Tag Archives: chef

Chef Corey Lee Named Top Chef 2016

Chef Corey Lee, best known for his triple Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant Benu, has been named chef of the year 2016 by editors of the popular food blog Eater.com.

For the seventh annual Eater Awards, editors shone the spotlight on the players who made the biggest impact on the US food scene over the last year.

More than his singular menu at Benu or his equally popular bistro Monsieur Benjamin, it is for his ambitious project “In Situ” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that editors bestowed Lee with the title of chef of the year.

Part gastronomic exhibit, part unique dining experience, “In Situ” replicates dishes from some of the top Michelin-starred restaurants around the globe, allowing visitors to embark on a culinary world tour without leaving the city.

For the exhibit, Lee worked with participating chefs to recreate their signature dishes. The rotating menu features the cuisine of some of the most influential chefs around the world, including Massimo Bottura, whose Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana is the current titleholder of the world’s best restaurant; René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen; Albert Adria of Tickets in Barcelona; Thomas Keller of The French Laundry in Yountville; and Seiji Yamamoto of RyuGin in Osaka among dozens of others.

But in true Lee style, Eater food writer Bill Addison points out that, “Rather than mere mimicry, the result is akin to a choreographer interpreting a benchmark ballet. And like a work of art, the food is as wonderful to look at as it is to savor. With the debut of In Situ, it’s clear Lee is an unstoppable genius.”

The title of most beautiful restaurant of the year for 2016 goes to celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s eatery Gwen in Los Angeles, described as a “high-ceilinged beauty.”

The Art Deco-style dining room blends rustic and industrial elements, and features a European-style butcher shop that greets diners as they enter the restaurant.

“Designed by brothers Evan and Oliver Haslegrave of hOme Studios, the place feels very much like a gussied up movie set from ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Gattaca,’ blending elements of steampunk, Art Deco, and gothic interiors,” wrote LA editor Matthew Kang.

Singapore Michelin-starred Hawker Starts Food Chain

Remember when the inaugural Singapore Michelin guide made culinary stars of a couple of street food stalls? Now, one of those street-food chefs has found a way to serve his now-famous braised chicken rice dish to customers across Asia, through a partnership with a multinational culinary company.

The partnership between Chef Chan Hon Meng and Singapore-based Hersing Culinary (who holds the franchise for another Michelin-approved food chain Tim Ho Wan) will start with a new Singaporean restaurant before expanding across the region,as announced in a joint press conference. If this news sounds vaguely familiar, it is because we previously covered Chan’s desire to find the right partner, where he even cited the Tim Ho Wan example as ideal.

“I’m very happy to find the right partner,” Chan told reporters. “It’s important that they are very enthusiastic about the food and beverage industry and they put their customers first.”

The starting point of their joint project will be a restaurant called Hawker Chan, which will serve the signature chicken rice dishes that won over the Michelin judges. It will be located near Chan’s current Chinatown hawker stall, with a capacity of 80 seats, air-conditioning and sit-down dining for a slightly higher price. The startup cost is estimated to at SG$1 million ($720,000), and Chan will get a 50% stake in the venture.

Chan’s braised chicken rice dish, which you can get for just SG$2.50 (approx. $1.80) is a feat on its own. Today, people will queue for hours to have a taste of Chan’s specialty, reportedly the cheapest Michelin-starred fare in the world.

“I’m very happy that I can bring something small that belongs to Singapore to go across the world,” he said Friday. “If you work hard, you can be recognized and your day will come.” The original stall will stay open, while Chan shall oversee both outlets.

Hersing chairman Harry Chua declined to give a timeline for international expansion, with financial terms for future outlets to be negotiated between the two parties. Currently, the group’s dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan has expanded to the international culinary scene, with 38 outlets spread in nine countries.

The feat is a dream came true for Chan, who in indicated his desire to “be like Tim Ho Wan” in previous interviews.

Michael Tusk Quince Awarded Three Michelin Stars

San Francisco cements its status as one of the leading gastronomic destinations in the US, as the 2017 Michelin edition of the Red Guide bestowed Michael Tusk’s Quince with the coveted three-star rating.

Tusk’s dining establishment incorporates Italian cuisine (Tusk was trained as a chef in Europe) with local Northern California produce. One of its signature offerings is a tortelli dish re-interpreted with a mix of sweetcorn, nasturtium and fava bean. Tusk’s dishes are rich and flavorful without losing sophistication – one example is his risotto with Dungeness crab and dill flowers. Quince is also a member of the Relais & Châteaux network.

