Count on one hand the ambassadors of Southern Cuisine, and Award-winning writer, chef, TV personality, and cookbook author Virginia Willis will invariably own one of those five fingers.
Georgia-born and French-trained, Virginia has been the go-to expert for such chefs and lifestyle experts as Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, and Martha Stewart, and has appeared on numerous TV shows such as Food Network’s Chopped, Fox & Friends, and NBC’s TheToday Show. She’s also cooked with culinary world Grand Dames Julia Child and Nathalie Dupree(who gave Virginia her first job). She’s cooked for President Bill Clinton and, who knows, maybe she’ll cook for the first women president next?
Virgina’s five cookbooks embrace the culinary spirit of the south from “having it ‘ya’ll” to a single subject book on Okra. Her books include “Bon Appétit, Y’all,” “Basic to Brilliant, Y’all,” and her latest, released in 2015, “Lighten Up, Y’all.” as well as the aforementioned book “Okra” and another entitled “Grits.”
She is also the blogger for Down-Home Comfort for Food Network. Named by the Chicago Tribune as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know,” Virginia is also a contributing editor for Southern Living and writes for Eating Well, Fine Cooking, and countless other culinary publications.
Virginia joins us at The Connected Table LIVE! Wednesday December 23, 2:25 pm EST to talk about her life in food and her special take on southern cuisine.
So reads one of the 13 chapters- and morsels- of kitchen wisdom in Alana Chernila‘s new cookbook, “The Homemade Kitchen.” This is a book whose message is as much about how to approach life at a slow, measured and pleasurable pace as it is about about cooking with the same intentions.
“Start Where You Are.” “Feed Yourself.” “Put Your Hands in the Earth.” “Do the Work.” “Slow Down.” Alana has these phrases and others taped to her refrigerator. I do the same thing on mine with inspirational quotations such as: “Just as the Caterpillar thought the world was coming to an end, she became a butterfly.” “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” This latter quote is the lead in my second book, “Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms.”
Feeding your body also nourishes your soul. The kitchen is both heart and hearth for many home cooks, including Alana. She says, “The process of cooking at home is my window into what I want to create in life as a whole.”
If the kitchen is the heart of her home, her gardens are the arteries. Alana looks to nature for inspiration in the kitchen and shares practical insights to working with and not against it, from honoring the ingredients to utilizing bits and pieces and not being wasteful.
I’m a fan of the section of “The Homemade Kitchen” that address waste and re-purposing different foods, something I am just learning to do in an effort to be more respectful of the fact than we live in a nation of abundance where too many still go hungry.
There are many well-known chefs in television thanks to the proliferation of cooking shows and culinary competitions. But Jacques Pépin, stands in a league of his own.
He’s an Emmy Award and James Beard-winning host of 14 cooking shows series on PBS-TV and is author of dozens of acclaimed books, including his newest, Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen, (Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Oct 6, 2015).
He teaches on cruise lines, and makes guest appearances at many industry and charitable events, but his teaching “home” is the International Culinary Center (formerly French Culinary Institute) where he serves as Dean of Special Programs.
Jacques has taught and inspired many on the techniques and pleasures of cooking. I swear by his method for cooking omelets. In fact his book, La Technique, is still used today as a textbook for teaching the fundamentals of French cooking and also launched the PBS series and companion DVD”The Complete Pépin”
Born in Bourg-en-Bresse near Lyon, in 1935, Jacques grew up in a restaurant family. His parents, Jeanette and Jean-Victor Pépin, owned the restaurant Le Pélican, where Jacques worked before furthering his training in France at establishments that included the Plaza Athénée. He served as the personal chef to three French heads of state including Charles de Gaulle. In 1959 he came to the U.S. to work at Le Pavillon restaurant. One of the restaurant’s regular customers, Howard Johnson, took notice of Jacques and recruited him to work alongside fellow fellow French Chef Pierre Franey, to develop the food line for his Howard Johnson’s restaurant chain.
