Western PA Lamb Fest Features Pure Bred

OTM first enjoyed the Luxurious Lamb grown by Keith Martin of Elysian Fields, of Waynesburg PA more than 30 years ago.  Keith used to drop off butchered ½ lambs for our family when he was making deliveries to Pittsburgh restaurants.  Elysian became known to fine restaurants across the country, one of whom was The French Laundry.  In 2006 Keith & Chef Thomas Keller decided to establish a joint venture. Pure Bred, to greatly expand availability & distribution of Elysian’s exceptional quality Lamb.

Pittsburghers will have a rare opportunity to sample Pure Bred Lamb at the 2nd Annual Western Pennsylvania Lamb Cookoff – “Lamb Fest”- taking place Sunday July 22 at East Liberty’s Ace Hotel.  10 Teams including Top Local Chefs and Visiting Chefs from all over the country will vie for the honor of being designated Best. 

Table Magazine is the organizer of this very special event and tickets are $65, in advance.  Get more information and tickets via http://sustainablepghrestaurants.org/site/event/2018-western-pa-lamb-festival-cook-off/. Or http://www.tablemagazine.com/table_live_posts/western-pa-lamb-fest/.

Chef Henry Harris re-emerges at London's The Coach

For more than a decade, Chef Henry Harris thrilled diners wih a taste for French Bistro classics at Racine in Knightsbridge.  OTM being part of this fraternity, we were pleased to dine with and interview Chef during our 2012 coverage of London Dining and saddened by Racine's closure.  Eater London just gave the recently opened The Coach an excellent review - and we're not surprised.  Get details at https://thecoachclerkenwell.co.uk,

Sam & Eddi Hart opening new dining options near Kings Cross

Check this out (link below)! And by the way their iconic Chef Jeremy Lee  of Quo Vadis was named "runner up" in a recently pubished list of Top Chefs for Brtitish Food - a ranking OTM endorses 100%. Way to go Jeremy, Sam & Eddie!!

click here to read more.

Grappa Nonino Announces 2018 Prize Winners

OTM continues to be ASTOUNDED at the innovation and energy shown by the Nonino family of Percoto, near Udine, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in Italy’s North-East.  This year marks the 120th anniversary of their first “bricks & mortar” Grappa Distillery.  Always an artisan producer, the family took a major step forward in 1973 when Giannola and Benito revolutionized the production process for their Grappa. They decided to separate the Pomace (also known as Must) according to Grape Variety, to produce what they named Monovitigno Grappas.  We’ve been told that other Distillers thought Benito was crazy.  By the time we met the Nonino family, which was on an Easter Sunday during one of our Italy trips, Giannola & Benito’s four daughters were all involved in running the business, as they still do today.  Down the years innovation continued, to include Amaro, Noninotonic, Ue (Grapppa-like but distilled from grape juice) and honey-based liqueurs.  But the Noninos are much more than Distillers.  Starting in 1975 with the Nonino Risi D’Aur Prize, they established Nobel-like Annual Prize Awards.  The Risi prize, honors those who create a “Gold Vine Shoot”.  The Nonino Literature Prize followed in 1977, then the Nonino International Prize in 1984 and the Master of our time in 1990.  This year’s awards will be presented at a Celebration in Percoto on January 27, and details of the winners can be found at www.premio.grappanonino.it; and the whole Nonino story at www.grappanonino.it.  And fortunately Nonino products are widely distributed internationally, and can be found in the world’s best cocktail bars and restaurants.  Their elegantly designed bottles and glassware can be recognized from a distance.

In South Africa Black Rhinos get Helicopter Rides to Safe Havens

On the Menu’s Second Cousin Jo Shaw, has dedicated her career as a Zoologist to preserving threatened Species of Rhinos in the northern areas of the Republic of South Africa and adjacent countries.  We’ve always had great admiration for her dedication, but thought her work was a bit obscure – How wrong could we have been!  Tuning in to CBS 60 Minutes last Sunday , we found a segment about how Helicopters are being used as part of a program to relocate some of the shrinking population of Wild Black Rhinos from where they are threatened by Poachers to locations where they can breed safely.  You can view this fascinating story at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/saving-rhino-with-helicopters/.  Keep up the great work Jo!!

