Posts tagged with "foodie"

Kia Damon illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Chef Kia Damon: Culinary Compassion In The Kitchen

By: Emily Bunn

This Women’s History Month, 360 Magazine sat down with Chef Kia Damon. Kia is the founder of Kia Feeds The People (KFTTP) and is a cofounder of Auxilio, both of which are non-profits aimed at combating food apartheid. We dished with Kia on how she discovered her passion for cooking, pathways towards increased Black and QTPOC representation in the culinary industry, and her upcoming video release with EFFEN Vodka and Queer Foods, which can be viewed here.

When did you first begin cooking? When did you realize you wanted to pursue it professionally?

“I started cooking in my early preteens. I have younger brothers as well, so once we were too old for day care, I had to step up as the older sibling to make sure we ate, especially more so during the summertime because I have working parents. But, it wasn’t until some years later when I started cooking independently for my own health reasons that I truly saw my strengths in cooking and realized that cooking professionally wasn’t a world that was so far away for me, that it was actually extremely attainable and extremely real. So I took the plunge, and to this day some of my family’s still very surprised, because I was definitely burning pots of rice, and they were like ‘this girl has no talents for the kitchen.’ Now I’m cooking and they still can’t believe it.”

We all know foods brings communities together. Are there any experiences you’ve had with community members through Kia Feeds The People that have stuck with you?

Yes! Honestly, the most connective part was before I even started cooking with KFTTP people when I was looking for guidance from a lot of my friends in the cooking community. Because KFTTP was birthed in a really tumultuous time, I felt like I couldn’t quite gather my thoughts and my feelings. I just felt so emotionally charged and stunted that I felt like I couldn’t even work or think or move because I felt so emotional about everything. But being able to lean into my friends and my chosen family who see me for who I am, who know me intimately and know my heart, they were able to guide me to where I am now and toward my mission for KFTTP. I’m super grateful. These are people that I’ve been able to cook with before, these are people that I’ve literally eaten with before–we’ve shared food out of deli containers at 3am–I’m very grateful for them. And I definitely could not have got to this place without them.”

Are you looking to expand KFTPP outside of Brooklyn, or just focus on this specific community?

“Because I am a Sagittarius, I definitely am looking to expand and looking to grow. I definitely have to make sure I build and flesh KFTTP out as much as possible in Brooklyn before I start thinking about moving other places. But I do have visions, not necessarily to just expand Kia Feeds The People, but to collaborate with other mutual aid organizations and non-profits that already exist in other cities, so that I can support them and [they] have more coverage where they are. I’m not the only one who’s doing this kind of work and it is definitely a collaborative, lifelong mission, so I want to lend hands to the people who are already in this game.”

What do you think is the biggest obstacle facing overcoming food apartheid?

Personally I think the biggest obstacle is still convincing people that it exists, because we live in such a individualistic world. If something doesn’t affect the next person, then they’re more likely to ignore it, you know. That’s why I think COVID really shook things up, because a lot of us were collectively put on our butts. you know. We’re like “whoa, wait a minute, is this one thing that is really proactively affecting us.” But regarding food apartheid, a lot of people are still familiar with it in terms of a “food desert.” Food desert is a word that’s been used for many years to describe this situation, and a “desert” implies that it is natural, because the world naturally created deserts. When you apply “food desert” to that idea, it implies that this place without food, this place without access to meals, is natural and that’s just the way that it’s supposed to be. But it’s completely unnatural, it’s completely systematic, and [after recognizing that] then we can start looking at it as something that is created by is created by systems. Then, we can put some realness to it and find how all of us are truly affected by them. So I think right now, it’s making sure people know what food apartheid is, and that it actually exists.”

Do you have a favorite meal or cocktail to prepare when you’re bringing family or friends together?

“My favorite meal is red beans and rice. I love a good pot of Louisiana-style red beans and rice, because honestly that–with some corn bread on top and so hot sauce– that really is the whole meal. You think you would need something else on the side but that’s really it. It’s so fulfilling, it’s so delicious, and I definitely try to bring it out when I get to be with my friends and family.”

The culinary world is a male-dominated industry. How can the culinary industry work to become more diverse, and have more Black, QTPOC chefs?

“I think it’s a starts with actually investing in the lives and careers of these black/brown/trans/ LGBTQ chefs because they exist. I know they exist because they’re my friends. And what happens is that maybe they’re put in positions of leadership or maybe not, but they’re they’re not given the same care, support or investment in their skills and education and their needs. You could put someone in a line chef position or position of leadership or whatever, but if there’s no follow through to make sure that they have what they need to be supported in those positions, they’re usually set up for failure, or set up to be harmed in some way. Or maybe a small business that’s LGBTQ or Black has a good profile, [but they may not be] getting access to grants or money. You have to have the follow through. It’s not that we don’t exist, it’s that we’re not properly supported when we are put at the forefront. That’s when it gets tricky and that’s when we’re left open to harm and failure.”

What are you most excited about regarding this video release with Queer Foods and EFFEN Vodka?

“I’m very excited for mom to see it first of all, I love my mommy and she is my number one fan. And she’s a Gemini, so I’m always looking for her approval. But I’m also excited to get to Kia Feeds The People and Queer Stories in front of the world. I feel like we can’t tell enough queer stories, there’s always someone’s story out there. Even though there’s this myth out there that there’s already enough representation, or that maybe it’s too much to keep talking about queer people, that’s actually far from the truth. I’m proud and honored that EFFEN Vodka wants to support what I’m doing and wants to get my story out there. My story is the story of a lot of other Black and brown and trans people’s stories, and it also feels good to partner with someone who sees me and wants to invest in my story and invest in supporting other diverse artists, both in their representation and practice. It just feels good to be seen, and I’m excited for everyone else to see me and to be seen. Just look! Everyone just look! I want everyone to look and feel pride in who we are.”

How can readers donate to Kia Feeds The People?

“You can head to my GoFundMe if you’re not in the city, or if you’re in Brooklyn you can come to a pop up. Please donate to my GoFundMe, I have it on my Instagram page. Share it with your friends, let them know what’s up. Or if you are in Bed-Stuy, you can find me at a pop-up– I have a few coming up in April, so I’m going to be all over the place. Come get some food or throw some money, either way I’ll be very grateful.”

To learn more about Kia, visit her website.

Kia’s EFFEN Rosé Vodka Grapefruit Cocktail

Ingredients: 

  • 2 parts EFFEN Rosé vodka
  • 1 oz of lime juice
  • ½ oz of cane syrup
  • 2 or 3 parts grapefruit juice

Mix the grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, EFFEN Rosé vodka and a spoonful of ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir and taste. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with grapefruit, and thyme. Drink responsibly + enjoy!

Kia’s Gumbo Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 8 oz andouille sausage
  • 1lb Boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups sliced okra, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tbsp Creole seasoning
  • 1 tbsp of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • ½ tbsp Ground sage
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh parsley

Directions

  • Season the chicken thighs with 2 tablespoons of creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Season well on both sides. Heat a skillet or cast iron to medium heat with enough oil to cover the bottom. When the pan is hot, sear the chicken in batches. Brown the chicken on both sides and set aside. The chicken does not have to be cooked through just yet.
  • In a large pot add the oil and heat to a medium high heat. Add the flour and whisk until it begins to cook. Lower the heat to medium low. Keep whisking the roux over a controlled and steady heat until the flour begins to darken into a deep brown. This takes about 30 minutes, so pace yourself.
  • Turn the heat down on the roux and add in your onion, bell pepper and celery. Stir into the roux, season with a few pinches of salt and sauté until fragrant and translucent. Add in your minced garlic and fresh thyme. Stir for another 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the chicken stock while whisking the roux. Do this part slowly because the roux will begin to thicken. Take your time and continue pouring in the stock until it’s completely incorporated.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, meanwhile slice the sausage in ¼ inch rounds on a slight bias. When the pot begins to boil, reduce to a simmer and add the chicken and sausage. Let the gumbo cook on low for an hour. You want time for the flour taste to cook out.
  • After an hour, add the remaining two tablespoons of creole seasoning, smoked paprika, ground sage and Worcestershire sauce to the pot. Stir and add your sliced okra. Cook for another 10 minutes, add salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste then serve with rice and chopped parsley.
  • Enjoy!
Kia's EFFEN Rosé Vodka Grapefruit Cocktail Photo credit: Solène Michel  Recipe credit: Kia Damon, Kia Feeds The People for use by 360 Magazine

Photo credit: Solène Michel Recipe credit: Kia Damon, Kia Feeds The People

Kia Damon image shot by Elina Street for EFFEN Vodka and Queer Foods for use by 360 Magazine

Photo Credit: Solène Michel 

Beignet illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Air Fryer Hacks × Grilling Tips

Air fryer hacks and grilling tips
for tastier, healthier and greener meals

The Sustainable Chef Gerard Viverito has tips
and recipes to improve your spring and summer cooking

You may have heard that fat equals flavor. It’s why we love a beautifully marbled steak, butter-rich shortbread, or premium ice cream. Fat is also what makes fried foods such as potato chips and chicken nuggets so deliciously crispy and addictive. Today, many people are swapping their deep fryers for air fryers.

This trendy appliance uses swirling super-heated air, instead of hot oil, to cook. But air fried food can also be dry. The Sustainable Chef and culinary instructor Gerard Viverito says the results can be as impressive as oil-fried dishes – and full of crave-worthy crunch – if you follow his tips. Bonus: some of these hacks can also be used on your outdoor grill.

Brush on oil for crave-worthy crunch

“The right air frying techniques will help protect your health and produce more flavorful meals,” says Chef G. For restaurant-quality results, he suggests brushing oil onto your food both before you cook and again half-way through the cooking process. You can also apply it using a spray bottle. “Canned cooking spray will damage the non-stick coating of your air fryer; it may include questionable additives.”  

Use the right fats and cooking oils on your grill

Chef G. suggests you first get to know your cooking fats. “Using the wrong oil is why grilled foods sometimes taste so bad. The oil burns which make the food taste rancid,” he explains. “Some cooking oils are also not as healthful as others.” 

  • Choose vegetable oils carefully. Most canola, corn, soybean oils in the U.S. are made with genetically engineered crops. Many oils, such as corn, sunflower, soybean oil is pro-inflammatory.
  • Be aware of which oil to use for high-heat cooking. “Olive oil is ideal for drizzling over veggies but begins to degrade at 380 degrees. I like to use Malaysian palm oil for high-temperature cooking because its smoke point, the temperature at which it starts to burn and smoke, is in excess of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also nutrient-dense and sustainably produced.”  
  • Use butter for rich flavor. Chef G. is a fan of grass-fed butter because it has more flavor and a stronger nutritional profile. The downside of butter is that it burns easily at high temperatures. “My trick is to put a little red palm oil in the pan with the butter to protect the flavor. Palm oil and butter go together. Palm oil is a nutritious fat for people and even animals. When cows eat palmitic acid, a component in palm oil, they produce more milk with higher fat content.”  

Use sauces and marinades for big flavor

Chef G.’s chicken wing sauce uses bold ingredients such as gochujang Korean chili paste, ginger, and garlic. It also includes a sweetener that comes with a warning: “Sugar burns very quickly at high heat, so it’s important to add sugar-based sauces to your meat just in the last few minutes.” 

He suggests including an oil in your marinade. “Oils are an essential part of a marinade. I like to use garlic, black pepper, and spices. These seasonings are fat-soluble, so you need an oil to carry their flavor into the meat.”

Visit this website for more palm oil recipes. 

Malaysian Inspired Marinade

Recipes by Chef Gerard Viverito

Marinade for two pounds of meat

  • 3 Tbsp Malaysian Red Palm Oil
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 shallots, peeled
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt 
  • 2 Tbsp Palm Sugar

Instructions

Blend all the marinade ingredients in a food processor. Add a little water to thin if needed.

Use this marinade for chicken or shrimp. It can be kept for 6 hours in the fridge or is best overnight.

Air-Fryer Beignets

Mardi Gras may have just come and gone, but there is no reason to deny yourself the taste of New Orleans any time you want it! As much as I try to maintain a low-carb life, these little bits of heaven are always a welcome treat and remind me of being in the French Quarter.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water (90 degrees)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (for yeast proofing)
  • 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of salted butter, brought to room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter and Malaysian Palm Oil, equal parts
  • 1 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar

Combine the lukewarm water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and the yeast in a bowl and let proof for 5 minutes. This mixture should froth a little. If it doesn’t, your yeast is not active, and you should try again with a new yeast. Also mind the temperature. If it is too hot, you will kill the yeast.

Mix the flour, a pinch of salt, the room temperature butter and the sugar in a large bowl. 

Add the egg, evaporated milk and yeast mixture to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until it just comes together in a sticky ball. If your dough isn’t forming, add a little more flour, but in really small quantities to avoid having tough beignets. Move the dough to an oiled bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

The longer you let it rise, the better for flavor development. By allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight, which is completely optional, you will develop a deeper flavor, but it is imperative that you bring it to room temperature before proceeding to the next steps.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ½-inch thickness. Cut the dough into 24 2”x3” rectangular pieces. 

Preheat your air fryer to 350ºF.

Brush or mist the beignets on both sides with some of the melted butter and palm oil mixture and air-fry in batches at 350ºF for 6 minutes, turning them over halfway through if desired. 

Be mindful to leave some space between the beignets for better and more even browning. 

Once the beignets are finished, transfer them to a plate or parchment lined baking sheet and dust with the confectioners’ sugar.

Enjoy with some nice chicory coffee!

Korean Inspired Air-Fried Gluten Free Chicken Wings

Servings: 4 people

Here’s a fun fact about chefs: As much as we love outdoing each other in the kitchen, we always gravitate back to the simple dishes to soothe our souls after a grueling shift. Just Google favorite chef recipes and you will usually find sandwiches or a 3-step meal. Not to say I don’t love oysters, truffles, and foie gras, but sometimes you just want some down-home fried chicken comfort. With the rise in popularity of Korean-style fried chicken, I took it to a new level with the air fryer.

Traditionally, Korean Fried Chicken is double fried in oil for a spectacular crunch and then covered in a delicious spicy, sweet-and-sour type sauce. 

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. chicken wings
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Malaysian Palm Oil and butter to cover wings (approximately 1 Tablespoon each)

Chicken Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp gochujang Korean chili paste
  • 3 tbsp agave syrup or honey depending on the level of sweetness desired
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp tamari gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp shallot, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Chopped green onions for garnish

Instructions

Place the chicken wings in a large non-reactive bowl and season with garlic powder, onion powder and ½ tsp salt.

Cover the chicken with cornstarch, let sit for 5 minutes. With a set of tongs to keep your hands clean, stir, to evenly coat the chicken piece. Lightly shake each piece of chicken to remove the excess corn starch and place it in the air fryer basket.

While the wings are sitting, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and butter, heat gently to melt. 

Place the wings in the air fryer basket and lightly spray or brush the tops with the oil and butter mixture.

Close the basket and cook chicken wings at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, turning and rotating chicken about every 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce.

Korean Air-Fried Chicken Sauce

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat and whisk until combined. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

Once the chicken is done cooking, place the sauce and the wings into a bowl and toss to evenly coat.

*Oil may be used to spray and coat the chicken pieces if cornstarch still appears on the chicken after frying. It can be done without oil as the chicken will produce its own oil during cooking.

Jacob de Neergaar by Hotel d'Angleterre Copenhagen for use by 360 Magazine

Hotel D’Angleterre Appoints Jakob de Neergaard as Head Chef

Chef Jakob de Neergaard to Take the Helm on April 1st

Chef Jakob de Neergaard, one of Denmark’s greatest masters of French cuisine, will lift Marchal at d’Angleterre in Copenhagen to new heights with his enormous knowledge and experience in classic gastronomy, both French and Nordic.

The level of gastronomy in Scandinavia is at an all-time high, especially when it comes to the “new” Nordic cuisine, which for many years has repeatedly put the restaurants of Denmark high on the list of “world’s best.”

The Hotel d’Angleterre has always aimed for the head chef of its gourmet restaurant, Marchal, to have deep roots in French cuisine and, at the same time, have both a love and an understanding of Nordic gastronomy. This is the primary reason the hotel chose the highly experienced and respected Jakob de Neergaard as its new head chef.

Jakob de Neergaard has worked for many years throughout Europe with French cuisine at the highest Michelin level, including at the iconic Ritz Hotel in Paris; at Paris’ three-star Alain Ducasse; and the three-star Restaurant Bruneau in Brussels – alongside one of the world’s most innovative chefs: Jean-Pierre Bruneau.

“Jakob de Neergaard has a special veneration and a huge talent for classic French cuisine,” says Lucas Johansson, General Manager of Hotel d’Angleterre. “And while Marchal will stick to its Nordic roots, we also want to integrate and emphasize the influence of French cuisine; and we are confident that Jakob will lift Marchal to an even higher level.”

Chef de Neergaard has represented Denmark as a judge at the World Championships for Chefs, won the award as “Restaurant of the Year,” and in his nine years as head chef at Denmark’s countryside Søllerød Kro, earned the restaurant its first Michelin star. He is married with two children.

“In my gastronomic life journey, I have never been prouder and more honored than to have been given the opportunity to lead Marchal forward as Head Chef,” says de Neergaard. “Marchal is one of my absolute favorite restaurants and it’s my ambition and determination to cultivate and combine the best of Nordic and French cuisine into unique and beautiful gastronomic harmony.”

When Marchal reopens in the spring, the menu will be redrawn to reflect de Neergaard’s gastronomic vision.

For more information about Marchal and the Hotel d’Angleterre, visit this website.

ABOUT HOTEL D’ANGLETERRE
Located on Copenhagen’s Kongens Nytorv (The King’s Square), Hotel d’Angleterre has long been the city’s address of choice for royalty, statesmen and the illustrious. The d’Angleterre has had an extremely colorful history, from its origins as a restaurant opened in 1755 by Jean Marchal, to its transformation into the d’Angleterre in 1795, the opening of the current building in 1875 and its rebuilding just before World War I. After a short change in ownership, The Remmen Foundation once again re-acquired and closed the storied hotel in 2011. The hotel reopened May 2013, revealing the results of massive remodeling and re-imagining: a lighter and more elegant color palette; 90 spacious rooms & suites (created from the existing 123 rooms); restaurant Marchal helmed by Michelin-rated Jacob de Neergaar; Amazing Space Scandinavian spa; and Balthazar, Denmark’s first Champagne bar.

Kaelen Felix illustration for 360 MAGAZINE pizza article

NO. 1 TAKEOUT DISH – PIZZA

According to New York Post, pizza is one of the most popular takeaway dishes searched in the world.

National Pizza Week: growth pizza restaurants comes to abrupt halt

BoldData crunches the numbers 

Next week is National Pizza Week. An entire week in honor of one of America’s all-time favorite foods. Time to crunch the numbers! The latest statistics from data specialist BoldData show that the amount of pizza restaurants in America has increased with a whopping 39.2% over the last five years. However, the growth abruptly stopped in 2020. 

Pizza party over?

Craving pizza? There are currently 90.817 pizza restaurants in The United States. An increase of 39.2% compared to 2016, in this year there were 65.213 pizza places. Especially 2017 was a good year for pizza: with an increase of 11.137 pizza joints (17.1 %). In the beginning of 2021 the USA should’ve reached the magical number of 100.000 pizza restaurants, but then COVID-19 happened… The growth of pizza restaurants came to an abrupt halt in 2020, with an increase of only 581 restaurants.  

California is the pizza place to be

When it comes to pizza, California is the place to be. The state has 8.271 pizza places, of which 2.044 are based in the Los Angeles area. New York comes in second with 7.190 restaurants, a growth of 48% compared to 2016. The biggest growth took place in Hawaii: a whopping 69%. Pizza lovers best stay away from Wyoming, the state has the lowest number of pizza joints (133). 


USA takes biggest slice worldwide

Americans love their pizza. It’s even considered America’s favorite food. Therefore it’s no surprise that the USA is home to the largest number of pizza restaurants worldwide. Italy –  where the modern pizza was originally invented – comes in second with 42.288 pizzeria’s. Brazil completes the top 3 with 32.283 pizza joints. But the USA has nothing to fear from the rest of the world. With 90.817 pizza restaurant the USA still has more pizzeria’s then the top 4 combined (88.100). Australia is number 8 on the list: with 5.598 pizza restaurants they have one of the highest number of pizza places per capita.   

About BoldData:

We are global data experts with a highly accurate database of 287+ million companies worldwide. With our data have helped 2.000+ companies with analytics, research and CRM. Our data is being used by renowned research companies such as Statista. As well by FMCG companies such as Heineken, P&G, Danone and UberEats. 

Vaughn Lowery makes pizza for 360 MAGAZINE article
Michelin chef article illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

“Top Chef” Season 18

Bravo’s “Top Chef”, produced by Magical Elves, calls Portland, Oregon home for season 18, kicking off with two weeks of supersized premieres starting on Thursday, April 1 from 8:00 – 9:15 pm ET/PT.  This season, a new batch of 15 extremely talented Executive Chefs and restaurant owners, representing a cross-section of kitchens and food around the country, vie for the coveted title bringing their unique skillsets, diversity of cuisines and gamut of flavors.  With Portland as a picturesque backdrop and culinary inspiration, the chefs compete in a variety of challenges including celebrating PDX’s Pan-African cuisine to feeding hundreds of frontline workers and crabbing on the Oregon Coast in a tribute to the culinary icon and Oregonian James Beard.  For a sneak peek, visit Bravo’s website.

The Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series returns with host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons.  For the first time ever, a collection of “Top Chef” all-star winners, finalists and favorites are joining an elite rotating judging and dining panel including Richard Blais, Carrie Baird, Nina Compton, Tiffany Derry, Gregory Gourdet, Melissa King, Kristen Kish, Edward Lee, Kwame Onwuachi, Amar Santana, Dale Talde and Brooke Williamson.   This season also includes appearances by José Andrés, Massimo Bottura, Gabriel Rucker and Alice Waters, as well as “Portlandia” stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein who stop by “Top Chef” Kitchen for a Quickfire Challenge.

Beginning Thursday, April 8, Bravo’s Emmy-Winning digital companion series “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen,” hosted by Tom Colicchio, returns for season ten as the eliminated chefs go head-to-head to try to cook their way back into the competition. Presented byBMW of North America,each week’s episode will be availableon Bravotv.com, On Demand or wherever you stream Bravo’s “Top Chef” at the conclusion of each week’s episode.

Meet the New Cheftestants:

*For more information on the cheftestants, please visit  Bravo’s website.

During a time of extreme hardship in the restaurant industry, these chefs have more on the line than ever before.  From working with foraged mushrooms and picking produce at the famous Hood River Fruit Loop to visiting the Tillamook Creamery, the chefs are tasked with cooking with Oregon’s natural bounty of ingredients.  With Padma, Tom and Gail and a table full of alums to impress, the expectations have never been higher, especially in this year’s unique Restaurant Wars where the teams must perfectly execute on a micro-restaurant concept with a cohesive seven-course tasting menu that rivals the best in the world. To stay in the game, the chefs must cook at their best while contending with a Quickfire using ingredients used on the Oregon Trail and a surf and turf elimination challenge honoring the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. While in the “City of Roses,” the judges definitely don’t hold back their thorns as they narrow it down to find this season’s “Top Chef.”

The winning chef will earn the coveted title of “Top Chef,” $250,000 furnished by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, a feature in FOOD & WINE magazine and an appearance at the annual FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen.

Last season, “Top Chef” ranked as 2020’s #1 food show across all of cable, averaging nearly 1 million P18-49 and 1.1 million P25-54.  Additionally, the season was up 42% on Video On Demand/Streaming, all told, it was viewed over 10 million times.  (Food Show: Nielsen, L7, P18-49/P25-54, FY 2020, including food programs across cable, excluding repeats. VOD/Streaming: Rentrak and Adobe Analytics, S17 vs. S16, includes STB, TVE (on+off), dMVPD, and OVD.)

“Top Chef” is produced by the Emmy Award-winning production company Magical Elves with Casey Kriley, Jo Sharon, Doneen Arquines and Hillary Olsen serving as executive producers.

About Magical Elves 

Magical Elves is a leading producer of award-winning, non-fiction content for domestic and international television markets. Known for hits like “Top Chef” (Bravo), “Nailed It!” (Netflix), “Sugar Rush” (Netflix), “Cold Justice” (Oxygen) and “Brain Games” reboot (Nat Geo), Magical Elves is a veteran production company with a long track record of consistently delivering the highest quality programming. Magical Elves is a part of The Tinopolis Group’s portfolio of production companies. For more information, visit www.magicalelves.com.

About Bravo Media

Bravo is the premier lifestyle and entertainment brand that drives cultural conversation around its high-quality, interactive original content across all platforms. The network features a diverse slate of original programming, including Emmy Award-winning “Top Chef” and “Project Runway,” fan-favorites “Vanderpump Rules,” “Below Deck,” “Southern Charm,” and the highly popular “Million Dollar Listing” and “The Real Housewives” franchises. Bravo also boasts the only live late-night talk show on television with the critically acclaimed “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” which has become a nightly destination for A-list celebrities. Bravo is part of the NBCUniversal Television and Streaming portfolio, which includes NBCU’s broadcast, cable and streaming platforms: NBC, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, SYFY, Universal Kids, USA Network and Peacock. For more information, visit BravoTV.com.

Meet the Man Behind Bronx Night Market

By Hannah DiPilato

360 Magazine recently had the opportunity to sit down with Marco Shalma, founder of Round Seven Media and MASC Hospitality Group. He is responsible for beginning a food and culture festival in New York called The Bronx Night Market. In this interview, he talks about everything from advice for young entrepreneurs to his favorite food spots in New York. 

How did you begin Round Seven Media and why did you decide to start this?

I started in 2013, which was after my education at NYU for undergrad and pursuing a master’s degree in film and tv. Marketing was my passion, and I wanted to run a campaign in a different way. I wanted to use the concept of getting people into the mix of the story and I wanted to get that into a narrative for clients in marketing. In 2013, I sold my shares in restaurant groups and I wanted to begin marketing for myself. I went around and started looking for clients in restaurant and hospitality for about 20 years, which I had experience in. With the explosion of Instagram and technology, it was the perfect time to explore marketing opportunities.

When the company started, the first thing was to go find professional people with a school of thought from film and writing. Our business is known for being a launch campaign for ideas, projects, etc. and we will build an online presence for our clients by finding the key demographic. We are focused on the launch period so our work doesn’t really go further than the six month period.

You also founded MASC Hospitality Group, what made you start another business as well?

MASC Hospitality is one of those situations that happened backward, meaning we first took on the Bronx Night Market project in 2017, which then branched out to many other events that were affiliated with the Bronx Night Market. At one point, we needed to incorporate all of these events, so we decided to create MASC Hospitality Group. If you think about it, MASC Hospitality is a company that basically creates different events while Round Seven Media is the one promoting these events. Sometime around 2018, I started taking fewer clients for Round Seven Media and started adding more of my own companies to Round Seven Media. 

What is your favorite event that MASC Hospitality Group is responsible for?

My favorite event hands down is Bronx Night Market. The Bronx Night Market is my baby, it’s a proud moment for me because it came from a vision of bringing something to the Bronx community, my community, that is a prideful event and a reason to be proud of the borrow, without needing to commute to Manhattan or Queens to experience a festival that celebrates culture, cuisine and commerce. 

We always say culture, cuisine and commerce because culture encompasses the diversity of the city with so many different flavors, cuisine because this is the grand unifier, everyone can enjoy a meal together no matter what skin tone or nationality and commerce is the idea of creating space for young entrepreneurs and small local businesses to present what they do to a large number of people and promote their business to help them move into the next stage of their success. This encompasses everything we are about, supporting small businesses, young entrepreneurship and of course, good, good food. 

Have you encountered any problems while being a business owner for these two organizations?

When you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you always encounter problems. It’s always a matter of hiring the right people, navigating through resources, financing and funding, but mostly it’s identifying and understanding the demographic. I think for me, as a serial entrepreneur, a good idea is a good idea, but you need to identify your key demographic. You need to identify what you do and who it’s for. Then, you work for months or years fine-tuning to make everything connect and basically build a community around your brand.

For example, Round Seven Media is a brand that understands the power of our way of doing business. We are known as one of the top agencies in New York to run launch campaigns for brands because we are dedicated to doing that. With something like The Bronx Night Market, it’s about identifying Bronx-based foodies and people that want to explore offerings and now they have the opportunity to do that in a place where they feel safe, secure and happy. The event is really designed for the community instead of something that could be done anywhere else. 

What do you look for in employees that you hire for your company? 

We hire on a regular basis, we continuously hire for different projects on behalf of companies. When we finish a launch campaign at Round Seven Media, we like to hire people to replace us, younger people, hungry people that can do social media for those brands. When we look at hiring, the most important thing for us at the moment is consistency and the ability to have a follow-up and a follow-through. I think those are the three very, very important elements because in today’s field of business, having consistency and bringing your A-game every time is something that is critical to the success of any business. I’ve unfortunately had to work with people that can bring 120% one day and 30% the next day. This also has a lot to do with company culture and the idea that you need to create an environment that allows people to be consistent.

Another big part is the ability to follow up and follow through. I can’t even tell you how many times you will be doing things where you need to follow up with clients and partners and sometimes it even takes up to 20 emails. Each and every opportunity for you to accomplish something or to create something if you don’t follow through, you have failed. We are also looking for employees that are super savvy with communications and social media because this is becoming a crucial part of any brand. The ability to understand how media works and how to maximize these services is important to our brand. 

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs like you once were?

If I had to give one piece of advice to young entrepreneurs, it would be to not bite off more than you can chew: focus, focus, focus. I keep seeing a lot of young entrepreneurs that I work with trying to do too much. They try to put on six or seven different hats and be the CEO of the universe at the same time. I always say, focus on the one thing, take your time, become the best in your field and then explore from there. From what I’ve seen, the ability to focus and distill your message and brand into the simplest form and show it to other people such as the investors and partners, showing your dedication to a single idea is the most valuable.

When I used to work on movies, right after grad school, one of the exercises I had that influenced me completely was an exercise of writing a logline for a feature film. You have a script of like 90 pages that you need to turn in to a 25-word logline that will explain exactly what that movie is. It’s almost an impossible mission, but once you start on this, you understand how important the focus is. I now tell people you need to understand your business so well that nothing will get in the way. That’s how you get investors and money. 

I know you’re passionate about food, what are some restaurants you would recommend to our readers?

It’s hard to talk about restaurants right now when the restaurant industry is suffering so much. Every day we see another one of my favorite restaurants closing down and the industry is struggling especially when it seems like the industry won’t open soon. I’ll tell you about food in general, as a foodie the most important thing for me is not chasing trends, but a restaurant that has a focused menu, where they know what they’re doing and they’re focused on creating the best experience with a sense of consistency. I know I probably sound like everything is driven like that, but honestly, it’s so important.

Before covid I used to go to a restaurant once a month in West Harlem that used to make the most amazing eggplant pasta, there was also a place I used to go with the most amazing salmon dish and I used to go to another place with the most amazing pad thai. That’s the best thing about living in New York, you get exposed to so much food and you’ll try a lot of trends, but at the end of the day, when you hit something that you know is going to be just as good every time you get it, it becomes the place you go for that dish.

The older I get I realize that’s the most important thing because I want to go back to the restaurant five years later and get the same food and experience. I’m hoping we’ll come out of this soon and be able to go and enjoy restaurants again. Even if you don’t like restaurants and you’re a great cook, you miss sitting down with your friends in a restaurant, eating some food, enjoying a bottle of wine and sharing a good laugh. It’s not about the food, it’s about the experience. 

Where do you see yourself going next in your career? 

At the moment we are trying to get back to normal life especially with Bronx Night Market and other events that we have. I’m working very hard to define what we can do in public spaces to help restaurants and other brick and mortar restaurants come back to life.

At the moment, I’m really dedicating a lot of my time to working with city and state agencies to create programming that will allow brick and mortar businesses to have more visibility as well as helping small businesses that began at home during the pandemic. I like to call these businesses “homentrepreneurs” and they will need a place for their businesses outside to get more traction in the community once the pandemic is over.

I am taking my experience within marketing and media, my ability to push forth different agendas and my ability to plan different activities to bring these skills to neighborhoods around New York and support these businesses and give a place for new entrepreneurs to grow outside of their homes. This is something I have been very excited about for a few months. 

After Covid is over, are there any events you would hope for the MASC Hospitality Group to execute?

Help New Yorkers get back to normal as soon as possible. Possibly that will be creating open-air markets and events relating to many different niches, and just to let New Yorkers come to celebrate returning to normalcy. After covid, trying to figure out with different partners how to help businesses survive the next few months and thrive as soon as we get out of this crisis. This has been a focus for us to do. We have seen way too many friends of ours close shop and disappear. 

Be sure to keep up with Marco Shalma and the Bronx Night Market on Instagram. 

photo credit foodcre8tive
Photo credit to r.ace.me
Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, Saudi Arabia (Tabuk)

Visit Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture

While Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture is not yet open to international travelers, there are a number of foodie destinations that should be on travelers’ bucket lists when travel restrictions are lifted. Below are some incredibly unique restaurants, breweries and wineries that showcase the best of Miyagi’s local cuisine.

Akiu Winery in the quiet hills of Akiu was founded in 2015 in an effort to support the prefecture’s local agriculture. The winery produces an incredible array of wines using Merlot, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris grapes that are all grown on the estate. Guests who stop by the winery can sample any of the wines, cheeses and meats, and take a tour of the winery. Japan’s whiskey industry has received global recognition over the last few years, and travelers can experience the scene first-hand at the Miyagikyo.

Miyagikyo Distillery produces Nikka Whiskey which was originally made by the “Father of Japanese Whiskey,” Masataka Taketsuru. Taketsuru founded this second Nikka distillery in 1969 at the junction of two rivers among the Sakunami Mountains. Guests can tour the facility, participate in a whiskey tasting seminar and purchase distillery-exclusive whiskies at the gift shop. There are also a small number of microbreweries in Miyagi including one at the restaurant

Naruko no Kaze serves Japanese dinner staples like ramen and curry rice along with acclaimed sake and beer that is brewed on-site. Its awarding-winning doburoku, a thick, unfiltered farmhouse-style sake, along with its beers, which are made from local ingredients such as Yukimusubi rice and yamabudo (wild mountain grapes), are a must-try for all visitors. Miyagi’s restaurant scene also highlights the best of the prefecture’s local cuisine. Travelers who find themselves in Naruko Onsen should take a short tip to Egao Shokudo, a local soba shop. The fresh vegetables and mushrooms are all foraged by the ladies who run the shop and the local community of the surrounding mountains. The hand-picked vegetables and mushrooms are also pickled and available for purchase in the store.

As Japan is well known for its seafood, no trip to Miyagi would be complete without a visit to the Koei Suisan Fish Store, a popular local store in Matsushima Bay. In addition to offering the freshest seafood available, this family-run shop farms its own oysters. During oyster season (mid-October to mid-March), guests can savor yakigaki (grilled oysters) and raw oysters for dine-in or take-out.

Miyagi also has an incredible array of sakes distributed in the United States for people to try while dreaming of these foodie destinations. With more than 350 years under its belt, Uchigasaki Brewery is the oldest sake brewery in Miyagi Prefecture. Just north of the capital city Sendai, the brewery was founded in 1661 when its hometown Tomiya City became a popular post town along the Oshu Highway during the Edo period.

Another local favorite, Katsuyama has been making sake in Miyagi Prefecture since 1688. This brewery offers a wide variety of crystal-clear sakes to choose from, appealing to every palette. Founded in 1724, the Urakasumi Sake Brewery has been family-run for thirteen generations. Since then, the brewery has been providing the sacred sake for Shiogama Shrine, a 1,200 year-old Shinto shrine and one of the largest and most beloved shrines in Miyagi.

Newer but no less reputable, Ichinokura Brewery was founded in 1973 after four local breweries joined forces to create a very special sake made completely by hand.

For more information on Miyagi, please visit http://www.visitmiyagi.com

travel, 360 MAGAZINE

What are the best places to travel to on your own?

Travel is one of the best things that you can do to broaden your mind, experience new cultures, and have lots of fun. Many people, though, do not have friends to head off with, which makes traveling on your own a must. Before you go, you have to plan appropriately to get the most from any trip. If you chose to head to New Jersey on a break, it would be wise to look at sites, including the Tropicana Online Casino, so you had something fun to do in your hotel room during chill time. The same is true for other destinations within the USA or around the world. Looking at what the nightlife is like, what sights there are to see, and what there is to do in the day is sensible. 

Of course, before you delve into the finer details of any resort or city, you need to pick the right place first. That is often a little trickier for solo travelers who have a slightly different set of priorities than those holidaying in a group. But which are the best destinations for solo travel around the world?

Cannes

Beautiful Cannes is in the South of France on the fabled Cote D’Azur. However, like most other destinations around the world, it has been hit by COVID-19 lockdown measures recently, Cannes plans to revive tourism soon. But what makes this place so great? First of all, the weather is superb during the summer months, and this makes it perfect for relaxing on the gorgeous beaches there while doing some people watching. 

The café culture is also evident, so you will feel very comfortable when sipping a latte alone while watching the world go by. Cannes is also a very safe and welcoming destination, which makes it ideal for solo travelers. With a buzzing atmosphere and many other single travelers around, it is a fabulous place to holiday on your own. 

Stockholm

If you fancy heading somewhere where Scandi cool is in full effect, Stockholm in Sweden is a reliable choice. Stockholm just has an air of laid-back charm that allows you to slow down and recharge your batteries. The city that you access via a series of bridges is spread across 14 islands, which makes it simple to get around.

