From Our Blog

The Secret To Cuban Rum…Made in Panama


When Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez, master blender for Havana Club for 35 years, decided to leave Cuba after the sale of his brand to an international spirits conglomerate, it was to Panama that he retired. Already having a long history of travel to that country, and having worked in Panama to make his “Cuban style” rum for many years previously, this was a natural choice for Don Pancho. However, it was not with the idea that he would continue to make rum or launch his own brand. That came later, after he met and became friends with one of Panama’s […]

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In the Land of Cocktails with Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin

If you have tuned into our iHeart Radio show, The Connected Table LIVE!, you know that we love New Orleans. Maybe it’s the sweet southern air. Maybe it’s the moist hot humidity. Maybe it’s the iconic food and drink culture. Maybe it’s spirit of the city that conveys “Pleasure is Good.” We consider New Orleans our spiritual- and spirited- home. It there is one name in New Orleans dining that stands heads above others it is “Brennan.” There are several branches of the Brennan family tree running different restaurant operations. Two of our favorite ladies of the Brennan family are Lally […]

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Frank Pellegrino Jr.- Bringing Rao’s To the People

Being a successful restaurateur is never easy. Being the son of a legendary restaurateur sounds like it might be easier but not always. This is especially true when your name is Frank Pellegrino Jr. and your dad, Frank, Sr., runs New York City’s toughest table-to-book in town, Rao’s (pronounced RAY-ohs). We’ve never snagged a table at Rao’s NYC, which is on our dining bucket list. I think tables  end up in the wills of its regulars.   It takes (meat) balls to follow in the footsteps of Frank Sr., and Frank Pellegrino Jr. (“Frankie” to Rao’s regulars) has done just that overseeing  Rao’s Caesars […]

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Connecting with Chef Alon Shaya

Chef Alon Shaya was born in Israel, raised in Philadelphia and now lives in New Orleans where he oversees the kitchens at Domenica, Pizza Domenica and his namesake Shaya Restaurant, and is a partner in both with Besh Restaurant Group. He credits cooking with his mother and grandmother for fueling his career in food and the Culinary Institute of America for giving him his formal education. Alon was working as an intern at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas when he met Octavio Mantilla, a co-owner of Besh Restaurant Group. Octavia recruited him to New Orleans, and Chef /Restaurateur John Besh […]

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El Jefe of Nuevo Latino Cuisine- Chef Douglas Rodriguez

He’s been called “the godfather of Nuevo Latino cooking” by media and food industry cognoscenti.  His dishes pack a “pow” in flavor, texture and color. I first became familiar with Chef Douglas Rodriguez’s muy sabroso culinary style when he was still in his tender twenties cooking “upscale Cuban” food at his restaurant YUCA (an acronym for “Young Cuban Americans”) in Miami. The James Beard Foundation Awards took notice early on and nominated him twice for Rising Star Chef of the Year; he won the award in 1996. Doug exploded into the competitive New York City restaurant scene with Patria, where he […]

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In Maui’s Upcountry- Our Favorite Dining Destination

David and I are big fans of the Hawaiian island Maui, We are longtime Starwood Vacation Property owners at the Westin Kaanapali, and we try to visit at least once a year. While many people who visit Maui hang out on the beach or enjoy the multitude of water sports, we like to venture upcountry around the slopes of Haleakula and beyond to visit the local farms, hike and explore the cowboy town of Makawao. A trip to upcountry often includes a visit to Beverly and Joe Gannon’s Hali’imaile General Store for lunch or a drink at the bar (voted the […]

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Vision Through a Glass – Ann Tuennerman, Tales of the Cocktail

New Orleans has long been considered the birthplace of the cocktail. In fact there is a Museum of Cocktail located in the city.  Eating and drinking is an essential part of New Orleans’ rich culinary culture, from its storied bars and restaurants and iconic Creole and Cajun dishes to the cocktails that were created there: the Sazerac, the Hurricane, the Grasshopper and New Orleans Ramos Gin Fizz. New Orleans is also the birthplace of the largest gathering of people who work in and for the cocktail and bar profession.  Tales of the Cocktail® is the world’s premier cocktail festival, bringing together the international […]

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Modern Mixology with Tony Abou-Ganim

He’s a Modern Mixologist and creator of numerous signature cocktails featured on bar menus throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. What are the craft and creative process for developing a memorable and perfectly balanced cocktail? We pose this question to Tony Abou-Ganim (a.k.a. The Modern Mixologist) on The Connected Table LIVE! June 10th. Tony’s amazing career has spanned the heights- from Harry Denton’s Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco- to the lights of Las Vegas working with hotel and resort kingpin, Steve Wynn (Bellagio, Wynn Resorts).   Wherever you go and whenever you order a cocktail on […]

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Lettie Teague’s Wit & Wisdom on Wine- June 10

She’s the wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal and former executive wine editor for Food & Wine Magazine, Lettie Teague is one of the most articulate and straightforward wine writers in the industry, and her numerous James Beard Foundation Journalism awards attest to this. We visit with Lettie June 10th on The Connected Table LIVE! fresh from being honored by the Wine Media Guild and on the heels of the release of her new – and third -book, Wine in Words (Rizzoli). This book is a collection of witty ruminations on wine from “Fun To Know,” “Need To Know” and “Who […]

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The King of Cocktails and Master of Mixology- Dale DeGroff

When you ask almost any bartender in America who they admire most in the industry, one name tops them all- Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff, aka King Cocktail. Dale is credited with reinventing the bartending profession, setting off a cocktail revival that continues to flourish.  Dale’s enormous influence in the bar world has spanned three decades and many crafted cocktails. I had the pleasure of getting to know Dale when he was making a name for himself behind the bar at New York City’s Rainbow Room when I was working with the late Joe Baum to launch New York Restaurant Week. Dale’s charm was magnetic; […]

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Atsby Vermouth's Adam Ford wrote the book on Vermouth. He's a bottomless glass of knowledge on the subject. Listen to Adam The Connected Table LIVE iHeartRadio ... See MoreSee Less

Melanie and David share highlights from Tales of the Cocktail 2015 in New Orleans. One standout is the increasing number of quality of vermouths and their growing popularity. Vermouth has gone from back shelf to top shelf in bars around the U.S. Adam Ford, author of "Vermouth: The Revival of the Spi…

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