Oser Communications Group

Restaurant Daily News May 23

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R e s t a u r a n t D a i l y N e w s M o n d a y, M a y 2 3 , 2 0 1 6 9 6 FABIO VIVIANI TALKS PRACTICAL COOKING, ENTERTAINING By Micah Cheek Halfway through my interview with Fabio Viviani, I had to interrupt the restaurateur, entrepreneur and Top Chef winner to catch up with the quote I was typing. He jumped at the chance to inter- rupt me back. "You can make it so much easier on yourself if you record every- thing, get a voice recognition program," he said. "Get in the 21st century!" Viviani had just reiterated an attitude that has followed him through his restaurants, kitchenware collections and media out- lets – keep it simple. Viviani's outlook is worth listening to, especially because of the media pres- ence he commands. The "Fan Favorite" status he earned on his initial "Top Chef" appearance put the spotlight on the chef's undeniable charisma, which he has lever- aged into a variety of appearance and endorsements along with his restaurant interests. This media savvy has been plac- ing him on everything from local news- casts to "The Rachael Ray Show," and the videos just keep coming. Aside from the celebrity factor, the appeal is clear. Viviani is feeding the desires of consumers who want to cook more, cook healthier and do it all with a gentle learning curve. Viviani was raised with a bent toward this efficiency. "I grew up on food stamps. My grandmother was paralyzed from the waist down, and she was always cooking," says Viviani. "I was witnessing her making a meal out of nothing." Viviani's family did- n't have the luxury of stringent preparation rules or of waste. This has informed the way Viviani's recipes are crafted and executed. Viviani seems excited to encourage con- sumers to simplify cooking with fresh ingredients. The only time I heard him tak- ing a serious tone was when we starting broaching the subject of home cooking. Viviani said he was expecting home cook- ing to continue to rise in prominence, and then things began to take a turn. "Eventually people will have to get back in the kitchen or else they'll go to the cemetery," said Viviani. "[If] people are lazy, then they get fat, and then they get sick and die." Viviani has the same passionate outlook on food waste, recalling the times that his family could not even afford to throw away potato peelings. He says he often deals with people who think he can only advocate these changes because he has the expertise to cook in a healthy way. "People say, 'For you, it's easy,'" he said. But Viviani grew up watching someone with no formal training feeding a family in this way. "My grand- mother was cooking for six people every day, and we didn't even have food." I mention home entertaining, and just like that, Viviani's usual cheer is back. "I think the best concept for home entertaining is tapas," says Viviani. "As long as it's not complicated and it's easy to consume, everything is good." Tapas are a good standby, because the format can be as formal as you like, and guests can easily get involved in the kitchen with simple room-temperature snacks. When discussing wine pairings, Viviani said the words that every novice oenophile was hoping to hear. "Everything about wine is an opinion, and I don't follow opinion much," said Viviani. "When you think about food and wine, you can think too much." For Viviani, a few general guidelines can point a consumer in the right direction more than worrying about tannin levels or jammy undertones. "You don't want to drink a dry white wine with some- thing spicy, or your face will be on fire," says Viviani. "You want to drink a pinot noir with a lighter meat, while you can save a bolder wine for something heavier." Viviani's line of wines, first released last year, promotes this attitude. "The most important rule for us is to keep the wine easy for people to understand," he says. If Viviani's continuously rising star is any indication, consumers are starting to heed the no-nonsense advice. Meanwhile, I'm headed back to the kitchen to sharpen my $30 knives. AUTHENTIC GREEK FRESHNESS IN AN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL By Lorrie Baumann You won't see a lot of clutter on the label of a bottle of Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Instead of a lot of extra text, the bottle's white label is simple and clean, suggesting the purity and elegance of the product inside. That's intentional, says Jonathan Bassett, Co-founder of The Olive Fruit, which makes the Kiklos product. "A lot of olive oils, and particu- larly specialty olive oils, say a lot on the label, and then when you purchase them and taste them, you're asking, 'What did I just buy?'" he says. "We wanted to show in the brand image that we're taste perfectionists." The Kiklos brand was started by Bassett after he grew frustrated in his search for the authentic tastes he remem- bered from when he traveled to Greece on family visits when he was young. "I fell in love with the country and the food," he says now. One of the flavors he missed most was the characteristic taste of Greek olive oil. "It's such a staple taste that influences the taste of the food that's made with it." He finally decided that the best way to get that flavor in the United States was to start a company with a Greek col- league and import high-quality extra vir- gin olive oil from the Peloponnese region made from just one variety of olives—the Koroneiki. The Koroneiki olive, known as the "queen of olives" for its fine taste, also produces oil with high antioxidant levels, which are responsible for the health benefits for which extra virgin olive oil is lauded. "It's a Greek taste," Bassett says. He launched the Kiklos brand in American stores in June, 2014. Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil from olives harvested this fall will be arriving in stores this winter. Olives for oil production are harvest- ed in Greece during the months of October, November and December. The olives whose oil will be bottled for Kiklos are harvested just before they reach the peak of ripeness to maximize their antioxidant content. Kiklos olives are picked without using big machinery to shake the olives out of the trees, as is done in many olive groves. That hurts the trees and hurts the olives, and the effects ultimately show up in the oil's flavor, so the Kiklos olives are harvested gently, then transported quickly to the mill and cold-pressed within a day or so at a tem- perature below 27 degrees C. "Since we're a small company, it's easy for us to do that because we have full control over our process," Bassett says. "But even as we grow, we'll continue to process the same way and always in small batches." The result is a yellow-green oil with a characteristic grassy flavor and a pep- pery finish that Bassett calls the "Kiklos kick." "With the kick, you feel a warm sensation at the back of your throat, which signifies that you're getting the antioxidants and a natural anti-inflamma- tory," he says. "It's not blended. It's not deodorized. It's not infused. What we're offering is olive juice – it's just pressed olives without any other chemicals." "In Greece, when you order a salad, there's no dressing; there's just olive oil, vinegar, pepper and salt. That's it," he adds. "It's the perfect dressing, not only for your salad, but also if you want to cook chicken or fish or grilled vegetables – it just makes it that much better." Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil retails for around $29 for a 500 ml bottle. For more information, visit www .theolivefruit.com. OCA JOINS NEW ORGANICS & NATURAL HEALTH TRADE ASSOCIATION The Organic Consumers Association is joining forces with the Organic & Natural Health Association, a new trade group committed to bringing together "a broad coalition to work towards preserv- ing and advancing the health and well- being of people, animals and plants, and the planet as a whole." "The Organic & Natural Health Association fills a void in today's market for a trade group that is dedicated to serv- ing the needs of suppliers, retailers and consumers who seek truthful, unbiased and credible information, based on the latest health- and nutrition-based science and research, about organic and natural products," said Ronnie Cummins, OCA's International Director. "America's 100 million organic consumers and 100 mil- lion natural health consumers, working together, can be a mighty force for posi- tive change, moving society toward a future which is organic and regenerative, while fighting off the increasing attacks against organic foods and natural health from Big Ag, Big Pharma, and their indentured scientists, propagandists and political officials." The Organic & Natural Health recently held its first annual conference, where Karen Howard, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, announced that group's board has decid- ed against advocating for development of a certification or seal for the word "nat- ural" on product labels, in favor of instead strengthening the current defini- tion of "organic." The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently extended the public comment period on whether or not the agency should define "natural." Howard said, "Our research clearly shows that the majority of consumers do not differentiate between 'natural' and 'organic' and expect products labeled nat- ural to also be organic. So, after careful consideration, we determined that intro- ducing a new 'natural' certification seal would not be in the best interest of con- sumers and could contribute to further confusion. At this juncture, encouraging people to go organic is more important, so we will focus on the existing organic cer- tification seal and do whatever we can to strengthen that program." According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, a majority of consumers falsely assume that products labeled "natural" are produced without the use of pesticides, and are free of genetically engineered and artificial ingredients. "Confusion around product labeling and false marketing claims makes it dif- ficult for consumers to know which com- panies and brands are trustworthy. OCA supports the Organic & Natural Health's mission to eliminate confusion and to hold brands to the highest of standards relating to product integrity," Cummins said. In addition to educating consumers about the false assumptions around the "natural" label, the Organic & Natural Health will collaborate with IFOAM International, OCA and other organiza- tions to promote Organic 3.0, a more inclusive definition of organic, which takes into account the role agriculture plays in the global issues of hunger, inequity, energy consumption, pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity and depletion of natural resources. "We can no longer talk about food out of context," Cummins said. "Food and agriculture are inextricably linked to a host of environmental and social issues, all of which are intertwined. The OCA fully supports Organic & Natural Health's commitment to raising the bar for organics, and to holding all of those involved in the food supply chain accountable for the role they play in soci- ety as a whole. Our interaction with con- sumers leads us to believe that they understand these issues, support higher standards, and will support those brands that adhere to Organic 3.0 standards and Organic & Natural Health's values."

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