“We have closely watched Chef Michael Tusk for several years now. In his cuisine, every dish, even the simplest, is exceptional,” comments Michael Ellis, International Director of the Michelin Guide. “It is his fine, precise techniques, that now makes Quince a unique experience for the customer: an experience that is worth the trip.”

Quince joins the prestigious club of three-star restaurants already in San Francisco: Benu, The French Laundry, Manresa, Saison and The Restaurant at Meadwood.

For its 2017 edition, the Michelin Guide San Francisco awards a new two-star rating to David Barzelay’s restaurant, Lazy Bear.

There are seven new additions to the one-star category.

The Michelin Guide San Francisco 2017 is available from bookstores or via the Michelin Restaurants application.

Icelandic Cuisine: Tourism Boom

Icelandic Cuisine Gets Tourism Boost

There is a low, growing buzz in the food world that is taking notice of the large culinary talent coming out of Iceland, whose population numbers 332,000. It is a hum that grew louder with the appointment of Icelander Gunnar Gislason as head chef of Claus Meyer’s latest restaurant Agern in New York’s Grand Central Terminal, one of the year’s most anticipated openings.

Gislason’s Reykjavik restaurant Dill is widely regarded as one of the best examples of Icelandic cuisine, while Meyer is the brains behind Noma in Copenhagen.

But back in Iceland, there’s also a robust dining scene driven by the booming number of international visitors, clever tourism campaigns, and a growing curiosity about the country whose otherworldly landscape doubles as a setting for Game of Thrones, and whose Viking, slow-clap war cry earned the world’s admiration.

For many Iceland-bound visitors, food is an afterthought on their adventure-packed itinerary, which often includes glacier walks, snowmobiling, ice climbing and horseback-riding.

But chefs like Gislason and Ylfa Helgadottir of Kopar restaurant are drawing more attention to Icelandic cuisine, which has long stood on the fringes of the New Nordic movement, dominated by Norway and Denmark.

Icelandic Cuisine: Tourism Boom

Lobster and crab risotto at Kopar

On a Saturday night in September at Kopar, American, British and Asian tourists — some in dinner attire, others still in hiking boots and wool sweaters — take up most of the tables.

The menu is meant to take guests through an edible journey of the country’s land and sea. Or as it is also known, the land of fire and ice.

Surprisingly light and fluffy battered cod tongues are served with a garlic-flavored cream cheese and lemon dip while sweet scallops are given the ceviche treatment with dill cream and Icelandic caviar.

Helgadottir’s smile is seen on Tourism Iceland’s latest promotional campaign, Iceland Academy, a series of videos created in response to the recent tourism boom.

Since 2010, the annual growth in tourist visits has averaged 22 percent – impressive given the global average of 3.5 percent between 2005 and 2014.

New figures estimate a 29 percent increase in the number of visitors by the end of 2016 compared to 2015. That translates to 1.6 million tourists – or nearly five times the country’s population.

Icelandic Cuisine: Tourism Boom

Salted fillet of Icelandic cod, with quinoa, roasted hazelnuts at Kopar

Construction cranes and massive holes in the ground stand as testament to the pace of development in Reykjavik where hotels can’t be built fast enough.

And according to Google, Reykjavik is the fastest rising search term for cities around the world as of July 25, with New Yorkers expressing the highest interest.

The influx of wealthy, adventure-seeking travelers (recently Gwyneth Paltrow was one of them) has inspired local chefs to cater to sophisticated palates and break out from under the infamy of fermented shark and roasted sheep’s head.

As Helgadottir points out in her tutorial “How to eat like an Icelander,” Iceland enjoys one of the longest life spans in the world, a fact often credited to the purity of ingredients. Lamb is sourced from free-roaming sheep and fresh fish are caught sustainably.

At one of the hottest new addresses in Reykjavik, Messinn, a flaky filet of plaice is served in the cast-iron pan it was fried in, served simply with potatoes in butter, capers and tomatoes.

At the four-star Hotel Ranga in South Iceland, pink-fleshed fillets of lamb are pan-fried and served atop a carrot purée and green pea cream.

And at Skyrgerðin, the menu pays homage to one of Iceland’s oldest food traditions, skyr, a rich, dairy product that could be described as the low-fat version of Greek yogurt.

