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Kids Aren't as Hyped up on Sweets These Days, Study Says

Kids Aren't as Hyped up on Sweets These Days, Study Says

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Kids today are eating and drinking less sweets than kids fifteen years ago did

Sodas, cereals, and fruit drinks. As a kid, these are a few of your favorite things. But maybe not anymore according to a study by NPD group, which reveals the exact opposite is true. Kids are consuming fewer sweets than they did fifteen years ago.

According to the study, a typical child ate or drank the 20 most common sugary sweets on average 126 times fewer last year than in 1998. Those sweets are categorized as any food or drink that is pre-sweetened. Those that kids consumed the most of were carbonated soft drinks, pre-sweetened cereals, and fruit drinks and juices.

The study found that kids drank fruit juices 16 fewer times, ate cookies eight fewer times, ate ice cream seven fewer times, and ate cake five fewer times than in 1998.

The study also found that adults are including less sugar in their diets. But with only an average 49 fewer sweet indulgences last year than 15 years ago, adults don’t appear to be refraining from sugar as much as their kids.

These numbers are based on daily eating diaries that were kept by 5,000 people in 2,000 households around the United States.

Elfin: Win Your Division Games And The Rest Takes Care Of Itself

Your local baseball heroes return to Nats Park tonight, having split a series in Miami, their first after the All-Star break.

Taking two of four from the Marlins left division-leading Washington 18-11 against its National League East rivals, whom they continue to face during their next three series, encompassing 10 games. Then after a quartet of contests at Milwaukee, the Nats return to divisional play with seven more games against the defending NL East champion Phillies and the Marlins.

At that point, it will be August 6 and Washington will have played 46 of 108 games within the division. And yet nearly half of the remaining 54 games (26) will also be against the NL East.

Division games, other than such ancient rivalries as Yankees-Red Sox and Dodgers-Giants aren&rsquot as hyped in baseball as they are in football. There&rsquos certainly more bad blood between the teams and the fans in such NFL battles as Steelers-Ravens and Redskins-Cowboys than in the duels between baseball&rsquos Cardinals and Cubs, who have been going at it since the 19th century.

But since the NFL went from six to eight divisions in 2002, only six of 16 games are played against each team&rsquos fiercest rivals. That&rsquos 37.5 percent compared to 72 of 162 games, 44.4 percent, that the Nats play each summer in the NL East. So these baseball games mean so much.

Washington&rsquos surprising rise to top of the division was fueled in no small part by its 16-9 mark in NL East play before the All-Star break. And the Phillies have crashed from five straight division titles to the basement &ndash trailing the Nats by a whopping 13 games — largely because of their ugly 11-22 NL East record, which includes losing marks against each of the other members.

The New York Mets, whom the Nats play host to the next three days, have an 18-15 division record but have fallen six games behind the Nats after being swept over the weekend by Atlanta. The trio of victories improved the Braves to 15-13 in the NL East and put them just two and a half games behind the front-running Nats. The Marlins, 14-15 in the division, are nine games back.

Washington is 6-2 against Atlanta, 4-2 against both New York and Philadelphia and 4-5 against Miami. Compare that success in the division to last season&rsquos 36-36 NL East mark (its only non-losing record against its rivals) in a year when the Nats wound up 80-81 or 2010 when the guys with the curly W&rsquos on their caps finished last at 69-93 while going 30-42 in the division.

Other than a three-game series at the San Francisco Giants that starts Aug. 13 and a four-game set with the visiting St. Louis Cardinals that begins 17 days later, the Mets and the Braves are the only opponents the Nats face over the next two months who currently have winning records. So if Washington can continue to win more than its share against New York and Atlanta, its chances of heading into the home stretch still leading the NL East are pretty strong.

It has taken seven-plus years, but third baseman Ryan Zimmerman — the last link to the original Washington campaign — and the rest of the Nats have learned their lesson. Win your division games and the rest of the season will take care of itself.

David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington&rsquos representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, &ldquoWashington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.&rdquo A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since last March. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidElfin .

Rothstein: Monday Morning College Hoops Notebook Memphis, Notre Dame & More

The Tigers are no longer in Conference-USA and that’s just what they were reminded of when they were beaten at home on Saturday by Cincinnati. The Bearcats’ ferocity wore down Memphis by the middle of the second half, and this is exactly the type of competition Josh Pastner’s team will now endure on a regular basis since they’re in the American Athletic Conference. Every team the Tigers play isn’t going to be as ferocious as Cincinnati but it’s worth noting that the bar will be significantly raised for Memphis each time they take the floor. Next up for the Tigers? A date Thursday with Louisville at the KFC Yum Center.


