The series returns this fall at the BCAE
Experience delicious food and wine with excellent Boston chefs and the dynamic team at Urban Grape, TJ and Hadley Douglas. (Carrot dish from Chef Michael Scelfo pictured above)
The Urban Grape's chef pop up events are back! If you have yet to experience one of these fantastic evenings of expertly paired wines and deliciously inventive menus, free up this coming Sunday, Oct. 6th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. For the first time, the popups will be held at the BCAE, so as to allow for even more chef creativity. Owners TJ and Hadley Douglas will of course exude their usual talent for hosting as well as their unique support for Boston’s restaurant and food community by inviting some of the city’s greatest chefs.
Chef pop up series at Urban Grape combine TJ's extensive wine lore with whichever chef is being featured/challenged that Sunday....because on top of creating a mutli-course, paired menu, the team must answer to a challenge.
On October 6th, the series will kick off with Lineage restaurant's Alex Saenz. The challenge for the evening? Create a six-course menu made entirely with ingredients sourced from within a 60-mile radius of Boston. How is that for local and seasonal?
Get your tickets now before they sell out here! And don't worry if you can't make this one, they happen twice a month and rumor has it Joanne Chang is up next on the 20th of October.
THEATER A Hero of the Latino Theater Returns to the Stage
ON a winter's day in 1982, Luis Valdez was riding around Chicago in the middle of a blizzard. It was the opening weekend of ''Zoot Suit,'' the movie version of his 1978 musical play about the arrest, imprisonment and subsequent vindication of a group of young Chicanos in World War II Los Angeles: a project with which Mr. Valdez had a great deal of unfinished business.
Despite a rapturous reception when it opened at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, ''Zoot Suit'' had gone up in flames on Broadway the following year. Closing after only 58 performances at the Winter Garden Theater, the first Latino play to appear on Broadway racked up losses in excess of $800,000. At the time, it was a substantial amount for the Shubert Organization, which had provided most of the capital.
Worse, the producers had become skittish about the financial viability of a national tour that would, it was thought, only have box-office appeal in the small number of American cities with substantial Latino populations. To the chagrin of an increasingly embittered Mr. Valdez, the tour never materialized.
A movie version was next on the author's agenda. But studios balked at his insistence that he serve as director, because he had never made a film before. After numerous rejections, the best Mr. Valdez was able to muster from Universal Pictures was a small budget of $1.2 million and a production period of 13 days. To save time and money, he filmed on the stage of the Aquarius Theater on Sunset Boulevard, where the Taper production had enjoyed an extended run. The resulting movie, which included periodic shots of fake audience members in their seats, had a rough-hewn and peculiarly theatrical look.
In 1982, with negative reviews trickling in from confused film critics, Mr. Valdez knew that the commercial prospects looked iffy. ''The Latino audience does not like to come out while it is still so cold,'' Mr. Valdez recalled last month, arguing that, in the early 1980's at least, Hollywood was woefully ignorant about the tastes of Latino-Americans. ''We were opening a movie in the middle of a blizzard. It was really, really crazy.''
This time around, the writer and director has returned to Chicago in warmer weather in the hope of resuming a theatrical career that has been lying fallow. On June 26, his 60th birthday, he could be found seated with his family at the Frontera Grill, Chicago's most luxurious Mexican restaurant. The occasion was this summer's major revival of ''Zoot Suit,'' running through July 30 at the Goodman Theater here. The restaurant's chef, Rick Bayless, stopped by to shake Mr. Valdez's hand, while assorted speakers praised his role in the history of the American theater. And despite mixed reviews for ''Zoot Suit,'' Chicago audiences have been appreciative of the chance to see what some would call an American classic.
The director, Henry Godinez, is a Goodman artistic associate and one of the leaders of Chicago's burgeoning Latino theater community. Mr. Godinez told the assembled guests at the restaurant that he regarded Mr. Valdez as the most significant figure to date in Latino-American theater. ''I stand as evidence that you can live your dreams and work with your heroes,'' the young director said with evident emotion. His eyes dancing with mischief, Mr. Valdez responded with the requisite fatherly grin.
