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Tastes & Traditions: Duck Liver Parfait with Elder Flower Gelee

Tastes & Traditions

DUCK LIVER PARFAIT WITH ELDER FLOWER GELÉE BY CHEF JOHNNY BESCH

Friday, May 4, 2018

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Ingredients:



Duck Liver Parfait:


Duck Livers, Fresh 500g
Shallot 10g
Garlic 10g
Butter 150g
Cream 230g
Eggs 5 ea.
Salt 7g
Cognac 30g
TCM 2g

Elderflower Gelee:


Elderflower Liqueur 100g
Ver Jus Blanc 50g
Sheet Gelatin 4.5g

Huckleberry Pickle:


Costal Huckleberry 200g
Red Wine Vinegar 200g
Eau 130g
Sugar, Granulated 70g
Juniper Nerry, Dry 50g

Duck Liver Parfait :

Sauté shallot and garlic, set aside to cool perfectly. Scale out remaining ingredients, melt butter.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Combine in vita prep. Puree on high 30-45 seconds. Pass mixture through a chinois.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Fill glass jars with 100g of liver base.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

In a hot water bath steam/bake at 150°C for 25-30 minutes until pate is set slightly firm. The mixture will soufflé and have a slight bounce.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Elderflower Gelee :

Combine Elderflower liquor and Ver Jus in a small sauce pot and warm up to 90°C. In a small container pour cold water over gelatin sheets to hydrate. Once hydrated remove from cold water and whisk into warm Elderflower mixture. Pour over perfectly chilled duck liver parfait and place in walk-in box to set firm.

Huckleberry Pickle :

Make a sachet out of Dry Juniper with cheese cloth. In a small sauce pot combine vinegar, sugar, water and juniper sachet. Bring pickle up to 100°C and cool down before pouring over fresh huckleberry. Place pickled huckleberry’s in a airtight container and refrigerate for 24 hours before use.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann



Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: Elvéo Spatula, Frypan, Sautepan, Exoglass® Strainer, Automatic Funnel.

Chef Spotlight: Johnny Besch

Chef Johnny Besch

Chef Spotlight

JOHNNY BESCH

Friday, May 4, 2018

BLVD restaurant and its chef Johnny Besch

PWINDY CITY: JOHNNY BESCH

All Chicago was a buzz last June when BLVD opened its doors in the West Loop, an area which had previously a rough reputation, but where today is known as the breeding ground of up and coming chefs.

It is an area where an industrial atmosphere collides with elegant restaurants. We discover diversity in cuisine styles, which give rise to an electrifying atmosphere. BLVD restaurant and chef Johnny Besch’s menu, all make sense in this unique district.

At the helm of this trendy new table, chef Johnny Besch. The made in America traveler, with his titan stature has come home to settle his pots and pans in his native town, and this time he’s decided to stay here. Here, at BLVD, he moves within a cinematographic setting inspired by Art Deco and works for a clientele made up of businessmen and hip young Chicagoans.

Chicago’s BLVD restaurant in the US state of Illinois is a unique establishment in a 1950’s Hollywood style setting. A glamorous site that is suspended in time between the past and present, gives rise to an exciting setting. At BLVD Chicago, the cuisine reignites American cuisine from the 1950’s with beef steak and potatoes, inspired by world cuisine, revealing a cultural blending and flavor explosion.

Chef Johnny Besch   

Meeting chef Johnny Besch:

You propose a menu in two parts: dishes to share and individual plates. Is this a common concept in Chicago?

Here, not all restaurants propose a concept of sharing. Most of the time, traditional tasting menus are served in very small portions with a maximum of two to three bites. At BLVD, I work with larger portions because our dishes are designed to be shared by four, five or six people. I’m very attached to this style of shared cuisine. In the last ten years in the US, chefs and caterers are really trying to push this. You know, Americans are used to eating for themselves, in an egotistical way. Among our clientele, we have a lot of businessmen in their fifties. For them, the concept of sharing doesn’t really work. But, on the other hand, friends or families like sharing dishes as it’s friendlier. They’ll choose two or three starters, two or three mains… We send them out and everything is set out on the table before them and that way, everyone gets what they want!

Chef Johnny Besch

Chef Johnny Besch

What are the latest culinary trends in Chicago?

Oh, there are plenty! I’ll just mention a few; firstly a Middle-Eastern influence, flavor combination, spices and plating styles. Then, there’s a big trend to respect seasonality, to work with products from local farms, and this comes from the request of the customer. Some chefs highlight independent farms, which I do too. I’ve met with producers who supply me with mushrooms, flowers, ducks… At the moment I work with Closed Loop Farms, a network of regional urban farms around Chicago, that connects the producer to the consumer. For example: the Chicago Mushroom Company for mushrooms, or Publican Quality Bread for bread. This proximity with the farmer is one of the biggest trends in Chicago.

Who are the chefs who inspire you?

