Thursday, March 28, 2013

Winner of the "So You Want to Write a Cookbook" Contest

Can a cookbook author be chosen based only on a series of tweets? Is there untapped talent on Twitter? The Lisa Ekus Group, LLC, a 31-year-old literary agency that focuses on promoting a world of culinary talent launched a Twitter contest to find out.

The “So You Want to Write a Cookbook” contest (#signmesal) was inspired by the March Madness basketball tournament, and was conceived and orchestrated by Literary Agent Sally Ekus. Participants were asked to pitch their best culinary non-fiction ideas to the agency via Twitter and the contest was judged by the entire agency staff. Literary agent Sally Ekus believes, “The Tweet is the new elevator pitch. As social media has changed the way companies, especially publishers, look to conduct business and identify new talent, it made perfect sense to identify potential new writers through this medium.”

Over 100 contestants were narrowed down to sixteen, then eight, four, and two, before choosing one winner who was signed by Sally Ekus at The Lisa Ekus Group on March 27, 2013 at 4 pm. “The Twitter contest was a huge success,” said Sally Ekus on Wednesday. “Not only did it challenge the participants to pitch quickly and effectively, it helped The Lisa Ekus Group take a fresh look at how we review projects. The conversations were lively and occasionally heated. In the end, we were all 100% in agreement on the winner. Publishers are already expressing interest in the project.” said Sally Ekus.

The winner, twenty-five year old Ashley Blom of Greenfield, Massachusetts, writes and manages the blog Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine, cooking and blogging after her day job as a Marketing Assistant at The Sandri Companies. She has been blogging on and off since age thirteen and her cookbook concept was “life advice for lost twenty-somethings with recipes designed to save your sanity while you're trying to figure it all out.” The book will discuss which recipes are best for breakups, layoffs, and zero bank account balances. Ashley’s ideas included recipes like crappy liquor upgrades (vodka infusions), bad lay mac’n'cheese, got-the-job chocolate cake, breakup nachos, and fancy-on-the-cheap party appetizers.

“We feel confident that in Ashley’s voice and vision we have found emerging talent. I am excited to see her concept develop, from tweet to proposal to published book. Ashley’s sense of humor and her self-awareness are a natural fit for our generation of cooks and writers,” said Sally Ekus.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Grate Chef Grill Wipes

Grill Wipes attach to the bristles of any grill brush and apply high heat grilling oil to any grill grate, hot or cold, preventing food from sticking. Specially formulated accompanying grilling oil won’t burn off like conventional cooking sprays. Specially designed fiber of the wipes allows them to be used on heated grill grates for optimal no-stick performance. Easily give food distinct grill marks without any worry of food sticking. Makes achieving professional results simple and convenient. Not flammable like spray products. No more using highly flammable paper towels which are ineffective in cleaning an abrasive grilling surface. Grill Wipes are non-toxic and biodegradable. Video of it in action can be seen at: $8.99 (18 wipes),

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mississippi Passes Bill to Legalize Homebrewing

The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is pleased to announce that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed a bill that will effectively legalize homebrewing throughout the state. Mississippi is now the 49th state to permit homebrewing. A Senate version of the bill passed in early February and it was then voted on by the State House of Representatives in March.

“From our founding fathers to our current President, this country has a long and storied tradition of homebrewing,” said Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association. “We appreciate the support of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Raise Your Pints and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Mississippi. We are grateful to Senator John Horhn who introduced this bill and to Governor Bryant for his quick action and support.”

The 21st Amendment predominantly leaves regulation of alcohol to the states. Therefore, even though homebrewing is federally legal, it is still up to individual states to legalize homebrewing in state codes. Prior to today’s announcement, Mississippi and Alabama were the only two states that did not allow homebrewing. The AHA will continue working with homebrewers in Alabama to legalize homebrewing.

The hobby of homebrewing has seen exponential growth in recent years. The AHA estimates that more than 1 million Americans brew beer or make wine at home at least once a year. Mississippi is home to an estimated 2,200 homebrewers who may now enjoy brewing without the restrictions of a state-wide ban.

The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity

Some 1.2 billion people-almost a fifth of the world-live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage. The situation is only expected to worsen as population growth, climate change, investment and management shortfalls, and inefficient use of existing resources restrict the amount of water available to people, according to Worldwatch Institute's Vital Signs Online service ( It is estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with almost half of the world living in conditions of water stress.

Water scarcity has several definitions. Physical scarcity occurs when there is not enough water to meet demand; its symptoms include severe environmental degradation, declining groundwater, and unequal water distribution. Economic water scarcity occurs when there is a lack of investment and proper management to meet the demand of people who do not have the financial means to use existing water sources; the symptoms in this case normally include poor infrastructure.Large parts of Africa suffer from economic water scarcity.

World population is predicted to grow from 7 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050, putting a strain on water resources to meet increased food, energy, and industrial demands. But there are many other pressures, including increased urbanization and overconsumption, lack of proper management, and the looming threat of climate change. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and UN Water, global water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century.

At the global level, 70 percent of water withdrawals are for the agricultural sector, 11 percent are to meet municipal demands, and 19 percent are for industrial needs. These numbers, however, are distorted by the few countries that have very high water withdrawals, such as China, India, and the United States. Agricultural water withdrawal accounts for 44 percent of total water withdrawal among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), but this rises to more than 60 percent within the eight OECD countries that rely heavily on irrigated agriculture. In the four transitional economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, agriculture accounts for 74 percent of water withdrawals, but this ranges from 20 percent in Russia to 87 percent in India.

Policymakers must introduce a variety of measures to address global water scarcity. One important initiative is to support small-scale farmers. Much of the public investment in agricultural water management has focused on large-scale irrigation systems. Farmers can also use water more efficiently by taking a number of steps, including growing a diverse array of crops suited to local conditions and adopting irrigation systems like "drip" lines that deliver water directly to plants' roots.

Climate change will affect global water resources at varying levels. Reductions in river runoff and aquifer recharge are expected in the Mediterranean basin and in the semiarid areas of the Americas, Australia, and southern Africa, affecting water availability in regions that are already water-stressed. In Asia, the large areas of irrigated land that rely on snowmelt and high mountain glaciers for water will be affected by changes in runoff patterns, while highly populated deltas are at risk from a combination of reduced inflows, increased salinity, and rising sea levels. And rising temperatures will translate into increased crop water demand everywhere.

To combat the effects of climate change, efforts must be made to follow an integrated water resource management approach on a global scale. This involves water management that recognizes the holistic nature of the water cycle and the importance of managing trade-offs within it, that emphasizes the importance of effective institutions, and that is inherently adaptive.

Further highlights from the report:
• A region is said to face water scarcity when supplies fall below 1,000 cubic meters per person, and absolute water scarcity is when supplies drop below 500 cubic meters a year.
• About 66 percent of Africa is arid or semiarid, and more than 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa currently live on less than 1,000 cubic meters of water resources per person.
• According to UN Water, each person in North America and Europe (excluding former Soviet Union countries) consumes at least 3 cubic meters per day of virtual water in imported food, compared with 1.4 cubic meters per day in Asia and 1.1 cubic meters per day in Africa.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Food Additive (Carrageenan) Suspected in GI Disease/Tumors---FDA asked to pull from Market

The Cornucopia Institute formally requested that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remove the common food additive carrageenan from the US food supply.

Last year the FDA rejected a 2008 citizen petition, which presented scientific studies linking carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation, including cancer. The petition was filed by Dr. Joanne Tobacman, a physician-researcher at the University of Illinois – Chicago College of Medicine, who has been studying food-grade carrageenan for more than a decade.

“The FDA’s justification for denial was based on a sloppy and incomplete evaluation of available published research, and it was riddled with overt bias which appears to protect an industry’s profits at the expense of public health,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Director of Farm and Food Policy at Cornucopia, a Wisconsin-based non-profit food policy research group. “We have asked them to reevaluate.”

Carrageenan is a highly processed additive extracted from red seaweed. The controversial material contributes no nutritional value or flavor, but is added to affect the texture of a wide range of foods and beverages.

Scientists have raised concern about its safety for decades, based on research linking food-grade carrageenan in the diet of laboratory animals to gastrointestinal disease, including colon tumors.

“Carrageenan has a unique chemical structure, and research has shown that this chemical structure may trigger an innate immune response in the body,” says Dr. Pradeep Dudeja, Professor of Physiology in Medicine at the University of Illinois – Chicago, who has co-authored nine studies on carrageenan.

“The immune response leads to inflammation, which is a serious public health concern since chronic, low-grade inflammation is a well-known precursor to more serious diseases, including diabetes and cancer,” he adds.

Recent research exploring carrageenan’s effects on the body has been supported financially by National Institutes of Health grants, and was prompted by animal studies showing damage to the gastrointestinal tract from food-grade carrageenan.

More than a dozen animal studies, conducted since the late 1960s, have raised concern about carrageenan’s safety, but the FDA failed to consider the vast majority of these studies in its analysis. The FDA also asserted that these studies have been “disputed,” a claim based on a paper by Duika Burges Watson, a geography professor from Durham University in the UK who appears to have no medical or scientific degree or background.

“It is unclear why the FDA would place higher value on the opinion of a social scientist from the UK than on the medical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health,” observes Vallaeys.

“It is disappointing that the FDA continues to permit carrageenan to be used as a food additive despite clear evidence that it causes inflammation,” says Dr. Tobacman.

Medical specialists in the US are taking these concerns seriously. Dr. Stephen Hanauer, MD, Chief of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, states: “The rising incidence and prevalence of ulcerative colitis across the globe is correlated with the increased consumption of processed foods, including products containing carrageenan.”

Dr. Hanauer and Dr. Tobacman are currently conducting a study using human patients with ulcerative colitis, a serious gastrointestinal disease.

“Since carrageenan has been found to cause colitis in animal models of ulcerative colitis we felt it would be important to perform a well-controlled dietary study to determine whether carrageenan causes exacerbations (flare ups) of ulcerative colitis in patients in clinical remission,” adds Dr. Hanauer, who is also the Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

The Cornucopia Institute also just released a report, Carrageenan: How a ‘Natural’ Food Additive Is Making Us Sick, which compiles scientific studies pointing to harm from consuming food-grade carrageenan. Cornucopia also produced an accompanying buyer's guide for avoiding the ingredient. Some well-known physicians, like Dr. Andrew Weil, have been warning consumers about carrageenan for years.

“[Dr. Tobacman] explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer,” stated Dr. Weil. “All told, I recommend avoiding regular consumption of foods containing carrageenan,” he adds.

Cornucopia already shared an analysis of the scientific data with many organic food and beverage companies. After learning about carrageenan’s harmful effects on human health, some companies are actively reformulating their products to remove the dangerous additive.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Culinary competition featuring venison is coming to Cincinnati State March 15

The Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State will host a culinary competition on Friday, March 15 that features venison.

The 6th annual Thurston Venison Culinary Competition is sponsored by the Cervid Livestock Foundation, a national organization that promotes research and education through the North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA), is sponsoring the 6th annual Thurston Venison Culinary Competition.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. in the MCI teaching kitchens, located in the Advanced Technology & Learning Institute at Cincinnati State’s main campus in Clifton. Judging of the dishes prepared by students will begin at approximately 11 a.m.

The competition is limited to six teams of two students each. Teams will have a total of three hours to plan and prepare two courses: one appetizer and one entrée course that must incorporate venison as the primary protein source of each.

Awards will be presented to the top six teams at 6 p.m. that day (March 15) at the NADeFA conference being held at the Duke Energy Center. The first place team will receive a $1,000 prize award, the second place team $500, the third place team $300 and the remaining teams $100 each.

Future chefs will learn about the venison industry and the nutritional and dietary aspects of venison. “This will be an experience that hopefully they will take with them when entering into the restaurant profession,” said Laurie Seale, Executive Director of the Cervid Livestock Foundation.

Sponsors for this year’s competition include Broken Arrow Ranch, The Exotic Wildlife Association, Grande Natural Meats, Luke’s Run, LedgEnd Farm, Medera Ranch, Eaton Highland Farm, Dream Chaser Farm, Farmer’s Fallow Deer and BP Whitetails.

OU Kosher Announces Special Extended Hotline Hours Before Passover

OU Kosher announces special extended hours of the OU Kosher Hotline to assist with Passover preparations—from 10:00 a.m-12 noon on Sunday, March 24 and from 10:00 a.m-1:00p.m on Monday, March 25 (the night of the first seder.)

The OU Kosher Hotline is 212-613-8241.

“This is the first year the OU Kosher Hotline will be open on Sunday,” remarked Rabbi Moshe Elefant, OU Kosher chief operating officer. “Our extended hotline hours are yet another service OU Kosher provides to make us the world’s most recognized kosher symbol and also the top destination for kosher information year-round—particularly regarding the challenging preparations for Passover.”

“Last year, we received 150 calls on erev Pesach alone, when the OU Kosher Hotline was open for three hours,” shared Rabbi Eli Eleff, OU Kosher rabbinic coordinator and consumer relations administrator. “Callers thanked us profusely for being open to help with their questions; and many last-minute calls came from rabbis, as were calls from people who had been told by their rabbi to contact the OU. In fact, inquiries were received about products certified by other kosher organizations, as we were informed that the OU was the only agency open to help consumers during that time. We are proud to offer these extended hours once again.”

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Indulgent Chocolate Cake Invented by Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul's Executive Pastry Chef Named Kempink's Dessert of the Year 2013

Bergamot-scented tea from the Black Sea sweetly paired with delicately dried Malatya apricots and Valrhona chocolate were the winning combination for Bosphorale, a cake created by master chocolatier and executive pastry chef of Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul, William McCarrick. Bringing a taste of Turkey for the entire year to Kempinski hotels around the world, this eclectic dessert was selected among recipes submitted from Kempinski’s top pastry chefs as “Dessert of the Year 2013.”

“With our focus at Çırağan Palace Kempinski to use local culinary products as inspiration, my cake is symbolic of a trip to Turkey,” states William McCarrick, Çırağan Palace Kempinski’s executive pastry chef. “I combined the best of these regional flavors for my creation, as Turkey produces 80% of the world's dried apricots and it is among the world's top five tea-growing countries.”

Several of the ingredients used in the cake are ingrained in Turkish cultural traditions, highlighting the dessert’s connection to the country. Dried fruits, such as the apricots, are usually served at village festivals, weddings and other celebrations while tea has become a culture of its own, with specific brewing techniques and drinking customs. Offering tea and drinking it together is considered a gesture of friendship and hospitality throughout Turkey.

During the Kempinski Dessert of the Year 2013 competition, pastry chefs were invited to submit original recipes with specific guidelines: the key ingredient had to be chocolate, the dessert had to be presentable both as an individual cake and as a platable dessert and it could not be a soufflé, dessert à la minute or ice cream. Bosphorale was chosen as the Kempinski Dessert of the Year in a blind tasting by 80 judges from recipes by 50 other executive pastry chefs and will be offered in all Kempinski properties worldwide throughout the year 2013.

Bosphorale is available in Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul’s Gazebo Lounge as well as at all other Kempinski properties, bringing a taste of Turkey to guests in more than 30 countries worldwide.

For more information, please visit

Monday, March 4, 2013

Paul Stanley Joins Gene Simmons as Founding Partner in Rock & Brews Restaurant Venture

Today, Rock & Brews™ announced that KISS rock legend Paul Stanley is joining forces with fellow KISS co-founder Gene Simmons in his Rock & Brews restaurant venture as the company prepares for worldwide expansion. Together, they will co-host the March 22 and 23 opening of Rock & Brews in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, the second location for the emerging brand.

Rock & Brews Los Cabos is the first international location for the new entertainment and rock-themed dining concept. Stanley and Simmons, along with Rock & Brews co-founding partners restaurateur-hotelier Michael Zislis and veteran concert promoter Dave Furano, have teamed up with Los Cabos’ restaurateurs Jessica Moreira, Rodrigo Cabeza De Vaca, and Sergio Martinez, and developers Alfredo Gadsden, Gabriel Gadsden and Mario Gadsden for the opening.

“I am honored to join the Rock & Brews lineup, and am especially excited for our first international location in Los Cabos,” said Stanley. “Rock & Brews is truly a unique concept that embraces music and concert-style social gatherings like no other dining venue.”

The new Rock & Brews Los Cabos features a unique concert themed-atmosphere complete with hand-painted murals of rock artists, album and tour art. Guests can take advantage of the al fresco dining offered, or enjoy sitting indoors in an authentically themed backstage concert site. The restaurant features a full bar and will have the largest selection of craft beers in Los Cabos. It is set to be a main late-night attraction for locals and tourists alike, as after the dinner rush, a DJ will be spinning tunes nightly.

The grand opening of Rock & Brews Los Cabos will welcome about 400 KISS fans from around the world, along with music industry notables and local VIPs. A special KISS Army Rock & Brews package is available at the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort that includes a two-night stay in a deluxe room with a Jacuzzi and private terrace (double occupancy) March 22 and 23, two tickets to the invitation-only Rock & Brews opening on March 22, a private seaside reception and photo opportunity with Gene and Paul at the resort’s Five Star Diamond De Cortez restaurant prior to the opening event, a breakfast buffet for two at the resort’s Tomatoes restaurant, and a Rock & Brews t-shirt for $749, including tax, based on availability. The rate code is KISARRB. For more information or to make reservations, please visit or call (011) 52-624-145-8000.

Four additional Rock & Brews restaurants are currently in development. Rock & Brews Redondo Beach (on Pacific Coast Highway) is set to open in late April; Rock & Brews LAX (in the Delta Airlines Terminal) and Rock & Brews Paia, Maui will open this summer; and a Rock & Brews Prairiefire, in Kansas City, MO is also slated to open later this year. Several others are on the drawing board for locations throughout the United States and abroad. Rock & Brews Los Cabos is located at Paseo Malecón San José Plaza del Pescador Local 1, San José Del Cabo. For more information, please visit

About Rock & Brews
Rock & Brews features casual American cuisine, as well as dishes that reflect local tastes, and a broad craft beer selection in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of a backstage concert environment featuring concert lighting, multiple televisions and concert-style rock music. The first Rock & Brews entertainment and dining venue opened in April 2012 near Los Angeles International Airport in El Segundo, Calif. The company plans to expand worldwide.