Categories
Packaged Food

Kraft Kicks Off Fall With Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese In Canada

Photo courtesy of Kraft Heinz Canada

As summer comes to an end, everyone is gearing up for the fall season and, with that, comes the infamous Pumpkin Spice-themed foods and drinks. Yep, it’s that time again, folks. 

This year, however, Kraft Dinner is offering Canadians a new take on the seasonal flavor in the form of a Pumpkin Spice Macaroni and Cheese dinner box. 

Made with the same cheese powder base many of us grew up on, the new mac and cheese adds the fall flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. The result is a spicy and cheesy dinner treat.

Those all about pumpkin spice can sign up for a waitlist, and 1,000 lucky Canadians will be able to get their hands on a box of the new mac as well as some swag for free. 

Everyone else, it seems, will have to wait until October to try it out. 

Categories
Culture Opinion

Uncomfortable ‘Black Lives Matter’ Dinner Conversations That Are Necessary

dinner

There’s so much to unpack about this year. We have a raging pandemic, an unsuitable President in the position of leadership, and record high death and unemployment. Overall, a melting pot of unrest, fear, anger, impatience, stewed with a strong sense of feeling unacknowledged. Sirens, explosions and chants soundtrack the nationwide protests. Determined to be heard, those on the front line brave tear gas, rubber bullet and baton.

As we begin our second consecutive week of city-wide protests here in Los Angeles, efforts are being made globally in support of not only justice for George Floyd, but the many lives taken at the hands of police brutality for generations. Black and Brown, White or Yellow, and everything in between; each of us are experiencing first hand what lies behind the veil; a slow reveal of systemic oppression. While intersectionality has existed in many forms over the years, today, our access to witness police brutality in real-time has sparked an overwhelming intersectional, international response that has never before occured.

Fighting for a cause is not easy. It takes courage to voice an unpopular opinion about injustices, to challenge the status quo and to attempt to inspire change in your fellow human beings. No one likes being told what they believe is wrong, especially if they’ve believed it for most of their life. Systemic racism runs centuries deep, so to educate another about its impact requires lots of patience. It requires lots of self-education as well.

Protest doesn’t just reside in the streets, it also has a place in our daily interactions with friends and family, at home or over dinner. Being accustomed to our social routine makes having those “dinner time” conversations challenging. We all have that overt racist relative that for all our lives, we’ve made the excuse, “Oh that’s just how they are.” Other times the racism is less overt and more rooted in a misconception of class inferiority and privilege. Nevertheless, we can no longer allow fear to impede the change we know deep down is necessary.

I’d like to share a quote from Margaret Renkl of The New York Times, “And the problem with writing off people who don’t recognize this country’s pervasive and enduring culture of white supremacy, much less the ways in which they themselves benefit from it, is simple: Being called a racist almost never causes a racist to wake up. Being called a racist almost never causes a racist to say, “Oh, wow, you’re right.”

So how do we have these uncomfortable conversations with close friends and loved ones? How many more family dinners can we have where we allow racist remarks to go unchecked, simply for the sake of not ruining everyone’s meal? These are some questions we’ve asked ourselves here at Foodbeast. With our unique family dynamics and cultural experiences, there seems no single way to approach this conversation. Thinking more about this, I felt that maybe by just sharing personal experiences, we could help to inspire others who are similarly wanting to speak up but unsure of the best method. This is a convo many of us have had or will need to have, so I decided to reach out to close friends as well as fellow Foodbeast fam to share their uncomfortable dinner conversations:

“Yesterday, our city had a scheduled peaceful protest. This was the first time that I really paid attention to my parents’ media consumption. They only have Facebook and watch traditional news from Spanish TV channels. I realized that they haven’t seen any of the peaceful protesting, the policemen that instigate violence, the white looters who destroy cities in the name of BLM, the repeated incidents throughout the country. I took some time to show them some things on my Twitter feed, and reminded them that this stuff is coming from real people on the scene, whereas the stuff that they’re watching is coming from sensationalized news. Although they were surprised, I think I was the one who had a bigger moment of realization. Members of my immediate and extended family are not consuming the same news that I am, and it’s my responsibility to direct them to those sources. As light-skinned Latinos, we don’t have conversations about colorism or American racism in regards to the Black community. I’m now actively responding to them more on Facebook & sharing more about BLM.”


“I call out my family on pretty much everything. Asian families have a deeply rooted anti-Blackness, so anything involving Black people they blame it on them – saying how they’re scary, they’re violent, etc. I try to educate by talking about the bigger picture, how the media frames black people as antagonists, how it’s unfair how we are so anti-Black without questioning why. Of course I’m either met with silence or resistance.”


“The conversation was with my boyfriend and mom regarding looting and rioting. I had to explain to my boyfriend the dangers of telling a non-Black person that you don’t agree with the looting and rioting. Now my mom thinks, “See he is Black and he doesn’t like it either.” Well obviously he doesn’t want his neighborhood fucked up like the riots and Black and Brown business owners suffering from it, but when my mom hears that, she hears “He hates all looting and rioting.”

And I make my case for why looting and rioting happens – deeply embedded in the country’s history, wealth gap, history of ownership and private property and the disparities for Black and Brown folks. And my boyfriend is like, “Yes I get it but I still don’t think they should be fucking up OUR shit.” So I’m like, “You need to make that very clear to my mother.” And my mom said, “No, I get it.” And I know her ass doesn’t.”


“Whenever I have these conversations with my mom, she meets it with resistance (from deeply rooted racism), but the more I talk, the more I explain, the more she listens. But I do remember an instance where she responded to my conversations with, “Oh so now you’re gonna go date a Black guy?” and I got angry because she missed the point. But with more conversations, more calling out, the more I see her think. I had a more broad talk with her when we were talking about the COVID protests, how white people use their privilege to protest their “rights being taken away”, the way that they haven’t been oppressed and how that’s the main issue at hand. It’s never been about how Black people are “bad,” it’s been about how society responds to privilege and the layers of systemic racism. These convos are just going to have to keep happening for change to happen.”


“I talked to my friend who only dates Black males and wasn’t doing anything about this movement that was uncomfortable. She ended up listening to me but I told her, “Hey you’ve only dated men of color the entire time I’ve known you and you are dating one right now…and you’re letting all of these things happen and you can’t even show up when I ask you to come with me to make a difference. It makes me mad that you complain about white people all the time but at a time that it really matters you care more about yourself and your own comfort.”


“I have a friend that used the n-word while I was on the phone with them, the catalyst being a hit-and-run accident on the freeway while raining.

I’ve never had the courage to talk to them about it. I’m deathly afraid because I fear it will destroy a friendship of hundreds of positive experiences together. A friendship that’s had an insanely positive impact on my life.

I believe I’m gathering the courage, but to be honest, I’m so afraid that I can’t stop crying while writing this.”

As you can see, there is no perfect way to go about broaching the sensitive subject of racism. The conversation you have with your elders may be different than the one you have with those in your age group. The common thread in all of these stories is that it requires patience and persistence. Your food might get cold in the process.

New information uproots, shifts and transforms. How that experience feels to us is dependent on our willingness to accept change. Equally important is the messenger. We’re experiencing probably one of the most pivotal moments of our lifetime where if we want real change, it requires real action. Not selfish action, but mindful action. At Foodbeast, we’re working each day to learn how to better support that change. Below are some links that discuss ways to help you break the ice as these necessary conversations are had:

How To Tell Someone You Love They’re Being Racist

How To Talk To Your White Family About Racism

How To Talk To Your Friends And Family About Race

Teaching Tolerance

Categories
Culture Opinion

Wolfgang Puck Has Been Innovating for 30 Years, And Is Nowhere Near Done

Behind swank velour curtains, surrounded by a genius staff, is a mastermind, an artist, but most prominently, an innovator.

Chef Wolfgang Puck stands across from me in his domain. We’re separated via the greatest spread of food I have ever seen, a stunning and glowing preview of what the legendary chef has cooked up for this past year’s Oscars dinner.

It isn’t surprising that every article or interview with Wolfgang Puck revolves around his repertoire, seeing as he’s the seminal celebrity chef of modern American cuisine; his reputation radiates and draws attention like the proverbial moths to a flame .

