As I settle back into my routine here in Harlem, I am still in awe of all the people I met and the experiences I had while on the road promoting, "Yes, Chef". While I expected it to be exciting and full of adventure, I never expected it to be as exhausting and as fulfilling as it was. From revisiting with old chef friends to meeting young up-and-coming stars in the industry, I can only say a big "Thank You" to all the people who made each city a unique memory for me. For the next couple of days I want to recap some of the highs and lows of the "Yes, Chef" tour. And if I met you in your city, submit photos of us to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could win an autographed memoir, chef jacket, cookbook, and other fun things I collected while on the road.
Best Swedish Dessert: Ethiopian fresh cheese and honey with cherries by Laura Sawicki of La Condesa in Austin, TX (no surprise she's one of Food & Wine's best new pastry chefs this year)
Worst Seat in the House: Seat 28C on the plane between Denver and Houston
Best Use of Downtime on Tour: Eating in Koreatown, having tacos at Grand Central market in L.A.
Coolest Stove: Russ and Allison's hot fire pit at Camino in Oakland.
Worst Way to See a Great City: In the dark after a 4:15am wake-up call on the way to the airport.
Best Hotel: Hotel San Jose in Austin--I love their art sensibility and their use of great pictures.
Coolest District: Miami's Art District by Michael's Genuine.
Made Me Think Moment: Finding out Sylvia Woods died and cooking for Leah Chase in New Orleans. I met these two fantastic women 15 years ago at an event at Tavern on the Green and their words still inspire me today.
Best Drop-In Guest: When Howard Schulz came by my book signing at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.
The Super Swede Award Goes To...The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis and Bruce Karstadt, ASI President and CEO. Huge congratulations on preserving one institution, building a brand new modern site, and now owning the street.
Best Culture Highlight: In DC being interviewed by Johnnetta Betsch Cole at the Smithsonian. Culture-wise that was the highest in my book, with a standing room-only crowd in a space filled with an immense amount of culture, knowledge and history.