I was asked on Twitter what I thought of the latest movie on the chef world, really the first authentic movie on the work of professional cooking since Ratatouille (one of the best on the subject). So here comes a formidable writer, director, and marquee cast (Scarlett, Dustin, Robert {D. Jr.}, Sofia V., the compelling Bobby Cannavale, and writer/director/lead Jon Favreau) to try to tell a story and also get right what really hasn’t been done well in American film ever, animation excepted: the life of the chef. Spanglish, and No Reservations being two hopefuls that did not get it right. As a narrative, Chef is predictable (I’d seen the previews, all you need to know), almost tired, father-son road movie, guilty hard-working dad, cute kid, likable (ex) wife—worked for Elf, right? My writing mentor said, “No Read On »

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The-Ben-Smith-cocktail-@102

I read about this impromptu cocktail in Molly Wizenberg’s new memoir, Delancey, about her and her husband’s opening of a restaurant in Seattle, one specializing in pizza, her Jersey-born husband’s culinary love. Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette, is a felicitous writer, and her latest is a lovely memoir about love and food and the crazy decisions we make based on nothing reliable and the risks we take, and the really, really hard work of running a restaurant, even a casual pizzeria. Molly and Brandon’s good friend, Ben, offered this cocktail, which appealed to my inner skinflint, with its insistence on cheap gin. Love that. Wizenberg names it grandly: The Benjamin Wayne Smith. I am adding vermouth (because it benefits from it), which Wizenberg also suggests, and because of the modification Read On »

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Spaetzle-for-blog

I wanted to include spaetzle as a side dish in the new book I’m working on. As I searched for something other than a colander to press the batter through, there, beckoning from a bin of kitchen utensils as if actually waving to me, was the Badass Perforated (aka Egg) Spoon. Would it work? Lo, I scooped up a spoonful and pressed the batter through it into the boiling water. When the batter was through, I scooped up another spoonful. Worked like a charm! I will now be making spaetzle, the homemade pasta translating from German as “little sparrows,” more often. The recipe below comes from my partner in Charcuterie and Salumi, Brian Polcyn, as I can’t give out the recipe that Little, Brown will be publishing. (But, shh, my ratio basically works out to 1:3:3 by weight, egg to liquid to Read On »

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eat1retreat1

After my assistant, Emilia Juocys, returned from a food-related trip to California, I asked her how it was. I’d heard about Eat Retreat but didn’t have a clear sense of what it was. I said, “Why don’t you write a post about it.”Though what she sent me was considerably more personal than I’d anticipated, it also underscored what we all recognize: the power of food to connect us to one another. —M.R. By Emilia Juocys With all of the changes I have experienced in the last 12 months I needed to do something different and meet some new people, especially in the culinary world. Chicago had been great to me but I left in the fall to return home because I was getting divorced after nine years of marriage. Never expected it, but life happens, people change, and the Read On »

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Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

What cocktail to offer on Independence Day, the day some of the greatest political minds signed the document outlining the most secure and fair methods of governance, formally and with uncommon eloquence and foresight, and obliterating all ties with Great Britain? I suggest a smash, connoting demolition and also one of our country’s oldest cocktails, featuring one of our oldest spirits. I do so after consulting Brad Thomas Parsons, whose book Bitters I continue to admire. Responding to my email, he wrote: “Cocktails were born in America, but for that question, I guess I’m thinking less of an iconic drink like an Old-Fashioned or a Manhattan or a Martini, and instead, as it’s the Fourth of July, thinking about a spirit with heritage—something the American colonists might be drinking. Something like applejack or apple brandy. Laird & Company is America’s Read On »

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