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/

Heston Blumenthal wins Diner's Club Lifetime Achievement Award at World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards

More than 10 years ago when OTM was quite new, we had the opportunity to talk for well over an hour with Chef Blumenthal, while waiting for our lunch seating at The Fat Duck in Bray, England.  We had heard rave reviews about the fascinating food, and the just gained 3rd Michelin Star had put the restaurant “on the map” for discriminating diners.  We were not to be disappointed!  What surprised us most was the thoughtfulness and modesty of this School Teacher turned Star Chef, who’s most distinguishing characteristics were closely cropped hair and heavily rimmed Eyeglasses.  What did he like to cook at home?  Roast Chicken, where was his favorite spot to dine out? A local Indian Restaurant.  Within the year Fat Duck would be named No. 1 in World’s 50 Best.  Now the accolade most prized by Chefs (it is voted on by Peers), the Diner’s Club Lifetime Achievement Award, to be handed out April 5 in Melbourne – and OTM will be there!  We’ll be bringing you news of what’s next for Heston, besides two Dinner by Heston restaurants in London & Melbourne, but his immediate reaction to the award “…… After 20 years of The Fat Duck, I now feel like I’m just starting – and those 20 years were my apprenticeship.  The future is very, very exciting”.   We’re sure there is no doubt about that!

How's California Wine Country coping with all that Rain?

Our Good Friend Joy Sterling of Iron Horse Vineyard brings us excellent news, Yes there is flooding, but also, Yes the heavily depleted Aquifers are replenshed.  To get news of Special Events at Iron Horse and obtain your supply of OTM's favorite California "Bubbles", www.ironhorsevineyards.com.

Simpson's Birmingham (UK) Chefs place 1st & 3rd in Young Chef of the Year Awards

Owner Andreas Antona & Executive Chef Luke Tipping have a track record for developing Young Chefs - a few years back 4th Chef in line cooked for Peter & Ann on Peter's Birthday, and his food didn't miss a beat, and we've enjoyed both Andreas & Luke in the kitchen.  So it's not entirely surprising that two of Simpson's up & coming Chefs would win & place in the British Culinary Federation's Young Chef Awards - the winner, Frances Attwood at the Edgebaston location and third, Andreas Doukanaras at The Cross in Kenilworth.  Congratulations to all, it's been too long since we dined with you.  http://www.simpsonsrestaurant.co.uk/.

Happy 11th Birthday to London's Roast Restaurant at Borough Market

When OTM first explored London’s Borough Market (more than 15 years ago) we didn’t know that the continued existence of this iconic landmark was in doubt, or that Iqbal Wahab was working on opening a restaurant featuring “Deliciously British Food”.  We soon found out that these two things were happening at the same time.  Iqbal wasn’t just a “Restaurateur to be”, he was one of a small group working to ensure that the owners of the Rail Tracks above the market would allow it to continue to operate.  The glorious Cast Iron frontage which now graces the Market was first evidence that something grand was coming, and 11 years ago the secret was revealed when Roast opened its doors behind the spectacular glass.  And we met Iqbal for the first time.  We’ve enjoyed great Fish & Chips (wrapped in Pink-colored Newsprint, faux Financial Times Newspaper), grand platters of Oysters, and delicious regional dishes from around Great Britain, house label British Sparkling wine – the list goes on………………  And so does Iqbal’s seemingly impossible dream.  Borough is still fun, but VERY crowded, Roast is dynamic/energetic/iconic………  Go here, but be sure to make a reservation so that you’ll be able to escape the Market’s throng.  http://www.roast-restaurant.com/

Interesting news in Michelin’s 2017 UK Red Guide.

Heston Blumenthal regains 3 Stars for Fat Duck, http://www.thefatduck.co.uk/;  Meanwhile the Bray neighbor Waterside Inn passes more than 30 years with Michelin’s top accolade, Alain Roux at the helm, http://www.waterside-inn.co.uk/.  Chef Michael Wignall keeps the  2 Stars won by Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park,  http://www.gidleigh.co.uk/; the Chutney Mary group wins a Star for Veerswamy to go along with the one at Amaya, http://www.veeraswamy.com/, pretty good for London’s oldest Indian fine dining spot, on its 90th Anniversary.  Kai’s fine Chinese dining continues to be recognized, http://www.kaimayfair.co.uk/  Philip Howard parted company with The Square, but his many fans will be pleased that he has just opened Elystan Street, http://www.elystanstreet.com/   Sadly Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus has closed, also Arbutus, Brasserie Chavot and L’Autre Pied; among those losing a Star – Launceston Place and Wild Honey.  Check out the whole list at https://www.viamichelin.co.uk/web/Restaurants