Normally, we are not Cocktail Lounge Lizards. My idea of bellying up to a bar is heading to a barre class. I am more l downward dog than hair of a dog when it comes to recovering from a night out imbibing. But, who can resist an invitation to check out the swanky new cocktail lounge at one of NYC’s hottest restaurant openings, The Pool Room at the former Four Seasons Restaurant? The place is hopping with a mosaic of New York’s stylish deal makers, debutantes and downtown-heads-uptown types.
And we know why. Director of Bar Operations Thomas Waugh makes cocktails that build on a single ingredient without overdoing it. The cocktails are based on a vegetable, fruit, spice or herb, and then he layers. Cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, chamomile and cinnamon are just a few examples. Of course Thomas switches it up with the seasons, so who knows what may be up his bar sleeve next.
Originally destined for culinary school, Thomas caught the bartending bug working at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room in San Francisco as a means to earn money for school. His industry mentors, Jacques Bezuidenhout and Marcovaldo Dionysos, taught Thomas to mix his culinary inclinations into his drinks. Prior to joining Major Food Group, which owns The Pool Room restaurant & lounge among many other NYC restaurants,Thomas was Head Bartender at Death & Co.
Listen to our show with Thomas Waugh, The Pool Room Lounge on iHeart.com. Click image below.
When the cold or flu hits me (as it did last October), I crave a warm Toddy. By definition a Toddy is a hot drink of whiskey, sugar and water. But in the right hands, it is much more. It’s hot magic in a glass.
According to cocktail historian and author, Dave Wondrich, the Toddy originated in 18th century Scotland. You can read more in this article he wrote in Saveur magazine entitled “Thank God for Toddies!”
Thank God, indeed! Drinking a Toddy when you feel like hell can be a heavenly thing. The whiskey opens the sinuses; the warm liquid soothes the chills; the sugar (or honey) makes everything go down a little softer.
We’re talking Toddies with two masters of the bar who are participating in the 10th Annual Tales of the Toddy taking place December 17th at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans: Chris Hannah, French 75 at Arnaud’s Restaurant, and Cole Newton, Twelve Mile Limit. – Melanie Young
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 spirits community for five days of what’s now, what’s new and what’s next in bartending. The city heats up even more in July when the cocktail cognoscenti arrive. This year’s Tales of the Cocktail® takes place July 15-19.
The brains behind Tales of the Cocktail® is Founder Ann Tuennerman. A New Orleans native and marketing pro, she first started organizing walking tours of the city’s fabled bars in 2002. The following year she launched the first Tales of the Cocktail®. The rest is cocktail industry history. This event has grown into a global gathering with international offspring events in cities like Buenos Aires, Vancouver and Mexico City…and more to come.
David and I first attended Tales in 2008 and we haven’t missed one since. We’ve connected with so wonderful industry people through Tales, all in the spirit of supporting the industry while having an amazingly fun time. Hey! After all it takes place in New Orleans!
Throughout the year Ann and her team organize events like Tales of the Toddy and a Cocktail Film Festival. More recently they created Tales 365, an exclusive membership service providing bartenders and spirits professionals access to special programs, networking events and distillery tours.
Tales also gives back to support the community who serves the industry. In 2006, Ann and her husband Paul founded the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCPS), which has funded more than half a million dollars in programs to support the hospitality industry through grants, scholarships, cocktail apprenticeships and other programs.
I like to say there are three kinds of people: Those who see the glass half empty; those who see the glass half full and those who seize the opportunity and drink up what’s in the glass. Ann saw opportunity in a glass, drank it up and served more to share with others. – Melanie Young
TAO: the process of nature by which all things change and which is to be followed for a life of harmony (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tao)
Tao (pronounced “dao”) means literally “the path” or “the way.” It is a universal principle that underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human beings. The workings of Tao are vast and often beyond human logic. In order to understand Tao, reasoning alone will not suffice. One must also apply intuition.
What’s it like to oversee the kitchens at the highest grossing independent restaurant in America? We’ll ask Ralph Scamardella, Executive Chef and Partner for The TAO Group. Ralph joins us on The Connected Table LIVE! May 20th 2pm ET on W4CY and iHeart Radio.
