Thursday, September 26, 2013

Metropole Restaurant and Chef Michael Paley to Host No Kid Hungry Cincinnati Dinner

On Sunday, October 27, executive chef Michael Paley, of Cincinnati’s acclaimed Metropole restaurant (609 Walnut Street), will host several special guest chefs for an evening benefitting the work of Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry.

Paley and chef Sarah Ray from Metropole will be joined by an all-star line-up of Cincinnati’s finest chefs, including Jean Robert de Cavel of JR Table, Julie Francis of Nectar, Jose Salazar of Salazar, and Dan Wright of Senate and Abigail Street, to serve a multi-course dinner with beverage pairings at Metropole. 100% of the evening's proceeds after expenses will go to Share Our Strength, supporting the fight against childhood hunger.

With a cocktail reception beginning at 6:00 p.m. and the multi-course seated dinner beginning at 7:00 p.m., this is going to be an evening diners won't soon forget. Rounding out the night will be a live auction hosted by celebrity auctioneer Billy Harris. Tickets are $150 per person and include beverage pairings and gratuity. Ticket availability is limited and can be purchased at

Share our Strength is a national non-profit dedicated to ensuring that every child gets the healthy food they need every day, and to educating families in the process through the No Kid Hungry campaign. Since 2005, No Kid Hungry dinners have raised nearly $7 million to support the No Kid Hungry campaign, ensuring that kids across the U.S. have access to the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Alton Brown Launches First National Tour

Alton Brown, renowned foodist and television personality, today announced details for his first national tour visiting more than 40 cities through 2014. Currently hosting Food Network’s hit game show Cutthroat Kitchen, Brown will hit the road with “Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour,” kicking off in Palm Desert October 18, 2013. Each show features stand-up comedy, talk show antics, a multimedia lecture, live music (he sings!) and "extreme" food experimentation. An interactive component invites select audience members on stage to serve as Brown’s trusted assistants; ponchos will be provided for fans in the first few rows.

"This is a must-see extravaganza for the whole family,” says Brown. “I've been cultivating material for this show for about a decade, so it'll feel pretty darned good to finally get it out of my head and onto a stage. We've come up with some pretty amazing food demonstrations and multi-media segments” he says, “However, I'm a bit nervous about the singing parts.”

Brown, an author of seven books, has served as the culinary commentator of Iron Chef America for 11 seasons, and host of The Next Iron Chef for five. He also joined Food Network Star in 2012, currently appearing in the show’s ninth season. Brown wrote, produced and hosted the Peabody Award-winning series Good Eats for 13 years on Food Network, which can still be seen on the Cooking Channel.

For those craving to taste the pure source of Brownian wit and wisdom, visit for ticketing information and additional details about the show.

Dates closest to Cincinnati include:

11/2/13 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre
11/3/13 Midland, MI Midland Center for the Arts
11/5/13 Akron, OH E.J. Thomas Hall
11/6/13 Louisville, KY The Kentucky Center
11/7/13 Nashville, TN TPAC: Jackson Hall
11/8/13 Columbus, OH Palace Theatre

FDA Food Safety Rules Threaten to Crush the Good Food Movement

After years of deliberation in Congress, interagency meetings, lobbyist activity, and a never-ending stream of food poisoning outbreaks, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finally poised to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

However, according to a just released white paper by The Cornucopia Institute, the FDA’s draft rules are so off the mark that they might economically crush the country’s safest farmers while ignoring the root threats to human health: manure contaminated with deadly infectious pathogens generated on “factory” livestock farms and high-risk produce-processing practices.

“In response to deadly outbreaks involving spinach, peanut butter and eggs, Congress acted decisively three years ago to pass the Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector at The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group based in Wisconsin. “Better oversight is needed but it looks like regulators and corporate agribusiness lobbyists are simultaneously using the FSMA to crush competition from the organic and local farming movement.”

Cornucopia’s report closely examines the FDA’s draft regulations for implementing the new food safety law, and a new FDA guidance designed to control Salmonella in eggs produced by outdoor flocks. The report concludes that the new proposals would ensnare some of the country’s safest family farmers in costly and burdensome regulations in a misdirected attempt to rein in abuses that are mostly emanating from industrial-scale farms and giant agribusiness food-processing facilities.

Family farm advocates, and groups representing consumers interested in high-quality food, thought they had won a victory when the Tester/Hagan amendment was adopted by Congress exempting farmers doing less than $500,000 in business from the new rules. But Cornucopia’s report suggests the FDA seems more interested in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to food safety regulation.

In reality, the report suggests that small farms are not really exempt. The FDA is proposing that the agency can, without any due process, almost immediately force small farms to comply with the same expensive testing and record-keeping requirements as factory farms.

“In practical terms,” explains Judith McGeary, a member of The Cornucopia Institute’s policy advisory panel and Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, “the FDA will be able to target small farms one-by-one and put them out of business, with little to no recourse for the farmers.”

The FDA's economic analysis also shows that farms over $500,000 (still small in the produce industry) will be significantly impacted with some being driven out of business.

“The added expense and record-keeping time will potentially force many small and medium-sized local farms — owner-operated, selling at farmers markets directly to consumers or to local grocers and natural food co-ops — out of business,” Kastel added.

The Cornucopia Institute is encouraging concerned farmers and consumers to visit its website and download a proxy letter to be sent to the FDA encouraging the agency to reconsider some of the key deficiencies in the proposed regulations.

The Institute’s analysis points out that the FDA has wildly inflated the number of foodborne illnesses that originate from farm production (seed to harvest rather than contamination that occurs later in processing and distribution).

It also alleges that the FDA has failed to recognize that specific processed crops such as fresh-cut, or produce grown in certain regions are the genesis of 90% of dangerous outbreaks in fruits and vegetables. In addition to imports from countries like Mexico, where the most recent Taylor Farms Cyclospora outbreak originated, the evidence indicates that fresh-cut bagged/boxed salad mix and greens, other pre-cut vegetables and sprouts are much more prone to contamination.

“The proposed rule is a mess,” said Daniel Cohen, owner of Maccabee Seed Company, a longtime industry observer. “The FDA has much greater expertise on food safety issues from harvest to the consumer, but focused instead on farming issues from planting to harvest. Limited, modest, and more focused steps to improve on-farm food-safety could have produced simple, affordable, effective, and enforceable regulation.”

According to Cornucopia, the most important lost opportunity in the collaborative process between Congress, the FDA and the USDA is the lack of attention directed at the giant concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs (factory farms) raising livestock. The massive amount of manure stored at these factory farms is commonly tainted by highly infectious bacteria that have been polluting America’s air, water and farmlands.

“Federal regulators propose nothing to address sick livestock in animal factories and their pathogen-laden manure that is contaminating surrounding rural communities, nearby produce farms and our food supply,” Kastel lamented.

No More Organic Eggs?

The 2010 salmonella outbreak in eggs, centered in Iowa, shone a spotlight on industrial-scale egg houses confining thousands of hens in filthy and dangerous conditions.

The salmonella outbreak led to comprehensive regulation and new guidance for organic farmers. Organic farmers are required by federal law to provide outdoor access to their hens and the new FDA guidance, according to Cornucopia, materially undermines this management practice. And they are doing this despite scientific evidence tying higher rates of pathogenetic contamination to older, massive factory farms with cages and forced molting (practices banned in organics) rather than raising birds outside.

“Their new guidance, on one hand, will make it difficult, expensive and maybe even impossible to have medium-sized flocks of birds outside,” Kastel stated. “At the same time, the FDA has colluded with the USDA’s National Organic Program to say that tiny ‘porches’, which hold only a minute fraction of the flock, will now legally constitute ‘outdoor access.’ This is a giveaway to conventional egg companies that are confining as many as 100,000 birds in a building and calling these ‘organic.’”

The Cornucopia Institute has publicly stated that they are investigating legal action against regulators if enforcement action is not taken, under the Organic Foods Production Act, against the large industrial operations confining laying hens and broilers indoors.

The issue of food safety in Washington has been a contentious one, causing rifts even between nonprofits representing the interest of consumers and family farm organizations that have been historically aligned in support of organic and local food. Some consumer advocates pressed for no exemptions, even as farm policy experts have supplied evidence indicating smaller, family-operated farms are inherently safer.

“Only an idiot would not be concerned with food safety,” said Tom Willey, a Madera, California, organic vegetable producer and longtime organic advocate.

