Celebrity Chefs Make Viewer’s Recipes On Virtual Potluck
Actor John Krasinski, best known for his work on The Office and as CIA officer Jack Ryan, began the online video series “Some Good News” to explore uplifting stories amid the coronavirus pandemic. One of Krasinksi’s episodes ended with a potluck, where he invited viewers to share their family recipes and then invited them on the show. Krasinki didn’t tell them that several celebrities would also be on the show to not only meet them but also make their recipes.
One viewer named Nana (only first names were used) sent in a recipe for a strong Quarantini with vanilla and orange vodka. Nana got the chance to meet actor Stanley Tucci, who whipped up her cocktail and loved it. Martha Stewart made the family pierogi recipe from another viewer, named Sarah, and she devoured the pierogies with glee. David Chang made a viewer named Shannon’s saucy chicken dish, while Guy Fieri whipped up the sloppy joe recipe from another viewer named Penny. All the viewers were completely surprised and elated at the opportunity to meet the celebrities, who truly enjoyed their recipes. Krasinski ended the feel-good show by announcing that some friends at PepsiCo were donating $3 million to Fieri’s “Restaurant Relief America” initiative, bringing Fieri’s total raised to more than $20 million. The initiative, in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association, sends $500 checks to restaurant workers who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus.
Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking by Bill Buford
Bill Buford was the founding editor of Granta literary magazine and the fiction editor of the New Yorker for eight years. His first nonfiction book, Among The Thugs, explored the fickle psychology and brutal reality of soccer hooligans hellbent on committing acts of violence in the UK. For his 2006 book, Heat, Buford threw himself into a culinary apprenticeship at Mario Batali’s acclaimed Italian restaurant Babbo in New York City as well as in other restaurants in Italy. Fifteen years later, Buford has gone all-in with his culinary obsessions, moving himself and his family to the gastronomic mecca of Lyon, France, where he trains as a chef.
In Dirt, Buford tells sharp-tongued stories of attending a pig slaughter, befriending a local baker, and apprenticing with some of the most decorated chefs in the world, including Michel Richard, the acolytes of the late Paul Bocuse at Institute Bocuse in Lyon, and the demanding chefs at three-Michelin star restaurant, La Mére Brazier, which first opened in Lyon in 1921. Gradually, the Lyon locals come to accept the expat and his family into their community.
With characteristic ease and humor, Buford’s writing captures the intensity of working in a professional kitchen, where “unregulated bullying and humiliation” remain acceptable paths to perfection, where there is only one correct way to peel asparagus, and where it has always been and will always be about following the rules. In the process, the author plumbs the latent connections between Italian and French gastronomy and reveals the secret to what make Lyonnais food so exceptional: “a chef’s access to nearby ingredients” in a storied place where the soil is sometimes revered more than those who walk on it. At times hilarious, ascerbic, intimate, and heartbreaking, Dirt is a juicy read even if you don’t know your brunoise from your bavarois.
Michelin Guide Shares Recipes From World Famous Chefs
In an effort to bring restaurant quality meals to your home kitchen, the Michelin Guide is sharing some of the world’s top chef’s favorite homemade recipes on its Instagram, every day. Though big names like Gordon Ramsay and Andy Yang may spark some intimidation among home cooks, these recipes don’t discriminate when it comes to skill set.
The recipes keep coming, and there’s a huge variety of options to choose from. If you’re craving dessert, try Jacques Faussat’s orange cake, Jean Sulpice’s chocolate cake, or Christophe Hay’s strawberry charlotte cake. If you want to up your pasta game, try Gordon Ramsay’s marinara sauce or Alex Atala’s palm heart fettuccine carbonara, or bake your leftover noodles with Isabella Poti’s spaghettoni and green beans. The possibilities grow greater each day, and there are so many different dishes to choose from, all from the home kitchens of the world’s most renowned chefs.
