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How Do Leading Chefs Feel About GMOs?

How Do Leading Chefs Feel About GMOs?


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This is one in a series of stories; visit The Daily Meal Special Report: GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) for more.

There are many different types of genetically modified foods out there, serving different purposes. For example, scientists have been able to engineer a variety of rice (called ‘golden rice’) that contains additional nutrients apologists say are vital for the health of the developing nations that depend on it. At the same time, companies are altering the genetic structure of crops like corn to be resistant to certain diseases, to increase yield, extend the season, and expand where it can be grown. Genetically modified protein is also entering the conversation, with both Whole Foods and Trader Joe's publicly announcing that they won't sell any GMO fish — so-called "Frankenfish" — even if it's just salmon engineered to grow faster.

The Non-GMO Project has taken it upon themselves to verify food producers who remain GMO-free, and there are already plenty of products that contain nothing that’s genetically modified, including just about everything sold through Whole Foods' store brand, 365. But surprisingly, only two restaurants — Mighty-O Donuts in Seattle and Nature’s Express in Berkeley, Calif. — have been thus far certified GMO-free(interested parties need to fill out an Enrollment Inquiry Form and go through a lengthy and costly verification process). However, that doesn't mean that chefs around the country don’t care about this issue; in fact, we spoke with seven leading chefs and it’s clear that they all have strong feelings on the matter, even though interestingly enough the vast majority of chefs we asked were unwilling to comment due to the complexity of the issue.

Here are their opinions:

Floyd Cardoz (Paowalla, New York, N.Y.):
''I love science and all it can do to make our lives better and to improve quality of life. That being said, I do disagree with GMOs and what they mean for food. Letting life happen in the fields and in the farms, cross-breeding plants naturally by natural selection, I am all for. I do; however, have a problem with introducing a gene that does not belong or modifying gene the structure of any organism in a lab. In my opinion, most of this is done not to improve the organism so as to make it perpetuate, but purely for financial gain. Copyrighting and patenting food product is also totally wrong. The whole aspect of suing farmers [for inadvertently growing GMO seed] is totally against what I believe.''

''Directly or indirectly, this leads to an imbalance in the ecosystem, as all organisms are connected and play a specific role in nature. I do not believe in humans changing this balance. We do not know what the long term effects are, and I am not willing to take a chance.''

''I do not like to cook with GMO food products and am all for labeling the products. So what if we lose a natural product due to disease one year? It normally does come back the next year and makes us crave that ingredient even more, making it more special. I do not believe it has any positive environmental effects.''

Cesare Casella (International Culinary Center, New York, N.Y.):
''In Italy, GMOs are something that people worry about a lot and it has been a popular topic for a long time, and not only in kitchens or in the fields. I recently read that over 75 percent of Italians — no matter what industry they work in — are concerned about GMOs. Throughout the European Union — especially in Italy — there are many laws about the proper identification/labeling of GMO products and over the past decade, there has been a very powerful and widespread effort to create GMO-free regions. Italy has been especially successful, and of the 20 regions in Italy, 16 are considered "GM free." Tuscany — where I'm from — was really a leader in these changes.''''For all the hype, GMO technology hasn't been able to improve either of the two most important things about food: flavor and nutrition." — Andrea Reusing

''For the most part in the U.S., it is very difficult to identify what products are GMO free. Only recently has a label/stamp been created, but otherwise it can be very hard to know. Also, I find that the price of GMO-free products — which are not guaranteed to be organic — and organic products can be very similar, so in my own kitchens I typically focus on buying organic.''

''Ultimately, I think it's still a subject with a lot of confusion... but for sure we're going in the right direction.''

Jim Lahey (Sullivan Street Bakery, New York, N.Y.):
''GMO foods represent this colossal disconnect between humanity and nature. I think diners should stay away from them if at all possible. If you don't have to eat them, support or associate with them, that is the best. Only in cases of extreme desperation — i.e., choosing between life and death, but that's not what GMOs are about.''

''With the way the food movement is going now, where selling out can be an attractive option, I don’t know where GMOs will fit into the culinary landscape 10 years from now. Hopefully the issue of global warming will force the issue of biodiversity in our seed stocks so that older varieties or the creation of new ones through hybridization will be a focus to deal with changing conditions.''


The Art of Making Food Look Good

Appearance is as important as taste if you want to stick to a healthy eating plan.

You don't have to be a celebrity chef to make your meals as visually appealing as they are tasty -- and healthy. Just ask Brian Hill, currently seen on the Bravo reality series Top Chef, and also the personal chef to singer Mary J. Blige.

"It's so easy," he says. "Just remember to do what you like … whatever you are and whatever you do, put it on the plate." If you make pottery, for example, says Hill, serve your veggies in your favorite handmade bowl. If you're a gardener, layer a colorful piece of salmon on a bed of edible homegrown flowers.

