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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.

Autism Speaks to Los Angeles Celebrity Chef Gala, October 8, 2015

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala

Blue is bold and “Light it up blue” is the motto for the amazing charity Autism Speaks. Founders Bob and Suzanne Wright have worked tirelessly for over a decade to shine a blue light to spread awareness and understanding of autism through research, education and acceptance.

Matfer was a proud sponsor of the Autism Speaks to Los Angeles Chef’s Gala on October 8, 2015 where blue lights shined and blue ribbon delectable dinners were created by award winning culinary masters. They all were there to cook because each one of them, like Matfer, believes in giving back to make a difference. And what a difference they all made at this memorable fundraising occasion, the event raised over 1.25 million dollars for Autism Awareness! 

Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala

There were 56 tables and each hosted by a celebrity chef who prepared a custom designed four-course meal tableside for 10 to 12 guests. Every chef was presented with a bright blue Matfer gift bag that contained Matfer professional chef tools to prepare their various delicacies. Inspired by the blue event theme, a blue spatula and spoon were also included in each bag.

Chef Susan Feniger - Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala

Chef Rick Moonen - Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala

Chef Jet Tila - Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala

Chef Govind Armstrong - Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala

The chefs’ camaraderie and sense of fun was alive and very merrily apparent at the Matfer sponsored photo booth. It was a magical evening with Conan O’Briann as a humorous host, and a live musical performance by P!NK.

Host Conan O'Brian At Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala - Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala

Singer P!NK at Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala - Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala

We were thrilled to meet Chase Bailey from Chase 'N Yur Face, an inspirational young man who has his own cooking show on YouTube is creating his own culinary journey with a great deal of passion for food and humor! 

Matfer Sponsors Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala - Chase Bailey from Chase 'N Yur Face

Matfer has been very pleased to feature some of this year’s participants in recent Chef’s Spotlights on their Passion for Taste Blog. These include Brendan Collins of Birch, Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Mud Hen Tavern, Vanessa Mendoza Johnson Pastry Chef of Plow at the Ritz Marina Del Rye, Joachim Splichal of Patina and the Patina Group and Jet Tila of Stir Market.

We would like to thank Autism Speaks for the opportunity to sponsor the Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala. And thank you to all of the participating chefs, it was an honor to support you at this incredible event! 

Photo credit: Susie Fiebich Photography

WAREHOUSE SALE!

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.

TASTES & TRADITIONS: TUNA TEMPTATION

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Taste and Traditions Tuna Temptation

Let’s talk tuna! Sliced or diced, raw or cooked, fresh or canned, this mighty fish of the sea makes an impression in a myriad of ways. As cousin to the majestic mackerel, there are numerous varieties of the species. Whether alluring albacore or ahi, also known as yellowfin, beautiful bigeye, bluefin or bonito or speedy skipjack, by any given name, it is all tuna. The actual word derives from the Latin word “thunnus”, which is the formal name of the group yet it was the Spanish American derivation of “tunny” that when shortened became tuna. The ancient Greek description “as a fish that rapidly darts along” is ideal. Sleek and fast-they can cruise up to 55 miles per hour and big or small- they can range from 10lbs to 1000 lbs.

These salt watered finned swimmers are a delicious force to be reckoned with and have a stronger more robust taste than whitefish. Tuna is also a healthy mecca for good protein, omega 3, Vitamins A and B12. An important part of the fishing industry, they are at home in the Mediterranean as well as the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans,

As early as the 1800’s, the American canning industry discovered that sardines and then tuna were solid staples that preserved well with water or oil and sealed in cans. San Diego and San Francisco became centers for the industry especially since the California coastline was abundant with the two types that canned best--albacore and skipjack. They were a prominent part of soldiers’ diets during World Wars I & II and by the 1950’s, canned “tunafish” had found its established place at the American table and in cupboards. Tuna fish salad (mixed with mayonnaise and relish with or without lettuce), sandwiches or melts and casseroles became regular items on diner menus or at home meals.


