Celebrating May Birthdays Galore (Including James Beard’s and Karen’s!) — and More

Top left: 2017 JBF Outstanding Pastry Chef Ghaya Oliveira, Karen Page, and Daniel Boulud; Top right: JBF Chair Emily Luchetti with emcee Jesse Tyler Ferguson; and Chef Todd English with Karen Page; Bottom left: Jon Shook & Vinny Ditolo with Karen Page; Missy Robbins with Andrew Dornenburg; Gabrielle and Greg Denton and their chefs from Ox in Portland, OR; Bottom right: Farmer Lee Jones and Andrew Dornenburg

“I would just like to say, as blessed as we are, I think life’s a circle. We have given a lot, and we give it right back out, and it comes back to us. I hope all of you experience that, because I think that’s the richness of our industry.”
Deann Bayless, in accepting with husband and co-owner Rick Bayless Topolobampo’s 2017 Outstanding Restaurant Award at the James Beard Foundation Awards

The course of a year has its own ebbs and flows (and especially during those years when we have a new book out and we’re swamped with book-tour-related activities).  However, the two busiest weeks of our year over most of the past decade have been in 1) November, the week before Thanksgiving, which coincides with the release of Beaujolais Nouveau and a not-to-be-missed party hosted by Georges Duboeuf celebrating its arrival in New York City — plus Citymeals’ Annual Power Lunch for Women, on whose Steering Committee Karen has the pleasure of serving, and especially 2) MAY, the week of the James Beard Foundation Awards, which features many parties and less-formal get-togethers of industry colleagues and friends, and which happens to coincide with Karen’s and her best friend’s own birthday week and private celebrations.

Our May 2017 was particularly busy because not only did we make the trip to Chicago for the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards, but Karen’s bi-annual meeting of Northwestern’s Council of 100 coincided, necessitating our being in Chicago for an entire week.

This weekend is the first chance we’ve had to catch our breath during the whirl of the past two weeks….

Top left: Topolobampo wine director Jill Gubesch and Andrew Dornenburg; Top right: Karen Page, 2017 Outstanding Chef Michael Solomonov, and Kathleen Squires, producer of a documentary on James Beard airing on PBS this month; Bottom Left: Karen Page with Lori Nischan and 2017 JBF “Who’s Who” inductee Michel Nischan; Bottom right: Karen Page, Topolobampo Chef Andres Padilla, and JBF President Susan Ungaro; NAHA chef Carrie Nahabedian and Karen Page; and Rick Bayless dancing behind the bar at the JBF after-party at Lena Brava

We’ve already nominated our all-time favorite host Jesse Tyler Ferguson — star of TV’s “Modern Family” and Broadway’s “Fully Committed” — to become the James Beard Awards’ Bob Hope / Billy Crystal and to return to host the Awards year after year.  We had a great time catching up with restaurant industry friends and colleagues, and celebrating their nominations and wins.

One of the two restaurant highlights of our trip was our annual tradition of lunch at Topolobampo the day after the Awards — which was made all the more special this year by the restaurant’s 2017 Outstanding Restaurant win.  After being so touched by how touched Rick and Deann Bayless were to win this award during sister restaurant Frontera Grill‘s 30th anniversary weekend (as evidenced by their moving acceptance speeches and Rick’s dancing the night away at the after-party at Lena Brava!), it was very special to be able to congratulate them one-on-one the very next day.  We also love running into out-of-town colleagues there who are inevitably as amazed by chef-owner Rick Bayless and Chef de Cuisine Andres Padilla‘s dishes as we were when we first tasted them decades before.

Dom Perignon chef de cave Richard Geoffroy led a tasting of a number of vintages (including the 2006, the 2005 Rose, and the 2000 P2) for JBF Outstanding Wine Service winner Belinda Chang, Karen Page, and Andrew Dornenburg

