Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AllergyEats Conference to Provide Important Solutions for Food Service Professionals

As a restauranteur, chef, or food service professional, food allergy protocols can seem daunting.  How do I improve food allergy procedures? Is there an easy way to modify a recipe to avoid allergens? What policies can I implement to keep guests safer? AllergyEats looks to answer those questions and more at the 2014 AllergyEats Food Allergy Conference for Restaurateurs & Food Service Professionals: How to Maximize Safety and Increase Customer Engagement, Loyalty, and Revenue.  The conference is geared towards restaurant chefs, owners and managers, college and university dining directors, and other food service professionals that strive to become more knowledgeable about accommodating food-allergic and gluten intolerant guests safely, comfortably, and profitably. 

The conference will take place October 1st at the Radisson Martinique in New York City and will feature a roster of prestigious speakers including well-respected restaurateurs that excel at accommodating food-allergic guests; notable food allergy trainers; physicians and allergists; experts in the financials of food allergies, and other specialists in creating allergy-friendly recipes.

These presenters will provide valuable information about accommodating food-allergic and gluten intolerant guests, reducing the fear around food allergies, and building customer loyalty and profits.  They'll also share actionable tips to make restaurants safer for food-allergic diners.

Topics will include Food Allergies in Colleges and Universities; The Financials Around Food Allergies; Food Allergy Basics; Restaurants That Get it Right; Modifying Recipes for the Food-Allergic Diner; and more.

"Our speakers will discuss protocols to improve communication, avoid cross-contamination, create allergen-free meals, and better accommodate guests with dietary restrictions," says Paul Antico, Founder and CEO of AllergyEats, father of three food-allergic children, and passionate food allergy advocate. AllergyEats is a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to allergy-friendly restaurants across the United States. It is a peer-reviewed directory of restaurants—all rated by people with food allergies, for people with food allergies. Their database has more than 600,000 restaurant listings across the U.S., from large chains to small mom and pop shops. With their free, peer-based site and app, users are able and encouraged to find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies.  The site, app and related social media forums help families with food allergies reduce the guesswork surrounding dining out.

Advanced registration for the AllergyEats Conference is required.  Registration is $279 per person, and group discounts are also available. To register and for more information, visit the conference website

Friday, September 26, 2014

[The Cocktail Chronicles]

A history of cocktail favorites
By Sam Ujvary
The Manhattan Project

It’s one of the oldest cocktails and continues to thrive among Mad Men-lovers and whiskey connoisseurs alike. It’s hailed the King of Vermouth Drinks and is a total power symbol. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s named after one of the most powerful cities in the world, and maybe it’s the fact that great men in history have been known to consume it—either way, the Manhattan has made—and maintained—its mark in our world.
There are stories of where this perfectly balanced mix of sweet and strong originated. The Manhattan Club/Churchill story has been debunked many times over, and the story that seems to stick is the 1860s account in which William F Mulhall, bartender of the famed Hoffman House in Manhattan, recalls a man by the name of Black as coming up with the Big Apple’s namesake drink.
The stirred-not-shaken drink of its kind, the Manhattan is a happily smooth combination of whiskey (or more modernly, bourbon), sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters. In my bartending days, I was once told something that will always stick with me: the way to remember how to make a Manhattan. The area code for a borough in Manhattan is 212. Two parts whiskey or bourbon, one dash of bitters, and two parts sweet vermouth. Pour over ice, stir, and garnish with a Maraschino cherry and poof—you’re Don Draper.

Here’s to you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Registration is now open for the 2015 World Food Travel Summit

This April, Portugal will welcome trade and consumers alike to one of the world’s largest food and drink travel gatherings. The World Food Travel Association (WFTA), a leading authority on food tourism, along with the Portuguese Culinary Tourism and Economics Association (APTECE), the leading organization contributing to the preservation and promotion of Portuguese culinary heritage, have launched their new website and have opened registration for the 2015 World Food Travel Summit & Consumer Expo.

The Summit will take place on April 6-11, 2015 in the coastal resort town of Estoril, just outside Lisbon. This year’s program has been improved upon with the addition of SavorSearch, WFTA’s business-to-business buyer and seller matchmaking appointments. Social activities are structured to help attendees maximize networking opportunities. Additionally, the European Street Food Festival is to take place during the same week, also in Estoril. Finishing the Summit week is the Consumer Food Travel Expo, one of the international world’s only food travel-focused exposition for foodie consumers.

The 2015 speaker roster is full with food travel pioneers and experts, including Matt Goulding from Roads & Kingdoms, who has written extensively about the food travel industry—most notably his TIME article about “Nomanomics”. For more information, check out the Speakers & Sessions page for more information on keynote speeches and discussion panels on the important topics that draw and educate the food and drink travel trade. The Summit is being co-planned by the Association’s Embassy in Portugal, which is offering complimentary two-day Pre-Summit tours that will give delegates the opportunity to experience local Portugal. These pre-tours are hosted by each of the regional destination marketing organizations in Portugal, and all lodging, meals and sightseeing are paid for by each region.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Three's Company

“Memory Makers Who Happen to Be Bakers,” is the phrase the team over at Three Brothers Bakery likes to say of their five-generation-old (hey, you don’t look a day over 20!) bakery. They’re not focused on trends here in the Houston staple, the bakers are doing things the way they were done more than 60 years ago. And it’s working for them.

With a history that traces back to World War II-era Poland, Three Brothers Bakery has been making and baking memories using cherished family recipes that survived even through the Holocaust. The European era of the family bakery ended when Sigmund and Sol (two of the three brothers) were 19 years old, and in 1941,  the family was sent to Nazi concentration camps. On Liberation Day, Sigmund, Sol, Max and their sister were lucky survivors of a reign of brutality. And in May of 1949, after moving to the States, the brothers followed in their roots and opened Three Brothers Bakery in Houston, Texas.

From creative, custom cakes and award-winning pies—we tried a decadent apple pie, but more on that later—to bread, danishes and pastries, Three Brothers stays true to their roots, scratch-baking products daily using high-quality, flavorful ingredients. And although we’re gawking at the sweet American treats like the cakes, cookies and pies, Three Brothers really excels with their European baked goods such as challah, Kaiser rolls, rye bread and more.

But back to the apple pie. Theirs is filled with homemade cinnamon apples and features a beautiful lattice work top that’s sprinkled with crystallized sugar for a delicious, crunchy finish. The flaky crust is super indulgent and buttery, and I will make it a point to stop in for another slice (or two, or just a whole pie) next time I’m in the Lone Star State.

So you can’t make it to Houston? No worries—although they cannot ship obvious sweets like highly decorated cakes and tiered cakes, much of their menu is available to be shipped across the country with over night delivery.   

Bartender's Corner: A look into the beer and spirit industry

Profiling the leaders of the pack

By Sam Ujvary
Meredith Barry | Ombra

Every once in a while, a bartender comes along who just really knows their stuff. In this case, it's Meredith Barry from Ombra in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. With an extensive history in the hospitality industry, she's worked every iteration of a bar—from country to night clubs, working her way over to Ombra. Currently, not only does she conceptualize the creative drink menu, but she perpetually impresses customers. So much so, that she's getting recognition and her own reviews on the restaurant's Yelp page.
"I believe in the following: you can work a job, or immerse yourself in a passion—I follow my passions," she says. She's inspired by a great bar selection, and has developed a cocktail based on a salad she read about with artichokes, mint, lemon and pistachios. The Eva d'Bronte was created from the idea of that salad, and named after her Sicilian great-grandmother (Eva) and an area in Sicily where pistachios are grown (Bronte).
Together with her desire to excel in craft cocktail-making, her knowledge of the business and professional peers to motivate her, Meredith is quickly establishing her valuable place in the industry.

Eva d’ Bronte:

2 ounces Dumante Pistachio Liqueur
1 ounce Cynar
1 ounce lemon juice
4 to 5 mint leaves

Gently muddle mint. Place all ingredients in Shaker with ice. Roll cocktail. Strain into rocks glass with ice. Garnish with lemon twist and mint sprig.