This technique, known in the culinary world as "plating," inspires professional chefs to create what they think of as "edible art."

"Presentation is crucial when serving any meal," says Michael Crane, corporate executive chef of ARAMARK, which provides food services to hospitals, universities, stadiums, and businesses around the world. "You need to create 'art' to make your food interesting. If it looks good, they will want to try it, and that goes for healthier meals too."

To create your own culinary work of art, Crane advises that you treat the plate as one unified "canvas," keeping in mind the balance of the composition, the colors, the flow, the patterns, or lines. "This will give your presentation as much depth as possible," he says.


Burrell bases her unique flavor combination on a bowl of soup she had late one night at a bar in Greenwich Village.

"Right at about closing time, they brought out cups of chicken soup for everybody that was flavored with lemon and cinnamon and this deliciousness and it sent everybody home with a warm feeling in your tummy that was really good, and it made you feel much better in the morning," Burrell said. "So I make this with that loving thought in my mind."

Burrell's soup is hearty, featuring carrots, celery, onion, beans, dark chicken meat, noodles, and an array of tangy and warm seasonings, making it perfect for any cold day.


A Cookbook Highlights the Power of Immigrants to Make Positive Change

Leyla Moushabeck, editor of The Immigrant Cookbook, talks about the power of food, and immigrants, in shaping this country.

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In the year since Donald Trump was inaugurated, you’ve probably eaten over a thousand meals—some of them memorable, some of them not. The best ones stuck out because of who joined you at the table, what you ate, if not the combination of the two. But one thing all those meals had in common was this: they were likely made possible by immigrants. Unless you grew them yourself, the ingredients were grown, processed, transported, and/or prepared by at least some immigrant hands.

And yet, over the last year, much of the country’s public dialogue—and its president—has been stridently anti-immigrant and often overtly racist, as people and policymakers have ignored not only the fundamental importance of immigration to U.S. history, but also its importance to our present economy. It’s no overstatement to say that the day-to-day operations of the country are now resting on the fate of immigrants.

Leyla Moushabeck knows that food has power. She is the cookbook editor at Interlink Books, which has just published The Immigrant Cookbook: Recipes that Make America Great, a book that seeks to highlight the power of food, and immigrants, to make change.

The book features recipes from nearly 80 contributors, representing about 60 different countries of origin. Each cook provided a recipe and a reason—the memory, the story, the delight behind the meal. And as with Julia Turshen’s Feed the Resistance, some proceeds from the book’s sales will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Moushabeck, who herself is the child of immigrants, spoke to Civil Eats about the relationship between immigration and food, her vision for the book, and how she feeds her sense of hope.

What’s the story behind The Immigrant Cookbook? How did your vision for it change as it grew?

It has always been Interlink’s mission to publish books that promote cultural understanding, but in recent years we have felt a need to take more direct action to support the causes we are most passionate about. Two years ago, in response to the growing Syrian refugee crisis, we published our first fundraising cookbook—Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity, which gathered soup recipes from chefs around the world and successfully raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds for the UNHCR, Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), and other food and medical relief programs. It was hugely successful and sparked an international movement, inspiring fundraising and outreach across the globe.

We have since built on this initiative and published one fundraising cookbook each year. We felt we could do something similar to celebrate the vast contribution of immigrants to American food culture, and raise funds for the (now more than ever) important work of the ACLU. A minimum of $5 from the sale of each book will be donated to the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, to directly support their work defending the individual rights that the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

In the introduction to the book, you touch on how the food industry depends on immigration. What were you most surprised to learn about this relationship while developing the cookbook?

As many of us are aware, almost all of the foods that we think of as classically “American” originated with an immigrant community. Today, so many of the amazing chefs shaping American cuisine are first- or second-generation immigrants.

But I was struck by the scope of influence immigrants have on our food culture, not just in terms of the variety of foods we eat. From an economic perspective, immigration has huge implications for our food industry. Immigrants (legal as well as undocumented), make up the vast majority of the labor force of America’s farms, food-production factories, grocery stores, and restaurants, often facing hard work with low pay and few benefits. Ethnic diversity continues to be a fundamental strength to this country and its development, but it is often overlooked.

While the book can’t represent every immigrant experience, I hope it will highlight some of the valuable ways our culture is shaped by our immigrant populations. And I hope it will inspire discussion, and raise awareness of the ACLU’s important work to support the rights of the many immigrants who contribute to our economy and culture in sometimes less visible, but equally significant ways.

How is food unique in its ability to connect people?

Today’s food system is complex.

