Chef's Jon Favreau talks food, family, filmmaking
May 13th, 2014
07:30 PM ET
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In Jon Favreau's new film, "Chef," the writer-director-star plays Carl Casper, a formerly adventurous and celebrated chef who's since stagnated in both his career and his relationship with his ex-wife and young son. An unexpected thrashing from Los Angeles' most prominent restaurant critic (and a major social media meltdown) sends Casper running for the open road - in a food truck - in search of his next course of action.

Favreau didn't just tie on an apron and step into the role as a seasoned chef. He put in hard hours on the line in chef Roy Choi's kitchens and food trucks, and brought him on as a consultant to achieve authenticity in everything from knife technique to kitchen culture.

Eatocracy spoke with Favreau about his lifelong obsession with food, connecting with family and the lengths he'll go to for a killer brisket. An edited transcript is below.

Eatocracy: Your character in the film spends a lot of time cooking food for people to show them how he feels about them. How conscious was that?

Jon Favreau: I had been thinking about the film “Eat Drink Man Woman” and Roy Choi pointed me to “Mostly Martha.” It's a German film about a female chef who is a complete emotional basket case and could not communicate, but had such passion in her food. She would feed everyone around her. It's almost like someone who couldn't speak scribbling on a piece of paper like in "The Piano."

There's something romantic about that and I think it’s reflective of what I've seen in the chefs I've known. The most accurate, sincere communicating they do is through their food.
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April 23rd, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Eatocracy's Managing Editor Kat Kinsman attempts to vegetable garden on a roof deck in Brooklyn, NY in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Feel free to taunt, advise or encourage her efforts as this series progresses.

I have a rotten knack for turning any pleasurable pastime into an exhausting and pricey project and in doing so, sucking all the joy and fun out of it. Gardening is no different.

It started in college as a cheap, meditative hobby that kept me grounded in the midst of academic mayhem, and occasionally introduced a vitamin or two into my ramen-based body. The undertakings grew grandiose and far less calming as I got older and set down roots in futon-free apartments with my name actually on the lease.

What was once a matter of nestling dollar store seeds into soil-filled buckets on the roof, or poorly deer-proofing my $15-per-year community garden plot next to the town's sewage treatment plant, became an expensive indulgence. Then it became an obligation.
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The CNN 10 Visionary Women: Saru Jayaraman
March 24th, 2014
09:30 AM ET
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This Women’s History Month, CNN set out to highlight the efforts of 10 women who are helping other women find success, self-esteem and sometimes a safe haven. The women represent diverse fields: technology, fashion design, policy, activism, literature and skilled labor. What they have in common is a mission to empower their fellow woman. See the full list at CNN Living.

Saru Jayaraman wants you to eat with your mind full. The 38-year-old co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and author of “Behind the Kitchen Door” has spent her career fighting for service workers to get a fair wage in a respectful, safe environment. Most of those workers are women.

In an essay for Maria Shriver’s “The Shriver Report,” Jayaraman plainly laid out the facts: “Restaurant servers are three times as likely to live in poverty and use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. work force. In a terrible irony, the women who put food on the tables of restaurant-goers everywhere are struggling to put it on their own.”
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5 bad excuses for not cooking
February 25th, 2014
07:00 PM ET
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This is the eighteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

You should cook. Yes, you. Even if you don't want to.

This isn't like saying that you should learn Ovid in the original Latin for the enrichment of your soul, or requiring that you hunker and hone your julienne and demi-glace skills until you emerge victorious in a battle overseen by Alton Brown or Anthony Bourdain. This is about getting yourself fed and taking a modicum of responsibility for it.

You eat, right? Maybe even more than once a day? (Or even if you ingest some combination of nutrients solely through methods that don't require chewing, smoothies have to taste like something, don't they?) And I'm going to go ahead and assume that you'd like to continue living in your body for the next while. Assembling foodstuffs for intake without the intermediary of a drive-thru speaker, menu, or segmented tray and microwave is the ideal way to facilitate that.

Yet people object, throw their hands in the air and simply refuse. Here's why they're wrong.
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February 19th, 2014
01:45 PM ET
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In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology and issues we're attempting to do the same.

If it seems food safety issues are on the rise, that's because they are. About 48 million people contract some form of food poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At any given time the FDA is responsible for watching over some 167,000 domestic food facilities or farms, and another 421,000 facilities or farms outside the United States, according to FDA officials. But there are only about 1,100 inspectors to oversee these facilities, officials told CNN in 2012.

There is a third party audit system, where farms or facilities hire auditors to inspect their premises and provide scores. But some say the audit system is full of conflicts of interest. For instance, shortly before Jensen Farms in Colorado caused a listeria outbreak that killed 30 people, a private inspection company’s auditor gave them a “superior” grade, even after noting that they had no anti-microbial solution in place to clean their cantaloupes.

Sometimes, food slips through the cracks and makes it to the consumer marketplace, as in the recent case of the 8.7 million pounds of meat from Rancho Feeding Corporation (and their associated products like Hot Pockets) that were recalled due to "adulteration." Here's what that means.
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