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Top Chef Swap Will Debut with Chicago Masters

Top Chef Swap Will Debut with Chicago Masters


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The very first Chef Swap will star Top Chef Masters Takashi Yagihashi and Tony Mantuano

Top Chef Masters Takashi Yagihashi and Tony Mantuano will swap cuisine styles in the inaugural Chef Swap at Takashi.

On February 25th, Takashi Yagihashi and Tony Mantuano will swap culinary specialties in an elaborate seven-course tasting dinner. Yagihashi, a four-time Michelin star winner, will be preparing Italian dishes, and Mantuano, a James Beard award winner, will create Japanese dishes. The fateful night is set to take place at Takashi in Chicago. The Japanese chef has been featured on Top Chef Masters in 2012, and published the recipe book Takashi’s Noodles with Harris Salat. Previously, he was also featured on an episode of Iron Chef America.

Tony Mantuano, the chef at Spiaggia, was featured on Top Chef Masters in 2010. The Spiaggia Cookbook, released in 2004, was selected as one of the top 25 cookbooks of 2004 by Food & Wine. The culinary mix-up will be the first in a quarterly dinner series to take place at Takashi.

Tickets are available for purchase for $105 through Takashi, with an optional wine pairing for $60. Guests will be able to purchase both cookbooks.


6-Ingredient Pasta Recipes From 6 Renowned Chefs

Quick and easy dinner recipes are always in demand, and pasta is a natural fit for simple suppers ― especially if you’re armed with an excellent entree-worthy recipe involving only a few ingredients.

To prove that flavor and simplicity aren’t mutually exclusive, we asked six pro chefs from across the country to submit their favorite six-ingredient pasta recipes. Buon appetito!

Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe

A classic Roman dish beloved for its bold flavor profile and minimalist ingredient list, cacio e pepe literally translates to “cheese and pepper,” which are the dish’s primary players. Chef Ryan Pera of Houston’s Coltivare counts his Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe among the restaurant’s most popular dishes, and he puts his own mark on the traditional recipe by swapping out standard black peppercorns for Tellicherry peppercorns, which have complex spice notes and a slight hint of sweetness.

Ingredients

12 ounces (or about 350 grams) dried spaghetti (Pera recommends De Cecco)

1/4 cup coarsely ground Tellicherry peppercorns

8 ounces (about 2½ cups) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a large Dutch oven, bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil (using as little boiling water as possible will give a thick, starchy liquid that will enhance and bind the sauce).

Once the water is boiling, drop in pasta and give one initial stir after pasta is submerged.

While pasta is cooking, set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add ground peppercorns. Toast until fragrant, then add butter. Let butter melt and bubble with pepper, adjusting the flame so that butter is bubbling right when pasta hits al dente.

When pasta is al dente (consult package for cooking time), remove from water with tongs and drop into sauté pan. Ladle another 2 ounces pasta water into sauté pan and stir with tongs.

Add cheese and olive oil, stirring vigorously until a silky sauce forms from the butter, starch water and cheese. Taste for salt and add if necessary.

Divide into 2 warmed bowls and serve immediately.

Carbonara In A Jar

If you’re looking for a hearty pasta dish that can easily double as brunch fare, carbonara will do you right. Like cacio e pepe, pasta carbonara hails from Rome, and it involves a rich sauce made from egg, cheese and pancetta (cured pork belly, which is like a less-smoky bacon). At Chicago’s Siena Tavern, “Top Chef” alum Fabio Viviani serves his carbonara with a very millennial twist: It’s layered in a Mason jar and shaken.

Ingredients

1 pound dried pasta of choice (Viviano recommends gemelli, penne, rigatoni or orecchiette)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season with salt and cook pasta until 2 minutes before the manufacturer’s specifications. Make sure it is al dente the pasta will cook longer in the sauce.

Meanwhile, in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat, start browning the pancetta with a little bit of butter until all the fat has been released and the bacon is starting to brown and get crispy.

Deglaze the pan with the heavy cream and reduce until it starts to coat the back of a spoon, then add 1/2 cup of Pecorino.

Once the sauce starts to get thick, add the spinach and toss through to wilt.

Add 1 cup of Pecorino and cook until thick. At this point, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

Divide the sauce into 4 Mason jars, reserving just a little bit to toss with the pasta.

Add pasta to the pot and lightly coat.

Divide the pasta among the 4 jars.

Top each jar with remaining grated Pecorino, making a nest.

Place the egg yolk into the Pecorino nest and grate fresh black peppercorn on top.

Vigorously shake the Mason jar, making sure the pasta is mixed really well.

Carefully take the top off the Mason jar and pour onto the plate.

Rigatoni Alla Campidanese

OK, so this recipe has seven ingredients, not six. But it’s worth it. Italian meat sauces have a reputation for being labor-intensive culinary endeavors, but it’s actually entirely possible to make a hearty ragù with a very short shopping list. Chef Tim Meyers of Bocce USQ in New York City presents a slow-cooked Sunday sauce perfect for those first crisp autumn evenings.

Ingredients

1 pound pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 ounces Calabrian chiles in oil

Lay the pork out on a paper towel, dab it dry on all sides, then sprinkle it with kosher salt and black pepper.

Add the saffron to the white wine to allow the color and flavor to infuse the wine.

Get a large sauté pan very hot, with just a thin layer of olive oil. Carefully place the pork in the hot pan to sear. You may need to do two rounds of searing because you want to make sure one piece of pork isn’t touching another piece in the pan: they’ll get a better golden brown color this way.

When all the pork is seared, transfer it to a stockpot or large saucepan. Add a little chicken stock to the sauté pan you used to sear the pork. This will deglaze the pan, making your cooking liquid that much more flavorful.

Add all the chicken stock to the pot with the pork, and add the tomatoes and white wine/saffron mixture as well.

Set the pot on medium-high heat to bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Continue to cook for 3 to 4 hours.

When the pork is done, you should be able to easily smash it against the inside of the pot with a wooden spoon or fork.

Remove the finished product from the heat of the stove and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once it’s cool, use your fingers to break up the chunks of pork into smaller strands, then stir in the Calabrian chiles.

When you’re ready to eat, cook 2 pounds of rigatoni in salted boiling water, then strain and toss with the pork ragù until the ragù is hot and covers every noodle.


Kroger’s Home Chef to offer Impossible Burger swap-out option

The Kroger Co.’s Home Chef meal-kit delivery subsidiary has partnered with plant-based food maker Impossible Foods to give customers the option to swap out animal-based proteins.

As part of a new feature called “Customize It,” Chicago-based Home Chef said late Tuesday that, each week, it will offer a selection of meal recipes in which customers can substitute the plant-based Impossible Burger for beef and other meat in meal kits. The Impossible Burger will come in a 12-ounce package of ground plant-based meat.

Currently, Home Chef’s online menu features 19 meals that change weekly, including 15-minute meals, oven-ready meals, entrée salads and grill-ready meals, along with classic recipes and protein packs.

Examples of meals that will offer the Impossible Burger customization include basil pesto ground beef lettuce wraps with red peppers, cheese tortellini with spicy pork ragout and parmesan 15-minute meal, chipotle BBQ cheddar turkey meatballs, French onion-crusted beef meatloaf with peas and peppers oven-ready meal, Hawaiian turkey burger with sriracha-roasted sweet potatoes, mushroom and Swiss beef cavatappi with bacon and green onions 15-minute meal, pork tacos and chili lime slaw oven-ready meal, stroganoff pork meatballs with potatoes and peas oven-ready meal, and Vietnamese pork meatballs in butter lettuce cups.

“With the launch of Impossible, we are providing our customers more ways to enjoy our weekly recipes and be on the forefront of the trend towards eating more plant-based foods,” Pat Vihtelic, founder and CEO of Home Chef, said in a statement.

Home Chef said its Customize It feature gives customers more flexibility by enabling them to swap, upgrade and double up on proteins, add protein to vegetarian meals, and choose how many servings of each recipe. The online service delivers more than 3.5 million meals delivered each month.

Kroger/Home Chef

Kroger stepped up its rollout of Home Chef meal kits to stores last year after acquiring the company in mid-2018.

The flagship product of Impossible Foods, the plant-based Impossible Burger is made to cook and taste like ground beef. The Redwood City, Calif.-based company said the product can be substituted easily in any recipe with ground beef from cows. In a home usage study conducted for Impossible Foods, 70% of consumers who cooked with Impossible Burger thought the taste was comparable to or better than ground beef from cows, and 77% thought it sizzled like ground beef from cows. Each 4-ounce serving of Impossible Burger has 19 grams of protein, 0 mg of cholesterol, 14 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat and is high in iron and made without antibiotics or animal hormones, according to Impossible Foods.

“We’ve long intended to make the Impossible Burger available anywhere that food is sold, including through meal kits,” commented Dan Greene, senior vice president of U.S. sales at Impossible Foods. “We’re thrilled to share that the Impossible Burger is now on the Home Chef menu, so that cooks everywhere can conveniently try out new recipes with our delicious meat made from plants.”

Yesterday, Impossible Foods reported that it has expanded its grocery store footprint by more than thirtyfold since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and the company is on track to boost its retail availability by fiftyfold in 2020.

As of March, the Impossible Burger was sold in 150 grocery stores, but now the product is on shelves at more than 5,000 grocery stores in 48 continental U.S. states, including such supermarket banners as Kroger, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Gelson’s Market, Safeway, Vons and Wegmans.

The Impossible Burger rolled out to more than 1,700 Kroger Co. stores under 15 banners in 28 states in early May. And last month, Ahold Delhaize USA’s Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s and Stop & Shop supermarkets began selling Impossible Burger.

Plans call for the product to launch at more retailers over the summer, Impossible Foods said. The Impossible Burger made its retail debut in September 2019, at all 27 outlets of Gelson’s Markets in Southern California.

In 2019, the U.S. market for plant-based foods reached $5 billion, up 11.4% year over year, according to the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and The Good Food Institute. Plant-based meat was the second-largest category and one of the fastest-growing segments, totaling sales of $939 million, up 18.4% from 2018.

Last week, PBFA and Kroger said a pilot program showed that sales of plant-based meat rose 23% when those products were merchandised in the conventional meat section.


Red Rooster Overtown, Miami

Chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson’s second U.S. Red Rooster location follows the elevated comfort food lead of the Harlem original but with some Magic City sparkle. The design pays tribute to this historically Black, Latino, and Caribbean neighborhood, from framed pages from The Negro Motorist Green Book on its walls to the patio space built around the 30-foot-tall tamarind tree that’s been a community landmark for decades. Even the famous yardbird fried chicken gets a Miami welcome with a tropical sour-orange honey sauce. Let the sunshine vibes reign. — Nila Do Simon

Happy Paradise dishes out Cantonese food in a cool Hong Kong setting.


'Recipe for Deception,' a Cooking Competition for Liars, Hits Bravo January 21

Bravo, the network home to a seemingly never-ending lineup of Real Housewives installations as well as Top Chef, has a premiere date for its newest cooking competition series: Recipe for Deception — which basically sounds like Chopped for compulsive liars — will debut Thursday, January 21 at 10 p.m. EST/PST. The show will be hosted by none other than comedian Max Silvestri, Eater's former Top Chef recapper (and one-time Top Chef: The Cruise attendee).

The show has a somewhat confusing premise: Each episode, four new chefs will go head-to-head for three rounds of competition in which they must utilize a secret ingredient to compose an original dish. In just the sort of sadistic twist that reality TV fans live for, the chefs won't actually know which secret ingredient their dish must include, but their competitors will.

Each chef will be tasked with figuring out the identity of the secret ingredient while there's still time to incorporate it into the dish to do this, the show will fall back on the old game "Two Truths and a Lie," which is probably a thing kids used to play back before there were smartphones and cable TV. As a Bravo press release explains, "competing chefs ask each other three 'yes or no' questions to determine what their mystery component is, and their opponent answers strategically with two truthful answers and one outright lie."

Confused? Great, so is everyone else. To further complicate matters, eliminated competitors will potentially be able to claw their way back "by trading potentially valuable information about the undisclosed ingredient for a chance at the $10,000 prize."

If watching people deceive one another isn't enough to get you to tune in, perhaps a couple star-studded special episodes will be: A special episode featuring Top Chef Masters alums Lorena Garcia, Rick Moonen, Art Smith, and Bryan Voltaggio is set to air January 28, and a "celebrity chef" episode airing February 25 will include Coolio and Lou Diamond Phillips, among others.

Watch a completely over-the-top sneak preview of Recipe for Deception, below:


Top Chef Swap Will Debut with Chicago Masters - Recipes

Bring the World Into Your Kitchen With These Michelin-Star Cookbooks

These books offer a glimpse into the culinary genius behind some of the world's best restaurants.

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In 1889, auto industry magnates Andre and Edouard Michelin came up with an innovative marketing tool to sell tires: they began publishing travel guides and maps to promote road tourism. By the 1920s, the guide had evolved from an advertising ploy into an authoritative dining guide. The brothers seized the opportunity and hired a team of “mystery diners” who secretly reviewed restaurants and awarded stars to the best of them. Today, Michelin guides remain a trusted source for gourmands around the globe.

Here are eight cookbooks that will help you channel the culinary genius of Michelin-star restaurateurs at home.


The 17 Most Tearjerking Restaurant Shutters of 2014

Bid a fond farewell to these restaurants, gone too soon.

Every year, Eater takes a moment to remember the restaurants that gracefully bowed out of the game over the past calendar year — and as in years past, 2014 marked the unexpected closure of many decades-old favorites. This year, a few trends emerged. Acclaimed chefs (New York City's Wylie Dufresne ) and third-generation restaurateurs (the Bozzi family of LA's Palm Restaurant ) on both coasts lost their iconic spaces due to neighborhood development, but were able to give fans advance notice in the hospitality equivalent of a "farewell tour." Michelin-starred restaurateurs and big-name chefs, including Daniel Patterson and Chris Cosentino, closed years-old restaurants in favor of more casual concepts.

And some examples — like Chicago's Hot Doug's and Seattle's Paseo — revealed how an entire city could come together to recognize the culinary imprint left by a hot dog or sandwich. All will be missed.

'inoteca, New York City
2004-February 8, 2014
Restaurateur Jason Denton's once-bustling 'ino Group suffered two major losses in the past 20 months: Less than one year after his 15-year-old flagship panini shop 'ino called it quits in the West Village, Denton shuttered his beloved Italian wine bar 'inoteca in early winter of this year. The restaurant had been credited with ushering in the Lower East Side, providing a late-night spot where diners could snack on tramezzini — alongside just-got-off-shift chefs and visiting celebrities — until 3a.m. During its final week, guests lined up around the block for their final taste.

Pastis, New York City
1999-February 28, 2014 (temporary)
By late 2013, restaurateur Keith McNally confirmed he would have to temporarily close his legendary Meatpacking District spot, Pastis, so "that our landlord can proceed with his renovation and expansion of the building." But the restaurant's year-long hiatus has extended into the "indefinite" territory, with rumors swirling throughout the year that McNally will, in fact, not be able to re-open in the Pastis's former space. By October, McNally confirmed that the restaurant would indeed be moving to an as-yet-unconfirmed location in the Meatpacking District, which will hopefully recreate the iconic brasserie vibe of the original. Projected opening: late 2016.

Incanto, San Francisco
2002-March 24, 2014
Long before offal was showing up on every restaurant menu, chef Chris Cosentino was pioneering the off-cuts at his San Francisco restaurant Incanto. But after 12 years, Cosentino and partner Mark Pastore announced the restaurant would close to make way for the more-casual Porcellino. (In an interview with ISSF, Pastore said the new concept would better "service the neighborhood" than the restaurant, which remained one of the city's most difficult-to-get tables.) But Porcellino didn't stick, either: It closed earlier this month, after just six months in business.

Photos: Palena, Lopez/Eater DC Fleur de Lys, Facebook

Palena, Washington, DC
2001-April 26, 2014
James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Ruta was forced to close his Washington, DC restaurant Palena (and its adjacent cafe and coffee shop) after 13 years, marking what Eater DC called "one of the saddest restaurant closings in recent years." The Palena cafe's roast chicken and namesake burger were among DC's iconic dishes, and the restaurant community expressed its grief in an outpouring of appreciation for Ruta and fond memories of their dining experiences. "The real testimony to Frank and Palena was simply how it brought a community together," said one Palena veteran. "DC is a lesser place for not having it any longer."

Fleur de Lys, San Francisco
1970-June 28, 2014
After 28 years as chef/partner, Hubert Keller closed up his San Francisco fine-dining restaurant Fleur de Lys, credited as one of the "first chef-driven restaurants" in the country. The once-groundbreaking restaurant — exemplified by Keller's all-vegetarian tasting menu, considered among the first — had faded of late, with the restaurant stripped of its Michelin star in 2012. (Founder Maurice Rouas, who opened the restaurant in 1970, died in 2012.) In a farewell statement, Keller wrote that "we have decided it's time to turn a page in our lives" with the closure of the restaurant, which still exists in the form a casual Vegas spin-off, Fleur.

Revel Casino & Resort, Atlantic City, NJ
2012-September 2, 2014
When the Revel Casino & Resort was conceptualized, it was supposed to be a landmark for the struggling beach community of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Chefs Marc Forgione, Alain Allegretti, and Jose Garces all quickly signed on, and hopes surged that the property would become a bona fide dining destination. (Garces went all-in on the casino, opening three concepts and adding two more by summer 2013.) But between the ongoing recession and Hurricane Sandy, which came ashore in late 2012, the ambition was ill-timed. Less than a year after its debut, the casino filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, officially calling it quits in September of this year. The $2.4 billion property never turned a profit, and Forgione, Garces, and other restaurateurs were unceremoniously sent packing.

Plum / Ume, San Francisco
September 2010-May 2014 May 2014-September 2014
Michelin-starred chef Daniel Patterson shook up his Bay Area empire in a major way this year. In May, Patterson announced Oakland's Plum restaurant would be revamped into the more casual Ume, under the guidance of onetime Outerlands chef Brett Cooper. (Next door, Plum's popular cocktail partner Plum Bar remained open, business as usual.) But less than four months later, Patterson abruptly shuttered the new concept, choosing to expand Plum Bar into the space. The restaurant is now open as Plum Bar + Restaurant.

Palm Restaurant, LA
1964-September 30, 2014
West Hollywood's iconic Palm Restaurant became a victim of neighborhood redevelopment earlier this year, ending the steakhouse's 40-year run as a power-lunch destination for the rich and famous. Although it's already moved into a new $4 million Beverly Hills location, many are still mourning the loss of its famous murals, featuring caricatures of everyone from Joe Namath to Leo DiCaprio to Barbara Eden. According to Bruce Bozzi Jr., whose great-grandfather co-founded the restaurant, the caricatures were removed and gifted to their subjects.

Hot Doug's final day. Photo: Paul Callan/Flickr

Hot Doug's, Chicago
2001-October 3, 2014
On May 6, Doug Sohn announced he would close his iconic hot dog spot Hot Doug's by October, and the reaction was swift and somber. (Chef Rick Bayless, speaking to Eater Chicago, summed up Sohn's influence thusly: "Doug made hot dogs modern, and in doing so he also made Chicago more modern. It's no coincidence that people started paying more attention to Chicago's food after he opened.") After endless interviews and think pieces, Hot Doug's final day drew more than 500 fans standing in line before it even opened. Sohn himself placed the final order at 6:35p.m. October 3, marking the end of an era.

Photos: Hamersley's Bistro, Bingham/Eater Boston Dog & Duck Pub, McCarron/EATX Red Medicine, Daniels/Eater LA

Hamersley's Bistro, Boston
1987-October 27, 2014
Hamersley's Bistro, a longtime member of Boston's Eater 38, closed up shop this fall after a nearly three-decade run of serving up duck confit and its iconic roasted chicken — the latter most famously enjoyed by Julia Child, a onetime mentor of chef/owner Gordon Hamersley. In a tribute published in Boston Magazine, noted food writer Corby Kummer compared the chef to Boston's equivalent of Alice Waters, calling Hamersley's "the best restaurant in Boston, both because and in spite of the fact that it never set out to be."

Red Medicine, Los Angeles
2010-October 31, 2014
Since his Beverly Hills restaurant opened in 2010, chef Jordan Kahn has received accolades for what Eater LA hailed as his "New Nordic [cuisine] through the lens of Asian ingredients." So when Kahn announced the restaurant's sale this fall — citing "new building ownership and the accompanying overhead cost increases" — many were surprised by the abrupt closure. Although Red Medicine will perhaps be best remembered for refusing to serve LA Times critic S. Irene Virbila back in 2010, many, including critic Jonathan Gold, praised the restaurant for its "punk rock" attitude and its rare late-night hours.

The Dog & Duck Pub, Austin
1990-October 31, 2014
Sometimes, the loss of a beloved neighborhood bar stings the most, and many Austinites felt that pain when University of Texas's "campus institution" Dog & Duck announced it'd be forced to relocate after 24 years downtown. In a bit of good news, D&D's owners will move the bar to East Austin, with plans to re-open as soon as January 2015. But as many regulars point out, the new space — without D&D's familiar pressed-tin ceiling and covered back patio — will simply not be the same.

