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Chef Spotlight

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.

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.

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.

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

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: ERIC GREENSPAN

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

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

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

INTERVIEW: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chef Eric Greenspan's Mare Restaurant during Matfer Chef Spotlight

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

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

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


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

Chef Eric Greenspan for Matfer Chef Spotlight

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

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: PIERINO JERMONTI

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

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

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

INTERVIEW:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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


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

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

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

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

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

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

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: BRENDAN COLLINS

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Chef Spotlight with Chef Brendan Collins

Born and raised in Nottingham, England, Chef Brendan Collins knew early on that he wanted to be a chef. His first job at the age of 17 was at Michelin two-starred La Gavroche in London. He continued to hone his skills at some of London’s finest gastronomic temples, including The Café Royal, The Heights, and Pied à Terre. He sharpened his expertise at the Oxo Tower and then became a sous chef under Marco Pierre White at Quo Vadis. During his tenure, he was part of the team to garner a Michelin star and was quickly recognized as rising star in London’s culinary scene.

In 2002, Collins crossed the pond to work with revered chef Josiah Citrin at Melisse in Santa Monica as chef de cuisine. During his four years there, Melisse consistently earned a Mobil Four Star rating and became one of California’s first Michelin two-star rated restaurants. He then struck out on his own opening Mesa in Orange County to much acclaim followed by Anisette in Santa Monica with chef Alain Giraud. Later he became executive chef of The Hall at Palihouse in West Hollywood. Most recently, Collins was the executive chef and co-proprietor of the former Waterloo & City. The elevated English gastropub opened in 2010 and became an instant success. He has become known for his refined and modern approach to food, as well his passion for whole animal butchery and seasonal cooking. All of this has led him to Birch, which features fantastic seasonal dishes tempered with a straightforward sensibility and relaxed atmosphere.

INTERVIEW:

As an established Master Chef what inspires you?
All sorts of things. I’m British so initially when I began my professional culinary career I looked to the world’s globe for ingredient inspiration. But as I moved along and then came to California, I became further inspired by the amazing seasonal elements here. Now I am also inspired by nostalgia and really enjoy taking British based dishes and creating a modern flavorful twist to them. I’m very product driven and work closely with my purveyors. Once I know what I can get or have then I get inspired to make something from that. I obviously always strive for excellence. My goal all of the time is to please my customer so they want to keep coming back for more.

It is a balancing act to be the Master Chef and the Restaurateur of an establishment. How do you manage that fine line with such success?
It is a fine line and it takes a lot of commitment and hard work. It's like putting together a giant puzzle. To be successful at both requires consistency and a commitment to that consistency. It starts from that base which then leads to creating a solid and creative culinary team you can train and trust. This is not a business for the faint hearted, but if you like it like I do you remain dedicated and steadfast. That belief and determination has taken me a long way through rough times and great times. You conceive, you plan, and you go for it. The menu and its ingredients, the pricing, the restaurant design, the bar all matter. If all is done well, the camaraderie and the results are very rewarding.

You trained and worked in some of London’s greatest establishments and then came to California to restaurants where you helped them earn further accolades. How have those experiences shaped you into the Chef you are today?
I am who I am today as a professional and as a chef, because of the people I was fortunate enough to work for in their restaurants. They all made impressions on me and passed along knowledge which I absorbed and processed into my own way of working. London was an amazing base, but California expanded my view and my options. Working with someone like Josiah at Melisse made its mark. California is now my home, and I knew I wanted to eventually own my own place. With that goal in mind, I worked long hours until I knew I was ready to open and run a successful business. I loved doing the gastropub Waterloo & City, as that felt really natural coming from a family who owned an English pub. And now I’m really excited that Birch has opened and we can present refined dishes with a modern touch.

Birch is beautiful, a modern sleek tone yet a welcoming atmosphere and an innovative menu. How did you come up with the name?
The name reminds me of the woodlands of Birch trees near my childhood home in Nottingham in England. Birch trees are real, rustic, yet beautiful. I do my best to emulate that in my cooking.

