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:

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.

Get Trends & News from the Culinary World in Chef Magazine's September/October Digital Issue

September/October Digital Issue

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chowing for Charity

The culinary industry is one with a big appetite and a big heart. Restaurants across the nation have teamed up with the Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign to raise funds and awareness to combat child hunger in the United States.   This month, participating restaurants will be raising funds for No Kid Hungry. The organization is pushing for 100 percent participation from top restaurant chains across the country.

Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry is a year-long program that operates on five levels. The Breakfast After the Bell and lunch programs help underprivileged students eat at school. George McKerrow, Co-founder of No Kid Hungry and CEO of Ted’s Montana Grill emphasizes how kids must be nourished to learn and excel in school. Students are given healthy fruits and vegetables to take home for nourishment in the Weekend Backpack program. The Summer and Holiday program provides students with meals when school is not in session and the Cooking Matters program teaches families in food deserts how to use public transportation to get to grocery stores and how to buy and prepare healthy food on a limited budget.

“Kids are the core of the health and well being of this country,” says McKerrow. “It is our job to nourish them so that they can do well in school and succeed in life. Feeding people is key in the restaurant industry, so this cause really resonates with me.”

Restaurants interested in joining the No Kid Hungry campaign can register at

Friday, August 1, 2014

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

Events and noteworthy news

By Sam Ujvary

Come Together: International Beer Day 

At the end of each week, people bask in the glory that is the weekend. Ties are untied, sleeves are rolled up, and on many [warmer] occasions, people have been seen rejoicing in the streets. Today provides an extra boost to the anticipation of the clock striking five. Every first Friday in August marks International Beer Day—a small event established seven years ago that has turned into a worldwide annual affair celebrating makers, servers and indulgers of beer. Uniting people of the world, the celebration encourages beer enthusiasts to try something they’ve never had before.
Some brews below are local (and universal) favorites. Set aside some time today to carouse with friends over a pint of something you’ve always wanted to try. After all, it’s Friday—live a little.

21st Amendment Brewery – San Francisco, CA – Hell or Highwatermelon Wheat
Stone Brewing Company – Escondido, CA – Stone Smoked Porter
Oskar Blues Brewery – Longmont, CO – Dale’s Pale Ale
Indeed Brewing Company – Minneapolis, MN – Shenanigans Summer Ale
Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn, NY – Pennant Ale
Urban Chestnut Brewing Company – St. Louis, MO – Schnickelfritz
Jackie O’s – Athens, OH – After Hours Black IPA
Grieskirchner – Grieskirchen, Austria – Pils
Purple Moose Brewery – Porthmadog, Gwynedd, United Kingdom – Elderflower Ale

Baltika No. 8 Wheat beer – Saint Petersburg, Russia – 2013 winner, Best Wheat Beer, International Beer Challenge
Hawthorn IPA – Hawthron, VIC, Australia – 2013 Gold medal in the Ale category, International Beer Challenge
Tazawako Beer Rauch – Senboku, Japan – 2013 winner, Best Flavored Beer, World Beer Awards
Minoh Beer Imperial Stout – Osaka, Japan – 2013 winner, Best Stout & Porter, World Beer Awards
Primator Weizenbier – Náchod, Czech Republic – 2013 winner,­ World’s Best Beer, World Beer Awards

In the spirit of celebrations, uniting under the beer umbrella and zythology—feel free to share your favorite breweries with us.

Here’s to you.