Western Pennsylvania's Jamison Farm named Conservation Farmer of the Year for 2017

OTM is delighted to recognize our long-time good friends Sukey & John Jamison on their being honored as “Conservation Farmers of the Year”, by the Westmoreland County Conservation District.  The Jamisons began their Lamb Farming operation more than 40 years ago, and over the years they have attracted the attention of many top Restaurants & Chefs, as well as Lamb Lovers everywhere in the country.  For more details about their “grass farming” method and what the Conservation Farmer Award is all about - http://wcdpa.com/about/2015-conservation-farmer-of-the-year-award/,  And to get your Jamison Farms Lamb - http://www.jamisonfarm.com/

Veteran Restaurateurs Charles Phan & Jonathon Waxman announce new ventures

At OTM we just love Charles Phan and Jonathon Waxman, both great Chefs and fine Gentlemen’  So we’re thrilled to hear that both are going to expand their Restaurant Ventures early next year.  We’ve had the opportunity to interview both on more than one occasion, most joyously when they received James Beard Best Chef Awards.  Charles is headed for new geography at The Forum Shops, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, under its familiar name; Jon is returning to California at LA’s Westfield Century City – name not yet announced.  We’ll keep you informed as we hear more details, and you can also follow their progress through the websites of Simon Property Group & Westfield Century City, the developers for Jon & Charles respectively.

OTM crossed the Globe to bring the latest in Australian (and World) Cuisine

Back from a busy and exciting trip down-under to Melbourne and Sydney, we’ll be bringing you several weeks of interesting conversations with Australian and Worldwide Chefs, Restaurateurs, and Wine Makers.  Herewith just a review of highlights, to whet your appetite.  First to recap the reason for our journey was the coincidence of the 25th Annual Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, and the 15th World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards which had been persuaded to head to the dynamic city which rightly claims to be Australia’s Food Capital.  50 Best attendees added to the typical hustle & bustle of Melbourne, and many (like OTM) stopped in Sydney on the way. The 50 Best Awards Gala, held in the magnificent Royal Exhibition Building dating from the late 1800s, was the usual dramatic affair, highlighted by the crowning of NYC’s Eleven Madison Park as #1, and catered in truly fabulous fashion by Neil Perry, an old acquaintance of OTM’s, now heading a vast dining empire (more about this in an extended interview coming soon to our program).  A multitude of delicious oysters and portions of great OZ beef were consumed.  We had had the chance to talk to “One to Watch” award-winner Eduard Zatruc of Barcelona’s Disfrutar, Best Female Chef Ana Ros from remote Slovenia, Biggest mover Dan Barber, of NY’s Stone Barns, Chef’s Choice Virgilio Martinez from Lima and Elena Arzak, a perennial in Top 50, and Gaston Acurio whose comments focused on how he was planning to come to the aid of the many Peruvian citizens affected by recent disastrous conditions.  Heston Blumenthal was in fine form, but way too busy.  Fortunately his head Chef at Dinner, Ashley Palmer-Watts, not only granted an extensive interview – he also cooked for us, as did David Thompson, Partner-Chef at Nahm in Bangkok, and a new group of “street food” focused Long Chim.

Among old friends we dined with, already mentioned Neil Perry treated us to Fish & Beef at Rockpool Steak & Seafood, Philippe Mouchel’s new venture was French Bistro style at its best, Gail & Kevin Donovan treated us royally at their beautifully restored facility on St. Kilda Beach, better than ever following destruction by fire.

Melbourne’s Chinatown is world famous, and Victor Liong of  Lee Ho Fook showed us how traditional Chinese can be modernized and molded to new deliciousness.  Scott Pickett of ESP, etc. proved that Modern Oz cuisine continues to develop, with Head Chef Steve Nairn serving a tasting menu of mouth-watering dishes, from a custom kitchen Scott Himself designed, twice the size of the dining room.  Peter Gunn, Chef Owner of IDES in funky Collingwood lived up to his reputation as a young “hotshot”.  And we’ve already mentioned Ashley Palmer-Watts at Dinner by Heston, where he’s developed an OZ-ingredient focused version of the concept first launched in London.