Added Willey: “The antibiotic resistant and increasingly virulent organisms contaminating produce, from time to time, are mutant creatures introduced into the larger environment from confined industrial animal operations across the American countryside. The FDA’s misguided approach could derail achievements in biological agriculture and a greater promise of food made safe through respect for and cooperation with the microbial community which owns and operates this planet upon which we are merely guests”

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cincinnati's BOCA Makes OpenTable Top 100 Fit For Foodies List

OpenTable revealed the 2013 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in the country today, and one restaurant in Cincinnati made the list: BOCA is a restaurant that offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience that combines world-class cuisine with gracious service.

Many OpenTable diners consider themselves to be foodies; they appreciate unique and often adventurous dining experiences. The Diner’s Choice winners here are based on the opinions of more than 5 million verified diner reviews for more than 15,000 restaurants across the country. All restaurants on this list were scored and sorted according to the percentage of qualifying reviews for which “fit for foodies” was selected as a special feature.

The Environmental Promise of Open Ocean Fish Farms

The Environmental Promise of Open Ocean Fish Farms:

Innovative submersible fish pens and new developments in fish food may change the way "fish farming" is conducted throughout the world. Sustainable aquaculture is possible, say some innovative practitioners -- and open ocean fish farms may be the solution to a whole range of environmental problems.

These are not the crowded, close-to-shore pens where fish are trapped like caged chickens, requiring doses of antibiotics that leak, along with the concentrated wastes, into surrounding waters. They are submersible net pens, more than 150 feet apart, where ocean currents disperse waste, and fish swim and live in the closest possible approximation to their natural habitat. In a word: free-range fish.

And the food the fish can be fed -- developed from soy and microalgae instead of feeder fish like the Peruvian anchovy that underwent a major collapse in the 1970s -- has potential for removing fish altogether from the meal equation.

The Problem with Commercial Fishing:

The majority of commercial fishing operations today rely not on fish farming at all but on trawling for their catches -- dragging a massive net, up to a football field in length along the sea floor or midway between the floor and surface. Not only do these nets sweep up desired species such as pollock, cod, flounder and shrimp, but a significant amount of unsought species --known as bycatch -- that die but then get thrown back as waste. Greenpeace International reports that bycatch -- which can include whales, dolphins, sharks, porpoises and turtles -- could comprise anywhere from 8% to 25% of global catches,

These destructive operations, along with pollution, ocean acidification and global warming, have sent wild fish on a dangerous downward spiral, with no signs of recovery. Predator fish -- including sharks, swordfish and cod -- are already 90% gone. The U.N. reported in 2010 that 30% of the world's fish stocks were similarly wiped out and said that, if current fishing rates continue, the world's oceans could be fishless by 2050.

But conventional, large-scale fish farming operations -- particularly those on shorelines where fish and their waste are confined -- come with serious environmental concerns, too, largely for concentrating pollution in coastal waters. Also, when farmed fish escape they can quickly upset the ecological balance, such as happened with the blue tilapia, which is now a major threat to freshwater species in the southern Gulf States. Its population explosion has led to mussel declines and tends to wipe out vegetation and all other fish in streams where it becomes established. Farmed salmon, too, have for years escaped their pens in British Columbia and Washington State, finding their way to Alaska in recent years and presenting a concern that they'll begin to push out the native Pacific salmon.

New Approaches:

The answer may lie in fish farming using a submersible fish pen called the Aquapod by Ocean Farm Technologies. It can be lowered into deep water hundreds of feet from shore, below the wave action, allowing fish to live in their natural habitat and providing a means for fish waste to disperse naturally. Fish are fed by a barge boat that pumps a mixture of food and water from hoses into the cages.

The technology is continually evolving to incorporate more automation, allowing for faster cleaning and servicing and enabling them to be pulled by a cable and boat.

In Hawaii, Neil Sims ran a company that was putting the Aquapods to use growing kampachi -- sashimi-grade yellowtail. After a trial-and-error period with various species he found that farming kampachi in the Aquapod is as straightforward as sheep farming. The fish thrive in the enclosures and take readily to food pellets that are being increasingly developed with minimal fish meal.

The hope of sustainable aquaculture advocates, including Sims, as well as Robert Orr, whose Cuna del Mar firm supports Ocean Farm, is that these submersible pens will present a new vision of 21st century farming -- raising fish in a way that leaves minimal impact or even enhances the natural marine environment while allowing wild fish stocks to recover.

