Archive for March, 2010

Is Future Food: The Future of Food?

Posted 31 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining

Omar Cantu with Chef Brian Hubner,

Last night I watched Future Food featuring Chefs Homaru Cantu and Ben Roche of Moto restaurant in Chicago. To say it was interesting is an understatement. Before I launch into my thoughts, let me give you some background. Several years ago, during one of my eating trips to Chicago, I had the pleasure of visiting Moto restaurant and meeting Chef Cantu. At just over 6 feet tall, Omar, as he is called, is often referred to as the Edison of edibles due to the wide array of patents he holds in a variety of disciplines including food. He has a reputation for innovation and for seeing the world of food through a very unusual and creative set of lenses. My meal and experience at Moto offered positive proof of Cantu’s pension for the unusual as well as theatrical in culinary arts. That Omar has a new show out on Planet Green called Future Food makes total sense to me based on what I saw three years ago. Omar has a great knowledge of food, science, design, and theater and the show allows his wide variety of talents to truly shine through.

Cantu is a pedigreed chef who graduated from Western Culinary Institute prior to it becoming part of the Le Cordon Bleu empire. He has an inspiring rags-to-riches history, having spent time homeless early in life prior to pulling himself up by the straps of his non-skid, rubber soled, kitchen boots. Roche is a gifted alumnus of the world renowned International Baking & Pastry Institute at Johnson & Wales University. Both are mad scientists.

I enjoyed watching Future Food last night and think the show will do well. The chemistry between Cantu and Roche (no pun intended) is electric at times and the two demonstrate cooking techniques and an approach to creativity that will be of interest to most who have a passion for food or food related entertainment. Like Moto restaurant, the show

Moto's Pomegranate & Gooseberry

itself places a tremendous emphasis on the theatrics and shock value of creating molecular gastronomy treats like sushi made from “tuna” which is composed of compressed watermelon that has been infused with nori. Striking in appearance and similarity to tuna, the item looked identical to the real thing but its flavor was just the opposite and appeared to fall flat. When Cantu and Roche conducted a taste test of the tuna, several who tasted the item in a local Chicago supermarket appeared to think they were eating the real thing but realized quickly that the item wasn’t tuna. They were less impressed by the flavor than the look of the dish. But is the show about flavor and taste or about technique, curiosity, creativity, and theatrics? Is the restaurant business just about the food today or is it about more than that?

Either way, I like these guys both in person and on TV. They are, at times, out of their minds with odd-ball creativity and we need people in foodservice who occupy the fringe. I also think that exposing more Americans to this sort of creative approach to food and cooking, regardless of whether you

Moto Menu Printed on Cracker

like molecular gastronomy or not, will add richness to our national food dialog. Some will disagree as there are many in the culinary world who hate the notion of molecular gastronomy. The night I dined at Moto, Mario Batali (another guy I think the world of) was there. After being served and edible menu (edible ink printed on a thin cracker and baked), one of his first comments was “what is this Frankenfood?” Mario’s preference for eating (and cooking) flavorful, traditional food could not be suppressed at the dinner table that night nor should it have been. Although I doubt Batali fully enjoyed his meal, I do know that the meal made him think. Is this part of the Cantu-Roche plan? Probably.

The boundaries between art and science have been blurring in recent years particularly in culinary arts. Much has been written about this phenomenon from the more general musings of Daniel Pink in a Whole New Mind to the more technical and complex writings of David Edwards in Artscience: Creativity in the post-Google Generation. Pink proposes a future where the right-brained creative set (chefs included) rise up against a social norm created by left brain conformists due to changing market forces. Artscience, on the other hand, describes how new realms of creativity are being born at the intersection of art and science resulting in new forms of reality. Edwards, a professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard, provides a direct culinary example of the theory he proposes in Artscience with LeWhif. He used his expertise in pulmonary drug delivery to create a food that you breathe and monetized it via LeWhif. Ever consider inhaling chocolate to sate your craving? It seems odd to even think about this, but it’s compelling none the less. The same is true of Cantu’s work.

The notion of food taking on new and unusual forms is not new, contrary to popular belief. Cantu’s culinary aesthetic

Moto's Sea Trout Tar Tar wit Nori Powder, Crispy Yuba, Frozen Sesame Oil

and personal history mirror those of what many consider the originator of haute cuisine; Chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833). As any culinary school graduate knows, Carême, after recoving from being orpahned at a young age, became the darling of 19th century elite for his bizzare creativity and elaborate pastry pièces montées. These creations, like Cantu and Roche’s watermelon tuna, were created out of one ingredient (often sugar and flour) but constructed to look like something entirely different (a bird, flower, building etc.)  Carême, like Cantu, Roche and Edwards today, was also capable of interdisciplinary transfer when coming up with new ideas. He studied history and architecture and plyed his craft with a heavy influence from both. He also studied politics and positioned himself with people who provided him the widest exposure including a stint as chef for the now famous Tallyrand (Charles Maurice de Tallyrand-Périgord, 1754-1838). Cantu has positioned himself using similar tactics. This stuff isn’t new, it’s just reframed for a contemporary audience and culture.

Was Carême’s aesthetic the “frankenfood” of its day? Highly likely. One can only speculate, but I am sure the average pesant passing by Carême’s Parisian pâtisserie was shocked and confused by his flaboyant creations sitting in the shop window not to mention they were starving to deaty (let them eat cake!) Mario’s classical preferences aside, I think many of the nonprofessional viewing audience who watched Future Food last night woke up this morning with questions in their mind about what they saw. And that’s the point. The conversation about molecular gastronomy has been taken to another level with Future Food and Cantu and Roche along with the folks at the Green Channel have incited it. Will this eventually lead to home cooks chasing down a gallon of liquid nitrogen (do not try this at home) so they can cook on their own anti-griddle? Will stay-at-home moms and dads begin Cryovacing (yes that’s a verb) watermelon to see what happens? Time will tell.

Back in March of 2006 a group of us met with Bill Shaw, President and C.O.O., of Marriott International and he stated the following:  “Previous experience embeds a given paradigm. Moving to a new context requires a shift in paradigm and a concentrated effort to get past old ways.”  Shaw’s statement probably links with the premise of Future Food but, as a classical chef, I am not completely ready to leave my “old ways” in the kitchen. For now, however, I think we should encourage Cantu and Roche to keep the conversation going and see where it takes us!  Future Food does not represent the future of food…yet!

Quick – No Service? Will the Pursuit of Efficiency Take the “S” out of Q.S.R

Posted 29 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category Quick Service

I get a kick out of visiting quick service restaurants (QSR’s). Although my background is in the fine dining segment of

Hurry 4 Curry

our wonderful industry, it gives me great pleasure when I find an innovative QSR that serves great food. During my travels I seek out local joints or smaller regional chains that are known for something; a local dish, an innovative or gimmicky practice, or some sort of unique beverage or service.

Such was the case when I found Hurry 4 Curry in Phoenix recently. Hurry 4 Curry is located in downtown Phoenix at the new Arizona Center (400 E. Van Buren St.). The location is small and seats about 20. It’s wedged in between two other well known full service restaurants with a large glass storefront and an open kitchen.

Hurry 4 Curry is unique not because of its food but the customer interface you encounter when you enter the restaurant and place your order. Upon crossing the threshold through a glass door on the left side of the storefront, you encounter one large and two small LCD screens. The larger screen is mounted on the wall five feet off the floor and lists all the menu items for the day. The two smaller HP touch screens are located just below shoulder height on a counter and are used for placing orders.

When I first encountered the screens I found them amusing. The menu screen is brightly lit and easy to read. The smaller screens have instructions for placing an order with no human being to offer guidance in sight. This sort of customer performed ordering technology is not new but it is always interesting to see. I quickly placed an order for a Chicken Biryani and Garlic Naan by clicking through to that option. When the Biryani and Naan were confirmed, I concluded my order. Instructions came on the screen for me to swipe my credit card on the card reader just below the LCD screen. I did so and it worked flawlessly.

Once my order was in I scanned over to the right where the open kitchen is and noticed two cooks preparing items. Neither looked over at me as I tried to figure out what I was supposed to do. Grabbing my receipt from the printer on the counter next to the card swipe, I decided to sit down and wait to see what would happen. After 5 or 6 minutes, one of the cooks brought me my plate of Biryani and Naan. I thanked him and he walked away without saying a word. Interesting…

Touch Screen

The Biryani wasn’t all that memorable; they grilled the chicken, diced it and tossed it with the rice and peas just before service. It was more of a stir-fry than a Biryani. The flavor was good though and the dish was hot. The Naan was hot and tasty; nicely done. What startled me more about the experience was the lack of human contact and how empty that lack of contact made me feel. After giving it some thought, I realized that the only contact we have in a typical QSR is at the service counter when placing and picking up our order. Yes, this is a blinding flash of the obvious but one based the absence altogether of service rather than an incident of poor delivery as typically is the case. In those few minutes of human contact, a QSR has the opportunity to define itself one way or the other. When that contact is missing, a great opportunity is lost (assuming the contact wasn’t negative).