Many restaurants you worked at as you were honing your skills and earning an impressive reputation earned stars and extra accolades while you were there. What did it take to help earn those stars and various accolades?
Precision and innovation. Long, long hours, dedication and a lot of hard work.


Your roasted pork sauced with pomegranates and served with autumn squash-stuffed tortellini are beautiful. What is the story and inspiration behind them?
I love roasts. Being British, a roast feels very second nature to me. In fact instead of Sunday Brunch, I do Sunday Roasts Lunch at the restaurant! I really enjoy preparing meat, particularly pork. It is so versatile, and I can make all sorts of items with it from a roast to charcuterie and pâtés. I like to brine my roasts for added flavor and moisture, so the texture can also be appreciated. I’m nostalgic about, and affectionate for, pomegranates. When I was a kid, my Mum often gave them to us as an afternoon snack, and I remember picking each red seed out with a tooth pick and loving them. They are such an excellent addition to the flavor profile of a dish, especially something neutral like pork. It welcomes the richness of the pomegranate seeds and juice that make the sauce. Together they are very complementary. The squash stuffed homemade tortellini feel like a nice addition. Both are very autumnal to me, so they are timely for this season. And cooking them both using Matfer’s copper sauté and sauce pans made them that much better. That’s what I mean about consistency: excellent ingredients and excellent equipment creates excellent dishes.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Old school, new school, and everything in-between. I cook using a traditional approach with a modern, current day interpretation. It’s always a dilemma of, "Have I gone far enough with these flavors? Or too far?" I play with taste and texture all of the time.

Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said, "The secret of success is consistency of purpose." Do you agree?
This quote makes an impression on me, because I believe consistency across the board in my culinary world drives success on every level. Consistency creates confidence and return. In truth, it is a simple formula that in real life can be tricky. Consistently use the best ingredients you can find to develop an innovative appealing menu. Consistently work with a creative committed team you can rely on to execute those dishes well, so that patrons will be pleased and will come back. Consistently stay seasonal, yet ahead of the game to keep the work interesting and the restaurant successful!

Personally, what are your favorite ingredients?
For me it is all about flavor. Since I don’t cook them, I love Mexican or Japanese cuisines. If I’m cooking something really simple at home with my wife and daughter, I make scrambled eggs on toast.

Matfer supported the charity Autism Speaks and so did you. Matfer sponsored the October culinary event by providing utensils for the participating chefs. What is your connection to Autism Speaks?
It was a fantastic night for an important cause. The chefs’ camaraderie in the room was amazing. It is a charity dear to my heart as autism affects people close to me, so I was really happy to cook that evening to help. I hope to make a difference. The Matfer products I used for my dishes were great too.

Tools for the Taste
As an executive chef, pork perfection is a promise when preparing your own savory roast using Matfer's Copper Sauté and Sauce Pans, Exoglass® Spatula & Spoon, the Ergonomic Truffle Cutter and the Giesser Messer Knife.

CHEF SPOTLIGHT - JOACHIM SPLICHAL

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Joachim Splichal Matfer Chef SpotlightJoachim Splichal Matfer Chef Spotlight

Master Chef and culinary icon Joachim Splichal is widely recognized as a major contributing force in the culinary world and an innovative maverick in the California dining scene. The recipient of numerous awards and accolades, among his highlights are his induction into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and them naming him Best California Chef. He is the Chef and Founder of Patina, the Michelin Starred Relais & Chateau Property in downtown Los Angeles. Splichal then created the Patina Restaurant Group in 1999. It now boasts approximately 60 restaurants and food service operations throughout the United States offering impeccable cuisine and service. The City of Los Angeles hails him as an official “Treasure of Los Angeles”.

INTERVIEW:

As one of the country’s foremost culinary masters, what inspires you?
Authenticity. From the beginning of my career to now, what inspires me is the ability to maintain the highest quality of dishes and service in all of my endeavors. The finest food punctuated with impeccable service is my goal each and every time. This has always been my philosophy. Creativity and consistency together are vital to deliver a memorable experience to the dining patron from start to finish.

