What a wild and crazy month it's been, culminating with a 9 day trip to Northern California beginning tomorrow. First a quick recap:
I had a great trip to Cleveland/Akron a few weeks ago, teaching three classes at the Western Reserve School of Cooking as well as two classes Loretta Paganini's School of Cooking. It was all about whole grain breads, every class was well attended, and I think everyone was pleased. It was a beautiful time to be in Ohio, the hills were lush and green, the weather clear and not too hot, and the breads turned out beautifully. I loved working with the support teams at both schools and consider them family now. I also had a chance to vist three local bakeries and chat with the owners about all things bread, We're going to try for another visit next summer to build on this year's classes.
In mid June, the taping for Ciao Italia, Mary Ann Esposoto's PBS series, went smoothly and should air next spring. We made whole wheat ciabatta together--it was fun and the loaves turned out nicely (thank goodness, since we had to get it right on one take). Mary Ann and her producer, Paul Lally, and the whole team treated me royally, and I got to spend time with my JWU colleague Ciril Hitz and his family. His new book on artisan bread will be out this fall (go to www.breadhitz.com for more details. His website will be a great resource for years to come, and his work is extraordinary--I predict Ciril will be a bread superstar for years to come).
Ten Speed Press just offered me a contract for a new bread book, which is scheduled to come out next fall, so I have to get to work on it soon. Now here's the thing for all you who have wanted to do recipe testing: Don't write to me yet, as I am not ready to create a list. I will put out a new call for testers in September or October. If you write before then, you will only have to write again then, so please wait. I'll have more details in a subsequent post. It will be a fun project, so stay tuned!
I'm off tomorrow morning for Napa and the Taste3 Conference (check their website at www.taste3.com). Eventually, my presentation, along with the other presenters, will be put up on their website as a video, so you will be able to see it. I'm very excited about this conference--it's one of the great culinary events of the year and it's in Napa, to boot! In addition to my talk, along with Chef Bill Briwa of the CIA Greystone campus, I'll be doing a special fermentation workshop for a selected group of conference attendees on Thursday in the magnificent Greystone facility. Following the conference, on Sunday, I will be teaching a 90 minute demo workshop at The Copia Food and Wine Center (the site for the Taste3 Conference as well), and then a wood fired pizza class at Ramekins on Monday (in Sonoma). After that, I'll be doing a two day bread science workshop for the pizza team of Amy's Kitchen in Medford, Oregon -- they're flying me up on their corporate jet, right over Mt. Shasta, which I climbed many years (and pounds) ago. Very exciting!
After all that, I'll be speaking at Google Headquarters in Mountain View on Thursday, the 24th, on my pet topic, "The Leaven Factor." Hopefully, the presentation at Google may eventually become a YouTube video, so I'll let you know when and if that happens.
Finally, we've been working for the past six months on an artisan pizza restaurant for here in Charlotte, and it looks like it should open in September. I've been very pleased with our test bakes and we'll be spending the month of August up-fitting the kitchen and getting ready to roll it out. I should be able to make a formal announcement when I get back from this trip--we're very close to having all the paperwork signed and sealed. Our goal: to create new benchmarks for pizza in our region, comparable to those I've written about at places like Pizzeria Bianco and Mozza, as well as about Apizza Scholls and Ken's in Portland, Oregon, and, really, only a few other places (I'll post a top ten list when I get back). As I've been predicting, artisan (not gourmet) pizza will be the most important food trend of the next couple years, and I think soon we will see many great pizza restaurants of this caliber--let's face it, pizza is the most sensible and satisfying way to be in the restaurant business, even with rising food costs. But only a few Americans have experienced it at the benchmark levels that we're shooting for. I'll have a lot more on this in future posts.
My e-mail address is still: firstname.lastname@example.org but please remember, do not ask to be put on the testers list yet--wait for the official announcement. Otherwise, I always look forward to hearing from you. Don't know how much time I'll have to write back during the next 10 days, but I will try to respond to all e-mails eventually.
If you are a reader of this blog and will be at any of the upcoming events, please introduce yourselves; I'd love to make our virtual community a flesh and blood one.
Until next time,
May your bread always rise,