Slice of the South

As NYers, we tend to think of NYC and its surrounding areas as a food mecca. However, being fans of Chopped, we also know that many cities across the country hold their own when it comes to showcasing their culinary talent and delicious fare. Recently, the city of Nashville, TN was well represented as two local chefs, Garrett Pittler and Kristin Beringson, made it to the final round and competed for the title of Chopped Champion. Only one talented chef from the southern city could prevail, and it was Kristin who took home the title and prize. We caught up with Kristin to learn more about her and what she did with the $10,000 prize.

Chef Kristin Beringson

Chef Kristin Beringson

FP: How did you get your start with cooking? 

KB: I originally graduated with a business degree, and pursued a career in retail management with Target corporation. Cooking had always been been my passion, and in 2009 I made the decision to leave the retail world behind and enroll in culinary school. I had to work all kinds of odd jobs to make ends meet during my first cooking gigs. After working at a number of restaurants in Nashville, I landed my first executive chef job at the Holland House Bar and Refuge. I am now executive cheffing at City Winery-Nashville.

FP: We’ve read good things about City Winery-Nashville. Tell us more about the venue and its offerings.

KB: City Winery is unlike anything else in Nashville. It’s not only a full service restaurant, but a music venue, a private events space, and a functional winery. I have had the opportunity to fully develop all of the menus for this space. I would say the food pairs well with wine.  There’s a noticeable French influence (which is how I was trained), with a bit of Mediterranean twist on things.

FP: Sounds delicious! Tell us about your experience on Chopped. 

KB: Chopped was a very unique experience. It’s more mentally challenging then the physical side of it. It’s a very long day, especially if you win or make it to the dessert round. There’s so much they edit out, to fit that hour time slot.

FP: What was the hardest ingredient work with? 

KB: I would have to say the most mind boggling ingredient was that darn vegan hotdog.  The texture was awful, and it offered up ZERO flavor.

FP: How did you spend the $10,000 award? 

KB: As far as the 10K, I did a number of things… I had some bills I needed to pay (boring), but I also jazzed up the decor in my condo, and took a ten day trip down the entire pacific coast, eating from city to city.  It was fantastic!

FP: Sounds like you used your winnings for the perfect mix of function and fun. What are some of your favorite meals to cook at home?

KB: It’s sad to say, but I don’t cook at home nearly as much as I will like, but when I do… I love slow braising meats, a brisket or some short ribs. I really also like to entertain, so lots of small amuse bouche sorts of plates. I do staff meal twice a day at the restaurant, which is almost like cooking for my family. These meals truly vary, but can get very interesting, being that it’s such a collaboration!

FP: We’ve heard that Nashville is a great food town. When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places there or in other cities you’ve visited. 

KB: Nashville really has grown as a food destination over the past few years. It seems like every month there’s new places to try!  Some of my favorites are Rolf and Daughters, Arnolds, Thai Esane, and Bella Napoli.  There’s so many I need to get out and try… Treehouse, Prima, The Sutler, to name a few.

FP: Sounds like a delicious list. We hope to visit Nashville in the near future! 

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name :)

KB: Guilty pleasure… hmmm.  I would have to say CHEESE.  I love cheese, all kinds of cheese.  I do business with a local company call The Bloomy Rind.  Kathleen, the owner and best monger ever, comes up with some of the most unique combinations. She only sources domestically too.  It’s amazing how much good cheese is available in the US, that most people don’t even know about!

FP: Half of FP (Kristina) is with you on cheese…so good!

What are some of your non-cooking/food related interests and hobbies? What’s a day off like for you?

KB: Most of my life seems to be focused around food even when I’m not working.  I really enjoy going out for a nice meal on my days off.  Some days I really enjoy just relaxing with my fur baby, Princess, at home.  When the weather is nice, I like to go fishing or disc golfing!   There really isn’t a norm for any of my days.  I like the ever changing nature of the business I have grown to love!

