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Beyond Fish and Chips

Once lamented, even ridiculed, for its uninspired gastronomy, the culinary landscape in the British Isles has dramatically evolved.

The Brits have long been the butt of jokes about their inadequate cooking skills, despite their proximity to the renowned gastronomy of France, across the English Channel. The portrayal of the British being capable of turning out nothing more compelling than fish-and-chips or shepherd’s pie was never entirely fair. But with Michelin stars multiplying in London and popping up across the countryside, that stereotype is now history.

Susan Low, an American-born journalist now based in London, is a food writer and restaurant critic whose work has appeared in The Good Food Guide, The Independent, Time Out, and the BBC Food website. “Britain was the first country to industrialize, and the repercussions from that are still being felt,” says Low, who cites symptoms of intensive farming methods and ultra-processed foods. “Yet it must be remembered that Britain has always produced some very fine foods, from pasture-fed beef and lamb to great cheeses,” she says.

Low suggests two catalysts contributed to what we refer to as the British culinary renaissance: affordable international travel and the media. “In the 1990s, ordinary people began to travel abroad more as low-cost travel grew,” she says, suggesting regular visits to places like Tuscany and Provence exposed Brits to lifestyles centered around good eating. Regarding the media, Low says, “Restaurant criticism, wine writing, recipe columns, and food-centered travel journalism burgeoned, helping to fuel interest in eating out and cooking at home.” She adds, “Soon, competitive cooking programs took over the airwaves and ‘celebrity chefs’ became dinner party topics.”

Americans should recognize the renaissance occurring in British cooking, because it already happened here. Forty years ago, the U.S. was also viewed as a culinary desert, where steak-and-potatoes or overcooked fish constituted special occasion fare. It took a new generation of chefs — revolutionaries like Alice Waters, Jonathan Waxman and Jeremiah Tower — to shape what was first referred to as California Cuisine. That eventually morphed into New American cooking, showcasing local seasonal ingredients and an appreciation for classic French technique. Now world-class food is found not only in New York and San Francisco, but places like Cleveland and Portland as well.


In the 1980s, visitors may have adored London for its royal landmarks, sense of history and charming pubs, but serious diners quietly scoffed at the city’s culinary resources. Even Michel Roux, Jr., owner of the city’s venerable Le Gavroche (the first UK restaurant to earn a Michelin star), acknowledged that tourists would revel in the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, take in a show and then flee to more promising dining cities.

As London emerged as the world’s dominant financial capital in the 21st century — a status that has arguably been compromised by Brexit — the city began attracting more high-end chefs. As the prices of luxury real estate in the city surpassed Beverly Hills or Manhattan, so too did demand for sophisticated cuisine. It was this environment that created rock stars out of local chefs and propelled some to international celebrity status.

There are currently 74 Michelin-starred restaurants in London alone, which includes five kitchens attaining the ultimate honor of three stars. Local heavyweights Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal are household names far beyond the British Isles, while French icons Alain Ducasse and Hélène Darroze have jumped the Channel to earn a loyal following in a city once dismissed by haughty Parisians. Surprisingly, almost two- thirds of the 188 UK restaurants with at least one Michelin star are outside of London.

Anybody with a streaming service and a weakness for reality television has probably come across the BBC production of Great British Menu, which presents the creativity and technical proficiency of young chefs from throughout England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Culinary experts, even devoted Francophiles, now concede the gastronomic gap between Paris and New York has contracted, and the same can be said of the once-enormous disparity of culinary talent between Paris and London (despite their proximity). Furthermore, Dublin, Edinburgh and Manchester are experiencing their own dining renaissances, just as Philadelphia, Atlanta and Houston have.

The Lanesborough in London is a neoclassical luxury hotel sharing rarefied credentials with Le Bristol in Paris, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the Riviera and other palatial properties of the Oetker Collection. There, acclaimed British chef Shay Cooper offers a modern interpretation of British cuisine at The Lanesborough Grill, the new restaurant occupying one of the most elegant, art-laden dining rooms in the city. Cooper’s seasonal menu honors artisanal producers in updated presentations of iconic British classics such as beef Wellington.


“Our style of food is rooted in tradition, with familiar and comforting themes at heart, all the dishes carefully considered to give them appeal yet presented in an elegant and contemporary way,” says Cooper. Cooking at one of the city’s most prestigious hotels, surrounded by royal palaces, Cooper is conscious of balancing progressive cooking with the expectations of clients who appreciate a luxurious experience steeped in tradition. Lauding the abundance of world-class ingredients from throughout Great Britain, Cooper reports, “The Lanesborough Grill showcases all of this, such as Wye Valley asparagus, Lindisfarne oysters, Welsh lamb from the Rhug Estate, and incredible cheeses from Cornwall, Devon and Northern Ireland which change on a seasonal basis.”

At London’s Apricity, chef/owner Chantelle Nicholson is committed to local sourcing and sustainability, using only produce at the height of its season from small- scale farmers, along with foraged ingredients. Nicholson’s menus celebrate British vegetables, regeneratively ranched meats and sustainably caught seafood from across the British Isles. The wine list, championing English vineyards and winemakers, represents producers dedicated to biodiversity and natural production.

While the London dining scene naturally receives the most attention, the British culinary renaissance extends deep into the countryside, and the recently released 2023 Michelin Guide for Great Britain & Ireland revealed 20 new one-star and three new two-star establishments. Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, commented on the bushel of new stars: “In every region of Great Britain and Ireland, you can now find hugely talented chefs calling out to gourmets with their exquisite and accomplished cuisine.”


Retaining their stars in 2023 are a pair of restaurants outside Liverpool — Michelin two-star Moor Hall and neighboring one-star The Barn — that showcase modern British cuisine. Chef Mark Birchall, who celebrates the bounty of Britain, states, “Our inspiration comes from our natural setting — our garden, the farms we’re surrounded by and the artisans who produce everything, from our tableware to rearing the cows for our milk.” The chef adds, “Earlier in my career I thought it was all about expensive produce from overseas. I’m sure Sicilian tomatoes are the best, but maybe not after traveling 1,300 miles!”

Just as the American food revolution was partially driven by cultural diversity — newly discovered ingredients from ethnic markets in various Asian and Latino communities has transformed the cuisine in major cities — so too has immigration influenced British cuisine. Curry houses now outnumber fish-and-chip shops in London and, thanks to the nation’s large Indian community, chicken tikka masala (an anglicized creation) is now often regarded as the British national dish.


“It’s impossible to overestimate the positive contribution made by a more diverse food culture in Britain,” says food writer Susan Low. “In cities such as London, Bristol and Birmingham, the adventurous can enjoy cuisines from countries around the globe, and the cross-pollination of ideas, along with a growing respect for diversity, is a main driver of the current food scene.” As an example, Low cites London-based JKS Restaurants, operated by three siblings with South Asian heritage. “Their restaurants, such as Hoppers, Bao and Gymkhana, have done so much to promote and popularize a more diverse approach,” she reports.

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Orange is the new Rosé

If the wine you’re presented possesses a rusty, amber hue instead of pink, it’s not the flattering lighting. Rather, your trend-conscious host has selected a bottle of fashionable orange wine.

Rosé wines, a favorite summertime import from Provence, are now ubiquitous, mass-produced from Australia to California for a growing market of wine drinkers looking for something refreshing, but more memorable than a standard Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Now, orange wines — they have been produced for millennia, but are just now entering the consciousness of American wine lovers — are occupying entire sections of wine lists.

Orange wines, also known as skin-contact wines, are the result of winemakers leaving skins in the juice during the fermentation process of white grapes, which creates golden, rusty hues that often appear orange in a glass. Orange wines differ from rosés, which are produced from red grapes whose skin imparts a warm blush. In general, orange wines are more textured than whites, with pleasant acidity and modest to moderate tannins.

