Martha Holmberg, Plum Guru

martha head shotMartha Holmberg has authored a gem of a book all about plums. Martha is a former La Varenne student, trainee and long-time friend, and she’s released this 9th volume in a series called Short Stack Editions this week. I’ve already ordered a copy of Plums! The book takes an in-depth look at the subject, highlighting their sweet-tart intensity in savory recipes as well as sweet, all playing on the gorgeous color of plums. Think of a homemade plum jam!

If you aren’t familiar with Short Stack, it’s an innovative publishing house that has set out to rekindle the nostalgia and lasting value of old fashioned food pamphlets by creating hand bound, single subject books. There seems to be a new trend in small books as I am seeing more and more come across my desk. The American Academy in Rome has tiny books on subjects like Biscotti or Zuppe. The University of North Carolina Press has a series of books called Savor the South on ideas like Biscuits, Pecans and Buttermilk. Short Stack Editions is the only publisher to zero in on the La Varenne alumni network! Virginia Willis authored a book on Grits and Jessica Battilana wrote the most recent one on Corn.

Martha seems to be doing more than just studying the plum. She’s working on her third video for online tutorial site Craftsy and putting a co-authored Cocktail Book to bed. Martha is also working on a book about Vegetables to be released in 2016. And if that isn’t enough, she is also serving as Director, Communications and Content for IACP. (It’s a great organization for food professionals, worth checking out their upcoming events.)

People are always commenting on how busy I am, but it is not just me. The entire La Varenne family seems to be going non-stop. From authors and media specialists to catering coordinators and hard core restaurant chefs, I’m constantly amazed and impressed by all that alumni accomplish. Congrats to Martha on the latest! Anne

The Yellow Table Gets Kickstarted

annaLa Varenne Alum, Anna Watson Carl is publishing her very first cookbook in a new and exciting way, with a Kickstarter funding campaign. Anna has decided to take her blog, The Yellow Table, and turn it into a book called The Yellow Table Cookbook: Celebrating the Art of Everyday Abundance. With cookbook deals hard to come by in this changing landscape, Anna is self-publishing, self-promoting, cooking, eating and chronicling the whole thing on her blog. I was simply amazed when I saw the quantity and quality of the content she is creating. I am so impressed with her creativity and innovation as she approaches this book. If you are interested in learning more or helping her reach her goal, click here!

N.B. This is the first in a series of posts that will feature the goings on of former La Varenne trainees and students. I must say I’m amazed by the many exciting career paths of La Varenne alumni. We’ll be sharing a selection of exciting projects from among the wider La Varenne family, which we think are intriguing and in an effort to highlight the endless possibilities one has in the ever-changing food world.

A Modernist Cuisine Dinner

Chefs Plating

I ‘m just back from an amazing experience in Seattle — a 35 course dinner with leader in culinary innovation Nathan Myrhvold. When he’s not working on the next round of his definitive and award winning Modernist series, he is pursuing space intelligence or how to zap malarial mosquitoes with a laser beam. This Microsoft founder and La Varenne Alumn truly is a renaissance man!

In his Seattle based Modernist laboratory, I sat with 24 other female cooking professionals and enjoyed a Dry Cocktail, all water extracted to leave a shimmering, zesty tablespoon of moonshine with a whiff of basil and olive oil. Plate after plate came out, and nothing was quite what it seemed. Chicharron for example had nothing to do with pork but was a strip of bread dough microwaved at full blast for two minutes so it puffs, almost explodes, and dries to a fluffy crust. Green peas were whizzed in a centrifuge and put back into tiny pea pods — good, but a lot of work and not better than a fresh pea in my opinion.  It was a fascinating meal that had us all talking and thinking about what was on our plates. I’ve already tried to zap a bit of bread dough in the microwave with no luck!

Cheers, Anne

Zac Posen talks LVP in the new issue of Food & Wine

Zac Posen in Food and Wine“Two cookbooks changed my life: La Varenne Pratique, which taught me techniques, and Martha Stewart’s first book, Entertaining. Now that I have the basics down, I don’t really use cookbooks — I can whip up dinner in an hour.” — (Zac Posen, Food & Wine Magazine)

Pleased to know that La Varenne Pratique is one of two cookbooks that Zac Posen lists as MUST-HAVE in the new issue of Food & Wine. Who knew! I am so happy to know that the fashion world loves food too! Next stop, New York Fashion Week! Anne

A Wonderful Time at Bacara!

Anne at Bacara FM (2)It was an enormous pleasure to take part  in the Bacara Food & Wine Weekend with the Julia Child Foundation. Over the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to see old friends, meet new ones as well as take part in some very interesting panels. I tasted wines from the scenic Santa Barbara region, enjoyed a Santa Maria-style barbecue with Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post restaurant. I tasted and even gave a tour through the pop-up Market featuring local growers food vendors.

It is with many thanks to both the Julia Child Foundation and the Bacara Resort that this celebration became a reality. In a sea of artisan food, hand crafted cocktails, local wine and plenty of smiling faces, I know that Julia would have applauded their efforts. I do hope to make it back next year! Cheers, Anne

The Ins & Outs of Food Writing

If you’ve ever wanted to try you own hand at food writing, whether your own journal, recipes for your family, a blog or even a cookbook, you’ll want to hear what Anne Willan, Denise Vivaldo, Russ Parsons and others are saying at Bacara.  Get expert guidance, tips of the trade and insights into the fast-changing publishing and media landscapes from our panel of writing veterans. For more information or to sign up, click here and select the Saturday tab.

Saturday, June 7th from 4-5pm
Bacara Resort, Santa Barbara
855.968.0100

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Welcome Reception and Q&A

404134_272914346150487_403133792_nJoin Anne Willan and producer, Geoff Drummond, for a special screening of Julia Child’s Kitchen Wisdom followed by a Q&A discussion about working with Julia. Learn more about what it was like to know, love and work with Julia over the years from Anne & Geof. For more information or to sign up, click here.

June 6th, 2014 from 5:30-7:30PM
Bacara Resort, Santa Barbara
855.968.0100

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Anne Willan to Food & Wine Weekend in Santa Barbara

julia1Anne Willan will be joining Santa Barbara’s top chefs, artisans and winemakers for a Food & Wine Weekend at Bacara from June 6th through 8th. Inspired by Julia Child’s lifelong passion for learning and love of eating well, this three-day culinary weekend will feature cooking classes, wine tastings and panel discussions. A portion of the proceeds benefits The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

For tickets or more information, please visit www.BacaraCulinaryWeekend.com or call (855) 456-6800.

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