Spice Minute: Chef Jorge Pineda, Candle 79, New York City, NY

We recently stopped by Candle 79, NYC’s “premiere vegan oasis” to chat with Chef Jorge Pineda about why he uses Frontier spices.

Here’s what the rather camera-shy chef had to say.


Candle 79 is the sister restaurant of the famous Candle Cafe.

The Candle story began in 1984 when Bart Potenza purchased a  health food store and juice bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side which had a nightly ritual of lighting candles to bless the establishment. Bart renamed his place the Healthy Candle, and was later joined by Joy Pierson, a customer and friend.

Their dedication to the vegetarian movement combined with some luck (think lottery) has allowed them to grow into one of the power teams in New York’s restaurant industry.

More on Jorge, Bart, Joy and the team at Candle Cafe.

An Adventure in California

Some of our marketers had quite the adventure on their way to product development meetings in San Francisco last week.

Follow along with them as they’re treated to some very special hospitality by one of the pioneering local/organic chefs in the Bay Area, restaurateur and cookbook author Jesse Ziff Cool. Jesse has traveled the world meeting farmers, chefs, shop keepers and families, seeking and enjoying local and sustainable foods and traditions along the way.

We met Jesse at an Expo event, and have maintained a friendship and mutual admiration ever since. We’re also fans of her cookbook, Simply Organic.

She invited our group of marketers — Kory, Brian, Clint and Brett, to visit her at her beautiful home and one of her restaurants while they were in the area.

First stop was Jesse’s beautiful home. Kory and Brian posed for a photo in front of the house. Note the CoolEatz license plate – the name of Jesse’s restaurant and catering company.

Inside, Jesse graciously treated the group to some delicious appetizers featuring our herbs and spices.

Jesse has served a colorful array of guests in her home. Her neighbors include some of the most famous names in Silicon Valley. Here, Clint and Brett decide to reenact Steve Jobs and Bill Gates’ visit to Jesse’s house, since they were sitting at the same table.

Jesse spontaneously showed off the contents of her spice drawer. Very impressive!

She then hosted a tour of the grounds, including her garden and chicken coop.

The group then moved on to one of Jesse’s restaurants, the Flea Street Café in Menlo Park. From left, Brett, Clint, Jesse and Kory.

The Flea Street Café menu features fresh organic local and seasonal foods. Menu items range from superb salads to elegant entrees.

The crab cakes – beautiful presentation and delicious, by all accounts.

Jesse truly believes that sustainable cuisine links together people, ingredients, respect for the environment and culinary traditions.

Our group certainly enjoyed her demonstration of living these principles on a daily basis.

Thanks again, Jesse!

Homemade Salad Dressings

Today’s post is from Luann Alemao, a chef and health/wellness speaker we’ve worked with over the years. Luann hosts a TV show titled Get Fit, operates several Kids Culinary Camps and offers presentations to corporations on healthy eating.

Here, Luann offers a quick tutorial on making your own simple oil and vinegar dressings. 

Oil and vinegar don’t mix. I had heard that phrase while growing up, but as I attended food and nutrition courses and did my own experimentation in the kitchen, I recognized they are compatible on the salad plate.

When making basic vinaigrette keep in mind that it’s 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

From that point, the type of oil, the kind of vinegar and the choice of seasonings or add-ins are up to you.

Here are some basics.

EVOO, Virgin, Pure or Seasoned– these are referring most of the time to olive oils in recipes. Other oils, such as soy, almond, and avocado will make great vinaigrettes too and will offer a distinction of their own originality in your vinaigrette.

You can make fine vinaigrette in just a pint jar or a salad cruet; you just need a vessel to shake up the ingredients and create an emulsifier for a short duration anyway.

So let’s get started:

1) Olive oil is the typical choice of taste and rightly so, as it has a fresh taste and natural fruitiness. My second favorite is soy oil as it is clean and light and doesn’t add an oily taste to vinaigrettes.

