Tag Archives: Bill Taibe

Getting “intimate” at The Whelk’s new themed dinner series

15 Oct

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“I always wanted to draw,” Chef Bill Taibe of The Whelk shrugged off, “but I couldn’t.” When he discovered his love of cooking and went to school, he realized something great: “This is my art, this is how I draw.”

This is one of the many interesting things we learned about Chef Taibe’s perspective. Perhaps it’s that perspective, that open-mindedness that makes him such an amazing chef and restaurateur. It’s lead him to branch out from owning leFarm, to then opening The Whelk, and then to opening up Kawa Ni with his brother Jeff–three AMAZING restaurants! And although he recently sold leFarm to Chef Brian Lewis, he’s not done with his evolution and experimentation. Continue reading

Kawa Ni: Bill Taibe to Open Japanese Pub with Pan-Asian Flavors at Bridge Square Market in Saugatuck

27 Mar
Chef Taibe is outstanding in his field...

Chef Taibe will be opening his third restaurant shortly…you ready?

Update: Kawa Ni is now open and here’s our review!

We saw the news a couple of weeks ago from LeFarm:  “Signed…”  A slew of comments, congratulations, and demands for answers from hungry fans lit up their Facebook page.  Signed what?  Autographs, Declaration of Independence, soul to the devil, or a lease to a new place?  Yes, the latter…but what kind?

Some of the gyoza Chef Taibe devoured in Osaka…

Well, we got our answers when Chef Bill Taibe shared some insights with us into his new spot, soon to be the third restaurant in his arsenal of Westport hotspots.  A name?  That’s in the works now, but he does say that they are close to coming up with one, “Japanese for sure,” he promises.

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Chefs Bill Taibe and Wirt Cook Headline Outstanding in the Field Dinners at The Hickories in Ridgefield, CT

11 Mar

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Outstanding in the Field has been trekking across America since 1999…and they’ve even hit up international destinations in 2011 such as Italy, Spain, Denmark, Great Britain, and Ireland.  So, what exactly is Outstanding in the Field?  It’s literally a moveable feast, but in the form of a Winnebago that travels from farm to farm, location to location, sets up a ginormous table, pulls in some of the area’s best chefs and local food, then puts on an, well, outstanding meal.

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Two Chefs, a Food Critic, and Farmer Named to Connecticut Magazine’s 40 Under 40 List for 2014

22 Jan

Each year, Connecticut Magazine works on creating a list (with the help of readers) of 40 people who are the “Best and brightest among Generation Next.”  On the “40 Under 40” list you’ll find producers, directors, activists, musicians, teachers, motivational speakers and even some recognition for the culinary world in CT.

First up is everybody’s favorite food reviewer, Daym.  You might remember Daym Patterson from his hilariously awesome videos where he’d review some burger joints like Plan B on his YouTube Channel, Daym Drops.  And, yes, that led him to land his own TV show on Travel Channel called “Best Daym Takeout.”  Awesomeness!

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CTPost: Fairfield Cty. Ranks 2nd in US for Most Restaurants per Person

9 Jan

Maggie Gordon of The Connecticut Post just published an article called “Trending:  Where restaurants reign.”  In her article she cites a recent study done by real estate expert Trulia that shows that Fairfield County has the second highest density of restaurants to people in the entire country.  Then, taking it a few steps further, she crunched some major numbers and figured out which towns/cities in Fairfield County ranked the highest.  Some of the top places were surprising to us, while some of them weren’t shocking one bit.  

Check out the towns and cities with the highest densities and look for some commentary from Sarah Boissou of Bernard’s/Sarah’s Wine Bar in Ridgefield, Bill Taibe of LeFarm and The Whelk in Westport, and both of us, too.  

Jacques Pépin, Bill Taibe, and Tim LaBant Star in Episode of PBS’ Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking

5 Sep
Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking Screen Shot

Jacques Pépin, Bill Taibe, Pete Evans and Tim LaBant toast to a job well done

Connecticut is getting some local love and national attention with an upcoming episode of Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking. This PBS show, hosted by Pete Evans, features chefs who are the best of the best.  Pete Evans is not only one of Australia’s most popular chefs, he’s also a cookbook author, a host of many popular Australian shows, a surfer, a fisherman, and a successful restaurateur.  The first episode of Moveable Feast (there will be 13 total) will be on 9/7 with Thomas Douglas and Thierry Rautureau, the second will air on 9/15 and features Jeffrey Saad and Cortney Burns, and the third episode will feature three chefs whom you just might know. Yeah, no big deal at all, really. Just the living legend Jacques Pépin, and local and much loved celebrity chefs Bill Taibe of LeFarm and The Whelk as well as Tim LaBant of The Schoolhouse at Cannondale.