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Food holds a basic and instinctive importance to every human culture. It can celebrate or console, bring families and communities together, or provide a path to exploring heritage and homeland. It can be used for cultural appropriation and as a demonstration of power, but it can also be a medium through which to learn about another culture, and can pique the interest of those who may not otherwise venture outside of their own experience.

When asked to choose a dish that best represented their experience, many of the chefs in The Immigrant Cookbook relayed stories of family gatherings, favorite relatives, and childhood memories. By reading their stories and cooking their dishes, you are connecting with another person and culture, inviting it into your home to share in your family traditions, and gaining a small glimpse into another experience. Sometimes simple encounters like these can go a long way toward promoting understanding. But if you read their stories side-by-side, you can also find strands of common experiences—stories of family, home, and culture told through flavors and ingredients. So there is much that will be familiar, too! As a collection, The Immigrant Cookbook is a very special reminder of the universal bonds between community and food.

How did you select the chefs who contributed?

We read newspaper and magazine features, cookbook and restaurant reviews, and food blogs, and asked our cookbook authors and food contacts for their recommendations. Alice Waters and Barbara Abdeni Massaad (with whom we worked on Soup for Syria) were especially helpful. We looked at statistics about immigrant populations, as well as those groups that were specifically targeted by recent government actions. And, in fact, it was not difficult to find leading immigrant chefs who are making a difference.

Our aim was to feature a diverse range of people, not just ethnically, but also professionally: We included restaurant chefs, food writers, television hosts, food producers, and educators, from James Beard Award winners and Michelin-starred restaurant chefs, to emerging voices in food writing and the people behind beloved neighborhood institutions. Some were approached because they are using food in interesting ways to tell stories or foster discussion. Many use their food as a tool for activism or to support community building. Some of the recipes are traditional, some are the result of cultural fusion, and some are regionally unspecific. But every recipe was chosen because it means something to the chef, and speaks to their personal journey.

In the face of targeted anti-Muslim bigotry, Reem Assil has used her Oakland bakery to provide opportunities to marginalized local communities and local progressive movements. Tunde Wey travels the country having difficult conversations about race and immigration through his dinner series, Blackness in America. Nadia Hassani’s project “Cooking-with-a-hyphen” brings neighborhoods together over food through a series of potluck dinners celebrating diversity. Cathal Armstrong has been a longtime advocate for locally sourced food and sustainable business practices through his Virginia restaurant, gaining him recognition from the Obama administration. José Andrés has famously led an on-the-ground operation to feed Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and has been a vocal opponent to institutional discrimination… It is the people that make America a special place.

You mention your Palestinian and British upbringing and that you’ve picked up the Colombian recipes of your in-laws. If you were to include a recipe, what would it be?


How Personalized Recipes Streamline The Food Shopping Process

Sometimes meal planning can feel like an annoying chore. However, personalized recipes can help streamline the entire food shopping process. Kevin Brown, the CEO and co-founder of Innit, shared how the platform is helping people eat and live better by simplifying the cooking experience.

Innit is a smart kitchen platform and recently released its personalized shoppable recipes. It serves as a culinary GPS by helping you quickly build customized meals based on personalized nutrition profiles. There are also step-by-step guided cooking videos, and those with connected kitchen appliances can access automated cooking program. Innit's goal is to simplify every step of the cooking experience: from planning and shopping to preparing and cooking.

"We recently launched shoppable recipes to give home chefs the ability to customize recipes and add ingredients to their shopping cart for delivery with a single click, which makes Innit the first platform to assist users through the entire meal journey. Since our platform launch, we have partnered with four of the top six appliance companies, the top three food companies, leading retailers in America and Europe and Google. Innit’s integration into Google Assistant and Smart Displays provides home chefs with personalized nutrition, hands-free step-by-step videos and smart appliance orchestration," Brown says.

Innit acquired Shopwell, the leading personalized nutrition platform that can analyze nearly a million grocery items down to the ingredient level and provide personalized scores. Its modular meal engine reinvents the recipe, enabling consumers to customize over 10,000 different meals based on the foods they have at home or add missing ingredients to a cart in a single click. With connected appliances, Innit allows for automated precision cooking. Its adaptive cooking programs algorithmically adjust for each food item, and the unique features of each cooking appliance. Innit has also led with advanced R&D in machine learning to power the next generation of smart kitchen assistance.

"The Innit platform helps the consumer during the entire food journey, end-to-end, starting with helping you to select the products that best fit your personal dietary profile. Innit then acts as your personal sous chef in the kitchen by helping you cook with confidence. For those with food allergies or dietary restrictions, cooking at home and knowing where to start can be challenging. Innit helps you simply customize meals that meet your dietary needs and taste great. Innit’s recipes come with instructional videos and step-by-step guides to help you through the cooking process, making you feel supported throughout the cooking journey," Brown shares.

