Hell’s Kitchen Chef Barret

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I recently had a chance to catch up with Chef Barret of Hell’s Kitchen frame. It was inspirational listening to his life story. We started off our conversation speaking about how he came into the food world. His story is not unlike others that once they found their calling, they focused all their energies on pursuing their passions!

Chef Barret’s first cooking duties came in the ‘90s when was in the coast guard, and working in the kitchen. When his coast guard duties ended, he bounced around from job to job, not even realizing he had found his passion while in the coast guard, cooking. He spent many years in the mortgage business and put in time as a restaurant server to name a few of his jobs.

He also made a couple of bad choices, like somehow managing to get him self arrested almost every two years for various crimes! To make matters even worse, during his search for his life’s work, he hit rock bottom and ended up being hospitalized for a drug overdose. He was on life support for 2 days. I think Chef Barret might be more cat-like and have nine lives.

During his last arrest, his father refused to help him and wanted him to learn a lesson and didn’t pay his bail, so Chef Barret stayed in jail for 2 days. His rock bottom behavior came to end a few days after his daughter was born, with his “ah-ha moment.”

When he got out of the slammer, he finally had learned his lesson. He realized he loved cooking. In particular, he loved watching people cook on the show Hell’s Kitchen, and said to himself, I’m a better cook than them and I need to be on that show! With that seed and the constant urging of his mother, telling him he loved cooking and why wasn’t he making that a profession? He entered a 9-month Culinary School in Long Island, NY. He told admissions that he needed to learn everything about cooking because he had to get on the show “Hell’s Kitchen.” Shortly after his schooling, he landed a spot on none other than, “Hell’s kitchen.”

As they say in show biz, the rest is history!

Chef Barret’s motto is “it’s not what you know but who you know,” in order to pursue your passion! He wants to serve people comfort food that’s kicked up 3 levels. If that means his mac ‘n cheese with 8 different cheeses, then I’m in!

He wants us all to follow him on social media and look for him as a pop-up guest chef in your favorite restaurants throughout America!

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I know you can’t get enough of Chef Barret. So check him out at his insanely cool website chefbarretbeyer.com. or follow him on twitter @BarretHK11

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Valentines Day Restaurants

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ZZ Top

I thought I would branch out and interview some bands from my past! Hope you enjoy a little rock ‘n roll nostalgia.

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Rebecca Berman Chats With Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top:

When I was offered the opportunity to ask Billy Gibbons a few questions, I jumped on the opportunity.

Here is a sneak peek:

Rebecca: How did the band originally get together?

The Moving Sidewalks were up and running while Dusty and Frank were playing in a band together called American Blues. The Sidewalks detoured in 1969 thanks to the keyboardist and bassist taking on military service leaving the band looking for solid a rhythm section.  Frank and I found each other and things took off like a rocket when he suggested we enlist his former band mate, Dusty Hill, to play bass.  We got together to see what might shake and immediately knew it was the right combination — we just locked in and took it from there. The first real gig: the Knights of Columbus Hall in Beaumont, Texas, marking February 10, 1970 as that initial moment.  The rest, as they say, is history or, shall we say, hysterical.

Rebecca: How old were you when you first grew your signature beard?

We were never averse to some chin fuzz but the lengthy whiskers kind of found their way around 1972 or ’73.  They’ve been good to us so we do our utmost to take care of them. 

Rebecca: Tell us about being inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

What a great night that was! Keith Richards, our Rolling Stones buddy, inducted us and that’s as good as it gets.  We got to play along with Keith and the entire Paul Schaffer crew and it couldn’t have been more memorable.  If they ever invent a time machine, we’d set it for March 15, 2004 and aim it straight for the Waldorf Astoria in NY to do it all over again.

Rebecca: How has your music changed over the years?

That’s hard to say because we’re still the same three guys playing the same three chords but technology changes and, of course, we’re constantly chasing new ideas to set down in the “whatever” One might say we’re still funky after all these years but, of course, we’re probably better at it now ‘cause we’ve had some practice.

Rebecca: If 3 other artists could join your band for a gig, who would you pick and why? 

Keith Richards ‘cause, you know, he’s Keith.  His spirit and good nature are infectious and the man can play.  Jeff Beck because we’ve toured with him; he’s just an unparalleled musician… innovative and loose as he wants to be.  He makes it radically “beyond”.  You didn’t say living or otherwise so here’s where we’ll give a nod to Jimi Hendrix with whom we toured back in our Moving Sidewalks days.  He was a really warm guy, a bit on the shy side yet far ahead of anyone who ever came before or since.  We owe him so much; we’d love to a get a chance to pay him back in some way. Rock on…!

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Hook & Cleaver

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I loved attending the opening night party of the new Greenpoint Brooklyn steak restaurant and lounge, Hook & Cleaver. Adorned in all its I’m-so-cool-I–can’t-get –any-hotter with its camouflaged entrance and all! Hook & Cleaver is Chef/Owner Diane DiMeo coming out party after her status was elevated, like Charlie when he went through the roof of the Chocolate Factory, as she has been a contestant on the Food Network’s show “Chopped” and a runner up on ABC’s “The Taste.”

When I asked Diane how did she come to be on all those national TV food shows, she said that she owned some restaurants in Mexico City and the various shows found HER. I guess if I looked like her AND cooked like her, maybe they’d find me too! Diane also told me that the restaurant space, and hard to find entrance are reminiscent of the prohibition era, hence the steak house and the types of specialty drinks that are served.

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Enough about the awesomeness of Diane, although one really can’t get enough of her! After you enter the restaurant, you walk into a cool big bar area on one side of the room and white lounge banquets on the other side. It gives you that “I can’t wait to melt right in feeling.” I noticed fun drinks like Tom Collins were being passed around, but my bff and I opted for a glass of the excellent house red wine.

An adorable server with long black curly hair and a fun loving, funky dressed guy (I guess he was a server too?) served delish platters of passed brussels spouts, cheesy cauliflower, bite size pieces of steak, and ribs to us and a happen’ crowd. Man, do I love being at a restaurant opening! Everyone has a camera or a film crew and mic with them, me included.

We were seated at a counter that had an excellent view of Diane and her crew prepping and cooking in the open kitchen. The hugh rustic and aged looking windows, reminded me of the open kitchens that are an LA standard thrown in with Brooklyn bohemian.

So if you’re on the hunt for a new amazing place to spend your evening, and you want to venture, then take a short trip to Brooklyn, 10-minute drive from the midtown tunnel. You’ll love the place for the scene, the amazing food and of course, Diane!

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Check out their website, hookncleaver.com as they are only open on certain days and they only take cash.

Happy Eating!

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Beauty and Essex

When I’m home for the holidays, hitting the town in NYC is a must! It’s my time to explore the vast terrain that I miss so much, being that I’m a suburbanite. I crave checking out the happening, party restaurant scene in NYC that I hear all about from the teenagers…wait! Wasn’t that supposed to be a reverse situation??? As funny as this sounds, my kids rave about how cool, fun and so 20-something Beauty and Essex is, so of course, I had to see for myself what all the “OMG, what a great place that is,” is all about.

As you enter Beauty and Essex, you first pass through a pawnshop, then you enter the restaurant, how very kitschy! There is a stunning spiral staircase entry way and then you are in a bar/lounge area, circa the 50s or 60s, I think? Past that, is a hugh dining area. WE were sent to eat upstairs, at first I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t too psyched, but soon realized it was just as fab. It also has a bar area and two separate dining areas. The restaurant overall is best described like this…It’s one of those places where you don’t know what to do, where to be or who to look at first, Yah! You know the place! Lovin’ it!

I haven’t even written about the food yet! Everything was beyond delish. Most of the dishes are served as appetizers and each one is amazing! Some dishes to order are, Tuna Poke Wonton Tacos, Empanadas, Onion Rings and Ribs to name a few.

Even my 11 year old had some fun, check out his 33 sec video below.

So, next time you want to travel to the lower east side, don’t miss Beauty and Essex (beautyandessex.com) at 146 Rivington Street.

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Bocca East

Every wonder where to eat when your shopping or visiting the city? You know those times, when you want to try something new and feel like you’re a regular “upper east sider or a “UES.” Well, I’m about to introduce you to one of those places, Bocca East!

I happened upon Bocca East one night when I was in the city and looking for a great neighborhood spot, with a good vibe, melt-in-your-mouth burrata, and excellent Italian food. While I’m writing this, my husband is trying to take the credit for this find. The restaurant’s décor is rustic with exposed beams in the ceiling and wood all along the walls, which works much to my surprise! The wait staff is 100% percent on top of everything, right down to helping you pick out the best glass of wine, (based on your description). Their menu features an array of fab dishes; on a recent visit I had the Bucatini alla Amatriciana, which was soooo good! You’ll see in the video I posted, they even have an outrageous hamburger, and on another night there, I had the Branzino Grigliato. Is there anything they can’t make AND make it delicious? Seems to me, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

You’ll go to Bocca East the first time, cause you’re thinking it’s worth a try and you’ll end up coming back again and again because it’s just that good!

Molto Bene!

Film courtesy Max Berman

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Fattoria Dinner House

 

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Last weekend I experienced the fabulousness of Fattoria Dinner House in Armonk, NY. It opened a few months ago and I had only been for lunch. The lunch was excellent, and I had the beet salad with grilled chicken, so I was looking forward to returning and trying dinner. It was a Saturday night and I did not have a reservation, lucky for my crew, there had been one table available due to a cancellation. The place was packed, and I’m not surprised due to some great press coverage Fattoria received from an interview with CBS news. Check out the interview on their beautifully laid out website, fattoriarestaurant.com/#about. From the glass of wine, from small batch vineyards, right down to the farm to table Mediterranean style food it couldn’t have been a better tasting and dining experience. I also liked the way the menu lays out, with clever headings like, “breads & spreads,” and “smalls & such.”

When you walk into Fattoria, it’s one combined cozy bar, restaurant setting. The place was packed and being from Armonk, I didn’t recognize anyone. So nice for the owners that they are getting customers from all over Westchester! Also the chef used to cook at MP Taverna, so I guess chef, Alessandro D’Alessi’s loyal fans followed him to his new home at Fattoria.

I had the polpo to start and the branzino as a main dish. Both were excellent! The flavors were so good. It’s not typical to love everything you order, but I did. I don’t consider myself a food writer, so I can’t go into any details without reading what the ingredients are or the process that the food goes through to be made. All I can give you are the reviews from my taste buds and they loved every bite!

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