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TASTES & TRADITIONS: PUFF PASTRY PRESTIGE

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Taste and Tradition Puff Pastry Derrick Peltz

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

Matfer High Mousse Ring

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

Matfer High Mousse Ring 

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

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

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

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

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

Puff Pastry Matfer Taste and Tradition with Chef Derrick Peltz

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

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


TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

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

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: JOSIAH CITRIN / MELISSE

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matfer Paring knife in the hands of Chef Josiah Citrin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matfer chef spotlight with Josiah Citrin Charcoal

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

More About Chef Josiah Citrin

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

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

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

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


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


Photo Credits: 

Josiah Citrin at Mélisse: Susie Fiebich Photography

Charcoal Restaurant: Dylan+Jeni

TASTES & TRADITIONS: TANTALIZING TRUFFLES

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Truffles Matfer Chef Josiah Citrin Melisse

Here’s a fabulous fungi fact: truffles tantalize! Whether black or white, these “culinary diamonds of the forest” are the most intriguing gems of the fungus family. They grow most prominently in the woods of Perigord in southwest France, the Piedmont and Alba areas of Italy, regions of Spain and Croatia as well as parts of Oregon and Washington State. These savory odd-shaped domes of nature have made such a splendid impression that patissiers paid homage to their form by creating sweet chocolate “truffles” that remain a deluxe dessert.

The Greeks and Romans of the 15th century were the first to acknowledge truffles’ allure. These obscure treasured “tubers” (Latin for swollen) were elusive to find, had an enticing earthy aroma and appeared to have an aphrodisiac effect on those who enjoyed them. From that point on, they were highly appreciated and considered an exclusive ingredient with elegant flair. Truffle essence was infused into olive oils while shaved curls or minced bits were often served in eggs or sauces, terrines and over pasta to French noblemen and Italian aristocrats. Today, they are presented in similar ways but also top salads and cheeses.

Chef Josiah Citrin Melisse using Matfer's Truffle Cutter at Melisse

Matfer Professional Stainless Steel Cookware

Clearly these subterranean wild wonders differ greatly from the commercially grown button, cremini, portobello or oyster mushrooms that are farmed and grown in open fields. In fact, truffles are the most revered relatives of the extensive fungus family and are considered decadent stars. They spawn from tree roots deep in the ground absorbing the color and flavors of the seedlings they are nearest to as they ripen for picking. Only then are they tracked down and uncovered by the supreme sniffing snouts of pigs or trained dogs. France is renowned for its black truffles that thrive in rocky porous terrain and are harvested in summer, autumn and winter. White truffles are prominent in Italy and bloom best in clay soil and make more of a mark in spring and summer.

Matfer Premium Zester Grater Professional Chef Tools Josiah Citrin

There is a reason that award winning Master Chef Josiah Citrin has earned the deserved accolade of two Michelin stars at Mélisse, his magnificent American French restaurant in Santa Monica California. Having trained and cooked in France at fine Parisian restaurants early in his career, he gained an intimate understanding and respect for the almighty truffle. Upon his return to the United States and during his climb up the culinary ladder, he knew that fine dining extraordinaire featured the majestic truffle in some form or fashion. “To me the use and presentation the truffle is the ultimate luxury in a dish, on the plate and for the patron’s palate. It says special, romantic, divine. The truffle creates a memory of an exceptional dining experience and that is why I feature them in diverse ways on our menus.”

Featured Matfer Chef Spotlight with Chef Josiah Citrin at Melisse

The triumphant truffle is a dazzling component for a romantic Valentine’s meal. Take a look at this alluring appetizer that is a stunning sight to see and superb on the palate too thanks to the impressive expertise and artistic vision of two-starred Michelin Master Chef Josiah Citrin.  Read more in this month's featured chef spotlight with Josiah Citrin >


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 StrainerKitchen Spatula, and Digital Timer to make your own culinary mark.   

    

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.

TASTES & TRADITIONS: CALLING ALL CLAMS!

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Eric Greenspan's delicious clam and pasta dish at Maré  served in Matfer Bourgeat's Mussle Pot and lid.

Many members of the mollusk family—clams, mussels, scallops, oysters-arrive at the table as main attractions or as part of a bigger plated picture. The most underrated of the group is also the sturdiest, sustainable and subtle. Simply stated, when given the chance, the clam has cache. On its own or as a supportive ingredient, its presence plays an important role in evolution, culinary history, environmental responsibility, and merchants money.

