There are so many things going on here this month, it's hard to know
where to start.
Rick winning Top Chef Masters had a dramatic impact on the restaurants. If you've been trying to make a reservation, our phone
system hasn't been able to keep up with the volume, and many of you haven't been able to get through. Please keep trying, we're here, and are looking
forward to seeing you.
Then there's the money that Rick won for our Frontera Farmer
Foundation - $110,000.00! We're over the moon with this windfall to the foundation, especially in these hard economic times.
Last, but not least, XOCO opens on September 8th, the day after Labor Day, and
we can't wait for you to experience the newest addition to the Frontera family. We call it fast casual dining, and we've already posted both the breakfast and regular menus on our web site. The menus feature a contemporary take
on Rick and Deann's favorite street food, and snacks from their travels in Mexico. XOCO will be open from 7am to 10pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
Peeks into Chef's Inspirations: This is the dish that most people felt cinched Rick's win in the final Top Chef Masters episode - the dish that
made Rick want to be a chef. He tasted this black mole at the age of 14 on his first trip to Mexico, and spent the next 20 years perfecting it. The
dish is called Atun de Mole Negro, and this is Chef Brian's presentation of Rick's winning dish. It features seared Hawaiian ahi tuna in a Oaxacan
black mole, paired with a plantain-filled tamal, grilled nopal salad, roasted knob onions and a three nut crunch. The great news is that due to
popular request, this dish, along with the other three courses from the final Top Chef Masters show, are staying on the menu until October 10th. Come
in and taste these dishes plus many more this month at Topolobampo.
Profiles on Frontera Farmer Foundation Recipients: Given the national
attention Top Chef Masters gave to the foundation, I thought it would be interesting to check back with some of the grantees from the first year of
People often asked how the foundation got started. Prior to 2004, we had
several farmers, who in order to meet our demand for their products, needed to expand their operation, but didn't have the capital make that happen.
That was the case with Bill and Judy from Snug Haven Farm. They were growing winter spinach, but couldn't expand their output without adding an
additional hoop house. The restaurant worked out a deal that they would loan them the money, and they would pay us back in spinach.
In 2003, we decided that it would be even more beneficial to the farmer to
get a grant to expand instead of a loan, and that's how the foundation came into being.
Snug Haven got one of seven grants
the foundation awarded in 2004, which they used for a rototiller, rainwater system and spader, all of which they are still using today. As Bill put
it, the loan was great, but the grant made a much bigger impact on their business.
In the case of Heartland Meats, it allowed them to purchase a piece of specialty equipment that at the time was beyond
their means to acquire. Their grant allowed them to explore a new way of generating revenue for their business.
Dickman's used their grant to replace their landscaper's truck with a modified farmer's market
trailer. When I talked to Joann, she told me what a godsend that grant was, not only at the time to expand their business, but a few years later when
her husband had surgery on his back, and they wouldn't have been able to manage their market business without it.
Michael and Terry from Sow Little Farm used their
grant to purchase two hoop houses as permanent homes for their raspberries. Before getting the hoop houses, they were moving the raspberries by hand,
which was a huge job, since it's just the two of them working the farm. Not only did the new hoop houses expand their business, but it also decreased
the amount of labor it took to grow their crop. Terry told me that if they hadn't gotten the grant, in all likelihood, they wouldn't still be in
Scott and April from Garden To Be applied their grant to
purchasing 12 additional growing benches and a corn burning furnace to heat their greenhouse. They felt that it was an incredible opportunity to be
considered, and getting the grant made an immediate impact on their business, since they were able to expand to year-round production of their
microgreens and salad greens.
Dates and Places Rick will be appearing.
Rick will be in Houston on Sept 30th as part of Macy's Culinary Council.
you'd like to attend his demonstration at the Memorial City Macy's, you can make a reservation by phone 713-461-0400 or email email@example.com
He'll also be appearing again this year at the Chicago Gourmet Festival in
Millennium Park on September 26th. Tickets are still available for his demonstration at 12:30 on the main stage.
Rick will be teaching a series of classes on October 5 and 6 at Rancho La
Puerta Fitness Resort and Spa's new cooking school, La Cocina Que Canta ("The Kitchen That Sings"). Rancho La Puerta is located in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. For more information, contact
reservations at 877-440-7773.
Meet Chef-Restaurateur Pilar Cabrera.
She grew up in the Oaxacan culinary environment which included everything from
grasshoppers, moles and Pre-Hispanic dishes.
Pilar opened her restaurant La Olla in 1994 and her cooking
school, Casa de los Sabores in 1998. At Casa de los Sabores, she teaches hands-on classes in traditional Oaxacan
During our trip to Oaxaca, Pilar welcomed us into her kitchen to teach us
several of her family's tamal recipes. When you walked into that kitchen and listened to her explaining these recipes and demonstrating how she
learned to prepare these dishes from her mother and grandmother, you could feel her connection to the generations of women in her family who passed
down not only their recipes, but also their passion. What we all took away from that class was so much more than just the recipes. She provided us
with a window into the culture and history of Oaxaca.
If you'd like a similar experience, contact Pilar online either through
Casa de los Sabores or her restaurant La Olla. You can also contact via phone at 201-255-6104.
Kitchen Gadget Adventures. I've had a love-hate relationship with oil misters. I love the concept of being able to apply a
light mist of oil to my ingredients, but in the past, I haven't had any luck with any of the misters I've tried. Either they don't spray evenly, or
they become clogged and you can't get them clean. That was until I found this mister from Prepara at the housewares show. I've been using it in the
test kitchen since April, and it's performed as well today as it did when I first took it out of the box. It's easy to fill and dishwasher safe. It
retails for $19.95 and you can find it at Bed, Bath and Beyond or Sur La Table. For a complete list of retailers, check out Prepara's website.
New Recipes from the Test Kitchen. I based my inspiration for this
month's recipes on Season Seven of Rick's TV show, Mexico - One Plate at a Time, which premieres later this month. Check your local PBS station for
the exact date since it varies by region. One of the episodes has Rick teaching how to make Slow Roasted Garlic or Mojo de Ajo and then using it in
several recipes. I've used this mojo in two recipes to demostrate how versatile it really is. The first is Grilled Salmon and Potatoes with Mojo de Ajo. It's
quick, easy, delicious and Rick demonstrated it on Rachael Ray's talk show which will air in this month. The second recipe is an adapted version of
one of the tortas that is on XOCO's menu. It uses mojo to season roasted mushrooms. Try my version of the Woodland Mushrooms with Goat Cheese Torta. The seasonal
drink is a Blackberry Mojito which is currently on
our cocktail menu. The last recipe this month comes from Pilar who has graciously offered to share the recipe she created for our brunch in Oaxaca.
It's made with fresh ripe guavas, and it's listed as Guava Bread. It's well worth the effort to find fresh Mexican guavas so that you can recreate this very special
See you next month.
Test Kitchen Director/Web Site Culinary Director
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