Nasr and Hanson Join MAD Mondays NYC
Unfortunately, Wylie Dufresne won’t be able to take part in tomorrow’s MAD Monday in New York City. But we are very, very happy to announce that chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson are now part of the program.
Hanson and Nasr have worked together for over two decades. They met in the kitchen of Daniel in 1993. In 1997, the chefs left to open Balthazar with the restaurateur Keith McNally. Over the next 16 years, the three would go on to open Schiller’s Liquor Bar, Pastis, and Minetta Tavern.
Last year, Nasr and Hanson announced their departure from McNally’s restaurant group, and plans to open their own restaurant.
As a reminder, tickets are sold out and we have not received any cancelations. For those who are registered, please bring a print-out of your reservation to the Drawing Center. Doors open at 7:00 PM.
We’ll be posting full audio and coverage of the New York City event next week.
Debating the Future of Food Criticism
What follows is analysis of the ideas and arguments that dominated the discussion at last week’s MAD Monday on the future of food criticism. Included in the text is an audio recording of the whole event (you can also download last week’s podcast of the talk here) and the results of our recent vox pop/unscientific survey on food writing relevant to the Monday discussion.
All four speakers that took part in “More Talks About Critics and Food” — journalist Lisa Abend, chefs Bo Bech and Matt Orlando, and Danish print critic Søren Frank — agree that something has changed in food criticism. Over the last decade, blogs, ranked lists, crowd-sourced sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, and a constantly growing number of apps and other channels have altered a conversation that used to be dominated by one force: the print restaurant critic.
"You guys used to be the monolith," the moderator Knud Romer said to Frank at the start of the proceedings, kicking off a discussion on the future of food criticism and print journalists, ethics and style in reviews, and the enduring importance of quality.
On 10 March, MAD Comes to New York City
On March 10th, MAD will host its first event outside of Copenhagen: a New York City edition of MAD Mondays, its regular series of discussions on the future of food. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Being a Chef” will take place at the Drawing Center and feature Peter Meehan as moderator and Mario Batali, Gabrielle Hamilton, Bill Buford, and Wylie Dufresne as panelists.
#MAD4, co-curated by @alexatala. 24 + 25 August, 2014. Art by Brazil’s @rafaelmantesso
More information here, and expect updates on ticketing and the lineup on the MADFeed.
Dispatches from the lab: Exploring the Deliciousness of Insects in Africa
This is Dispatches from the Lab, a new regular column in which the Nordic Food Lab share stories of their work and their travels. Today NFL researcher Josh Evans takes us to Kenya and Uganda, where he and colleague Ben Reade recently traveled to investigate entomophagy. The trip was part of their research initiative to “make insects delicious to the Western palate.”
This entry focuses on a visit to the hills of southwestern Uganda, where after finding, cooking, and eating crickets, a clearer answer to the driving question of the project — How do we make something delicious for which we have no cultural context, no tradition of eating? — emerged. Here is Josh:
At the end of last year, Ben and I left Copenhagen for one month of field work in Kenya and Uganda. We were going to study insects. We would look at which insects people eat, where and when they eat them, how they cook them, and the insects’ place in the local cuisine and surrounding ecology.
Heribert Watzke: The Gut Brain Is Gastronomy’s Next Frontier
Heribert Watzke, the scientist credited with establishing the field of food material research, wants to remind people that our guts are more than just plumbing. In twenty minutes at MAD, Watzke analyzed the constant, dynamic dialogue that takes place between our two brains: the big brain, in our head, which uses up 25 per cent of our energy and accounts for only 2 per cent of our body mass, and the one below, in our gut.
That gut brain, made up of half a billion neurons, marshals a dizzying stream of hormonal releases, muscle movements, and various other forms of communication that ensure the big brain gets the energy it needs, and that you survive. It tells you when you’re hungry, when you’re full, and, yes, when you should be nervous (those “butterflies” are real, generated by the connection between our gut brain and the limbic system). It houses beneficial bacteria that fight toxins and other interlopers, and sends out negative signals when you’ve consumed something that might harm you.