Light and extra light refer to the color of the oil and not the caloric content – don’t be misled. Fats do have calories and so does olive oil at 120 calories per tablespoon. Experiment with different regional oils and you will notice the differences.

2) Next is the acid or the vinegar.  Balsamic vinegar is my favorite, with its sweeter aroma and sweeter taste. It is rich in color, has undergone a special aging process and may be cured 12-25 years. Vinegar, because of its strong acidic makeup, does not require refrigeration. Other vinegars such as flavored vinegars, apple cider or rice wine vinegar are great culinary choices as well. White distilled is too harsh and best used for cleaning purposes afterward.

3) The add-ins: The combinations you can create are endless. Some dried mustard or Dijon adds a savory flavor.  Don’t forget the garlic and seasonings. Beyond the salt and pepper you can flavor with basil, Italian herbs, ginger, cilantro or tarragon.

Use the zest from limes, oranges and lemons. They add a citrusy blend that is clean and fresh.

Don’t have vinegar? A lemon will work just as well. I personally use a lemon along with the balsamic vinegar as I like the aroma and the pungent taste it offers. Make sure you use some of the zest (the outside peel) for more flavor and aroma.

Making your own salad dressing is cheaper too. It costs just pennies per tablespoon and to buy will be 4-5 times more. Save and FLAV! What more could you want?

Here are some recipes for delicious vinaigrettes:


½ cup of oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 squirt or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice from a real lemon

1 tablespoon berry preserves

2 Frontier crystallized ginger pieces

Shake in a tight container and serve over greens.



6 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon Frontier dry mustard

1-2 cloves crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of Frontier Italian Seasoning or Herbes de Provence

Fresh ground pepper

Shake in a tight container, let sit for about a ½ hour for flavors to macerate and pour over dark greens.

How do you use oils to make dressings?

Sustainable Lodging at Inn by the Sea: Cape Elizabeth, Maine

We’ve been on a little travel break from blogging! One was a personal vacation trip and one was a business trip.

We’d like to share some links today about a place we came across that impressed us with their commitment to some of the same principles that guide us at Frontier.

We traveled to Maine for a relaxing weekend at a beautiful place called Inn by the Sea, on Cape Elizabeth along the southern coast near Portland.

The Inn is a designated wildlife habitat, one of the first hotels certified by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection as a “Green Lodging.”

They successfully blend luxury and service with sustainability, minimizing the impact of hotel operations with of eco friendly initiatives and an appreciation of all things local.

Guests are surrounded by an indigenous garden which provides food and habitat for wildlife, and rooms are cleaned with non-toxic products. Room amenities are natural, in recycled bottles and displayed on recycled glass trays. The sheet and towel program helps protect the endangered monarch butterfly. They recycle and use post consumer paper products. The cardio room has recycled rubber floors, the spa has recycled sheet rock walls and bamboo towels, and the  Inn is heated with biofuel and the pool with solar panels. The Inn also recognizes the value of the community by supporting local charities.

The Inn offers classes to guests to pass on the eco-friendly message. Weekly seminars and garden tours are offered on the Inn’s 5 acres of indigenous seaside gardens, teaching guests how to plant for wildlife. The Inn helps environmentally-conscious couples plan unique White weddings in green and, for the corporate traveler, responsible green meetings. You can read more about the Inn by the Sea’s green initiatives here.

At the hotel’s restaurant, Sea Glass, Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich specializes in creating dishes featuring Maine’s local bounty – both seafood and seasonal produce sourced from local farms.

Here’s one of his favorite recipes using local ingredients that you’re sure to find nearby as well.


2 c red wine

2 ea peeled shallots, minced

4 ea fresh thyme sprigs

2 ea fresh bay leaves

4 lbs unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 c balsamic vinegar

1 c pitted Kalamata olives (reserve brine)

Combine red wine, minced shallots, thyme and bay Leaves in a large sauce pan.  Reduce to half and discard the herbs.  Put butter in a stand mixer with paddle attachment and add the red wine reduction.  Whip until combined.

In the meantime, use a food processor to puree the Kalamata olives and balsamic vinegar using some of the olive bring.  Once pureed, add to the whipped butter in the stand mixer and whip until the liquids are combined into the soft butter.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Let us know what seasonal produce is making an appearance on your table right now!

Kirkwood Community College: Hospitality Arts Program

We’d like to introduce you to one of Iowa’s newest luxury hotels – and it’s run by and for students.

Students in Kirkwood Community College’s Hospitality programs prepare for careers in the field via practical experience in management and food preparation at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, a world-class teaching hotel in Cedar Rapids.

Instructors supervise students in the daily operation of the bakery and catering service. The Class Act, the facility’s restaurant, features creative gourmet dining for the public, at very reasonable prices.  Students also cultivate the Vineyard, and sell the fruits of their labors at the Hotel as well.

In addition to learning management techniques and food preparation, 300+ students also study technical subjects such as financial record keeping, food fundamentals, nutrition, computers, food purchasing, sanitation, equipment, human relations, and the safety and legal aspects of the hospitality industry.

The newly built center is eco-friendly. Some highlights of the energy efficient features include seven pumps that freeze ice in nine “ICE KUBE” units late at night when energy rates are lowest. That trapped ice then melts the next day, cooling the classrooms, kitchens and Class Act restaurant when daytime electric rates are much higher.

The Hotel uses geothermal ground-heat exchangers, with more than 200 bored wells. It brings up cool temperatures in the summer and warm temperatures in the winter to help cool and heat to the 117,000 square foot facility.

A system of motion sensors detect when no one is in a classroom or other space, turning lights off when no one is in the room. Unoccupied guest rooms are put into a “dormant” mode when unoccupied. A new guest registration will automatically re-activate the room.

Oh, and they use Frontier spices in their classrooms and kitchens!

David Horsfield, Department Chair of the Hospitality Arts Program, recently took time out to answer some of our questions about his work and the program. His commitment to training exceptional hosts is inspiring. We’re especially appreciative of his insightful comments on working with spices.

Tell us about what you do at the Hotel.

My position as Department Chair of the Hospitality Programs at Kirkwood Community College involves overseeing the 5 separate hospitality programs offered at the College: 2-year Associate of Applied Science Degrees in Restaurant Management, Culinary Arts, and Hotel Management, and 1-year Diplomas in Culinary Arts (Bakery Emphasis) and Food Service Assistant. I have been teaching at the College as a Chef Instructor for 5 years, and we currently have approximately 315 students studying within our programs.

Our structure is somewhat unique in that our curriculum is delivered in a blended format that includes classroom instruction, practical labs, and also practical work within the various outlets and departments that comprise the full service, 71-room Hotel at Kirkwood Center.

Our Culinary students spend time working in the Class Act restaurant and in the busy banqueting kitchen. Restaurant students both serve and ultimately manage service within the restaurant dining room. Bakery students work with the Hotel pastry chef to produce wedding and special occasion cakes. Hotel Management students spend time in housekeeping and front office.

Our model embraces the best elements of using faculty and industry professionals to give students the skills and insights necessary to be successful in the hospitality industry.

What are some of the main things the students learn in this environment versus a classroom?

Our blended learning environment allows students to acquire knowledge and skills through a variety of class formats that include classroom instruction, practical labs, and the by working with professionals in our restaurant and hotel customer contact points.

Our practical lab classes are a blended format where we deliver a detailed theory session in the kitchen before transitioning to cook dishes related to the theory we have just covered. As an example, our Indian Cuisine class, which runs for 12 hours over 3 consecutive days, begins each day with a discussion of Indian culture, ingredients, and the interplay of how different religions within India impact the processes and ingredients with which Indian dishes are prepared.

This allows us to reinforce concepts through practical application. Personally, I find that food always tastes so much better when it has been prepared with a deeper understanding of how the elements within a dish join together to create the broader flavors and textures that are enjoyed by a diner.

There really is no substitute for the practical learning gained from working with professional staff and directly with guests.

What seems to surprise the students most about the hospitality field?

A lot of our Restaurant and Culinary students begin exploring the hospitality industry as a profession with the intent of entering straight into the restaurant sector, assuming that this element is really the only option for the industry.

I really enjoy exposing students to the fact that the hospitality industry encompasses so many broader options, such as working with cruise line operators, health care providers, major amusement parks, and specialty food producers.

Watching students develop a greater appreciation for food, wine, & ingredient pairings is a great part of being involved in training the next generation to enter into this great industry.

All photos courtesy Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

What are some of the ways you use our spices?

We utilize Frontier herbs and spices on a daily basis both in our culinary labs and in our outlets.

Our plan of study includes a 6-week intensive class on International Cuisine that encompasses exploring the ingredients, culture and flavors of so many of the world’s great spice-oriented cuisines, including Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, Thailand, India, and Italy.

Using top-quality spices in our recipes makes a world of difference when it comes to authenticating the true flavor profiles of these cuisines.

Second-rate spices lead to second-rate food. Our chef instructors are big believers in the principle that respecting the balanced flavors of ingredients – especially spices – leads to the creation of memorable flavor combinations.

Knowing how to correctly cook with spices takes careful thought and attention so true flavors are gently extracted for maximum benefit. The cuisine of India is one of my personal favorites as is it incorporates the subtleties of so many diverse spices.

Do you have a popular recipe you’d like to share with our readers?

Here’s a great-tasting vegetarian Indian dish that perhaps looks a little complex at first glance at the ingredient list, but it’s really quite simple once you’ve gathered the spices.

The asafoetida could be substituted with onion powder and a couple of pinches of garlic powder. Jaggery is a solidified extract of molasses that can be found at an Indian grocery, but dark brown sugar will provide a fine substitute.


3/4 teaspoon tamarind pulp

1/2 tablespoon ghee

1 each bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed

1/4 teaspoon black sesame seed

1/2 pinch asafoetida

2 ounces fresh fennel bulb, cut small to medium dice

3/4 teaspoon ginger, grated

4 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cut medium dice

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon red chili powder

1/16 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 cup yogurt, drained through cheesecloth for 10 minutes to remove excess whey

1/4 teaspoon jaggery (or brown sugar)

1/8 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 each serrano chili pepper, deseeded and finely chopped

1/2 sprig fresh cilantro

1/8 cup yogurt

1 teaspoon cucumber, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh mint

1/8 teaspoon lemon zest

1 pinch black mustard seeds


Soak tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup of warm water for 20 minutes or until soft – knead the pulp to break it down before straining and keeping the juice / water and discarding the remaining pulp solids.

Heat ghee in a medium skillet over medium heat and when hot, add bay leaf, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black sesame seeds, asafoetida and sliced fennel; sauté for 2 minutes until all ingredients are very aromatic.

Add the ginger and butternut squash and continue to cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.

Mix in the turmeric, dry chili and season lightly with salt. Add coriander powder and stir in yogurt; cook, covered, over low-medium heat for 15 minutes or until squash are half cooked through.

Add jaggery, tamarind juice, garam masala and green chili.

Cover again and cook over low heat until squash is cooked through and tender.

Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs and serve with steamed basmati rice.

Do you have any advice for those who are considering entering the hospitality field?

I truly believe that the key ingredient to success in the hospitality industry is passion. Really caring about exceeding the expectations of guests, whether it is in the hotel or food service sectors is the defining characteristic that makes your interaction as a hospitality professional memorable for customers.

For me, passion means truly loving what you do and striving to deliver quality at every opportunity. Gaining knowledge and a thorough understanding of ingredients and the ways in which they work together is a great way for a chef to create dishes that will exceed expectations every single time.

I always tell my students that cooking is a form of art and that they are training to become artists with ingredients as their medium… oh, and also that cooking should be fun!

Thanks so much, David. We really appreciate the value you place on spices as a chef’s expression of individuality.