Everyone I’ve worked for! And I’ve learnt from many prestigious French chefs in the US. Including Alain Ducasse at Mix on the Beach at W Retreat and Spa, in Puerto Rico. He has about 30 restaurants, and inspires me greatly, he’s an ultra-perfectionist: ingredient intensity, style, esthetics … a beautiful experience, difficult but excellent! He’s one of the founders of French cuisine. Before him, I worked with chef Laurent Gras at L20. It doesn’t exist today but it was one of the two Michelin three-star restaurants in Chicago. I learnt a lot from him too. I spent ten years on the west coast, and worked for a “master chef”, Philippe Bulot at Heathman Restaurant. A great source of inspiration for me … And when I came back to Chicago, I moved around a lot, even if it wasn’t overseas as much as I would have liked. I’m going to South America at the end of the year. And I’d like to go to Europe. I’ve never been there but it’s my next destination!

Chef Johnny Besch

Are you influenced by French cuisine?

Very much! I’d even say that I spend most of my time working with French cuisine, but not exclusively. Of course from the years I spent in Puerto Rico and Central America I’ve been influenced by Latin cuisine and its ingredients. I’m also strongly influenced by Asian cuisine, especially Japanese.

Chef Johnny Besch

Would you say that French cuisine is more demanding?

You know, success for me is first and foremost the customer who appreciates their dish. I think that many chefs are obsessed with perfection. And for us, perfection is a direction but not an end in itself. For example, I don’t think our style of cuisine is Michelin style. I wouldn’t refuse a star of course, but it’s not my main goal.

Matfer and chef Johnny Besch:

For several years, Matfer and chef Johnny Besch cultivate a trusting relationship around a common value: the respect in the work of the product. Chef Johnny Besch attaches importance to the choice of ingredients that he will then work with. Together, we strive to sublimate the products when they come to be cooked. A desire we find when he evokes the Matfer utensil he prefers: the dough scraper, A Matfer utensil that has followed him around for several years, and which is in line with his vision of cuisine, where the product is at the center of attention and should not be wasted.

Chef Johnny Besch

When did you meet Matfer?

I knew Matfer about 10 years ago. For me, this French brand symbolizes quality. And especially in pastry as Matfer is without a doubt, the best brand by far.

What is your favorite Matfer utensil?

My favorite tool is my scraper! I’ve been using it for years. For me, it’s essential to get to the bottom of a bowl and reduce the amount of waste. I also use it to cut and divide doughs into portions, to mix, and for a lot of other things. It’s easy to hold, and I’ve tried several, but this one is the most appropriate. I’d also say the whisk, very practical and resistant to high temperatures.

Chef Johnny Besch

You have tested the Prep chef professional French fries cutter. What do you think about it?

It’s great for preparing fries for example (discover our professional French fries cutter Prep chef). You can do everything with just one hand! We can cut them small, the pieces are regular and it’s not as dangerous as the mandolin for example. Just put in the potato and presto! It’s safe and efficient.

Chef Johnny Besch

Express resume of Johnny Besch and his career path before BLVD

Chef Johnny Besch

 

Born in Chicago in 1981, Johnny Besch left for Portland, Oregon when he was just 20 to train at the Western Culinary Institute, a well-known school, and until recently known under the name of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. After graduating in in 2004, Johnny worked for two years as sous-chef at the gastronomic restaurant Epicure before becoming chef de partie at the Heathman Restaurant & Bar for French chef, Philippe Boulot until 2009.

Johnny then left Portland and returned to Chicago, working as chef de partie at the Michelin 3-starred restaurant L2O under chef Laurent Gras’ direction until 2010. At that time there were only two three-starred restaurants in Chicago!

Travel called again to the eager young chef who accepted the position of sous-chef at Mix on The Beach, the Alain Ducasse restaurant at W Retreat & Spa on the island of Puerto Rico. In 2011, Johnny returned to his hometown to become executive chef at Bistro Bordeaux, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, in Chicago’s northern suburbs, working alongside the Bordeaux restaurateur Pascal Berthoumieux. In 2013, feeling the need to return west to work with ocean products, he ran Pickled Fish at Adrift Hotel & Spa, an 80-room hotel in Long Beach (Washington). He then moved to Cape Cod as executive chef and culinary director for Tap City Grille and Beech Tree Cantina, running a team of 50 staff.

In all, Johnny Besch spent a decade in the Pacific Northwest to learn alongside the best chefs. In returning to Chicago, Johnny joined Sancerre Hospitality to open their flagship restaurant, BLVD in the West Loop district in June 2017.

