Category Archives: TASTES



Diver Scallop Crudo
blood orange, radish, chive, fennel pollen, celery leaf, salsa verde, puffed farro, pepperoncini, sea salt, xvoo

caramelized onions, anchovies, nicoise olives

fried spinach, dill‐feta mousse

Grilled Vegetable Terrine
eggplant, sweet peppers, fines herbes, goat cheese, olive tapanade

Vesuvio Wings
Noilly Prat dry vermouth, roasted garlic, grilled lemon, oregano, peas, smashed fried potatoes, parmesan

Avocado Bombe
crabmeat, shrimp, scallop, lemon zest, chiles, tarragon, micro greens



Shaved Vegetables
le puy lentils, tangerine, dijon, tarragon, manouri

Roasted Beets
gorgonzola, spiced walnuts, candied lemon, saba, xvoo

Mediterranean Wedge
grilled radicchio, bacon lardons, warm polenta croutons, cabrales‐pimenton dressing

mache, buer leuce, arugula, fennel, radish, chives, pomegranate, pistachios, sherry‐shallot vinaigrette


saffron, tomatoes, Israeli couscous, marcona almond‐herb salad

Tunisian style braised vegetables and meats, couscous, harissa

Fideua Negra
squid ink fried pasta, calamari, shrimp, mussels, aioli

duck breast, roasted butternut squash, seared brussels sprouts, exotic mushrooms, talegio, agrodolce

Lamb Kefta Kebab
feta, mint, harissa, preserved lemon aioli

Steak Frites
green peppercorns, boursin, fried shallots

Shrimp d’Jonghe
garlic, shallots, lemon zest, chervil, Noilly Prat extra dry vermouth, Ri crumbs

Pequillo Rellenos
braised pork shoulder, idiazabel, ajo negro, toasted almonds, gigantes beans, hock‐rind stock

Chicken Confit
pluses salad, celeriac‐gala apple puree

Pesto Tagliatelle
chianti braised mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, pecorino romano


Spinach Grisante’
garlic, asiago, egg

Yiayia’s Garbanzos
tomato, rosemary, caramelized onion

Fennel Gratin
caramelized cauliflower, gruyere

Warm Poached Leeks ala Grecque
kalamata olives, tomato, feta, lemon, oregano, parsley


Chocolate Genoise
frangelica whipped cream, raspberry coulis

Lemon-Ricotta Cheesecake
with roasted grapes

Cardamom-Pear Cake
Greek yogurt,honey, walnuts

New take on classic Irish fare

BY DAVID HAMMOND for The Chicago Sun-Times

Messing with the traditional food of Ireland always seemed to me to be asking for trouble.

In the right hands, however, even the meat-and-potato basics of time-honored Irish food can be transformed into new dishes that continue to reflect heritage.

Chief O’Neill’s (3471 N. Elston) has been a popular Irish pub for years. Recently, they hired a new chef, Alan Lake, who told me his goal was to “elevate the food,” turning quintessentially humble ingredients into dishes I call Haute Hibernian.

And Lake knows from haute, having been a chef at Dublin’s distinguished Shelbourne Hotel, where guests who spend over a $1,000 dollars for a room expect the best Ireland has to offer.

At the Shelbourne, Lake earned the somewhat naughty-sounding kitchen nickname Underpants O’Malley. Though he’s enhancing traditional Irish cooking, Underpants is no Fancypants, and he sticks to the basics and tries to bring out what’s best in them.

Fish ’n chips, for instance, are made with fresh — never frozen — cod, fried in beef tallow, the fat once considered the essential ingredient in all things fried since it renders food a beautiful brown. Perhaps it’s higher in fat, but it’s also higher in taste. Lake finds tallow-fried food to be “creamier,” and he serves his fried fish with mushy peas, a classic accompaniment.

Irish peat is used to smoke whitefish and shrimp, conjuring the scent and taste of Irish whiskey.

Lake sources lamb from Mint Creek Farm, whose hormone-free, cleanly raised meat is found at local farmers markets. His lamb stew gains dimension with Guinness-roasted barley. “Roasting the barley in Guinness seemed natural,” says Lake, because the brew itself is made with barley, and in Ireland, both beverage and grain are “consumed in large quantities, though usually not together.”

For Lake, Irish food is a lot more than meat or fish with boiled vegetables, and he stands firmly within “the tradition of sourcing good ingredients and preparing them simply and cleanly, not over manipulating them. When produce is this good,” said Lake, “I leave it alone. Part of being a chef is just knowing when to let it be.”

One Bite: Alan Lake’s Donegal peat-smoked shrimp

By Mike Sula for Chicago Reader

Friend of the Food Chain chef Alan Lake took over the kitchen at Chief O’Neill’s back in December and has been gradually spiffing up what was previously decent but standard Irish pub grub. He’s been curing his own corned beef, frying chips in beef tallow, and serving dishes like Mint Creek lamb stew with Guinness-roasted barley and savory Irish Cashel blue cheesecake. It’s gone over pretty well for the most part, though one Yelper whinged, “This is a neighborhood Irish Pub, not NoMi or some swanky, danky restaurant serving mache or creme fraiche.” That makes Lake laugh.

One of the more unusual tricks up his sleeve was inspired by a wistful LTHer, who perhaps jokingly suggested he bake bread in a peat-burning oven. Peat, of course, is that matted half-rotted vegetation harvested for millennia from bogs and mires as a fuel source, which lends its distinctive vegetal smokiness to everything around it, most notably to the miracle of scotch.

A few months ago Lake got on the horn with a representative from the Irish Energy Bureau, who then hooked him up with a peat purveyor named, naturally, Sneaky Peat. Within two days he had a box full of various peat products, including chunks, pellets, and a liquid extract called “Instant Ireland.” I gave myself a squirt of the last, which prompted a certain photographer to observe, “You smell like a log.”

Lake’s been experimenting successfully with powdered peat on whitefish, potatoes, and moulard duck breast, but so far the only permanent smoked dish on the menu are his Donegal peat-smoked shrimp. He tosses a handful of the green stuff in a holding pan over high heat, and as the smoke billows up he places a rack of fat Pacific Mexican decapods in it, covers them seven minutes on the heat, then five more off. He plates with them with a carrot-fennel-orange salad, carrot-ginger emulsion, and basil oil. The result is a surprisingly summery dish, the peat lending an unmistakable but hardly Islay-strength smokiness to the shrimp, which maintain their snappy sweetness, unlike the sometimes mushy smoked shrimp at the otherwise great Calumet Fisheries (which gave him the idea). I promised I’d be writing about something green and Irish. This looks like the Irish flag.

The shrimp will be on the menu all week and beyond, but a particularly good time to give them a try will be Thursday, when the Chief hosts a fund-raiser for the Albany Park-based Asian Youth Services, an after-school mentoring program for underprivileged immigrant children, where Lake teaches percussion lessons (and which he’s written about here). The chef, who will be performing with his Brazilian trio Casa Del Soul, says the organization is in dire straights, so 25 percent of the night’s sales will go to the kids, who’ll also be performing ballet and percussion demos. They’re auctioning off a pair of tickets to the Bull-Knicks game too. Call for reservations:

Chief O’Neill’s, 3471 N. Elston, 773-583-3066

… and new twists on an old Evanston Italian favorite

By Heather Kenny for Chicago Reader

This summer chef-consultant Alan Lake took over Evanston’s much-loved Va Pensiero and transformed it into Pensiero Ristorante ―upgrading and refining the original concept rather than upending it, as the name suggests. Housed in the stately Margarita European Inn on a quiet side street, it still has that “special night out” feeling―I’m sure it’ll be packed on Northwestern’s parents’ weekend. But now it’s got something more.