For a final treat, here’s the in-room video you’ll see when you’re a guest at this unique facility.

Spork Foods

Spork Foods is a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg. They offer live cooking classes in Los Angeles and online vegan cooking classes at www.sporkonline.com, one-on-one in-home healthy pantry makeovers, and recipe development/trainings for chefs, food companies and colleges.

Heather Goldberg, left and Jenny Engel, right, of Spork Foods.

Their cookbook, Spork-Fed, will be released in October 2011, with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel. Based on the Spork philosophy that veganism is about all of the wonderful things you can have, instead of what you can’t, Spork-Fed features over 80 original recipes, gorgeous full-color photographs and healthful tips sure to make any mouth water.

Stay tuned to our blog for more info about this book as its publication date approaches.

Heather and Jenny took time out recently to answer some questions for us about their past, present and future plans for Spork Foods.  They also generously shared one of their fantastic recipes.

What started you on the vegan path? What was it about environmental studies that made you decide to go vegan?  

Although 3 years apart, but virtually twins in all other aspects, we became enlightened to the world of veganism in college as Environmental Science majors. With Heather living in San Francisco and Jenny studying at UC Santa Cruz we each took classes called “World Ecological Crisis”, “Environmental Economics”, and “The Future of Rain Forests.”

Needless to say we were both very alarmed!  What we learned about was the connection between the degradation of the planet and the meat and dairy industry! Right then and there, and very separately, we went vegan over 11 years ago.

We worked together at an environmental non-profit organization called TreePeople in Los Angeles for a few years, sharing lunches and dreaming of running our own sister-business, until our hearts inevitably led us into the kitchen to do the work we were meant to do.

In your videos, you talk about the benefits of using herbs. What are some of your favorites to use? Do you have a favorite recipe you could share that takes advantage of herbs?

Lemon thyme is our fave herb! It has a gorgeous scent that is mildly lemony and super fresh!  We fold it into cashew cheeses, make zesty light potato salads with it, and throw it into spiked lemonade!

One of our main goals is to keep you out of the doctor’s office and show you how to take the health of you and your loved ones into your own hands every time you eat! Our food is more than just calories and protein. When you eat well and eat naturally, you have the ability to improve your body and mind. We’ll drink some carrot juice to that!

Here’s a recipe using lemon thyme — you might try it at your next party.

White Wine Cashew Cheese (on black bean sliders)



1 1/4 cups roasted unsalted cashews

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon light miso paste

2 teaspoons brown rice syrup

1 tablespoon neutral tasting oil, organic safflower preferred

3 tablespoons unsweetened almond or soymilk

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup vegan white wine

3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, stemmed and finely chopped


In a large food processor, add cashews, garlic powder, sea salt, miso, brown rice syrup, oil, almond or soymilk, lemon juice and wine.

Scrape the sides of the food processor occasionally and blend until smooth.

Fold in lemon thyme once.

Transfer to a bowl and ENJOY with crudités or crackers!

© Spork Foods, 2009

Tell us about your online classes! Can you tell us what some of the out-of-the-kitchen experiences might be?  

We launched our on-line classes at www.sporkonline.com less than a year ago! It is a membership-based website for anyone who wants to learn how to prepare fun, easy, delicious, vegan recipes – served anytime!

Our classes are shot and edited in HD by professional filmmakers to create an entertaining and engaging experience.

A NEW COOKING CLASS featuring a four-course meal and built around a specific theme is posted online and available to members once a month.  The classes are filmed with an eclectic group of students (including celebrities, authors, activists, farmers, parents, entrepreneurs and more) that spark interesting conversation around the dinner table and offer their own expertise.  As a member, you get to watch their conversation unfold!

Each month the site will also offer EXCLUSIVE BONUS RECIPES and classes that feature specific holiday and seasonal themes – all designed to enhance your cooking repertoire!

