The amazing Rozanne Gold is a celebrated chef, author and restaurant consultant who helped shape America’s culinary landscape as a pioneer in the food revolution that began in the 1970s.
She began her career at the age of 23 in Gracie Mansion as first chef to New York Mayor Ed Koch. As Chef-Director of Baum + Whiteman, a renowned hospitality group, Rozanne helped create two of New York’s most celebrated (and highest grossing) restaurants: the Rainbow Room and Windows on the World.
She’s also the author of a dozen cookbooks with her newest “Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease” being named one of the most important books of the last 25 years by Cooking Light magazine. She’s currently a columnist for Cooking Light magazine and for the Huffington Post; and is a four-time winner of the James Beard Award and recipient of the Julia Child/IACP award.
Here are Rozanne’s responses to BiteoftheBest.com’s Guest Foodie questions.
Which specific food product, ingredient or gadget would you never give up? Fresh lemons! I use lemon zest and juice to brighten everything. I never realized how integral it was to my cooking and also baking. I use lemon zest in my lemon buttermilk ice cream and Venetian Wine Cake (talked about on 60 Minutes!) I use whole lemons (rind and all) to make my whole lemon vinaigrette. I make preserved lemons, lemon-carrot marmalade, and even scrambled eggs with lemon juice (great for texture and flavor.) It is the secret to finishing chicken soups and bean dishes; and what else could you possibly squeeze onto caviar? It is the sunshine in bourbon sours and the raison d’etre for making lemon pasta with asparagus (one of our specialties at the Rainbow Room.) It is the perfume of the Amalfi Coast and the sparkle in the food of the Mediterranean.
Freshly-dug garlic and my very old, irreplaceable garlic press are also indispensable.
What do you like to serve when you entertain? For certain adventurous guests, I love to dig up old bottles of wine from our cellar and see what condition they are in. We always have a back-up just in case. But it’s lots of fun to try an old Bollinger or see what’s happening with the late 1970’s California gems tucked away. We are big fans of Grüner Veltliner, red wines from Lebanon, love a pitcher of homemade rosemary-lemon martinis, or my now ready-to-drink chamomile vodka, made with chamomile’s fresh yellow flowers and bits of frilly leaves and stems. Divine served with little “rollmops” of great smoked salmon and crème fraiche. I am also the queen of “za’atar” – that intoxicating spice blend from Israel (also from Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) and have been writing about it since 1980. Za’atar looks like marijuana and smells like Jerusalem. My favorite 1-minute dip is za’atar pesto – made from stirring za’atar with grated parmigiano-reggiano and good olive oil. It’s fabulous for dipping tiny cherry tomatoes, toasted pita, or for drizzling on chunks of feta cheese.
Describe your “last meal?” It will last one year.
What food is your secret guilty pleasure? Cheap mint chocolate chip ice cream; eating all the crumbs off a large Entenmann’s coffee cake; dipping crusty bread into vinaigrette.
What is your go-to, neighborhood restaurant, and why? I’m still searching for it, but I hope to make Talde and Pork Slope (in Park Slope!) my hangouts. In the city, abckitchen has been my “go-to” restaurant this year (and last!)
What is one food product most people don’t know about but should. Za’atar (see above!) Also, date honey. It was one of the “seven species” mentioned in the Bible. It is amazing when mixed with ground walnuts as a kind of dip for fruit or spooned over ice cream; is wonderful dripped onto a salad of spinach, almonds and roasted squash, used as a glaze for rare duck breasts, spread on toasted ciabatta oozing with sweet butter, drizzled on hot, nubby oatmeal. You get the idea.