Restaurateurs Torn As Landlords Demand Rent
While the coronavirus shutdown continues, delivery and takeout sales are not paying the rent for many restaurateurs. In February, the owners of Urban Bar-B-Que in Rockville, MD unsuccessfully requested rent relief from White Flint Express Realty Group. Owners David Calkins and Lee Howard were forced to close the location, but they still owe rent on their lease, which doesn’t expire until August. Calkins and Howard and Calkins offered their landlord all the equipment inside and their security deposit in exchange for being released from the lease. But in a written response from White Flint Express’s attorney, the landlord threatened to sue Calkins and Howard for the full amount of the least through August.
Other realtor-restaurateur relationships are less contentious. On March 13th, the owner of Buffalo & Bergen in Washington, D.C., Gina Chersevani, received an email from her landlord, Eric Korsvall of Massachusetts Avenue Properties. “You probably have a lot of pressing concerns with respect to your operations, staff, guests,” Korsvall wrote. “Paying your rent at 3<sup>rd</sup> & Mass might be a concern, and we want to help you by taking that off the table for a few months. We want you to take care of your people first, and to help you do that, we will forgo any rent due.” The offer released Chersevani from paying potentially tens of thousands of dollars in rent while under the economic pressure brought on by the outbreak.
These are just two examples on opposite ends of the spectrum. Even if some landlords grant temporary rent relief to restaurateurs, many owners face mounting expenses and reduced business prospects as the pandemic lockdowns are extended.
Some Restaurateurs Configure Pandemic-Friendly Dining Rooms
Gov. Brian Kemp gave permission to restaurants in Georgia to start table service again on Monday, April 27th, allowing many to dip their toes back into business. Gov. Kemp’s decision came after health data suggested the state’s death toll had peaked. The idea of reopening a dining room still seems unthinkable to many American restaurateurs, considering the nation’s death toll has exceeded 60,000 and the majority of U.S. states have remained locked down.
“There is no fancy meal right now that is worth my people’s health and the health of other people who come into a restaurant,” said award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, who runs restaurants in Atlanta and Athens, Georgia. While some restaurateurs remain opposed to the idea, others are finding ways to reopen safely. Yardbird, a popular restaurant in Hong Kong, China, has installed plexiglass partitions between diners so they can still see and interact with each other and the restaurant staff safely. The dining rooms in China must follow strict regulations, including a table distance of 1.5 meters, customer temperature checks, health declaration form signatures, and a requirement for both workers and customers to wear masks at all times. Masks may only be removed to eat or drink with an envelope for mask storage provided by the restaurant. “You don’t have that huge vibe,” said co-owner Lindsay Jang, who opened Yardbird in 2011 with chef Matt Abergel, “but it’s still good. It’s still a restaurant.”
Chef Gabrielle Hamilton Reveals Longstanding Vulnerabilities In Independent Restaurant Industry
Gabrielle Hamilton, award-winning chef/owner of Prune restaurant in New York City, found herself in a tough spot this past March–10 days of inbox-clogging chaos among those in the food industry searching for answers on what actions to take in the face of COVID-19. With sales dwindling day by day, on March 15th, Hamilton decided to pull the plug on the operation just five hours before New York Mayor Bill De Blasio enacted the city’s shutdown, according to her article in the New York Times.
After closing Prune and watching many other restaurants on her street close, Hamilton had a realization. The independent “restaurant” we know and love today may not survive this turmoil. “You can’t buy a $3 can of cheap beer at a dive bar in the East Village if the ‘dive bar’ is actually paying $18,000 a month in rent, $30,000 a month in payroll; it would have to cost $10,” she said. Chef-owned restaurants already operate on razor-thin margins. Most have been struggling to keep the lights on for years, as food and labor costs have risen and staff seek adequate health insurance.
Takeout, delivery, and contactless transactions have given many restaurateurs a life raft during the coronavirus shutdown. But some are not excited about running such impersonal restaurants in the future. After all, the entire industry is built on person-to-person hospitality. “I started my restaurant as a place for people to talk to one another, with a very decent but affordable glass of wine and an expertly prepared plate of simply braised lamb shoulder on the table to keep the conversation flowing, and ran it as such as long as I could. If this kind of place is not relevant to society, then it — we — should become extinct.”
