News and Reviews: Pie Successes and Failures, Hello Fresh, Chef’s Table, and Cookbooks I am Reading

Episode 014-  This show has a lot of news and reviews that you can use!

Program Note:   If you have a favorite MRE, call the listener line and tell me about your favorite! (716) 427-GUYS (4897).

If you served in the military, you’ve enjoyed field rations.  Okay, “enjoyed” is most assuredly not the best word but you have at least eaten them.  The anniversary of my enlistment date into the Marine Corps is coming up so I am preparing a show on MREs, C-Rations, etc.  Please include:

  • Your name
  • Where you’re calling from
  • Branch and years of service
  • Your favorite MRE and why

If you don’t want to call, create a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to  I will include your comments in this future episode.

Update how my food sacrifices have been going during Lent.

This presented some challenges while as my family did a test drive of the Hello Fresh meal delivery service.  You’ll recall, I did a review of Blue Apron in Episode 010 of Guys and Food.

I just started watching Chef’s Table on Netflix and I can heartily recommend it.  I will tell you why.

Because my brother-in-law is German, while at a library sale I picked up The New German Cookbook by Jean Anderson and Hedy Wűrtz. I review that book and tell you about about a newly discovered food  that is now a family favorite.

I finally got to bake the Maple Cream Pie (page 152) from Pies and Tarts by Kristina Peterson Migoya that I’ve been discussing.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I had a problem with my first attempt at the the all butter pie crust, so I will tell you what I did to fix that.

One pie is never enough and since March 14th was Pi Day (3.14 get it?!) I also made a Chocolate Silk Pie with a Graham Cracker Crust (page 502) from Pie by Ken Haedrich. 

I tucked into Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott. You’ll hear my review of that.   Incidentally, this book was nominated for a James Beard Award.

Also nominated for a James Beard Award, is The Sporkful. The show’s host, Dan Pashman was on Episode 005 of the Guys and Food podcast.  Kudos to a really nice guy!

All of the links here are for your use and enjoyment.  None are affiliate links.

TV Food Show Host and Catholic Priest, Father Paul Seil

Episode 013- For many Christians around the world, Wednesday, March 1, 2017 was the beginning of the Lenten season.  It’s a time of repentance and spiritual renewal in preparation for Easter.

Because of this, it seems appropriate we’d have a man of the cloth on the show.  Father Paul Seil is the Roman Catholic parish priest at Saint Bernadette Roman Catholic Church in Orchard Park, New York and he likes food but he is no mere food guy.  He is also the host of his own TV food show called Our Daily Bread. You’ll find out what it’s like to host a TV cooking show and you’ll learn the question Father Paul wishes he had asked Pope Benedict and another international person of renown when he met them a few years back.  You can catch the show on YouTube and on Catholic TV among other places.

Speaking of Lent, in conjunction with alms giving and doing good works, we are called to give things up which includes fasting.  I will tell you what foods I gave up among other things that I am doing.

Top Chef’s winner for season 14 was just revealed.   I gave my predictions on who would win way back in Episode 4 of Guys and Food.  You’ll find out how I did. Spoiler Alert: the reveal is at the very end of the podcast, so you can listen to all but the last couple of minutes and it will be okay.

I started watching a another cooking competition show called Master Chef Junior.  I will give you my first impressions on that show and who I think will take it all.

I will also tell you why I am cancelling my subscription to Bon Appétit magazine.  It has nothing to do with giving things up for Lent.

Finally, I’ve been on a pie kick lately.  I just finished reading the classic The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum for the first time  and, for me, this could be considered a religious text. I will tell you why.

All of the links here are for your use and enjoyment.  None are affiliate links.

Top Chef’s Gerald Sombright

Episode 012- Top Chef cheftestant, Gerald Sombright is a regular guy who made his bones in the professional cooking world, not by flashing a degree from a fancy culinary school.  Instead, he worked his way up from the bottom rung of the kitchen hierarchy.

On this episode, he takes us on his food journey, working his way up from restaurant work in Saint Louis to being Chef De Cuisine at Ario in Marco Island, Florida to being a  contestant on what is arguably the best cooking competition show on television, Top Chef.

He’ll give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to be on the show and how he almost didn’t make it past the application phase, but for his Indiana Jones-like determination.  You’ll also find out his biggest challenge and what he would do differently if he were to do the show again.  Note: The Top Chef Season 14 finale is on Thursday, March 2nd.