Tracey Rogers, co-founder and winemaker at<br />
pioneering orange wine producer Donkey &<br />
Goat; a bottle of her Stone Crusher, made from<br />
Roussanne grapes.

Several trends are contributing to the drink emergence of orange wines, including the increasing popularity of rosés, accelerated imports from Eastern European nations such as Slovenia, Croatia and Georgia, and a preference among consumers for naturally produced wine. The geographic diversity of orange wines is impressive. Recommended wines cited in a recent Wine Enthusiast article included vintages from Portugal, Austria, Australia, South Africa, California, and Washington.

In California, young winemakers dedicated to creating natural products are increasingly experimenting with orange wines, which have traditionally been made with no preservatives or other additives. After learning the art of crafting natural wines from pioneering French winemaker Éric Texier in the Rhône Valley, Jared Brandt and Tracey Rogers founded Donkey & Goat in 2004, the first natural winery in Berkeley. Others have followed, coalescing around Donkey & Goat to make a small section of Berkeley a hub of California’s natural wine industry.

Sam Bogue, beverage director at Flour + Water<br />
Hospitality Group, with an orange wine that he<br />
believes pairs well with pasta dishes such as<br />
Penny Roma’s cacio e pepe.

Because of the winery’s dedication to natural production, Donkey & Goat has been a leader in the California orange wine movement, currently offering a skin-contact Grenache Blanc from vineyards in El Dorado County and a Pinot Gris from Anderson Valley grapes. Donkey & Goat’s 2019 Stone Crusher is made from skin-fermented Roussanne, a Rhône Valley varietal gaining a foothold in California, and features stone fruit notes while exhibiting an appealing golden hue.

“Younger wine drinkers tend to gravitate toward natural wine and if your starting point is natural wine, it won’t take long before you hear about orange wines,” says Rogers, who herself appreciates the versatility of these products. Noting that their textural and aromatic qualities can vary greatly, the winemaker reports, “In very general terms, skin contact wines can hold up to more heat, such as Thai cooking, than traditional direct-press wines.”

The tourism bureau in Sonoma County has recognized that orange wine is having its moment, and its website provides a guide to local wineries specializing in skin-contact products. The selection ranges from major producers such as DeLoach Vineyards and Pellegrini to boutique operations like Joseph Jewell Wines and Two Shepherds. The trend is also gaining traction in Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine region.

Sam Bogue serves as beverage director for Flour + Water Hospitality Group, where the culinary talents of co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow draw diners to San Francisco restaurants Flour + Water, Penny Roma and Flour + Water Pasta Shop. Bogue appreciates the synergies between orange wines and pasta dishes. “They have the acidity of white wines, but with enough tannins to hold up to richer sauces or proteins,” says the experienced sommelier. Noting that grape skins act as a natural preservative, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers, Bogue adds, “These wines represent what younger wine drinkers are trying to get into their glasses these days.”

Penny Roma cacio e pepe

Bogue has been developing Pasta Water wine, a collaboration between Flour + Water Hospitality Group and Subject to Change Wine Co., which specializes in orange-hued skin-contact wines. The Richmond, California-based winery has proven successful in producing natural wines to scale, says Bogue, who reports that Pasta Water (released this spring) is created from Malvasia Bianca grapes, an aromatic Mediterranean varietal. In addition to their ability to pair well with Flour + Water’s signature pasta dishes,

Bogue notes that orange wines tend to be refreshingly unpretentious. “With Pasta Water, we’re trying to make a wine you don’t need to overthink, trying to make the world of wine a bit more playful.”

Sam Bogue, beverage director at Flour + Water<br />
Hospitality Group, with an orange wine that he<br />
believes pairs well with pasta dishes such as<br />
Penny Roma’s cacio e pepe.

Subject to Change Wine Co. was founded in 2017 by Alex Pomerantz, intent on establishing a winery dedicated to the production of natural wines. “I observed how much natural wine consumed here in California was actually imported wine,” says the winemaker, who adds, “We didn’t have a terroir problem, but more of a wine philosophy problem.”

In addition to Pasta Water, which is one of four private labels, Subject to Change’s playful lineup of orange wine includes Disco! and Pet Nap, both made from Mendocino County Sauvignon Blanc. Pomerantz believes Rhône Valley varietals are well suited for orange wine production, and his Unsung Hero is crafted from a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. “Orange wines are the red wine drinker’s white wine,” suggests Pomerantz, who explains, “They have the flavor profile of white wine, but the texture of red.”

Subject to Change’s winemaker advises that while orange wines have ancient origins, they remain a commercial novelty in the U.S. and demand is still accelerating. “We’re confident the category will continue to expand, and we genuinely love making and drinking these wines,” says Pomerantz.

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Cash for Craft

By Roger Grody

In the past two decades, an explosion of craft distilleries — much like the proliferation of microbreweries that preceded it — brought greater innovation and individuality to the spirits industry. Passionate entrepreneurs were suddenly creating spirits whose quality rivaled esteemed household-name brands, and now some of the world’s largest corporations are snapping up those startups.

Henry Preiss, co-founder of Preiss Imports and a brand creator himself, reports, “It’s interesting to watch how rapidly this trend is progressing. Hardly a week goes by that don’t see a major deal announced.” Preiss explains, “The big guys with deep pockets are looking for luxury brands in emerging categories that are scaling,” and cites Diageo’s blockbuster purchase of George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila in 2017 as a catalyst in a fast-moving market. It not only reinforced the popularity of agave-based spirits, but spawned other celebrity labels whose founders would be delighted with similar results.

Texas-based Balcones Distilling gave Diageo a<br />
foothold in the American craft whiskey sector.

Preiss explains that large multinational companies are willing to take a bet on a hot brand, and if they are unable to scale it they have the financial wherewithal to write it off. He cites 42 Below vodka and Leblon cachaça as two Bacardi acquisitions that are now difficult to find on the shelves. Preiss believes that quality is sometimes compromised after brands are acquired by large corporations, as the influence of personally invested founders diminishes over time. “Big companies are not about loving the business, but loving the bottom line,” says the 49-year veteran of the spirits industry.

Last year, Constellation Brands acquired the remaining interest in Austin Cocktails, a maker of premium, award-winning bottled and canned craft cocktails. “Operating in an environment where women entrepreneurs are significantly under-funded, we feel a sense of tremendous accomplishment,” says Kelly Gasink, who brought her products to market in 2014 with sister Jill Burns.

Copper & Kings

Spirit giant Diageo — its brands include Ketel One, Johnnie Walker and Captain Morgan — recently purchased Mr Black, an Australian cold brew coffee liqueur, anxious to establish a presence in a sector that has become highly competitive with the re-emergence of cocktails like the espresso martini and revolver. Claudia Schubert, president of Diageo North America, relates, “We believe Mr Black is just getting started in the dynamic coffee liqueur segment,” while co-founder Tom Baker states, “Coffee is more than just a drink — it’s a culture, ritual, obsession, aesthetic, experience, tradition, and community.”

Constellation Brands has been particularly aggressive about investing in or purchasing innovative distilleries. In 2020, the Fortune 500 corporation’s venture capital arm acquired Louisville’s Copper & Kings, maker of award-winning craft brandy aged in bourbon barrels. Copper & Kings, which has also produced gin, absinthe and a line of liqueurs, is famous for its unique technique of piping music through the cellar to enhance aging.

Balcones Distilling - Texas Single Malt

A flurry of recent acquisitions has focused on American whiskey producers, allowing international corporations to gain a foothold in the robust sector. Food and spirits writer Steve Coomes, author of The Rebirth of Bourbon and The Home Distiller’s Guide to Spirits, suggests the motivations of most transactions are hardly unexpected. “The owners of acquired distilleries realize staying competitive is outstripping their capital, while the buyers get brand diversity and mature, well-run businesses with market penetration.”

