Cannes You Taste It?

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that celebrates the most amazing marketing campaigns from around the globe. As part of a Ketchum creative crew sent to soak it all in and report back the best creative morsels to colleagues and clients, I traveled to France hungry for some new inspiration.

What I actually found was that some of the most beautiful examples of creativity were not formally competing. Instead, they were found in the window displays and on the dessert menus of the best the French Riviera had to offer. Here are my top three favorite purveyors of works of edible art that I was lucky enough to experience:

Chocolate treasure boxes, Jean Luc Pele.

Stop #1 – Jean Luc Pele, a local chocolatier, designs the most beautiful chocolate creations I have ever seen. From the treasure chests filled with tiny delicacies to the macaron towers constructed with every flavor in the rainbow to the flowing chocolate fountain wall, there is no way a passer-by could resist. Each day, I allowed myself two macarons, coercing myself to choose one from their sweet collection and one from the salted collection. Caramel with sea salt is all you need to know, period. Check out the gorgeous menu items at [Read more…]

“I’ll have the calf’s head, please,” said my son.

There comes a time in every parent’s life, I suppose, when you see a glimpse of how you have helped shape an emerging adult. Such a moment happened to me last Wednesday night during a vacation with my twin teenage sons at a bistro in Paris. In celebration of some big milestones in my life, I decided a very special trip was in order. Ryan and Joe accompanied me to London and Paris, so I could have the extreme pleasure of expanding their horizons, while treating myself at the same time. A perfect combination.

Springtime in Paris.

Springtime in Paris.

[Read more…]

Going Green in Frankfurt

One of the most delightful surprises of my recent trip to Europe was the city of Frankfurt, a crossroads of culture, architecture and amazing food.

Schriber-Heynes Proletariat, Frankfurt

Schriber-Heynes Proletariat, Frankfurt

Natalie Haut, my host from Ketchum’s Frankfurt office, treated me to the incomparable experience of eating at one of Frankfurt’s famed apfelwein (apple wine) restaurants, Schreiber-Heynes Proletariat. We sat at a long, scarred wooden table, which probably dated back to the 1870s when the restaurant first opened, and had jugs of apfelwein with delicious, coarse German bread.

[Read more…]

Dining in Sochi? An Insider’s Advice on Five-Ring Restaurants.

It took Sochi just a little more than five intense years to turn from a post-Soviet seaside resort with a rather confined local cuisine into a world-class fusion gourmet spot. The Olympic dream fueled the transition, motivating restaurateurs to showcase the bounty of the region and experiment with local Caucasian herbs and spices in the Olympic mode of mixing cultures in a positive environment. For years the Greater Sochi area has been a melting pot of cultures and nationalities blending Greeks,  Armenians, Abkhaz, and Georgians. In the spirit of the winter Games, the chefs have added an Alpine flair to their cuisine. As a result, Sochi’s restaurant scene is hot enough to attract every athlete, coach, fan, or loving mom who came to Sochi to see her child win a medal against all odds.

Sanki Sliding Center, Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi. Source: Reuters Fabrizio

Sanki Sliding Center, Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi. Source: Reuters Fabrizio

In the last seven years Sochi went through a major urban transformation. And right now it is a welcoming Olympic hub. From the local market to the cozy tavern, one can just taste it. Here Olympic Rings might well compete with Michelin Stars. As a proud Russian, I share with you the following list of some of the hottest Sochi dining hot spots.

[Read more…]

Dakar, Senegal’s First Restaurant Week Is Worth Checking Out

Restaurant weeks have been a part of foodie culture for as long as anyone can remember. Even so, these highly anticipated annual events are generally only thought of as something that happens in the world’s more well-known food-centric cities: New York, London, San Francisco, Paris…

The truth is, there are food lovers everywhere. Afua Hirsch wrote for The Guardian about foodies in Ghana, and this week, Senegal joined the ranks of foodie cities with the first ever Dakar Restaurant Week.

Dakar Restaurant Week founders Shruti Dhanda (l) and Diarra Gueye, hard at work

Dakar Restaurant Week founders Shruti Dhanda (l) and Diarra Gueye, hard at work

Dakar Restaurant Week (DRW) founders Shruti and Diarra met during college in Minnesota, but they couldn’t have come from more diverse backgrounds. Diarra, Senegalese by birth, moved to Norway as a teenager to attend school, and Shruti is originally from India, but grew up in the Philippines. They both quit their high-flying jobs in Los Angeles and New York to follow what makes them truly happy, and much of their joy is centered around food. For Diarra, Senegalese culture is all about eating out and dressing up. “You’ll go broke,” she says, “but it’s our culture.” At the same time, Senegalese people have reservations about eating out. “Saying that you’re going to a restaurant is like saying that you’re taking a trip to Vegas. It’s seen as something that’s for the very rich,” Shruti explains, adding that DRW is a way of showing that food at high-quality restaurants is accessible for Dakar’s middle class. [Read more…]

Rediscovering the San Francisco Mission District — One Bite at a Time

If there was ever a time I thought one street, in one city, could redefine what that city stood for, it would be Valencia Street in San Francisco.  I lived just a few blocks away for many years, and Valencia was where you went to get cheap Mexican food and even cheaper drinks. After 10:00 p.m., you watched your back and your wallet. Today, just three years later, it’s one of the most thriving foodie neighborhoods in the country, with a flurry of new restaurants, artisan food and design outlets that will blow your mind.