Table For One In A Swedish Meadow
Linda Karlsson and her husband Rasmus Persson are opening a one-table, contactless restaurant at their home in Ransäter, Sweden. Set to open May 10, the restaurant will be named Bord för En, Swedish for “Table for One.” The idea was born after Karlsson’s parents, who are over 70 and at high risk for the coronavirus, visited their home unannounced. Persson and Karlsson simply sat them down at a table outside their home and served them food through the window, completely contact-free.
From opening day until August, one of their home’s two kitchens will be used solely for the restaurant. Reservations can be booked for one person a day anytime from 10 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. Bord för En offers guests a three-course breakfast, lunch, or dinner sent down a rope in a picnic basket. According to Persson, who grew up in Ransäter, Bord för En is possibly the first and only restaurant in Ransäter. The couple has received reservations from throughout Sweden and even Japan.
The entire menu is vegetarian, as the couple only occasionally eats meat that is humanely raised and locally sourced. Each course will feature a non-alcoholic beverage crafted by Persson’s childhood friend, Joel Söderbäck, who owns several upscale bars in Stockholm. Guests leave used plates and utensils in a bucket alongside the table between courses. When guests have finished their meal, the cost is up to them. Karlsson says, “There shouldn’t be a price tag that is too high for anyone to enjoy this” and believes that one-person meals will be here long after the pandemic subsides. .
European Restaurants Navigate Reopening Post-Lockdown
European countries are beginning to set dates and regulations for reopening restaurants, such as Austria’s date of May 15 and Italy’s target date of June 1. Socially distanced dining will make restaurants quite a different experience across the continent. In Austria, staff must wear face masks, no more than four adults may be seated per table, and there must be a minimum of 1 meter (about 3 1/4 feet) between patrons. In Madrid, Spain, the city council may require the installation of screens that separate diners at outdoor tables.
The French government has not set a specific date for reopening its 240,000 restaurants and cafés, but mid-June has been suggested. Other countries have begun various initiatives to help the restaurant industry recover. It Italy, where as many as 50,000 restaurants may close for good, the businesses can claim €600 ($655.69) for every month closed and tax payments have been postponed. Italian restaurateurs can also apply for subsidized bank loans to be paid back after two years. In Germany, to help jumpstart the restaurant industry recovery, economy minister Peter Altmaier announced the government would cut VAT taxes from 19% to 7% starting July 1.
Restaurant Worker Relief Fund Hits $20 million
The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF), founded by Guy Fieri and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), has recently reached a new milestone of $20 million after PepsiCo chipped in with a $3 million donation.
Initially opened for applications on April 2, the fund was set up as a one-time $500 payment for restaurant workers, operated on a “first-come, first-serve” basis. However, the fund site immediately shut down due to the overwhelming number of applications. After another try just one week later, the site was taken down again for similar reasons. By the third week of April, RERF was able to send their first award notice and the fund has since approved and notified over 10,000 hospitality employees.
To be eligible, restaurant workers are required to have been employed in the industry for at least 90 days, had significant loss of income as a result of COVID-19, and have documentation of these circumstances. Income loss includes cuts in hours and at least a 50% reduction in pay. RERF has been processing grants and delivering much needed cash to former restaurant workers for over two weeks now, said Rob Gifford, NRAEF president. Applications are being judged on eligibility and “not all 63,000 people who apply for the fund are going to be proved eligible,” said Gifford.
Brewers Dump Unsold Beer, Distillers Turn It Into Whiskey
As restaurants and sports stadiums remain closed due to the coronavirus, many food and drink businesses have pivoted to find new markets for their products. In Minneapolis, Bauhaus Brew Labs was forced to dump 900 gallons of its craft beer because it had reached its point of peak quality in storage. Beer distributors nationwide are sitting on stacks of unneeded kegs slowly approaching their expiration dates.
Some breweries are getting creative, providing crowlers (32-ounce cans) filled with draft beer. However, cans are in short supply and crowlers require expensive sealing machines. Crank Arm Brewing, in Raleigh, North Carolina has turned to plastic instead. Every week, Crank Arm sells 150 gallons of draft beer in plastic milk jugs.
