Albert Adriá and Paco Mendez Make Mexican Magic in Barcelona – Part One- Niño Viejo

20150124untitled-EF24-105mm f-4L IS USMBU4A1907011The magic of Mexican food depends a lot on the indigenous ingredients of Mexico and has, until recently, outside of a few special places in the United States (e.g Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo and Frontera Grill), been extremely difficult to reproduce with high fidelity elsewhere. In recent years, as the availability of key ingredients has improved, the quality of Mexican cooking within the United States has increased exponentially with excellent quality popping up throughout North America. New York City has been the epicenter of this new development led by the likes of Alex Stupak with his burgeoning stable of both creative and traditional Mexican restaurants and the recent arrival of Enrique Olvera’s marvelous modernist, Cosme, amongst others. Europe would seem to present a much higher degree of logistical difficulty, but over the past year or two, Spain, in particular, has witnessed the opening of a number of high profile Mexican restaurants. None, however, are higher profile than the two opened in Barcelona by Albert Adriá and Paco Mendez. The germination of these restaurants occurred about six years ago when Mendez, who hails from the Distrito Federal (Mexico City) was working at elBulli. He and Albert Adriá thought it would be fun to open a Mexican restaurant in Barcelona. Since that time, the duo have been doing research throughout Mexico and over the past two years or so, have put the idea on the front burner, opening not one, but two Mexican restaurants within the past six months. The results, as with anything touched by Albert Adriá, are astonishing. Continue reading


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The USA Takes Silver at the 2015 Bocuse D’Or!

I’ve bee to this and the previous three Bocuse d’Or competitions in Lyon, France and the United States has always gone in with a strong team and high hopes, only for those hopes to have been dashed. Not so this year, as The French Laundry sous chef Philip Tessier along with his commis, Skylar Stover,, under the direction of Coach Gavin Kaysen along with the Team President, Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud, did not disappoint, coming away with a major upset only 10 measly points away from the Gold, which was won by Norway. Sweden, the heavy favorites going in, took the Bronze. Here is my view of the announcement,

Bocuse d”Argent 2015 from John Sconzo on Vimeo.

There will be plenty more to come from this blog in the 2015 Bocuse competition and the US gaining of the podium.

In the meantime, here is a link to the full results of the competition.


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It’s Time! Bocuse d’Or World Finals 2015!

Logo Bocuse 2015 JPEGWhile the northeastern United States will be busy digging out from a monster snow storm, a storm of a different sort is about to descend upon the Eurexpo Pavilion and the SIRHA show in Lyon, France – the world finals of the Bocuse d’Or 2015! (Click on the link for more detailed background info). Continue reading


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Clear Ice With Eamon Rockey

If you follow my Instagram feed it should be apparent that as much as I enjoy drinking a nice cocktail every now and again, I also enjoy making them. While I have managed to put together a pretty versatile and quality home bar, I have been lacking one of the items that help to make a cocktail soigné – clear ice. While working on a video with Betony General Manager and  barman extraordinaire, Eamon Rockey, we also had a discussion on how to make clear ice. Here’s what Eamon had to say.

Clear Ice With Eamon Rockey from John Sconzo on Vimeo. Continue reading


Posted in Cocktails & Libations, Cooking, Culinary Personalities, Fine Dining, Food and Drink, New York City, Photo Posts, Slow Food, Upstate NY, Video | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sowing Seeds of Creativity at Semilla

20141212untitled-EF24-105mm f-4L IS USMBU4A1601061Other than its very trendy, u-shaped kitchen counter dining area (a trend that I happen to like very much), Semilla, the small, sophisticated new restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is unlike any other I have been to. The work of the super team of Jose Ramírez-Ruiz (aka Chez Jose) on savory and Pamela Yung on bread and pastry, Semilla cooks up a style of food that is original, beautiful, a great value¹ and absolutely delicious. Billed as “vegetable-forward” the restaurant is not vegetarian, but animal flesh takes a decidedly back seat here, in stark contrast to the couple’s recent summer work dishing up themed pig roasts. Continue reading


