il Buco Chef Ignacio Mattos cooks beside South American Chef Francis Mallmann

A rare evening with Chefs Francis Mallman and Ignacio Mattos Chef Francis Mallmann cooks dinner in il Buco's kitchen on June 15th celebrating his new cookbook, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, co-written with Peter Kaminsky.

A sensual poet, a speaker of many languages, and a native Patagonian with a Parisian sense of style, Chef Mallmann is South America's most famous chef.

Renowned for his rustically elegant food, his international clientele and his charismatic flair, the Argentrinian chef will create a special dinner celebrating his first English-language cookbook (Artisan Books; $35).

With several TV series and Spanish-language cookbooks under his belt, as well as a selection of restaurants and inns throughout South America, Chef Mallmann was the first South American Chef invited to serve dinner in 1995 to the world's leading gourmets at The International Academy of Gastronomy.

New York's Il Buco Chef Ignacio Mattos will open his kitchen to his longtime mentor, who he will cook beside for the first time in five years.

Chef Mallmann will prepare a four-course prix-fixe menu with items drawn from his new cookbook and wines poured from the Trivento Winery in Mendoza, Argentina.

The four-Course prix fixe menu with wine pairing is $90 per person or $115 per person with signed cookbook. Tax and gratuity are not included.

The evening's prix fixe menu:

Empanada de Carne traditional beef tenderloin-filled pastry with cumin and green olives
Wine: Trivento Select Pinot Noir, Mendoza, Argentina, 2008

Ensalada de Higos fig and mozzarella with marcona almonds and basil
Wine: Trivento Select Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina, 2007

Ojo de Bife Con Papas Domino grilled ribeye steak with domino potatoes and chimichurri
Wine: Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2006


Salmon a la Sal salt-baked wild Alaskan king salmon with charred summer vegetables
Wine: Trivento Select Torrontes, Mendoza, Argentina, 2008

Tableton Mendocino traditional pastry layered with dulce de leche, ganache and pastry cream served with coffee or tea

Fresh talk with Ortine co-owner Sarah Peck

Down Washington Avenue way is a little sweet spot.

Ortine (622 Washington between Dean and Pacific) is run by former Pastis and Schiller's Liquor Bar manager, Sarah Peck, with husband, Steve Giudi.

The name derives from the Italian word ortin, which describes the small plot next to a farm house where workers grew food to feed themselves. It defines the small cafe's philosophy of healthy food, locally produced and simply prepared.

The restaurant features an eclectic selection - from braised short ribs to shakshuka (baked eggs, tomatoes, pepper and pita) to sides of house-pickled veggies and Portugues sardines.

Eat in the charming garden with its budding greenery and new herbs. The tables and chairs are turquoise blue wicker; a ceramic tiled loveseat sits beneath a evergreen pine a newly leafed tree. Paper lanterns decorate the distressed paint slat-board fence surrounding the garden.

It's the perfect backdrop for a lazy meal, complete with book propped on the table.

Peck, who grew up on a farm and is an enthusiastic advocate for fresh, locally grown foods, shared some of her insights about Ortine recently with E.D.M.  Sarah Peck in the garden at Ortine

Ortine takes an interesting, collaborative approach to the professional kitchen. There doesn't seem to be a chain of command from the Chef down as it's customarily seen in restaurant kitchens. How did you arrive at this format? And what makes it work?

I want to create the menu but need help developing. It works because I stay involved, organizing, tasting and cooking.

When did your passion for food begin? And when did you realize you were going to take on the demanding career of a professional chef and restaurateur?

I learned a passion for homemade and homegrown food living in upstate NY where I am from (I grew up on a farm!). I wanted to work for myself, I know how to work in restaurants & like to work really hard!

What's your best advice for home cooks who want to eat well every day?

Go to the market to see what's fresh and work backward. It's hard when you think of something you want to make and have to make it happen even if the ingredients aren't available or fresh.

My earliest memory of food is.... Eating vegetables out of the garden at my dad's house upstate.

My favorite recipe is...
Whole wheat pasta with any kind of veggie sauteed in garlic & extra virgin olive oil. Gotta get the timing just right!

The kitchen tool I can't live without is...
a sharp knife.

When I'm not in the kitchen, I'm... ...sleeping

What are your favorite food pairings?
Good ingredients together without lots of fuss.

