Chef Spotlight

Chef Spotlight: Johnny Besch

Chef Johnny Besch

Chef Spotlight


Friday, May 4, 2018

BLVD restaurant and its chef 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.

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

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.

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

Chef Spotlight: Waylynn Lucas

Chef Waylynn Lucas

Chef Spotlight

Waylynn Lucas

Monday, April 3, 2017

From her role as a judge on Food Network's Cake Wars to her Los Angeles-area bakery fōnuts, Waylynn Lucas is an award-winning pastry chef who defies conventions. Her unique style embraces the marriage of nostalgia with modern flavors and techniques. This is exemplified by fōnuts' most popular offering – doughnuts that are baked, not fried, and that exist in an eye-popping riot of colors and flavors, ranging from the gluten-free and vegan Coconut Passion Fruit to the decidedly meaty Chorizo Cheddar. We caught up with Waylynn for an afternoon, talking about her passion for pastry while she baked her Chocolate Blueberry Earl Grey Lavender Tart for us.

Chef Waylynn Lucas baking tart

Chef Waylynn Lucas rolling out pastry dough

So what drove you to create your first fōnut?

It sort of happened by accident. It was a gathering of minds at the right moment at the right time, for the idea to emerge. It is something that fits perfectly with my dessert style as a pastry chef. I love reinventing old classics, and giving them a modern spin and whenever possible making it a bit healthier if I can.


I wanted to combine some of my favorite things like chocolate – who doesn’t love that – with fresh fruit, which I always love in my desserts, as well as tea for its warming, flavorful and aromatic qualities. And, finally, it features lavender, which is beautifully scented and soothing.

Chef Waylynn Lucas working with pastry dough

What kind of flavors do you gravitate toward and why?

Anything well balanced, fresh and vibrant. I gravitate more towards savory flavors as I am surrounded by sweets all day. I need the savory to balance me out. I surprisingly don’t have a huge sweet tooth.

Chef Waylynn Lucas works with earl grey tea leaves for her tart

Chef Waylynn Lucas working with chocolate


I did and still do. It became much easier once I got out of my own way and stopped trying to create desserts that had to be earth shattering and insanely unique. Not all desserts can be that and the ones that are become that much more naturally. That is what makes them special. I had to stop trying so hard and to be open to finding inspiration in new ways, and in every place I could find it. Once I opened my world to more than just food the inspiration came from flowers, nature, art work, memories, sculpture, music, just about everything. Make it taste good first and foremost and sometimes less is more.

Chef Waylynn Lucas filling tart shells


Pastry is such an intricate process, it requires a lot of patience. Technique and precision is everything. Having the right tools can really make or break a recipes final outcome. That is why I love Matfer. They have everything I need to get any job done, from breads to chocolate work, to plated desserts. Their tools are of such high quality, they really help you attain that precision that is needed in pastry. The exoglass molds are a perfect example of how innovation and new technology can make baking something so simple as a pâte sucrée tart dough so much better and take it to the next level. It has given us chefs just what we need. Something that cooks quickly and evenly, and cools almost immediately; you can literally grab the molds right out of the oven. They are lightweight, super durable and easy to clean. Pure magic!

Waylynn Lucas and blueberries


I love ice cream. It reminds me of being a kid. It is impossible to be in a bad mood eating an ice cream cone. Well most desserts this applies to, which is why I got into desserts in the first place. To make people happy and feel like a kid again whenever possible.

I love making Pavlova for dinner parties. It is such a simple yet complex dessert, and an easy way to incorporate whatever fresh fruits are around and really keep it seasonal and versatile. It is not something you see very often so it impresses your dinner guests for sure!

Chef Waylynn Lucas finishing tarts

Chef Waylynn Lucas carrying tarts


There’s nothing like it. Part of the reason I got out of the restaurant industry and wanted to own my own business was to be able to take part and witness customers enjoying my desserts. As a chef we spend countless hours in the kitchen working, cooking and creating dishes. Then we never get to see its final purpose. Once it leaves the kitchen and heads out into the dining room, it’s gone. Having my own bakery allows me to interact with the customers, get their feed back and watch their reactions while they eat my desserts. There is no greater compliment than watching someone’s eyes light up and the smile come over their face after taking a bite of something delicious. Great food can create a memory, an experience. That is what I seek out, and I don’t feel I’ve done my job unless I’ve accomplished that.

Chef Waylynn Lucas tarts with blueberry, lavender, and earl grey

Chef Waylynn Lucas laughs while 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: Elevo Thermometer Spatula, Exoglass® Round Pastry Cutters, Exoglass® Fluted Round Tart Mold, Standard Disposable Pastry Bag and Matfer Silicone Pastry Brush.

Chef Spotlight: Bruce Kalman

Chef Bruce Kalman

Chef Spotlight

Bruce Kalman

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bruce Kalman’s Northern Italian cooking style embraces the diverse and abundant produce of California. He creates exquisitely balanced flavor profiles meant to warm the soul at his restaurant UNION in Pasadena, CA and Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market in L.A.’s Grand Central Market. His commitment to indigenous ingredients goes beyond the farmers’ market to build strong connections with local providers, which keeps the operations’ carbon footprint low, supports the local economy and connects diners to high quality vegetables, meats and cheeses straight from the source.

Chef Bruce Kalman using Matfer Prep Chef

Why did you choose to make a sweet dish? Do executive chefs typically know how to make dessert?

As a savory chef, I enjoy making sweets from time to time; throughout the course of my career, I rarely had a pastry chef, so I made a lot of pastries myself at my restaurants. This dessert in particular combines sweet with savory bacon, sage and pink peppercorns, which provides a nice balance.

Chef Bruce Kalman using Matfer Prep Chef

Chef Bruce Kalman using Matfer Prep Chef

With this recipe you used the Matfer Bourgeat Exoglass® Baba Molds and the Prep Chef to core and slice the apples. What do you like about them?

The Exoglass molds are fantastic. They’re lightweight and completely non-stick which is so important when you’re baking. And they transfer heat really well, so my upside down cakes had a nice, crisp outer edge. The Matfer Prep Chef is awesome! I am a huge proponent of using a knife for pretty much everything, but this beautiful beast is super sharp, well designed and simple to use. It’s also easy to disassemble and clean. On most cutters, you have to manually lift the handle back up, so I love how the double-sided handle and springs force the pusher back up – that’s such a great feature.

Flames over copper Matfer sugar pan

At UNION, you’ve really become known for your handmade pastas. What do you attribute this passion for Italian food to?

My introduction to making a lot of fresh pasta was during my time at Spiaggia in Chicago with Paul Bartolotta. He was all about refined, simple Tuscan cooking packed full of flavor. For me its kind of like a song with a melody that you can’t get out of your head no matter how hard you try. Then you hear another song and its gone, but inevitably it always comes back because Its been buried in your subconscious all along. Fresh pasta and Italian-influenced cooking is that damn song to me! I love the soul, the flavors, the overall concept of cooking with the most amazing ingredients that are local and indigenous. Italian cooking is extremely challenging as it is so simple. Its cooking without a net, so everything you do has to be perfect. I love to cook low and slow ragu, stew, braise, roast, all of it. It’s a vehicle that transports emotion from your heart through the food on the plate to the guest eating it.

Bruce Kalman

Chef Bruce Kalman using copper sugar pan and exoglass

Sourcing from local partners is very important to you. How did that come about?

I go back to the values that most other countries in the world have. They cook with indigenous ingredients that are at their peak in season. The flavor and quality of these ingredients is unsurpassed. You can’t compare a peach ripened on the vine within 100 miles and harvested the day before you buy it versus one that is ripened on a truck or in a gas house and sits in a warehouse for who knows how long. That is the basis of the food I cook. “Shit in, Shit out” is what I was always taught. If you want to cook the best food, it requires the best ingredients. Moving to southern California, I am like a kid in a candy store. It is the most interesting place to be when it comes to sourcing ingredients. We purchase olive oil from a small olive ranch. We buy produce that I have never even heard of before. Our grain and polenta are freshly milled every week, and so on. The seafood is incredible, sustainable and fresh out of the water within a day or two of receiving it. You can’t beat that!

Exoglass ready to go in the oven

Exoglass ready to go in the oven

You’re recognized for using the whole pig in making porchetta. Why is this important to you?

For many reasons. First, it has to do with being respectful to the animal. I want my guests to trust me, and using whole animals is a big step in the right direction towards being fully sustainable. It also means that I have control over all of my ingredients – knowing who raised them and how, what they ate and what kind of life they lived is really important. It’s even important to me to buy whole pigs for ground meat for Knead, so I know its fresh and single origin, meaning who knows how many pigs contributed meat to a bag of stew meat you buy from a purveyor. I’m also a huge proponent of supporting small, local businesses.

Savory dessert in exoglass

You wear a No Kid Hungry bracelet. Can you speak to your involvement and what it means to you?

No Kid Hungry is an amazing organization. I am honored to be so heavily involved cooking dinners, contributing to the galas and being the chef chair for Taste of the Nation Los Angeles, which supports No Kid Hungry. It’s not just about providing meals to young children that don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but its also about educating them to understand what good food is, to take on responsibility and to learn how to eat right. I had the opportunity to visit an elementary school in an underprivileged neighborhood in L.A. last year, and I saw how all the hard work and dedication that everyone puts in pays off in a huge way. I sat in the classroom with the kids as they were having breakfast, and got to see the smiles on their faces, which made it all worth it.

Chef Bruce Kalman plating his dish

Chef Bruce Kalman presents his dish

Tools for the Taste

As a master chef, the tools you use matter. Add the following items to your kitchen to achieve outstanding results: Matfer Prep Chef, Exoglass® Baba Molds, Bourgeat Copper Sugar Pan, Exoglass® Spoon Red Master Chef Series and Exoglass® Sieve Strainer.


By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

The Matfer team was thrilled to spend the afternoon with Chef Derrick Peltz recently. We learned more about his Time on FOX’s MASTERCHEF and culinary journey while watching him successfully take a leap of faith by crowning the classic ingredients of duck and cherries with a beautiful lattice arch to create a stunning main course and surrounding it with colorful seasonal cauliflower.


How did you become a contender on FOX’s MASTERCHEF and what was your experience like?
I love food. I was a fan of the show and Gordon Ramsey is one of my culinary idols. I learned technique from watching him cook on television and reading more about it on the Internet. I began to replicate his stuff. I was becoming intrigued by cooking, blending flavors, trying new stuff. I can be super competitive so the pulse of the show intrigued me. And then I realized I had one mission –to win MasterChef. I wanted to be able to call my Mom and say, “Mom, I am America’s next MasterChef!” So I applied and got accepted for an audition. I think being a drummer who really liked to cook made an interesting story. Anyway, I passed and got on the show. My time on MasterChef was an amazing life-changing experience. I met and learned from great people. I certainly didn’t anticipate that I would end up on the road to a serious culinary career. I’m very excited and grateful about that.

Did the pressure of cooking on live television get to you?
Sure. It was stressful sometimes, especially as I began to make headway on the show. And by the end of 3 months of filming, everyone is worn out. But overall, having played on stage as a band drummer in front of an audience, cooking for and in front of others didn’t get to me too much. In fact, when Gordon liked my “perfect strip steak”, I thought, “Wow, maybe I can win this.” That’s when the adrenalin started pumping. Focus is vital at all times but especially when the clock is ticking and there are distractions everywhere. There was a lot of general stuff I knew how to do but some dishes and tasks were new to me, so I just had to keep persevering and figuring them out. That part was personal pressure but I also learned so much by doing and watching. It was a different kind of cooking school!

Chef Derrick Peltz uses Matfer's High Mousse Ring to create an amazing Puff Pastry. 

How has your culinary philosophy changed from then to now?
It has changed so much! Food has always wow’d me and I will always love seeking and searching for new ways to combine ingredients and flavors. There is such a natural creative parallel for me between music and food and that feels deeper and clearer now. The show has helped me to step up my game, to push myself further, to learn more to be the best I can be. The reward for me from MasterChef has been the journey. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and the sense of accomplishment is very real. I’ve come to appreciate and to realize that the culinary world is brimming with so many opportunities and mentors. I just want to keep going on this journey.


This Bourbon Marinated Glazed Duck Breast with Cherries topped by a Puff Pastry Lattice Arch is gorgeous. How did you develop it?
As a result of being on MasterChef, I’ve come to enjoy creating show-stopping delicious dishes! The puff pastry lattice arch adds that important plus of artistic beauty. I keep learning as I go and I wanted to develop a dish that took flavors from everywhere I’ve lived. I also wanted to incorporate all the skills that I learned on the show. I’ve really come to like deglazing meats. This sauce is me. It contains bourbon from the South, cherries from California and duck from the West. They all blend really well together and the colors of the cauliflower and the orange of the sweet potato puree added to the taste and the look just said spring.


As a more newly established chef, how were you introduced to Matfer products? What do you like about them?
Believe it or not, I first came to know about Matfer and its amazing utensils through the internet and Matfer’s website. As I began working with puff pastry more and more, it became clear a good lattice cutter would make a world of difference. When I looked up "best lattice cutter for chefs," I was directed to the Matfer site. And there was this awesome cutter. It lets me guide the tool to design and cut the intricate lattice of the dough beautifully, smoothly and easily. When I then saw all of the other amazing culinary tools they offer, I was blown away. I didn’t go to cooking school, so hadn’t heard of Matfer before. Now I understand why chefs have such respect for the Matfer brand and items. When I first started cooking, I used whatever kitchen tools I could find. As I got more involved in the process and started improving my skills, I realized using the right utensils for a dish preparation was as important as using the right ingredients. The hand held cherry stoner made prepping the cherries for the recipe a breeze and the ceramic fry pan balanced the heat out perfectly when I was doing the duck breast.

Matfer Tradition Fry Pan is used by Chef Derrick Peltz as he creates an amazing Puff Pastry and Duck dish.

Matfer Exoglass Strainer

Matfer Copper Sugar Pan

Famed English playwright William Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on.” As a professional drummer and as a chef, do you agree?
Definitely! This quote to me says, "Get lost in what you are doing!" I have always said, time does not exist if you are truly doing what you love. When I play music or make food, I just get lost in it and it feels the same as when you are In love. Time stands still.

Matfer Ceramic Fry Pan in the hands of Chef Derrick Peltz as he creates a delicous duck dish. Matfer All Purpose Stainless Steel Tongs in the hands of Chef Derrick Peltz as he creates a delicous duck dish.

On a personal note, what are your favorite things to eat?
When I cook, I love to use salt, pepper and butter because they can make anything taste good. But when I’m just hanging out at home, there is nothing like a fresh flour tortilla with melted cheddar cheese topped with a good dose of Sriracha sauce. Savory and spicy flavors come together and I love it!

More about Chef Derrick Peltz

Florida native, Derrick Peltz is a professional drummer turned Chef.  Living in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade, food found Chef Derrick.  Having a creative side as a musician, Chef Derrick has a true love for the artistic side of cuisine. Using the parallels of music and food to create a concert in the kitchen, Derrick decided to submit a dish to the casting department of FOX Network’s MasterChef.  In less than 20 minutes, the phone rang.  That phone call turned into countless hours of working with host Chef Gordon Ramsay and his team. While a contestant, he sharpened his skills and knowledge in the kitchen and considers his time on MasterChef as a turning point in his culinary career. He was this past season’s Runner-up. Currently, he cooks privately for clients as he pursues new endeavors in the hospitality and restaurant arenas.

As a creative chef, your puff pastry dish will reign supreme when you use Matfer's Lattice Pie CutterExoglass StrainerSaute Pan, High Mousse RingHand Held Cherry StonerBlue Steel Oven Backing Sheet, Ceramic Fry Pan and Stainless Steel All-Purpose Tongs.


By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Chef Josiah Citrin using professional stainless steel cookware -  Matfer's professional chef tools for featured chef spotlight.

Award winning Master Chef and restaurant owner Josiah Citrin is in a class all of his own. Bold and brave, his phenomenal dishes make it clear why he is a culinary maverick on the Los Angeles dining scene. It is no wonder he has earned the much deserved impressive accolade of two Michelin stars for Mélisse, his highly acclaimed fine dining American French restaurant in Santa Monica. Having trained and honed his skills at Vivarois and La Poste in Paris, Citrin returned to his native California from France in 1990 to further refine his abilities at such established restaurants as Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois on Main and Granita. He then worked alongside Joachim Splichal at Patina and Pinot Bistro before opening Jiraffe in 1996. In 1999, Citrin pursued his lifelong dream of opening his own fine dining establishment and Mélisse was born. He recently opened his casual eaterie Charcoal Venice which is all about the grill and also has a stake in his cousin’s gourmet hot dog business Dave’s Doghouse in the Staples Center.

As an award winning Master Chef & successful restaurant owner, what inspires you and keeps you moving forward?
The phrase on the wall in my kitchen at Mélisse says, “In Pursuit of Excellence” and that is my culinary philosophy and inspiration. It is pure, simple and true. Each and every effort of every aspect of what I do and what my team does is done with a commitment to excellence from ingredients to preparation to presentation and service. Texture and taste matter. Everyone and everything is a part of creating that excellent memorable dining experience for our patrons. It’s what we do and how we do it. That clarity sets the standard for my restaurant concepts whether fine dining at Mélisse or a casual meal at Charcoal Venice or the most excellent gourmet hot dog at Dave’s Doghouse. In each venue, my entire staff is behind that attainable goal from start to finish. We are always evolving in that pursuit.

Chef Josiah Citrin using Matfer Zester Grater to create a spectacular Oeuf Mollet Frit dish at Melisse.

Mélisse is one of the best French restaurants in the country and has the amazing accolade of two Michelin stars. As a native Californian who lived and trained in France how did Mélisse come to be?
I grew up in Santa Monica and Venice. My grandmother was French so France was intriguing and my mother was a caterer so food made sense to me early on in life. I moved to Paris to explore the idea of a culinary career and worked for three years at Vivarois and La Poste. Both were fine dining Parisian restaurants that taught me the art and discipline of classical French cooking. The beauty and finesse of that elegant experience got me hooked. It’s what I wanted to do and when I came back to the States in 1990 that was the goal I set for myself.

I worked with excellent chefs in excellent restaurants and learned the business from the inside out. I really like the aspect of “special” that comes with the whole fine dining experience and I wanted to provide that at Mélisse . I like setting the scene of the décor, the lighting, the tabletop and place settings. The meal should be intriguingly beautiful and absolutely delicious using the freshest seasonal ingredients from vegetables and fruits to meats and fish. My standards are very high. I just want it to be a beyond memorable experience from when guests walk in the door to when they leave.

Matfer Paring knife on hand for chef Josiah CitrinMatfer's Stainless Steel No. 5 Food Mill in the hands of Chef Josiah Citrin

Matfer Paring knife in the hands of Chef Josiah Citrin

The décor is beautiful. The subtle purple walls complement the dove grey and white well. Yet purple is an unusual evocative choice, isn’t it?
I love purple. It is my absolute favorite color! And I don’t really know why. When I first moved to Paris, I saw this great purple shirt in the window. The price was way over my budget but it caught my eye and I just had to have it. So I splurged and bought it. Whenever I wore it, I was lucky and whatever I was doing worked out really well. So my love for purple grew and I regard the color as my lucky charm. I have a lot of purple in my wardrobe when I’m not wearing my chef whites! The purple walls are subtle yet feel sophisticated to me too since they complement the white and gray walls too. It is a simple, pure color scheme combination.

Does Paris remain one of your favorite food cities?
Paris is one of the most amazing cities in the world food and all. It holds a very special place in my heart since I was fortunate enough to work and live there. I go when I can but it is never enough. Every dining experience from haute cuisine to a casual bistro meal makes an impression on me. The farmers’ markets always astound me. It is where I came to appreciate the passion of vendors and purveyors for their produce. It is that passion and attention to quality that I expect from the vendors and purveyors I personally source from at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market and elsewhere.

You use Matfer products in all of your kitchens. What do you like about them?
I of course came to know Matfer products when I began my culinary career in France. They are the top-of-the line high quality French cooking utensils and that guarantees a successful excellent result. The elements we prepare at Mélisse are refined and I like that Matfer items address that. For example, the sturdy handle of the sieve makes it easy to hold when I’m straining something delicate.

Spiral Vegetable Slicer in the hands of Chef Josiah Citrin at his Melisse Kitchen

Your style of cooking varies from intricate at Mélisse to master grilling at Charcoal Venice. How do you balance one from the other?
In truth, they both are pure forms that require attention to detail for a perfect outcome. Mélisse may feature more elaborate dishes but it still comes down to the purity of the flavors and the quality of the elements. To grill well, the attention to detail, seasonings and heat are imperative at Charcoal Venice. Same thing when it comes to the gourmet dogs that my cousin Dave features. Both ends of the spectrum-high end to casual- intrigue me and keep me challenged.

Chef Josiah Citrin using Matfer's Excellence Sauce Pan to create a spectacular Oeuf Mollet Frit dish at Melisse. Matfer's Truffle Cutter in the hands of Josiah Citrin who is creating an increadible Oeuf Mollet Frit in his kitchen at Melisse.

Four star general and former US Secretary of State said,"If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception. It is a prevailing attitude.” As you are always in pursuit of excellence do you agree that it is all about attitude?
Yes, without a doubt. I believe to achieve excellence in anything and everything that you do, you’ve got to approach the task at hand with an attitude of commitment, clear focus and perseverance. I do that and train my team to do that with each dish we do. Excellence is the goal and that is how you succeed.