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Laurel – A Labor of Love

Chef/owner Nicholas Elmi presenting what was to become my second favorite dish of 2014

Chef/owner Nicholas Elmi presenting my second favorite dish of 2014

The ideas of restaurants and romance revolve around each other like two dancers on a ballroom floor. There are few locations more conducive to consummating a couple’s conjoining than a quiet corner of a carefully chosen room. When the eating is exquisite, the event is all the more exciting. Though I was not there in a romantic situation, many other diners appeared to be. A superlative spot for the serious diner, Chef Nicholas Elmi’s Laurel in Philadelphia is the ideal location for a sensuous tête-à-tête with a loved one or one who would be loved, particularly if the two happen to love great cooking. Continue reading


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A Conversation With Katie Button & Felix Meana of Curaté & Nightbell

They come with what may be the greatest pedigree in the modern cooking world. Chef Katie Button and her husband, Felix Meana met while they were both working at the legendary elBulli in Roses, Catalunya, Spain. Katie was a stagiere (she was featured in Lisa Abend’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià’s elBulli) while Felix worked the front of the house (he waited on my table the first two times I dined at elbulli). Since then the married and opened up what may be the hottest tapas bar in the United States, Curaté. With the success of Curaté, they have also opened a second restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, this time one with a more American theme. While these restaurants have kept them quite busy, they have somehow found time for a few other things. I had a chance to catch up to these two whirlwinds this past fall at the 9th annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Katie and Felix from John Sconzo on Vimeo.

The original music for this video was written and  played by my talented nephew, Lucas Sconzo and his friend, Jason Beck. It was recorded and mastered at Akin Studios in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.


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The Docsconz 15 Most Transcendent Restaurant Dishes of 2014

BU4A0071This is an extremely difficult list to put together. I’ve had so many wonderful dishes over the past year, I hate to exclude the many outstanding dishes that I enjoyed. Many a meal had more than one or even a few dishes worthy of consideration, but I limited the selection to no more than one dish from any given restaurant and in some cases a whole class of great food was epitomized within a particular example. Some of the dishes were straightforward expressions of outstanding product prepared with great skill, while others were more elaborate in their preparation. The basic commonality was absolute deliciousness. For me, these were the best of the best, the most thoroughly transcendent restaurant dishes I ate in 2014! Continue reading


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The Docsconz Top 25 Restaurant Meals of 2014

Chef Matthew Lighner and his kitchen team at Atera

Chef Matthew Lighner and his kitchen team at Atera

This list is entirely subjective as they always are. Food is certainly the biggest single factor in my rankings, but ultimately the rankings are determined by the entire experience from food to service to ambiance to the mood that I was in or that developed for me. I was once again extremely fortunate to enjoy a year of outstanding dining, including many at restaurants that fell shy of this list. I hated to leave so many great meals off, but if I included every one, the value of the list would be reduced. Twentyfive is enough to provide depth, but not so many as to be unwieldy. These below, were the restaurant meals that meant the most to me over the year. The most difficult rankings to differentiate were 2-4, as all three meals were absolutely incredible. I ultimately chose to give the highest ranking to 41º in honor of its progenitor, elBulli. It was a worthy heir that itself has since closed awaiting yet another iteration as the forthcoming Enigma. Continue reading


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My Most Memorable Meal of 2014

Beef Heart from Mack Brook Farm grass-fed beef

Beef Heart from Mack Brook Farm grass-fed beef

It didn’t take place at a restaurant, so it didn’t make my Top 25 List, but it was pure magic nevertheless. Perhaps it was all the more sweet because it took place at my home, but I suspect a meal like this would have been just as sweet wherever it occurred. It combined primo product, super people, live fire and a spontaneous onslaught of off-the-cuff cooking, winning wines and marvelous mixology after what had already proved to be a wonderful weekend of food, drink, cooking and touring the farms and lakes of northeastern New York. Oh, and it involved a Michelin two-star chef (should be three IMO), his chef de cuisine and their restaurant’s resident botanist. Continue reading


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