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Special Sauce with Ed Levine

Serious Eats' podcast Special Sauce enables food lovers everywhere to eavesdrop on an intimate conversation about food and life between host and Serious Eats founder Ed Levine and his well-known/famous friends and acquaintances both in and out of the food culture.
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Special Sauce with Ed Levine
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Aug 25, 2016

On this week's Special Sauce, John Stage, founder of the insanely popular barbecue mini-chain Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, reveals the unusual way he discovered his calling. Growing up, Stage had a soft spot for his mother's Italian-American cooking, especially her lasagna; his father, Stage tells us with a chuckle, was the one who taught him to drink. But he didn't take an interest in cooking for a living until he ran afoul of the law at age 18.

Aug 19, 2016

Serious Eats' pastry expert, Stella Parks, a.k.a. BraveTart, is so disarmingly charming as our guest on Special Sauce, you'll undoubtedly fall in love with her the way all of us have. After attending the Culinary Institute of America, working in restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky, and living in Japan, Stella now has her hands full with testing and writing Serious Eats' dessert recipes while she finishes her upcoming cookbook, titled BraveTart after her online moniker.

Aug 11, 2016

In the middle of part 2 of Danny Meyer's interview on Special Sauce comes a shocking admission. In 2001 the first incarnation of the enterprise that became the global phenomenon Shake Shack was a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park that was part of an art project featuring two taxi cabs. Did Meyer have any idea that that hot dog cart would eventually become a publicly traded global phenomenon? On this episode you'll also hear about the origins of Blue Smoke, and how he has managed to forgive me for the post I wrote titled, "Why do the French fries at Blue Smoke Suck?"

Aug 4, 2016

In this week's episode of Special Sauce-the first of two parts-we talk about how Meyer came to see the pursuit of restaurant-experience perfection as anathema to his own business, and take a look at his five founding principles of hospitality. I could tell you what they are here, but then you might not listen to this extraordinary episode.

Jul 28, 2016

On this week's Special Sauce, Roy Choi told me that his new California-based fast food concept, LocoL, is merely trying to change the world, one mostly-meat burger at a time. 

Jul 21, 2016

This week's especial Special Sauce episode (I know that's redundant, but it rolls off the tongue) again features my runnin' and eatin' partner, Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats' managing culinary director and the author of the New York Times best seller The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.

Together, we answered some great questions from curious callers. Can someone learn to love calf's liver? (Maybe with a little liver therapy, administered by phone.) How can you get your homemade pizza sauce to be as good as the stuff at the best pizzerias? And how can you slow-cook ground beef without making it tough? Between Kenji's cooking (and punning) expertise and my eating (and kibbitzing) experience, we managed to come up with answers that we think you'll find both helpful and amusing.

Jul 14, 2016

This week's episode of Special Sauce is, well, special. Inspired by <em>Car Talk</em>, one of our all-time favorite radio shows, we did a call-in session featuring Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats' managing culinary director and the best-selling author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. 

We tried to answer the thoughtful questions of three passionate, discerning cooks with humor (you'll hear how Kenji once made me duck testicles in one of his many cast iron pans), humility, and grace (the hallmarks of Car Talk), and I hope we succeeded. The subjects we tackled included the care and use of cast iron pans (we'll call it cast iron pan therapy), as well as what kind of hot dogs a Minneapolis-based chef should serve for his hot dog cart passion project. Finally, Kenji and I coached a Boston-based barbecue aficionado on how to get the best possible results when cooking brisket in a convection oven. 

Jul 7, 2016

I used to think of Le Bernardin chef-restaurateur Eric Ripert as a smart, impossibly charming and handsome chef's chef. But between interviewing him for Special Sauce and reading his moving and evocative memoir 32 Yolks, I've since realized that there's a lot more to the man than what we see on Top Chef and his own Emmy Award-winning show, Avec Eric. 

Jul 2, 2016

The multiple-Beard-Award-winner and proprietor of 19 Seattle restaurants is whip-smart, even though his mother has never forgiven him for being the only one of her eight children not to go to college. Tom's also funny, opinionated, and generously spirited. What more could a podcast host ask for in a guest? In this episode, Tom explains why he's never opened a restaurant outside Seattle (it's not for lack of opportunities), why he opted to pay his employees a living wage long before it became the law there, and why he named one of his newest restaurants after singer Brandi Carlile.

Jun 24, 2016

Family businesses are hard. Family food businesses that have lasted four generations, like the New York appetizing emporium Russ & Daughters, are practically unicorns. So, when I had a chance to have Niki Russ Federman and Joshua Russ Tupper on Special Sauce, I jumped at it. 

Jun 17, 2016

Ed Levine first met Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez eight years ago, when he happened upon her and her mother selling handmade tortillas at a tiny farmers market in West Harlem. Even back then, he could tell that Jessamyn was a force to be reckoned with. She embraces her life's work with equal parts humanity, passion, and focus.

In recent years, Jessamyn's nonprofit and bakery, Hot Bread Kitchen, has been preserving baking traditions from around the world by hiring immigrant women to make the breads of their home countries in the organization's headquarters in Manhattan. Along the way, Hot Bread Kitchen has essentially become a wildly successful job-training program for the thousands of women who have passed through its doors. It's an awe-inspiring operation, and when you listen to this episode of Special Sauce, you'll understand that it takes a force of nature like Jessamyn Rodriguez to undertake this kind of initiative.

Jun 10, 2016

This week's Special Sauce guest, bread baker extraordinaire Jim Lahey, is a man of strong opinions, provocative ideas, and many talents. He's not on the fence about anything. So I figured that if we just gave Jim a mike and let him rip, serious eaters would be in for a treat. It turned out I was right.

You'll hear about how Jim came to bread baking after suffering through 37 bad jobs; how he started his baking business by setting up a folding table in New York's Greenwich Village after baking all night in his barely habitable apartment; and how he happened upon his revolutionary no-knead bread recipe by accident. This year, he was inducted into the JBF's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. So take a listen to this no-holds-barred episode of Special Sauce—at the very least, you shouldn't miss the great baker's Bernie Sanders impression.

May 26, 2016

Roy Blount Jr. is one of the funniest writers on the planet. And he loves to eat, and talk about what he's eaten, so he's a made-to-order guest on Special Sauce. On this week's episode, you'll hear Roy wax poetic about the dangers of eating foam (he's "anti-abstract and pro-substantial" when it comes to food) and why we should all save room for pie, which, not so coincidentally, is the name of his new book.

May 19, 2016

Who knew, in an age of huge magazine companies being sold off like rusty used cars, that you could create a quarterly, delightfully idiosyncratic food magazine and get more than a hundred thousand people to pony up $28 a year to subscribe? On this week's Special Sauce, editor in chief of Lucky Peach, Chris Ying, joins us to discuss food, life, and his remarkable career success.

May 13, 2016

In this episode, we discuss how Dominique Ansel went from army KP duty to the kitchens of Fauchon in Paris (where he arrived in a clunker he bought for $400), to being the pastry chef at New York gastronomic palace Daniel. We also talk about what inspires him to do the impossible in the face of doubt, and why his gut is the only thing he trusts when it comes to running his business. The dessert master also tells us why he considers great vanilla ice cream one thing you're hard-pressed to find.

May 5, 2016

The Sweetgreen team has watched their business grow over the past nine years from a single 500-square-foot storefront location in DC's Georgetown, which they opened when they were still college students, to what will be 60 restaurants nationwide by the end of 2016. How did they pull it off? Jammet tells us that and more in this episode of our podcast.

Apr 28, 2016

In this episode, we get into some Sporkful-inspired debates about the purpose of hot dog buns and the ideal shape of pie. We discuss the divide in the podcasting world, as well as what makes his often contrarian—and always funny—show great.

Apr 21, 2016

In this episode of Special Sauce, Lam and I discuss how he tends to "go for the cheeks" and why his parents are proud of him for doing so. He also talks about how normal it is for writers to hate writing—but why he still encourages aspiring authors to explore their passion for the craft. Finally, Francis and I have a spirited discussion about cultural appropriation and sensitivity in the American food culture.

Apr 14, 2016

Brooks Headley, the punk-rocking, vegetable-whispering owner of Superiority Burger in NYC, says he's "almost insistent upon only being in bands with extremely volatile characters, myself included." In this week's episode of Special Sauce, I talk with Headley, the author of Fancy Desserts, about food and music—the connection between the two obsessions goes way back for him, though he doesn't allow any music in his restaurant kitchen. 

Apr 7, 2016

"Don't start with your sister's wedding cake," suggests baker and author Dorie Greenspan on this week's episode of Special Sauce. Greenspan has come far from the self-described "sweet little home baker" that she once was, and has a lot of advice for aspiring bakers who want to get their hands in the dough. 

Mar 30, 2016

Colicchio is a passionate guitar player and music aficionado, as you'll hear when he sings one of the riffs in the Stevie Ray Vaughan song that we want to use as the Special Sauce theme song in the near future. We also chatted about his seminal book, Think Like Chef, Colicchio explains that the book took shape only when the recipe testing for it failed in a major way.

Mar 24, 2016

This week, Colicchio discusses three key things he's learned over the course of his career — the things he thinks every aspiring chef should keep in mind. You'll learn about how a prison library book pushed Colicchio into the kitchen, and how the judges on Top Chef really determine a winner. Next week, you'll learn even more about his work to improve food policy, so stay tuned for part two.

Mar 18, 2016

This week, Canora discusses what he thinks restaurateurs and diners misunderstand about the service industry. You'll learn about how he deals with those issues, his guilty pleasures, and why sometimes it's good to have someone remind you to just calm down.

Mar 10, 2016

In this episode of Special Sauce - which, I must warn you, is a bit NSFW, unless you're surrounded by some really adventurous eaters with good senses of humor - Gold, Gabbert, and I discuss our shared passion for music and why there might be a connection between music lovers and serious eaters. 

Mar 3, 2016

On this week's Special Sauce, journalist, author, professor, and activist Michael Pollan - author of In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire - discusses what's kept him in the garden, in the kitchen, and writing over the past 30 years.

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