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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Chefs Make Change

Marc Vetri and More Great Chefs Cook for Great Causes

Chef Marc Vetri

From Left: Chef Jeff Michaud, Jeff Benjamin and Marc Vetri; © Philip Gabriel.

On Tuesday in Philadelphia, local empire builder and F&W Best New Chef 1999 Marc Vetri will welcome some of the country’s most exciting chefs to cook at the 8th annual Great Chefs Event at the Urban Outfitters Headquarters in the city’s Navy Yard. Among the 46 super talents at the grand tasting: Michael Symon, grill master Adam Perry Lang and New York’s April Bloomfield. Vetri founded the event to benefit the charity Alex’s Lemonade Stand after meeting the parents of its creator Alex Scott, a young cancer victim who in 2000, set up a lemonade stand to help raise money to cure other kids with the disease. What Vetri started as a small gathering has since grown to a yearly event that now welcomes 1,200 people and hopes to raise more than $1 million for the second year in a row.

An unintended, but brilliant consequence of Great Chefs has been the establishment of the event's co-beneficiary, Vetri Foundation for Children. Its signature program is called Eatiquette, which aims to improve school lunch by serving healthier food family-style. “The simple reason why our program is so amazing is that if you line up a whole bunch of kids and put apples there, who’s going to take one? But if they’re sitting around and talking and you place a big plate of sliced apples in the middle of the table, they’re all going to eat apples,” says Vetri. In the new school year, Eatiquette should expand from six charter schools into three to four more, including a Philadelphia public school. If you can’t make it down to Philly (though it’s worth trying to score tickets to the after party DJ’ed by Questlove), we suggest bidding on killer auction items now online like dinner with Tom Colicchio and his director wife Lori Silverbush at Vetri and a four-day trip to the Adriatic. The highlight of the live auction is an eating tour through Italy’s Marche region with Vetri himself.

Alex's Lemonade Stand is also hosting National Lemondade Days this weekend, a coast-to-coast fundraiser to raise money to fight childhood cancer.

Related: More Chefs Make Change
Most Wanted Recipe: Marc Vetri's Spinach Gnocchi
Inteviews with Chef Superstars: Marc Vetri

Chef Intel

Eric Ripert’s Breadbasket Philosophy

Eric Ripert and Eric Kayse

Eric Ripert and Eric Kayser © Nigel Parry

This spring, New York City’s legendary seafood restaurant Le Bernardin stopped baking its own bread and began outsourcing the task to another legend, Maison Kayser, a famed Parisian bakery that opened its first American outpost on the Upper East Side last summer. “I thought the bread we had at Le Bernardin was fine but not at the level of the quality of the food,” explains Le Bernardin’s chef and co-owner Eric Ripert. Maison Kayser bakes and delivers 10 kinds of (still warm) bread to the restaurant three times a day. Among the offerings Ripert orders are mini and full-size baguettes, focaccia, and unusual offerings like rye-lemon loaves, basil-sesame rolls and turmeric-fennel rolls. “When I eat Maison Kayer’s bread it’s so good, it’s pleasure,” Ripert says. “Every roll has been made by hand. The quality of the flour that they use and the technology that they use to create their bread is very unique. Eric Kayser has invented what we call levain liquid: liquid sourdough starter.” Customers agree with the master French chef. “Since we’ve had the bread from Kayser, clients eat bread three times more than before,” Ripert says. “It’s great, but it’s expensive.” Here, Ripert chats with F&W about the evolution of bread in restaurants, the bread at Le Bernardin and his biggest butter pet peeve.»

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The Why Guys

Dan Barber Wonders Why Cooking Has to Start in the Kitchen

Dan Barber

Art © Arthur Mount

Iconoclastic restaurant pro Dan Barber (Chef and Co-Owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY, and Blue HIll, New York City) questions conventional wisdom to push the dining scene forward.

Why does cooking have to start in the kitchen?
What if we could “cook” or manipulate flavors in the field, long before anything got into our kitchens? Different finishing feeds (like whey or apples) have been known to improve the taste and texture of pork—but what if we started looking at the entire life cycle of the pig? We might come to the realization (as I have) that a pig fed on grain is far less tasty than a pig that has intensively foraged on mixed grasses and roots. But which breeds, and what grasses, lead to the most specific improvements in flavor? Farmers have been figuring these things out for a long time, of course, but chefs can co-write and curate these procedures for the future of delicious food.

We can do the same with vegetables. For example, we worked with Stone Barns Center farmer Jack Algiere to try to infuse fennel with the pomace of hazelnuts, and the fennel tasted deliciously of lightly roasted nuts. And we’ve started storing apples with dried elderflowers—it makes an apple taste like a pineapple.

But what if we start even earlier in the life cycle? What if chefs began “cooking” a dish with seed breeders, encouraging certain flavors by asking breeders to select for them before the seeds are even planted? Innovation doesn’t need to start and end in the kitchen. Instead, we should be thinking about our recipes from the ground up.

Related: Dan Barber’s Tips for Cooking, Eating and Living Sustainably
Chefs Make Change: Dan Barber for Stone Barns Center
Dan Barber, Best New Chef 2002

Chefs

Michael Voltaggio: L.A.’s Best Host

Chef David Nayfeld.

Chef David Nayfeld. Photo courtesy Urban + Allen.

Here’s why we love ink. chef Michael Voltaggio: Not just because he’s a brand-new F&W Best New Chef (yay, Michael!), but also for his good manners. On June 4, he plays the consummate host by welcoming chef David Nayfeld (at left) to his city with a six-course dinner that they’re cooking together at ink. READ MORE>

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Drink This Now

Kümmel 101: How to Use the Sweet-Savory Dutch Spirit

Kummel Cocktails: Ouest Daisy

Lafayette's Ouest Daisy © Noah Fecks

Historically consumed in Europe as a shot before or after a round of golf, kümmel, a caraway- and cumin-infused spirit that originated in Holland, has found its place in America as a sweet-savory addition to cocktails. At chef Andrew Carmellini’s newest New York hot spot, Lafayette, beverage manager Megan Mina uses Combier kümmel in a refreshing tequila cocktail.»

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