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Welcome to 100 Miles, an exploration of sustaining life by going no further away than 100 miles to gather the things we need to live. This web log is my journal of food-based experiences, memories, thoughts, and recipes. I hope you enjoy reading it. To subscribe, so as not to miss each new edition, please enter your email address.

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      Najat Kaanache ~ Chef-In-Training

      June 2, 2010

      Najat Kaanache, left, and Chef Akasha Richmond

      Najat Kaanache, left, and Chef Akasha Richmond.

      Najat Kaanache is the Wonder Woman of stagiaires/chefs-in-training.  To date she has ’staged’ in the kitchens of Grant Achatz (Alinea), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se), René Redzepi (Noma), and will end her stagiaire stints at Feran Adrià’s elBulli.  A stage is an unpaid internship, or culinary apprenticeship, very common in the kitchens of Europe.   Kaanache, 32, has taken the concept around the world from Copenhagen to Chicago, to the Napa Valley, to New York and finally to Roses, Spain.  Through her own indefatigable industriousness she has been away from her native Spain for two years.  With the help of Facebook and Twitter she finds someone local willing to offer her a place to stay while she spends one to three months working in some of the best kitchens in the world.  Her adventure began after she attended culinary school in Holland, and after working for a year as a line cook at Chef François Geurd’s Restaurant Ivy in Holland.  Wanting more training she sent letters to fifty top chefs in the world requesting an apprenticeship.  She received twenty-seven responses.  Currently she is in the kitchen at Per Se in New York.  Chef Thomas Keller insisted she spend a month there after she finished a three month turn at The French Laundry, his Napa Valley restaurant.  Her next and final stop is back home in Spain where she will spend a year with Chef Feran Adrià at his famed elBulli restaurant which closes permanently in 2011.

      Recently, between stints at the French Laundry and Per Se, Kaanache spent a week in Los Angeles as a guest of Jo Stougaard’s, writer of the popular food and restaurant blog, My Last Bite.  A trip to the Wednesday, chef heavy, Santa Monica Farmers’ Market seemed like a natural outing.   Chef Akasha Richmond (Akasha) offered to take her on a tour.  This writer was lucky enough to tag along.  It was a banner day for chef sightings and Kaanache met most of them.  Josiah Citrin (Mélisse), Mark Peel (Campanile, Tar Pit, The Point), Ludo Lefebvre (Ludo Bites), Walter Manzke, and even food blogger, Javier Cabral, (Teenage Glutster) all wandered through at one point or another.  The Wednesday market is known as a place to see chefs grabbing items that will appear on menus later.

      Chefs Walter Manzke, Ludo Lefebvre and Najat Kaanache

      Chefs Walter Manzke, Ludo Lefebvre and Najat Kaanache.

      We tagged along as Chef Richmond shopped for a cooking demo/appearance she was doing at the market the next day.  We looked, tasted and bought from such vendors as Wieser Farms, Harry’s Berries, and Tutti Frutti Farm.  As expected from this market the produce was the star attraction and included spring berries, artichokes, asparagus, green garlic and even ramps — a type of leek more readily found on the East Coast.  The outing ended with lunch at Border Grill, bags of top flight produce, and another chef and food experience for Chef-In-Training, Najat Kaanache to take with her back to Spain.

      Najat Kaanache, Jo Stougaard and Akasha Richmond

      Najat Kaanache, Jo Stougaard and Akasha Richmond.

      Green garlic.

      Green garlic.

      Turnips and beets.

      Turnips and beets.

      'Best Ever' artichokes.

      'Best Ever' artichokes.

      Follow Najat Kaanache – http://www.twitter com/morewhimsy

      Follow Jo Stougaard – http://www.twitter.com/mylastbite

      Please Join Us!  Taste of the Nation ~ Sunday, June 6, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ~ Los Angeles chefs cook to benefit Share Our Strength and to end childhood hunger in America.  Eat My Blog ~ Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ~ a food bloggers’ bake sale to raise money for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.  We’ll be selling Robert’s (via David Lebovitz) famous Dulce de Leche Brownies (come early!)

      Recommendation: ‘Cook To Bang: The Lay Cook’s Guide to Getting Laid’ by Spencer Walker.  Based on the popular food blog ‘Cook To Bang’ where author, Spencer Walker explains how and what to cook for your date of the moment, this tongue-in-cheek book expands on that advice and adds more tips for getting your date, or significant other, into the mood and into bed.  Hey, we can’t be all seriousness around here!  A fun book, and a fun read.

