image description October 22, 2012

Food Day, Farming & Festivals

Food Day, Farming & Festivals

Here’s what’s on my mind

October 24th is National Food Day. Check out FoodDay.org for events in your hometown and how you can get involved! I am going to be at Babson College doing my best to promote sustainable healthy food production and consumption in America. I believe in the civic power of entrepreneurship to change our lives for the better. Come say hi to me if you are there.

An Important Read

Some of the most important writing in America is available for all to read on Mark Bittman’s Opinionator at NYTimes.com. Check out this profound summation of what I think should be the beginning of a great new discussion on real solutions to the farm debates of our time. Our great state is a farming state, and this type of reportage affects us all here in Minnesota. I am no conspiracy theorist but Mark’s stunning reveal about how few people are paying attention to this study detailing the epic fail of extremism is shocking. What’s not surprising is the Occam’s Razor type of solution, that old-fashioned hard work middle of the road most common natural format for crop rotation and maintenance works best.

Bookkeeping Issues

Lee Dean and Rick Nelson wrote the following about Thom Pham last week in the Strib:

Restaurateur Thom Pham faces felony charges due to $30,000 of bad checks written to A-Z Restaurant Equipment of Princeton, according to a complaint filed in Mille Lacs County. When Pham failed to appear for a court appearance, an arrest warrant was issued.

Pham owns Thanh Do in St. Louis Park. He owned the recently shuttered Wondrous Azian Kitchen, and the also closed Azia, and Temple. Dean/Nelson also reported:

When asked about the charges, Pham said, “I do all the books now, but back in the day we had bookkeepers doing different things, and I wasn’t aware of that until, like I say, recently. We’re working on it and I’m sure we’re going to make good on it. I went to Vietnam in June to visit my sick mother, and then I came back and moved, so I’ve been playing catchup. During that time I missed a lot of mail so I’m sure that’s the loss of communication. We’ve scheduled a meeting and hopefully we will resolve it within a week,” Pham said.

Here’s the amazing part…according to the Strib, Pham owes $218,819.10 in unpaid civil judgments and if you remember three of his former restaurants had their permits to collect sales tax revoked by the Minnesota Department of Revenue after failing to pay $164,927.26 in MN state sales tax. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! It never ceases to amaze me why resorting to criminal behavior is the end game for many restaurateurs. The reason is simple. It’s a cash business that bangs the register every night and like a gambling addict, the lure of the “big score tomorrow” fuels decision making.

Roast of Tony Bourdain

Last week I was in New York City for the New York City Wine & Food Festival benefitting Food Bank for NY and SOS’s No Kid Hungry campaign. It was the fifth anniversary of the festival and there was a palpable buzz this year, an energy that made this year’s event the best in memory. Thursday evening I attended the roast of my pal Anthony Bourdain who was actually pretty nervous and told me in the holding pen before the seated dinner that mercifully the bats would be heavy enough so he wouldn’t be able to feel the death blow. It never came. Check out the reportage here from Huff Po. Tony got off pretty easy in an evening of ribald one liners that had many slack jawed in disbelief at the open depravity of the punditry. I was crying I was laughing so hard. Rachael Ray and Eric Ripert stole the show, Artie Lange was very funny and people saw a side of Willie Geist they never knew existed. I ate at Sullivan Street Bakery, La Esquina, Standard Grill, Shun Lee Palace and about a dozen other places I am blanking on right now.

Bitchin’ Halloween

Check out this Bitchin’ Relm Halloween Remix. It’s the centerpiece of the Bitchin’ Kitchen’s Halloween Special that premiered last night at 8 p.m. ET on Cooking Channel. DVR the repeats if you missed it. Nadia G. served up a Halloween feast that actually tastes good. Let’s face it, “Spooky-licious” food usually sucks hard as Nadia likes to say — all looks and no substance. “That’s OK when choosing a boyfriend, but not with food, man,” as Nadia is fond of saying. Highlights include: half-naked models, terrifying skits, zombie correspondents, the Mike Relm remix and of course — decapitated dolls. Tasty. San Francisco’s infamous MIKE RELM is best known for his audio and video mash-ups. Relm has been contracted to remix everything from Iron Man to Old Spice to Honey Boo Boo. He introduced the world to a style that truly echoes the fever-pitched pace of modern entertainment while paying homage to classic filmmakers and musicians.

The Magical World of Disney

I was at Walt Disney World for Epcot Food and Wine 2012 for MEA weekend and had the opportunity to cook with a staff of thousands. Thanks so much to Marianne, Dany, Chef Jessy and the all their teams for a superb weekend. Michael and Brian Voltaggio joined me in cooking a Magic of Healthy Living Dinner sponsored by Driscoll’s Berries and it was a stellar event. Michael did a wild mushroom and blueberry gazpacho with hibiscus leaves and pine snow…all raw, and watching all the kids run to the serving tables to watch him assemble this modernist dreamscape inspired by the forest floor was a sight to see. Brian created a braised beef cheek, parsnip, leek and blackberry jus entrée that left the crowd speechless. In between I did a street food surf and turf of Malay Chicken Wings and Char Grilled Oaxacan Chili Rubbed Shrimp.  Dessert was a group effort MV did a passion fruit curd with green tea crumble and black sesame sponge cake, BV did a crème fraiche ice cream with berry jam and I did a hot berry crumble.  Best part of the weekend was hanging with those two masterful chefs, I learned so much and am so grateful that my chef friends come out and help support my mission of connecting families with good healthy food. Even more grateful that Epcot Food and Wine Festival hosts this dinner every year. THANK YOU! Best thing I ate all weekend was the Turkey Leg from Disney’s Hollywood Studio, tied with the pork shank at Gaston’s Tavern in the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. I am telling you all right now, the Epcot Food and Wine Fest is amazing, and is still going on for a few more weeks. No better way to spend a weekend with your kids. None.

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