The appreciation of finer tuna evolved as more Japanese migrated to the United States. Although centuries old, the raw fish sushi phenomenon gained global momentum during the 1970’s when sushi bars began opening in the United States. Ahi or Bluefin are noted high-grade sashimi or sushi served on its own or on rice. Restaurants of all types now offer thinly sliced pieces or diced tartare as an appetizer. Grilled or pan-seared tuna steak and filets are also now respected choices at fine dining establishments where chefs showcase this delicious aquaculture star.

TUNA TAKES THE CAKE!

Matfef Chef Spotlight Joachim Splichal

Tuna takes the cake with this magnificent Master Chef’s savory multi-layered masterpiece! Similar to a Napoleon, his captivating creation is as appealing to the eye as it is to the palate. Read more in our spotlight with Chef Joachim Splichal.


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® Spatula, Bourgeat Copper Sauce Pan, Paring and Fish Knives, Hemispherical Bowls and Chef Tweezers.

AUTISM SPEAKS TO LA

    

Matfer Bourgeat is a proud sponsor of the upcoming Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala on Thursday, October 8th, 2015.

In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, brings to Los Angeles a unique dinner party. The Autism Speaks to Los Angeles Celebrity Chef Gala will showcase award-winning chefs at its first local fundraising gala, having created an exciting legacy on New York's Wall Street for the past eight years.  One hundred top chefs, cooking tableside, will create their signature four-course meals exclusively for their guests at this unique inaugural event on October 8th at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.  No two tables will feature the same menus.

The evening will kick off with Wolfgang Puck Catering serving hors d’oeuvres inspired by his iconic restaurants such as Spago, CUT, Chinois and WP24. Following hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, guests will be escorted to their private tables where they will witness their master chefs such as our recently featured Susan Feniger and Jet Tila, and Vanessa Johnson Mendoza create four exclusive courses of signature dishes tableside.  Guests will also enjoy a special musical performance to be announced shortly.

To Purchase Tickets or for More Information About the Event – Click here.


About Autism
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, and repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 68 children in the U.S. and 1 in 48 boys are on the autism spectrum.

About 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 $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.  

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.

TASTES & TRADITIONS - THE NOTABLE NOODLE

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Jet Tila Drunken Noodles Matfer Taste and Tradition

Take note of the noodle. This notable staple has an illustrious past, a very popular present and a formidable future. The grande grain is its base whether barley, millet, rice or wheat. When ground and mixed with water, the resulting flour power does its stuff and dough makes its starchy debut. From there it can be pulled or kneaded, looped or twisted, pinched or prodded, rolled or stretched into any number of noodle concoctions.

Since the growing of grain is worldwide, most cultures have their own versions of noodle mania. Interestingly enough, remnants of its ancient past dating as far back as 4000 years ago, point to China as the first place and “kitchen” to grind rice, wheat or millet to make dough that was shaped into dumplings or turned into strands for a meal.

Noodle methods and types then spread throughout Asia, became a basic part of dining traditions and held ritual significance at celebrations. To this day, serving long noodles at important Asian ceremonies still represents a long life of luck and abundance.  
On a trip to China in the 13th century, famed Venetian merchant Marco Polo was enamored by the main entrée served to him in various forms at the Emperor’s feast and traveled back to Europe with dried samples. In later years, Italy became the pasta capital of the world. Whether baked or boiled, served in soups or stews, over or under other elements, thick or thin, long or short, with spices or sauces, noodles have legitimately earned their place of distinction at the table.

Jet Tila Matfer Chef Spotlight

CHEF JET TILA STIRS UP HIS FAMOUS DRUNKEN NOODLES
Wok on! Two side-by-side triumphant Thai creations showcase this passionate chef’s impressive expertise and knowledge of noodles and lobster. Take a look at his dynamic duo of delectable dishes and dont miss the recipe for Chef Jet's famously delicious Drunken Noodles! More >

TOOLS FOR THE TRADE
As an inspirational chef, you are assured a fine finish for your own notable noodle dish when you use Matfer's Elite Ceramic Tradition Wok, S/S Wire Skimmer, Hemispherical Mixing Bowls, Stainless Steel All Purpose Tongs, and Exoglass® Sieve Strainer

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.