Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Toronto Mega Quarry is Dead!

They hung the American Flag in honor of my visit. I see it as showing the world food brings us all together one way or another.
Chef Michael Stadtländer & I at Soupstock 2012

 I posted about a month back about my trip to Toronto to stand with fellow culinarians from Canada in support of a movement to stop a proposed mega quarry on some of Ontarios most prized farm lands. A Boston based hedge-fund, the Baupost Group, was financially behind the quarry proposal and their company known as the Highland Companies, were found to have stretched the truth in order to get some farmers to sell their land for what they were told would be more farms. A couple years later, the proposal to build N. Americas largest quarry was filed with the Ontario government. 

 I was humbled to be invited personally by Chef Michael Stadlander and The Candaian Chefs Congress to an event known as Soupstock, where I was part of and moved by over 200 of Canadas best chefs coming together along with some of Canadas most well known musicians, artists and most importantly over 45,000 people on a beautiful, warm sunny day in Ontarios Woodbine Park. This was also known as the largest culinary led protest in history. I guess the voices were heard! 

The proposed quarry in Melancthon is dead!

Today, (Nov. 21), The Highland Companies announced it has withdrawn its application to the province for a licence to mine land in Melancthon for limestone. 


Highland also intends to discontinue its efforts to restore the rail corridor through Dufferin County. In addition, Highland announced that John Lowndes has resigned from his role as president and has no further involvement with the company.


This is pure proof that food brings people together in many ways. I'm very happy to have been a very small part of such a huge victory!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Autumn Menu is FINALLY out....

snacks


Seasonal Pickled Vegetable Jar
Chilled Gulf White Shrimp Cocktail 
Local Oysters on the Half Shell
Warm Olives, Orange & Spices
Warm Maine Jonah Crab Dip

small plates

Cornbread Panzanella Salad
pickled butternut squash, Vermont goat cheese puree, huckleberries, spiced pecans
Romaine Hearts 
white anchovy, parmesan, brioche,  anchovy & lemon dressing
Autumn Garden Salad
organic greens, seasonal vegetables, herbs, white balsamic & local honey vinaigrette
Fried Point Judith Long Fin Squid
pickled Fresno chilies, lime, scallions
Littleneck Clam Chowder 
house smoked bacon,Cape Cod clams, fresh oyster crackers
Lobster Minestrone
Maine yellow eyed beans, gilfeather turnips, cabbage, winter squash, parmesan froth
606 Cheese & Charcuterie 
selection of house made and artisan meats, pates and local cheese, seasonal accoutrements
Powder Point Oyster Po' Boy
kewpie mayonnaise, lettuce, greenhouse grown Maine tomatoes

 

mains


Archer Angus Farms Grass Fed Beef (sirloin or filet)
baby turnips, carrot textures, bordelaise syrup 
Lamb Neck Ragu
Narragansett ricotta, mint, pistachios, house made pasta
Bristol Bay Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
brussel sprouts, fingerling potatoes, black trumpet puree, champagne, winter citrus
Local Fisherman's Catch
ask about our daily feature using only local & responsibly harvested seafood
Butter Poached Lobster
truffle risotto, tangerine, spiced pork belly, lobster roe
Spinach & Fresh Mozzarella Ravioli
pine nut puree, crispy wild mushrooms, black truffle butter
Maine Mussels & Frites
Boston lager, cloves, coriander, mustard seed, orange
Roasted All Natural Half Chicken
butter whipped potato, braised swiss chard, natural jus
48 Hour American Wagyu Short Ribs
heirloom squash puree, pickled mustard seed,winter kale, roasted cipollini onions

Friday, November 2, 2012

First the Government...Now Mama Nature: Impact of Sandy on Our Fisherman



In an industry that is struggling with  little allocations and a catch share system that continues to steer equity into the industry's biggest and deepest pockets, and top that off with an economic disaster declared by the government in September, Hurricane Sandy couldn't have hit at a worst time.

Hurricane Sandy’s terrible toll in lost lives and lost communities is still being measured. but one thing the news isn't mentioning and in my opinion worth noting, is that the storm sent shock waves through the mid-Atlantic through North East region’s fishing industry. Harbors and infrastructure were washed away and in some cases completely destroyed along the New York and New Jersey coastlines, some places so bad that the  Garden State Seafood Association has already asked NJ Gov. Chris Christie  to officially request a federal fisheries disaster declaration.