Nobody figures out things better during the course of a season than Mike Brey. The Irish lost their best player a few weeks ago when Jerian Grant was forced to withdraw from the school for academic reasons, but that doesn’t mean Brey won’t have this team in position to compete for a spot at the top of the ACC Standings. Notre Dame won’t be the same team as it was with Grant in the lineup, but they still have a chance to be very effective. The Irish showed tremendous grit in their win over Duke on Saturday in South Bend and have some promising freshmen in Steve Vasturia, V.J. Beachem, and Demetrius Jackson. Keep an eye on Notre Dame.


And that’s good news for VCU. Weber put on an absolute show on Friday night when the Rams beat a very good Stony Brook team, who should be in the NCAA Tournament if they take care of business in the America East. Weber scored 14 points, dished out nine assists, had seven steals, and committed no turnovers in the win over Seawolves and single handedly broke the game open at the start of the second half. VCU may have started out a little slow, but they’re 12-3 heading into the Atlantic 10 and still look very much like they’re on their way to winning 25-plus games.



The Big 12 is looking more and more like it has a legitimate case to be called the deepest league in college basketball and these two teams represent two of the conference’s best squads. Scott Drew’s team has only lost to Syracuse in the finals of the Maui Invitational while the Cyclones are still undefeated. The key match up in this game? How will Baylor’s big men — Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin — adjust to Iowa State’s front court of Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang and their ability to extend the defense. Hilton Coliseum will be rocking for this one.


This is Big Ten basketball at its best. Sparty has been off the charts since losing to North Carolina a month ago and the Buckeyes are playing like a vintage Thad Matta team. Michigan State has taken things to another level in the second half of its two conference wins against Penn State and Indiana, and seems to get stronger as the game goes along. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues against a veteran team like the Buckeyes.


The Crimson come into this game trying to earn a key non-conference win. The Huskies are attempting to end a two-game losing streak. UConn got off to an 0-2 start in the AAC after losses to both Houston and SMU on the road and returning home to play Harvard is not exactly going to be any easier. Tommy Amaker’s team has good depth and possesses the type of size up front that could give the Huskies fits on the glass. Don’t be shocked if the Crimson leave Storrs with a victory on Wednesday.


One of the biggest things that stood out to me from over the weekend? The renovations at Moody Coliseum. Larry Brown has put SMU in a position to be a national story because of the players that he’s recruited but now it looks like the Mustangs will also have a formidable home court advantage as well. The upgrades at SMU’s home arena brought a big game feel when the Mustangs beat UConn on Saturday and that’s great news for the American Athletic Conference, who need the Dallas school to continue to rise in all areas.

– I really underestimated just how good Creighton was prior to the season. The Big East due to injuries and suspensions isn’t the conference we expected it to be, but that doesn’t mean the Bluejays aren’t still a lethal team that can do damage. Creighton has culture, a first-round pick in Doug McDermott, and the type of “know how” that oozes from winning programs. I was concerned about how this team would react in a higher level league without a stalwart like Gregory Echenique, but they’re doing just fine without him.

– How does Pitt’s one-point loss to Cincinnati look now?

South Florida simply cannot function without Anthony Collins. The Bulls have lost four straight games without their junior point guard and just aren’t the same team without Collins, a player that led South Florida to two NCAA Tournament wins in 2012. Stan Heath said he hopes Collins can play Thursday when South Florida visits Temple.

Kansas State has won nine games in a row and is now 11-3 after Saturday’s upset win over Oklahoma State. A big reason for the Wildcats’ success? Their freshmen trio of Jevon Thomas, Wesley Iwundu, and Marcus Foster. Bruce Weber’s first-year players weren’t hyped up much before the season but they’re now contributing on a regular basis. Keep an eye on Thomas, who had eight points and five assists against the Cowboys.

Long Beach State is 3-1 since getting UCLA transfer Tyler Lamb eligible with the only loss coming at Missouri. The 6-5 Lamb is averaging 20.8 PPG through four games and gives the 49ers another capable perimeter scorer next to veteran guard Mike Caffey. The Big West is still somewhat open, but Hawaii, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine will all be tough to beat.

Rhode Island’s win over LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge could be the type of win the Rams need to get things going. The Rams were thought to be a trendy pick to do damage in the Atlantic 10, but are only 9-6 heading into league play after starting center Jordan Hare left the team in the preseason. Next up for Rhode Island? A home date with Saint Louis on Tuesday (7:00 PM ET, CBS Sports Network).

– If Cal can ever get healthy, the Bears could be a serious challenger in the Pac-12. Mike Montgomery’s team has a veteran point guard in Justin Cobbs and solid bigs in Richard Solomon and David Kravish. The most important thing for Cal right now? Getting both Ricky Kreklow and Jabari Bird back healthy as soon as possible. The Bears don’t have a quality front court sub for Solomon and Kravish and regularly used Kreklow up front as an undersized power forward. He and Bird need to heal quickly as this team moves forward in the Pac-12.

– Did anyone else think Houston would be 2-0 in conference play? Me neither. The most impressive thing about the Cougars’ posting back-to-back wins over UConn and South Florida? They did it without three starters — L.J. Rose, Danuel House, and J.J. Richardson. James Dickey’s club will next host Cincinnati Tuesday at 9 PM ET on CBS Sports Network.

St. John’s may have the most talent in the Big East, but that doesn’t mean it will be able to win in the Big East. The Red Storm were embarrassed Saturday at Georgetown and are now 0-2 in league play. Next up? Villanova on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.






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Let’s Travel & My Services

As a Premier Level Advisor with Glass Slipper Concierge, I am recognized for providing the highest level of customer service, experience, and knowledge in the industry. I use my personal connections and firsthand expertise to craft bespoke Disney trips for the most discerning clients. On top of that, Disney vacations are expensive and I know how to get the best value for your time and money.

My family has taken five trips to the most magical place on earth since the reopening – 9 days in July, 10 days in September/October, 7 days over Thanksgiving, 5 days in January and 6 days in February! We continue to be blown away by the thoughtful, practical and comprehensive precautions Disney has in place to safely welcome guests and cast members. I don’t have all of the words to convey how special it felt to be back. We laughed, we played, we ate too much, and we felt a level of happiness we hadn’t had in too long. I can assure you, magic is there!

Most aspects of planning a Disney vacation look different and now, more than ever, it is crucial to have the most current, up to date information based on personal experience to plan your vacation! I know these parks inside and out and am a small, one woman show. When you’re ready to travel, I’m ready to get you there!

As Premier Level Advisor with Glass Slipper Concierge, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Disney Aulani Hawaii, Universal, Sea World and to 35 countries on 6 continents through Adventures by Disney®.

Awesome Themed Hotels

Even thought I can technically drive to the park and drive home in the same day, I tend to prefer staying in a hotel. By the time we have spent the entire day at the park, I don’t want to face a two hour car ride with two exhausted kids! Legoland has two amazing on site hotels. Their original, is literally right in front of the park. We have yet to stay there, but we plan on checking it out very soon!

We have stayed at the Beach Retreat though, and I can say it is ….awesome…. Everything is themed from the restaurant, to the pool, and the little bungalows you get to stay in.

You get to stay in a little bungalow, that has one regular bed for the adults, and a set of bunk beds for the little ones! There was a box of Duplo Legos to play with and even a little bag of Legos on the beds that the kids got to take home with them!

One of my kids’ favorite parts about the Beach resort was the fact that there are little play areas outside of each group of rooms. The kids can go out there and play and parents can watch from the porch of the bungalow.

Then there is the pool! It is huge and there are giant floating Legos to play with! Not only is the pool fun, they have games, stories, and all kinds of activities for the little ones to do after the park closes for the night!

4. Fireworks

On some holidays we hang lights, on some we light candles, and on some we shoot dangerous fiery spears into the sky for large groups of people. Fireworks are the obvious and staple Fourth of July activity of choice, and for the day, we all forget just how dangerous lighting our own can be. Some choose to brave the roads, drive out to Pennsylvania or Connecticut and bring home some small rockets of their own. These risky families usually wind up lighting their backyard garden on fire or facing a small visit from the local police (which, in all honesty, would look pretty cool to your neighbors). Other, more traditional families usually choose to watch some sort of fireworks display at a park or event site, although this usually results in awkward run-ins with townies or people you never wanted to see again in your life. But the choice is yours: running into people you hate in public, or potentially lighting yourself on fire at home? Both are horrible, but either way, fireworks are involved, and they make everything more fun.

5 Commonly Found Indian Superfoods to Include in Your Diet

1. Makhana or Lotus Seeds

Makhanas or lotus seeds, which are the popped seeds of water lily plants, are now gaining popularity for their health and weight-loss benefits. The small puffed balls are low in fat and are rich sources of carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber a combination that is helpful for weight loss and better digestion.

Makhanas are a great addition to mineral-deficient diets as they carry abundant amounts of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. This comes with a plethora of health benefits such as good heart health, anti-aging, reducing inflammation, diabetes control, relieving infertility, and maintaining healthy kidneys and spleen.

When researchers used crushed fox nuts to substitute all-purpose flour to prepare cookies, they found that the cookies had lower moisture and fat content. Fox Nut flour is a gluten-free and healthier option over refined flour and it’s long term health benefits cannot be overruled.