Some owners, explains Coomes, remain involved in the creative process after the deals close, but notes that distillery founders are the types of entrepreneurs wary of taking orders from corporate headquarters. “Sometimes the owners just want to make great whiskey, but the acquiring company wants to push a ready-to-drink product,” says Coomes of potential friction.

Recognizing value in the Kentucky bourbon industry, Milan-based Campari Group entered<br />
into a deal with Wilderness Trail Distillery.

Late last year, London-based Diageo acquired Balcones Distilling, the up-and-coming Texas whiskey producer. Diageo’s Schubert commented, “The Balcones team are true innovators and pioneers in the emerging American single malt and Texas whiskey movements, and their super premium-plus whiskeys are highly complementary to our portfolio.”

Greg Allen, chairman of the 15-year-old distillery, said, “Balcones started with an idea driven by an innovative spirit and passion to create something original and authentic in the heart of Texas.” He added, “We’re thrilled that Diageo shares our belief in its potential and we look forward to seeing Diageo bring Balcones’ incredible whiskeys to more consumers.”

WTD Bottles in Barrelhouse

In 2016, fast-growing High West Distillery was acquired by Constellation, which viewed the Park City, Utah, company’s American whiskeys as particularly appealing. “High West’s whiskeys are high-end, distinctive and delicious — perfect for today’s knowledgeable consumer who enjoys artfully crafted whiskeys,” explained Bill Newlands, Constellation’s president and CEO. Resolving to work closely with the label’s founding couple, David and Jane Perkins, he added, “With the addition of High West, Constellation Brands bolsters its position in the dynamic and growing craft spirits category.”

“The ideal situation is when the acquiring company recognizes the brand as a great horse they want in their stable, and are committed to making it bigger and better,” says Coomes. A deal the journalist views as representing the best-case scenario is a 70-percent stake that Milan-headquartered Campari Group recently took in Kentucky’s Wilderness Trail Distillery — hardly a craft operation, it is recognized as the 14th-largest bourbon producer — with the remaining 30-percent interest to follow in 2031.

Constellation Brands diversified its portfolio<br />
through the acquisition of Copper & Kings, a<br />
Kentucky producer of craft brandies.

“The owners will likely use that substantial new capital to invest in distillery operations while Campari will move the bottles,” says Coomes, who adds, “That’s great for the consumer.” It is too early to assess the ultimate impact on the quality of Wilderness Trail whiskeys. The good news, however, is that there is no shortage of passionate entrepreneurs anxious to launch their own craft distilleries.

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Harry’s Table

By Jamie Yoos

Inspired by a traditional Italian street filled with local vendors, such as a butcher, cheesemonger, fishmonger, and more, Harry’s Table in New York City is offering a new type of culinary journey.

At Two Waterline Square near Lincoln Center, the groundbreaking development is designed by world renowned architects including Richard Meier & Partners Architects, Viñoly Architects, and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Internationally acclaimed London-based AD100 interior designer Martin Brudnizki designed the interiors. It’s home to the first food market by the Cipriani family.

Pizza Counter at Harry's Table

The mission of Harry’s Table is to provide customers with an authentic Italian culinary experience within a 28,000-square-foot space, including:

♦ Caffè: a coffee bar by Lavazza delivering the authentic Italian caffè experience.

♦ Gelato e Dolci: homemade gelati made with top-quality ingredients and traditional recipes found in an Italian pasticceria, including the renowned vanilla meringue and lemon pie, served in all Cipriani restaurants.

Classic Cipriani Meringue Cake

♦ Juice Bar: handcrafted juices, smoothies, and health shots made to order from fresh, natural ingredients.

♦ Insalate: the option to pick from signature salads composed from seasonal produce such as the beloved artichoke salad, the cucumber salad, or compose your own.

♦ Pasta: freshly made pasta such as ravioli and tagliatelle to enjoy on-site or to cook at home.

♦ Gastronomia: gourmet Italian food including the Venetian “Baccalà Montecato,” Carciofi alla Romana, Lasagna alla Bolognese, and more.

♦ Panini: made with fresh ingredients and fragrant bread baked daily, including the Venetian soft sandwiches tramezzini.

Margherita Pizza at Harry's Table by Cipriani

♦ Pescheria: a tribute to one of the main Venetian traditions — the fish market — offering local and Mediterranean catches.

♦ Carne: Fossil Farms Artisan Butcher offers the finest pasture-raised beef of New England farms, free-range poultry from Pennsylvania, Berkshire pork, and specialty game.

♦ Pizza: quality ingredients like fior di latte or buffalo mozzarella and sweet tomato sauce come together with the right dough fermentation to create the perfect pizza.

♦ Formaggi e Salumi: the cheese and charcuterie shop provides the most exciting cheeses and meats that Italy and the world have to offer.

♦ Caviar: the World’s finest domestic and imported caviar, smoked salmon, and other gourmet foods from Caviarteria since 1950.

Dressed Lobster

The experience is complete with a signature Bellini restaurant and a terrace overlooking the water. A full bar inspired by the glamorous days of mid-century Italy with timber paneling, leather stools, and sleek light fixtures take a central role in the space while the more formal restaurant faces the waterfront.

Bellini Restaurant and Bar

“Our goal is to create a kitchen away from home for residents and the neighborhood, as well as an interesting and fun destination for visitors. It is really exciting to be a part of GID’s innovative vision for this unique and vibrant residential neighborhood,” says Giuseppe Cipriani.

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Satiable Summer Sips

By Marlene Ridgeway

Beverage companies around the world are building brands aimed to be inclusive, sustainable, and satisfying. These recipes and ready-to-drink creations are perfect by the pool, at the beach, or as an afternoon refresher.

Teremana Tequila

Among the peaks of the Jalisco Highland mountains is a small town in Mexico where mature, naturally sweet agave is harvested, slow roasted in brick ovens, and then distilled in copper pot stills that are homemade by a local artisan. This is where Teremana Tequila is created.

The word teremana is a combination of the Latin word for earth and the Polynesian word meaning spirit, translating to the spirit of the earth. Appreciation for the land is a notion that shines through the brand of ultra-premium tequila. At Destilería Teremana de Agave, founded by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the tequila-making process is an artform, crafted through traditions with attention to detail in small batches.

The brand offers three types of tequila — Añejo, Blanco, and Reposado — and recipes that will enliven taste buds. Enjoy everything from a traditional margarita to Teremana Spice Pomegranate Punch, made with Blanco and pomegranate juice, to the Mana Mexican Coffee with a rich flavor that pairs perfectly with freshly whipped cream.

Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits

From gin, rum, and tequila, to vermouth and even triple sec, Lyre’s non-alcohol spirits remain true to the flavor of the classics with a sophisticated scope of ingredients, natural essences, extracts, and distillates. “We at Lyre’s are extremely proud to be the world’s most awarded non-alcoholic spirits,” says Joshua Carlos, senior vice president of Lyre’s. “Lyre’s was crafted to give consumers the adult flavor profile of a cocktail without alcohol,” notes Carlos.

The company offers almost every spirit you can think of, making many of your favorite cocktails possible. Spirits, pre-mixed, and ready-to-drink options provide something for everyone. “I could never turn down an ice-cold Amalfi Spritz. Perfect for beach days, sunsets, brunch, or even a rainy day,” says Carlos about one of his favorites.

Lyre’s Pink London Spritz

2 oz. Lyre’s Pink London Spirit
2 oz. Lyre’s Classico*
1 oz. premium bottled tonic water or soda water or lemonade
5 raspberries or berry of choice
2 lemon slices

Method: Build all ingredients in glass with ice. Stir.
Glass: Large Wine Glass

Adapt Drinks Relax

Adapt Drinks Relax would like to be your new go-to after-work beverage, or your favorite weekend potion to take the edge off. Considering replacing your traditional glass of wine, but don’t want to give up the ritual? Adapt Drinks Relax was designed by women with women in mind. The brand is a non-alcoholic, zero sugar, all-natural, sparkling water with adaptogenic herbs that can emulate the feeling you get after that first glass of wine. This is a functional beverage company that allows you to kick the side effects of alcohol to the curb.

