Chefs Hate Foodies. Customers Hate Servers.





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It's a harsh world. CNN asked why chefs hate foodies. Los Angeles chef Suzanne Goin said, "To me it's never negative, it's kind of done, that term - can you just calm down and eat your food and like it and not have to be a foodie? But that's me being the jaded food professional. It's better than people not caring about food." An anonymous Seattle sommelier and restaurateur said, "Waiters hate foodies, but then waiters hate everyone." Chow said that the feeling's mutual. A reader wrote about being annoyed by servers who introduce themselves. Helena Echlin explains that high-end restaurants don't pull that annoying crap, where management has told them to do so and, if they're female, they might make more tips.

However he feels about them, chef Rick Bayless looks out for his customers. Slashfood reports that Chicago's acclaimed chef sent this panicked tweet on Saturday night: "O, wht 2 do? Peanuts all thru r kitchen, severe allergy guest. Cnt serve in good conscience, 4 his safety. Says we owe him $ 4 inconvenience." While the customer might have been displeased, the vice president of advocacy and government relations for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network was happy with Bayless' decision. They're hoping more chefs become allergy aware. In Massachusetts, restaurants are going to soon be required by law to know about food allergies. A law goes into effect in on February 1 requiring restaurants to have a certified food protection manager on staff who's been educated in food allergies.

You might think a server recommending old beer would raise a diner's ire, but the New York Post says that's not always the case. The latest trend in Brooklyn dining is vintage beers. It's not skunky old PBR, though. Restaurant owner Bobby Gagnon explains what makes a good aged beer.

The skunky PBR would probably be better than AOL Foods' recent find: MeatWaterVOID. The new meal supplement vegan drinks come in such tasty flavors as poached salmon salad, grilled Thai beef salad, grilled chicken salad, and yum - Caribbean shrimp salad, which creator Till Krautkraemer recommends using as a vodka mixer.

Jamie Oliver's Not-So-Local Scottish Sauce Controversy





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Some folks in Scotland aren't thrilled with Jaime Oliver. The Scotland Herald reports that the U.K.'s ever-present reminder to eat local food might not be staying true to his word in one of his restaurants. Jamie's Italian in Glasgow is using pasta sauce factory-made 400 miles away. Chefs at Oliver's only restaurant in Scotland reheat the sauce, which is made by the chef's catering company in Oxfordshire. A spokesperson for Oliver claims the centrally-made sauce is necessary for the restaurant chain's consistency. Some customers aren't thrilled. "Tourist Venceslas Seidel, 30, visiting the city from his home in Lille, France, said it was a shock. 'When you are paying a certain price for things, you are looking for quality. I don't think it's out of the ordinary now though, as a lot of French restaurants are doing this now particularly in the tourist areas.'"

Papa John's is giving away free Superbowl-related pizza! Yay! But wait ... Eater.com warns us to not get excited just yet. To qualify, you have to join their customer loyalty program. And then the big game has to go into overtime. Which has never happened in the Superbowl. So that free pizza's probably not going to happen.

Advertising Age and Ipsos Observer did a study on what people would rather forfeit: cable television, cell phone, or the Internet. Eight percent would rather give up food than any available media. In other news, eight percent of people do not understand that they require food to live.

You can't eat your iPhone, and sometimes, you should avoid the hot sauce, too. According to our sister paper, the Dallas Observer, the owner of Chili Pepper Magazine left the ZestFest on a stretcher after taste-testing a wickedly strong hot sauce containing capsaicin extract. You'd think the owner of a chili pepper-based periodical would know to not drink water to cool the heat, but that wasn't the case. Meanwhile, as seasoned judges sampled what one judge described as "a nightmare in a bottle", all hell broke loose with judges rushing for the cool-down station loaded with cheese, milk, whipped cream, and sugar packets.

