L'Academie Culinary Teams "Bring It!" to the 6 Course Lunch Competition

Chef Cedric Maupillier greets his two new L'Acadmie interns, Mike Ferguson and Angela Jensen, who will be working at his restaurant, Convivial, for the next six months.

Chef Cedric Maupillier greets his two new L'Acadmie interns, Mike Ferguson and Angela Jensen, who will be working at his restaurant, Convivial, for the next six months.

Words and photos by Susan Able

On Monday, March 21, twenty-three students from the L'Academie de Cuisine's (LADC) fall 2016 class were divided into three teams. Two days later, they would be competing against each other to see who could win the most points preparing and serving a complicated, multi-course luncheon of their own design to some very particular judges. This challenge is LADC's traditional end-of-semester competition. Like many cooking competitions, there were ground rules. Six courses. A canapé and mignardises (a very small dessert, usually served at the very end of a meal with coffee) were required. There were must-use ingredients for certain courses such as lobster, cheese and veal tenderloin. As soon as the teams were formed, the work began in earnest with menu development and testing; then on Wednesday, cooking began at 8:00 a.m., with a hardstop, "hands up" deadline of lunch service starting promptly at 12:30 p.m.

I was honored and happy to serve as a judge for this competition, joined by the estimable Chef Francois Dionot, the founder of the L'Academie and Chef Cedric Maupiller of Convivial and Mintwood Place. The French language flowed freely in the judge's room and I soaked up the Gallic gastronomic atmosphere which was only enhanced with a glass of Pouilly-Fuissé, helpful when one is readying to taste and score 24 different plated courses from the three student teams. 

The kitchen was abuzz with last minute prep as we took a look in the kitchen at noon on Wednesday, March 22.

The kitchen was abuzz with last minute prep as we took a look in the kitchen at noon on Wednesday, March 22.

As Chef Francois, Chef Cedric and I wended our way through courses of soup, seafood, cheese and dessert, we tasted carefully and made notes. The three teams were judged on taste (the biggest score), presentation, originality and correct temperature. It was a close match up, with each team absolutely nailing at least one dish with the caliber of taste and presentation that would be welcome in any fine restaurant, and then, well, presenting a dish that still needed some thought or more practice. As we debriefed the culinary students on their outcomes, we congratulated them on an an incredibly impressive effort as they prepared to leave the LADC classrooms to begin six month internships with various commercial kitchens and restaurants around the DMV.

Chef Cedric was happy to see that his two new incoming interns had done good work on some of the top scoring dishes of the day. He explained, "These competitions are very important, they help students prepare well for the stress and level of service required in a restaurant. Not only do you have to have solid cooking skills, but you have to be able to handle the pace, the pressure and think on your feet. Things go wrong in professional kitchens too, and you have to be able to rebound instantly. This kind of competition is part of that preparation. It builds confidence."

My personal favorite? Butter poached lobster, served perched over fresh pasta in a lobster cream sauce. Congrats Team A on this deliciousness.

Very pretty dessert presented by LADC's Team "G". A poached apple tartlette with spiced ice cream and caramel sauce.

Very pretty dessert presented by LADC's Team "G". A poached apple tartlette with spiced ice cream and caramel sauce.

L’Academie de Cuisine, founded by Chef Francois Dionot, has been training pastry and culinary chefs for more than forty years. Named one of the Top 10 Cooking Schools in the U.S. and Canada, and Best in Culinary Schools in 2016, L'Academie offers a one-year, three-phase culinary and pastry programs combining hands-on training and six-month paid apprenticeships.

L’Academie de Cuisine also provides culinary education to the general public for recreational purposes, and offers short term courses at their Bethesda branch facility for cooks of any age or experience with same chefs who teach at the professional culinary school.

New classes for professionals start March 27, and recreational classes are ongoing. For more information or the class schedule, go to https://lacademie.com

 

Susan Able is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Edible DC. The energy and passion of people who grow and make food inspire her and she loves chronicling their stories.

Hamantaschen by Max

Words by Arielle Weg, Photography by Ethan Weg

We don't celebrate Jewish holidays at my parent's home without cooking a traditional holiday dish. Friday nights are always time for braided bread, for Hanukkah we fry up potato pancakes, and for Purim we make hamantaschen, a delicious pastry with three distinct corners. Hamantaschen have been part of Purim celebrations for centuries and their shape is supposed to represent the three-cornered hat worn by the villain of the Purim holiday. The name, "hamantaschen" means poppy-seed filled pockets, a traditional choice for the filling, but any sweet filling can be used. The ones my mother and I made are filled with three different jams and chocolate chips.