That’s all illuminating, but why should a cook care?
Registration for the next MAD Monday, a discussion on the future of food writing, is now open. Tickets are free, but seating is limited. Secure your place at http://www.madfood.co/mondays/
UPDATE: Tickets are now sold out.
We’d Like Your Thoughts on Food Writing
As we gear up for the first MAD Monday of 2014, we’d like to ask for your help.
In an effort to bring as many voices as possible into the discussion on the future of food writing, we’ve assembled a brief survey to get your opinions on the state of things. The results will play a crucial part in the talk later this month. So, who are some of your favorite food writers? What would you like to see more of from food media? What sources of information could you do without?
Fire away below. Thank you so much for the input.
Announcing the First MAD Monday of 2014
As Chefs Replace Cooks, Paris Changes
In six months, during the two days of MAD4, twenty or so chefs and thinkers will tackle the question “What Is Cooking?" But leading up to the event, we’ll be exploring the topic here on the MADFeed in as many ways that we can. Today, writer Alexander Lobrano, author of the indispensable restaurant guide “Hungry For Paris” and a contributor to the New York Times, the Guardian, and Bon Appétit, among many other publications, argues that a shift away from fundamental cooking has altered the dining landscape in Paris, the city he calls home.
In Paris, a semantic redefinition of the culinary métier away from cook to chef is having a major impact on the way the city eats. Cooks in the past were happy to learn and master a repertoire of traditional French dishes and cook them day in and day out. In contrast, the new generation of chefs see the business of cooking as a permanent canvas for the imperative of their creativity, with the result that it’s becoming a challenge to find such classic French dishes as cassoulet or boeuf bourguignon anywhere but in bistros that cater to affluent international travelers who come to the French capital starry-eyed at the prospect of tasting the great gastronomic monuments of Gaul.
Sandor Katz on the Fermentation Revival
In recent years, there’s been much talk of a fermentation revival going on in kitchens across the globe. From South Carolina to Copenhagen, chefs are creating dedicated spaces in which vinegars, misos, and all types of concoctions can bubble away and transform over time, often yielding unfamiliar and delicious results. But as one of the most referenced figures in the fermentation movement explained at MAD, we should remind ourselves that it’s an age-old and essential process.
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2014 is off to a smashing start: planning for MAD4 - What Is Cooking? is in full swing, the MADFeed has come alive, and we’re finalizing the year’s series of MAD Mondays.
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Photo: James Murphy & David Choe at MAD3
Ludo Lefebvre’s Potato Pulp, Onion Soubise, Bonito, and Brown Butter
The series “What I’m Cooking”, in which chefs from around the world discuss some of their most compelling dishes and why they make them, continues today with Los Angeles’ Ludo Lefebvre. Ludo has chosen to focus on his reinterpretation of pommes aligot, which critic Jonathan Gold named one of the best dishes of 2013.
“What’s something new I can do with a potato?” That’s what I kept asking myself in the early days of Trois Mec, after I had decided to do a dish where the vegetable would be the star. It wasn’t going to be easy: I’m French and have been eating delicious potatoes all my life, in so many different ways. But I wanted to do something exciting with the wonderful fingerlings we get from Weiser Family Farm.
I started thinking about my favorite potato dishes. The first thing that popped into my head was pommes aligot. It’s fantastic: potato, cheese, and butter with a beautiful texture.
I now had a foundation and some direction.
Slate recently published an excerpt from “The Lost Art of Feeding Kids,” in which author Jeannie Marshall argues that industrialized foods are eroding culinary tradition in Italy and making people in the country less and less healthy.
Marshall examines how companies like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have seeped into the culture by advertising their products as kid-friendly, natural, and anchored in local tradition. She finds it all insidious and alarming: “Food traditions evolve over time. They are the collective ways that a culture has learned to feed itself with what’s available. The problem is that what’s available in Europe now includes huge amounts of junk food and soft drinks. This is how a child ends up drinking Coke with his pizza in a pizzeria in Rome.”
Read on for the full argument, which they’ve ominously titled “The Death of Italian Cuisine?”