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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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A Guide to the Michelin Guide

The Michelin Guide began when the tire company — Michelin Tires — wanted to encourage travelers to drive to their destinations, in turn boosting car and tire sales. This helpful guide offered maps, attractions, and briefly mentioned places to stay and eat. The publication began as a travel guide to encourage day trips and now covers a range of prestigious ventures such as the flavor and personality of dishes at restaurants. Today, the coveted Michelin stars are awarded to the very best of the best restaurants. 

According to The International Culinary Center, US-based restaurants only became eligible for Michelin stars in 2005, and the list continues to grow. The ratings range from one to three and rank the most sophisticated and successful restaurants around the world. 

Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce that both the hotel’s signature restaurants, the Italian Il Ristorante — Niko Romito and the Chinese Bao Li Xuan, have been awarded Michelin stars during the Michelin Guide Shanghai 2020 presentation ceremony.

Bao Li Xuan — 1 Michelin Star


Located in Bvlgari Hotel Shanghai’s historic Chamber of Commerce Shanghai building, Bao Li Xuan will celebrate its first anniversary in October 2019. An enchanting blend of classic nostalgia and metropolitan modernity framed by its unique heritage setting dating back to 1916, the restaurant serves exquisite Cantonese cuisine prepared by Chef Fu from Hong Kong. 

II Ristorante — Niko Romito — 1 Michelin Star

Il Ristorante — Niko Romito represents a unique collaboration between Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts and the renowned Italian chef-patron of 3 Michelin star restaurant Reale in Abruzzo. Showcasing a new gastronomic concept that the chef specially designed for Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts, Il Ristorante — Niko Romito is currently present in the Bvlgari properties of Dubai, Beijing, Shanghai, and Milan. Niko Romito is one of very few Michelin-awarded chefs in Italy to receive this prestigious acknowledgment by the Michelin Guide both in his home country and internationally.

Other Michelin Rated Restaurants To Try

Michelin Rated Italian 

Giovannelli (Kerry, Ireland) — Italian cuisine crafted from homemade pasta and fresh local herbs.

Crust (Phuket, Thailand) — A cozy setting for Italian classics, such as scallops with truffle risotto and tiramisu. 

Hos Thea (Oslo, Norway) — This small but well-established Italian restaurant only used the freshest ingredients.

Michelin Rated Chinese

Daguan Noodle (Chicago, Illinois) — Chinese cuisine with a twist on comfort, think rice noodles and steaming bowls of broth.

Duck & Rice (London, England) — A converted pub serving delectable Chinese classics with fireplaces and booths for added comfort.

Wei Lou (Seoul, South Korea) — Located on the 34th floor of Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas, the spacious venue, delectable favorites make it ideal for large gatherings.

Photos courtesy of Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts


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