About the lady bartender project
The nature of the TLB project is still subject to some evolution, but we're excited to embark upon an exploration of modern American comfort food, delivered with recipes and paired with culinary cocktails. Each city we visit will ripen with conversations amongst small bar and restaurant owners, discussing what makes their definition of 'restauranteur' unique in their own environments and amongst the global culinary landscape in general.
Among those that work in food and beverage, it's known simply as "The Industry." A kind of secret club with initiation granted only through the tests of tirelessly hard work, dedication to a craft, a passion to feed, drink and be merry our people, and the occasional singeing or slicing of skin. No vocation more apt to offer a true depiction of blood, sweat and tears.
Those of us with the calling are restored in the act of restoring.
In consideration of what gives a food the title of 'comfort,' we most commonly hear it associated with foods from childhood. Food with memory is comforting. It is this very special collection of dishes that forms the heart of what we cook. It defines for us what 'regional' cooking is. What Grandma made, what was fresh and available, what stuck to the bones, what cured and what fortified... that which restored us. We've discovered that our favorite chefs all have the common thread of describing their food as evocative of a home cooked meal. The plate may look more polished, but the techniques, the ingredients and that heart is the same.
As easily as food can conjure memories of time and place, so can the refreshments that accompany them. Consider fresh pineapple and Coco Lopez blended with rum on a Mexican beach and you will be transported just the same as with a perfectly balanced, sweet-savory dripping al pastor. We all have a memory of our first alcoholic beverage: a white russian on the dock of your best friend's summer cabin, Sun Peach Peak flavored Boone's Farm enjoyed straight from the brown paper bag, or some elicit combination of contraband bottles not-so-expertly blended with lemonade and brightly colored sodas.
The presence of a cocktail denotes a celebration. We so often consider them as a reward, an imbibeable suggestion of relaxation. One more time linking back to that totem of restoration, the right cocktail helps us press the reset button. Just as the right wine paired with the right food not only elevates the encounter, but allows the flavors in both to become richer and deeper, a cocktail pairing should balance, enhance and continue the story; only, as we hope to share, with far more liberty to create both a taste experience and a visual one.
Shared here will be the collected memories, as well as inspiring present and future projects from the tribe of small bar and restaurant owners we meet and work with in our travels across North America. The result of our findings will be compiled and presented as a cookbook for you to bring home and recreate from. A repertoire of people, ingredients and methods to inspire your own restoration.
We're still scheduling our calendar, but if you'd like to work with The Lady Bartender in your city or can connect us with small business owners that would like to meet us please let us know! The following is a list of places we plan to visit soon:
Los Angeles, CA
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Grand Rapids, MI