Innit also helps home chefs tap into the potential of connected appliances by automatically sending cooking instructions to an oven to achieve restaurant-quality results. With the introduction of Shoppable recipes, Innit removes one of the most time-consuming elements of cooking, which is tracking down the right ingredients. Consumers can pre-plan their meals for the week or spontaneously design their own virtual meal kits to be delivered at their front doors.

"A number of services can make recipes shoppable today, but Innit also makes them personalized, customizable and cookable. Innit helps you build meals and selects ingredients based on your personalized nutrition profile, simplifying the process of eating healthier. It uniquely enables you to customize meals and swap out ingredients to build the perfect meals for you and your family. Innit’s step-by-step video guidance on your mobile device or smart display provides you the confidence to try new dishes and ingredients. As more connected kitchen appliances hit the market, Innit has already developed precision cooking programs to cook those meals with restaurant-quality results in a single click," Brown says.


How to Develop a Recipe Like a Test Kitchen Editor

Here's what happens pretty much every day in the BA test kitchen: Someone takes a delicious-sounding idea (looking at you, Tex-Mex Breakfast Waffle Nachos) and turns it into a recipe with replicable, accurate instructions. But how does the test kitchen crew get from Point A to Point B? We asked them how they turn a tasty thought into a real recipe—and how you can do it, too. So, next time inspiration strikes, like, say, when you're holding a jar of Nutella and wondering what would happen if you put it in a molten chocolate cake, you'll know what to do.

Before you grab a single pot or pan, head to your computer or cookbook collection. “If you want to make your own recipe, you have to see what’s out there first,” says senior food editor Chris Morocco. He and the rest of the team do a deep dive on recipes to get a sense of proportions (i.e. what’s a standard ratio of leavening to fat in a cake recipe?) and cooking methods (i.e. looks like I should brown the meat before braising). “Use them as road maps,” says senior associate food editor Claire Saffitz. If there’s a common ingredient or step that they all have, it’s probably there for a reason.

Research is also a good way to identify ways you want to make your recipe different from what’s come before. For a strawberry shortcake recipe he’s been working on (stay tuned this summer!), Morocco noticed that he didn’t like the square shortcakes he saw online (they looked more like biscuits than shortcakes), and that slices of raw strawberry looked too slippery. He knew right away that he wanted round shortcakes instead of squares, and that he wanted to macerate the strawberries.

Before Saffitz starts cooking, she types out a recipe more or less as it would appear in the magazine, with ingredient quantities and precise instructions. Based on the proportions she notices in her research and the flavors she likes together, she pieces together a recipe that she thinks will work. Things change once she starts cooking if a batter looks surprisingly wet, or if she realizes there are way too many scallions, she’ll adjust accordingly. But the typed recipe gives her a foundation, and an easy way to take notes as she cooks.

Tex-Mex Breakfast Waffle Nachos. Yep, we actually developed that. Photo: Peden + Munk

Morocco prefers to start cooking, then let the recipe take shape from there. He begins with an idea of what he wants to do, but writes down ingredients, quantities, and a few key words (i.e. “pulse”) as he goes. Associate food editor Rick Martinez agrees. “To me, writing down a recipe first is constrictive,” he says. He often jots down quantities ahead of time, but nothing else.

No matter how you approach the recipe before you start cooking, you'll want to keep a pen and paper in the kitchen. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve riffed on a recipe and forgot what I did,” Saffitz says. If you don’t write it down, you’ll never remember after the fact what you did. How much paprika did you use? Did you cook the onions until they were golden brown or deep brown? When Martinez doesn’t feel like pausing to write, he’ll use his phone to take notes, dictating to Siri or taking process photos.

Existing recipes are just for guidance—the rest is up to you. “Recipes are not dogma,” Saffitz says. Try subbing brown sugar for white sugar, fresh ginger for ground. If your favorite chicken dish always turns out perfectly moist, don’t mess with the cook time—but there’s no reason you can’t try a Peruvian-inspired marinade instead of your Asian go-to. Use the base coffee cake recipe you like, but experiment with totally different toppings.

With baking recipes in particular, it’s best to make changes one at a time, Saffitz suggests. If you tweak the sugar, the flour, and the fat and it doesn’t turn out well, you’ll never know what the problem was. Work in coconut oil on your first pass, but save the almond flour swap for your second try.

Sometimes those anchovies are there for a reason. But, doesn't mean you can't substitute. Photo: Eva Kolenko

If a recipe calls for anchovies and you don’t like anchovies, go ahead and take them out. But think about why they’re there. They’re adding salt and a little funk—so maybe throw in some salt and grated garlic to compensate.

