Date Archives September 2015

These Pour Souls pairs cocktails and creativity

Steering the site toward a food and drinks from a design angle, I set up a simple rule: don’t post restaurant reviews or recipes. I’m skirting close to my rules by writing about a site I recently came across called These Pour Souls. The Idaho based site shares drink recipes that are exemplified by some absolutely stunning photos, such as the Blue Moon you see above. Cocktails seem to be posted about a once a week so I’d recommend you follow them on Instagram to keep updated.

Link Harvest

1/ For a while now I’ve believed that a restaurant that focused on vegetables (with no labels like “vegan”) would be amazing. It looks like Alain Passard’s L’Arpège in Paris is proving me right with they incredible veggie-centric meals including their famous 14-course Garden Menu.

2/ Lucky Peach contributor Lucas Peterson has discovered the REAL McDonald’s secret menu and the truth will shock you.

3/ The human race has achieved it’s ultimate accomplishment: send whisky to space. After it’s long journey the blend now tastes like “antiseptic smoke, rubber, smoked fish and a curious, perfumed note,” which not everyone is a fan of.

4/ Looking for an offbeat place to get a drink in London? AnOther magazine has a great list of curious cocktail bars.

5/ Swedish design studio Tomorrowmachine is creating some rather innovating packaging, things like packaging that has a short shelf life (thus it’s easier to compost) or a compressed soup bowl that expands when you fill it with hot water.

6/ A Portugese startup has created an Internet-enabled tool which allows beekeepers to keep track of their bees remotely.

Pablo & Rusty’s coffee branding by Manual

I love a good coffee branding project and the folks at Manual have continued to impress with their work for Sydney based coffee roasters, Pablo & Rusty’s. What I always find impressive is the breadth of the work as Manual has put their stamp on nearly aspect of the business, not just some business cards or a cup design.

We began by taking inspiration from the core of their business—the humble coffee sacks and stencil typography often found printed on them—and reinterpreted this as modern, sophisticated custom-drawn logotype. In our research we discovered that many of their customers and staff referred to them as ‘P&R’ for short, so we recommended building on that brand recognition and created a monogram that would work at small sizes. This duality in naming and branding provided the backbone for all print, packaging, and retail design elements.

Link Harvest

1/ LA based NotNeutral has teamed up with NY’s Cooper Hewitt museum for a collection of tabletop pieces decorated in a bevy of beautiful patterns. I bought the Amsel tray while in Palm Springs and am loving it.

2/ Flynn McGarry is a 16 year old chef who the restaurant world loves to hate. He recently spoke to NY Mag about all the haterade being served, stating, “Yes, people have worked really hard and have had really shitty lives. But why does that struggle have to be the norm? Why is it that having a terrible life, missing all of your family events, being treated like shit for ten years — why is that the mark of being a chef? It just makes you bitter.” Good for you kid, fuck ’em.

3/ If lattes are no longer doing it for you it might be time to take it up a notch with “nitro coffee”. Essentially it’s injecting nitrogen into the coffee which gives it a smooth, creamy taste and fizzy beer-esque look. Eater has a great rundown on the new trend.

4/ I’m pretty excited for the next season of Mind of a Chef featuring Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of Prune in NY. The season will have a different tone as Hamilton wrote every episode, trying to capture the not so glamorous life of a chef, which means she won’t be “sitting around blow torching the boule.”

5/ Manual labor is starting to dwindle around certain crops, think asparagus or sweet cherries, that are difficult to pick. That’s where the robots come in.

Inspiration from Jen Agg, owner of The Black Hoof, and thoughts on a future in food

In the next 10 years I plan on opening a restaurant somewhere in the world. I’ve had this thought in my head for a while but I know that right now isn’t the right time. I love being a creative director at Disney–I have an amazing team, a supportive boss, a crazy amount of exciting projects in the pipeline–and it would be dumb to walk away from such a transformative time. In the meantime though I’m planning what that next thing will be, my mid-life crisis/masterpiece.

I’m writing all of this because I’m feeling particularly inspired by a recent interview with Jen Agg, the owner of The Black Hoof, speaking with the Eater Upsell. I first came across Jen and the Black Hoof when she wrote one of my favorite essays, titled, Vodka Is Stupid, which is expensive, flavorless and not worth drinking.

Now what I love about Jen is her thoughts on being a restauranteur, especially being a person who’s not a chef, and the real challenges associated.

