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Published September 4th, 2014

Running time: 4 Minutes

By Erin Fairbanks

Erin Fairbanks talks with the Executive Director of St. John's Bread & Life, Anthony Butler, about the USDA's annual report on U.S. household food security that reports no decrease in U.S. food insecurity and hunger in 2013, despite today’s record Wall Street stock market levels. 49 million Americans – and 16 million kids – still lack sufficient food.


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This week's guests: Martha Hoover & Chef Nira Kehar.

Having never waited tables, never cooked professionally or in any way worked in a restaurant, Martha Hoover has created a successful group of dining establishments—Cafes Patachou, Petite Chou by Patachou, Napolese Artisanal Pizzeria and Wine Bar, GELO Dolce Bar, Public Greens Urban Kitchen Garden and Grill and Patatruck Mobile Patachou Kitchen. The restaurants reflect her lifelong passion for food and ingredients of excellent quality, as well as a joie de vie. All the concepts are cherished neighborhood destinations, serving dishes made with the highest quality ingredients in the freshest preparation methods possible. Their walls are filled with art, music floats above the buzz of the diners and an urban energy reverberates that is the direct result of her vision. When Hoover opened Café Patachou, her goal was to prepare the best “simple” food using high quality ingredients. This was quite a novel approach in 1989. Vendors said that it was a mistake to roast our own meat and make homemade bread because cheaper, yet inferior, alternatives were available. The standard in the local industry deemed that strict quality standards were not necessary for success in this market. Immediately, customers noted the difference between Café Patachou and other breakfast/ lunch restaurants and that has been the key to the success of the entire company. Patachou, Inc. has purposefully grown slowly over the past twenty years. Hoover is a hands-on owner who is truly active in the business assuring the adherence to exacting standards and attention to every detail.

"I grew up with this family mantra that all the great food in the world starts and ends in New York." [04:00]

"I don't think I told our story enough early enough. It just didn't strike a chord with enough people." [09:00]

--Martha Hoover on Radio Cherry Bombe

Born and raised in Montreal, Nira Kehar's culinary adventures began with imbibing her mother’s skills in the kitchen. She traded a career in engineering to train at the prestigious ITHQ (Institut de Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec), Canada’s premier culinary institute. Chapter three was moving to India six years ago, where she began to give life to her creative vision (preceded by a grueling few months in the Maurya Kitchens). Driven by her desire to please and excite the palate, Chef Nira’s approach combines fresh, seasonal produce with a range of global cooking techniques, loved by the food community and critics alike. This year, along with the James Beard foundation event, she is busy experimenting and evolving her sister brand, Atelier Nini.

"I'm privileged in that the worst thing that ever happened to me is the best thing that ever happened to me." [27:00]

"Food is like a living organism it has its own moods and freaky things that happen to it." [33:00]

--Nira Kehar on Radio Cherry Bombe


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This week's episode of A Taste of the Past is a dedication to Craig Claiborne, legendary New York Times restaurant critic. Linda Pelaccio is talking with Tom McNamee, author of the recent Craig Claiborne-focused book, The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat. When Craig Claiborne began his career, there was no outlet for critical review of restaurant and food culture. Tune in to hear about how Craig Claiborne transformed The New York Times' food coverage into the critical lens that it is known to be today. Hear about how he brought the star rating system for restaurants to the United States, and how he introduced American households to multitudes of ethnic cuisines. If you think some restaurants are extravagantly priced, listen in to hear about a meal that Mr. Claiborne shared with chef Pierre Franey that cost roughly $20,000 in today's currency. Hear more about the fascinating life and work of Craig Claiborne in this week's episode of A Taste of the Past! This episode was sponsored by White Oak Pastures

"I think it's important to realize what the American context was at the time. It was just shortly after World War II, and industrialized food was in a huge upsurge... it was an absolute wasteland in American food!"

"He was bringing strange things to The New York Times' readership immediately in his first column."

"He kept constantly bringing in the 'outer world', and therefore a lot of things that we take for granted [he introduced in our culture]."

-- Tom McNamee on A Taste of the Past


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