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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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Now displaying: Category: general
Jan 21, 2022
On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, cookbook author and now independent Chinese restaurant advocate Grace Young talks about both the pandemic-related dire straits Chinatowns all over America are in, and the terrifying spike in Anti-Asian hate crimes.
 
Grace Young
#LoveAAPI
Special Sauce with Ed Levine
Jan 7, 2022

On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, Ed talks about the many pleasures, gustatory and otherwise, derived from cooking simply with Simply Julia author Julia Turshen and the Washington Post's Daniela Galarza, who writes and edits the Post's free Eat Voraciously newsletter.  And finally Ed chimes in with an urgent plea for supporting every link of the food chain during the Omicron outbreak, which has pushed many food businesses to the breaking point. 

Special Sauce with Ed Levine

 

Dec 18, 2021

On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, Ed talks about the holidays with Pulitzer Prize winning author Marcia Chatelain; YouTube and Tik Tok Star The Korean Vegan, AKA Joanne Lee Molinaro; James Beard Award-winning chef and pitmaster Rodney Scott; and Washington Post Food Editor Joe Yonan. And if you're stuck searching for the right gift for the serious eaters in your life, don't worry. Ed's got you covered with his own personal holiday gift guide in this episode as well. 

Special Sauce with Ed Levine

Dec 4, 2021
On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, Ed talks with former Microsoft CTO and Modernist Cuisine founder Nathan Myrvhold about why his new collection Modernist Pizza required 3+ volumes and 1000 plus pages.  Spoiler Alert: New Haven and New York pizza lovers are in for a shock. Plus, Ed talks about three cool gifts for the pizza lover in your life. 

Nathan Myrvhold 

Nov 22, 2021

On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, we hear moving Thanksgiving stories from the Korean Vegan (Joanne Lee Molinaro), pitmaster and chef-owner Rodney Scott, Pulitzer Prize winner Marcia Chatelain, and the Washington Post's Joe Yonan

 

Nov 12, 2021

On this episode of Special Sauce, Ed talks with Joanne Lee Molinaro, AKA The Korean Vegan, about her unlikely journey from corporate litigator, to TikTok and YouTube superstar, and now to NYT best-selling author. 

The Korean Vegan

The Korean Vegan YouTube

 

Oct 29, 2021

On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, Ed talks with best-selling author (An  Unapologetic Cookbook) Joshua Weissman, a YouTube star with more than 5M subscribers, about life in the social media fast-lane. And the Washington Post's Daniela Galarza tells us about the free cooking newsletter Eat Voraciously she writes four times a week. 

An Unapologetic Cookbook by Joshua Weismann

Joshua Weismann YouTube

Eat Voraciously with Daniela Galarza

 

Oct 15, 2021

On this episode of Special Sauce, Ed talks with Dorie Greenspan about her new book Baking with Dorie and her inauspicious start baking for a living. Plus, the Washington Post's Becky Krystal weighs in on softening butter. 

Dorie Greenspan | Site | Facebook | Twitter 

"How to soften butter quickly, and why it matters for your baking" by Becky Krystal

 

Oct 1, 2021

On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, Ed talks with writer Laurie Woolever, author of Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography, plus Washington Post Food Reporter Emily Heil taste-tests plant-based “chicken” nuggets.

Laurie Woolever | Site | Twitter

Carbface podcast

Sep 17, 2021

On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, we talk to the  Washington Post's Aaron Hutcherson about diversity and his deep dive into MSG. It's the first segment in Special Sauce's new collaboration with The Washington Post.

Plus, Kenji, Aaron and Ed all weigh in on what they eat when they're not feeling well. 

Aaron Hutcherson Twitter

J. Kenji López-Alt Twitter

Sep 3, 2021

The terrific crime writer Laura Lippman (My Life as a Villainess, Dream Girl) talks about why she's afraid of not being afraid when she writes. Plus Kenji and Laura both weigh in on how they get their kids to eat their vegetables.

Aug 20, 2021

On this week’s episode of Special Sauce, we talk about joyful music and an incredibly moving memoir with Michelle Zauner, the leader of the band Japanese Breakfast. She’s the author of the heart-rending Crying in H MartPlus, Kenji weighs in on the relationship between two of his favorite things, food and music. 

Aug 6, 2021

On this week’s Special Sauce, we’re joined by Colombiana author Mariana Velásquez who talks about the incredible cultural and culinary diversity of her beloved native country. Plus, Kenji shares his love of Colombia, gained from his many trips there with his Colombian wife, Adriana.

There's much love for Colombia on this week’s episode! 

Jul 23, 2021

On this episode of Special Sauce, we’re joined by the incredible youtuber, podcaster and Cheese, Wine and Bread author Katie Quinn who says that metaphorically speaking, people ferment just like cheese wine and bread. Plus, Kenji adds his two cents about Katie and fermentation. 

Jul 30, 2020

Much has been written during the pandemic about the increased popularity of community supported agriculture, commonly referred to as CSA. On this week's Special Sauce, we had a far-reaching conversation with Maggie Cheney, one of the owners of Rock Steady Farm, which is part of a special kind of CSA.

Rock Steady describes itself as a women and queer owned cooperative farm, rooted in social justice, growing sustainable vegetables, flowers, and herbs for our upstate and NYC communities. As you will hear, Maggie and her partners have withstood the many challenges they have encountered during the pandemic with sheer determination, a lot of hard work, and the support, both financial and otherwise, of the communities they serve. But it has not been easy.

Rounding out the episode is another Ask Kenji segment. This time Kenji answers a Serious Eater's question about the whys and wherefores of salting vegetables like cucumbers and eggplant before cooking them. I don't want to give away too much of his answer, but I will tell you that water balloons are repeatedly mentioned.

So there you have it, our very first all-vegetable Special Sauce, and it's inspiring, surprising, and informative.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats: 

https://www.seriouseats.com/preview?record=454208

Jul 16, 2020

On this week's Special Sauce, Susan Spungen, author of Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gathering and other books, regales us with her experiences in Hollywood as a food stylist and culinary consultant for movies like Julie and Julia and Eat, Pray, Love. What's it like to be on set and cooking for the likes of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Amy Adams? Listen and you'll find out.

Susan also talks about her terrific new book. She explains that the organizing principle behind the book is "sprezzatura," an Italian word for "studied nonchalance." The book articulates beautifully a relaxed yet rigorous approach to gathering your friends to eat and drink.

And, as usual, Kenji gets the episode off to a hot start by explaining the best way to cook his justifiably famous smashed burgers, indoors or out.

Kenji on smashed burgers and Susan Spungen on cooking for Meryl Streep and "sprezzatura." It's a Special Sauce that should provide a welcome respite from the insanity we're all living through.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats: 

tps://www.seriouseats.com/preview?record=454070

Jul 9, 2020

On this week's Special Sauce we talk to Dan Barber, executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill, about the huge changes being brought about in the food culture by the Covid-19 pandemic. The startling conclusions he's come to are the result of a survey he and his team sent out to more than 500 farmers. The farmers' responses made it clear that the effects of the pandemic will have catastrophic consequences for many of them. As you'll hear, the usually pessimistic Barber has some ideas that can help both the farmers and the thousands of out of work restaurant cooks in this country.

The articulate Mr. Barber is followed by our very own Kenji Lopez-Alt, who answers a Serious Eater's question about the use of dried versus fresh herbs. Surprisingly, for certain uses of some herbs, Kenji turns out to be an advocate for the dried variety.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats:

Jul 2, 2020

On this week's Special Sauce we're once again talking about selling cheese during the pandemic with cheesemonger Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers and cheesemaker Sheila Flanagan of Nettle Meadow Farm and Artisan Cheese. Without a hint of self-pity, Anne and Sheila talk about the nimbleness and the optimism required to keep their businesses going. You can support both Saxelby and Flanagan by buying cheese directly from their websites, you won't be disappointed.

