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Blog posts of '2015' 'May'

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: VANESSA JOHNSON MENDOZA, EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF AT THE RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL MARINA DEL REY CALIFORNIA

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Chef Spotlight Vanessa Johnson Mendoza

True talent and joy exudes from established Executive Pastry Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza. After graduating from the prestigious Culinary Academy in San Francisco California, Vanessa refined her pastry making skills at the city’s acclaimed Aqua Restaurant before moving to Las Vegas, Nevada to work at Roy’s and then at renowned Le Cirque in the Bellagio Hotel. Her love of water and travel lead her to sail the high seas from 2004-2007 as the Assistant Pastry Chef for NCL Cruise Lines. Once back on land, she continued to broaden her pastry techniques first at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey as Assistant Pastry and then in the Caribbean as Head Pastry Chef at the Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas. She is happy to be back on the waterfront in California and to return to her favorite property of the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Reynow as the Executive Pastry Chef where she continues to present her stunning and delectable desserts.  

Chef Vanessa Mendoza will join over 100 inspirational chefs for the Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala on Thursday, October 8th. When we asked her participation in the upcoming event she said, "I am thrilled to take part of what will be an extremely heart felt night at the Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala, this night will open the eyes and hearts to many that are not aware of this condition!"

INTERVIEW:
Q: As an established Pastry Chef, what inspires you?

A: The subtle yet profound aspects of nature and beauty have always inspired me. Citrus trees, fresh herbs and seductive spices can be infused into desserts to add more depth of flavor that are different and delicious.  When using these interesting ingredients, I am able to create classic desserts with diverse twists. I love to garnish each dish with edible flowers too for a pretty finishing touch. I always hope guests enjoy the whole meal but I am thrilled when a dessert gets an awestruck reaction. I want them to remember their last bite of the evening forever!  That hopeful wish inspires me every time!!

Matfer Bourgeat Chef Spotlight Vanessa Johnson Mendoza

Q: What is it about citrus, tropical fruits and herbs that particularly intrigue you?  You even use flower and herb-based liqueurs in your desserts!

A: My Caribbean roots and love of the tropics allowed me to really notice those elements around me when there. I also worked in Cabo San Lucas and that gave me the opportunity to experiment with different natural ingredients. Herbs and fruit really do complement each other once you start taste testing the blends of the savory with the sweet or the smooth herb with the acid of citrus. They are as fresh and pure as flavors can be especially when mixed with a neutral textured base like a flan, cheesecake or ice cream. For instance, cilantro and citrus are great together if balanced correctly as are basil and pineapple or mandarin and a splash of tequila that comes from the agave plant. I also like to combine chili with chocolate for a surprising bite.

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Stainless Steel Mandoline

Q: How did you come up with the Happiness Flan?

A: My Mom is from Mexico and my Dad is from Barbados. All kinds of flans or crème caramel are traditionally popular in both places so it is a dish that is very familiar to me. It always reminds me of the sun and happy times. I had so much fun creating this flan-based dessert using white chocolate, tequila, mandarin, pineapple and yuzu. Happiness to me is what a dessert should be and I think this says that, especially when I added the colorful edible flowers from cilantro and chamomile buds.

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza blue Steel Oven Baking SheetChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Matfer Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey BOURGEAT EXCELLENCE SAUCE PANS Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Bourgeat Flat Bottom Mixing Bowl

Q: You are in charge of all of the dessert preparations at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey, from their Cast & Plow restaurant to the private events that are large and small. How do you do it?

A: We all work together and delegate accordingly so we make a strong team. I’m lucky as I love working by the water and guests here really enjoy the Ritz Marina Del Rey experience and the California waterfront as much as I do. The philosophy of the Cast & Plow is to source and serve the best organic ingredients from the local community’s fresh markets and purveyors. It truly affects the kind of desserts I create. Patrons like light and frivolous so I have the luxury of creating new combinations of tastes using fruits, herbs, spices and chocolate. It is also really fun to design buffets with spun sugar, pretty petit-fours, colorful macaroons and edible flowers, especially at banquets and weddings.

 Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Scraper and Baking Mat

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer ZesterChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Manual Juicer

Q: What is it about the Matfer products that make a difference to the outcome of your various desserts?

A: I was introduced to Matfer tools when I was a student at the Culinary Academy in San Francisco. No other brand matches up to the quality and consistency of Matfer. Whatever products I need, they have. I trust them and I am never let down. My job as a pastry chef is to always respect the method of the recipe and its intricate details.  I have to be clear and concise with my work and every Matfer item I use allows me to do that. Matfer materials let me make desserts that look as enticing as they taste.  

