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Todays Chefs News

 
Four years ago, Arizona's A-list chefs gathered in an outdoor downtown square for their inaugural culinary festival. The fanfare was minimal and expectations modest.

This weekend, West of Western - the state's finest collection of chefs - opens at a new location, with more chefs and high expectations.

"No one knew what the heck it was the first year. Now they do. It's turned into a premier food event in a pretty short time," said Scott Andrews, festival director.

The first-class nibbling feast is set to run Saturday and Sunday at Phoenix Art Museum, with an invitation-only blockbuster lineup of more than 50 chefs, including Justin Beckett of Canal in Scottsdale, Carolyn Ellis of Arcadia Farms in Scottsdale, Greg LaPrad of Quiessence in Phoenix, Hiro Tanaguchi of Kizake in Scottsdale; Scott Tompkins of Skye Fine Dining in Peoria and Matt McLinn of Methode Bistro in Scottsdale.

Festival foodies can watch as chefs prepare and offer samples of their restaurants' fare. At the Wine Table, they can taste more than 70 international wines. Live music from two stages in the museum's Dorrance Sculpture Garden and Great Hall will entertain as chefs cook and others eat and drink.

In addition, the Desert Diversity Expo, organized by Slow Food Phoenix and Community Food Connections, will host presentations by non-profit food-heritage organizations, such as Native Seed/SEARCH and Tohono O'odham Community Action (TOCA), Arizona growers and specialty-food companies.

Details: The prix-fixe festival will run from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with wine tastings from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave. Ticket sales begin at 10 a.m. both days. A full-day food-and-wine ticket costs $75 in advance and $85 at the door, and a two-day pass $140 in advance and $150 at the door. A full-day food-only ticket costs $67 in advance and $77 at the door, and a two-day pass $124 in advance and $134 at the door.

Visit westofwestern.com for more information.
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Tim J. Otte is originally from Cheboygan, Wisconsin. He is currently the St. Anthony's Hall (The Hall) chef, and the former owner of Timothy's restaurant

Carver Diserens: Have you eaten at the Trinity Restaurant?

Tim Otte: Yep, over the summer.

Carver: What do you think? Is it a step down or up?

Tim: I think their food is excellent. She's doing a great job. She just needs some more business.

Carver: Is it difficult owning a restaurant that relies on a college for a lot of its business, especially during the summer months?

Tim: It depends, it's a seasonal business. Although, during the day in the summer, is usually busier than in the fall or winter. There are still a lot of people working at Trinity and we also pulled a lot of people from around the Capitol.

Carver: Which job is more stressful working here or working at Timothy's?

Tim: Timothy's was a lot more stressful, it's like night and day.

Carver: What is the best thing about each job?

Tim: The people, at both places. The kids here are terrific.

Carver: What is the worst thing about each job?

Tim: Here, it's the parking. At Timothy's, snowstorms were the worst, it was tough to get customers.

Carver: Tell me about floor hockey.

Tim: Floor hockey?

Carver: Yes, that may or may not be played in the room behind me, from time to time.

Tim: Generally, I prefer for it to be played outside.

Carver: But that doesn't always happen.

Tim: It doesn't always, but for the most part [the members of the Hall] keep it outside. They're pretty good about it now, they listen.

Carver: How often do you make black magic cake here?

Tim: Maybe once every two or three weeks. Tonight they have formal dinner, so I'm making it.

Carver: In hindsight, has it been worth selling your immortal soul for the recipe?

Tim: Actually it is an old Hershey's recipe. So it's not a secret or anything.

Carver: Is there any secret technique then?

Tim: A lot of love.

Carver: How long do you see yourself working here?

Tim: I'll probably work until I'm about 70 or so.

Carver: Do you have any message you want to share with the Trinity community?

Tim: I enjoy running into people when I'm walking around campus, and love to say "hi" to former customers.

Daniel "Dano" Pettinato is originally from East Hartford, Conn. He is currently the chef at Psi Upsilon (Psi U).

Carver: If we were to do a cook-off between all three of the Greek house's cooks, what would you make and who would win?

Daniel Pettinato: I would win. I would make beef Wellington, that's what I made when we had the president here.

Carver: Of the three people in this interview you're the only one who has worked in their current position for more than two years. What is your opinion of Trinity College and the students here?