Actually, the American theater has not heard much from Mr. Valdez in some time. He has not written a new play for more than a decade. Aside from a single small production at the San Diego Repertory Theater two years ago, he had not allowed ''Zoot Suit'' to be produced in more than 20 years before the Goodman's endeavor.
So what exactly has he been doing all this time?
''Trying to make movies,'' said the still-handsome writer in a lengthy recent interview at the Goodman. ''Hollywood is a mean seductress, man.''
The seduction has not led to an especially happy long-term relationship, and it took Mr. Valdez farther from his political and creative roots than he ever intended. In the 1960's and 70's, Mr. Valdez was a prolific writer and much venerated theatrical figure, especially among radical and Latino communities. The son of migrant workers who eventually settled in San Jose, Calif., he earned a degree in English on a scholarship at San Jose State College. In 1965 he joined the San Francisco Mime Troupe, where he was introduced to the political art of agit-prop. That same year, he joined the unionization efforts of Cesar Chavez and founded a touring farm workers' theater company known as El Teatro Campesino to support the strike of Filipino and Chicano migrants against the grape growers in Delano, Calif., the town of Mr. Valdez's birth.
With both actors and audiences culled from the striking workers, the group specialized in what became known as actos, short dramatic sketches designed to spark political action. El Teatro Campesino, which won an Obie Award in 1968 for its work on tour, often performed on a flatbed truck. Its influences ranged from Bertolt Brecht, via the Living Newspapers of the Federal Theater Project, to popular Mexican comedians of the day.
In 1970, Mr. Valdez and El Teatro Campesino purchased 40 acres of rural land in San Juan Bautista (now on the fringes of Silicon Valley) and began to work as a collective. Over time, the troupe expanded its political agenda from the farm workers' struggles and, through early works like '➾rnabe'' and ''Soldado Razo'' ('ɻuck Private''), both in 1970, and ''La Carpa de los Resquachis'' (''The Tent of the Underdogs'') in 1973, Mr. Valdez became the darling of leftist political-theater aficionados.
By 1978, Gordon Davidson, the artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum, had been up to see Mr. Valdez's work in San Juan Bautista and decided it could have a wider audience. Mr. Valdez, too, had broadened his ambitions beyond community-based theater. This was partly a pragmatic issue. ''I was losing many colleagues because they simply had to go out and make a living,'' he said. But he also wanted to reach a broad popular audience and gain national attention for his art and causes.
After hearing the broadcast of a radio essay about the Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles in 1943, Mr. Davidson asked Mr. Valdez to write a show about the event that sparked the unrest, the killing of a 21-year-old man, Jose Diaz, in what was known as the Sleepy Lagoon murder case. Mr. Valdez responded with a large-scale fictionalized piece, complete with music (by his brother Daniel), dancing and his trademark Brechtian sensibility -- actors directly addressing the audience and suggesting alternate endings for the play.
The action of ''Zoot Suit'' revolves around the travails of Henry Reyna and other members of the 38th Street Gang of pachucos (a street term for adolescent Mexican-Americans). Following a police raid of a dance, where the rival Downey Gang causes trouble, Reyna and his friends find themselves arrested and charged with murder. Mr. Valdez depicts the sham trial propelled by wartime anti-Chicano fervor that lands the 38th Street boys in San Quentin. Events in the second act focus on the attempts of Anglo political activists to get the convictions overturned on appeal, even as gangs of sailors storm the Los Angeles barrios to strip young Latinos of their beloved zoot suits -- flamboyant outfits characterized by knee-length coats, shoulder pads and baggy trousers drawn in tightly at the ankle.
''Zoot Suit'' is a distinctive blend of fact and agit-prop fiction. Twenty-four young Chicanos were indeed tried for the murder of Diaz. Twelve were convicted and sent to San Quentin (notwithstanding the absence of any eyewitnesses). A real-life activist named Alice Greenfield worked to overturn the convictions and became the model for the play's character of Alice Bloomfield. (The spunky Ms. Greenfield, now Mrs. McGrath, 83, attended the Goodman opening.) The court scene draws heavily from trial transcripts. But Mr. Valdez also departs from a purely factual approach.
