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posts tagged ‘chef’

A Clean Plates Review: Kaia Wine Bar

Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 02:12 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

With a multitude of restaurants at our fingertips, New Yorkers are often asked, “What type of food are you in the mood for?” While South African may not be a common response, Kaia Wine Bar might just ingrain this cuisine into your arsenal of go-tos. This darling Upper East Side restaurant offers seasonal South African-inspired small plates in a rustic, 50-seat setting.


Kaia, which means “home” in Zulu, is a candlelit neighborhood gem that’s perfect for a romantic date night or fun evening out with friends. Focused solely on authentic South African flavors, chef Ivan Giani’s eclectic menu features biodynamic and grass-fed meats, organic produce, local cheeses and a sustainable fish program. Beverages include South African and New World wines, along with a selection of American craft beers.

A starter of wild boar sliders topped with smoked tart cherry compote set the tone for an intensely flavorful meal. Along a narrow plate, creamy scoops of ostrich tartare alternated with watermelon radish slices and toast rounds over white chocolate mustard; the myriad of tastes and textures really impressed us when assembled together. Chilled tilefish ceviche mingled with diced kiwi fruit, oranges, red peppers and lime juice for a citrusy and refreshing warm weather dish, best enjoyed when spooned onto the accompanying crisped bread for added texture. Other meal highlights include the vibrant “Jacob’s Nootjes” scallops atop sweet corn purée peppered with mango relish, and the savory “Spear and Shield” dish: bacon-wrapped asparagus resting on portobello mushrooms smothered in cheddar cheese and a rich green peppercorn sauce.

Will I be craving South African cuisine on a regular basis now? Absolutely. The delicious, high quality cuisine and cozy, unpretentious atmosphere make me want to call Kaia my new home away from home on the UES.
cleanplates2014My review as published in the Clean Plates Manhattan 2014 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on Photo courtesy of

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Tribeca Gets Distilled: New Modern Pub Now Open

Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 11:06 AM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

In the heart of Tribeca, a modern rendition of a classic American public house is born. The sprawling landmarked space on the corner of West Broadway and Franklin is now home to Distilled, an inviting restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows, an open kitchen, chef’s counter, raw bar and elevated outdoor patio for the warm summer months.

Young hotshot exec chef Shane Lyons, formerly of Momofuku Noodle Bar, showcases elevated comfort food in his creative, globally-flavored menu. You’ll find hearty bar snacks like beer-battered onion rings and Distilled’s signature wings, along with entrées of country fried duck & French toast-style waffles drizzled with smoked Serrano maple syrup, and 24-hour slow cooked pork ribs accompanied by watermelon, red onions and pickled mustard seed. A selection of sweet treats includes an apple pie soda float and strawberry cheesecake with pink peppercorn, rhubarb and mascarpone.

Celebrated mixologists Sheldon Wiley and Benjamin Wood are the dynamic duo behind Distilled’s beverage program, which features specialty signature drinks like the ‘Tribecan’ with bourbon, Carpano Antica, chocolate bitters, lemon oil and absinthe rinse, and the ‘Derby Shrub’ with Amaro CioCiaro, apricot shrub, chamomile-infused rye and fresh mint. Not only do my buds Sheldon and Ben totally rock, but their cocktails are killer—making Distilled’s bar definitely one to belly up to. A wine list featuring regional American and international varieties, along with an array of craft beers, round out the beverage offerings.

Check out the full menu here and stay up-to-date on this hot new spot by following Distilled on Facebook and Twitter.
Images courtesy of Distilled

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SOBEWFF 2013: Getting to Know Giada De Laurentiis

Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 10:02 PM - Posted by Megan - (3) comments

giada de laurentiisBeautiful, successful, talented, funny and down-to-earth. They say you can’t have it all, but Italian culinary icon Giada De Laurentiis sure seems to come close. And whether playing the role of wife, mom, chef, host, spokeswoman, mentor, cookbook author, TV star or pasta perfecter, the sexy Food Network starlet manages to make it all look effortless.

Last Friday during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, I had the pleasure of sitting down one-on-one with Giada at Miami’s Casa Tua restaurant, before her ‘Italian in Paradise’ dinner event. She candidly shared details of her incredibly busy life and dished about cooking at home with her family, embarrassing moments, common misconceptions and more.

I’ve seen you at at all these food festivals, in NY, LA, everywhere — what makes SOBEWFF so special?

