Shrinking tortillas, sriracha sauce panics and mid-century Funkadelic cuisine. I’m Laurie Ochoa, general manager of food at the LA Times, representing restaurant critic Bill Addison with this week’s tasting notes and our latest in the ongoing gas versus electric debate.
Why test kitchens are important
It’s hard to overstate the excitement of entering what is arguably the most spectacular test kitchen in the country: the recently reassembled one Ebony Test Kitchen to see in the Museum of Food and Drink in New York until July 17. Consider the wallpaper first – swirls of aubergine purple, avocado green and bright orange surrounding a gold cooking island that houses the magazine’s recipes date with a dish column tested. The GE refrigerator makes a statement in bold orange. The built-in can opener, a Thermador “Click ‘n Clean”, has style. chef and author Karl HallThe former co-host of The Chew told the New Yorker. Sophia Hollander that Ebony’s kitchen looked familiar: “That was my mother’s house. Right? This mid-century Funkadelic.”
Ebony’s kitchen was part of the founder John H. Johnsons Mission to show that black life should be treated with the same respect and glamorous magazine layouts as white American life.
“In the food department, it wasn’t just the things of the South that people think of when they stereotype African American food, it was the world,” scholar and author jessica harrisMain curator of the exhibition “Africans/Americans: Coming to the Nation’s Table”, said in a video for the Museum of Food and Drink. “So there were dishes from the Caribbean. There were dishes that were European dishes. Quite simply, the food pages at Ebony celebrated what we now call the African diaspora. It expanded African American kitchens.”
I never saw the Ebony Test Kitchen in its original home in Chicago, but seeing it recreated in New York reminded me that some of the happiest times of my days in food journalism were spent in test kitchens — the old one first LA Times test kitchen in downtown Los Angeles when I was food editor years ago, and then as editor-in-chief at gourmet (RIP) where each cook had an apartment-style pantry. Tasting recipes in development was not only a time to sample fantastic cooking skills, but also a time to meet with colleagues and share ideas.
Now, after several years of working with the amazing reporters, critics and editors who cover entertainment and culture at the newspaper, I’ve returned to food. Long-married to the late food critic for that newspaper Jonathan Gold, I could have the best of both worlds. But next month will mark the fourth anniversary of Jonathan’s death and it seems the right time to return, especially given the newspaper’s commitment to investing in expanding our coverage.
A big step in our plans for the future was our return to another Times test kitchen, newly built at our El Segundo offices. Cooking columnist during the pandemic Ben Mims and recipe author Julia Giuffrida worked alone in their home kitchen; Aside from a rare photo shoot, there were few opportunities for the rest of the staff to collect and sample their recipes ahead of release. That all changed on Wednesday, when Ben and Julie took over the kitchen and initiated weekly recipe testing sessions. And on Thursday food editor Daniel Hernandez invited a guest chef to create a 4th of July menu in the test kitchen. Martin Draluckprofiled last year by Donovan X Ramseyis curator of Black Pot Supper Cluba dinner series that adapts and spotlights the work of pioneering black chefs, including the greats Edna Lewis and enslaved cooks James Hemings and Hercules Posey. I won’t ruin the surprise by telling you what Draluck cooked for us, but I guarantee I will be making his recipes for my friends and family. In the meantime, Draluck still has a few spots open at this month’s Black Pot Supper Club dinners, which started at ax hall and now take place at Post & Beam and this month for a few days at a home in Whittier.
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Do you still cook with gas?
Another benefit of the brand new Times test kitchen is its state-of-the-art equipment, which includes an electric induction hob and gas ovens. Of course, gas stoves are no longer state-of-the-art. Last month, the LA City Council decided to ban gas stoves in new buildings. Most people agree that this is better for the environment, but it won’t be an easy switch. Many cooks, like jenn harris reported last week relying on gas flames to maintain the high heat needed to fry in a wok. What about home cooking? Ben Mims conducted a gas and electricity test in the Times kitchen. He boiled water, caramelized sugar and made fried rice on a gas burner and the induction cooktop. The results show that for many, the transition is not as difficult as we fear.
PS: The Ebony Test Kitchen was fully electric.