One of the play's most striking characters is El Pachuco (first portrayed by Edward James Olmos and performed at the Goodman by Marco Rodriguez, who was in the original 1978 ensemble), a zoot-suited narrator who both propels and comments upon the action. Reyna's alter ego and the heart of the play, El Pachuco is the playwright's far-from-subtle attempt to embody the complexities of rebellious teenage Chicano culture in a single semi-mystical individual.
In 1979, the Taper gave the show a full production. ''It ignited the Latino audience,'' Mr. Davidson said. ''We had to find a way to keep it going.'' The Taper transferred the play to the Aquarius Theater, where it ran for nine months before audiences, Mr. Davidson said, that were predominantly Chicano.
The subject of Broadway inevitably came up. Though he had been widely quoted in his youth as attacking the commercial theater (he once said that Broadway favored only ''limp, superficial productions''), Mr. Valdez was enthusiastic.
''Luis wanted to be the first Hispanic playwright on Broadway,'' Mr. Davidson said. 'ɺnd he deserved the chance.'' But the transfer was a disaster. There are several theories as to why the success of the play in Los Angeles did not translate to New York. One was that New York's urban Puerto Rican community did not relate to the California Latinos, whose American experience was grounded in agricultural labor. Major newspapers, including The New York Times, did not give the play good reviews. And its agit-prop style befuddled the audience.
'ɻroadway musicals didn't have that kind of reality,'' said Kenneth Brecher, executive director of the Sundance Institute, who was then Mr. Davidson's associate artistic director and line producer in New York. ''We had incredible singers, but they weren't Broadway singers.''
Mr. Davidson said that New Yorkers could not then handle Latino characters behaving with swagger. ''When El Pachuco came out on stage and put his knife through the newspaper,'' Mr. Davidson said, describing the start of the play, ''you could see the audience lean back in their seats, as if he were going to attack them.''
Two years ago, the seed for the current Chicago revival was planted when Robert Falls, the artistic director of the Goodman, found himself sharing a car to LaGuardia Airport in New York with Mr. Valdez after a meeting in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., of the Theater Communications Group, a service organization for nonprofit theaters. ''I didn't know much about its Broadway history but I was aware of the hand grenade it had launched in Los Angeles,'' Mr. Falls said. ''I told him that if ever there was a time for 'Zoot Suit,' we're living in it now. This is a glorious moment for Latino popular culture. This never felt to me like a play of its time. It feels like a play for now.''
The temporarily captive Mr. Valdez, who normally likes to direct his own work, found himself listening to a lecture from Mr. Falls on the merits of Mr. Godinez. He was also reminded that a revival of ''Zoot Suit'' would be the first Latino play on the Goodman's mainstage. By the end of the ride, Mr. Valdez had agreed to a full-blown revision of the script that would update the play and incorporate elements of the movie.
Mr. Valdez has been itching to get back to the theater. During his decade of Hollywood striving, he said, he had come to believe that he would have to compromise his political and aesthetic values if he were to enjoy access to the resources he craved. Although he had considerable popular success with his 1987 film ''La Bamba'' (the musical story of the life and death of the singer Ritchie Valens), it was not his most representative work. '' 'La Bamba,' 'La Bamba,' '' he said. 'ɾveryone knows me for 'La Bamba.' ''
But one hit movie was not enough for Hollywood producers to green-light his less mainstream projects. ''It got me a lot of development deals and that was it,'' Mr. Valdez said. ''I've wasted a lot of years playing the casino game in Hollywood. Producers' offices are full of dead scripts with people's names on the side. I've learned my lesson.''
Octavio Solis, a Latino playwright in residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, believes that Mr. Valdez became frustrated in Hollywood. ''They never trusted his vision enough to let him go his way,'' Mr. Solis said. ''It's a problem familiar to most Latino writers. We often face a certain paternalism -- people telling us that we don't know the business the way they know the business.''
Some of Mr. Valdez's projects did make it to television. In 1987, his screen adaptation of his stage play 'ɼorridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution'' was shown on PBS and won a Peabody Award. And in 1991, Cheech Marin and Linda Ronstadt were among the well-known performers working for scale because they believed in Mr. Valdez's PBS production of ''La Pastorela,'' a medieval Spanish miracle play. But the budget of $1.1 million was small and the piece found a bigger audience internationally than in America.