Receipt Printer

I can understand why Hurry 4 Curry would make order-taking customer driven and automated. Looking around, I never saw more than two people in the restaurant although they served more than 15 people in the short time I was there. By eliminating the hourly cashiers with touch-screens, Hurry 4 Curry is achieving a much lower labor cost and a higher degree of efficiency (the hurry in Hurry 4 Curry). The labor savings and efficiency are not passed on to customers in the price of the menu items (Biryani and Naan totaled $9.00) but the savings probably give the place a higher profit margin and a much greater probability of surviving in the long run. Still, the experience left me unsettled. This was the first dining experience I have had where I entered, ordered, received and consumed an entire meal without hearing a single word from any employee in the restaurant. The complete lack of human contact aside from my food “delivery”

Biryani & Naan

 was enough to make me wonder whether the savings in labor would wind up being the Achilles heel that kills the place. I admire Hurry 4 Curry for the quality of its innovation and thoughtful approach to efficiency. However, it is clear that we have a long way to go as an industry in building the perception of service into an automated interface. Even Rosie the cleaning robot in the Jetsons offered a lilting voice and positive, yet synthetic affect. The next time I get my curry in a hurry, I hope it comes with a smiling dose of human contact (whether real or

synthetic) and service. After all, what would a QSR be without the S?

L.A. Taqueria Heaven!

Posted 21 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category Quick Service

Rincon Taurino

Sometimes the best meals are the simplest. And often, the simplest meals are also the most affordable. During a recent visit to Los Angeles a good friend took me a Taqueria he has been eating at for more than 20 years. He lives just south of the 101 in Tarzana, California now but still makes the 10 mile drive over to Rincon Taurino in Panorama City for the tacos, tostadas, and tortas that this little joint is know for. With so many local, low cost choices, I was perplexed why he would drive the distance to eat at such a place. On the way over he described the owner of Rincon Taurino and how long he has known him, the wonderful array of authentic Mexican dishes on the menu, and the long lines outside the place most nights of the week. He joked that on some nights the owner parks his own food truck outside of Rincon Taurino to pick up business from his own overflow, the lines are so long.  As we get closer, my mouth begins to water. I love good authentic Mexican food.

When we pull up, things look promising. Rincon Taurino is a freestanding restaurant at the corner of Terra Bella street and Nordoff. It is well kept and clean with large white signs painted with red and blue lettering. Inside, Rincon Taurino is equally clean. The small dining room has a quarry tile floor, light orange walls and seven or eight tables with picnic bench seating. As the name suggests, the décor has a bull fighting theme. There’s more than one mounted bull staring down at you when you enter.

Orders are taken by a cashier through an opening on the right side of a large glass wall at one end of the space. Orders

Tacos Asada

are picked up on the left side of the same glass wall when finished. Cook time for what we ordered (2 Tacos Al Pastor, 2 Taco Asada, 1 Torta Milanesa, and 1 Tostada Carnitas) was around 5 minutes.

The tacos are a nice little snack with two per portion. They consist of a couple stacked fresh corn tortillas the size of a coffee saucer topped with what ever combination ordered. Of the two types we tried my favorite was the Taco Asada ($2.70 for two) which consisted of fresh grilled marinated beef with diced onions, cilantro and a spicy salsa roja. The meat was cooked and seasoned perfectly and the overall flavors of everything else complimentary. For this price, I could eat six or eight of these.

My favorite item was the Tostada Carnitas ($4.50) which is stacked much higher with fillings at Rincon Taurino than I am used to seeing. Served on a crispy corn tortilla, our

Tostada Carnitas

Tostada had a nice thick layer of fresh grilled pork and sauce topped with crisp iceberg lettuce, shaved onion, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and cheese. The portion size was sufficient to feed both of us. With a rich pork flavor, good seasoning and a great contrast in texture between the tortilla, pork, lettuce and avocado, the dish was an absolute delight.

What I like about Rincon Taurino is the care with which the meats are cooked. Each of the items we tried featured meats that were done to perfection. These meats served as the centerpiece of each dish with the rest of the components built around them. For the prices we paid, I can understand why people drive to this place and why the lines are long. Next time you are heading North in LA on the 5 or 405 toward the valley, stop in for a taco or tostada. You’ll be glad you did.

