Tag Archives: friends

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours’ Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa RecipeCulinary public relations is Beth Heidrich‘s forte, and she has represented such chefs as Dean Fearing, Kent Rathbun, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Trotter, Norman VanAken, Jacques Pepin, Larry Forgione, Julian Serrano, and Julia Child. Beth began her interest in food and wine while studying abroad in Italy during college, and began her career at Mobil Five Star acclaimed The Mansion on Turtle Creek, where she managed culinary events and celebrity fundraisers. She has managed public relations campaigns for such celebrity chefs as Dean Fearing, including collaborations with ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, BBC, Food Network, The Travel Channel, MTV, Conde Nast Publications, as well as many other online, radio and print media.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe


A native St. Louisan, Beth returned home in 2003, delighted to find such a flourishing culinary industry, and she began consulting for such clients as James Beard awarded Larry Forgione (An American Place) and such hotel properties as the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance Grand & Suites. Beth went on to work with celebrity chefs in her position at L’Ecole Culinaire as Director of Public Relations at L’Ecole and then for all of Vatterott Colleges, and she directed all marketing and public relations for Overlook Farm, including the hiring of award-winning Chef Timothy Grandinetti.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe
Beth and Anne Croy on FOX2

Beth co-founded the St. Louis chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier with an invitational brunch featuring Cat Cora, Iron Chef. She co-chaired the Les Dames d’Escoffier International conference in St. Louis, in October, 2012 at the Ritz Carlton and co-chaired the Farmer’s Fete event as well. Beth is currently the Member Liaison on the Executive Board with the St. Louis Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa RecipeBeth’s business is StL Culinary Tours, an intimate experience with St. Louis’ top culinary talent, which has already garnered the title of “The top gourmet walking tour in the US” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and “Best of the Midwest” by Midwest Living Magazine. St. Louis Culinary Tours intimately connects food enthusiasts to St. Louis’s progressive and outstanding culinary world by offering an array of kitchen tours, culinary field trips, and visits to local wineries and breweries. Through both public and private tours, they provide an exclusive look into St. Louis’ culinary scene while introducing you to the owners and chefs that make it all happen – and half of all proceeds of public tours dedicated to benefit Operation Food Search. These entertaining and informative tours provide the ultimate St Louis foodie experience. Let’s go!

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Spaetzle – I love the process of making the dough and pushing it through the holes into the water, then sauteeing it in butter.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Homemade hot sauce

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A sense of humor and appreciation for quality ingredients and preparation.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A person who does not treat service staff with respect.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?

Your favorite cookbook author?
Julia Child and Jacques Pepin

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My clean hands and then knives. I love knives.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I learned a lot of Southwest techniques from Chef Dean Fearing. My favorite thing to cook is seafood on vacation, of course near the docks.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork is so exquisite in the Midwest. We have so many farmers with heritage breeds like Newman Farm, Rain Crow Ranch, and many others.

Favorite vegetable?
Spring asparagus

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe
St Louis Culinary Tours Chef for a Day Michael with Chef Rex Hale making creme brûlée. — with Rex Hale at Boundary at the Cheshire.

Chef you most admire?
In my own city, Chef Rex Hale, hands down. Otherwise Jacques Pepin and the late Charlie Trotter.

Food you like the most to eat?
Ozark Forest Mushrooms, Baetje Farm’s World Cheese Awards winning Fleur de Valle washed-rind cheese, Eckert’s Farm’s peaches and so many fresh vegetables from our home garden in the summer.

Food you dislike the most?
Raw onions and green peppers, along with most processed food.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?

Who do you most admire in food?
Jacques Pepin

Where is your favorite place to eat?
Boundary at The Cheshire in St.Louis

What is your favorite restaurant?
Boundary at The Cheshire in St.Louis

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos, sorry.

Recipe: Charred Tomato Salsa

My husband and I make this every summer with almost every ingredient from our own garden. We eat it all year long. We also share it with family and friends.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

6 large ripe Cherokee Purple tomatoes, core removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic

2 jalapeno chilies, stem removed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Salt to taste

Lime juice to taste

Preheat broiler to 500 degrees.

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and brush the tops with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place pan under broiler and char until skin is blackened, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place onion, garlic, and jalapenos on a baking sheet and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Toss to coat. Place pan in oven and roast for 12 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

In a meat grinder, with a medium die, grind tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapenos with cilantro. To mixture add a generous amount of salt and lime juice to taste.
The End. Go Eat.

I8tonite: with Friends, Team Changes and Mashed Cauliflower

Courtesy of Apatow Productions
Courtesy of Apatow Productions

I was watching “Bridesmaids”, the hysterical friends and relationship comedy with Kristen Wiig.  Though the movie is heavily based on deep female friendships, there is a poignancy — that as a gay man with a multitude of amazing women comrades I can identify — that underlies the relationships. In one side-splitting scene, and there are so many, Melissa McCarthy’s character visits Wiig’s Annie, who is feeling sorry for herself. Her baking business went belly-up. She’s lost her apartment because she doesn’t have a job, lives with her mother. Her car is a junker. The only thing she isn’t doing is entering rehab. Basically, she’s hit rock bottom. But McCarthy, with her robustness, throttles Wiig’s character, by knocking her upside the head, proclaiming, “I’m life. Is life bothering you?” And yes it is…,.and it’s not going away, like McCarthy in the scene.