For a sample of Icelandic-influenced cuisine abroad, check out the menu at much-acclaimed restaurants Texture in London, Agern in New York, and Dottir in Berlin.

The writer was a guest of the Icelandic tourist office Visit Iceland and Icelandair, whose Stopover Buddy program allows travelers to tack on a seven-night stay en route to their destination for no additional fee. The program also pairs visitors with a local who will provide tours based on the travelers’ interests.

French Chef of the Year: Christian Le Squer

French Chef of the Year: Christian Le Squer

Chef Christian Le Squer, who gave Paris another triple Michelin-starred restaurant earlier this year with Le Cinq restaurant at the Four Seasons George V, has been voted chef of the year by his confreres.

For the 30th edition of Le Chef magazine’s “Chef of the Year” awards, Le Squer took the coveted title after elevating Le Cinq to the exclusive three Michelin-starred club within about a year of taking over the reins of the kitchen.

The award is pitched as the only one of its kind in France for being voted upon by fellow chefs in the industry.

This year, about 6,000 industry chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers and maitres d’hotels were invited to cast votes for their outstanding peers.

It comes as little surprise that Le Squer would take this year’s honor, given the amount of buzz generated following his takeover of the iconic dining destination.

The ambitious chef made no secret of his single-minded vision for the restaurant, proclaiming it his personal and professional mission to give it a third star.

His strategy was to do what he does best: classic French fare executed with masterful techniques honed at his previous post as chef of the Pavillon Ledoyen, where he also earned three Michelin stars.

French Chef of the Year: Christian Le Squer

While the menu at Le Cinq changes seasonally, some of his signature dishes include the turbot with truffled fingerling potato emulsion, crispy prawns from Bretagne and citrus emulsion, and whipped oysters.

The chef describes his cuisine as: “flavors, concentrated and moving.”

Likewise, Le Squer has also made it a priority to become active on social media, spending about an hour a day engaging with fans and sharing recipes.

Pastry chefs across France also expressed their admiration for Nina Metayer of Le Grand Restaurant in Paris, voting her the pastry chef of 2016 for her elegantly turned out desserts.

On Monday night, more than 900 guests – including 400 Michelin-starred chefs – gathered at a gala event at the Lido on the Champs-Elysées to honor this year’s winners and fete the magazine’s 30th anniversary.

Here are the winners:

Chef of the year: Christian Le Squer, for Le Cinq, Paris

Pastry chef of the year: Nina Metayer, Le Grand Restaurant, Paris

Sommelier of the year: Baptiste Cavagna, La Pyramide, Vienne

Service award: Francois Pipala, Paul Bocuse, Collonges au Mont d’Or

Singapore Michelin-Star Hawker Seeks Expansion Deal

A Singapore food hawker who was awarded one Michelin star in July is seeking an international expansion deal he hopes can bring him at least $1.47 million.

Malaysian-born Chan Hon Meng, who was recognized for his soya sauce braised chicken rice, told AFP on Monday he wants a partner who can make him an international franchise, “like KFC”.

He cited as models Asian brands like Hong Kong’s Tim Ho Wan and Taiwan’s Din Tai Fung, which have both won one star.

Since Chan was awarded the star, several investors have approached him with expansion plans. But Chan said he turned them down because they either lack overseas operating experience or cannot meet his conditions.

“I’m hoping that I can get a S$2 million payout, if not at least company shares to match. I want the brand to go into the overseas market and I want it to be run like a franchise, like KFC,” he said.

Chan said he is now in talks with a global food and beverage company which has offered him generous conditions including share options. He declined to name it.

Chan made headlines when he became one of two hawkers awarded one star by the Michelin guide when it launched its inaugural Singapore edition.

A plate of chicken rice (that’s chicken with rice, at its most basic) costs just S$2.50 ($1.80), making it one of the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred dishes.

Since the award, Chan’s stall in a muggy food court in Singapore’s Chinatown has seen long queues with diners waiting up to three hours.

Fame has come at a cost for his regulars.

“Most of those are tourists. A lot of my regulars don’t get to eat my chicken any more because who can wait three hours for a meal?”

Kamilla Seidler

Latin America’s Best Female Chef Is…

In La Paz, Bolivia, Kamilla Seidler is referred to as the “Dane of the Andes.” Now, the Danish-born chef who helms an ambitious fine dining restaurant in one of the poorest countries in South America can add the title of Latin America’s Best Female Chef after being bestowed with the lofty title by organizers of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.

