TIME Food and Spirits

Haylie Duff Wants You to Start Ordering Kale Online

The actress' new show on the Cooking Channel aims to make the art of cuisine a little more straightforward

A few years ago, actress Haylie Duff launched a blog called Real Girl’s Kitchen to share recipes and cooking tips. Last year, the blog expanded into a book of the same name, allowing Duff the opportunity to more fully explore her love of all things culinary. Now, this weekend, Real Girl’s Kitchen takes a whole new evolution — this time in the form of a ten-episode cooking show on Cooking Channel. The series, which premieres on June 7, follows Duff as she explores various facets of the food world and teaches viewers how to turn chef at home.

For Duff, who has several movies in the works as well, cooking is a way to showcase her true self. The actress talked to TIME about how Real Girl’s Kitchen became a TV series and why, exactly, we should all get on board with kale.

TIME: When did you shoot Real Girl’s Kitchen?

Haylie Duff: We’ve been shooting on and off for the past six months or so. We took our time making it because originally it was a web series. We did our own schedule, and I did some movies in between shooting some of the episodes. And now we get to go onto the Cooking Channel, which is crazy!

How did that come about?

Truthfully, by the grace of the universe. We shot the series as a web series and put a promo out, and then a executive at Cooking Channel saw the promo and we went in for a meeting. We figured out how to make both work – we did the show online first, and then on Saturday we premiere on Cooking Channel. It will air as if it’s a new series that has never been online before, which is sort of a bizarre concept, but it’s new and different.

Did you ever think you would be someone with a Cooking Channel show?

One hundred percent not. I still pinch myself. I think about who I was when I typed up that first blog post, and I never in a million years would have thought this would happen. I’m so grateful and I try to be present every step of the way.

Have you always been interested in cooking and food?

It’s more of a new revelation as an adult. I talk in my cookbook about my mom discovering my take-out menu drawer. We were never the family that ordered pizza, and my mom never came home with a bucket of fried chicken. My mom always made home-cooked meals. We always sat down at the dinner table as a family. So my mom was devastated when she learned that I ordered delivery all the time. The look on her face spawned me wanting to learn how to cook. I had a lot of disasters in the kitchen as I learned.

What’s the first thing someone should learn how to do in the kitchen?

I think the first thing you should learn is how to roast a chicken. Once you can roast a chicken you can pretty much figure out anything else. And who doesn’t like roasted chicken? It’s a classic. You can serve it at a dinner party with a salad and a nice side and it has a great presentation, or you can put it in the oven after a day of work. It’s a go-to dish for me. There’s so many things you can do with it.

Has learning to cook made you more aware of where your food comes from?

Yes — to the point that I drive people crazy! I’m interested in where it comes from. I love the idea of farm to table and farmer’s markets. I enjoy a meal more if I know I’m eating something that’s good quality and good for me. I think it scares some people, maybe, and that’s why they don’t want to dive too deep. There’s a lot of scary stuff out there.

What are some of the culinary themes your show will tackle?

It’s a loose format, which is one of the cool things about it. The first episode we go out to Malibu for a girl’s weekend to eat green juice and turmeric shots and all that kind of detox stuff. We go to Brooklyn in one of the episodes and go to two incredible restaurants. We visit a rooftop farm while we’re in Brooklyn, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We do a big crab boil in my backyard with my family. We recreate burgers from Plan Check [in Venice, CA]. I visit a goat farm and make goat cheese. We cover some miles.

What’s the coolest thing you learned how to do?

It might have been when we went to Soledad Farms and made goat cheese. I always buy this goat cheese when I’m at the farmer’s market and it has flavors — there’s a lavender one, a honey one. It’s the most delicious but light goat cheese I’ve ever had in my life. I had done some research on this farm and they’re also an animal rescue. Julian [Pearce] is a French cheese-maker who bought a farm in California and he rescues any animal that comes his way. He claims that his goat cheese is more delicious than any other goat cheese because the goats are all happy.

That seems like a really good reason to have a cooking show.

Yeah! In my actual life, a food adventure is my favorite thing to do. To get to do it on the show was amazing.

You mention in one episode how much you love kale. For those who are skeptical, can you defend its merits?

