Printer Friendly

Val's inspires documentary on women chefs.

Byline: Barbara M. Houle

Restaurateur Valerie James of Val's Restaurant, 75 Reservoir St., Holden, last month celebrated 25 years in business.

It has been quite the journey for James, known as "Val'' by family, friends and customers.

A documentary chronicling James' sometimes rocky path to success and spotlighting the role of women chefs in a changing industry was recently unveiled at Val's Restaurant by James' daughter, Joanna James, director of the documentary and co-founder of Aliana Productions in New York.

It is the first documentary for James and her business partner, Anastasia Ganias Gellin, originally from Worcester and now an actor in New York. The women established Aliana Productions several years ago.

James said the documentary spotlights female celebrity chefs and restaurateurs who have succeeded in a male-dominated industry.

James recalled a feature article in Time magazine in 2013 that listed the "Gods of Food.'' The international edition ignored goddesses, she said. "It didn't include a single female chef, and the article sparked a lot of controversy,'' added James.

"We felt it was time to give credit where credit is due,'' said James about moving forward with the documentary. If you go through lists of top chefs or restaurants, you will still find men outnumber women working in the industry.

"It is a changing scene, and I do think we are in the middle of transformation,'' said James. "But when you look at stats the professional landscape still has fewer female chefs.''

To date, the chefs in the documentary include:

Barbara Lynch, founder of Barbara Lynch Gruppo in Boston, considered to be one of the leading chefs and restaurateurs in the country. Lynch owns No. 9 Park in Boston in addition to several other restaurants and a catering company.

Michelle Bernstein, an award-winning chef from Miami, known for her Latin-style of cooking; Elizabeth Falkner, chef, TV personality and cookbook author who is known as a pioneer and expert in many types of cuisine; Carmen Gonzalez, veteran chef and celebrated culinary artist.

Each chef has an amazing story of their journey in the restaurant business, said James, who plans to interview more female chefs later this month in San Francisco.

Aliana Productions also will film at the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs 2015 Conference scheduled this month in New York. Elizabeth Falkner (chef in documentary) is president of the organization.

The documentary is a work in progress, according to James, who said a Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise support and funding for the project. To donate, visit www.kickstarter.com and search for Celebrity Women Chefs Transforming the Food Industry. The campaign continues through April 26, and more information is available on the site. Check it out.

"The look into a single mom's (Valerie James) 25-year journey shows courage, and the story line is inspiring,'' said James about the documentary.

"My mother is an extraordinary woman. She's a single mom and a successful businesswoman who sheds light on the struggles and triumphs many women grapple with every day.''

James said her mother, working by her parents' side, took a lifelong passion for food and people into the Holden community, opening a small pizza shop and turning it into the 13,000-square-foot Val's Restaurant.

Valerie James' vision has led to three expansions; the most recent a grand function venue with two lounges, providing exceptional service and cuisine to 450 guests, according to her daughter. "My mother has risen from adversity and accomplished her mission to do what she loves and to provide for her family,'' said Joanna James.

FYI: Valerie James is a member of Les Amis d'Escoffier Society of Massachusetts, a prestigious group of chefs, hotel executives and restaurateurs. Her son, Christos James, is chef at Val's Restaurant.

Joanna James and her husband, Charles Moschos, live in Manhattan and have a 7-month-old daughter.

Valerie James is a hard-working, well-respected restaurateur. She also is a gracious and welcoming host. Her reach as a chef is beyond the kitchen.

Foodies wish her the best.

Cheers, Val.

There were four People Choice winners at the Chili Chowdown held last weekend at Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School in Charlton.

The top four: Tantasqua Regional High School in Fiskdale; Sodexo at Nichols College in Dudley; Eller's Restaurant and the Twisted Fork, both in Cherry Valley.

The event was a fundraiser to benefit the school's baseball team's trip to a tournament on Cape Cod.

Julio's Liquors in Westboro will have a Portfolio Wine Tasting featuring "Connoisseurs of United Liquors'' from 1 to 4 p.m. April 4 in Julio's Metro Station on the lower level of the store.

Free to the public, with more than 40 wines available for tasting.

QVC's cooking and dining show host, David Venable, offers a recipe for a Easter ham glaze.

Easter Ham with Apricot Glaze: Remove 1 (8 to 10-pound) bone-in fully cooked ham from the refrigerator and let it sit for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and move an oven rack to the lowest position. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil and place a roasting rack in the pan. With a sharp knife, lightly score the fat in a diamond pattern; do not cut into the meat. Place the ham, fat side up, on the rack and roast for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Saute 1/4 cup minced ginger in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-low. Add 2 cups apricot preserves, 2 cups packed light brown sugar, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup whole grain mustard and 1/2 teaspoon cloves. Heat the glaze until the preserves and sugar have melted. Divide the glaze in half, reserving half to serve with finished ham.

After 1 hour, brush the ham with the glaze. Repeat every 15 minutes for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, glaze it one more time and cook until brown and shiny, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part, avoiding bone, registers 130 degrees, about 30 minutes. (If the glaze starts to burn, tent the ham with buttered foil.) If you have glaze left over from the cooking process, discard it. Remove the ham from the oven and loosely cover it with buttered foil to keep warm. Slice and serve with remaining glaze. Serves 8 to 10.

The International Association of Culinary Professionals recently announced the winners of its coveted awards, including the IACP Cookbook Award, at its annual New York conference centered on the theme "Culinary Communications.''

"A New Napa Cuisine'' by Christopher Kostow (Ten Speed Press) won The Cookbook of the Year award.

Under Special Awards, Judge's Choice: "Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day'' by Leanne Brown (Self-published); "North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland'' by Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy (Ten Speed Press).

People's Choice Award: "Vegetarian Dinner Parties'' by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough (Rodale Books).

A highlight for this year's conference was the celebration of Jacques Pepin's 80th birthday. A culinary pioneer and original founder of IACP, Pepin was honored by IACP with the event "80 Cakes for Jacques Pepin,'' which featured 80 birthday cakes contributed by some of the world's leading chefs, tastemakers and organizations. Cakes were auctioned to support IACP's philanthropic arm, The Culinary Trust.

Pastry chef Jacques Torres prepared and served Pepin's favorite, "Jacques Torres Oreo Cake,'' for guests and celebrity chefs.

It is reported that when chef friends heard about the 80 birthday cakes concept, 23 more cakes were added to the original number.

Pepin canceled his appearance at IACP's conference as a result of suffering a minor stoke prior to the event. He reportedy spent a few days undergoing treatment in a hospital near his Connecticut home, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

Pepin's birthday isn't until Dec. 18, but his colleagues report they plan to celebrate him all year long.

I recall attending many Boston and New York events where Pepin and Julia Child teamed up for cooking demonstrations. I also have been a guest in both of their homes, enjoying home cooking at its best. Fond memories.

For more about the IACP awards, visit www.iacp.com.

If you have a tidbit for the column, call (508) 868-5282. Send email to bhoulefood@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2015 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Living
Author:Houle, Barbara M.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Apr 2, 2015
Words:1375
Previous Article:'Force Majeure' plucks emotional family drama from disaster.
Next Article:Alesana masters time travel with upcoming new album.
Topics:

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters