Monthly Archives: May 2014

Bannos and Lagasse, A Blast From Their Past

Every great chef has things in their culinary history that helps to define their future. Jimmy Bannos of Chicago’s Heaven on Seven is certainly no exception.

I LOVE going any of his restaurants. And, when I was full time in the Windy, I spent more than a few lunchtimes planted on a counter stool at the Wabash location savoring some of the best gumbo to come out of any kitchen, anywhere.

On a recent trip back, the allure of a bowl of etouffee or jambalaya or maybe even an LSD (Louisiana Soul Deluxe) was far to much for my weak self control. A Heaven on Seven fix was required.

My lunch measured up in every expected way. But, my trip to the rear of the restaurant turned up an unexpected piece of kitchen camaraderie. Straight from the walls of Heaven on Seven on Rush.

Jimmy Bannos & Emeril Lagasse

Pretty great right? I’m not sure of the time or location. It looks like it may have been taken at an event of some sort. They look happy, but not exhausted from barking out orders in a hectic kitchen all night. Maybe one of the two can time/date stamp this little piece of the past for us.

It’s pretty well known that Jimmy honed his craft in some of the great kitchens of the Crescent City. And, when you do that you’re obviously rubbing shoulders with some pretty masterful chefs. Here’s a little photographic evidence that the two of those talents actually enjoy each other. It’s a pretty simple image. But, it still manages to say a mouthful.


Heaven on Seven
Emeril’s Restaurants
I Made Jimmy’s Famous Gumbo!
The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It’s Mardi Gras All the Time!

Fresh. There Is No Substitute

Fresh Pike Place Seafood

When your dinner/lunch is still growing or wiggling moments before you consume it, that’s a good thing. There is no substitute for fresh. It’s something that can’t be faked. Can’t be created from thin air. It’s either fresh or it’s not. End of discussion.

It’s getting to be the time of year when Farmer’s Markets all over the country will be hosting a eye popping array of freshness that is specific to their region. And, it’s a bounty that should be enjoyed as long as it’s available to you.

I’m not saying that the endless sea of organic/local/fresh picked products that are now available in local grocery chains aren’t good options. They can be. What I am saying, is that it’s great to look the grower straight in the eye and know he or she has put some of their energy, effort and expertise into your meal.

Super Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

I’m in Seattle this week. And, Pike Market is one of these best examples of how farm to your table is done right. Not to say that there’s not a fair amount of good old American capitalism at work in the market. That’s to be expected, appreciated and admired. It’s a surreal cross between carnival midway and fresh food emporium. Loaded with everything that the season has to offer. And, at times much more.

There is more to the market than just the food. There are the people. At times, LOTS of people.

I’m always left wondering if the folks who man the fresh vegetable, flower and seafood stalls feel like they are part of some kind kind of dream-like, non-stop photo op. Being snapped by an endless sea of iPhone, camera and table wielding visitors. Kind of like a reverse red carpet. To their credit, most of them seem unbelievably unfazed by the never-ending clicking and flashing. They’re numb to it for sure. Cheerily slicing free pear samples or doling out small morsels of the most delicious smoked salmon your taste buds will ever delight in. All the while being immortalized in thousands of travel memories.

Food, people and atmosphere. It’s all one big, unforgettable food circus where the produce is in the center ring. A sight to behold!


Pike Place Market
USDA Farmer’s Market Search
Local Harvest
Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, Jodi Liano
How To Start Your Own Farmer’s Market