Tastes & Traditions: Brioche with champagne

Tastes & Traditions

Brioche with champagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Ingredients: (Yield : 12 brioches scaled 400g)



Champagne preferment:


Bread flour 450 g
Fresh Yeast 12 g
Champagne 375 g

Dough:



Bread flour 1500 g
Salt 53g
Fresh Yeast 20 g
Sugar 300 g
Milk 375 g
Whole eggs 525 g
Butter 790 g
Golden raisins 600 g
Rum 60 g

Macaron Mix:



Almond paste 50% 270 g
Whole almond powder 525 g
Oil 115 g
Corn starch 115 g
Egg white 200 / 300 g
Vanilla paste 40 g

Finition:



Chopped whole almonds 150 g
Confectionary sugar
200 g

Preferment:

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Mix the preferment with a spatula and store overnight in the cooler.

Dough:

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Mix the dough in planetary mixer like a brioche : preferment, flour, salt, yeast, sugar, milk, eggs 5 min. in 1st speed, then 10 min. in the second speed (until the dough doesn’t stick on the). Add the cold butter and mix 5 more min. in second speed. Add the soaked raisins and mix at first speed until incorporated. Let rest the dough at room temperature during 45 min. Divide and preshape, let rest 10 more min.

Shape:

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Shape and put in exoglass brioche molds. Proof 2 hours at 80 F.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Preparation of the macaron mix:

With the paddle in a kitchenaid mix all the ingredients together and adjust the consistency with more or less egg white.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

The mix must be spreadable, but not liquid.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

At the end of the second fermentation, use a piping bag and a rubban nozzle on top of the brioches.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

With a stainless steel sieve cover the brioches with icing sugar.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

Bake at 320F during 30 min. in a convection oven or 356F during 35 min. in a deck oven.

Brioche with chapagne from Pierre Zimmermann

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: MIXING BOWL, EXOGLASS® SPATULA, DOUGH CUTTER, EXOGLASS® BREAD MOLD, ALUMINUM SCOOP.

Chef Spotlight: Pierre Zimmermann

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

Chef Spotlight

Pierre Zimmermann

Monday, April 2, 2018

Pierre Zimmermann's soul is Alsatian, and his heart Chicagoan. From Schnersheim to Old Town, on one fine day in 2009, he took the step to sell the family bakery in the Bas-Rhin and move to Chicago. With his wife Michèle and their two sons, the master baker founded La Fournette, with the idea of recreating his own small local bakery here. It was without counting on the American dream! Today, eight years later, this bakery world champion enthusiastically manages a flourishing business which has become a benchmark for chefs and local clientele alike.

Chef Pierre Zimmermann   

How did you arrive in Chicago?

Between 2000 and 2010, I’d come to Chicago twice a year to teach at the French Pastry School. Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sébastien Canonne, the founders of the school needed technical advice for breads and viennoiseries. That’s how the story started! At the beginning I jabbered a few words in English, and in my opinion it was a disaster for the students! (Laughs) But, as the years passed, the idea of opening a business germinated in my mind and in my wife Michèle’s. Then one day in 2010 we sold our Alsatian company of over 110 years to come here. We gave ourselves two years to build the concept. Of course to begin with, our idea was a bit smaller and even improvised in a French way of baking bread out the back and producing it out front. But in a city like Chicago, that type of concept doesn’t last long. Faced with a huge demand, we quickly moved on to plan B. In the United States, anything can happen!

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

How was the transition to increased production?

In the end, we didn’t go through the small shop stage that we’d dreamed of, because rents are too high to have a production area in the city. So we very quickly decided to split production and sales. We took a large empty warehouse and had everything built on plan. It was a colossal project for us coming from a small village with only four hundred inhabitants! And we opened on the July 14 2012. Today, we have two units. We got our hands on the one next door and we'd like to buy the next one.

How do you explain La Fournette’s success?

This city had a real need for artisanal bread. Chicago isn’t like Paris where you can go from one patisserie to another. I think La Fournette’s success is mainly due to the quality of our products and the fact that we use natural primary ingredients, even with large scale production. Making fifty baguettes without using improving agents is easy, but when you’re talking about making more than a thousand, then it becomes a real challenge. Also, we have retained a totally artisanal concept, and not mechanized production.

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

How do you maintain a traditional mode of production when you produce so much?

We have only multiplied the number of “arms”: we started out with fifteen and have fifty today. The three thousand breads we make each day are all manually shaped, in a very traditional way; with no preservatives, improving agents or food colours. This also applies to our macaroons; all made with natural food colours. The market exploded and last year we produced one and a half million.

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

Does the majority of your turnover come from B to B marketing?

Yes, we supply bistros such as chef Domique Tougne’s (Chez Moi), but also gastronomic restaurants. Our signature is bread and viennoiserie. We also work with hotels for the “VIP receptions” part which represents 50 to 3500 viennoiseries per hotel: Renaissance, Sheraton, Sofitel, Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Blackstone,… The quality of our products is known in Chicago and many chefs want to work with us as we select our ingredients and try to be as “green” as possible. From local farms and mills I’ve found butter and flour with equivalent quality to French products. Our eggs come from free range chickens, without antibiotics and our products will shortly be guaranteed without GMOs. At the moment, we are working on a new range that is even more natural, artisanal and local. This is our footprint.