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey Matfer Set of Three Frames

Q: What do you think of the Matfer’s Rubber Spatulas, Scraper, Set of 3 Frames, Exoglass™ Plain Pastry Cutters, Duo Decorating Tubes, Candy Thermometer, Stainless Steel Mandoline & Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet?

A: I want my whole pastry kitchen to be stocked with Matfer products as I think they are amazing! I use the rubber spatulas and scrapers all of the time. The Set of 3 Frames makes everything level so every layer is perfect and as a result the finished dish looks fantastic. The Mandoline lets me slice my fruits very thin. The pastry cutters and Duo Decorating Tips are true favorites of mine as they give me control and precision for a beautiful outcome. And a reliable candy thermometer and Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet are always needed!   

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey Plain Matfer Pastry CuttersChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Matfer Plain Pastry Cutters and Scraper

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Plain Pastry CutterChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Plain Pastry Cutter

Q: What is your favorite Matfer must-have tool?

A: The Scraper! I love it and rely on it so much that I even carry one in my purse! And I’m not kidding!! It is the perfect tool –really flexible yet durably firm—ideal for the most delicate meringue or thick pastry cream. It is super thin so it bends back and forth which lets me fiddle with my fillings as well as catch every drop and scrape. I also can make every spread incredibly smooth with it.

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Scraper

Q: What do you consider the ultimate classic dessert?

A: Cheesecakes and custards. I love working with cream, eggs and sugar for that lovely silky result. It is so much fun to infuse that classic combination with new unexpected flavors from herbs, spices and liqueurs.

Chef Vanessa Johnson with Duo Decorating Tips and Plain Pastry CutterChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Duo Decorating  Tips and Plain Pastry Cutter

Q: And your personal favorite dessert to eat?

A: Chocolate. I even used white chocolate in this new dessert!

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Matfer Featured Chef Spotlight

Q: Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, (1755-1826) the French Epicurean and Gastronome and Author of The Physiology of Taste said, “The way in which meals are enjoyed is very important to the happiness of life”.  Since your dessert is called happiness flan is it safe to say you agree?

A: Absolutely! There are so many challenges in life so taking time for a special occasion should be honored. When I, as a pastry chef, can create something that a guest can fully enjoy it is a happy win for both of us.  With company around them and with this light yet luscious dessert in front of them, happiness arrives. It becomes a delicious fulfilling moment on every level.  I hope that memory makes them smile. This is why I love my work so much.  

Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Happiness Flan Matfer Chef Spotlight 

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
As an executive chef, you know that less is more and fresh is best. Use Matfer's Rubber SpatulasScraperSet of 3 FramesExoglass® Plain Pastry CuttersDuo Decorating TubesCandy Thermometer, Stainless Steel Mandoline Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet.

TASTES & TRADITIONS: FOREVER FLAN

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Flan Matfer Bourgeat

Hail to the hen! The incredible edible egg has quite a history that has hatched into the creation of several savory and sweet dishes. The Ancient Romans were the first to successfully domesticate chickens’ eggs happily resulting in a surplus of supply. Aware of the Greeks’ new art of cooking, they copied the technique of boiling cracked eggs with cow or goat’s milk over an open flame and a custard concoction was born.

Derived from the Latin word, flado meaning flat cake and then flaon in Old French, it was dinner when combined with salt, pepper and eel and dessert when flavored with honey. As the Romans conquered Europe, their tastes and traditions followed with flan as a frontrunner. When the Empire fell, this durable delight survived and enticed the taste buds of the saavy Spaniards and Moors who then etched their own culinary mark on the recipe. Calling it Crema Caramela, they cooked them in small clay ramekins and added ground almonds and citrus juice for a powerful punch to the pudding.

They then heated the honey with sugar to include a decadent caramelized sauce atop the golden ravishing result.  Christopher Columbus loved the lip smacking shimmering dish and brought back a wealth of spices—like vanilla and cinnamon-- to add to its richness from his Caribbean and American explorations. His Spanish counterpart, Conquistador Hernan Cortes, transferred his fondness of flan to Mexico in 1519 when he landed on the Yucatan Peninsula and formally claimed the territory for the Spanish crown. The Mexicans took flan to a whole new level by infusing it with coconut, coffee or chocolate accompanied by the caramel sauce. Eventually the rest of Latin America became flan fans too. And from then to now, this silken satin dessert remains a worldwide forever favorite.

FEATURED CHEF SPOTLIGHT: VANESSA JOHNSON MENDOZA, THE RITZ-CARLTON – MARINA DEL REY

Matfer Bourgeat Chef Spotlight Vanessa Johnson Mendoza

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and April showers bring May flowers! With this dessert, beauty was in the hands of its creator Executive Pastry Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza. Take a look at how she creates this incredibly innovative twist on Flan with a few of her favorite Matfer tools! > Read More!