Thanks to  James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Wine Service Belinda Chang, we were able to join her and Richard Geoffroy, chef de cave of Dom Perignon who had just flown into Chicago from France a few hours beforehand, to taste through a number of  his Champagnes at Chicago’s Waldorf-Astoria.  From wine glasses (versus Champagne flutes), we sipped (but tried not to swirl, lest we bruise any precious bubbles) the 2006 Vintage, the 2000 P2, and (from Burgundy glasses) a very rare Rosé [which the house first created in 1959] from the great vintage of 2005.  All Dom P Champagnes are made from blends of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The 2006 Dom Perignon Vintage boasts Dom P’s characteristic minerality in spades, but displaying a somewhat fruitier side of its personality compared to other vintages.  The 2000 P2 (“second plentitude”) Champagne is the result of allowing the 2000 Vintage to mature over 16 years.  Expect the unexpected:  the faintest hints of salt and the sea, along with notes of chalky minerality and an elegant, creamy mousse.  Belinda and the two of us were told we were the first Americans to taste the 2005 Dom Perignon Rosé Champagne.  We count ourselves as fortunate to be among the few who will get to taste the last, given its extreme rarity — not to mention its great deliciousness — so if you, too, are lucky enough to come across some, we hope you won’t miss the experience.

Top left: Tortelli Verde; Bottom left: Caccio Whey Pepe; Right: 2017 James Beard Award winner Sarah Gruenberg of Chicago’s Monteverde

The second of the two restaurant highlights of our trip was dinner at Monteverde, whose kitchen is headed by Chef Sarah Grueneberg, who surprised some of us by taking home the medal for the 2017 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest on her very first nomination.  However, after our first-ever dinner at Monteverde, we were no longer surprised:  It was one of the best Italian dinners we’ve had in recent memory.  Our appetizers, pastas, and desserts were all perfectly cooked, reflecting extraordinary attention to technique.  One dish — Grueneberg’s Tortelli Verde ($17), comprising sweet winter spinach, Parmesan cheese, roasted white miso, Piedmontese hazelnuts, ramps, and lemon — spurred wild enthusiasm reminiscent of a level we’d last experienced for Mario Batali‘s perfect, creative pastas upon the opening of Babbo many years previously.  The Caccio Whey Pepe ($14) — Mancini bucatini, Pecorino Romano, Ricotta Whey, and a four-peppercorn blend — proved just as delicious for breakfast in our hotel room the next morning.  And the minute we’d spied the rhubarb crostata ($10) on display, we knew we had to order it — and its rustic yet flaky texture more than lived up to its visual promise.  With Grueneberg’s charming fiancé managing partner Jaime Canete (to whom she gave a lovely shout-out during her JBF acceptance speech the night before) overseeing the dining room, the packed house last Tuesday night was assured of warm service as well as an extraordinary dinner.

Left: JBF Award winner Belinda Chang and Andrew Dornenburg; Right: Karen Page, Maria Sinskey of Robert Sinskey Vineyards (RSV), and Belinda Chang

Completely by chance, we bumped into Belinda again the next day while she was tasting with multitalented Maria Sinskey (a one-time Food & Wine Top 10 chef!) of Napa’s Robert Sinskey Vineyards at the Chicago restaurant Bad Hunter.  Before we’d even managed to order lunch, we were delighted to be sent over wines to sample from among the multiple bottles and magnums open on their table.  Our favorites included the 2007 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Los Carneros Pinot Blanc, the 1999 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Los Carneros Pinot Noir, and the 1992 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Stags Leap District Claret (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc).

C100 members Karen Page, Elisa All, Erica Kane, and Diane Knoepke at Terra & Vine

In 1993, Karen was appointed by Northwestern University’s then-President Arnold Weber as a founding member of the Council of 100 — comprising 100 of the University’s most distinguished alumnae who return to Chicago twice a year to advise undergraduate women and recent alumnae on their career planning.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet current students and younger alumnae, and to catch up on Northwestern’s many developments on campus — not to mention with fellow C100 members, who include a dizzying array of bestselling authors, college deans, Shakespeare Festival organizers, globetrotting TV writer-producers, and triathlon-competing Supreme Court lawyers.  With partner Erica Kane, Karen co-hosted Friday night’s dinner at Evanston’s new Alpana Singh restaurant Terra & Vine for 17 C100 members and their guests that capped off the Spring 2017 conference.

The May 7th Opening Night Party for “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” starring Val Vigoda and Wade McCollum

One of our dearest friends of the past two decades, two-time Jonathan Larson Award winner Val Vigoda just opened her wonderful new musical “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” at the Second Stage Theatre on May 7th.  After dinner with friends at Steve Olsen‘s West Bank Cafe, one of our favorite Theater District restaurants right around the corner, we caught the 7 pm performance.  Thereafter, we were happy to join other guests including Matthew Broderick (whose awesome performance we’d just enjoyed in Wallace Shawn‘s “Evening at the Talk House”), Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue (who were seated just a few seats away from us — close enough so Marlo could explain her connection to writer Joe DiPietro, with whom she worked on her 2016 off-Broadway show “Clever Little Lies”) at the opening night party at The Palm.  Congratulations to Val and her co-star Wade McCollum, director Lisa Peterson, and DiPietro — not to mention our producer friend Aaron Morrill, whom we were delighted to discover on the first night of previews (via our Playbill!) was involved with the show, too — and to the entire team on their inventive and inspiring show that’s been earning praise from The New York Times (in a huge review with wonderful photos!), NJ.com, and more.

