Imagine being diagnosed with cancer at the height of your career. How do you manage to run a restaurant while undergoing an aggressive schedule of chemotherapy treatments? More people than you may realize have lived this experience (including me), but few have opened up about it as frankly as individuals like Chef Steve McHugh. We’re glad McHugh is now in remission from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and thriving as the owner of the San San Antonio restaurant, Cured at Pearl, located in the city’s custling culinary center, also home to the Culinary Institute of America’s southwest campus.
Opened in 2012, three years after McHugh’s cancer diagnosis, Cured’s name not only reflects his new lease on life but also his daily selection of cured meats. The gastro-pub style menu focuses on using ingredients sourced from local farms and fisherman.
McHugh was raised in a large farming family in Wisconsin. He flipped burgers at a local restaurant to earn money and took up playing the saxophone. He was talented enough, in fact, to earn a jazz saxophone scholarship to college. But food became his calling, and he ended up changing plans and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America.
An externship landed him in New Orleans where he easily settled in the restaurant scene after graduation, working for with Creole Chef Chris Brown of Metro Bistro and for restaurateur, Dickie Brennan. In 2009, McHugh was planning a move San Antonio to open a restaurant for a New Orleans hospitality group when he was diagnosed with cancer.
McHugh says, “the cancer treatment really kicked my ass,” and he kept working straight through it all. But, it also can kick your ass in gear and make you commit to make healthy changes. Today, McHugh is in good health, with a successful restaurant and a culinary foundation dedicated “gastronomic giving” to support several charities. www.curedatpearl.com
Here are some healthy foods McHugh recommends adding to your diet:
Fermented foods, such as pickles, are shown to increase our body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Raw fermented foods are rich in healthy enzymes and flavor. These enzymes help the body properly balance healthy bacteria for improved digestion.
Black Pepper and certain legumes and nuts [such as pecans] contain anti-inflammatory properties. For example, Pumpkin and Pepper Salad with Smoked Pecans, Preserved Celery, and Goat Cheeseis a great combination.
Mussels are a lean source of protein with roughly 18 grams of protein per serving. Garlic, onions, and shallots [commonly used in mussel dishes] each contain anti-inflammatory properties.
At Cured, McHugh has forged tight bonds with both his purveyors and his community, ” Good, solid relationships are important to me, and provide great value in my life. Not only with my staff, but also the farmers with whom we work. We use vegetables grown within the city limits and pigs from a farm nearby. It provides great balance and perspective to get to know the people growing the food you serve and eat. Having a strong sense of community in San Antonio is a great part of my life.”
Listen to our show with Chef Steve McHugh from January 30, 2019
The Connected Table LIVE! on iHeart.com and free iHeart App
September 27: Alain Dominique Perrin, owner of Chateau Lagrézette hosted a dinner at Le Bernardin to celebrate his 30-year collaboration with oenologist, Michel Rolland. It was an evening of toasts between friends.
Recalls Michel, “In 1988, after a brief telephone conversation with Alain Dominique Perrin, then President of Cartier, I went to Château Lagrézette in Cahors. We drove through the vineyards in a convertible car – one that had belonged to Brigitte Bardot. That was classy! The vineyards were less so… the vigor of the vines suggested an over abundant harvest. Alain told me then: “I do not have a cellar; my wine is made at the cooperative. I would like you to oversee the production.
“This was a first for me: to consult for a private client with wines vinified in a “kolkhoz”! I quickly discovered the drawbacks of the cooperative system and immediately warned Alain that my intervention would be useless: “I can’t perform miracles!” Not being a man to take no for an answer, he told me: “I promise you a beautiful Lagrézette winery in just a few years”. The construction of a state-of-the-art gravitational cellar was completed in 1992. A rigorous selection policy was applied, and two vintages were born, Le Pigeonnier and Cuvée Dame Honneur – which became flagships of the appellation.”
A damp day and mud on our shoes didn’t stop us from heading to Fish & Game Farm in Hudson, NY Zak Pelaccio’s “Play with Fire” outdoor feast and music fest. Presented with Resy and Ketel One Vodka, this event combined open-fire cooking from visiting chefs, live music from an amazing band called Club d’Elf, badass Ketel One cocktails by Elad Zvi (Broken Shaker) and Yana Volfson (ATLA and Cosme) and some terrific natural wines from Critical Mass Selections, Goatboy Selections, Zev Rovine Selection, Fifi Imports and Rosenthal Wines. This event benefited The Heirloom Foundation which helps employees of the hospitality industry deal with quality of life and other work-related issues.