Vermont beverage distributor Farrell Distributing is delivering kegs of beer to the Aqua ViTea Kombucha company. At Aqua ViTea, they decant and distill the beer, then donate it to Caledonia Spirits to make hand sanitizer. WhistlePig distillery in Shoreham, Vermont is making whiskey out of Farrell’s decanted beer. While these grassroots efforts help, most beer at craft breweries around the nation will not be saved.
Hybrid Grapes May Improve Wine Sustainability
One species of grape vine, Vitis vinifera, accounts for 98 percent of the wine we drink today, including varietals like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The remaining 2 percent comes from hybrid vines, and the wine world may be looking at a new normal working with more and more hybrids. The challenge with vinifera is their inability to naturally fight off diseases. For centuries, winemakers have routinely sprayed copper and sulfur on the vines to combat disease, and modern winemakers also use fungicides. However, concerns over the environmental impact of these viticulture practices have pushed wine experts to experiment with more and more hybrids.
Hybrids have historically been viewed as a lower quality alternative to vinifera. For instance, New York’s Finger Lakes region had been a hybrid-based wine industry until Ukrainian immigrant, Dr. Konstantin Frank, introduced vinifera to the region. Vinifera developed a reputation for producing more serious, dry wines, while hybrids became associated with cheap, sweet tasting wine, a perception that continues to this day.
But hybrids are showing promise not just in the field but also in the glass. The hybrids generating the most interest today are crossbred grape varieties with at least 85 percent vinifera in their genomes. These so-called PIWI or Pilzwiderstandsfähige (fungus-resistant) vines significantly reduce the environmental impact of treating vinifera. Jan Matthias Klein, a German winemaker who has been experimenting with PIWIs, says, “Quality-wise they’re on a par with traditional varieties.” Hybrid wines have been doing well in blind tastings in the area, and winegrowers have high hopes that hybrid wines may be on the brink of a resurgence.
Beyond Tequila: Diverse Agave Spirits Available In More Markets
The U.S. imports more tequila than any other country. Technically, tequila is a type of mezcal, a term encompassing any spirit that is distilled from the agave plant. Tequila is distilled from a particular species of the plant, Agave tequilana Weber var. azul or blue agave. But other spirits distilled from agave go by different names, including raicilla, bacanero, and sotol. These spirits taste more complex than most tequilas with a wide variety of flavor notes, including hints of cured ham, soft cheese, and cilantro.
Raicilla earned DO status (denominación de origen) in June 2019 and is made mostly in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, including in Puerto Vallarta. The agave there grows near the sea, often lending this spirit a minerally, briny taste along with hints of black pepper and citrus.
Bacanora was granted DO status in 2000 after being prohibited as moonshine for most of the 20th century. This spirit is made only from Agave Pacifica (A. angustifolia) in the dry Sonora desert region that borders Arizona and the Gulf of California. The dusty climate gives bacanora a drier, less smoky taste.
Sotol is made with the desert shrub Dasylirion, a different plant altogether. Various species of Dasylirion create different flavor nuances in sotol, but sotol usually has a gentle smoky finish from various woods such as acacia, mesquite and oak used to roast the shrub before distilling the liquid.
U.S. Meat Supply May Fall As Prices Rise
Last Sunday, Tyson Foods took out a full-page ad in multiple newspapers, including the Washington Post and the New York Times. The ad warned consumers and government officials that the U.S. food supply chain may be disrupted as a result of COVID-19, causing an increase in meat prices.
“The food supply chain is breaking,” said John H. Tyson, chairman of the executive board. “We have a responsibility to feed our country. It is as essential as healthcare. This is a challenge that should not be ignored. Our plants must remain operational so that we can supply food to our families in America. This is a delicate balance because Tyson Foods places team member safety as our top priority.” The company claims “millions of pounds of meat” will disappear from the market, causing prices to rise. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects beef prices to rise 1 to 2 percent this year, poultry as much as 1.5 percent and pork between 2 and 3 percent. Farmers will also continue to depopulate animals that can’t be sent to closed slaughterhouses, wasting significant amounts of meat that would otherwise be consumed. For instance, the Delmarva Poultry Industry reports that 2 million chickens were euthanized this month due to worker shortages.