Non Alcoholic Beverages

According to an Adapt representative, 87 percent of customers attest that Adapt made them feel more relaxed. What does the trick? Part of the magic is L-theanine, an amino acid that’s not commonly found in our everyday diets. The amino acid advances relaxation without the typical drowsiness that comes with alcohol.

Some other ingredients include Schisandra Chinensis and Panax ginseng. The company’s second flavor is set to hit the shelves later in 2022, which will include an indigenous Australian ingredient.

High Goal Luxury Gin

High Goal Luxury Gin

A fresh take on American gin has been achieved by High Goal Luxury Gin. With an appreciation for the classic spirit, High Goal Gin was co-founded by Matti Christian Anttila, CEO of Grain and Barrel Spirits, and the American polo player Nic Roldan. After a casual polo match, the trio was complete when co-founder Diego Urrutia introduced Roldan to Anttila. The three worked to create a brand that appealed to long-time gin drinkers and those who were new to the spirit.

Created in Charleston, South Carolina, High Goal Gin is infused with mint and citrus botanicals. These ingredients bring a lighter and refreshing note to the gin. This luxury brand boasts an approachable profile of flavors.

The Roldan

2 oz. High Goal Gin
Muddled strawberries
Basil as garnish
Method: Place strawberries in a shaker and muddle (or mash with a spoon). Add gin and ice to the shaker, and shake a few times. Pour into a stemless wine glass.
Add garnish.

Wilderton Botanical Distillate

Wilderton Botanical Distillate

Wilderton is a brand of non-alcoholic expressions. In Portland, Oregon, the team works by hand using traditional methods of tea making, perfumery, and alcoholic spirits to bring Wilderton to life. “Wilderton is truly about inclusivity. Everyone deserves a seat at the bar, and everyone at the bar deserves a great drink,” says founding distiller Seth O’Malley.

Some simple recipes are the Lustre and tonic with a lemon twist, and Earthen and ginger beer with a lime wedge. “If you’re willing to put in a little more work, I highly recommend Jim Meehan’s Early Toast, an elegant shaken cocktail that shows off Lustre’s citrus and herbal notes. Incredibly refreshing and perfect for a lazy brunch,” adds O’Malley.

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The Secret Sauce

By Roger Grody

Expensive culinary academies may insist that exceptional cooking is solely the product of refined technique that takes years to master, but many chefs acknowledge that access to quality ingredients is half the challenge. With celebrity chefs spilling their secrets on the Internet, home cooks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and suburban supermarkets suddenly carry everything from caviar to summer truffles. Some ingredients, however, remain elusive and knowledge of their qualities further closes the gap between seasoned pro and ambitious amateur.

Presented herein are a sampling of underground ingredients that elevate dishes in our favorite restaurants — or at home.

Anchovy Syrup

The buzzy term umami, sometimes described as the “fifth taste” — distinct from salty, sweet, bitter and sour — has become shorthand for describing the essence of crave-worthy savoriness. One under-the-radar ingredient is packed with umami flavor despite the fact that its main ingredient rarely gets much respect. Aside from being an underrated pizza topping, anchovies contribute saturated flavor that enhances a variety of sauces (usually via a paste), and hard-to-find anchovy syrup (aka colatura di alici or anchovy extract) may be the epitome of umami.

Anchovies are often the primary ingredient in fish sauce, a product that gives innumerable Southeast Asian dishes an addictive, exotic flavor. As with balsamic vinegar, patient aging makes the anchovy syrup potent, but not astringent, thereby imbuing marinades, dressings and sauces with an alluring, complex quality. Anchovy syrups from Italy or Spain are not available in most grocery stores, but easy enough to find online.

Chef Judy Joo "KFC" Wings, her take on Korean fried chicken.


Multidimensional gochujang — a blend of red chili paste, sticky rice and fermented soybeans — is becoming as commonplace as Sriracha, but its undiscovered versatility still qualifies it as a secret ingredient. And as all things Korean are currently in style, from K-pop to Squid Game, the timing could hardly be better. For an added benefit, gochujang is a secret ingredient hiding in plain view at most neighborhood supermarkets.

Celebrity chef and author Judy Joo, a frequent guest on the Food Network and shows like Today, insists the magic of gochujang transcends Korean cuisine. “It’s the zeitgeist ingredient of choice, and you’ll see it being drizzled on top of pizza, spooned into bouillabaisse and mixed into hummus,” she says. “Gochujang is full of umami and contributes such a deep complexity to dishes, you’ll want to add it to everything,” explains Joo, who recommends incorporating the ingredient into a marinade for salmon. “The gochujang caramelizes nicely and adds a gorgeous sweet-and-spicy flavor to the fish,” she states.

Chef Brooke Williamson’s fresh sweet corn<br />
and heirloom tomato salad, enhanced<br />
with popcorn dusted in fennel pollen.

Fennel Pollen

Most cooks are intimately familiar with fennel, which imparts a pleasant hint of anise. Sophisticated cooks may sometimes use fennel fronds as well, which look very much like fresh dill and can provide a similar, but more subtle flavor as the fennel bulb. Referred to as “culinary fairy dust,” the pollen harvested from the plant’s yellow blossoms provides even more delicate anise-flavored notes to meats, vegetables and grains.

At her Los Angeles restaurant Playa Provisions, celebrity chef Brooke Williamson currently uses a dusting of fennel pollen to season the popcorn that garnishes a fresh sweet corn and heirloom tomato salad. “The popcorn gets seasoned with a handful of spices, including turmeric for color and a healthy dose of fennel pollen, then gets tossed over the salad as croutons would,” says Williamson. “It’s also a perfect marriage with the fresh, sweet, raw corn and tomatoes, giving the salad a very distinct herbaceousness,” adds the Top Chef champion.

Cheese börek accented with nigella seeds, offered by chef Ana Sortun at Sofra, her<br />
bakery/café in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Nigella Seeds

For centuries, the black seeds of the flowering Nigella sativa plant have been used in diverse cuisines, from North African to South Asian. Now being discovered by American chefs, nigella seeds are sometimes referred to as kalonji or black cumin although they are not scientifically related to cumin. At Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts, chef/owner Ana Sortun creates compelling menus inspired by the cuisine of Turkey, which she fell in love with as a young chef, and nigella seeds are a key ingredient in her portfolio of exotic seasonings.

The James Beard Award-winning chef incorporates nigella seeds in the brown butter sauce with walnuts that accompanies her börek, a Turkish pastry she currently rolls with zucchini. Sortun, who also uses the ingredient at Sofra, her Cambridge bakery/café, reports, “Nigella seeds don’t have much aroma, but their flavor is pleasantly sharp, nutty, peppery and slightly vegetal.” She adds, “They can be used as a topping for crackers or savory pies, stirred into jams, mixed into pancake batter, or combined with other nuts and seeds to make a spice mixture like dukkah.”

Flour+Water, a pasta mecca in San<br />
Francisco, serves green garlic spaghetti<br />
with Manila clams, pea leaves, preserved<br />
Meyer lemon and bottarga butter.


A dried, cured sac of fish roe, typically from grey mullet, bottarga has been an essential ingredient in Italian and other Mediterranean cuisines for millennia, and as global distribution increases, its value is becoming fully appreciated by professional chefs and home cooks in the U.S. When grated over pasta, grains or vegetables, bottarga introduces a lively new dimension to the underlying dish.