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

Since when does this demand for traceability exist in Chicago and the United States in general?

It has been a very strong phenomenon for the past five years. The customer is of course interested in the chef who prepares their dish but also the ingredients. Fifteen years ago, French chefs were considered gods in the US, and all they said was taken for granted. Today, it’s a very different story. We are not considered credible if we buy flour filled with preservatives while we say that we use premium products. It is necessary to go to the beginning of the chain, and yet the hardest part was to find people with whom to work sustainably. For example, to make macaroons, we buy almond powder directly from a farm near San Francisco. This is because we have specific hydrometric and particle size requirements. Today, we use a crate of almond powder every week!

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

When did you start working with Matfer?

In the Alsace, I already had Matfer equipment. You know, the catalogue is in every bakery-pâtisserie in France! So I continued when I arrived in Chicago, especially since Matfer was one of our partners at the opening of La Fournette: the company helped us greatly with purchasing our equipment. It is an important choice because when chefs come to the laboratory, the fact that we use Matfer, to them, is a true guarantee of the quality of the equipment.

They say to themselves : “this is a specialist, and if he chose this brand, then there is a reason for it!”

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

 

What utensil do you prefer using?

All of our sandwich bread moulds are in Exoglass. Firstly, the thermal conduction works very well. Then, honestly, there is a real difference between a metallic mould which will always transfer a taste to the bread, which isn’t the case with Exoglass, even with highly hydrated doughs. And for slow fermentation, it’s unbeatable, it doesn’t budge! In the dishwasher, Exoglass holds its own compared with metal moulds. For me, it’s a real advantage. Another advantage with Exoglass moulds is that you can directly shape the dough in the moulds and bake them the same day; you can put them in the refrigerator to bake the next day or even in the freezer before proving. This means you can bake fresh products every morning.

 

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

 

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

Another indispensable product?

What’s seriously missing here, are dough containers, so we had them brought over from Matfer France. Stackable containers are a problem with cooling in the refrigerator due to the insulation, whereas trolleys with eight containers leave enough space with good air circulation which ensures better control of fermentation.

Could you share a chef’s tip with us?

To waste less icing sugar on my brioches, I place the Exoglass moulds in such a way that the edges overlap before sprinkling. It’s just a little trick which divides the surface of sugar in two, which is usually lost down the sides of the mould.

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

 

And finally, do you miss the Alsace?

Leaving the Alsace for Chicago was a huge challenge for all the family since we’d never lived there. But Chicago is becoming a little Alsatian; there are a few of us who come together regularly here

“Alsatian mafia” rules! (laughter)

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

 

At the age of 15, Pierre Zimmermann started an apprenticeship at Naegel, a patisserie in the heart of Strasbourg where his friend Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of the French Pastry School (Chicago), also made his debut. Two years later, he ‘returned home’ and joined the family bakery in Schnersheim in the Alsace, where he proudly represented the fourth generation. At the same time, Pierre pursued his studies at the Chambre des Métiers d’Alsace and the Lenôtre school in Paris. He sat the Brevet de Maîtrise (Master’s qualification) in pâtisserie-confectionery-ice cream and that of baker, before brilliantly entering the competition arena. In 1996, it’s the Holy Grail: he won the Bakery World Cup. In 2008, it’s he who coached the French team at the World Cup and is yet again victorious. At the same time, between 2000 and 2010, he taught at the renowned French Pastry School, where he proposed the bakery-viennoiserie programme and created the “Bread program – l’Art de la Boulangerie”. In 2010, he founded La Fournette, working with his wife Michèle and their two sons, Luc and Nicolas. Master Baker, Master patissier and Bretzel d’Or, Pierre Zimmermann is also Member of the Académie Culinaire de France (The French Culinary Academy). He also won the prize for “Best Baguette Chicago 2017

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

Chef Pierre Zimmermann

Tastes & Traditions: Hybrid Desserts

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

Tastes & Traditions

Dining in the Age of Digital Dessert

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In a Millennial-informed age of “too much is never enough”, dessert is no exception. While the top trends in delectable sweets used to focus on pairing unusual and unexpected ingredients, the recent rise of hybrid desserts - the innovative combination of two distinct dessert concepts into one - has officially assumed the spotlight. Pastry chefs across the country are getting creative with the latest trend that combines two pastry staples into one sweet surprise.

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

Perhaps one of the most illustrious examples is the Cronut (croissant + donut) made famous by New York pastry chef, Dominique Ansel. What seems like a donut on the outside, once ravenously bitten into, reveals itself to be a buttery, flaky, and often times filled croissant on the inside. In fact, the Cronut became so popular that a trademark was issued to protect the name. Now numerous adaptations exist such as "dossants."

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

In a similar fashion, Zac Young’s holiday-themed mash up, “PieCaken”, put a spotlight on his restaurant and career - this luxuriously rich hybrid pastry includes decadent layers of cake and holiday pie with a finish of oat streusel. Not unlike Ansel’s Cronut, Young’s PieCaken resulted in a firestorm of braggadocious social media posts from sugar-saturated fans lucky enough to get in on the highly addicting and ever-so-trendy action.

With the modern pastry market now rife with everything from crepe cakes to churro ice cream cones, the question must be asked: what's driving this trend’s popularity? Perhaps it’s an increasingly health-conscious generation choosing to eat less sugar and thus wanting to cram as many sweet flavors into one serving as possible. Or - and this would seem to be a more likely assertion - perhaps it’s the democratically-driven peer pressure of social media and hybrid desserts grabbing more of our collective attention with the all-too-rampant fear of missing out (FOMO).

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

In recent years, there is no mistaking social media’s influence throughout the culinary space, providing a landscape where digital influencers and a mass audience protected by the screen between them and their subject matter have the combined power to make or break the success of a dish, restaurant, and/or chef within a single post. So for the time being, it would seem hybrid desserts are enjoying the favor of the social audience at large - and the chefs responsible for leading the charge have the collective approval of their consumers from a granular level.

Who’s to say what the next socially-driven food trend will be? For the time being, we say let them eat PieCaken. Read more about hybrid desserts in this month's featured Chef Spotlight with Sherrie Tan.

Tools for the Taste

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: Revolving Cake Stand "Stabilodecor", Offset Spatula, Bourgeat Excellence Sauce Pan Without Lid, Non-Stick Crepe Pan, & “Tradition” Flared Sauté Pan Without Lid.

Chef Spotlight: Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Spotlight

Sherrie Tan

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Moving to upstate New York at the age of 19 to attend The Culinary Institute of America after spending her childhood in the Philippines, chef Sherrie Tan has never been shy about pursuing her passion in pastry. She began her post-graduation journey under esteemed pastry chef Gale Gand at her restaurant Tru in Chicago, moving on next to the renowned Charlie Trotters as assistant pastry chef. She followed this with a stint at the Peninsula Hotel before deciding on a change of pace, taking on new challenges as a cake decorator at Chicago-based Sweet Mandy B's in 2009. Sherrie has since flourished in the world of cakes and cookies, becoming Sweet Mandy B's head pastry chef in 2011. Lucky for us, she sat down to talk about her love of baking while making us a Key Lime Crepe Cake with Pineapple Coconut Jam to toast to the arrival of summer.

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

Your dessert is inspired by your Philippine heritage. What are some other key flavors from the Philippines you love to bake with?

I actually wanted to do something with ube, because I want the real thing like I can find back home. It’s hard to get it in the U.S. unless you’re friends with someone who actually grows it. I’m actually going to Hawaii to meet with my family next week, and I’ve asked them to bring me some ube goodies!

What does ube taste like?

It’s a root vegetable, and it’s very subtle. It’s very similar to taro, but less starchy. Because of it's subtlety, you put a lot of ingredients on top of it to compliment it's delicate flavor.

Chef Sherrie Tan

While we're talking about foods from other cultures, what culinary culture do you think has the best desserts?

You know what, I love Japanese desserts. They aren’t too sweet – some people may consider Japanese desserts to be bland because they’re less sweet – but I feel like their techniques are so spot on! The Japanese have borrowed a lot from other cultures, like French techniques mixed with Japanese technology. I just love how subtle, simple and clean the desserts are there. And every single component is perfect.

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

We understand the allure of a crepe cake. For those of us not familiar, why a crepe cake?

I like the texture of it, and it ends up being really visually appealing while still tasting good. It’s worth the extra labor time you have compared to a standard cake.

Speaking of extra labor, are there ingredients that you find particularly hard to work with?

There aren't really difficult ingredients so much as there are difficult preparations. Let’s say you’re making Thai curry ice cream. I like to make the base on my own by getting the raw ingredients and pounding it with a mortar and pestle – that takes a while. With challenging ingredients, it's more the process that can be tricky – and that's where using the right tools comes in! Although maybe when you use fresh coconut that you have to crack into – sometimes that can be pretty difficult!

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

Other than the standard chef’s knife, which no good chef can live without, what kitchen tool do you find indispensable?

Definitely rubber scrapers. Both professional chefs and home cooks need that in the kitchen, so you’re using all of your ingredients and wasting nothing.

A couple of years ago you saw a rise in global street food and correctly called it as one of the culinary world’s next big trends. So what’s next?

I think Filipino desserts and cuisine are on the rise. Filipino dishes and flavors have already started popping up, but I think it’s happening more rapidly now. Pretty soon your grandma is going to be asking you, “What’s ube? Where can I find it?”

Chef Sherrie Tan

How has baking in an “old-fashioned dessert” spot shaped your baking style?