“The more you cook and push things, the more you learn where the boundaries are,” Saffitz says. You won’t discover what’s too much spice, or too much color, or too unorthodox a cooking method until you go too far. “You have to be comfortable with failure to get good. It’s about knowing that you’ll get it right eventually,” says Martinez. And when in doubt, “put crispy shallots on top,” Saffitz says. “It literally makes anything delicious.”


13 Cooking Tips From Some of the World’s Best Chefs

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Photographed by Mikael Jansson, Vogue, April 2013

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For some, cooking is a sort of therapy: Laying out their utensils, gathering all of the necessary ingredients, and diving right into a carefully thought-out recipe can sometimes be the perfect night in. For others, they find excitement in trying something new or re-creating a dish that was savored while traveling abroad, hoping to transport themselves to a place far beyond their humble abode. But where do you start when you’re trying to replicate that flavor-packed curry that you had in Thailand? How do you remedy that terrible habit of overcooking pasta? Or how is it that a pro can cut out exorbitant calories from an indulgent dessert? To answer all of these questions and more, we’ve asked some of the world’s leading tastemakers—who have gone through years of training—for their ultimate cooking tips. Whether they’re decorated with Michelin stars, have received accolades as a James Beard Award winner, or have topped the World’s Best 50 list, these chefs have made major strides in the culinary world. And while we’ve already filled you in on the common cooking mistakes experts always notice and the tools one should own before turning 30, below are 13 tips to help you become a maestro in your own kitchen.

“Always deglaze your pan. It’s a traditional French technique that’s much easier than it sounds. After you’ve sautéed or seared whatever it is that you’re cooking, pour a cold or room- temperature liquid (wine, stock, water) into your pan and scrape up all the caramelized pieces that have stuck to the bottom. What you’re left with is this amazing, delicious jus that you can use to top your dish.” —Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park

“If the instructions on the package say to cook the pasta for eight or nine minutes, cook it at least two to three minutes less. Dry it off before adding to your sauce, and finish off the remaining time in the pan. Make sure your sauce is a little liquid-y (or add cooking water to it) so that the pasta rehydrates and takes all of its flavors. Most important, don’t be scared to eat al dente pasta, the real Italian way.” —Simone Zanoni, Le George

“The secret for tender, juicy meat is that its resting time should equal its cooking time. When doing so, wrap the meat in foil so that the blood that flowed to the center of the meat when it was seared can flow back to its extremities, and your piece of meat will be perfect.” —Michel Guérard, Les Prés d’Eugénie

“Finish your risotto with a couple drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice (stir it in to equally distribute) for an imperceptible acidity that will help de-grease the palate this is one of the greatest lessons my grandfather Vittorio taught me.” —Massimiliano Alajmo, Le Calandre

“When cooking with powdered spices, it’s easy to burn them. A good trick to avoid this is to mix all the spices together with a couple tablespoons of water to eliminate the chance of scorching.” —Atul Kochhar, Benares

“When making a coconut-based curry, the recipe often calls for ‘cracking the coconut,’ or cooking the coconut cream until it breaks and the coconut oil separates from the solids (which is what you then use to fry the curry paste in). It almost certainly won’t happen if you use canned coconut cream, as stabilizers and coagulators are added to the product. You can achieve this goal by using UHT (ultra-heat treated) coconut cream or fresh coconut cream. Look for Tetra Pak on the shelves of your local Asian market for the UHT, and as for the fresh . . . well, you’ll have to make that yourself.” —Andy Ricker, Pok Pok and Thailand’s culinary ambassador

“An often overlooked way to cook is en papillote. Any fish can be wrapped in aluminum foil with a bit of salt, fresh onion, aromatic herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s done in minutes in the oven, keeps the fish moist, creates wonderful aromas, and allows you to cook without making a mess in the kitchen. Add a steamed potato and a small salad and you’ve got a well-rounded meal.” —Elena Arzak, Arzak

“When making dumpling wrappers, make sure that the dough is neither too hard nor too soft. It should feel soft when pressing, but firm enough to hold the stuffing inside and keep its shape when cooking. When frying the dumplings, swirl the pan around to help distribute the oil and evenly cook the dumplings. You should have a nice, deep-golden brown color on the bottom when done—this will give them a crispy texture and perfect aroma during tasting.” —Kwong Wai Keung, T’ang Court

“If you want to make your own fresh pasta at home, always add more egg yolks than egg whites. If a recipe calls for five or six whole eggs per 600 grams of flour, use four whole eggs and two egg yolks instead. The extra yolks will help your pasta stay nice and firm. And to avoid wasting the leftover egg whites, add some sugar to them and make a homemade meringue for dessert.” —Simone Zanoni, Le George

