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CHEF SPOTLIGHT: VANESSA JOHNSON MENDOZA, EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF AT THE RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL MARINA DEL REY CALIFORNIA

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Chef Spotlight Vanessa Johnson Mendoza

True talent and joy exudes from established Executive Pastry Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza. After graduating from the prestigious Culinary Academy in San Francisco California, Vanessa refined her pastry making skills at the city’s acclaimed Aqua Restaurant before moving to Las Vegas, Nevada to work at Roy’s and then at renowned Le Cirque in the Bellagio Hotel. Her love of water and travel lead her to sail the high seas from 2004-2007 as the Assistant Pastry Chef for NCL Cruise Lines. Once back on land, she continued to broaden her pastry techniques first at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey as Assistant Pastry and then in the Caribbean as Head Pastry Chef at the Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas. She is happy to be back on the waterfront in California and to return to her favorite property of the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Reynow as the Executive Pastry Chef where she continues to present her stunning and delectable desserts.  

Chef Vanessa Mendoza will join over 100 inspirational chefs for the Autism Speaks to LA Celebrity Chef Gala on Thursday, October 8th. When we asked her participation in the upcoming event she said, "I am thrilled to take part of what will be an extremely heart felt night at the Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala, this night will open the eyes and hearts to many that are not aware of this condition!"

INTERVIEW:
Q: As an established Pastry Chef, what inspires you?

A: The subtle yet profound aspects of nature and beauty have always inspired me. Citrus trees, fresh herbs and seductive spices can be infused into desserts to add more depth of flavor that are different and delicious.  When using these interesting ingredients, I am able to create classic desserts with diverse twists. I love to garnish each dish with edible flowers too for a pretty finishing touch. I always hope guests enjoy the whole meal but I am thrilled when a dessert gets an awestruck reaction. I want them to remember their last bite of the evening forever!  That hopeful wish inspires me every time!!

Matfer Bourgeat Chef Spotlight Vanessa Johnson Mendoza

Q: What is it about citrus, tropical fruits and herbs that particularly intrigue you?  You even use flower and herb-based liqueurs in your desserts!

A: My Caribbean roots and love of the tropics allowed me to really notice those elements around me when there. I also worked in Cabo San Lucas and that gave me the opportunity to experiment with different natural ingredients. Herbs and fruit really do complement each other once you start taste testing the blends of the savory with the sweet or the smooth herb with the acid of citrus. They are as fresh and pure as flavors can be especially when mixed with a neutral textured base like a flan, cheesecake or ice cream. For instance, cilantro and citrus are great together if balanced correctly as are basil and pineapple or mandarin and a splash of tequila that comes from the agave plant. I also like to combine chili with chocolate for a surprising bite.

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Stainless Steel Mandoline

Q: How did you come up with the Happiness Flan?

A: My Mom is from Mexico and my Dad is from Barbados. All kinds of flans or crème caramel are traditionally popular in both places so it is a dish that is very familiar to me. It always reminds me of the sun and happy times. I had so much fun creating this flan-based dessert using white chocolate, tequila, mandarin, pineapple and yuzu. Happiness to me is what a dessert should be and I think this says that, especially when I added the colorful edible flowers from cilantro and chamomile buds.

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza blue Steel Oven Baking SheetChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Matfer Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey BOURGEAT EXCELLENCE SAUCE PANS Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Bourgeat Flat Bottom Mixing Bowl

Q: You are in charge of all of the dessert preparations at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey, from their Cast & Plow restaurant to the private events that are large and small. How do you do it?

A: We all work together and delegate accordingly so we make a strong team. I’m lucky as I love working by the water and guests here really enjoy the Ritz Marina Del Rey experience and the California waterfront as much as I do. The philosophy of the Cast & Plow is to source and serve the best organic ingredients from the local community’s fresh markets and purveyors. It truly affects the kind of desserts I create. Patrons like light and frivolous so I have the luxury of creating new combinations of tastes using fruits, herbs, spices and chocolate. It is also really fun to design buffets with spun sugar, pretty petit-fours, colorful macaroons and edible flowers, especially at banquets and weddings.

 Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Scraper and Baking Mat

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer ZesterChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Manual Juicer

Q: What is it about the Matfer products that make a difference to the outcome of your various desserts?

A: I was introduced to Matfer tools when I was a student at the Culinary Academy in San Francisco. No other brand matches up to the quality and consistency of Matfer. Whatever products I need, they have. I trust them and I am never let down. My job as a pastry chef is to always respect the method of the recipe and its intricate details.  I have to be clear and concise with my work and every Matfer item I use allows me to do that. Matfer materials let me make desserts that look as enticing as they taste.  

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey Matfer Set of Three Frames

Q: What do you think of the Matfer’s Rubber Spatulas, Scraper, Set of 3 Frames, Exoglass™ Plain Pastry Cutters, Duo Decorating Tubes, Candy Thermometer, Stainless Steel Mandoline & Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet?