The food was all locally sourced, from Fish & Game’s smoked pork (Zak Pelaccio) and pork and snail paella (Seamus Mullen, El Colmado and Whirlybird + Greens) and corn-husked wrapped bluefin tuna with olives (Victoria Blamey) to heads of flame- licked cauliflower (Cortney Burns, TOURISTS wit Elise Kornack) and grilled peaches with candied cherry tomatoes with honey-chamomile ice cream. Oddest dish was, and we’re going to try it at home because we loved it: grilled whole kirby cucumbers.
The Ketel One cocktails also used locally sourced fruits.
This is only the second Play with Fire event that Zak has produced. The last one was four years ago, and we hope it will continue. One of the most striking things about this event were the one-of-a-kind grilling stations at each cooking tent- actually works of art- created by Hudson Valley sculptor, Kris Perry.
Congratulations to Zak and his team and thank you to the chefs, sponsors and donors. Great idea for an event and for a good cause!
Stress management, yoga and wellness activities are all on the menu for this year’s Tales of the Cocktail, July 17- 22 in New Orleans. As the collective consciousness about mental and physical health, responsibility to each other and to the community and the #MeToo movement continue to drive the conversation, Tales of the Cocktail has introduced some significant initiatives. They include:
Beyond the Bar: free interactive programming designed to address mental health and physical wellness and its impact on the spirits community. Activities include: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings; yoga and movement classes; health screenings; and discussions surrounding healthy lifestyles, nutrition, addiction, suicide, and stress management.
A collaboration with Louisiana organization STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response) to offer a 24/7 hotline during the festival for all attendees to use if needed and to offer joint programming, free to all attendees, which includes a seminar on HR practices around sexual harassment the industry can discuss and bring back home to their bars and establishments.
Eliminating plastic straws: Given how many straws are used throughout this event with 16,000 people and half a million drinks, doing away with plastic disposable straws is a big move toward supporting this sustainable movement.
There is even a “dry” welcome party, courtesy of William Grant & Sons, who announced they will be “kicking off the week with a spirited, yet spirit-free portfolio party.” But, of course, throughout the five days there will be plenty of cocktails and seminars to educate industry professionals on every aspect of the business of bar management and the craft of the cocktail. And there will always be revelry because Tales is a huge networking event after all, and it’s the best way for those who serve and those who sell to connect.
It’s a transitional year for this beloved industry conference. In February 2018, Tales of the Cocktail was purchased by Neal Bodenheimer, a native New Orleanian and owner of award-winning Cure Nola, in collaboration with The Solomon Group, who has been involved in producing high profile local and international events, including many for Tales of Cocktail such as the Spirited Awards and other brand activations. Neal and the Solomon family have created the 501c3 non-profit Tales of the Cocktail Foundationto advance and support the global hospitality industry.
Or stream the show below. Neal is the second guest.
New York State’s Father of Vitis Vinifera
New York State is one of the country’s top regions for producing wine in the USA. The Finger Lakes is home to some world-class Rieslings. On this same edition of The Connected Table Live! we visit with Meaghan Frank, fourth generation family member overseeing Dr. Konstantin Frank the pioneering Finger Lakes, New York, winery.
Meaghan’s great-grandfather, Konstantin Frank, an immigrant from the Ukraine spoke a handful of languages but not English when he arrived in the USA. in 1951 He worked briefly as a blueberry picker where he saw the potential for planting vines in New York State. A professor of plant sciences with a Ph.D. in viticulture, he eventually took a position at Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment Station.
At the time, New York State wines were producing wines using local and hybrid grapes only. Based on his experience in the Ukraine, Dr. Frank was convinced, that, despite New York’s cold weather, delicate Vitis Vinfera grapes could thrive with the proper rootstock. Communicating in French, he delivered the research to back this up and a plan to grow European vinifera in the Northeastern United States.
In 1962, a decade after coming to the USA, Frank established Vinifera Wine Cellars, which quickly earned a reputation for its exceptional Rieslings and its original rootstock plantings became the backbone of New York’s world-class wines. Today Dr. Konstantin Frank has an extensive portfolio of wine including two made from traditional grapes found in the Republic of Georgia, Rkatisteli (white) and Saperavi (inky red) and a terrific sparkling wine. www.drfrankwines.com
We strutted uptown May 17-19 to attend the Fourth Annual Harlem EatUp! presented by Citi. Founded by Chef Marcus Samuelsson and Herb Karlitz (Karlitz & Co), Harlem EatUp! is a delicious love letter to this vibrant community.