My training is mostly in fine-dining, so it was a bit of a culture shock for me to end up baking old-fashioned, home-style desserts. But it opened my eyes. Before I started at Sweet Mandy B’s, I felt like I just had to have to best ingredients for everything all the time. When you’re in fine dining, you use all of these fancy ingredients and have access to that. While I really appreciate that, I think there is beauty in something simple and approachable. There are more great desserts out there other than fine-dining style plated desserts. 

Since we've been talking about desserts this whole time, we can't let you go without asking: Do you have any guilty pleasure junk foodS?

A lot! It’s really bad. Everything doughnuts. Even Hostess! There are also these things called Tastykakes from Philadelphia that I absolutely love. I could eat a whole box of their Butterscotch Krimpets.

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

As a baking expert, do you have any advice for someone who is intimidated by baking and pastry?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! I still make mistakes every day. I’ll still burn a tray or two of cookies or cupcakes sometimes. That’s just the way it is. You just have to do it, and if you make a mistake, you try to do it differently the next time – maybe use a different technique or tool. Change up the ingredients and read up on cooking as much as you can. There is no way to get the intimidation out of the way unless you actually do it.

Tools for the Taste

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: Revolving Cake Stand "Stabilodecor", Offset Spatula, Bourgeat Excellence Sauce Pan Without Lid, Non-Stick Crepe Pan, & “Tradition” Flared Sauté Pan Without Lid.

Tastes & Traditions: Coffee in the Spice Drawer

edible flowers

Tastes & Traditions

Coffee in the Spice Drawer

Thursday, June 1, 2017

General interest in boutique and artisanal coffee shops has exploded over the last few years as baristas are looking to more complex and interesting forms of brewing. That coffee can inspire such attention to detail and cultish following as a drink may explain why it’s being explored in culinary applications, too. But chefs aren’t just changing the face of the coffeehouse by opening coffee concepts in conjunction with their full-service restaurants — this strong bean is also making its way into cocktails, pastry, and cooking in general.

chef working with edible flowers

edible flowers and tomatoes make the perfect pair

Once coffee is added to a dish, it lends new dimension to the flavor profile as well as a level of exotic appeal. Until recently, this was most commonly seen in a classic combo: coffee and chocolate. It’s unsurprising, then, that coffee has a long history in baking because it's so well suited for sweets. However, coffee can be traced back to at least the 1930s in cocktail applications as well. Irish coffee is credited to a chef in Ireland who tossed whiskey into coffee for American travelers in the 1940s, and Tia Maria — a Jamaican coffee and rum liqueur — has been around since at least the '30s.

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

Today, coffee pairings far outstrip these basic combinations as chefs experiment with the many sweet and savory flavor profiles that can be enhanced by coffee. The caffeinated bean complements many unexpected dishes by adding a quintessentially roasted, bitter, earthy, and complex taste element. Chefs are beginning to test innovative cooking processes, like simmering coffee beans in olive oil to extract their earthy essence into their cooking, or using ground coffee in spice rubs to tenderize and add flavor to meat. From prime rib to spaghetti Bolognese, we are seeing more interesting and inventive uses of coffee for beverages, desserts, and main dishes alike.

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

Coffee-infused beer, and coffee sodas will also be making a larger appearance this summer, as breweries are partnering with artisanal roasters to create boozy, coffee flavored brews. The Italian espresso brand illy is responding to consumer request and promoting an “espressoda” – illy espresso, club soda, and vanilla syrup served in a latte glass. As these trends develop and evolve, we can expect to see coffee integrating itself into the general spice drawer for general baking and cooking. Read more about baking with coffee in this month's featured Chef Spotlight with Zac Young.

Tools for the Taste

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: Exoglass® Tart RingsExoglass® Pastry CuttersExopan® Steel Non-stick Open Savarin MoldPetit Bowl Ludico, & Petit Bowl Evaz

Chef Spotlight: Zac Young

Chef Zac Young

Chef Spotlight

Zac Young

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America 2015, Chef Zac Young has taken the pastry world by storm with his irreverent takes on classic American desserts. From his beginnings working in the wig department at Radio City Music Hall to his all-in-one viral Thanksgiving sensation, The PieCaken, Zac's career has been anything but ordinary. Now the Pastry Director of Craveable Hospitality Group (formerly known as David Burke Group), we were thrilled to sit down with Zac to enjoy his signature wit and pastry wisdom while he whipped up the perfect surprise just in time for Donut Day: a coffee and donut tart.

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

From wigs to whisks, what was it like switching careers?

Scary? I was kind of naive coming into this industry. I didn't really know what I got myself into. By the time I figured it out, it was too late. I was hooked.

What was the first dessert you ever made?

Cookies are actually what sparked my interest in pastry. I started playing with recipes, and fell in love with creativity within the confines of science, which I think is the heart of pastry.

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

When was the last time you tried a pastry or dessert that completely blew you away, and what was it?