You will have access to extended OUT-OF-THE-KITCHEN EXPERIENCES with Jenny and Heather, taking members on mini adventures with us!  In our favorite one, we take our bestie Rory Freedman, Author of Skinny Bitch, to a farm where we eat things we’ve never even seen before! We have an ARCHIVED CLASSES section so you can master your kitch skills like a pro day or night! Don’t forget to ask the sisters your pressing foodie questions on our FOOD 911 page!

Whether you are a lifelong vegan, veg-curious, or just want to expand your cooking repertoire, Sporkonline offers tried and true original recipes that will please all of your friends and family!

Do you find that being based in LA is an advantage? Do find more vegans there, or a more vegan-oriented culture?

As 4th generation Angelinos, we love being in L.A. and in fact, we’re never leaving! Living in L.A., we are lucky because there is an abundance of Farmer’s Markets all over the city with incredible local fruits and veggies everywhere you look.

We actually take a sister trip each year to a place we have never been and can’t speak the language.  We have truly found a vegan culture in every single corner of the earth that we have explored, from Japan, to Greece, The Cayman Islands to Cuba. We vegans are everywhere!

Are other people in your family vegan?

Mom and Dad are vegan, and as my Dad’s doc says, “You’re the healthiest patient we have!” On no meds at age 70 and looking spry as a teenager, Mom and Dad are sticking with it. We’re still working on Grandma…

Tell us a little bit about some of the things your parents and grandparents taught you about cooking — we love stories of families in the kitchen, and traditions that are passed down. 

No need for explanation, we will let YouTube do the talking! In this video, Grandma Jeanette teaches us her strudel recipe, veganized, of course!

In our cookbook Spork-Fed we will feature Grandma’s Birds Nest Cookies that she has been making for us since before we can remember.

The one huge lesson that our mom taught us in the kitchen is to never be afraid.  She adds whatever spices she has, puts all sorts of veggies in a pot – and it always turns out amazing.

We love to teach people about harnessing their “kitchen intuition” so they can go from relying on a recipe to becoming masters of cooking improvisation.

Feel free to tell us what you like about our spices. Do you have any particular favorites?

We adore Frontier spices and we use them in everything!

We’re thrilled that you offer a wide array of organic spices, and we’re pretty much in love with your Ceylon cinnamon!

But the other thing that we really appreciate about your spices is that you have a picture of what the spice looks like on the container.

When we pass around the turmeric in our cooking classes, for example, people notice that it looks a bit like ginger root when they see the bottle and they feel more connected to their food.  It makes us so happy when people make connections with the foods they eat and the plants they come from  – so thanks for that!

Thanks so much, Heather and Jenny. We can’t wait for your book!

bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy, Rhinebeck NY

One of our favorite places to browse and shop in the Hudson Valley is bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy, the creation of Gregory Triana and Sean Nutley. With every visit comes a new surprise, a new arrival, and a fun chat.

On the store’s website, bluecashew is described as “fusing utility & design into a well- merchandised specialty kitchen experience.” This is definitely the case. The store carries a beautiful selection of both unique and classic cutlery, baking and cookware, barware, stemware, and small appliances, at all price levels. A carefully selected and thoughtfully displayed cookbook section complements the merchandise.

On one of our first visits, we also noticed a dedication to offering sustainable and “green” merchandise – and the store design reflected this as well.

In fact, the store won a Retailer Excellence award for its design last August.  One of our favorite features in the store is its wall made from reclaimed wood.

We recently had the chance to check in with Sean Nutley about what’s new in the kitchen these days, especially in the area of sustainable goods.

The words “green” and “sustainable” are being tossed around a lot these days, what do they mean to you? 

Broadly speaking, we like to try to find sustainable ways of meeting of our needs today – this means without compromising the future, and using more of what the earth has to offer. We try to do more creative synchronizing with resources available, reusing and reinventing uses for items we already have.

What are the top products in your store that can help cooks be more sustainable?

We love J.K. Adams Co. wood products, a company from rural Vermont that’s been in business for over 65 years. The company has employed many generations of local people in their area, and does beautiful work. They make a great spice rack, in fact.