Thursday, May 17 was the Luminary Dinner at Ginny’s Supper Club recognizing community legends “Dapper Dan,” owner of Dapper Dan’s Boutique, and SIRIUS radio personality, Bevy Smith. Dinner featured selections of Bordeaux wines paired with dishes from Guest Chefs Adrienne Cheatham and Geoffrey Zakarian along with Marcus Samuelsson. By the end of the night, everyone was on the dance floor doing the Harlem shake, rattle and roll, thanks to The Rakiem Walker Project band.
A cold rainy Saturday didn’t deter any hungry souls (including us!) from heading to Morningside Park to enjoy the Harlem Stroll which featured local restaurants and more Bordeaux wines, as well as Hendrick’s Gin cocktails and numerous other wine and spirits libations. By Sunday the sun came out and in characteristically crazy Spring weather, it was hot and moist! We traipsed over to bustling Boulevard Bistro to taste Chef Carlos Swepson’s famous biscuits which we discussed when he was a guest on our radio show last year. Then, we headed back to Morningside Park to try more food and libations.
The community spirit in Harlem is vibrant and – wet weather aside – we soaked it all in with pleasure!
Thank you to our friends at Karlitz & Co. and Lauren Monroe at Marcus Samuelsson Group for our Harlem Stroll tickets and to Mary Gorman McAdams, (CIVB) – Bordeaux Wine Council, for including us at her table for the Luminaries Dinner.
We squeezed in an evening at Taste of the Upper West Side Saturday, May 19. Despite having lived in Manhattan for more than 25 years, we’d never been to this event which took place under a huge tent and featured more than 80 restaurants, wines, and cocktail bars split between two nights. Palm Bay and Taub Family Co. supplied the numerous wine tables, and we tasted several cocktails from local UWS watering holes.
The night we attended, Chef-Restaurateur John Fraser (The Nix, Narcissa and The Loyal) was the evening’s honoree, and Jacques Torres was signing his book, “Dessert Circus” which was free for American Airlines Mastercard holders. So glad I brought my card! The evening was presented by the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District to support neighborhood improvement and beautification.
A special thank you to Linda Alexander, Alexander Marketing Corp., for arranging our press tickets. Congratulations on a fabulous event!
Congratulations to all the winners of The James Beard Foundation Media Awards, which comprises books, broadcasting and journalism. The Awards were presented April 27 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers. I had the pleasure of attending and sitting with four nominees, Writers/Authors Kathleen Squires, Robert Simonson, Restaurateur/Chef and Author Maricel Presilla and Chef Gonzalo Gonzales Guzman, whose book, Nopalito, won in the International Category.
The Media Awards are usually overshadowed by the glitzier Restaurant and Chef Awards, which take place May 7 at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House. I feel they are as important. Writers and journalists are the chroniclers of our culture, news and history. It was evident by the nominated articles – several that addressed diversity and sexual harassment in the industry- that writers are the people who raise our consciousness through words. These words propel the rest of us to take action.
Particularly poignant were speeches by Pati Jinich, Michael Twitty and Betty Fussell. Pati, recipient of “Outstanding TV Host,” recounted her mixed emotions while shooting her show. “Pati’s Mexican Table,” at the Tijuana border. Michael, recipient of Cookbook of the Year for The Cooking Gene, talked about searching for his African roots and what it means to be a “fat, gay, black and Jewish.” Betty, resplendent at 91 and ever eloquent with her words, wowed everyone as she stepped up to the stage to receive the Cookbook Hall of Fame Award for her writings.
The theme of the Awards is RISE. Participating Guest Chefs, which included dinner chefs, Michael Anthony (Gramercy Tavern, NYC), Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC – who made the best tomato tart!), and Hugo Ortega (H-Town Restaurant Group, Houston), all have risen to the occasion to help support those in need. And the reception and pastry chefs, also RISE for consciousness and caring: Emma Bengtsson (Aquavit), Daniel Alvarez (Union Square Cafe, NYC), April Anderson (Good Cakes and Bakes LLC, Detroit), Claudia Fleming (North Fork Table & Inn, Southhold, NY) and Zachary Golper (Bien Cuit, NYC). As always, Pier Sixty, executed a magnificent event. A special “Thank You” to them and to Host Chef Philip DiMaiolo.