As editors of Restaurant magazine point out, Seidler is an unlikely champion of Bolivian cuisine: a tall, blonde woman from Denmark who speaks fluent Spanish.

But since 2013, when she took up the reins of Gustu restaurant in the Bolivian capital, Seidler has helped put an unlikely destination onto the gastronomic map.

The headline of a recent Food and Wine magazine article asked “Is Gustu the World’s Best New Restaurant?”

The vision of Noma restaurant co-founder Claus Meyer, Gustu’s goal is to start a food movement that helps rev up the country’s economic engine and advance social equity in the same way that chef Gaston Acurio helped restore pride in Peru’s culinary heritage.

Traditional Bolivian ingredients like anticuchos, beef heart skewers, and llama meat are finessed into edible works of art by a chef who has worked at some of the most famous kitchens in the world including Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire and Restaurant Geist in Copenhagen.

French chef Claude Troisgros of Olympe restaurant in Rio de Janeiro was also named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Latin America 2016 last week.

The Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards will be held in Mexico City September 26.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Chef Vongerichten Opening Vegetarian Restaurant

Jean-Gorges Vongerichten will be setting up a new restaurant in New York City come September. Aimed at being a vegetarian restaurant, named abcV, the chef will feature ingredients such as cabbage, mushrooms and beets as the highlights in dishes.

Rather than replacing meat with vegetables, such as with a vegetarian burger, the French chef is taking up the challenge to serve vegetable centric options for diners. The concept of a vegetable centric eatery is a first for New York. While the full menu has yet to be released, he did tease a few dishes such as sauerkraut, buckwheat crêpes, dosas and congee.

His latest venture is in response to the increasing popularity of vegetarian and vegan restaurants that cater to hose who are health and environmentally conscious. The new restaurant is Vongerichten’s third collaboration with furniture and design store ABC Carpet & Home. It is a follow up to ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina.

Vongerichten is now following in the footsteps of other chefs such as Alain Passard, Alain Ducasse and René Redzepi. Michelin-star chef Passard first removed red meat from the menu of L’Arpège following the mad cow disease 10 years ago while Ducasse replaced the red meat with cereals and vegetables in 2014. This spring, Denmark’s most famous chef René Redzepi announced plans to turn his next restaurant into a part-time vegetarian eatery.

world sushi cup 2016

Brazilian Chef Wins ‘World Sushi Cup’ in Tokyo

A Brazilian chef won the World Sushi Cup Friday, bursting into tears of joy after his knife skills and artful preparation of salmon roe, tuna and shrimp delicacies wowed Japanese judges.

With the country’s UNESCO-recognized cuisine enjoying an explosion of global popularity, the competition – sponsored by Japan’s agricultural ministry – aims to improve sushi standards overseas.

Dressed in white coats and hats, 27 chefs from countries ranging from France, Brazil and the US to Pakistan, nervously prepared fish and made traditional “Edo” style sushi, in tightly timed rounds.

Their techniques were closely watched and evaluated by a panel of Japanese sushi masters, with 20 chefs making it through to the finals on day two, where they had to show off their own original styles of sushi.

“I had fun,” said cup winner Celso Hideji Amano, 38, a Brazilian of Japanese ancestry who shone in the traditional sushi making round, before busting into tears.

“It’s not an easy competition,” Usman Khan, a 32-year-old Pakistani chef working at a branch of the prestigious Nobu restaurant chain in Cape Town, told AFP. “You’re under a lot of pressure,” he said on Thursday, the first day of the competition.

The annual contest was first held in 2013 and Khan, who has competed twice and made it through to the finals this year, said it was a good challenge.

“What better way to test your limits by competing against other chefs in the same profession in Japan,” he said. Khan first encountered sushi after he moved to South Africa from Kuwait 13 years ago.

“I couldn’t believe people could eat raw fish,” he said. “I was disgusted initially but I got intrigued.”

Soaring Popularity

As of July 2015, there were 89,000 Japanese restaurants outside Japan, up from 55,000 two years before, according to the ministry. But many establishments outside the country serve sushi without proper knowledge and skills, competition organisers said.

“Quite a lot of people are learning from the internet and books,” said World Sushi Cup chairman Masayoshi Kazato, who has worked as a sushi chef for more than four decades.

“Improvement of the level of cooking and hygiene through this competition – that’s what we’re aiming for,” he said.