Your Oeuf Mollet Frit, Artichokes, Potato Gnocchi, Black Truffle Coulis is a stunning showstopper. The perfect soft-boiled egg elegantly wrapped with potato strands and surrounded by the truffle gnocchi, carrots, baby and artichoke hearts topped with beautiful black truffle shavings and edible flowers is a culinary feat on a gorgeous plate. Please elaborate.
Thank you. I’m always thrilled that this appetizer gets the awesome response that it does. It is exactly what I aspire to do in elegant yet accessible fine dining cuisine. It should be as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. I want to give guests something they can’t make at home. Dining at Mélisse is unique and should be wonderful and memorable. The cupped hand design on the plate, to me, represents an offering to the patron. Here- this is just for you. I adore truffles and they just say special. My time in France gave me the opportunity to understand their prestige and appreciate their taste. The black truffle coulis is the perfect base to place the softboiled egg wrapped in potato strands upon especially when the runny yolk blends with the truffle and the flavors from the surrounding elements. The Matfer guillotine for the potato strands and the truffle slicer and zester make a big difference to this dish.

You are very generous with your time and support of your community through different charities. You participate in Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now, LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade, Wolfgang Puck Cancer Society Event and the Chef’s Ride for No Kid Goes Hungry. What is it about these charities that inspire you?
IT is about giving back and helping out those less fortunate. If my ability as a chef can lend a hand to know more, learn more, give more to others than I’m there.

What is your favorite ingredient or must have seasoning to use when you cook?
The most vital ingredient for me is the best quality salt whether it is fleur de sel, sel gris or sea salt. It is the most underappreciated seasoning and when used right makes all of the difference to dishes. You don’t need a lot to enhance the purity of flavors but it must be the right one. Other than that, I appreciate anything seasonal and of course truffles.

Matfer chef spotlight with Josiah Citrin Charcoal

On a personal note, when you’re not cooking, what do you like to eat?
I love anything on the grill over charcoal. I do lots of backyard barbecue for my family and friends. It’s how and why I opened Charcoal Venice!

More About Chef Josiah Citrin

Josiah Citrin is a culinary expert and vertan of Los Angeles gourmet dining scene, with more than 25 years of experience. He is a two-star Michelin award-winning chef and owner of highly-acclaimed Mélisse restaurant in Santa Monica, Charcoal Venice, and in the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. Citrin has mentored some of talented young chefs, including Nyesha Arrington . His culinary philosophy, Pursuit of also the name of his cookbook), sets the standard for all of his concepts, whether finedining or casual.

Citrin discovered his passion for food through his family at an early age, growing up in SantaMonica and Venice with a mother who was a caterer, and a French grandmother who cooked family meals. Their knowledge, combined with his excitement for cooking and business, led him to pursue a culinary career. To explore his French heritage, Citrin moved to Paris after graduating from Santa Monica High School, and worked for three years at fine Parisian restaurants Vivarois and La Poste, gaining an understanding of, and respect for, the rules of traditional French cooking.

Inspired by the quintessential, backyard barbeque cuisine guests would want to eat every day, Citrin opened Charcoal Venice . Charcoal Venice, a neighborhood restaurant, offers craveable comfort foods cooked over live fire via a wood oven, over, or in, charcoal, and in a Big Green Egg. 

An avid surfer for most of his life, Citrin frequently hits the waves to unwind, making lifelong friends and business partners along the way, such as Lunetta. He also visits the weekly Santa Monica, where he selects produce from purveyors h His ability to remember, define, and pinpoint nearly everything he sees, tastes, touches, and smells has created an almost encyclopedia-like knowledge of all things food related. Citrin supports a number of charitable events each year, cooking at the Wolfgang Puck Cancer Society Event, and fundraisers for Planned Parenthood, Special Olympics, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Cure Autism Now.

As a master chef, you know that exclusive ingredients and intricate preparations make a phenomenal dish unique and memorable. Use Matfer's professional stainless steel cookware such as our Bourgeat Excellence Sauce Pan or a Stainless Steel Food Mill, along with our professional chef tools like our Spiral Vegetable Slicer "Le Rouet"Adjustable Truffle SlicerExoglass® Sieve Strainer, Kitchen Spatula, and Digital Timer to make your own culinary mark.   

Photo Credits: 

Josiah Citrin at Mélisse: Susie Fiebich Photography

Charcoal Restaurant: Dylan+Jeni


By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Chef Eric Greenspan stirs up a delicious clam and pasta dish with Matfer Bourgeat's Exgolass Spoon

Executive Chef & Restaurant Owner, Eric Greenspan’s talent and passion for cooking and creating bold memorable dishes is evident and becoming legendary. Eric has competed on numerous culinary competition and food-reality shows, including Food Network’s "Cutthroat Kitchen All-Stars," "Chopped All-Stars," "Guy's a Grocery Games All-Stars," “The Next Iron Chef,” “The Next Iron Chef: Redemption," “Iron Chef America Countdown,” and “Iron Chef America,” where he defeated Bobby Flay in a throw-down. Eric is the Executive Chef and owner of Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese, The Roof On Wilshire, and the recently opened seafood stunner Maré.