For over 500 million years, it has burrowed itself deep into the sandy shores of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Western Mediterranean. The deep crevices upon its top and bottom exteriors provide vital messages for marine biologists about aquatic life and survival at sea. Meanwhile, fishermen embrace its abundance in the coastal centers of New England, the Northwest, Canada and European countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal and Southern France. They all recognize that its tender interior makes it a restaurant commodity delight. Steamed, smoked, fried, baked or roasted, clams have an appealing flavor and texture all of their own. They are also low in calories, high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals.
Broth is its buddy and cream, potatoes, bacon, tomatoes or breadcrumbs are often part of its most enticing equations. They are prominent components in chowders whether it is the famed creamy white New England version or the red tomato based Manhattan choice- both recipes were concocted by regional fishermen as a local specialty. Fresh fried clam rolls or buckets of steamers are standards at many casual eateries or at oceanfront boardwalk “Clam Shacks”. Fine dining establishments feature clam casino, or versions of international seafood stews like paella (Spanish), bouillabaisse (French) or cioppino (Italian) with clams as part of those dishes' entourage. And bartenders keep clam juice ready as their secret splash to a hearty Bloody Mary.


This mighty mollusk has also cultivated itself as a synonym for many of life’s details. It generally keeps its shell shut hence the silent term “clammed up,” or when lots of shells are poured together they create noisy “clamor”. Content to nestle in the sand has led to the emotional endearment “happy as a clam,” while its wet cold “clammy” inside is now an adjective referring to being sticky or sweaty. Native Americans, seafaring trade merchants and fishermen used them as money, while other cultures turned the shells into jewelry. They are also an inspiration for architectural design (a construction digger’s clam bucket or a lighting fixture clam shell) and have even been a part of comedy (Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half Shell Revue).

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

Executive Chef Eric Greenspan loves the sturdy shell yet delicate flavor and tenderness of clams. Noted for coastal cuisine at his magical restaurant Maré, his unique mix and match approach in which patrons choose and pair shellfish with a flavored broth is a not-to- be-missed winner.

There is no clamming up when these magnificent mollusks unite with a beautiful blended broth, an egg, and spaghetti for a dish that makes a mouthwatering impression. Check out how this bigger than life award winning chef delicately handles the clams’ “it” factor’! See the Chef Spotlight with Eric Greenspan.


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.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
"I follow three rules. Do the right thing. Do the best you can do and always show people you care."
--Lou Holtz, American college football coach and former coach of the
New York Jets

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.

CHOCOLATE AND TANGERINE CREMEUX

Chocolate and Tangerine Cremeux Featured Chef Spotlight Dessert with Chef Pierino Jermonti Terranea Resort Professional Pastry Tools

YOU'RE GOING TO WANT YOUR PASTRY BAGS & TIPS READY FOR THIS RECIPE! 

Zing and zest make a lasting impression as a meal’s phenomenal finishing touch when Pastry Chef Master Pierino Jermonti at Terranea Resort majestically marries blood orange, tangerine, pastry crème and chocolate into a triumphant torte. What a stunning dessert! Compliments of Chef Perry, we’re sharing this fantastic Chocolate & Tangerine Cremeux recipe.


CHOCOLATE AND TANGERINE CREMEUX 

SAMBUCA ORANGE ESPRESSO CRUST, VALHORNA DULCEY CHOCOLATE TORTE, TANGERINE CREMEUX , BLOOD ORANGE GELEE, TARRAGON DROPS 

Compliments of Terranea Resort - Executive Chef Pierino Jermonti

  • 1 # POWDER SUGAR
  • ORANGE ZEST
  • 2 # BUTTER
  • 4 EGGS
  • 2 TBL SAMBUCA
  • 2.5 # CAKE FLOUR
  • 8 OZ COCOA POWDER
  • ½ C ESPRESSO POWDER

Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment. Cream powder sugar, zest, and butter.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add Sambuca and dry ingredients.  Cool in fridge. Then roll out to 1/8 of an inch thickness and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F.  

MILK CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • 2.125 # VALHORNA DULCEY
  • 2.125 # MILK CHOCOLATE 
  • 1 # BUTTER
  • 24 EGGS

Over a double boiler. Melt chocolate with butter. In a different bowl, over double boiler, heat eggs till warm using a wire whisk, constantly whisking till 110 F. Transfer the egg mixture to a mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk eggs to full volume. Fold in chocolate. Pour the chocolate mixture in to baking sheet.  Bake 25 mins at 250 degree F. chill the cake. Then place the cake layer over the top of the Sambuca flavored short crust. Keep it chilled in the freezer.

