vi·and (ˈvī-ənd) noun:

1. an item of food; especially : a choice or tasty dish

2. (in pl.) provisions 

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Saturday
Feb042012

Farm to Table - Late Summer 2011

 

My new friends, Ben Hartman and Rachel Hershberger, are passionate about food in the same way that I am. They hold strong conviction about what is in the the food we eat, how it is grown and handled after harvest, and ultimately how it is prepared. Their passion is clear within just minutes of speaking with them.

As a chef, I always enjoy sharing my love of food with others and celebrating this revolution of fresh, seasonal, local, and sustainable food that is transforming our culture. What better way to celebrate this than a "Farm to Table Dinner?" The concept is to use seasonal ingredients, grown locally and create a communal dinner to support local agriculture. I Love It! And I have no problem tranforming these ingredients to present at the "table." But what about the "farm?" Sure I can grow tomatoes and herbs, but that's about it. 

Back to my friends Ben and Rachel…they've got the "farm" part covered. That's how we met in fact. They are the owners of Clay Bottom Farm, an artisan farm located just eight miles east of downtown Goshen, IN.

I was buying produce from Ben for a wedding last summer when he asked me if I would consider providing a meal for some of his CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) customers. I loved the idea and started scheming how we could make this happen. Ben sent me a list of produce that would be available the week of the dinner and I set out to craft a menu to showcase the best of our area's farms and artisans. I sourced meats, cheeses, and even coffee, all locally…it was all the best of the best.

The dinner was a success! We had a great time sharing what we do with others and enjoying all this land had to offer. Contact me via my e-mail form under the 'contact viand' tab, and I will add your name to my email list for this year's exclusive Viand dinners, by invitation only. Photo Credit: Cyd Gallery

 

 

 

Monday
Oct102011

Dinner, Underground

The concept of underground restaurants, elite supper clubs, and farm to table dinners first sparked my interest a few years ago. Through various sources, I began hearing and reading about this culinary trend which has been flying just below the radar for many years.

Groups of fun loving foodies gather in warehouses, basements, lofts, and gardens waiting patiently (sometimes late into the night) for course after course of this "underground" food. The ingredients are selected by caring hands and prepared with passion and conviction. The goal being to cook food they can be proud of; food so good the diners will hardly speak of much else.

I love the idea, personally! In the realm of my business, the idea of someone hosting a meal, just to eat, is awesome. Usually catered meals are provided for events with a purpose, e.g., "We are having a meeting and need some food." I don't mind catering those functions. People need to eat. I cook food. This is a fact. However, when someone requests a meal, just so they can get together and eat my food, I am thrilled!

Watch for a future post with details and photos from my "Farm to Table Dinner" on 9/22/11. The photos in this post were taken at the Saint Regis Club in March 2011. Photo credit: Lindsey Jones.

Monday
Aug012011

Vietnam: Home of the Footlong Sub Sandwich?

 

I have a new obsession! I was already in love with the cuisine of Vietnam. I was fully hooked on Pho and Bun, two classic noodle dishes for which 'Nam has been credited. I have been partaking of the crisp, cool, refreshing virtues of "Spring" rolls for at least a decade.

My most recent fixation, however, is in the form a baguette sandwich. Banh Mi, which is literally translated into English: "Flour Biscuit," is the name for the bread itself rather than the sandwich, despite the common connotation.

Made either from a blend of rice and wheat or simply rice flour, the consistency is quite airy yet surprisingly substantial. They can be filled with a variety of meats; commonly grilled or roasted pork, chicken, and meatballs. And of course, the famous Banh Mi Dac Biet or "special combo," which contains Vietnamese ham, sausage, head cheese (look it up), and liver pate. It sounds creepy, but it is classic for a reason.

The sandwiches are then topped with pickled vegetables (daikon radish and carrot), sliced fresh jalapeño, cucumber, and cilantro. Sometimes mayonnaise is also spread on the bread.

Banh Mi is a perfect example of blended cultures positively contributing to the world of food. French influence is evident in the use of mayo, baguette, and liver pate. Talk about fusion...it doesn't get much better than this!

If you are wondering where you can try these delicious Viet-treats, I have some bad news. Short of driving to Chicago, making them at home is really your best bet. The Internet is a wonderful resource for just such a task. With a few hours advance notice and minimal preparation, you can enjoy these wonderfully exotic "subs" with family and friends.

 

Thursday
Mar172011

Tuesday Night Dinner

 

Two days ago I attended an underground communal dinner in Chicago called "Tuesday Night Dinner." Our 25 hour trek to the city was only one part pleasure and two parts business, as I hope to begin a supper club in this area. However, I do love to experience culinary adventure with my foodie wife, Bethany, so it was a win-win. I had never attended nor taken part in anything like this.

The locale was a loft in a three story walk-up on N. Lincoln Ave. The "decor" was eclectic and chaotic yet surprisingly warm. The space was partitioned by hanging velour stage drapes which set the tone for the show which would last nearly five hours. This has been TND's home, I gather, for a couple of years, after moving around a bit in it's early days (three-four years ago.)

As the name suggests, they meet once every month on a Tuesday. The facilitators refer to their little group as a clandestine dining society. As for the chefs who plan the menus, they are skilled craftsmen, carefully designing each course to showcase the seasons best produce. Oh...did I mention it was entirely vegan? Meaning absolutely no meat or animal products are used. They do this at the request of Mike, the host. It has been a great challenge for those involved in the preparation. A challenge they welcome and master by unveiling complex and sophisticated flavor profiles using simple ingredients derived from the earth.

I was thoroughly impressed and feel lucky to have gotten the opportunity to participate in this extraordinary event by the invitation of my friend and fellow chef Andrew H. Check out some great photos on facebook by searching "Tuesday Night Dinner" and learn more about this unique event @ tuesdaynightdinner.tumblr.com.

Friday
Feb042011

Dilemma: Sweet vs. Savory

As a human, I suppose I am unusual. As a Chef, I am quite odd indeed! You see, a desire in me for sweet treats, of any kind, is practically nonexistent. I do not have a "sweet tooth" and that goes for chocolate especially. That is not to say that I do not enjoy the occasional dessert or candy. I have definitely partaken in my share over the years, usually to taste something I am about to serve to others. But I rarely suffer the slightest hint of a craving...for sweet that is.

The realm of savory victuals is a different story entirely. Salty, cheesy, buttery...these craving assault me daily. I would much rather enjoy a hot bowl of chicken soup for breakfast than a sugar filled Krispy Kreme. My utter distain for the sugar-high inducing frosting of wedding cake resulted in my wife and me enjoying a much less sugary cheese cake at our wedding reception.

And so this is my dilemma. I hunger for the savory while coexisting with a world full of "sweet teeth." As this dilemma carries over into my profession, I often turn to my wife and my mother (two self professing chocoholics) for suggestions and critiques. I am constantly on the prowl for desserts that offer my clients the kind of sugar fix they desire while still appealing to my more savory palate.

As a result: the double chocolate breakfast bread (above) served with peanut butter cream cheese. For someone who doesn't really eat chocolate much at all, I inhaled several thick slices. It proved to supply an extremely satisfying sweetness without making my teeth hurt. I am hooked!