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1980s throwback dinner event is Saturday

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Jun 20, 2019 at 3:00 PM

MILAN TOWNSHIP — Be prepared for chefs, cooking and rock-n-roll as The Culinary Vegetable Institute has a time warp back into the 1980s.

The Culinary Vegetable Institute, along with guest chef David Waltuck and pastry chef Claudia Fleming, will create a dinner Saturday that will include recipes from a selection of chefs profiled in author Andrew Friedman’s most recent book. Although not required, guests are encouraged to wear their favorite 1980s throwbacks styles. 

Friedman has made a career chronicling the life and work of some of the best chefs. He recently published “Chefs, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits, and Wanderers Created a New American Profession.” The book transports readers back in time to witness the remarkable evolution of the American restaurant chef in the 1970s and 80s.

There will be a cocktail hour and book signing with a meet-and-greet session from 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday, followed by Friedman’s presentation. Dinner will be served at 6:30. To purchase tickets, call 419-499-7500 or for more information, email [email protected] A selection of Friedman’s books will be available for sale at the event.

In “Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll,” Friedman takes a rare, coast-to-coast perspective and goes inside Chez Panisse and other San Francisco Bay-area restaurants to show how the politically charged backdrop of Berkeley helped draw new talent to the profession. The book also dives into the historically underrated community of Los Angeles chefs, including a young Wolfgang Puck and future stars such as Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken and Nancy Silverton. It also addresses the clash of cultures between established French chefs in New York City and the American game-changers behind the Quilted Giraffe, River Cafe and other East Coast establishments.

Waltuck is a multi-James Beard Award winner for “Best Chef: New York City,” outstanding restaurant and outstanding service at the former Chanterelle restaurant. He was also a James Beard Award nominee for general cooking. The chef is the author of “Chanterelle: The Story and Recipes of a Restaurant Classic” and the “Staff Meals from Chanterelle” cookbook.

In 2016, Waltuck was named the director of culinary affairs at the Institute of Culinary Education, where he is also a chef instructor.

Fleming is considered one of the most respected pastry chefs in modern times. She received the James Beard Foundation’s outstanding pastry chef award for 2000. Pastry Art & Design named her one of their 10 best pastry chefs that same year. Fleming has been a judge on “Beat Bobby Flay,” “Chopped” and “Top Chef: Desserts.”

Born on Long Island, Fleming moved to New York City to pursue a career as a dancer and supported herself by working in restaurants. During her tenure at Union Square Café, Fleming worked at various stations in the kitchen, eventually gravitating to the kitchen, where pastry became her new calling. In 1991, she studied pastry in Paris, where she also did a stint at Fauchon.

In 1994, Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio hired Fleming as the pastry chef when they opened Gramercy Tavern. In 2006, she and her late husband, chef Gerry Hayden, opened the North Fork Table Inn, bringing farm to table dining to Long Island and putting the North Fork on the map.

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