Lets think about the industry as a whole for a moment....Restaurants and retail operations shut down for pretty much 2 days across the mid Atlantic and north east corridor along with airports and other delivery methods completely at a standstill demand was basically zero....Fisherman hurried out over the weekend to get the catch they needed to try and generate some income but due to low demand, prices plummeted. Sandy also barred international air travel in advance of its actual arrival at the major East Coast airports, eliminating supply to Europe and Asia and despite some fishermans bravery,  most boats in stayed in port. Basically pure paralysis.

SO if ever the time to support our local fisherman and species..now is the time. For restaurants, please consider buying local ground fish species to serve this weekend. Hake, Pollock even Dogfish., Some Fluke are out there as well.

If your a consumer, order these species or go to your local market and ask for New England ground fish to put on the dinner table. I'm serving Pollock from our Backyard (Georges Bank) all weekend at 606 Congress. So come on by or cook your family some great local seafood and support those that need it most right now.

And many of my readers are located  in New York & the Mid Atlantic, please consider the same thing and support your fisherman.

I understand many people are going through some tough times & my thoughts and prayers go out to the people around the country effected negatively by this storm.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

SOUPSTOCK: STOP THE MEGA QUARRY


Through a Chefs Collaborative connection I was recently invited by the Canadian Chefs Congress and Chef Michael Stadtländer to attend Soup Stock on Sunday October 21, 2012 in Toronto.

I will admit that although I had heard of this proposed quarry I did not know much about the details and the possible destruction it could cause. The quarry would be the 2nd largest quarry in North America .

The Highland Companies’ has proposed a massive limestone Mega-Quarry in Melancthon Township, 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto.

Backed by a $25-billion Boston MA Based hedge fund, Highland proposes to blast a pit deeper than Niagara Falls from beneath a landscape of great agricultural, cultural and ecological importance.

The Mega-Quarry would permanently destroy more than 2,300 acres of the best farmland in Ontario. It would also require 600-million litres of water to be pumped out of the pit each day — in perpetuity. This water is used by up to one million Ontarians downstream.

In September 2011, after months of public outcry and media scrutiny, the Ontario government ordered that a provincial Environmental Assessment be undertaken of the proposed Mega-Quarry. This would be the first-ever Environmental Assessment of a quarry operation in the province’s history.

The province now awaits confirmation from Highland Companies whether they wish to participate in an Environmental Assessment, or to abandon the controversial project.

The Canadian Chefs’ Congress, David Suzuki Foundation and countless tireless organizers, local farmers and supporters continue to demand that the proposal be rejected outright.

So I'm sure your wondering why my involvement and I too thought about the invitation when I received it and if my voice and participation was something that could help make a difference.

To be fair I studied both sides of the story. And I have always been a huge believer that there are 3 sides to every story, with the third typically being the most accurate.

 The Highland Company has prepared several documents backing their claim that the impact of the quarry would be minimal to none based on their plans. They claim the economic impact on the area would be beneficial to the area and would create more income to the local community than the local farmland currently does. And by reading their web site, I admit that they seem to be saying the right things.

Both sides of the story seemed to have valid points and positive impacts on the community and I encourage you to read as much as you can about this as I think you will come to the same conclusion I did and understand why I decided to support and attend soupstock and back the fight against the mega quarry.

The one thing that struck me right in the face was the fact that this proposed mega quarry is not sustainable. Meaning that once the limestone is gone, so is the quarry. And so are the farms that currently are a source of income for many families, so is the source of food that many Canadians rely upon. Gone are the opportunities that allow chefs to create local food from local resources and gone are the recreation areas that we as humans rely upon to stay connected to our planet.

Also, due to the magnitude of the proposed excavation, and the fact that it lays directly in a highly sensitive water recharge area, any miscalculation, oversight or other error could result in an environmental catastrophe of enormous proportions. Which the Highland Companies can not guarantee will not happen. The proposed quarry site is situated on prime agricultural land, to be excavated invasively 200 feet below the water table in the midst of the headwaters for a number of significant river systems that serve a large portion of Ontario’s population.


As a chef who has focused much of my career on sourcing from my local farms and waters, I ask myself if this was a proposal that would impact my community and my relationships with those that grow the food that feeds us, I know I would be the first in line in opposition of such a proposal. I thought about the Canadian chefs and their connections with the farms in harms way and understand the fear they have about loosing a major part if not the most important part, the source of a food system and the impact it will have through the entire chain.