Joachim Splichal Matfer Chef Spotlight

How did your cooking background prepare you for your restaurant journey and success in the United States?
I come from Spaichingen, a small village in Germany, and my parents owned a hotel there. I learned from the bottom to the top. I liked the business and initially trained in the hospitality industry in Switzerland. In France, I had exceptional experiences by working at two star Michelin La Bonne Auberge in Antibes and then with leading chef Jacques Maximin at Chantecler at the Hotel Negresco in Nice. I went on to three-star Michelin L’Oasis in La Napoule. When I was invited to cook at the Regency Club in Los Angeles, I was ready for a change so I came to the US and my cooking career here began.

It was in the early 80’s before the farmer's markets craze really took hold. But my classic French training and love of market produce there transferred easily to California where fresh items were abundant allowing me to push forward with a lighter approach to dishes. This was already happening in France but it hadn’t quite reached here yet. Timing was everything. I think being young and bold and daring gave me the courage to be playful and more innovative with cuisine than Americans had been used to from European chefs. I learned a lot and rode the restaurant rollercoaster of success and mishaps when I moved on to Seventh Street Bistro and Max Au Triangle. By the time I opened Patina in 1989, I had the passion and business acumen to give it my best efforts on every level in and out of the kitchen.  When I partnered with Nick in 1999 to form the Patina Group, I was clear by then that fine cuisine, service and genuine hospitality was what I wanted to continue to do with any other restaurants I developed.

BOURGEAT COPPER SAUCE PAN

Matfer Paring KnifeMatfer Fish Knife

Bourgeat Copper Sauce Pan

As one of the most extremely successful chefs and restaurant owners in the country, what continues to drive you in today’s culinary world?
Being a chef and a restaurant owner is the life I have chosen and truly enjoy. A committed work ethic is everything blended with the reality that running a restaurant is a business. Culinary excellence is an art form but having a restaurant is not only about presenting fresh beautiful food. It is about balance and how to do that well along with acknowledging that profit and loss are a real part of the equation. For me, the future is in our next generation and that is why mentoring is such a vital part of my career. I am very proud of that accomplishment with the chefs that have trained with me over the years in the Patina Group. Whether they’ve stayed or moved on to other places, they’ve taken knowledge and ability with them as they find their way in the culinary world. I will always develop creative concepts that can work. New menus and restaurants need to please the patron so they return. But it must make sense upfront and behind the scenes too. This philosophy keeps me interested. For example, I’m excited that we have just renovated and reopened Nick & Stef’s, our excellent steakhouse restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.

 Fish Knife

The Patina Group has also become recognized as bringing delectable dining experiences around cultural venues. How did that come to be?
I like the synergy of landmark dining within a cultural venue. Fine art or music compliment fine dining. And fine dining doesn’t mean heavy or stuffy. It means fresh, creative dishes that complement the setting. I’m obviously very proud about Patina becoming a Relais & Chateaux property and our Michelin star but I am extra pleased that it does so well at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. That move was a real leap of faith! And now we have Ray’s & Stark Bar at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Leatherby’s Café Rouge at the Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, and Tangata at the Bower’s Museum in Santa Ana, In New York, we have many cafes at places like Rockefeller Center yet Lincoln Ristorante at Lincoln Center and Grand Tier Restaurant in the stunning Metropolitan Opera House are special destinations too.

Bourgeat Copper Sauce Pan

Your gorgeous Tuna “Cake” is a part of your special events menu. How did it come to be?
To me this tuna cake is the ultimate culmination of my French training and my fortunate long career in California. It resembles the classic look of a layered French Napoleon dessert yet it is surprisingly a savory appetizer using superb Californian ingredients like the Grade A Tuna, fresh avocado, red onion and chives. I love the use of the yuzu sauce as an Asian touch. It is one of my favorite signature dishes to make.