Dominique Ansel is best known for the Cronut, but I'm obsessed with his Kouign-Amann. It's basically an extra sugary croissant baked into a ring so the edges are crispy and the center is gooey and buttery. They are even better hot out of the oven!

What is your favorite quality about pastry?

Creativity within the confines of science. Every dish is a challenge, a puzzle, an equation. It is mental, physical, and artistic.

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

What was the inspiration for this tart you’re making us today?

It's a play on my French training mixed with my slightly over-the-top American style of desserts. It also glorifies the donut.

How do the tools that you use affect your creative process?

I love tools and toys! Sometimes, I'll see a Flexipan® and the shape will inspire a dish. I'm also always looking for inventive ways to use the tools that I have, like baking on the back sides of a Silform®, or setting a panna cotta in a glass placed on an angle in a French Bread Pan. I actually got the idea for the tart by looking at the Savarin Exopan® Molds. I thought, "Hmmm, that looks like a donut... what if I made a kind of finessed but fun coffee and donut tart?"

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

What 3 ingredients do you use on a daily basis?

Aside from the obvious like AP flour, butter, and eggs... crème fraîche, blueberries, and bourbon.

What would you do without butter?

I'd survive, but life would not be as great.

What is your favorite coffee to use in your baked goods?

Something that is fresh. Coffee has a shelf life. I like to use something that's locally roasted.

How do you bake with coffee without overpowering the dessert?

I like to do a cold infusion. I take the beans, gently toast them in the oven to wake up the oils, then add them to cold cream or milk and let it sit overnight. It gives a lot of flavor without being acidic.

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Do you taste everything that you make?

I do... but just a taste... except for ice cream, then I have a very big taste.

What is a pastry chef’s secret to staying fit?

It's all about balance. I'm not willing to sacrifice delicious food, so I have to work extra hard at the gym. I alternate between Pilates and Hot Yoga, which also gives me time to clear my mind.

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

How did it feel to have your #PieCaken go viral?

Strange. I actually had no clue what was happening. My friends kept texting me, "Hey, you are on Kelly & Michael." "Hey, you are on the Today Show... In Australia!" It took on a life of its own. I was focused to keeping up with orders.

What would be the ultimate mash up dessert?

Bourbon, ice cream, and a nap!

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Tools for the Taste

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: Exoglass® Tart Rings, Exoglass® Pastry Cutters, Exopan® Steel Non-stick Open Savarin Mold, Petit Bowl Ludico, & Petit Bowl Evaz

Tastes & Traditions: Tomato Season and Edible Flowers

edible flowers

Tastes & Traditions

Tomato Season and Edible Flowers

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

With the growth of visually-driven social platforms, food is trending towards needing to be as appetizing to the eyes as it is to the palate. Bright and flavorful vegetables, fruits, and plants serve as either the garnish or the main component of home-made or chef-driven creations, allowing us to dive into Spring with plenty of opportunity for fresh and vibrant dishes. As the desire for farm-to-table dining proliferates, more and more people are turning to their own green thumb in creating edible gardens for their fruits, vegetables, and garnishes. 

chef working with edible flowers

edible flowers and tomatoes make the perfect pair

As tomato season is escalating into full gear, home gardeners and farmers market aficionados will enjoy a vast array of tomatoes, spanning from cherry, yellow pear, roma, or heirloom varieties. One of the tomato’s many benefits is that once they begin growing, they flourish, yielding a robust crop that creates the need for innovative uses for all of the extra tomatoes. 

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

From homemade ketchup, to fried green tomatoes, to topical skin cleansers and sunburn ointments, tomatoes are nature’s superfood. Smoking tomatoes gives them an extra depth of flavor and allows for longer term storage, and adds an extra interesting kick to any dish they are incorporated in. 

summer is the perfect time for edible flowers and tomatoes

chef carefully placing edible flowers with tweezers

Edible flowers used as a garnish will pump up the flavor and visual aesthetics of any dish that warrants a fresh, springy flourish. Borage is a particularly vibrant and delicious flower, easy to grow, and loved by honeybees for some additional love to the rest of the garden. Borage is said to “make the mind glad” – as new science has shown that the plant stimulates the adrenal glands, giving people who consume them a mild energy buzz. Borage is great to grow with tomatoes, as they both respond particularly well to sunlight, and the honeybees drawn to the borage will help facilitate the healthy growth of the tomatoes. 

edible flowers and tomatoes in tarts on matfer silicone mat

edible flower and tomatoes make the perfect pair

Modern use of cooking and garnishing with edible flowers originated in England, with flower-infused teas and jams, that have expanded into flower-adorned main courses and desserts. As chefs embrace this resurgent trend, we can expect more home cooks to take to their gardens to enjoy fresh, garden-to-table Spring produce, for easy and healthy daily cooking. Read more in this month's featured chef spotlight with Casey Thompson.

Tools for the Taste

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: Flat Bottom Mixing Bowl, Exopat® Nonstick Baking Mat, Multi Cut Prep Chef, Geisser Messer Knife, Exoglass® Inividual Deep Tartlet Mold, & Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet.