Also, if you listened to Episode 011 of Guys and Food, you know that I was on a  pie kick during the last week (Psssst– I still am).  It had me looking at some of my pie cookbooks.  I was intrigued by a few different recipes for maple pie.  Many of these recipes call for the darker and robust tasting Grade B maple syrup. When I asked the folks on one of my Facebook food groups where one might be able to locally source the harder to find Grade B syrup, I was told that the ABC grading system for maple syrup no longer exists.  Just like everyone gets a trophy these days, so too, all maple syrup is now Grade A.  Here is an article explaining the new grading system and how to distinguish one type of maple syrup from another.

Remember, if you are an interesting food guy (or you know one), find out how to become a guest on Guys and Food!

John Tompkins- Wall Street Exec Turned Candy Man

Episode 011-  As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, one’s mind turns to the “go to” food gift, chocolate and candy.  When thinking about chocolate and candy, my attention turns to John Tompkins, owner of JT’s Confections in New Jersey.

In the spirit of full disclosure, John and I went to college together at Buffalo State.  I wouldn’t say were were drinking buddies, but we were friendly, traveled in similar circles as we both were Resident Assistants, and we shared some mutual friends.  After graduation, he went to work on Wall Street and I ran my circuitous journey. Over the decades since graduation, I think we saw each other maybe at one or two alumni things.

When I started Guys and Food, a mutual RA friend asked if I knew that John started a candy business;  I did not.  But I found him on Facebook and we reconnected.  After so many years, it’s nice to know that he did not lose his characteristic Tompkins charm and wit.

In this episode, John shares his very interesting story of burning out from the rough and tumble of the concrete jungle, leaving that, and creating his candy business, JT’s Confections.  He has a storefront but his bread and butter is in mail-order and corporate sales.  He is also using it as a vehicle for helping out veterans and local charities.  Good for him!

This week was pie week for us.  It was kind of blustery and I was in the mood for a pie.  I opened up my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion book as it was on my kitchen table.  The book magically opened to Tourtière .  For the uninitiated, it’s a French Canadian pork pie that is totally appropriate during the cold winter months.  I was going to use the recipe in the book when I remembered that my friend, Greg, made this dish pretty regularly.  I asked and he sent me his family recipe.

Since there was no recipe for the pastry included in Greg’s, I used the pastry recipe from the King Arthur Flour cookbook.  Here the pie crust is made with shortening that is melted in boiling water.  I never tried that technique before. I have to say I was very pleased. It was crisp but not flaky and a perfect match for the tastily seasoned meat filling. It is a new family favorite.  Merci to the Methot/Grenier family!  Here is a picture of Greg’s version of the dish:

One pie was not enough.  In an effort to use a bunch of Granny Smith apples that were laying around, I decided that I needed to make an apple pie.  I used a recipe for Washington State Granny Smith Apple Pie from my favorite pie guy, Ken Haedrich’s book Pie (page  221).  It is a single crust pie (made with butter and vegetable shortening) with a crumb topping.  The pie was not too sweet, not too tart.   In truth, I think that I could have kept it in the oven a little longer to get the crust a little more brown.  Nonetheless,  my wife says it has been a long while since she has had an apple pie that was this delicious.

A handy tip for pie bakers: One challenge that many have is transferring the newly rolled-out pie pastry and getting it into the pie plate without it tearing or falling apart.  Instead of folding it into quarters (risking creases and cracks) or balancing it precariously on your rolling pin (risking dropping and crumpling), try what I refer to as “The Haedrich Maneuver.”  Simply roll out your pie pastry on a sheet of lightly floured wax paper instead of your counter top or wherever you roll things out.  When you have achieved your desired size (for example, 13 inches for a 9 1/2 inch pie plate), transfer it, turn it upside down over the plate, remove the wax paper, and tuck it neatly where it’s supposed to go.  It’s that simple!  Save yourself a lot of stress and try this the next time you make pie.

Two pies were not enough.  I also made Shepherd’s Pie from a recipe in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham (page 190). This is a misnomer as this dish is neither a pie (it’s a casserole), nor does it contain any shepherds.  Still it was simple to prepare, hearty,  and delicious.  It tasted even better the next day when we had leftovers for lunch.

Programming Alert:  On the next Guys and Food episode, you’ll hear an interview with a cheftestant from this season’s Top Chef! Can you guess who it will be? (Hint: It will be a guy.)

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What Would Harry Potter Eat?, Blue Apron Test Drive, Celebrating a Milestone, and Other Musings

Episode 010- It’s a milestone tenth episode of the podcast! Thanks to you if you’ve taken the time to listen to any of the Guys and Food podcasts or read any of my blog posts.  This is truly a labor of love and I appreciate your help in building the Guys and Food community.

