morimoto: creating signature flavors for american menus

Mere and I parted ways again to sit in on separate lectures. Mine, “Morimoto: Creating Signature Flavors for American Menus,” was presented by Masaharu Morimoto and moderated by TK TK Chandra Ram.

Here, Morimoto prepared whole miso-marinated suckling pig and melon tempura. In almost all of my encounters with Morimoto he’s been quite the comedian… It was nice a nice way to change things up for the audience – but I think it’s especially great that his personality comes through so well. He is a serious chef – but he doesn’t take the fun out of the process.

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thomas keller presents

Thomas Keller presented alongside Yoshihiro Murata and Takashi Yagihashi in a seminar called “Leveraging Flavor in the Japanese and American Kitchen: Umami, Dashi and Seasonal Produce.”

Even early in the conference we’ve seen the importance of umami in Japanese cuisine – one of the five flavor profiles (salty, sweet, bitter, sour, umami). It’s that layer or persistent flavor that we find in dashi, konbu, miso and many other dried or fermented Japanese ingredients. It’s what makes our mouths water.

In addition to his explanation of balance in these flavor profiles, Keller also noted the Western use of of Japanese tradition in bringing together a total culinary ‘experience.’ American seasonal ‘tasting menus’ – like at Keller’s French Laundry take from the concept of kaiseki – a tradition that originated in Kyoto in the 16th century. As noted by Linda Furiya in the San Francisco Gate, “Today, it is considered an art form that observes the harmony between food and nature, and takes the diner on an odyssey of flavors, textures and colors.”*

With this approach in mind, Keller acknowledged, “The more we have of something, the less we enjoy it.” I couldn’t agree more.

*Additional information on kaiseki from The Art of Kaiseki by Linda Furiya

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behind the stoves at CIA greystone

A look inside the beautiful kitchens at the CIA’s Greystone campus. We did a walk through for lunch – some fresh stir-fried rice and tempura. Our Kitchen Workshops will be held in here tomorrow…

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This week I made a quick trip out to SUSHISAMBA strip in Las Vegas to regroup with the team and now Mere and I are heading up to Napa for the ‘Worlds of Flavor’ – the 13th annual conference on Japanese cuisine presented by the Culinary Institute of America.

The program is three days full of seminars, cooking demonstrations and kitchen workshops from some amazing talent – 60 chefs and industry experts. It’s one of the largest professional conferences ever held that is dedicated to the flavor and food culture of Japan. We’re excited because not only will we have the chance to discover some new ingredients and techniques to bring to the menu – but we’ll meet some new friends.

Here you can find more details on the conference:

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some evening inspiration

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morimoto sings

On Friday, Koji represented our team at Chef Morimoto’s ‘Sushi and Karaoke Soiree’ as part of New York’s Wine and Food Festival. He served Scallop Crudo with crisp green apples, white truffle oil and black truffle shavings – and – Tuna Seviche with serrano and coconut. We were all pretty bummed that he refused the mic when the karaoke kicked off. His Jay Z remake would have been sweet.

Here’s a shot of Morimoto and a Tunasaurus….

And the live eels that were next to our table…

When the water warmed up one of those guys got fiesty and leaped out of the bowl and onto the floor. Nothing like a little lively commotion.

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adventures with battman

Today we joined our photographer friend Alan Batt, aka ‘Battman’ to celebrate the launch of his two beautiful, new books ‘Pasta’ and ‘Pudding.’ Dan and I each contributed a pasta recipe. Proceeds from the books sold during The Great Gathering of Chefs benefited Action Against Hunger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the search to end world hunger.

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gotan project

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Paris’ Le Fooding returned this year to MoMA PS1 for a face off between San Fran & NYC. We got tickets to Friday night’s ‘Le Grand Yummy.’ Full roster here.

Missed out on Laurence Jossel’s (Nopa) wood-grilled pork ribeye (smelled ridiculously good though). But, we did get to taste James Syhabout’s (Commis) !delicious! scallops with smoked stone fruit emulsion and licorice herbs. Even with the insane lines – there was a great vibe.

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    japanese food & restaurant show

    Mere and I attended the 17th Annual New York Mutual Trading Japanese Food and Restaurant Show at the Met Pavilion. This year’s theme was “Innovative Japanese Cuisine: Delicious Cuisine with a Healthy Impact.” Watched a knife presention by Tsukiji Masamoto – one of Japan’s most well-known knife masters. We’re on the search for the perfect cups for tea so spent a good amount of time in the dishware section.

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