I love kale. I ate it for lunch today. It’s just the best thing ever – it’s so good for you. There’s so many things to do with it. You can eat it raw, you can massage it into a salad, you can sauté it. It’s just the best little green ever. However, I get a lot of people who write to me on my blog and on Twitter who say they live somewhere where they can’t find kale in their stores. So one thing I’ve been encouraging people to do is order it online. It’s so easy to grow in the ground! It’s truly the easiest thing to grow. You can bring kale to you.

As you continue to pursue both acting and cooking, do you have a goal for where you want your career to go?

That’s such a good question because I’ve been very lucky this past year. I’ve been able to continue to make movies and also make the show and keep up with my blog and go on a book tour. I’ve been able to have the best of both worlds. I definitely don’t take that for granted. I think if I could continue doing that I’d be the happiest girl around. But really, Real Girl’s Kitchen has been my focus for the last year. It changed my life. I discovered myself in a whole new way. I would love to see a second season for the show. I’d love to write another cookbook. In a perfect world, I’d get to keep doing both.

What do you hope people take away from the show?

I’m not a trained chef. I’m a self-taught cook and I want people to be like, “Yo, I could do that! Maybe I didn’t think to or maybe it seemed harder than it really is.” That’s one thing people are going to really like about it. It’s not unattainable.

TIME Food and Beverage Industry

Fastest-Growing Alcoholic Beverage Category? It’s Not Craft Beer

Craft beer’s growth in the U.S. has been amazing, rising from 11.5 million barrels brewed in 2011 to over 15 million barrels in 2013. Over that same time span, however, production of another traditional American brew has tripled.

We’re talking about the rise of hard cider. The growth of cider—or rather, the comeback, since cider was America’s beverage of choice during colonial times—has been in the works for years, hitting an especially hot streak recently. Big brewers such as Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, and the Boston Beer Company (maker of Samuel Adams) have taken notice and joined in the trend, introducing cider brands of their own, complete with broad marketing campaigns for beverages that are sweeter and more gender-neutral than beer.

Interest in cider has piggybacked on both the craft beer and foodie trends, in which a sizeable swath of consumers devotes a considerable amount of time, effort, and dollars to regularly seeking out new, interesting, typically local flavors. The popularity of cider in the U.S. also follows in the footsteps of the market in Europe. A little less than a decade ago, cider “suddenly became the most fashionable drink in England,” Ed Gibson, an Englishman who now runs Austin Eastciders in Texas, recalled to the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “Everybody was drinking it – all the pop stars, celebrities and the cool kids. It went through a renaissance at that time and now it’s about 15 percent of the beer market in England.”

Cider’s share of the market is considerably smaller in the U.S.—maybe 1%. But sales have soared of late, up nearly 100% in one recent 52-week period. Data cited in an Oregonian story about the rising popularity of cider in the U.S.—and in particular, in Oregon—indicates that American hard cider production more than tripled from 2011 to 2013, from 9.4 million gallons to 32 million gallons.

And, unsurprisingly, there’s nowhere better to this trend in action but in trendy Portland. Portland not only says it has more breweries than any other city on earth (53 and counting), it is now claiming to be the “worldwide epicenter for cider.” That’s the phrase used by Jeff Smith, co-owner of what he says is America’s first boutique cider-only bar, Bushwacker Cider, located in southeast Portland. The place offers nearly 300 varieties of cider, and Smith told the Oregonian that consumers are drawn to the not-bitter beverage for the simplest of reasons: “It’s not as complicated as beer. You basically get an apple and crush it. It’s branch to bottle. People see that.”

Even as cider has been enjoying a sharp rise in sales, cider makers expect much bigger things down the road. During the past two CiderCONs, held since 2011 in Chicago, researchers surveyed more than 100 cider producers, and the vast majority projected strong growth for their companies over the next five years. A 2012 Nielsen report, meanwhile, stated that the “relatively small Cider segment is poised for great growth,” in part because ciders “attract a younger, more affluent consumer.”

TIME Food and Spirits

VIDEO: The World’s Best Chefs Punked Wylie Dufresne for One Epic Meal

Wylie Dufresne is surprised by a retinue of famous foodies, including Padma Lakshmi. Derrick Belcham/Matthieu Buchsenschutz

Twenty-nine famous chefs, from Daniel Boulud to David Chang, got together to cook a seriously scrumptious dinner

Wylie Dufresne was taking a rare day off when, around 7 p.m. on April 8, he got the call every chef dreads. There had been an electrical outage on New York’s Lower East Side and because his restaurant WD-50 was closed that night, there was no one around to take care of all the raw fish and vegetables in the walk-ins that would soon begin to go bad. Racing to his restaurant, considered one of the finest examples of molecular gastronomy in the United States, he fretted: Would he be able to save the produce that packed his walk-refrigerators? Would he be able to afford to get the damn system fixed?