Bistro à Champlain, Montreal
1987-November 2, 2014
Montreal's legendary restaurateur/wine enthusiast Champlain Charest announced his retirement in September of this year, and his beloved 27-year-old restaurant Bistro à Champlain officially closed in early November. (Au Pied de Cochon chef Martin Picard was among the spot's final guests.) Charest originally purchased the bistro space in 1974 but debuted Bistro in 1987 — where his wine collection, once numbering more than 38,000 bottles, fueled the cuisine. Upon Bistro's closure, Charest transferred 19,000 of the restaurant's bottles to the nearby Estérel Resort, which plans to open a "Champlain Charest wine cellar" in tribute. But in an unfortunate twist, a "warehouse snafu" by the Quebec alcohol commission resulted in the spoiling of 450 bottles of wine. Charest, in his retirement, remained zen, telling Eater Montreal: "The collection belongs to the SAQ now. It's up to them to store and sell the bottles as they see fit."

Paseo, Seattle
1993-November 11, 2014 (temporary)
Since November, Seattle sandwich fans have been chronicling the saga of the beloved Caribbean sandwich shop Paseo, which abruptly shuttered its two locations after 21 years. After reports that its owners filed for bankruptcy just one day later, fans launched a failed Kickstarter attempt to revive the restaurant, then were bailed out by a new owner, Ryan Santwire, who purchased the restaurant (without its recipes). Santwire says he's re-hiring some of Paseo's original chefs to help recreate the recipes when the restaurant is resurrected next year.

50, New York City
April 2003-November 30, 2014
No 2014 closure rippled through the restaurant industry more deeply than the shutter of wd

50, chef Wylie Dufresne's temple to modernist cooking that opened back in 2003. In June, Dufresne confirmed that wd

50's Lower East Side space would be demolished to make way for a multi-million-dollar new development, causing a rush on tickets to the final series of dinners. In the restaurant's final weeks, fellow chefs Daniel Patterson, David Chang, Daniel Boulud, and others stopped in and paid their respects to Dufresne and his team. Dufresne plans to re-open wd

50 in an as-yet-to-be-found new space in New York City in the meantime, expect a documentary, The Last Days of wd

50, to debut early next year.

Photos: Cat & Fiddle, Facebook L20 and Takashi, Brecheisen/Eater Chicago


The Cat & Fiddle, LA
1982-December 15, 2014
In the mid-eighties, a former musician turned a former movie studio warehouse — where parts of Casablanca were apparently originally filmed — into a landmark Sunset Boulevard restaurant and bar. But in fall 2014, the Cat & Fiddle's owners announced it would be forced to close after its landlord found another tenant willing to pay twice as much for its space and gorgeous outdoor patio. Before the bar's final day on December 15, Eater LA bestowed the Cat & Fiddle with a 2014 Eater Award for "Saddest Shutter of the Year."

L20, Chicago
2008-December 31, 2014
There's something weird going on with Chicago's Michelin-starred restaurants. Less than a year after the Michelin-starred Graham Elliot called its quits, the city's two-Michelin starred L20, originally founded by acclaimed chef Laurent Gras, announced it would close by the end of the year. (Gras left the restaurant in 2010, announcing his departure literally the day after Michelin granted L20 a three-star rating.) According to its current owners at the Lettuce Entertain You group, the seafood-focused tasting-menu restaurant shuttered this year for "financial" reasons, and will be replaced by a more accessible concept. The new restaurant, Intro, will feature a rotating line-up of guest chefs when it opens in February 2015.

. plus one bonus #18 shutter, coming just after the New Year:

Takashi, Chicago
2007-January 2015
Chef Takashi Yagihashi's eponymous restaurant became Chicago's second Michelin-starred restaurant to announce a closure in 2014. The onetime Top Chef Masters contestant told the Chicago Tribune the shutter was due to a "personal decision" and desire to focus on his other concepts. Although Takashi's final day was originally scheduled for this New Year's Eve, high demand for its final "greatest hits" omakase menu led the chef to extend his last service until January 3, 2015.


Brilliant chicken recipes for anyone who hates doing the dishes

Whether you like cooking, love it or are indifferent to the task, most of us can agree that washing a lot of pots and pans after dinner is a drag. Wouldn’t it instead be easier if there were really only one? One skillet or one Dutch oven, one sheet pan, one pot? Wouldn’t that be great? Imagine the ease of it, to come home from work and turn on the oven, line a sheet pan with foil or parchment, tip onto it some vegetables, some protein, some aromatics and sauce: Dinner, nothing else required! That’s why the editors of NYT Cooking have put together this modest (and beautiful), wide-ranging (and tightly focused) collection of recipes devoted to the celebration of one-vessel cooking, on the stovetop and in the oven. They come from the stars of our universe: Melissa Clark, Alison Roman, Julia Moskin, Ali Slagle, David Tanis, Tejal Rao, Yewande Komolafe, Colu Henry, Joan Nathan, Kay Chun — even me! The majority will deliver a whole meal in a single pot, pan or skillet, full stop. For others, you’ll need to add only a vegetable or starchy side dish if you desire one, a salad, a basket of bread. There are vegetarian situations, and vegan ones too, lots of fish, plenty of chicken, plenty of stew. The only constant among them is our desire to make cooking easier (and wildly delicious) and to deliver you from the sadness of a sink filled with dishes.

