Let's face it: One of the main reasons we look forward to the holiday season is the copious amount of baked goods we get to make and eat. So, with that in mind, I invited our pastry wizard, Stella Parks (aka BraveTart), to take calls on a special holiday baking episode of Call Special Sauce. And I strongly urge serious eaters everywhere to take a listen. Why? Mostly because Stella is so knowledgable and unpretentious. But it's also because no matter what she's talking about–whether it's on the difference between a French tart and a pie ("To me, it comes down to a ratio issue.") or on why she quit making brownies in Kentucky to move to Japan, without knowing a single word of Japanese ("That was when I had my quarter-life crisis.")–listening to her wax down-home poetic on baking and life is as much fun as eating an entire baking sheet of perfect chocolate chip cookies.
In a million years, I would never have guessed Ruth Reichl's guilty pleasure: "Onion rings," she told me during part two of our conversation on Special Sauce. "I can't resist a good onion ring."
That's not the only surprising answer you'll hear on this week's episode from the woman I call the first rock star food journalist. Take a listen to hear her take on the digital revolution in food journalism or her unique choice of guests at her last dinner on earth–you won't regret it.
In this week's episode of Special Sauce, Kenji and I field our listeners' call-in questions, and tackle the pressing concerns that plague Thanksgiving cooks (and their guests) around the country.
We trust that our listeners and questioners will be thankful for the thoughtful (and hopefully amusing) answers we provide. We know we're thankful that millions of people trust Serious Eats to make their food lives better. Happy Turkey Day, everyone.
I like to call this week's Special Sauce guest, Rob Kaufelt, the cheese whisperer. Finding and selling great cheese seems to be what Rob was put on this earth to do. Over the years, the Murray's Cheese Shop owner has brought serious cheese to millions of Americans–his current empire includes two New York storefronts; an eponymous, cheese-centric restaurant; a fast-growing mail-order business; and a whopping 350 Murray's Cheese counters stationed in Kroger's supermarkets around the the country.
But how did he go from the tiny, lone cheese shop that he'd purchased in Greenwich Village to leading the country's artisanal cheese revolution? You'll have to take a listen to this week's episode to find out.
The background of this week's guest on Special Sauce—chef, restaurateur, and aspiring falafel magnate Einat Admony—isn't that of your typical chef. She grew up in Israel, learning how to make couscous from her Moroccan neighbor, and, while in the army, quickly switched from driving a jeep to cooking for officers in the air force. Einat then spent four years bumming around Germany, living in an RV and cooking for all her neighbors in the RV park. (I kidded her about being the first and only executive chef at an RV park I had ever interviewed.) Her path to culinary success was hardly bump-free: Shortly after opening the original Taïm on a Greenwich Village side street, with $70,000 she and her husband,Stefan, had saved working in restaurants—she as a chef, he as a waiter—Stefan told her that they should close. The business was failing, and, oh yes, Einat was also pregnant with their first child.
How did they keep it open? And how are they introducing their uniquely delicious falafel to the rest of the country? You'll just have to listen to find out.
Considering her many restaurants, books, and television shows, plus her involvement in the gourmet Italian marketplace Eataly, Lidia Bastianich might seem like a known quantity to serious eaters all over America. But take a listen to this week's Special Sauce and you'll realize just how extraordinary a woman she is, and what an incredible life she's led.
Daniel Gritzer, Serious Eats' culinary director, is in many ways our not-so-secret weapon. To learn more about the surprisingly nonlinear career path that landed him at Serious Eats (which involved two stints herding sheep in Europe), and about the martial art he practices (one he describes as physical, real-time chess), you're just going to have to listen.
This week's guest on Special Sauce, Alex Guarnaschelli, is constantly juggling the roles of TV chef (she's a regular judge on Chopped), working chef (at the two Butter locations in Manhattan), and mom (to one beautiful daughter). When you're faced with all those demands, it probably doesn't hurt to be whip-smart and funny as hell, which Alex most definitely is. What more could a podcast host ask for?
Serious eaters who have been around awhile, like me, know that the idea of driving across America in search of the best regional food originated with Roadfood authors Jane and Michael Stern, not Guy Fieri: They published their first edition of the guide in 1977–one of 30 books they've written to date, including 10 editions of Roadfood–decades before Guy started tooling around in his convertible on TV. Along with Calvin Trillin, the Sterns have been my greatest inspirations, so I jumped at the chance to interview them on Special Sauce.
Pizza lovers know Paulie Gee, a.k.a. Paul Giannone, this week's Special Sauce guest, as the owner of the eponymous pizzeria founded in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. But as good as his pies are, and they're damn good, his unlikely path to pizza entrepreneur–there are now Paulie Gee's outposts in Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore; Chicago; and Miami, each opened with the help of pizza-obsessed locals–is even more impressive.
In our latest call-in episode of Special Sauce, Kenji and Ed address listener concerns over how to rebuild a pantry and how a food’s appearance affects taste. And, of course, we make some time for good-natured ribbing, too.
In this third episode of Call Special Sauce, Kenji and Ed wrestle with tricky questions from Serious Eaters on food allergies, electric stovetops, and authenticity.
The arts of making French charcuterie and its Italian cousin, <em>salumi</em>, are two of the highest forms of the craft of cooking. So when I heard that chef and cooking teacher Brian Polcyn and journalist Michael Ruhlman, the authors of the two definitive books on those subjects, had come out with an app for lovers of charcuterie and salumi everywhere - and there are a lot of them; their book Charcuterie has sold more than 200,000 copies - I knew they had to join me on Special Sauce.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.