Chef Spotlight: Casey Thompson

Chef Casey Thompson

Chef Spotlight

Casey Thompson

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

From owner of the luxurious Aveline Restaurant in San Francisco to shrewd restaurant and hotel consultant, Chef Casey Thompson has taken the culinary world by storm. She began her journey as a prep cook at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and now spends most of her time in Napa working with local farmers and wineries. Chef Casey is a female entrepreneur and entertainer who has a passion for teaching and learning new things in the culinary space. She shared her story one evening as we sipped chardonnay and watched her bake a tomato tart adorned with edible flowers.

Fresh tomatoes and edible flowers

Chef Casey Thompson preparing pastry dough

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE THAT YOU HAVE HAD IN DEVELOPING YOUR COOKING STYLE?

I am influenced everyday by chefs that get up early, get to the market and those that continually push. It helps me to push myself. Beyond that, I think travel and cookbooks drove me to develop a style of my own. It taught me different cuisines and techniques in such beautiful places or in pictures of color.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE SECRET INGREDIENT TO YOUR “SOUTHERN TOMATO PIE” RECIPE?

Ha! I would say mayonnaise. Because it really does make the world go ‘round. I am Southern and I was raised to love it on everything, even chips! I’ve been told that I put too much mayonnaise on sandwiches when it is squishing out of the holes of my bread. I say, that's when it's just right. It's savory, rich and decadent.

Chef Casey Thompson parbaking the tartlet shells

HAVE YOU EVER BOUGHT A PRE-MADE PIE OR TART CRUST BEFORE? DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAKING IT AT HOME?

Of course! And, really, I have had talks with many different pastry chefs, and there is nothing wrong with a good quality artisan frozen crust. I like to make my dough, roll it out and then chill and "rest" it. It's ready to go when you are ready to put it in the pan- there is no waiting for the dough to temp. In making the dough, I absolutely love using the ceramic beans from Matfer. The perfect pie or tart hangs on the precise quality of the crust, and the beans can be reused, they cool quickly, and they hold the crust’s shape perfectly.

Chef Casey Thompson chopping scallions

Chef Casey Thompson slicing fresh tomatoes

HOW DO THE TOOLS THAT YOU USE IN COOKING OR BAKING MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE END-PRODUCT?

There is a reason why a sharp knife makes or breaks the success of a chef. The right tool for the job is so important, and now that there are tools designed for the chef-studied to be more efficient and of more quality, we can be better at our jobs. If the tool can help us to continually cook and have the product come out moister, fluffier, more even in color than ever before, that's a score! In making the tomato tart, I was so taken aback by how easy and fast it was to slice with the Prep Chef! The slicer we currently have is somewhat bulky and difficult to clean, so my staff has been so excited to start using it to expedite their prep time.

Chef Casey Thompson preparing the filling

Chef Casey Thompson picking her edible flowers

YOU’VE TRAVELED A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT DIFFERENT CUISINES. WHERE DO YOU PLAN ON GOING NEXT?

We are having a really busy year. We're "planning" to visit Japan and Italy this year, but it's already May! So, I better get these trips in motion. I love to travel - it wakes me up and makes me feel alive.

AT MORADA, HOW DO YOU SOURCE YOUR LOCAL INGREDIENTS?

It's really easy to do this in SoCal. For goodness sake, I have Chino Farms down the road. We are very fortunate. We have trucks pull up to our backdoor with things I have never even heard of! It's so educational for all of my cooks.

Filling the tartlets

HOW OFTEN DO YOU COOK WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS?

I love them. Any time they work, I try to make the dishes even more pretty with flowers. It's like eating in a garden. I expect a butterfly to come down and join you.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO PREPARE TOMATOES?

Hands down, warm from the sun, sliced, olive oil, Maldon salt and fresh black pepper. I drizzle a good lemon on them and go to town. Just like my grandmother did from her garden. They don't need much when they are good. 

Chef Casey Thompson baking the tartlets

Chef Casey Thompson placing tomatoes on the tartlets

IF WE WERE TO GROW OUR OWN GARDEN, WHAT HERBS, VEGETABLES OR FLOWERS SHOULD WE START WITH?

I do this every year in my own garden- tomatoes (Sun Gold), basil, chives, thyme, and strawberries. We also have citrus trees, cherry trees, plum and pear out back. It is Napa after all. All things good right out the backdoor. I love succulents because they live for me. :) I do roses. They are so wonderful. You either love them or hate them. They remind me of my grandparent’s houses.

Placing on the edible flowers and the final product

Chef Casey Thompson holding her tart

Tools for the Taste

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: Flat Bottom Mixing Bowl, Exopat® Nonstick Baking Mat, Multi Cut Prep Chef, Geisser Messer Knife, Exoglass® Inividual Deep Tartlet Mold, & Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet.