The Splendid Table

Sunday 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.

In 1994, acclaimed food writer and cooking teacher Lynne Rossetto Kasper was receiving accolades for her debut book, The Splendid Table, which at that time was the only book to have won both the James Beard and Julia Child Cookbook of the Year awards. Among the many people enchanted by the book was producer and foodie Sally Swift, who thought the time could be right for a radio program on food.

Appropriately, Lynne and Sally met over lunch to discuss the radio idea. They weren't interested in creating a show based on "talking about recipes"; instead, they wanted to explore everything they loved about food: the culture, the science, the history, the back stories and the deeper meanings that come together every time people sit down to enjoy a meal. And so it was The Splendid Table — "the radio program for people who love to eat" — was born.

The Splendid Table began as a live, Saturday-morning call-in show on Minnesota Public Radio. As the program's popularity continued to stretch across the nation, The Splendid Table eventually became the pre-recorded program that now airs on more than 400 public radio stations in the United States, plus SIRIUS satellite radio and World Radio Switzerland.

The Splendid Table has been at the forefront of food issues and policies since its inception. Long before eating local became a catchphrase and farmers' markets became ubiquitous, The Splendid Table was talking about the changes needed in the food system and what was happening on the grassroots level. In fact, when The Splendid Table first went on the air, Lynne had to make sure to define such terms as "organic" and "sustainable" for listeners. Today those terms have become part of the everyday lexicon, and people's hunger for wholesome food and the rituals surrounding it has only increased.

Audiences have continued to grow, and broadcasting peers have taken note as well: The Splendid Table has won two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show, and five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014) from Women in Communication. Lynne is also included in the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America.

Food has a way of creating bonds among people, and that is certainly the case for the people behind The Splendid Table. The program's production team of Lynne, Sally, Jen Russell and Jennifer Luebke have been together since the program's earliest days. Longtime contributors to the program include Jane and Michael Stern, who find the special, unique and idiosyncratic diners and eateries in cities and towns across America; witty wine expert Joshua Wesson; and the unabashedly opinionated cheesemonger Steve Jenkins. (All contributors.)

Special guests are also essential to The Splendid Table's ongoing culinary conversation. The late Julia Child was a steadfast advocate of The Splendid Table and appeared on the program numerous times. Among the parade of outstanding guests are food activist Michael Pollan, author of such books as The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules; film director and writer Nora Ephron; famed Spanish chef José Andrés; the late director Ismail Merchant; food writer Anthony Bourdain; chef Mario Batali; Franz Ferdinand lead singer Alex Kapranos, who is also a food critic; and classical violinist extraordinaire Joshua Bell, who enjoyed an in-home cooking lesson from Lynne.

Always making food come alive in multiple ways, The Splendid Table has recorded programs in Portland, Ore.; in Hawaii; in Spain; and in Mexico City. To commemorate the program's tenth anniversary, a series of shows were produced on site in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, Lynne's spiritual homeland and the inspiration for her first book.

Lynne's second book, The Italian Country Table, was published in 1999. In 2008, Lynne and Sally collaborated on their first book, How to Eat Supper; both were award nominees. In 2011, they will release a follow-up volume, How to Eat Weekends.

From its first mealtime brainstorm to the award-winning weekly program it is today, The Splendid Table continues its celebration of food and the roles it plays in our lives.

Ways to Connect

Photo: Chef Scott Peacock (left) | Peacock working alongside Miss Edna Lewis (right)

 

Famed Southern chef Scott Peacock first cooked with the legendary Edna Lewis as her assistant at a Southern food dinner in Atlanta. He was in his 20s; she was 74. Over the next 15 years - up until her passing in 2006 - they continued cooking together and became dear friends. Francis Lam talked with Peacock about what it was like to be in the kitchen with Edna Lewis, and how her sense of observation, wonder and patience still guide his work today.

Edna Lewis was called the Grande Dame of Southern Cooking so many times, the words are literally etched into her gravestone. No one disputes that honor, but it did make us think: Miss Lewis grew up with such a particular version of Southern cuisine in central Virginia; we wanted to know more about that region. Francis Lam called on the culinary historian Jessica B. Harris to tell us more about it.

Toni Tipton-Martin is an acclaimed food writer and the author of The Jemima Code, a book that presents the history of African-American cooking told through 200 years of black cookbooks. It paints a picture of a cuisine that’s more diverse, technical, and sophisticated than the stereotypes of black food.