FP: Thank you, Kristin, for your time. If we visit Nashville, we’ll make sure to reach out! 

Count on Carlos

When we’re too lazy to cook dinner after a long day of work, we can count on Carlos’ Restaurant in Yonkers to provide us with a great meal and maybe even some leftovers. On a recent Friday evening we went straight to Carlos’ to end a long work week.

If you’ve been to Carlos’, you know they have great selection to choose from including pasta as well as various shrimp, veal and chicken entrees. Allen has set a goal to eat every chicken entree on the menu so this time he ordered the Chicken Rollatine. This dish proved to do the impossible-Allen taking some to go!

photo 3

Chicken Rollatine: broccoli rabe, sausage, mozzarella, mushroom marsala

 

Kristina’s go-to meal at Carlos’ is the Penne ala Vodka. This time, she decided to order something and went with the Chicken Picatta. The sauce in this dish is delicious and we hope to figure out the secret recipe for ourselves.

photo 1

Chicken Picatta: capers, lemon and white wine

Have you ever been to Carlos’ Restaurant? If so, let us know your thoughts by emailing foodiepleasure@gmail.com or sending (@foodiepleasure). If you haven’t been and enjoy Italian food, be sure to try it for yourself!

Carlos’ Restaurant

668 Tuckahoe Road

Yonkers, NY 10710

 

Intimate Italian

When we eat out, Italian isn’t usually our first choice since we quite often make pasta at home. However, on a recent Friday evening, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at La Fontanella in Pelham.

From the unique specials mentioned by our server to the classic options listed in the menu, there was so much to choose from that we didn’t know where to start! For our appetizer, we decided to go with Funghi Trifolati to satisfy Kristina’s love for mushrooms. The dark, intimate setting didn’t allow us to take a clear picture of it but take our word for it that it was delicious!

For our entrees, we decided on the Lobster Ravioli and Pasta ala Nonna. Both plates satisfied our palettes as the sauces and meats were cooked perfectly. We made sure to save room for dessert and enjoyed Tiramisu, which was a nice decadent way to end dinner.

After a meal like this one, we just might start eating at Italian restaurants more often! The service was outstanding and the setting was intimate yet comfortable. If you like Italian food, we highly recommend La Fontanella for a special night out.

La Fontanella
115 Wolfs Lane
Pelham, NY 10803

 

Brunch in Brooklyn

A recent visit to Brooklyn led us to Applewood for brunch with friends. It was highly recommended and, from the line outside, we could tell it was the place to be for brunch.

The menu was simple but hearty and we decided on the New York Fried Chicken (Allen) and Seasonal Vegetable Omelette (Kristina). Allen’s chicken had crispy skin and the meat was nice and tender. The dish also came with cornbread, which is always a bonus! Kristina’s omelette came with grits and a delicious biscuit.

 

If you’re going to Applewood for brunch, bring cash and expect a bit of a wait, but also be ready for a delicious meal! We hope to check out their dinner menu soon.

We’re always looking for great brunch spots so please send recommendations our way at foodiepleasure@gmail.com or via Twitter at @foodiepleasure.

Applewood
501 11th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Chef Tara in the House

When watching Chopped, it’s a good episode when three things happen: 1) clever basket items, 2) playful banter between Ted Allen and the judges, and 3) contestants who make you laugh throughout the episode. A recent episode featuring Chef TK Singleton certainly delivered. Read on to learn more about the colorful chef.

Chef Tara Singleton

Chef Tara Singleton

FP: How did you get your start with cooking?

TKS: I was born in San Antonio, Texas; raised in Lompoc, California; and trained in New York City. These past 10 years prepared me for my passion and purpose of feeding folk thru food and laughter.

I started my catering business seven years ago in NYC. Wendy Williams gave me my first shot at catering. I have no formal training, just watched my grandmother Mrs. Odessa Gilmore of Lompoc, CA since I was 5 years old. Growing up in a small town we didn’t have but a few good places to eat. Everyone always cooked at home and had get togethers. There’s only one place I eat when I’m in Lompoc a place called Jalama Cafe other than that I’m always in the kitchen. My dream is to open a soul food spot in my hometown.

At the end of the day I am still a caterer and regardless of sleep or outside interest I provide a service to my clients. I am a bi-coastal caterer so my clients fly me wherever they need me.

FP: Sounds like you’ve really turned your dreams into reality! Tell us about your experience on Chopped.

TKS: My experience on Chopped was so much fun. It basically was me in the kitchen everyday like I am with my crew except there were cameras. What you saw is who I am. I am the trash talking Chef in and out of the kitchen. That particular day I was extremely tired because I catered a 14 hour shoot in NYC with Shaun T, my favorite favorite client. So from there I went to the Chopped studios and did another 10 hour day. So I didn’t sleep for almost two days. I couldn’t believe I made it to the finals, it was crazy.

I love the Chopped folk! They told me to be myself, well I’m too old to be anyone else.  My first love is Stand up comedy so I guess it’s crossed over into my cooking.

FP: With your bicoastal nature, what are some of the places you visit most often?

TKS: I travel quite a bit. I’m always in Vermont, LA or NYC. My youngest son goes to boarding school in Vermont so I’m always up at his school cooking for him and his dorm buddies.

FP: Your son and his buddies must be happy when you come to town! What have you been up to since Chopped?

TKS: Besides doing different promos for the show Chopped these past few weeks I had been catering a 24 day shoot in LA for NBC with only one day off 15 hour days. I have catered so many projects too many stories to tell. I am presently signed with a company called 51 Minds and have a show in development not sure if it’s reality or not whatever it is it won’t be scripted I’ve already told them I have to be my authentic self.

FP: What inspires you to do the work that you do?

TKS: I do what I do for my 3 sons (Dante- 22, Ricky- 21 and Jacob- 11); creating a Generational Legacy. Also for black single mothers who are struggling cause believe me it’s been a struggle but I know it’s my time!  Hard work does pay off!!

FP: Thanks for your time, Chef TK! We can’t wait to what great things the future has in store for you.

Learn more about Chef Tara’s catering services on her website

Taste of Westchester 2014

Last Monday we were in attendance for Taste of Westchester 2014 to support Cerebral Palsy of Westchester. Just like last year, local restaurants and wine vendors participated for a meaningful cause. Here is a sample of what we ate!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some of our favorites included tuna salmon with miso from Haiku Asian Bistro (White Plains), chicken meatball with potato and mushroom from Hive Living Room (West Harrison) and various desserts from Rockland Bakery. We also learned about Copper Face Jacks, a new bar/restaurants in popular downtown White Plains.

The event also included live music as well as a silent auction. All the proceeds from the evening benefit the non-profit’s programs and services that assist individuals with developmental disabilities. To learn more about Cerebral Palsy of Westchester and how you can contribute, visit their website.

Halloween Hot Pot

Halloween snuck up on us this year so we decided to celebrate with dinner instead of ghosts and goblins. We met friends at 99 Favor Taste, an all-you-can eat hot pot and Korean BBQ spot on Grand Street in NYC. We opted for hot pot only, which was $18.99 per person for 2 hours. We ordered a duo-pot with traditional broth on one side and spicy on the other (word to the wise: the spicy side gets spicier at the night goes on!). For our group of 5, we selected a number of things to dip: spinach, watercress, udon, fish, string mushrooms, pumpkin, chicken, shrimp, beef, etc. Allen’s favorite was the udon and fish while Kristina couldn’t get enough of the string mushrooms. We left stuffed and satisfied… and will definitely go back to 99 Favor Taste next time we have a craving for hot pot.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

99 Favor Taste
285 Grand Street
New York, NY 10002