Changes Afoot at Bon Appetit and the New York Times

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Changes are afoot in the food publishing world. Yahoo reports that longtime New York Times columnist Mark Bittman is ending his column, "The Minimalist", after thirteen years. His last installment of the recipe column that spawned his "How to Cook Everything" books will run this Wednesday. On February 6 he'll move to the op-ed section where he'll cover food policy issues. At Bon Appetit, new editor-in-chief starts rebranding the magazine with an "edgy" ad campaign based on the phrase "bite me". Eater.com says the biting push begins on January 31.

Portland, Oregon - our capital of sustainable, local eats - has a sense of humor about itself! The New York Times gets the reactions of Portland food folk after Friday's premiere of "Portlandia", a sketch comedy show on IFC that pokes fun at the city's preciousness. Even the owner of the Gilt Club laughs about the portrayal of his restaurant, where patrons learn the names of the animals they're about to eat.

No one knows the name of the cow that became your Meximelt. Taco Bell's getting sued because they're beef isn't beefy enough. ABC 13 Action News in Las Vegas reports that a law firm in Alabama claims that the chain's ground beef has a higher percentage of fillers than beef. The firm doesn't want money; they just want Taco Bell to be more honest.

A Florida town's economic future hinges on a Red Lobster-Olive Garden hybrid. According to 13 News in Orlando, Florida, nearby Flagler County's unemployment rate was 15.7% in December. To bring jobs to the area, Florida-based Darden Restaurants is opening a restaurant that's a combination of Red Lobster and Olive Garden. People are lining up for jobs two weeks before they plan to accept applications.


Food Safety Law Leads to Food Tracking Frenzy

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Now that the federal food safety law is in effect, the Washington Post looks at what food producers are doing to meet new criteria for food traceability. The law requires all parts of the food distribution chain to be able to quickly trace where food items came from through electronic records to help stop food-borne illness outbreaks. Problem is, much of the food trade is still done the old fashioned way. Tech companies are working to fix that. And that's going to cost us.

That's not good news for farmers. According to Brownfield Ag News, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City warns that farmers have increased their debt in recent years and are in financial danger. The Daily Yonder's rounded up of census data on rural poverty. One in six rural Americans was below the poverty line in 2009. But that's not farmers. Big farms in the west have the lowest rural poverty rates.

In September the United Nations will declare war on foods that don't come from farms. The Associated Press reports that the World Health Organization will gather world leaders to discuss the "fat tsunami" that's overtaking the world. First step: curtail junk food marketing to kids.



Food TV Sees First Decline in Viewership

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Food TV's popularity is waning. The New York Post says that the network's 2010 numbers showed the first decrease in the network's history. In the fourth quarter of 2009, viewership plunged 10.3 percent among viewers ages 25 to 54. The slide continued with 3.3 percent in the second quarter and 4.5 percent in the third quarter. Have we lost our taste for televised food? No, we're just tired of Food TV's offerings, preferring culinary competitions aired on other networks. It doesn't help that Food TV's schedule relies heavily on reruns of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," "Chopped," "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" and "Unwrapped."

Perhaps we should be watching more educational cooking shows so we can learn how to tell a real blueberry from a fake. The Los Angeles Times reports that a Consumer Wellness Center report found fake blueberries in many mainstream foods. The fakes are a combination of sugar, corn syrup, starch, hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors and artificial food dye blue No. 2 and red No. 40. Target's blueberry bagels have a few real berries mixed with the fakes. Other offenders include other baked goods and cereals from companies like Kellogg's, Betty Crocker and General Mills. Want to make sure your berries are real? Check the label for the artificial food dyes.

Gulf of Mexico oysters have had enough trouble recovering from last year's BP oil spill, but our sister paper the Houston Press reports that an invasive species of tiny snails called drills are endangering Texas oysters. The solution? Eat 'em. Turns out drills are tasty, and eating them gives oysters a chance to repopulate.

The CourierPostOnline.com website asks the important question, "How much time in the slammer does one deserve for putting pubic and chest hairs in a police officer's breakfast sandwich?" Fifteen days, says a judge in Mount Holly, New Jersey, where a former Good Foods to Go employee was found guilty of placing body hair in a cop's breakfast. The hairs were identified through DNA testing.



Missouri Flunks Food Safety Test

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Missouri, you get an F in reporting foodborne illnesses. TheHill.com shared a new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, grading states on their ability to report outbreaks of foodborne illness. The more a state reports, the better chance they have of getting it under control. "'States that aggressively investigate outbreaks and report them to CDC can help nail down the foods that are responsible for making people sick,' CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal said in a statement. 'But when states aren't detecting outbreaks, interviewing victims, identifying suspect food sources, or connecting with federal officials, outbreaks can grow larger and more frequent, putting more people at risk.'" Thirteen states failed along with Missouri.

Illinois might fail in keeping sandwich giant Jimmy John's headquarters in the state, thanks to state tax increases. NBC Chicago reports that company founder Jimmy John Liautaud has already moved from the company's home base in Champaign, Illinois, to Florida because the state increased individual income tax from three percent to five percent. Because state corporate incometaxes increased from 7.3 percent to 9.5 percent, Liautaud's threatening to move the whole company, too, unless the state apologizes. "I'm not a greedy American pig. I'm a hard working, bread-baking, meat-slicing delivery guy who happens to be immensely successful."

Wal-Mart's making a corporate-wide move towards healthier store brands. According to the New York Times, Wal-Mart will make an official announcement today regarding their new five-year plan to reduce sodium, trans fats, and added sugar to many of their Great Value brand foods. The plan came from talks with First Lady Michelle Obama, who will be at the official announcement. This is the first company to receive Mrs. Obama's support in their efforts to improve the nutritional quality of food. The initiative will also push other companies, like Kraft, to follow Wal-Mart's lead in making processed foods healthier, lowering costs on fresh produce and eliminating the price margin between whole-grain and refined products.

The Canadian diet of one hundred years ago probably wouldn't meet the new health standards. Brave Globe and Mail reporter Wency Leung spent a week living by one of Michael Pollan's food rules: "don't eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." She gathered century-old Canadian recipes and lived on them for a week, which left her full of rendered meat fat and cream, pining for fresh apples, and feeling oddly blah despite the richness of her diet.

Why Steve Jobs is One of the Most Powerful People in Food

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Yesterday TheDailyMeal.com revealed its 50 most powerful people in food, and the Canadian Press asked, "Steve Jobs is number five? Huh." Of course, it's because of the changes food apps for iPhones and iPads have created. They further break down the list that includes chefs, bureaucrats, tech innovators, CEOs of giant companies, and of course, the number one most powerful person in food - you.

Kraft wants to use your face to help you decided what to eat. Fast Company visits the Meal Planning Solution kiosk at the 2011 National Retail Federation Show. The kiosk, created by Intel, determines a shopper's demographics through a face scan, then suggests Kraft products they should buy, or recipes based around Kraft products. And it gives cookie samples if you hit the right buttons!

A report from the Secretary of State's office shows that a special election in West Virginia cost the state $1 million in liquor sales. The Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail reports that after the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, the state scheduled a special election on Saturday, August 28. Being one of five states that legally prohibits liquor sales on Election Day, West Virigina lost a full weekend's business in their 215 state-owned liquor stores. The law was initially created to prevent politicians from buying shots for voters.

Today's food recall? Lots of pre-made ground beef patties. 7,875 pounds of ready-to-eat Angus Beef patties were recalled by a Southern California wholesaler because of possible listeria contamination, according to the Associated Press. The patties weren't supposed to be shipped in the first place.


British Study Shows Organic Milk is Healthier. For Now.

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In the constant back-and-forth about the nutritional differences between organic and conventional products, the Independent reports that organic milk is healthier, according to a study at Newcastle University. The study compared 22 brands of milk and concluded that organic milk has lower saturated fats and more healthy fatty acids. This, after a study last year indicated there's no difference between organic and conventional foods. And the study four years ago that said the health benefits of organic milk were minimal.

Why drink milk when you can drink whisky from a can? The Daily Mail features the latest in ridiculous canned alcoholic beverages - Scottish Spirits brand whisky, which started test-marketing 12-ounce cans of whisky in the Caribbean and South America last week. The Panama-based company says they're trying to appeal to outdoorsy whisky-drinkers. The Scotch Whisky Association isn't amused, and is trying to ban the product based on violation of international labeling rules. A spokesman for the group said, "We are concerned that consumers may be confused whether or not the product is real Scotch and we will be investigating the matter further."

We need more wine grapes. According the UPI, the varietals of wine grapes we've used for hundreds of years are prone to disease. All wine grapes originate from the species Vitis vinifera vinifera, for which scientists at Standford University have produced over 1000 genome maps in hopes of designing new wine grapes.

A Chicago Bears fan has issued a plea against cheese. Chicago Now's Ernest Wilkins loves cheese, but he loves the Bears more. So much so that, as a show of solidarity, he will shun cheese consumption between now and the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers playoff game next weekend. He's asking his Bears breatheren to join him in cutting the cheese.

Calorie Information on Menus Doesn't Sway Diners

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You know that idea of making restaurants include calorie counts on their menus so people can make more informed, healthful choices? It's not working. Time has a study by Duke-National University of Singapore of an unnamed Washington State taco chain that shows consumers aren't swayed by knowing how many calories they're consuming. The new labeling might not be in vain, though. Embarrassed by some of their ridiculously high calorie counts, some restaurants are reformulating their recipes and menus, including the one in the study.

Those calories might be getting more expensive. The Washington Post explains why grocery store stocks are under pressure. Last year the Supervalu chain, which locally owns Shop n' Save and Save-a-Lot, lost $202 million in the third quarter. They're not expecting things to get better. "'This is going to be a challenging year going forward to manage inflation,' Supervalu CEO Craig Herkert told analysts Tuesday. 'It's just a fact and we believe these inflationary measures are going to impact consumers.'"

With increased commodity prices partially responsible for the impending grocery price inflation, what's up with all those massive farm subsidies? The New York Times ran an editorial yesterday, urging Congress to cut billions of dollars in federal farm subsidies.

Today's recall? More ground beef. KRDO Radio in Colorado reports that Colorado Meat Packers in Denver has recalled 2,234 pounds of beef trim headed for further processing. The beef was "improperly labeled and potentially adulterated."

Food Banks Conflicted Over Junk Food Donations

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Just because they're hungry doesn't mean they should have junk food. NPR covers the touchy subject of how desperate food pantries manage junk food donations. Grocery stores often donate damaged items like soda and chips, which food banks are loathe to forgo for fear of losing healthy donations from the same stores. "I was told that, 'Well, we give it out because if we don't take it, we won't get other food from people when they're distributing it,' " said Dr. Mary Flynn, a nutrition professor and board member of a Rhode Island food bank.

They might not have as much citrus fruit this year, either. The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports that Florida's orange crops will be 2 percent smaller this year because of December's cold weather. That's three million less boxes of oranges than last year, 2/3 of them Valencias used by orange juice companies.

Winter's no good for farmers markets, either. Tim Carmen of the Washington Post found this out during a visit to Smart Market in Gainesville, Maryland, when a farmer pulled him aside and complained about all the value-added products - prepped food like barbecue and jarred salsa - being sold at winter farmers markets. Carmen investigates what works for winter farmers markets - filling them with kale and squash, or priming them with local prepped food and even craft items to bring in customers.

And today's recall? According to Columbus Business First, the Kroger grocery chain recalled their store-brand semi-sweet chocolate chips because they might contain milk that isn't listed on the packaging.


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