The First Annual Flavor of Napa
by Chef Len Elias
The “Flavor of Napa” was a world class celebration of food and wine highlighting some of Napa's best-known chefs and winemakers. Events took place up and down the Napa Valley over 4 days in November and included culinary demonstrations, multi course dinners, wine tastings, and a closing brunch. Proceeds from the festival benefited the scholarship fund at the Culinary Institute of America. Participating Chefs included Thomas Keller, Bob Hurley, Christopher Kostow, Masaharu Morimoto, Tyler Florence, Michael Chiarello, Cindy Pawlcyn, Richard Blais, Todd Humphries, Jeff Jake, Christophe Geurad and dozens of others. The main purpose of my visit was to lend a hand and support the culinary team at the Dolce Silverado Resort.
WALL STREET INVESTS LUNCH MONEY AT VERONICA'S KITCHEN
Like many women of her generation in her native Trinidad, Veronica Julien grew up learning how to cook under the watchful instruction of her parents and grandmother. "This was something every girl learned," she remembers, "but in my household, everyone had to learn how to cook and clean and keep a house, not just the girls." Julien, now a grandmother herself, credits her childhood training for the award-winning fare she serves from Veronica's Kitchen, as she calls her stainless-steel cart. Found on the streets of New York's Financial District, the cart is a popular mainstay among the lunch crowd for its Trinidadian dishes and punches.
Like the various forms of Caribbean cooking, a tasty, colorful hybrid of the many cuisines and cultures that left their imprint on Caribbean history, Julien is from a multinational household (her grandmother and mother were "born and raised Trini"; her father was an Englishman originally from Grenada). "Trinidadian [cuisine]," she explains, "is a little of everything— African American, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese. And a lot of Trinidadian dishes are Eastern Indian staples, like roti, curry, and pilau."
FROM OAHU TO VEGAS, ELENA'S WINS FANS
Beautiful, lush Hawaii is a siren call heard around the world, one Theo and Elena Butuyan found impossible to ignore. In 1969, they left behind the comfortable life they had built for themselves and their two children in Dagupan City, of the Pangasinan Province in the Philippines, where Elena was a teacher and Theo an accountant. "We had read in the newspapers and heard from other people who left that Hawaii was the paradise island of the United States of America," Theo Butuyan says dreamily. "So we left the Philippines for greener pastures."
The Butuyans settled in Waipahu, Oahu, where they opened Elena's Home of Finest Filipino Food, a small lunch counter with six seats, and served home-style Filipino cooking. "You want to know why we named it after Elena?" Theo jokes. "So she would work hard."
Work hard they both did, quickly building a steady and loyal stream of customers – the majority of which were not, as might be expected, from the Philippines. Theo explains: "Filipino immigrants like to cook their own food at home [so] we cooked for the local people Japanese, Chinese, Tongans, Americans, Samoans, and Filipinos born in Hawaii."
DESSERT TRUCK: BRINGING GOURMET SWEETS TO THE STREETS
America is a country of pioneers, and Jerome Chang, born to Taiwanese immigrants, can justifiably be considered one of them. In 2007, Chang became one of a handful of trailblazers forging the way for a new class of gourmet food carts, with Dessert Truck. The now-iconic vehicle, painted with the brand's whimsical logo, serves delicious, epicurean sweets of a caliber typicald wodadian [ss" op-tffien-restauranes.
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