However, I was pleasantly surprised to be joined in this interview by Wolfgang Puck’s son, Byron Puck, which led to some rather not-so-formal chit chat that revealed some illuminating facts of Wolfgang’s past.

Wolfgang came from incredibly meager means. At the age of 14, he worked in a kitchen for a hotel in Austria. After days of being berated by his stepfather, telling him he was good for nothing, he decided to leave the house for good. So Wolfgang left to go to the only place he found any comfort — the kitchen.

Unfortunately, the kitchen wasn’t having it this fateful day, and his boss, who chose Wolfgang as his punching bag, told him that he was fired and to never come back. After this, a dejected Wolfgang decided to go to a bridge to drown himself. After hours of sitting on the bridge, he decided that the only real option, the one that he felt his bones dragging him to, was to go back to the kitchen.

It’s in this kitchen that Hollywood can find some of its glitz and glamor, not the facades like in the backlots of studios, but the stuff called passion and culinary artistry. It’s a fitting choice to have the one and only Wolfgang Puck as the chef to feed Tinseltown on their biggest night.

It’s with the values and morals Wolfgang walked away with through his tough time coming up that he has instilled in Byron, which are reflected in his form and methodology when cooking.

Though Byron has somewhat followed in his father’s footsteps, he is also still trying to find his own culinary voice and style.

Byron cooks at an LA restaurant/incubator, called Rogue, helmed by his father, which features a crew of young artists searching for their own narratives through food. While Byron has the option to train under and obviously mirror one of the greatest chefs on the planet in his father, he instead discovered a way to tread his own path with the tools his father gave him.

Ultimately, that’s what every parent wants, to afford their children the ability to fend for themselves. With Byron, that faculty is palpable and palatable.

Through seemingly simple dishes like steak and carrots, Rogue and Byron Puck are showing the culinary world that traditions don’t need to be ditched in order to innovate. Instead of simply fine tuning a classic dish until it’s reached perfection, Byron flips what the general public might view the dish as and create something entirely new while still respecting tradition.

It’s refreshing, too, to see that Wolfgang posits the same ideals when recounting the reason for Spago’s — his seminal restaurant — success.

“It’s really interesting because Spago has been there for over 30 years, and all the other restaurants that were open around that time have closed. Why? Because there was no change. I think change is really important, but we also cannot forget where we came from. So you have to have a good mixture of tradition and innovation,” Wolfgang posits.

“One thing I didn’t like was when people would be kept to doing small things, like dishwashing then chopping potatoes and beans, like I did for three years. I said no, I’d rather have someone who’s innovative,” he asserts.

Especially being surrounded by remakes all over Tinseltown, it’s important that there is some originality being strewn into the mix, and what better way to start than with the gut.

Rogue is doing just that, with Wolfgang allowing young chefs to experiment without worrying about economic constraints.

Now, this can very easily be painted as some elite, privileged restaurant and these young chefs are being given an advantage. But anyone who truly looks at what this restaurant means can see that it is essentially a brick and mortar of the American Dream.

With Wolfgang, he’s got both hands on the wheel, his flagship restaurant Spago is still as iconic as ever in fine dining and Rogue is showing the culinary scene what’s what in terms of pushing the envelope of culinary ingenuity.

Wolfgang Puck is synonymous with modern cuisine, and with the help of his son and the chefs of similar mind at Rogue, he can become the father of contemporary cuisine and immortalize what it truly means to be a modern chef in a performance that should be deemed Oscar worthy.

Categories
Features

10 Everyday Food Tips That You Can’t Help But Appreciate

I always get excited when I discover a new life hack. I figure if I collect enough of these tips, I’ll eventually be on my way to becoming a fully-functioning adult. Though that journey may take some time.

The popular subreddit LifeProTips is a plethora of tips and tricks shared by the collective experiences of the Internet. You can find tips that cover relationships, finance, technology, and most importantly — food.

Because we’re always seeking ways to make our dining experience much simpler, we created a list of some of the best food pro tips we came across. Enjoy!