It’s the first food festival I ever did. Lee Schrager, years ago, took a chance on me and brought me to the festival. He said “let’s try you out, do one demo, we’ll see what the crowd says and we’ll figure it out. I have a good feeling about this.” Oh, I was so nervous. And Alton Brown, who I am good friends with now, at the time had some sort of conflict and wasn’t able to attend. So, Lee had me cover for him and all of a sudden I went from having one demo to three demos. I was terrified! But I just remember having the best time ever even though nothing went right—I couldn’t even get my water to boil because of the crosswind on the beach, so I kinda just did a Q&A. Even though it was the scariest, it actually ended up being the best. I feel like it all started here, and I have a really close connection to South Beach because of it.

What do you cook at home, when the cameras are off?

I make a lot of things that my daughter and husband like to eat because they are my favorite people to cook for. My daughter is a big pasta fan, so lately we’ve been making stuffed pastas, a lot of homemade raviolis, and pizzas too. She’s into anything in a ball shape—meatballs, burgers… she’s been grilling a lot with my husband. And lately, mac ‘n’ cheese cupcakes. She is in love with cupcakes, so instead of sweet cupcakes, we’ve been doing savory ones. My daughter, Jade, eats depending on her mood. She knows what she wants and when she wants it.

Other than Italian food, what types of cuisines do you like to cook and eat?

I’ve been cooking a lot more Greek food, and have been playing with Indian food too. And Thai food! My husband, Todd, is a huge Thai fan. And I just went to Thailand in December to shoot my show, so I’ve sort of come up with all these new Thai recipes. I brought a bunch of spices back with me, things that I don’t usually cook with, so I’ve just been experimenting and trying out dishes. It’s been a lot of fun to explore these new flavors.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you on TV?

The first time I ever did live television was on The Today Show, maybe 10 years ago when my first cookbook came out, and I made a grilled chicken breast with spinach and basil pesto. I was on the air with Al and Matt and there was also a food stylist on set. So I’m having a conversation with Al, but out of the corner of my eye, I see Matt cut into a chicken breast and I thought to myself, “that chicken doesn’t look cooked.” It had grill marks on it, but the food stylist never finished cooking it! Matt put the chicken in his mouth and realized it was raw. He ran off set to spit it out in the trash, of course the cameras followed him, and he came back and said “Giada tried to poison me! She will never, ever work on TV again.” I almost died! I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or not, since I wasn’t used to him or his humor. I was horrified.

But that appearance got me a correspondent role on the show and I’ve been there ever since. Sometimes when you think of a disaster, it actually ends up being the best thing in the world. You just never know in life.

If you could cook a dream meal for one person, who would it be and what would you make?

Marilyn Monroe. I find her fascinating. It’s amazing to me that someone who died so many years ago could still be such an icon. And I kinda just wanna know what her secret was, what was going on in her head. I’d probably make her a nice creamy vodka sauce since I know she liked her vodka, serve it with a good bottle of wine and probably some chocolatey, luscious strawberry dessert. Sexy, romantic, sumptuous and sensual, like Marilyn.

If you weren’t a celebrity chef, what career would you want?

I probably would work in politics somehow. Or maybe be a CIA agent or something, I’m fascinated by people that can live in such secrecy.

But since you are such a public figure, what’s something most people don’t know about you?

I think people think that I am just so perfect all the time. Ya know, I’m more spontaneous than people think I am. And something I’ve been working on for years is to not use my potty mouth so much. I tend to speak a certain kind of language that I probably should not. And people that know me well say to me, “how can those words come out of that face!? How is it possible?” Hey, I’m working on it.

If you had to be stuck in a kitchen with one of your Food Network Star co-mentors, Bobby or Alton, who would you choose and why?

First reaction — Bobby. But, truly, I’d pick each one of them for different reasons. Bobby would have my back and and he’s a great chef. Alton, on the other hand, would make me laugh. He has such a witty personality, so he’d probably be more entertaining in the kitchen, but I don’t think he has the skill set that Bobby has. Alton thinks he has the skill that Bobby has, but he doesn’t. So they both would bring very different things to the kitchen.

What would you want for your last meal?

My last meal would be a seven layer chocolate fudge cake. I am such a chocoholic and if I could just eat cakes and sugar and chocolate for the rest of my life, I would. It’s my first choice, always and forever.

Grazie, Giada! It was an absolute pleasure chatting with you.

Follow @GDeLaurentiis on Twitter to keep up with all things Giada, including exciting new projects and shows, two children’s storybooks she’s putting out in September and a new cookbook in December.

Image courtesy of Food Network

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