Since then, Jacques has gone on to be one of our nation’s- and world’s- most influential and inspiring teachers and chefs. While his toque may stand tall, his kindness has the common touch. You always feel welcome in Jacques’ presence; there are no PR shields or security detail surrounding him. He is approachable. He often travels to events with longtime pal, Jean-Claude Szurdak, or daughter Claudine, who has both co-hosted shows and co-written books with her father, including KQED’s “Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine” (1998) “Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Encore with Claudine “(1998).
Of course some of our most beloved shows are those with his friend, the late Julia Child. The twenty-two episode series, “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home,” was the winner of The James Beard Foundation’s award for Best National Cooking Show — 2001, and the duo received a 2001 Daytime Emmy Award from The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Julia may be gone but the books and videos remain.
Some of my earliest memories of Jacques are working with The James Beard Foundation. He oversaw the Celebration of French Cooking reception theme for the 1993 James Beard Foundation Awards. Jacques was the consummate perfectionist, calling me frequently to check in and to weigh in on the menu and progress. He was a guest presenter every year of the awards, and many of his books and TV shows have received award medallions. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
When I served as President of Les Dames d’Escoffier New York we honored Jacques at a lavish dinner to fund raise for the organization’s scholarship program for women. Jacques also taught me to saber a bottle of champagne during the Food & Wine Classic years ago.
Jacques is also a talented artist, and his work has graced many special event menus and been donated to raise funds for several worthy causes.
You can also see Jacques’ illustrations in Claudine’s, book “Kids Cook French.” For more on Claudine listen to my June 8th edition of Fearless Fabulous You! here.
While his wall of awards and drawer of medallions mark the milestones of his career, it’s the milestones in his close knit family that matter most to this dedicated husband and father: Claudine’s marriage to Chef Rollie Wesen, the birth of granddaughter Shorey, and the recent 49th wedding anniversary with wife Gloria.
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 honed his Nuevo Latino style. The New York Times awarded Patria three stars, and other restaurant developers came calling on Doug.
More restaurants followed: Chicama, a Peruvian restaurant and Pipa, Spanish tapas, both in NYC’s Union Square neighborhood; and Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia with restaurateur Stephen Starr. Today, Doug continues to run Alma de Cuba.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Doug was raised in Miami and starting cooking in his early teens, landing his first job at age 14 as a summer apprentice at the Four Ambassadors Hotel in Miami. Now, with his restaurants, a successful catering company and four books, DRod (as he refers to himself) is still at the top of his game.
We’re excited about his culinary trips to Cuba. With U.S.-Cuban relations opening back up and the tourism industry in Cuba looking at a renaissance, you may want to book a trip with DRod soon!
If you have a dog-eared copy of any of these cookbooks on your shelf at home: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Marion Cunningham’s Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking or Jacques Pepin’s Art of Cooking, you can thank Judith Jones. If you ever read the published Diary of Anne Frank or a book by author, John Updike, you can thank Judith Jones.
To say Judith Jones has had an estimable career in publishing is an understatement. As a longtime editor at Alfred A. Knopf her authors included Julia Child, Lidia Bastianich, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Rosie Daley, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis, Joan Nathan, Jacques Pépin, Claudia Roden, and Nina Simonds.
Judith is the author The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food and The Pleasures of Cooking for One. She is the coauthor with her late husband, Evan Jones, of The Book of Bread; Knead It, Punch It, Bake It! (for children); and The Book of New England Cookery. She also collaborated with Angus Cameron on The L. L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook. Recently, she has contributed to Vogue andSaveur. In 2006, she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Judith’s new book is a charming, practical guide to sharing the pleasures of home cooking with your dog, in her case her frisky white Havanese named Mabon. Titled Love Me, Feed Me, Judith’s book dispenses tips that both nurture and nourish the heart and palate with recipes that both humans and canines can share. Judith explains the nutritional benefits of substituting, or supplementing, store-bought food with a diet of fresh, home-prepared ingredients. She offers helpful extras like advice on portion size, what to do with scraps, and the latest research on controversial ingredients such as garlic (newly vindicated), ginger (use sparingly) and eggplant (an acquired taste, but scrape out the seeds). For Judith, food is love and love of good food should always be a pleasure and a joy to prepare whether man, woman or dog.