After three decades cooking in kitchens at some of the most esteemed restaurants on the world, Chef Scamardella divides his time between his home base in New York and Las Vegas where he oversees all daily menu and kitchen operations. His is a culinary vision that pairs old and new inspired by travels in Southeast Asia combined with classical French training and nostalgic Italian roots (His father grew up in Naples, Italy.)
Hot restaurants. Even hotter cities New York-Las Vegas-Sydney. According to the unofficial 2014 RB rankings (fromRestaurant Business magazine), TAO Asian Bistro in Las Vegas was the highest-grossing independent restaurant in America with $64.6 million in sales in 2013. LAVO Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas ranked 5th, and TAO New York at 7th.
OK, what are we talking about? 20 restaurants and nightclubs. To name a few: LAVO Italian Restaurants, TAO Uptown, TAO Downtown, Dream Downtown and Arlington Club (all NYC); LAVO at The Palazzo, TAO and TAO Beach at The Venetian, Marquee Nightclub and Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan (all in Las Vegas). Beautifully designed restaurants and bars populated with beautifully accentuated people.
We want to know: How do you keep the crowds coming, from moguls to rock stars to hip hoppers to brides-to-be? Consumers are fickle, and the nightclub crowd even more so. What’s the secret of The TAO Group? How does it find harmony with new generations of restaurant and club goers? How do you keep your concepts fresh?
And we want to know how in the crazy world of restaurants and nightclubs how Chef Ralph Scamardella finds his TAO (a life of harmony).- posted by Melanie Young
Tune in Wednesdays for The Connected Table LIVE on www.W4CY.com and any time on demand at iHeart.com (under Shows & Personalities). Each week Melanie Young and David Ransom bring you the dynamic people in food, wine, spirits and hospitality.
When it comes to women running the house, Champagne is a good example of many success stories. Widows have assumed the head of the Champagne house for a number of well-known brands to steer their success: Barbe- Nicole Clicquot (Veuve Clicquot/1805), Louise Pommery (Pommery/1858), Mathilde Emilie Laurent-Perrier (Laurent-Perrier/1887). Camille Olry-Roederer (Roederer1932), Lily Bollinger (Bollinger/1941).
Women still run the house at a number of top Champagne labels. We visit with Michelle DeFeo, president of Champagne Laurent-Perrier USA, to discuss her approach to growing the U.S. business.
Michelle follows in the footsteps of some very successful women at the helm of this historic brand which was founded in 1812 by André Michel Pierlot. The name “Laurent-Perrier” was established when Mathilde Emilie Perrier, the widow of Eugène Laurent, combined the two family names after she decided to expand the business. Eugénie Hortense Laurent, her daughter, inherited the House in 1925 and sold it to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt in 1939. During WWII, Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt ran the business while two of her sons, Maurice and Bernard, joined the French Resistance. Today, third generation sisters Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt and Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt are now at the helm of Champagne Laurent- Perrier.
A native of New Jersey, Michelle is a long-time Francophile, having studied in France’s Loire Valley, where she first experienced fine wine. After a short stint in international banking, Michelle decided follow her passion and launched her career in the wine industry. In 1995 Michelle joined a leading U.S. wine and spirits importer, and subsequently held sales and consulting positions for a California distributor, several wine and spirits marketing firms, and Laurent-Perrier, when the U.S. subsidiary was established. Prior to stepping into her new role at Laurent-Perrier, Michelle was Vice President of the Champagne, wine and vodka portfolio for Rémy Cointreau USA, where she managed seven national brands.
With more than a decade of experience working with Champagne brands, Michelle is considered a specialist in the category and is frequently invited to lecture on wine and spirits marketing at leading universities. In her free time, Michelle loves to travel and always looks forward to raising a glass of her favorite Champagne with friends and colleagues.
Since the beginning of his celebrated career, master Chef, hospitality entrepreneur and hotelier Charlie Palmerhas received critical acclaim for his signature Progressive American cooking, a style built on rambunctious flavors and unexpected combinations with a deep and lasting infusion of classical French cuisine. In 1988, he opened critically acclaimed Aureole, originally situated in a historic Manhattan townhouse now in a spectacular new location in the heart of NYC’s theater district.
Over the years, Palmer combined his creative cooking spirit and flair for business to open dozens of notable restaurants, award-winning boutique hotels and a growing collection of food-forward wine shops throughout the U.S. These include: Michelin-starred Aureole and its less formal counterpart, Liberty Room at Aureole, Charlie Palmer Steak, Washington, D.C.; Aureole at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, and Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons, Las Vegas, NV; Charlie Palmer Steak and Briscola in Reno, NV; Dry Creek Kitchen at his boutique Hotel Healdsburg, Sonoma County, CA, as well as Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, CA, which houses Palmer’s Next Vintage wine shop and his first quick and casual burger restaurant, DG Burger (Damn Good). Palmer also jointly owns two hotels in the Bay Area with his Palmer City-Core partners, Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer (San Francisco), CA and Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer (St. Helena, CA).
In 2014 he opened Crimson & Rye, a craft cocktail bar, and Charlie Palmer Steak, both in midtown Manhattan and Upper Story by Charlie Palmer, a new events space on the East Side. His latest project is overseeing all food and beverage operations for NYC’s Knickerbocker Hotel including Jake’s @ The Knick, Charlie Palmer at The Knick and St. Cloud, a 7500 square foot indoor / outdoor bar and lounge.
A member of James Beard “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America,” inducted into the casino community’s Gaming Hall of Fame in 2011 and named Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Culinary Institute of America in 2012, Palmer is a 20-year board member of Citymeals-on-Wheels and longtime supporter of Share our Strength.
He is author of five cookbooks, Great American Food (Random House/1996), Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking (Harper Collins/2001), The Art of Aureole, (Ten Speed Press/2002), Charlie Palmer’s Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen (Melcher Media/2006), and Remington Camp Cooking by Charlie Palmer (Charlie Palmer Group/2013).
Join Melanie Young and David Ransom, the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple, Wednesdays 2pmET/11amPT on The Connected Table LIVE! Each week we bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality.
Fresh off his trip to the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, The Connected Table LIVE’s David Ransom connected with two Texas distillers making kick-ass spirits. We invited them on our show January 21.
Randall Metting, Dulce Vida Tequila – Austin
Randall Metting is often referred to as “The Mayor of The Sweet Life.” His website http://randallmetting.com/ is a go- to resource for anyone who wants to know the ins and outs of red-hot, rockin’ Austin Texas. Randall is also marketing and brand development manager forDulce Vida 100 percent organic tequila. Dulce Vida is handcrafted, 100 percent Navy Strength; it sources its 100% organic agave from the Los Altos highlands in the Tequila region of Mexico. Because of the unique climatic characteristics and the air & soil, this area is well known for producing larger, fruitier agave, ideal for tequila. This organic agave ensures Dulce Vida makes tequila the way tequila has always tasted best: pure and powerful, free of any additives.
Trey (Richard) Azar, Founder, Cinco Vodka, San Antonio
According to Trey (Richard) Azar, founder of Cinco Five Star Vodka , the devil is in the details when it comes to overseeing each batch of his San Antonio-distilled spirit to ensure its clean, clear smoothness. Cinco Vodka starts with gently hand-made from bushels of the finest amber wheat from the Idaho. Using water naturally filtered through the Cordova Creme limestone that lies far beneath the surface of San Antonio, the liquid is distilled five times then blended and filtered in small batches in copper pot stills. Azar calls Cinco Vodka a “martini lovers’ vodka.” Critics have given it a High Five. Cinco Vodka received a gold medal at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition. As for its Five Star name…..Cinco is a lucky number for Trey and his wife, Kimberly who are parents of five children. Cinco Vodka is his sixth “baby.”
Join Hosts Melanie Young and David Ransom on The Connected Table LIVE! Wednesdays, 2pm ET/11am PT on W4CY Radio and on demand anytime at I Heart Radio, Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple who bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality.