A page from The Connected Table Brag Book: David Ransom inked another cover story in the March 2015 issue of Tasting Panel Magazine. The article profiles Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini, President of Barone Fini wines located in Italy’s Aldo Adige region.
Barone Fini is one of the fastest growing Italian wine brands in the U.S.A. The wine’s provenance dates back to 1497 from a union between two noble Venetian families, Bonmartini and Fini. Barone Fini produces two wines from 100% Pinot Grigio and one from 100% Merlot. Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits is their partner/importer.
The April 1st edition of The Connected Table LIVE! is a “liquid lunch”chat with two vintage guests from the world of wine. We’ve had the pleasure with working with both on many occasions over the years, so pour a glass with us and tune in.
One of the most well-known voices on the radio, with his Blue Lifestyle Minute on WCBS, Anthony Dias Blue is recognized worldwide as a leading food, wine, spirits, and travel expert. His reach includes TV, magazines, books, and of course, radio. Andy also heads a food & wine events company and hosts food & wine competitions worldwide, most notably The San Francisco International Wine & Spirits Competition and the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.
A James Beard Foundation Journalism Award recipient and member of the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, Andy’s writing affiliations have included Bon Appétit (where we worked with him for years producing events around the nation), Food & Wine and Zagat. He is currently Editor- in- Chief of The Tasting Panel Magazineand The SOMM Journal, two of the nation’s top wine and spirits industry magazines, both of which he is also an owner.
His award-winning work spans all forms of media and is circulated to more than 30,000,000 consumers each month.
Anyone who has the stamina to travel around the world for a year with Kevin Zraly visiting over 20 Countries, 80 wine regions, and 500 appellations, tasting more than 7,000 wines- for the sake of research- gets our bobble-head nod of appreciation. Not only that, but he’s run with the bulls in Pamplona, but we won’t go there!
We’re talking about Robin Kelley O’Connor who has spent 30 years in the wine trade as a leading educator, international wine judge, wine writer, advisor and sommelier.
Well-known as a Bordeaux and European specialist, and authority on fine and rare wines, Robin was Director of Trade and Consumer Education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for 20 years, and was previously Lead Specialist & Head of Wine, Americas for Christie’s Auction House. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann,
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We have many friends in the food and beverage industry but none as dear to us like family as the Jammets. Parents Rita and André Jammet were proprietors of the La Caravelle restaurant, continuing the restaurant’s legendary reputation for exceptional French food, wine and service. Always, an evening at La Caravelle was delicious and memorable, and we had many. At the helm of La Caravelle, Rita and André truly “walked with kings” while keeping the common touch. Everyone who dined at La Caravelle was treated like royalty. The Champagne flowed as generations of couples and families celebrated special occasions and moguls inked deals over classic French food served with quiet refinement.
It was the end of an era when the Jammets decided to close La Caravelle in 2004. The socio-economic fallout from the September 11th attacks had not been kind to many New York City restaurants. The closing of La Caravelle was a terrible loss to the city and to the legions of customers who relished every moment dining at this amazing restaurant. But doors shut and others open. In Rita’s case, it wasn’t just doors opening; it was champagne corks popping.
Rita decided to carry on the torch and name with line of exceptional La Caravelle Champagne. The portfolio includes a blanc de blanc, brut cuvée and rosé, as well as a red Bordeaux from the Listrac-Medoc appellation. Her wines are now sold in dozens of NYC restaurants and elsewhere.
Rita applies the same dedication and hospitable nature to selling her champagne as she did to running her restaurant. On any given night she is out and about trying new restaurants, supporting charitable events and posting Tweets to acknowledge and praise chefs and sommeliers for their hard work and dedication. Even without her own bricks and mortar restaurant to oversee Rita is an indefatigable brand ambassador for exceptional hospitality, wine and food and all things fabulous and French. We are delighted that the spirit of La Caravelle continues with this sparkling reincarnation. And we are delighted to have Rita join us, followed by son Nicolas on March 25th on The Connected Table LIVE! as part of our Families in the Business series.
We were pleased to see Rita and Andre Jammet and entrepreneurial sons Patrick and Nicolas on the cover of the recent Restaurant Business Magazine. Third son Christophe, also an entrepreneur, was on a holiday that included a marriage proposal on a mountain-top at the time of the photo shoot,
On March 25th we also chat with son Nicolas Jammet, Founder and Co-CEO of sweetgreen, the much-loved, organic, farm-to-table salad shops originating in Washington, D.C. To say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is an understatement with any of the Jammet sons and especially Nicolas. His is a classic success story of three college buddies with an idea and a business plan. Nicolas graduated from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in 2007, where he met his business partners, Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru.
The three entrepreneurs founded sweetgreen during their senior year, opening their first location in Georgetown in August 2007 – just three months out of college. The idea was born from their belief that the community would benefit from a healthy, delicious, and eco-friendly dining option. They passionately believed it was possible to create “food that fits” – your values, your budget, your tastes, your imagination, and your community.