Here's to you.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

US Foods Names Five Restaurants Most Family Friendly in the Country

US Foods®, one of the nation’s food suppliers, announced five restaurants that represent the best in Family Friendly Dining in the U.S. Selected from an outstanding pool of applicants from coast to coast; these restaurants offer some of the most unique offerings that make family mealtime more fun and enjoyable. From petting zoos to build-your-own pizza nights, the winning restaurants can be considered the go-to dining destinations for the best family friendly experience.
Each of the contest winners will receive a $2,000 credit for kitchen equipment and supplies from US Foods Culinary Equipment & Supplies®, along with a featured mention in the winter issue of Food Fanatics magazine, available November 10, and a profile on the Food Fanatics website.
“Everything we do at US Foods is focused on helping our customers create the best dining experience that will keep families coming back to their favorite restaurants time and time again,” said John Mueller, Vice President, Merchandising & Marketing, US Foods. “The top five Family Friendly Restaurant winners are much more than good places to dine out with a family. These restaurants go above and beyond to create an outstanding dining experience that caters to kids and parents alike.”
After 10 contest finalists were announced last month, each received a visit from US Foods Food Fanatic Chefs who were able to experience the family friendly environment firsthand. The Food Fanatics provided their reports to an esteemed judging panel of culinary and dining experts who evaluated the restaurants on kids’ menus, family friendliness and the overall fun environment.
From healthy and delicious meal options and fun activities for kids to welcoming staff and community involvement, each restaurant demonstrated all of the unique qualities that make it one of the top family-friendly restaurants in the country. The five winners are:
·       Eckert's Country Restaurant in Belleville, Ill. is a seventh generation restaurant known for its homemade fried chicken and famous biscuits. Eckert’s even has its very own orchard where families can pick fresh apples, peaches and strawberries, and hosts special events such as My Little Honey Brunch and Mother and Son Date Knight, a medieval-themed evening. In addition, the menu offers healthy and gluten-free options.
·       Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria in Ruther Glen, Va. makes every customer feel like they’re part of the family with its friendly staff and engaging owners. Its menu features Italian-style dishes that are made with fresh ingredients and appeal to kids and adults alike. The restaurant also hosts special events for holidays throughout the year and supports local schools, churches and events.
·       The Mill Pizza Buffet and Games in Remerton, Ga. offers a creative line up of fun kid-friendly pizzas in addition to healthier options such as pizzas with lighter toppings and a full salad bar. The restaurant attracts families with its arcade area full of games for all ages and special events such as karaoke and live radio nights during high school sporting events.
·       Ruckus Pizza Pasta & Spirits in Morrisville N.C. offers tasty homemade dishes and hosts build-your-own pizza nights where kids can make their own pizzas from scratch. The welcoming staff constantly interacts with kids and families, and the menu includes healthy options such as vegetable plates, fresh fruit and sushi. The restaurant also does charitable work with kids-focused organizations, including St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Center, and local schools in the area.
·       White Fence Farm in Lakewood, Colo., which in addition to its family-style dishes and outgoing staff, features horse and carriage rides and an on-site petting zoo for children. The restaurant also supports the community with its “fun nights,” where 15 percent of sales are donated to local schools, and adoption events, where the employees volunteer to help kids in need.
For more information about the contest and to check out details about the winners, visit: www.usfoods.com/contest.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Slice of Bohemia

By Megan O'Neill 

Still but only a few months into their opening, Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos and team are a refuge of comforting food at Bohemian House in the heart of Chicago’s River North. They’re cooking Czech food here and merging the carefree essence of Bohemian society with the cultural authenticity of both Midwestern American and central European dining. The menu boasts flavors light and rich, from Slow Roasted Beets drizzled with molasses to a bone marrow and steak tartare. The fare is representative of the cuisine you’d find in Central Europe and spans a mix of small and large plates with communal seating enriching the shared plate experience. And there’s the interior. With its typical this-is-a-Chicago-loft exposed-brick walls, the rest of the décor is an intricate weaving of reclaimed wood, Czech patterns and a living room-like lounge area with the brightest turquoise tufted sofa I’ve seen in a restaurant. It’s charming, warm and more relaxing than what's usually spotted in the River North area.

With his tattoo-sleeved arms and a handlebar mustache that sits atop a spirited smile, Chef Papadopoulos, a relatively unknown kitchen staple in the Windy City, gave us the rundown of his menu. With the culture of Bohemia in mind, he looks to embrace the meat and potato history of Chicago that others might view as a stigma of our town. The concept merges the two, and he tries to echo them both with a fresh eye. Influences span Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic—like the potato pancakes with cured salmon, apple preserves, kohlrabi and dill. 

Okay, there’s also a Knackwurst in a Blanket. Knackwurst. In a blanket.Topped with sweet and sour cabbage, turnips and mustard, it was the comforting cuisine you would have expected. Also on the menu were sexier takes on classics—think Spätzle. By far the favorite of the night, the lighter, puffier version of the German dumpling was tossed with trumpet mushrooms, gray shallots, rainbow chard, and nuggets of smoked beef tongue that were anything but dense and tough, and rather melt-in-your-mouth tender and full of flavor. Tableside, our waiter poured a rich and warm aged Gouda sauce over the top. Other highlights included an heirloom tomato dish, the coffee and doughnuts, and an extensive selection of traditional European and American spirits and brews.

This spot and concept is standing out from others on the block, and from what we can see, pretty successfully. Check out their full menu here.