How does a classically trained chef with James Beard nominations and other numerous accolades become the Grilled Cheese Invitational Champion of 2008?
I have great respect for classical training, and precision in cooking is very important. I did a lot of that in my move up the culinary ladder. But what is just as important is to take that knowledge and put your own soulful spin on it. Basically, for that invitational I deconstructed a traditional cheese plate and put it into a sandwich. After I won, I became known as the King of Comfort Food and specialty grilled cheese concoctions. So I rode the wave, got more creative and eventually opened Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese. It’s a blast.

The mix and match approach of how you serve shellfish is unique. The dish you have prepared--clams over pasta in a vadouvan curry and green apple broth-- is intriguing and delicious. How did you develop it?
Broth is king. It is that basic. If I can make flavorful hearty broths the rest will follow. So that’s what I do. I love shellfish because of its delicate texture and subtle taste. And it is always a big part of coastal cuisine. So to put the two together is a natural combination for me. It feels rustic and refined at the same time. But I want my guests to choose what they want to taste and try. So I created five different broths that can be served with clams, black mussels or shrimp over pasta and with an egg. That way they can eat the shellfish and then add the softly poached egg to the broth and pasta almost as another course. With this dish, I personally love the tenderness of clams and this broth’s bite of curry with the slight bitter bite of green apple complements it very well. It’s a little more unique for those that want to go in that direction. But I also offer the classic broths like leek and white wine, tomato fennel, spicy sausage romesco or pistou pesto.

Chef Eric Greenspan dices up a delicious clam and pasta dish with a Giesser Messer Chef Knife for Matfer Chef Spotlight

Chef Eric Greenspan heats it up in the kitchen with Matfer Bourgeat's Copper Saute Pan

Chef Eric Greenspan heats it up in the kitchen with Matfer Bourgeat's Copper Saute Pan Chef Eric Greenspan heats it up in the kitchen with Matfer Bourgeat's Copper Saute Pan

Chef Eric Greenspan stirs up a delicious clam and pasta dish with Matfer Bourgeat's Exgolass Spoon  

As an established Executive Chef & restaurant owner, what is your philosophy for success?
Follow your heart and your intuition to do what you want to do and to do what is right for you. If you don’t have a passion and love for cooking don’t do it. Be committed to the passion. That’s my philosophy and approach every day. I like to accomplish things and cooking allows me to do that. It remains a personal visceral experience. I have enormous energy to create and cooking does that for me. I like being an owner because nobody is telling me what to do and it gives me freedom to think out of the culinary box to develop and to strive for newer, better, different. But there is also a huge responsibility when you are an owner. It is not only about pleasing the patrons and making sure your food delivers a high quality and memorable experience for them. As an owner, it is also about impacting the lives of the members of your kitchen team and helping them to become great at what they are learning and doing. If your people know they can count on you and trust you and that you care about them, they will give you their all and if not, they will think it’s just a job and your restaurant won’t succeed. A successful restaurant affects everybody involved. The mentoring element is a big part of it for me. Having a well-trained staff that knows I care about them is vital.

Chef Eric Greenspan creates delicious clam and pasta dish with Matfer Bourgeat's Copper Saute Pan for chef spotlight.


You went to business school and cooking school. Why both?
Cooking is not all fun and games and the restaurant business at the end of the day is a people business. I am very much a people person so it is a good fit for me. But to be successful in and out of the kitchen I believed I needed to know how everything worked so I could get that balance right. Once I fell for cooking I always knew I wanted to own my own place. I worked hard and learned from the many of the best by working in their kitchens. I gathered knowledge and expertise from every side. At the center of it all, I just really love to cook. And I realized along the way that I prefer small kitchens. I feel more magic happens there than in big kitchens which feel more theoretical to me. And I don’t cook or lead that way. I’m the in your face guy, guiding you each step of the way. I’m intense but encouraging. I’m the first one in and the last one out.

You use Matfer products in all of your kitchens. What is it about them that make a difference in your preparation and results of your various dishes?
Matfer items have been in front of me throughout my career from cooking school to all of the kitchens I trained in and then worked in or ran. They are beyond durable and the breadth of variety of high quality equipment impresses me and meets my needs for each restaurant. It says a lot that one brand cares about all aspects of cooking from the smallest spatula or spoon to the pots and pans. I love the mussel pot and lid, they are perfect for cooking and serving.

Chef Eric Greenspan dishes out a delicious clam and pasta dish with Matfer's Exoglass Skimmer for chef spotlight.

In the center of your kitchen at Maré is a photo of music great Chick Webb? Why?
Chick Webb is my man! Music and cooking are a lot alike. He was an amazing jazz and swing music drummer as well as a bandleader in the late 20’s and early 30’s. He had a spinal deformity so was short and hunchbacked but it didn’t matter to his larger than life attitude and performances. It was always forgotten when he played. He played with soul and passion. He didn’t let anything get in his way. He would compete with other bandleaders especially Benny Goodman. They would do Stompin’ at the Savoy. Benny played with precision and Chick would turn that same piece on its head and play it with passion and soul. I’m all for precision because that is mandatory in music and in cooking. But that’s cerebral. For true greatness in music and cooking you’ve got to take risks and interpret precise ingredients-like musical notes- in different ways—to create amazing results. His photo hangs in my kitchen as an inspiration to me and to my team. It reminds us to keep the soul and passion in dishes and to keep striving to make them better.

Lou Holtz, the much-respected American football coach said, "I follow three rules. Do the right thing. Do the best you can do and always show people you care." Do you agree?
I agree with this on multiple levels. Doing the right thing is doing the best you can do as a person, a chef and as a business owner. Of course, the right thing in the kitchen is to use the freshest ingredients. There is then the artistic craftsmanship level of being a chef. The right thing is to prepare and cook well each and every time I do the dish. I owe my patrons that. It shows people that I care and appreciate them dining at my restaurants. I am only as good as my last dish and I want to do each dish better than the last time I did it. There is also the level of caring on and off the job for my team and staff. To me, this is mentoring. They learn how to prepare well, cook well, and care about what they do here and for the patrons that come to eat with us. They become committed because I believe in them and encourage them professionally as well as support them in other aspects of their lives. You need to live it and breathe it and taste it and listen to your people and your customers.

The stunning patio at Maré is tucked away behind Greenspan’s and visitors have to go through that restaurant to get to this one. Can you elaborate on its story and its concept? 
I like having a casual eatery, but I knew I also wanted to still create fine dining dishes with a rustic touch in a relaxed beautiful setting. And that’s how the idea of Maré came to be. It has a small menu with big flavors and refined touches. It features Coastal cuisine. I love the elements from the coast whatever part of the world that may be, so it allows me to create and to push myself in new directions with the freshest of ingredients. The surprise of the treasured hideaway setting I hope only adds to the experience.

Chef Eric Greenspan's Mare Restaurant during Matfer Chef Spotlight

What is your favorite ingredient to use when you cook?
I have lots of ingredients I really like to use especially when they add that extra added something to my bases and broths. But one ingredient that I’m always drawn to when cooking is fennel. I can’t exactly pinpoint why it stands out for me but I always look for it wherever I am. I don’t like licorice but I love fennel. It’ s strong yet subtle and I can do so much with it in my dishes. It’s in my broth. I serve it char-grilled, on my crudité platters and use it when roasting fish.

On a personal note, when you’re not cooking, what do you like to eat?
I love almost everything as long as it is executed well. But personally, I absolutely love Chinese Dim Sum and all of its variety of ingredients and flavors.

Chef Eric Greenspan creates delicious clam and pasta dish with Matfer Bourgeat's Mussle Pot for chef spotlight.

As an innovative chef, make clams the star to create your own shellfish-based concoction and use Matfer's Copper Sauté Pan with Lid, the Mussel Pot with Lid, the Exoglass® Skimmer and Spoon as well as the diverse Giesser Knives.

Chef Eric Greenspan for Matfer Chef Spotlight

More about Eric Greenspan
Eric Greenspan graduated both from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the Cordon Blue Culinary School in Paris; he has trained with celebrated chefs including Alain Ducasse, David Bouley, and Joachim Splichal. While Executive Chef at the renowned Patina he was named one of Angeleno Magazines “Eight Hot Chefs”, and his kitchen garnered both a 27/30 rating and a “Top French Restaurant” from Zagat. 944 Magazine recognized Eric as one of the “Most Buzzworthy Chefs in America” and apropos of this latest venture (Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese), Eric won the 2008 Grilled Cheese Invitational. In addition, Eric defeated Bobby Flay on the Food Networks popular “Iron Chef” television program. Greenspan graduated both from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the Cordon Blue Culinary School in Paris; he has trained with celebrated chefs including Alain Ducasse, David Bouley, and Joachim Splichal. While Executive Chef at the renowned Patina he was named one of Angeleno Magazines “Eight Hot Chefs," and his kitchen garnered both a 27/30 rating and a “Top French Restaurant” from Zagat. 944 Magazine recognized Eric as one of the “Most Buzzworthy Chefs in America” and apropos of this latest venture (Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese), Eric won the 2008 Grilled Cheese Invitational. In addition, Eric defeated Bobby Flay on the Food Networks popular “Iron Chef” television program.


By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Pierino “Perry” Jermonti was born and raised in Italy, and inspired to become a pastry chef at an early age under the guidance of his parents. He then sought out apprenticeships with renowned pastry chefs and eventually moved to the United States to pursue his passion as well as a culinary degree in the pastry arts. Jermonti now has more than 30 years of experience. Prior to joining Terranea Resort in 2009, Jermonti worked in some of Arizona’s top kitchens including the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Wrigley Mansion Club and 8700 at the Citadel.

Jermonti, Executive Pastry Chef at Terranea Resort, who now calls San Pedro home, has also been featured in Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and Cucina Italiana. 


As an established Master Pastry Chef what inspires you?
Seasonal ingredients, opera and exercise all inspire me. I love giving classic desserts a creative twist and ideas come to me when I am calm and relaxed outside of the kitchen listening to music or doing exercise. Then I can take those ideas and work out the process and refine the procedure inside of the kitchen where I am very focused. My parents were also a huge inspirational influence on me. I think I was baking before I was walking! We are a family of bakers so making bread and then pastry became very second nature to me. What inspired me early on and continues to be intriguing to me is how to blend flavors uniquely. I like to mix sweet and savory elements to balance out the sugar with the simplicity of the fresh ingredients.

What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with?
My favorite ingredients are citrus, chocolate, caramel and sea salt. On the resort property, I have amazing access to the finest of California ingredients right here. We have beautiful Meyer lemon trees, orange and tangerine trees and an abundant fresh herb garden with rosemary, tarragon, oregano etc., but one of the most interesting things we have here is our Sea Salt Conservancy. It is fantastic. All of the sea salt we cultivate is used for our different dishes in the diverse restaurants. Many are infused with lemon or an herb and are wonderful to use in desserts. If salt is added correctly it can really enhance a sweet recipe. I grew up on the waterfront in Calabria, which is the boot of Italy and the Italians use and respect sea salt in a big way.

