Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gourmet Garbage with a Cause

Grocers like Whole foods, and Dean and Deluca throw away edible produce on a routine basis. And people like you and me are grocery shopping from their trash bins to make a stand.

Imagine this… You’re at a great dinner party; I mean the works - smoky tomato & orange pepper soup, crisp fried zucchini slices, and potato pancakes topped with sautéed mushrooms and fresh herbs. You are so impressed with the succulent spread, eclectic music, and rousing conversation about social issues, that you have to find out how this came together. It is the perfect soiree, and the host tells you it’s compliments of our local grocery store. To show you more, she invites you to Whole Foods to get free groceries and of course you take the invite. Recycled bags in-hand you meet at the store, ready to stock up. However, she proceeds past the main entrance and heads toward back where the dumpsters are full of food, and
begins to dig in… Ah ha! Now, the dinner party starts to make sense. The conversation about social issues, the vegan dishes, the garbage shopping - she’s a “freegan”!

“Freeganism” (combining words free and vegan) is a movement that started in the mid 1990’s. It was preceded by veganism, a diet and lifestyle that seeks to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Freegans take it one-step further to also avoid conventional economic practices to stand up against materialism, conformity, profligacy and moral apathy. Freegans do not shop at grocery stores, or any large retailers. The belief is that corporations practice animal testing, destroy land, and conduct trade with countries that are responsible for human rights violations to produce their products. In freeganism, to purchase from these corporations is to support these injustices. So instead, they “dumpster dive” to show that we can live and eat well without wasting our resources or supporting capitalism. Freegans are not homeless or poor; they choose this lifestyle to make a political statement, and to reduce useable waste, as the food is unspoiled, and edible. And it’s not just groceries... Freegans avoid driving, and purchasing clothes, furniture, and other basic necessities.

You may wonder how freegans survive without spending money? They share in carpools, negotiate trades, dumpster dive, and utilize websites like Craigslist which has a “free goods” section. Through these methods they are able to live comfortably and capitalist-free. As the world becomes more ethically aware, making a stand becomes part of life. Conscious citizens recycle, donate to charities, and attend a rally or two, but eating garbage? Now, you begin to think of how you ate a few extra of those delectable zucchini slices at the dinner party, compliments of the Whole Food’s trash bins. As your friend continues to dumpster dive, finding bright lemons, organic cleaners, and packaged goods along the way, you give it some thought, take a deep breath and…what would you do?

See Video -
Written By Brandon Johnson

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Who needs a Self-Portrait, I have Super Foods!

Dorian Grey could drink what he wanted, eat what he wanted and indulge every vice without reaping the consequences. Unfortunately, this is the real world, so we must all strive to keep balance in our lives, and the best way to achieve this is through antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutritional power houses that clean up our bodies. As with everything, some foods are better than others as far as their impact and levels of potency. I would like to give a brief breakdown of the top five “super foods”
ACAI- Qualities of a berry and a nut and about half the size of a grape with ten times more antioxidants than grapes, five times more than gingko biloba, and twice that of blueberries. Acai is extremely high in essential omega fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, protein, fiber, anthocyanins and more. Acai may support health brain function, mental clarity, hormonal balance, immune system, energy, anti-aging, beautiful skin, reduces inflammation and supports health cholesterol
levels. Acai has been featured on Oprah as the “Number One Superfood for age defying beauty.”
Capuacu- This fruit is about the size of a melon, looks like a coconut and is related to cacao.
This Super food is extremely high in flavanoids, including two newly discovered flavanoids. Flavonoids are most commonly known for their antioxidant activity. However, flavanoids are now known for the health benefits they provide against cancer and heart disease. This fruit may help lower cholesterol levels and protect against cardiovascular disease. This fruit is known to possess antiviral, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Cupuacu was featured on NBC’s Today Show as “The Next Big Superfood.”
Cacao- Cacao beans grow on trees and are the raw uncooked form of chocolate. Cacao contains a wide array of unique properties and minerals, including beneficial high levels of magnesium, which has calming qualities. Cacao is known to have rejuvenating effects and to support healthy heart function, increase alertness and focus and to contain nutrients that make you happy.
Camu Camu- This fruit is about the size of a cherry and contains 30-60 times more vitamin-C than an orange. Camu camu is high in amino acids, flavanoids, valine, leucine and serine
and is known to support the metabolism and immune system.
Goji Berries- Goji berries contain ten times more antioxidants than blueberries and contain eighteen of the nineteen amino acids. Goji berries contain up to 21 trace minerals and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and vitamin E. Goji berries are known to enhance immune system function, improve eyesight, protect the liver and lungs, and improve circulation and reduce inflammation.