Andrew surprised Karen with her birthday lunch (and the always-wonderful company of our dear friend actress Susan Dey!) at Le Bernardin, where Chef Eric Ripert, 2017 JBF Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional nominee Aldo Sohm (also of Aldo Sohm Wine Bar), and Directeur de Salle Ben Chekroun ensured that the food, wine, and service were as world-class as one would expect of a restaurant that had just been named the 17th best in the world at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards in Melbourne.

Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Chef Michael Anthony, Rikki Klieman, and Bill Bratton

As Karen’s dear friend Rikki Klieman, legal analyst of “CBS This Morning,” share the same birthday week (May 13th), we enjoy an annual tradition of having dinner with Rikki and her husband former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton — in recent years, at Gramercy Tavern, where 2015 James Beard Outstanding Chef Mike Anthony, Chef de Cuisine Howard Kalachnikoff, and Pastry Chef Miro Uskokovic‘s cuisine gives us no reason to dream of considering anywhere else.  Our joint dinner on Wednesday night was no exception.

Celebrating the birthday of Rikki Klieman (center, bottom) at Union Square Cafe

Shaking things up, Karen also helped to surprise Rikki on Friday at a birthday lunch in her honor at Union Square Cafe 2.0, our first visit since the restaurant received its three-star rave from Pete Wells in The New York Times.  Husbands were allowed for dessert, so Andrew and Bill were also able to taste gifted pastry sous chef Christine Lisa‘s magnificent (cajeta + chocolate + fudge) layer cake, whose flavor we’ll not soon forget.  Special thanks to USC Director of Operations Sam Lipp for personally and so graciously presenting it to our table!

Karen Page, Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave, Julie Besonen, and Andrew Dornenburg

Capping off our Friday night with our wine world “frolleagues” (professional colleagues with whom we have traveled abroad, prompting an evolution into friendship) Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave and Julie Besonen — by tasting our way through several sparkling and still wines together, both before and during dinner — was the “cajeta icing on the chocolate-fudge layer cake” of our week.

And we’re likely going to have our heads down for the next few weeks meeting some key deadlines related to our next book KITCHEN CREATIVITY (Little, Brown; October 2017), so you’re more likely to find additional updates via Twitter and Instagram and Facebook versus here in the interim!

“Ernest Shackleton Loves Me,” co-starring Val Vigoda and Wade McCollum, is playing at Second Stage Theater (305 West 43rd Street) through June 11th.  ernestshackletonlovesme.com

Gramercy Tavern is at 42 East 20th Street in Manhattan.  gramercytavern.com

For a complete list of winners of 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards, visit jamesbeard.org/awards.

Le Bernardin is at 155 West 51st Street in Manhattan.  le-bernardin.com

Union Square Cafe is at 101 East 19th Street in Manhattan.  unionsquarecafe.com

If you’re going to see “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” or another show nearby in the Theater District, we definitely recommend West Bank Cafe around the corner at 407 West 42nd Street for pre- or post-theater dining: westbankcafe.com

Chef Chad Brauze, An Alum of the Kitchens of Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller, Comes Into His Own at Bevy

Top Left: The 57th Street entrance to the Park Hyatt New York, which leads to an elevator bank that leads to BEVY on its 3rd floor

“40 Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2017:  Bevy.”
–Zagat.com

We love Rotisserie Georgette in Manhattan for many reasons, not the least of which was turning us on to the talents of its one-time chef Chad Brauze.

An alum of the kitchens of Daniel Boulud (Daniel), Thomas Keller (Per Se), and Ferran Adria (el Bulli) — not to mention Columbia University and the Culinary Institute of America — Brauze has cooked in some of the world’s best restaurants, and his expert technique reflects that fact.

Brauze’s menu at Rotisserie Georgette showcased what happens when great technique meets the kind of comforting dishes you’d want to eat any night of the week in Manhattan — including one of our two favorite farrottos (along with Travis Swikard‘s at Boulud Sud) in Manhattan.

