Vishwesh Bhatt and the Magical Flexibility of Food
Plus: amazing food in L.A., swimming in Vegas, a chicken-free chicken sandwich
It’s time for another episode of Food with Mark Bittman, and this week we’ve got Vishwesh Bhatt, the wonderful chef and James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: South.
Vish, as he’s called by many, has a book out now that I just fell for. The book is called I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef — best title ever? — and as soon as I saw it, I was just grabbed. And then once you hear his story, and talk with him — well, you’ll see. It’s really fun to listen to Vish talk about traditions and authenticity; that’s a lot of what our conversation is about, and his take is really interesting, and just the right amount of sentimental. Hope you enjoy.
We also shared Vish’s recipe for Mom’s Rice “Pudding”; find that here.
“Just because we like something else or we take something else, or somebody else brings in other influences, doesn't necessarily mean we are giving away or losing what we have. We're just adding. Think of it as a quilt that somebody's adding another patch to.” — Vishwesh Bhatt
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VEGAS JUST FOR SWIMMING (ALAS)
I was in Vegas. The best thing, I think, was the Desert Breeze indoor municipal lap pool, which cost a buck for senior citizens; swimmers will want to go there. I looked for good food, I really did, but everything was mediocre and/or overpriced. (Well, I did find good food at Jean-Georges’ PRIME, but that’s kind of cheating.) I mean, Vegas is notoriously awful, but there is a huge strip of Asian food that I’m sure has treasures. I just didn’t find any of them.
TAOS FOR SNOW SPORTS
Then to Taos, which was a skiing trip, which didn’t do me much good, ‘cause I don’t ski. I snowmobiled, which was noisy and smelly and beautiful. I didn’t find good food there either. That wasn’t surprising—we were at a ski resort, after all.
L.A. FOR GREAT FOOD
Then to L.A., which is a different story. I cruised around with my friend Sam Polk, who founded EveryTable, and we looked at “new concepts” in restaurants, fortunately not eating in any. Interesting, though. Then I cooked with my friends Bob and Becky; that was the best meal of the week, until the next day. That was when I cruised around the east side, again poking into new restaurants and markets, and then stopped at Adana, an Armenian (but really multi-culti) restaurant in Glendale.
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