Hamantaschen_overheadplate.jpg

The most important thing is that they maintain their shape while baking and don't open up. A few tips for that are to not overfill them, keep the dough as thin as you can, and close them up tightly pinched more that you might think. Using an egg wash or some water typically helps to keep them tightly closed.

While they will always be part of our family's celebration, you'll find they are so good that they are welcome anytime. This particular recipe is in the memory of my boyfriend's Polish grandmother. This was her recipe his family graciously shared with me.

 

Max’s Hamantaschen

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine or butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/3 cup orange juice

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg white, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 ˚ F. Beat margarine at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg, orange juice, and vanilla.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to margarine mixture; stir into uniform dough. Shape dough into a flat disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes. Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 3-inch circles with a cookie cutter or drinking glass.

Place ½ teaspoon of filling in the center and pinch together at the sides. Fold remaining side up to the center and pinch together at the sides. Put the tightly pinched hamantaschen 1 inch apart from each other on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg white and bake for 15 minutes. Watch cookies carefully, some batches can take up to 35 minutes to cook thoroughly. 

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Arielle Weg and her mother get ready for Purim by baking Max's Hamantaschen. Arielle is a spring semester intern at Edible dc and a senior journalism major at american university. 

Arielle Weg and her mother get ready for Purim by baking Max's Hamantaschen. Arielle is a spring semester intern at Edible dc and a senior journalism major at american university. 

Union Kitchen Hosts “Meet the Makers”

DC Food Makers Showcase Their Products and We Discover Some New Favorites

by Arielle Weg

Photo by Jonny Grave

Photo by Jonny Grave

Union Kitchen opened its doors last Saturday, March 4th to hungry customers, inviting them in to sip and sample from more than 80 local businesses. A dream come true for locavores, and trust me, the tastes definitely did not disappoint.

The Union Kitchen space in Ivy City serves as a communal kitchen, distribution company and grocery store, all designed to offer small businesses the opportunity to get started, flourish and produce their products. Union Kitchen takes it steps further, and provides help in distribution getting their makers’ products out to 200 retailers in the region. Not only a monumental support to a just-started food business, it’s a win-win for people who enjoy finding local products at their grocery.

After an afternoon of tasting from the makers of Union Kitchen, it was tough to choose, but I picked my top 10 local products you definitely need to try out yourself.

Capitol Kettle Corn

There’s no way you can resist trying a perfectly popped kettle corn coated in acai and charcoal powder. It sounds odd, but the black powder gives a perfect twist on the classic snack food. Other crazy combos include harissa mint, pesto parmesan, zatar feta and sweet beets. You’ll never need to wait in line for movie theater popcorn with this local favorite. Capitol Kettle Corn can be found atarea farmers markets or order online. A pack of a dozen 3.8 ounce bags are sold for around $28.

photo by arielle weg

photo by arielle weg

Vegetable Butcher

You’re home late from work and want nothing more than to curl up with a bowl of home cooked food, but you don’t want to spend the night cooking. The Vegetable Butcher gives you the chance to order ready to eat meals with your health in mind, straight from your local farmer. You can order a basket of ingredients to prep, home or office delivery day of or a planned set of meals to get you through the week. The menu varies every week, but examples include vegetable enchiladas with avocado and roasted tomato salsa or chocolate hazelnut crepes with strawberry and toasted hazelnuts. Orders are dependent on package, but most meals range from $11 to $14.

Embitterment Bitters

Whether you’re a professional mixologist or an at-home cocktail maven, Embitterment Bitters helps to make your cocktail something special. They have the classic bitters, like orange. But what makes Embitterment Bitters special are their lavender bitters and chocolate bitters. These flavors are unmistakably unique, and Embitterment Bitters has stepped up to offer you a delicious drink experience. You can find their bitters in a variety of vendors across the DMV.

Photo By Arielle Weg

Photo By Arielle Weg

 Meski Catering

This Ethiopian catering company kills at producing delicious, vegan, paleo and gluten free foods. Think traditional dishes like lentils in berbere sauce and chickpeas stewed with tomatoes. This family owned business serves up classic Ethiopian recipes and serves them up on delicious basmati rice and perfectly spongy injera. Call them with price inquiries for your next event.

Snacklins

Have you ever had a delicious pork rind? These are them. But no! Snacklins are 100 percent vegan and gluten free snacks that look and taste like pork rinds, but are crafted from mushrooms and you wouldn’t even know. The snack comes in three flavors of soy ginger, Chesapeake Bay and BBQ. You can purchase a six pack for $18 at many grocers in the DMV.

Photo By Arielle Weg

Photo By Arielle Weg

Sasya Foods

Inspired by traditional Indian recipes, these spreads are something you’ll want to put on everything you eat. Sasya Foods jars South Indian flavors of cilantro, eggplant and peanut. All of the spreads are all-natural, gluten free, vegan, and are crafted with non-GMO ingredients. The spreads were delicious with veggies and chips, but also would make a killer sauce for any stir fry or as a marinade for grilled chicken or fish. Each 9 oz jar is available online or in some grocers for $7.45.

photo by arielle weg

photo by arielle weg

 SWAP

Vegetable waffles may sound like an oxymoron, but SWAP is truly the breakfast of the future. With flavors like tomato pizza, spicy spinach, cinnamon and everything, these plant-based toaster waffles are way too good to pass on. But what really make these waffles unreal is their main ingredient- yucca. The plant is a high-fiber, starchy root (like a potato) and is the base to every SWAP waffle, making them all wheat free and delicious. Find them in a variety of grocers across the DMV.

Photo by arielle weg

Photo by arielle weg

 Homeshed Kitchens

Homeshed Kitchens is more than just an artisanal bakery. They’re selling tarts, flavorful sourdough breads and pot pies out of the Bethesda Farm Women’s Market. What makes this these breads extra special (other than the perfectly crunchy crust?)- the homemade butter you can spread on top. Plus try funky flavors like chocolate chip sourdough. You definitely won’t regret the trip.

 

photo by arielle weg

photo by arielle weg

Farmbird

Starting out as a small catering company focused on delectable chicken dishes, this fabulous find is opening their very own restaurant this May on H Street. The menu is packed with never frozen, fresh chicken that are raised humanely on all-vegetarian diets. Plus no growth hormones or antibiotics, and sourced from your local farm. The current catering menu offers plates of flavorful sliced chicken breast or thighs plus a vegetarian option of tofu in tons of spices and sauces. They’ll even toss your selection onto a fresh baguette or over greens for something different.

Short Eats

If you haven’t tried Sri Lankan cuisine quite yet, hold tight. Short Eats is coming to a pop-up in Petworth in just a few weeks, and we are way too excited to try all of their flavors. Try their veggie roti with potatoes, leeks, green peppers and poached egg or snag a roti with turkey or sausage for something meaty. Can’t wait for the opening? Give them a call to cater your next event, and share the flavors of Sri Lanka with your friends and family.

photo by Jonny Grave

photo by Jonny Grave


Arielle Weg is a senior at American University studying journalism and health promotion. She is a spring semester intern at EdibleDC.  

Drew McCormick Takes Helm of Pizzeria Paradiso Program 

by AJ Dronkers

Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick (Photo by David Santori)

Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick (Photo by David Santori)

While women make up the majority of food-service and hospital jobs, they are under represented in leadership roles. In fact, in the food service industry, women only comprise 44% of management roles and only 4% of top-level executive positions, even though they represent the vast majority of employees. 

A recent Johnson & Wales research study found that the barriers for women in the hospitality industry include: 

  • Work and family scheduling conflicts
  • Equality of opportunities
  • Lack of family support
  • Gender discrimination

With that in mind we decided to shed light on kick ass women taking the helm of the DC hospitality scene. Pizzeria Paradiso seemed like a natural place to start where owner Chef Ruth Gresser, a kick ass woman herself, recently promoted the first woman to serve as Executive Beverage Director in it's 25 year history. 

Meet Drew McCormick -- who started as a server at Pizzeria Paradiso and really started to discover her passion during their monthly beer classes and tastings. We sat down with her at the Georgetown location:

EDC: How do you go about suggesting beer pairings? 

Drew: I like to pair based on the cheese – something fatty does well with sour beers. But we also need to understand peoples taste buds – I love hoppy beers with spicy food but other people think it accentuates the hot and prefer something to cool their palate like a pilsner. 

Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick (Photo by David Santori)

Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick (Photo by David Santori)

EDC: What are some of your favorite female influenced local beers?

Drew: Denizens is women owned and run brewery just over in Maryland -- we are always excited to carry their products (and collaborate with them). I also really admire Lauren Salazar from New Belgium. She's the cellar master for New Belgium and I've always been infatuated with the way she views barrels as her children. 

The other local beverage industry company that I really admire is Republic Restoratives. The two women who own it are not only making delicious liquids but they're making a name for themselves as a female-owned, progressive company in DC.  

There are two other women in the DC beer scene that are not producers but are worth mentioning. Kathy Rizzo who runs the DC Brewers' Guild does amazing work. Kathy works really hard and genuinely cares about the state of the DC beer community. Kim Bender is the Executive Director of the Heurich Museum and has a wealth of historical DC beer knowledge and is another caring member of the DC beer community. 

I do indeed look up to all of these women, see them as leaders in the industry, and couldn't be happier to be joining their ranks.

EDC: Any others outside the region?

Drew: Graft is a new cidery out of New York that is doing some amazing stuff with wild fermentation. The two owners are a brother and sister duo. Sara, the sister, is enthusiastic and can talk about the science behind their delicious liquids while still being able to connect and talk about her product on every level. Their cider is amazing, their can and bottle artwork is absolutely gorgeous, and the brother and sister team at the helm is young, accessible, and incredibly hardworking. 

EDC: What goes into a beer collaboration, like your Right Proper Maslow?

Drew: We usually meet them at some point and decide mutually on a fun direction to take. It has to work into their brewing schedule. For the Right Proper Maslow project – we decided we wanted a really good house beer that would pair with our rustic crust. The inspiration was “de la senne” zesty Belgian beers. Then we let the experts, Thor and Nathan, from Right Proper lead the way. 

Keep an eye our for our continued series shedding light on women and immigrants in the local hospitality scene. #resist


AJ Dronkers is the Associate Publisher & Digital Editor for EdibleDC Magazine @aj_dc

VA Wine Governor's Cup Awards for 2017 Announced

Loudoun County Vineyard Brings Home the Trophy

By Susan Able

Hundreds from the virginia wine industry gathered in richmond at the john marshall hotel on tuesday, feb. 21 for the VA Wine Association governor's cup gala and award ceremony, hosted by the Virginia Wine Board..

Hundreds from the virginia wine industry gathered in richmond at the john marshall hotel on tuesday, feb. 21 for the VA Wine Association governor's cup gala and award ceremony, hosted by the Virginia Wine Board..

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was on hand to award Loudoun County's The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards the prestigious 2017 Governor's Cup for their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. The annual award is very competitive; 494 wines from 102 Virginia wineries submitted entries for this year's competition, only 23 earned gold medals. Of the winners, five were 2014 Virginia Petit Verdot, a varietal that has come into its own to shine as star in Virginia.

The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards is owned and farmed by Maryann and Anthony Fialdini; the winery is located on eleven acres on a former dairy farm. Their partnership with renowned winemaker Michael Shaps brought home a winner. The tasting notes for their winning wine: "The...Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine with well-balanced acidity. It is aged in French and American oak and expresses notes of dark cherry and coffee. It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and is complemented by a soft tannic structure that is integrated with the fruit. Clove and tobacco notes add complexity and extend through the finish."

Governor McAuliffe congratulated the Fialdinis on their win saying, “I’m excited to see The Barns at Hamilton Station Cabernet Sauvignon win this year’s Governor’s Cup. Andrew and Maryann Fialdini are seeing the results of eight years of planning and hard work come to fruition. My congratulations to them on this outstanding wine and for their success with their winery.”

The Governor also touted the growth and economic impact of the Virginia wine industry. Last year Virginia winemakers produced 8.5 million bottles of Virginia grown wine with a $1.3B impact on the Virginia economy, an increase of 82 percent from the last economic impact study conducted in 2010. And Virginia wine tourism is also growing rapidly, up 39 percent since 2010.

David King of King Vineyards and Emily Pelton of Veritas Vineyards, award winners at last night 2017 Governor's Cup Gala in Richmond.

David King of King Vineyards and Emily Pelton of Veritas Vineyards, award winners at last night 2017 Governor's Cup Gala in Richmond.

Virginia Wine Person of the Year Award went to Emily Pelton from Veritas Vineyards for her work as a winemaker and for her leadership with the VA Wine Research Exchange Project. David King from King Vineyards won the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award for his over twenty years of leadership in the Virginia industry, including past president of the VA Wine Board.

Virginia governor terry mc auliffe celebrated with the award winning winemakers at last nght's gala, here lifTing a glass with the team from horton vineyards who produced a gold medal winning vigonier.

Virginia governor terry mc auliffe celebrated with the award winning winemakers at last nght's gala, here lifTing a glass with the team from horton vineyards who produced a gold medal winning vigonier.

Each year the Virginia Wineries Association chooses a Governor's Cup Case, this year's 2017 Governor's Cup case features top ranking red and white wines from the competition. The awards and the Governor’s Cup Case were created to showcase the quality of the Virginia wine region through various marketing programs and exposure to top wine critics and tastemakers. This year's featured wines in the Governor's Cup Case are:

  • Barboursville Vineyards 2013 Paxxito
  • Breaux Vineyards 2012 Meritage
  • Horton Vineyards 2015 Viognier
  • Ingleside Vineyards, 2014 Petit Verdot
  • Jefferson Vineyards, 2014 Petit Verdot
  • King Family Vineyards, 2014 Loreley
  • King Family Vineyards, 2014 Petit Verdot
  • Michael Shaps Wineworks, 2014 Meritage
  • Valley Road Vineyards, 2014 Petit Verdot
  • Veritas Vineyard and Winery, 2014 Petit Manseng
  • Veritas Vineyard and Winery, 2014 Petit Verdot Paul Shaffer 6th Edition

For more information on Virginia wine, go to vawine.org.

Taste of Japan Honors Local Japanese Cuisine Stars

Persimmons and an Honorary Award from Embassy

by Tyler Westerfield

Daisuke Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima and Yama Jewayni (Photo Courtesy of Taste of Japan Best, Kyle KONNECTED Media Group)

Daisuke Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima and Yama Jewayni (Photo Courtesy of Taste of Japan Best, Kyle KONNECTED Media Group)

In early February, the local Taste of Japan Committee hosted its “Taste of Japan” event honoring local businesses’ contribution to Japanese food and culture in the District. Guests arriving at Mess Hall, a culinary incubator in Northeast DC, were greeted with a curated assortment of Japanese liquors—including the light and refreshing Daasai 50 Sparkling Nigori Junmai Daiginjo sake—to accompany expertly-crafted sushi rolls and fresh nigiri selections.

Lox and Bagel Aburamen and Bantam King Shoyu Paitan Ramen (Photo Courtesy of Taste of Japan Best, Kyle KONNECTED Media Group)

Lox and Bagel Aburamen and Bantam King Shoyu Paitan Ramen (Photo Courtesy of Taste of Japan Best, Kyle KONNECTED Media Group)

Before dinner, guests joined together to celebrate some of the District’s local businesses at the heart of Japanese culinary culture in the city. Recipients included James Beard Award-nominated chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground fame (currently Maketto); Hana Japanese Market owner Ikuvo Chisak; Izakaya Seki, led by the father/daughter team of Hiroshi and Cizuka Seki; and Chef Kaz Okochi’s KAZ Sushi Bistro. The hosts then honored Daikaya Group, whose owners Katsuya Fukushima, Yama Jewayni, and Daisuke Utagawa received the Taste of Japan Honorary Award in recognition of their excellence in Japanese cuisine—enjoyed by residents in the delicious dishes at local spots Daikaya, Bantam King, and Haikan.

Ramen noodles (Photo Courtesy of Taste of Japan Best, Kyle KONNECTED Media Group)

Ramen noodles (Photo Courtesy of Taste of Japan Best, Kyle KONNECTED Media Group)

Guests eagerly awaiting the evening’s generous dinner noshed on savory starters following the awards ceremony—delicate mushroom arancini with imported dashi and miso-marinated Japanese Wagyu beef with shiso were crowd favorites. The real stars of the night were two Daikaya Group ramen dishes; guests loved the Lox and Bagel Aburamen—an innovative dish of imported Sapporo-style noodles served with fresh lox, briny capers, and fresh cream cheese.

The evening ended with a special treat courtesy of the Embassy of Japan—Fuyuu persimmons from Wakayama Prefecture, currently forbidden from the United States. These firm, slightly sweet fruits, each a rich shade of orange, were a perfect end to an evening showcasing the rich diversity of Japanese cuisine in Washington, DC.


Tyler Westerfield (@tylerwesterfield) has lived in DC for more than seven years and enjoys cooking, baking, and hosting dinners. You can find him around DC with his mischievous long-haired dachshund Louie.