LPT: Let someone know you’re picking up the tab for a meal AFTER they’ve ordered. This allows a considerate friend to order what s/he wants freely and also prevents a colleague/acquaintance from taking advantage of your generosity. from r/LifeProTips

I’ve been on both the treating end and receiving end of a free meal. Keeping mum about buying dinner for someone to dinner is something your wallet will appreciate.

LPT: If a server or cashier at a restaurant gives you extra of something for no charge, and you are later asked by a manager if that employee was doing their job well, don’t mention that they gave you extra food. It could potentially get them in trouble. from r/LifeProTips

Sometimes, all a kind gesture really needs is a simple thank you.

LPT: If you want to “vacuum seal” food, put it in a ziplock bag and submerge it in a bowl of water with the bag open above the water. The water will push the air out of the bag, and you can close it without any left inside. from r/LifeProTips

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the “seal it almost all the way and squeeze out the rest of the air” method.

LPT: when making nachos, put a tortilla underneath your chips to turn leftover toppings into a taco. from r/LifeProTips

I’ll admit, sometimes I’ll lick the plate clean when eating nachos. Having a tortilla underneath to catch the toppings would probably make me look more composed.

LPT: Store potatoes and onions well apart from each other. They release moisture and gases that can make the other get bad faster. from r/LifeProTips

So that’s why my onions keep going bad.

 

LPT: Use olive oil instead of extra-virgin olive oil when cooking with heat. It has a higher smoke point and is cheaper. Use your nice oil for finishing dishes, not preparing them. from r/LifeProTips

Very guilty of this sin, especially when I’m too lazy to run to the grocery store for frying oil.

LPT: Most juices/drinks that advertise 50% less sugar are simply watered down. You can save money by watering down the normal product. from r/LifeProTips

Doctor says I should be drinking more water anyways.

LPT: When baking cookies, take them out when just the sides look almost done, not the middle. They’ll finish baking on the pan and you’ll have soft, delicious cookies. from r/LifeProTips

Chocolate chip cookies with a crispy exterior and gooey insides are one of life’s greatest pleasures.

 

LPT: Put a peeled banana in the freezer for a snack that almost has the same texture and taste of ice cream but without the guilt or calories. from r/LifeProTips

That does solve my lactose intolerance issue too…

LPT: Learn to look at food products labeling carefully. “Made with 100%…” is very different to “made from 100%…” from r/LifeProTips

Always read the fine print when it comes to food.

Categories
Culture Features Feel Good

This Unique Non-Profit Pop-Up Dinner Series Features Refugee Families As The Chefs

An accurate indication of having a good neighbor is sharing; they share tools, holiday cards, and favors, but the single most appreciable thing one can share with another is food.

This past Valentine’s Day, Miry’s List, a non-profit dedicated to aiding refugee families founded by Miry Whitehill, hosted its one year anniversary of a monthly event called New Arrival Supper Club, and on a day to celebrate love, this dinner did exactly that, only through food.

These monthly dinners are catered by a different New Arrival, or newly admitted refugee family, each time; Abdul, Maysa, and Amer Kanjo featured as the cooks for this evening.

 

Hostility and danger targeted the Kanjo home back in Syria, forcing them to leave familiarity and live for four years without a permanent address. Despite going through this tumultuous time of unrest and uncertainty, the Kanjos were able to prepare a meal that brought everyone savoring each bite right back to their mother’s kitchen.

Adbul and Maysa Kanjo dealt with the grueling process of coming into the U.S. to find refuge, and despite their arrival, the trouble of acclimating is what gets most refugees to question their decision.

Without any form of help these new arrival families are left to learn how to jump onto a proverbial treadmill set at max speed, and it doesn’t help that the overwhelming majority of citizens aren’t sure how to handle refugees.

The term itself sounds foreign—  calling someone a refugee already alienates and creates a bubble around these families.

However, Miry’s List, and the families that are a part of it, is finding a different way to speak to the masses — through their stomachs.

“Nobody knows what refugees are, they don’t know what to do with them. But by doing dinners like this we can raise awareness of the problem and help aid anyone in The States who would need help,” Maysa Kanjo said.

