Michelin list of Restaurants in the Department of the Vaucluse (84)

Avignon

Avignon (Photo credit: LucaXino)

Here is Michelin’s list of restaurants in my old stomping grounds of the Vaucluse a department that includes the town of Avignon and other cities of gastronomic interest .  Click on the link below to see the PDF with all the listings.  It was shocking to see that la Mirande lost its one Star status.

84_GM_2012_par_dept

The new Michelin Guide of France

Click this link to get a look at the lay of the French restaurant landscape according to Michelin in 2010.

CP 2010_GM france 2010_EN

Every year all of France eagerly awaits the release of the Michelin guide.  Some restaurants will have cause for celebration and others will be crying in their café au lait.

This year a small restaurant,  L’Auberge du Vieux Puits, in the Corbières not far from Carcassonne gained the coveted 3 Stars.  Gilles Goujon’s life is changed and prosperity is guaranteed.

Other temples of French gastronomy were not let off so easily.  Owners have to seriously consider the loss of their head chef in their decision process as Hotel de Crillion and Les Crayeres lost chefs Jean Francois Piege along with a star and Didier Elena along with two stars respectively.

Marc Veyrat the floppy black hat wearing foraging Savoyard with an inclination to molecular gastronomy has given up his three stars at l’Auberge de l’Eridan as he focuses on his health after a ski accident (this is pretty old news, but rocks the Michelin world nonetheless).

There are many other additions and losses which are clearly articulated in the pdf link at the top of this page.

SOBE Wine and Food: All you need is love and a wristband

Michael Symon

Today we decide to brave the Whole Foods grand tasting tent.  Six years ago when I went to this event, I was blown away at how many people were waiting to get into the grand tasting tent and how many people were waiting in line to get signatures from the famous chefs.   This food celebrity thing is taking off I thought.  Who was famous six years ago:  Tyler Florence (who I had barely heard of), Emeril, Rachel Ray, Paula Dean, Ming Tsai and an emerging celebrity Anthony Bourdain.

Six years ago I walked into the grand tasting tent and along with all the other attendees struggled to get food samples from the different local restaurants and taste wines from the different distributors.  It was hot and fans were blowing air into the oppressive stagnating environment that I chose to spend a few hours in.  I walked out exhausted, a little annoyed and tipsy.  I ran into Anthony Bourdain Continue reading

Joyeux Saint Valentin

one of the chocolaterie's specialties: le Palets des Papes

I just wrote a brief post for my good friend and fellow blogger Julie Mautner.   Since Valentine’s day is right around the corner, you must all be thinking chocolate and maybe wine (or Champagne).  Go check out the Provence Post and let yourself be transported to a chocolate factory in the middle of the vines of Chateauneuf du Pape whose owner just happens to be my good friend Robert Brunel’s girlfriend Laurence.

Of course in Provence they are also deep into black Truffle season as well.

Fresh omelettes with black Truffles, hand dipped chocolates with marc of Chateauneuf du Pape,  2009 harvest of olive oil,  nougat,  Domaine de la Janasse and long slow braised dishes is probably what they are digging into about right now.  How I miss it all.

Another of their specialities: les picholines

Soupe au Pistou

January entry for Deep Plate Blog: Soupe au Pistou

Being at home non stop changes my whole routine, but shouldn’t limit what I can do in the kitchen.  My kitchen at home is well equipped and I can still make a lot of nice food without the vast easy availability of food at my former workplace.  I will continue to submit entries to the Deep Plate Blog each month.  However it will require much more thought and planning than before.

Normally my entries are done pretty quickly after I receive a plate from Bauscher.   Due to recent events it took me a little longer to complete my January entry.

Another major benefit of my new status is that my body is not subject to the 2,000 calories of daily food consumption that came with my teaching position.  I have a much healthier diet now and I am making purchasing decisions  that will feed my family with less meat protein yet leave them satiated.   I’ve been thinking a lot about Provence and France lately.   As I was thinking about my plate presentation for Deep Plate, I remembered a Soupe au Pistou we cooked once with my friend and co-teacher Michel Depardon.   He made his version of Soupe au Pistou and I was completely drawn to the beauty of its simplicity and the complexity of its flavor.