His anxiety was soon displaced by shock, when he walked into the pitch-black restaurant and found not ruined ingredients and burnt-out appliances but a video playing in the dining room—one that had his face superimposed onto a creepy David Lynch character who appeared to be talking to him. It was greater still when the lights came up and there, shouting “Surprise!” with all their hearts, was a dining room filled with 65 invited guests, and 29 of the world’s most acclaimed chefs.

“That is going to the best surprise party ever,” said René Redzepi, one of the participating chefs, as the minutes before Dufresne’s arrival ticked down. He turned out to be right: despite complicated logistics worthy of a minor military invasion and dozens sworn to secrecy, the guest of honor had absolutely no idea it was coming. But another, more profound surprise lay in store. For the 17 chefs who flew in on their own dime—Redzepi of Denmark’s Noma, Rodolfo Guzmán of Chile’s Boragó, Ana Ros of Slovenia’s Hisa Franko, Ben Shewry of Melbourne’s Attica, Blaine Wetzel of Washington State’s Willows Inn—as well as the local chefs like David Chang, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Daniel Boulud, the dinner was turned out to be that rarest of opportunities. One more in ever-evolving series of feasts known as Gelinaz, it turned out to be a precious chance to reconnect with the reasons that drew them to cooking in the first place.

As chefs have become more than just cooks—they are seen now as celebrities, as corporate businesspeople, as artists, even as public intellectuals—the demands upon them have increased. Most of them manage more than one restaurant, or at least regularly entertain offers from international investors eager to have them open one (or more) in Los Angeles or Beijing. They run labs and test kitchens designed to supply them with a never-ending source of new ideas. They churn out cookbooks tracing their trajectories, and publish Op-Eds denouncing misbegotten areas of food policy. To promote their restaurants, they maintain a steady presence on Twitter and Instagram, and star in serious-minded documentaries about their work. And they regularly travel the world, giving talks and participating in gatherings designed for them to share ideas with their peers. It’s a long way from the days when chefs simply had to please diners with delicious food and a well-run dining room.

Gelinaz dinners before (the name is partly inspired by the chef who, along with food writer and bon vivant Andrea Petrini, co-founded it, Fulvio Pierangelini), were never intended to be part of the chef rat race. In fact, they were designed for just the opposite: by bringing together a number of chefs to riff on a single, signature recipe, they would, it was hoped, spark creativity and friendships. At a gathering in June 2013 in Ghent, Belgium 23 chefs interpreted a 19th-century recipe for a chicken-and-aspic timbale; that fall they went to Lima to riff on an octopus dish by Gastón Acurio. A ticket to each cost around $700—a price that was intended to offset the cost of flying all these chefs in from around the world and paying for their ingredients.

Dufresne with Gelinaz co-founder Andrea Patrini. Derrick Belcham/Matthieu Buchsenschutz

Although most diners at those two Gelinazes were happy with the experience, the chefs were not. They found it limiting to focus on just one recipe didn’t like the pressure to perform that such an expensive price tag brings, and they were uncomfortable with the fact that, because the remaining costs were picked up by local sponsors, they had to spend chunks of their time together showing up at tourism or corporate events and talking to the press. The essential experience had been lost, and when a third meal was planned for New York, they staged a minor rebellion, and Petrini was forced to cancel the public Gelinaz he had planned for April.

But that’s when the chefs stepped in to change it. Instead of a single recipe, they would riff on three of them. They would avoid the obligations of perfection that paying guests imposed by making it by invitation only—two guests per chef. “It’s not right for guests to pay because we’re doing this in order to play,” said Pierangelini. “If we want to play, we should pay for our own toys.” They would cut back on the need for sponsors, and thus retain more control of their time, by paying for their plane tickets and the two Brooklyn apartments where they would all share rooms themselves (early plans to bar sponsors altogether failed when the chefs learned the cost of renting WD-50 for the night). And although they all admire Petrini, they would do all this not just because he asked, but for a purpose. They would do it to honor Wylie, a chef they adore for his talent and humility.