Avec ~ Chicago

Posted 19 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining

Avec, Chicago

It’s 10:45PM and I am sitting in a hotel room in Chicago when my mobile phone rings. A couple of friends who I visited with in recent weeks are on the line joking with me while thinking that I am in bed at home.  They, in fact, are stuck in Chicago after attempting to make an early evening transfer at O’Hare which was cancelled (a real rarity in the winter…) I ask what they are doing and find out that they are on their way to Avec at 615 West Randolph St. “Wow, you guys are lucky, I would love to join you at Avec”, I exclaim. After a bit of laughing, I tell them I am actually on my way (my hotel is 5 minutes from Avec.) They are stunned. After a bit of additional laughter and disbelief, I tell them that I have been in Chicago for the past couple of days eating my way around town and was just about to go to bed when they called. Avec has been on my list of places to eat since eating at Blackbird (fantastic) which is right next door. So…I throw caution to the wind, get dressed and jump in a cab. Five bucks later and I am standing in Avec waiting.

Avec is long and narrow. It’s all hard wood. Hardwood floors, tables, seating, bar, walls and ceiling. It has a large glass storefront and a hidden entry door to the left of the restaurant that is known to confuse guests as they arrive. The place is hip as are the people who work there and it has a cool, urban feel. We are seated right away by a smiling hostess and immediately approached by our server. Rather than delay service we ask that she make some choices for us and get us started.

Dates

Our first course is a small cast iron plate of Chorizo Stuffed Medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. These stuffed dates are a house specialty and, after the first bite, I know why. The sweet tender dates marry wonderfully with the salty chorizo forcemeat that surrounds them. This is a dish that you begin to taste before it enters your mouth due to the wonderful savory aroma that wafts around as they sizzle.

Next we enjoy a large plate of La Quercia prosciutto with honeycomb, orange zest, sliced pear, Spanish Marcona almonds and black peppercorn vinaigrette. This is the first time I have had La Quercia prosciutto even though the product has been on the market for more than five years. Made in Iowa by Herb and Cathy Eckhouse, La Quercia (Oak in Italian) is known for its artisan dry cured salumi and environmentally green sensibility. That Avec has sourced a reasonably local (La Quercia is 400

Prosciutto

miles from Avec) supply of Prosciutto tells me much about Chef Koren Grieveson and her culinary sensibility. Each dish on her menu is well thought out, sourced locally if the quality is there, and perfectly prepared and seasoned. Back to the prosciutto…At first I wondered if the black peppercorn vinaigrette would be too strong but, interestingly, it’s nice and light. It appears that the peppercorns have been soaked and lightly pickled. They are tender and add a nice contrast to the salty prosciutto and sweet pear. The dish is perfectly seasoned and delicious.

 Our final dish is a wood oven braised pork shoulder served with chestnut-bacon dumplings, butternut squash, kale, and fresh herbs. The pork comes in a cast iron Staub mini oval cocotte with a huge puff pastry vol au vent on top.  It’s beautiful. I break through the pastry and find large steaming chunks of fork-tender pork coated in a wonderful savory braising liquid. Each of the vegetables is cooked through and perfect, not overly soft. The dish is rustic French with a modern flair due

Braised Pork Vol Au Vent

to the moist and satisfying chestnut-bacon dumplings. Another great dish, we are three for three.

Avec is a study in exceptional cooking and service in an environment that is sleek and hip. Every dish we enjoyed was well executed, showed proper fundamental cooking technique, came to the table hot and well seasoned. Koren Grieveson is a talented chef at the top of her game. She has worked with great chefs over the years including Michael Mina and Keith Luce (of Spruce) and at Blackbird where she paid her dues as sous chef. I love her food and philosophy and Avec will remain on my “must visit” list when I return to Chicago.

Parings In Napa, California

Posted 18 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category Wine Notes

Clos Du Val

If ever there was a place for recharging ones batteries and reconnecting with earth, wine, and food, Napa is the place. Over the past weekend I had the chance to eat my way through the valley from Yountville up to St. Helena with a side trip down to Stag’s Leap. There’s something wonderful about being in Napa even when it’s off-season. The pristine old vines in symmetrical rows running mile after mile never cease to amaze and inspire me. It’s a model aesthetic and way of life that runs with the seasons, in calendar cycles; an existence marked in vintages that connect  the earth, weather, and wine-makers skill. While there I had the chance to learn more about American Express’ parings project. Last fall they teamed Chef John Besh with Mondavi winemaker Genevieve Janssens and musician Dave Matthews for a wonderful evening of food, wine, and music. It’s nice to see a company investing in an aesthetic at a

Dave & Tim with Chef Coats

time when economic conditions have forced many to cut these sorts of programs to the bone. After all, what would life be without food, wine and music? I commend American Express for choosing such luminaries as Besh, Janssens and Matthews (they also paired up John Legend and Tom Colicchio in New York, but that’s another story).

More than a decade ago I had the pleasure of cooking for and eating with Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds. Dave and Tim were in my city during one of their early acoustic tours and we prepared a large family style dinner for the whole crew. Prior to going on stage, we had a wonderful meal and spoke at length about the virtues of good food and wine. Dave and I had nearly half an hour alone discussing his background and most precious food memories. In between, Dave completed his vocal warm-ups in preparation for the show. Even back then

 Dave was committed to eating well and to responsible agriculture. This was long before Dave launched Blenheim winery or became a national spokesperson for sustainable agriculture. His commitment to good food, wine and sustainability is decades old and truly authentic! It makes complete sense that he would join American Express, John Besh and an icon like Genevieve Janssens for the Pairings event in Napa. Makes me wish I was there.

For Restaurants: Does Twitter Equal Truth?

Posted 09 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category Food Alert Trends

For some time I have wondered why so many people in the food world are fascinated by Twitter. Chefs have been using Twitter regularly for a couple of years now and in some cases gained national attention for their tweets. Their posts are harmless anecdotes in some cases and in others can be quite harmful. New York Times food writer Julia Moskin captured in a February 2010 article examples of how chefs are behaving badly through the use of Twitter. Twitter appears to be some sort of digital megaphone that people are using in a knee jerk way. I don’t get it.

However, I do know that Twitter has proven to be a useful way to connect buyers and sellers. The popular press has reported via several high profile stories, about the multitude of food trucks using Twitter as a serious marketing tool. Celebrity chefs and popular restaurants have caught on as well and now you can follow your favorite on Twitter. Twitter appears to be a serious marketing tool.

After reading Moskin’s story I signed up for an account and searched out a chef that I would enjoy following. Chef Chris Cosentino (@OffalChris) fit the bill. Chris was one of my students back in the 1990’s and was mentioned in Moskin’s story. With a new Twitter account of my own (@satedepicure) and some time exploring the Twitter environment, my understanding of Twitter was starting to clarify.

Final clarity was found when I met Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and chairman of Twitter. Jack presented a one hour session to a group of us about his background, the founding of Twitter, and where Twitter is headed strategically. Jack, like many an internet prodigy, is a wonderfully articulate guy who exudes a high degree of authenticity and intellect.

Jack Dorsey

He’s clean cut, casual, and travels the planet with an iphone and a days worth of razor stubble on his chin. Dorsey created Twitter out of pure curiosity as a utility to help people communicate in singular or broadcast form in as simple a way as possible. As a result, he liberated digital communication by creating a system that allows anyone to communicate or “tweet” to the entire planet in 140 characters or less using a cheap mobile phone with text messaging capability. Dorsey repeatedly mentioned three characteristics that make Twitter unique. He stated that Twitter provides users immediacy, transparency, and simplicity when it comes to communication. These three factors are catalysts that enable greater human interaction. Think of the tweets as triggers for increased human interaction and feelings of connectivity. I finally get it.

Twitter provides chefs and restaurateurs with an inexpensive tool for connecting on a regular basis with their customers and for broadcasting brief real time messages to their broader constituents. Due to Twitter’s architecture, these constituents can respond to such a post providing additional perspective and transparency. In effect these additional posts pull the truth out of a message (in theory). The whole process is extremely simple and, in the best cases, trigger human interaction. In the worst cases, Twitter is a tool that can enable some chefs to be reckless in a very public way. Like any tool in the kitchen, Twitter can be beneficial of detrimental; it all depends on how you use it.

Travel Promotion Act Signed Into Law Today

Posted 04 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category Food Alert Trends

In case you missed it, the Travel Promotion Act was signed into law today by President Obama. The act requires the creation of a public-private Corporation for Travel Promotion that will coordinate global advertising and promotion of the United States as a travel destination for business, pleasure and education while also clarifying U.S. entry policies. Funding for the act will come from public and private sources and a controversial $10 fee imposed on each foreign visitor to the U.S.