After our inspiring cheese talk, we once again stay on the dairy theme when Kenji Lopez-Alt answers a Serious Eater's question about the differences between American and European butter.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats: 

https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/07/special-sauce-anne-saxelby-sheila-flanagan-cheese-2.html

Jun 25, 2020

This week on Special Sauce we are returning to the topic of the horrendous toll the pandemic has taken on the food culture. Today, we’re talking cheese. In the first of two far-ranging interviews, I spoke to cheesemaker Sheila Flanagan, co-owner of Nettle Meadow Farm, and Saxelby Cheesemongers owner Anne Saxelby.

This episode of Special Sauce also marks the return of our "Ask Kenji" feature. Today, given our interviewees, I thought it was only right that Kenji answer a dairy-related question, about butter. (Sheila Flanagan, in addition to cheese, makes a delicious, lightly salted butter, too.) 

So enjoy the cheese and butter talk on today's episode of Special Sauce. And please stay safe and healthy. 

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats:

https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/06/special-sauce-anne-saxelby-sheila-flanagan-cheese-1.html

Jun 18, 2020

"A jukebox is the musical equivalent of a well-stocked pantry," says Alexander Smalls. Poetic riffs on the relationship between food and music are just par for the course with Smalls, who's both a Grammy and a James Beard Award winner (not to mention a Tony winner, too). In part two of our interview, we talked about everything from hanging out with James Baldwin and Nina Simone in Paris to the guests he'd invite to his last supper. How does a table with the aforementioned Baldwin and Simone, along with Toni Morrison, Jessye Norman, Aretha Franklin, and Gloria Steinem sound? Pretty damn swell to me. 

 
It was such a pleasure and an honor to hang out with Alexander Smalls, who is truly a national treasure. His new book is titled, Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes From My African American Kitchen, and it belongs in every household's collection. Just like last week, we'll play the episode out with his stunning, soon-to-be-released rendition of Wade in the Water.
 
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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats: 
https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/06/alexander-smalls-2.html
Jun 11, 2020

The last Special Sauce I recorded in a studio before the coronavirus pandemic hit was with the multi-talented chef, opera singer, and restaurateur Alexander Smalls. He was just about to publish his new book, Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes From My African American Kitchen. It was March 11th, and after an hour-long interview I found myself in awe of Alexander. We hugged in the green room at the studio as we said goodbye, and that was in fact the last hug I have received from anyone besides my wife since. It was an extraordinary interview, befitting an extraordinary man, who I think is the only person in the world to have won a Tony, a Grammy, and a James Beard Award.

But now, three months later, given what's transpired in the interim, we thought it was time to check in with the remarkable Mr. Smalls. We were very confident that he would have a lot to say about our current state of affairs. And as you're about to hear, he most certainly did. But before you hear all that, we decided to include a big chunk of our initial interview in this episode.

Next week you'll hear more about Alexander's new book and recording. I think Serious Eaters will find both this week's episode and next week's to be must-listens. How lucky we are to hear Alexander Smalls's story in its entirety at this moment.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats:

https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/06/special-sauce-alexander-smalls-part-1.html

May 28, 2020

Special Sauce has obviously changed a lot with the advent of the pandemic. But before we changed the format a couple of months ago to adapt to the times, we'd already recorded a couple of great interviews.

One of them was with my old friend, cookbook writer and food stylist extraordinaire Susan Spungen. Susan's new book, Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings, came out 17 days before New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued his stay-at-home order. Susan's bag was already packed for a national book tour, but obviously that tour never happened.

With the country slowly opening back up for small gatherings, I thought it would be a great time to check back in with Susan. I figured she might have some interesting things to say about what a properly socially distanced gathering would look like and what we would eat there.  As she says, we've arrived at a moment when "people are craving togetherness and they like to eat together and be together." We should note that Susan's comments and mine are impressionistic and most assuredly not prescriptive. People should consult trusted sources like the CDC to find out how they can gather and eat.