A similar ingredient is used in Asia — the Japanese produce karasumi and in Korea it is called eoran — so bottarga is hardly limited to Italian cooking, but it pairs magically with pasta. At San Francisco’s Flour+Water, the ingredient is regularly used to embellish handcrafted pastas, such as green garlic spaghetti with Manila clams, pea leaves, preserved Meyer lemon and bottarga butter. Thomas McNaughton, who serves as Flour+Water’s co-chef with Ryan Pollnow, states, “Bottarga is an amazing product that blends salinity and umami.” Pollnow adds, “It does for Italian cuisine what fish sauce does in Southeast Asian cuisines. We love making a compound butter out of it to finish seafood pastas.”


As the world continues to shrink, once-exotic Indian ingredients are finding their way into American pantries, and one of the trendiest is fenugreek, a clover-like herb native to the Indian subcontinent and Mediterranean. Fresh or dried leaves have culinary uses, and the powdered form of the seeds is a frequent component of the garam masala that flavors Indian curries. And because fenugreek imparts a caramel or maple flavor, Southern barbecue masters thousands of miles from Delhi are discovering that the unconventional ingredient contributes a distinctive flavor to their dry rubs. Fenugreek is also heralded for its therapeutic qualities — there is some evidence that it can lower blood sugar or reduce inflammation — and medical researchers in the West are studying its positive effects.

At Pacific Rim-inspired Tao at The Venetian Las Vegas, butterfly pea flower is added<br />
to its Divinity cocktail to transform it into a seductive shade of lavender.

Butterfly Pea Flower

Mixology is an essential part of dining, and the fancifully named butterfly pea flower is a well-kept secret behind the bar. Its use exploded when mixologists discovered how butterfly pea flower can dramatically transform the color of a cocktail without artificial ingredients. Indigenous to Asia, the blossom introduces rich blues, purples or pinks, depending on the level of acidity it comes in contact with. Experimentation with this ingredient is occurring nationwide, but Las Vegas is a natural place for anything that increases the drama quotient in a drink. Tao, the flamboyant Pacific Rim-inspired venue at The Venetian, adds butterfly pea flower to its Divinity cocktail (Grey Goose Le Citron vodka, St-Germain, pineapple and lemon) to give it a rich shade of lavender.

“With the consumer becoming more educated and the availability of content on social media, we have to ensure that we’re staying relevant,” reports Craig Schoettler, vice president of beverage at Tao Group Hospitality. He suggests butterfly pea flower is one item in his mixologists’ toolbox that really presents a “wow” factor for guests. “Not everyone has seen the magic of a cocktail changing color right in front of their eyes,” states Schoettler.

Tiger Nuts

Technically not a nut but a tuber, dried tiger nuts (aka chufa and yellow nutsedge) are the size of small olives, but with a shriveled, mummified-like skin. The ingredient provides multiple health benefits — the fiber- and antioxidant-rich superfood is purported to lower cholesterol and boost the immune system — and its catchy name and natural sweetness make these “nuts” destined to appear on trendy restaurant menus. For cocktails, horchata (a sweet non-alcoholic tiger nut beverage popular in Spain) can be mixed with tequila or other spirits.

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Taco Tuesday

By Roger Grody


Tacos are the ultimate street food, and college kids, frazzled moms and anybody on a budget knows they are also typically a great value. But as the tradition of “Taco Tuesday” has spread from the American Southwest through the entire nation, innovative chefs have begun incorporating luxurious or unexpected ingredients into tacos, elevating the humble dish to new heights.

Nobu Malibu, typically overrun by celebrities on weekends, features a variety of upscale tacos fashioned from wonton shells. The fashionable outpost of sushi master/entrepreneur Nobu Matsuhisa offers miniature tacos stuffed with luxury ingredients such as uni, Wagyu beef and lobster, all providing a suitable homage to the Mexican heritage of Southern California.

In New York, chef Alex Stupak — he co-authored the James Beard Award-nominated book Tacos: Recipes and Provocations — explores the versatility of the taco at his growing collection of Empellón Taquerias. In the book’s introduction, the chef characterizes the recipes for taco fillings he presents on the following pages, presenting unconventional concepts like chicken wing tacos or pastrami tacos that intrigue readers. “Some are classic, like sticky pork carnitas, musky tripe or cochinita pibil. Others use tradition as a springboard for innovation or as an opportunity to explore my own roots in a Mexican context,” he explains. Stupak’s oyster tacos are a nod to his New England heritage and his foam-topped tacos are the product of years working in trendy American kitchens.

Velvet Taco

Since it was founded in Dallas in 2011, Velvet Taco has spread like wildfire throughout Texas and to Georgia, Illinois and beyond, promoting itself as a “temple to the liberated taco.” Without the constraints of strict authenticity or national borders, its chefs have been free to create a culturally diverse taco menu that includes Southern shrimp-and-grits, Indian-inspired chicken tikka, Nashville hot tofu, Korean fried rice, chicken-and-waffle, Buffalo chicken, and an interpretation of a Cuban sandwich folded into a flour tortilla.

Chef V Willis, who directs the culinary operations at Velvet Taco, states, “The brand is founded on the idea that tacos don’t have to be Mexican, or Tex-Mex.” As a result, some purists may find Velvet Taco’s eclectic, chef-driven approach to tacos unnerving, but it resonates with adventurous diners. “When creating a menu, we’re always exploring new ingredients, flavors, seasonal trends, and cultures,” says Willis.

Noting the perfect taco is a balance of flavors, textures and colors, Willis insists there are no rules for the taco as a vessel for the delivery of diverse, even unexpected flavors. “You can put anything into a taco, and even the ingredients that go into making the tortilla can be unique and nontraditional,” she says. “Connecting people with global flavors through an approachable staple, like a taco, is important to us,” explains the chef.

At New York’s Bar Masa, from sushi master Masa Takayama, diners enjoy rich, cross-cultural tacos filled with crispy Peking duck, whose sweet hoisin sauce complements an additional indulgent filling of seared foie gras. In Miami, The Bazaar by José Andrés — a fusion of scene and cuisine in perennially trendy South Beach — offers high-end tacos, including a Japanese-influenced version with grilled eel, shiso, wasabi, and pork chicharrónes stuffed into a cucumber “tortilla.” Another taco, informed by the famous chef’s native Spain, features Ossetra caviar wrapped in prized Ibérico ham.

Chef Roy Choi was a pioneer in the food truck movement, creating addictive street food that combined the seemingly disparate ingredients he grew up with. Born in Seoul but raised in L.A., the young chef realized his two favorite cuisines, Korean and Mexican, could be harmonized in dishes like kimchi quesadillas or Korean short rib tacos. The concept has been an unbridled success, as a fleet of Choi’s instantly recognizable Kogi trucks, a local favorite since 2008, continue to rumble through the streets of Southern California. The chef, a renegade at heart despite his Culinary Institute of America credentials, was instrumental in making the taco a vehicle for anything a clever chef might imagine.

In Pleasantville, New York, veteran chef Jonathan Langsam and his Mexican-born wife Rosie Hernandez-Langsam combine Israeli and Mexican traditions at a restaurant called Falafel Taco. The menu offers appealing mashups such as potato latkes or matzo ball soup with Mexican twists, and tacos stuffed with Jewish specialties like slow cooked brisket (a riff on Langsam’s grandmother’s recipe) or Israeli falafel. The genesis of the concept was Langsam stuffing falafel into pita bread (options at the restaurant include Israeli pita, laffa or corn tortilla) at home to please his vegan-leaning children. “We thought about opening a taquería or a falafel place, and ended up doing both,” explains the chef, who adds, “Our menu is really about street food,” a grab-and-go concept well suited to the restaurant’s train station location.