While we’re still enamored of current co-chefs Stephanie Abrams & Francisco Blanco‘s cooking at Rotisserie Georgette, Chad Brauze has clearly raised his game at elegant newcomer Bevy in the Park Hyatt and come into his own. 

Top Left: BEVY Executive Chef Chad Brauze; Bottom Right: BEVY Executive Pastry Chef Scott Cioe

Brauze offers an array of addictive starters (or “Bar Bites,” as they’re called on Bevy’s menu), with our favorites being the Sweet Potato Chips with French Onion Dip ($9) and Housemade Lavash with Spicy Green Pea Hummus ($10).

We’re not sure we’ve ever tasted a better version of Steak Fries ($10) than the crunchy paprika-dusted version Brauze serves with garlic aioli.  Fellow plant lovers will swoon over Brauze’s side dishes, including two wild mushroom preparations not to mention some of the best green peas we’ve ever had anywhere. Our friends all sang the praises of Bevy’s Green Circle Chicken (courtesy of D’Artagnan), which is stuffed with bourbon and rye berries, and presented tableside (whole) before it is carved, plated, and served with dressed lettuces ($78, it serves 2+).

Best of all, through multiple visits in recent weeks, we now have a new contender for our favorite “interpretive” risotto in Manhattan, making it a three-way contest:  Brauze’s creamy Einkorn Risotto with Morel Cream, Mint, Fava Beans, Asparagus, and Vin Jaune ($22).  Its luxurious array of flavors and textures and temperatures is not-to-be-missed.

Brauze’s savory cuisine alone is well worth the visit to Bevy, but if you also have a sweet tooth you will be richly rewarded at dessert time thanks to executive pastry chef Scott Cioe‘s talents.  An alum of restaurants of Thomas Keller, Michael Mina, and Gordon Ramsay, Cioe has chosen eclairs as his muse for showcasing flavor combinations suggestive of carrot cake, pineapple upside-down cake, even birthday cake — not to mention frozen chocolate and “The King” (peanut butter + banana + bacon; in Elvis’s honor, it’s even served with a crown).

But Cioe’s crowning achievement, in these two diners’ opinions, is his mind-blowing Apple Pie ($13) made with a sugar cookie crust and vanilla bean ice cream, with warm caramel sauce poured over the creation tableside. At our table during every dinner, forks crashed into one another fighting for the last bites.

Bottom Left: BEVY Wine Director Tristan Prat-Vincent

Bevy’s wine director Tristan Prat-Vincent is an alum of Veritas and Betony.  We’ll always be grateful to him for turning us on to Trousseau Noir (a light-bodied, food-friendly red) and — so far — two excellent producers (of the three on his list). On our last visit we thought we’d give Bevy’s appealing cocktail menu a whirl, but we’ll be back to check out the third.

Indeed, there is no shortage of reasons to return to Bevy, including excellent service (especially if you’re lucky enough to land Amanda as your server, as we were on two of our visits) and a sleek, elegant ambiance highlighted by the “Swarm,” a chandelier-cum-art installation (which we were told is one of just 11 in the world) whose constantly changing, fluid lighting patterns bring to mind the movement of a swarm (or “bevy”) of birds.

The Park Hyatt has operated superior restaurants in Washington, DC (Blue Duck Tavern) and Chicago (NoMi) for years, but Bevy appears to be setting a new high bar for excellence among Park Hyatt restaurants.  Thanks to an especially gifted team, we fully expect that Bevy will become known for setting a new high bar for Manhattan hotel dining as well.

Bevy is in the Park Hyatt Hotel at 153 W. 57th Street, 3rd Floor, in New York City. 212.897.2188. BevyNYC.com

Robert Mondavi Winemaker Joe Harden Makes Quite An Impression

“Wine is about relationships.”
–Robert Mondavi

When Joe Harden was just a kid in the 1990s, he remembers meeting legendary Napa Valley winemaker Robert Mondavi, a friend and colleague of his father, who was also in the wine business.

“I remember him looking directly in my eyes, and asking me questions,” Harden told us.  “That made an impression on me.”

Harden himself went on to make enough of an impression to have been appointed winemaker at the legendary winery in April 2014.  He was a mere 26.

Meeting Harden for the first time, as we had the pleasure of doing earlier this week over lunch at Gramercy Tavern in New York City, is bound to make an impression on most people:  At 6′ 7″ tall, he towered over both of us when we shook his hand, which led to a conversation about his past life pursuing college and pro basketball.

