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  • pinitbutton The Competitors with their Mystery Basket
sophiegayiotjudge 300x235 The Competitors with their Mystery Basket
Sophie Gayot judging along with Michel Richard, Gail Simmons, Michael  White, Nick Stellino (visible on the picture)

 

by Sophie Gayot

If you have been following the

2009 Almost Famous Chef competition

by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. Nestlé Waters North America

I am happy to present you  the dishes that  the ten contestants made from the Mystery Basket, which took place on March 8th as the first part of the contest. I was a judge along with eighteen others.

See the winners of the competition on the awards page. Continue reading “The Competitors with their Mystery Basket” »



And The Winners Are…

on March 08th, 2009
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08

Mar

  • pinitbutton And The Winners Are...
sophiegayotalmostfamouschefwinners 300x164 And The Winners Are...

The winners of the Almost Famous Chef 2009 competition

by Sophie Gayot

 

The winners of the seventh edition of Nestlé Waters North America “Almost Famous Chef” competition under the S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna brands have just been announced. After preparing their signature dish, the ten contestants served it to the nineteen judges, including me. Two hours later, the results were in, and were combined with yesterday’s “Mystery Basket” results to produce an overall winner.

 

They are:

- “Overall Winner”: David Awad, from Connecticut Culinary Institute

- “Mystery Basket”; David Awad, from Connecticut Culinary Institute

- “Signature Dish”: Kendra Orng, from International Culinary School at The Art Institute California, Los Angeles

- “People’s Choice”: Joe Branton, Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College.

 

Congratulations to the three winners!

  Continue reading “And The Winners Are…” »



The Mystery Basket

on March 07th, 2009
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07

Mar

  • pinitbutton The Mystery Basket

 

sophiegayotmichelrichard 300x255 The Mystery Basket

Chef Michel Richard, contestant Daniel Agregard & Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

Today in St. Helena, California, the first part of the Nestlé Waters North America “Almost Famous Chef” competition under the S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna brands took place at The Culinary Institute of America Greystone. Ten contestants had two hours to prepare a dish with the same set of ingredients, which  they were given in a “Mystery Basket”. This year, it was composed of sturgeon, bacon, asparagus, fingerling potatoes, bay leaf and trumpet mushrooms.
I was a judge, as well as eighteen others, in the seventh edition of this top culinary event. And, yes, I had to go through ten versions and interpretations of “Mystery Basket” dishes. They were all very different. There was a cleat winner, but I can’t announce it until tomorrow.
UPDATE – SUNDAY MARCH 8TH: The results are in.

See the opening party of Friday March 7th.

You can see the dishes all the competitors on a dedicated page.

Continue reading “The Mystery Basket” »



06

Mar

  • pinitbutton New Talent Soon in the Kitchen
sophiegayotharolddieterle 215x300 New Talent Soon in the Kitchen

Harold Dieterle & Sophie Gayot at the opening ceremony of the Almost Famous Chef competition

by Sophie Gayot

 

Seven years ago to celebrate food, Nestlé Waters North America, under its brands S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, created a culinary competition in order find the best new young chef. The “Almost Famous Chef” competition was immediate a success. The seventh edition has just begun tonight in Yountville, California, and I am on the judging panel.

 

The ten finalists, from various culinary schools from the United States and Canada, were presented to the judges by Harold Dieterle, winner of the first season of Bravo’s Top Chef and chef/owner of Perilla in New York. During the next two days, the young chefs will have to prepare different dishes to determine the winner who will be announced on Sunday. Come back tomorrow, as I will keep you posted on the progress.

JUST IN! Sunday, March 8th: Find out who are the winners.

Read all about part 1 of the competition, The Mystery Basket, that took place Saturday March 7th.

Continue reading “New Talent Soon in the Kitchen” »



  • pinitbutton Best Bread in Santa Monica at Huckleberry Café & Bakery
sophiegayotgreatbreadsantamonica 248x300 Best Bread in Santa Monica at Huckleberry Café & Bakery

Josh & Zoe Loeb with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

Last week, I heard that the owners of Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen, Josh and Zoe Loeb, had just opened a café and bakery in Santa Monica

Being a fan of Zoe’s rustic pastries, I decided to check out Huckleberry Café & Bakery, and was impressed. Like Rustic Canyon, it features simple décor, somewhat noisy atmosphere, and quality products. Here, you will enjoy good home-style food, including sandwiches, salads, rotisserie chicken and sweets. It’s worth the drive just for the sourdough country boule alone.

All items are available for takeout. Read more about the place in our restaurant section.

minilogo Best Bread in Santa Monica at Huckleberry Café & Bakery



The Smelly Cheese Shop

on February 20th, 2009
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20

Feb

  • pinitbutton The Smelly Cheese Shop
cheeseblog 300x200 The Smelly Cheese Shop

A variety of cheeses from Australia

by Alain Gayot

Going to a food market in any locale gives you a pretty good idea of what’s going on and teaches you a lot about a community and its people. I like to say that every time I head to Paris, as soon as I get off the plane, I head straight for the market. Each time I do that, I am amazed at the plethora of products, even if sometimes the morel mushrooms come from Oregon.