“What Mexican and Israeli cuisines have in common is that everything has to be fresh, and the flavors have to intrigue and excite you,” says Langsam, who draws parallels between a finely chopped Israeli salad and Mexican pico de gallo. The curious cultural hybrid has been a hit, and the culinary couple is opening a second Falafel Taco in nearby Greenwich, Connecticut.

The Grand Velas Los Cabos resort in Mexico offers a $25,000 taco, a gold-infused corn tortilla stuffed with langoustine, Kobe beef, Beluga caviar and black truffled Brie cheese. For an extra $150,000, the gilded taco can be paired with Ley .925 “Pasión Azteca” Ultra-Premium Añejo Tequila in a custom- designed bottle accented in gold and platinum.

“Our ultimate goal at Grand Velas Los Cabos is to break the mold of expected, traditional cuisine, going outside the box and creating new, exciting experiences for our well-traveled guests,” explains Andreas Schmidt, the resort’s managing director.

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Fast Yet Fashionable

By Roger Grody

Fast-food operations are not what they used to be, and even the term “fast food” is passé, with trade associations turning to more attractive euphemisms like “quick- service restaurant” (QSR) or “fast-casual” establishment. The latest generation of eateries represents much more than a corporate image makeover, however, with a commitment to artisanal ingredients and even fine dining principles adapted to lower price points and rapid turnaround.

The concept of fast food integrating more upscale standards is well represented by the now-ubiquitous, publicly traded Shake Shack, the progressive burger joint founded by fine dining entrepreneur Danny Meyer. The creator of legendary (and pricey) Manhattan restaurants Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and Eleven Madison Park proved that quality ingredients, chef-driven techniques and top-drawer customer service were adaptable to the quick-service sector.

QSR magazine editorial director Danny Klein, who is exposed to hundreds of quick-service concepts every year, reports, “In the beginning of the pandemic, there was a rush to comfort food, as people gravitated to dishes they understood and related to.” He adds, “But now we’re again seeing more global cuisines and an emphasis on healthy food.” Klein explains the provision of higher-quality food at accessible prices was the impetus of the more sophisticated fast-casual movement that emerged about a decade ago. Now, concepts his magazine refers to as “fast-casual 2.0” focus more on chef-driven menus in affordable, convenient settings.

Dumplings, whether authentic fare at a Chinatown dim sum restaurant or upmarket versions filled with foie gras or black truffles in trendy establishments, represent a current obsession among food enthusiasts. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop offers an expansive menu of iconic American flavors folded into little pockets of dough, including Philly cheesesteak, Reuben and PB&J sandwiches, as well as sausage-and-egg, lamb gyro with tzatziki and dumplings that satisfy a craving for chicken parmigiana.

Founder Stratis Morfogen began serving the sandwich-themed dumplings at his upscale Brooklyn Chop House, and when the kitchen could hardly keep up with demand, launched a QSR concept. At Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, customers order in advance on their smartphones or at automated kiosks, then grab their orders from a designated temperature-controlled locker, eliminating human interaction.

The no-contact system surely appeals to pandemic-weary consumers, but was designed strictly for efficiency. “We’ve got driverless cars, so why not bring back the automat?” queries Morfogen, referring to New York’s nostalgic automated diners from the first half of the 20th century. Both the system and dumplings have been well received by customers, and the business community is responding, too, with hundreds of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop franchises being contracted around the country. “Dumplings are social and make great bar food,” says the restaurateur, who notes, “Everybody loves the concept of a two-ounce sandwich.”

QSR magazine’s Klein believes the versatility of the dumpling and the company’s commitment to automation will benefit Brooklyn Dumpling Shop’s ambitious expansion plans. While he notes there will always be demand for the in-store dining experience, the trade journalist reports, “There’s growing interest among consumers to have as little face-to-face interaction as possible, preferring to place an order by phone and grab their food out of a locker.” Noting the restaurant industry has sometimes been slow to evolve, Klein states, “One of the positive outcomes of COVID was that it ushered in years of technological innovation.” He suggests this will result in more kiosks, voice-activated ordering tablets and even artificial intelligence in the drive-through lane.

Another major trend in the restaurant industry, from Michelin three-star restaurants to the corner quick-service eatery, is the introduction of plant-based menu items. While Klein is skeptical of its widespread adoption outside urban areas, even the most ubiquitous brands now offer some plant-based options.

Metro Atlanta’s Slutty Vegan is one of many quick-service concepts appealing to the now-mainstream interest in
veganism, and offers some sloppy, indulgent “burgers.” Beefsteak, with locations in a handful of major American cities, was founded by celebrity chef/humanitarian José Andrés, and while not purely vegan, markets itself as a celebration of vegetables. Many of the menu items are entirely plant-based, but some dairy, egg, chicken, and seafood can be incorporated into bowls or salads that are easily customized. The only beefsteaks to be found are tomatoes, and the burgers are entirely plant-based at this concept, whose rarefied pedigree draws attention.

This is not the first foray of the Michelin-starred chef into fast food, and one suspects more of his high-flying peers from the world of fine dining will follow.

Chef Roy Choi, a native of Seoul and Culinary Institute of America alum, is credited with discovering the unique synergies of Korean and Mexican cooking, both cuisines he grew up with on the streets of Los Angeles. His fleet of Kogi trucks continues to rumble through L.A., and the renegade chef’s unique fusion fare (e.g., kimchi quesadillas, Korean short rib tacos) has practically gone mainstream. Chains like St. Louis-based Seoul Taco (it, too, began as a food truck), are continuing Choi’s tradition, offering Korean-sauced tacos, burritos, nachos, and quesadillas with a choice of bulgogi, spicy pork, chicken, or tofu, along with kimchi fried rice and even churros with strawberry-Sriracha sauce.

Bonchon — the rapidly growing company began in South Korea and now has more than 370 restaurants worldwide — is another chain taking advantage of the widespread acceptance of Korean cuisine. Bonchon’s specialty is its highly relatable fried chicken, an American staple introduced by U.S. troops during the Korean War, transformed by the locals and exported back to the States as something a bit more exciting. The eatery also offers takoyaki (Japanese fried octopus balls), soft buns stuffed with pork belly that are reminiscent of an upscale dish authored by celebrity chef David Chang, and bibimbap, Korea’s classic egg-topped rice bowl with meat or tofu.

Bonchon now has more than 100 U.S. stores, including a new prototype with a smaller footprint and more streamlined menu. CEO Flynn Dekker comments, “Now, with the increased interest of Korean art and culture in recent years — the Oscar-winning film Parasite, the Netflix sensation Squid Game and K-pop artists like BTS — you’ve got all the right ingredients for mass appeal of Korean cuisine and Bonchon Korean fried chicken, in particular.”

From the talent behind Sushi Roku, a super-premium Japanese restaurant, and the founder of assembly line pizza chain PizzaRev comes Yakumi, a fast-casual establishment with the style and quality of high-end sushi bars, but more approachable prices. Sushi preparations feature sophisticated touches one expects at much pricier establishments, such as salmon drizzled with true soy and dusted with sesame seeds, or crispy shallot- crowned albacore splashed with ponzu sauce. The inaugural Yakumi location is in Burbank, California, but given its ambitious leadership, you can be sure this concept will proliferate.

Indian is another ethnic cuisine currently enjoying its moment, and Curry Up Now is rapidly expanding from its San Francisco Bay Area roots. The concept’s emphasis is on Indian street food — specialties range from traditional samosas and miniature naan bread bits with tikka masala dip to vegan, Indian-themed “burritos” — and much of the menu is plant-based. Further globalization of the quick-service sector is represented by promising concepts such as Nando’s, featuring peri-peri chicken (a specialty of Portugal via Mozambique), Mediterranean-themed Cava and La Granja, a Peruvian-inspired chain with locations throughout Florida.

