Highlights From The New York Times Food Festival

Last week, The New York Times Food Festival drew food enthusiasts from around the world for a daylong celebration of culinary excellence. Attendees could sample from the dozens of food stalls set up in Damrosch Park in Manhattan, take home goods from a bake sale curated by some of the city’s best pastry chefs, get tips for cooking kimchi and mole from demonstration sessions, and hear the latest directly from leading voices in the food world. Here are some of the highlights.

Growing up in Texas as the son of first-generation Mexican migrants, Rick Martínez wasn’t taught Spanish. That’s partly why Mr. Martínez, author of the best seller “Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture From My Kitchen in Mexico,” drove a staggering 25,000 miles around that country in recent years. “I just needed to go and explore who I was,” Mr. Martínez said to the New York Times Food columnist Melissa Clark.

Besides finding a new home in Mazatlán, and adopting a street dog, Mr. Martínez said, he explored his gastronomic heritage. Mole, for example, could be made with 50 ingredients or 10, and it had several competing origin stories. “There are an infinite number of variations,” he said. “Unfortunately, in this country, I think we believe that there is one correct way to make any particular type of dish, in particular moles.”

There isn’t. Watch Mr. Martínez demonstrate a mole recipe with ingredients American home cooks are likely to be able to access, like chiles (of course), garlic, lard and, yes, animal crackers.

The #MeToo movement, George Floyd’s murder and the pandemic have shifted the mind set of many restaurateurs away from the “customer is always right” mentality. “We don’t want to work in places that we come out with PTSD,” said Rashida Holmes, the chef and owner of Bridgetown Roti in Los Angeles.

Ms. Holmes joined Kwame Onwuachi, the chef and author of the memoir “Notes From a Young Black Chef,” and Danny Meyer, founder of the Union Square Hospitality Group and Shake Shack, for a discussion on the future of restaurants, led by the Times reporter Kim Severson. Mr. Onwuachi described how workers would be treated at his latest restaurant, Tatiana, which is set to open at Lincoln Center this month. “It’s just treating people as people,” he said. “Making sure that you’re understanding that there’s a life outside of these four walls that we create for them.” Mr. Meyer agreed: “You shouldn’t be proud if you’re treating human beings with dignity. You should just do that.”

The wide-ranging discussion included perspectives on tipping, the surprising pros of inflation and thoughts on who might portray Mr. Onwuachi in an forthcoming biopic. Watch the full conversation.

When Stephen Satterfield began Whetstone magazine in 2017, as a Black-owned publication, it was a significant outlier in the market. Now Whetstone has grown into a media company large enough to have a podcasting arm, and, Mr. Satterfield announced, it will soon start a culinary talent management agency. “We’re going to be representing chefs, farmers, sommeliers, beverage directors, everyone in this space,” Mr. Satterfield said. He also hosts the influential Netflix show “High on the Hog,” exploring the origins of African American cuisine, which just finished filming its second season.

Food media has long sent the message to people of color that they must compete with other people of color, Mr. Satterfield said, as if “there can only be one.” He plans to take the opposite approach. “The way for us to get more free, more opportunities, is to let more people touch that power,” he said. Watch Mr. Satterfield discuss diversifying the voices in food media with the Times reporter Priya Krishna.

When she sees a promising cabbage (green on the outside, and bigger is better), the Korean-born YouTuber and author Maangchi said, “my heart is already beating, because I know what the outcome will be.” Midautumn is when many Koreans come together to prepare kimchi, the salted and often fermented vegetable dish.

Maangchi shared some of her time-tested methods for conjuring kimchi from its raw components with the Times cooking writer Eric Kim. Heads of cabbage should be sliced, brined and given a thorough rinsing, then rubbed with a carefully prepared kimchi paste. The final product can be eaten right away or after a period of fermentation, and can easily be made vegan or vegetarian, though some will choose to add meat, fish or other seafood. Watch Maangchi prepare kimchi with the help — and occasional ribbing — of Mr. Kim.

Filming the show “Taste the Nation” has been “the joy of my life,” Padma Lakshmi told the Food and Cooking editor Emily Weinstein. And while food is central to the Hulu show, which explores immigrant cuisine across America, “it’s just a Trojan horse,” Ms. Lakshmi said. “For me, it just became important to see what actually is American food and who gets to call their food ‘American.’”

Ms. Lakshmi described her experience of arriving in New York from New Delhi at 4. It was Halloween, and Ms. Lakshmi was confounded by trick-or-treaters at the door. “I just thought they were beggars, because I’m coming from ’70s New Delhi,” she said.

Watch Ms. Lakshmi discuss her favorite dinner partner, her favorite restaurants in New York and her advocacy for migrants.

Christopher Storer, the creator and executive producer for FX’s “The Bear,” said he quickly learned why there haven’t been many television dramas about a kitchen before. “On Day 1 we were like, ‘This sucks,’” Mr. Storer said to The Times’s Sam Sifton. Joining them for the conversation were Joanna Calo, a co-showrunner, director and writer for “The Bear,” and the actors Ebon Moss-Bachrach (“Richie”) and Matty Matheson (“Fak”), who is also a producer. Mr. Storer and Mr. Sifton spoke about the enormous task of helping actors and crew alike portray a realistic kitchen, replete with its messes and stresses. In a kitchen, “you’re dealing with things that are constantly getting worse,” said Mr. Matheson, who is also a chef. “People are at the door. They want to sit down. They want to eat. They’re judging you.”

“The Bear” also probes at the emotional fallout of the industry’s — and life’s — pressures. “We wanted to make something that really was about anxiety and depression and this struggle to accept any kind of joy, which is something that I definitely suffer from,” Mr. Storer said. Season 2, which is now being written, will chart a new path for characters in the post-pandemic culinary world, he added. Watch the cast and crew of “The Bear” go behind the scenes about making the show.

Ina Garten, the author and television host, no longer needs to throw elaborate dinner parties, she told the Times reporter Julia Moskin. “Right now, I feel like the less cooking I can do and still have somebody for dinner or make a nice dinner for Jeffrey, the happier I am,” Ms. Garten said, referring to her husband. Her recent focus has been on streamlining her recipes. “I’ll take something like Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon and make it simpler and simpler and simpler.”

Ms. Garten just finished shooting the third season of “Be My Guest,” a program she hosts from her home in East Hampton, N.Y. Her indulgent streak remains, of course. The actor Stanley Tucci, she revealed, recently made her a martini at 9 a.m. while shooting the show. “The rest of the day was really easy,” she said. Watch Ms. Garten talk about getting started in the industry, how her cooking has changed and the hardest recipe she’s ever written.

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