One of the best things that's happened with Americans becoming more food savvy is that restaurants are more and more accountable for what they serve––-as they should be. More and more people can tell if a fish is fresh or frozen. They can tell if a dish is masking inferior ingredients with a complicated or heavy sauce. They want to know where things came from, if they're fresh, and if there are things like MSG, hormones, corn syrup, or saturated fats in the food they're getting.
This raises the overall consciousness of restaurants, benefiting all of us who dine there. The five restaurants where we filmed last week (cant' WAIT for you to see this show!) have nothing to hide. They can be proud of the sources, the handling, and the expression of every ingredient in their kitchens. As my theme this time is Going Coastal, this seemed especially important. Coastal dining incorporates, of course, local seafood––-which a diner wants to be squeaky fresh, clean, and safe enough that you could eat it raw, fresh off the line. It also incorporates light, seasonal ingredients pure enough in their raw stage that you can look at them and know where they came from, what they are, how long ago they were picked.
My five picks take pride in–––are in fact almost obsessive about–––how high their standards are for what they begin with in preparing coastal dining. One has a garden planned right outside the restaurant (which is already composting, recycling using biodegradable takeout containers). Another squeezes fresh juices (cantaloupe, watermelon, passionfruit) to order. All or most begin with whole fish they cut on the spot, and shellfish that arrives with scraps of seaweed still attached: it's that fresh.
I'm so excited to share these extra special spots, and so proud of the direction in American dining they represent. Stay tuned for Going Coastal, appearing for season!