Café d’Avignon is a concept from the owners of Pain d’Avignon, a bakery/restaurant that supplies some of New York City’s top restaurants and hotels with artisanally crafted bread. Customers at Café d’Avignon enjoy a croissant or quiche Lorraine for breakfast and a niçoise salad or croque monsieur tartine later in the day, complemented by an impressive repertoire of baked goods. The fast-casual eatery, beloved by Francophiles, has multiple locations in New York and is seeking opportunities in other major markets.

Burgers and fries may still rule the world of fast food, but endless alternatives and sophisticated products are making the grab-and-go routine infinitely more exciting.

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Sweet Sustainability

Some of the world’s finest hotels have accepted hundreds of thousands of new guests: honeybees that reflect a commitment to sustainability.

In an era when chefs and consumers are obsessed with conscientious sourcing and sustainability, restaurants are turning to local artisanal producers of cheeses, vegetables and meats. For a natural, sustainable sweetener that cannot get more local, luxury hotels around the world are converting rooftops into honeybee farms, a movement embraced by environmentalists and hotel guests alike.

Author Leslie Day, a naturalist who is passionate about her native New York, has spent a career documenting the city’s birds and trees. Her 2018 book Honeybee Hotel chronicles the rooftop garden and beekeeping operation at Midtown Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The book is a loving celebration of the iconic hotel, now undergoing a $2 billion renovation, and the natural world that doggedly prevails in the Big Apple.

Dr. Day — she holds a doctorate in science education from Columbia — was inspired by the Art Deco property’s conversion of its 20th floor rooftop into a bountiful garden and honeybee farm in 2012. The transformation not only enhanced the hotel’s culinary offerings, but brought together a community of humans to care for colonies totaling approximately 300,000 apis mellifera honeybees. Pleased to see other hotels emulating the Waldorf Astoria’s efforts, Day suggests, “This is a strong statement that a hotel cares about the environment and cares about the ingredients they serve their guests.”

Mandarin Oriental Paris

Ojai Valley Inn

Day reports bees thrive in urban settings and notes even Manhattan is surprisingly hospitable to bees. “Before the chefs and staff put in the garden, the bees would fly to Central Park — about a beeline of a mile away from the Waldorf Astoria — to forage on flowering plants,” reports Day. “The city offers a veritable feast for pollinating animals,” she insists. A strong proponent of urban beekeeping, Day observes, “City beekeepers develop a relationship with these amazing little animals and help them stay healthy by monitoring the hive throughout the year.” She says of the challenging hobby, “It’s a relationship that brings you close to the natural world, even in an urban environment.”

David Garcelon, the chef Leslie Day features in Honeybee Hotel, arrived at the Waldorf Astoria after previously nurturing bees at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. His beekeeping at the Royal York, starting in 2008, was the genesis of a worldwide “Bee Sustainable” program adopted by more than 20 properties in the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts organization. Now hotel manager at Fairmont Banff Springs, Garcelon is attempting to overcome a restriction of introducing honeybees, a non-native species, into Canada’s Banff National Park.

“It’s not often you’re able to do something groundbreaking in a hotel over 100 years old,” recounts Garcelon of his bee program at the Waldorf Astoria. “There was a great deal of excitement when we added the hives, a lot of ‘buzz’ in the media as well,” he says. “However, the most rewarding aspect for me was seeing the look on guests’ faces when we told them we produced our own honey in Midtown Manhattan, then being able to take them to see the hives,” explains Garcelon, who appreciates any ingredient that has a story to tell.

Thanks in part to Fairmont’s aggressive program, the practice of hotels caring for honeybees is not confined to North America. In London, 350,000 bees reside on a third-floor garden at St. Ermin’s Hotel and in Paris, the very chic Mandarin Oriental — it is located on the fashion-forward Rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement — has been honeybee-friendly since 2012. The honey produced by those Parisian bees is used in the hotel’s various restaurants and bars, including the Michelin two-starred Sur Mesure under the direction of chef Thierry Marx.

The Mandarin Oriental’s legendary beekeeper, Audric de Campeau (pictured with his companion on the rooftop of the hotel on page 26), has also introduced beehives to iconic Parisian monuments like Les Invalides and Musée d’Orsay. “Bees are an important part of the pollination cycle and often thrive in urban environments such as Paris, which has been a pesticide-free zone for the past ten years,” explains Mandarin Oriental’s general manager Philippe Leboeuf. To help restore the decreasing honeybee population and to contribute to biodiversity, the hotel maintains two rooftop hives hosting 100,000 Buckfast honeybees, a breed that adapts well to city life.

“Due to the specificity and the diversity of Parisian flowers, the Mandarin Oriental honey has a unique flavor, rich and complex,” reports de Campeau, describing it like a master sommelier. “It has a powerful and persistent scent of red fruits, and tastes wonderfully round in the mouth, with a bright, fresh finish,” he assesses. In addition to chef Marx and pastry chef Adrien Bozzolo, bartenders use the house honey in a cocktail of Champagne, yuzu liqueur and jasmine tea.

  Most people outside the state are unaware of it, but Utah is known as the “Beehive State,” and the Waldorf Astoria Park City continues the practices of its flagship property in New York. Master beekeeper Debrah Carroll, who also serves as kitchen manager at the hotel’s Powder restaurant, maintains approximately 60,000 honeybees adjoining the onsite herb garden. Looking to become more sustainable in its food practices, the Waldorf Astoria initiated the program in 2014, complementing its emphasis on utilizing local ingredients. “The local sourcing is plentiful in our mountains, but we also wanted to have something, literally, from our own backyard,” explains Carroll, who concedes Utah’s dry climate presents challenges for beekeeping.

Carroll reports guests respond well to the uber-local honey, particularly when presented in the honeycomb. “The Waldorf Astoria honey has a wonderful wildflower flavor that works in various dishes and cocktails,” says the master beekeeper, citing seasonal fruit plates, salad dressings, candied pecans, and cheese or charcuterie boards, as well as a signature cocktail called the Astoria Tonic. VIP guests are treated to tours of the hives and garden, dressed in protective gear.

Dedicated to educating people on the virtues of beekeeping, Carroll reveals some extraordinary facts about honeybees that engender a greater appreciation for the house-made honey hotel guests drizzle into their tea. For instance, it takes 12 honeybees an entire lifetime (which is typically six to seven weeks) to generate a single teaspoon of honey, and in order to create a pound of honey, a hive of bees must travel 55,000 miles.

One might not expect 4,200 acres in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains to be a magnet for sophisticated epicureans, but Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm most certainly is. Almost everything that arrives on the dining table is produced on the premises, and that includes honey overseen by farmstead manager and beekeeper Dustin Busby, whose resume includes celebrated restaurants The Fat Duck and The French Laundry. He manages at least seven hives of European honeybees with access to tulip poplar, wildflowers and sourwood.

Most prized is the honey from sourwood tree blossoms, known for its sweet and spicy qualities, a hint of anise and agreeable aftertaste. Busby explains that factors such as time of harvest, weather conditions and even the specific portion of the hive from which the honey is extracted can influence taste. He is constantly developing new recipes for using the honey in the resort’s preserve kitchen and recently created a blueberry-elderflower jam using the house-made honey in place of sugar.

“Seeing the hives and talking about our bees are part of our garden and farmstead tours,” reports Busby. He adds, “More involved tours of the bees, including suiting up and looking at the hives or even collecting honey, are conducted from time to time on special request from guests.” Blackberry Farm honey is one of the many artisanal food products sold directly to hotel guests.

Blackberry Farm raises virtually everything served at the resort, including house-made honey.

Honey produced at Ojai Valley Inn reflects the flavors of lavender, avocado, and citrus. 

The Ojai Valley Inn is just 80 miles from downtown Los Angeles, but feels like another world. From its 220 acres in an idyllic coastal valley, guests enjoy access to the ocean and vineyards, as well as championship golf on site. The Farmhouse — this is a culinary event center directed by acclaimed chef Nancy Silverton — reflects the Inn’s commitment to food and wine. Guests who tour the retreat’s apiary in protective suits enjoy tastings of different honeys whose flavor profiles result from pollination of local plants like avocado, lavender and citrus.

“We’re extremely proud of our beekeeping program at Ojai Valley Inn, not only because it provides us with an amazing estate-curated product that we can offer our guests, but also because we believe strongly in good stewardship of the natural resources of the Ojai Valley,” reports executive chef Truman Jones. Emphasizing the positive ecological impacts yielded through the care of those prolific pollinators, he adds, “It gives us a huge return on our efforts by propagating the flowers and various fruits of the Inn and the entire Valley.”

In San Francisco, nearly a dozen hotels maintain rooftop beehives, including the Clift Royal Sonesta, which uses honey from its “Bee Sanctuary” in craft cocktails at its legendary Redwood Room. The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, ranked among the world’s finest resorts, has also developed a strong apiculture program and Philadelphia’s Sofitel at Rittenhouse Square accommodates 480,000 honeybees on its rooftop garden, showcased in dishes at the hotel’s Liberté Lounge.

The beekeeping operations at these luxury hotels are an offshoot of an urban beekeeping movement that has become trendy in the last 20 years. The tasting notes of backyard honeys, sometimes sold at farmers markets and gourmet shops, mirror the flora of an area, even a specific neighborhood, much like a wine reflects its vineyard’s own terroir.

In addition to mesmerizing guests, keeping bees at hotels helps alleviate a crisis-level decline in the honeybee population that threatens entire ecosystems and adversely impacts food production for a hungry world. Master beekeeper Debrah Carroll reports that 80 percent of all flowering plants must be pollinated to survive, and that more than a third of the world’s food supply is dependent on pollination by insects like honeybees.

Addressing her nostalgic Waldorf Astoria, scheduled to reopen in 2022, naturalist Leslie Day comments, “I’m very hopeful the new management will read my book and bring the bees back.”

Honey from the rooftop of the Clift Royal Sonesta is incorporated into cocktails at the historic Redwood Room.

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Dining Responsibly

Whether you’re hosting a clambake on Nantucket, enjoying a procession of edible jewels at a Tokyo sushi bar or simply shopping for a suburban supper, the days of consuming seafood with careless abandon are gone. The oceans are desperately overfished, and seafood lovers must be conscious of their own personal impact on the aquatic environment.

The best known resource for both suppliers and consumers is Seafood Watch, a program created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Northern California 20 years ago. Its regional consumer guides, identifying the most sustainable and most threatened species, are valued by consumers, chefs and eco-conscious corporations. “We use a rigorous, scientifically-based standard to come up with recommendations, result-ing in the most up-to-date, credible information,” states Maddie Southard, content manager for Seafood Watch.

So influential are these guides—60 million have been distributed to date—that when a particular item moves from the red (“Avoid”) category to yellow (“Good Alternatives”) or green (“Best Choices”), millions of dollars can change hands. Reflecting the thoroughness of Seafood Watch’s recommendations, flounder appears four times as a “Best Choice,” 14 times as a “Good Alternative” and 18 times in the “Avoid” column depending on the exact species, geographic origin and methods of fishing or farming employed.

©Monteray Bay Aquarium, Photo by Tyson V. Rininger.

“Consumers help drive change, and when businesses recognize what’s import-ant to consumers they respond,” reports Southard of Seafood Watch’s ability to engage corporations like Whole Foods and Blue Apron. The program’s restaurant partners transcend economic strata, from trendy Farallon in San Francisco to family-friendly Red Lobster restaurants across the country.

In its early days, businesses viewed Seafood Watch as a fringe movement but today participation is embraced and display of the organization’s yellowfin tuna logo can be a marketing asset. A Blue Ribbon Task Force, comprised of honored culinary authorities, enhances Seafood Watch’s relevance with diners. “The public admires chefs and culinarians, and we realized the impact they have on consumers,” offers Southard, who adds, “Chefs were some of the earliest supporters of the movement so this was a natural partnership.”

“Whenever I’m making decisions about what to put on a menu, I always ask myself, ‘What would Sheila do,’” says Los Angeles chef Michael Cimarusti, referring to Seafood Watch’s Sheila Bowman, who oversees outreach to chefs. Cimarusti, who has earned two Michelin stars at his flag-ship restaurant Providence, became conscious of sustainable sourcing issues as a young chef in L.A. 20 years ago, when a Gourmet magazine review admonished him for serving bluefin tuna.

“As I learned more about issues relating to sustainability, I became really passion-ate about it and wanted to become more active in the movement,” explains Cimarusti. “I was honored to be asked to sit on the Task Force and have learned a tremendous amount from Seafood Watch,” says the chef, who shares all of the program’s recommendation alerts with his staff.

Éric Ripert, chef/partner of New York’s Le Bernardin, takes sustainability as seriously as Cimarusti. “I spend my days with many varieties of fish, considering which are best for the restaurant, he says. Ripert explains, “This means more than just judging by flavor and composition, but includes the ethics and politics surrounding how they’ve been made available to us.” The Michelin three-star chef cautions, “If we don’t support the artisanal way of catching fish, it’s going to disappear.”

Michael Cimarusti. ©Jennkl Photography.

Courtesy of Whole Foods Market. 

Hugh Acheson, author and James Beard Award-winning chef with a family of Georgia restaurants, also sits on Seafood Watch’s advisory board and is a strong advocate for local, sustainable ingredients. He recalls that in the 1990s chefs addressed a severe threat to swordfish through a voluntary ban and use of more sustainable alternatives, allowing stocks to replenish. “It made me realize how much clout we have, as chefs, to mandate change when we act as a plurality,” states Acheson.

“I think Seafood Watch has succeeded in being a valuable resource for consumers, chefs, wholesalers, and grocery stores,” says the Canadian-born chef who has helped reimagine Southern cuisine. Acheson, who notes that swordfish continues to face challenges, suggests Seafood Watch would have been an invaluable resource decades ago, when many chefs were oblivious to sustainability issues.

An affinity for bluefin tuna (maguro) and eel (unagi), both largely on Seafood Watch’s “Avoid” list, and adherence to centuries-old traditions makes sushi chefs among the most reluctant to adopt sustainable practices. One sushi chef committed to sustainability is Bun Lai, chef/owner of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut and another member of Seafood Watch’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. Some odd ingredients—every-thing from insects and invasive species to edible weeds—populate his voluminous menu, and the James Beard Award nominee relies on guidance from Seafood Watch.

Éric Rippert. ©Daniel Kreiger Photography. 

Hugh Acheson. Photo by Emily B. Hall. 

“Miya’s started working on sustainable seafood very gradually in the early 2000s,” reports Lai, explaining that unreliable data made conscientious sourcing challenging. “Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch changed all of that by creating a tool that helped people choose sustainable seafood in a market awash with imported seafood of mostly dubious origin and quality,” says Lai. “When I first discovered Seafood Watch, it was as if a light beamed into the darkness I was surrounded by,” he says.

Bun Lai. ©Alan S. Orling.

“I admire my heritage, but we must question our traditions, too,” states Lai, acknowledging sushi’s popularity contributes to overfishing around the globe. He cites Jiro Ono, the revered sushi master featured in the documentary film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, who lamented the demise of the majestic bluefin while continuing to serve it to customers.

“There are, however, sushi chefs filled with a passion for sustainable seafood like those café owners who pioneered fair trade coffee decades ago,” says Lai with optimism. With Seafood Watch’s guides and app available to chefs and consumers alike, good choices can be made on both sides of the bar.

Sustainable Sources

Hugh Acheson

Le Bernardin

Miya’s Sushi


Seafood Watch


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