2012 list of 3 Star Michelin restaurants in France

Every year every 2 star chef prays to the Michelin Gods and hopes they will be able to join this elite group of restaurateurs.  They also pray they will not be demoted from 3 to 2.

This year only one was promoted to the ranks of the best on earth.  The number in parenthesis represents the department (county) that the restaurant is located in. i.e. the last entry is Georges Blanc in the town of Vonnas which is in the department of l’Ain which starts with the letter A or 1st letter in the alphabet. If you are driving through France you can also see the department number as the last 2 digits on each license plate.

MICHELIN guide France 2012

N : new stars in 2012

26 o of which 1 new

Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey

Town (departement) Establishement
Baerenthal / Untermuhlthal (57) L’Arnsbourg
Chagny (71) Maison Lameloise
Eugénie-les-Bains (40) Michel Guérard
Fontjoncouse (11) Auberge du Vieux Puits
Illhaeusern (68) Auberge de l’Ill
Joigny (89) La Côte St-Jacques
Laguiole (12) Bras
Lyon (69) Paul Bocuse
Marseille (13) Le Petit Nice
Megève (74) Flocons de Sel N
Monte-Carlo (Principauté de Monaco) Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse
Paris 1er Le Meurice
Paris 4e L’Ambroisie
Paris 7e Arpège
Paris 8e Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée
Paris 8e Epicure
Paris 8e Ledoyen
Paris 8e Pierre Gagnaire
Paris 16e Astrance
Paris 16e Le Pré Catelan
Paris 17e Guy Savoy
Roanne (42) Troisgros
Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid (43) Régis et Jacques Marcon
Saulieu (21) Le Relais Bernard Loiseau
Valence (26) Pic
Vonnas (01) Georges Blanc

Choosing the right wine for Thanksgiving

The selection for my upcoming class on Thanksgiving Wines

The great annual celebration of Thanksgiving brings all our families together over a table with more food than any of us could possibly eat.  So much thought and effort goes into producing the food, but very little thought goes into which wines to pair with this abundant meal.  Beaujolais Nouveau often makes its debut as the first wine of the season and can bless our tables with a snapshot of the French vintage. Beaujolais Nouveau is rarely more than a bubble gum style wine and though very quaffable is hardly deign of gracing the table for the whole meal.

There are no hard and set rules to pairing the right wine with this traditional meal, but I will try to offer you some good tips on choosing the wine style appropriate to the celebration.   Continue reading

Why do you do what you do?

This is a very inspiring presentation on why some ventures are successful and others are not.  Should cause reflection on why you do what you do or why you are not doing what you should be doing.

Natural Foie Gras

Watch this presentation on natural foie gras by Dan Barber.  Dan just recently made this same presentation in Denver for the IACP conference in April.  Natural foie gras, what a concept.  It kind of takes the wind out of the activists’ sails.

What is worse?  Naturally raised foie gras or industrially raised chicken?

Day 3: The storm takes a new direction across town, Wild and Rare

John Ash, Andrew Dwyer and Andy Floyd after a successful event

John Ash, Andrew Dwyer and Andy Floyd after a successful event

There was only one scheduled class on Friday and that was Extreme Cooking with Andrew Dwyer from Australia.  I had taken care of every major detail the day before so I was fairly confident it would run smoothly.  He had a group of Johnson & Wales students to assist him and some of them were coming to give me a hand later in the day for the Wild and Rare dinner at Cook Street.

The Wild and Rare dinner was not the only thing on my mind as I had agreed to cater an off premise gig for the IACP Culinary Trust.  I had our Alumni coordinator David Bravdica in charge of putting together the food for that event and also helping to prep the same appetizers to be served for Wild and Rare.  Donated food for this event as well as cheese for the Artisan Pizza class the following day had been pouring in all week and was filling the walk-in cooler to capacity.

I had told my assistants to arrive at 10 am, but only two of them actually could.  The three volunteers from J&W were assisting Andrew Dwyer at the Sheraton and would not be at the school until after 12:30pm (remind me not to schedule volunteers for two places in one day).  My FL (stands for Fearless Leader) had to work until 3 pm and would not show up until then. Will Poole long time friend and owner of WEN chocolates was there early to work on his dessert and came with his usual ebullient energy.

Add to this a general uneasiness from Tina our FOH manager about having the necessary hands available to set up the room and we were already off to a great start.

I wrote up a prep list on the board and had my two assistants Sharon and Vicki start to check off the task that needed to be done.   John the recreational program chef came to help us out as well.  My former Culinary Arts instructor, Francois Dionot as well as his wife Patrice owners of l’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda Maryland came by to check out our school and to say hello.  I spent a little time with them, but in the back of my mind I already know I’m behind and understaffed.  Then the Dean of J&W, Jorge de la Torre,  comes by with Adam Seger who is doing a cocktail class the following day and they manage to eat more of my time.  Not that I mind, but I am preoccupied to say the least.

OK now I can focus on the prep list.  I get a voicemail for John Ash: “do you think I could come by later?  A friend of mine has invited me to lunch etc.”  I call him back and let him know that we have more work then he might feel comfortable catching up on if he came later.  He’s on his way.

David Bravdica is working with Patricia to get catered event completed on time and he is a little nervous.

John Ash shows up and gets to work.  Meanwhile, Carol Fenster and Cassidy Tawse-Garcia (Sylvia Tawse’s daughter) are setting up the room for a fine dining event.  Now there are quite a few people that have never set foot in our school trying to set up which leads to lots of questions to guess who?  That’s right you guessed it: ME.

So with ME being under the gun trying to accomplish what I need to for the event and all the questions that need to be answered from the front of the house people and new people in the kitchen, I am about ready to crack.  But I have been in the weeds before and I know the only way to get out is to focus and keep moving faster through each task.

It’s 12:30pm and still no Andrew Dwyer sighting.  He calls and says he is on his way.  I suggest he come as quickly as possible as there is plenty to do.  The J&W students show up and I am relieved, except they tell me they need to get a bite to eat as they have not eaten all day.  Join the club my young friends.  OK, go feed yourself and get back as quickly as possible.

It’s getting to be crunch time for the catered event so I transfer Sharon Talbert to assist David.  Ian Scott a fresh graduate comes in to ask me for a letter of recommendation.  I ask him “what are you doing right now?” he says “nothing” and I say right “here’s an apron, go wash me some greens.”  He jumps right in on the task.

Now John Parks has sparked up the wood burning oven to get it warmed up for the Artisan Pizza class the following day.  He is feeling under the weather from some kind of bug, but I appreciate any assistance I can get today.  The next person to walk in is Peter Reinhart the bread guru and teacher for the following day.  He is here to make pizza dough and he has an assistant from J&W who he taught.  More questions……….Oh and Cathy Whims, chef and owner of Nostrana in Portland OR, is supposed to be joining him to work on some doughs along with her sous chef. He has tried calling her several times and she has yet to reply.  He’s sure she’ll show up in time, but she is already an hour late.

Cassidy comes up me: “it’s LeeAnn Stevens and she has some questions regarding your Panzanella recipe” ,”yes LeeAnn, un hun, yes…yes, what did you say?  no I don’t understand, can you just send me the fucking thing over email and I can correct it there?……….yes and I will send right back so that you can publish the recipe booklet.”

Oh I have this huge tank of liquid nitrogen in my dry storage that I have been fantasizing about in my dreams to try and use for the dinner in some capacity.  I even lost sleep thinking about how I was going to use it.  Can’t think of that right now must move forward.

The countdown is on for David who is trying to pack all his stuff to take over to the Sheraton.  The asparagus egg cups got cooked a little more than I would have wished, but with a little whipped cream all  is fixed.  I managed to commandeer some people over to his side to get him out the door.  He is packing his stuff and Patricia (the Godsend during this whole affair) has agreed to join him to insure all goes smoothly.  They’re out the door and just in time as Cathy Whims and Sous chef are coming in.  And my (FL) Justin Hugill the Kiwi and former student is also there and shortly after Andrew Dwyer comes in.   I’m about ready to burst and but we’re ticking off the to do list and it looks like we might actually make it, but right now we have about twenty people in the kitchen and front of the house and in about an hour I want everyone out so I can get the floors mopped.   “Andres, a las 5 y 15 necessito limpiar”  “si jeffe” ”

I am giving countdowns to all so that we can be sure that when the first people show up we have all ready and the place is clean.  Andrew Dwyer is getting quandong sauce ready and is putting off firing some of his veggies until we are ready to serve.  I convince him to pre-cook some of his stuff. John Ash has been carefully trying to figure which platters each of these dishes are going to go on.   Thank God he is on this project.

We have caught up on all the prep and the kitchen has been mopped.  We have a quick chef’s huddle to determine our game plan.  We come out of the meeting with a vague but workable plan.

It’s showtime……people are coming through the door.  Morey Hecox the owner of the school has invited some of his buddies to come for dinner.  I am on a pure adrenalin high and gladly suck down two glasses of Sauvignon Republic.  I get to meet quite a few people, like Roberta the owner of Cambridge Culinary School and the editor to Bon Appetit.  All are trying the appetizers of King Canyon Buffalo Carpaccio, the salume platter and the platter of arancini and tochetti.

It is a light moment after endless barrage of stress.  We consult with each other to figure out when is the best time to start our demoes.  Yes each of the chefs has agreed to demo a dish and we have all agreed to do all of our presentations in under 45 minutes combined.  That’s 15 minutes a piece.

First John Ash comes up and does a demo on his elk dish.   He goes on entertainingly about the right amount of salt to use in blanching being similar to the salt content of our mother’s embryonic fluid sac (it’s getting philosophical now).  We are having issues with our audio but moving through it.  He does a great demo and I plug Andrew Dwyer into the system.  He does a great demo talking about Quandongs and how you want to be careful how you spell and say that word.   He demos his kangaroo dish and his presentation is quite lively.  Then I am up.  I go on about Buffalo and the tall grass prairie and talk about my dad driving across Kansas and how he always talked about what it would have been like to be the first white man to see the Rockies and so on and so forth.  I talk about the buffalo being the ultimate sustainable creature of the tall grass prairie and finish my demo by searing the bison meat and making my interpretation of Chimichurri sauce.   I think I have done well and even notice David Carter the president of the Bison association nodding in approval.

Later he comes to me and says: “you know I agree with all you said regarding bison, but I just want to make sure you understand that the prairie east of Denver is the short gras prairie not the tall grass prairie”   I am so happy that he didn’t correct me while I was making my presentation as it would have deflated my energy, but I always get the tall and the short confused.  Now maybe I will never forget.

Patricia and David come back from the catered event and all went well.  She still has one more task to do to prepare for the following day.  Gut the previously frozen sardines and take them to the hotel for tomorrow’s Mackerel and  sardines class.

There is a mad dash to plate all the stuff to go out to the dinning room and we have the plating pretty well set up. There is a couple there who is filming the event and ask to interview me right then. I don’t know why I agree to do it at that exact moment but they proceed.  Apparently she is good friends with Dale Lasater and Andy at the ranch and her cousin Athena is a new student in our program.

We finally get to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labor and the two Silver Oak AVAs from 2004.  The food is great and there is tons of it.  We set the tables up with the maximum occupancy and so that all can see and talk to each other.  The food is served family style.

Then we get different producers and foodies to come up and talk throughout the dinner.  It is a great social moment and very interactive.  John Ash calls it a “salon”.

The night ends with the dramatic presentation of the pears poached in Chateau de Rolland Sauternes garnished with a super rare Hawaiian chocolate that Will Poole has a friend of a friend who manages to get him a little each year.

The evening is a huge success and many people come up to the chefs to offer their thanks.  We pack up all our stuff.  We are exhausted but still manage to share one last bottle of Silver Oak.  The chefs are elated, we have had a very bonding experience and were able to pull off a great meal.  Hard to believe that all the planning came together over a few conference calls.

John Ash, Cassidy Tawse, Andrew Dwyer, Sylvia Tawse and Andy Floyd

John Ash, Cassidy Tawse, Andrew Dwyer, Sylvia Tawse and Andy Floyd

Back on TV

Yesterday I had another shot cooking on TV.  The day before I was told I had to prepare healthy breakfast item and that I would be on a new segment with Dr. John Torres that might occur every Wednesday.  I was provided his cell number and a meeting time.

I tried to call him several times the day prior but got no-where.  So I just came up with my own segment.  I cook breakfast for my family every day and one of their favorite dishes is blueberry pancakes.  Usually, my wife Lucy cooks this for them every Saturday morning, but I figured what the hell let’s break the rule and I’ll take some of the batter with me to the station.

I adjusted the recipe from Joy of Cooking to omit the butter and to change the sweetener to Agave Nectar (which has a lower glycemic index).

here is the recipe:

Blueberry Pancakes (adapted from Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Ronbauer)

Mix together in a large bowl:

1 ½ cups All-purpose flour

1 ¼ Tablespoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Salt

In separate bowl mix together:

3 Tablespoons Agave nectar

1 ½ cups milk

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix.  Then add ½ cup of frozen or fresh blueberries.  Heat some oil in a fry pan and when the oil is in between sizzling and smoking add ¼ cup of batter for each pancake.  Cook to golden brown and then flip the pancake over to finish.

I also figured I would demo turning a grapefruit into suprêmes (segments).  All of this would make for a healthy breakfast.

When I got to work, I saw the Dr. John had called.  We chatted and he said that he had an omelet in mind and I told him what I had prepared for and he said let’s do it.  I took for the station with plenty of leeway time to make sure I wasn’t going to be in a panic.

The station is very different than Channel 9.  The set is surrounded by all the newscaster’s cubicles.  They showed me where to set up and I chatted with Dr. John about our segment.  Already this felt considerably more organized than my last TV segment.

Then before you knew it we were on the air.  I was a lot more prepared this time and was able to articulate better.  The segment was about 3 minutes long.

I packed up my stuff and headed back to school.

Andoni gets his stuff

Yesterday was hectic.  First I awoke to a dusting of snow.  No big deal, but the Boulder turnpike was a parking lot at 7:30am and the heavy spring snow became more intense as I got closer to Denver.  I took the toll road in to save time.

The school is being cleaned and given a fresh coat of paint.  So I came into a place that was a little bit in disarray.  The staff helped me unload my huge load of groceries.

My first goal was to get all of Chef Andoni Aduriz’s stuff consolidated so that he could get to work.  I have been in steady communication with his translator Elena who is an IACP member and has been dogging me about the various components that Andoni needs  (lots of Fed Ex shipments that are still rolling in).

But Chef Andoni is not the only one coming to the conference or with special needs.  Fairly early on in the morning I get a call from this lady in Arizona who is calling about a product I need called Cholla buds and Saguaro syrup.  I need both for a Native American cooking class.  Cholla buds are tiny cactus buds that apparently taste a little like artichokes.   They are a pain to harvest which explains the exorbitant price she was quoting me.  The Saguaro syrup is apparently even harder to harvest as it cost about $10 an oz.   Anyway I was going to have it Fed Exed, but since she was coming to the conference she was willing to bring it to me.  Not sure why she couldn’t have decided to do this a long time ago…………..oh well.

Elena called and said that Chef Andoni was on his way to pick up his food.  I madly gathered the last parts of his order and double checked it against my list (I just want to add that I have received two lists since I first started to work on his order).

He came and he checked his order along with his Sous Chef Oswaldo, who might look like “where’s Oswaldo” if he wore a little cap.  Both are very nice and every so often they looked at me and said can we get this in smaller size.  I was like what are you cooking for the smurfs?  They opened up snap peas and saw the pea size inside and said “can you find smaller”  Honestly Chef I can’t  get any smaller unless they were baby snaps.

I had this pea dish when I ate at his restaurant in 2005.  It was amazing.  A small bowl with a thin layer of miniature peas covered with a super flavorful gel.

They looked through all of their food order and I think they were suitably impressed that I had acquired as much as I had and that I understood the Chef’s language (Spanish and the language of ingredients).

I told them I would be meeting them at JWU to bring them more stuff.

Before he left I had one of my freshly graduated students snap this picture of us.


It seemed like just ten minutes after he left all the Fed Ex packages came flooding in.  His Kaolin clay, the Methyl Cellulose, the Xanthan gum and the Calcium oxide.

I spent the rest of the day organizing the food orders into different bags for the different chefs and check on the other scheduled deliveries.

At around 2 pm,  I get a call from Elena.  “I took them to Whole Foods and they saw these great sprouts that he wants you to get”  I said “why didn’t you buy them?”  Like I don’t have enough to do, that I need to trace your footsteps and purchase the stuff that caught your eye.

I gathered all the different chef’s bags loaded them up and headed to Italco where I picked some more stuff.  I had Tim Ziegler set up litle bags of herbs and spices to put into each of the chefs bags.

I rushed to JWU and dropped all the bags and gave Oswaldo the stuff they were seeking.

Then on to the Sheraton to drop off the bags of ingredients that will be used there and to have a meeting to go over details with my main contact with the management company Steve Gigantiello.

Home then straight to bed.  A long but successful day.