On to Sydney, OTM was thrilled to enjoy the cooking of an exciting young Chef, and a veteran of several decades in the hospitality-restaurant game, Josh Niland of St. Peter and Ross Lusted of The Bridge Room.  Josh told us his dramatic life story including  childhood illness, then described his thoughtful and inventive preparations of the great seafood still found aplenty in Australian waters – his radical ideas about how to procure, store and cook fish are quite fascinating – and the results amazing!   Ross treated us to tasting menu of quite exquisite dishes, his sommelier matched to perfection.  It was our last day down-under……………and we can’t wait to return.

Barcelona Restaurant wins World's 50 Best One to Watch Award

Right on the heels of Lasarte's 3rd Star comes more recognition for Barcelona dining.  Disfrutar in Barcelona has been named this year’s Miele One To Watch by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Opened in December 2014, Disfrutar is a collaboration between chefs Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch. The three met while cooking at former No.1 restaurant El Bulli, where they worked alongside legendary Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.  The founders will be presented with the coveted award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in Melbourne on April 5th. The Miele One To Watch Award celebrates emerging global talent and recognises a restaurant that is outside the 50 Best itself but has the potential to rise up the list in the near future.  William Drew, Group Editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: “Disfrutar showcases the individual talents of these three chefs and broadens their influence on Spain’s culinary scene. Their commitment to pushing the creative boundaries of gastronomy makes them worthy winners of the Miele One To Watch Award.”

Centrally located in Barcelona’s Eixample district, Disfrutar evokes a Mediterranean spirit with its décor and laid-back ambience. Beyond the entrance, guests walk past two open kitchens and are led into the spacious, whitewashed dining room that extends to an open terrace. Bright and earthen-coloured ceramics in various forms dominate the space, a symbolic nod to Barcelona’s cultural heritage and the restaurant’s focus on artistry.  While Disfrutar’s multi-course tasting menus uphold modernist culinary principles, they also reveal the chefs’ quirky personalities. Avant-garde, theatrical and inventive, each course aims to delight and excite the senses. Signature dishes include macaroni made from gelatin, tossed in truffle foam and smothered in Parmesan at the table. A deconstructed whisky tart invites guests to wash their hands in whisky and inhale the scent as they eat.  Eduard Xatruch of Disfrutar, said: “Being named this year’s winners of the Miele One To Watch Award is a huge recognition of our collective work. In addition, this award helps Disfrutar, which is a very young project, to become established and obviously encourages us to continue working and challenging ourselves.”  Disfrutar joins a stellar line-up of recent One To Watch award winners including Den in Tokyo (2016), Sepia in Sydney (2015), Saison in San Francisco (2014) and The Tasting Kitchen in Cape Town (2013).

OTM hopes to bring you an Interview with these exciting youg Chefs - we're headed for Melbourne shortly and will be covering the 50 Best Awards, nnow only 4 weeks away.

Martin Berasategui's Lasarte Restaurant wins 3rd Michelin Star

When we dined with Martín Berasategui  Basque chef and owner of an eponymous restaurant in Lasarte-Oria (Gipuzkoa), Spain, we christened him “King of Flavors” – every dish we sampled was more delicious than the one before. Thanks to the 2107 Michelin Guides, we must grant him another title, Super Star, for the 8 Total Stars Martin now holds; his Barcelona Restaurant, Lasarte (named after the San Sebastian suburb where his first 3 Star is located) was the only restaurant to gain a 3rd Star in their Main Cities of Europe (MCE) volume, just released. .Adding the 2 Stars held by MB Restaurant in Tenerife, gives Berasategui a total of 8, more than any other Chef in Spain.  Lasarte is further distinguished as the only Barcelona restaurant with 3 Stars.  It was also the only MCE based Restaurant to gain promotion to 3 Star.  https://www.restaurantlasarte.com/