Dano: There have been a lot of changes since I've been here, some good, some bad. The one thing that I get disappointed in is that there isn't as much school spirit anymore. I was talking to the hockey guys and they told me that [The NESCAC Champion Trinity Bantams hockey team] have the lowest attendance even in the NESCAC with the new rink and I think that's kind of embarrassing. I think the school needs to market themselves better when it comes to that sort of stuff.

Carver: What would you do differently?

Dano: I think the school needs to announce and publicize the events more so that students don't only hear about it from each other. Like this weekend, the hockey team is playing [and winning] up at Colby. I know it's far, but the school could have gotten a bus or something so students could go watch. I also can't stand when you leave the hockey games in between periods to go get a beer at The Tap and then have to pay again to get back in. I mean it's only a dollar, but at least for the students it should be free, make it an event.

Carver: What would you say to people who want to shut down the fraternities at Trinity?

Dano: I honestly think that they haven't been to them enough and don't understand what goes on. They function like small businesses and I don't think people appreciate how much work goes into them. Most students come here and go nuts and don't realize that the brothers have to pay for everything in the house and it's not a school-sponsored organization. I mean you would like to be able to let everyone in, but the first problem with that is the fire codes set up by the fire marshall.

Carver: I know you do a lot for our troops stationed overseas, in terms of sending care packages and stuff, especially since there are a couple of Psi U alums involved. Why do you think that it's so important?

Dano: I think that the students don't feel that there is a war going on. Not just Trinity students, but everyone. At Hartford County 4H, the summer camp I work at, on rainy days we have the kids write letters and send some care packages. When I talk to Stu [Howell '98] he says that they pass all the letters around the barracks and it really means a lot to them. Those guys are over there so you can go to school here, it could be you. It's a mistake to think that the troops are making the policy decisions, they just signed up to do their job. Stu has done three tours and just re-upped for six more years, he's someone you should admire. For someone to come to a school like this and then sacrifice himself to go fly helicopters that are getting shot at, is really important. If you've got a free minute, write a letter to a soldier, they love it.

Carver: How do you feel about our campus climate?

Dano: Just a general difference on the campus, I think has a lot to do with cell phones. You don't see anybody walking without their cell phone out. It makes the campus impersonal, people don't say hello to each other they just look away and talk on their phones. I also think that things get blown way out of proportion here. I mean I grew up in the '60s and '70s and I don't ever remember things being like this.

Carver: That is a lot to do with political correctness.

Dano: I don't think it's a help for anybody when you can't say anything, that's not free speech.

Carver: Any final message you would like to share with the Trinity community?

Dano: Keep my kitchen clean when you sneak in here. Also, do you think I'll get a free case of soda if I mention trinsnacks.com in this interview?

Fahd Qatabi is originally from Sanaa, Yemen. He is the chef at Alpha Delta Phi (AD).

Carver: What do you do when you're not cooking for AD?

Fahd Qatabi: I work at the Goodwin Hotel.

Carver: And what is your position there?

Fahd: I'm a banquet chef.

Carver: What meal that you make here is the most popular with guys?

Fahd: Every day they are excited. All the time they like what I cook.

Carver: Thats some pretty high praise. Is there something that you make better than anything else?

Fahd: They can ask me to make anything and I'll usually be able to do it. They really like steak dinner or lobster dinner.

Carver: If you could cook only one meal to try and impress someone, what would you make?

Fahd: My favorite to make is Italian pastas. I like to make a lobster pasta with mushrooms, asparagus, onions, marsala wine, and heavy cream. [Carver: It's no Zona Mexicana, but it'll do.]

Carver: Do you ever cook them any Yemenese food?

Fahd: Not here. It's similar to Greek food sort of: hummus salad, shish kebabs or lamb shanks.

Carver: Does working for people in their 20s make your job easier or harder than working at the hotel?

Fahd: They are both pretty easy. The guys here are educated and they understand how things work. It's more demanding to work at the hotel. There are lots of different people that expect different things from their food. Sometimes guests will say, "This is the best," or maybe they will say, "It's only so-so".

Carver: Describe for me, if you would, the scene in the kitchen on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Fahd: It's clean, [the brothers] have schedules to keep the kitchen clean. Everyday two people come to clean. Sometimes when they have parties it's a little messier, but they still get up and clean their house.

