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WorldFoods Recipe Testing with Chef Cedric Tovar

Whenever Cedric comes by my apartment, he naturally gravitates up to the roof.  Whether it’s for the launch of World to Table, to stargaze with his NASA-grade telescope, or to throw his own French techno and champagne-fueled birthday party.  Besides his long list of culinary accomplishments, which includes serving as the private chef to the Prime Minister of France and heading the kitchen at the Peacock Alley in the Waldorf=Astoria, Cedric also loves to travel.  His passport is filled with stamps from Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong; he is no stranger to Asian flavors and ingredients.

On our trip to Vietnam in 2005, we made sure to try as much of the local food as possible.  Aside from the more conventional offerings, we had coffee, freshly brewed on a boat, made with the deliciously muddy waters of the Mekong River Delta and roasted rat served to us on a river cruise, which another chef tricked us into believing was a “really small baby pig”.

So, when a box filled with jars of WorldFoods sauce arrived at my doorstep, I pulled out the tabletop grills, set up the tables upstairs and gave Cedric a call.  A rooftop cooking session was in order.

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The One-Pot Meal: Thai Coconut Galangal Chicken

Thai Coconut Galangal Chicken

When it comes to cooking (and eating), I am a big fan of the one-pot meal. From my mother’s “famous” tomato ox-tail stew to made-from-scratch chicken soup, there’s something about throwing a bunch of fresh ingredients into a pot, stirring them around, and inhaling that steady flow of aromatic steam that is extremely satisfying. It’s how I imagined cooking would be when I used to play house with my sister, and as I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered the joy of only cleaning one pot after dinner.

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Umi Nom in Brooklyn, NY

Last Thursday, I went to King Phojanakong’s new Brooklyn restaurant Umi Nom for a friends and family night to try some of King’s new dishes before it officially opens to the public.  Occupying a space that was previously a laundromat, the restaurant is hidden amongst small local Mexican eateries and modest neighborhood bodegas.  You have to be willing to walk a little further (up the stairs in the case of Kuma Inn, or on the subway for Umi Nom) to get a taste of King’s food, which takes a tapas-style approach to dining, but it’s worth the few extra steps.

Umi Nom is a long, narrow restaurant, with a dark wood bar, exposed brick walls, and Edison light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.  Some of the Asian-themed design accents in the restaurant include the funky bamboo lighting above the bar and white ceramic wall decorations with small dotted lights running through what resembled the cross-section of bamboo.

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Watermelon & Pickled Green Papaya Salad

Nothing else reminds me more of summertime than a fruit salad.  Chef Cedric Tovar’s watermelon and pickled green papaya salad is like taking a dip in the pool on a hot summer’s day.  Refreshingly sweet watermelon is paired with tangy pickled green papaya and is all tied together with a splash of WorldFoods Coconut and Lime Dressing to create a chorus of sweet, salty, and sour flavors that sing in your mouth.  Cedric made this at the launch party for World to Table, and it was so good I decided to make it again myself.

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