I am not against hedge funds and the thought of investing my money to watch it grow, in fact if I'm ever in a position that I can invest in a business through a hedge fund and make millions, hell count me in. I too am after the American dream, right? But I will also think about the investments and the business that could harm people. I've said this many times, I truly don't consider myself an enviornmentalist or tree hugger in any essence of the term. But I do consider myself a peopelist , a person who cares about people, especially those that allow me to feed those willing to pay for my food. I am a cook who appreciates the food I use and respect the food I use more than many in my field. I care about being able to continue to cook local food and share this with my cooks and guests for as long as I can hold a pan, therefore I understand why this mega quarry is the center of opposition for Canadians especially those in the food service industry. I understand the impact it can have on the enviornment and respect that side of the story as well.

But as mentioned I cook...so I am proud to support Canadian Chefs and hope that my voice is heard here in Boston....that just because a Boston company is supporting this, doesn't mean a Boston chef does. And hope you will consider sending the same message to the Highland Companies... respect the land that feeds us, respect the families you are putting in jeopardy, respect the food and water system that may not impact you directly but will impact millions of North Americans.

I have an idea...lets invest in a restaurant group that is easily able to be duplicated in markets across North America. The concept..Regional Cuisine that supports local farms, ranchers and fisherman and makes a positive impact on the food system that only a large company with massive amounts of buying power can cause. We will support large farms, small farms and those looking to make an impact on a sustainable food system. Lets work together to regain control of a food system that is in need of repair. And I know whats important to the investors, money. I assure you there is money to be made without impacting the land that feeds us.

So I will make the trip on Sunday October 21, and serve soup at soup stock in Woodbine Park in Toronto, side by side with Chef Michael Stadtländer and 200 of Canada’s best, including Jamie Kennedy, Anthony Walsh and John Higgins, who will concoct original soup creations to celebrate the Melancthon region’s rich agricultural, cultural and natural history. top chefs. I'm proud to show my support, but more excited and to me more important, to meet and learn first hand about the people and culinary community of our Northern neighbors in jeopardy of loosing the land that feeds them.


“We want Torontonians to join us for an epic event in support of stopping the Mega-Quarry,” said Chef Michael Stadtlander. Well Chef...I hope you don't mind a Bostonian in the mix.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Chefs Collaborative Flavors Of A Foodshed : Seattle Recap

This year Seattle played host to the 2012 Chefs Collaborative National Summit and killed it! Fisherman, Farmers, Chefs and Restauranteurs from around the city opened their "homes" or as we know it... ranches, farms ,oceans, rivers, restaurants, kitchens and drinking establishments to show off and show us what the gateway to Alaska has to offer our countries culinary community from both a culinary perspective and a sustainable perspective.And if ever a place to hold a sustainable food summit, Seattle is it, since it has literally become a hub for "green" industry and a model for sustainable development.

The schedule of presenters and panel discussions were filled with some of the countries heavy hitters in our industry. Tom Douglas & Ruth Reichl started us off with their accounts and "oh shit!" moments of our industry loosing focus on where our food really comes from and how we can be major part of restoring Americas food systems. Rowan Jacobson and Michael Leviton made sure that we were focused every step of the way with the Chefs Collaborative Mission , Principles & Vision.

The breakout sessions were all incredibly informative and that made it difficult to choose only 4 out of 14 to attend. Everything from learning how to use heritage grains, Bruce Aidells taught us what to do with goats from its liver to meat. James Beard nominated author and journeyman meat cutter Kari Underly, led a demo on modern day meat cutting among other great discussions on the first morning of the Summit. The afternoon sessions included panels on sustainable food sourcing and what that means to food cost, Marine Stewardship Council helped us trust in the ever changing and confusing seafood certifications and we went Beyond The Restaurant to tackle real food system reform, and how we as chefs are crucial in changing the way Americans eat.

Barton Seaver gave one of the highlight speeches of the event where he talked about fisheries sustainability and made it clear that we need to include the human element ..the fisherman.


