Rick Bayless: The Cook, The Thespian, The Yogi and the Lover of All Things Authentically Mexican 

Rick Bayless
Rick Bayless, Galdones Photography

There’s not enough space to list all the reasons we were honored to have chef and restaurateur, Rick Bayless on The Connected Table LIVE! October 19th. But we’ve given it a try:

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“Authentic Cooking” Takes the Stage at The Next Big Bite

Les Dames d'Escoffier #NextBigBite

The word “authentic cooking” bubbled to the surface at Les Dames d’Escoffier New York’s symposium, “The Next Big Bite: Media’s Influence on What We Eat, Drink & Crave,” which took place October 17 at Institute of Culinary Education. The distinguished panel moderated by CBS Sunday Morning correspondent, Martha Teichner, includedChef/Restaurateur and Co-Host of ABC’s “The Chew,” Carla Hall, Bloomberg Pursuits Food Editor, Kate Krader, and PUNCH Editor in Chief, Talia Baiocchi.

The Next Big Bite

The panelists debated what is a “fad” or a trend.” Trends included: gluten free, vegan, southern food, low alcohol wines. Fads included: cronuts, super-charged burgers and kale. Sustainability, food waste and food as medicine all weighed in as important developments.

Everyone agreed that “authenticity” is important. “Terroir, ancestry, origin, raw materials and the story behind the product, brand or dish all appeal to the consumer and, especially, to Millennials.

We were excited to hear this because the mission of The Connected Table is to share the stories behind the people who shape our industry and food and drinks we enjoy.

Weigh in with us: What do you feel are the top food trends to watch? Please post on 


Restaurants We Loved and Lost

A sunset stroll on a warm September evening in lower Manhattan while watching party boats cruise the Hudson River had us reminiscing about the New York restaurants we’d loved and lost. The occasion that prompted this was a dinner at Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) with Chef David Waltuck who was recently named Director of Culinary Programs.

David prepared five signature dishes from his landmark restaurant, Chanterelle, which closed in 2009 after 30 years in business. It was lovely to see David in action and catch up with his wife and partner at Chanterelle, Karen, as well as Andrew Friedman who collaborated with David on the book, “Chanterelle: The Story and Recipes of a Restaurant Classic.”

David Waltuck's cookbook written with Andrew Friedman
David Waltuck’s cookbook written with Andrew Friedman

I could write a memoir based around restaurants that played an important role in my life. Some were clients. Others were host venues for my events. Many participated in programs I produced such as New York Restaurant Week, The James Beard Foundation Awards and the Bon Appétit Wine & Spirits Focus. Many took good care of me when I paid a visit either as a solo diner or when I dined with good friends or my parents when they paid me a visit from Tennessee. Many owners became close friends.

We made a list sitting on a bench watching the sunset. We named it “the restaurants we loved and lost.” The sun may have set on these restaurants, but they each left a special imprint in various aspects of our life in Manhattan. The reason why some of them are included is another story for another time!

Melanie with Caroline Stuart who worked with the late James Beard at The Four Seasons during its final week. James Beard who was one of the first food consultants and co authored an early cookbook.

Our list: An American Place, Arizona 206, Beppe, Bolo, Capsouto Frerès, Chanterelle, Cité, Danube, Hudson River Club, Lespinasse, Lola,The Four Seasons, Giovanni’s Atrium, La Caravelle, La Cote Basque, La Fourchette, Les Célébrités, Le Madri, Les Halles, Lutece, March, Mesa Grill, Nosmo King, The Oak Room, Pastis, Peacock Alley, Princess Pamela’s Little Kitchen, Picholine, Pipa, Quilted Giraffe, Rainbow Room, Restaurant Florent, San Domenico, SD26, Sign of the Dove, Tabla, Union Pacific, WD50, Windows on the World, Verbena, Veritas, Zarela. And then there are the original locations no more: Bouley, Le Cirque and Union Square Cafe. More recently it was announced that Carnegie Deli will close the end of 2016; its rival, Stage Deli, already shuttered.