Carver: What's the toughest thing about your job?

Fahd: I haven't seen anything hard so far.

Carver: You've only worked here a little over a year. What is your opinion of Trinity and its students?

Fahd: Well, it's definitely one of the best colleges in Connecticut.

Carver: Do you have any final message that you want to say to the Trinity community? It's okay if this is a plug for the Goodwin.

Fahd: A lot of parents come stay at the Goodwin, that's where they like to say. We do a lot of parties for graduation.

Carver: I'll tell people to ask for you when they stay there. Anything else?

Fahd: I would say it's important to be educated and work hard. This is your future. If you don't have any education, you'll be washing dishes, cutting grass, working for minimum wage. This time is all about what you have, what kind of degree you have. Anywhere you go to get a job they'll ask you what school you came from and what kind of work you want to do. If you don't have education in this country you're nothing. Even in third world countries now, it's a whole new generation with computers and technology. Look at Dubai, it's in a third world country. That was built from nothing and it's not just because of the oil money. It's because of the knowledge and the investment
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The culinary accent is on a hometown specialty and favorite classic dishes as "Top Chef" returns to Chicago to launch its fourth season with a special 75-minute episode Wednesday at 10 on Bravo.

Joined by guest judge Rocco DiSpirito, returning host Padma Lakshmi sizes up 16 rising chefs within minutes of the opening in a quick-fire challenge built around deep-dish pizza, a staple among Chicago foodies.

Then, the chefs must weather their first elimination challenge in the form of head-to-head cook-offs of such classic dishes as eggs Benedict, crab cakes, lasagna, shrimp scampi and steak au poivre, evaluated by Lakshmi, DiSpirito, returning head judge Tom Colicchio and guest Anthony Bourdain.

And the stakes are high: In addition to earning the title of Top Chef along with major name recognition in the food industry, the winner receives $100,000 in seed money to help open a restaurant, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., and a gourmet vacation in the French Alps.

Fresh faces second to talent

Based on the first episode, the lineup of this season's chefs may be the strongest the show has fielded to date, which ensures that the focus stays on the food, not pumped-up personal drama among the contestants.

"It isn't that the chefs get better; it's that the pool gets deeper," Colicchio says. "In the first season, there were probably three chefs who had a serious shot at winning. By season 3, there were more of them, and by season four, it's a pretty deep pool of serious contenders.

"In season 3 there was more of an effort to bring in a higher level of chef, so we were dealing with people who had spent a little more time in the kitchen and were a bit more mature. You can't expect a first-year culinary student to be able to compete with a chef who has been around for five to eight years. I know they want to get young, fresh faces that play better on TV, but I think [the casting people] have realized that if you are going to be serious about this, you need to get serious talent."

That third season, which was won by Asian-American chef Hung Huynh, marked a reassuring return to form for "Top Chef" after season 2 tilted bizarrely into a bitter personality clash between eventual winner Ilan Hall and the runner-up, Marcel Vigneron.

If you can't stand the heat ...

Hostilities escalated against Vigneron until some of his housemates tried to hold him down and shave his head, resulting in the expulsion of contestant Cliff Crooks, one of the season's strongest chefs.

"Yes, I call that our 'Lord of the Flies' moment," Lakshmi says of the dustup. "Since that was my first season, it was a hazing for me as well. It didn't help that we were going through a heat wave in Los Angeles while we were filming that season, and we were filming in a kitchen where it was even hotter than it was outside in the afternoon, since we had to turn off the air conditioner during filming because of the noise. So there was that at work.

"Also, one season had been aired, so some of the contestants had gotten - well, not media-savvy, evidently, but media-aware. I think they got it into their head that if they were strong personalities and very aggressive and had a lot of bravado and a strange machismo, they would stand out more and get more airtime. During that sophomore season, they just seemed to think, 'I'm going to make sure my personality stands out in whatever way that is.'"

Happily, no such psychodrama has marred season 4 to date, Lakshmi says, although she and Colicchio both emphasize that the judges don't fraternize with the contestants and aren't aware of tensions that erupt solely on the home front.

Bravo! Who's cooking?

This season's "cheftestants" are:

Richard Blais, 35, formerly of Uniondale, now living in Atlanta

Erik Hopfinger, 38, formerly of Chappaqua, N.Y., now living in San Francisco

Jennifer Biesty, 35, formerly of Brooklyn, now in San Francisco

Lisa Fernandes, 27, a Canadian now living in New York

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The Iowa Events Center in Des Moines will host a Celebrity Food and Wine Expo later this year. Events Center General Manager Matt Homan says the three-day event will feature at least five well-known chefs.

"We're going to bring in some top celebrity chefs," Homan said. "Right now, we've confirmed Curtis Stone, Sandra Lee and Jamie Gwen - and within the next day or two, we hope to have a couple more big announcements."

The expo will begin November 21. Homan says celebrity chefs have become increasingly popular on television channels like the Food Network, The Learning Channel and The Travel Channel. He's hoping that craze will spell success for the expo in Des Moines.

"People are crazy about the Food Show. We find people are very fascinated by it," Homan said. "We think there's a good opportunity for everyone." Tickets are priced at $25 in advance or $30 at the door - and they go on sale on March 29.

Homan says there will be a large kitchen, where people will be able to watch the celebrity chefs prepare meals, followed by autograph sessions. The expo will also include about 150 vendors, a dessert and coffee bar, and wine and beer tasting.

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The Culinary Classic fundraiser for the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. May 5 at The Mill, Old Mill Road, Spring Lake Heights. It will feature the best dishes of chefs from restaurants in the Jersey Shore. There also will be music, raffles and a silent auction. Tickets cost $85 per person. Call (732) 918-2600 or visit

www.foodbankmoc.org for more information.

The 30 chefs participating so far in the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties' Culinary Classic fundraiser in May know they have to let the organization know ahead of time what they will be serving.

That is, except for Joseph Leone Introna, owner of Joe Leone's Italian Specialities & Catering in Point Pleasant Beach.

"Everyone has to submit what they are serving, but Joe always refuses because he wants to surprise us," said Susan Kelly, the food bank's executive director.

"I like to keep people on their toes," said Introna, who was named the group's Humanitarian of the Year at a different fundraiser last year.

For the 2007 Culinary Classic, he came up with sushi Italiano style.

"This is good for the community," Introna said. "It's good to get out there and show your product to the community, and it's good for the food bank."

Many chefs and owners came to the food bank's headquarters in Neptune on Monday for a picture that will go out on invitations for the 17th annual tasting event to be held from 5 to 9 p.m. May 5 at The Mill in Spring Lake Heights. Tickets cost $85.

The Culinary Classic purposely is scheduled on a Monday, when many restaurants are closed. The chefs and restaurateurs donate their services and food. The event last year raised $80,000.

The food bank says it serves more than 19,000 individual children each year with emergency food and distributes 3.5 million pounds of food to 250 charities in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

"Look at what they've done," said Marilyn Schlossbach, owner of the Market in the Middle restaurant on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park and a participating chef. "They've (the food bank) gone from a little facility to this big warehouse (operation). It's amazing how far it's come."

In one of the food bank's programs, chef Raymond Cattley, assisted by Stan Lippman, teaches students, usually adults, how to cook. The program is held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays for 13 weeks.

Cattley said about 135 students have come through the course, and 80 percent who graduated got jobs in the food service industry. The current class is the 21st.

The meals prepared in the classes each day go to about 100 children to have at dinner in the two after-school programs for children ages 6 to 18 at the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County in Asbury Park.

"They prepare the food and are very good about the variety," said Katy Dinolfo, director of the club's school-age child care program. "They give the kids a variety of foods, and the kids actually learn that they like different foods. Their parents love it, although the parents have the option to feed them dinner."

Chris Brandl, owner of Brandl, a Belmar restaurant he opened in 2002, said he participates to make a difference for people in need and also to get out the word about his restaurant. He is on the steering committee of the event.

Joe Romanowski and Maggie Lubcke have participated since the first year of the classic. The couple owns the Bay Avenue Trattoria in Highlands, which they opened three years ago after selling their Long Branch restaurant, Joe & Maggie's Bistro.

"We love doing it," Romanowski said. "It's a local cause."

"It's a good way for us to give back," Lubcke said.

This is her first time Maria Tsivicos is participating in the Culinary Classic. Tsivicos — who just opened her Synaxis restaurant, which specializes in Greek cuisine, in the former Harry's Roadhouse on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park — came to the promotional photo session Monday with her two cooks.
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TV chefs Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi have signed a deal with Fosters to promote Tuscan wine brand Gabbiano in the UK.