It is a balancing act to be the Master Pastry Chef at a resort like Terranea where you oversee everything sweet for the restaurants, the bakery, the private events and the weddings. How do you manage all of that with such success?
I’m lucky. I love doing what I do and I have a great team. I also learned from a great team at home and then in Arizona. I believe that practice makes perfect and I have very high standards. Pastry and presentation design are very precise with flairs of flavor. To me, it is architecture on a plate. To have a positive productive team that works well together and can produce the volume and diverse desserts that we do means that I need to show and teach by example. Everyone in the kitchens are committed to the cause of delivering delicious memorable results from the simplest chocolate chip cookie or ice cream to more intricate cakes and tortes.


What advice do you pass on to your pastry team and apprentices?
Being a pastry chef is a focused art. To create is an art but to do it well- to master it-takes time and attention to every detail. Use the best ingredients and finest utensils to get the best results. Care about everything. Make sure your pastry toolbox is fully equipped to make complicated processes more simple. Matfer products for pastry are absolutely the best and I can show and tell my team all about them by exposing them to the various items. My personal toolbox is filled with Matfer materials from spatulas to pastry brushes, cutters, whisks and tips. The frames, the zester, the decorator comb are fantastic and guide your hands to a perfect smooth and even result.

Are there special events you particularly enjoy creating desserts for?
Well I want get everything just right and make a lasting impression and memory for the patron and their palate. I like designing wedding cakes and creating new seasonal desserts that are memorable. It is also an enjoyable change to make desserts that complement wines for our Wine Library Dinners.

Do you have a signature dessert?
I think I do! I seem to be very well known for my Caramel Cheesecake Crème Brûlée. I first made it when I was invited years ago to make a dessert at the James Beard House in New York. It was a hit and I’ve been making it ever since. It is on our dessert menu at Catalina Kitchen and available for special events. I love cooking with caramel. I make a caramel pot a crème for our dessert menu in our elegant Mar’sel restaurant and a caramel bar dessert for Nelsons, our casual eatery.

You refer to building pastry as a type of architecture. Renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The thing always happens that you really believe in and the belief in a thing makes it happen.” Do you agree? How does this quote relate to you?
I really like this quote. Believing in something and the ability to make it happen is vital to living well and to achieving success. Since I was a little boy, I always believed I could get to the USA to further my expertise as a pastry chef. I worked hard to make it happen and I got to the United States. I persisted and believed I would become better with each experience. And I did. Thankfully, I think that continues to happen. I do believe creating pastry and a special dessert like the cremeaux torte is similar to architecture. Each dessert I “build” starts from an initial inspiration from a moment or an ingredient that I find or notice at a market. It gets me asking myself, “What can I do with this information or item in front of me? How can I make it work as a dessert?” I picture it in my mind before I begin and then believe I can do it. That is my ongoing challenge as a pastry chef and that’s what keeps me creating. I believe I can make a new dessert from the bottom up, from crust, to ingredients, to flavors and finally to garnish. You never want to lose the belief of accomplishment. For me ,it is important that I keep the juices of new ideas flowing and my curious mind seeking.

Your Chocolate Tangerine Cremeux with Blood Orange Glaze is stunning. What is the story and inspiration behind this holiday dessert?
I alter and edit the dessert menus to honor every season and the fresh ingredients that are especially available then. With the festivities of the holidays, I wanted to create something that was beautiful, unique and elegantly said Christmas. Blood oranges, chocolate and espresso are all elements that remind me of my childhood Christmas times in Italy. As an adult, Sambuca came into the equation too!! So I started fiddling and blending the ingredients and textured layers and created this torte. I like it. It feels special for the season. The opposites of the sweet chocolate with the sour yet sweet citrus of the tangerine cremeux and the blood orange glaze come together well. This Chocolate and Tangerine Cremeux will be featured on our holiday dessert menu in Mar’sel. 

Personally, what do you like to cook and eat at home?
Protein and pasta! Being Italian, I love stuffed eggplant and lasagna.


As an established executive chef, you know the creation of an eye-catching divine dessert requires the use of the finest seasonal ingredients alongside top-notch utensils. Chef Jermonti uses Matfer's Stackable Frames & Pastry Bags and Pastry Tips, Mixing BowlFLEXIPAT® SheetOffsetThermometer Spatulas and Rolling Pin a for this tantalizing Chocolate & Tangerine Cremeux recipe

For 13 years, he served as Executive Pastry Chef at the popular T. Cook’s restaurant at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa in Phoenix. At T. Cook’s, Jermonti became well-known for his signature caramel cake crème brûlée, which was named “Best of” by Phoenix Magazine. In January 2009, he was also named “Food Artist of the Month” by the publication. Other awards and recognitions include Best Baker in America from Travel & Leisure, Gold Medal Award for best desserts from the Scottsdale League for the Arts, first place for Best Ginger Bread from Chefs Estate in Prescott, AZ, Arizona’s Gold Plate Award, and Best Dessert audience winner on Phoenix

Terranea (terra-NAY-a) is a land unto itself. When you step onto their 102-acre private peninsula paradise, it's like stepping into a whole new world - minutes from the bustle of Los Angeles. On three sides, you're surrounded by the tranquil waves of the Pacific and across the channel is Catalina Island. The coastal setting of Terranea embraces its Mediterranean heritage and incorporates it into its architecture. From the resort lobby and outdoor gardens to private terraces and inviting courtyards with outdoor fireplaces, our carefully tended southern California family resort continues to evolve naturally over time.