One of the contestants, French chef Eric Ticana Sik, 31, said his goal in participating was simply to learn more. “We are one of the countries that eat the most sushi in the world, but there is really a lack of training,” he said.”Only Japanese can teach us the basics.”

Sik, whose signature sushi brings together elements of Japan and France by combining salmon and brie cheese, said he wanted to meet other chefs from around the world to “discuss and share” views.

The origin of sushi dates back to the Heian Period (794-1185), when salted “funa” fish were fermented together with rice, according to the ministry. The current style was developed in the Edo Period (1603-1867) when the public began using vinegar mixed with rice.

michel richard

Obituary: Chef Michel Richard

Michel Richard, an innovative and enormously influential French chef who helped turn Washington from a food backwater into one of the best eating cities in the country, died Saturday at 68, US media reported.

The Brittany-born Richard (pictured top on the right with Jacques Torres) died of complications of a stroke, his assistant Mel Davis told The Washington Post.

Starting his career as a pastry chef in France, he came to the United States as a young man, finally arriving in Washington in 1993. His Citronelle restaurant had an impact on the city’s culinary culture that “cannot be overestimated,” leading other chefs to follow him to Washington, The Post reported.

He later opened a high-end bistro, Michel Richard Central, that gave a French twist to some American classics.

“I am completely saddened by the news of a great chef & close friend’s passing,” tweeted Thomas Keller, who won the James Beard Best Chef in America award in 1997 and whose French Laundry restaurant in California is considered one of the best in the world.

Richard himself won the Beard best-chef award in 2006.

And boosted no doubt by the groundwork he laid, Washington was honored by Bon Appetit magazine this year as the nation’s best restaurant city.

Cannabis Chef Take Fine Dining To New High

Haute cuisine has just hit a new high – quite literally – thanks to a cannabis chef. Armed with cooking skills acquired at Michelin-star restaurants, and now syringes of cannabis compound, Christopher Sayegh of The Herbal Chef has been injecting tiny amounts of the drug into the food he serves. Described as an immersive cerebral experience not unlike a symphony, Sayegh says that his mission is to redefine haute cuisine.

“This is not about throwing butter in a pan to get everyone super high,” says Rayegh. “You have to be extremely careful because not only does heat play a very important role when cooking with cannabis, but you’re also taking people on a trip, literally, and you have a responsibility to make sure it’s done right.”

Fret not, Sayegh’s culinary forays are not illegal. Based in Los Angeles (and therefore the land of recreational marijuana use sometimes called La La Land), The Herbal Chef currently only offers its services to medical marijuana card holders. Things might change in November, however, when Californians will be able to vote for the legalization of recreational marijuana. In any event, the existence of The Herbal Chef – as well as many others seeking to capitalize on the vote – means one thing: the stigma surrounding weed is gradually evaporating.

Should you desire Wagyu Japanese beef with a shot of cannabis, or pomegranate sorbet laced with weed, The Herbal Chef is priced at $300 to $500 per head.

108 at Noma Restaurant Reopens, Copenhagen

108 at Noma will soon have a new home, and a permanent one to boot. The pop-up venture from its older, more avant garde sibling Noma is set to open this week, helmed by Noma’s chef and co-owner René Redzepi and chef Kristian Baumann (pictured below).

108 at Noma_kristian

First opened in January within the compounds of Noma in Copenhagen, the pop-up restaurant was a massive hit under Baumann, who oversaw the business until April, when the pop-up closed to prepare for its permanent reopening. Noma’s team has since been busy hunting down the highest quality Danish ingredients and liaising with local farmers and producers so as to offer diners the contemporary and refined menu they’ve come to be known for.

Like Noma – which shot to culinary fame with two Michelin stars – 108 at Noma will also pay homage to Danish gastronomy, albeit serving up a more casual offering of family-sized portioned meals to share.

 

Top Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz

Top Chefs, Experts Explore Science of Taste

At first glance, you might think this is about molecular gastronomy but it is actually about bigger questions. Do genetics influence what we like to eat? Why does food taste better when we are hungry? High-profile chefs and scientists will get together in a symposium in Spain to try and find out. It might just be the world’s most delicious symposium.

The gathering will be held in the Basque seaside resort of San Sebastian on October 24-26 – the first event organized by “Brainy Tongue,” a project launched by the Barcelona-based Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), a biomedical research institute, and the Basque Culinary Center, a gastronomy school.