Michel Depardon showing Lisa Dawkins how to sauté

Michel's Soupe au Pistou

I decided I wanted to make similar soup yet keep all the elements whole.   Pistou refers to the garlic, basil and parmesan purée that is put into the soup at the last moment.  Pistou is a very close cousin to Pesto.  In Michel’s version of Soupe au Pistou we used fresh coco beans.  Little white beans that are a lot of work to shuck but add an unmistakable fresh legume flavor to the soup.  I chose instead to use dried cannellini beans, which are available in bulk at Whole Foods.

My recipe for Soupe au Pistou:

2 lbs. Dried Cannellini Beans (you could substitute navy beans or great northern)

1 gl. of Chicken stock

2 Tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 onion

1 leek

6 cloves of garlic

2 carrots

3 zucchini

For the Pistou:

1 oz of fresh basil

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 cloves of garlic

2 Tbsp. of grated Parmesan (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano)

Method:

Soak the cannellini beans in water overnight.   If you live at altitude like I do, I recommend pressure cooking them, if you are at sea level you can cook them until tender in the chicken stock.

To pressure cook the beans.  Place the beans in the pressure cooker and cover with chicken stock . Cover and put on high heat until the pressure indicator pops.  Turn down the temperature and count off twenty minutes.  After twenty minutes cool down the pressure cooker by pouring cold water on it.  Check the consistency of the beans.  If you are happy with them then set them aside.  If not continue to cook them under pressure in small time increments until they are done.

While the beans are cooking, cut all the vegetables into a small dice.  Add a little olive oil to a pan and cook the onions over low heat until they are translucent.  Approximately 10 minutes. Then add the carrots and the garlic.  Continue to cook until they are almost tender.  Then add the zucchini.  Season and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.  Add the vegetables to the beans and stock.  If necessary add more chicken stock to reach the desired consistency.

To make the Pistou:  Pick the leaves of fresh basil and blanch them very quickly in boiling water.  Then submerge them in ice water.  Remove the basil leaves and wring out any water.  Mince the garlic very fine and then in a blender add the garlic, basil leaves, grated Parmesan and the extra virgin olive oil. Blend until very smooth.

Heat up the soup and serve in a bowl and top with the Pistou.  Enjoy.  If you want to make Michel’s version purée the soup and then top with the Pistou.

France Food and Wine Experience is open for business

France Food and Wine Experience is the name of my LLC which has been somewhat dormant during my tenure at Cook Street.  It is time to bring it back to life during this transitional phase of my career.

I am multi talented and multi lingual which translates into versatility and creativity when it comes to the services I can provide for you.  Here are just a few possibilities:

Culinary Tour Guide: I have 9 1/2 years of experience taking groups of up to 15 people to France for a month at a time.  I know the ins and outs of this country and have a vast network of chefs and artisan producers.  I am particularly well versed in the region of the Vaucluse around Avignon.   I can organize a 1 – 2 week  tailor-made excursion for a group around the food, wine and culture of this rich culinary region.  I have  access to the kitchen at the Chateau de Suze la Rousse in the heart of the Côte du Rhône wine country.

A view of the chateau de Suze la Rousse
A view of the Chateau de Suze la Rousse
Cooking at the Chateau de Suze la Rousse

I can also design trip itineraries for you to the same region,  if you are looking to discover the Vaucluse on your own but don’t want to waste time trying to find its hidden treasures.  I did a trip to Spain this way and I can vouch how much better it is to have people expecting you at different points of culinary interest.

Teacher and Trainer: I have been teaching people how to cook professionally for the past 12 years.  It is my life’s path and I enjoy empowering people with the skills necessary to cook with finesse and sound technique.   This is a craft I fell in love with at an early age and sharing this skill with others is very gratifying.   I can arrange for private or group lessons at your home and customize them to your personal needs.

Home Kitchen Tool Assessment and Recipe Instruction: You have all the gear from Williams and Sonoma but you don’t how to optimize its use or maybe you don’t know the right gear to get in the first place.  Let me come to your house and help you get the right stuff and show you how to use it correctly.

Cooking Demonstrations: I have done cooking demonstrations in different venues to different size groups. The last cooking demonstration I did was to a group of Uruguayan potato farmers in Montevideo Uruguay.  I am comfortable in front of a crowd and can successfully navigate a demo on foreign soil.  I have also done numerous TV segments. 

