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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Aspen

Why is Michel Nischan a One-Pan Cook?

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Michel Nischan

© Bill Milne
Chef Michel Nischan.


One of my favorite parts of my job is chatting with chefs like Michel Nischan, founder of Wholesome Wave and chef at Dressing Room in Westport, Connecticut. Nischan will be discussing his commitment to sustainability in the kitchen at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen next week, and he recently shared shared his smart and simple approach to eco-friendly cooking at home:

 

“I like to cook everything out of one vessel. That way, you’re minimizing dish soap, water and fuel energy—things that have a hidden impact on our environment. A good cast-iron pan is very eco-friendly because it lasts forever and uses heat very efficiently. I start by frying very thinly shaved garlic chips, then sautéing onions and kale. I scoot the kale aside and move the pan half off the heat, and then sear chicken or rabbit on the hot side of the skillet. You can do the same thing with a roasting pan: Roast something and keep adding vegetables and starches at different times throughout the process. That’s how really great cooks cooked a century ago because they only had one cooking vessel. We need to move forward by looking back. It takes longer, but my belief is if you take a little bit longer to get from start to finish, and you’re standing over one pot, smelling the food and watching it develop, it makes you hungrier and you’re more in touch with the dish when it’s finished. That’s what brings true joy to cooking.”

Farms

TEDx Manhattan: Sustainable Food…and Forks

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© Jason Houston for TEDxManhattan
Chef Michel Nischan

This past Saturday marked the first-ever TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat, a conference devoted to sustainable-food issues. The daylong series of 18-minute talks covered topics ranging from how farmers in Illinois are dealing with the environmental impact of industrial dairies to how organizations like the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger are creating amazingly productive community gardens. Elizabeth Meltz, an exuberant former cook who oversees food safety and sustainability for Mario Batali's restaurant group, talked about the challenge of educating the staff about green practices: "We can barely get them not to throw out the silverware." Michel Nischan of the Dressing Room Restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, described the efforts of his nonprofit, Wholesome Wave, to make produce accessible and affordable in poor communities. Food & Wine proudly supports Wholesome Wave, and we're raising money now with these awesome Green Passes to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this June.

Aspen

Food & Wine Classic 2010: Top Three Highlights

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© Rory Tischler
Food & Wine Classic Chefs Go Direct to Aspen

How many highlights do I have from this year’s Classic? A million. They won’t all fit here. But there were a few brand-new experiences that I hope become key to all Classics.

Private Bombardier Jet to Aspen
All I’ll say is that if you want to make the flight to Aspen one of your highlights, this is how to do it. See if Tom Colicchio, Dave Chang, Morimoto, Jacques Pépin, Joe Bastianich, Drew Nieporent  and Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi can come, too. And make sure you’re open to drinking some Dom Pérignon.

Jean-Louis Chave Tasting
The legendary Rhône winemaker came to Aspen for the first time. And he brought his 2000 Hermitage Blanc and 2004 Hermitage Rouge with him (plus several other outstanding vintages). It was so extraordinary that Best New Chef 2010 Jonathon Sawyer had to be there—even though his BNC dinner was just two hours away.

Mario Batali’s Best of Ligurian Cooking/Charity Demo

So, Mario’s demos are always the best. But this year, he closed it out with an unprecedented double fund-raising event. KitchenAid auctioned off Batali-signed mixers in part for their Cook for the Cure (which supports the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation), and also for Batali’s newest cause: Help for Jose, which is raising money for his employee Jose Mendoza, who lost both his legs in a subway accident. (The good news: It’s not too late to send messages to Jose or to donate to the cause.)

Aspen

LaFrieda and Springsteen at Mario Batali’s Aspen Party

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© Melanie Dunea

I have a countdown going to Mario Batali’s T-Bones & Tequila party on June 17 at the upcoming F&W Classic in Aspen 2010 (as I write this, it’s T-minus 10 days and 2 hours, counting the MT time change). I’m especially excited because Mario just told me more details about the party, which benefits the Mario Batali Foundation to keep kids well fed, well read and well cared for. Among the crazy highlights: Mario’s business partner Joe Bastianich performing Springsteen songs with Tom Colicchio. Hurry up June 17, hurry up.

Mario says: “We will be eating killer T-bones donated by my pal Pat LaFrieda, and we will have the traditional white beans al fiasco, killer bruschetta and nontraditional Milagro tequila shots. Joe will be playing with Tom Collicchio; they’ll play some of my fave jam-band songs à la “Sugaree” by the Dead and “Rosalita” by Springsteen. Cool, right?”

Aspen

Mario's Amazing Aspen Charity Party

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Mario Batali, right, ready to party with Jose Andres.

There are two things that top my wish list for F&W’s upcoming Classic in Aspen 2010. The first is to party with Mario Batali. The second is to try and do something charitable in the middle of all the ridiculous chefs’ demos and wine tastings and general craziness. Well, Mario’s making this very easy for me this year by hosting his second annual T-Bones & Tequila party on Thursday, June 17, to benefit the Mario Batali Foundation for kids. (“I’m excited to be kicking off the Aspen Food & Wine Classic with my kick-ass party,” he says.) Basically, it’s going to be the ultimate house party, and here’s why:

1. It features some of Mario’s best Italian grilling recipes. (Maybe, just maybe, he’ll preview some dishes from his upcoming Eataly market in NYC.)
2. It’s got all kinds of tequila drinks and a tequila-tasting bar.
3. It boasts a musical performance by the inimitable Joe Bastianich, Mario’s business partner and resident wine genius.
4. It takes place at the impossible-to-get-into Two Twelve house.
5. It benefits MBF, Mario’s excellent foundation, which works to ensure that kids are well read, well fed and well cared for.

Tax-deductible tickets for Mario's excellent party are $175. They’re available at mariobatalifoundation.org or by calling 630-618-4756.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.