“When people think of kimchi, they think of red cabbage kimchi, which is most typical on Korean tables. However, there are hundreds of different types of kimchi with a wide variety of ingredients. At La Yeon, we make baek kimchi (literal translation: “white kimchi”), a watery kimchi that doesn’t use red chili pepper powder, thus is white in color. We use Korean pears along with radish, garlic, and ginger. The pears add a natural sweetness to the dish, as well as a crunchy texture. If you want something more savory, strain salted shrimp (saeu-jeot) and add it to the brine to enhance umami. Once it’s ready for fermentation, store the jar of kimchi in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, for one day, before moving it to the refrigerator for an additional five to seven days before serving it.” —Sung Il-Kim, La Yeon

“The key to a great chicken tikka is getting your hands dirty and rubbing the marinade over the chicken until it is completely coated. Then chill it in the refrigerator for three to four hours minimum—but for best results, marinate it overnight.” —Atul Kochhar, Benares

“To make your desserts healthier, replace 3/4 of the cream that the recipe outlines with whisked egg whites (which you will delicately blend with the remaining amount of cream). It will make your desserts light, airy, and exquisite. It’s how we managed to make our Paris-Brest 150 calories!” —Michel Guérard, Les Prés d’Eugénie

“Water is everything when it comes to sushi rice, specifically the pH balance of the water. Before opening Sushi Shikon, I tested more than 20 different waters for our rice. I needed to get the pH balance right so that the texture and taste were perfect. In the end, I found that a pH value of 6.9 was best and decided to continuously import our water from Tokyo to ensure consistency and tradition. Timing and temperature are very important, as well. We cook rice for each one of our seatings separately, and I adjust the temperature depending on how quickly guests are eating and if they are using chopsticks or their hands, as even the addition or subtraction of body temperature may disrupt this balance.” —Yoshiharu Kakinuma, Sushi Shikon


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Get answers to our most frequently asked questions below.
Need more information? Feel free to contact us.

Who is Field Roast?

Field Roast uses fresh whole-food ingredients—grains, vegetables, legumes and spices—to craft our artisanal plant-based meats and cheeses. Since 1997, we have been pioneering the plant-based industry by creating flavorful, high-quality products that satisfy.

Where does the protein in your products come from?

Field Roast products are high in protein thanks to vital wheat gluten, which is wheat flour removed of starches without the starches, you're left with pure wheat protein. Some of our products also use wheat protein isolate in addition to the vital wheat gluten. The wheat protein isolate is a high protein, low fat and carbohydrate supplement. We also use pea protein in some of our products that comes from 100% non-GMO peas and provides high quality protein nutrition.

Are any of your products gluten-free?

No, Field Roast products are not gluten-free. Wheat protein is one of the main ingredients in many of our plant-based meat products. Our Chao Creamery dairy-free cheeses do not have any gluten containing ingredients.

Do you use any GMOs (genetically modified organisms)?

Field Roast plant-based meats are all Non-GMO Project Verified.

Are your products organic?

Our products are not currently organic. The truth is we would have to raise prices considerably to use all-organic ingredients, and our goal is to make plant-based meats and cheeses that are accessible. We focus on using fresh produce and locally-sourced ingredients, where possible, for our spices and flours. We do use organic wheat flour and organic wheat flakes.

Where can I buy your products?

Use our store locator to find a store near you that sells Field Roast products.

What is the shelf life of Field Roast products? Can I freeze them?

Field Roast plant-based meat products can be kept frozen for up to one year once thawed, they are good for about 65 days. Many stores are responsible for adding a “use by” date once they are stocked. If you purchase them in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, you may extend their freshness by refreezing them until you are ready to use them.

What material makes up the sausage casing?

Field Roast sausages don’t have any casings in a traditional sense. The vital wheat gluten is strong enough to hold the sausage together. We do link our sausages into a food-grade, BPA-free plastic barrier casing, which must be removed before preparing or eating the product.

Do your products contain soy?

Our plant-based meat products do not contain soy as an ingredient. Our Chao Creamery slices contain soy from fermented tofu.

Are your products Kosher?

Our products have not been certified kosher.

Do you produce any non-plant-based products at your production facility?

No. All of the products made in our facilities are 100% plant-based.

What's the origin of your palm oil?

We source our palm oil from Daabon, a family-owned company based in north Colombia along the Caribbean coast. They’ve been in business since 1915 and are now in the third generation of ownership. Their palm oil is expeller-pressed (which means it's made without chemical solvents), organic and sustainable.

Daabon is committed to sustainable practices through water, waste and methane management and the preservation of biodiversity. They are in alliance with Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the leading activist organization that has been most critical of palm oil agriculture. Daabon is a founding member of the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), which promotes innovation and improvements in palm oil production on a range of environmental, social and supply chain issues. POIG is supported by well-known environmental NGOs like Greenpeace, World Wildlife Foundation and RAN.


Chef and Oaxacan cuisine authority got her start in grandma’s kitchen

Celia Florián sums up Oaxacan cuisine with the words mole, corn and mezcal. But the cuisine and the culture behind it are a complicated tapestry of local and seasonal ingredients that distinguish dishes among the many small valleys of this mountainous state.

Florián is the owner and inspiration behind the Las Quince Letras restaurant, which she opened with husband Fidel Méndez in 1992 in the center of Oaxaca city. It serves dishes from all over the state, but its signature dish is the mole negro that she grew up with.

“Cooking is for me an encounter with myself,” Florián says. “It has been my refuge it is my home and it will continue to be my everything.”

That passion for cooking began early in life. Born into a rural farm family in the La Ciénaga community of Zimatlán de Álvarez, her early childhood revolved around the cultivation and preparation of food.

Her culinary foundation is the work she did with her mother and grandmother, learning tasks such as prepping vegetables, making tortillas and even churning butter.

One of Las Quince Letras’ signature dishes, mole negro.

“Here in Oaxaca, we eat well as families because of the variety of ingredients there are. The cuisine is exquisite, very healthy because of the plants and other ingredients that the earth provides. They give the dishes their distinctive flavors.”

The family moved to the city of Oaxaca when she was still in primary school. As an adult, she had a steady job working at a bank, but her love for the cuisine of her childhood led her to take the plunge and open Las Quince Letras, a lifelong project of bringing the home cooking of Oaxaca’s kitchens to an appreciative audience.

Florián is not a trained chef. Her knowledge comes from her personal experience and her contacts with many, many home cooks all over the state. She did take some classes in restaurant operations but tries to keep cooking techniques as close to the original as possible. This includes an aversion to exact measurements and preferring to cook by sight, feel and experience.

“You need to cook with your own hands,” she says. However, traditional wood fires are out because of city regulations.

She promotes quality, healthy, locally produced traditional food. Country cooking, she says, means depending on what is available locally and almost never using prepackaged items. Cooks like her grandmother use few oils and fats. Florián follows this example.

She finds that avoiding the fat does not mean lessening the flavor. “In fact, they taste more elegant,” she says.

Las Quince Letras (The 15 Letters) has been in the same location since it opened 28 years ago.

The name is taken from the building. When she was young, it was locally known as “La Esquina” (The Corner) a local landmark. In the past, it had been a tenement with various businesses occupying the space by the street. The then-owner had these tenants use “Las Quince Letras” as the business name, something that was done with the small grocery store that occupied the space before the restaurant.

That landlord is long gone, but Florían decided to keep the naming tradition. It does not hurt that the words Cocina oaxaqueña has 15 letters.

The restaurant has changed “muchísimo, muchísimo, muchísimo” since it opened, she says. Although it has never wavered from traditional Oaxacan food, the menu has evolved to include dishes from just about all over the state, the result of her tireless research.

This work has made the restaurant a point of reference for educating not only tourists but locals as well. Younger Oaxaqueños come to the restaurant to get a better appreciation of their cuisine, something that makes her very proud. It also inspired her son, Alam Méndez Florían, to become a chef, bringing Oaxacan flavors to Mexico City and Washington, DC.

The restaurant’s success made Florián one of Mexico’s leading experts on Oaxacan cuisine, but her efforts do not end there.

The interior to Las Quince Letras restaurant in Oaxaca city, Oaxaca.

Inspired by her attendance at Slow Food’s 2018 event in Italy, she decided to organize traditional Oaxacan cooks. The result is the Asociación de Cocineras Tradicionales de Oaxaca (Traditional Cooks Association of Oaxaca), which sponsored an event called the Encuentro de Cocineras Tradicionales for three consecutive years before the pandemic hit.

Both the organization and event seek to connect cooks as well as educate the general public about the value of Oaxacan food through tastings, workshops, conferences and more. It resulted in the publication of a book entitled Las cocinas tradicionales de Oaxaca, featuring both recipes and the cooks that provided them.

The 2019 version of the Encuentro demonstrated over 200 dishes, but the 2020 and 2021 versions were canceled due to the pandemic. The hope is that the 2022 version will be a go.

Florián’s work with these cooks is personally satisfying, she says.

“These women have been my “maestras” (teachers/masters), not only in relation to cooking but about the greatness of Oaxacan women. Visiting any traditional kitchen is like entering another world, with its own food, techniques and even rituals related to preparation and eating.”

Florián’s work has been recognized with memberships in national organizations such as the Conservatoria de la Cocina Mexicana, with the restaurant listed as one of the 120 best restaurants in Mexico by Pellegrino/Nespresso and was the 2021 Artisan & Authenticity Award winner of the World’s’ Best Restaurant Selection of the French organization La Liste. She has appeared multiple times on local, national and international television, including appearances on Netflix’s Street Food Latinoamerica series. She was also a judge of the MasterChef México TV series in 2020.

