One of the coolest food magazines I have come across recently is the often-disregarded Sunday New York Times Style supplement. If you haven’t seen the May 7 edition, dig it out of the recycling pile or log onto the Times’ website at nytimes.com and be on the lookout for the next one. With amazing recipes, great editorials, and some awesome ideas for everyone who loves food, the entire supplement is food focused. Yet it has been bizarrely mislabeled, devoid of reference to the gold mine for food freaks that’s hidden in its pages. From a profile of Boston’s Ihsan Gurdal to a peek at Cape Cod clam shacks, an eater’s guide to Rome, a BBQ voyage with Jane and Michael Stern, and plenty more.
For would-be locovores and gastropreneurs, it’s a must read. The quarterly Times supplements, increasingly dominated by food-focused articles, are quickly becoming my favorite generalized food magazines as the pages of Food and Wine and Bon Appetit become more derivative and less provocative with every issue—Bobby Flay grilling again, Mom? Boring!
Another must-read is the latest issue of Fast Company, a monthly techie and digital media biz magazine that often bores me to tears. The current issue has a great special food section with tons of cool articles, including a fascinating cover story on Homaru Cantu, the chef and partner in Moto, one of Chicago’s best restaurants. Check out motorestaurant.com. Cantu is one of the leading lights in the increasingly popular molecular gastronomy movement. He’s the one who does the edible paper and is working on a machine that levitates the food while it’s being served. It’s fascinating stuff, and of all the pieces I’ve read on this guy, this one is the most enjoyable and conveys fully the wild-eyed-inventor side of a guy who is 100 percent mad scientist in the kitchen. I can appreciate the technical wizardry of Cantu, but still prefer a chef who has his feet firmly planted in the recognizable food world. Food should still be food and look like and taste like something from our conscious experience. Cantu argues that he is redefining that world for us by serving a small square marshmallow that looks like a sweet but tastes like caesar salad. For my money, I’ll take Grant Achatz—the chef-magician at Alinea, (alinearestaurant.com), the best new restaurant in North America—over Cantu any day of the week. While his food possesses all the intellectual challenge I can handle at a meal, he can still cook like a grandmother when he wants to and his seared squab with golden chanterelles and foie gras is still the best dish I have eaten in the last three years.