How to include Makhana in your diet?

Dried Lotus seeds can be soaked overnight and added to soups, salads, curries, and other dishes. For weight loss, replace chips with healthy roasted makhanas as they are low in calories and help satiate hunger pangs.

2. Ghee or Clarified Butter

Wait, ghee? Isn’t ghee supposed to make us fat?

Ghee has been used in Ayurveda for over a thousand years for its therapeutic properties. In the olden days, ghee was predominantly used as a base for administering herbal remedies for various ailments.

Earlier ghee was suspected to be a reason for bad cholesterol and heart problems. But extensive scientific research indicates that moderate consumption of ghee does not show any harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels.

A baffling study on a rural population in India showed a significantly lower prevalence of coronary heart disease in men who consumed higher amounts of ghee. Moreover, the consumption of ghee led to significant improvements in patients with psoriasis symptoms.

These positive research findings support the beneficial effects of ghee outlined in the ancient Ayurvedic texts and makes it worthy of the coveted ‘superfood’ title.

How to include ghee in your diet?

1 or 2 tbsp of ghee is considered a healthy serving for the day. Consuming 1 tbsp ghee on an empty stomach is soothing for the body and helps in cell rejuvenation and healing. Ghee can also be added to your breakfast and meals to reap its benefits.

3. Amla or Gooseberry

Like Ghee, Amla is an old player in the Ayurvedic space. The word Amla is derived from the Sanskrit word “amlaki” which means “the sustainer”.

Amla is used in the two most popular Ayurvedic formulas “Triphala” and “Chyawanprash”. While Triphala detoxifies and nourishes the body, Chyavanprash is known to rejuvenate and strengthen it. Amla is rich in vitamin C and other vital vitamins that are important to our nervous system, immune system, skin, and hair.

An interesting study shows how amla can be beneficial in weight loss. Among two groups of test subjects, one group was served 60 kCals of amla for evening snack and the other group was served sweets of the same calories. It was observed that the subjects who consumed amla ate less food at night as compared to the group that had sweets.

How to include Amla in your diet?

If you don’t mind the sourness, it is best to eat them raw. You can also add amla to fruit salads and cereals so that the taste blends well. Other popular options are sun-dried amla candy, amla juice, amla pickle, and chutney.

4. Coconut

The food that is commonly available is also one that is easily sidelined. Coconut is an unsung hero that has been silently saving millions of lives around the world.

An excerpt from NDTV clearly states the connection between coconut oil and heart health. Until the 1980s, despite large amounts of coconut consumption, heart disease rate in Sri Lanka was the lowest in the world i.e. only 1 out of every 10,000 was suffering from a heart condition. Over the past decade, heart disease rates have gone up as coconut oil is replaced by refined vegetable oil.

Besides improving heart health, coconut kills disease-causing bacteria, helps diabetics by slowing down sugar release into the bloodstream and boosts body metabolism. This superfood also carries the potential to prevent strokes and brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

How to include Coconuts in your diet?

Coconut water is a tasty and nutrient-rich alternative over sugary drinks. Try replacing refined sugar with coconut sugar for its health benefits. Coconut milk and virgin coconut oil can be added to curries and sweets. Other options include desiccated coconut (naariyal buraada), coconut chips, and spreads. You would want to consume coconut-based products in moderation to keep the calorie count under control.

5. Millets

If you are looking for a better alternative over quinoa, millets are your best bet. Thanks to the superfood bandwagon, people are now realising the health benefits of these grains that were once called old-fashioned.

Replacing refined flour with millet flour improves the digestive system and keeps one full longer. Sorgham (Jowar), Finger Millet (Ragi) and Pearl Millet (Bajra) are easily available in the supermarkets and are better nutrient sources over rice and wheat.

Millet crops grow in low rainfall regions as they need less water. The crop is completely organic as it doesn’t require pesticides and fertilizers for support. Millets have an excellent shelf life and can be stored for up to two years.

How to include Millets in your diet?

Millet flour is commonly used to make rotis in several parts of the country. When you use refined flour, try replacing 30% of it with millet flour for added health benefits. Millets can also be used to make cereal porridge, idli, dosas, and upma.

Eating a Well Balanced Diet

No single food can provide every single nutrient our body needs in the exact amount needed. So it is best that we eat a combination of healthy foods, all of which balance each other out.

The title ‘superfoods’ may cause some people to excessively focus on a few specific foods, blinding them to other equally nutritious options that aren’t as hyped.

By eating a balanced diet we not only get the essential vitamins and minerals, but also prevent eating too much or too little of a particular nutrient. Importantly, a variety in our diet keeps our meals interesting and flavorful!