Italian cuisine hews strongly to tradition, and any variation can cause consternation in the homeland. When I ordered sliced beef with carrot puree once in Italy, an Italian dining companion declared that no countryman of his would ever dream of ordering such a thing. This strict mindset allows traditional recipes to flourish, but doesn’t leave much room for experimentation. But here Lake is free to add Asiago cheese to fish―heresy! Specifically he adds it to linguine diavolo, a spicy pasta dish of shrimp and oysters (mostly shrimp) with lobster essence, where it melts to impart a subtle, slippery texture to the perfectly al dente linguine without being gooey.

Likewise I’ve never had pork belly that was so unabashedly fatty and meltingly tender as Lake’s in an Italian restaurant; it’s served with exotic mushrooms and a crispy risotto cake. He also deconstructs crostini alla Toscana (a Tuscan appetizer of hot chicken liver paste on bread), serving soft whole grilled chicken livers speared on sprigs of rosemary. A condiment of jam made with onions and sweet marsala wine from Sicily―practically a foreign country to northern Italians―showed a deft ability to cross regional borders in a single recipe. Seemingly weightless ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach, accompanied by cubes of sauteed tart apples and sprinkled with pistachios, played up the savory nature of a familiar dish.

A special of veal saltimbocca was perhaps a little heavy for a hot August night―I actually enjoyed it more as leftovers the next day, when the earthy flavors had settled down a little bit. The accompanying crispy fried polenta, perfectly creamy on the inside, made me wish I knew the secret to replicating it at home. Diver scallops with sweet-sour caponata and a prosecco-orange beurre blanc was a more weather-appropriate choice. The menu will continue to change seasonally under permanent chef Christian Fantoni, who was brought on just this week.

A list of historic cocktails seemed a little jarring in this context, and held little appeal before a large meal. Better to stick to the wine list, which offers reasonably priced bottles from all over Italy and a good selection by the glass.

Localicious – a Local Food Extravaganza — Friday Night! The Midwest’s Premier Good Food Event

By David Hammond, Thursday, March 17th, 2011 for

Localicious, an incredible local food event, is happening at the UIC Forum, University of Illinois, this Friday, March 18, starting at 7:00 PM. Localicious is a marvelous opportunity to try some knock-out local food creations, prepared by some of the city’s most innovative chefs, including folks from City Provisions, Old Town Social, Big Bowl, Province and our own Marion Street Cheese Market. Drinks are courtesy of some of the best local spirit and beer makers, including Hum Botanical Spirits, Koval Distillery, Templeton Rye, and Two Brothers Brewery. Liquid soul will provide the background music. Localicious is organized by master chef and musician Alan Lake, along with co-chairs Ann Duffy and Portia Belloc Lowndes, and it’s part of the Family Farmed Expo, which is the brainchild of Oak Parker Jim Slama. Tickets are $75, of which $40 counts as a charitable contribution. For this incredible range of food and drink, offered buffet style until you’ve consumed your fill, with a tax benefit no less, this is an excellent dining value. Find out more about this event here .

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die

By Mike Sula on Tue, Feb 10, 2009 for Chicago Reader‘s blog

trufsanIn this paranoid, panicky time of economic collapse, every time I taste something delicious and extravagant I wonder if it’ll be my last bite. That’s why it pays to have generous pals who would rather share than hoard. Chef Alan Lake, who blogs over on Drive-Thru and makes his living skipping the globe opening restaurants, was recently gifted with a golf-ball-size Perigord truffle. It had been infusing a container of basmati rice it was shipped in for about a month until Saturday, when he decided it was time to put this lovely orb to use in a version of multi-Michelin star chef Michel Rostang’s truffle sandwich.

Alan secured a ciabbatta from Red Hen (they denied him the proper pain au levain, claiming they needed it for their own sandwiches). He sliced, and smeared it with French butter, layered it with the truffle slices, and swaddled it in plastic wrap for 24 hours so the aroma permeated the bread and butter. Next day, as a small group hovered around him, he pressed and griddled the sandwich and sliced it.

Not letting a single bit go to waste, he’d also whisked a vinaigrette with some truffle shavings for salad and grilled some vegetables to saute with the truffly rice. The aroma rising from these pretty plates was enough to silence the room (pics attached).

Thanks Alan, for what may be one of our last utterly hedonistic meals before the world descends into grass eating and cannibalism.

Ah, I Remember April . . .

By Penny Pollack & Graham Meyer of Chicago Magazine, June 2010

A mere three months after closing, the restaurant formerly known as Va Pensiero will morph into Pensiero Ristorante (1566 Oak Ave., Evanston; 847-475-7779). Michael Pure, who owns the Margarita European Inn, which houses the restaurant, took over the space after the April shutdown and hopes to reopen July 9th, with Alan Lake as the chef. Lake was a sous-chef at the East Bank Club in the early 1980s, and then he did stints as a percussionist in Los Angeles and again as a chef in south Florida before returning to Chicago in 2005. “The [Pensiero] menu is a little more regional and more approachable. Still solid Italian, but not completely based on Northern Italian cuisine,” Lake says. “We are trying to make it a place where you would dine six times a year instead of twice.” Ironic that we barely had time to get nostalgic about the closing of a restaurant named after a nostalgic opera chorus.

Va Pensiero to Reopen in Evanston as Pensiero Ristorante

By Nick Kindelsperger, 6/28/10

After a sad farewell, Va Pensiero is getting a second life. The high end Italian restaurant in Evanston will reopen under the name Pensiero Ristorante on July 9. Though head chef Jeff Muldow is gone, the new owner Michael Pure kept all of the kitchen staff. Talking to The Stew, Pure said, “The front-of-the-house needed new culture, so we wanted to bring in some new people. We’re repainting the room to freshen it up, make it more inviting.” Alan Lake will be the new head chef. He’s a musician, photographer, restaurant consultant, and chef known for his improvisational style, which he refers to as “jazzfood.”

Sixteen-screen theater with gourmet restaurant and bar coming to Wesley Chapel

By Lisa Buie, Times staff writer
In print: Thursday, September 4, 2008

WESLEY CHAPEL — The movie posters are up, with titles that include Ghost Town and How to Lose Friends & Alienate People.

But executives for the Grove 16 theater and its much touted Cinebistro restaurant and bar doubt those movie titles will be omens when central Pasco’s first movie house has its grand opening mid-September.

“On a good day this is adult Disneyland,” said Alan Lake, a veteran executive chef overseeing the startup of the Pasco theater at the Grove shopping center at County Road 54 and Interstate 75. Lake’s Web site lists such A-list celebrities as Bono and the Edge, George Harrison, Julian Lennon, Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen as among those who have eaten his cuisine.

Lake and Cobb executives gave media tours of the 86,000 square foot theater, which boasts 16 screens of varying sizes, including four that are about 60 feet wide by 30 feet high.

“About three stories tall,” said Jeremy Welman, chief operating officer for Cobb Theatres.

The theaters also feature Dolby 7.1 sound, which is a step higher than what most cinemas now offer, he said. It also offers seats four inches wider than the industry standard.

But the big draw is expected to be the Cinebistro, a restaurant that features a full gourmet menu and bar. The restaurant, which also offers a kids’ menu, is accessible to all moviegoers as well as the public.

