Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Area cook gives N.Y. a taste of Kerala

Northwest Ohioans continue to make their mark on cuisine both near and far.

Last month, Fremont resident Judy Padamadan participated in the Southeast Asian Food Conference presented by New York University, Cendrillon restaurant, and the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

Miss Padamadan prepared appam, Keralan sourdough rice crepes, at the Noodles, Pancakes, & Dumplings demonstration at the French Culinary Institute. She cooked alongside national names such as Julie Sahni, an expert on Indian cuisine, and Sri Owen, a specialist in Indonesian foods.


In New York last month, Judy Padamadan cooked Keralan dishes like appam. Here, she and her mother, Geeji, are shown with similar foods they made last year.

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“Judy also did a presentation on Kerala and the four religions there and how common festivals are celebrated,” said Amy Besa, co-owner of Cendrillon.

“I was inundated with questions about Christianity in Kerala,” said Miss Padamadan in a phone interview. “People seemed very excited about it. They wanted to hear how we celebrated holidays such as Christmas and weddings. We're Christian, but we celebrate with an Indian twist.”

For example, the Christmas celebration is very religious with food as a priority. “In a wedding celebration, appam are served as a first course,” she said. “Next is a pork roast with a mustard sauce followed by `down home' style cooking and things that are very native to Kerala. For dessert, a condensed milk noodle pudding is served.”

The three-day program had 35 speakers and featured chefs including Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, authors of Hot Sour Salty Sweet (Artisan) which just was named the Kitchen Aid Cookbook of the Year in the James Beard Foundation Awards and the design award and best food photography award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

About 150 people attended throughout the event. “These were the best speakers to represent the topics,” said Ms. Besa later. She is working to establish an Asian culinary foundation to help financially support conferences and projects such as these.

The 2001 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards were announced April 30. American Express Best Chefs in America included:

  • Nancy Oakes of the Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco.

  • Jean-Marie Lacroix of the Fountain restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia.

  • Odessa Piper of L'Etoile restaurant in Madison, Wis.

  • Michael Romano of the Union Square Cafe in New York City.

  • Ken Oringer of the Clio restaurant in the Eliot Suites Hotel in Boston.

  • Philippe Boulot of the Heathman restaurant in the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Ore.

  • Robert McGrath of Roaring Fork restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz.

  • Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Ala.

    The Great American Rib Cook-Off & Music Festival will be May 24-28 in downtown Cleveland at Burke Lakefront Airport. This year 13 master grillers will vie for the titles of “Greatest Ribs in America,” “Greatest Sauce in America,” and “People's Choice Award.”

    The teams include Famous Dave's BBQ Shack in Eden Prairie, Minn.; Pigfoot BBQ Co. in West Salem, Ohio; and Hank's BarBeQue in Mansfield, Ohio. Admission is $6. For information, visit

    Toledo will host the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off Aug. 2-5 in Promenade Park. The event is sponsored by United Health Services. Admission is free.

    Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor. E-mail her at

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