The Iroquois, A Triumph Hotel


2 Weeks ago my assistant and I had the pleasure of attending the Food Network Wine and Food festival in New York City.  I always look forward to this event and love heading to New York any chance I get. Something about that city just gets me excited.  We had the pleasure of staying at the Iroquois hotel right in Midtown Manhattan a couple blocks from all of New York’s favorite attractions like Times Square, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller center and many more. 

As we arrived at the hotel we were greeted from all around. The staff and front desk were super helpful with any questions we may have had.  Upon entering our room we had a lovely little gift from the manager greeting us to the hotel.  The room was small but perfect for a king size bed and there was still enough room to walk around and relax. The bed was like a big comfy cloud, that you didn’t want to get out of once you laid down. Perfect after a day of running around.  Wifi was also available and given to us at check-in. The room was super modern in décor.  Something that is always nice when staying at a hotel is a nice soft robe in which Iroquois provides hanging right on the bathroom door after a hot shower.  All in all the room was perfect for an overnight stay.

Another great feature this hotel has is dining at Triomphe, cocktails at Lantern’s Keep, a knowledgeable concierge for tickets and recommendations, and a fully-outfitted 24-hour fitness center with Finnish sauna. They also have a lounge with daily newspapers and complimentary coffee, and look your best with same day laundry service and complimentary shoeshine. In my next post I will talk about our dinner experience at Triomphe which was outstanding as well!

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Think Local Give Local Garces Gala


Such a great event for an awesome cause. The Garces Foundation announces the Third Annual Garces Foundation Gala, to be held on Wednesday, October 29 at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The Garces Foundation’s goal is to see that Philadelphia’s vibrant and growing immigrant community has access to the care and education they need so that they may actively contribute their talents to making this city truly world-class. The Foundation focuses on impactful and creative responses to specific issues that plague this community.


“The Garces Foundation was created in 2012 as a way to share our passion for helping others and to create programming that will allow us to serve as guardians of Philadelphia’s immigrant community,” says Chef Jose Garces, one of the nation’s most successful and prolific restaurateurs.  “We are proud to contribute to the health and well-being of Philadelphia’s immigrants.” 

The theme of the Gala is Think Local/Give Local. Chef Garces has handpicked a group of local chefs to deliver an unforgettable epicurean experience, which will highlight Philadelphia’s unique culinary talent in the Kimmel Center’s rooftop garden and plaza.  Each dish will highlight locally sourced ingredients. Throughout the evening guests will enjoy cocktails made with local spirits, local beer, locally created décor elements and more.


The evening will be divided into two parts:   Chef Tasting Dinner and Main Event Chef  Experience.  The Chef Tasting Dinner will be held in the Kimmel Center’s Dorrance H. Hamilton Rooftop Garden. From 5:30 p.m.-6:15 p.m. VIPs will enjoy a private cocktail reception with the chefs on Tier 2 of the Kimmel Center before heading upstairs to the rooftop Hamilton Garden to enjoy a three course family style seated meal by Jose Garces, Eli Kulp, Rich Landau, Kevin Sbraga, Peter Serpico and Greg Vernick.  Chef Tasting Dinner seating is limited to 200 people and is only available to sponsors and their guests.


General Admission to the Gala opens at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $200 each. Guests will enjoy tastes of local dishes by Garces Group Chefs including David Conn (Tinto), Kyle Baddorf (Garces Trading Company), Adam Delosso of Garces Events,  Maria Schmidt (Amada), Jose Olmeda (Rosa Blanca) and a Volver experience by Natalie Maronski.  The gala also features chefs Jon Cichon (Lacroix), Jason Cichonski (Ela, The Gaslight), Nicholas Elmi (Laurel),  Chris Kearse (Will BYOB), Josh Lawler, (The Farm and the Fisherman) Adam Leonti (Vetri), Jeremy McMillan (Talula’s Garden), Jeff Michaud (Osteria), Masaharu Morimoto and Ben Dayag (Morimoto),