Cooking  Stages (apprenticeship) in France: What do all the top chefs in the U.S. have in common? They all spent some time in Europe working under master chefs.  There is no substitute for this kind of training.  If  you are cooking professionally and want to take your cuisine and resume to a whole new level, then let me arrange a stage (apprenticeship) at a Michelin starred restaurant for you.  I can handle all the logistics and you can focus on getting an authentic and life changing culinary education that will set you apart from every other U.S. culinary graduate or line chef.  I can even give you restaurant specific French Culinary Instruction so you won’t feel like such an outsider when you walk through the doors.

Food Photography and Food Styling: I have just spent the last two years putting together a portfolio of pictures.  Though I am no Ansel Adams, I have come a long way.  If you need customized food photos taken for your company, I can probably beat the price of any stock photo.  I collaborated with Bauscher Plates USA on the launch of their Deep Plate Blog and many of my pictures using their plates are featured on their blog.

Sea bass wrapped in Brik dough with a soupe de poisson emulsion

Sea bass wrapped in brik dough with a soupe de poisson emulsion on a Bauscher silhouette plate

Recipe Writing and Development: I have written recipes for Niman Ranch and for my TV segments.  I have also written tons of recipes for my professional students during my tenure as an instructor.  I can come up with original recipes for your product, test them, photograph them and provide you the whole package.

Until I either find a new place of employment or open my own shop these are some of the services I can provide.  Call me at 303-926-8963 or write me at Chef-Floyd@comcast.net if you are interested in discussing any of these services.

Summary of 2009

2009 was actually an amazing year for me, even if it was not for the rest of the United States and the rest of the world.  It was a year of extreme growth and I entered uncharted territory on numerous occasions.  I had a lot of successes and faced many challenges.  It was also a year of sacrifice and learning what it was like to seriously focus on living with less.  We survived and as they say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.  I am stronger, more confident and more resolved to learn even more in the tweens and teenage years of the new millennium.  

I wanted to take an inventory of my accomplishments this year and to acknowledge my challenges.  This is one of the cathartic and obviously narcissistic elements about writing this blog.  Indulge me on this trip through memory lane.  Hopefully my accomplishments will inspire you to take more positive steps in your own life.  

So here it goes:  

This blog has reached its 2 year mark.  Over that period it has received 19,000 hits.  I don’t know what my subscription base is.  I am having retrieving that information, but I know there are a lot of you out there.   Thanks for following me and pass it along to anyone else you know who might be interested.  

I graduated four groups of 180º program students in 2009 at Cook Street:  

December 08 Class that graduated in March 2009

  

March 09 class that graduated in June

  

Half of June 09 class that graduated in September

  

Sorry about that June class, but I must have forgotten to take a group shot of all of you.  Click on this if you want to see all the participants from that class.  

The September 09 class that just graduated a week ago

  

By my count 41 students for 2009.  This is the lifeblood of any school and the future of the profession.  I have been fortunate to have had a hand in building their sensory memory, inspiring and building their repertoire of culinary techniques.  Stay in touch guys.  Let me know how you are progressing and let me know how I might be able to help you in the future.  Chef-Floyd@comcast.net.  You are the reason  I do what I do.  

Early in the year I made a presentation to the Anschutz Medical Center about heart healthy cooking.  This gave me the opportunity to be live on Channel 9 for the first time.  TV was a real learning experience and I was very green on that first spot.  TV goes really fast.  If you ever go on.  Keep it simple and focus on the sound bite.  

Aubrey Cornelius from Sprockets Communications arranged a whole series of other TV segments throughout the year and thanks to her I had a crash course in how to set up for a TV spot and sometimes put together different spots in different studios with only ten minutes in between segments.  First I started doing healthy segments with Dr. John (he seems to have disappeared since) and then I was just doing thematic spots to draw attention to Cook Street.  I stumbled a little at first and over prepared of course, but after a while I got into the groove.  I started to get to know the news and floor staff.  TV is definitely a bizarre world and it is interesting to be behind the scenes.  Of course you are already heavy on the News cast radar because you are bringing food.  Food is a hell of a lot more interesting and tastier than a dog needing shelter.  They had one kitchen I had access to on the Deuce, but on Fox 31 I had to bring my own portable burner and I know once I burned the counter top with a hot pan.  I did a modern interpretation of a Salade Nicoise and Melissa on the deuce told me she couldn’t eat the rare tuna because she was pregnant (she was just starting to show).  On my last spot right before Christmas she was about ready to pop, but she didn’t have a problem along with Tom in devouring my lobster profiteroles.  I even got my former student, Patricia Bellaire, now turned T.A.  on the air.  Click here , here , here or here to see me in action.  

At the annual ACF award’s dinner I was surprised when my name was called out along with my co-worker Chef Dale and was handed an award for “outstanding Contribution to Culinary Excellence.”  I have never been certified by the American Culinary Federation at any level and the membership to the ACF came with my employment.  So I got introduced to the world of the ACF over the last two years.  They are trying very hard to be relevant to a new generation of chefs (their membership is dwindling and dying off).  Their monthly magazine which I always read cover to cover is filled with every top trend in the industry.  They are a helpful tool for networking.  

This year was the year I helped Bauscher plates US branch President Jeff Heaney to successfully launch the Deep Plate blog.  I originally contacted him after going to the ICC in NYC in the fall of 2008.  I wanted to see if he would let me use some of their plates as the backdrop of pictures I was taking for this blog.  He started first by sending me a whole series of their plates.  He then he sought out my advice on how to start a blog that would feature a different plate exercise each month which chefs from around the country and world could show off their plate presentations.  It took off and spread fast.  It brought recognition to our school and even featured shots by some of my past students.  It is interesting to see what different chefs will come up with for plate presentations for the blog.  Unfortunately not all the presentations are stellar.  However if you are interested in getting involved it is a pretty neat monthly exercise and you end up with some very cool plates.  

Every month (except one) I participated in the monthly Deep Plate Blog exercises and even did a challenge with my former student Thomas of a whole menu presented on Bauscher plates.  

  

One of the submissions to Deep Plate Blog

Peggy Markel came to visit us at the school and did a presentation on her trips to Tuscany.  I have never been on one of her trips but I know as a fellow tour leader she embodies all that a good tour guide should.  Passion for travel, food, culture and a strong desire to share with her clients.  I wholeheartedly endorse her trips and hope to attend one someday.  That day is coming soon I feel.  

My wife Lucy and I helped break ground on the garden to table project sponsored by the Growe foundation at our children’s school.  My wife aggressively pushed her agenda through the school district and received grants to get this important project “in” the ground.  She and I both feel very strongly about teaching our next generation to appreciate growing, cooking and eating their own food.  

My son Paris getting his hand dirty

  

Two huge transformative events occurred for me this year.  Our sommelier Debbie Gray brought to my attention an opportunity to accompany the US Potato Board to Uruguay.  I jumped at the chance.   I had to do it.  I speak fairly good Spanish and I would be really going out of my comfort zone to accomplish this.  The USPB flew me to Montevideo Uruguay in Business class during the height of the swine flu scare.  

a smoky interior from all the parillas at a market in the old section of Montevideo

  

It was a great experience and nerve-wracking.  It’s one thing to speak in your own language to people who understand you and another to speak to a group in your native tongue while it gets simultaneously translated.  There is a delay effect.  It was also tricky trying to prep my demo in an unknown kitchen during lunch service.  I finished the day being one of three and the only foreign visiting chef to do a food demo to a group of a 100 grocers and potato farmers from Uruguay.  It was fun and it was great to connect to chefs in a distant part of the globe.  

The other transformative experience was the IACP conference which came to Denver this year.  I was the Director of the Demo Committee and initially I was wrangled into this by Sylvia Tawse as an assistant to Drew Gillespie, but as fate would have it Drew became pregnant and I had to pick up the ball and run with it.  I’m stressed just thinking back on it right now, but I proved that I could overcome the stress and deliver.  I couldn’t have done it without all the help of some of my past students and of the students from Johnson & Wales.  

Andoni Aduriz and his crew

  

I was simultaneously trying to book some events at Cook Street (which I know upset the IACP president as she didn’t want me to provide any competition to the conference).  Nonetheless I scheduled Douglas Baldwin to do a presentation on Sous Vide cooking and Ian Kleinman from O’s restaurant to do a class on Molecular Gastronomy which meant that I had access to a huge dewar of Liquid Nitrogen until my boss forced me to return it.  I played a little with the LN.  It’s fun stuff.  

We had also negotiated to host some classes and events at Cook Street for IACP.  We put on sit down dinner called “Wild and Rare” where I got to cook alongside John Ash, Andrew Dwyer and Will Poole from Wen Chocolates. Unbelievably I also managed to sneak out a last-minute catering event with the help of another staff member to an off site IACP board of trustees event.  I was also blessed with a visit from my former Chef  Instructor and owner of  l’Academie de Cuisine: Francois Dionot and his wife Patrice.  

