gastronomy

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August 19, 2014

At Home with Diana Kennedy

Inside the Chili-Filled Kitchen Garden of Mexican Food's Grand Dame

“In 1976 I decided to create a centre for my learning and cooking,” says Diana Kennedy, the 91-year-old doyenne of Mexican cuisine and culture. “I bought some land and gradually built my ecological house.” Quinta Diana in Mexico’s Michoacán state has been the longtime home of the legendary food writer and culinary anthropologist—and following a private lunch and post-prandial stroll through her garden—is explored in today’s film by James Casey, founder of New York-based Swallow Magazine. Kennedy’s publishing career began in 1972 with the epicurean classic, The Cuisines of Mexico, most recently winning a James Beard Award for her 2010 journey into the heart of her adopted country’s eating, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy. Nestled in the verdant hills above the small town of Zitácuaro, the fertile grounds of Kennedy’s home support an embarrassment of riches. Vast selections of meticulously sourced chilies are flanked by numerous edible plants, herbs and fruits, celebrating Mexico’s extreme biodiversity in miniature. “There’s a lot I want to do,” she says. “When I make this place a foundation it will keep my ideas of conservation and sustainability alive.” Plans are afoot to turn the property into the Diana Kennedy Center, a non-profit space housing Kennedy’s vast archives of literature, writing and collecting, a fitting tribute to a life’s work both edible and otherwise.

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Bay Leaves

Californian Chef Leif Hedendal Forages a Micro-Seasonal Meal

San Francisco-based chef Leif Hedendal creates an exclusive meal for NOWNESS with ingredients foraged locally in the Bay Area, from Laird’s Landing in Point Reyes and Slide Ranch in West Marin. In the resulting photo series by Jake Stangel, the delicate petals and leaves of pennyroyal, lemon balm and bachelor buttons feature alongside the more robust flavors of lardo, abalone and oysters. Hedendal has always operated across both food and art worlds, exploring those points where the two converge. This August he is taking up residency on artist-run Rabbit Island, in Lake Superior, and in September he will be feeding those artists aboard Doug Aitken’s cross-country train project, Station to Station. The chef has staged in the kitchens of Noma and Chez Panisse, and in 2008 created Dinner Discussion, a bi-coastal dinner series where invitees have included designer Yves Behar, his partner, the art advisor, Sabrina Buell, and food-centric artist, Jennifer Rubell. "The next one will be hosted by Alice Waters, which is pretty special,” he says. "I want to put together a curatorial project where I commission new work by artists doing dinner-based work.” Shot at the J.B. Blunk House, with its majestic views of the Pt. Reyes seashore, our shoot looks at those flora that form the basis of Leif’s signature dishes. "These days it would definitely be wild flowers and medicinal herbs. You will be eating ingredients you have never heard of before.”

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Spotlight

Ticket to LA: Le Chateaubriand's Iñaki Aizpitarte

Day 1: The Paris-based Chef du Jour Imports Some Cali Flavor Into His Kitchen

Grilled avocado and fresh citrus take center plate as culinary hotshot Iñaki Aizpitarte of must-visit Paris restaurant Le Chateaubriand preps for his first-ever trip to the Golden State by conjuring his own vision of Californian food culture. Ahead of his visit to Le Grand Fooding—a two-day gormandizer’s paradise organized by Alexandre Cammas, founder of chic French dining guide, Le Fooding, which starts tomorrow in LA and aims to connect the Parisian and Los Angeleno gastronomic scenes—Aizpitarte welcomed filmmaker Gautier Billotte into his 11th arrondissement eatery. “The atmosphere in Le Chateaubriand is a mix of serenity and effervescence,” says Billotte. “You could smell fresh, raw products and the food cooked for the team lunch in the small kitchen, where they listen to loud electro music.” Currently ranked 15th in the world by Restaurant magazine, the bistro is known for its exciting, untraditional take on French fare and a nonchalant atmosphere. A testament to Aizpitarte’s role as one of today’s leading young chefs, he also runs another of the city’s top destinations, the more relaxed tapas bar Le Dauphin, designed by Rem Koolhaas. For Le Grand Fooding, Aizpitarte is joined by fellow Paris-based chefs including Frenchies’ Gregory Marchand and Jean-François Piège of the eponymous Left Bank establishment, and such LA culinary stalwarts as Mozza’s Nancy Silverton, and he will be cooking up a specially prepared dish of fresh beans, herbs and brown butter.

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