There are lots of ways to connect:

  • Go to the contact page.
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I will  tell you about my recent trip to Florida.  This included a few days at Universal specifically to spend time at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We ate at The Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron, two British pub-like places.  Interestingly, the food defied my expectations.  Considering the throngs of people these establishments serve, the chow was delicious and served in a timely fashion.

You will also hear my reflections on two drinks inspired by the Harry Potter books, Butterbeer and the lesser known Pumpkin Juice.  There is a recent interview in Bon Appetit with the guy behind the Harry Potter themed food at Universal, Steve Jayson. The recipe for Butter Beer is secret ( I know because before I saw this article, I tried to pry it from the public relations folks at Universal) but there are plenty of people on the internet who have their own take on how to make it.  

After that, we drove to our usual winter getaway, a place called Marco Island.  We normally lay around, read, go to the beach, and eat.  It’s a very causal time on the island but every year my wife and I go to a fancier place that serves classic French cuisine called The Island Cafe.  My lovely bride and I use this meal as our little romantic getaway together.  This time, however, we decided to take my mother-in-law and our ten-year-old son.  I will talk about his experience eating escargot and mussels for the first time.

After we got home, we caught up on our food show viewing including the finale of The Great American Baking Show.   You’ll recall that in episode 004 of the podcast, I made my guess on who I thought was going to win.  SPOILER Alert–I will let you know who won and how close my guesses were to being correct.

During Christmas, our friends gifted us Blue Apron. We had the delivery of two meals this week, Hosin Chicken Steam Buns with broccoli and marinated carrots and Mexican-spiced Beef and Rice Casserole.  I will weigh-in on the experience.

Finally, I’ll tell you about the interviews that are coming up in future episodes!

By the way, any of the links above are for your use and enjoyment.  None of these are affiliate links.


So You Want to Start a Food Truck?

Episode 009- Maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions is to start a food business.  Ayoub Abboud is the owner of the Knight Slider Food Truck.  A few years back he decided to start his food truck business when the food truck craze was just starting up in Buffalo, New York.

During the conversation, Ayoub explains what he did to start the business, some lessons he’s learned along the way, and what he would do differently if he were to do it again.  There is a lot to learn here from a really knowledgeable and friendly guy.

If you want more information about starting a food truck business, one of the resources he recommends is Mobile Cuisine. Another very helpful resource was created by Pat Flynn and is called FoodTruckr.

Also, I baked beer bread from a Paul Hollywood cookbook called 100 Great Breads. In order to make beer bread, one needs beer so I used a coffee lager from Saranac Brewery.  This is the “go to” beer that we have around the house lately.  The bread turned out fine but I lost a lot of the coffee taste that I was shooting for.

If you like the podcast, please forward or this  episode (or any other episode) onto your friends either through email or via the app you use to listen to the show.  That helps build a bigger and more vibrant Guys and Food community– and we all benefit from that!

Olive Oil- Are You Buying the Real Deal?

Episode 008- Dan Gagliardo is an expert on olive oil.  He is the the owner of D’Avolio Purveyors of Fine Olive Oils, Vinegars, and More. He offers you advice about shopping for olive oil– what to look for and what to avoid.  He also discusses starting his food business and how he decided to olive oil and vinegar was a business for him.

In the interview I mention a recipe for an olive oil cake that I bake. I usually use regular olive oil but recently have taken to using flavored ones such as blood orange flavored oil from D’Avolio.  This is a very tasty recipe and one that I have been making for years.

If you are looking for help selecting olive oils, the blog of the North American Olive Oil Association provides a list of 21 olive oil brands that are certified for authenticity. Also, here is a list of ten olive oil recipes of 2016 from the association.   Note:  I have not had a chance to test drive any of these recipes yet.

On New Year’s Eve, we were invited to the home of some friends and I made my favorite “go to” appetizer, chorizo stuffed dates wrapped in bacon.  Here is a recipe that is very close to the one that I use.  I bake mine for about 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven instead of cooking them in the skillet.  I place them on the baking sheet, bacon seam down and do not use a toothpick to secure them.  Also, I use dried chorizo (not fresh) that is very similar to a stick of pepperoni.

Note: None of the links for this episode are affiliate links.


James Glucksman- A Food Guy Who Followed His Passion!

Episode 007- Many food guys share their dreams about one day lining up their passion for food into some sort of food-related business.  James Glucksman is a guy who did just that.

After years of kicking the idea around, this native New Yorker wound up leaving his job as a business consultant and opening up a lodge on the other side of the world!  It’s called Pen-y-bryn Lodge in Oamaru, New Zealand.  He does all the cooking for the place including making many of the operation’s own cheeses, sausages, etc. He’ll share his story of how all that happened and he’ll also share the story behind his mother’s fruitcake recipe.

You’ll recall that in Episode 004  I explained how I had a hankering to make fruitcake for the holidays this year.  When my mother could not find her recipe, I asked some folks in a Facebook  group called Cookbook Junkies for suggestions. Glucksman suggested his mom’s recipe.  It sounded intriguing, so I chose that one to make.  After weeks of lovingly fortifying it with cognac and letting it mature, I finally got to eat it.  In this week’s show, you get my reaction and the reaction of my decidedly non-fruitcake liking family.

I also used new recipes for an Italian holiday treat called struffoli and for molasses cookies.  On Christmas morning, I also made a ham and cheese strata for breakfast.  It is a very easy, hands-off recipe that is perfect for breakfast or brunch.  For Christmas dinner we had lasagna. We still have quarts of sauce and leftovers in the refrigerator.

Santa brought me two books that I have been wanting too! The Mad Feast|An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food by Matthew Gavin Frank and Food 52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore.

If you would like to be a guest on the show, go to to find out more!

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A Sparkling Wine Guide for Celebrations of the Season or any Time of Year!

Episode 006-It is fitting and proper during the time of celebrations that champagnes, prosecco, and other  sparkling wines are offered to give toasts or merely to enjoy during a party. Howard Riedel is our wine guy and he has some very helpful recommendations for you.  You’ll learn the origins and differences between all those sparkling wines. Here are Howard’s suggestions:

High End Champagnes ($150-300)

Mid-Level Champagnes ($40-60)

California Sparkling Wines ($15-25)

Spanish Cava

Jaume Serra Cristalino

You’ll also hear about the latest of my baking and cooking adventures in the wake of my cold. You’ll remember from previous episodes that I wanted to make a molasses cookies for my wife.  Not having a recipe, I searched the online tool that I use to organize my growing cookbook library called Eat Your Books. You’ll hear an interesting story on why I ultimately chose this molasses cookie recipe from the All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett.

I also mention my recipe for old school tomato sauce that was recently published in a magazine.  I will be using this for my traditional Christmas Lasagna.

Note: None of these links included above are affiliate links

Dan Pashman from The Sporkful, a Food Guy You Should Know!

Episode 005- Dan Pashman is my kind of food guy.  He is smart, thoughtful, and funny! He also knows his food.  Once you listen to his podcast from WNYC called The Sporkful you’ll understand why it is not only my favorite food-related podcasts, but my favorite podcasts in general. You may also see Dan on You’re Eating It Wrong on the Cooking Channel. Maybe you caught him recently with Guy Fieri on the Food Network.

He was very gracious of him to come on the show.  While I admit that I am a bit of a Sporkful fanboy, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t take Dan to task for his approach to my hometown food, the chicken wing (aka Buffalo wings by rookies) during our talk. Here is video demonstrating his (and other) wing eating techniques.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that Dan and I have been on a podcast together.  Dan interviewed me for The Sporkful’s Veterans Day show. Take a listen!

Other things on the show: I keep you up-to-date on my Christmas baking including some discussion about egg nog and a  recipe I posted from Popular Mechanics on the Guys and Food Facebook page. If you enjoy the tastes associated with eggnog, pie expert and cookbook author Ken Haedrich has an eggnog cream pie that looks interesting.

In other news, I was interviewed about Guys and Food recently by my good friend Howie Greene on his radio program called Speak Your Mind.

Your Cookware Buyer’s Guide

Episode 004  Pots and pan choices can be overwhelming!  What do you really need compared to what is merely nice to have? After you’ve decided the pieces that you need, what materials are best for cooking?  Scotty Harris is an expert authority on the subject. He is a chef instructor at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute in Niagara Falls, New York.  He also opines on his blog Cooking in Theory and Practice. Scotty will give you his cost /benefit analysis on cookware and he’ll also tell you us about his food journey.  After being an amateur chef for many years, he left a career as an attorney and transitioned to cooking as a profession. You’ll hear about that too!

My mom couldn’t find her recipes, so my holiday baking list will include someone else’s  mother’s fruit cake.  I saw this recipe in a Facebook group that I am on called Cookbook Junkies.  The guy who offered the recipe is James Glucksman and he is the owner of Pen-y-bryn Lodge in Oamaru, New Zealand.  He was nice enough to give me pointers too.  In addition to James’ mom’s fruitcake, I will be making  and Italian holiday treat called struffoli and molasses cookies.  What kind of baking will you be doing for the upcoming holidays?  Let us know!

I give my reaction to the season premieres of Top Chef and The Great American Baking Show and I give my guess who will win both competitions.

A few weeks ago, I got the charter issue of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine.  I finally got to cook from it!

Finally, I want to get you ideas for upcoming episodes.  I asked on the Guys and Food Facebook page, and got some good suggestions.  If you have suggestions for the show, let me know.  Email me at or call 716-427-GUYS (4897).

Also, if you (or some guy that you know) would be a good guest on the podcast, let me know!




Food Books for the Holidays (or Anytime of Year)

Episode 003 – Jonathan Welch is the co-owner of Talking Leaves Books, an independent bookseller with two locations in Buffalo, New York.   He gives you ideas on what cookbooks and other food-related books make great gifts to give (and to receive) this holiday season.

He also makes a very good case on why you might want to support your local independent bookstore.  In our conversation, he mentions a resource called Indiebound, to help find an independent book store in your town.

A book to consider is Dinner Pie by a  recent guest, noted cookbook author and authority on pie, Ken Haedrich. (This is not an affiliate link)

I do a debrief on how Thanksgiving went.  This includes how I used Marmite in the meal. Incidentally, this is my first time using it.

On a whim, I whipped up a coffee cake from Warren Brown’s United Cakes of America but I had a few challenges with substitutions.

I also discuss the season premieres of Top Chef and The Great American Baking Show.

Finally, what kind of baking will you be doing for the upcoming holidays?  Let us know!


Solving Your Wine Buying Confusion, Thanksgiving Wine Suggestions, and Gabe’s Thanksgiving Menu

Episode 002

Do you second guess yourself when buying wine?  I do.  On a scale of 1-10, I am about a five when it comes to my comfort level in buying wine at a store or in a restaurant.  Howard Riedel is here to calm your nerves (and mine) about wine buying.  He is wine expert, has a 30 year career as a marketing consultant  to  the retail wine industry, and a he’s part-time public radio broadcaster.
Howard Riedel’s Wine Recommendations for Thanksgiving:
(Note: These are NOT affiliate links)

Also, I tell you about what I am making for Thanksgiving this year, including the recipe for my grandmother’s stuffing.

If you are looking for Thanksgiving tips, tricks, and recipes, I recommend Serious Eats.

Kitchen Knives Selection, Upping Your Pie Game, and This is the First Episode!

Episode 001– This is the first episode!

Arguably one of the most important things in your kitchen will be the knives that you will use.  During my interview with The Kitchen Knife Guru,  Nate Ouderkirk discusses the selection and proper care of your kitchen knives.  He also gives some great specific recommendations for knives.  He’s helped thousands figure out what’s best, and he will help you out too!

Ken Haedrich is the author of 15 cookbooks including my absolute favorite book related to pie baking– it’s called  Pie.  Pie has 300 recipes and is over 600 pages long. He shares  his secrets of making great pies.  During the interview he discusses the pumpkin cheesecake pie that he developed in honor of his son.   More information about Ken’s cooking classes and other tips and pie recipes at The Pie Academy.

You’ll hear my thoughts on the launch of my first episode.

I decided to hold off a week because of Election Day.  See my blog post about how we might come together to settle our difference after such a divisive election.   Included in that blog post is a mention about Election Cake from Greg Patent’s Baking in America.  Here is a feature that was heard on NPR about that cookbook that includes the recipe for Election Cake.

When starting the idea for this podcast, I had grandiose plans to provide this great resource for Thanksgiving.   That may come next year.  However, here is the most comprehensive one that I have come across that is both informative and entertaining.  It is from Serious Eats.

Thanks to Amy, Joe, Cliff Ravenscraft, Pat Flynn, Dave Jackson, and everyone else who has been very supportive to me.  This is a labor of love and it took me a very long time to get to the point of having a first episode.

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Happy Veterans Day!

To all have served, Happy Veterans Day.

413Here is a photo of me when I was a lean, mean fighting machine.  I served seven years proudly in the military.

I have always loved food.  However, I really loved food when I was in the service because it reminded me of home.

The Guys and Food podcast is coming soon.  However, perhaps you didn’t know that your’s truly was featured in a podcast related to food and the military. It’s true!  Listen to this episode of one of my favorite podcasts called The Sporkful.




“Think of it as a man cave where guys talk about food, instead of sports.”