— SAM SIFTON, founding editor of NYT Cooking

CHICKEN WITH SHALLOTS AND GRAPES

This Colu Henry recipe is simple enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve at a dinner party. Marinate some chicken thighs in garlic, olive oil and za’atar, if you have any, while your oven gets hot. Then, roast them on a sheet pan alongside thick wedges of shallots and sweet grapes, whose flavors are gently coaxed together and deepened by the chicken fat as they cook. Serve straight from the pan, or move everything over to a platter.


America's new culinary renaissance

We're becoming a nation of food fanatics, signing up for cooking classes, turning into gourmets in the kitchen, and making dining in or out the equivalent of a cultural event. Is America the new France?

The clumps of cauliflower clouds suddenly part and a wash of sunshine engulfs the expectant crowd in an outdoor amphitheater here. It's a setting that would be spectacular even without the solar arrival: a fruit and vegetable garden on an island in a small lake in the Chicago Botanic Garden, where beds of alfalfa and garlic grow in sculptured rows.

The crowd of at least 150 people eagerly awaits the day's entertainment. Three rows from the front, a woman in black with sunglasses the size of headlights arrives early and sits between two seats saved with terra-cotta pots. Nearby, a young man checks the settings on his impressive-looking camera. In the front row, a retired physician passes the time with a thick book of crossword puzzles, glancing up occasionally at the stage.

Finally, a host introduces the featured act, Roger Waysok, who strides forward and, after a burst of applause, begins his performance . creating a barley, feta, and tomato salad with fresh mint.

"All the fresh ingredients in here, I am passionate about," says Mr. Waysok, the executive chef of Chicago's South Water Kitchen restaurant, his knife poised over a red onion.

The chef series that runs from May to October at the botanical garden here draws hundreds of people each week. But it could be a demonstration held in almost any venue in America. In a land of fads and social movements, from fitness to feminism, now comes a new one – food.

America is, quite simply, fascinated by food in a way it never has been. We have become a nation of "foodies" who celebrate, debate, pursue, and show off knowledge of what we eat and how to make it. We're watching food shows endlessly on TV. We're enrolling in cooking classes in record numbers. We're loading our shelves with cookbooks and our e-mail with recipes for salt-crusted snapper. Our new celebrities aren't LeBron James or Julia Roberts. They're Bobby Flay and Southern food queen Paula Deen. In short, we have become something of a Sous-Chef Nation.

"We are witnessing the Italian Renaissance in food … an intellectual elevation that is turned into something durable through media," says Krishnendu Ray, a food and nutrition expert at New York University. "The world of food today is exactly how the world of literature and painting evolved."

Really – nouvelle meatloaf as the Mona Lisa?

Not exactly. What he means is that painting started with artists producing images on canvas. Then people began buying paintings, critics began critiquing them, and soon an entire culture had sprung up around art. Today food is creating a similar buzz – people, young and old alike, are trying to become Botticellis of braised short ribs and then celebrating it with friends, reveling in the experience of mastering the art of cumin.

Cooking, in other words, is no longer just something your mother does to put dinner on the table. It's a vehicle to express creativity, forge social connections, articulate what we have learned from other cultures, and in some cases save the environment.

"Food has become an entire lifestyle," says author Christopher Powell, who helped launch the kitchen retailer icon Williams-Sonoma. "It's no longer just about preparation or consumption.

The transformation of food from kitchen to cultural phenomenon is evident everywhere. Farmers' markets and gourmet food trucks have proliferated across the country. Urban hipsters now preserve their own jams. Suburbanites are raising chickens so they can have fresh eggs. The most mundane fare – from hamburgers to cupcakes – has been turned into haute cuisine. Has anyone not had French fries made in duck fat yet? Cuisine is even popular on the big screen, from the dramatic ("Julie & Julia") to the animated ("Ratatouille").

Roger Hand, a retired doctor who attends the botanical chef series here every week, recounts how he recently attended a Shakespearean play and was surprised to find Elizabethan-Era recipes on sale in the lobby. "Going to see 'As You Like It,' I didn't think I'd come home with a cookbook," he says.

What's behind the new food culture, and are Americans really eating better as a result?

On a Friday evening in Cambridge, Mass., 10 people listen intently to Dave Ramsey, an instructor at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, explain the basics of using an industrial kitchen: Don't touch the outsides of the ovens (they are hot) carry knives pointed downward at all times and most of all – have fun. The group is made up of friends, spouses, and soon-to-be-marrieds. It's a Spanish cooking class for couples.

Within minutes, the students, wrapped in white aprons, scurry off to separate workstations. Half the room begins chopping garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, and parsley, as well as slicing baguettes, zesting lemons, and peeling potatoes. The other half works over a bank of stainless-steel stoves. Together, the group is creating a multicourse Spanish meal, from gazpacho Andaluz to crema Catalana, in three hours.

For one of the couples, Peter and Trese Ainsworth of Needham, Mass., this is their first cooking class. Mr. Ainsworth, a lawyer, professes that he is a relatively new convert to the kitchen – but a passionate one. When a favorite Italian restaurant in his neighborhood, Sweet Basil, published a cookbook a few years ago, he felt as if he had been given the "keys to the universe." He taught himself to make stocks and sauces. Now he prepares a big family meal every Sunday.

It doesn't end there. He built a raised-bed garden in order to grow his own tomatoes, herbs, and carrots, and regularly watches the Food Network with his two teenage daughters. "I look forward to cooking. It relaxes me," he says.

His rationale for taking up a chef's knife after wrestling with legal briefs all day explains why many people are spending more time in the kitchen: It's something that virtually anyone can do – and it's satisfying. It is a form of self-expression and status, entertainment and education.