It made me proud to be part of this professional community and motivated to Rise further to make an impact. MY
Here is a link to the press release announcing all Media Award recipients.
While many industry followers quiver with anticipation for The James Beard Foundation’s announcement of its Restaurant, Book and Media Award Finalists (LINK). I have a soft spot for the less flashy Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.
This program pre-dates The James Beard Foundation, and I would like to shed a little light on its origins. The creators of the Who’s Who of Cooking in America (the original name) were Chris Kimball, founder, publisher and managing editor for Cook’s Magazine (the original one started in 1980 and later Cook’s Illustrated) and Jeffrey Berlind, at the time managing editor for Restaurant Business Magazine. For some reason Jeff’s name as co-founder gets omitted, and I know if he is reading this he will appreciate the shout out.
The program was started in 1984 to recognize leaders in all areas of food, beverage and hospitality. There were a few dozen original inductees including the late James Beard who also died the same year. I became involved in the Who’s Who of Cooking in America as a consultant in 1987. My role was to write short biographies for every Who’s Who member and handle publicity for the announcement of the new Who’s Who. I can thank Jane Freiman, a contributing editor for Cook’s Magazine, for introducing me to Chris and Jeff.
Initially, Chris asked me to write short biographies for all the current Who’s Who members and generate some publicity for the program. In 1988 he asked me to produce the event. In 1989, The Bonnier Group, owners of Cook’s Magazine, decided to close the publicaton. That was almost the end of the Who’s Who in Cooking in America. I worked with the owners to try to find a buyer for the Who’s Who. We approached the food magazines, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and credit card companies. But it was Peter Kump, the founder of The James Beard Foundation, who called me to say, “Let’s bring back the Who’s Who of Cooking.” Peter had been inducted into the Who’s Who in 1988. A deal was negotiated in 1990, and in 1991, the program was reinstated under the newly lanched James Beard Foundation Awards. The rest is history.
Congratulations to this year’s new group of Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America: Jody Adams, Chef/Owner, TRADE, Porto, and Saloniki; Lally Brennan, Ti Adelaide Martin, Co-Proprietors, Commander’s Palace; Allison Hooper, Co-Founder, Vermont Creamery (Vermont), Daniel Johnnes, Wine Director, The DINEX Group.
Listen to our show with Ti Adelaide Martin with Miss Ella Brennan here LINK
Recently we spent five days on the East End of Long Island visiting friends. Luckily for us the visit coincided with The James Beard Foundation‘s 27th annual Chefs & Champagne July 29 which featured more than 35 chefs from New York City and Long Island. We had not attended Chefs & Champagne for several years and were surprised at how large the event has become with more than 1,000 attendees under the large tent erected on Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. The tent looked like the top of the Baked Alaska we recently tasted at The Breakers Palm Beach.
Marcus Samuelsson was this year’s honoree which made us happy since he is one of the kindest chefs we know. In addition to being owner of Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny’s Supper Club and Streetbird Rotisserie, Marcus is a cofounder with Herb Karlitz of the annual Harlem EatUp! which is a love letter to his neighborhood. Whenever I see him, Marcus always smiles and inquires about my mother asking “How’s the Purple Lady?” I warn him that she’s going to tap him to cook at one of her charity events in Chattanooga some day and he will experience true Tennessee style hospitality!
Events like these rely on the generosity of its sponsored. In particular we want to give a shout out to Roman Roth at Wolffer Estate Family Vineyard as venue host. JBF President Susan Ungaro and Roman presented the 2017 Christian Wolffer Scholarship, named after the winery’s late founder, to Jordan Werner, a student at International Culinary Center (ICC)’s Intensive Sommelier Course.
Thanks to the generosity of Champagne Barons de Rothschild we were well satiated with their Rosé and Brut, and we look forward to scheduling a visit with Philippe Sereys de Rothschild soon to discuss the estate on The Connected Table LIVE!
Others sponsors included: Audi, Alfredo Prodotti, Big Green Egg, Brewery Ommegang, FreshDirect + FoodKick, Gokokuya, Hamptons.com, Hamptons Magazine, KAMUT®, Melissa’s® Produce, Neuman’s Kitchen Events & Catering, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach Royal Cup Coffee and Tea, Saratoga Sparkling Eater, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Ver’Terra Dinnerware, Windstar Cruises and WVVH.
