The New Wild West... Food Trends, Cannabis & The New Hospitality

It’s been a little over six years after recreational cannabis was legalized in the state of Colorado through Amendment 64 and the impact has been huge on many fronts. In this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Denver-resident, Chef Brandon Foster to talk about one way the cannabis industry has unexpectedly impacted the food service industry.

The gentlemen also dish about the Colorado food scene, culinary trends across the nation, as well as, the Denver work environment for chefs.

“It’s a very homegrown scene and everybody has worked kind of with everybody, so to speak. And, you know, there’s not necessarily a lot of bad blood or competition. Yeah you want to succeed but you want to see your friends succeed too,” says Chef Foster. “And that’s an environment between restaurants where that’s not always the case in a big city...I think this is something that sets us apart, if you will.”

Chef Foster started his culinary career by working in hotels and then went on to work for restaurants. About three years ago, he made a change to work for a non-profit, Project Angel Heart, an organization that makes medically-tailored meals for people who are living with life threatening illnesses.

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation about the positive and not so positive impact of the cannabis industry on Colorado and, more specifically, the foodservice industry!


Show Notes:

  • 1:21 - Meeting Chef Brandon Foster of Project Angel Heart

  • 3:58 - Restaurant Industry trends happening in Denver, Colorado

  • 8:48 - Describing the Colorado food scene

  • 14:23 - What do you look for food trends-wise when traveling?

  • 19:20 - Cannabis legalization impact on restaurant industry

  • 23:16 - Positive impact of CBD on a local farmer and what he decided to do with his farmland

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Why 'Local-Only' Isn't Going To Work

In the midst of the farm-to-table movement, a lot of what we are hearing in the restaurant industry is talk about locally-sourced menus and cooking in accordance with the seasons.

The concept, in theory, is great and all and it’s exciting for chefs when they are able to work with the freshest of ingredients grown in the farm down the street, but is this concept sustainable in every part of the country?

In this first episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Chef Hari Cameron, a semi-finalist for the James Beard “Rising Star Chef Of The Year” award in 2013 for his restaurant a(MUSE), to discuss why local-only isn’t going to work. They will chat about the reality of cooking with the seasons in certain parts of the country, best practices, and, even, how to strike a balance to keep businesses afloat.

“If we only ate locally, we would only be eating hydroponically or really hearty meals...,” says Chef Cameron.

Chef Cameron opened his Rehoboth Beach (Delaware) restaurants, a(MUSE) and Grandpa (MAC), in 2012 and 2015 respectively and found success with both concepts early on from their inception.

“We were cooking food that was exciting to us. We didn’t know anybody was paying attention or even listening,” says Chef Hari Cameron.

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation about not only supporting the local community but the goal of cooking delicious food!


Show Notes:

  • 1:33 - Introducing Chef Hari Cameron of a(MUSE) & Grandpa (MAC)

  • 4:17 - So, why local-only as a concept isn’t going to work?

  • 6:40 - How does Winter shape-shift your menu?

  • 11:06 - What do you say to people who look to do local-only?

  • 13:43 - How do you strike a financial balance to make your business work?

  • 26:49 - What does hospitality mean to Chef Hari Cameron?

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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James Beard Foundation Announces 2018 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

 James Beard Foundation Announces 2018 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

The James Beard Foundation has just announced its list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists for the 28th annual James Beard Foundation Awards. After receiving more than 20,000 entries, semifinalists were chosen for each of the  21 categories like best new restaurants, outstanding bar programs, and rising star chefs under 30.  

The foundation will announce the final nominees for each award category on March 14th during a press conference held at Stephen Starr’s restaurant, Parc.

About the James Beard Foundation’s awards

After receiving entries, the Restaurant and Chef Committee reviews them to determine eligibility and regional representation. Based on the results and eligibility requirements for each award, the committee then produces a nominating ballot that lists the semifinalists in each of the 21 Restaurant and Chef Award categories. The list is then voted on by 600 regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award winners to determine the final five nominees in each category. The same judges then vote on these five nominees to select the winners.

The James Beard Foundation Awards Gala will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 7, 2018. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics. A gala reception, featuring acclaimed chefs and beverage professionals from across the country, will immediately follow.

Winners of the 2018 James Beard Media Awards will be announced at an exclusive event honoring the nation's top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City April 27th.

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Quick Six With... James Beard-Nominated Bar Managers Eric Johnson of Bar Agricole and Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common

Quick Six With... James Beard-Nominated Bar Managers Eric Johnson of Bar Agricole and Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common

 

By Courtney Walsh, West Coast Editor

Every year, the James Beard Foundation recognizes a number of the nation's top food and beverage industry professionals with its annual award series that honors excellence in the restaurant industry.

Securing even just a James Beard award nomination is one of the most coveted honors in the food and beverage industry, and a win cements a chef or bar director's elite status for life. While the finalists for the awards have been announced, the winners in each of the categories are set to be revealed on May 2nd at the annual awards gala. 

In the meantime, we sat down with two of the James Beard Award nominees and beverage industry pros Eric Johnson, bar manager at Bar Agricole, and Jeffrey Morgenthaler, bar manager at Clyde Common, to ask the duo six quick questions. 

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Quick Six With… James Rigato, Detroit Chef & Restaurateur

Quick Six With… James Rigato, Detroit Chef & Restaurateur

By Jessica Bryant, Managing Editor

At 31 years old, James Rigato’s plate is heaping with opportunity. Last year, he opened Mabel Gray, located in Detroit suburb Hazel Park, which is now up for a James Beard Award for “Best New Restaurant.” To be qualified for this award, a restaurant must have opened in the calendar year before the award is given, it must already display excellence in food, beverage, and service, and is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.

With 43 seats, Mabel Gray serves locally sourced American cuisine from a handwritten menu that is changed out daily. The menu generally includes 8 to 12 items and shifts 25 to 50 percent each day. “Most dishes don’t last longer than a week,” said Rigato. He cooks on the line every night.

But this isn’t Rigato’s first restaurant. At the age of 26, he opened The Root in White Lake, Mich., which also showcases local ingredients. It was named “Restaurant of the Year” in 2012 by the Detroit Free Press. More recently, Rigato, who holds many accolades, was named “The People’s Best New Chef: Great Lakes” in 2015 by Food & Wine.

If you think he looks familiar, you may have seen Rigato in the 12th season of “Top Chef,” an opportunity he said taught him a lot about how to look at his dishes and the season, and how to edit.

“It definitely made me a better chef and I’m really appreciative of that opportunity,” he said. “The big win was really to network, so now I have friends I didn’t before and that’s better than winning.”

A graduate of Schoolcraft College’s culinary arts program, Rigato started his career at restaurants such as Morel’s, Shiraz, Rugby Grille at The Townsend Hotel, and Bacco Ristorante.

Below, we ask the chef six quick questions about the restaurant that changed his life, the most important lesson he’s learned as an operator, and which culinary trend needs to fade out.

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