In an age of a service economy and pervasive cubicle culture, many people who spend a lot of time glaring at com-puters find cooking a way to create something tangible. In that sense, the interest in cooking parallels the rise of other "hands on" movements that attempt to balance the virtual world with throwback skills, such as laying your own sheetrock and knitting.

Some people, too, are attracted to cooking as a sort of rebellion against the McDonaldization of America and what they see as the tasteless, processed products of an industrialized food system. "I live alone and can't stand prepared food, so I've learned to cook fairly elaborately for one," says Mr. Hand, whose repertoire includes Wiener schnitzel, polenta, and bouillabaisse. "It's an art."

Like any art, it takes considerable skills to master, which is where the guidance and ingredients of others comes in. In the past year, sales of "cooking/entertainment" books have jumped 4 percent in the United States, while all other categories of adult nonfiction dropped 2 percent, reports Nielsen BookScan, which compiles statistics for the publishing industry.

Classes for both the hobbyist and serious chef are thriving. Enrollment in the gastronomy program at Boston University has tripled in the past three years. "A lot of them don't want to go to culinary school and become a line cook, but they want to do something [meaningful] with food and education," says Rachel Black, the coordinator of the program, which was started by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin in the 1980s.

Le Cordon Bleu, which operates 17 culinary institutes in the US, reported a 20 percent increase in students in 2010. In San Francisco, a venture called Hands On Gourmet, which teaches clients to cook through private and corporate parties, now reaches almost 5,000 people a year.

"A lot of people who come through our doors don't know how to cook, but most people want to learn," says chef Stephen Gibbs, who runs Hands On Gourmet. "When they learn how to make their own Indian or Thai curries . they say, 'holy moley, I just made that?' They are flabbergasted."

The proliferation of new media is adding to the foodie culture. No longer do you have to thumb through some Italian cookbook you may or may not have to find the best way to make shrimp fra diavolo. You can find as many recipes as you want – for the novice or gourmand – with the click of a mouse. Want to know something as mundane as how long it takes to boil an egg? Type the query into Google's search engine and you'll get 40,600,000 suggestions in less than one second.

Something more obscure? Try vichyssoise, a seasonal soup, usually served cold, that is made of scallions or leeks, potatoes, and cream. An online search will yield 640,000 hits, including a debate over the soup's origin (best guess: either a French chef or one at New York's Ritz Carlton in the early 1900s).

If finding a recipe and a little sociology behind it isn't enough, you can always register with Foodista.com, an online cooking encyclopedia, where you can post your own recipes and have others rate – or edit – them. Foodista now has 20,000 registered users, 110,000 Twitter followers, and 25,000 Facebook fans.

"People have always talked about food," says NYU's Professor Ray. "The difference is, with [the proliferation of] new media, the conversation is now reaching everyone all the time."

And it isn't just talking. The ease of publishing has given rise to legions of food bloggers who swap not only favorite recipes but also personal narratives centered around their creations in the kitchen. Many digital cameras now include a "food setting" that enables online foodies to capture the wisp of steam, the sheen of oil, and the flecks of pepper on their plate of grilled asparagus, all in high focus.

"We connect so many emotions and memories around food," says Elisa Camahort Page, cofounder and chief operating officer of BlogHer, a blog platform whose food-related pages receive 11 million unique visitors a month. "[Through blogs] you learn from places, people, cultures, and classes that you might have never encountered in regular life."

Yet the biggest driver of America's current fascination with food is not coming from new media but a decidedly old one – television. Two Food Network channels now pump out programming 24 hours a day, producing a mind-numbing 190 shows. Other series can be found all over the clicker, from Bravo's popular "Top Chef Masters," to efforts by the bigger networks to tap into the food craze – with decidedly mixed success – with shows such as "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" (ABC), "Hell's Kitchen" (Fox), and "America's Next Great Restaurant" (which NBC is dropping after only one season).

None of these, mind you, is Julia Child showing you how to make sole bonne femme in a harpsichord voice. The emphasis today is on entertainment and, increasingly, sport. Series such as "Iron Chef" and "Chopped" pit chefs against chefs in a battle of the clock and creativity in using a "secret" ingredient or everyday food items. "Best in Smoke" is a similar joust among barbecue pitmasters. Even bakers clash pans in "Cupcake Wars" and "Last Cake Standing." It's all a bit like the Red Sox versus the Yankees with oven instead of baseball mitts.

"So much food TV is really sports – watching people do awesome things," says Ray.

Many people are tuning in. Merrill Feather of Cambridge, Mass., and her friends love to watch Paula Deen, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," and "The Great Food Truck Race." For the past two years, she and her fiancé, Keith Richey, have hosted Oscar-watching parties with movie-themed dishes such as "Tuna Avatartar," "The King's Peach Cobbler," and "True Grits." Last year a group of them even created a fantasy draft for "Top Chef."

Food aficionados insist all this is creating a generation of people more literate about cooking and cuisine. "People 'get' food now – they understand the value and they want to know more," says Kay Logsdon, editor in chief of the FoodChannel.com, an Internet-based cooking resource. "People are looking for information to 'help make me a better cook, give me tips, answer my in-depth questions, give me direct access to a chef.' "

It has also made cooking glamorous. Cooks used to toil in anonymity behind portal-windowed kitchen doors. Now many of them have become celebrities, spending as much time on talk shows and in TV commercials as they do on menus (or, in the case of Paula Deen, being grand marshal of the most recent Rose Parade in January).

Even more workaday chefs are being asked to come out from behind their colanders. People want to know their lineage – where they've worked and for whom. They've become public figures as much as purveyors of parsley.

"Before if you wanted to be a chef, you had to know how to cut and cook," says Waysok, the chef putting on the demonstration at Chicago's botanical garden. "Now all of sudden you have to have a personality and talk to people, too."

While a nation of foodies may seem like a recent phenomenon, many see it evolving out of a much deeper food revolution. James Beard introduced the American public to the idea that food could be "gourmet" in the 1950s. The indomitable Ms. Child began tutoring us on French cooking in the 1960s.

Alice Waters – the grand dame of the "slow food" movement – started declaring the benefits of locally grown goods in Berkeley, Calif., in the 1970s. Her work continues to be influential today, including in the efforts of first lady Michelle Obama to bring healthy foods to inner-city communities.

The "eat fresh" movement, in turn, has contributed to making food more than something you just consume at the dinner table. It has elevated it to a lifestyle. More people now grow their own herbs and vegetables, whether in rooftop gardens or in backyard plots such as Mr. Ainsworth's in Needham. Farmers' markets are flourishing. Last year, more than 6,100 of them operated across the country, according to the US Department of Agriculture – a 16 percent increase over the year before.

"Locally grown food" and "in season" ingredients are the rage among restaurants in every region, too. Some of them even host "farm to table" events where patrons can meet the farmer who grew the beets marinating in vinaigrette on their salad plate. The idea is to create not just a meal but an experience. (A "farm dinner" held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, as a fundraiser, costs $200 a person.)

Ana Sortun and her husband, Chris Kurth, epitomize the growing trend. She is the head chef and owner of a restaurant and bakery in Cambridge, Mass. The Eastern Mediterranean cuisine she serves at Oleana has earned her a James Beard award and a spot on "Top Chef Masters." In addition to writing a cookbook, she and her staff offer cooking and baking classes at Sofra, her bakery.

The flavors and spices that form the basis of her cuisine are enhanced by the fresh produce she gets delivered each day from a familiar source – her husband. He runs a 50-acre organic plot, Siena Farms, which produces enough carrots, radishes, and other food to supply restaurants, farm stands, and a 300-member community agricultural group in the Boston area. Theirs is a marriage of local produce and worldly flavors. "We are ingredient seekers," says Ms. Sortun. "Forget that we love farmers and it's good for the environment and all that stuff. The main reason we [use locally grown food] is because it tastes better."

All of which raises a basic question: Is America really advancing as a culinary – and eating – culture as a result of the latest fascination with food? Probably yes and no.

Certainly not everyone is turning into an Emeril Lagasse. Americans still spend 49 percent of their food budgets on eating out, estimates the National Restaurant Association, an unhealthy portion of which goes toward Whoppers and Big Macs.

Moreover, fixing a good meal at home, or getting one in a restaurant – particularly if using fresh, locally grown ingredients – can be expensive, leading some critics to argue that much of the latest food craze is really one of a relatively few elites.

And even if people are buying beautiful in-season produce because they feel it lessens their carbon footprint or supports local jobs, that doesn't always mean they know what to do with their weekly allotment of Swiss chard and fingerling potatoes from the community farm.

"We get excited about what looks beautiful, like purple carrots, and that's fascinating," says Deborah Madison, a chef and cookbook author in Santa Fe, N.M. "But you need to understand vegetable families and why things reside in them."

The preoccupation of many with watching cooking shows on TV raises its own set of questions. Many critics level the same charges against them that they do against television in general: They make us passive – observers of, rather than participants in, life, in this case actually cooking.

"Most people don't want to spend the time cooking," says Mark Kurlansky, bestselling author of "Cod," "Salt," and "The Food of Younger Land." "They are buying frozen gourmet from Trader Joe's, or ordering in, or going out to eat, or buying from places that make premade meals."

Nor does the speed at which things happen on cooking shows – in half-hour segments, with an emphasis on competition – really reflect what actually happens in a kitchen, particularly among professionals. "TV has had a positive and negative effect on the culinary world," says Waysok. "The positive is that everyone wants to be the next Gordon Ramsay, and the negative side is that people think being a chef means yelling a lot and throwing things around the kitchen."

Still, a growing number of Americans today are becoming more sophisticated cooks and consumers of food. They are more skilled in their own kitchens, and, when they go out, they are dining in restaurants with a new generation of adventurous chefs. Is America the new Italy? No. But neither is it the era of Hamburger Helper.

Now all we have to do is make sure we don't obsess about it too much. As Trese Ainsworth put it when the family gave Peter the cooking class for a 40th birthday gift: "We signed him up for a karate class, just to keep things in balance."


The Best Flavor Combos for Boozy Pies

McDonald’s favorite boozy pie is a chocolate mousse pie made with Frangelico and topped with toasted hazelnuts. “It’s the ultimate Nutella-like dessert,” she says. You also can’t go wrong with pecan pie spiked with classic bourbon, especially during the holidays, she adds.

Liqueurs such as Kahlúa and Bailey’s Irish Cream are always good flavor pairings with chocolate, says Lam. She also likes amaretto with apple, mulled wine, and pears, and bourbon with maple or pumpkin.

If you’re stumped on what flavor combination to try, simply follow this advice from pastry chef Ann Kirk at Little Dom’s in Los Angeles: “Think about your favorite cocktail and what its flavors are. Then make it into a pie!”