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July 19, 2014

Dining Al Fresco: Scott Hallsworth

Ahead of His Stint at Wilderness Festival, the Kurobuta Chef on Barbecuing to Stay Cool

I’ll barbecue in any weather; I’ve even done it in the Alps in winter. It’s probably to do with my upbringing because I’m from Western Australia where we had to barbecue a lot. I say ‘had to’ because I grew up in a little town that got stinking hot in summer, and our house had no air con. We only had a really old-fashioned combustion stove, which meant we had to build a fire to cook. If you wanted a hot dinner and the stove was lit, no one could bear to be inside; honestly, the house turned into a sauna. So instead, mum would prep a salad out of something growing in the garden, and we’d sit outside and light the barbecue. It was a bit more caveman than I’d like, but it was a case of do or die.

My Wilderness Festival menu is made up of dishes that started off as ideas and have evolved over time. I thought they’d be good ones to use for the festival because I’ve done food in so many weird locations around the world, and I think it’s a very cool thing to bring Japanese cuisine, or my version of it, to that kind of setting. For Wilderness, it’s really all down to the preparation: we’ll do all the hard work back at the restaurant, like the slow cooking and the marinating, so that when it comes to serving, it’ll just be a matter of doing a couple of bits and pieces, and bang, it’s gone.

The chef's Wilderness menu

Roasted scallops with yuzu truffle egg sauce and yuzu tobiko
BBQ pork belly in steamed buns with spicy peanut soy
Nasu dengaku sticky miso grilled aubergine with candied walnuts
Black pepper soft shell crab tempura
Flamed edamame with sake, lemon, butter and maldon salt
Yellowtail sashimi with kizami wasabi salsa and yuzu soy

Scott Hallsworth will be at the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, UK, on Friday August 8.

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Mr. Chow: Preparations

A Hypnotic Short from Norbert Schoerner Celebrates the Relaunch of London's Legendary Canteen to the Stars

“Food and romance go hand in hand, or mouth in mouth,” says lauded German photographer and filmmaker Norbert Schoerner of his latest short, an avant-garde ode to the art of noodle-making at London’s famed Mr. Chow restaurant. “They both release endorphins,” notes the director. “And it’s tough to decide what’s stronger.” The work celebrates the reopening of the Chinese dining institution, on the 45th anniversary of its original launch on Valentine’s Day, 1968. Since then, the home away from home of Beijing cuisine has become a veritable phenomenon, recognized internationally for its authentic hand-pulled noodles, made nightly in front of restaurant guests by experts who have been honing their expertise for decades. Casting model Caroline Ford for scenes shot at the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel and spliced into footage of Mr. Chow’s noodle maestros, Schoerner taps into an unspoken visual language of desire and culinary craft. According to the lensman—a veteran of the pages of Vogue and The Face who has exhibited internationally, collaborating with Comme des Garçons and Alexander McQueen—images of food “can be cold and off-putting. Or they can be sensual and delectable, enticing the audience to take a closer look and making them want to sample the goods.” Ultimately, though, the shared beauty of eating and intrigue may be in the anticipation of consumption. “Preparation and foreplay are on par,” he notes. “It's the build-up that counts.”

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Danny Bowien: Mission Chinese

The Culinary Rogue Reveals the Secrets of Chinatown and the Music of Sichuan Cuisine

Sporting his trademark long bleached hair, maverick foodie and Sonic Youth aficionado Danny Bowien shares the kitchen antics at his celebrated Mission Chinese Food restaurant and feasts at his favorite local joint, where he finds inspiration in peppercorn- and beer-braised chicken and pork pancakes, in this new film by Jordan Bahat. The Korean-born, Oklahoma-raised chef has been drawing visitors to his small Chinatown outpost in staggering numbers since it opened in Manhattan last May, placating lines of hungry guests with a keg of free beer. It’s worth the wait: hybrid dishes like Kung Pao pastrami, catfish à la Sichuan seasoned with Old Bay and barbequed pig tails marinated in Coca-Cola have earned him a place at the top of The New York Times critic Pete Wells’ 2012 “Restaurant Triumphs” list. Bowien first gained cred for his signature brand of Chinese-American dishes with a pop-up venture in San Francisco’s Mission District. He picked up his culinary spark working odd restaurant jobs—not in formal training—and happily credits neighborhood haunts like Spicy Village as keys to his success. “Danny really let us in on his process,” said Bahat, who has shot music videos for indie acts including Josh Osho and Grouplove, and chose the sounds of Ducky to accompany this new short. “Danny goes somewhere, orders everything on the menu and then goes home and tries to recreate it. He’s the Mayor of Chinatown.”

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