Brett Naylor (Oyster House), Jeremy Nolen (Brauhaus Schmitz), Chris Paulikas (coZara), Konstantinos Pitsillides (Kanella), Ben Puchowitz (Cheu Noodle Bar), Chip Roman (Blackfish, The Treemont), Scott Schroeder (South Philly Taproom, American Sardine Bar), Brad Spence (Amis), Tim Spinner (La Calaca Feliz, Cantina Feliz, Taqueria Feliz), Marc Vetri (Vetri Family), Townsend Wentz (Townsend),  Hiroyuki Zama Tanaka (Zama) and Peter Woolsey (Bistrot La Minette, La Peg). The sponsors will join the rest of the guests downstairs at 8:30 p.m. for dessert, cocktails, dancing to the Hip Philly band, and a silent auction. Alicia Vitarelli of 6ABC and Darrell Martin of Hip Philly will emcee the event.  Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased at or via check c/o Trinity Busch: Garces Foundation, 212 Race Street, Suite #1A, Philadelphia, PA 19106.   

In 2012, the Garces Foundation was founded as a way to help others among Philadelphia’s immigrant community. The foundation raises funds to provide this community with medical, educational, and nutritional programming. The goal is for them to take advantage of these resources so that they may actively contribute their talents to making this city truly world-class. In 2013, the Garces Foundation served over 495 people in the community.

Pinot Boutique Soiree


A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a Soiree at  one of the hottest little shops here in Philly called Pinot Boutique.  If you’re a wine lover and love all things wine, this little shop has everything from wine tasting to attire. It’s a one stop shop. The owner of Pinot Boutique, Dan aka Dan the wine man, is super friendly and inviting whether its your first time doing a wine tasting or  if you want to discuss wines from around the world.  Pinot Boutique also offers classes and during the super they have a wine cruise which is such a good time. Something that I love the pinot has is the paint can filled with wine for purchase produced by Paradocx Vineyards. It’s about 4 bottles of wine in a can.  I think that is a perfect gift or great for parties. After a day of cruising in old city, Pinot Boutique would be a great way to end a beautiful fall afternoon.


Pinot Boutique has been open since 2006. Dan was inspired after a trip to California to bring something fun back to Philadelphia. We all know how great some of the California wines can be. Dan just didn’t want a wine tasting store he wanted people to be to come to a one stop shop. The only thing you cant purchase are the grapes. Below you will find a couple of videos on Pinot Botique.

Grand Tasting with Barilla at NYCWFF

DEMO RECIPE - Barilla® Orecchiette with Rapini, Mussels and Pecorino Romano Cheese

Barilla’s Chef Manager Lorenzo Boni is serving the Orecchiette with Rapini, Mussels and Pecorino Romano Cheese at this year’s Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting event which takes place both on Saturday, 10/18 and Sunday, 10/19.

Barilla® Collezione Orecchiette with Rapini, Mussels and Pecorino Romano Cheese

                     Prep Time: 15 minutes                     

Cook Time: 20 minutes Ingredients

                        1  box Barilla® Collezione Orecchiette

                           25 mussels, shelled and cooked, liquid reserved

½     cup dry white wine

        5    tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

                      1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced thin

                         ½     bunch rapini, boiled and roughly chopped

         ½  cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

to taste  red pepper flakes

to taste  salt 

Preparation for the Mussels

COMBINE the mussels and the white wine in a large sauce pan and cover with a clear lid. COOK over medium heat until they open. DISCARD any mussels that do not open.


BRING a large pot of water to a boil; season with salt and cook the pasta according to package directions. SAUTE the garlic with olive oil and red pepper in a medium skillet over medium heat; when it begins to turn slightly yellow, add the rapini and sauté well. ADD the mussels and the reserved liquid and bring to a boil. DRAIN the pasta  and stir with the sauce mixture. TOP with the Pecorino Romano cheese before serving.


Food Network NYC Wine and Food Festival


I have been attending this event for the last 3 years. Every year this is one of my all time favorite events. Its a great event for an amazing cause.  I hope to see you there. The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE and Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager are pleased to announce the program of events for the seventh annual Festival, taking place October 16-19, 2014. Featuring more than 100 dinners, tastings, parties, seminars, and more over the course of four days, this year’s Festival will showcase the expertise of more than 350 of the world’s best culinary and wine and spirits industry leaders. All proceeds from the Festival benefit the nation’s leading hunger relief organizations, No Kid Hungry and Food Bank For New York City, for which the Festival has raised more than $7.5 million to date.

Anchoring this year’s Festival program are more than 25 intimate dinners planned as part of the Bank of America Dinner Series, featuring a delegation of renowned chefs from all corners of the world. Talent highlighted throughout the series will include: Philippe Baranes, David Bouley, Dario Cecchini, Dominique Crenn, Kobe Desramaults, Alain Ducasse, Christopher Kostow, Ori Menashe, Enrique Olvera, Yotam Ottolenghi, Michel Richard, and many more. There will also be a special dinner on Wednesday, October 16 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the renowned Le Cirque restaurant, hosted by 2014 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Sirio Maccioni.

A selection of brand new events has been added to bring fresh new flavors and experiences to even the most discerning palate. Guests can enjoy Hot Dog Happy Hour with Mo Rocca, Dominique Ansel’s Wonderland, Ample Hills & Brooklyn’s Best Dessert Party, Down-Home Country Brunch hosted by Trisha Yearwood, Delta presents Food with Altitude featuring its Culinary Captains, and the MasterCard Priceless Exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets to Rachael Ray’s Feedback™: Chefs and Cocktails. The Festival is also collaborating with Meatopia founder Josh Ozersky to close out the weekend with Meatopia X: The Carnivore’s Ball hosted by Michael Symon. The meat-centric event features some of the world’s greatest chefs cooking beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and wild game over live wood fires; and of course, as in Meatopia’s past, celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda will cook and serve a one thousand-pound steer.
The Festival brings back its fan-favorite large tasting events as well, with a handful receiving a unique twist from previous years. The celebrated pizza event that debuted in 2013 comes back as Ronzoni’s La Sagra Slices hosted by Bongiovi Brand Pasta Sauces & Adam Richman presented by Time Out New York, where musician Jon Bon Jovi will join brothers Anthony and Matthew to show their support of dad John senior’s new line of Bongiovi Brand Pasta Sauces. Other returning signature events include:
 Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite featuring KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations presented by MasterCard®
 Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats hosted by Rachael Ray
 Thrillist’s Barbecue & the Blues hosted by the cast of The Kitchen
 Rock & Roll Night Market with Hot Bread Kitchen hosted by Masaharu Morimoto
 Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate hosted by Mario Batali

ABSOLUT Best Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by the cast of Chopped
 Stacked: A Sandwich Showdown hosted by Restaurant: Impossible’s Robert Irvine
 CASAMIGOS Tequila presents Tacos & Tequila: A Late Night Fiesta hosted by Bobby Flay
 The New York Times presents Greenmarket Brunch hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian
 Oktoberfest sponsored by Village Voice hosted by Andrew Zimmern
 Mixology Masters hosted by Justin Warner
Another popular event returning with expanded allure is Cooking Channel presents Chicken Coupe hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, in celebration of Schrager’s newly-released Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides (Clarkson Potter; May 2014). New this year, Chicken Coupe will feature award-winning cocktails from the mixologists at The Dead Rabbit alongside everyone’s favorite indulgent fried chicken offerings.
Also back in 2014 are coveted experiences like Celebrity Cruises® Wine & Pairing Seminars hosted by FOOD & WINE, The New York Times’ star-studded Times Talks, unique hands-on sessions at the Home Studios, Master Classes at the International Culinary Center, and more.
The entire line-up of events for the 2014 Festival can be found at

