episode 51 :: first impressions

I don’t know how you got your year started, but I started mine off with a real bang.  A simple new years dinner with Peter & Jo at Bouchon in Beverly Hills — sounds simple enough.  Except whenever Jo’s involved, unexpected things happen.  Like meeting Chef Thomas Keller, in his kitchen, right in the middle of service.

Listen to episode 51 now

In this episode:
• Momofuku by David Chang – more than just a cookbook
Jo’s insightful post on the dangers of first impressions
• The Cove – an incredible documentary about dolphins and dangerous mercury levels in fish
• Anchor Steam’s 2009 Our Special Ale (see note below)
• Eating at Bouchon and meeting Thomas Keller
• Making Bouchon’s Puree de Pommes de Terre
• I ate a seal and I liked it
• Antibiotics in livestock is a big bad wolf knocking at our door
• Ammonia-washed beef — mmmm mmmm . . . delicious
Poulet Rouge Chickens

Music in this episode from Smile Empty Soul.  Buy their song in the iTunes Store.

Special thanks to The Onion and CNN for the additional audio.

Bouchon Bistro
235 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 271-9910  [map]

UPDATE: Thanks to Jim for correcting me on Anchor’s “Our Special Ale.” I said in the podcast that I thought they’d been making this beer since the late 80’s.  It’s actually been around since 1975! Check out the label archive.

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  1. You met Thomas Keller? So so cool for you. I know how much you have talked about him in the past on your show. Sounds like a fun time. Was it expensive? Oh nevermind.

    Happy New Year!


  2. Happy New Year to you Phil! Glad to hear a new show and quite a start. That must have been the most exciting time for you to meet the chef you look up to the most. The picture is fantastic and it was nice of Jo to take that picture for you. I almost lost it when you talked about the chef making fun of you for holding a purse.

    The bit on Flipper and Lassie had me laughing hysterically. Those were great shows, but you have to wonder how realistic it is for an animal to actually save humans from danger so many times in a row.

  3. Happy New Year, Phil. Another — as they all are — great episode! LOVED the Bouchon recap. It sounds like an amazing evening — and wow! YOU met the man himself. Very impressive. One of these days I have got to eat in one of his places – feels like a piece of my dining education is missing. If not at Bouchon here then maybe at Ad Hoc next summer. I have a copy of ‘The Cove’ and have been nervous about watching – don’t want to see those poor dolphins being slaughtered – but after listening to your comments here maybe I will. I applaud and support your efforts to speak out against wrong-headed food practices. Keep on it. People need to know. Things have to change. Looking forward to your next one!

  4. Just be happy I wasn’t carrying my glam HELLO KITTY purse!! xoxo

  5. Thanks for your comments, everyone.

    Charles, it’s not that eating at Ad Hoc or Bouchon is an over-the-top “I’ve never had anything like this” kind of experience. It’s just that the food tastes perfect. They serve the freshest ingredients, cooked perfectly, seasoned to perfection, done exactly right. It’s that cooking perfection that makes eating Keller’s food such a special experience. No foams or mixing of ingredients that you’ve never heard or seen of — just good basic technique, great food, the perfect meal every time.

    Jo, thanks again. Holding your purse made the whole story even better. Chef Keller did what any other guy would do when he saw another dude holding a purse. If it was possible to like him even more, that did it for me. I’d have done the same thing.

    Raymond, have you seen The Cove? If you liked watching Flipper, the movie is a real eye opener. I watched it again with Katrina last night and it was really striking for her. She grew up on that show too. Glad you enjoyed the Lassie/Flipper recap. When I was a kid, I loved those shows. We even adopted a collie. And if I had a well to fall into, I’d have done it just to see if she’d save me.

  6. Phil, I have a feeling that your mangasm over Chef Thomas Keller is probably what I would be like if Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione would come up to me and offer a tour of the brewery.

    • To me, it was about as exciting as meeting the President.

  7. Hey Phil – great show!! You can really hear your excitement over meeting Thomas Keller. I think I’d be equally as excited if I met someone I looked up to as much as you did.

    I have never seen either Flipper or Lassie, so I don’t know much about it. Sounds like great shows, and I’ll definitely check out the Cove movie. Have you ever eaten dolphin? What does it taste like? Aren’t they protected?

    Great potato recipe too. I’ll be giving that a try.



    • Thanks, Andy. I have never eaten dolphin, nor have I ever wanted to. I’m not sure what it tastes like, but my conscience would keep me from ever putting it into my mouth – especially after seeing the movie.

  8. I have had that Anchor Steam beer and I do not like it. There is something off putting about the aroma and the harshness of the hops. Letting it sit down doesn’t help either because I once found a year old six pack at our liquor store that was from the previous year and it tasted the same. I wouldn’t even cook with it.

    The seal story sounds nasty, but I see what you’re saying. You just want to say you tried it. I don’t blame you. It’s not like you killed it yourself. That’s something most people would have a problem with.

    Food, Inc. had a segment on the ammonia washing of ground beef if I recall correctly. Interesting that the company who patented that process is now facing legal issues. Imagine finding out that you’re eating beef that’s so dirty it has to be cleaned with chemicals before it’s safe enough to put into your body. It’s enough to make you want to go vegan.

    • Appreciate your comments, Dan. Sorry you didn’t have a good experience with the Anchor Steam beer. I do find the hop bite a little much, but for a holiday beer, I think it’s pretty unique.

      I too remember the segment in Food, Inc. I should have mentioned that as well. It is a little disconcerting when you think about how tainted our food has become, simply because we’re focused on quantity and not quality. I hope we see radical change in our food system in our lifetime.

      One important stat they showed in The Cove that I did not mention was that, if we continue to fish the Ocean as hard as we are currently, they predict an end to our fish supply by 2048. We could actually see an end to one of the longest living parts of our food chain. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

  9. I can’t believe you met Thomas Keller! And in all places, the kitchen at Bouchon. I feel like I met him too after hearing your description of the event. LOL!

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