We have another new book on our shelf filled with slips of paper marking passages and information Melanie has dog-eared. It’s Karen Page‘s Vegetarian Flavor Bible, a detailed guide to the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet with “matchmaking list” of ingredients, flavors, pairings, caloric/nutrition information and a history of vegetarianism.
When Karen says she is researching a new book, believe us, she means volumes of research and attention to detail presented in a way that is easy to follow and digest. Karen starts The Vegetarian Flavor Bible with this line: “The book started with a problem: I didn’t know what to eat.” You have to ask yourself how a well-regarded food professional with a shelf of critically acclaimed books and access to the greatest chefs in the world had this problem. More, important, how did she face it and how can you learn from it? It’s a problem many people who want to eat healthier face: minimizing excess calories/fats/carbs/sugar and maximizing flavors and the pleasure of eating.
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible has been cited as one of “The Best Cookbooks of 2014″ by leading media including Bloomberg, The Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, KCRW Radio, Miami Herald, The Washington Post, and WBEZ Radio.
Karen is a two-time James Beard Foundation Award- winning author whose previous books with chef-husband Andrew Dornenburg include The Flavor Bible ,which was named one of the 100 best cookbooks of the past 25 years by Cooking Light and one of the 10 best cookbooks in the world of the past century by Forbes, and What To Drink with What you Eat, which won the IACP’s “Cookbook of the Year” Award and the Georges Duboeuf “Wine Book of the Year” Award. Karen is a graduate of Northwestern and Harvard University as well as the plant-based nutrition certificate program at Cornell in conjunction with the T. Colin Campbell Foundation.
Join Melanie Young and David Wednesdays on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY and iHeart Radio. Each week we bring you dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits, hospitality and publishing.
Her Miami Herald “Dinner in Minutes” column is distributed on the McClatchy Wire Service to over 6 million readers each week. She is the “go to” source for all things culinary in South Florida and the Keys and is author of The Flavor of the Florida Keys (new!) and Keys Cuisine.
She is the producer and host of the weekly segment part of Topical Currents, “Food News and Views,” on WLRN 91.3 FM and National Public Radio where she dispenses great tips on cooking for the family and showcases well-known chefs and personalities from around the world, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Lee Iacocca, Paula Deen, Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse.
She is an award winning author of over 30 books, including three recently released books covering diabetes friendly cooking published in cooperation with the American Diabetes Association: No-Fuss Diabetes Desserts, Simply Smoothies: Fresh & Fast Diabetes-Friendly Snacks & Complete Meals, Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table.
TV and Radio Personality, Syndicated Journalist, Best Selling Author, Spokesperson, and Food Consultant Linda Gassenheimer joins us December 3 to discuss her latest books, the culinary scene in South Florida and cooking for both your pleasure and for your health.
You have to love a woman whose Twitter description reads: Wife. Author. Speaker. Traveler. Biker. Fave hobbies: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You have to love a woman who recommends bread, Champagne, chocolate and romance as key ingredients to a balanced diet and lifestyle,
You have to admire a woman who has written three international best-selling books on the art of living well: French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, Women for all Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure and French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude
You have to respect a woman who reached the top echelon of both the wine and spirits and luxury goods industries as CEO of Clicquot Inc. where she is credited with growing Champagne Veuve Clicquot’s market share in America grew from less than one percent to more than 25 percent.
We’re talking about Mireille Giuliano, who has been called “the high priestess of French lady wisdom” (USA Today), “an ambassador of France and its art of living” (Le Figaro), “an idea entrepreneur” (Harvard Business Review) and “an art-of-living guru” (The New York Times).
We call her uber-preneur. Her savoir faire lifestyle has been admired, adopted and followed by legions. Mireille is out with a delightful new book, Meet Paris Oyster, just in time to enjoy holidays on the half shell. We’ll be speaking with Mireille about all things we love about food, champagne and France and her approach to la joie de vivre
Join Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays, 2pm ET/11am PT on The Connected Table LIVE! Each week this Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple features the dynamic people who both work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits, cookbook publishing and hospitality. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook