It's our September issue and we've got a local superstar for the cover as we sit down for a chat with Sunit ("Lex") Chutintaranond. Lex is the man behind some of the best and most beloved independent restaurants in Ithaca of the past 25 years. He introduced opened the first Thai restaurant in Ithaca with Thai Cuisine, then went on to create Just A Taste, Madeline's, and Zaza's Cucina*. Now Lex is putting the finishing touches on what he calls the dream restaurant he's always wanted to open, an intimate pan-Asian restaurant on the Ithaca Commons in a historic building he has helped restore. "My training is through eating," Lex tells us, and his passion for great food is the core of our conversation.
We're also continuing some "training through eating" of our own as we return to trying every restaurant in Ithaca from A-Z. We'll be talking about the unusual new setting for sushi at Capital State Kitchen, and then we head to the water for a brunch cruise on the M/V Columbia ("I'm on a boat!") with Cayuga Lake Cruises and sample the world of wines at their sister restaurant, Corks & More.
All that, plus the latest updates on what's changed on the local dining scene, including the closing of Ithaca's oldest restaurant, the Lehigh Valley House, and more news about what foodies can look forward to in our community.
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Click HERE to Listen to Episode 54
Stuff we talked about in this episode:
- Zaza's Cucina
- 2003 Ithaca Times interview
with Sunit Chutintaranond
- Capital State Kitchen
- Cayuga Lake Cruises
- Corks & More
- Don't miss the 2010 Ithaca Brewfest!
- Take the NOFA-NY Locavore Challenge
- Food Community Events at Ithaca's Food Web
- Edible Finger Lakes
*In the interest of full disclosure, a couple weeks after this interview was recorded Lex treated the two of us to an amazing complimentary dinner at Zaza's Cucina as his guests in the interest of demonstrating what he feels a true, fully authentic Italian dinner experience should be. This had not been discussed or implied prior to our interview and had no influence on the interview in this podcast. It remains our policy never to ask for or accept free meals or special treatment from a restaurant we are reviewing. We accepted this offer because we were already fans of the menu at Zaza's, we were not reviewing the restaurant for this episode (nor will we be for some time), and because frankly we would have been fools to pass up an opportunity like that -- if you are ever lucky enough to be in a similar situation we hope you'll do the same. We did tip our excellent waitress generously and we'd like to thank Lex again for his hospitality.