Here again was the nut of Mr. Valdez's career problem: how to work with political meaning and still snag the money and resources to reach the broad audience for whom his work is designed. ''My problem was always that my projects were too esoteric,'' Mr. Valdez said. ''I was never much interested in writing for sitcoms.''
His contradictions go deeper than that. He made his mark in worker theater but craves mainstream popularity. He insists on retaining an esoteric didacticism even as he tries to win at the Hollywood slots the approach may explain why some critics have deemed his film work overly simplistic. Finally, he is too much of a spiritualist to be pigeonholed as a conventional socialist.
''Luis is an extraordinarily talented writer with an enormous amount to say,'' Mr. Brecher allowed. 'ɻut he always refused to polish. He also has a great grasp of what really matters in life. We always said he spent more time at the altar than at his agent's.''
And thus, having gone full circle, he has come to worship at the theater. This fall, the San Diego Repertory Theater, where he is an artist in residence, will present the premiere of his first play in 13 years, provisionally titled ''The Mummified Deer.'' ''You might say it's another piece of American border history,'' Mr. Valdez said, waving off further details.
Despite its revisions, the Chicago critics had faults to find with ''Zoot Suit.'' In The Chicago Tribune, Richard Christiansen described the piece as '⟞signed to get the juices flowing,'' but he also found ' spots'' and compared the work to a ''s social melodrama.'' In The Chicago Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss lamented the lack of a live band and complained that ''the characters are cardboard cutouts.'' There is perhaps a paradox in critics deeming Mr. Godinez's revival for the nonprofit Goodman to be overly respectful and too far removed from a musical on Broadway -- where it has already failed. But Mr. Valdez appears to accept the fact that his artistic vision will likely never find commercial favor.
''Luis Valdez was a trailblazer under unusual conditions,'' said Mr. Solis, whose own play ''Santos & Santos'' opens tomorrow in a production by the Imua Theater in New York. ''His influence is deep, profound and far reaching. His work has been a root source for all of us.''
Mr. Godinez argues that plays by younger writers like Jose Rivera and Edwin Sanchez have broadened the market for Mr. Valdez's future works. ''The success of what some people like to call magical realism should now make it easier for people to appreciate Luis's kind of stylization,'' he said.
Mr. Valdez is eager to find out the truth of that prediction. ''If you spend all your time chasing the Hollywood dream, you'll never write the plays,'' he said wistfully. ''In theater, I always got my stuff done, even if it meant doing it myself.''
1. Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories by Grace Young
The pandemic has hit independent restaurants incredibly hard. Despite efforts by groups like the Independent Restaurant Coalition to get much-needed federal support for our beloved local restaurants, the outlook is, by most meaures, grim. This is particularly true for our nation's Chinatowns. In this 8-part short video series, Grace Young, a James Beard Award Winner and renowned wok cooking expert, takes us deep into Manahattan's Chinatown to see first hand how the coronavirus pandemic is shuttering generations-old family-owned business and offers hope for how we can help save them. &mdash Dan Souza, Cook's Illustrated Editor in Chief
Get sauced: Meet the hungry duo at the forefront of KC’s premier urban lunch counter
J ayaun Smith spent his free time as a kid watching “Iron Chef America” and creating his own unique recipes with what was available, he shared — noting it didn’t take him long to fall in love with cooking.
Jayaun Smith, Sauced, UHUNGRY?
“I spent a lot of time alone growing up,” recalled the 25-year-old chef, who now leads the Sauced urban lunch counter in the Crossroads Arts District with business partner Steven Blakley. “My mom had me at 15. She stayed in high school, went to college and got her doctorate in psychology. Having her strength and seeing how she never gave up, it really taught me how to hone in on something you love.”
By the time Smith was 16, he was competing in state and national culinary competitions. After getting a taste for the art’s competitive nature, he knew he didn’t want to do anything else, he said.
Smith went on to complete the Chef Apprentice program at Johnson County Community College and at 22 become the first executive chef at Ruby Jean’s Kitchen and Juicery when the well-known health-focused hot spot opened in November 2017 at 30th and Troost .
Steven Blakley, Sauced, UHUNGRY?
At about that same time, Blakley reached out to Smith with his new food concept, UHUNGRY?
“We met back in 2017,” 26-year-old Blakley recalled. “My original idea was for UHUNGRY? to be an application, and then we just started creating different menu items. From there, it spurred into in-home dinners and growing Jayuan’s personal business.”
Click here to check out some other tasty creations by Chef Jayaun Smith.
Idea after idea, the duo continued to grow UHUNGRY? — expanding into pop-up brunches, a loaded fries pop-up and their two current concepts: Sauced and Just Slide .
Sauced at Corrigan Station
Sauced launched in October 2020 in the Crossroads — small, yet permanent, outdoor brick-and-mortar tucked into a courtyard between the two buildings that make up Corrigan Station.
“We had been in communication with a developer, and he reached out to tell us about the space back in September,” Blakley said. “He asked if we could get something up and running by the beginning of October. We knew it was going to be a lot of work, but we decided to go for it.”
With the Sauced’s positioning off 19th and Main streets, a big piece of the business model is reaching employees who work in the Corrigan Station buildings, which notably includes anchors like WeWork, Academy Bank and Helix.
“We were a little hesitant because we didn’t know how people working from home would affect business,” Blakley said. “But through the way we branded Sauced as this new and exciting concept, it resulted in a lot of people stopping by to check out and try it.”
Sauced is open 11:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday closed Sundays.
Click here to learn more about Sauced and UHUNGRY?
The Sauced menu contains such lunch favorites as burgers, chicken sandwiches and fries — with a twist of Smith’s style, he shared.
“We knew we wanted to be efficient in the downtown area with businesses taking short lunch breaks,” Smith explained. “Our menu items allow us to crank out food fast, all while incorporating a lot of flavors and having a lot of fun with the menu.”
The CUCINA family of Italian restaurants is one of Southern California’s first retail wine shop inside a restaurant concept. Our menus showcase Italian flavors married with the diverse bounty of California, allowing local sources to inspire culinary direction.
Our talented chef teams are dedicated to creating inventive, seasonal dishes, while running an ambitious in-house program, including house made charcuterie and sausage, cheese, artisanal breads and pastas made from scratch.
Dynamic, diverse and fun, our wine program features 200+ labels from around the world, with an emphasis on Italian and California varietals. Our goal is to share value with our guests, and celebrate those behind the label: on the farms and in the wineries.
CUCINA urbana’s contemporary Italian cuisine is prepared with a focus on California seasonality and the bounty of local farms. Combined flavors of Italy with the organic freshness of Southern California is emblematic of CUCINA’s from-scratch menus.
What should you feed your kid during or after school? Try these tasty and filling bites.
Need to jump start your diet after getting off track? Try my One-Day Detox plan.
Find out which three brain-boosting ingredients are in my Smart Smoothie and learn how to the brainy beverage.
Enjoy a flavorful cup of coffee without overloading your morning brew with loads of extra calories, fat and sugar. Try one or more of these smart tricks. Good morning, indeed!
How many calories do you need to eat to lose weight? Use this simple equation to figure out.
Planning a visit to the farmers’ market? Don’t head out until you read this! You’ll find tips on how to score the freshest produce and save big.
Why Choose Proven Winners?
Proven Winners searches the world to bring you vibrant flowering annuals, perennials and shrubs that deliver the most beautiful garden performance. When you grow Proven Winners, you'll surely fall in love. Our plants have been proven in trials conducted in numerous sites worldwide to be:
- Easy to grow and care for
- Covered with blooms
- Bright and colorful
- Healthy and vigorous
- Trialed and tested
Find locations near you that offer Proven Winners products
Be inspired with our Gardener's Idea Book and Winners Circle® newsletter.
The Popup Chef Series With The Urban Grape Returns This Fall - Recipes
My promise to my friends and my mission in life is to help individuals, leaders, and communities improve our world through education, design, conservation, and media.
My television and publishing work, social, and now streaming media are all dedicated to equipping families with earth-friendly solutions to support their everyday lives.