Since then, they have built sweetgreen to become the market leader in local, organic, healthy fast food, with over 1,000 employees and 29 stores throughout Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Virginia, and Maryland. 2015 will see a West Coast launch with stores opening in Los Angeles and Santa Monica in early spring. sweetgreen has become a local favorite not only for its delicious, healthy, high quality and affordable fast food, but also for its commitment to local farmers, the community, sustainability, and an outstanding company culture.
In 2010, the sweetgreen partners founded sweetlife, which over the last four years has grown to become the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest music and food festival. The event features a curated selection of cutting edge and high profile artists and attracts 20,000 attendees – not to mention outstanding food from top chefs, food trucks, local purveyors and farmers. The event embraces good living, along with health and well-being, community and sustainability, and leaves a gentle footprint as a carbon-neutral event – a party with a purpose.
Nicolas and his partners have been selected as Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30: Food & Wine” and Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under.” The brand has received numerous accolades from the press, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Food & Wine, Forbes, Bloomberg, Washingtonian, CBS, and CNBC, among others.
Join the Insatiable Curious Culinary Couple Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays on The Connected Table LIVE! 2pm ET/11 am PT on W4CY.com Shows podcasts are available on demand anytime at IHeart.com. Each week we bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality. Connect with us at:
Jonell Nash, the longtime food editor for Essence Magazine, and a fellow member of Les Dames dEscoffier, left this world after a short illness. Outside of her immediate circle of family and friends, most of the people who knew Jonell were unaware she had been ill. Jonell would have wanted it that way; she was never about attracting attention, only giving of her self.
Jonell lived life on her own quiet, refined and gracious terms. She took life slowly and savored it like a perfectly cooked dish. Cooking was her calling, but it was more than just about creating precision recipes; it was about styling the perfect table setting, from fresh flowers to china, the right light and music. Eating was not about “grabbing a bite,” squeezing in lunch over a desk, or eating plastic food on paper plates with disposable utensils. Good things didn’t have to be complicated, time consuming or expensive, just well presented and with thought.
Jonell put a lot of thought into everything she did, un-hurried; not harried, calm and centered. How many of us take the time to set a table with flowers and sit down for a meal by ourselves or with a significant other and have real conversation? No TV, no text, no tech at the table.
Jonell focused on attention to every little detail in her life and in the lives of those she loved. Sadly was there was detail she may have ignored – that of keeping up with her health. I don’t know the circumstances of the cancer that took Jonell’s life other than it seem to have been discovered when it was too late to do anything. This was particularly poignant for me as a cancer survivor who has seen this happen with many women who are gifted and giving of themselves. I have made it my mission to educate women that making your self-health a priority is not selfish; it is self-sustaining.
David and I were thrilled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) on Tuesday, March 3, at Chelsea Piers in New York City. We’ve attended- and produced- numerous multi-chef tasting events in our careers, and this one is among the best. It was so much fun catching up with industry colleagues and friends whom we have worked with in over the years, including Nina and Tim Zagat, Chef Michael Lomonaco, Sarabeth Levine, Marcus Samuelsson and Daniel Boulud. Several of my fellow Les Dames d’Escoffier members were on hand to support the event, including: Rita Jammet, Pamela Morgan and Saori Kawano and, of course, C-CAP’s Director of Communications, Joyce Appelman.
The evening honored restaurauteurs Richard (Dick) Parsons and Alexander Smalls, who’ve contributed to the culinary landscape of Harlem with Minton’s and The Cecil, the latter of which was named Esquire Magazine’s 2014 Best New Restaurant. David and I had the pleasure of interviewing JJ Johnson, Chef de Cuisine at The Cecil on The Connected Table LIVE! on February 18. Listen to our iHeart podcast with Chef JJ here: http://www.iheart.com/show/209-The-Connected-Table-Live/?episode_id=27165818
A few thing we learned about Dick Parsons: He is a lifelong New Yorker, philanthropist and business executive extraordinaire, currently serving as Senior Adviser at Providence Equity Partners, and formerly Chairman of the Board for Citigroup and Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, Inc. He is also a big jazz fan who currently serves as Chairman of the Apollo Theater. It was honor to meet him and his special guest, actress, Cecily Tyson!
I’ve known Alexander Smalls through our mutual paths working in the food industry, for his “Southern Revival Cooking” and visiting his former restaurants Cafe Beulah and Sweet Ophelia’s. And we are friends on Facebook. He’s long been a force in the industry and was named one of Zagat’s 19 Restaurant Power Players To Know. But what I didn’t know is that Alexander is both a Grammy and Tony-Award winning opera singer, honored for his recording of Porgy & Bess with the Houston Grand Opera. I’d love to hear that!