The act has drawn praise from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the U.S. Travel Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and most of the major hotel brands as a positive step toward improving international travel to the U.S. According to the Democratic Policy Committee and the Department of Commerce, there were more than 600,000 fewer overseas visitors to the U.S. in 2008 compared to 2000 resulting in tens of billions of dollars in lost visitor spending and taxes. As promotional activities ramp up and the number of overseas vistors improves, the hospitality industry is expected to benefit. With restaurant sales projected to grow just 2.5% in 2010, this additional public-private support for the hospitality industry is a blessing.

Community Supported Agriculture: Be Green to Create Some Green

Posted 02 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category At Home

Reading Kimberly Weisul’s article titled Why More Are Buying Into ‘Buy Local’  from the March 1, 2010 issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek reminded me that it’s that time of year when we send checks into our local community supported agriculture partners. My local yokel is Grateful Farm which has been in operation and organic since 1983 (way before organic was mainstream). Of the many things I look forward to in late winter, signing up for Grateful Farms greenbucks program is near the top of my feel-good list. Grateful Farm, like many CSA operations, offers slight discounts (more produce for your money) to those of us that are early to renew and, in turn they receive the start up capital required to launch a successful season.

Weisul makes a strong argument in her article that the benefits of buying local are good for the local economy. Although this may seem self evident, the benefits appear to be even greater than I originally thought based on Weisul’s story. Weisul presents several graphs by Stanford Kay that illustrate the number of jobs created and dollars generated within the local economy when buyers shift from chains to local stores and sources (like Grateful Farm). Of $100 spent, the amount that remains in the local economy is more than three times greater at a locally owned store compared to a national or global chain. Buying local may prove to be green environmentally while also generating some green economically. So keep buying local and send a check to your local farm today.

For Emeril, Three (on TV) is a Magic Number

Posted 01 Mar 2010 — by S.E.
Category Food Alert Trends

 Before the year is over Emeril Lagasse is likely to have three shows airing nationally on three different networks: “Emeril Green” (Discovery Communication’s Planet Green), “The Emeril Lagasse Show” (ION Television), and “Emeril’s

Emeril with Karina Smirnoff

Fresh Food Fast” (Scripps Networks Cooking Channel). “Emeril Green” is a fantastic show currently airing that is recorded on location at Whole Foods market. “The Emeril Lagasse Show” launches on the ION Television network later this month. The show will feature a recorded prime-time talk show with a “live entertainment meets cooking show” format. This is a configuration Emeril is familiar with and one that allows Emeril to shine.

 When the Food Network ceased production of Emeril’s flagship “Emeril Live” back in 2007 I wasn’t surprised. The Food Network’s transition away from cooking instruction by cream of the crop professionals like Emeril and toward food-related entertainment has been happening for some time. Scripps Networks, parent of The Food Network appears to be aware of this shift and the need to correct it. Scripps’ announcement of the creation of the Cooking Channel, The Food Networks younger more practical sibling, could represent a return to the old Food Network’s roots. Having Emeril join in the launch of Cooking Channel is simply a matter of history repeating itself. Emeril has the talent and clout to move this fledgling forward even with the other two shows airing concurrently.

Emeril is a guy who carries a load beyond what is humanly possible when you consider the number of successful

Emeril Jams with Neville Brothers

restaurants, ventures, television shows and philanthropic causes he is committed to. Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to interact with him in person on multiple occasions and even though he is flat out busy, he always radiates a deep love of food, positive attitude and authentic personality. The last time I saw him was in November 2009. It was toward the end of the night at his annual Carnivale du Vin fundraiser for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and he was sitting at a table near the front of the room listening to the Neville Brothers play their last few songs. He looked exhausted but when I approached he leaned forward, grabbed my hand, shook it and thanked me for attending. Emeril is never too tired to be positive. That night he and some of the world’s greatest chefs including his buddies Mario Batali and Charlie

Trotter raised approximately $1.9M for charity. Seems the greater Emeril’s success, the more he gives back. With his stock on the rise, there are many who, like a rising tide, will be lifted with him. I hope you join me and thousands of others by tuning in to or recording “The Emeril Lagasse Show” on Sunday, March 28th at 8:00PM on ION Television. Emeril’s the real deal; he’s all heart and one of the best chefs I know and he just keeps getting better.