Don't think for a minute this was all business though, it never is when 300 food service professionals get together in an area with some of the most amazing local food and drink on the planet! The discussions and debates overflowed into classic cocktail bars where one of the countries ( yes the entire USA) most respected bartender mixes drinks using only his taste buds and memory.  We talked about sustainable seafood over a true Pacific Northwest representation of what this lands local farmers and fisherman have to offer and made it a point to eat way more than was needed in order to spend time together as chefs....eating, drinking  and relaxing together...something we just don't get to do enough.
I flew back to Boston on a red eye Tuesday night, never once experiencing a drop of rain. In fact we had weather more reminiscent of a warm spring day in Boston with clear skies and temperatures in the mid 70's.
My body dehydrted from forgetting to drink water in between absinthe shots, my stomach not able to take any more food, filled with everything from chinatowns hottest dim sum  including beef tendon, pig stomach and shrimp and cilantro dumplings that rival the best in the country. The local flavors including heirloom grains, marrow bones, pig ears and late summer veggies were all just plain delicious and the local brew was flowing non stop at many of the local meet and greets and receptions hosted by the cities finest chefs.

As I drove to the airport directly following a memorable meal in the beautiful private dining room at Emmer & Rye, with guests whom I was humbled to be breaking bread with ( I believe these were some of the most influential industry professionals in the country today) the message to me was clear...

PEOPLE & RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT (OFTEN FORGOTTEN) KEYS TO A SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEM. In our confused efforts over the years since we realized that we all had to do our part in an effort to have a responsible and sustainable food system, we lost focus on one of the most important elements of achieving our goals. People....

We have long focused on the environment and the animals, but forgot about the people responsible for the land and products we crave. We forgot about our own sustainability, the fact that we need to also run a business in order to have an outlet for the products we so wish to continue to serve. We forgot about the "other" fish in the sea that can help relieve the pressure of the declining stocks and keep the fisherman fishing in a time when they, the people in the entire fishing chain are suffering more than they ever have. We forgot about rewarding those people for doing the right thing or honestly doing the best they can while they still, like us, need to put food on the table at their homes.

We need to remember that we can make decisions that might be "red listed" as long as we know why those decisions impact the sustainable food system in a positive way. We have to remember we can and will break the rules sometimes and not always be 100% proud of all of our decisions because we too have to sustain in order to be sustainable. We have to remember that relationships are the foundation to a transparent food system and without building trust and confidence in our relationships, we will never have the confidence to ask the questions in order to truly know & even more important, understand where our food comes from and be able to accurately tell the amazing stories that are associated with the food we serve our guests.

See you in South Carolina!




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Salmon Rediscovered

Working in the hotel world for 2 years now, I've done everything I can to get my guests in both the restaurant and the hotels additional dining options ( In Room Dining, Catering & Lounge) to enjoy local underutilized New England Seafood as much as possible. Hake, Triggerfish, Acadian Red Fish, Whiting are just a small few of some of our amazing options that we prefer to serve instead of cod and haddock.

But one things for sure... I have realized that sometimes you just have to make sure that you take care of those guests who are frequent travelers, tired and just want something they are comfortable with.

Of course we didn't succumb to a very traditional salmon dish, and we also had to make sure that our salmon is Wild and from responsible sources . Wild Coho is running now in Alaska and as long as we can get it we will serve it. We debone and roll to wrap the fillet in its own skin and then cook sous vide at 55c for 22 minutes. Sear and baste in lemon butter

This dish takes advantage of Local foraged black trumpets( puree of trumpets, garlic, mushroom stock and cream) and lobster mushrooms ( simply roasted) from our good friend Ben The Mushroom Man.

We Originally confit the Brussels Sprouts in duck fat, but I found the additional fat was too much for the already fatty salmon, so we choose to roast and toss in a lemon and chili vinaigrette.

We finish the dish with some pre blanched fingerling rounds ( these I deep fried in the duck fat) with a crispy exterior and mousse like interior.

A champagne butter sauce is lightened up by frothing while warm.

A salmon dish that I have to tell you.... I really enjoyed an hope that my guests enjoy as well. I appreciate the want to eat a comfortable menu option .... Not necessarily comfort food but comfortable in the sense of ingredients that are recognizable to the everyday traveler and diner that appreciates perfect technique and intriguing combinations of known ingredients
.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Join Me At The Taste of WGBH!




Join us and many more at the Taste Of WGBH Food & Wine Festival in a few weeks!

Info:


Taste of WGBH: Food & Wine Festival
September 13-15, 2012
WGBH, One Guest Street, Boston

Three-day food and wine festival including an Opening Gala Reception, Chef Demonstrations on the Sub-Zero & Wolf Celebrity Cooking Stage — presented by BostonChefs.com, Wine Auction, Educational Seminars, and The Artisan Taste. The festival will feature more than 100 wineries, local chefs, restaurants, and local artisanal foods, produce, and purveyors.