Through simple acts of help a domino effect occurred within Miry’s List. More and more people decided that these New Arrival families were asking for nothing more than a helping hand, and, as a neighbor, that’s just what they should give.

“The refugee crisis is unsolvable, that’s a crisis. One family needing a jumper for their baby, that’s no problem, I could do that 100 times a day,” Whitehill said.

After visiting families and experiencing the love of cooking and feeding they all shared, Whitehill decided to host pop-up dinners where a new former refugee family would cater foods from their culture.

“Every time I go visit these families they wouldn’t stop feeding me, it was the most amazing, nurturing thing. It was so exciting to feel taken care of, it really motivated me to continue,” Whitehill said.

These dinners are not only a good way for the families to make a living, as 100 percent of the revenue from tickets goes to them, staff, and the organization they also allow a window into the lives of these refugees that isn’t often portrayed. With Los Angeles being one of the largest hosts of refugee families, this opportunity isn’t something to pass up.

The initiative led by this organization is admirable, to say the least, but the food is what really takes the cake.

Wednesday night was filled with Arabic culture, from food made by the hands of Maysaa and Abdul Kanjo, to Arabic music, and even belly dancing.

Though some attention was diverted from the beautiful dishes by the belly dancers, it didn’t take long for the aromas to catch the crowd.

The Kanjo family was initially worried that their food wouldn’t be finished, another part of Middle Eastern culture is to never leave leftovers, and with such a great number of people in attendance, the family of chefs doubled their quantity in anticipation.

It should be noted, Abdul, Maysaa and son Amer didn’t pick up their plates until every guest in attendance was fed. Standing behind the dishes they proudly served, the family would then explain what each dish was and helped share the best parts to each guest.

Rachel Castillo, a last-minute attendee who tagged along with her friend and member of Miry’s List, attested to the great opportunity this dinner took to better understand the refugee experience.

“Food is so many things, it’s representative of culture, it’s a way to show love as an action, it connects people to the place that they left, it brings life, and it’s delicious,” said Castillo.

And with having such a rich culture to share, the Kanjo family allowed the food to speak for itself.

Three large picnic tables ladened with trays upon trays of traditional Arabic cuisine were the star of the backyard setting. The smells of the rice and chicken lingered out into the front door, and the spinach and cheese pastries were stacked on top of each other like savory pyramids.

A crowd favorite was the fattoush salad, a simple yet decadent offering that consisted of veggies like cucumber, tomatoes, along with feta cheese and parsley. It stood out with the not-so-common fried pita chips on top, which added a perfect texture and crunch to the whole dish.

On the next table came one of my favorites of the night, baba ghanoush, a dip made of eggplant, tahini sauce, and olive oil. Mixing this with hummus might seem blasphemous but it’s a happy accident, as the two pair wonderfully on warm pita bread.

On top of that came Abdul and Amer Kanjo’s favorite dish, the roasted chicken with potatoes. A wonderful tip that I accidentally stumbled upon by way of stuffing my small plate with as much as I could, is to let the baba ghanoush shake hands with the chicken. Coating the chicken with the eggplant-based dish brings out the best of both worlds. The savory, tender chicken is brought to another level with the earthy flavors of the baba ghanoush.

While all the entrees so far were delicious, it wasn’t until dessert that I found my eyes rolling to the back of my head.

The Kanjos laid out their baklava in the shape of a heart smack dab in the middle of the table, knowing full well that this was what the people would want.

Baklava is sticky, it’s messy, and it’s hard to get right. Prepared differently than most other baklava, this one lacked the incredibly sticky exterior and kept all of the flavor right in the flaky middle. The bites were tiny, which made for each one to be savored respectfully and patiently.

After savoring my eighth piece of baklava, there was kanafeh, similar to baklava except it had cheese hidden inside of it. That might sound like a weird sweet and savory thing, but this cheese is buried within the sweet excess of sugar this pastry is dipped in. All of that is then topped with kataifi, a shredded and fried dough used to crown desserts, that fell from atop the kanafeh like snowflakes.