In the center of the country, just outside Little Rock, I open my home to share my design, gardening, preservation, and eco-friendly building practices for all to experience. My garden and landscape design practice help families and organizations create places that embrace the gifts of nature.
My latest venture is creating communities around the country that respect the earth, improve our health, and are beautiful to live, work and thrive within – for all age groups and persons.
I welcome you to join me in supporting the cause of making our planet a more diverse, friendlier, healthier, and more inspiring place. To learn more about my passions and background, click here.
Begin by combining the Confectioners sugar, kosher salt, cayenne pepper and 4 teaspoons of water in a medium bowl.
Add the pecans to the sugar mixture and stir until evenly coated.
Place the nuts on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the nuts are crusty on top and caramelized on the bottom.
Slide the parchment off of the baking sheet onto a countertop — this stops the nuts from overcooking on the hot baking sheet.
When the nuts are completely cool, use your hands to break them apart.
Transfer the nuts to a bowl and serve, or store in a covered container for up to a few weeks.
Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)
Documentary Film ‘A Chef's Voyage’ Follows Manresa Chef David Kinch Through France
When American chef David Kinch was a young cook in France in the 1970s and ’80s, he was heavily influenced by the rigor, discipline and classical canon of French cuisine. In 2002, that dedication culminated in the opening of Manresa, his longtime Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner in Los Gatos, Calif. In 2017, Kinch decided to do something unusual to celebrate the restaurant's 15th anniversary: He closed Manresa for a month and took his team to France to collaborate with three renowned kitchens in Paris, Provence and Marseille, and it was all caught on film by French director Rémi Anfosso. The result is A Chef's Voyage.
The idea to do a pop-up restaurant in France was Kinch's, but Relais & Châteaux, an international association of luxury hotels and restaurants that includes Manresa as well as the restaurants where he and his team collaborated in France, facilitated the production of the film.
Kinch, who already has an Emmy Award for his work on the PBS series Mind of a Chef, says he was intrigued by how food was so ingrained in French culture, and thought this connection was missing in America. "I was fascinated by that," Kinch told Unfiltered. "I wanted my young cooks to experience that, to be that immersed … what made me fall in love with cooking is something I wanted to share with them."
The pop-up tour started in Paris at Grand Award winner Le Taillevent, home to one of France's largest wine cellars. Manresa wine director Jim Rollston collaborated with Taillevent's Antoine Pétrus to select French wines for the California-style dishes and West Coast wines for the French. Among the California Cabernets Rollston selected were a magnum of Ridge Monte Bello and a bottle of Mount Eden Vineyards from 2002, Manresa's opening year. Kinch was focused on the food, but says his passion for wine started at a young age he worked in a wine store and did two harvests at Mount Eden, in 1988 and 1994, and eventually started making his own homemade wine.
A Chef's Voyage next follows the Manresa team south to Best of Award of Excellence winner L'Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux de Provence, where Kinch and Rollston tour some local vineyards before joining Baumanière chef Glenn Viel for dinner service.
The journey (and the film) concludes in Marseille, where Kinch and chef Gérald Passédat of Le Petit Nice collaborate for a Mediterranean-style meal. Le Petit Nice was celebrating an anniversary as well—100 years—so Passédat opened a 1917 Château le Puy with Kinch and the winery owners (the bottle was one of only six bottles of the wine still known to exist, the rest of which can be found in the cellar at Le Petit Nice).
"The wine was super sound," Kinch recalls. "It was very lipid, very delicate, very aromatic. There wasn't any fruit in there, but it wasn't really tired in the first 20 minutes that it was opened. It was a real joy."
The release of A Chef's Voyage has been a bright spot this year for Kinch, who has not been able to welcome guests to Manresa during the COVID-19 pandemic. He wants viewers to see how this journey gave his Manresa family great memories that will one day resemble a version of his younger days in France. "I think it's safe to say we held our own," Kinch said of his team’s time in the French kitchens. "I think it ultimately shows that American cooking has come a long way. It's like the end of a circle, where I started training … coming around full circle and being able to do that was very personally satisfying."
A Chef's Voyage is now streaming on Apple TV, Amazon Prime and iTunes.
Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.