Chilewich recycled vinyl products are beautiful and a smart use of recycling.  The company offers its own take-back program, so customers can turn their used products back in to the company for reuse.

We’re also fond of govino recycled plastic beverage glasses, which are made from a food-safe, BPA-free polymer. This material reflects a wine’s color and aromatics like crystal does, but it’s recyclable (#1), and reusable. There are many times when glass stemware just isn’t an option, so this is a great solution. And they’re so great looking.

USA Pan recycled stainless steel produces bakeware for the home, patterned after its commercial products. It’s made from 65% recycled aluminized steel. It’s manufactured in Pittsburgh, so it’s great to know it comes from an area that relies on steel production to fuel its economy.

Tell us about your attempts at being sustainable in your remodel.

This was something we worked very hard to do. We used recycled mushroom wood, and we refitted all the fixtures from our High Falls store when we relocated in Rhinebeck.  The flooring is recycled Formica, and we used plywood for the ceiling tiles. People ask us all the time about our ceiling, since it’s not the usual white ceiling tile.

Green products aside, what’s the one surprising thing you think cooks might add to their kitchens that they might not have thought about?  

Gadgets play a big role for us. Customers always come back and say, “Wow, everything is so much easier now that I have…” Knives are often a big change in customers’ kitchens. They can’t believe how sharp the Messsermeister knives are, and how they make cooking easier.

What are some of your favorite cookbooks?

Balthazar, a Phaidon title, is still in my personal top 10 all-time favorites.

Suvir Saran’s two books; American Masala and Indian Cooking at Home.

Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrotia Randelman is a very beat up book on my shelf.

Way To Cook is a staple, as well as Joy of Cooking.

Great selections with a broad range. Which ones are your bestsellers?

The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual has been a huge hit! Again Phaidon cooking titles like Balthazar, Mark Bittman titles, and Deborah Madison titles are all very popular.

So what does this tell you about what people are currently cooking/eating?  

People are definitely trying to find ways to develop healthier eating habits.  It seems people are cooking at home more often too, which we love to see.

We love to see that too, Sean. Thanks so much for this peek into what you and your customers are up to right now in the world of cooking and cooking supplies.

Take a look around bluecashew!

And we invite our readers to let us know if you have a store in your area specializing in green kitchen goods, in a comment below.  We might even ask you to do a guest post for us. Thanks!

A Local Gathering to Promote Local Foods in Schools

Last night we attended a gathering we told you about earlier: Cool Aid! a fundraiser at the Onteora Middle School/High School Cafeteria, in Boiceville New York. Cool-Aid proceeds will fund the purchase of a walk-in freezer for the central kitchen of the Onteora Schools.

The walk-in freezer will allow the cooks at the school to effectively extend the growing season for locally sourced produce, reduce waste of plentiful fresh foods, and increase nutrition by freezing fruits and vegetables picked at the height of their nutritive value.

We’re here to say the event was a great success!  Maxanne Resnick and a large group of volunteers worked to bring the idea to life.  This group included students who helped serve and did an impeccable job keeping the tables clean.

The line-up of local chefs provides a look at the array of culinary talent and the intriguing regional cuisine in this area.  The chefs included Dan Leader, Giovanni Scappin, Curt Robair, Bill Warnes, Ric Orlando, Devin Mills, Pika Roels, and Kevin Katz.

The chefs were paired up with a regional farmer of their choice and two students, and together they served up tasty and healthy foods that anyone, especially kids, could make.

Each hors d’ouevre was $2 each, and trust us, we ate like kings.

The live music, silent auction, food crafts for kids, juicer and smoothie bars, plus an array of other presentations made this an event for all ages. Watching the members of the community chat and enjoy great food together made it fun and memorable.

Check out some photos from the evening.

More details about the chefs.

Frontier was happy to help sponsor the event, and we hope this idea might inspire you to find ways to help schools or any other institutions in your area move towards using more fresh ingredients from local sources.

Please let us know about your local food projects!

