We’ve been thinking a lot lately about the chefs, musicians, comedians, actors and others whose careers frequently take them out on the road, into more airplanes, restaurants and hotel bars than they can count. When they finally settle back in at home, what do they want to cook for themselves? We asked, and they just started telling us! Find out their answers in our series, Homecoming Meals.
James Oseland, editor-in-chief of SAVEUR, strikes us as one of the most likable people we’ve never met. In addition to running one of America’s best food magazines, he also writes books, judges Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” and photographs his food with an uncommon attention to composition. We couldn’t wait to hear about Oseland’s Homecoming Meal of choice, since we knew it would probably depend on where his unquenchable wanderlust had taken him last. He really, really did not disappoint.
“I travel a lot all over the world, and I tend to eat pretty friggin’ well. Whenever I finally get back home, I’m inspired to cook the foods of wherever I’ve been, whether it’s Indonesia, Brazil, or, most recently, Cincinnati.
To me, the best thing about the Queen City is its chili. The first time I visited, about five years ago, I paid a visit to an outlet of Skyline Chili, the most iconic place in Cincinnati to get that most iconic dish, though I was more than a little skeptical. Finely ground, heavily spiced chili on top of spaghetti, topped with kidney beans, a pile of shredded processed cheddar cheese, and a sprinkle of raw onion? It seemed more than a little goofy. But then I took a bite. My God, that stuff was out of this world! It was one of the best American foods I’ve ever eaten, everything I could want, all in one bite: savory, sweet, hearty, bright. Instant obsession.
I came home from that first trip with my suitcase loaded down with cans of chili sold at the Skyline I visited, but after my most recent visit, I decided I needed to know how to make it myself. The moment I landed in New York, I was thinking to myself, I am going to make this tonight. I had the taxi drop me off at Whole Foods instead of at my apartment, so I could pick up the ingredients and get right to work.
It turns out that Cincinnati-style chili is the perfect post-travel food: It comes together quickly and allows you time to unpack and settle in while it simmers and becomes even more delicious. But most important is the fact that it’s just spectacularly delicious. The final product tasted like where I’d just been — but it also tasted like home.”