At the end of the night, after the toasts were made and dinner had finished, guests mingled pleasantly and it felt like any other family dinner — the goodbyes were long and many thank yous were exchanged.

The Kanjo family considered the night a success. Maysa Kanjo felt she did a mother’s duty by feeding her guests and Adbul Kanjo was glad everyone had a good time.

Now, their goal is to be a good example for other refugee families trying to adjust in the States, and allowing their son to thrive in a world of opportunity.

“Going back home wasn’t an option, so coming here gave us a chance to settle down. And we now live in a peaceful environment and are helped by many. Now we wish for a better future for our kids,” Maysa Kanjo said.

While the Kanjo family might’ve needed a translator to speak extensively to guests, a homemade meal made with love and care is a language anyone can understand.

Dinners like these are an important part of building a community. While they might seem easy to put together, they rely heavily on the public to keep them running. Donations and ticket proceeds are the primary way these families are able to get the essentials they need to thrive in a pricey place like Los Angeles.

Any and all donations towards Miry’s List are encouraged, helping refugee families get the supplies they need to continue these dinners helps grow a loving and diverse neighborhood.

If you are interested in donating to Miry’s List, donation options can be found here.

Categories
Celebrity Grub

Chrissy Teigen Reveals What She Eats Every Single Night For Dinner

I know you well enough to know you will "ew" my whole fish photo but don't care

A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

Supermodel Chrissy Teigen is arguably everyone’s favorite celebrity foodie, as she can genuinely enjoy a bucket of KFC as much as she can enjoy fine dining.

While Teigen shares a variety of meals on her social media accounts, there is one food that she eats more consistently than anything else, and that’s a plate of Branzino.

No, not Benzino the rapper who foolishly dissed Eminem  — Branzino, the European seabass with silver-colored skin.

Teigen told Refinery 29 in an interview that with some help from her mom, she cooks up a mean Branzino for herself every night.

“I have one whole fish every night, covered in garlic and olive oil, stuffed with lemons and rosemary. And I eat it every single night. So I go, ‘Mom! Guess what time it is?’ And she gets all sad and she goes: ‘Fish timeeee.’ Cuz she knows she has to finely mince the garlic, which takes forever.”

Chrissy even said over Twitter that she’ll sometimes eat two Branzinos a night, which is a damn good problem to have.

She didn’t say what John Legend eats for dinner, but you can’t be mad if it’s hot wings, like this:

These are a few of my favorite things…

A post shared by John Legend (@johnlegend) on

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss News

Photo Of FYRE Festival’s Pathetic Dinner Was Actually Not Accurate

It’s been well documented that FYRE Festival was a shit show where rich kids were stranded on a remote island and not given the luxurious show they were promised.

One of the major talking points of the disappointing festival was an underwhelming photo of one of the festival’s supposed meals. The photo featured a takeout box with a couple slices of toast, a couple of cheese slices on top, and a side salad. Not exactly fine dining.

Turns out that wasn’t really the food they served guests there, according to TMZ. It was something they fed staff members, apparently, which still sucks. The concert-goers, however, actually had access to chicken, pasta, burgers, fries, and salad.

That meal doesn’t scream luxury either, but at least it wasn’t the sad cheese sandwich we all thought was served.

For breakfast, FYRE guests had access to donuts, waffles, and coffee.

It’s still not an impressive food lineup, but it wasn’t quite as bad as we were led to believe.

Categories
Cravings Culture Humor Technology Video

How To Make Thanksgiving Dinner With A Drone [HUMOR]

A drone has many uses when it comes to capturing breathtaking video and images, but did you know that the robotic flying machine can also help you prepare Thanksgiving dinner?

Autel Robotics released a hilarious commercial that shows how to practically use a drone to cook Thanksgiving dinner. In the video, it’s used for various tasks like peeling potatoes, beating eggs, whipping various foods, and flying some holiday meat into a deep fryer.

Obviously, the results weren’t the most appetizing. In fact, it was a downright disaster.

The video highlights end with the fact that their new X-Star Premium model was meant to capture stunning 4K Ultra HD footage rather than slaving away in the kitchen. You can buy the drone for $699 online.

Seriously, drone owners. Do not try this at home.