Featuring:

Opening Gala Reception
Thursday, September 13, 2012, 7-10pm
Tickets: $150 per ticket

WGBH Wine Auction
Friday, September 14, 2012, 6-8pm
Tickets: $100 per ticket

Boston Public Market Association’s
Farmers Market at WGBH
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 11am-6pm
Free to Public

Educational Seminars
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 3:30-4:30pm
Tickets: $30 per ticket

The Artisan Taste
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 12noon-3pm and 5pm-8pm
Tickets: $50 per WGBH member; $60 per non-member

(photo: Yours truly, humbled to be with Bostons best.... Barbara Lynch, Jody Adams, Brooke Vosika & Andy Husbands)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chefs Collaborative Sustainable Food Summit 2012



Food + Sustainability + 2012 CC National Summit  = Seattle, Washington.

On my list of places to see and eat my way through for sure. This years Chefs Collaborative Summit will definitely be a not to be missed event. It seems like just a few months ago we were all gathered in NOLA having amazing discussions, participating in butchering demos & enjoying field trips to the swamp by day....at night, well imagine eating ( and drinking) our way through one of the countries most historic cities! (Read about the 2011 Summit) Well,  Seattle will not disappoint, I can assure you of that! 

From Chefs Collaborative 

This year, Summit participants will have the opportunity to hear and meet Ruth Reichl, former editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine; Kim Severson of the New York Times; Rowan Jacobson, author of five books including a Geography of Oysters; chef Tom Douglas of Tom Douglas Restaurants, and others to discuss food and cooking, culture and sustainability.

You’ll have the chance to enjoy great Northwest food from Northwest chefs. Think Pacific oysters, Alaskan salmon, local beans and grains, apples and berries, craft spirits and more.

We’ll be fabricating goat carcasses, offering in-depth beef butchering lessons and baking with heritage grains. We’ll be discussing the challenges of sourcing sustainably raised poultry and looking at traceability and other tools in seafood sourcing, as well as deciphering the nuts and bolts of running a sustainable restaurant, to name a few details.

All of the Summit information is housed under this page – programs, events, field trips, meet-and- greets, accommodations, and venues. So what are you waiting for? Buy your tickets now!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nantucket 2012

 Well another fantastic long weekend celebrating all things wine & food on one of my favorite islands! This year we had the pleasure of working with Pride Mountain Vineyards at the Great Wines in Grand Houses at the Nantucket Wine Festival ,  whose cult following I didn't understand until I sampled some of the best juice in the world! Denis Toner & Team were once again outstanding to work with and as always I will look froward to next year, seriously one of the best wine festivals in the country and if you haven't had the chance to experience this, next year is your year! Enjoy some photos of our food, the crew enjoying some down time and of course the Grand Tasting!

 Chris "Nips" Kanaple & I getting ready to get our you know what handed to us at the Harbor Gala! Whos idea was it to serve the islands "national dish" of Bluefish pate!!!!

Nips & Drew aka "Sons Of Nantucket Scooter Club"

Consider me the Pres....

Not Sure Why Drew thought this was awkward?

Mean Looking Machines.....

No caption needed

Great Wines In Grand Houses..Prep Time

Wish this was my kitchen!

Fresh Water Eel, Whipped Caramel, Magenta Lace

Fluke Ceviche

Island Creek Oysters, Candied Ginger, Pain D'Epices

Lemon & Vodka Cured Wild King Salmon, Frozen  Mustard, Native Crab Salad Wrapped in Apple Gelee


Magret Duck "ham", hibiscus fluid gel, morels, baby turnips with tops, hibiscus duck demi

Our Wonderful Guests with the sunset as the main course drops...

Bruleed Sheeps Milk Cheese, house made plum jelly, piment d'espellete

White Chocolate "Panna Cotta", Jasmine Tea Foam, Brown Butter Financier, Pomelo Segments, Citrus Cream, Lemon Grass, Citrus Marigolds, Rice Wine Noodles

Well Deserved Bottle of 1990 Dom

The Wifey, Drew & Chris @ The Grand Tasting

The cameras focus was exactly how I was seeing about this time!


The beautiful wife and I enjoying the Nantucket sun & wine

not sure if drew was awake at this point.....

Nips, killing it on the tables at the chicken box

The weekend ends at the Chicken Box with a little reggae action!