The cat's whiskers

The menu for Rowley Leigh's big new restaurant, Le Café Anglais, is about the most alluring document I have ever seen. It would not be a lie to say that I've spent more time mooning over it than I did in studying the brochure for the hotel where I spent my honeymoon. Ditto the new Vogue, and the Lakeland Christmas catalogue. Admittedly, my version is an early prototype, printed for me from a machine in Leigh's study in his Edwardian house in Shepherd's Bush, and since he was then (this is a few weeks ago, now) obsessively rewriting it almost every day, be warned: some details may have changed. But the bones of it - its superbly refined scope, its challenging clarity - will not waver, except according to season. As his friend Simon Hopkinson says, Leigh is one of the best cooks we have: like me, Hopkinson would cross London to eat one of his omelettes ('he is the greatest omelette-maker'). But for these dishes, I'd cross the country. More to the point, I would brave Whiteley's, the horrible Bayswater shopping centre (where his new restaurant is to be found) with its tatty Starbucks, recirculated air and humming escalators. Lately, when I picture Whiteley's, I find myself thinking: Yum. Parma ham with pickled damsons! Pike boudin with lobster sauce!

In fact, you don't have to cross Whiteley's threshold to make your way to the lovely Art Deco room - formerly McDonald's - that houses the restaurant. It has its own street-level entrance. It also has a long bar, an open kitchen, a giant rotisserie, huge windows and a ceiling so high that small birds could fly around up there and not much bother the sybarites below. And the menu? Oh, it's clever: prescriptive, but not stern (though the pudding list - fruit, ice cream, rice pudding, yoghurt - may be a little ascetic for some). Best of all, like the restaurant that made Leigh's name, Kensington Place, it is fairly priced. It begins with hors d'oeuvres, at £3, or £8.50 for three: mackerel teriyaki, rabbit rillettes, salsify fritters, and the return of a Kensington Place favourite: red pepper, anchovies and egg mimosa (according to Hopkinson, the 'perfect balance of flavours and textures'). From here, we move to bigger plates: veal tartare, smoked eel, pike boudin (to which I say once again: yes, please). Finally, mains: grilled sole, roast chicken, partridge with cabbage. You could have the perfect lunch for under £20: an omelette with ceps and a side of curly endive will set you back £9.50, so leaving you with change for a good glass of wine.

On a crisp October morning, four weeks before the big day of his opening, Leigh, somewhat nonchalantly, shows me around. 'This is the fridge, this is for the stock and this. [reaching into a cupboard] is your lunch.' He pulls out a cloth bag from Daunt's Books, which is brimming with oranges. We go out into the street and flag a taxi that takes us to Shepherd's Bush and, on the way, we bitch about various TV chefs (he has just turned down a show - too busy and, I think, far too dignified). I love his manner: he's quite fierce and mumbling, but in a good way he's the kind of man that you long to make laugh just to see his face transform (when he smiles, he looks amazingly boyish). Is he nervous about the new restaurant? Excited? 'Not really,' he says, with a sort of sigh. Later on, though, after a couple of glasses of burgundy, he admits that he does have one anxiety. 'There's no point in being too nervous, but I suppose I do worry that I might have lost it in terms of my pitch, in terms of knowing what people want. It used to be that what I liked was what other people liked. But I've got this guy working for me, and he's always telling me what the "young people" want. A cocktail list! Well, I don't want it full of young arseholes, choosing cocktails. I'm a proselytiser. I want to say: this is what's good. Not silly mixologists mixing drinks I disapprove of. One of my partners once said: [taste] is entirely subjective. It's not, I'm afraid. I think that there is a thing called good taste. "But perhaps people don't want to eat pike!"' He puts on an timid old lady-ish voice. 'Ooh, pike!'

Leigh lives with his second wife, Kate Chancellor (she is the sister of Anna Chancellor, the actor), their son, Sidney, and Kate's two children from her first marriage (he also has two grown-up daughters from his first marriage), in a suburban street that is straight out of Harry Potter - which is unexpected, though I've no idea why. It's very comfortable and lived-in, though I'm not keen on the sinister autodidact cat that keeps opening the drawer where its food is kept and simply helping itself (the more wine I drink, the more I expect it to turn round and speak). Leigh chucks his Guardian on the table and sets about making our lunch. Was he warned that I turn nasty if I'm not fed? Apparently not. But he finds it mystifying that a chef would meet someone at lunchtime, and then not offer them something to eat: 'It's a sign that they're detached from what they do.' Leigh is not detached from what he does, which is why, as well as being a brilliant restaurant chef, he is a great writer of recipes (he has a column in the Financial Times, and has written two books, one of which is called No Place Like Home, a title that says it all, really). Anyway, the truth is that he likes eating lunch. In the months since he left Kensington Place, he has put away a lot of lunches.