Six years, ago it was like that for me. A 14-year relationship went into the toilet. My business tanked. My ex-partner in business and in life, well — turned out not to be such a significant other. Broke. No home. No car. And starting life again past the age of forty. After leaving everything behind in San Francisco– including the dog – (heartbreaking), I retreated to Los Angeles and to my best friends: Shelley, Lulu, and Bonnie. There are also my dear friends such as Kim, Pat, Sophia, Margot, Barbara, Kathy, and Jenny – many of whom I have known since the beginning of my career — but the pattern for me is women. With a couple of exceptions, such as my oldest friend Sean, John and former therapist Peter, these women, plus many more (Tanya, Annie, Myra, Myrna, Linda Chester, Katherine Lape, Julie, Charlotte, Teryann, Rita, Beverly, Katherine, Christine, Beth, Janet, Penny, Sharon – I know I’m forgetting someone. Forgive me if I am as the list is lovingly long) have been my salvation. My family. My friends. My confidantes.

I know the fairer sex isn’t all peaches and cream. There are some women I would never want in my corner: Lizzie Borden, the female half of Bonnie and Clyde, and Sarah Palin to name a select few.

Overall, the ladies in my life have been strong, resilient and loving. (This is what my memoir is about: a series of personal essays on the women I have loved as a gay man.)

Jessie with Mallard Cottage's chef Todd Perrin - site of one of my favorite meals this year! St. John's, Newfoundland
Jessie with Mallard Cottage’s chef Todd Perrin

With all that said, in less than five months – I can’t believe it – i8tonite.com has grown as a site to roughly over 10,000 unique visitors per month. I can’t keep up with its content and rapid growth. So, I have brought on Dr. Jessie Voigts to become my collaborator, co-publisher, and co-editor to assist in the endeavor. Another great feminine presence – to keep my ass moving forward.

Jessie has another site called Wandering Educators. There she is Queen Bee, holding court amongst her loyal subjects discussing the importance of travel in education.

Cauliflower by Liz West.
Cauliflower by Liz West.

Mashed Cauliflower: This holiday eating season, I baked up cheesecakes, biscuits, breads, assorted pies, and cakes. Now, I need a sugar and flour respite and some weight loss. I’m getting older, and it doesn’t come off as fast as it once did. Additionally, I’m 49. I want to look good as I hit that mid-century, I want to look Daniel Craig-splendid, all sinew, and muscle, one more time before I hang up the Speedo. Not for anyone else…..but for me, and Nick.

I made this dish, and I may never ever go back to mashed potatoes again. (I love potatoes!) It held the pot roast gravy perfectly and was luxuriantly delectable. Who cared that there wasn’t a spud in it? And it’s low carb.

To Make: Boil a head or two of chopped cauliflower, minus the outer leaves, along with several garlic cloves. Cook until it falls apart. Strain. While, the vegetables and garlic are still hot, add a dollop of cream cheese (don’t argue), grated parmesan or asiago. Use an immersion blender to puree. Add some chives. Serve this puppy with anything. Game-changer.

The End. Go Eat.

Farmers Market Haul, Eating With Friends, & His Creamy Threesome Dip (for lack of a better name)

Farmers Market Haul

The Farmers Market was a light vegetable haul today. Partially, because I haven’t had time to really put my menu together for the week ahead. As noted in a previous post, I burned two dinners. However, I did purchase a lot of lettuces at the market. I love the summer for lettuces. It’s an easy dinner fix to make a simple salad with some form of protein and to turn it into a meal. Keep it simple so I don’t become overwhelmed. I also bought some peppermint to try instead of just regular mint to see what I do with it; other purchases included crispy romaine, peppery arugula, radicchio for the grill, basil (my plant isn’t doing so well this year) and a broccoli crown. Let’s see what the week brings.


Last night, my friend Mark, an amazing homecook with specialities in Indian and Moroccan, had another dinner. I posted about one a couple of weeks ago. He made the delicious Mulligatawny Stew, Pan Roasted Potatoes and Cauliflower, Cucumber Mint Raita (pictured above) and Dal, the staple of Indian cuisine. Of course, there was basmati rice, naan and poori. Simply yummy and delicious.

He also made an incredible tangy and tasty dip for crudites. His personal creation was delicious with just the right amount of flavors for the raw veggies. With the light tang that only Greek yogurt has, mixed with the cream cheese and Mexican Crema, it was an international trio of dairy creating a beautiful compliment to the crispness of the zucchini, the heat to the radishes and sweetness of the snaps. It was a yummy audition to his Indian meal.