There are many products out today that boast large Acai contents, but there aren’t many that have all of these. My personal favorite is a juice blend called V. It has a great taste and a smooth finish. There are no added sugars and it has a hint of vanilla. My hope is that this juice will help me to maintain my health for a very long while. If anyone has trouble finding this juice, or would like to try it, contact me via email and I will get you the information.
Written by Jeremy Hargrove

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Being a Chef is NOT…As Seen on TV

“Being a chef takes humility, an artists’ touch, and Pride.”
-Chef Veronica Lindemann

I recently sat down for a conversation with Chef Veronica Lindemann and was reminded that humility and pride are the two characteristics vital to growing as a chef. However, these characteristics are not things that you would necessarily see when watching your favorite shows on the Food Network. The Food Network has popularized food by great lengths in the past decade. It has given the ever-growing viewing population insight to new foods, and shows everyone that food can be sexy. The subtle differences between textures that allow flavors to dance on your tongue
and across your palate, the power of smells to bring a person back to a place they haven’t thought of in years; these are the powers of food. The Food Network does a great job showing this relationship between food and people.
However, people surmise that what they see on television is absolute truth. No matter what subject, TV solidifies a persons perceptions, or helps them to create an opinion. Most people have dreams of grandeur and of being a star; this is what propels them to pick a life path, but if this is your sole reason for becoming a chef, you might as well, “Pack up your knives and go.”
You must possess the pride and humility to be able to say, “Yes, Chef!” Without flinching or wavering, while facing an angry chef screaming at you to, “make again,” because your cocottes were uneven. You must want to always strive to be better than you were when the day started. With this in mind, I sat down with Chef Vero, to get her insight into what it takes to be a chef in the Food Network era. Chef Veronica Lindemann has worked in the culinary world for almost 27 years. She has worked in various kitchens in New York, as well as spending six years working in Spain. Her knowledge and dedication to the advancement of her craft is what makes learning from her truly special.

Jeremy Hargrove: Why is being a chef not like TV?
Chef Veronica:
On television, they are more concerned with personality than cooking. They are more concerned with trying to find the next star. It seems that a very small percentage of “chefs” on these shows actually know how to cook. Being a chef is a lot about finding the unity within your self, the place from which you can discover great things and surprise yourself sometimes. I don’t like the Hollywood version of our profession, it paints this sort of one dimensional, chaotic picture that is not pleasant. Not all of the shows do this, Iron Chef for example, is exciting. You see creativity flowing through people while they are under great pressure and time constraint. It is very exciting to see what will come out of this chaos.
JH: Do you think Gordon Ramsey’s program, Hell’s Kitchen is a true portrait of how it is in the industry?
I have worked in kitchen’s that had a very calm atmosphere’s and were very adult. I have also worked in kitchen’s that were high strung with a lot of shouting. I think, as a Chef, you must have control and discipline. You must be firm and clear, or the kitchen falls apart. Some try to achieve this through fear and others try to attain this through mutual respect. I find that is much more rewarding and attainable to be calm and respectful. People tend to shut down when they are afraid or being screamed at. I am a bigger fan of Gordon’s other program where he goes into failing kitchens and tries to salvage them. It seems like it shows him in a better light. He is trying to break them down, so that they can start new.
JH: Nature vs. Nurture, Can anyone be a chef, or are some born with the innate ability to create great dishes?
Chef: As a teacher, you can only really teach technique. I try to help students identify the love and respect for food within themselves. Everyone has their own reasons why they do things and why they choose a certain path. Some people have had difficult lives. I try to nurture their growth as a chef. There is only so much that you can teach; the rest, is the student or chefs ability to constantly learn. If you are not learning, then you are not growing.
JH: Do you have any advice for those thinking about being a chef?
Chef: Think about your decision, don’t decide to be a chef on a whim. This craft takes hard work, and lots of time. You must be willing to make sacrifices. People must realize that they will make mistakes, but you can learn from them and get past them. I would recommend spending some time in the industry and making a list of your reasons for and against becoming a chef. After all of this, if you decide to go for it, then go for it 1000%. Make this your primary purpose and work at it. Start your training with an open mind and leave your ego at home. Cooking has been my saving grace, so you must find the passion to overcome everything and discover the artist within yourself-and by all means, enjoy yourself doing it!
Written by Jeremy Hargrove

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Date- Yes! Food- No thank you?

Dear Foodie,
I love to eat but when I go on dates, I try to eat little bites so the guy won’t think I’m a pig. I’m usually starving by the second glass of wine. How do I not look greedy and not starve at the same time?

Hungry on the Inside

Dear H.O.T.I,
I’m figuring this is a new guy because when you know someone you’re usually comfortable eating whatever you want. The truth of the matter is you should eat to your hearts content, why? Three reasons. 1. Be yourself, never try to be something you’re not on a date, this does not mean belch, it means eat and let your hair down, it makes for a more relaxed and enjoyable date 2. Guys aren’t impressed with a woman who eats like a rabbit. 3. Usually the guy is treating, so order up and enjoy it!

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$1000 Pizza

Yearning for some variety in your pizza toppings? Try this: A thin crust pizza pie topped with crème fraiche, four varieties of Petrosian caviar, and slices of Maine Lobster tail. You can get an entire pizza for $1000. Nino’s Bellissima in New York is serving this luxurious pie cut into 8 slices, each slice $125, to the Wall Street professionals and pizza connoisseurs alike. 