We also went back in and edited some of her original interview into this episode. With so many people out of a job today wondering about what the future holds for them work-wise, I found it comforting to hear about Susan Spungen's circuitous career path. She went from dropping out of art school to making omelets to order at a hotel buffet to working side by side with Martha Stewart for ten years. I hope Serious Eaters will find it comforting as well.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats:

https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/05/special-sauce-susan-spungen.html

May 21, 2020

On this week's Special Sauce, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, who's been used to eating out six nights a week, tells us about cooking lunch and dinner for his two teenaged sons now that he's home every day. Pete explains that he's really enjoyed returning to the kitchen every day; he notes that he originally got into food writing because he loved to cook.

I asked him if his sons appreciate his culinary efforts? "At least they're not complaining," Pete says, which is about the best you can hope for with teenagers. But you'll also want to tune into the episode to hear Pete's thoughts about how the role of the restaurant critic will need to adapt to the restaurant landscape, which, as everyone knows, has been overturned by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats: 

ttps://www.seriouseats.com/2020/05/special-sauce-nyts-pete-wells-on-the-future-of-restaurant-criticism.html

May 14, 2020

What does a restaurant critic do when there are no restaurants to review? The San Francisco Chronicle's Soleil Ho has shifted to primarily covering how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the restaurant industry in the Bay Area, while also writing profiles of people like the Indonesian artist known as Nao, who publishes drawings of toast that, according to Soleil, "have garnered her a legion of followers who swoon at the accuracy of her char marks, the glorious shimmer of her half-melted butter and the detailed brush strokes in her crusts."

And this week's Special Sauce guest, Pete Wells of the New York Times has similarly broadened the scope of his work. He recently wrote a terrific piece with Jennifer Steinhauer about the ripple effects of restaurant closures, particularly in areas where restaurant booms have helped sustain local economies. The story really struck a chord with me, so I decided to ring Pete up and find out more about what he's been up to for the last two months.

Our thought-provoking, far-reaching conversation covered so many bases that we've split it into two episodes. The first one covers how the restaurant industry has shifted, and how those changes have affected cities throughout the U.S.; in part two, which we’ll publish next week, you’ll hear more about how his job and life as a whole has changed.

And, again, if you care about the fate of restaurants as much as Pete and I do, please go to saverestaurants.com to find out what you can do. Or donate what you can to Jose Andres's organization, World Central Kitchen. Through its Chefs for America initiative, it has served over seven million meals to people in need during the pandemic and has activated many restaurant kitchens in the process.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats:

https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/05/special-sauce-pete-wells-coronavirus-1.html

May 7, 2020

According to Ezekiel Vázquez-Ger, my guest on this week's Special Sauce, everything was going swimmingly at his new Washington, DC, restaurant, Seven Reasons. The place was packed almost from the minute it opened its doors in April of 2019. A rave review followed in The Washington Post in October, and then, a month later, Esquire named it America's Best New Restaurant of the year. It even survived a fire that started at the bar next door.

It was all good, until it wasn't. The coronavirus pandemic hit, and Ezekiel had to close his doors in March and lay off all of his employees. But, as you'll hear Ezekiel describe, he and his chef and co-owner, Enrique Limardo, along with their employees, banded together in creative ways in order to survive.

The Seven Reasons story is hardly unique. The pandemic is forcing independent restaurant owners and all the people that make up those restaurants' supply chain to tap their creativity to reimagine their businesses in ways that go way beyond take-out and delivery.

The outcome for these endeavors is uncertain, but if you care about the vibrant food culture we've created in this country, you can't help but root for all of these folks to succeed. We need as many of these people to make it to the other side as possible.

Once you hear Ezekiel tell his story, I'm sure you'll want to do something about the situation he and the hundreds of thousands of small food business owners, and their millions of employees, find themselves in. I urge you to visit the website for the Independent Restaurant Coalition to find out what you can do to help.

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The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats:

https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/05/special-sauce-ezekiel-vazquez-ger.html

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