At the symposium, Andoni Luis Aduriz, whose avant-garde Mugaritz restaurant is rated the world’s seventh best by Britain’s influential Restaurant magazine, Britain’s Heston Blumenthal and Singapore pastry chef Janice Wong will work with geneticists, physicists and neuroscientists from Oxford, Cambridge or Yale universities.

“The world of cooking has always been close to science and that of science to cooking,” Aduriz said at the presentation of the Brainy Tongue project in Barcelona. “But there was still something missing.”

Chefs the world over know how to pleasure their guests with their dishes and what products go well with others, and “the magic of this process is based in neuroscience,” said CRG researcher Matthieu Louis.

But “we don’t know most of the scientific principles that lie behind exceptional food.”

Understanding these could enable the creation of menus tailor-made to someone’s genetic profile or general health, for instance, or even virtual olfactory or gustatory realities.

Spain’s northern Basque country, where San Sebastian is located, is famous for its traditional and avant-garde haute cuisine.

San Sebastian itself boasts the world’s biggest number of Michelin stars per square meter after Japan’s Kyoto.

Michelin Awards Singapore’s Hawker Stall Stars

When Michelin released the Bib Gourmand just the other day, Singapore’s culinary scene was embroiled in excitement. In an update from the Bib Gourmand, Michelin has awarded actual stars to a select number of Singapore’s eateries. You would be pleased to know that two hawker stalls even found their way into the Michelin star-studded list of fame, the first time this has happened.

Marking themselves as the world’s first stars for street food (Singaporeans rejoice!), meet Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane, as well as Chinatown Food Complex’s Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. Twenty other restaurants, including Paragon Shopping Centre’s Crystal Jade Golden Palace, round out the number of eateries awarded one Michelin star to a grand total of 22.

Similarly, six restaurants now count two Michelin stars under their names, while the sole top laurel of three stars was bestowed upon Restaurant Joel Robuchon, a contemporary French outlet decked with a majestic art deco-inspired dining room. “From the quality of the ingredients – with only the best selected – to the finesse of the cooking, through to the impressive wine list that includes over 1,000 references, the experience offered by the chef Joël Robuchon is quite simple exceptional! ” exclaims Michael Ellis, International Director of Michelin Guides. You go, Glen Coco.

Congruent to Singapore’s queuing culture, we expect long lines at these places now that they bear the Michelin seal of approval. We call dibs.

The full Michelin Guide Singapore 2016 will be available in print from bookstores islandwide, or in digital through Michelin’s upcoming app for both Apple and Android phones, as well as at its website here.

Luxuo AFP Italian chef Massimo Bottura © AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA

Focus: Chef Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana

The man behind Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy creates world class wonders and serves them up with a dash of humor. His father wanted him to become a lawyer, and he nearly did.

But Massimo Bottura’s obsession with cooking instead has paid off: his restaurant may have put the noses of conservative Italian chefs out of joint, but it now boasts the title “best in the world”.

Set in the heart of Modena in northern Italy, the Osteria already boasted three Michelin stars before it snapped up first prize at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards in June thanks to a creative cuisine that reinvents Italian traditional dishes.

Winning was a “very emotional” experience, Bottura told AFP, though he said one of the main differences between first and second place on the prestigious list was “the number of interviews” he is now asked to give.

With its blue-grey walls, taupe carpet, artworks on the walls and photographs of the singer Edith Piaf, there are just 12 tables and most diners come for the tasting menu, with its 220 euro ($245) price tag.

The fare may be world class but this osteria does not take itself too seriously. A wax sculpture of a security guard by American artist Duane Hanson startles diners at the front entrance. The levity continues once seated.

Dish names include “An eel swimming up the Po River” and “Yellow is bello”. Bespectacled Bottura, 53, worked on one of his signature creations, “Memory of a mortadella sandwich”, for four years.

Follow your Palate

“I rely on my past, but I look at it critically and without nostalgia, because I want to bring the best of the past into the future,” he says.

He says he has always “sought to look at the world from under the table, with the eyes of a child stealing the pasta his grandmother” is making from scratch.

The kitchen — and the table he hid under while his grandmother fought off his quick-fingered brothers with a rolling pin — became “my safety place”.

When he was 23-years old Bottura, who was famous for rustling up culinary delights for his friends, dropped his law studies to open a Trattoria in Campazzo, in the countryside around Modena in the Po River Valley.

On his days off, he would study with French chef Georges Cogny, who had a restaurant two hours away.

“He said to me: ‘always follow your palate, because you have a great palate which will make Modena known around the world'”.

Two years and an interlude in New York later, it was another Frenchman that changed his destiny, Alain Ducasse.

After the Provencal food guru came to Bottura’s Trattoria, the Italian ended up going to work for him in Monte Carlo for a time.

Ducasse had a huge influence on him: “He taught me to be obsessed: obsessed with quality ingredients, obsessed with detail”.

Back in Modena in 1995, he opened the Osteria Francescana. Never satisfied, he jumped at the chance five years later to learn from another great master, Spanish giant Ferran Adria.

Adria taught Bottura the “freedom to be creative”, to think that “a sardine can be worth as much as a lobster, but it all depends on whose hands it is in.”

Mouthfuls of Passion

Bottura begins with local products and messes around with traditional recipes, drawing for inspiration on everything from his childhood kitchen to poetry, art and music, “compressing my passions into mouthfuls”.

His philosophy and creations at first perplexed and even angered Italy’s culinary old guard.

“It’s ironic isn’t it? Ten years ago they wanted to string me up in the main square because I ‘destroyed’ our grandmothers’ recipes”.

With the world prize in the bag, Bottura turns his mind back to his social projects, particularly his war on food waste.

His next big gig will see him set up a caffetteria in Rio which will transform leftover food from the Olympic Games Village into free meals for the poor living in the Brazilian city’s favelas.

Everything the excitable chef does comes with the support of his American wife Lara Gilmore, who left New York for him and gave the ok for his Spanish adventure even though she was pregnant at the time.

“I fell in love with Massimo’s kitchen before actually falling in love with him,” she says.

“He really got me with his creamy velvet artichoke soup”.

Roca Brothers Open Catalan Culinary Lab

It’s not every day when you can call yourself a UN Ambassador and creator of an online cooking course – unless you’re the Roca brothers. Meet Joan, Jordi and Josep, who are now adding “opening a gastronomic research and development center” to their slew of achievements.

Located near their top-ranked restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Spain, well Catalonia, (think charted on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, twice!), the Roca Brothers Foundation will focus on innovation, training and social responsibility. Of course, we expect nothing less from UN ambassadors: the foundation is projected to be international in scale and will focus parts of its efforts on food security.

“We will connect with the international community of chefs and stagiaires to cement a global culinary force that will take a substantial step to achieve universal food security under the umbrella of the United Nations Development Program,” said the brothers.

While the project is still in its infancy with no slated opening date, we love what they have planned. Doing good with food is the way to go.

Krug Champagne Releases Second Book on Eggs

Speak of champagne and a plethora of possible food pairings will spring to mind: caviar, foie gras, and other luxurious likes. This year, the House of Krug subverts conventions yet again, releasing its second global publication of unexpected food pairings with its famed champagnes in Singapore. The food item of choice this year: eggs.

“Poached, scrambled or fried?” is a collection of unique egg-based creations from 17 of the world’s highly talented Krug Ambassade Chefs. While basic, common and very humble, the egg opens up a world of transcendent possibilities when paired with the Krug Grande Cuvee. An exquisite blend of 120 wines from more than 10 different years, the pairing is a classic commoner-meets-royal marriage. As always, the result is magical and sublime.

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More than just a simple collation of original food pairings, the publication also marks the gathering of some of the most esteemed chefs worldwide, doubling it as a tribute to the culmination of culinary expertise. Swedish photographer Jenny Zarins also lends her artistic proficiency to this publication, lensing the chefs with her characteristic subtle lightheartedness.

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“Poached, scrambled or fried?” can be found in Krug Ambassades and Krug restaurant partners, all of whom will be celebrating Krug & Egg with specific menus and experiences throughout the year. Egg-citing times wait ahead.

See Krug Champagne on Epicurio! Download the app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines & spirits and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Chef Vongerichten Moves To Palácio Tangará

With a wide experience stretching from French Cuisine to Asian Cuisine, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will bring his culinary expertise to Palácio Tangará, Brazil. Vongerichten is famed as one of the best chefs out there and he’s already set up quite a number of establishments around the world. Now he’s set out to conquer South America as well, by taking over the cuisine at the Palácio Tangará, due to open in Brazil early next year.

The Palácio Tangará is a luxurious hotel located in the city of São Paulo, boasting of just 141 spacious guestrooms (with 59 suites) and a great view overlooking the Burle Marx Park. Such a space requires a chef with the chops to fit the occasion. Well, thankfully the group behind the hotel, the Oetker Collection, has been able to tap on Vongerichten. This isn’t the first time he’s worked at a place owned by them though – he was previously a chef at their Eden Rock hotel in St. Barths.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten Moves To Palácio Tangará

Vongerichten’s reputation comes from his astute sensibility towards the food. His restaurants have wowed countless reviewers out there for cuisine done superbly without any flourish or grand style. He has also been praised for creating new tastes with his combination of simple ingredients, and his openness to new ideas from other cuisines other than French. He’s also published five cookbooks already, letting chefs and ambitious amateurs from all around the world in on his technique.

It is quite exciting to wonder what the new chef will add to his repertoire this time. After all, South America boasts an incredible depth of culinary diversity and skill for Vongerichten to tap. Whatever he comes up with though, we know that it’s most likely going to be spectacular.

Pierre Herme Crowned Best Pastry Chef 2016

The next time you bite into one of Pierre Herme’s macarons, remember that it is a creation of the world’s Best Pastry Chef, a title bestowed on him by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Born into a family of master bakers from the Alsace region of eastern France, Herme’s dedication to macarons has elevated it into an art form. It is very surprising then that he started out not being a fan of the French dessert because they were too sweet. “What prompted me to work on macarons was that before there were just coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavors,” he added. “So it gave me great latitude for creativity.”

His inventiveness and creativity made his signature macarons a household name. Steering away from typical flavors, he married ingredients such as olive oil and vanilla, wild rose hip, fig and foie gras to his menu, using sugar “as a seasoning and not a principal ingredient.” Some of his most sought-after flavors include “Ispahan” – a refreshing mix of raspberries, lychee and rosewater – and “Mogador” – a decadent combination of passion fruit and milk chocolate.

It wasn’t an overnight success story; Herme had to undergo constant experimentation and a decade of apprenticeship with Parisian patissier Gaston Lenotre before his debut in 1997. He obtains inspiration from everywhere – “something I have tasted, something I have read or maybe an image,” he said. But with success also comes failure. “We worked on a pear and chestnut macaron. But after three attempts, we had to admit that we were never going to make one that had both the true taste of pear and of chestnut at the same time,” Herme reflected.

Now 54, Herme still keeps his experimental notes safely archived. His patisserie has expanded to include tarts, cakes, chocolates and jams, though the core of his business still revolves around macarons. Collaborations with artists such as Nicolas Buffe, who designed his chocolate boxes, and perfumier Jean-Michel Duriez has helped spread the word about his desserts internationally. “There are more and more talented patissiers out there opening shops and doing great things in hotels and restaurants. The profession is very much alive and there are lots of people eager to learn, which is wonderful,” he said.

Joan Roca on His Restaurant’s Success

The Roca brothers — Joan, Josep and Jordi — will be able to breathe easy on Monday evening, when the World’s 50 Best Restaurants will be announced. It will be the moment the brothers behind El Celler de Can Roca find out if they will hold the title for a third time (The first was in 2013 and a second time in 2015). “Our creative team includes a scientist, botanist and artist, a lot of interesting people,” said Joan Roca who credits the team and the interdisciplinary contributions everyone brings to the restaurant.

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His brother Josep works the front of the house, while Jordi works the pastry line in the restaurant. “Three heads really are better than one. We have a very good relationship. My brothers are very creative and between this triangle, things can get very interesting,” Roca said. Since winning the title, El Celler de Can Roca has made dining a multi-sensory experience by incorporating theatrical productions such as “El Somni” to the mix in 2013. The following year, the restaurant took their Girona restaurant to the United State and Latin America for their gastronomic tour.

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Joan Roca, however, feels he has much left to explore in the culinary world. His recent trip to Thailand with Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants saw him stepping out of his comfort zone when he was introduced the flavours of yellow curry, Thai basil and chili peppers – ingredients uncommon in his culinary spectrum. Roca is set to embark on a third world tour with his restaurant staff this summer, with countries such as London, Phoenix, San Francisco, Santiago, Chile and Hong Kong on the itinerary. He hopes that the tour will help him understand their unique local flavours, especially those of Chinese cuisine.

While the typical El Celler de Can Roca experience revolves around culinary creativity, Roca modestly believes that it is his restaurant’s hospitality that keep his diners coming back for more. “The most important thing is hospitality. It’s important that the guests are happy to be here,” he said.