To start, we have the cheapest thing on his new menu: spaghetti cacio e pepe. It's one of those ultra-simple dishes that I would never have the courage to cook for someone else on the grounds that it might look as if I were a) very poor and b) not trying. You blanch the pasta in boiling water, drain it and then, in a frying pan, continue to cook it using ladles of the starchy water, as if you were making risotto. This gives it a creamy quality. Then you add eight tons of pecorino and a load of freshly ground pepper and - presto! - you're in carb heaven. All the best recipes have the fewest ingredients, he says. 'The first dish I learned to cook at Le Gavroche was watercress soup: watercress, potatoes, salt, pepper.' Then we have mullet on a salad of fennel and orange. It's completely delicious. Halfway through, his wife wanders in, and starts telling me about the diet she's on, and how much weight she has lost. 'You look tiny to me,' I say. My mouth is so full, I can hardly get the words out if I was married to Leigh, I'd be the size of a bungalow. Does she cook? 'She does puddings,' says Rowley, mouth also full. 'Sort of. ' she says. 'I did. Now, I don't even help. If he's doing it, he's doing it. I don't even peel the potatoes. I'm a bit. nervous with him now. I keep asking him things. Even if he's only somewhere in the house, I just can't do it. I'm paralysed.'

Kate has got used to having him around for the past 10 months, and is worried he is about to start working 'his arse off' again, coming home in the early hours, and leaving again at the crack of dawn. Rowley, however, thinks she is fussing about nothing. For one thing, he is only in the kitchen for about a third of the time that he is in the restaurant for another, it's no harder than any other job. 'You've still got to be awake whatever you do - moving around. It's not necessarily harder.' Will he be anxious about the reviews? Restaurants being as hyped as they are these days, the critics tend to lock on to establishments whose chefs have serious form - and Leigh has serious form - like ferrets on to a rabbit's ankle. 'No, not really,' he says. 'They can make you, but I don't think they can break you.' But this is not to say that he doesn't care. He disappears, and I can hear him truffling around in his study. When he returns, he has a faded copy of Jonathan Meades's original review of Kensington Place in the Times (it opened its wholly welcoming doors in 1987): 'This is the place, and about time, too,' wrote Meades, who knows his stuff and is kind of a tough guy to please. 'I went to King's Cross at midnight to get the paper the day it was coming out,' says Leigh. 'Now, that's a nice review. It's the best review anyone ever got from him.'

When Kensington Place opened, it was properly thrilling no PR could have created a buzz like it. The restaurant was vast for its day - 100 covers - and very noisy, but the food was serious and, more crucially, affordable (previously, in order to eat good food, you had to sell your car first, which was why fine dining was the preserve of noisy expense-account types from the City and advertising). It was a restaurant moment. 'Oh, yes, it was exciting,' says Simon Hopkinson (his own restaurant, Bibendum, opened the same week). 'It was more democratic than us - we were a bit more luxurious - but his prices just felt so right, and you knew that he'd really thought about every dish.' Leigh invented, or at least popularised, what came to be known as Modern British Cooking, a few of his dishes - foie gras with sweetcorn pancake, scallops with pea purée - becoming London classics in the process (though Leigh has since gone off them both: 'I used to have the scallops on their own,' he says. 'The pea purée was too sweet.'). He says that he felt as if there was nothing that he couldn't put on the menu, and that this was hugely liberating. Did he feel like a revolutionary? 'Yes! And it really was!' A generation of giant restaurants followed in his wake, including those of Terence Conran. 'He was in every night taking notes, though he'd never admit it. He has to invent everything himself, even the chair.'

But all good things come to an end. He left KP 10 months ago (his share in it, now sold, was 12.5 per cent), and felt strangely unmoved by his departure. 'In a sense it was just time [to go], but I also felt that it was declining, and that I was going to be dragged down with it. The funny thing is, though I really did love the place, I didn't feel a thing. When it came to goodbye dinners and my last service, I just wanted to get it over with, actually - and I am a sentimental person, usually. I'd already left, I suppose. It was a long, slow process.' Isn't it daunting, though, starting all over again? Wouldn't he prefer to have a more proprietorial role this time around (his new partner is restaurateur Charlie McVeigh)? 'Well, I will be on the stove less. But I'm no good at just hanging around. If I wasn't engaged, I'd probably just bugger off and have a game of golf. I need to be part of it.' Besides, he still has what you might call missionary zeal. His new menu 'forces the customer into being a bit more active in choosing his food', and he admits that, in the two decades since KP opened, things have not moved on in Britain food-wise as much as he would have liked. We run through some of my favourite restaurants, and he coolly dismisses pretty much of all them: 'derivative' 'not good enough' 'cynical, isn't it?' 'it's trying too hard' 'the food doesn't make me think'.