Yeah, it’s really interesting. I think it’s very hard to manage people. I was just talking to someone last night about this and what I do. And I mean, I can open restaurants and make restaurants with one arm tied behind my back. I find it very easy, which is why I was saying earlier that if I sort of am identified at my death as a restaurateur, I will have woefully fucked up my 40s. It’s not what I want to do forever. I mean, it’s fun, I enjoy it, I love it, and I know that it’s challenging, and I know that it’s hard for a lot of people. I’m not trying to be glib about it, but I get it. I’m good at it, and I want to do other things. But managing people is the most challenging thing in the world.

It’s so difficult, and if you’re already kind of in that zone of being a chef and being a cook and so focused on that, to add being a restaurateur on top of that…Maybe Danny Meyer has done some work to change this, but I think a lot of the time the art of the restaurateur, the craft of the restaurateur, it’s very ignored. If my restaurant, The Black Hoof, had opened with brighter lights and quiet music, which was certainly still the trend in Toronto at that time — The Hoof really did change that — it would be a completely different story. And a lot of people would argue that, and a lot of “friends of cooks” would say, “Well no, if the food is good, the food is good.” And that can be true in a certain kind of restaurant, but it’s not true in a casual fine-dining restaurant. The atmosphere is hugely important, it gets very downplayed and underplayed, the role of that.

Those two paragraphs did a lot to alleviate the fears I have of opening a restaurant but not being a chef. I do know how to manage people, I have a 20 person staff, and I think I have pretty good taste and a sense of curation, another aspect that Jen touches on. She also mentions how important hiring is, finding the right staff that truly gets it.

And I don’t hire them because they don’t make sense, they’re not a fit, they don’t — they’re not it-getters. I don’t know exactly how to put my finger on it, but I’m, like, really, really careful. And as a result, almost no one quits. We’re hiring someone at The Hoof, so if you know anyone good, that would be great! We’ll move you to Toronto. It’s been three years since I had to hire someone, and I’m dreading it. ’Cause I hate having to go through that process with someone.

Having a positive, like-minded culture is so critical to success, be it a design team or the staff of a restaurant. Without that glue nothing can possibly work, or it’ll work for a while but eventually things fall apart.

If you’ve made it this far you may have noticed a serious food slant to the site. This post is an insight into that shift because it’s where my head is at, and honestly, has been at for a while. I was reluctant to shift away from design and toward food but I can honestly say that the two are inextricably entwined together for me. I have no interest in posting recipes or restaurant reviews, that’s far too mundane. There’s a fascinating intersection between the world of design and food and drinks that I feel needs to be explored more fully, one that hasn’t quite been approached in the way my brain thinks. A big thanks to Jen for giving my a sign that this is the path I need to be exploring.

Link Harvest

1/ If you know me at all you know of my love of the Blue Hawaiian, a perfect tiki drink for sipping while you sit and roast in the Palm Springs sun. Munchies has a look a the history of the drink as well as a simple recipe to convert you to the blue side.

2/ Knives are one of those things we tend to take for granted. So watching Bob Kramer make a knife, well, that’s like watching art happen. I had no idea a good knife took so many huge machines.

3/ In most cultures it’s fashionable to wear leather, so why not wear jewelry made of entrails and intestines? I know, it’s a tough sell, but you have to admit that Studio Gutedort does makes this concept very intriguing.

4/ This list of 10 bizarre, “body-based” drinks is pretty intense, consisting of drinks made with ingredients like beard yeast, stag semen, and smoked goat brains. I’ll stick to a plain ol’ Manhattan…

5/ As a solution to an invasive iguana problem, Puerto Ricans are promoting the lizards as a new type of exotic food. These little green guys “smells like fish, feels like chicken, and looks like red meat.”

6/ Vanity Fair has a behind-the-scenes look at the largest cheese fair in the U.S. 38 judges grade up to 50 cheeses a day, looking at things like well-distributed veining, cracks, and curdiness. How do I get this job?

Why drink alcohol when you can breath it instead?

Two of the most unique thinkers in food these days are the unlikely duo of Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, who together form Bompas & Parr (yes, it’s very original). They rose to fame by forming jelly into fantastic shapes like national monuments, full-blown cityscapes, crafting glow-in-the-dark drinks and a installing a green river on the roof of Selfridges.

These days their experiments are getting even more fascinating like their newest project Alcoholic Architecture.

Bompas & Parr’s Alcoholic Architecture is live in Borough Market, featuring a walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail. The installation is an alcoholic weather system for your tongue where meteorology and mixology collide against a canvas of monastic mayhem, referencing the gothic splendour of neighbouring Southwark Cathedral.

This concept is phenomenal and turns the standard convention of drinking on it’s head. The project will run until early 2016 so get there while you can.