May 27, 2009

A Beautiful Review Of Mariel Hemingway's Book From Herald de Paris

Word has spread and the book (in which Food Fanatics developed the recipes and styled the food) Mariel’s Kitchen: Simple Ingredients for a Delicious and Satisfying Life is an international hit. We were compelled to share this very lovely review. The following are a few excerpts. Enjoy!

MARIEL’S KITCHEN: A Moveable Feast? We’re not THAT corny, but yes.
By Jes Alexander on May 23, 2009

I do not use recipes. Most of the time, I find them to be unnecessarily complicated affairs. Besides, after spending years as a designer, my need to create things prevents me from taking my cues from anyone else. Arrogance, you see, is the first thing they teach you in architecture school.

However, Mariel Hemingway’s new effort, Mariel’s Kitchen: Simple Ingredients for a Delicious and Satisfying Life, was different. I admit, I was attracted to her previous title, Healthy Living From The Inside Out, out of pure curiosity - and not of the gastric variety.

What I am most captivated by in this title is that Mariel’s Kitchen is not just a collection of recipes. Mariel takes time at the onset to explain the why’s of her food and ingredient choices. With that said, it might be unconscionable to review a “lifestyle cookbook” like this without trying a few of the recipes, myself. Indeed, to better understand Mariel’s cooking methodology and culinary pallette, I suppressed my architect’s ego and followed a few of the recipe’s, as directed.

Humbled and full, with the button relaxed on my favorite white linen shorts, I was pleasantly surprised.

I had to start with blueberry pancakes. Blueberries, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and egg whites made perfect sense. But, Mariel makes her blueberry pancakes with coconut oil and mascarpone cheese. Brilliant. From now on, I shall, too. In fact, I know a certain major league pitcher - a pancake aficionado - who might be a regular at my breakfast table if I started making these often. The coconut oil adds a nutty sweetness to the batter, and the mascarpone adds a buttery smoothness.

At my house, we eat a lot of greens. A family favorite is a chopped and shaken version of the iconic French salade niçoise. The night of my Mariel’s Kitchen cooking experiments, I replaced our usual, 3-times-a-week salade niçoise with Mariel’s Every Season Salad. This simple salad was a hit. Even the jicama, which would not be eaten by my finicky brood by name alone, was praised.

My other two selections, Oven “Fried” Chicken, and Pesto Halibut with braised Fennel were equally exquisite. I love the underlying aura of the braised fennel - a flavor that sits below the pesto topping, and just above the flavor of the tender halibut like a gentle surprise. I did not try the chicken because I am, oddly, allergic to poultry, but judging by the lack of anything to refrigerate for the following day, I would say it was a hit.

Mariel’s Kitchen: Simple Ingredients for a Delicious and Satisfying Life is my new go-to cookbook. More to the point, I have never relied on any cookbook for my culinary ideas. This one, however, I shall use without reserve.

Click here to read the review in its entirety.

May 21, 2009

We Are Huge In Thailand

We had our most international food styling workshop and masters class yet this past January. As well as students from all over the US, there were people from Mexico, Costa Rica, Austria, United Arab Emirates, and Thailand.

Saengprateep Kaewsakorn (she told us we could call her Aaye), a lovely and talented young lady from Bangkok, wrote an article for the Thai magazine Health & Cuisine. She also took the photos that appear in the article. Aaye is a stylist for the magazine and her work is wonderful. We are so glad we got to meet her!

These workshops are simultaneously inspiring and exhausting. Because so many of our students are international, they often hang with us all week. I honestly expected to see them for breakfast with my husband.

They came to the house for lunch, cooked, partied together...when they all left it was like the circus leaving town.

Nicest people from all over the world and a great reminder to have fun while working.

Food Fanatics needs to buy a motel or old barracks for the students!

Photo of Aaye Courtesy of Kim Hudson

May 19, 2009

Denise And Cat Cora Makes A Divine Day

Last Friday I had the great pleasure of working with Cat Cora, the only female Iron Chef. She's a total pro and a wonderful chef.

Many of you know that I have loved being a culinary producer. Running the backstage kitchen, propping a set, keeping the budget, styling the beauty shots -all in a days work for me. Unfortunately, the industry of cooking shows has changed.

When I started out, on PBS, working with the likes of Martin Yan, Julia Child and later Joanne Weir, it was a simple effort of showcasing talented chefs. The object of the program was to teach people to cook. Inform the public, help the audience, make a difference to people about their food choices. Expand their horizons. Teach the audience something of value.

Then came The Food Network. Is it all their fault? Well, most of it. They brought us Sandra Lee. I just expected my computer to burst into flames. It's never good to call the " Devil." So many cooking shows have evolved into "stick" women that wear push-up bras and try to entertain me with their food. Or how they lick it. When I hear about how pretty they are and it's compared to food porn - I'm horrified. The Food Network's growing demographic is 17 year-olds to 35 year-olds. I call them the "boner and bony" audience. They prove that sex sells food. Never mind that it doesn't TASTE GOOD.

So last Friday I went back to my roots for a Lifetime TV show. Cat Cora was taping a 6 minute segment. Here was this little, talented dynamo with five guests! Do you know how hard it is for talent to work with five guests?! Simultaneously cooking, talking, laughing AND teaching. I love her. She reminded me of the greats I have worked with. She restored my faith. And not a push-up bra in sight.

Photography: Jenny Park

We Adore Amelia Saltsman

If you live in Southern California, Amelia Saltsman needs no introduction. As an author, presenter, teacher, food stylist, radio personality, television host and friend, she epitomizes the best of the food world: talent matched with intelligence and a true reverence and respect for food. We like to call her a food advocate.

We highly recommend owning her book, The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, because it not only teaches a man to fish, it teaches that man how to make a fish taste so good he slaps his mama.

This foreword by Deborah Madison explains it best:

"Amelia's book is really three volumes in one: gleanings from the culture of farming; a guide to produce, meats, and cheeses found at this extraordinary market; and a great cookbook."

If you've ever gone to a farmers' market and been completely overwhelmed and intimidated (insert blog mistress Mandy here), this book will be a liberating experience. She keeps it simple as she reintroduces and ultimately reunites farmers' and consumers, which is absolutely how it should be.

We applaud her work and we are all the hungrier for it.

May 12, 2009

Mariel Hemingway's New Book, And We Helped!

One of our recent projects we are most proud of is Mariel Hemingway's new book, "Mariel's Kitchen: Simple Ingredients For A Delicious And Satisfying Life". Click here to learn more and git you one! If you order from her site, you will receive lots of free goodies. Mariel is on a mad book tour this week and is also a lovely and devoted Twitterwoman.

We developed the recipes and styled the food for this book and became great friends with Mariel. Yes, she is that beautiful and yes, she is that kind and refreshingly real. We're big fans and we don't even hate her because she's perfect. The recipes are very good and our blog mistress Mandy cannot stop baking Blisscuits. If you're into healthy, REAL food, you will not be disappointed.

May 11, 2009

Denise Talks Weddings With The Saucy Sisters

Denise dishes about second weddings and doing it your way with the Saucy Sisters. Love is in the air!

Check it.

If you're curious about the Sisters, please indulge said curiosity. We encourage it.

May 8, 2009

Denise Has Sparkly Ideas

Nancy Kalish, prestigious journalist, author and dear friend of Food Fanatics asked Denise to lend her expertise to answer queries on entertaining, gifting and making holidays extra special.

If you're curious...

Fabulous Food Baskets

Hors D'Oeuvres Dinner

My Skinny Valentine

May 7, 2009

The Magic Bullet

We wanted to share the sheer volume of food it requires to style a successful shoot. Today our client's were the good folks at the Magic Bullet, and the Bullet's culinary possibilities are pretty much endless, as was our shopping list (see the Wall 'O Food in the following post). Here's just a smattering of what we prepped and lugged and styled and spritzed in a garage:

Bean Dip
Corn chips
Potato chips
Carrot cake
Tuna salad sandwiches
Chicken salad sandwiches
Chocolate mousse (see the decadence below)
Chicken wings
Garlic bread
Macaroni and cheese
Snow cones (see the carnage below)

A stylist loves her Cool Whip. It never breaks (unless you're in Singapore; there, you must improvise)

Food Fanatics tip: to keep the bees and wasps at bay when you are working with food out of doors, spray directly with Windex. Easy breezy.

Michael's gorgeous chocolate mousse to be. Mix one giant baggie of canned chocolate pudding with one tub of Cool Whip and combine in a large metal tray. Lick your fingers a lot and voila! Love the pinky finger placement, Michael. Very graceful pudding pour.

Making snow cones for camera at 4:30pm in a garage in North Hollywood in May= hot. It was all hands on cones and just a little bit of cursing. They got the shot and it was "all good".

Denise's quote of the day, "babies don't eat broccoli". Details available upon request.

Another Food Fantics First (AKA Triple F): A Tower Of Food In The Valley And It Was 95 Degrees

Okay, we didn't actually build it. We provided the plates, the placement, the styling and most importantly, the food. Here's what we saw as the prototype at 7:30am. Deep breaths all around.

Denise thought the best approach would be to fill all plates for said "human grater, people shredder, tower of Babylon, wall 'o food...".

There is our little Ms. Cindie, our billy goat, who spent all afternoon climbing, placing, garnishing and sprucing. Denise thinks a platter of chicken wings is perfect for row 5, 3rd from the left.

Cameras in. We made them hungry.

The finished look was quite striking and worth all the sweat, sweat and sweat. All in a day's work.