The gang all together after the wild Rare dinner. From left to right John Ash, Cassidy Tawse, Andrew Dwyer, Sylvia Tawse and yours truly

  

On the last day of the conference IACP scheduled a group of top pizza and dough specialist to do a pizza extravaganza at Cook Street.  I rushed from the conference to catch this special event and noticed that the electricity had gone out in most of the downtown.  Peter Reinhart, Cathy Whims and Antonio Laudisio rolled with it and produced some amazing pizza to a packed house. The lights came back on in the last ten minutes.  After the event was over I went home and collapsed in my bed.  I had survived and it had been a huge success even if they had poor over all turn out due to the economy.  I have since been consulted for advice for the conference that will take place in April in Portland Oregon. I hope to attend this time as a guest.  

In the summer we hosted, Allison Reynaud, the daughter of a good friend of ours from Avignon.  Her mother is the girlfriend of my best friend in France: Robert Brunel and she owns the chocolate factory in Chateau Neuf du Pape: Chocolaterie Bernard Castelain  

I put the menus together for the 180º Dining events that occur twice every program.  A total of 8 sit down dinners for 50 people (in all fairness not all sold out).  I wanted to get my students involved in the production of food to the public and the only opportunity my students had prior to this event was to volunteer for an event which occurred once a month called Taste 5.  Taste 5 was buffet featuring 5 different tastes of food with five different paired wines.  All the staff had to be available to help coordinate and it put a hell of a burden on the facility the whole week leading to the  event.  Add to that the student volunteers would sometime decide to un-volunteer and you had the potential for a huge cluster***k.  My idea was to supplement our student’s education and to focus on our core education of classic regional French and Italian Cuisine and allow the students to get a feeling of what it was like to cook and serve a sit down dinner of 50 paying customers.  It is a hit and now has its own following even without a posted menu.  

Lobster Napoleon with sauce Americaine from the French Christmas dinner earlier this month  

We were blessed with the presence of members of the Mexican consulate and Chef Roberto Solis from the Yucatan.  They wanted to present wines from Mexico and to showcase their chefs.  It was a great opportunity for Cook Street  students to connect with a chef from our neighbors down south.  One of my students is hoping to get down there for a stage in a few months.  Roberto Solis has a restaurant Nectar in Yucatan and has worked with Heston Blumenthal from the Fat Duck in Bray UK, with René Redzepi of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen and Thomas Keller at Per Se in NYC.  

Roberto Solis plating with Duane

  

His style is avant-garde but with an eye on traditional Yucatan cuisine.  Some of his dishes were magical and did what many deconstructed dishes do which is to bring you right back to something instantly recognizable in flavor.  

Of course I am a devout reader and try to improve my culinary knowledge daily.  One of the few advantage of commuting to Denver each day is that I had 30 minutes each way to focus on reading or grading quizzes.  I came to class refreshed, unstressed and more educated than I would be if I had fought with the rest of the commuters that file in one by one into the urban center.  I read Salt, Cod, Devil In The Kitchen, The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry, Under Pressure, In Search Of Perfection, Lessons In ExcellenceThe Food of France and I am half way through the The Food of Italy.  

I have become more of an activist in the past year.  I have read some pretty disturbing books and seen some moving movies on the subject.  Rent and watch Food Inc. and watch the Future of Food on Hulu.  Hopefully these movies will make you angry and want to take action.  Vote with your wallet at the supermarket, patronize your local farmers market.  You can make a difference.  

Something needs to be done about changing the Farm Bill.  We need to stop the monopolies of companies like Cargill, Monsanto, IBP, Swift among others.  Wouldn’t it be nice if a farmer could sue Monsanto for allowing their GMO soybeans or corn from contaminating their crops and adulterating their seeds.  Ask your representative about Kevin’s Law.  Does he/she support it.  The processing plants have too much power to contaminate our food supply with impunity.  We need to turn the tables and give the consumer back their rights.  We need to find another outlet other than our schools for the meat that goes unchecked by USDA.  Anyway there is a lot to be vocal about and with the internet it is a lot easier to do.  

My father and I went to CU to talk to a food writing class about our different backgrounds and were pleasantly surprised at the level of involvement these students had in connection with food.  

As you can attest it has been a big year for me.   I can hardly wait to see what takes place next year.  In my next post I will make a big announcement.  

Happy New Year may you all be blessed with good food, wine and good friends to share it with in 2010.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.