Letter from the Editor: A Procrastinator's Welcome to the New Year 2014 Vol: 107

February 2014

At StarChefs we’re easing into the New Year. No sooner did the polar vortex finally retreat, when we found ourselves staring directly into the face of Punxsutawney Phil—six more blasted weeks of winter (anybody have a good recipe for groundhog?). At least the end is now in sight and soon the crocuses will pop, hiding their hidden saffron treasure troves. And so we offer you a heartfelt procrastinator’s welcome to 2014—nicely chilled, hotly overdue.

To wish you a happy and healthy New Year we’re toasting with juice, as we expect to see the juice phenomenon (like it or hate it) continue to heat up in 2014. Chefs like forward-thinking, health conscious, and bottom-line minded Franklin Becker (formerly of NYC favs Brasserie and Abe & Arthur) are cheffing-up the juice trade and altering the chain business model to fit their ideas of what juicing should be. Becker is incorporating cold-press juice into his larger fast-casual restaurant concept, The Little Beet, with juice menus, pairings, and bottled juices. Master sommelier Fred Dexheimer also has had his eye on the juice trend and its potential and possibilities. He just opened Sraw Valley Café in Durham, North Carolina, in partnership with Chef Adam Rose. Straw Valley is a combination juice, wine, and raw bar, and its only phase one of three in Dexheimer’s master plan—a beer garden and restaurant are coming soon.

Perhaps drinking more beer and getting your cicerone certification (they’re not mutually exclusive) are on your to-do list for 2014. We’ll explore the ins and outs of the certification process and how it makes you fun at parties.   

Our pastry column, Whipped, is picking up a story from where we left off in 2011. We’re catching up with Portland, Oregon Rising Star Pastry Chefs Kir Jensen and Kristen Murray. Both chefs are exemplars of the pastry-chef-as-entrepreneur trend. With Jensen’s Sugar Cube and Murray’s Luncheonette Maurice, these chefs from the sweeter-side are taking ownership of their careers and a market.

Another chef owning it is Dominique Crenn of 2-Michelin Star Atelier Crenn in San Francisco. She’s inventing and disseminating inspired techniques the likes of which (and also at a pace that) are reminiscent of the hay day of elBulli. She’s transformed egg yolks into malleable, translucent golden sheaths, using little more than salt, sous vide, and her own imagination. We’ll show you the alchemy step by step and how Crenn utilizes the product on the plate.

Back in September 2013, members of the advisory board for the Basque Culinary Center—Dan Barber, Alex Atala, Ferràn Adria, Gaston Acurió, Enrique Olvera, Michel Bras, Yukio Hattori, Joan Roca, and advisory guest Harold McGee—gathered at Blue Hill at Stone Barns to discuss seeds. We’ll let you in on the meeting and the movement. Their focus is on strengthening the relationship between chefs and seeds breeders, and formulating a plan of action for seed preservation and proliferation in 2014 and beyond.

StarChefs has selected its Top 5 Cities for chefs in 2014: Asheville, Austin, Brooklyn, Portland, and Portland. Affordability, quality of life, growth, community, beer, coffee, and rents are among the factors we considered, besides just plain love of the city and excitement over the food. Check out why chefs are moving there and why we’d also move there in 2014.    

Antoinette Bruno