What, in your opinion, will be the next big food trend?

Hopefully people will eat more locally as they realize that this food tastes better! It' takes some self discipline and a the realization that you might have to spend a little more money (at first).

America's best chef Thomas Keller signs new book in Vegas

America's best chef signs his new book at Bouchon in Vegas

photo by Deborah Jones

Thomas Keller, chef and owner of Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery, will sign his newest cookbook “Under Pressure” Tuesday, June 16th from 6-7:15 pm at Bouchon in The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino.  Guests will have the unique opportunity to meet and speak with Chef Keller.

To RSVP for this first book signing, contact Annie Kang Drachen at Bouchon at [email protected].

“Under Pressure” is entirely dedicated to the science of cooking sous vide, a technique used in all of Chef Keller’s restaurants. The book explains why the technique, which involves low heat cooking, achieves results that other methods simply cannot, both in flavor and precision.

Renowned food scientist Harold McGee notes, “This book introduces American cooks to one of the most important culinary innovations of modern times.”

He will discuss the book and host a Question and Answer portion from 6:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. prior to the actual signing. Copies of “Under Pressure” will be available for purchase the day of the event for $75, plus tax.

To RSVP to Keller's signing of Under Pressure from Artisan Books Keller’s other titles including “The French Laundry” and “Bouchon” will also be available for $50,  each plus tax.  Both titles have been honored by the James Beard Foundations annual awards.

Named “America’s Best Chef” by TIME Magazine in 2001, Chef Keller has been awarded the most Michelin stars of any American chef and his two flagship restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se, have alternately held the title of “Best Restaurant in the Americas.”

Chef Keller is the proprietor of eight properties including: The French Laundry, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA; Per Se and Bouchon Bakery in New York, NY; and Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery in Las Vegas, NV.

Located in The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, Venezia Tower in Las Vegas, Bouchon is a vibrant, Adam D. Tihany designed restaurant featuring a classic mosaic floor, magnificent pewter bar, antique light fixtures, and an expansive hand painted mural.

Reservations may be made by calling 702.414.6200.

Bouchon serves breakfast from 7:00am until 10:30am weekdays, brunch from 8:00am until 2:00pm Saturday and Sunday, and dinner from 5:00pm to 10:00pm seven days a week.

The oyster bar and cocktail lounge is open from 3:00pm to 10:00pm daily. Private dining space is also available.

Please visit for more information.

Kate Zuckerman dishes on the 'Sweet Life'

Kate Zuckerman presents Pastry Chat Named in 2005, one of the 10 best pastry chefs in America by Pastry Art & Design and Chocolatier magazines, Kate Zuckerman takes seasonal, simple and pure ingredients and creates sensational desserts.

Zuckerman is a master of beautifully executed design, nuanced flavors and textural contrasts.  She has been pastry chef since 1999 at Chanterelle, the beloved, award-winning NYC restaurant, and has been baking since the age of nine.  

Her desserts have been described by The New York Times as a “life-changing experience,”  and have been praised lavishly by every major food critic in NYC.

She is the former pastry chef at Picholine in New York and Firefly in San Francisco and began her culinary apprenticeship in Boston under Lydia Shire at Biba and Rick Katz at The Bentonwood Bakery.

Zuckerman has worked in the kitchens of top restaurants in San Francisco, Paris and New York.

Her book, The Sweet Life, chronicles the fabled desserts which she created for Chanterelle.

She is gracious, thoughtful and possesses an unerring sense of what makes dessert a sublime experience.

Recently, Zuckerman shared with Eat. Drink. Memory. her experiences with the "sweet life."

My earliest memory of dessert is...

Black Bottom Pie from Maida Heater's classic, "Great Desserts." My mother used to make this pie for our family on special occasions.

I am the youngest with two older brothers and they were the big fans and begged for this pie all the time. At first I copied their cries. Now I just remember the crunchy chocolate crust, the whipped cream, custard and strawberries.

What prompted you to choose the life of a pastry chef?

I baked for my family from age 9 on. I also loved to cook and initially worked as a line cook after finishing college. My memories of picking fruit in season with my family and baking for my brothers eventually drew me over to pastry.

As a line cook in the 90's I was overwhelmed by all the ethnic trends in cooking: I was working in Boston and San Francisco and the restaurant vibe was dishes that dabbled with Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Southwestern flavors.

And I wanted more focus which I felt that pastry would provide. Though I use some flavors and spices that come from non-western cuisine in my pastry kitchen, at heart I make desserts that are firmly embedded in French technique with an American sensibility that looks more broadly across Europe for inspiration.

Where do you find inspiration for the desserts the NY Times has called "life-changing?"

What William Grimes was referring to specifically was a Napoleon of caramel mousse and thin, delicate, salty peanut brittle which was one component of a tasting of caramel desserts. The inspiration comes from playing with one flavor and developing it as many ways as possible.

This is why seasonal fruit is so important to a pastry chef. In the height of a fruit's season, a chef is bound to explore the infinite possibilities and combinations offered by the flavors and textures of the fruit.

Another way of saying this is that a great deal of my inspiration comes through repetition -- each month brings back recipes from past years which I build on, refine, tweak and eventually wholly reinvent. My best analogy is that a painter creates a beautiful blue in a painting by using and exploring as many blues as possible.

What's the one dessert you couldn't do without?

It's a little bit like choosing a favorite among my children, but if I have to pick, I would say ice cream.

Dessert gets a bad rap. When were little we weren't allowed dessert unless we cleaned our plates. Should dessert be a part of very meal?

I have three kids and they want ice cream every night. So I alternate ice cream nights with seasonal fruit nights, which of course makes my son skip dessert every other night because he really only likes chocolate and chocolate ice cream in particular.

But it has been great for my daughter. She loves fruit and she looks forward to asking what we have on fruit nights. And my baby will definitely follow in her footsteps.

To answer your question specifically, I do feel like some kind of meal ending sweet is a good thing. It satisfies a very primal craving.

Some people would argue it's not dessert if it isn't chocolate. Is chocolate the best dessert ingredient?

I adore really good chocolate. And my son obviously agrees! But I am a huge fan of fruit desserts.

What's the one kitchen tool you can't live without?

 A plastic bowl scraper which is in my breast pocket at work at all times. And at home I have one in every drawer.

Secrets of the French kitchen with Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard

Behind the scenes at Bistro de Leon

The French have a reputation for creating gastronomic delights from the simplest ingredients.  

Think pot au feu, a hearty beef stew whose literal name means pot on fire, or cassoulet, a slow-cooked white bean stew with various meat from sausage to duck or mutton.  

The traditional French kitchen always has been stocked with the freshest ingredients, locally grown and produced.  But, while most of us associate a typical French kitchen with savory and sweet delicacies, we usually don't recognize it for the place of economy and thrift that it is.

Generally, we think of luxury and expensive ingredients when we think of French cuisine. However, eating well shouldn't be a luxury and the French kitchen is the perfect place to learn this lesson.

In a recent conversation with Bistro de Leon restaurateur Jean-Stephane Poinard, the Paul Bocuse-mentored chef generously shared secrets of his kitchen - many learned in the kitchens of his Maman and Grand-mère, masters of French comfort food or la cuisine de nos mères.  

Chef Poinard is a native of Lyon and a member of the elite Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaise.  He currently is collaborating on a book about absinthe (including 18 of his recipes).

The French are reknowned for their inventive cuisine and for very little waste in the kitchen. What are some smart ways for home cooks to make the most of their food budget?

People used to cook whatever they wanted.  They didn't worry much about its cost, where it came from or how it made them feel.  Now people are beginning to realize that if they eat crappy food, they feel bad. They are interested in the long term plan.

Feeding yourself is a pleasure. We can do small things that make food more flavorful and more interesting and we can save too.

A baguette, if it is made with good quality flour and yeast, you have to see all the little bubbles inside like Swiss cheese, can be frozen if you are not using it all right away.  Save half in the freezer and reheat it in the oven at 350º.

You recommend re-purposing day-old baguettes as well.

Don't throw away dry bread. There are many ways you can use bread.  A plain salad is not very fun - even for kids.  Make little croutons, add egg, a little lardon (thick bits of slab bacon).  It's a little appetizer with lots of tasty treats.

You can dry the bread all the way through and process in the food processor to make bread crumbs.  Mashed potatoes with cheese and bread crumbs make a nice gratin.

French toast is a good way to use the baguette.  When the bread soaks in the milk and egg, it's very rich, very filling.  

Just with the baguette, we can do a lot of stuff.  Goat cheese melted on a crispy baguette makes a nice appetizer or crouton for a salad.

There are so many ways we can economize and make healthy flavorful foods, reducing waste.
Chicken stock is very flavorful when its made from the carcass of a roasted chicken. Don't throw out the bones. Why buy chicken stock when you can make your own? It's very cheap.

Add the carcass, garlic, celery, onions, thyme and carrots to water in a stockpot. Boil for 15-20 minutes, then strain through cheesecloth.   Believe me, it will be delicious.

You can make a Bouillon aux petites pâtes to give people when they are sick and the kids like it.  You add alphabet pasta or little stars to the chicken stock to make it even healthier.

Freeze the stock as well or reduce it a lot to make a glaze or base to flavor a lot of dishes.

We all would love to eat fantastic flavorful meals every evening, but the reality is that busy days and long commutes can cut into our time for cooking. 

Cooking a big meal on Sunday, you have many ways to use the leftovers during the week.  This saves time and money by using seasonal ingredients.

What is your favorite, quick meal that is simple to prepare, nourishing and fabulous? 

Pot au Feu is a wonderful Sunday dinner.  It's flavorful and healthy.  Leeks, chard and celery are all very juicy vegetables. You make a little extra and you can make many nice meals during the week.  

You can take the leeks and use a vinaigrette.  Leeks are a great detox. The celery cleanses your liver. 

You can make a Pistou or Pesto soup with the leftover vegetables and meat. Pistou is so easy to make and very inexpensive.

What are some inexpensive cuts of meat that can be prepared elegantly and simply?

London Broil is the cheapest cut of meat. It's pretty tough, but we cook it in the pressure cooker to make it very tender with stock, potatoes, turnips and carrots. 

You can use the leftover meat for stuffed tomatoes or to make a dish like Shepherd's pie.  You grind the meat to stuff the tomatoes, to use in a gratin with mashed potatoes.  It's very nice.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would share? 

Pistou. Compare the price in the store. Basil in season costs nothing.  You make 4-5 times more for the same cost and you can store extra in the freezer.  

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts 
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup good olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 fresh ground black pepper 
  Process until smooth in a food processor or blender.  Seal with a thin layer of olive oil.

Can you recommend some value wines and some menu items that pair well with them? 

Don't buy wine according to the label.  You pay for the label.  Sometimes you get a very nice tasting wine for a very good value.  In Lyon many people go to the domaine to buy the wine the winemakers declassify.  They can't sell more than a certain number of AOC or appellation d'origine contrôlée bottles so they sell it as vins de pays or table wine.  You get the same wine at a much lower price.

What are some wines you recommend?

I love Cote du Rhone.  You can buy a Ville Fleurie for $6-7 a bottle.  Another is the southwestern French Rosé, Costières de Nîmes. Viognier - this wine is amazing.  It's very tasty, very floral. 

Don't be afraid of the box. If you find a good value, you can buy three liters for about $19.  Black Box is nice, the sauvignon blanc and the Merlot, a little more forte or strong.

People are focused on the label. It's not the label. It's what's inside the bottle. You serve it in the carafe. People love the carafe and it's good for the wine. It's oxygenated.

What are some exciting food combinations that home cooks can use to liven up their meals?

Strawberries, basil and balsamic vinegar make a nice salad.  An avocado mousse with shrimp and cumin mayonnaise.

The Regal Vegan chef teaches class at Park Slope Co-op

Ella Nemcova spills the beans Who says eating healthy has to be a bore? Do you know which are the 10 healthiest foods costing less than $1 per serving? Or which foods you absolutely should buy organic?

I didn't think so.

Now, you can get healthier, save money and have fun doing it with The Regal Vegan chef Ella Nemcova. Nemcova is a holistic health counselor whose gourmet vegan meals are flavor-packed and nutritious.

Nemcova shares secrets Sunday, May 31, noon to 1 pm at the Park Slope Food Co-op. Join her at the Co-op on 782 Union Street for an energetic lecture filled with tips, tricks and recipes for good nutrition in tough times.

Tomato Caprese gets a French twist

Chef Jean Stephane PoinardFew

 Few food pairings are as familiar as Tomato Caprese -- ripe juicy tomato, milky fresh mozarella and sweet basil leaf.

Enter Chef Jean Stephane Poinard. Poinard, a member of the elite Les Toques Blances Lyonnaises, gives this classic Italian insalata a distinct French twist.

Retaining the salad's simple and  fresh flavors, the Paul Bocuse-trained chef, uses the whole tomato to present this elegantly easy and nuanced recipe re-invention.  A fresh mozzarella mousse is stuffed into the tomato shell and flash fried basil leaves and a basil oil finish the plate.

Chiffonading the basil

Poinard and his wife, Valerie, a winemaker from the Domaine de la Fond Moiroux, re-create the experience of eating and dining in authentic French tradition at their Bistro de Leon in St. Augustine.  His Tomato Stuffed with Escargots in a Garlic Cream Reduction is a bistro favorite (recipe below) and demonstrates his dedication to good, uncomplicated food prepared with premium, fresh ingredients. Poinard is generous and genial, happy to invite guests into his immaculate kitchen for a quick cooking lesson.

Contemporary take on Tomato Caprese

Tomato Stuffed with Escargots

To prepare the tomato:

4 large, vine-ripened tomatoes

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Cut a cross into the bud end of each tomato. Plunge the tomatoes into the water for 15 seconds. Remove and plunge directly into ice water. Peel the tomatoes, pulling the skin back from the cut cross. Cut the stem end of the tomato off, carefully scoop out the seeds with a spoon or melon baller. Set aside the tomatoes and the tops.

For the garlic cream:

6 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the garlic, cream, salt and pepper in a saucepan.

Reduce slowly over low heat, stirring until thickened.

For the escargot:

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup carrot, peeled and julienne cut

1/2 cup turnip, peeled and julienne cut

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

4 dozen snails

3 tbsp. Grande Absente

Slowly saute the carrot, turnip, garlic and snails in butter over low heat until the vegetables have caramelized. Quickly deglaze the pan with the Grande Absente. Flame the Grande Absente by touching a lit match to the edge of the pan.

To serve:

Sprinkle salt and pepper into the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a 250 F oven for several minutes. The tomatoes should be just warm, not cooked. Place each tomato on an individual plate. Fill each tomato with one quarter of the snail mixture. Place the tops on the tomatoes.

Garnish with 2 or 3 tablespoons garlic cream sauce around each tomato.

For more info:
Bistro de Leon
12 Cathedral Place
St Augustine, FL 32084
(904) 810-2100

Think Real Food for Real People

Sometimes it seems like bad luck is your middle name.  But then we find we do get what we deserve – and in the most unexpected ways.

Ella shops for onions At least that’s what happened to Ella Nemcova, chef and founder of  The Regal Vegan, a dinner delivery service in Park Slope that offers meatless and healthy alternatives to takeout.

Nemcova was slogging her way through the corporate world.  She'd been a copywriter for 10 years and found the task thankless.  Her apartment had been burglarized and her landlord was trying to have her evicted.

"It was breaking me," recalled Nemcova.  "...All of these things were happening. (I said) I get it. I've got to go."  So, the copywriter turned chef packed up her belongings and took off for a few months of travel, which resulted in year-long excursion that had her nibbling and noshing through Europe, India, Southeast Asia and Russia. 

On her journey, she explored new spices, textures and flavors in the markets of the places she visited and in the homes of the people she met. "When you're on the road, you have no idea what you're eating. I met these amazing Cambodian kids and they invited me home to eat," said Nemcova, laughing.  "I asked, 'What's this?'  And they said, 'We'll tell you later.' It had these really small bones."

Happily for those of us who associate the “V” word with strange entrees having the texture and flavor of sawdust, Nemcova returned home to experiment with her diet and her menus.  Soon her desire to eat well and feel  fantastic translated to her life's work, The Regal Vegan. 

Eating well and creativity in the kitchen were important to her. The fact that she was energized as well as sleeping and feeling better than she had in years, was no small bonus.  "I had to eat food that was  wonderful, that had fine quality.  You can't back away from flavor. It makes no sense," she said. 

Her detox diet, Ellavation, was developed to get her system back into shape after her travels. Nemcova sought help at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, learning to eat the best foods for the best health.

Her years in advertising paid off.  Nemcova's creative menus are as gorgeously explained as they are prepared.  The meals are composed from fresh, seasonal and organic ingredients and the menus vary weekly.  Clients can access her website or Nemcova will email the week's offerings.

You won't even miss the meat.

photo by: Lee Seidenberg