Single origin chocolate brownie flight at Dandelion

Single origin chocolate brownie flight at Dandelion

Just last week, I embarked with my colleagues and clients on one of our special FOODive culinary immersion tours. The idea is simple. Rather than reading about the hot food trends, we take our clients into the field to experience the latest and greatest in food and design first hand. That way we are the judges of what may become the next big thing in food and beverage.

OK, so what did we see that was so unbelievably cool and delicious on Valencia Street?

[Read more…]

Eat, Pray, Love and Peace

In a recent interview, Baremboin added: "This is not an orchestra for peace. We want to play the best music and prove that we can all work together and understand each other. And just hope that the world will learn from the experience" 

I havent yet read the book (or seen the Julia Roberts movie) but was reminded of it when I read in this blog about "Conflict Kitchen" . This Pittsburgh based  take-out restaurant  only serves cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with. The food is served out of a take-out style storefront, which will rotate identities every four months to highlight another country.  Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, and discussion about the the culture, politics, and issues at stake with each country they focus on.


Its first iteration is called Kubideh Kitchen and  serves kubideh in freshly baked barbari bread with onion, mint, and basil. Developed in collaboration with members of the Pittsburgh Iranian community, the sandwich is packaged in a custom-designed wrapper that includes interviews with Iranians both in Pittsburgh and Iran on subjects ranging from Iranian food and poetry to the current political turmoil. If you bear in mind that I am a Jew and the Iranian government is openly accused of masterminding a major bombing of a Jewish community center (AMIA) in Argentina that killed more than 80 people , its hard for me to be pro-Iran. Yet I do think that love, not war, will bring peace to our world. And food may be a very good way to start. So for those of you living in Ketchum`s original hometown, go and report. And for the rest, lets eat, pray … and love.



The Club Med Effect

After our partners meeting in Dusseldorf (and a grueling feast of German food every night thanks to Kim’s efforts) I spent two days in Berlin. I had never been in the city and was curious about Checkpoint Charlie, the Wall and the art scene. Two days on the run, trying to see as much as possible. From Hamburguerbanhoff (it’s a modern art museum, not an eatery despite its name resonances!) to Ketchum Pleon office non-stop. And then, just outside my hotel, there it was. Starbucks. With its comfortable zone of vanilla (or hazelnut) lattes, its free internet connection and avoiding the hassle of wild guessing what the German description of a dish meant. With its granola yogurt and its friendly service. But most of all, its easy-ness to order and sit there, idle for a while, hearing the best jazz available. Once in a while, in every trip I take (and mind you, I am the adventurous type that will always try local restaurants, love to venture in local food markets and just point dishes by the photo to try) I do need a familiar setting. A place I know. A Club Med-like setting. For many, it is the McD or Burger King in town. In my case, wherever available, it’s probably Starbucks.

Menu Innovations with Potatoes at CIA

The Food B2B team just returned from Culinary Institute of America, managing the U.S. Potato Board’s sixth annual “Menu Innovations with Potatoes” seminar. Chef Bill Briwa, our CIA instructor, and special guest chef Cindy Pawlcyn worked with fourteen chefs from some of America’s top restaurant chains on creating a new generation of potato menu items.  Cindy is one of Napa Valley’s best-known cookbook authors and restaurateurs with three different concepts: Mustard’s Grill, Go Fish! and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, where the team enjoyed a terrific dinner.
The seminar focused on Mediterranean flavors and foods. With no rules or guidelines, this highly creative group of chefs turned out some outstanding and delicious dishes. Highlights included a potato noodle salad—yes, with a fine julienne potatoes can look just like noodles;  a chilled potato leek smoothie with truffle potatoes, topped with potato whipped cream and accompanied by the first ever jalapeno-almond-potato-praline, which was incredibly delicious.
My prize for the most innovative dish goes to the team that created a deconstructed Pork Osobucco with a hollowed-out potato serving as the bone (see photo). It was stuffed with a potato-lentil “marrow” and topped with a crispy potato-watercress chip.
Sweet idea of the seminar: Cinnamon gaufrettes (or cinnamon-coated potato chips—yum!)

Haute Street Eats




Clockwise: Lamb Pastis, Curry Frog Legs, Tomato Fig Salad, Far West Funghi

At precisely 11:11am each day, we hear the cheerful chirp of the taco truck bombing down Broadway, announcing its presence in the hood. Taco trucks are getting a makeover it seems. Roving street eats from creme brulee to cookies to cubanos are fighting for the foodservice dollar, bringing the tastiest to bites to you with little to no overhead. The Culinary Institute of America’s World’s of Flavors Conference this fall is entirely focused on Street Foods reminding us that this is not a passing fad.

I had the pleasure of patronizing one of San Francisco’s poshest rolling feasts, Spencer on the Go Laurent Kategly’s extension of his brick and mortar upscale French Eatery, Chez Spencer. Wednesday through Saturday it is parked on 7th and Folsom conveniently situated across the street from a new Frenchie wine bar, Terroir. What a genius way to build your wine bar traffic: Get the hottest french food truck to sit right aside your door, and allow guests to enjoy their eats inside along with one of your not-so-budget friendly wines.  Yes, I managed to slurp down a $23 glass of insane Pinot Noir, but hey, we were celebrating. The ambiance of the wine bar, along with the French eats was just as good as any great night out, and I did not miss the wait staff one bit. If this is a down economy’s answer to fine dining, I’m in!