.06

Zen Master

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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chef noah bekofsky

Chef Noah Bekofsky - Photo by Tuan Bui

Chef Noah Bekofsky’s first food memories were a macrobiotic diet of brown rice and miso soup, and he didn’t start eating meat until he was 14. Chef Bekofsky of Aria restaurant in Chicago’s Fairmont hotel grew up in the hippie confines of Eugene, Oregon, where it was all about fresh and organic. Rest assured, the man who was weaned on greens can cook a mean lamb chop. He’s also a well centered philosopher of life and food.

In this week’s podcast conversation, we explore the politics of the plate, talk about big and painful tattoos, about how to raise children with a healthy food consciousness, and for good measure, a bit about Tiger Woods and the Chicago Cubs.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Noah Bekofsky Interview

You can also view a slideshow of the Aria kitchen from Hungry magazine photographer Tuan Bui.

03.03.06

Old School

Podcasts, Profiles in Food: Interviews


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Paul Virant Makes Sausage
Chef Virant Works his Grandfather’s Sausage Stuffer

Paul Virant, of Vie restaurant in Western Springs, is a new school chef focusing on old school ways. Lots of chefs talk about cooking in season, using local products, and cooking from the heart. Many of those chefs are just throwing out buzzwords. Chef Virant, on the other hand, is working hard to source midwestern ingredients, preserving and canning fruits and vegetables, curing meats, foraging for mushrooms, and digging fresh ramps. He believes in the purity of food, and celebrating the simple bounty of the earth. When we spoke during this interview, I asked him who he’d invite to a dinner party he was throwing. His response, Jimi Hendrix, legendary French Chef Fernand Point, and famed ecologist Rachel Carson. Yep, an ecologist. Paul Virant is the real deal.

If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Paul Virant Interview

You can also view a slideshow of Vie from Hungry magazine photographer Tuan Bui.


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