Patrons ages 21 and older who want to combine a meal with the movie can pay about $5 more for a plush leather seat in the theater’s upper level, called the loge. Loge seating allows them to buy food and drinks, including beer, wine and cocktails, all served to them before the film begins.

“There won’t be any nachos and squeeze cheese up here,” joked Welman.

cb1The Alabama-based company originally planned to open the Pasco location as a traditional theater but the success of the original Cinebistro in Miami, which opened last year, has prompted them to open more. Similar concepts are set to open in Daytona Beach, Atlanta, Colorado and Maryland.

Executives could have been forced to scuttle those plans for Wesley Chapel after members of a nearby church opposed the company’s efforts to seek a waiver from county rules banning alcohol sales at establishments less than 1,000 feet from a church, school or public park. After listening to representatives from both sides, county commissioners sided with the company, which is providing 150 jobs. Most of those have been filled after job fairs that drew about 1,200 people.

Welman stresses that it’s not all about the booze but about providing a convenient venue for time-pressed customers.

“People are busy,” he said. “It’s really an integrated experience.”

It’s also a way to compete with home theater systems, theme parks, sports, and everything else vying for people’s entertainment dollars as well as to extend its marketing reach past the traditional 12 to 25 age group.

Yet executives say they still want to be family friendly. The theater also offers traditional concessions such as popcorn, candy, and yes, nachos and squeeze cheese. But instead of standing in line while workers fetch items, patrons help themselves cafeteria-style and pay at a register.

A birthday party room is also available for booking, and the theater also provides family rest rooms in addition to those segregated by gender.

Executives postponed the opening from summer to fall, but said that will allow them to tweak the operation.

CEO Robert Cobb, a low-key Alabamian who introduces himself as “Bobby,” said its imperative for the theater industry to offer more than it used to in today’s competitive climate.

Executives say they aren’t worried about opening in a tough economy.

“We go to the movies to escape from life, and that’s one of the things that helps us,” Welman said.

Lisa Buie can be reached at or (813) 909-4604.

Reptrinted from The Palm Beach Post

Photo by Gary Wiviott
Photo by Gary Wiviott

July 31, 2002
Photo by Gary Wiviott

Alan Lake, 48

Chef, percussionist and photographer

Alan Lake is a chef and a musician, but not in that order.

“It just depends on when you meet me,” said Lake, 48. “I’m either a musician who cooks, or a chef who plays.”

I guess you could say the music was first, that it led him to the world of cooking as a means of supporting himself.

Yet the love of food was always there, too, as a part of the Chicago culture he was born and raised in.

“It was such a rich place to grow up in, with a great mix of cultures – Japanese, Puerto Rican, Italian, German, everything,” he said. “The smells of all the different types of food would pour from the windows. I was so down for that. I would make the rounds from house to house, get a taste of it all.”

The lifestyle of his parents also helped to educate his palate.

“My dad was in the clothing business, so we were always traveling to New York,” he said. “While my dad was working, my mom and I would eat at places like 21 and The Rainbow Room – the best places in the city.”

But before he even thought of a career in the culinary arts, he packed all his belongings and drove to San Francisco with a dream of playing music.

“I graduated early from high school and left the next day. I had planned on going to, and graduating from Berkeley, but it didn’t work out that way,” said the percussionist. “The school was set in such a free-thinking atmosphere, perfect for a musician like me. I got a gig with the Berkeley Film Archives, was doing sound tracks for student films, performing in restaurants and clubs and playing jazz dates.”

After seven years in California, Lake spent a year playing in various clubs, bars and restaurants in London, then went back to Chicago where his need for a supplemental income led to his first cooking job.

“I needed to make more money in order to continue playing my music, so I talked my way into a job as a chef,” he said. “I had always tried to re-create the food I grew up around, anyway. I ended up getting great reviews, and that started my future in cooking.”

He ended his Chicago cooking career as a head chef for the East Bank Club, a popular health club that featured three restaurants, and headed to Los Angeles.

“I went out there to work with a friend who I had played with years earlier, had now made it big and had started his own studio,” Lake said. “Through him I got to work with such artists as Madonna.”

His friend soon left L.A. and Lake took a job as a chef at the Sunset Marquis.

“They also let me play drums on certain nights. It was an incredible experience. It was an infamous, notorious, rock and roll hotel,” he said. “On any night you could walk out on the patio and see people like Tina Turner or Bono and the Edge of U2.”

After being shaken up by an earthquake, Lake left California and made his move to Delray Beach. Since then he’s opened the Sundy House as head chef as well as Etre, a club formerly in West Palm Beach. But all the while he’s continued to play with different bands and solo.
“You get burnt out at one and can do the other, it’s the great thing about being a chef and being a musician,” he said. “I’ve written many songs and recorded a CD with a band we had for a while called Simple Truth. Mostly, you just play different gigs with people you’re familiar with and admire. I do my projects and help others with theirs.”

He’s also found time to travel to Japan and Europe getting firsthand experience at cooking the cuisines.

His latest accomplishments include being named Garlic Chef at last year’s Garlic Fest in Delray Beach, a title that has opened the door for future projects such as a Garlic Chef cookbook.

He’s also recently taken up the art of photography.

“After helping a friend to open a nightclub in Zurich, I traveled throughout Europe and ended up in Venice during Carnivale,” he said. “It was like being in a freaky movie – all the costumes, the buildings, it was amazing. I’m not by any means a professional photographer, but I knew I had to document it all.”

His friends encouraged him to exhibit his work and taking their advice, he’s recently been featured in three exhibits.

“I had no idea the images would be so successful,” Lake said. “People just love them. I’m putting together a coffee table book of about 120 different photos.”

That’s after he gets back from California where he will be participating in the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the event which inspired Garlic Fest.

Byline: Katie Mee, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
COPYRIGHT 2002 The Palm Beach Post

Visit the Delray Beach Garlic Festival official website.

Reptrinted from The Palm Beach Post: Être Restaurant

July 31, 2002

Everything on menu superb

[…] Food’s great. I mean great […] everything that followed was superb.

Case in point: Our melange salad ($13), crabmeat, mango, asparagus and avocado, hearts of palm tossed in a pine nut vinaigrette. Lots of flavors, none overwhelmed by another. Toasted pine nuts pack a lot of flavor too. All arranged with an artistic hand.

My oysters grilled on the half-shell ($8) with a lemon infused white wine reduction manifested a subtle beauty. Not all gussied up with too many condiments. Just big, fat oysters warmed and served. Simple yet elegant. Ditto the orecchiette (baby-ear) pasta with Gorgonzola cream, mushrooms and asparagus. Overall, a woodsy savory taste. Creamy. The alluring aroma of truffle oil was present and accounted for. Comforting yet sophisticated. One of the best pasta presentations we’ve enjoyed. Ever.

My rib-eye steak ($25) was an honest, marbled, just fatty enough cut of beef. Blackened, smothered in green peppercorns, Boursin cheese, a thick reduction all around. On the side: a pile of garlicky mashed potatoes and a nice bunch of string vegetables. Our shellfish noodles ($21) found four large shrimp and five plump oysters and a dusting of chives in a light sauce infused with essence of lobster. Served over al dente linguine. A grilled, smoky flavor. Sort of Asia-meets-Tuscany. Very nice.

Complex sushi rolls

The sushi. Too much info to impart, not enough room. So just go and enjoy: The Super Etre roll ($12), inside out, eel, tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado and asparagus with seared tuna on top, tempura flakes, masago eggs and scallion, eel sauce and kimchee (a delightful, hot Korean condiment made from fermented vegetables). Very tasty, but almost too complex.
Blake Clevenger, Dillon Kao and Alan Lake

Our PGA roll ($12), a sensuous delight: inside-out, crab salad, shrimp tempura. cream cheese, eel, asparagus and avocado on top, wrapped in nori, covered with rice, sliced. Wow.

And the spicy crab roll ($7.50) must be eaten with eyes closed, so as to fully appreciate the delicate confluence of tastes.

The dessert sampler ($10) was uninspired – lime cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake, chocolate nut torte.

But we didn’t go to Etre for dessert. We went seeking the culinary artistry we’d heard about. And found it.

Byline: Paul Reid, Palm Beach Post Restaurant Critic
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Palm Beach Post

Cobb Theatres Premieres CINEBISTRO in South Florida at Dolphin Mall
05.29.08, 9:47 AM ET

Cobb Theatres, one of the most respected names in entertainment, is celebrating the launch of the definitive movie going experience with the opening of its first CINEBISTRO at Dolphin Mall. CINEBISTRO, which debuts May 30th, will offer movie-goers the finest cinema experience combined with innovative cuisine. Cinebistro also features an exceptional assortment of wines and premium cocktails enhanced by cutting edge ambiance.

CINEBISTRO is designed for anyone 21 and over who has a passion for movies and a palate for great food, in an environment unlike anything they have ever experienced. Each CINEBISTRO features an upscale, yet inviting and comfortable atmosphere in which to dine while watching a major motion picture.

These unique venues are built specifically with the discriminating movie-going and gourmet-dining customer in mind; each of the unique screening rooms is appointed with the latest digital cinema technology and sound quality the industry has to offer, as well as being outfitted with ultra-luxurious high-back leather rocking chairs and handmade cocktail tables. Seating is individually chosen and reserved online by a concierge and guests will “walk the red carpet” from the time they are valet-parked to the time they leave.

A true “night out experience,” Cobb’s CineBistro offers movie aficionados an upscale, stylish setting that allows for interaction before and after each showing.

“The Dolphin Mall entertains 1.6 million guests per month, making it the ideal choice to launch this innovative concept,” said Cobb Theatres COO, Jeremy Welman. “The sophisticated, contemporary, adults-only atmosphere presented by CINEBISTRO is perfect for South Florida’s chic set looking for a place to mingle, enjoy great food and drink, and watch a great film.”

Located within Dolphin Mall at 11401 Northwest 12th Street in Miami, Cobb Theatre’s CINEBISTRO has been designed by renowned Zyscovich Architects and will feature five designated theatres that accommodate between 60 to 100 people. CINEBISTRO will also feature a dining room seating 60 and an additional 24 on its private patio. The dining room features a sleek “black box” concept – a highly flexible performance space named for its black, box-like appearance with primary focus on the stage — highlighted by custom murals, and enchanting gold Philippe Starck designed chairs and bar stools.

Cobb has partnered with 4 diamond award-winning chef Alan Lake to develop a menu to delight movie-goers. Originally from Chicago, Lake has recently worked in Japan, Dublin and Zurich and was a force behind Chicago’s East Bank Club and the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles. Chef Lake also was the opening chef at Delray Beach’s renowned Sundy House and was the 3 time winner of the Professional Chef’s Competition at the Delray Beach Garlic Festival.

The menu features items such as Crab Salad with Mango, Avocado, Grilled Asparagus and Hearts of Palm or Yellowtail Snapper a la Margarita sauteed with Tequila and Lime. A variety of Latin themed Tapas are also available.

CINEBISTRO’s Miami location is the first in a national roll-out. A Tampa location is scheduled to open later this summer, followed by the Town Brookhaven project in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, and Daytona Live! located at the Daytona International Speedway.

Guests can reserve seats through CINEBISTRO’s Web site at Admission includes complimentary valet parking.

About Cobb Theatres

Cobb Theatres is an innovative movie exhibition company based in Birmingham, Alabama and currently operates 11 locations with 166 screens in Alabama and Florida. Cobb has an 85 year history developing and operating entertainment venues throughout the Southeastern United States. Projects have recently been announced in Daytona Beach, Atlanta, Baltimore/DC area and Tampa. Cinebistro was conceived in 2006 to provide a new level of service to moviegoers.


Fast facts

About the theater

• In all, the cinema will have about 3,000 seats, and the restaurant will have about 120 seats.

• Reserved loge seats will cost $14.50 on weekends and $12.50 on week days. Regular adult admission is $9.50, with lower rates for children and matinee rates. Executives are looking into the possibility of hosting special screenings of films shot locally, such as Edward Scissorhands, filmed in Land O’Lakes and Dade City.

• The grand opening is tentatively set for Sept. 19, with invitation-only events a few days before that.

• Executive chef Alan Lake often creates gourmet desserts based on what’s playing. For The Dark Knight, he designed one resembling the Joker’s face that included doughnuts, strawberries and a cookie shaped like the bat signal.

• For information about the Grove 16 and Cinebistro, visit For information about executive chef Alan Lake, visit

Vancouver’s Cinetopia, with its fine food, wine and cushy seats, may be the nation’s most luxurious, high-tech theater

Thursday, August 18, 2005
The Oregonian

You’re reclining in a leather chair, eating slices of grilled Kobe-Wagyu beef, and watching ” Star Wars: Episode III” in stunning high-definition digital projection with one of the most advanced sound systems in the world.

You’re sipping a sublime glass of vintage wine in an even more comfortable leather chair and watching the quirky English film “Ladies in Lavender.”

No, you have not won the lottery and turned your home into a paradise of fine food, wine and cinema.

Rather, you have discovered movie heaven.

And it’s in Vancouver , USA .

Cinetopia , a combination film multiplex, gourmet restaurant, wine bar and art gallery, opened just off Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard and Interstate 205 in late July, and it is instantly the most luxurious, technologically advanced and, frankly, astounding theater in the area, the region, maybe even the country.

The complex consists of eight theaters and a restaurant, Vinotopia. In one place, you can see some of the best films playing in the market, eat some ambitious and accomplished food, sample more than 100 bottles of wine — including the rarest of vintages — by the glass, peruse (and perhaps buy) original works of art that hang where other theaters slap movie posters, and generally walk around slack-jawed and pinching yourself to remember that you’re at the movies.

This fantasia of food, wine, art and cinema is the dream-come-true of Rudyard Coltman, a Portland attorney who has previously operated traditional movie theaters in Burns and Baker City . The 37-year-old Coltman is a film aficionado who speaks with equal zeal and knowledge about the films of Ingmar Bergman and the ” Star Wars” saga, and he has long fantasized presenting the finest movies in the finest setting.

“I’ve grown up with a lifetime of subpar presentations,” he explains. “People who appreciate film should be able to see it in the best condition. Most movie complexes have a sterile, uninspiring atmosphere. I knew there could be more.”

A nearly $10 million investment

Coltman spent several years determining what it would cost to acquire land and build the theaters and restaurant to his exacting specifications. He selected Vancouver because it was underserved in both high-end dining and access to specialty films. And he demanded that his architects and equipment vendors go beyond the norm to create ideal viewing spaces.

Even though movie attendance nationwide is declining, Coltman poured nearly $10 million into the project because he sensed he could lure audiences that had given up on going to the theater.