Written by Brandon Johnson

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Artichoke and Herb Butter: Tender and fresh artichoke with herb butter is an impressive meal for a date, dinner party or treating yourself.

2 Artichokes
1 cup of chicken stock
A pinch of Garlic salt

Cut off the base, and peel the outer leaves until you see light green and tender leaves. Cut off the spiky top of the artichoke. Cut the artichokes lengthwise in half  and spoon out the fur-like center with a melon baller.

Bring a medium pot of chicken stock to a boil and add garlic salt to the chicken stock. Place  the artichoke halves in the water. Cover the pot, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, until artichoke base is fork tender. Dip the artichoke leaves and stems into the herb butter and eat.

Herb Butter
2 tbsp of unsalted Butter
2 tsp of Parsley
Melt the butter over low heat, add parsley and a pinch of salt and pour into a dipping bowl. Dip the artichokes into the butter and enjoy!!

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EAT LIFE Events Calendar for NY

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The Eat Life Team

Meet Brandon
Brandon graduated from The French Culinary Institute (FCI) and is the founder of Eat Life FCI. She also writes for Food Network’s Food2, cooks for Danny Meyer’s Hudson Yards Catering, and has a column on called Art of the Table.

Finding pleasure in farmers markets and eclectic dinnerware, Brandon fuses dining with decor. A Washington DC native with a background in interior design and marketing, Brandon’s love for artsy dinner parties, and simple approach to cooking motivated her to pursue the culinary arts in New York. You can find her combining interior décor with unfussy recipes to create an imaginative and tasteful setting.

Meet Jeremy

Jeremy was born and raised in Texas and moved to New York 2 years ago to pursue his dream of becoming a chef. Before this, he traveled the country doing large scale interior design projects. Jeremy runs marathons and looks for the spiciest foods he can eat, in his spare time. He attends the French Culinary institute and works for

Meet Andrea
Andrea Scalici is a French Culinary graduate who joined the Eat Life Team as a writer and editor. When she isn't cooking up her meatballs or cheesecake, she is experimenting with pastas at home. Andrea works for Hudson Yards Catering and for in the multimedia department.

Meet Megan

Megan Moore graduated from the French Culinary Institute in 2001. After working for Slow Food, she accepted the opportunity to work in some of New York’s best restaurants, including Brasserie 8 ½ and 5 Ninth. For the past two years she has been a Private Chef. Her sweet tooth has made her an incredible Pastry Chef, and free-trade chocolate aficionado.

Meet Tom

Tom DeRosa is a renowned stylist and French Culinary student. He joined Eat Life as a photo editor and stylist. As one of the most active members of his class, he is constantly challenging himself. When he’s not in the kitchen or at a photo shoot, he’s indulging in Valencia Paella.

Meet Chad
Chad Fraley is new to the culinary arts. A career changer, he worked in INTL. Shipping/Receiving for 5 years at Texas Instruments. Chad was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and loves chicken fried steak. He joined Eat Life as a writer. And has been in the Northeast since starting culinary school in June with his wife and English bulldog.

Meet Adam
Adam, born and raised in Queens New York, is currently a FCI Culinary Arts student. He graduated SUNY Binghamton with a degree in Political Science, but like so many people at FCI, decided food was what he really wanted to do. While he has a reputation among his classmates for creating outrageous flavor combinations his true passion is local, sustainable, seasonal food prepared simply. He food writes for Eat Life!

Meet Rebekah

Rebekah Peppler is a nighttime pastry student at the FCI. A recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh with a B.A. in Journalism, she combines her love of script and food as a writer and photographer for Eat Life. When she’s not whipping up decadent treats in class, working on her photography or planning her next trip overseas, you can find her elbow deep in a cookie jar.

Meet Diana

Diana left a 10-year corporate career to pursue her true interest: food. About a year ago she realized she prefers the heat of the kitchen over the glare of the computer screen and decided to drop her comfortable life in Florida for the fast-paced FCI culinary program. While not at school, she spends her time between washing and turning cheese at the Artisanal cheese caves, and rubbing elbows with great chefs at the De Gustibus Cooking school as an assistant cook.

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Meet Anthony

Quite simply when it comes to food, Anthony's mantra - food is love - is inspired by his passion for all things culinary. An FCI graduate, Anthony Ramos has been cooking since he was old enough to be trusted with a hot stove. His cooking focuses on using the best seasonal ingredients and an afternoon in the farmer's market usually inspires what will be prepared that evening. A champion of the slow food movement Anthony works with sustainable and artisinal ingredients whenever possible. Currently, Anthony is Director of Marketing & Communications at a conservation/health nonprofit and works as a freelance chef for catered affairs and private cooking lessons.

"I've been in the kitchen most of my life, it's a place where I feel the most comfortable, a place where my creative energies fuel my desire to develop sumptuous meals and memorable menus."

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Meet Tracey

Tracey’s articles about food & restaurants have appeared in The Boston Globe, The New York Times City Section, The New York Daily News, The New York Sun, Relish, Time Out, Pastry Art & Design, and, among others. You can read about her latest culinary adventures at
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