Meatpacking plant closures have stemmed mostly from the crowded conditions in consolidated production facilities. “This spacing is difficult in a high-speed assembly-line environment,” said Gail Eisnitz, author of the book Slaughterhouse. Tyson workers claim that proper social distancing is nearly impossible on the line, and spacing will obviously slow down production and reduce profits. Workers also claim they were given confusing instructions about when to return to work and whether or not to come in while sick. In a statement last week, Tyson assured that it is testing all employees for symptoms of COVID-19 before reopening its shuttered plants. The company has installed infrared scanners to detect fevers and has said employees will have their temperatures regularly checked before shifts when the plants resume work.
Artisan Cheesemakers Pivot to E-Commerce and More
Fine cheesemaking is an industry composed of many small businesses, and it is scrambling to survive amid the pandemic. As shelter-in-place orders shut down most U.S. restaurants and cheese shops, sales of artisan cheese dropped by 30 to 75 percent, declines so high that farmers supplying cheesemakers have been forced to dump unsold milk. Smaller businesses along the cheese supply chain may be forced to close, while larger companies will likely survive, but not without significant damage. DiBruno Bros., a large cheese and Italian gourmet food shop in Philadelphia, recently laid off 100 of its 400 employees. “Retail is down about 30 percent,” said executive VP Emilio Mignucci. “Restaurant, catering and events are down to zero. E-commerce is up about 200 percent, which is not quite making up for other losses…Right now, it’s not about profit, it’s about being sustainable and turning product into dollars. We had a lot of inventory.”
Other independent cheese businesses have transitioned to e-commerce or selling a wider variety of products. In Portland, Oregon, Steve Jones reinvented his Cheese Bar in a matter of days. “We’ve become what I jokingly call a cheese bodega,” said Jones, who had a café business before the pandemic that seated up to 50 guests in the summer. “We’re the only ones in about a 20-block radius selling milk, eggs, flour, rice and beans.”
Retailers have explored as many alternative markets, online sales, and promotional efforts as possible, particularly in social media. John Antonelli of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin, Texas has created a real-time interface, Cheesemonger Live, and is making the proprietary software available to fellow cheesemongers. Other cheese shops can be listed on his site and customers click through to set up an appointment with a cheese expert for buying advice. To help American-made artisan cheeses survive the outbreak, cheesemakers around the country are urging consumers to search for artisan cheeses online or at local farmers markets.
2 Million Delmarva Chickens “Depopulated” Due to Lack of Workers
The Delmarva Poultry Industry, a trade organization based in Georgetown, Delaware, reports that two million chickens in Delaware and Maryland will be euthanized due to labor shortages amid the coronavirus. The organization did not name the poultry company involved but emphasized that this was a last-resort decision and the company would use “humane methods” accepted by state regulations and the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.
According to Delmarva, the decision came after attempting other alternatives, including “allowing another chicken company to transport and process the chickens, and taking a partially processed product to rendering facilities to utilize for other animal feed.” The company stated, “if no action were taken, the chickens would outgrow the capacity of the chicken house to hold them.”
James Fisher, the trade organization spokesman, estimates that this decision will have a “very small” effect on chicken availability among consumers. Last year, Delmarva produced 609 million chickens, representing $3.5 billion in value. Delmarva’s loss of 2 million chickens is about 0.3 percent of last year’s total chicken production. While not a huge loss, this sort of food waste has become a familiar last resort for farmers and food processors throughout the nation.
Trump Urges U.S. Meatpackers to Stay Open During Pandemic
President Donald Trump signed an executive order urging processing plants to remain open based on the Defense Production Act (DPA). Trump intends to keep slaughterhouses open as a part of a critical infrastructure necessary for feeding the country amid growing supply disruptions stemming from the coronavirus lockdown. The decision has sparked a conflict between America’s largest meat producers and unions and activists invested in protecting the health of plant workers.