“So many people have stopped coming to the movies, partly because the experience has become more unpleasant,” he says. “We want those people to come back to the movies.”

Cinetopia is a heck of a lure. The complex consists of eight auditoriums — one of just under 300 seats, four others closer to 100 in capacity, and three “Living Room Theaters” that hold about 65 viewers each. All of them sport oversized, fully reclining leather chairs. The rise from one level to another is higher than in other multiplexes. The space between rows — the distance that the guy behind you needs to reach to kick your seat — is much greater, enhancing your sense of physical isolation and connection to the screen.

Only one auditorium sports a high-definition projector, but all of Cinetopia’s theaters have pricey Klipsch sound systems, and the one in the big theater is, according to the company’s Web site, the most sophisticated theatrical sound system on sale anywhere. In all theaters, little touches contribute to the experience: exit signs are unobtrusively placed beyond the line of sight, and the walls are doubly thick to prevent people watching the hushed “March of the Penguins” from overhearing the climactic battle of ” Star Wars” just next door.

It’s all swell, but the Living Rooms truly dazzle. Coltman could have stuck twice as many seats in these theaters, but he has instead spread the cozy chairs and ottomans around in such a way that you feel as if you and your companions are watching the film from a private skybox like those at the Rose Garden.

The Living Rooms aren’t meant for kids: after 4 p.m. , admission is restricted to those 21 and older, and tickets cost $10 during the day and $13.50 in the evening. (Ticket prices in the other theaters are $7 and $9.50.) But for the quality of presentation you get — and, more importantly, for what you don’t get (blotchy images, scratchy sound, noise, kids. . . .) — it’s a fair price.

Coltman is determined to find films that are worthy of the display cases he’s created: As of press time, Cinetopia is showing a number of the best small films in release (including “Hustle and Flow,” “March of the Penguins,” and “Howl’s Moving Castle “), plus ” Star Wars” to show off the high-definition technology and advanced sound system. He makes clear that “we don’t want to be pigeonholed as an art house,” and he’s willing to stand up to the region’s movie powerhouse, Regal Cinemas of Knoxville, Tenn., to get prints of the best films, no matter how big or small they may be.

More than a movie

Equally important to the film experience at Cinetopia is the food. At the concession stand, along with the expected Goobers and Red Vines, Cinetopia offers gourmet pizzas made in-house, popcorn with homemade flavored butters (garlic, almond, four-cheese), and a rotating selection of hot dishes: lasagna, chili, sweet-and-sour pork and so on. All of this food can be taken into any of the auditoriums on specially designed trays that snap into the cup holders in the oversized arm rests.

In the restaurant, which is as posh and professional as anything in downtown Portland , chef Alan Lake serves a menu of small plates with high quality ingredients and great variety: sashimi, short ribs, a lamb burger, wild mushroom strudel, carpaccio, Dungeness crab, traditional tapas. Again, you can order this food to eat in the theaters, or you can dine indoors — on an outdoor patio, around a fireplace or in a private room.

If for nothing else, Cinetopia would be worth visiting just for the wines. Coltman has invested in an Italian Enomatic serving system that makes it possible for more than 100 bottles to be opened and remain fresh for up to three months, allowing customers to order in single-ounce increments. Want to try that legendary Opus One, Leonetti or Mondavi Reserve? An ounce may run as much as $16.50, but you can have a taste from that $200 bottle that might otherwise elude you. For less-expensive wines, a full glass can cost as little as $6.

This sounds like a press release, I know: perfect theaters, wonderful food, a dizzying selection of wines, art on the walls. But there is nothing like this anywhere in the Portland area or, as far as I know, the world.

I have been in executive screening rooms on every back lot in Hollywood . I have seen movies at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch and in the poshest multiplexes in New York , London , Paris , San Francisco and Los Angeles .

And I am here to tell you this: Cinetopia is the most amazing movie theater I have ever seen.

Shawn Levy: (503) 221-8332; shawnlevy@news.

©2006 The Oregonian

Something’s in the air: Garlic!

Reprinted from the Palm Beach Post
By Jan Norris, Palm Beach Post Food Editor
Thursday, November 6, 2003

The air around here will be decidedly aromatic as the Fifth Annual Delray Beach Garlic Fest starts cooking this weekend.

A competition for the title of Garlic Chef will bring in name chefs from South Florida to vie for the smelly title. They’ll be “seeded” during cook-offs Saturday and Sunday, with the winners going head-to-head — and pan-to-pan — with two-time winner and reigning Garlic Chef, Alan Lake, in the final round Sunday afternoon.

The contest is loosely based on the Iron Chef competition. The chefs are given identical “mystery baskets” of food from which to create three dishes in a one-hour countdown. Garlic is the only ingredient in the basket they can be sure of.

Lake is ready to defend his title. A drummer for a jazz band when he’s not cooking, Lake thinks the music is what will bring him the win again.

“Given my background in music, and jazz in particular, it’s my nature to improvise. I feel that that ability gives me an edge when applied to my cooking, as they both come from the same place.” His competitors may know something about improvisation, too, he says, but “even if they’ve visited, they’ve never lived there.”

COPYRIGHT 2003 The Palm Beach Post

Pensiero Ristorante – Evanston, IL


grilledcaliGrilled Calamari
Arugula, Castelvertrano Olives, Tomato,
Cannellini Beans, Celery Leaf, Oregano

Italian Sausage
Porcini Mushrooms, Sweet Black Garlic, Peppers, Onions,
Fried Potatoes, Fennel Pollen

Soft Shell Crab
Grilled Baby Artichokes, Bagna Cauda

Grilled Chicken Liver Crostini
Marsala Onion Jam, Baby Arugula

Cavolo Nero
Black Tuscan Kale stuffed with Roasted Grapes
Barley, Ricotta, Pancetta, Sun Dried Tomato-Toasted Almond Vinaigrette

Pork Belly
Crispy Risotto Cake, Exotic Mushrooms, Herb Salad

Parma Prosciutto, Sopressata, Salumi Picante,
Padron Peppers, Stuffed Zuchinni Blossom-Truffle Honey,
White Anchovies, Roasted Peppers, Gorgonzola,
Balsamic Caramelized Onion-Currants-Toasted Pine Nuts


Heirloom Tomatoes and Burrata Cheese
Iron Creek Farm Organic Tomatoes,
Burrata Cheese, 15 yr old Balsamic,
Tuscan Olive Oil, Cracked Black Pepper, Sea Salt

Farmer’s Market Field Greens
Grilled Figs, Gorgonzola, Roasted Pistachios, Dijon Vinaigrette

Frutta di Mare Bombe
Shrimp, Crab, Scallop, Avocado, Tarragon, Micro Greens


Truffled Tagliatelle
Exotic Mushrooms, Caramelized Cauliflower, Tomato Concasse, Parmagiano Reggiano, Fines Herbes, Pine Nuts
Tossed in a wheel of Parmagiano

Photo Steve Zaransky Airways Digital Media
Photo Steve Zaransky Airways Digital Media

Risotto Milanese
Saffron, Sweet Peas, Fontina, Braised Ox Tail

Linguini Diavolo
Spicy Shrimp and Oysters, Chives, Asiago, Lobster Essence

Tomato Angel Hair alle Verdure
Daily Assortment of Nichols Farm Vegetables,
Basil Oil, Yellow Tomato Sauce