The husband and wife team, who star in the BBC show Return to Tuscany, will take part in a number of activities with the Italian brand to help promote the wine as a perfect partner to food.


As part of their remit, the duo will create a range of Tuscan recipes to match the Gabbiano Pinot Grigio Della Venezie and Gabbiano Chianti and will host a cookery school at the Castello Di Gabbiano where the wine is produced.

Foster’s marketing director James Lousada said: “Gabbiano is all about enjoying good food with family, just like in the Mediterranean, and with the Caldesi’s great love of cooking rustic Tuscan cuisine and dedication to their family, they are the perfect match.”

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A real submarine, second hand boats for sale, a bevy of “silly” but talented chefs and Super Sunday are all features of this year’s Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show.

“These new promotions will build on the huge success of last year’s event and further enhance the country’s most popular boat show,” says organiser Dave Gibbs.

“They will also complement our previously-announced chance for visitors to win Zodiac/Yamaha Gate Prize Packages, each valued at more than $30,000, EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE SHOW,” he says.

One of the most exciting of the new promotions is the introduction of a special display of high quality second hand boats.

“This is the first time we have allowed second hand boats to be exhibited and sold at the show,” he says, “We have done this in an effort to make boating that little bit more accessible for first time boat buyers and those who cannot quite afford a new boat.”

To ensure a high quality of boats on sale, the new display, under the banner of Premiere Class boats, will be limited to those exhibitors who are already displaying new boats from the same manufacturer or importer.

The 2008 event will also feature a real submarine for the first time.

Drydive is a new 3.6m submarine capable of carrying three people (including the skipper). to a depth of 35 metres. It is battery powered, weighs 2.1 tonnes, has a submerged speed of 3 knots and is capable of diving to 30-35 metres.

It will be on display on the Century Batteries stand and visitors to the stand will be able to go in the draw for a trip for two to Lake Taupo ¾ including a ride in the submarine!

For the first time, show visitors will also be able to buy fresh seafood at the show and have it expertly cooked for them by Derek the Chef and his team.

Derek the Chef’s Oceanz Boulevard will be situated in the café/bar area and will include entertaining and often hilarious demonstrations of fish filleting, smoking and how to cook a huge variety of fish and other seafood. A big selection of fresh seafood will also be on sale and Derek and his team will then offer to turn this into delicious meals at no extra charge!

There will also be a new Ask the Expert area for those who want to know more about a specific fishing skill or technique, more practical seminars on the new art of fishing with soft baits and the Boating Guy will once again offer free, practical and impartial advice on all aspects of boating, fishing and diving.

On Super Sunday, May 18, each paying adult will be able to bring two children aged 13 or under to the show for free.

The 2008 Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show is on at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane, Auckland from May 15-18. The show is open from 10am until 9pm on Thursday and Friday. Those attending after 5pm on these days will receive a free Bonus Card that effectively doubles their chances of winning one of the daily Zodiac/Yamaha Gate Prize Packages. On Saturday and Sunday, the show is open from 10 until 6pm.

Admission is just $16 for adults and $6 for children from 5-13. Children under 5 are free.

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Jason Fried of 37signals spoke last Friday at SXSW Interactive about the lessons he's learned from building the successful, Chicago-based software company. All 14 lessons are priceless, but #9 stands out the most for me:
Lesson 9: Follow the Chefs Jason called chefs the smartest business professionals. He explained this is because they are aware that you become famous and successful by giving knowledge away. For example, chefs have cooking shows and write cook books. Yet it doesn't stop their restaurants from being successful. In fact, he claimed they are probably more successful because of their sharing.
Day 16 of 21 Days of Wiki Adoption focuses on what to do when people are reluctant to share their knowledge on a wiki, and in that video I suggest that you encourage people to start by sharing a little, and see what they get in return. They'll get more recognition, heightened interest in their work, and new opportunities that would never have been possible before.

That's precisely what happens when chefs share their recipes in cookbooks and techniques in their shows. More people go to their restaurants, buy their cookbooks, copy their techniques, and - perhaps most important of all - influence their friends to do the same.

You have the same opportunity with your own knowledge and the power of your organization's social tools, like a wiki.
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