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This week on The Main Course, host Patrick Martins welcomes to the show Chef Mike Poiarkoff of Vinegar Hill House. Having been at the restaurant for six months now, Mike shares his experiences so far at the charming Brooklyn spot and what brought him specifically to that kitchen. Patrick and Mike shed light on the somewhat mysterious process of coming into a restaurant as a new chef and "trying out" for the position, with Mike securing his role at Vinegar Hill House by simply cooking his own style of simple, rustic food. Mike goes on to explain his way of cooking with the wood-burning oven at the restaurant and how he, for instance, achieves the perfect crust on a chop. Growing up in a close-knit Russian community in Pittsburgh, Mike was introduced to traditional cooking techniques at a young age and, from the sounds of it, this has given him a unique perspective in the kitchen. This program was brought to you by Rolling Press.

"I didn't attend culinary school, I never worked in a professional kitchen. I had the opportunity to learn from somebody very talented, from scratch... I was pushed early, and that was probably the best way that I could have learned." [11:39]

--Mike Poiarkoff on The Main Course


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On today's episode of A Taste of the Past, host Linda Pelaccio welcomes Anya Von Bremzen, author, journalist, food writer, and contributing editor of Travel + Leisure magazine, into the studio for a talk about food, and the history of traditional Soviet dishes. Anya also talks about her latest book, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing. In the book, Anya tells the gripping story of three Soviet generations—masterfully capturing the strange mix of idealism, cynicism, longing, and terror that defined Soviet life. On the show, Anya and Linda also welcome Anya's mother, Larisa Frumkina, as she speaks about food history, Russian literature, and various traditional dishes. Tune-in for a truly interesting episode into the history of the USSR and the Russian dishes. This program has been sponsored by Heritage Foods USA.

"Bread was something was almost always available. It was something almost sacred."

-- Anya Von Bremzen on A Taste of the Past

"For me, food history starts with Russian literature."

-- Larisa Frumkina on A Taste of the Past


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On today's episode of A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio is talking about Jewish Italian food, or Cucina Ebraica, with a panel of experts. Jayne Cohen is a food writer and cookbook author involved with preserving the culinary roots of Jewish cooking. Her most recent cookbook is entitled Around the Passover Table and Cooking for Jewish New Year. Cara De Silva is a food historian who writes about food and culture, and has authored In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin- a book featuring recipes from women in a Nazi concentration camp. Alessandra Rovati is a Jewish Italian food writer who also authors the blog Dinner in Venice. Tune in to hear how and when Jewish people immigrated to Italy, and how the various neighborhoods where they resided influenced their cooking. Learn why Jewish cuisine helped to popularize certain vegetables in Italian food, such as the tomato and the eggplant. What substitutes were used by Jews in the pork-heavy Italian diet? Hear about how ethnic tradition and cultural food survives through holiday meals. What Jewish foods have become part of everyday Italian cuisine? This program has been sponsored by Route 11 Potato Chips.

"The number of things that went into making Italian Jewish cuisine... created a cuisine of incredible variety- even though it was all Jewish in some way. There were also issues whether or not some of these dishes came to be associated with Jews- and that was sometime the case- but most of these dishes were brought by Jewish people." [6:50]

"There has been fusion since there have been borders!" [15:00]

-- Cara De Silva on A Taste of the Past

"One thing that is notable about Jewish Italian cuisine is that it was influenced by so many immigrants, sort of like Jewish food in the United States." [11:20]

-- Jayne Cohen on A Taste of the Past


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