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Dishing with Barton G. Weiss


Life & Style

You might say this is Barton G. Weiss’ year. The zany restaurant and events czar is fresh off the successful opening of The Villa by Barton G., an ultra-glam boutique hotel housed in the former Versace Mansion. He also just launched his highly anticipated namesake restaurant in Los Angeles this month. And he has a new book that celebrates his wild and imaginary take on food: “The Big Dish: Recipes to Dazzle and Amaze from America’s Most Spectacular Restaurant” (Rizzoli, $30).

With whimsical creations such as Lobster Pop Tarts in his repertoire, there is no mistaking his No. 1 rule: “Have fun.” (And by “fun,” he means using a shovel to serve salad and planting small clay pots with crudité vegetable as “flowers” set in black olive “soil.”) Never one to sidestep an opportunity to talk about fun and food, Previews® Inside Out recently caught up with Weiss (or “Barton G.,” as he likes to be called) to ask him about his over-the-top inspirations, his favorite summer recipes and his ultimate kitchen must-haves (he has just one).


Previews Inside Out Why did you decide to write “The Big Dish”? 

Barton G. After about 20 years of being in the event business, and after almost 12 years behind us at Barton G. The Restaurant in Miami…it was just time! Our guests are constantly taking pictures of our creations as they come out of our kitchen, and we are always asked “How do you make that?”  It just seemed like the next step—to show them how they could do it, too.  The book not only provides those great food shots, but also illustrates the recipes, provides the inspiration and stirs the imagination to create those memories that will last well beyond a night out at a restaurant. Our objective was to show how fun dining can be possible anytime, to enjoy with family and friends.

Previews Inside Out You open the book by writing, “Opportunities for elevated living are available at every moment.”  How do you create a moment of elevated living through food?

Barton G. The obvious answer is, of course…read the book! But, truly—food is an expression. The creation of a fun, entertaining meal is an expression. The imaginative, innovative presentation of a meal is an expression. Any opportunity to gather with friends and family and make memories that will ultimately last a lifetime creates countless moments of elevated living!

Previews Inside Out So much of your message in the book is about “having fun.” What are the key ingredients for having fun in the kitchen?  

Barton G. Anything you can serve food on. Be creative and imaginative. Look for things to use that no one else would or has. Nothing is more fun than that, and your guests’ reactions will be priceless.

Previews Inside Out Lobster Pop-Tarts…Marshmallow Pizza…where do you get your inspiration?

Barton G. I get inspiration from everywhere—travel, living—it’s hard to pin down. Ideas just come to me, and I go with them. That’s the beauty of just letting your mind wander and seeing the creativity come to life.

Previews Inside Out What are your absolute must-haves in the kitchen? 

Barton G. Just one…have an open mind!

Previews Inside Out What’s your favorite summer recipe from the book?  

Barton G. Sweet Garden Pots.

“The Big Dish” is published by Rizzoli and is available on Two recipes from the book are included below.

Seedling Salad


Baby vegetables are so beautiful and concentrated with flavor. I love using them for dynamic hors d’oeuvres. Gardens supply constant inspiration for me and this arrangement is another way to feature my “edible soil” as the base for healthy party food. It’s fun to collect colorful seed packets and use garden tools, twine and other garden implements as props in your garden scene.

Serves 4

Special equipment

  • 4 empty garden-seed packets

Baby Crudités

  • 3 heads baby lettuce
  • 8 baby carrots
  • 8 baby radishes
  • 8 baby green onions
  • 8 baby beets
  • 8 baby cauliflower florets
  • 4 baby green onions
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh green peas
  • 12 grape tomatoes
  • Edible Soil (page 64)
  • 4 coriander blossoms
  • Variety of edible flowers


Rinse and dry all the crudités. Fill each seed packet with some of the edible soil and spread the remaining soil on a large serving platter. Artfully arrange a variety of baby crudités on and around the soil as well as in the tops of the seed packets. Nestle the seed packets among the crudités on the platter. Garnish with the coriander blossoms and edible flowers. Serve immediately.

Edible Soil

  • 2 cups pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 pound portobello, shiitakeor button mushrooms, halved
  • 2 to 3 slices toasted pumpernickel bread
  • 1⁄4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

For the edible soil:

Preheat the oven to 160°F. Spread the olives on a baking sheet and the mushrooms on another baking sheet and dry in the oven for 8 hours or overnight. Cool completely. Transfer the olives and mushrooms to the bowl of a food processor. Add the toasted walnuts and process until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Add the toasted bread slices to the food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Add the bread crumbs to the bowl with the olive mixture. Add the remaining soil ingredients and toss until thoroughly combined. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Giant S’Mores


As if making a giant marshmallow isn’t enough to thrill your guests, we turn it out onto a board or serving platter, caramelize the surface (using a small kitchen or crème brûlée torch), and surround it with chocolate bars and graham crackers. Encourage folks to use them to dip into the warm, gooey filling of the toasted marshmallow.

Note: You can find glucose syrup at cake decorating stores and online.

Serves 6 to 8

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups confectionerssugar, plus 1⁄2 cup for the pan
  • 1⁄4 cup glucose syrup
  • 10 sheets gelatin
  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 cup cornstarch
  • Hersheys chocolate bars
  • Graham crackers
  • Regular and mini marshmallows

Special equipment:

  • You will need a standard angel food cake pan or a small food-safe plastic pail that is about 6 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter across the top. If you use a pail, you will also need a 15-ounce food can (label removed and washed) that has not been opened. Using a container with a column in the middle allows the marshmallow to set properly.

Spray an angel food cake pan or a plastic pail and soup can with nonstick spray and set aside.

Combine 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, the glucose syrup, and 2⁄3 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Clip on a candy thermometer and cook until the mixture reaches 262° F and becomes a pourable syrup.

Meanwhile, put the gelatin sheets in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit until softened. Once soft, squeeze out the excess water.

Combine the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until soft peaks are formed. With the mixer on low, add the gelatin, and then gradually add the sugar syrup mixture. Add the vanilla, increase the speed to high, and beat for 10 to 12 minutes or until the mixture is very stiff and just slightly warm.

Whisk the remaining 1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar and the cornstarch together in a small bowl. Coat the sides, bottom and middle post of the cake pan or pail and soup can thoroughly. Reserve the leftover sugar mixture.

Spoon the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle thoroughly with the leftover sugar mixture. Let sit uncovered at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours or until set.

Turn the giant marshmallow out of the pan onto a large serving platter. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the surface until deep golden brown all over. Serve with chocolate bars, graham crackers and marshmallows.


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Dishing with Barton G. Weiss

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