Finally, he says: 'Where do you go for a decent steak? There's nowhere. That tells you something about England.' He had hoped that the rise of gastropubs might be a good thing, but it was not to be. 'Sloppy, self-indulgent food that's always too sweet.' As for home cooking, the number of books we all buy has no bearing on anything. 'There used to be lots of really good food shops in Soho. There aren't now. It's such a class thing. Food is the main way the middle classes articulate themselves. It's all status. The working classes buy a Porsche, the middle classes go to Waitrose and buy organic bread.' Uh oh. Don't get him started on organics. 'It's complete nonsense. What's the point of watching bugs crawl all over your vegetables?' He was recently in Stow-on-the-Wold, where he saw a sign that said: 'We now sell organic pet food'. Good grief! he thought. The world really has gone mad. I presume that the autodidact cat is also clever enough to be content with non-organic treats.

Were his parents cooks? 'My father certainly wasn't. He hated my mother's cooking. She did courgettes and avocados and things that he thought were dreadful foreign muck.' He was the third of four children his mother was Irish by way of Manchester, his father was half-Jewish and Welsh (I think it's all quite complicated). His parents went into business together, not terribly successfully, importing linen, and then, later, his father travelled the country selling blankets. When Leigh was 21, however, they bought a farm on the Kent/Sussex border, and he later worked for them there, which was 'not a very good idea'. He was a rebellious boy right from the start, though he has no idea why: 'I don't know what I was kicking against, because my parents were incredibly indulgent and nice.' Perhaps he was bored? He laughs. At any rate, he hated his boarding school, Clifton College, and he tried to run away and was also expelled. But this, and the fact that he passed only four O-levels, didn't stop him from winning an exhibition to Cambridge to read English. Unfortunately, this wasn't a success either. 'I thought that I'd be challenged because I was quite clever at school, but I wasn't. The English department was dreadful. The Leavisites had been thrown out and a bunch of mediocrities had taken over.' He got in with a 'political set'. So he used to sell Socialist Worker? 'Oh, I was further to the left than that. I was very, very Bolshie. I read the Situationists [the Situationist International was a group of avant-garde Marxist agitators]. I had a lilac boiler suit.' He goes off to find me a photograph of himself. Taken in 1973, he has Lennon specs and his lip is curled in a half-hearted snarl.

He didn't get his degree and, after the stint on his parents' farm, he moved to London where he tried to write an 'intellectual murder mystery'. But he rapidly ran out of money, which is how he came to get a job as a hamburger chef at the Rock Garden and this, he loved, for all that it was supposed only to be a stop-gap: 'The compulsiveness, the theatricality, the excitement. I think I have ADHD. I find it terribly hard to sit down and write.' When his chef at the Rock Garden left and re-emerged at Joe Allen, he followed him (this is where he learned to make omelettes) and then, one day, he saw an advert for the restaurant that the Roux brothers then ran in the City. He answered it and was told that he had the job until they saw his CV, at which point, he was told that there were no jobs available. 'I said that I'd given my notice, so they went: "Oh, all right then", and I started work, but of course I was winging it: these guys all had a [culinary] grammar, and I didn't know it.' He was soon fired after he 'went down like a sack of shit', but he argued his case with Albert Roux, said it wasn't about the money, that he just wanted to learn, and he was back in. He worked for the brothers for the next four years, finally becoming head chef at the City restaurant. 'It was lunchtimes only, Monday to Friday. But I was obsessive: in at six, spent all my evenings reading cook books. At the weekends, I moonlighted at 192 [in Notting Hill, alongside his Cambridge contemporary, Alastair Little]. It was a monkish existence, really.' When he was first approached about Kensington Place, he ummed and aahed for ages, but he had his vision - for a new kind of brasserie - and when he was finally offered his own share, he jumped. It's a decision that, through all the many ups and downs, he has never regretted.

Okay, some houses were a pizza roll house, while others were a bagel bite house. You can't really have both, but you absolutely had at least one. These pizza-inspired treats didn't hide their fillings, but they were all still so good.

Even though they were more of an open-faced situation, somehow they could still have frozen centers? I don't know, maybe it was just our oven, but burning outsides with still frozen centers has been the tragic tale of a lot of my Bagel Bite experience.

Stop Hating Jeff Koons

Why “Rabbit,” the perfect art for the roaring mid-80s, continues to speak to us.

Jeff Koons is back on top, if on top means holding the highest auction price for a living artist, as hyped by the auction house responsible. Mr. Koons’s 1986 “Rabbit,” a precise stainless steel copy of a plastic inflatable toy — mirror-smooth yet with seams and puckers — sold Wednesday night at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sale for $91.1 million, the highlight of New York’s buoyant spring auctions.

It broke the record set last fall when Christie’s auctioned David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures)” — a 1972 painting the size of a small mural — for $90.3 million. But let’s get real. The hammer price for both works was actually $80 million. The “Rabbit” inched ahead by a whisker — about $762,500 — because of a twist of fate: Christie’s increased the fees buyers pay on Feb. 1. The difference was simply a matter of auction house profit-seeking. It recalls the soaring home-run statistics from baseball’s “steroid era” before testing for performance enhancing drugs became routine. The price should have an asterisk or footnote — something that says, hey, the final bids on these two art works were exactly the same. It was a tie.

Mr. Koons, who is 64, set his first living-artist auction record in 2013, when his “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for $58.4 million, also at Christie’s. Then came a precipitous drop: The artist’s big painted aluminum “Play-Doh” went for $22.8 million in 2014. Unlike “Play-Doh,” the “Rabbit,” made in 1986, has been with us over three decades, alternately loved and hated. Some of its most fervent admirers see it as the perfect work of art for its moment, the roaring mid-1980s. I don’t disagree. I also think it continues to speak to us.


Mr. Koons is a lightning rod, and has been for some time. It is fashionable and easy to hate his work. In certain quarters of the art world it seems to be required — collectors, many dealers and museum curators excepted. Its badness is a foregone conclusion, but so was that of David Hockney a decade or two ago, when many people saw his work as lightweight, and the late work of Picasso was also viewed with disdain. (It’s fashionable for the art world young to dismiss Picasso entirely, which, if you want to be an artist, is sort of like cutting off one of your legs and not admitting what the other one is standing on.) The hate is more vehement these days because there is so much hate all around us, so many problems to assign blame for and so much pain and desperation.

Auction prices are one symptom of the mess that this country, like much of the world, is in. Many of the rich like to spend their surplus income as ostentatiously and competitively as possible. And this is probably not going to change until the bottom falls out or fairer taxes greatly reduce income inequality, and the economy, the art world included, restructures itself.

But regarding Mr. Koons, a few points seem irrefutable.

He changed sculpture, bringing together Pop, Minimalism and Duchamp in a new way, partly by opening the medium to its own history and reviving it with different materials and artisanal techniques, both traditional and new. His sculptures, which are either found-object ready-mades (like his works using Hoover vacuum cleaners) or remade ready-mades (like the Balloon Dogs), can conflate Brancusi with inflatable toys and camp up Bernini, as he did with the shiny chartreuse “Pluto and Proserpina,” which also functions as a planter.

He changed the way we see the world, elevating overlooked objects, like inflatables — sometimes giving them a startling, disturbing gravity, and other times just making them bigger, not better. The sexy “Balloon Dogs” are better than any of the other balloon sculptures his 43-foot-tall flower-coated “Puppy” is better than the giant topiary “Split-Rocker,” which combines the halves of a toy pony and a toy dinosaur.

He brought color into sculpture with a new fierceness and complexity that made his objects irresistible, giving them the allure of painting and also of decorative objects. He challenges us: Can shiny be art? It is with Sherrie Levine, so why not Mr. Koons?

Finally, Mr. Koons’s art has proved resistant to easy absorption into art history. We’re still fighting about him. His pieces can be obnoxious, offensive and he’s always trying new stuff (like those planters) that unsettles and invites reassessment.

The beauty of even his best works elicits a visceral, embarrassing object lust. Liking them can feel creepy. Perhaps that is why, when he actually portrays lust, as in the pornographic sculptures he made with his first wife, they fall so flat.

Mr. Koons’s sculptures have always been covetable commodities as well as comments on commodification. But the strongest works imprint themselves on our visual memories with a striking if uneasy singleness. The various curved forms of the “Rabbit” — head, torso and legs — function as a cascade of convex mirrors. Often compared to an astronaut, the creature is at once alien and cute, weirdly sinister and innocent, weightless and yet armored. The idea that something is inside, or nothing is, is equally disturbing. “Rabbit” is intractable, a little warrior, yet it also vanishes into its reflections, which are full of us looking at it.

Money is always around art, but it has nothing to do with the making of art, the cherishing of art or the wisdom of it. With the stratospheric prices a Koons or Hockney commands, the market tries to reduce art to dollar signs, and it frequently succeeds. Mr. Koons’s “Rabbit” and the Balloon Dog sculptures are stubbornly resistant to such tarnish, laughing it off with their beauty, mystery and familiarity.

Watch the video: The Offspring - The Kids Arent Alright Official Music Video (July 2022).


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