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Arik Bensimon Joins LeFarm, Carlos Baez Takes over The Spread

17 Apr

Rich, fatty, earthy...excellent pork belly atop French lentils

Rich, fatty, earthy…excellent pork belly atop French lentils at The Spread

Life’s kind of strange, isn’t it?  Chef Bill Taibe who started LeFarm and The Whelk became very well known in Connecticut when he cooked at G/R/A/N/D in Stamford, he started his own spot called Relish Food & Wine, and especially when he took Napa & Company to new heights.  When he left Napa in 2009, a chef named Arik Bensimon came in and took the reigns.  He was a chef who had received major praise from his experiences at Le Cirque and Picholine in NYC and La Panetiere in Rye.  LeFarm was born soon after.  And, from day one, Executive Chef Arik Bensimon made a name for himself again at Napa & Company plating food with heart, soul, and reverence for local food.  We were treated to an amazing dinner that Chef Arik prepared and we were really blown away…course after course.  Then this past summer we found out that Chef Arik had left Napa & Co and we all wondered…what was he up to next?  Well, he took Fairfield County by storm a second time by becoming Executive Chef at The Spread in Norwalk.  Again, we had a meal there and we really loved Arik’s rich and hearty dishes that were sprinkled with simple complexity, and vowed to come back time and again.

Local duck egg with black truffle at Napa & Co in Stamford CT

Local duck egg with black truffle at Napa & Co

And, now onto the life is strange part.  Chef Arik Bensimon has left The Spread and is now Executive Chef at LeFarm in Westport, owned by Bill Taibe.  We wish lots of great success to Arik and we’re so happy for him.  He’s the kind of guy who deserves the best.  Being Executive Chef at LeFarm, for him, will be a perfect match and can only push LeFarm to even greater culinary heights.  Seriously…make your reservations now.  You’re not going to be able to get in the door.

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Vote for Your Favorite Connecticut Restaurants and Chefs in CT Restaurant Association Contest

1 Nov

The Connecticut Restaurant Association has put together a list of some of the best chefs and restaurants from the state and needs your help.  They want you to vote on your favorites for Upscale Restaurant of the Year, Casual Restaurant of the Year, Caterer of the Year, Mixologist of the Year, and Chef of the Year.  While we do focus on Fairfield County, there are definitely some great places up for nomination that we’d love to try when we’re out yonder.  But, that’s not to say that Fairfield County isn’t represented!  Pepe’s Pizza is up for Best Casual (they aren’t just New Haven, ya know), David’s Soundview Catering (yeahhhh!) is up for Best Caterer, and everybody’s favorite badboy chef Bill Taibe of LeFarm is up for Best Chef of the Year.

Just vote by filling out the quick form here and giving your e-mail addy.  You can only vote once per e-mail address, so don’t get out of control. :P  Voting ends on November 6 at 5pm.  The winners will be honored on 11/27 at the CRA Salute to Excellent Awards Dinner at Mohegan Sun.  For details on getting tickets or being a sponsor, click here.  So, show some love to our local restaurants and vote them in!  Here are all the contestants:

Upscale Restaurant of the Year
Max Downtown
The Mill at 2T
Union League Cafe
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Flawless & creative seafood dishes with a conscience. The Whelk – Westport, CT

29 Jan

We’d be willing to bet beaucoup bucks that if you asked anyone in Fairfield County that has a soft spot for local food (including us) what’s the best farm-to-table restaurant in our area, they’d tell you LeFarm in Westport without a second of hesitation.  How could they not? Chef (and owner) Bill Taibe is a culinary God. A harvester of all things amazingly fresh from local farms and conjurer of uniquely delicious dishes that will seriously blow your mind.

Can you tell we heart him just a little? It does help that he puts some form of bacon on most of his dishes, but whatever. 

So when we found out he was opening a seafood restaurant in Westport called  The Whelk, we broke out into the most ridiculous happy dance you’ve ever seen. Could it be that Chef Taibe and his Executive Chef Dan Kardos (from Harvest Supper and Napa & Co.) were going to finally fill what we saw as a giant gapping hole in Fairfield County: a flawless seafood restaurant with a conscience? After being treated to a tasting at their friends and family opening, we can safely say the answer is MOST DEFINITELY YES!

As one would come to expect from the owner of LeFarm, the interior is tastefully decorated. It’s sort of a quaint hybrid of French Country and New England maritime with fresh white walls, beautiful wooden tables, flickering candles and unique, slightly industrial, slightly nautical light fixtures. There are intimate bench seats along the wall, two large communal tables and a ginormous bar perfect for sipping Bloody Marys while sucking down some oysters. Hear that @afarsun?

