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Tastes & Traditions: Tomato Season and Edible Flowers

edible flowers

Tastes & Traditions

Tomato Season and Edible Flowers

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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

chef working with edible flowers

edible flowers and tomatoes make the perfect pair

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

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

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

summer is the perfect time for edible flowers and tomatoes

chef carefully placing edible flowers with tweezers

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

edible flowers and tomatoes in tarts on matfer silicone mat

edible flower and tomatoes make the perfect pair

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

Tools for the Taste

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

Chef Spotlight: Casey Thompson

Chef Casey Thompson

Chef Spotlight

Casey Thompson

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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

Fresh tomatoes and edible flowers

Chef Casey Thompson preparing pastry dough

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

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

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

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

Chef Casey Thompson parbaking the tartlet shells

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

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

Chef Casey Thompson chopping scallions

Chef Casey Thompson slicing fresh tomatoes

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

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

Chef Casey Thompson preparing the filling

Chef Casey Thompson picking her edible flowers

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

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

AT MORADA, HOW DO YOU SOURCE YOUR LOCAL INGREDIENTS?

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

Filling the tartlets

HOW OFTEN DO YOU COOK WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS?

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

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO PREPARE TOMATOES?

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

Chef Casey Thompson baking the tartlets

Chef Casey Thompson placing tomatoes on the tartlets

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

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

Placing on the edible flowers and the final product

Chef Casey Thompson holding her tart

Tools for the Taste

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

Tastes & Traditions: Lavender & Earl Grey

Lavender and Earl Grey make the perfect pair

Tastes & Traditions

Lavender & Earl Grey

Monday, April 3, 2017

When looking for the sacred in daily moments, there’s no need to look further than a mindfully brewed cup of tea or a spray of fresh flowers. Tea-drinking developed in Eastern cultures through ceremonious, rigid performance, and it has embedded itself in European culture and custom through fastidious, quotidian use. All problems can be solved and all relationships strengthened over a cup of tea.

Earl Grey tea leaves in a measuring spoon

But whether hailed as a path towards spiritual awakening or simply a morning ritual that sets the tone for the day, drinking tea can aid us to savor moments of our routine and appreciate the present. Akin to the adage advising us to “stop and smell the roses,” these sensory experiences allow a peace and presence of mind that lets us appreciate life to the fullest. Taste, sight and smell are ignited with the natural simplicity found in flowers and tea. It’s no wonder that they’ve found their way into baking, too, where they add distinct dimension, flavor and feeling to each recipe.

Lavender and early grey have both found their way into baking

Tea’s versatility draws out the earthy, floral, fruity, spicy and even smoky flavor profiles of standard desserts, whether the dry leaves are mixed into the ingredients or steeped for a more nuanced flavor. French, Asian and California cuisine have all experienced an increased prevalence of tea-inspired desserts and savory dishes, allowing chefs and bakers to play with the various flavor profiles and bring their dishes to the next level. The flavors are intriguing, and most importantly, unexpected; this allows chefs the “surprise and delight” factor in their cooking that keeps guests talking and brings in new audiences.

Tea leaves make a great addition to many recipes

Countering tea’s versatility, lavender packs a robust punch with its fragrance and flavor profile, yet it is also beginning to stand alone as an herbal/spice component in both savory and sweet dishes. Edible flowers are a growing trend in culinary spaces. They add dimension for both the eyes and the taste buds, enhancing a chef’s offering for all sensory outlets. The edible flower trend is thought to have been derived from a general expanding interest in eating healthy and colorful food, along with the new wave of Nordic cuisine centered around foraging and repurposing herbs and plants that have long been ignored.

Floral notes like lavender are also a welcome addition

Chefs, mixologists and pâtissieres everywhere are embracing the farm-to-table trend, and taking foraging to new heights of authenticity by sourcing an evening’s menu earlier that same the morning. Virgilio Martinez rocketed his Peruvian restaurant to the pinnacle of success after leveraging Peru’s immediate terroir, and using interesting and unknown plants and herbs from different altitudes to allow guests to taste the land at each level. Similarly, Blue Hill Farm’s Dan Barber in New York sources his produce from the farm each morning, and LA mixologist Matthew Biancianiello forages his local surroundings to help corral farm-to-glass into the mainstream.

