Announcing a New Current Events Podcast for and about Chefs and Professional Cooks
Happy New Year, everybody.
Hope you had a joyful, restorative holiday season.
Personally, I had a productive late-December in service of a new venture I’d like to tell you about: In collaboration with Jimmy Bradley (chef-owner of The Red Cat in New York City), I’m co-producing and co-hosting a podcast that will debut LIVE on Heritage Radio Network this Thursday, January 7, at 11am EST.
It’s called The Front Burner with Jimmy and Andrew and, simply put, it’s a current-events show for and about people who cook professionally–chefs, sous chefs, line cooks, culinary students, caterers, and so on. Think of it as the industry’s equivalent of your favorite Sunday morning political commentary show–a venue for people in, or interested in, the pro-cooking trade to hear newsmakers, insiders, and experts talk about what’s going on in the industry right now. Guests will be booked from week to week, just days ahead of each edition, with an eye toward keeping things as up-to-the-minute as possible.
Our fondest wish is for the show to become the place for chefs to share their thoughts on a pressing issue, to elaborate on some news they’ve made or find themselves attached to, to put forth a proposal for their peers or a solution to a widespread problem, and — perhaps, once we’ve earned it — to actually announce a new venture or career direction. At a time when the relationship between chefs and media can sometimes be depressingly adversarial, our intention is for the show to be a place for chefs and cooks to have their voices–their actual voices–and opinions heard, live and unedited.
That’s not to say that we won’t ask probing questions or challenge opinions we don’t necessarily agree with. But we will strive to foster a trusted environment in which these conversations can take place without fear of misinterpretation. It’s one of the reasons we decided to team up on this: The unusual pairing of a chef and a writer as co-hosts, we hope, will ensure balance, each of us keeping the other on the right track and bringing two very different points of view to our conversation with each other, and our guests.
To give you a sense of how we expect this to play out: Had the show been up and running in the last few months of 2015, we might have asked a Union Square Hospitality Group chef to join us to discuss the company’s shift to a no-tipping policy and the ripple effect it was expected to produce in the back of the house (one of this week’s guests, named below, has also been a leader in this area); we might have assembled a chefs round-table to analyze the cook shortage summarized in Julia Moskin’s New York Times piece, among other articles; and we for sure would have remembered the late Paul Prudhomme with a few chefs who started their careers under his auspices. (Were this week’s show not our first, we would have devoted a segment to the recently and tragically departed Gina DePalma–somebody I had long admired from afar–but it didn’t seem appropriate to a celebratory debut episode.)
We would have asked the folks behind Bruno pizza to come on and discuss how they felt about the amount of commentary woven into Pete Wells’ review of their restaurant, and invited Michael White to discuss partner Ahmass Fakahany’s open letter to Wells following the Times review of Vaucluse. For that matter, we would have invited Wells himself to phone in and discuss all of the above. At the very least, next time such a dust-up occurs, you can be sure we’ll devote a session to the age-old question of whether or not, politics aside, it’s appropriate for chefs to respond to critics and the most constructive way to do it. We’d have welcomed Take Root’s Elise Kornack to talk about re-launching the restaurant and why she and wife-partner Anna Hieronimus almost left New York City, and asked Daniel Patterson to ruminate on the occasion of his last service at Coi. Harold Dieterle announced his restaurants would close at about the same time Marc Vetri sold most of his to Urban Outfitters; a dialogue between them exploring the shifting business landscape facing chef-owners would have been right in this show’s wheelhouse.
As is often the case with these sorts of things, it’s perhaps just as informative to delineate what this podcast won’t be: It won’t be a cooking show. It won’t be a restaurant-review or dining-experience-focused show. It won’t be geographically or ethnically myopic. It won’t traffic in gossip, trash talk, snark, or sarcasm. It will not be a forum for complaining for the sake of complaining or be a conduit for feuds or vendettas. All of that said, we plan to take issues, even uncomfortable or complex ones, head on and maturely discuss them from as many points of view as possible.
Put another way: This is a show that Jimmy and I would both love to listen to ourselves. At the end of the day, that was reason enough for us to take the plunge and try to make a go of it.
For our first show, we’ll be joined by a trio of chefs I admire for their smarts as much as their chops: Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen, Spoon and Stable’s Gavin Kaysen, and Harold Moore, who’s currently seeking a longterm, post-Commerce home. We’ll be taking a look ahead at the year before us, and the challenges facing the industry. And should any big stories break in this first week of the New Year, you can be sure we’ll dissect them, and perhaps even spontaneously book a last-second guest expert to join us.
You can listen to the show live via Heritage Radio Network’s homepage, then all episodes will live on as podcasts on the show’s page (don’t judge; it looks a little sparse because there aren’t any episodes banked there yet). It will also be available on iTunes and Stitcher. I’ll be sharing a link to each episode on this site after we air each week, and — if I can find a minute to call my site developer — there will soon be a show banner/link somewhere on this page at all times.
To any chefs reading this: We’d love if you kept us in mind the next time you’ve got something you’d like to comment on, or if you’re going to break some news and would like people to hear you discuss it with two hosts who know your business intimately. We’re happy to honor embargoes and keep things under wraps until you get on the air. Or, if you have a topic you think has been undercovered by the media and would like to kick around, by all means get it touch and run it by us. We’re reachable at Hosts@FrontBurnerPodcast.Org.
I could go on, but will leave it there. Jimmy and I are excited to get on the air and hope you’ll join us on Thursday, or shortly thereafter.
Thanks in advance for tuning in …