The executive order was signed just two days after Tyson Foods took out full-page ads in multiple nation-wide newspapers claiming closed processing plants are critical components to the nation’s food supply chain. Plant closures have forced farmers to “depopulate” animals that would otherwise be headed for the dinner table. Milk that can’t be sold to processors is being dumped; poultry broiler operations are throwing away eggs to reduce supplies; and even some produce such as onions and cabbages rot away in fields or are plowed back into the soil due to labor disruptions.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) says if food workers are not kept safe, the food supply won’t be either. At least 20 meat processing plant workers have died, and 5,000 have either tested positive for the virus or been forced to self-quarantine, said UFCW. Even grocery store staff are reluctant to work if safety requirements haven’t been met. “People should never be expected to put their lives at risk by going to work,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. The White House has been discussing the order with meatpacking executives to determine what meatpackers need to stay open and operate safely to prevent food shortages, an administration official said.
Belgians Urged To Eat More Fries During Lockdown
As restaurants and sports facilities remain closed, millions of tons of potatoes have gone unsold worldwide. In Belgium, the birthplace of fried potatoes, the government has asked citizens to do their part by eating more frites (fries). Otherwise, more than 750,000 tons of the country’s potatoes could be thrown away. More than 5,000 Belgian frites stands are closed, and Romain Cools, Secretary General of potato industry association Belgapom, confirms that the potato surplus has resulted from low demand in the frozen potato sector. Belgians typically eat frites at least once a week. Now, they’re being asked to eat twice that amount to help save Belgian farmers.
According to Cools, the frozen potato sector accounts for roughly 75% of Belgium’s potato processing. The other 25% of the industry faired well during the pandemic because more people were snacking and cooking at home. Cools reports that the industry could lose €125 million (US$135.5 million) if surplus potatoes are not moved this year. To help the cause, Belgapom has begun an initiative to send 22.7 tons of potatoes a week to food banks. .
Filtered Coffee May Offer The Most Health Benefits
A 20-year study recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology claims that filtered coffee may lengthen your life compared to unfiltered coffee. The study observed over half a million Norwegian men and women between the ages of 20 and 79. Over a 20-year period, drinking filtered coffee was related to a 15% reduced risk of death from any cause, compared to drinking boiled or pressed unfiltered coffee, which increased the risk of death in men aged 60 and above.
Specifically, drinking filtered coffee was associated with a 12% reduction in risk of death from heart disease among men and 20% reduction among women. In the study, those drinking one to four cups of filtered coffee a day had the lowest rates of mortality. Study author Dag Thelle noted that filtering coffee removes substances that elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and explained how the study results are not due to variables such as age, gender, or lifestyle habits.
This 20-year study adds detail to previous studies revealing coffee’s health benefits, such as the 2017 umbrella study in The British Medical Journal that examined more than 200 meta-analyses and found that drinking three to four cups of black coffee a day may help lower the risks of heart disease, numerous types of cancer, and various neurological and metabolic disorders, as well as overall mortality.
Watch A Former Rocket Scientist Make Top-Notch Copper Cookware
Copper conducts electricity and heat faster than steel, aluminum, and most other materials. That’s why copper pots and pans are among the best you can buy: they respond quickly to temperature changes, making it easy to go from a rolling boil to a gentle simmer in seconds. But how is copper cookware made? Former aerospace engineer Jim Hamann shows you all the little details.
Hamann has been handcrafting copper cookware for more than 15 years. He makes his Duparquet line of cookware by first cutting a large disc of copper and trimming it on a lathe. Most of the disc becomes the bottom of the pan. To form the sides, he fits the disk onto a form on the lathe then manually bends the copper around the form using levers as the disk spins. Steady, even pressure is the key to straight sides, since the more that copper is worked, the stiffer it becomes. Next, holes are drilled into the side to attach a cast-iron handle with copper rivets, which are heat-softened then hand hammered into place. Hamann lines the interior with tin by melting the tin then evenly spread it by hand. After a final polish, the pans are ready for cooking up anything you can imagine. Watch Hamann demonstrate and discuss the process in this fascinating YouTube video.