Penne alla Grappa
Pancetta, Shallots, Tomato-Basil Coulis, Taleggio Cheese


Free Range Basil Chicken
Rapini, Cippoline Onions, Soft Polenta, Roasted Garlic Pan Sauce

bisteccaBistecca Fiorentina
Prime Dry Aged 18 oz Porterhouse, Arugula, Grape Tomato Affumicato,
Grana Padano, Tuscan Olive Oil

Lake Superior Whitefish
Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Leeks, Carrots, Lemon, Capers

Pan Seared Duck Breast
Celeriac-Gala Apple Puree, Gorgonzola Souffle, Mostarda di Cremona

Grilled Portabella Piccata
Farrosotto with Roasted Vegetables, Tartare di Funghi,
Parmagiano Frico, Warm Polenta Croutons

Mint Creek Farm’s Lamb Rack
Potato Gratin, Spinach Grisante, Aubergine Mousse,
Balsamic Mint Reduction

Diver Scallops
Caponata, Orzo Pilaf, Proseco-Orange Beurre Blanc

Salt Crusted Whole Wild Striped Sea Bass (For Two)
Fresh Laurel and Herbs, Grilled Vegetables, Grilled Lemon Salsa Verde

CinéBistro – Wesley Chapel/Tampa, FL


Nori wrapped Sashimi Grade Tuna Tempura
with Wasabi Creme, Red Chili Sauce and Asian Slaw

Mediterranean Sampler Plate
Homemade Hummus, Tabbouleh, Dolmades and Baba Ghanouj
served with Manouri Cheese, Oil Cured Olives and Spiced Flat Bread

Kickass Guacamole
with Fresh Chips

Shrimp D’Jonghe
Baked in Casserole with Garlic, Lemon, Parsley,
Butter Drenched Crumbs and Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth

Chicken Wings
1 lb of wings with choice of
Garlic-Orange-Teriyaki Glaze or Sweet and Spicy Chile Lacquer

Calamari Frito Mojito
Fried Calamari with Lime, Mint and Sweet Chile Rum Sauce

Pulled Pork Quesadillla
with Monterey Jack, Pumpkin Seeds and Chipotle Aioli

Crab cake with 2 Sauces
Lemon Chile Aioli and Mango-Jicama Salsa served with Daily Picked Local Greens


cb_macCine’Mac and Cheese
Grilled Asparagus, Exotic Mushrooms, Tomato Concasse
and Truffle Gorgonzola Sauce

Penne ala Stoli Vodka
Pancetta, Shallots, Sweet Peas and Pecorino Romano
with Tomato Basil -Stoli Vodka Sauce

Angelhair Siciliano
with Broccoli, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts,
Kalamata Olives and Capers in an Herbed Chicken Reduction

All Pastas:
add Grilled Chicken Breast, Steak or Shrimp


Seafood Salad
Crab with Cold Poached Shrimp and Scallops
with Russian Dressing over Butter Lettuce

Greek Salad
Chopped Tomatoes, Red Onion, Feta Cheese, Kalamata Olives
Cucumber, Green Peppers and Pepperoncini
with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette

Wedge of Iceberg with Crisp Bacon, Heirloom Tomato, Chives,
Fresh Toasted Garlic Croutons and Buttermilk-Blue Cheese Dressing

Locally Grown Fancy Lettuces Salad
from Cahaba Clubs Herbal Outpost, Odessa Fl.
Daily Assortment of Freshly Picked Baby Lettuces and Micro Greens
Tossed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Aged Balsamic


Angus Sliders x3
Mini burgers with Caramelized Onions and Sautéed Mushrooms

Tuna Melt with a mug of Tomato Bisque
Chefs Homemade Tuna Salad with Roma Tomatoes and Aged Melted Cheddar
served open face on Rye

Chicago Style Grilled Italian Sausage Sub
with Sautéed Peppers and Onions

Buffalo Chicken Wrap
Fried Chicken Tenders wrapped with
Avocado, Tomato, Lettuce, Celery and Blue Cheese

Grilled Rib Eye Steak Sandwich
served on an Onion Roll
Toppings 1.5 each:
Cheddar, American, Blue Cheese,
Avocado, Caramelized Onions, Sautéed Mushrooms,
Roasted Garlic, Applewood Smoked Bacon or Fried Egg

All sandwiches served with choice of
Cobb Slaw, Potato Salad or Fries


cb_snapperGrilled Florida Snapper
Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms, Herbed Cous Cous
Fire Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Basil Oil

Espresso Rubbed Grilled Skirt Steak with Bourbon BBQ Sauce,
Escalloped Potatoes and Fried Onion Hay Stack

Smothered Pork Chops with Mushroom Onion Gravy,
Cajun Rice and a “Mess o Greens”

Grilled 3 Meatloaf
A Blend of Ground Pork, Veal and Beef
with Captain Powers’ Salvation Army Corn Pudding,
Creamed Spinach and Red Skin Smashed Potatoes

Chicken n’ Biscuits
Poached Chicken Breast with Celery, Onions,
Carrots, Mushrooms, Potatoes and Peas with Cheddar-Chive Biscuits

Seared Diver Scallops
Applewood Bacon, Shallots, Shiitake Mushrooms,
Fried Leeks and Parmesan Cheese
Roasted Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes


Creamed Spinach
Mess o Greens
Captain Powers Salvation Army Corn Pudding
Cajun Rice
Fried Onion Hay Stack
4$ ea.

Cinebistro is committed to using local sustainable food sources and products whenever possible.

CinéBistro – Miami, FL


Sashimi Grade Tuna Ceviche
with Coconut Milk, Lemon, Chili Peppers and Crisped Shallots

Mussels Diablo
steamed in White Wine with Garlic, Dried Red Chili Flakes,
Spicy Chorizo, Tomatoes, Leeks and Corn

Gambas con Tocino
Bacon Wrapped Shrimp stuffed with Water Chestnuts
and Jalapeño with Guava -Horseradish Sauce

cb_mariscosEnsalada de Mariscos
Shrimp, Scallops and Calamari with Peppers, Onions and Cilantro

Mojito Calamares a la Plancha
Calamari seared on a flat top grill with
Tomatoes, Garlic, Lime, Rum, Brown Sugar and Mint

Tortilla Española
Traditional Omelet with Chorizo, Potato and Caramelized Onion

Sweet Plantain wrapped Grilled Skirt Steak,
Sofrito and Smoked Queso
Lime – Coconut – Curry Sauce

Jerk Chicken Wings
tossed in Sweet Chili-Mango Sauce

Croquetas de Jamon
Traditional Ham Croquettes

Kick Ass Guacamole
with Fresh Chips

Sweet Plantains

Champiñones al Ajillo
Assorted Exotic Mushrooms sautéed in Herb Oil
with Dried Chilies, Garlic, Shallots and Spanish Sherry

Crostini Duo de Pimientos y Acéitunas
Fire Roasted Peppers with Goat Cheese
Olive Tapanade with Garlic and Herbs

cb_arugulaBaby Spinach and Arugula Salad
with Roasted Beets and Toasted Almonds
Lemon-Balsamic Viniagrette


Sandwich Cubano
Traditional Cuban Pressed Sandwich
of Roasted Pork, Baked Ham, Swiss Cheese,
sliced Pickles and Mustard

1/2 lb Grilled Angus Hamburger
Toppings: Sauteed Onions or Mushrooms, Cheddar,
Blue or Swiss Cheese, Fried Egg, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Avocado

Grilled Skirt Steak or Grilled Chicken Breast
with Roasted Tomato Chimichurri Sauce,
Rice and Beans, Fresh Herb Salad
with Marcona Almonds and Grapes

Braised in Rioja Wine
with Roasted Vegetables, Cabbage and Rice Pilaf

Yellowtail Snapper a la Margarita
sautéed with Tequila, Lime, Bananas and Toasted Almonds
served with Rice Pilaf

Crab Salad
with Mango, Grilled Asparagus, Avocado, Hearts of Palm
with Toasted Pine Nut Viniagrette

Grilled Chicken Penne Pasta
with Roasted Peppers and Asparagus
Garlic Asiago Cream Sauce

Cobb Cobb Salad
Romaine, Grilled Chicken Breast, Avocado, Corn,
Scallions, Roasted Peppers, Bacon, Grape Tomatoes, Gorgonzola
and Crisp Tortilla Strips with Lime-Cumin Dressing

Burrito de Vegetales
with Sautéed Mushrooms, Celery, Onion, Peppers,
Guacamole, Sour Cream, Chipotle Aioli, Rice and Black Beans
add Chicken, Steak or Shrimp $3

Jamon Serrano, Parma Prosciutto,
Mild Chorizo, Spicy Chorizo

Manchego with Membrillo, Delice Triple Creme,
Pecorino Romano Fricca, Cabrales Crostini, Honey Goat Cheese
Seasonal garnishes

Être Restaurant – Palm Beach, FL


Seared Diver Scallops over Caramelized Onion-Redskin Smashed Potatoes with Oxtails, Roasted Shallots and Shiitake Mushrooms

Lobster Taco in Beet Root Tortilla with Fresh Guacamole and Chipotle Aioli

Shrimp Sauteed in Chile Oil, Garlic, Brown Sugar and Lime on Won Ton Stack

Grilled Mozzarella Di Bufala Wrapped in Grape Leaf. Served over Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil Chiffonade, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Twelve Year Old Balsamic Vinegar and Cracked Black Pepper

Steamed Artichoke with Lemon-Pepper Dipping Sauce

Sake Steamed Clams with Lemongrass, Ginger, Scallions and Fermented Black Beans

Terrine of Grilled Eggplant, Roasted Peppers, Kalamata Olives and Smoked Gouda. Served with Crustade

Grilled Oysters on the 1/2 Shell. Napped with Lemon – Cucumber Infused White Wine Reduction

Gamno Doki
Tofu, Shiitake Mushroom, Mountain Potato and Pea Shoot Cake. Embraced with Sake, Ginger and Soy

Seared Foie Gras with Asian Pear and Plum Wine


Crabmeat, Asparagus, Mango, Avocado and Hearts of Palm. Toasted Pinenut Vinaigrette

Arugula Salad with Jicama, Red Onion, Goat Cheese, Sunflower Seeds and Radish Sprouts. Ruby Red Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets, Pancetta, Maytag Blue Cheese and Candied Spiced Walnuts. Passionfruit Vinaigrette

Baby Mesclun Greens with Watercress, Fresh Herbs and Belgium Endive. Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette


Spicy Shrimp and Oysters. Served over Linguine with Lobster Essence and Chives

Penne with Grilled Chicken Breast, Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli, Goat Cheese and Toasted Pinenuts. Balsamic Chicken Reduction

Orecchiette with Exotic Mushrooms and Asparagus Tips. Sauteed in Truffle Oil with Gorgonzola Cream

Stir Fried Japanese Buckwheat Noodles with Napa Cabbage, Broccoli, Peppers, Scallions, Bacon, Tomago and Pickled Red Ginger


Yellowtail Snapper Sauteed with Bananas, Lemons and Toasted Almonds. Served over Banana Leaf with Orzo Pilaf and Grilled Hearts of Palm

Grilled Salmon Enrobed in Green Apple, Smoked Bacon, and Shallots. Served over Spinach and Grilled Portabella with Lemon Sea Foam

Grilled Sushi Grade Rare Tuna. Vegetable Stir Fried Mifun Noodles. Champagne – Ginger Sauce. Wasabi Caviar

Floribbean Spiced Pan Roasted Chilean Seabass Drizzled with Avant Gardens Grapefruit Syrup. Asian Vegetable Salad

Tempura Soft Shell Crabs served over Seaweeds Salad with Miso Glaze and Wasabi Cream

Blackened Ribeye Steak with Green Peppercorns and Boursin Cheese. Straw Vegetables. Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes

Basil Infused 1/2 Roasted Chicken with Roasted Garlic Pan Sauce. Served over Tomato Cous Cous with Chardonnay Braised Fennel

Grilled Filet Mignon with Shiitake Mushrooms and Roasted Shallots – Marsala Demi-Glace. Grilled Polenta

Herb Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin. French Lentil Salad with Oven Dried Tomato. Basil – Mint Oil

Recipe: Soft Shell Crab Over Oven-Roasted Vegetables with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Recipes became mere suggestions, teasing me to make them my own. Taunting me. Guidelines, not contracts. Soulful encounters that yielded instant gratification! Jazz cooking. Play the form, and then veer wildly into the abyss. Combining equal parts technique, wants, needs, accidents, budget, etc, my improvisational skills developed. Grooving in the kitchen is parallel to grooving on a bandstand. I could relate. A lifelong infatuation with food and music, it ís so simple, became one and the same. A culmination of a body of work spanning decades. These recipes satisfy me. Others too, evidently, as Iíve been able to parlay them into a respectable career. Follow them exactly, or take the merest snippet and adapt it to your own particular ambition. See them for what they are, a collection of ideas meant to provoke thought and pleasure. Enjoy.

softshellOne of the intriguing recipes contained within the cookbook is the deciding dish for the 2001 Garlic Chef Competition, mystery ingredient in this round was soft shell crab:

Oven Roasted Vegetables

1 ea, assorted vegetables for roasting, cut into bite size portions such as:
Broccoli, Red Onion, Leeks, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Whole Garlic Head (sliced 1 inch below the tail), Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Place all ingredients (except garlic) in a bowl and toss with olive oil & salt & pepper.
3. Oil the whole cut garlic and place cut side down on sheet pan.
4. Add other vegs to sheet pan and bake turning occasionally aprox 30-45 min.
Note: do not turn the garlic.

Spicy Garlic Sauce

2 TBS Chopped Garlic
1 TBS Chopped Shallots
LG Pinch Dried Red Chili Flakes
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 OZ Olive Oil
4 OZ Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
2 TBS Chopped Parsley
8 OZ Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. In a heavy saucepan over high heat add olive oil and brown garlic to light golden.
2. Sweat shallots to translucent (aprox 30 seconds).
3. Add chili flakes.
4. Deglaze with lemon juice.
5. Reduce
6. Add Noilly Prat Vermouth and reduce by 50 %.
7. Add heavy cream.
8. Reduce until bubbles become larger and fewer (Approx 3-5 mins).
9. Salt & Pepper
10. Pure and add Parsley
11. Adjust seasonings if necessary, keep warm.

Soft Shells

4 Soft Shell Crabs, cleaned of lungs, tail and eyes.
Seasoned Flour
4 OZ Clarified Butter
4-6 OZ Dry White Wine
Salt & Peppr to taste1. Heat sauté pan with 1 oz clarified butter per soft shell.

2. Dredge soft shells in seasoned flour.
3. Place top down in sauté pan and brown approx 3 mins.
4. Salt & Pepper
5. Turn soft shells and brown on bottom side approx 2 mins.
6. Add white wine and reserve in oven with roasted vegs.


Arrange roasted vegs on plate with browned garlic head off to one side. Lean soft shell up against whole garlic head. Sauce over the crab and around the vegs.


Recipe can be scaled up in direct proportion


cooking1Solid technique coupled with tasteful improvisational abilities.

These are some of the winning recipes from the Delray Beach Garlic Festival Professional Chef’s Competition. I won it 3 years running and retired when I relocated back to Chicago.

The way these particular recipes came to pass via the rules of the competition is that it’s basically a mystery basket that must include the key theme of garlic.

Two Chefs competing mano a mano.

One hour. Two talented assistants. They’d be the piano and bass to my drums on a bandstand. Crowds of a few hundred sitting on bleachers watching, while three M C’s deliver a running commentary.

No idea beforehand as to what the ingredients will be. Four judges for whom you make individual appetizers, entrees and, if you dare, dessert.

Talk about under a microscope.

alanhotchefI love the action. I do my best work when I’m inspired.

Jazz food.

Solid technique coupled with tasteful improvisational abilities.

Staggering when done correctly. When the planets are in alignment. A daunting task under the best of circumstances. Challenging, fun, intense, rewarding. It really stretches you.

To me, music, food and art share so many similarities. Texture, tempo, imagination and balance come immediately to my mind.

It’s all the same but in a different way.

So, once again, these were all made up on the spot. No clue as to what I could expect to be working with in advance.

Spontaneous momentum.

It’s been my good fortune to have spent my life playing Jazz and truly believe that this fact is what has given me a winning edge in this competition, not to mention life in general.

While some of my competitors may have visited, none have lived there.

The mystery ingredient this year was lobster. In the preceeding years it has been soft shell crab, monkfish and foie gras. Heres what I came up with on the fly:

Alan Lake, Dillon Kao and Blake Clevenger
Alan Lake, Dillon Kao and Blake Clevenger


Tempura of grilled lobster medallions over asian stir-fried vegs served over coconut risotto cake with cilantro and garlic chives with a coconut curry cream sauce w/garlic, ginger and lemon grass.

Stuffed poblano pepper with poached lobster, apples, walnut, maytag blue cheese, toasted pine nuts. wrapped it like a roulade and sliced it so it looked like sushi. served over aztech sucmytash of corn, onions, peppers, cactus leaf, hearts of palm, sweet vermouth, finished w/sweet butter. garnished w/arugala and served with a jalapeno tomatillo sauce.

Olive oil poached lobster claws w/garlic, served over sliced caramelized butternut squash w/sauted spinach and white asparagus w/garlic. roasted garlic lemon beurre blanc.

For dessert, floating islands. quenelles of italian meringue w/pureed lobster poached in garlic cream. 2 sauces, mango and kiwi, put in a bowl with sauces opposite ea other in triangular patterns w/the quenelle in the middle. garnished w/an orange segment dipped in a blueberry coulis finished w/hazelnut liquor and butter.


Chef Bio

Most recently, Chef Lake’s work has seen him designing innovative specialized menus and kitchens for restaurants and movie theatres while consulting and researching throughout the world.

Lake’s work and travels includes stints at The East Bank Club in Chicago, the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood, Izakaya Hiwatta in Ichinomia Japan and Chef d’Cuisine of Purpur, a legendary restaurant and club in Zurich, Switzerland.

He was also part of the reopening task force for The Shelbourne on St. Steven’s Green, a European 5 star grand hotel in Dublin. The Irish wrote their constitution there while hiding the rebels upstairs. Oscar Wilde was a regular and lived just down the street.

Edible installation of Nichols Farm Organic Roasted Beet Napoleon with Honey laced Goat Cheese, English Walnuts, Marigolds, Micro Greens and Chives drizzled with Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette. Photo by Ron Kaplan
Edible installation of Nichols Farm Organic Roasted Beet Napoleon with Honey laced Goat Cheese, English Walnuts, Marigolds, Micro Greens and Chives drizzled with Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette. Photo by Ron Kaplan

While visiting The Taj Hotel in Mumbai India, friend and expatriate Chicago Chef John Mooney requested Lake to lecture his staff on his brand of creative and improvisational cooking: Jazzfood. His staff was about to embark on a culinary, inter hotel group, chefs competition that the Taj was holding amongst their many properties on the subcontinent. Lake had won several competitions of that very type, and addressed Mooney’s staff. Evidently it was taken to heart. One of them won.

A recent project is CinéBistro for Cobb Theatres for whom Lake helped open the Miami and Tampa locations. At this time, numerous others are in various stages of development and construction and in which he will oversee all food related issues.

Lake has been described as talented, tough, hilarious, and egotistical, with a mushy center.

See Restaurant Consultant for more information.

Alan + Food

alan22I like to eat. As a kid, I had a deal with my father (who at one point must have been more adventuresome than I’ve ever been aware of since) that I would try anything. If I didn’t like it I didn’t have to eat it, but I at least had to try. This broadened my horizons considerably at an early age, and developed my taste buds in a series of events that has led to my book. As my mother was not exactly a wonderful cook, it led me to wanting to control what I was putting in my mouth. I was accused of ordering off the right side of the menu. Willfully ordering the most expensive and lavish meals, just to taunt my father and our “just try” deal. My father only had to finance this until I was 16. I’ve been saddled with supporting this habit ever since. The onus upon moi.

alan2012bWhat to do? As it became apparent that I couldn’t afford to keep myself in the manner I was accustomed to, something had to be done. It started innocently enough. How could I eat the type of food that I had been spoiled by, and accustomed to? An idea gradually took shape. Forming in the most primitive reaches of my brain, traveling synapses inched their way to my tongue, my eyes, my nostrils, my fingertips. The answer was right inside of me. I could do it myself. On a student of life’s budget, it became necessary to adapt. As a jazz musician improvises, so can a poor would be aspiring gourmand. Recipes became my own. Substitutions and inspiration collided in my kitchen. If you could play Summertime with a funk beat, then why I reasoned, couldn’t I add more garlic to a recipe I knew needed it?

alan9– Alan Lake

The Garlic Chef’s Hit List

  • Most recently has helped pioneer the integration of fine food dining in premium movie theaters throughout the country.
  • Three Time Winner of The Delray Beach Garlic Festival Professional Chef competition.
  • Participated in numerous “Great Chefs of L.A.” charity events.
  • Award winning Chef for over 25 years, having worked in Chicago, Los Angeles, South Florida, Phoenix, Maui, Paris, Las Vegas, Provence, Canada, Japan and Zurich.
  • 3 Star food rating from the California Restaurant Writers Association.
  • 4 Diamond award from Mobil.
  • As Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage at the Sunset Marquis Hotel and Villas in Los Angeles, and also while working as the personal Chef to Live Nation in Phoenix, I’ve been honored to cook for the likes of an impressive A list of Music and Hollywood celebrities that includes:
    Bono and the Edge, George Harrison, Julian Lennon, Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Collins, Julio Iglesias, Harry Connick Jr, Grace Jones, Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Chrissy Hynde, Joe Cocker, Jeff Beck, Madonna, Sam Moore, Morrisey, John Paul Jones, Sinead O Conner, Nils Lofgren, Ian McDonald, Axel Rose, Ozzie and Sharon Osbourn, Randy Johnston, Susanne Pleshette, Malcolm Mc Dowel, Michael Caine, Donna Mills, Peter Falk, the President of Greenpeace, the Consul General of France, Elle Magazine, a wine dinner featuring Mike Grigich and a party given by a Prince of the Royal Saudi Family.