Joachim SplichalJoachim Splichal

In your opinion, what is it about the Matfer products that make a difference in preparation and results of your various dishes?
High quality and precision. Matfer is a French company. I trained in Europe with a lot of that training time in France. In Southern France, when I worked alongside my mentor Jacques Maximin at Chantecler he only used Matfer. It is what I have always used in all of my kitchens. They have everything. The high quality of their products has never wavered. I know what I’m getting and the chefs I now mentor and train know what they are getting. I like the precision of their knives and their copper items.

The global businessman Bob Goshen says, "Leaders should influence others in such a way that it builds people up, encourages and educates them so they can duplicate this attitude in others." Do you agree?
Yes. Leading by example is what I believe to be the highest form of training and advice-giving. Showing someone how to prepare a dish is far more effective than just handing him or her a recipe card. From the interaction of cooking together, a relationship forms, trust is established and it encourages the “trainee” to take ownership of the newly learned talent.

Pairing Knife  Joachim Splichael with Giesser Messer Fish Knife

Joachim Splichal with Geisser Messer Fish Knife

Personally, what do you like to cook at home?
Anything with fleur de sel gris. It is the perfect salt, simple yet profound. And I like going to the farmers market to see what’s fresh and then making those side dishes with steak or roasted chicken when I eat with my sons.

Joachim Splichal with Matfer Exoglass Spatula

Joachim Splical Matfer Chef Spotlight

Geisser Messer Pairing Knife Joachim Splichal Matfer Chef Spotlight

Joachim Splichal Matfer Chef Spotlight Tuna Tempation

Matfer supports the charity Autism Speaks and so do you. Matfer is sponsoring this October culinary event by providing utensils for the participating chefs. You will each be cooking at a table on that evening. What is your connection to Autism Speaks?
We can all help each other by giving our time and abilities to make a difference. Children are our future. Deep in our hearts, every parent, including me, wants their children to be happy and healthy. Some are healthier than others. For those who need extra help to have a better life, it is clear that research and support infuse that positive development. I am impressed with what Autism Speaks does as a charity and I am pleased to be involved. To cook to support this purpose is very fulfilling to me.

More about Joachim Splichal

Splichal’s restaurants have likewise been lauded by some of the country’s most discriminating restaurant and food critics. The Michelin‐starred Patina relocated from Hollywood to Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003, emphasizing Splichal’s commitment to performing arts and cultural centers, and received a rare four‐star review from the Los Angeles Times in 2010. Other recent highlights from among the restaurant group’s
holdings include Ray’s & Stark Bar at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Lincoln Ristorante at New York’s Lincoln Center being named two of the country’s Best New Restaurants in 2011 by John Mariani in Esquire; Leatherby’s Café Rouge at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA, receiving a three-star review from the Los Angeles Times; PRG’s prestigious catering division executing the Creative Arts and Primetime Emmy® Awards—the largest seated catered meal in North America—for 16 years. In addition, PRG’s catering division being chosen from over 10 high‐profile competitors to cook for newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles during the royal couple’s tour of California.


TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

As a master chef, you are guaranteed an outstanding outcome for your own fish-friendly appetizer when you use Matfer’s Exoglass® SpatulaBourgeat Copper Sauce PanParing and Fish KnivesHemispherical Bowls and Chef Tweezers.

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: JET TILA

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Jet Tila Matfer Chef Spotlight

The Matfer Team had an exhilarating time with Executive/Celebrity Chef Jet Tila in Los Angeles watching him work his wok magic! He created his famous and fabulous Drunken Noodles and even shared his recipe (see below!) as well as luscious lobster dish using ideally matched Matfer tools. 

You have such energy and passion. As an established Executive Chef what inspires you?

I’m always inspired by my family’s culinary traditions and history. I’m aware that everything I cook has been done before by my great grandmother, my grandmother and my mother. That knowledge is always with me.

I initially learned by watching my Cantonese grandmother cook recipes passed down to her. My parents arrived in California and opened Bangkok Market one of the first Thai markets in the country and then the Royal Thai restaurant in Los Angeles. I grew up in that environment. I worked in the store and in the restaurant from the bottom to the top. Asian ingredients were always around me from noodles to lemongrass to chilies to special spices. I remain curious about how it was done before and how it can be done today.

