RSS

Tastes & Traditions: Hybrid Desserts

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

Tastes & Traditions

Dining in the Age of Digital Dessert

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

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

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

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

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

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

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

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

hybrid desserts sherrie tan

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

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

Tools for the Taste

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

Chef Spotlight: Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Spotlight

Sherrie Tan

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

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

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

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

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

What does ube taste like?

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

Chef Sherrie Tan

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

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

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

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

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

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

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

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

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

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

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

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

Chef Sherrie Tan

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

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

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

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

Chef Sherrie Tan

Chef Sherrie Tan

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

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

Tools for the Taste

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

Tastes & Traditions: Coffee in the Spice Drawer

edible flowers

Tastes & Traditions

Coffee in the Spice Drawer

Thursday, June 1, 2017

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

chef working with edible flowers

edible flowers and tomatoes make the perfect pair

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

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

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

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

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

Tools for the Taste

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

Chef Spotlight: Zac Young

Chef Zac Young

Chef Spotlight

Zac Young

Thursday, June 1, 2017

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

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

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

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

What was the first dessert you ever made?

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

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

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

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

What is your favorite quality about pastry?

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

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

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

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

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

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

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

What 3 ingredients do you use on a daily basis?

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

What would you do without butter?

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

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

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

How do you bake with coffee without overpowering the dessert?

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

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Do you taste everything that you make?

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

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

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

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

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

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

What would be the ultimate mash up dessert?

Bourbon, ice cream, and a nap!

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Zac Young makes coffee and donut tart

Tools for the Taste

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

Tastes & Traditions: Tomato Season and Edible Flowers

edible flowers

Tastes & Traditions

Tomato Season and Edible Flowers

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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

chef working with edible flowers

edible flowers and tomatoes make the perfect pair

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

matfer prep chef used to slice tomatoes

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

summer is the perfect time for edible flowers and tomatoes

chef carefully placing edible flowers with tweezers

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

edible flowers and tomatoes in tarts on matfer silicone mat

edible flower and tomatoes make the perfect pair

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

Tools for the Taste

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

Chef Spotlight: Casey Thompson

Chef Casey Thompson

Chef Spotlight

Casey Thompson

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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

Fresh tomatoes and edible flowers

Chef Casey Thompson preparing pastry dough

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

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

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

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

Chef Casey Thompson parbaking the tartlet shells

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

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

Chef Casey Thompson chopping scallions

Chef Casey Thompson slicing fresh tomatoes

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

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

Chef Casey Thompson preparing the filling

Chef Casey Thompson picking her edible flowers

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

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

AT MORADA, HOW DO YOU SOURCE YOUR LOCAL INGREDIENTS?

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

Filling the tartlets

HOW OFTEN DO YOU COOK WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS?

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

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO PREPARE TOMATOES?

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

Chef Casey Thompson baking the tartlets

Chef Casey Thompson placing tomatoes on the tartlets

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

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

Placing on the edible flowers and the final product

Chef Casey Thompson holding her tart

Tools for the Taste

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

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.