But the U.S. is not poised to launch a new sustainable aquaculture industry using submersible net pens. According to Michael Rubino, director of the Aquaculture Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there have been "10 years worth of legislative proposals in Congress trying to do it" under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which governs catch limits, requires the government to work with regional councils on upholding environmental standards and authorizes councils to establish zones to protect corals. A regulatory framework for deepwater fish farms will have to be incorporated into this act, and it's something that the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is working on.

Feeding a Growing, Hungry World:

The world's population will grow to nine billion people by 2050, with an appetite to match. Even just to maintain today's level of fish consumption will require another 23 million tons of farmed fish by 2020, according to the Worldwatch Institute. By 2030, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says we'll need an additional 40 million tons. In 2011, a record 154 million tons of fish were raised and caught -- by 2020, 60% of the world's fish is expected to come from aquaculture.

People in the U.S. like to eat seafood, but the country produces very little of it. Ninety percent of seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported, Rubino says, and about half of that is farm-raised. Shellfish make up 80% of what fish farming there is in the U.S. The other big industry is salmon farming with operations in Maine and Washington State, although aquaculture in some form can be found in all 50 states, including catfish farms in Mississippi and trout farms in Idaho.

"Seafood is by far the most efficient protein to grow but you've got to be able to do that in a way that honors the rest of the environment," says Orr. "Doctors and nutritionists are asking us to eat more seafood," agrees Rubino. "And where's that going to come from?"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Orchids at Palm Court Awarded Four Stars From Forbes Travel Guide

Orchids at Palm Court has been honored with a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Rating, further establishing it as one of the world's premier restaurants with truly exceptional cuisine and service. Orchids at Palm Court is the only restaurant in Cincinnati, and only one of two in Ohio, to have a star rating.

Orchids at Palm Court, located in Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, features modern American food using French technique created by director of food & beverage and Executive Chef Todd Kelly. The menu is updated weekly based on the availability of the freshest ingredients, using local and organic products whenever possible, including the hotel's rooftop beehive and herb garden and Chef Kelly's local farm.

"We are extremely excited about receiving this award from such a prestigious and reputable international reviewing organization," said Chef Kelly. "We are continually striving to find new ways to exceed our customers expectations. This award truly quantifies all of the work we execute on a daily basis."

"Our goal is to recognize the hotels, restaurants and spas that are committed to delivering the finest guest experiences worldwide," said Michael Cascone, president of Forbes Travel Guide. "These properties focus on serving the consumer, and that's our primary mission as well. We're proud to be associated with the new additions to our global list."

Forbes Travel Guide has defined the standard of excellence in hotel, restaurant and spa experiences since 1958. The rigorous rating process begins with a facility inspection that considers every aspect of the property, including its overall cleanliness, condition and location. To achieve Forbes Travel Guide Four and Five Star status, properties must meet or exceed the bar-setting service standards, which are determined through an unannounced, undercover service evaluation conducted by Forbes Travel Guide's expert inspectors.

Orchids at Palm Court has also been awarded AAA Four-Diamond award for the seventh consecutive year. Chef Kelly is an American Culinary Federation "USA Chef of the Year" and Pastry Chef Megan Ketover was a "chef'testant" on Bravo's most recent season of Top Chef Just Desserts. Orchids has also been awarded #1 restaurant in the city by Zagat for the third consecutive year, one of the top 100 restaurants in the USA by OpenTable for the third consecutive year and Cincinnati Magazine #1 restaurant in Cincinnati for five consecutive years (2009-2013).

Monday, September 9, 2013

They're Back, Fall and Holiday Creations Cooking Classes at MCI

Saturday, September 28: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Crepes and Breakfast Pastries
Andrew Johnston, Corporate Chef
Don't let the holidays start crepe-ing up on you! Start early in perfecting your sweet and savory crepe creations. Learn a few quick and easy holiday breakfast pastry recipes that will put a smile on the face of even the biggest early morning scrooges.
Beginners, $65

Friday, October 4: 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Entertaining with an Autumnal Buffet
Marilyn Harris, author/host of WKRC's "Cooking with Marilyn"
Celebrate the season with a casual dinner party featuring foods we love to serve in autumn. This delicious menu takes you from appetizer to a yummy fall desert. Marilyn Harris believes that the hosts should enjoy the party as much as the guests and gives you recipes that are not difficult and can be prepared ahead. This will be a hands-on cooking experience with personal instructions and interaction with your fellow students. Wine included.
Intermediate, $75

