Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia (610 W. Magnolia Ave., 636-0783) and Milkwood (316 W. Main St., 584-6455), the new restaurant at Actors Theater, describes his upcoming cookbook, “Smoke & Pickles: Recipes From a Southern Kitchen,” as an unlikely story.
The book, which will be released April 25 in Louisville and nationwide April 30, chronicles his experiences as a child in New York and as an adult and chef living in Louisville.
“Growing up in Brooklyn, I never imagined I’d write a book about Southern cooking,” he says. “But the book isn’t just about recipes. It’s a very personal book and is my approach to giving Southern food a different perspective, something you don’t see every day in Louisville or in the South.”
Lee will sign the book at 7 p.m. April 25 at Carmichael’s (2720 Frankfort Ave.).
Lee competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” and is a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. Has ascending the ladder to celebrity chef changed him?
“I don’t think so; I don’t self evaluate,” he says. “There’s a lot more to be done. In this business, you’re only as good as your last dinner service. I’ve learned that you can’t rest on your laurels. The minute you do, it will quickly bite you back.”
Lee admits to working 12 hours a day, six days a week, although not always in one of his restaurant kitchens, but also on other projects.
And he confesses that the stress, anxiety, uncertainty and competition don’t go away. “I like the anxiety,” he says. “I think it keeps me sharp. You don’t ever want to become a dull knife.”
Henry’s Place to spotlight crab
Charles Reed is a man who loves crabs, and he thinks other people will want to share the love throughout April and May.
As chef and partner at Henry’s Place (4864 Brownsboro Road, 690-6585), he’s letting his imagination run crab wild, debuting dishes such as Hummel’s Broth, a crab chowder in which potatoes are joined by heirloom carrots and tomatoes, and spinach. “It’s kind of a German chowder with an East Coast flavor,” says Reed.
He’s like a kid in a candy store when he talks about the new shell die mold for his pasta machine. It will make its debut by turning out pasta shells made with duck eggs for Reed’s Crab Conchiglie — crabmeat, roasted cipollini onions, Russian sorrel, white Burgundy and tree oyster mushrooms.
When he’s not talking about other crab dishes he will be introducing, such as crab cakes, a crab sandwich and special crab appetizers, he’s proud to talk about the two medals Henry’s Place won at the American Culinary Federation spring meet in Nashville.
The restaurant came away with a gold medal in the cooked sugar category for “Bonsai,” an apple and lemon tree. Reed and company won a bronze medal for their savory platter of roasted tenderloin of veal and beef with butternut squash and liver pate.
La Coop chef plans Italian dinner
Bobby Benjamin is known for his French food with a Southern twist at La Coop (233 E. Market St.). So why is he planning an Italian dinner?
“I trained at two Italian restaurants in Beverly Hills and really enjoy doing Italian food,” he says. “I miss cooking it. When I do French cuisine for so long, it’s nice to work with different flavors and techniques. Even seafood is handled differently.”
His Lundi Cena Osteria Italian dinner will be April 29 and will feature beef cheek ravioli with peas and lemon, salt-roasted branzino with spinach and tomatoes, and pistachio and mascarpone gelato with espresso.
Now that we know about Benjamin’s love of Italian cuisine, should we expect to bid adieu to the restaurant’s distinctively French menu? C’est impossible. “This is a special night,” says Benjamin. “I will continue to give the French bistro the integrity it deserves.” The cost of the dinner is $35. Italian sparkling wine pairings are available with each course for an additional $30 per person. Reservations: 410-2888.
A movable feast
Dishcrawl elevates the pub crawl to new heights. Dishcrawl’s fifth Louisville event will take diners to four restaurants, all on Fourth Street, on May 1.
What’s for dinner? We have no idea, nor do we even know where crawlers will be dining. Names of the restaurants are kept secret until two days before the dinner — make that dinners — at which time the first location is revealed to ticket holders.
“Each restaurant will serve Derby-inspired bourbon dishes. And there will be cocktail specials,” says Dishcrawl ambassador Allison Taylor. To find out what a Dishcrawl ambassador does, you’ll have to go crawling.
Tickets are $45. To get in on the action, visit dishcrawl.com/Louisville.
Paella proves popular
The Hot Brown may be one of the city’s iconic dishes, but Louisvillians seem to be crazy about paella.
The De La Torre’s/La Bodega (1606 Bardstown Road, 456-4955) Paella Party that began in late March has been so popular that owner Maggie de la Torre has added a fifth paella, arroz con costra (garbanzos, chorizo, fennel and sage sausage, chicken and pork).
“Most every restaurant in Spain serves paella,” she says. “I think everyone here has discovered why. It’s delicious.”
The new paella joins lobster, carne, squid ink and vegetarian versions through April.
Cocktails and cigars
Riverside Cigar Shop (201 Spring St., Jeffersonville, 812-284-6198) will celebrate its second anniversary May 2, 4-11 p.m. Foodies, take note: There will be a lot going on besides smokin’.
Sister establishment and neighbor Match Cigar Bar, a new speakeasy-style cigar and bourbon bar, will provide its signature bourbon-marinated steaks and chicken, as well as steak salad and plenty of appetizers.
Bourbon aficionados may not care so much about the marinade but will appreciate the 63 small-batch bourbons.
Nancy Miller is filling in for Dish columnist Dana McMahan. Send your restaurant “dish” to email@example.com.