Eat your way through LA
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Vegas: A haven for Asian food
Las Vegas Thanks to pioneers like the French chef, it has long since shed its reputation as a cheap buffet Jean Louis Palladin, which opened in 1997 Napa In the Rio. Then came Lotus of Siamthe gourmet Magazine voted the best Thai restaurant in North America. This week, Times food critic Bill Addison argues that the food you should be looking for in Las Vegas is Asian. Inspired by the fantastic Cantonese specialties he has eaten at rainbow kitchen, he searched for more Chinese cuisine and explored Asian restaurants of all kinds throughout Vegas’ Chinatown. He says it’s one of the most exciting food scenes in the country.
A summer without Sriracha?
Restaurateurs and amateur cooks try not to panic Huy Fong foods Announcing that the famous rooster-embossed Sriracha sauce bottles will be in short supply this summer. “We don’t want it to become a toilet paper effect,” Pho Saigon pearl CEO and co-owner Phuong Hoang said Jenn Harris. The culprit behind the shortage? Huy Fong Executive Operations Officer, Donna Lamb, blames weather conditions in a region of Mexico where the chilies are grown. But she would not specify the region. Less reported in the scarcity news is Huy Fong’s other chili spice, the garlic-like spice Sambal Oelek, is also affected. As much as I love Sriracha, I love Sambal Oelek even more as a cooking ingredient to add warmth and complexity to all types of dishes.
The California Effect
A restaurant called rosemet … in Singapore. San Joaquin Valley Pistachio…a London. In our Global California series, Times correspondents explore the many Californian influences that have spread around the world. In this week, Jaweed Kaleem in London and David Pierson in Singapore Report on the California ingredients and restaurants popping up around the globe including Nancy Silvertons mozza in London and Osteria Mozza in Singapore, with Big central market favourite ball bitch also in both cities, plus Kris Yenbamroongs night + market in London. You will also find restaurants in LA Venice Gjusta and Gjelina in Paris’ 10th arrondissement.
“California food is an ethos,” Chef and Owner Victor Garvey from London SOLA said Jaweed. “A brightness, lightness and freshness. … We want to bring that to Europe.”
— “I think there should be a place for people like me, an immigrant.” Ana Diaza Los Angeles Convention Center Bartender, who came to California from El Salvador, told Times reporter Cindy Carcamo about this week Summit of the Americas. Carcamo spoke to several convention center employees who would be on duty during the summit, where policies that could affect their lives would be discussed. Diaz felt she could contribute to the summit if asked, “You need to talk to the ordinary people in these countries and ask what they really need.”
— If you are looking for recipes to celebrate June 16, Ben Mims proposes Nicole A Taylors “Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations.”
— “Expensive for a whole lot of BS”, as a bar manager Eugene Lee at Large bar & alcove in Los Feliz, Times told reporters Stephanie Breijo and Suhauna Hussain? Or a relatively painless way to prevent customers in bars and restaurants from driving home too drunk to drive? California’s Responsible Beverage Service Training ActAB 1221, effective July 1, requires all bartenders, waiters and managers in “alcohol serving establishments” to complete a training course and certification exam on the “Consequences of Over-Serving” and ” Intervention techniques for dealing with drunks” are completed by clients.” “To date,” Breijo and Hussain write, “only 33,000 people have been certified out of the hundreds of thousands of workers in the state who are covered by the law.”
— Stephanie Breijo also covers the week’s restaurant news featuring a new Sonoratown in Mid-City, a downtown LA outpost of Mastro’s Ocean Club, the annual pie cake sale and Pies for Justice fundraiser on June 18th, and more.
– And finally, while much of the country was shackled by Congress. Hearings on January 6th prime time broadcast, Representative Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) says they distract us from the more important issue Tortilla Shrinkage. “They don’t want you to talk about, hey, the size of that packet of tortillas I just bought last week.” he said on the floor of Congress. “They used to look like regular tortillas, now they look like mini tortillas.” No word on whether the very real shrinkage problem affected Biggs’ grocery shipments or if he accidentally bought soft taco or street taco tortillas — sometimes called mini tortillas.