Really Cooking Now: Mark Bittman on Food Politics, the Importance of Cooking, and His New Book

Categories: Chatting With

©Fred Conrad -- The New York Times
If you dabble even casually in the food world, you likely need no introduction to Mark Bittman, the New York Times op-ed columnist who covers both cooking and food policy -- he's one of the best-known and most prolific food writers of our time. He landed his first regular gig with the Gray Lady when he was asked to write a cooking column called "The Minimalist" in the mid-'90s; he now contributes recipes to the Times magazine, and he's published a raft of cookbooks, including the How to Cook Everything series. A few years ago, fueled by a desire to write about food in a deeper way, he also picked up a spot tackling the political ramifications of how we eat, discussing everything from childhood obesity to global warming to the farm bill.

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Scale Ale: How a Home-Brew Hobby Launched Third Rail Beer

Third Rail Beer
Third Rail founders Larry Koestler, left; Loren Taylor-Raymond, and Kaitlyn Haubrich
New York City is not exactly a friendly place to launch a brewery. Space that's large enough to hold equipment is scarce, and what exists is expensive. But for Larry Koestler, Loren Taylor-Raymond, and Kaitlyn Haubrich, opening elsewhere was not an option -- all three of them were born and raised in New York City, and they wanted to sell their beer in their hometown.

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Why Bartender Joaquín Simó Still Loves Working a 12-Hour Shift Behind the Bar

Bartender Joaquin Simo

Bartender Joaquín Simó received his first lesson in hospitality as a teenager while working as a parish secretary at his church. "The very first thing that Father Gerrardo taught me was not how to answer the phone or where the CCD registration forms were, but rather, how to prepare Cuban coffee for a parishioner if they accepted my offer to come inside," he explains. Since then, Simó has upheld a "customer comes first" mentality in every role he has taken on -- from opening shop at Death & Company to becoming a partner in both national beverage consulting group Alchemy Consulting and in East Village cocktail den Pouring Ribbons (225 Avenue B, 917-656-6788). "You can't say, 'I'm doing the mixology thing now, I'll get to the customer service later,' " he says. Here, we spoke with Simó about the beauty of a Cartesian plane, the satisfaction that comes with serving up a proper daiquiri, and why he wants his staff to read the sports page -- every darn day.

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How Mike Hauke's Tony Boloney's Thrives in Troubled Atlantic City and Hoboken

Categories: Chatting With

All photos by Adam Robb
Mike Hauke inside the original Tony Boloney's in Atlantic City.

More than a dozen successful restaurants -- including Marc Forgione's American Cut, four Jose Garces concepts, and the House of Blues -- shuttered on the Atlantic City boardwalk last weekend as Revel and Showboat casinos closed their doors. But, in their shadow, Tony Boloney's has only thrived over the last five years, drawing casino employees, construction crews, and savvy tourists to his beach shack-like BYO pizzeria on an undeveloped stretch of Oriental Avenue, where he serves a Shopsin's-sized menu of eclectic subs, pies smothered with toppings like fried chicken and waffles, and truffle-buttered Brussels sprouts.

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The Skylark's Johnny Swet on Why Ice Is More Than a Chilling Tool

The Fort Knox

It was art that brought The Skylark's (200 West 39th Street, 212-257-4577) consulting mixologist Johnny Swet to New York, but it was the bar scene that kept him here. Upon discovering his affinity for oil painting at Arizona State, Swet headed to New York to pursue his passion while maintaining the menagerie of bill-paying restaurant roles he had solidified out west. Where his eye for aesthetics led, his behind-the-bar talents followed -- from The Bowery Bar to Balthazar, and from Pastis to Freemans. When he's not curating the décor at top nightlife destinations (he's outfitted Miami's Marlin Hotel and Rex Restaurant), he's creating the cocktail lists at them, including Rogue & Canon, JIMMY, The Elm at King & Grove, and, most recently, The Skylark. Here, we chatted with Swet about his favorite at-work acronym, his flavorful approach to ice, and why his cocktails benefit from his time in the kitchen.

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A Revised Recipe: Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya's Chocolate Bruno

Steve Hill

Leave it to proud grandmothers to pass down recipes through generations; leave it to chefs to pass them down through menus. Eric and Bruce Bromberg take the latter approach with Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya's (187 Orchard Street, 212-466-0404) Chocolate Bruno, a dense chocolate mousse they first encountered when training with chef Bruno Hess from Le Recamier in Paris.

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Why The Ship's Cervantes Ramirez Puts Service Before Mixology


It was his post-chain-bookstore-shift ritual that led The Ship's (158 Lafayette Street, 212-219-8496) bartender Cervantes Ramirez to the bar industry when he moved to New York from Santo Domingo. "I was a regular at Von, and the staff invited me to join as a bar back," he explains. "From there, I worked my way up to be a bartender." Ramirez quickly climbed the ranks at a handful of the city's top cocktail joints, including Milk & Honey, Little Branch, Freeman's, PDT, Silver Lining, and Cafe Select. In June, he helped open The Ship, a neighborhood bar in Soho that offers approachable takes on classics with a subtle nod to nautical components (think Island Old Fashioned with aged rum, velvet falernum, and cane syrup). Here, we chatted with Ramirez about why glassware matters, why ego doesn't, and why you'll see him smiling behind the bar -- a lot.

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In Season: Brown Sugar Corn Cake at the Gander

The Gander's brown-sugar corn cake
We couldn't have our cake and eat it, too -- until we learned that Christina Lee, the pastry chef at the Gander's (15 West 18th Street, 212-229-9500), was putting vegetables in hers.

Summer was on the mind when Lee conceived of the brown-sugar corn cake, with plum, lemon verbena, sesame flax pecans, and ginger. "With summer comes fresh sweet corn, and delicious cornbread," Lee says. "I wanted to make a version of this, but something more moist and sweet."

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Employees Only's Steve Schneider: Why It's Important to Take Pride in What You Do

Photos courtesy Employees Only
For Employees Only (510 Hudson Street, 212-242-3021) bartender Steve Schneider, pouring drinks began as a side gig. The New Jersey native joined the U.S. Marines after high school, but when an injury put a halt to his military career, he revisited the bar with the same purpose and orderliness that his infantry days had instilled in him. "I have a responsibility to show up and try my best to be a good employee from open until close, because the man next to me is doing the same thing," he says. "It's all about discipline."

If you don't catch Schneider behind the bar of the West Village cocktail haunt, head to your local video store (or, uh, video streaming site) -- 12 years of dedicated service earned him a leading role in last year's Hey Bartender, director Douglas Tirola's documentary surrounding the ins and outs of the modern barkeep industry. Here, Schneider discusses his approach behind the bar, where he finds inspiration, and what he has learned about himself -- and others -- while slinging spirits.

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Meet the Ladies Behind the Boozy Prohibition Bakery

Oysters and Champagne, tacos and tequila, port and cheese -- when it comes to food and drink, some pairings are unbeatable. When Prohibition Bakery (9 Clinton Street, 646-596-8294) owners Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem opened doors to their Lower East Side brick and mortar in June of 2011, they added their own contribution to this list: cupcakes and booze. "Leslie and I never had a grand plan to open up a boozy cupcake shop," Siem explains. "We just started baking and drinking in my apartment to pass the time, and it grew organically from there."

Here, the duo chats about how the Cosmo started it all, whaand how they "respect the booze," and what they're pouring themselves mid-bake shift.

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