But her work is far from finished. Oaxaca is a seemingly infinite number of tiny valleys and hamlets that would take multiple lifetimes to explore.

“Oaxaca’s cuisine is a jewel,” says the chef, and certainly it has a long and bright future.

Leigh Thelmadatter arrived in Mexico 18 years ago and fell in love with the land and the culture in particular its handcrafts and art. She is the author of Mexican Cartonería: Paper, Paste and Fiesta (Schiffer 2019). Her culture column appears regularly on Mexico News Daily.

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The Best (And Worst) Oils To Use For Every Cooking Method

From olive to coconut to flax, it&rsquos no secret that oils are having a major culinary moment. Good thing, too, since most of them are rich in unsaturated fats that&rsquoll help keep your heart in tip-top shape, says Stephanie Hoban, RD, a Houston-based natural foods chef. But what&rsquos the smartest way to fit all of these different lipids into your kitchen repertoire? And which oils hold up to each kind of cooking? Read on to learn the best (and worst) oils for eight everyday cooking methods.

You can't go wrong with safflower or canola oil. But if you&rsquore looking to add an Asian-inspired flavor, try toasted sesame oil. All stand up to stir-frying&rsquos hot temperatures because of their high smoke point, the temperature at which an oil starts to burn and emit (you guessed it!) smoke. &ldquoWhen oil smokes, it&rsquos actually oxidizing and turning rancid, and oxidized oils are carcinogens,&rdquo Hoban says. If you opt for canola, make sure it&rsquos organic and certified non-GMO: In the US, nearly 90% of canola is genetically engineered.

What not to use: Olive oil. With a smoke point that tops out at around 400 degrees, it won't stand up to the intense temperature required of stir-frying.

Rich in heart-healthy fats, olive oil of any kind works well for this medium-heat, stove top cooking method. Refined or light olive oil is paler in color and more neutral in flavor than its extra virgin cousin, making it a good choice for all-purpose sautéing. Go for the greener, grassier (and often more expensive) extra virgin stuff in dishes where you want a more pronounced olive oil flavor, like marinara sauce.

What not to use: Steer clear of oils that break down in the presence of heat, like flaxseed or wheat germ.

When making uncooked items like hummus, pesto, or vinaigrette, reach for rich, flavorful extra virgin olive oil. Looking for something a little different? Try avocado oil. Though you can cook with it at high temperatures, its buttery essence really shines when used raw.

What not to use: Canola or safflower oil. Though perfectly safe, the neutral flavor will leave your food tasting lackluster.

Refined coconut, organic canola, or safflower all fare well in medium temperatures typically used for baking, says Hoban. Among those, the one you pick depends on the taste you&rsquore looking for: Coconut oil&rsquos distinct, nutty flavor will stand out in baked goods, while canola or safflower will fade into the background.

What not to use: Flaxseed or wheat germ oils. Though you might think they&rsquoll give muffins and quick breads an extra boost of omega-3s, &ldquothese oils are fragile and break down in the presence of heat,&rdquo Hoban says.

Your oil here depends on the temperature at which you&rsquoll be cooking. If you&rsquore roasting higher than 325 degrees, pick a heat-stable oil, like organic canola. Cooking low and slow? Regular olive oil is a good choice, Hoban says.

What not to use: Just like you&rsquod skip flaxseed or wheat germ oil for baking, avoid them for roasting, too.

Consider organic canola or safflower oil your kings of the grill. Able to withstand temperatures reaching close to 500 degrees, these sturdy fats are the least likely to oxidize in the presence of flames or hot coals.

What not to use: Olive oil. Even though tons of recipes call for brushing proteins and veggies with the stuff before slapping them on the grill, the heart-healthy fat can&rsquot take the heat.

A high oil temperature is key to turning out fried fare that&rsquos crisp&mdashnot soggy&mdashwhich means the food has absorbed too much fat. With smoke points of up to 450 degrees, peanut, safflower, and soybean oils get the job done. If you choose soybean oil, though, be sure to pick an organic variety to avoid GMOs.

What not to use: Olive oil. Tempted though you might be to make your fried foods feel slightly more virtuous, its smoke point is too low for this type of cooking.

For extra nutrition and depth of flavor, try nutty flaxseed or wheat germ oil in smoothies or drizzled over cooked dishes (like whole grains or roasted vegetables) right before serving. Toasted sesame oil, too, can make a finished dish even more delicious.

What not to use: Canola, safflower, or regular olive oil. They won&rsquot do anything except make your food taste oily!