More Timeline Food Facts

Thursdays are always a good day for looking back. And, I most enjoy looking back at iconic milestones in food history:

1959

  • Gaston Lenôtre, 44  opens a petit pâtisserie  in Paris.
  • The James Beard Cookbook is published
  • Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream factory opened in the Bronx by Polish-born Reuben Mattus
  • The Four Seasons restaurant opens for all.

1960 Domino’s Pizza opens in Detroit.

1961 Mastering the Art of French Cooking is published by Julia Child.

1961 Lutèce opened by André Surmain with chef André Soltner, at age 28. Continue reading

Food Timeline Begins

1946

  • M.F.K. Fisher writes Here Let Us Feast
  • Mrs. Paul’s Kitchens launches fish sticks
  • Brennan’s Restaurant opens. Creates competition for Dinner at Antoine’s with Breakfast at Brennan’s
  • Arthur Bryant opens Bar-B-Cue restaurant in Kansas City
  • Taillevent opens in Paris

1947  Reuben sandwich huge hit Continue reading

Big Bird at Newark Airport

Newarker restaurant menuJoe Baum was barely 30 years old when he created the first fine dining restaurant located at an airport. It was the Newarker at Newark airport, NJ.

Thanksgiving Day, 1953, was the opening day.

It was a disaster.

Thanksgiving Day dawned, but barely. The airport was shrouded in fog and all the planes were grounded.Newarker restaurant Passengers, who in olden days dressed in high heels and nice dresses, jackets and ties, were grounded.  There was nothing to do. But, Continue reading

Farm-to-Table Concept Is Growing

Among the most powerful little words in our language are: Guilty!Not Guilty!; I’m Pregnant; It’s a Boy!; We won!; Thank you;  Yes and NO!

Celebrated Chef Larry Forgione

Celebrated Chef Larry Forgione

Celebrated Chef Larry Forgione said, NO!

He said, “NO,” while standing at the podium in front of 350 of the top-flight food folk in the nation. He spoke at The First Symposium on American Cuisine convened by Phillip S. Cooke and Daniel Maye in Louisville, Kentucky in 1982.

Larry Forgione was the keynote speaker. He was chosen because he was, and remains to this day, a pioneer of farm-to-table local ingredient sourcing.

Chef Forgione talked in poetic, inspirational words, describing the joys of farm-fresh ingredients, grass-fed pork and beef, handmade berry and cherry preserves, honey and local dairy, artisanal cheeses.

At the end of his speech, he was asked if he would provide the audience with a list of his suppliers.

He said, “No” because  he couldn’t say, “Yes.’”

Why Not?

Forgione said NO but failed to explain to the audience that small farms and cottage industries that supplied his restaurant couldn’t possibly handle the huge volume that would be needed for deliveries to giant enterprises.

A view from Windows on the World restaurant

A view from Windows on the World restaurant

For example, the Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Center, was actually two acres of restaurants, serving hundreds of guests every day at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The management also dreamed of saving the environment and serving fruits and vegetables filled with sunshine, but their desire for quality always had to be tempered with practicality, and the need for large quantities of supplies.

Not incidentally, it was far too great a hassle for small farmers to drive many miles into downtown Manhattan and wrestle with security guards and crowded elevators in order to deliver their small batches of newly plucked peaches, live lobsters, bunches of fragrant herbs, small batches of smoked salmon, a few dozen new laid eggs and some“free-range” chickens. (“Free-range” is a term Forgione himself coined.)

An American Place

Larry Forgione’s restaurant, An American Place, named by food legend, James Beard, his mentor and friend, had room only for 45 seats. Similarly Alice Waters’ trail-blazing, tiny Chez Panisse restaurant, founded in 1971, served only a handful of guests, though with the highest quality, organically-grown and in-season ingredients on its prix fixe, limited menu.

The New American Cuisine

Larry Forgione provided his long-ago audience with a vision of a New American Cuisine; a table for two with every element in perfect balance. On one plate, a perfectly roasted quail; on another, a perfect breast of duck with a simple sauce and combined tastes that were coaxed and nurtured until they explode into a symphony of flavors. And everything — fresh, fresh, fresh!

Back then he was sharing a philosophy — not a shopping list. His listeners didn’t understand then.  Now they do.

Larry’s great, great uncle was Francesco Forgione from Pietrelcina Italy, otherwise known to practicing Catholics as “Padre Pio” — or ever since Pope Paul Canonized him in 2002, “Saint Pio.” Following in his ancestor’s saintly footsteps, Chef Forgione is universally acknowledged as the Godfather of American food.  (Alice Waters seems to have similarly been awarded a sort of honorary culinary sainthood.)

Forgione’s long journey began at the Culinary Institute of America. He graduated in 1974 and continues to preach to the choir — He was named “Chef Of the Year” at the 1993 James Beard Awards. Now the CIA has just launched a new program that allows students to study farm-to-table cuisine with him as their guide and mentor at the college’s California campus, the CIA at Greystone.

Chef Forgione glimpsed the future: it is Mensana in Corpore Sano, meaning “A sound mind in a healthy body.”

Thanks to Larry’s vision, today there also is such a food job as farm-to-table chef, and folks are hiring.

What’s Up?

The pendulum is still swinging between sumptuous and the sublime, the stark and austere and these contrasts of style are found not only in the restaurants but also in the food itself.  In some places styles overlap while at others they are more clearly defined.

