On this episode of “Hot off the Press” Chef Pete broadcasts from the Deep Fried Studio at the Container Yard in downtown Mobile, Ala., where he and local legend and catering king Alec Naman talk about food, family, and his journey from opening a gourmet shop to becoming the Gulf Coast’s premier caterer.
With over 25 years of experience in the industry, Naman’s Catering offers full service catering and event management for corporate events, galas, fundraisers, and weddings in Mobile and Baldwin Counties as well as the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The award-winning caterer— voted “Best of the Bay” and “Best Caterer” by the Mobile Press Register nine years in a row—offers a variety of cuisine, from southern cuisines to ethnic menus.
A second-generation Mobilian, Alec’s family immigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 1899 bringing with them old family recipes and a passion for preparing delicious Mediterranean meals. Alec grew up in the grocery business helping in the family store, Naman’s Food Market. At six years old, he was bagging groceries and making runs to the local farmer's market every morning to pick out the produce that would be sold that day. Alec’s venture into the culinary arena was almost inevitable, or as he likes to put it, “All we’ve known is food for over 100 years. If I had known anything else, I’d have probably done that.”
Well-respected as a mentor among his culinary peers, Alec attributes his success to valuing and instilling the importance of hospitality and having a servant’s heart into his leadership team.
In the latest episode of “Hot off the Press” Chef Panini Pete and partner and HOTPpodcast producer Keith Glines sit down for a spirited conversation with Atlanta-based bartender and mixologist Tokiwa (Toki) Sears about the history of bartending and the resurgence of the craft cocktail culture.
Known to many as “Miss Libation,” Toki’s resume includes time crafting c ocktails at the world famous Holeman and Finch, as head mixologist at Southern Art and Bourbon Bar in the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead, as well as the renowned One Flew South in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. During her time alongside Executive Chef Duanne Nutter at One Flew South, the restaurant was named #1 airport bar in the world by Tales of the Cocktail, a spirits and bartender convention held in New Orleans every year.
One of the top personalities in the bartending and beverage industry today, Toki’s philosophy of perfecting the art and craft of mixology is using fresh ingredients and quality spirits so that cocktails mirror the cuisine coming out of the kitchen.
The trio chatted about Toki’s recent educational excursion to Mexico where she and a dozen other bartenders were selected by Avion Tequila to study the complex process of tequila-making.
Toki recently received her BarSmarts Advanced Certification—the acclaimed, industry-leading bartender education program—and is currently studying to be a Certified Spirits Specialist.
In the latest episode of “Hot off the Press” Chef Panini Pete and partner and HOTPpodcast producer Keith Glines broadcast from Sunset Pointe to talk Tequila 101 with Cuestion Spirits Company CEO, Jason Fandrich.
A manager in the Nashville music scene, Fandrich said he reached a point when he realized it was time for a career change. In other words, he needed to pay the bills. After sending out his resume, Fandrich was approached by a major entertainment company to oversee the rum division of the business. After talking with a friend about what his next step would be, and sharing his concerns about leaving the entertainment industry, his friend reassured him, “You’re not. It’s all the entertainment industry.” But just two weeks after accepting the position, Fandrich received a call that his division had been bought out and the job was no longer available.
Shortly after, as fate would have it, Fandrich stumbled on to what he says was the best tequila he’d ever tasted at a street sampling while vacationing in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Little did he know that first sip of Cuestion was about to launch him into the booze business after all and into a partnership to distribute the tequila world-wide.
Founded in 2007 by Jose de Jesus Dominguez Figueroa and Jose de Julio Marquez Ochoa, Cuestión Tequila is 500 years in the making. According to Fandrich, distilling top-notch tequila begins with first recognizing that the process is horticulture before it’s alchemy. Not sacrificing quality for quantity is what sets Cuestion apart. Cuestion uses only matured Blue Weber agave plant aged in the fields of Jalisco, Mexico, for about ten years. Hand-picked by los jimadores, noble farmers of the fields, each blade is sheared from the core in preparation for its journey. Cuestion is aged 50% – 300% longer than almost any other premium tequila on the market in whiskey-cured, charcoal finished American Oak barrels.
The award-winning spirits which include Cuestion Tequila Blanco, Cuestion Tequila Reposado, and Cuestion Tequila Añejo, have received 24 gold medals in blind tasting competitions to date.