After Dufresne recovered from the shock (always prepared, chef Ana Ros, commented, “The two people I invited are doctors—just in case he has a heart attack.”), the dinner began with Dufresne’s own cooks preparing the standard versions of three signature WD-50 dishes: Cold Fried Chicken, Shrimp Noodles, and Scrambled Egg Ravioli. Those dishes may sound standard on paper, but they are anything but. Known for his highly imaginative, modernist approach to cooking, Dufresne serves the chicken, for example, with a cube of buttermilk ricotta and a sprinkling of caviar.

Wylvie Dufresne as The Colonel. Derrick Belcham/Matthieu Buchsenschutz

“That’s the challenge,” said Patterson referring to the task of reinventing Dufresne’s creative recipes, “how do you outmodern Wylie?” The first group of chefs to serve, including Chang, Noma’s Rosio Sánchez, and Empellón’s Alex Stupak, didn’t try: they put down crowd-pleasing buckets—with Dufresne’s face where the Colonel’s would go—of fried chicken and biscuits, accompanied by big tins of caviar. But succeeding courses were creative indeed: Redzepi and Ben Shewry eschewed the chunk of protein that the chicken dish requires for a fermented chicken broth, that the served with hand-ground grits, their corn flavor heightened with fermented corn juice. In Patterson’s group, which included Alex Atala, Claude Bosi, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Kondo Takahiko, each contributed a single ravioli—same casing, different filling—to a dish meant to represent the ways that immigrants influence host cultures. And in one of the star dishes of the evening , Sweden’s Magnus Nilsson, and France’s Agata Felluga, served a small heap of noodles swirled with baby scallion and topped with an intense shrimp paste atop a frankly gorgeous ice plate.

But all the excitement in the dining room didn’t match the energy in the kitchen. The out-of-town chefs had arrived on Sunday night. Holed up in two Brooklyn apartments, they ate their dinners in private to avoid be recognized in public, and did their early prep work at restaurants—their staff sworn to secrecy—scattered throughout the city. By the time the chefs convened at Wd-50’s kitchen early Monday afternoon, the buzz was palpable. Negotiating for limited counter space, and working from complex charts that determined which team could have which stovetop during what exact period of time., they began their real collaboration.

Redzepi and Shewry’s had spent the entire day before trying to perfect their dish and still weren’t happy with it. “We want it to be good not just for the diners but because we’re doing it for Wylie,” Redzepi said as he tossed out the umpteenth iteration of the dish. Patterson stepped into help things along by squeezing a shot of Srichacha into the broth. Wetzel and Martínez couldn’t figure out the proper plating for their dish until someone suggested the serve the clams on a separate piece of slate. Those who weren’t busy stepped into the plate the dishes of those who were, and the kitchen became so crowded with chefs that the waiters, bearing precarious trays of used glassware, had to fight their way through to the dishwasher. Observing it all, Shewry could only marvel. “Imagine if someone did all this for you,” he said. “It would be the highlight of your career.”

Redzepi and Shewry’s fermented chicken broth. Derrick Belcham/Matthieu Buchsenschutz

As the pace began to pick up, Dave Chang stepped into expedite, then later turned over the reins to Daniel Boulud, who ran the pass with an efficiency—a steady stream of instructions punctuated with a French-accented go go go—that awed the others. They marveled again as the four-starred Boulud, working with his existential opposite, Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, plated their dish, the evening’s final: an exquisite mashup of French and Chinese that paired a creamy shrimp sabayon that looked like a breakfast bun with a demitasse of soup based on XO sauce into which the diner was expected to blow two straws whose content contained shrimp “noodle.” “It’s like a very nice uptown French restaurant came downtown and got beat up by a Chinese restaurant,” Boulud said as he presented the dish.

When it was all over sometime toward midnight, Wylie sat on the pass in the kitchen, and though overwhelmed with emotion, managed to get out a few words of thanks to his friends and colleagues. Applauding raucously, Redzepi turned to Shewry. “It’s so easy to forget, but this is why we do it,” he said. “How lucky are we that we get to make a person happy?”

Watch: The Chefs Talk Prep and Cooking Ahead of the Surprise

(Video credit: Fine Dining Lovers)

 

 

 

 

 

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