On another note, joining me at Mark’s, where several other friends, Mark and Denise, Lisa, Sue and her girlfriend, Chloe, whom I never met but was sweet and beautiful. It was one of the type of “dining with friends evening” that are becoming incredibly special to me. Since coming back to Los Angeles from Northern California, it hasn’t been all peaches and cream like any major life decision. (Two of my other favorite nights, were with Shelley and Bonnie making pizza and playing Scrabble. Then at David’s, helping him with his housewarming making fresh hummus.) I’ve said it before, and I will probably say it again, eating at a friend’s house, helping to prep, passing the dishes, assisting in the clean-up, laughing, telling stories, petting the animals, voicing aspirations, feeling heartaches, boyfriends, girlfriends, work, …just life…was fun beyond belief. No one was asking us if we needed something else. We weren’t screaming over the din of the music. We found the bathroom without asking a frazzled waitperson. There was a casualness, a meeting of minds, gratefulness that we could be together in the true spirit of friendship. It’s what makes these food occassions special for me. Not necessarily the eating but the process of eating: the cooking, the chopping, playing sous chef and passing food family style. It’s Thanksgiving without any of the family drama. No one was drinking too much or getting too boisterous. It was camaraderie at its best, with cool Southern California evening breezes, carrying the laughter out onto the street.

Now, go make Mark’s dip, with some friends. It’s really good.

Mark's Greek Yogurt Dip

You Will Need:
2 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
4 oz. Plain Greek Yogurt
3 oz. Crema Mexicana
1 Large or 2 small Shallots
1 Med. Garlic Clove
Chipotle LIme Seasoning (to taste) (I used Chef Tim Love’s sold at Sur la Table)

Let’s Make This Puppy:
1. Let the dairy items sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes.Then, with a fork, combine them in a bowl, trying to get as many of the lumps out of the cream cheese as possible.
2. Mince the shallots and garlic.
3. In a small saucepan over med-high heat, saute 2/3 of the shallots in vegetable oil* for a couple of minutes, until they start becoming soft – at which point add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or so, until everything is pretty soft. Let that cool.
4. Add the room temperature shallot/garlic mixture to the blended dairy mixture, and add the remaining (raw) shallots, mix well. Add about a teaspoon of the Chipotle Lime seasoning and stir well, taste. Keep adding Chipotle Lime until you are happy with the taste. (I tasted it on the raw vegetables that I was serving with the dip, as the flavor will be less intense than it is on the tasting spoon – and you may want to add more seasoning). Chill for at least an hour, then serve!

*Mark used Sunflower Oil.

Memorial Day: Remembrances of Cold Noodles Past

On Memorial Day, when we honor those in uniform, I’m eternally gratefully to those that have served.


This holiday was always the official start of New York City summers. Manhattan would empty out and become a ghost town. I fondly recall my beautiful school friend Christine, who eventually packed up and moved to Europe. It was Chris that introduced me to my first bowl of cold noodles at a small but bustling Chinese place on Broadway and Canal Street in NYC’s Chinatown. Being of Chinese descent and her father owning a Jersey establishment, she was the conduit and teacher to what are now some of my favorite Chinese items such as Scallion Pancakes, dumplings and Spicy Cold Noodles with Peanut Butter.

There are a number of variations hailing from throughout Asia (and adapted by Americans) using cold rice noodles with a different nut butters. Mixed into that is some water, chili paste or red pepper flakes, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, citrus and ginger. Incredibly simple and great for a hot summer day of memories and recollections as well as creating new ones. Definitely, tons of carbs for walking the myriad of Manhattan hot, steaming streets which as poor college students, we did often. It would be Chris, Teresa, Annie and me hiking from the bottom of Broadway to South Central Park overwhelmed by the displays in shop windows.

Spicy Cold Asian Peanut Noodles ala New York City

Whenever the weather is beautiful, I break this out of my memory banks. Immediately as I taste the sweet and spicy paste perfecting the right amount of heat, sweetness and chewiness of the noodles, I think of Christine and other really important friends that I have been apart of my life while on this planet. It’s a funny thing how food does that don’t you think? Enjoy your Memorial Day with those you love and love you in return.

You Will Need:
Cold Noodles (made ahead and chilled) about a half box of spaghetti or rice noodles.
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter (or chunky depending on your preference. You can use sesame, almond and nut butter will do.)
Chili garlic paste or sauce/ red pepper flakes
Teaspoon of honey
Quartered lemon/lime
Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon each of grated ginger and garlic

Let’s Finish This Puppy:
1. In a small bowl, we are mixing the nut butter with a couple squirts of chili garlic paste or a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes.
2. Add some water, maybe about a cup to thin out the butter into a creamier sauce. Add a little water at a time, maybe a 1/2 cup each time. It will thicken back up.
3. Add the honey and citrus. Mix.
4. Couple of dashes of sesame oil plus the ginger and garlic. Mix until…
5. Once you have reached a consistency of a thin paste, pour it over the cold noodles. If it starts to get clumpy and a little more water by the teaspoon ful. Chop up some scallions and/or cucumber for a garnish. Voila….

Vegan to boot. Serve this with simply grilled chicken, beef, tofu or even some halibut might be a nice twist.