Thursday, October 10: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Back to Basics - Sharpen Your Knife Skills
Sean Kagy, Executive Chef, MCI's Summit Restaurant
Slice and dice your way through the evening as Chef Sean Kagy takes a break from breaking in new culinary students and turns his attention to you. Learn how to maintain a sharp edge in the kitchen. This class is for novices to home professionals.
Teen or Adult Beginners and up, $65

Friday, October 11: 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Gluten-free Dinner Part
Jaime Carmody, Certified Personal Executive Chef, Out of Thyme, Ltd.
Eating for a healthier lifestyle does not have to be boring. This menu includes Chicken & Prosciutto Skewers with Basil Vinaigrette, Tuscan Tomato Salad with Feta Quinoa Cakes with Swiss & Herbs Polenta Fries, and S'Mores Bars. Bon app├ętit indeed!
All skill levels, $65

Wednesday, October 16: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Weeknight Meal Brian Whisman, Division Chef Coordinator, Kroger
Quick and easy weeknight recipes and shopping tips for people with busy schedules. Yes, you can have home cooked meals every night of the week!
Beginners, $65

Thursday, October 24: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Fishin' at Home
Sean Kagy, Executive Chef, MCI's Summit Restaurant
Take the mystery out of your seafood and prepare perfect fish at home every time! Chef Kagy will put your knife skills to work as he gives you helpful tips for preparing beautifully fresh seafood. Whether it's roasting, frying or steaming, Chef Kagy will teach you how to prepare, cook and present the perfect fish dish!
Beginners/Intermediate, $75

Saturday, October 26: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Freakishly Good Fruits and Vegetables for Kids and Teens (ages 10 and up)
Jasmine Rose Lensing, Executive Chef, Summit Country Day School
Healthy eating habits should start early in life! Using seasonal vegetables and fruits we will create healthy, delicious snacks and entrees that kids will love and have lots of fun preparing! As a bonus, Jasmine will present Healthy Halloween dishes you can create with your very own pumpkin. (Parents are welcome but not required to stay)
Beginners, $55

Friday, November 15: 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Fundamentals of Pairing Food and Wine
Laura Landoll, Level III Sommelier, Grand Cru Wines & Sean Kagy, Executive Chef, MCI's Summit Restaurant This class will feature six tasting courses served and paired with assorted wines to evaluate how various components, flavors and textures can result in a match made in heaven...or elsewhere. Never be intimidated by a wine list again!
Intermediate, $85

Wednesday, November 20: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Sides
Brian Whisman, Division Chef Coordinator, Kroger
Let Chef Brian do some of the work for you this year with new twists on holiday classics.
All skill levels, $65

Thursday, November 21: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
What Starts Well Ends Well
Sean Kagy, Executive Chef, MCI's Summit Restaurant
Whether hosting a dinner party or a quiet dinner for two, great appetizers and desserts make the evening memorable! The Summit was voted by Open Table voters as the restaurant most "fit for foodies" come see why!
Intermediate, $55

Thursday, December 5: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Easy but Elegant Holiday Entertaining
Marilyn Harris, author/host of WKRC's "Cooking with Marilyn"
Have fun making some of Marilyn's favorite recipes for the holiday season. This class features dishes to include in your holiday menus that are tasty and seasonal without demanding too much time. This will be a hands-on cooking experience after which you will enjoy tasting your culinary efforts accompanied by wine.
Intermediate/Advanced, $85

Friday, December 6: 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
The Pig and the Piedmont
Laura Landoll, Level III Sommelier, Grand Cru Wines
Advanced Sommelier Laura Landoll will discuss a bit of history and geography of the Piedmonte region of Italy, then explore the white and red varietals that pair so well with pork and have wine critics buzzing. The class includes appetizers from the Summit Restaurant.
All skill levels, $65

Wednesday, December 11: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Appetizers for the Holidays
Brian Whisman, Division Chef Coordinator, Kroger
Join Chef Brian for an assortment of hors d' oeuvres perfect for starting any holiday party. As always, Chef Brian will have make ahead and shopping tips.
Beginners, $65

All classes include time to enjoy your culinary creations and recipes to take home. Some, not all, include wine.

Space is limited to 16 for most classes.

Register early Call: (513) 569-5800