2011 has been a fascinating year for food. The now ubiquitous food trucks rolled on, exploring new directions. Fresh new chefs continued to excite us as they broke new ground, often by exploring ancient techniques. And arguably the greatest restaurant in the world closed, only to be reborn, at least temporarily. The year also brought a raft of wonderful food books, new tech tools, and ways to connect culturally at the table. Here is what's Character Approved in Food for 2011:
Joshua Skenes: Named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs for 2011, Joshua Skenes uses primitive slow fire techniques like embers and ash cooking to drive the natural sensibility of each ingredient. No wonder his restaurant Saison in San Francisco is heating things up with a second Michelin star. [Image: Saison]
Off the Menu: Author Marissa Guggiana's Off the Menu focuses on staff meals prepared by chefs for their crews. This gorgeous new cookbook includes more than 80 delicious, affordable, family-style “off the menu” recipes refined for the home cook, from 50 of America’s top restaurants. [Images: Marissa Guggiana, Welcome Books]
Avedano's Meat Wagon: In an interesting twist on the food truck phenomenon, Avedano's Meat Wagon isn’t a restaurant--it’s a rolling butcher shop. The truck is a streetwise spin-off of the popular San Francisco bricks-and-mortar butcher shop. And it's aptly named--before being renovated, the truck was an ambulance. [Image: Thrillist]
Grant Achatz: Chef Grant Achatz continues to innovate in his new restaurant, the ever-changing Next. In January, he will do a menu based on the now shuttered El Bulli, called the best restaurant in the world. El Bulli's founder, Ferran Adrià, not only approved the menu--he's lending former staff members to help out. [Image: Jonathan/Hungry in Milwaukee]
Sqrl: Founder Jessica Koslow likes to keep her Sqirl jams, jellies, and marmalades local. They’re made with produce from family-owned farms that practice sustainable, certified organic methods, all within 200 miles of Sqirl's Los Angeles kitchen. On the website, products are accompanied by stories of the farms that provide the produce. [Image: Sqirl]
Nosh: Lots of smartphone apps can find restaurants for you when you’re hungry. Nosh provides crowdsourced reviews of individual dishes, so you know what to order once you get there. And you can share your own reviews--complete with photos--with your friends. [Image: Nosh]
Culture Kitchen: Culture Kitchen uses food as a means for cultural exchange, creating a community that empowers people in and outside the kitchen. The San Francisco cooking school employs immigrant women from Vietnam, Afghanistan, Colombia, Thailand, and other countries to teach classes that share not only ethnic cuisines, but the stories behind the food. [Image: Culture Kitchen]
Girl in the Kitchen: Stephanie Izard, star chef/owner of Chicago’s Girl and the Goat, displays her skill with inventive ingredient combinations in her exciting new cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen. Beautifully photographed and bursting with flavor, personality, and insights into her process, it contains more than 100 of Izard’s best recipes. [Image: Chronicle Books]
Middle West Spirits: The craft distilled spirits movement continues to grow, fueled in part by the artisanal cocktails trend. Middle West Spirits in Columbus, Ohio has added a small batch whiskey to its line-up. OYO Whiskey isn’t corn and barley-based as most whiskeys are; Middle West uses the same locally grown red winter wheat they do to make their award-winning OYO Vodka. [Image: Fresh Water Cleveland]
The Character Approved blog celebrates the people, places and things that are making a mark by positively influencing our cultural landscape.
They're Character Approved - recipients of USA Network's seal of approval. Join us daily as thought leaders in Art, Food, Music, Technology, Fashion and more discuss
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These awards pay tribute, to the real characters who are changing the face of American culture. The 2010 honorees are innovators in their field who are influencing our opinions,
our style, and our view of the world. They're celebrated by their peers, and their fresh, authentic ideas both suprise and inspire us.