After a couple of years playing for Notre Dame, Lodi native Harden was ready to leave the Indiana winters behind to transfer to UC Davis to dive into his dual passions of wine and basketball.  (The move proved fortuitous:  It allowed him to meet a fellow wine-and-basketball-loving woman he dated for several years.) Though he made it to California’s NBA D League Warriors and Australia’s Ballarat Miners, in 2012 he decided to focus on his wine career.

Harden had the good fortune of being taken under the wing of Mondavi’s Director of Winemaking Geneviève Janssens, Wine Enthusiast’s 2010 “Winemaker of the Year.” His year-long internship turned into a fast-track professional position — one that had him in New York City the week of the James Beard Foundation Media Awards (of which Mondavi is a sponsor) and dining with wine writers, plus jetting to Chicago (where the James Beard Foundation Chef & Restaurant Awards take place on Monday, May 1st) and talking about wine and food pairing on WGN-TV.

But it sounds like Harden is happiest at home in Napa Valley, where he sang the praises of Mondavi’s in-house chef Jeff Mosher as well as the joys of Napa Valley dining, whether a casual dinner at Redd Wood, simple cocktails and oysters at Bouchon, or a great dinner like the one he enjoyed with his wife Hannah (that aforementioned wine-and-basketball-loving college classmate, who currently runs the style blog VogueInVines.com) at The French Laundry in celebration of the couple’s two-year wedding anniversary.

Robert Mondavi himself was definitely there in spirit at our Gramercy Tavern table, with Harden quoting him frequently, sharing Mondavi’s observation that “Wine is about relationships” as well as his description of the winery’s finessed Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon as having “the softness of a baby’s bottom, and the power of Pavarotti.”

Mondavi was also fiercely committed to promoting wine and food together.  Indeed, the wines we had the pleasure of tasting with lunch — two perfect-for-summer whites:  the 2015 Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc ($20) and the 2014 Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc Reserve ($52), two made-for-mushrooms reds that were an excellent match to our Spinach Garganelli with Nettles, Pecorino and Mushroom Ragu:  the unique yet approachable (“like Bob himself,” one of us at the table quipped) 2014 Robert Mondavi Maestro ($50) and the exceptional 2014 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($165), and one “who needs dessert when the wine is this amazing?” sweet wine: the 2002 Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis ($50) — were each as food friendly as wines come. They each found eminently compatible partners in the dishes paired by Gramercy Tavern’s kitchen team:  2015 James Beard Outstanding Chef Mike Anthony, Chef de Cuisine Howard Kalachnikoff, and Pastry Chef Miro Uskokovic (whose desserts are so impressive that we’d never dream of leaving Gramercy Tavern without tasting at least one, and ideally more).

What’s next on Harden’s agenda?  Among other things, turning 30, which he’ll do over the summer this August 3rd — not to mention continuing his wine journey that has already produced some very elegant and alluring wines among his first vine-to-bottle releases. Just like Harden himself, they made a memorable impression indeed.

Robert Mondavi Winery is at 7801 St. Helena Highway in Oakville, California 94562. 888.RMO.NDAVI.  RobertMondaviWinery.com

Join Karen Page and Chef Divya Alter, author of What to Eat For How You Feel, At Rizzoli April 13th in NYC

“Connect with what’s going on for you right now,
and then choose something that will help you balance that.”
Chef Divya Alter, as quoted by Rachel Sugar in Bon Appetit

Want a virtually foolproof way of feeling better after your next meal?  If you live in New York City, get yourself to dinner at Divya’s Kitchen, the new acclaimed Ayurvedic restaurant in the East Village owned by Bulgarian-born chef Divya Alter.

Top Right: Karen Page, Divya Alter, and Andrew Dornenburg

And if you’re not fortunate enough to find yourself in Manhattan, you’re still in luck:  Alter just released her first cookbook entitled What to Eat for How You Feel (Rizzoli, 2017), and it’s a beauty — which you can pick up at better bookstores near you, or on Amazon.com.

Divya is a certified nutritional consultant and educator in the Shaka Vansiya Ayurveda tradition. She is the cofounder of Bhagavat Life, the only Ayurvedic culinary school in New York City, where she and her husband launched North America’s first Ayurvedic chef certification program.  The couple also cofounded Divya’s Kitchen, an authentic Ayurvedic café.

