Ingredient TM_IN_KOREAN_FI_003

“Westernizing a cuisine isn’t all that challenging,” said Jonathon Deutsch, program director of Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management. “You take an ingredient, add a new sauce, and make it your own dish.”

That may be true in theory, but after decades of Asian fusion experiments and attempted innovations, the list of success stories when East meets West is a relatively short one. Asian fusion, after all, is a wide umbrella that includes items such as Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnyLicious® Asian Chicken Salad, California Pizza Kitchen’s Thai Chicken pizza, and Buffalo Wild Wings’ Asian Zing® wings.

Still, nothing seems to extinguish the burning desire of the American chef to bring Asian flavors into mainstream Western dishes. Which is why I recently found myself in a kitchen with a bunch of Drexel culinary students and their professor Mike Traud as they prepared their final projects for the term’s Korean Cuisine class. The assignment was one we all imagine lies behind Subway’s Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich: Create a take on a classic Western dish using Korean ingredients. MORE

The Larder TM_TL_BECHA_FI_001

So many of my foundational food lessons came from family members. My grandma Bunny taught me about meringues, while my other grandmother showed me how to shove slivers of garlic into roast beef to enhance the flavor. My mom is responsible for my everyday food knowledge (along with my basic canning skills) and my dad shared everything he knew about fried eggs, pancakes, waffles and the art of the chocolate chip cookie.

I wish I could tell you that I learned to make béchamel and cheese sauces from an aunt or a kindly neighbor, but sadly, the truth is that all the credit for that particular skillset goes to Rachael Ray, circa 2002. MORE