Generations of home cooks have been inspired by the recipes and writing of Edna Lewis. Among them is Elle Simone, food stylist and test cook for America's Test Kitchen. Managing Producer Sally Swift sat down with Simone to hear about the Miss Edna-inspired America's Test Kitchen recipe for Chicken and Pastry, a hearty soup with a thick broth that contains bits of dumpling-like pastry. Try the recipe at home for comfort food at its best!

Cecile Richards is one of the most powerful, accomplished, activist leaders of her generation. She helped her mother, Ann, get elected governor of Texas, she was a labor organizer for migrant women, and she was the president of Planned Parenthood for over a decade. She’s also a serious cook and baker with an intense passion for pies and Southern food. Richards talked with Francis Lam about the ways in which food bridges the divide we often feel in politics, and passed down to Francis three essential skills in cooking.

Francis Lam inherited a chunk of puer tea from his grandfather nearly 25 years ago and has never tasted it, partly because he wasn't sure how to properly serve the tea in order to pay the full respect to boty the tea leaves and his grandfather. Recently, he took the tea to tea expert Tim Hsu. Tim showed Francis how to prepare the tea so that you can appreciate the many layers of aroma and flavors. Tim was also able to tell Francis more about of story of where the heirloom tea likely came from as they both tasted it for the first time in a peaceful and somewhat emotional setting.

Taking care of the kitchen that takes cares of you

Sep 19, 2018

The kitchen is an important room in our homes: a place of joy, solace and comfort. Yes, it can be chaotic from time to time, but more often than not, what we find there is peace in the form of the food we cook, the ingredients we cook it with, and the equipment we use. Managing Producer Sally Swift talked with Tucker Shaw, of America’s Test Kitchen, to find out some of his thoughts on taking care of the things that take care of you in the kitchen.

As a writer, you never really know where a story’s going to take you. Ruth Reichl writes a column for Town & Country magazine that’s about special delicious things. Recently, she set out to write about prosciutto and ended up in a place that moved her beyond what she’d imagined.

As we near the final days of summer we’re savoring the flavors of the season from our gardens and farmers market including berries, vegetables, fruit, and herbs. But, the tastes of summer don’t have to end here. Just ask Marisa McClellan, the food preservationist extraordinaire who runs the blog Food in Jars and has written three books on preserving. She is all about taking these last days of summer produce and keeping them forever. She talked with our contributor Shauna Sever about some simple ways to do that.

A Quick Introduction to Canning

Sep 11, 2018

A Quick Introduction to Canning
How to pick a recipe, prep your jars and safely process your product
by Marisa McClellan (from her blog Food in Jars)

Jacques Pépin is a legendary chef well-known for his television shows, cookbooks, and iconic celebrity status. However, he'll tell that when he began is life of cooking at the young age of 13 in the kitchens of France, chefs were on the bottom rung of the social ladder. He learned countless lessons by fire - literally - and over the years he ended up working in some of the most unique kitchens in the world. Through cookbooks and television program, Jacques opened new doors for home cooks as he taught many of us new ways of looking at recipes and cooking techniques.

As we near the end of summertime, we have two things on our mind: watermelon and tomatoes. Thankfully, Vivian Howard is right there with us. Vivian is a terrific chef, author of a best-selling cookbook Deep Run Roots, and the star of the PBS show A Chef’s Life. But most importantly, she’s a Southern cook with a lot of ideas for cooking with these summer beauties.

It may not seem obvious at first, but the pollination prowess of bees affects much of what, how and why we eat. And it goes far beyond honey served from a jar. Thor Hanson is a biologist and author of the book Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees. Francis Lam talked with Hanson about the importance of bees and honey to not only our food supply, but their greater connection to the evolution of both plants and humans.

Amazing glaze: America's Test Kitchen on cooking with honey

Aug 24, 2018

Most of us have some kind of honey in our kitchens, but it’s not always something people reach for while cooking. Usually it’s either gathering dust in the back of a cupboard or simply being stirred into tea or yogurt. Managing Producer Sally Swift asked America’s Test Kitchen host Bridget Lancaster about the different flavors honey can provide, and for some of her favorite ideas for cooking with honey. Trying using your favorite honey in the recipe for Roasted Whole Side of Salmon.

Beekeeping is all the buzz in New York City, where it’s estimated that there are 500 beekeepers in the city. And there are almost as many adventurous beekeeping stories: people who keep bees in their living rooms of their apartments, people having to their wrangle their bees so they don’t bother Secret Service snipers setting up on hotel rooftops, and maybe most famously, the mystery of the red honey of Brooklyn.

Honey Bee Health: Problems and Solutions

Aug 23, 2018

About 12 years ago, beekeepers started noticing that their hives were getting a little bit weird. Bees were dying or going missing, and it started to happen at shocking rates. Soon, there was a panic, and scientists couldn't exactly understand why bee populations were seeing such a drastic decline. They called it the “mystery colony collapse disorder” and started to imagine a world and a food system without bees. Over a decade later, thankfully, we still have bees, but are we out of the woods?

America's Test Kitchen makes it easy to cook paella on the grill

Aug 10, 2018

Above: Lan Lam takes notes during one of her recipe tests for paella on the grill.

When we started thinking about big cooking projects for our Project Cooking episode, one of the first people that came to mind was Rodney Scott, the pitmaster and owner of Rodney Scott's Barbecue in Charleston, South Carolina. Scott's specialty is whole hog barbecue.

It’s funny to think that many of the things we take for granted are relatively new concepts, like having your own oven in your own kitchen. In some societies, even today, whole villages might share a single oven that someone fires up, and everyone brings their bread to bake or their stews to braise. The idea of community ovens has also taken hold in towns across America. Artist and school librarian Jennifer Burton wanted to see what having a communal oven might do for her town of Johnson, Vermont. So, last year she helped build one in a public square.

Above: Chef Justin Smillie with Francis Lam and a dish of freshly
made summer tomato panade at Upland restaurant in New York City.

Enter to win Slow Fires by Justin Smillie

Aug 1, 2018

August 2018 Giveaway

Let’s be honest, not all of us are breakfast people. On one end of the spectrum you have dull, bland cereals or oatmeal. On the other end you have sweet pastries, fruit or juices. No, thanks! Maybe our breakfast needs some influence from lunch and dinner. Alison Roman is a cook, writer and the author of Dining In, a book in which she promotes the idea of making more savory breakfasts. She talks with contributor Shauna Sever about the steps to this more satisfying breakfast experience.

Rice salad. As curious as the dish sounds, it may also sound rather bland - which couldn't be further from the truth. After you hear the concept explained by a masterful cook like Rolando Beramendi, we guarantee you’ll be on board; he’ll have you searching for Carnaroli rice - the dish’s essential ingredient – and chopping fresh vegetables to fine bits in no time. Beramendi is an Italian food importer and author of Autentico: Cooking Italian, The Authentic Way.

Falafel is classic Middle Eastern fare, often served as a type of sandwich in pita or on its own with a salad and dipping sauces. While it’s not difficult to a good falafel at restaurants, many experiments with making them at home have had mixed results for home cooks. But we’re about to fix that. Elle Simone is a test cook and food stylist at America’s Test Kitchen. Not only does she love falafel, she also has the recipe for perfection, which borrows some help from an Asian baking technique.

Why we should be eating more purple sea urchins

Jul 26, 2018

Sea urchins hit all the taste pleasure points – salt, sweet and umami. In a lot of places, sea urchins are overfished, but that certainly isn't the case off the coast of California, where there's such an overabundance of purple sea urchins that it has become an aquacultural concern. Ali Bouzari is a biochemist and trained chef.

Considering that Mexico is one of the spiritual homelands for high-quality chili peppers, it’s unfortunate to see that in Mexican restaurants in the U.S. chiles rellenos, the dish where the pepper is the star, is often underappreciated and poorly executed. Bricia Lopez wants to change that. She and her family own Guelaguetza in Los Angeles, which has been called the best Oaxacan restaurant in the country. Host Francis Lam says they make the greatest chiles rellenos he’s ever had.

Photo: Chili peppers growing on a farm in rural Thailand.

America’s Test Kitchen finds the good in all green peppers

Jul 12, 2018

Of all the produce found at the farmers market, possibly none has a more divisive "love it or hate it" reaction from cooks as green bell pepper. But why is that? And what other green peppers are fun to work into your ingredient list to create interesting new flavors? To answer these questions Managing Producer Sally Swift talked with Tucker Shaw, the Editor-in-Chief of Cook’s Country.

Our good friend and award-winning food writer/editor Doc Willoughby has a thing for great ingredients for grilling and indoor cooking. Over the years, he’s introduced us and his readers to countless amazing spice mixes. When we told him that we were doing a whole show dedicated to chilies and hot peppers, he was excited to tell us about his favorite magical French pepper powder, piment d’Esplette.

Playing with fire: new barbecue recipes from Michael Symon

Jul 2, 2018

Michael Symon is a renowned chef, especially notable in the world of grilling and smoked meats for his boldly flavored recipes. In his new book Michael Symon's Playing with Fire, Symon combines a lifetime of barbecue obsession with his experience running a barbecue kitchen to improve and inspire your home smoking.

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