I respect the connection between then and now, the Old and the New Worlds. I enjoy teaching people about where I come from through my food. It is actually how my joy of sharing Asian flavors and techniques through teaching began. I started showing customers how to make Pad Thai and other noodle dishes in the back lot of my parents’ store as the interest in Thai cooking was on the rise. I now do culinary tours through Thai town to showcase its tastes and traditions. I’m still learning all of the time and sharing those lessons. I am a chef, a student and a teacher with every dish I create or recreate. I’m inspired every time I cook.

Jet Tila Matfer Chef Spotlight Giesser Messer Knife

Jet Tila Matfer Chef Spotlight Geisser Messer Knife

Your heritage is a combination of Chinese and Thai which reflects in your cooking but you also went on to learn classical French and Japanese techniques. Why?    

Initially growing up in the business I ironically didn’t foresee becoming a chef. I wanted to try something different but I came to realize that making food and creating dishes is in my DNA. I’m intrigued by ingredients and challenged by the multi-layer process of flavors and techniques. I decided if I was really going to pursue this path than I needed to know, respect and understand other types of cuisines and their methods.

Jet Tila Drunken Noodles

Matfer Hemispherical Bowl

You opened Wazuzu at the Encore Wynn resort in Las Vegas. You also introduced Asian cuisine to the masses at Google, Intel and EBay in Silicon Valley in their office cafes. Now you are a force and vision behind Compass, the largest food service company where you share Asian techniques so they can be produced for the greater public. You also have a web channel to highlight certain dishes and are a regular judge on Chopped. What’s different from what you did then to what you do now?

When I started, it was go, go go! Growing up as an immigrant in the Los Angeles Thai community, it was and still is all about achievement and always doing your best. The wave of Asian immigrants who arrived to chase their American dreams were growing up and becoming successful in their own right. When they traveled to places like Vegas they wanted to eat what they knew and liked. I was their contemporary and knew how to deliver those dishes and flavors. The Asian techno geek crowd employed at the big internet companies wanted to eat what was natural to them too.

My learning curve was how to take Grandma’s recipes and reproduce them in an authentic way for larger audiences. It was a challenge and a blast. It was the meeting of traditional techniques with modern methods. Along the way, flavorful Asian cuisine has been introduced to others who have come to appreciate it. I have been so fortunate on my career track. I’ve really been allowed to do it all. I love teaching and sharing so the media part allows me to do that and at Compass I can continue to create with a big outreach.

In your accomplished career you have earned impressive accolades as well as holding some interesting world cooking records! Do you have a favorite?

I am honored and humbled by each one. Being appointed the Culinary Ambassador of Thai cuisine by the Royal Thai Consulate General is amazing.

The Iron Chef competition really tested my abilities on a whole other level and brought me recognition that steered my career in this direction. The cooking records were fun to do. I welcome challenge. I never thought my studies at the Sushi Academy would lead me to holding the record for the longest California roll (440 feet). And I smile at what my Grandma would say about my cooking the largest stir-fry (4010 pounds) or heaviest seafood stew (6500 pounds).

Drunken noodles are your signature dish. And this succulent lobster as another entrée with it is divine. What makes these recipes uniquely Jet?

It is taking what you know and just making it as delicious as it can be using the freshest of ingredients. The fantastic flavors of the Thai and Cantonese kitchens are second nature to me. The cooking mantra is to blend sweet, spicy, sour and sweet in every dish with every bite. I do that.

Noodles are a prominent component on the Asian menu and in Thailand it is all about rice noodles. When I created my Drunken Noodles—which is a type of Pad Thai-- I mixed the variety of saltier sauces (soy and oyster) with the spicy (sriracha sauce & chilies) the sweet (basil & sugar) and sour (Rice wine) to create the coating. The bite of the garlic and acidity of the fresh tomatoes tops it all off.  Being on Iron Chef and the Food Network highlighted the dish.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

I cook with abundance and abandonment.  The heat of the kitchen on every level provokes that and I believe translates that intensity into the heat of the dish.  I love the feeling-it is very Zen to me. High heat cooking like stir-fry in a wok means you have to cook fast and almost ferociously.  This is why I respect and rely on Matfer products in my kitchens. They’re beyond durable and their quality is of the highest caliber. The different sized bowls are deep and can be banged around without getting a dent. The Matfer wok guarantees a perfect stir-fry. Its shape has a good slope that holds the ingredients and balances the heat out beautifully. It is light enough in weight for me to be able to lift it on and off the stove when I’m tossing the noodles to coat them well. The length of the tongs let me get in there to move it all around and serve it straight to the dish. 

Established American author Alex Haley said, "In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future." Do you agree?

This quote really resonates with me. Family is everything. I say I have birth luck as it is my family that really set me on this phenomenal path. A lot of chefs spend much of their lives thinking that cooking as a career is the most important, challenging & fulfilling venture in a lifetime. Striving for success, recognition & honing one’s craft is everything. And much of that is true. Then you marry, have children and realize there’s nothing more challenging yet more fulfilling or tougher in the universe than being there for your family.  My devotion and passion for food is a very fulfilling career that now affords me my time with my family.

Jet Tila Druken Noodles Matfer Chef Spotlight

Personally, what are your favorite ingredients?

For me it is all about flavor and heat.  I love sweet basil and chilies. At home, I’ll make fried rice with a fresh basil omelette.

We are thrilled to join you at the upcoming Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala. What is your connection to Autism Speaks?

I’m so fortunate in life, love and career. I’m all about giving back and moving that fortune forward to others who may not have that yet. My wife Allison works in special education and early childhood development so I’m very familiar with autism. From her, I know what a difference research makes to help others. This event to me is about coming together as a community, being able to cook and share. It is an honor. I can’t wait!

Jet Tila Matfer Chef Spotlight

CHEF JETS'S DRUNKEN NOODLE RECIPE
That's right! We said it - Jet Tila shared with Matfer the recipe for his famously delicious Druken Noodles. 

Ingredients:

Sauce
1 tbsp. Mushroom Soy Sauce
2 tbsp. Sweet Soy Sauce
1 tbsp. Oyster Sauce
1.5 tbsp. Fish Sauce
1 tbsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. Sriracha Sauce
2 tsp. Garlic, minced
6-8 Thai Basil Leaves, chiffonade

Stir-Fry
3 tbsp. Canola or Peanut Oil
2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1-2 Serrano Chiles, sliced thin
2 Eggs
1/3 lbs. Beef, Pork, or Chicken, thin sliced against the grain
1/2 Medium White Onion, sliced
3-4 cups Fresh Rice Noodles, separated
1/4 cup Chinese Rice Wine
1 cup Thai Basil Leaves, loosely packed
1/2 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved

Preparation:
1. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat oil to medium high in a medium sauté pan and sauté garlic until light brown.
3. Add eggs in and lightly scramble until barely set.
4. Add meat and onions folding constantly until the meat is half cooked, about 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Add fresh rice noodles, sauce, tomatoes and basil; toss to combine for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Make sure the noodles are cooked until the edges are slightly crisp.
6. Deglaze Pan with rice wine, and then add basil and tomatoes. Serve hot and enjoy!


MORE ABOUT JET TILA

Executive and Celebrity Chef Jet Tila specializes in classic Thai and Chinese cooking. A Pan Asian specialist, he's a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and the California Sushi Academy. He is the Culinary Ambassador for Thai cooking in Los Angeles. Jet was a participant on Iron Chef and Chopped and is now a judge on Cutthroat Kitchen and Camp Cutthroat with Alton Brown. He is a consultant with Compass Food Industries and a co-owner of Stir Market Food Hall in Los Angeles.


TOOLS FOR TASTE
As an inspirational chef, you are assured a fine finish for your own notable noodle dish when you use Matfer's Black Steel Frying Pan, Elite Ceramic Tradition Wok, S/S Wire Skimmer, Hemispherical Mixing Bowls, Garlic and Onion Press and Stainless Steel All Purpose Tongs.