Carnegie Deli will mark its 40 anniversary by closing close December 31 2016

I know you have more to add to this list based on your own personal experience. We found list on


The above photo is of the late Giovanni Natalucci of Giovanni’s Atrium in Lower Manhattan. (Credit: Downtown Express file photo by Maria Yoo).  Our back story: A small group of us tried to “save” Giovanni’s Atrium after the September 11th terrorist attacks by hosting events there. At a dinner party in 2003 I reconnected with David after not seeing him for more than a decade. Both the restaurant and its owner left us in 2008, a year after David and I were married.


The Sun To Set on a Beloved NY Jewish Deli

I grew up Southern and Jewish in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I like to tell people Southern Jews grow up with Bubbas and Bubbies in their families. Brisket was served with biscuits. JELLO molds were our serving of fruit.  What we didn’t have were truly authentic Jewish delis. Well, we had Shapiro’s, but it was a Jewish deli with a southern twist: pimiento cheese on challah bread.

My parents took me to New York City for the first time when I was 5 for a wedding with “those yankee family members who lived North of the Mason Dixon Line” (or so my mother told me). I was intent on having tea with Eloise at The Plaza and becoming her new BFF.  My mother booked us tickets to see “Fiddler the Roof” for a dose of culture. My Dad just wanted to go to Carnegie Deli for pastrami on rye.

Eloise at The Plaza Hotel
Photo credit: The Plaza Hotel

Well, Eloise never materialized. But we went to Carnegie Deli where I saw the Largest Sandwich of My Life. It was my first taste of pastrami. I spit it out! My parents ordered me a grilled cheese sandwich while they devoured pastrami and corned beef. Over the years my parents and I would come to New York for theater trips and debate between Carnegie Deli and Stage Deli. I always ordered turkey sandwich at either place. Mother chose corned beef. Dad always stuck to his pastrami.

Carnegie Deli Pastrami on Rye (
Carnegie Deli’s Pastrami on Rye (photo:

I was always a fan of Second Avenue Deli and was fond of the late Abe Lebewohl whose untimely murder was never solved. Stage Deli closed in 2012. This past Friday, just before the start of the Jewish High Holy Holiday Days, Carnegie Deli’s owner announced the landmark restaurant will close at the end of this year. Another New York dining institution will make way for a corner bank (I bet!). Here’s what Carnegie Deli posted on its Facebook Page:


Melanie Young


Hog Wild for Iowa Whiskey- The Connected Table LIVE Oct 5

Cornfields, hogs, Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, “Bridges Over Madison County,” John Wayne and a political “straw poll.” That’s what we knew about the state of Iowa besides its gigantic State Fair which we hope to attend one day, even just for the pie eating. It’s the #1 hog producer and the nation’s third most productive agricultural state after California and Texas. David, who’s driven through Iowa, says it’s endless rows of cornfields.

Iowa is also home to Cedar Ridge, the state’s first and largest whiskey producing distillery. Located in Swisher in the heart of corn country on the Eastern side of the state, Cedar Ridge is run by Jeff Quint, ninth generation family member of the Quint family farmers and distillers. Jeff’s great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Johann Jakob Quint, settled in Wintrich, Germany in the early 1700s to open a cooperage and winery on the Mosel River. His great grandfather, John Quint, emigrated to the U.S.A, and settled in Eastern Iowa in 1881, bringing his trade and skills with him. Jeff’s father, Howard, taught him how to press apples into wine and brandy.

Jeff Quint is a ninth generation farmer and fermenter.
Jeff Quint is a ninth generation farmer and fermenter.

In 2003 after a career in accounting and finance, Jeff and wife Laurie, his high school sweetheart, founded Cedar Ridge. Cedar Ridge was the first state licensed distillery to open in Iowa since Prohibition. Production now averages four barrels of whiskey per day and has provided a nice boost to the local economy.

Tasting through the whiskies made by Cedar Ridge. Smooth as corn silk!
Tasting through the whiskies made by Cedar Ridge. Smooth as corn silk!

We met Jeff Quint at Tales of the Cocktail this past summer and tasted through his portfolio which includes an Iowa Bourbon Whiskey, a Single Malt Whiskey, a Malted Rye Whiskey and a Wheat Whiskey. Jeff joined us October 5 to share his family’s story, cialis et hypertension the spirits of Cedar Ridge and what he loves about Iowa. Listen lto this show anytime on and the free iheart App. Link.

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Meet Mount Gay’s Master Blender- The Connected Table LIVE!

Rihanna, flying fish, Bajan hot sauce, amazing beaches, sugar plantations and Mount Gay Rum. This is what we knew about Barbados when we went for one of my New Year’s birthdays. One side of this island is serene surf; the other is wild with shards of coral reef whipping around your legs when you try to swim. We opted for casual local places to eat simply prepared flying fish that we doused in addictive Bajan hot sauce. And we drank a lot of Mount Gay Rum…a whole lot!

Barbados: birthplace of rum and Rihanna
Barbados: birthplace of rum and Rihanna

October 5th we visited with Allen Smith on The Connected Table Live. In addition to being the Master Blender for Mount Gay Rum, Allen is an “Ambassador” for the island of Barbados. So, he really blends the old with the new.

Mount Gay's Master Blender Allen Smith originally studied biology.
Mount Gay’s Master Blender Allen Smith originally studied biology.

Mount Gay, named after its first distiller, the business man, Sir John Gay, claims to be the world’s oldest rum, made in Barbados since 1703 where there is an abundance of sugar cane. To be more specific: Barbados is considered to be the birthplace of rum. The spirit was originally called “Kill-Devil” by the Barbadians who first distilled it. Allen will discuss the history of Mount Gay, his work as Master Blender and the “Mount Gay style.” And he’ll share more reasons to visit Barbados.

Our research
Our research

We tasted both the copper pot distilled  (robust with spiced nut notes) and copper column distilled (light bodied and with spiced fruit notes). We tasted the newest blend, Mount Gay Black Barrel, with our first pumpkin pie of the season. We all had seconds of both, and then just the rum.

Nice new packaging for Mount Gay's Copper Pot Stilled and Copper Column Stilled Rums.
Nice new packaging for Mount Gay’s Copper

Pot Stilled and Copper Column Stilled Rums.

Listen to our show with Allen Smith here:



A New ICE Age for Chef David Waltuck

David Waltuck is now Director of Culinary Programs for Institute of Culinary Education (ICE)
David Waltuck is now Director of Culinary Programs for Institute of Culinary Education (ICE)

Chef David Waltuck and his wife Karen ran Chanterelle restaurant for 30 years, first in Soho and then in Tribeca.

Each menu was a work of art as was each dish. Seasonal, locally sourced cooking was David’s style long before “farm to table” became embedded in our culinary lingo.

Gael Greene referred to David in a cover story in New York Magazine as “The Daring Young Man on Grand Street.” Back in the those early days many considered traveling below 14th Street “daring.” And it was a long way from The Bronx, where David was raised. He caught the restaurant bug early, enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, traveled and worked different jobs. He was just 24 when he opened Chanterelle.

Lobster and shrimp sausage inside steamed zucchini blossoms.

David’s food was artistic yet approachable. It was nouvelle cuisine with his special twist. A personal favorite was the seafood sausage which recently enjoyed at a special dinner at Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) with David cooking a selection of Chanterelle’s signature dishes. The evening commemorated David’s appointment as ICE’s Director of Culinary Programs where he will develop curricula, teach and mentor.

David joined us September 28th on The Connected Table LIVE! to share his story and talk about his new role at the school.

Listen hear on and the free iHeart App. Pleas give it a “thumbs up” and share.

Purchase “Chanterelle: The Stories and Recipes from a Restaurant Classic” here.