The week began with the tragic news that acclaimed Swiss chef Benoît Violier reportedly took his life. Amid the outpouring of praise for the chef and grief over his loss came serious and sincere conversations about the unbridled strain and pressure on restaurant chefs today. One of the most eloquent responses came from the New York Times, with Kim Severson's "The Death of a Star Swiss Chef Underscores the Profession's Stress."
Saveur published the 2016 Saveur 100, which compiles a list of "people, places, gadgets, tastes and techniques" that are inspiring the team and will surely inspire you.
Serious Eats' weekly podcast, Special Sauce, which features New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, is a nice listen. Wells describes how he came to food writing after deciding in college not to become a psychologist and recalls early, idyllic food memories—or judgments to be more accurate. "I always had opinions," he declares. Keep 'em coming, Wells.
Ina Garten had great advice in an interview with Motto. The Hamptons entertaining, lifestyle envy-inducing chef declared she doesn't believe in making goals. She's definitely doing something right.
Mario Batali shared some helpful tips, too. He showed Food52 how to make double-chocolate pot brownies "in honor of those Broncos, their crazy mile-high city and their weed-friendly state." You may need to make more room in your menu for the Super Bowl.
Shit got real in First We Feast's controversial "The Problems with Food Media That No One Wants to Talk About." The list of gripes is comprehensive, to say the least. The authors call writers out for worrying about access more than honesty. They point out the "sheer lack of diversity" in food media. Are we really all "opportunistic bullies, switching from boosterism to bashing only when it suits [us] best"? They also take issue with untrustworthy lists, unreliable recipes and unnecessary "pre-reviews."
For another controversial, eye-opening read, check out Slate's simple trick that will "change the way you shop at Trader Joe's forever." We won't give anything away, but we will encourage you to read the whole way through.
The New York Times' "A Tabletop Sanctuary" is a more pleasant read for the weekend. Though short, the piece, which centers around the meaning of a dining room table, is replete with imagery and tells a meaningful story.
Lucky Peach's "Early Risers," a personal essay about family and breakfast in Alaska, is similarly poetic. The author describes "a crab leg to go with your omelet," and "reindeer sausage," but clarifies that "those are not my Alaskan breakfast."
Another feature from Lucky Peach is Jonathan Gold's "Fallen Fruit." The summary should be enough to pique your interest: "You don't want to eat this fruit. You want to fuck it."
Finally, gear up for Chinese New Year with Julia Moskin's "Chinese-American Chefs Celebrate a Culinary Conversation with the Past" and get inspired to make your own feast.
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