Speaking of oysters, let’s get down to the food. Mmm hmm. Unlike most restaurants, The Whelk does not categorize its dishes into appetizers and entrees. Instead, dishes are simply listed, generally in order of small plates to larger plates, though everything is smaller sized in general so you can sample lots of goodies from the sea. Love that! Depending on what’s fresh off the boat or what they’re able to source from sustainable only resources, the menu will feature creative twists on some of your favorite dishes, like oysters, po’ boys, lobster rolls and poutine. We love us some POUTINE (no it’s not dirty, you’ll see what it is if you don’t know)! And yes, there is a fantastic raw bar for those of you that like your seafood au naturale.  There’s also a nice wine and beer list featuring some local gems and some fun concoctions created by our adorably bubbly waitress, Ingrid, like the T N Tea made with tequila, chamomile tea, thyme, simple syrup and fresh squeezed lemon. Danny ordered the Old Burnside Dirty Penny Ale, a toasty, full flavored black n’ tan, while I had a full-bodied 2009 Cotes-du-Rhone blanc that was a PERFECT pairing for the dishes I ordered. So let’s get to it:

If you know me at all by now, you’ll know I started with the oysters. Usually loyal to raw oysters only (most people can’t cook ’em too well), I took a chance and ordered roasted oysters. Ok, not just roasted oysters – roasted Copp Island oysters with pancetta, shallot butter and lemon. Oh all things that are heavenly, these were the BEST cooked oysters I’ve EVER had. Only oh so slightly roasted, these buttery oysters melted in your mouth while the fat and earthiness of the pancetta balanced it right out on your tongue. Wow.

For the next soiree in my mouth (tee hee) I had the smoked bluefish croquettes with an aioli drizzle, prosciutto and a fried egg. Yeah, pretty much any time something has a fried egg on it I have to order it. These croquettes were ridiculous! So incredibly delicate and moist (ugh, must think of a better word for moist). The smokiness of the bluefish was like “slap you in the face” smokiness that worked perfectly with the salty prosciutto and the rich, fattiness of the aioli and the egg yolk. Yeah this dish was true perfection.

Danny HAD to order the octopus and squid poutine. That’s french fries smothered in beef gravy and harissa (a hot chili sauce from North Africa), topped with grilled squid and octopus. This dish may sound wacky and daring to you, but it’s a sure bet! The fries are salty, thin and are somehow able to maintain their crunchiness despite being smothered in the spicy awesomeness that is the beef gravy and harissa combo–really a unique flavor you’ve probably never experienced before. And, of course, the seafood on top was cooked to perfection which is never easy with squid and octopus. Yeah, we’ll definitely order this again.

And, for his second course, Danny got the squid ink cavetelli with red shrimp and chorizo. If you know anything about Danny, you know HE has to order anything that has squid ink pasta in it. Yeah, he’s kind of obsessed for some reason. Now, we didn’t include a picture of this dish because we have to warn you, the black cavetelli looks like some sort of giant bug, but we promise they don’t taste like it. They were cooked perfectly al dente with that distinctive salty, sea fare, squid ink bite. The shrimp, also always tough to get right, were cooked very nicely and the chorizo added the necessary smoky, fatty flavor to make it all work so well together.

For dessert I was very tempted to order the blood orange panna cotta but decided to go with something completely unique and original to The Whelk: the Ewe Blue and Joe Froggers with honey. What? Yeah, I wondered what the heck it was too! It’s ewe blue cheese from Old Chatham, NY and  ginger snap cookies drizzled with local honey.  It sounds totally bizarre but it totally works. A wonderful balance of that blue cheese bite, the spiciness of a ginger snap and the sweet, sweet goodness of honey. Definitely hits all the taste buds in just the right way. And finally, Danny ordered the Whoopie Pie–a soft, fluffy chocolatey cake sandwich with fresh, creamy smooth whipped cream filling, Yeah, just look at that sexy picture. YUMMY!

In case you couldn’t tell, our experience at The Whelk sneak preview opening was wonderful. We have no doubt Chefs Taibe and Kardos will keep up that awesomeness for years to come. So, if you love seafood you must try The Whelk out as it’s sure to be one of the best seafood joints in Fairfield County. And, if you’re the type to appreciate local, regional and sustainable food, you too must come here because they’re as authentic as it gets. It’s a win, win.

Let’s be clear:  there are no reservations except for a few tables, so come expecting a bit of a wait because people love wicked good seafood.  Good things come to those who wait, though, right?

The Whelk
Noms: 4.25 (until we’ve tried more)
Cost: $$$
Address: 575 Riverside Avenue
                  Westport, CT 06880
Phone: (203) 557-0902
Site:  http://thewhelkwestport.com
E-mail:   info@thewhelkwestport.com

The Whelk on Urbanspoon

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