 

After a 23 hour trek from Los Angeles to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, we headed to the Central Market where, amongst an assortment of kangaroo and crocodile meats, local seafood offerings and exotic fruits, we were surprised to discover cheeses. Say what? Yes, cheese of the very best kind, made in various parts of the vast state of South Australia.

Continue reading “The Smelly Cheese Shop” »



Vive la Chandeleur!

on February 02nd, 2009
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02

Feb

  • pinitbutton Vive la Chandeleur!
alex crepe 2 214x300 Vive la Chandeleur!

Kids love to flip the crêpe in the pan

It’s time to give thanks to Gélasse the First, Pope during the 5th Century, whose gastronomical contribution to Christianity has remained a steadfast part of history. 40 days after the birth of Jesus Christ, Gélasse was responsible for merging the celebration of the child with the pagan celebration of light. The event was in the fashion of a grand banquet, illuminated in the dark days of February by candles (in French: Chandelles). Hence the name of Chandeleur. During Chandeleur, on February 2, it is tradition to feast on “crêpes,” just like in the days of Gélasse. Everywhere in France on this day, crêpes are “de rigueur” whether at home or in “crêperies”. This year, eating in crêperies is a good way to avoid the high prices of restaurants and still get a great meal (particularly during such turbulent economic times.)  

 

Despite the recession, however, not all restaurants in Paris are hurting. Those serving good food at reasonable prices are continually filled to capacity. Diners rely on a Quality:Price ratio to determine at which establishment to dine. Business lunches are on the decline and everywhere diners unanimously complain about the mark-up of wine prices.

 

The recession certainly has not affected fast food chains. Who would have ever believed that McDonald’s would open new outlets left and right?  Those Golden Arches are not the only ones to benefit from this economic climate: a new French chic fast food chain is surfing on the wave of recession. Fresh products and creative recipes are the mainstay of Restaurant Cojean.



Say Cheese!

on January 29th, 2009
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29

Jan

  • pinitbutton Say Cheese!
roquefort 300x267 Say Cheese!

Roquefort is the king of cheeses

by André Gayot

 

The Roquefort saga continues to unfold. The Europeans, of course, did not appreciate the last “gift” of the Bush administration: the tripling of the taxes on imported Roquefort cheese as of March 23, 2009. The background of the story is:

 

While it is legal in America to raise beef with hormones that accelerate the growth of the animals and also to “sanitize” chickens with chlorine (to prevent harmful salmonella), such procedures are forbidden in Europe. Since 1988, the European Union has banned US beef and chicken which does not comply with the European rules. Continue reading “Say Cheese!” »



  • pinitbutton In Search of the Best Chocolate Soufflé Recipe
img 6999 300x225 In Search of the Best Chocolate Soufflé Recipe

Gilles Epie and Sophie Gayot in the wine cellar

by Sophie Gayot

Since L’Orangerie has closed its doors in Los Angeles, I have been looking for that perfect soufflé au chocolat. I had no luck until my recent trip to Paris. As I always do when the chef offers the dessert on his menu, I ordered one to end my dinner at Citrus Etoile.

And, oh, was I surprised! It was as good as the one from the legendary temple of haute cuisine, though a slightly different version that was almost an improvement. Did I forget to mention that the chef, Gilles Épié, was the chef at L’Orangerie some years ago? Continue reading “In Search of the Best Chocolate Soufflé Recipe” »



Spread the Roquefort

on January 16th, 2009
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16

Jan

  • pinitbutton Spread the Roquefort
roquefort Spread the Roquefort

Roquefort

by André Gayot


It’s time to stock up on Roquefort since the U.S. government has decided to raise taxes 300% on this cheese produced in the South of France. The inflation will result in making Roquefort as expensive as caviar. The motivation behind this decision stems from the U.S.’s desire to penalize the European Union for its reluctance to import American beef. The E.U. argues that the use of hormones in animal feeding is illegal in Europe while it is accepted in the U.S. European scientists continue to question the innocuous nature of these hormones when ingested by humans in their hamburgers or steaks. The dispute has been dragging on for years.

 Now why, among all food products imported from Europe, the attack on Roquefort? Its selection by the U.S., as an effective weapon of persuasion, remains unclear. Could it be because Roquefort is such a staple of European cuisine? Then what wonderful, unsolicited publicity! Or is it due to the Penicillium roqueforti found within the cheese as a result of the fermentation of ewe’s milk? The shepherds in the French Southern mountains contend that their sheep have nothing in common with American beef, and that Roquefort is a natural antibiotic.

At any rate, buy yourself a couple pounds of Roquefort while it is (relatively) affordable.

  

Read the update on the situation.

 

 



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