Sprinkling lavender on blueberry tarts

Like most modern, cyclical trends, tea and edible flowers were initially used in more heritage applications that centered on eating from the wild. Ironically, as we progress technologically, we tend to yearn for more bespoke and antiquated forms of production and produce that yield organic, natural outcomes. A general consumer disposition towards farm-to-table food and drink, and the incorporation of complex, natural ingredients in cooking and baking, appear to be on the rise as new culinary concepts scramble to keep up. This suggests that the trend of floral and tea-driven infusion in sweet and savory cuisine will continue to expand and develop in the years to come. Read more in this month's featured chef spotlight with Waylynn Lucas.

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: 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.

WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION COME FROM FOR THE DESSERT YOU ARE MAKING US TODAY?

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

THE CREATIVE PROCESS CAN BE CHALLENGING AT TIMES. DID YOU HAVE ANY EARLY STRUGGLES AS A PASTRY CHEF?

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

MAKING GOOD PASTRY CAN BE SUCH AN INTRICATE PROCESS. HOW DO TOOLS MAKE YOUR WORK EASIER – OR HARDER?

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

WE COULD EAT FŌNUTS ALL DAY. THAT’S WHY WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT OTHER DESSERTS YOU LOVE. WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE DESSERT – THE ONE YOU’D SERVE AT A DINNER PARTY TO YOUR GUESTS?

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

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO WATCH SOMEONE TRY A REALLY GREAT DESSERT FOR THE FIRST TIME?

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.

Tastes & Traditions: Bacon & Bourbon

Bacon and bourbon pairing

Tastes & Traditions

Bacon & Bourbon

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Beautiful Marriage of Bacon & Whiskey

In the rapidly evolving world of modern cuisine, few dual ingredients have truly redefined the term, “perfect pairing” like bacon and whiskey. Each with their own respective rich gustative histories, bacon and whiskey both boast fanatic followings and a deep pride in preparation. Bacon’s surprising origins story combined with its thriving popularity amongst millennials has arrested the attentions of chefs worldwide, impacting menu innovation to an astonishing degree. In similar fashion, whiskey’s complex and multi-national history, while steeped in tradition, has inspired an excitement for invention throughout the cooking community. Whether as an absolutely delectable duo or as equally strong individual ingredients, bacon and whiskey are the veritable new frontier of finely crafted food.

Bacon with apples and bourbon in exoglass

Be it breakfast, brunch, or burgers, bacon has made its way into the modern palate with the utmost ubiquity. With a history tracing back to ancient China, bacon, or “bacoun” as it was originally called in Middle English, was the term originally used for all types of cured pork. And while the name stems from a melange of cultures and languages - the French “bako”, old High German “bakko”, Old Teutonic “backe”, to name a few - the one universally held value of the meat is its blend of lean, flavorful belly meat and buttery, luxurious fat. Chefs who embrace bacon tend to seek unexpected ways to incorporate it as an accent to both the savory and the sweet flavors of a variety of types of dishes.

Flames over copper Matfer sugar pan

With a legacy as diverse and regionally-influenced as wine, whiskey attracts those who appreciate wood-barrel aging and the task of distinguishing subtle differences of flavor. And while an appreciation and understanding of whiskey has long been heralded as a sign of tasteful sophistication, the prospect of eating food with whiskey - let alone cooking with it - was historically frowned upon. The Scottish - whiskey heroes according to many - were the first to widely practice cooking with whiskey.

As chef imaginations continue to warm to the notion of including whiskey as an ingredient, use of the liquor has become increasingly diverse - whiskey continues to pop up in innovative stir fries, marinades and glazes, fruit sauces and fillings, and even in some updated renditions of French flambé preparations. The clever ability of whiskey as a flavor profile is its sweet as well as savory notes which are often used to bring out both elements in complementing ingredients.

Chef Bruce Kalman carefully plates the topping

When it comes to bacon and whiskey together, things are really heating up. Trendy brunch menus fall to the popular wayside if not inclusive of a whiskey-cured bacon flight, a bacon-infused whiskey cocktail, or better yet - a smoked whiskey syrup-drenched stack of bacon pancakes and/or waffles. Additionally, bacon burgers are now seeing additions such as whiskey-reduced chutneys and whiskey-infused mustards to accent the pork’s fruitier notes.

