Ok, so we’re cheating on this one. Usually, in “Just Back From…” we chat with chefs who’ve just returned from an inspirational truffle-finding mission to Puglia or a ramen-slurping romp through Osaka. This time, we’re talking to occasional Food Republic contributor and cookbook author Jody Eddy, who isn’t just back from anywhere; she’s still on the road, promoting her Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants, a cookbook she co-wrote profiling staff meals at 25 restaurants around the globe.
Not just any restaurants. We’re talking Michel Bras, Mugaritz, McCrady’s, Au Pied de Cochon, The Fat Duck, Ad Hoc, Annisa and St. John. The book features the recipes from some of the most memorable staff meals served at these famed establishments, and since the dishes are made to feed hungry kitchen personnel at amazing restaurants, they tend to be super-tasty and pretty quick to execute. Eddy answers our questions on the fly…
Where are you just back fr— er, where are you traveling?
This month I’m visiting restaurants profiled in the book in New York, Minnesota, Boston, Portland, Charleston, New Orleans, Chicago, Austin, and Oxford, Mississippi.
In November, I’m moderating at the CIA World of Flavors Conference in St. Helena, California, attending a staff meal event at Arzak and judging an international tapas competition in Spain. Then I’m going to Senegal to to research a cookbook I’m co-writing, and heading to Prague to go mushroom foraging with a chef. It’s an intense schedule lately!
Is the whole trip you’re on business or some pleasure too?
As ever, it’s a combination of business and pleasure.
The highlight has been visiting the restaurants and their staffs who contributed so generously to our book. It’s been a thrill to see them all again.
Layovers, too many 6 a.m. flights and lost baggage.
What airline(s) did you fly and how was it?
It runs the gamut but my preferred airline is Southwest because they always seem more cheerful than the rest. Maybe free peanuts really are the ticket to happiness.
Where’ve you stayed and what’re your mini-reviews of the places?
The tour has been filled with pretty standard hotels but in Dakar I will stay at Hotel Sokhamon. I stayed here a few months ago and it’s absolutely incredible. The rooms are hand-carved out of sandstone and the infinity pool and seafood restaurant serving grilled fish spiked with blazing hot kani is a surefire cure for travel fatigue.
What was your best meal on the trip?
I know I’m going to sound like I’m being diplomatic but the best meals were the staff meal menus from the book recreated for the tour by each restaurant. It’s been so rewarding to sit down at the staff meal table with them again.
Will you be bringing anything back from your travels and if so, what?
I haven’t had time to shop but I did pick up menus from some of the memorable restaurants I’ve visited including Swift’s Attic in Austin, The Red Stag in Minneapolis, and Eventide in Portland, Maine.
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