Chefs & Champagne raised over $100,000 to support The James Beard Foundation’s scholarship, education and JBF Impact Programs. The timing for the event was perfect preparation for our visit with Susan Ungaro August 9, 2pm EST, on The Connected Table LIVE (W4CY Radio/www.W4CY.com). During Susan’s 11-year tenure she has initiated programs to align with mission of JBF and its commitment to education, philanthropy and advocacy, and in the process raised its profile beyond the JBF Awards and special events. These include initiatives such as The annual JBF Food Summit, the JBF Leadership Awards and the Women in Culinary Leadership Program.
What is it about food history and culture that keeps us craving more? Recently, I visited the National Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington,DC, to experience its first major exhibition on food history – “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000.” I enjoyed my visit so much I went back for a second helping two days later.
First, there’s Julia’s Child’s kitchen which is like a shrine. Then there are the focused exhibits touching on historic milestones and the changing landscape of what we eat and drink in post World War II America. So much to digest!
Food Historian and Museum Curator Paula Johnson, who serves as Project Director and Co-Creator of this fascinating exhibition, and shares her insights on how food shapes our culture November 23 on The Connected Table LIVE! W4cyRadio
Two annual events always signal the holiday season for me aside from Thanksgiving. Both are seasoned with sentiments of delicious years past and take place the same week.
The first is the third Thursday of November with the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. For four years I had the honor- and challenge- of creating and staging Beaujolais Nouveau arrival happenings for Les Vins Georges Duboeuf. Preparation started months in advance well before the first grapes started to bud on the vines. Each year we attempted to stage an uncorking ceremony more inventive and outrageous than the last. By Thanksgiving I felt like I’d given birth and was flat out exhausted from pulling off all the multiple events, but, oh, what fun! Here’s the list:
The Beaujolais Biker Brigade (2008): The wine was delivered/escorted by chefs and Harley Davidson Hogs on motorcycles from the southern tip of Manhattan to Bouley Restaurant in Tribeca. A similar event was held in Miami the same day.
Peace, Love & Beaujolais Nouveau (2009): The wine was delivered by hippies escorting vintage Volkswagon buses and staging Sip-Ins in New York and Miami.
Cirque Nouveau (2010): The wine was dropped into Franck Duboeuf’s arms by a trapeze artist in a room filled with contortionists and acrobats.
Year 4: Art Nouveau (2011): A vintage Cadillac custom painted by graffiti artist, Kaves, delivered the wine into giant warehouse turned art gallery filled with hip hop dancers.
These days the celebrations lean toward tasteful wine and food events with more refined fanfare. The dinner we attended November 17 at Bouley Botanical in Tribeca featured a spectacular menu by Chef Daniel Eddy of Rebelle and an evening of festive toasts amidst wine industry friends. We had the chance to catch up with Franck Duboeuf and his wife Anne.Georges Duboeuf was in Japan for the arrival celebration which is one of the largest in Asia. It’s a wonderful tradition that always puts us in the mood for the holidays, toasting friends and being thankful for our deliciously abundant life. Kudos to our friends, Marsha Palanci, Cornerstone PR, and Kimberly Charles, Charles Communications, who now carry the PR torch for Duboeuf’s very special delivery.
The second event is Citymeals on Wheels Power Lunch for Women held at The Plaza Hotel November 18 attended by a Who’s Who of leading ladies in NYC, including many who work in the wine and food industry. This year’s 30th annual lunch honored Citymeals on Wheels Co-Founder and Chair Gael Greene who has been a guest on this show (Here is the link).
Gael Greene has raised over $410 million for Citymeals on Wheels in its 35 year history, and she never stops. This year’s Power Lunch for Women has raised over $1 million providing 136,000 meals for New York’s homebound elderly.
It is always an honor to be among such talented and well meaning leaders of our city to support this important cause. New York City is home to over 1.4 million seniors. 66% of them are women since we ladies tend to outlive men. But, 73% live alone; 40% never leave their homes; 8% have no one to talk to. Citymeals on Wheels fills the void of isolation and provides physical and emotional nourishment through meal deliveries and conversation. Just $1,200 covers the cost of a full year of meals for one person. These days that’s four dinners at a top NYC restaurant if you carefully order your wines.
Citymeals on Wheels’ “Chefs Deliver”program brings together a rotating cast of culinary stars who, once a month, lend their talents to Citymeals – cooking and often personally delivering meals right to the doors of homebound elderly New Yorkers.