Sunday, April 1, 2012

BBC America's "No Kitchen Required" and the NY Bite Club

Last night I had the great pleasure to enjoy several new experiences.  Thanks to "my people" in New York (my daughter Dana and her boyfriend Kevin) I was invited to a screening of the BBC Americas's new show "No Kitchen Required."  Not only was this a screening of the show with host Dr. Shina Somara and Chef Kayne Raymond (one of three chefs featured on the show), but the event was hosted by the NY Bite Club.

First a little about NY Bite Club.  They are part of a groundswell of underground fine dining experiences cropping up in homes and apartments around the country.  The beauty of this modern reincarnation of the supper club lies with great food served in an intimate setting by people passionate about food.  This was my first experience in this quickly growing social-gastronomical experiment, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I will now be heading back to DC to see what is happening below the radar in my neighborhood.

As I talk about the event and my impressions of "No Kitchen Required," I will share some photography from the evening.  As a guide, here is the menu (inspired by food from the Mexican state of Chihuahua):

  1. Tuna ceviche in fried plantain cups
  2. Pozole con Puerco
  3. Huitlacoche Quesadilla
  4. Pipian de Pollo
  5. Chivo Enchilado & Chanfaena
  6. Flan & Horchata

The diners at last night's event were all food writers.  Although I did not have the opportunity to speak with all 20 guests, most of the writers were either bloggers or associated with a paper or magazine.  For the most part, their writing takes the approach of sharing their dining experiences, critiquing restaurants, or writing about food trends.  Again, I found myself the lone person writing about food and wine pairing.  That's OK...I like my little corner of the world.

It was a real pleasure to meet with a number of the people associated with the new BBC America show "No Kitchen Required" (BTW, the premier is Tuesday, April 3rd at 10pm).  I was chatting with the Executive Producer of the show about a couple reservations I held.  I'm glad we had a chance to talk, and the opportunity to watch the screening video in the context of our chat - my reservations were replaced by enthusiastice well wishes of success for this program.

My reservations began immediately as I entered the venue and watched clips showing three chefs in remote and jungle locations, foraging, hunting, and cooking under austere conditions.  My first thought was "I can't believe it, another "Extreme Chef" (see my previous rant about this drug induced bad idea - Cooking and Reality TV–Some Constructive Feedback for the Food Network).  Gratefully, this is not a competition to determine who can make the best meal with little more than a pocket knife and a lump of coal.  Quite the opposite as explained to me by the show's marketing representative. 

She described a completely different approach that I found appealing.  Yes, there are three chefs, and yes, there is a competitive aspect.  However, the approach is to take three notable chefs, drop them into a remote area with distinctive local culture and immerse themselves.  The chefs are tasked with learning how the locals get their food (the hunting and foraging part), how they prepare it, and then make their interpretation of the local cuisine.  The brilliant part of the competition, is that the locals judge the products of the celebrity chef's labor.  

Locals as judges makes good sense.  While the chef's have the latitude to run as far amuck as they desire with their interpretation of the local food, they will need to keep in mind their audience...something every chef should do.  Although the competitive component is present as a real or perceived necessity to draw an audience, the approach taken by this show appears to be much more respectful to both the food and the local culture.  I wish them great success in achieving this balance.

Finally, thanks to the NY Bite Club for a fantastic evening and wonderful food.  Well done!

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for coming. It was a pleasure to meet you. I love the photographs.

    All the best,

    Daniel and Alicia