The revolution in the ways we are eating today is still evolving, and it is a wondrously intriguing game to try to sample it all and all at once.  There are instant gratifications of new pleasures paired with old indulgences. We are seeing everything on the same menu — from duck with fresh foie gras and cornmeal pancakes with caviar to almost instant ice cream fabricated with liquid nitrogen.

Here’s Chef Larry Forgione’s recipe for :

Cornmeal Pancakes
from An American Place
Makes about 24 9-inch pancakes

1 cup flour

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 cups milk

4 tablespoons salted butter, melted

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Corn oil for frying the pancakes

Mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, eggs and egg yolks.  Gradually whisk in the milk and continue stirring until the batter is smooth. Stir in the melted butter.

Let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Lightly brush a 9-inch non-stick frying pan with oil.  Heat the pan and pour in about 2 tablespoons of batter to coat the bottom.  If the batter does no easily cover the bottom of the pan, thin it with a little milk.

Cook each pancake over medium heat for about one minute or until lightly browned.

Flip the pancake and cook the other side, for just a few seconds.

Repeat until you have used all the batter.

 

 

Thomas Keller A Hit At Culinary Institute of America!

Thomas Keller at CIA

Thomas Keller at the Culinary Institute of America

Hyde Park, NY, May 17, 2013 – Expecting a cooking demonstration from one of the world’s greatest chefs, students at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) instead were treated to something completely different from Thomas Keller on Monday, May 13.

The college hosted Thomas Keller Day at its Hyde Park campus with a keynote address from Chef Keller and breakout sessions covering various restaurant business topics. The day was scheduled to conclude with a “culinary presentation.”

Instead of a traditional demo, Chef Keller made his stage debut, leading top staff members from his celebrated restaurants including Eli Kaimeh ’00 of Per Se, purveyors, and celebrated protégés such as Grant Achatz ’94 and Jonathan Benno ’93 in a one-act play.

“You often hear it said that restaurants are like theater, with a front of the house, a behind-the-scenes crew, a colorful cast of characters, a creative script,” Chef Keller said. “Today we thought we’d take it literally.”

Sense of Urgency was the result—a performance developed by Keller’s team that portrays an evening of service at The French Laundry in Yountville, CA and named for the wording on a plaque that hangs under the kitchen clocks in all of Chef Keller’s restaurants.

The French Laundry is a Michelin Guide three-star restaurant that was honored as the World’s Best Restaurant by UK-based Restaurant magazine in 2003. “We observe the process of execution and the importance of relationships between the purveyors, farmers, and craftsmen of the products these chefs will use to serve their guests,” explains the Playbill.

Close to 1,000 CIA students attended the performance and hundreds more participated in the earlier presentation and breakout sessions, which were simulcast to the college’s campuses in Texas and California. Twenty lucky students were selected to have lunch with Chef Keller.

 

Remembering Dinner & What We Ate

Dr. Paul RozinFor 25 years, Professor Paul Rozin’s research has focused on the nature of remembered pleasure — and — an astonishing diversity of other intriguing studies too.  He is professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania.

His son, Alexander “Lex”, Associate Professor of Music Theory, teaches at West Chester University School of Music.

Both are distinguished scholars. Both have earned Ph.Ds.

Both are dazzlingly brilliant and deliciously entertaining speakers.

At a recent talk, together at The Culinary Institute of America, they explored Informative Parallels Between Music & Food.

They asked a series of provocative questions:

  • Why do we eat what we eat?
  • What music should be played in a restaurant?
  • How do we view art?
  • How do we view the plate?

triangleAlex Rozin then offered a unique perspective;

“In music there is a triangle with Composer. Performer. Listener.”

Paul Rozin responded: “In a restaurant there is also a triangle:

Farmer. Chef. Diner.”

A composer does not allow the performer to change his composition.

A farmer, by contrast, anticipates the chef will change his product — except if the chef is Thomas Keller, (and others in his culinary stratosphere). The exalted chef do not permit the staff to tinker with their ideas.

Furthermore, a music and a culinary composition follow patterns:

Overture.

Theme.

Conclusion.

Musicians use the same chords over and over again whether they are playing classical music–Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or Hip Hop or Pop.

Chefs use the same foundation ingredients: onions, celery and carrots….

Chef Ann Rosenzweig

Chef Anne Rosenzweig

Chefs also play themes on variations i.e. four mini versions of crème caramel on the same plate at Le Bernardin.

This line of creative thinking can lead to another symmetry with a difference…for example. a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich) could be bacon and lobster baked in a popover or as Chef Anne Rosenzweig interpreted it: lobster and sundried tomatoes enclosed in a brioche.

As the Rozins wryly observed: “It’s not what you steal (everyone steals) but what you steal and how you use what you stole.”

Exploring a different topic, Prof. Paul Rozin commented: “There are seven billion eaters but relatively few chefs. They aim to provide the best possible experience or best memory. It is interesting though, that the memory of the dinner may have little (or nothing) to do with the food.  Many say the best meal they ever had was…. an occasion or a place or shared with another person. The occasion is vividly recalled, but in the telling of it, there may be not a word about the food. It is the setting, the sounds, the light and other sensory feelings that continue to burn in the remembrance.”

Prof. Paul Rozin’s other remarkable discoveries are:

  •  The most memorable meals are those eaten at home.
  • Nutrition is rarely a factor in describing pleasure.
  • If the food IS mentioned, it is the entrée, not the dessert.  And the most frequently named food is steak.

So some people may return to a restaurant, eager to eat their favorite food again…and hope it will be the same every time while in contrast, others go to be surprised and delighted by something new.

The ultimate test is what was the eating experience — not what’s for dinner but  what will the diner remember?