About the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE
The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival is hosted by and benefits the Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign, 100% of the Festival’s net proceeds go toward helping these community based organizations fight hunger. Southern Wine & Spirits of New York is the exclusive provider of wine and spirits at the Festival. More information about the Festival can be found at
About Food Bank For New York City
Food Bank For New York City recognizes 31 years as the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. As the city’s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts — food distribution, income support and nutrition education — all strategically guided by its research. Through its network of community-based member programs citywide, Food Bank helps provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need. Food Bank’s hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools reaches thousands of children, teens and adults. Income support services including food stamps, free tax assistance for the working poor and the Earned Income Tax Credit put millions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income New Yorkers, helping them to achieve greater dignity and independence. Learn how you can help at
About No Kid Hungry
No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. No Kid Hungry connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals. This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, public officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. Join us at

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Pull Apart Pizza

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Let’s talk about an easy recipe and preparation.  This pizza is great for parties or a fast weeknight meal.  My kids loved that it was a pull apart pizza.  All you need are your hands to enjoy it.  Everyone had their own serving bowl with warm marinara sauce.  Just like a regular pizza feel free to add any topping you would like. Get creative, I think for the next one, I will make a Hawaiian pizza.  I hope you enjoy!


12 oz. Pillsbury biscuits, cut into quarters

1 small onion, diced

1 tablespoon garlic paste

1/2 cup pepperoni, chopped

salt & pepper, to taste

8 oz. package cheese, of your choice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried Parsley

1 teaspoon dried Oregon

Marinara sauce, optional


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl toss all the above ingredients together until well incorporated. Pour mixture into a bunt pan (you can use any kind of baking pan). Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and flip it over onto a plate. Serve hot and with a side of warm marinara.

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Upside down Caramel Apple Walnut Cake

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Well it’s about that time for apples to shine again, now that fall is here.  I love to cook and bake with apples. One of the treats I enjoy around this time of year are caramel apples. I wanted to turn this into an upside down cake and instead of peanuts (that you would use on a caramel apple) I used walnuts in my batter.  The finished product turned out amazing. For the sauce I made my homemade caramel sauce. When this came out of the oven it went great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Plus it makes the house smell amazing.


3 cups cake flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cup milk
3 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 apple, sliced
1 cup caramel sauce, homemade or store bought


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 inch round baking pan. Add caramel and arrange sliced apples to the bottom of the pan.

Sift flour into a large bowl.  In another bowl cream butter with electric mixer. Slowly add sugar to butter until creamy and fluffy. Sift flour again along with baking powder and salt into butter mixture. Next add one egg at a time to mixture. Then slowly add milk and extract. Finally add walnuts and fold them in with a spatula. Do not over beat cake batter or it will become a dry cake.

Slowly add batter to the pan without shifting apples and caramel.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes. Take a large plate and place on top of pan and slowly flip over. Tap on the bottom of pan and remove.

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“Right Here” By Tony Luke Jr.


I’m not sure about you but I love to cook with some good music. If you haven’t heard this name you might want to look into it: Tony Luke, Jr. Yes the king of cheesesteaks has released a new single.  You would think he is all about food, but he’s so much more. Tony Luke, Jr is an actor, restaurateur, musician, TV host, and the list goes on.  His passion for music has always been there since he was a child.   His new single was just released in September and is now available on iTunes and on vimeo  The song and his voice is on point. I would say this is a must add to your song collection.  I had the pleasure of asking him 5 questions on what food and music mean to him. 

Q: What made you start to sing?

TLjr: As far back as I can remember I was always singing to my family as young as 5 

Q: How do food and music influence your life?

TLjr: Both food and music have always been expressions of creativity.  It’s such a great feeling to create a new dish, discover new flavors, and such an amazing feeling to write a new melody, new lyrics to create something from nothing that brings joy or meaning to someone’s life is the greatest feeling in the world.

Q: Favorite singer/band and favorite chef?

TLjr: My favorite and greatest influence in music has to be Billy Joel, and a lot of the groups from Philly international records.  I always loved R&B music And I think the combination of both really molded my style of writing and singing as far.  As my greatest influence as a cook a lot of it comes from my father, and I can’t pick one specific chef that has influenced me the most because I’ve gotten so much from all of them but I always give props to Bobby flay.  He was the first person to introduce me to TV by doing a throw down with me on his show and because of that appearance things kind of snowballed.  I did all these other food shows and really enjoyed doing them really enjoyed being part of the food television scene and all these things let up to where I am right now so proud to be Cohosting my own show on Spike TV called Frankenfood.

Q: What kind of music do you mostly like to sing/write?

TLjr:  I really enjoy doing ballads.. love writing them.. love performing them.  I also love doing midtempo songs.  I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic at heart lol.  I’m not much on dance music but I can dance lol 

Q: What else is in store for Tony Luke, Jr. ?

TLjr: Getting ready to find out when we start shooting season two of Frankenfood. I’m really enjoying promoting my new single right here, and looking forward to doing some new films.  I have a new film I’m starting to raise money for called “Ride into Terror”, which is kind of an action horror film and expanding the Tony Luke’s brand.  So, I’m keeping myself busy.  I have a great team that I work with.  They’re amazingly talented and I’m just trying to enjoy life and do as much as I can.  I’m also hoping to do more speaking events; especially love speaking at schools.  I love to tell children that whatever goals you have, they are attainable but they don’t come easy.  You have to work hard at it.

Thank you Tony Luke Jr for taking the time to answer some questions, and Best wishes with all your future endeavors.

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Coconut flour mini cake

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I love having something sweet after dinner, but sometimes I don’t really feel like baking a whole big cake just to satisfy that sweet tooth. This recipe is super easy and great for entertaining.  My dad makes an almond version of this cake which is fantastic as well. The mini cakes basically come out looking like cupcakes.  I used my small food processor to make these. Its an easy clean up too. You can top this little delight with what ever your taste buds desire.  I know summer is now behind us but I am still a sucker for raspberries they have become one of my favorite fruits.  I made a raspberry sauce for this mini cake which is easy to prepare as well.  You can also add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy with a glass of red wine or coffee. 

Makes only 4 Servings


1/4 cup Coconut flour

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1-2 tablespoons dark rum

1/4 cup almond milk


Preheat oven to 375 F degrees

In a small to medium food processor add the ingredients. Mix for about 1 Minute until well incorporated. Take 4 baking cups that are lined with parchment paper and foil (picture provided in slide show of cups). Pour mixture into cups and into the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown on top and toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool. Remove from paper and set on a plate. Turn mini cake upside down. This will give it more of a cake look.

Raspberry Sauce:


2 pint fresh Raspberries, washed

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon lime or lemon juice


In a small saucepan on medium to low heat add ingredients. Stir occasionally and press down on raspberries.  Takes about 8 to 10 minutes until you get a good sauce. If it dries out add a splash of water and stir. I love the seeds so I did not strain it. But feel free to do so. Drizzle sauce over mini cake.

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Spaetzle (German Noodles)


Oktoberfest is upon us. So I figured this would be a great recipe to share. A traditional noodle called Spaetzle. It’s super easy to make and you can get super creative with flavoring. I used some nutmeg in the dough which gives it that earthy taste. Also when making the Spaetzle you would need a Spaetzle maker but in this case I didn’t have one so I used a pasta colander. You need something that has little to medium holes on it so you can pass the dough through to make little Spaetzle noodles. I served the noodles with a fried pork tenderloin cutlet. I hope you enjoy.

1 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and white pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile take a large bowl and mix flour, eggs, nutmeg, s&p and milk, until smooth.

When the water has come to a boil season with salt (remember you want your boiling water to taste like the sea). Take the colander and hold above the boiling water. Pour some of the mix into the colander. You can use a spatula to help the batter pass through the holes. Cook noodles for about 5 minutes.

Next take a sauté pan and melt butter, add Spaetzle toss together with butter. Finally add the Parmesan cheese, parsley and scallions. Serve.

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