Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Name Dropping

Ok, so by now, most of you know the name of my book. (And if you don't, here's a not-so-subtle hint: In the Kitchen with Cleveland's Favorite Chefs.)

And by now, most of you may even know the subtitle of my book. (Another not-so-subtle hint: 35 Fabulous Meals in About an Hour.)

But what most of you may not know are the names of all the superstar chefs in my book. Until now, that is...

Without further ado and with great pride, I present to you the complete roster of who's who in my book:

  1. Sergio Abramof - chef/owner of Sergio's and SARAVA
  2. Michael Annandono - executive chef/owner of Michaelangelo's
  3. Dave Apthorpe - executive chef of Leutner Cafe at Case Western Reserve University
  4. Ben Bebenroth - chef/owner of Spice of Life Catering and Spice Kitchen+Bar
  5. Jonathan Bennett - chef/partner of Moxie, Red, and Rosso Italia
  6. Tim Birkley - executive chef of Johnny's Bar
  7. Dante Boccuzzi - chef/owner of DANTE, Ginko, the D.C. Pasta Co., and DBA
  8. Zachary Bruell - chef/owner of Parallax, L'Albatros, Chinato, Table 45, and Cowell & Hubbard
  9. Shawn Cline - corporate executive chef of Blue Point Grille, Cabin Club, Delmonico's, Rosewood, and Salmon Dave's 
  10. Ellis Cooley - former executive chef of AMP 150
  11. Paul Courtwright - executive chef of Shoreby Club
  12. John D'Amico - chef/partner of Chez Francois, Riverfront Cafe, and Touche
  13. Matt Del Regno - executive chef of Levy Restaurants at Cleveland Browns Stadium
  14. Brandt Evans - chef/owner of Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern and Pura Vida
  15. Matt Fish - chef/owner of Melt Bar & Grilled
  16. Carmella Fragassi - chef/owner of La Campagna
  17. Heather Haviland - chef/owner of Lucky's Cafe and Sweet Mosaic
  18. Randal Johnson - chef/owner of Molinari's
  19. Pete Joyce - former executive chef/partner of Bistro on Lincoln Park
  20. Marlin Kaplan - former chef/owner of Luxe Kitchen & Lounge and Dragonfly
  21. John Kolar - chef/owner of Thyme2
  22. Nolan Konkoski - chef/owner of SOHO Kitchen & Bar
  23. Zach Ladner - executive chef of Giovanni's
  24. Vid Lutz - production & development chef at Nestle Professional
  25. James Major - former executive chef of Cleveland Indians Dining
  26. Matt Mathlage - executive chef/owner of Light Bistro
  27. Loretta Paganini - executive chef/owner of The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking and Sapore
  28. Jim Perko - executive chef of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute
  29. Regan Reik - executive chef of Pier W
  30. Jonathon Sawyer - chef/owner of The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat
  31. Steve Schimoler - chef/owner of Crop Bistro & Bar
  32. Karen Small - executive chef/owner of The Flying Fig
  33. Rachael Spieth - executive chef of Georgetown (formerly Three Birds)
  34. Michael Symon - chef/partner/owner of Lola, Lolita, and B Spot, and chef/partner of Roast
  35. Eric Williams - executive chef/owner of Momocho and chef/partner of Happy Dog
Hope you're as excited to find out what they're cooking up in their kitchens as I was!

Michael Symon
Dante Boccuzzi

Zack Bruell

Jonathon Sawyer

Karen Small

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Very Nostalgic Weekend

This weekend was full of fun times and great memories of times past. And it was all because of the music.

You see, Friday night, Joe and I visited some good friends of ours (she, believe it or not, went to grade school with Joe!) at a more-than-beautiful Chautauqua community on Lake Erie. Along with some other grade-school friends, we all attended a great America concert in the auditorium.

For those of you too young to remember (or too old to recall easily), this is the beloved '70s folk rock band that brought us Ventura Highway, Sister Golden Hair, Tin Man, Daisy Jane, A Horse with No Name, and many other great songs. We could hardly contain ourselves as we sang along with absolutely no shame at all.

Then Sunday, Joe and I joined another couple (this time, he went to high school with Joe) for another great concert at Blossom called The Beat Goes On! Music of the Baby Boomers. (FYI, emphasis on baby boomers. That's us. I think someone just came up with the term as a nicer way of saying borderline old fogies.) Anyway, back to the music.

What more fun! The Cleveland Orchestra played favorite songs from the Beatles, the Four Seasons, Motown, Burt Bacharach, and too many more to mention. But they were all toe-tapping good with lots of energy and (like I said before) lots and lots of nostalgia.

During this second outing, we had a pot-luck dinner on the lawn before the concert. Our friends brought the most amazing wrap sandwiches, and we brought dessert (duh!). For a sneak peek and a recipe of what I made, click here.

Just for the heck of it, what's your favorite pot-luck recipe? Would love to hear from you.

Until next time.


Monday, July 16, 2012

How it All Began

It was the fall of 2008. My daughter, Monica, was interviewing at med schools. One interview took her to upstate New York. So we flew to New York City, rented a car, picked up my oldest daughter, Nina (who lives in Queens), and we all drove up to the school together.

Nina and I dropped off Monica for the day (those interviews are brutal, let me tell you) and decided to visit a small hamlet of a town nearby to kill some time. We wandered into a quaint little coffee shop for a bite to eat. As we were sitting in the most comfortable overstuffed armchairs ever, we started talking about our life's dreams and ambitions. Hers was to start her own interior design and styling firm (which she has done since then, thanks for asking). And mine was to write a cookbook. But not just any cookbook. A cookbook that featured the best chefs Cleveland has to offer (which are many).

Nina kept prodding me as to my vision. We bounced ideas off each other. We fine-tuned the concept. We changed directions. We added more details. We took some out. And after about a couple of hours, I left that coffee shop with the seed of a great concept.

After I got back home, I sat down to research and write my proposal. (And that wasn't easy, let me tell you.) Mine ended up being pretty long. But it was thorough and it was complete. And I sent it out.

Low and behold, months later, I came home to an enthusiastic voice message from Joyce Harrison, the acquisitions editor at Kent State University Press, who said she was VERY interested in talking. I was in heaven.

We signed the final contract in August 2010, and it took almost two years more to interview the chefs, gather their recipes, triple test all the recipes, schedule the photo shoots, take the photos, write the text, copy edit it, make tons upon tons of corrections, design it, and proof it tons more times. On June 1, 2012, it was finally and gloriously shipped to the printer -- where it's getting ready to be boxed up as we speak.

So there you have it, folks. My long journey -- condensed to a few paragraphs. I just thought you might find it a bit interesting. (As a postscript, Monica did get into med school. The prestigious Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, to be exact. She's in her fourth year now, and she's doing really wonderful.)

For those who crave more details, they will follow, I promise you. Until then...


Sunday, July 8, 2012


It's official, folks! I formally submitted all the last corrections for my book (In the Kitchen with Cleveland's Favorite Chefs) to the fine people over at Kent State University Press on June 1, 2012. They, in turn, have sent the final files over to the printer, where those fine people are doing their thing as we speak. In the meantime, everyone's collectively breathing a huge sigh of relief. Please allow me to explain. 

This book of mine has been a true labor of love (as well as frustration) for over three years now. It started with the seed of an idea. Progressed to the let-me-see-how-far-I-can-take-it stage. Morphed into a formal proposal sent out to various publishers. Turned into a joyful reality when the lovely Joyce Harrison of KSU Press accepted it. Reared its ugly head when details upon details upon details emerged during its creation and development and implementation. Turned the corner and became good again when even the tiniest details finally started coming together so nicely, thank goodness. And then ended up becoming a thing of beauty (see cover below) that will be in our hands before too long. September 2012, to be exact. (Fingers crossed!)

So there you have it in a nutshell. A lot of work. A lot of coordination. A lot of hand wringing. A lot of fires put out. A lot of sleepless nights. But oh-so-much satisfaction, too.

This premiere post is the first of many I plan to share with you along the way. So please come back and visit often for regular updates on the book and more. Until then, I invite you to click here and add this lovely gem of a book to your wish list. Better yet, pre-order it before the stash runs out (wishful thinking)!


 Cover design by Christine Brooks of KSU Press