Diane Forley and Michael Otsuka
For nearly two decades, both Diane Forley and Michael Otsuka established themselves among those leaders of America’s culinary revolution who helped define a new American cuisine. It comes as no surprise that when the two chefs met at the Masters of Food and Wine Event in 1999, their shared passion for food sparked a romance that eventually led to their marriage in January 2001. Today, in a natural extension of their personal relationship, these highly successful chefs share their combined culinary perspective at the couple’s restaurant, Verbena.
Diane and Michael remember being immersed in their families’ culinary roots from an early age. As Diane explored the foods of her parent’s diverse Egyptian, Guatemalan, and Hungarian ancestry, Michael—the son of a Japanese-American father and Viennese Jewish immigrant mother—learned to make traditional Japanese dishes with his paternal grandmother. Each credits their diverse family backgrounds with fostering an early appreciation for global ingredients and culinary sensibilities.
Upon graduation from high school, Diane and Michael were fortunate to train early on with several prominent chefs—she with Alfred Portale and David Burke; he with Joachim Splichal and Claude Segal. After their American introduction to great cuisine, both Michael and Diane furthered their culinary education in France with such masters as Michel Bras, Jacques Maximin and Michel Guerard. Returning home, they each landed rewarding chef positions. Michael served as executive chef of several kitchens, most notably Patina in Los Angeles. Diane opened Verbena in New York City.
Today, after seven successful years running Verbena on her own, Diane has joined with Michael in recreating both the restaurant’s menu and interior design. As co-executive chefs of Verbena, Michael and Diane showcase a collaborative vision they describe as a contemporary approach to fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere.
They are also two of the sweetest people I have known. Their daughter Olivia Otsuka, is growing up into a precious young girl and is often found in her stroller in the Union Square Famers Market or at Verbena. She has added yet another wonderful dimension into the life of this fascinating couple.
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THE ANATOMY OF A DISH
by Diane Forley
Diane Forley shows how to build a dish—and a menu—from the vegetable on up in this innovative cookbook that looks at flavors through a botanical prism.
Forley's fascination with the properties and groupings of fruits and vegetables—in the garden, in the kitchen, and on the plate— suffuses and defines The Anatomy of a Dish, a classic collection of recipes that is interspersed with botanical information and charts.
For Forley, vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes define flavor, texture, and sensibility in cooking. The progression of recipes reflects this attitude. The first part looks at vegetables one at a time, and details some of Forley's favorite ways to prepare them. All are wonderful dishes on their own, but they also form a foundation for the rest of the book. For example: Simple lentils are served with vinaigrette or made more substantial with the addition of shredded duck confit and diced roasted sunchokes, or paired with roasted monkfish. Other recipes include Baby Lamb Chops with Roasted Eggplant Salad with Sesame Dressing, Apple and Leek Hash, Roasted Winter Vegetable Stew, Sauteed Salmon with Corn Sauce, and 200 other recipes.
Cooks who care to broaden their culinary horizons will find this unique approach as delicious as they'll find Forley's recipes, with their straightforward charm and exceptional soaring flavors.
Diane will award three books at random to participants at the end of this Q&A. If, however, you're not lucky enough to win one you can purchase one here
Welcome Diane and Michael!
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