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: SUSAN FENIGER

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Susan Feniger Matfer Chef Spotlight

The Matfer Team had the honor to enjoy a delicious and inspiring flavor-filled day with award winning Chef Susan Feniger at Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles where she presented a stunning ceviche with plantains using ideally matched Matfer tools!

Susan Feniger is a celebrated and award winning chef, author, and entrepreneur.  Her professional collaboration with Mary Sue Milliken (CITY, Ciudad, Too Hot Tamales) has led to the groundbreaking Border Grill empire with locations in Santa Monica, Downtown LA, LAX Airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal, Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay, and a second outpost in Las Vegas at The Forum Shops. In 2013, Susan welcomed her new solo venture, the beloved Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood.


INTERVIEW:

As an award winning established Executive Chef of your own restaurants what inspires you?
Flavors and their cultures.  My Mom had a great sense of flavor and in many ways she passed that on to me. Flavor is key for me in whatever I do in the kitchen for the table. It keeps everything authentic and interesting. I’m drawn to the street foods of countries because it’s the people and their traditions that keep the recipes and ingredients real. They’re eclectic. The spices, the herbs, the elements all contribute to the heart of the matter that becomes the meal. To experience that from others and then to share that knowledge and dishes with restaurant guests inspires me.

Susan Feniger Matfer Chef Spotlight Giesser Knife

What do you like about being the Executive Chef/Owner of both Border Grills, and the Mud Hen Tavern?    
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved the whole process and every part of the restaurant business. I still do. I took a course in college that was an independent study with my Economic professor where I designed a restaurant and business plan from start to finish. I thought about the table sizes, the layout, the menu and the details of it all. I’m an entrepreneur at heart so opening my own restaurant was just a matter of when not if. I love cooking, the high energy of the kitchen environment and the creativity that goes along with that. After Mary Sue and I had worked in fine kitchens in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles our sense of taste and work ethic complemented each other. Nothing is more important to us than how the food tastes coming out of the kitchen to the table. We taste everything.

Ceviche is a South American specialty with many countries claiming it as their own with different interpretations. What makes your version unique?
Ceviche combines everything I love about cooking. It’s just so interesting!  It has terrific flavor and cultural ties based on its ingredients. When Mary Sue and I first went to Mexico at the invitation of guys we worked with in restaurant kitchens, we were blown away by the diverse tastes of the country especially thanks to the use of citrus and chilies in everything!

We then did a drive around the country to places like Oaxaca and Vera Cruz where the seafood was amazing. Ceviche just made a lasting impression on me. It became a must-have part of our original menu when we opened Border Grill. I like the diversity of the dish, its unique flavor profile and fiddling with the components from time to time. This Peruvian ceviche highlights the bite of their awesome aji chilie. My added touch is also the pickled onion garnish done in beet juice. For a twist, I serve it with fried plantains instead of tortilla chips or tortillas.

Giesser Messer Knife Matfer

Citrus Juicer Matfer Susan Feniger

How do you go about preparing your various dishes?
I am a hands-on chef. I love chopping, slicing and dicing. It makes me happy and keeps me connected to what I do. Obviously, I always use the freshest of ingredients and I love the different flavor profiles they represent. I have a great team in the kitchen too and we work really well together.

Advance prep is key when you are running a restaurant. I like having all of the elements in front of me when I’m cooking. That way I can concentrate on the process and result.  For example when prepping the ceviche, I like that the olive oil is in the glass measuring pourer and the citrus juicer is ready for juicing.

The aji Amarillo peppers, the citrus, onions, avocadoes and cucumbers are all in the cool looking Matfer Banetton Bowls and the fresh tuna and halibut are right there in the Matfer Stainless Steel Seafood Tray. I’m set to go. When it comes time for the heat, you’ve got to be prepared. I taste as I go so having items all around me helps. For example, when I make the pickled onions in beet juice in the very effective Matfer Copper Frying Pan, I can pay attention so that they’re perfect.

Banneton Matfer Chef Spotlight Susan Feniger

Matfer Mandoline 200s Susan Feniger

Giesser Messer Knife Matfer

As one of the first extremely successful woman chef’s and restaurant owners how does it feel to be a trailblazer for all that you have done and continue to accomplish in the culinary world?

Wow, trailblazer is a big word! I learnt a lot from trial and error. Some ideas worked and others were ahead of their time. But you have to try and when it worked it really worked!  I just know that I love what I do and feel fortunate to be able to do it. I appreciate the people connection that this industry has allowed me to cultivate. To be able to open restaurants and even have a food truck where people can come to eat and to enjoy and even taste items in a way they might never have before is exciting to me. If my career sets an example with its ups and downs and encourages other women to get cooking in the restaurant world, then I say go for it!

Matfer Sugar Measuring Pourer Susan Feniger

Flat Bottom Mixing Bowl

Personally, what are your favorite ingredients?
For me it is all about acid and salt and how they enhance a dish! I also like olive oil, vinegar and chilies. I’m a big fan of avocadoes and artichokes too.

Susan Feniger Matfer Flat Bottom Mixing BowlCopper Round Frying Pan Matfer

Matfer Copper Round Flat Bottom Mixing Bowl Susan FenigerMatfer Copper Round Flat Bottom Mixing Bowl Susan Feniger

Winona La Duke, an American activist, environmentalist and writer said, “Food has culture. It has history. It has a story. It has relationships.” Do you agree?  
Absolutely! I love this quote because for me when I travel tasting food from street stands in neighborhoods and being invited into someone’s home tells me more about their culture and life. These experiences create the stories, memories and friendships that for me make traveling so exciting. The food language has no barriers. It says it all about who we are and where we come from.

Susan Feniger Stainless Steel Seafood TrayMatfer Plain Serving Spoon

Matfer is honored to be a sponsor of the upcoming Autism Speaks to Los Angeles Celebrity Chef Gala on October 8th. You and Mary Sue will each be participating that evening. Can you tell us about your connection to Autism Speaks?   
Cooking is all about give and take and giving back. The public supports us as chefs and restaurateurs and in return we need and want to support them. Autism Speaks has real purpose and makes a difference to help people in need. We support that message so participating and cooking at this special dinner is a great thing to do. We’re delighted that we get to do two tables one for Border Grill and the other for Mud Hen’s Hut. We’re inspired!                                              

Susan Feniger Matfer Chef Spotlight

More About Chef Susan Feniger

A classically trained graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, she began at Chicago’s famed Le Perroquet as one of the first women in the all-male kitchen.  Following that, Feniger worked at Wolfgang Puck’s infamous Ma Maison in Los Angeles, and then further honed her culinary skills on the French Riviera. She opened the worldly eclectic City Café in 1981 followed by the much larger CITY restaurant in 1985. This was a pivotal year in which the former tiny space was transformed into the first Border Grill, a “taco stand” serving authentic home cooking and street foods of Mexico.  In June 2013, Susan and Mary Sue were awarded the California Restaurant Association’s Elizabeth Burns Lifetime Achievement Award and most recently were inducted into the 2014 Menu Masters Hall of Fame.

Susan has co-authored six cookbooks, including her latest, Susan Feniger’s Street Food.  Susan is a veteran of The Food Network’s popular “Too Hot Tamales” and “Tamales World Tour” series and competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” in 2010.  
She shines a light on a number of worthwhile organizations such as the Scleroderma Research Foundation, the board of the L.A. LGBT Center and is involved with Share our Strength and the Human Rights Campaign.  She’s an active member of the culinary community, providing a leadership role in many organizations including the Chefs Collaborative, the LA Sports & Entertainment Commission and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.

More on Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $560 million to its mission, the majority in science and medical research. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in nearly 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 70 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.

Tools for the Taste

As an executive chef, you know that the success of a dish comes down to the perfect balance and blend of fresh ingredients with just enough spice and seasoning. A superb ceviche exemplifies this beautifully especially when using Matfer's Stainless Steel Seafood Tray, Citrus Juicer, Mandoline 2000s, Copper Round Frying Pan, Hemispherical Bottom Mixing Bowl and Sugar Measuring Pourer.