Left: Ayurvedic chef and author Divya Alter Right: Karen Page, author of The Flavor Bible

Manhattanites can join Karen Page, who wrote the Foreword for What to Eat for How You Feel, in conversation with Divya Alter this Thursday, April 13th, from 6-8 pm, at the Rizzoli bookstore at 1133 Broadway (at 26th St.).  In addition to hearing about Ayurvedic cuisine, and how it helped Divya completely turn her health around, you’ll be able to taste some of the dishes whose recipes are featured in the book, which are invariably as delicious as they are healthful.

This event is free, and no RSVP is required.  Hope to have the delicious pleasure of seeing you there!

Divya’s Kitchen is located at 25 First Avenue (at 1st Street) in Manhattan. 212.477.4834. divyaskitchen.com

What to Eat for How You Feel draws on Divya Alter’s many years of vegetarian cooking, catering, and teaching.  It features 100 recipes for breakfasts, soups, salads, main dishes, one-pot meals, treats, and beverages in three seasonal chapters. It also includes an ingredient guide along with recipes for staples such as cultured ghee, fresh cheese, yogurt, nondairy milk alternatives, dressings, chutneys, and spice blends. Alter offers practical ways to bridge the ancient wisdom of food with modern living beyond the bound- aries of India. Dishes such as Asian-style Stir-Fried Red and Black Rice, Italian-style Spinach Risotto, and French-style Braised Root Vegetables are accessible to all and carry the healing benefits of Ayurvedic cooking.

Honoring The New Jewish Home’s “Eight Over 80” Remarkable, Creative Lives — Including That Of Culinary Legend Jacques Pepin

Top left: “Eight Over 80” honoree Jacques Pepin with legendary chef Andre Soltner; Top right: Jacques Pepin with Karen Page, Jacques Pepin with Andre Soltner: Bottom left: Jacques addresses the crowd in the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental; Andre Soltner with Andrew Dornenburg; Andre Soltner, Alain Sailhac, Karen Page, Arlene Feltman Sailhac, and Jacques Pepin; Bottom Right: The “Eight Over 80” honorees

When a culinary legend as beloved as Jacques Pépin is being honored, it honestly doesn’t require any arm-twisting to get us excited about joining in the celebration.

So when we were invited to attend Tuesday night’s fourth annual gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City honoring eight extraordinary people who are living proof that octogenarians can be vital and creative and inspiring, we were only too happy to see that Jacques would be among them.

Meeting Jacques Pepin at the 2009 James Beard Awards after-party

Winning our second James Beard Book Award for THE FLAVOR BIBLE in 2009 was a thrill for us, not the least of which was the perk of getting to meet Jacques at the Awards after-party hosted by Daniel Boulud at Bar Boulud (photo, left).

In the fall of 2014, we happened to cross paths while staying at the same hotel in San Francisco while we were on book tour with THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, as Jacques was in town shooting his public TV show for KQED.  All memories of our hours-delayed flight out of Chicago were banished over the impromptu drinks it led to after bumping into Pepin and his colleague, delighting in Jacques’ wonderful stories.  We found it impossible to believe that Jacques was about to turn 80, as he claimed, so we Googled it — which is how we discovered that Jacques and Andrew share the same birthday:  December 18th.  (Karen’s and James Beard’s are just three days apart.)

It turns out that Jacques is being kept very busy this week picking up awards in Manhattan:  He mentioned Tuesday night that he was on his way to last night’s Spoons Across America event at the Essex House to present Rachael Ray with an award he’d been honored with a few years ago, not to mention to pick up an honorary doctorate at his alma mater Columbia University.

The latter seems to offer more than a little satisfaction to Pepin, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Columbia in 1970 and 1972, respectively, writing his master’s thesis on Voltaire.  However, his proposed thesis for Columbia’s PhD program — a study of food in French literature spanning Balzac, Proust, Voltaire, and Zola — was flatly refused.  Let that be a lesson to all the young ‘uns reading this of just how much the perception of food has changed in American society over the past half-century.  And let none of us forget the important role of a visible, articulate chef like Jacques Pepin in changing that perception.

Left to right: Andre Soltner, Alain Sailhac, Karen Page, Arlene Feltman Sailhac, and Jacques Pepin at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

We relished the chance to salute Jacques, along with his fellow “Eight Over 80” honorees:  style icon Iris Apfel; dancer, choreographer, and actress Carmen de Lavallade; civil rights attorney Vernon Jordan, television luminary Norman Learand business and philanthropic leaders Morris W. Offit, and Barbara and Donald Tober.

Making the celebration all the more festive was the good company of Pepin’s dear friends and esteemed colleagues Andre Soltner (whom Pepin has referred to as “one of the greatest chefs in existence”), Arlene Feltman Sailhac (founder of DeGustibus cooking school, and a fellow member of Karen’s in Les Dames d’Escoffier), and Alain Sailhac (Dean Emeritus of New York’s International Culinary Center).

Sponsoring “Eight Over 80” is The New Jewish Home, a not-for-profit that is committed to transforming eldercare for New Yorkers so they can live meaningful lives in the place they call home. The event celebrates life and aging in an entirely new way, just as The New Jewish Home has been serving New Yorkers of all faiths and ethnicities for nearly 170 years as one of the nation’s largest and most diversified not-for-profit geriatric health and rehabilitation systems.

Congratulations again, Jacques!

The “8 Over 80” Awards are hosted by The New Jewish Home:  8over80.org

Check out episodes of Jacques Pepin‘s cooking shows here:  Jacques Pepin’s Essential PepinJacques Pepin’s Heart & Soul, and Jacques Pepin’s More Fast Food My Way

Ayesha Curry Praises CULINARY ARTISTRY and THE FLAVOR BIBLE

Ayesha Curry (center) recommends both CULINARY ARTISTRY and THE FLAVOR BIBLE in a recent interview

Canadian-American Food Network host, mother of two, and author of the cookbook The Seasoned Life, Ayesha Curry — who has the better part of a million followers on Twitter — was interviewed by TheChalkboardMag.com about her favorite cookbooks, and managed to mention both CULINARY ARTISTRY and THE FLAVOR BIBLE, much to our delight.

When asked to name “3 Cookbooks That Should Be In Every Kitchen,” she replies, “Mine – The Seasoned Life.  Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.  CULINARY ARTISTRY by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.”

Later, when asked to name “The Best Cookbook for Ultra-Foodies,” her pick is “THE FLAVOR BIBLE by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen A. Page.”

We imagine that anyone with such excellent taste in culinary books has no doubt written one worth checking out, so we just ordered our copy of The Seasoned Life (which you can do here).

You can also read the entire interview with Ayesha here.

Ayesha Curry‘s website is at ayeshacurry.com.

You can purchase her cookbook The Seasoned Life here.

USA Today‘s Reviewed.com Editors Name Our Book THE FLAVOR BIBLE As One of “11 Cookbooks Everyone Should Own”


“Here at Reviewed, our staff has strong opinions on…well, pretty much everything. So when I asked them to dish on their favorite cookbooks, of course, I got some seriously poignant testimonials.  With a range of experience (and interest) in cooking and various culinary restrictions, preferences, and backgrounds, there was no overlap in our go-to cookbooks. Here’s what our staff members reach for in the comfort of their own kitchens….”
Jessica Teich (top left), USA Today‘s Reviewed.com

Calling it “the ultimate cookbook round-up,” editor Jessica Teich of USA Today‘s Reviewed.com revealed on March 3rd her staff’s picks for “11 Cookbooks Everyone Should Own” — which we were delighted to see include THE FLAVOR BIBLE.

Count us proud to find THE FLAVOR BIBLE in the good company of classics like Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything, as well as the rest of Teich’s list, which you’ll find here.

Michael Desjardin

THE FLAVOR BIBLE‘s inclusion is apparently thanks to the recommendation of staff writer Michael Desjardin, who wrote of his recommendation “For the Creative Type“:

“This isn’t your traditional book of recipes. In fact, you’re not gonna find any recipes in here at all. Instead, THE FLAVOR BIBLE is a compendium of just about every ingredient you can imagine with lists of complementary flavors and why these pairings tend to work.  I love THE FLAVOR BIBLE because of how it encourages me to engage with my food rather than work my way passively through a basic recipe. It’s like kindling for culinary inspiration; while most cookbooks ask me politely to stay on the trail, THE FLAVOR BIBLE invites me to stray off the beaten path and take risks. After all, isn’t that what cooking is all about?”

Indeed it is, Michael — and our heartfelt thanks to you for saying so!

Reviewed.com editor Jessica Teich‘s list of the “11 Cookbooks Everyone Should Own” — which features THE FLAVOR BIBLE — can be found at Reviewed.com.