      Upcoming Posts: Interview with Chefs John Stewart & Duskie Estes, owners of Zazu & Bovolo restaurants in Sonoma County. Cochon 555 Napa, a write up of the amazing pork festival that I went to in Napa. Reviews: The Spirit Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices by Sara Engram and Katie Luber and Kimberly Toqe, Steak and Friends: At Home with Rick Tramonto by Rick Tramonto, Spice Dreams by Sara Engram and Katie Luber, Cider Beans, Wild Greens, and Dandelion Jelly by Joan E. Aller.

      15 Comments on “Najat Kaanache ~ Chef-In-Training”

      1. I love the new look of the blog! Great post. I too felt lucky to be there that morning.

      2. Phil says:

        Well done, Charles. It was great to meet Najat at the garden party at the house of Stougaard in May, and she’s certainly one of the more interesting stories.

        For as much as I love our local Farmers Market, it certainly pales in comparison to what you have in Los Angeles. I’m ready to give up and make the trek further North. I’d do it if it didn’t put such a black carbon footprint on my food. We don’t see the likes of the produce you see there.

      3. Great to learn about Najat Kaanache, sounds like she will be an interesting chef to watch.

      4. Mom says:

        I got it this time, and found it most interesting. The new look is very clean and easy to read…very professional! It’s a great way for me to keep track of your comings and goings, to meet the people you are meeting, and find out what’s new. I’m so proud of you. Keep up the good work. Love, Mom

      5. Tammy says:

        Hello, interesting post, and nice to see all the faces you saw. My eyebrows went up at the green garlic, however. The green garlic here in Europe (ie Holland and France) doesn’t look like that green garlic. Is that a particular variety, or perhaps baby leek?

      6. Katie Krupp says:

        Hi Charles,
        This new site is great! I love the pictures and the writing. Now I am hungry!
        Well done.
        Love,
        Katie

      7. Kristen says:

        What a neat article Charles! How fascinating Najat’s life must be. Thank you for sharing it with us, very well written. Too bad I will be missing those brownies :)

      8. Hi Charles,
        I love the new look and congratulations on the new blog home. :) I just switched to my own domain as well. It’s so exciting!
        What a wonderful shopping experience running into all these chefs and tagging along. Have a great weekend.

      9. Sara says:

        Beautiful post Charles; what a fun adventure. And those artichokes?? Simply amazing!

      10. Robert: Thank you! I am glad you were there too. :-)

        Phil: Thanks so much. The truth is the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market is the King of All Markets but alas one I rarely get to myself because of time and distance. I do, however, get to the local ones in my area.

        Natasha: Thank you as always!

        Mom: Thank you for the very kind words and I’m so glad you will now be spying on me. Keep the comments coming so I know you are keeping up. Love from your son.

        Tammy: I had to double check re the green garlic as I took several pictures of onions that day and I confirmed that is how the green garlic looks here. Without knowing what it looks like in France I’m not sure why ours looks so different. Merci pour le commentaire!

        Katie: How nice to see you here, and thank you for the kind words. It makes me happy to know you are a reader.

        Kristen: Thank you! Maybe if we ask nicely Robert will Fed Ex you some brownies!?

        Kait: Thank you. It’s so nice having my own domain – a huge difference. Have a great weekend too. Are you cooking?

        Sara: Thanks so much. Aren’t those artichokes great? I love that they put that sign with them.

      11. Jillston says:

        Wow, YUM Charleston! Lucky you! Thanks for introducing me to Najat’s name. I look forward to hearing more about her in the future.
        Lovely pics.

      12. Every time I read about the SM Farmer’s Market I am reminded how frustrated I am by having a full time job which prevents me from going places during the works week.
        Fortunately, we have a pretty good one in Pasadena on Saturdays. It is missing the star power chefs however.

      13. Jillston: Thanks! I’m quite sure you’ll be hearing more about her. xo

        Kristina: I know what you mean. When I am working full-time it’s impossible to get to a market like SMFM. My local Atwater market is on Sunday, thankfully.

      14. Well I really like to apologies for not having the time to contact you before but is never late you know how hard I work and I travel so much …..so I’m in this lovely site of yours and is great thank you for all your effort, time and dedication ..thank you for the pictures….any thing please just ask ..much love from Spain EL BULLI ….MISIIIISSSSIING USA

      15. Gracias, Najat! Buen suerte con todos!

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