C-CAP’s mission is to offer career training, scholarships and other opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry for under served high school students. Since its inception C-CAP has awarded $45 million n scholarships, and classrooms have received $3.2 million worth of supplies and equipment. It was a special treat to meet and taste dishes by C-CAP alumni, including Pastry Chef Veronica Rivera (Marc Forgione Restaurant), Chef Cesar Gutierrez (Lexington Brass) and Chef Kelvin Fernandez (The Marina). You can learn more about C-CAP and hear from both Founder and Chairman Richard Grausman and C-CAP alumni Kelvin Fernandez at The Connected Table LIVE’s February 25th edition. Listen to our iHeart link here: http://www.iheart.com/show/209-The-Connected-Table-Live/?episode_id=27169745
Chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, Rick Moonen, has been the country’s leading advocate for the sustainable seafood movement for the past 25 years, bringing national awareness to this subject near and dear to his heart. In 2013 USA Today named him one of Earth’s “Power Players” as one of five leaders helping the health of our planet.
He’s been featured on CNN, TODAY, Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, Dan Rather Reports, and many more. His flagship restaurant, Rick Moonen’s rm seafood at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, showcase his commitment to sustainability without foregoing culinary creativity and innovation, and have been critically acclaimed by local and national press alike.
In June 2013, Chef Moonen transformed rm upstairs into Rx Boiler Room, a modern gastropub that showcases comfort food, redefined with Moonen’s signature twist. Rx Boiler Room was named Best New Restaurant of 2013 by Desert Companion magazine.
During this particularly harsh winter one dish has sustained us….soup. We’ve raided our larder and pantry to create different soups when we can’t leave our icy driveway. Our go-to book has been Joanna Pruess‘ recently published Soup for Two: Small-Batch Recipes for One, Two, or a Few. The recipes are easy enough for Melanie with plenty of vegetarian options and substantial enough for David. Somehow we’ve managed to stretch several of Joanna’s “soup for two” recipes into “soup for two days” by adding more ingredients to a base recipe.
JoannaPruess is an award-winning food and travel writer who has written extensively for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Saveur, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, PBS’ online magazine: NextAvenue.org, and the Associated Press. She is a regular contributor to Specialty Foods Magazine where she develops recipes for gourmet retailers and fine markets across the country, and writes a column about discovering a country’s culture through its cuisine. She also develops recipes for the some of the nation’s top gourmet product manufacturers.
She’s written and published 14 cookbooks. In addition to the aforementioned Soup for Two, some of Joanna’s other books include; Dos Caminos’ Tacos (with Ivy Stark); The Tea Cookbook; The Cast-Iron Cookbook; and Seduced by Bacon: Recipes and Lore about America’s Favorite Indulgence. And then there’s Seduced by Bacon which has captured David’s fancy.
She created and was the first director of the Cookingstudio, a cooking school within Kings Super Market, in New Jersey, where she had more than 15,000 students in five years. Among her classes were special programs for the visually and hearing-impaired, the learning disabled, as well as historical dinners.
Joanna has also lectured about food and cultural anthropology at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., onboard the Crystal Cruises, throughout the U.S., and in Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey. When we were planning our “bucket list” trip to Morocco in 2012, Joanna invited us over to her NYC apartment and shared all her culinary side trips and must-visits from her own excursion.
The other liquids that have helped us maintain both our senses and our sense of humor this winter are hot cups of coffee or espresso and plenty of good wine. Any color or varietal will do depending on the meal we cook, but we are especially partial to a nice Brunello di Montalcino.
Riccardo illy, Chairman of Gruppo illy S.p.A. will join us live from his home in Trieste to discuss his role at the helm of his family’s company as part of our Families in the Business series.
Ricardo’s grandfather, Francesco illy, founded the business in 1933 starting with coffee and chocolate. Back then illy had a farm in Istria near Trieste. After World War II this part of Italy became Yugoslavia. The real estate was nationalized, and the farm was lost. Francesco illy decided to focus on coffee.
Under Riccardo’s father, the late Ernesto illy, the company introduced illy tea. After 20 years, production of illy tea was discontinued, and the focus remained coffee. Today, illy coffee is enjoyed in 140 countries around the world in restaurants, at home and in more than 200 espressamente illy coffee bar locations.
The illy family remains deeply involved in company leadership. Riccardo joined the family firm in 1977 working his way through marketing, sales and upper management positions. He was named Managing Director in 1992, Vice President in 1995 and Chairman of Gruppo illy in 2004, a position he has held since.
Under Riccardo’s direction, illy has expanded back into food as well as wine through acquisitions that include chocolate (Domori) tea (Dammann Frères), fruit preserves and confections (Agrimontana) and wine (Mastrojanni). The latter is an acclaimed Brunello di Montalcino started by the Mastrojanni family in the late 1970s and acquired by the illy family in 2008.
In addition to working within his family business, Riccardo has been active in many other areas of business, community and politics in Italy, as well as serving as a journalist and writing books. He has received numerous honors for his community service.
Join Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays, 2pm ET/11 am PT on the Connected Table LIVE! Each week this Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple profiles the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality, Listen live at www.W4CY.com and on demand any time at iHeart.com (under Shows & Personalities). Have questions about our show or want to us to ask a question to one of our guests? Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also listen to Melanie Mondays, 9pm ET/6pm PT on Fearless Fabulous You!, her inspiring show for and about women, on W4CY’s sister station W4WN- the Women for Women Network, and on demand any time at iHeart.com