When Zak Pelaccio gets an idea it’s usually a good bet he’ll follow through with said notion.
His team put on his first iteration of Play With Fire in 2014 to loud acclaim. So much so that folks clamored for more, and in August 2018 Team Zak obliged them.
Cooking over open fire was the order of the day and Kris Perry’s massive cooking structures made food and art (almost literally) come together.
This rainy August day did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the people meandering, drinks in hand. From one delicious cook station to the next, partygoers sampled everything from slow cooked pig to pane griglia to paella and on to grilled peaches (among many delicious others).
Every plate served was full of smokey goodness, cocktails were mixed with a secret ingredient – creativity. All was delicious.
When Club d’Elf, the Moroccan-dosed psychedelic dub jazz collective from Cambridge, Massachusetts fired things up, the atmosphere was complete.
It’s simple. Italian-made Calzuro has been providing comfort for many standing professions since 1983. Nurses, surgeons, dentists, veterinarians, artists, chefs, and even bartenders wear these supportive shoes.
When the very creative marketing manager at Ohio-based Calzuro contacted, we were thrilled. She suggested we find three tastemakers from the Hudson Valley and show them telling their stories about their experiences with Calzuro shoes.
Prepping lemongrass at The Hudson Standard’s kitchen.
Tinker Taco Lab
We really enjoyed shooting this story. For one thing, we got to eat the props!
Texas native James Jennings has brought genuine taqueria tastes to Woodstock, New York. His newcomer, Tinker Taco Lab, has created a real buzz. Chef Jennings said this:
“It’s a taco. We have five tacos on the menu and two tamales. You can have a classic taqueria taco like chorizo and potato. You can have carnitas.
With the name, Tinker Taco Lab, I’m trying to stay a very traditional taqueria, while using classic French techniques I’ve learned over the years, and apply them to a taco and kind of do a modern version of things as well. So the idea is to keep evolving, keep changing things, keep having fun.
When you use something local, something less processed, something closer to the farm, it’s going to be higher in nutrient value, because you’re not over-processing, you know?"
On the set at Tinker Taco Lab.
Forrest Pritchard is a farmer and an author.
We sat down with him on a beautiful Friday afternoon and for almost an hour he regaled us with his farming knowledge, stories at the center of his farm, and how Smith Meadows has flourished in the real food world.
The next day we met Forrest at the Arlington, Virginia Farmers’ Market. We were amazed at the vibrancy of this market. Smith Meadows has its fans. Boy, do they. Just as he was putting the finishing touches on his market set-up, his first customers arrived. But they weren’t just buyers, you could tell these were friends.
Forrest Pritchard brings relationship farming to the markets he attends and his customers seemingly can’t get enough. He's a local hero serving up local flavors.
We think that’s a pretty good definition of sustainability.
At Smith Meadows with Forrest Pritchard.
We decided to shoot our interviews with Ashley Mayne and Chris Regan at Sky Farm in the dead of winter, a time when farmers tend to be more contemplative, and definitely more relaxed. They have had time to review last year’s growing season as well as plan for spring planting, and with a blanket of snow on the ground, and mostly free hands, it’s the best time to get inside a farmer’s head.
We arrived on a brutally cold March day, the snow glistening under a sunny, cloudless sky. After we made them trudge around the farm in the slippery snow with their dog Louka several times, we went inside to warm up and to talk with them about their collective life at Sky Farm.
As Chris made lunch for the four of us, we set up for their interviews. After a delicious meal we heard Ashley and Chris talk about growing, their inspirations and aspirations, and why they do what they do.
On cool summer and fall mornings, neighbors meet, visit, and shop. Shoppers get to know the people who produce the fresh, delicious food and in turn, the farmers connect with the folks that will be nourished by their efforts.
It truly is the new town square.
Stunning goods, knowledgeable and friendly merchants, and an appealing location in the middle of the village help make this market attract weekenders and locals alike.
Pointing our cameras at this specatular farmers market was a real pleasure. If you're ever near the town of Rhinebeck, New York, on a Sunday in season, stop by.
Arranging the produce to look its best.
Play With Fire 2014
It was a simple recipe: begin with superb ingredients, add innovative chefs and allow, no insist, they all play with fire.
On a gorgeous, sunny, Sunday afternoon in the Hudson Valley, Zak Pelaccio, chef/co-owner of Fish & Game, invited the Northern Chef’s Alliance to cook collaborative courses for one great cause.
He along with his partners, Jori Jayne Emde and Kevin Pomplun hosted the event Play with Fire on the bucolic Fish & Game Farm near their celebrated restaurant in Hudson, New York.
And the fires were smoking hot!
John Medeski worked the Hammond B3 masterfully and surprise guest, Amy Helm, (with her scorching band) killed it.
And then, it got funky. Real funky.
Cooking up a storm on behalf of the FarmOn! Foundation, chefs from the United States and Canada teamed together to prepare some outrageously delicious small plates.
It’s a collaboration of professional farmers, educators, influencers, supporters, nutritionists, students, and community leaders invested in the future of local agriculture and supporting local economies.
So it’s easy to see that all this was for a very good cause.
Chefs on fire, indeed.
Sean Brock grills succotash.
Beekman Boys 1802
Our friend and radio host, Linda Pelaccio got in touch with an intriguing proposition.
Would we care to join her, meet the boys and capture some moving pictures?
Yes, of course we would. And we did.
We have long admired how these two ‘city boys’ have made their spread into a working farm. How they have put sustainable practices into their animal husbandry, their gardening, their beehives and even their recipes. And how they have built such a successful brand around the small-batch, handmade ethic.
Ron Silver is plainspoken when explaining the mission at his restaurant, Bubby’s. Considering so many people define real food as “food your great-grandmother or grandmother would recognize”, it seems fitting that Ron is so insistent on sourcing locally produced goods for the restaurants he named after his two grandmothers.
He puts into daily practice what he adamantly preaches.
Bubby’s is a downtown, downhome restaurant with locations in Manhattan’s Tribeca and Meatpacking District neighborhoods. The folks here are sourcing from local farms and purveyors, creating a comforting atmosphere and putting real food on each and every plate. There’s an in-house butcher breaking down whole animals for use in the restaurant. Ron told us one pig would, in one way or another, make an appearance on nearly 650 of his plates. Specific attention is paid to acquiring what Mr. Silver calls the “commodities” – bacon, eggs, milk, cheese and butter — no industrial crap-ola for Bubby’s.
Sounds like they’re pretty committed to real food, doesn’t it? Their legion of contented, well-fed fans is proof positive that Bubby’s is doing amazing things.
We teamed up with food writer and photographer Peter Barrett to produce a pilot for a web series, focusing on the intersection between food and music.
This episode finds the boys tramping up a Catskill mountain to forage for the great springtime pleasure, ramps and then to the kitchen to prepare a veritable Feast of the Ramps. Peter and John really show the versatility of the flavorful ramp. Deliciously.
Peter has this to say at the end of the video:
"Meals should be a celebration. Real people making real food for themselves and their families and their friends. The key to good cooking is to be passionate about it–to care about what you’re making and to care about the people you’re making it for."
That just about says it all.
A pause in the search for the elusive ramp.
She’s one of the giants of food writing. Betty Fussell is the author of 12 books, ranging from biography to cookbooks, food history and memoir.
She is a noted expert on the history of corn. She has written extensively on the subject and devoted two books to corn: The Story of Cornand Crazy for Corn. In her autobiographical book, Kitchen Wars, she discusses not only cooking and its importance to her life, but details of her personal life.
We spoke with her in a wide-ranging conversation at her Greenwich Village townhouse only weeks before her move to California.
On most days, sounds of cocoa beans being picked, roasted, pounded, melted and molded ring out from Scott Witherow’s East Nashville Olive & Sinclair chocolate factory. While the noise emanates from its various sources, strangely, the work goes on with quiet efficiency.
Scott has said he always knew he wanted to do “something in food.” In London, after earning a Le Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu and cooking in some big time kitchens there, he began a professional romance with the idea of working with chocolate. He found his way back to Nashville, began to experiment with the process of turning beans into bars, got his ideas together, and formed Olive & Sinclair. In just a few short years, Olive & Sinclair has gained a terrific reputation for producing authentic chocolate in an authentic way
When we were there to shoot this story, the chocolate making process was in full swing. It was amazing to see how (without many words being exchanged) the folks in the shop worked together. We especially loved at the very end, how the finished bars were being perfectly hand-wrapped and numbered with a rubber-stamp. Handmade, indeed.
We want to give Scott and his team (which includes his mom handling local deliveries!) all the props in the world for hewing to the small batch line. Olive & Sinclair and their Southern Artisan Chocolate is another great example of food folks doing great work.
When Joe Roberts called from The School of Rock Philadelphia asking us to interview Paul Green we were excited, because talking with Mr. Green about teaching music to kids is, to say the least, enlightening.
And with the experience he has accrued, he has lots of opinions on how it should be done. After all, he founded The Paul Green Rock Academy to put into practice that which he preaches.
Watch him give us his take on the whys and wherefores of teaching kids how to rock.