“I aspire to be a sushi master of the bread & butter world. The ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ of bread and butter.”
Meet Dan Richer, the James Beard Rising Star chef semi-finalist and owner of Razza Pizza Artiginale in Jersey City, NJ. I remember his laugh the most. There’s a quality, a character to it, as if he knows he’s laughing at his own joke, poking fun at his own self-awareness. I find it charming, that Dan admits to being crazy. Crazy about ingredients. Crazy about sourcing. Crazy about everything that passes in and out of Razza’s kitchen. He is picky and meticulous to say the least. When he starts a new food project, he has to master it. “It’s part of being a craftsman,” he tells me. Part of his fight against mediocrity. To him, mediocrity serves no one. And maybe that’s the mark of a true artisan, someone willing to go those extra lengths. To move towards perfection. Here at Razza’s this design is in everything, especially in the bread & butter.
Blink…and you’ll miss the dish on Razza’s menu. Miss it, and I’ll feel truly sorry for you. It’s special. Really special. Even now, I can remember spreading the soft, salted butter over the oven-warmed bread. An act of salivation! Every bite is pillowy, the butter uniquely grassy, tangy. The crust alive and darkly caramel. The slippery coat on your lips triggers a need for more bread, more butter. You marvel that something so simple, so overlooked, could be so satisfying.
To me, it’s the most memorable dish on Dan’s small menu, which says a lot coming from a restaurant with pizza in its name. And that’s ok with Dan. While learning to make a better pizza, he got sucked into the rabbit hole of fermentation. Now, as you’ll see, it’s become his specialty. The bread & butter is Dan’s greatest achievement, showcasing everything about food that’s important to him. From farm to table. Enjoy his story. And, please, get yourself to Jersey City to experience it! I’d love to hear what you think.
Thanks so much for supporting food. curated.! Happy eating!
“Processing and preservatives kill flavor. We restore the flavor with fresh vegetables.”
Meet Masaki & Yukimi Momose, the husband and wife team behind MOMO Dressing, a small-batch, Japanese dressing company based in New York City. MOMO Dressing isn’t big, but it should be. I’ve never had a dressing that altered the way I eat. Usually, a bottle of dressing takes me a month or two to finish. MOMO’s roasted sesame dressing takes me a few days. Or less. I find myself buying more salad ingredients just to eat more dressing. I now crave salads at every meal. I know it might sound crazy, but is that really a bad thing?
When I explain this to the Momoses, they laugh. Apparently, this is something they hear all the time from customers – especially moms who claim MOMO Dressing is their secret to getting their kids to eat more vegetables. So, it’s kid tested. Adult approved. And there’s a reason for it. It has something to do with the freshness. Their particular flair for Japanese ingredients. The creaminess. The perfect balance of salty & sweet. It’s fantastic. Just like them.
“American people are so open-minded to someone doing a challenge, that’s [why] I really love the American people, and why I’m so happy to be here.”
Right now, they produce 3 dressings: Roasted Sesame, Non-Oil Shiso and Ginger Carrot. In addition to finding them at Smorgasburg & local farmers markets, you can buy their products online at Good Eggs, a Brooklyn delivery start-up that delivers farm-fresh groceries and local artisan products to your door. This is first in a series of videos in which I’ll be collaborating with their artisans. I’ve used their service a ton. It’s certainly a friendly way to guarantee real food made from real farmers/fishermen/artisans make it to your kitchens every week. I hope you enjoy their story.
Thanks so much for watching food. curated.! Happy Eating!
“To get people in here, there is a process, unfortunately. There’s a questionnaire to even get invited, and we will trick people, sometimes, just for fun.”
Meet Timothy Hsu, the founder and tea connoisseur behind The Mandarin’s Tea Room, an underground tea-speakeasy lost in the heart of SoHo. The first time I met Timothy, he got me tea drunk. Sip after sip, I could sense my serious mood slowly vanish. I left giddy. My steps, lighter. My mind, brighter. Timothy was pleased.
I never heard of being “tea drunk” before. Never knew it was even a possibility for tea to have that effect on you. And that’s the whole purpose of The Mandarin’s Tea Room: to share the true story of tea. Which, of course, isn’t chai tea or jasmine tea. He’s talking about the real tea leaves, predominately from tea trees in China: camellia sinensis.
According to Timothy, tea appreciation has been lost. Industrialization of the tea industry has made the culture of tea too immediate. Drinkers take less time. Timothy believes this cuts the true essence of tea, as a tool to engage your being, or well-being, so to say. Right now, Tim claims there are over 4,000 varietals of tea, each able to deliver different effects on your body (a number that, frankly, blew my mind – I had no idea!). At The Mandarin’s Tea Room, some of the world’s best teas are available to taste. So come. Get comfortable. Take a moment. Slow down. And let Tim enlighten you over a few cups of tea.
“The best tea comes from monks; because they develop tea for the purpose of enlightenment.”
Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy slurping!
“People like the way I cook lechon, that’s why it tastes so good.”
Ask anyone in the Philippines where to find the best, tastiest lechon and they’ll send you to Cebu. Cebu is beloved to many Filipinos as the Lechon Capital of The Philippines. So, it was only a matter of time before I made a pilgrimage there. During a recent visit to my family’s home country, I asked my food-loving uncle to take me to see who he believes is the best lechon maker in Cebu. He took me to Rico’s Lechon.
Rico Dionson is a legend. Or so they say. He started his lechon business after money started running low in cock-fighting. On his own, without any experience, he bought a pig, and then another, eventually perfecting the crispy lechon recipe that makes him famous today. And if gold chains are any indication of how well a man is doing, then Rico is killing it.
In Cebu, you can get Rico’s lechon – regular or spicy – from his restaurant or WHOLE via special order. Believe it or not, they ship their whole lechon around the country, even to Hong Kong and Korea. It’s that good. And if you want to know how I feel about it, just listen in…
Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy eating!
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” -Philip Pullman
It’s been amazing to see the rise in short-form food filmmakers over the years. I remember when I launched my series at the end of 2009, I was only one of a small handful of food filmmakers in the scene, grinding out stories, trying to make an impact through video storytelling. Now, there’s a lot more faces out there. A lot more series producing beautiful videos about the craft of making food. In many ways, it makes food more accessible, less mysterious. We all benefit.
It’s a great honor to be recognized by Saveur Magazine as a finalist for Best Use of Video in this year’s Best Food Blog Awards 2014. I’m a huge fan of the magazine, especially their food travel essays. I hope you come out to vote (here). It would really be great to have your support.
Happy Viewing! And best of luck to all the awesome finalists.