It is also full of lovely parks and stunning architecture to marvel at while having plenty to keep you occupied. If you need help getting around, there is a fun guided Vespa Tour you can take. If you are a real foodie, there are numerous Michelin-starred restaurants around the city where you could dine alone in true style. With a friendly and cozy feel, this is a real gem for solo travel. 

New York 

You might not immediately think of New York as a solo travel hot-spot, but it is. With so much to do and so many people around, you never actually feel isolated. New Yorkers are famous for their particular charm, and this means you will always find a friendly face in cafés, bars, or shops. If you want a city that will also keep you busy, the Big Apple is it.  

The shopping here is excellent (especially Fifth Avenue), and it gives you every chance to pick up cool souvenirs to bring home. Also, New York has many fabulous sights to see – from lovely Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum. If you fancy a change from dining and drinking each night, why not check out the best plays on Broadway? 

Dominica 

One surprising choice for any single traveler may be the Caribbean – after all, it is known as a honeymoon spot or a cruise destination. Dominica is a little different, though, and is somewhere that feels perfect for traveling alone. If you like an adventure when away, it is a great choice. The island has lakes to trek alongside and massive gorges to cave through. The wildlife here is naturally fantastic, and there is also some excellent accommodation for a reasonable price. You will always feel safe here, thanks to the welcoming local community, and it is an island that is very easy to walk around. With delicious local food and some charming bars to enjoy a shot of rum at, Dominica is a real hidden gem. 

Solo travel spots are worth researching first

No doubt, checking out the best places to go alone before booking any trip is worthwhile. Doing so will ensure that you end up in a place where there is plenty to do, and that makes you feel comfortable being there as a single person. Hopefully the above has given you some fresh ideas on the most exciting places to try. 

Lokal Eatery and Bar, Jersey City, Vaughn Lowery, 360 MAGAZINE

Clean Eating Tips for a Fresh Start This Year

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to adopt a cleaner, healthier diet, you should start with small changes. You don’t get to erase a lifetime worth of bad eating choices overnight so here are some tips that will make the transition smoother and will help you maintain a healthier, more balanced lifestyle from now on. 

Make cooking a social activity 

One of the main reasons why people cannot stick to a diet is because their closest friends or family members are not supportive enough. So, what better way to preach a cleaner diet if not by making cooking a social activity? 

Host a cooking party every week and ask your friends to join the fun. Friday night or Saturday evening is perfect for trying out new recipes, playing with ingredients in the kitchen, and having fun with your besties. Replace the boring barbeques and fried chicken with grilled fish and veggies and swap beer for a fancy glass of wine. 

Drink more water 

As you age, you might not feel thirsty as often as you did before but this doesn’t mean you should forget drinking water. On the contrary, staying hydrated is the first step to eliminate toxins from your body and adopt a cleaner diet. 

If you’re not exactly a fan of drinking those 17 fluid ounces of water daily, you can opt for other liquids. Light soups, unsweetened tea, and lemonade are also great choices that will quench your thirst and keep you hydrated at the same time, without having to worry about calories. 

Plan your meals 

Another easy trick to stick to your healthy diet choices is to go grocery shopping every week or every 4-5 days and plan your meals. Make a list of the dishes you want to prepare in the upcoming week and stick to the ingredients from your shopping list. Or if you’re a busy body, try one of many popular meal subscription kits available here.

Lean meat like chicken, turkey, and fish (rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that are vital for your health) can be kept frozen for a longer time while fresh fruits and vegetables should be eaten 1-3 days after you bought them. Go to your nearest farmer’s market once a week and pick up fresh, organic ingredients instead of buying them from regular supermarkets. This way, you will support local agriculture and stick to your clean eating habits easier. 

Make your own seasoning mixes 

Part of a healthy diet means to watch your sodium intake, which means you should cut on the salt as much as you can. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to season your foods to taste delicious without adding salt. 

Make your own fresh mix of herbs and spices by mixing Himalaya pink salt or sea salt (healthier choices than regular refined salt) with cayenne pepper, rosemary, basil, oregano, sage, and a few chili flakes.

Grill and stir fry instead of deep-fry 

Whether you’re from the South or not, few people can resist deep-fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, deep-fried foods are less nutritious and rich in bad fats which will cause you a lot of health problems, including gaining weight in the long term. 

Healthier options for cooking your food include stir-frying, grilling, and steaming. A slow cooker is a great choice for those committed to changing their diets while grilling is perfect for a weekend afternoon spent with your friends and family. No matter your choice, you should also consider healthy ingredients such as more veggies and lean meat instead of your regular beef and pork. 

Watch your sweet tooth 

Caving into your culinary temptations is only natural and you shouldn’t be worried about it if it just happens occasionally. You can treat yourself with a cheat day every two weeks but you have to watch your processed sugar intake. 

Eating too much sugar will not only make you hyperactive but is also dangerous for your blood, arteries, skin, and teeth. So, unless you want to check some reviews of denture adhesives before term and avoid cavities, replace your usual sweets with raw-vegan recipes or a simple carrot cake.  

101 Best Restaurants

On Monday, Dec. 9, the Los Angeles Times will publish its annual list of 101 Best Restaurants, premiering on latimes.com that evening and in a premium print edition to be delivered to Times Sunday subscribers on Dec. 15.

This year, for the seventh edition of the list originated by the late great Jonathan Gold, Times restaurant critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega have chosen the restaurants and written all of the reviews. (See their essay on this year’s list here.) And in honor of the restaurants that have earned coveted spots on the list, The Times Food staff will host a launch party on Dec. 9, with 30 celebrated chefs serving-up small plates.