Hunting for Wild Ramps

This spring we learned about a new wild vegetable – the elusive ramp. We’d been hearing about ramps and seeing the word on menus for a few weeks.  Such is the fervor, in the northeast anyway, even Time magazine did a feature on them.

We asked our Facebook fans to discuss ramps awhile back, and we were met with both puzzled and informed responses. So what, pray tell, is a ramp? It’s an early spring wild vegetable also known as spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wild garlic, and, in French, ail sauvage and ail des boi.

That should give you a good idea about what we’re dealing with here. Ramps have a strong garlic-like odor and a definite onion flavor. In fact, speaking from experience, if you eat them and fill your car with them on the same day, the smell in your car will remind you of this experience for days afterward.

Last week, our friends Luc and Nina, the chef and co-owners at a wonderful local restaurant in Woodstock, NY called ORiole9, asked us to go “ramp hunting” with them.

It was a beautiful spring day, and the drive to our deep woods location was gorgeous, as are most drives in the Catskills. We parked, and jumped out to start our trek. We personally were under the impression that the ramps would be hiding in plain sight under a nearby bush, though our hosts knew better.

We crossed a stream filled with slippery rocks (several times) used muscles we forgot we had (the ones only used to climb like a mountain goat) and reached the top of one of the lushly wooded peaks – and there they were. Right next to two downed trees, in a location so secret and so remote we couldn’t begin to describe it to you. You just have to go see it yourself. (Or check out the photos at the link below.)

How lucky we were to be with a chef on this hunt – as soon as we returned to the restaurant, Luc made an omelet with cheddar cheese and ramps, which he whisked to our table before we even knew he was absent. It was delicious.

So, here’s the question. Are ramps popular where you live? Do you have any ramp recipes to share? We’d love to hear what you have to say.


Book Review: Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We hope you’re celebrating with some fabulous Mexican cuisine today.

We’re feeling especially festive because we’re introducing our first cookbook review, too! We look forward to sharing reviews and recipes from the latest cookbooks, both here and on our website.

We’ll start off with Truly Mexican, by Roberto Santibañez, chef and owner of NYC’s Park Slope restaurant Fonda, which has become a popular dining destination for authentic Mexican cuisine.

Reviewed by Karen Miles

Remember what Julia Child’s cookbook did for French cuisine? Well, Roberto Santibañez similarly — and successfully — offers us the art of preparing a foreign cuisine in his new book, Truly Mexican. While walking us through the process of composing authentic Mexican sauces and condiments, we learn techniques that are important to Mexican cooking, such as toasting chili peppers and roasting tomatoes. We learn about Mexican staples, including spices, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables.

Because the focus of the book is on sauces and condiments, entire chapters are devoted to salsas, guacamoles, adobos, and moles and pipianes. “I chose those sauces and dishes that contain accessible ingredients, illustrate important culinary concepts, and of course, taste amazing,” explains Santibañez. That’s not to say you can’t craft an entire Mexican meal from these recipes.

In fact, we learn how to use the sauces and condiments to transform a piece of meat or poultry into an irresistible, authentic ethnic dish. (There’s even a chapter on “More Ideas for Using Mexican Sauces.”) A chapter on “Sides for Rounding Out Your Meal” includes such basics as Mexican Fried Rice and such delicacies as Chipotle-Avocado Leaf Black Beans. And there’s no shortage of inspiring photos.

Don’t buy this book if you’re looking for something to whip up in a flash for dinner tonight. But if you love Mexican food and want to expand your repertoire beyond the usual taco Tuesday fare, invest in this cookbook. What you’ll get in return is a thoughtful, inspiring course in authentic Mexican cooking.

For a sampling of the recipes in Truly Mexican, check out these three from the book on our website: Peanut and Arbol Chile Salsa, Lamb in Modern Yellow Mole, and Mexican Red Rice. For more about Mexican cooking — and additional recipes — check out Cooking Great Mexican.

Watch the beautiful preview of the book, and see if you don’t feel like celebrating Cinco de Mayo right now.