James Beard award-winning Pastry Chef Gina DePalma credits her close-knit Italian family for instilling in her a love and understanding of good food, simply prepared, from the best of ingredients. It's a philosophy she has carried forth in the kitchen of Babbo Ristorante and Enoteca since its opening in 1998. Chef DePalma travels frequently to Italy to reconnect with friends and family, and renew her love of Italian culture and cuisine. She will also be a featured chef at the New York Culinary Experience on October 2nd and 3rd at The French Culinary Institute in NYC.
Daniel Boulud’s laid-back eatery is what New York’s finest (chefs, that is) crave.
I have a lot of favorite restaurants but I seem to always wind up at Bar Boulud again and again. I can't get enough of the excellent French charcuterie: terrines, pates, saucisson—oh my! With a frisee salad to start and some really great wine, a cozy booth, and the right company, it makes for a perfect evening. For a bigger meal, the classics are what I crave: coq au vin, coquilles St. Jacques, steak frites—everything is always impeccable and supremely satisfying. The decor and vibe are cool and contemporary, but still warm and inviting. To top it off, you get that great view onto Lincoln Center. After dinner, I walk across the street and take a stroll around the fountain and peek into the Metropolitan Opera or Avery Fisher Hall. The meal, the setting, and the location make it a quintessentially New York experience.
Chocolate cake from the master herself, Julia Child. What more can you ask for?
I happen to think every cook should have an easy, go-to recipe for a perfect chocolate cake and the Reine De Saba in Mastering the Art of French Cooking from Julia Child is just that: perfect, easy, every time. No variations needed, and her chocolate butter icing works beautifully with it. I find it incredibly comforting to know I can turn to the recipe, follow the directions without too much thought or effort, and wind up with something absolutely flawless. It’s a masterpiece. To find this recipe, pick up a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, or check out this similar recipe from Cookstr.
Take your taste buds on a culinary journey to Southeast Asia with this great cookbook.
Since my working life is immersed in all things Italian, my off time is about exploring what I love to eat the most. I adore the cuisine of Southeast Asia, and Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia by James Oselund is a phenomenal, transportive cookbook. Not only are the recipes fantastic and very approachable, but the format is that of an interconnected story, taking the reader on an extended, exotic journey through the kitchens of the home cooks Oselund has met through decades of travels. His love of this part of the world is apparent on every page. And now I know how to make a proper sambal.
If you’ve been to Rome and experienced Florence, next explore one of Italy’s best-kept secrets: Calabria.
My family comes from Calabria, an oft-ignored region of Italy with a wealth of culinary treasures. The northern part of Calabria is where my mother spent part of her childhood, and it is where I have enjoyed some of the best, most memorable meals in all of Italy. You'll find amazing wild game, unusual pastas, fantastic vegetable preparations, fiery chiles, and a wealth of local ingredients—including some of the most intensely flavored porcini mushrooms I've ever tasted. One morning, in the postcard-pretty little town of Altomonte, our hostess served us a breakfast of still-warm sheep's milk ricotta, with her own, unfiltered honey. “The shepherd just dropped it off,: she said, matter-of-factly. And for me that says it all.