TANGERINE CREMEUX

  • 500 G SUGAR
  • ORANGE ZEST
  • 2300 G TANGERINE JUICE
  • 1320 G HEAVY CREAM
  • 1 QT YOLKS
  • 27.5 GELATIN SHEETS
  • 110 G COINTREAU

In a small bowl filled with ice, bloom gelatin.  In a sauce pot over the stove, bring sugar, juice, and heavy cream to boil.  Temper eggs and cook to 185 degree F. Take off heat and place into mixer with whisk attachment. Add gelatin and Cointreau.  Mix till cool. Pour over the chilled chocolate layer with extenders.

BLOOD ORANGE GLAZE

  • 2 QTS BLOOD ORANGE JUICE
  • 2 # SUGAR
  • 3 OZ CORNSTARCH
  • 2 OZ GELATIN

Bloom gelatin in an ice bath.  In a sauce pot, bring blood orange and sugar to a boil.  Make slurry with cornstarch and add to blood orange.  Cook till thick.  Strain and add gelatin. Let it cool, to room temperature, then pour over the layered dessert. Let it chill in the freezer, till firm.

BLOOD ORANGE SAUCE

  • 850 G BLOOD ORANGE PUREE
  • 40 G AGAR
  • 180 G SUGAR

Combine Blood Orange puree, agar-agar, and sugar. In a small sauce pot over the stove, bring to a boil and cook till thicken. Cool in ice bath. Blend in blender till smooth.

TARRAGON DROPS

  • 1 C SUGAR
  •  1 ½ C WATER
  • 20 G TARRAGON
  • 8 G AGAR-AGAR

In a sauce pot over the stove. Bring sugar, water and tarragon to a boil.  Blend and strain back to pot.  Add agar-agar and cook till thicken.  Cool in ice bath.  Blend in blender till smooth.

PLATTING
Pull the layered dessert out of the freezer, unmold the frame. Cut the dessert portion 4 to 1-1/2 inches, then cut again lengthwise across the middle. Brush the plate with the blood orange sauce. Place the 2 pieces of desserts to offset each other’s. Garnish with abstract chocolate and edible flowers. Pipe 2 sets of 5 drops each of Tarragon drops.  

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE!

Matfer Pastry Bags

For a pastry chef master, citrus, chocolate and sugar blend beautifully to create your own festive creamy dessert when using Matfer's Stackable Frames & Pastry Bags and Pastry Tips, Mixing BowlFLEXIPAT® SheetOffset & Thermometer Spatulas.

THANK YOU! 

Many thanks to Chef Pierino Jermonti and his team at Terrenea Resort! More on Chef Pierino Jermonti in the Matfer featured chef spotlight

TASTES & TRADITIONS: ODE TO THE ORANGE

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Taste and Traditions - Ode to the Orange

The holidays are here and nature’s nod to this season of appreciation and celebration is the Citrus Queen herself-- the majestic orange. Its lifeline and legacy are as long as it is delicious. Cultivated as far back as 2500 BC, this juicy eatable ball with hearty bright skin originally hails from China and India where it was initially regarded as a sour delicacy. Visiting Romans in the 1st-century AD, were enticed by its exotic taste and brought orange trees from India to Europe to grow. Those disappeared, however, along with the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire.

Centuries later the North Africans introduced oranges and tangerines (from Tangiers, hence the name) to Spain. In 1493, aware that sunshine was an important component to its sweet tasting growth, Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus sailed with seedlings across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Haiti to plant orange groves. Countries with parallel weather patterns like Panama, Mexico and Brazil soon followed and an orange medley industry was born. Californian William Wolfskill was the first American to harvest the fruit in 1841 where they became scrumptious snacks for miners of California’s gold rush. When the trans-continental railroad began in 1877, Wolfskill’s business acumen kicked into gear and he arranged transportation of oranges to St Louis. The crop also thrived in Florida where it went on to become and still remains the state’s primary commodity.

Considered the largest and most popular in the citrus family, this happy go lucky fruit has extended seeds of orange-type citrus cousins that vary in size and sweetness. These include the navel, valencia, tangerine, mandarin, clementine, blood orange and pixie. The fruit and color share the same name for very good reasons. Folklore attributes its successful growth to the yellow sun combined with the earth’s red soil and behold when those two colors are mixed, orange appears. In many cultures, whether fruit or hue, both symbolize joy, happiness, endurance, wealth and prosperity. Bursting with flavor, they are delectable on their own, as a juice, a sauce or a recipe ingredient, zest and peel included! They are also loaded with Vitamins C and B6, rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Oranges are harvested in winter and this is how their tie to the yuletide began. With December being the time for giving, oranges became a desired edible gift and their segmented slices still represent the ability to share with others. The ancient European legend of St Nicholas who became St. Nick or Santa Claus claims that the former bishop threw gold coins down the chimney of a poor father’s home where his daughters’ stockings were drying on the hearth. Miraculously, the coins landed in each toe. Those coins secured their dowries to marry and from then on “stockings” or socks by the fire filled with gifts-including a citrus jewel-from Santa became a celebrated tradition. Throughout 19th-century Europe, the mandarin, clementine, tangerine or orange were treasured treats at banquets. England’s Queen Victoria, a lover of clementine’s, believed cheery citrus at Christmas encouraged joy and prosperity. And during America’s 1930’s Depression, these golden delicacies were a welcome Christmas surprise.

The most unique and colorful member of this sun-kissed lineage is the blood orange that originated in Sicily and is a profound component in Italian holiday dishes and festivities. Its orange peel exterior is a brilliant contrast to its bright “bloody red interior” that is a result of the natural anthocyanin pigment. Pierino Jermonti, this month’s Master Pastry Chef Spotlight, was born in the Italian city of Calabria and has many fond tasty memories of blood oranges. He says, “When I think of Christmas, I think of the blood oranges of my childhood. To me, they are the quintessential element for the season and perfect on their own or in a dessert! And I’m thrilled that I can now also find them in California and offer them to the restaurant guests at Terranea.”

Zing and zest make a lasting impression as a meal’s phenomenal finishing touch when Pastry Chef Master Pierino Jermonti majestically marries blood orange, tangerine, pastry crème and chocolate into a triumphant torte. Take a look at his dessert stunner! Compliments of Chef Perry and Terrenea Resort, we’re sharing this fantastic Chocolate & Tangerine Cremeux recipe!  

For a pastry chef master, citrus, chocolate and sugar blend beautifully to create your own festive creamy dessert when using Matfer's Pastry Bags and Pastry TipsMixing BowlFLEXIPAT® Sheet, and Rolling Pin.

More on Chef Pierino Jermonti in the Matfer featured chef spotlight

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.

TASTES & TRADITIONS: POMEGRANATE - THE EDIBLE GEM

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Taste and Tradition - Pomegranate The Edible Gem


The pomegranate is full of panache and prestige. This ancient fruit has certainly withstood the test of time and taste with style and grace. Long before becoming the “it” ingredient of modern times, and being hailed for its nutritious benefits and dynamic flavor, its crown-like top and rustic red exterior placed it center stage as a ceremonial or tabletop decorative item. And it remains so today. Yet, looks can be as deceiving as they are intriguing. Just beneath its hearty skin lies a stunning interior of alluring ruby edible gems, on which folklore and legends have bestowed a sense of deep-seeded responsibility.

Egyptian, Greek, and Roman myths all significantly showcase its beauty while its presence remains an important component in Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish rituals. Pomegranate power is profound and seems to have made its mark early and almost everywhere in the world. Derived from the medieval French word “Pomme Garnete” meaning “seeded apple”, rumors even abound that it was actually this lustful cousin of the apple that Eve presented to Adam in the Garden of Eden. Factually speaking, the pomegranate is evident in scriptures; this is seen in frescoes and stone carvings from biblical times onward.

Native to Iran, Israel, and India, and now a California commodity too, these tiny arils are eternally and internationally revered as symbols of fertility, hope, and renewal. They are also an appreciated element in savory and sweet dishes as well as drinks. Harvested from September to January, they can be enjoyed in versatile ways and often play a prominent part in holiday specialties. On their own, in a salad, smoothie, or cocktail, or as a sauce atop a main course or dessert, the seeds are exceptional. They are as delicious as they are pretty. In a healthy twist of food fate, they are also loaded with potassium, fiber, folic acid, and Vitamins A, C and E. Rest assured on every front, the pomegranate – is alive and well.

GETTING WARMED UP FOR THE HOLIDAYS WITH MASTER CHEF BRENDAN COLLINS

Matfer Chef Spotlight with Chef Brendan Collins

Pomegranate power does add pizazz when this creative Master Chef beautifully blends colorful flair and fantastic flavor with a pristine pork roast, alongside autumn squash tortellini with pecans. Take note of his rustic yet refined impressive results. > More! In this month's featured Chef Spotlight with Brendan Collins

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.