When asked his opinion on the current hype around pairing bacon and bourbon specifically, Chef Bruce Kalman responded by saying, “I don’t find it to be hype, it’s a fact; bacon and bourbon go really well together due to their flavor profiles - smokey, sweet, salty always pairs well with barrel-aged bourbon. And when you cook the alcohol out of bourbon, it has a sweet, rich flavor to it, that is incredibly unique.”

Flames over copper Matfer sugar pan

So while both bacon and whiskey have stood on their own for quite some time, they have come together to widely shared enthusiasm as die-hard partners in the latest and greatest of savory as well as sweet taste-pairing and inventive, contemporary cooking. Read more in this month's featured chef spotlight with Bruce Kalman.

Bacon and bourbon pairing

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.

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.

WAREHOUSE SALE!

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: DERRICK PELTZ

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.

INTERVIEW:

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.  

http://www.matferbourgeatusa.com/lattice-pie-cutter-2 

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.

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
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.

TASTES & TRADITIONS: PUFF PASTRY PRESTIGE

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Taste and Tradition Puff Pastry Derrick Peltz

Perfectly put, puff pastry is prestigious. No matter how it is used-whether laden with savory or sweet ingredients - this delicate multi-layered crust exudes an aura of pure sophistication.  Butter, the main component, makes the refined difference. However, this pastry’s ancestral ties actually date back to the Middle Ages when olive oil was the magical key. Its flaky distant relative “phyllo” was a prominent part of the Mediterranean meal. Egyptians, Greeks and Turks folded olive oil into dough that contained diverse elements and baked the turnovers in stone ovens. 

Matfer High Mousse Ring

In the 17th century, French baker Claude Gelee was fiddling with a recipe to soothe his father’s stomach ailment. He initially placed a “beurrage” (butter packet) into a mound of dough and folded and refolded it until the butter was well blended and hidden away. While baking, steam found its way into the package’s gaps, causing them to rise. This buttery bonus delivered a happy happenstance that turned the basic mixture of water, flour and salt into a golden, glorious edible gift that his father was able to digest and enjoy. Gelee then began using his puffy concoction to surround the fruits or fillings of his desserts and called it “pate feuilleute” (puff pastry). Et voila! The term and technique “En Croute” (to encase) was born using “pate feuilleute” to wrap around beef, sausage and fish or a creamy fruite-filled finale.

Matfer High Mousse Ring 

Taste and Tradition Puff Pastry Derrick Peltz using Matfer's High Mousse Cutter

Fit for a king, palace chefs embraced “pate feuilleute” as an elegant staple in many of the courses they prepared for the feasts of French royalty and noblemen. Other European countries copied the trend and by 1900, puff pastry was an established element for creations by restaurant chefs and bakers. In the United States, haute cuisine became fashionable at fancy French restaurants during the 1960’s and 1970’s where “pate feuilleute” had a dominant presence in many specialties. From that point forward, its mark was made.

Taste and Tradition Puff Pastry Derrick Peltz using Matfer's High Mousse Cutter 

Culinary beauty and the impeccable taste of a dish should go hand in hand. As a chef, you know the perfect presentation of a dish is as important as the perfection of its flavors.

Chef Derrick Peltz referred to classic methods and pastry to develop his own memorable highlights during his stint on FOX’s Master Chef where he was Season 6’s impressive Runner-up. “I love working with puff pastry to design my own culinary style. I ‘ve always been impressed at how puff pastry adds an artistic aspect and refinement to a dish from courses like Beef Wellington or salmon en croute.”

Puff Pastry Matfer Taste and Tradition with Chef Derrick Peltz

Chef Derrick Peltz successfully took a leap of faith in using classic ingredients of duck and cherries to create a stunning main course by crowning it with a beautiful lattice arch and surrounding it with colorful seasonal cauliflower. Use Matfer's Lattice Pie Cutter, Exoglass® Sieve Strainer, Excellence Sauté Pan, High Mousse Ring, Hand Held Cherry Stoner, Ceramic Fry Pan and Stainless Steel All-Purpose Tongs for your own puff pastry designed dish.  

More! with the talented Master Chef Derrick Pelt in his Matfer Chef Spotlight


TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

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

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: JOSIAH CITRIN / MELISSE

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.

INTERVIEW:
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.


TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
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