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
As an executive chef, you know that less is more and fresh is best. Use Matfer's Rubber SpatulasScraperSet of 3 FramesExoglass® Plain Pastry CuttersDuo Decorating TubesCandy Thermometer, Stainless Steel Mandoline Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet.

FABULOUS FOOD & FESTIVE FLOWERS

A MATFER MOMENT: FABULOUS FOOD & FESTIVE FLOWERS
By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer’s passion for taste transcended to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California where the scene was set for guests to enjoy one enchanted evening. And enjoy it they did. Phenomenal food and fantastic flowers were perfectly paired at this amazing Field to Vase dinner for 130 special guests. 

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach  

Guests sipped wine and enjoyed a magical meal prepared by Marissa Gerlach, Executive Chef of the Vista Valley Country Club. She created delectable dishes-from appetizers to sides, mains and dessert-that were inspired by the flowers themselves. As she said,” The farm to table movement is a concept I believe in and fully support. I like that Fields to Vase does the same. When I am planning and preparing a menu, the amazing bounty of organically grown local Californian ingredients are my daily inspiration. Spring fruits, herbs and vegetables are as colorfully vibrant as these amazing floral fields. It was a fun challenge and honor to create this menu using Matfer’s excellent products from preparation to presentation alongside the gorgeous flowers.” Everything was the best of the best behind the scenes and at the table within the stunning setting of the Field of Flowers.  

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Incredbily delicious and pretty appetizers prepared in the Matfer Bourgeat Flexipan Savarin Mold

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa GerlachMatfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Field to Vase Chef Marissa Gerlach Matfer Bourgeat Sponsor

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Delicious pickled beets and fresh whipped butter beautifully prepared by Chef Marissa Gerlach and housed in Matfer Mason Jars.

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Cured Meyer Lemon, Goat Cheese, Charred Eggplant & Thyme

Marissa says, “I adore heirloom tomatoes and their beautiful hues of oranges and yellows were the ideal match for the ravishing ranunculus in the same tones. I used Matfer’s long handled terrific tweezers to build each crostini with the various elements including the basil flower garnish”.  

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Wild Ramp Aioli and Pineapple Chives

“Scallops and bacon are great together and I loved using the Matfer Mise en Bouche Spoon to present them. It was the perfect classic yet modern mix!” exclaims Marissa.

Chef Marissa Gerlach from Vista Valley Country Club              Grilled Carrots, Green Garlic Pea Puree, Walnuts, Mint & Smoked Salt

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

The Beauty of Beets! Marissa admits, “Beets are just so versatile and beautiful. I do a lot of pickling and I’m so glad I could use the Matfer Appetizer Jars to present elements like the Beets and Meyer Lemons on the table. This Blackberry Beet Salad with the Goat Cheese, Fennel and Spring Mix garnished with toasted Almonds, Tarragon and White Balsamic Vinagrette complemented the rich red and magenta flowers incredibly well. Flowers and food really blended beautifully.”

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Salmon Creek All Natural Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry and Rhubarb Chutney

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Grilled Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto & Lemon Aioli

Marissa explains, “Pork is a main course favorite of mine especially when roasted and served with chutney. The sweet and sour contrasts of the raspberry and rhubarb with the deep flavor of the meat just works and its so pretty! With the side dishes I wanted them to complement the pork as well as acknowledge the beauty of the table scene and the environment.  I wanted everything to exude freshness and festivity. Grilling is so pure and nothing says spring like bright orange carrots and lovely green peas and asparagus”.

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Carrot Cake Pineapple, Walnuts, Raisins & Candied Carrots with Cream Cheese

Marissa acknowledges, “I wanted to end with something special and I love making this dessert! It just felt like it belonged on this menu because the orange carrots with pineapple aligned well with the orange and yellow blooms. And of course the fresh flowers on top were the ideal finish. Using Matfer’s bright green piping pastry bag and tips made it extra smooth”.

Matfer Bourgeat Proud Sponsor of Field to Vase Dinner Tour

Matfer Bourgeat is a proud sponsor of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, a series of private, intimate, must-attend gatherings that place seasonal, local and sustainable American Grown flowers at the center of the table where locally grown food, beer, and wine is served by a farm-to-table chef.

Join Matfer at the next Field to Vase Dinner Event on June 19th in Monterey, CA. For details on the upcoming event and to purchase your tickets, click here. Bonus! Matfer Bourgeat customers receive $35 off the ticket price with promo code: MATFERUSA