September 11th, 2012 - Jill Ettinger
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is working on establishing the first American Chef Corps—a partnership of more than 80 chefs and food experts that will help the State Department provide healthy meals for a number of State functions from hosting visiting dignitaries to educational programs, according to the Associated Press.
Read More:Never Underestimate the Power of Food: Meet America’s ‘Culinary Diplomats’
July 19th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Organic tomatoes and zucchini are top seasonal produce picks, and they marry as well as Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne (minus the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll).
In the hands of former Top Chef contestant Fabio Viviani, executive chef/owner of L.A. hotspots Firenze Osteria and Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar, they’re the foundation for today’s savory appetizer.
As the photo illustrates, Viviani’s Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Salad is a restaurant-quality dish, with vertical stacks of veggies and cheese that are pleasing to both the palate and eyes.
Best of all, the ingredients should be available at a well-stocked natural and organic food store—and many are likely on display at your local farmers’ market.
Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Salad
6 Roma tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella (6 ounces each), cut into 3/4-inch slices
Approximately 10 large leaves of fresh basil
Shaved Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices.
- Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/8-inch ribbons.
- Season both with minced garlic, salt and pepper; drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast on grill, with cut side up, for about 10 minutes, or until evenly roasted.
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- To assemble the salad, place the tomato, zucchini (folded) and mozzarella on top of each other, like a tower, with a basil leaf in between layers. Season layers with salt, pepper and a drizzle of dressing.
- Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Photo courtesy of Bertolli
Read More:Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Salad
July 18th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Craving a Poached Pear Salad (Insalata di Pere), featuring mixed greens, blue cheese, candied walnuts, Chianti-poached pears and balsamic dressing?
You can follow it up with an entrée of Butternut Squash Ravioli (Tortellacci di Zucca), composed of fresh butternut squash and ricotta ravioli, a brown butter-sage cream sauce, freshly ground black pepper and shaved Parmigiano cheese.
How about ending your meal with a pistachio-encrusted Homemade Italian Cannoli, filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips, and dusted with powdered sugar?
If you’re in Los Angeles, you’re in luck. These are some of my favorite picks at Firenze Osteria, where Top Chef Season 5 contestant Fabio Viviani (above) serves as executive chef/owner. He also runs Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar in nearby Moorpark, where you can enjoy one of 18 “signature,” “luxury” and “dessert” martinis, including Pear Tinis, Blueberry Martinis, Key Lime Pie Martinis and Cosmopolitans. (The Poached Pear Salad, Butternut Squash Ravioli and Homemade Italian Cannoli are also on the menu.)
Viviani, who trained in his native Italy, recently coauthored the Café Firenze Cookbook, and even a cursory look through its pages will prove the man loves his olive oil. Chalk it up to the kitchen staple’s versatility, flavor and health benefits. Rich in polyphenols (antioxidants) that help fight against cancer, heart-healthy olive oil can be swapped for high-fat butter. Just substitute 3/4 teaspoon olive oil for every 1 teaspoon butter, which will cut the fat in recipes by 25%.
Here are some of Viviani’s favorite ways to use olive oil:
- Serve a simple appetizer of fresh bread with extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the oil into a shallow bowl for dipping, and season with cracked pepper or fresh herbs.
- Create a simple, yet flavorful, marinade of olive oil combined with either lemon juice or wine vinegar. Use it to flavor meats, poultry and fish.
- Give your favorite unsalted nuts a fine coating of extra-light olive oil. (You can toss them in a paper bag.) Add a sprinkle of salt.
Tune in tomorrow for one of Viviani’s special recipes: Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Salad.
Viviani photo courtesy of Bertolli
Read More:‘Top Chef’ Contestant Fabio Viviani Loves His Olive Oils
July 15th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
You’d think that winning Bravo’s hit show Top Chef would make you a celebrity in the SoCal food circuit, but you’d be wrong.
Sign On San Diego reports that Michael Voltaggio, the champion of Top Chef: Las Vegas, ran into some trouble when he tried to get some fish tacos at San Diego’s storied South Beach Bar & Grille, which cards all of its customers to make sure they’re over 21. Voltaggio’s license was “washed out and illegible,” and I guess running an ultra-gourmet restaurant and having a bio on BravoTV.com weren’t enough to prove his identity. The manager stood his ground, demanding a state-issued photo ID, causing Voltaggio and entourage to hop back in their limo and grab some grub at Sushi Ota. Of course, the celebrity chef popped off a couple angry tweets, calling the door manager “cocky” and “arrogant.”
In a way, I respect the restaurant manager for enforcing his entrance policy equally, with no special treatment for celebrities. Very democratic. Something else to chew on: Tom Colicchio is using his fame to push for better school lunches for kids—couldn’t Voltaggio do something a little more productive on Twitter?
Read More:Top Chef’s Michael Voltaggio Bounced from Restaurant
July 7th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
Tom Colicchio, the head judge of Bravo’s popular Top Chef show, came out in support of the Child Nutrition Act currently in a House committee. Colicchio is the son of a lunch lady himself, and he said that he’s never had any trouble getting kids to eat healthy food—it just has to taste good.
Colicchio isn’t alone in calling for school lunch reform. Rachael Ray went to DC to lobby lawmakers on this issue. Brit Jamie Oliver has made it his primary objective over the last few years to try to change how America thinks about school lunch. Michelle Obama has been battling child obesity ever since she moved into the White House. Revered chef Alice Waters has done a lot to make school lunches tastier and more nutritious.
There’s a lot at stake here. Children who are fed junk don’t perform well in the classroom, and they develop bad eating habits that last long after graduation. These bad eating habits lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and cost billions. If we want healthy, educated citizens, we need to feed our kids as we would want to be fed.
Read More:Bravo’s Top Chef Tom Colicchio Supports Better School Lunch
July 14th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
If you’re a fan of the Bravo series “Top Chef,” you may have been rooting for Andrea Beaman (above), the lone natural and organic foodie of the 12 culinary contestants. “Top Chef,” for the uninitiated, is a “Survivor”-style weekly series in which competitors cook their way through a slew of Iron Chef-caliber challenges, to be judged by some of America’s leading gourmet gurus.
Beaman often confounded the judges because she didn’t fit the standard haute cuisine stereotype. She’s a natural nutritionist and holistic health counselor whose approach to food is drawn from personal experience. At 28, she was chronically sick, overweight and diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. This propelled her to surrender her junk-food habits and develop a dietary regimen that’s rich in fresh organic food.
Today, Beaman appears to be the picture of health—and while she was eliminated from the competition for her consistently veggie-centric menus, it hasn’t slowed her career. She completed her cookbook, The Whole Truth Eating and Recipe Guide, and continues to counsel clients in her East Coast practice.
I’d like to thank Bravo for giving us permission to reprint one of Beaman’s most popular “Top Chef” recipes: Curried Sweet Potato. On the show, she served it alongside a lovely Quinoa Pilaf—a recipe we’ll feature next week.
To learn more about Beaman, please visit her website. She also provides telephone consultations if you live outside the New York area.
Curried Sweet Potato
2 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 375°. Wash sweet potatoes. Dice into 1-inch cubes.
- Put sweet potato cubes into a bowl, and coat with olive oil, curry powder and sea salt.
- Place into a baking pan. Cover and bake for 50 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
Bravo photo by David Moir
Read More:Curried Sweet Potato