A: I want my whole pastry kitchen to be stocked with Matfer products as I think they are amazing! I use the rubber spatulas and scrapers all of the time. The Set of 3 Frames makes everything level so every layer is perfect and as a result the finished dish looks fantastic. The Mandoline lets me slice my fruits very thin. The pastry cutters and Duo Decorating Tips are true favorites of mine as they give me control and precision for a beautiful outcome. And a reliable candy thermometer and Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet are always needed!   

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey Plain Matfer Pastry CuttersChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Matfer Plain Pastry Cutters and Scraper

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Plain Pastry CutterChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Plain Pastry Cutter

Q: What is your favorite Matfer must-have tool?

A: The Scraper! I love it and rely on it so much that I even carry one in my purse! And I’m not kidding!! It is the perfect tool –really flexible yet durably firm—ideal for the most delicate meringue or thick pastry cream. It is super thin so it bends back and forth which lets me fiddle with my fillings as well as catch every drop and scrape. I also can make every spread incredibly smooth with it.

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Matfer Scraper

Q: What do you consider the ultimate classic dessert?

A: Cheesecakes and custards. I love working with cream, eggs and sugar for that lovely silky result. It is so much fun to infuse that classic combination with new unexpected flavors from herbs, spices and liqueurs.

Chef Vanessa Johnson with Duo Decorating Tips and Plain Pastry CutterChef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza with Duo Decorating  Tips and Plain Pastry Cutter

Q: And your personal favorite dessert to eat?

A: Chocolate. I even used white chocolate in this new dessert!

Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Matfer Featured Chef Spotlight

Q: Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, (1755-1826) the French Epicurean and Gastronome and Author of The Physiology of Taste said, “The way in which meals are enjoyed is very important to the happiness of life”.  Since your dessert is called happiness flan is it safe to say you agree?

A: Absolutely! There are so many challenges in life so taking time for a special occasion should be honored. When I, as a pastry chef, can create something that a guest can fully enjoy it is a happy win for both of us.  With company around them and with this light yet luscious dessert in front of them, happiness arrives. It becomes a delicious fulfilling moment on every level.  I hope that memory makes them smile. This is why I love my work so much.  

Vanessa Johnson Mendoza Happiness Flan Matfer Chef Spotlight 

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
As an executive chef, you know that less is more and fresh is best. Use Matfer's Rubber SpatulasScraperSet of 3 FramesExoglass® Plain Pastry CuttersDuo Decorating TubesCandy Thermometer, Stainless Steel Mandoline Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet.

TASTES & TRADITIONS: FOREVER FLAN

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Flan Matfer Bourgeat

Hail to the hen! The incredible edible egg has quite a history that has hatched into the creation of several savory and sweet dishes. The Ancient Romans were the first to successfully domesticate chickens’ eggs happily resulting in a surplus of supply. Aware of the Greeks’ new art of cooking, they copied the technique of boiling cracked eggs with cow or goat’s milk over an open flame and a custard concoction was born.

Derived from the Latin word, flado meaning flat cake and then flaon in Old French, it was dinner when combined with salt, pepper and eel and dessert when flavored with honey. As the Romans conquered Europe, their tastes and traditions followed with flan as a frontrunner. When the Empire fell, this durable delight survived and enticed the taste buds of the saavy Spaniards and Moors who then etched their own culinary mark on the recipe. Calling it Crema Caramela, they cooked them in small clay ramekins and added ground almonds and citrus juice for a powerful punch to the pudding.

They then heated the honey with sugar to include a decadent caramelized sauce atop the golden ravishing result.  Christopher Columbus loved the lip smacking shimmering dish and brought back a wealth of spices—like vanilla and cinnamon-- to add to its richness from his Caribbean and American explorations. His Spanish counterpart, Conquistador Hernan Cortes, transferred his fondness of flan to Mexico in 1519 when he landed on the Yucatan Peninsula and formally claimed the territory for the Spanish crown. The Mexicans took flan to a whole new level by infusing it with coconut, coffee or chocolate accompanied by the caramel sauce. Eventually the rest of Latin America became flan fans too. And from then to now, this silken satin dessert remains a worldwide forever favorite.

FEATURED CHEF SPOTLIGHT: VANESSA JOHNSON MENDOZA, THE RITZ-CARLTON – MARINA DEL REY

Matfer Bourgeat Chef Spotlight Vanessa Johnson Mendoza

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and April showers bring May flowers! With this dessert, beauty was in the hands of its creator Executive Pastry Chef Vanessa Johnson Mendoza. Take a look at how she creates this incredibly innovative twist on Flan with a few of her favorite Matfer tools! > Read More!

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
As an executive chef, you know that less is more and fresh is best. Use Matfer's Rubber SpatulasScraperSet of 3 FramesExoglass® Plain Pastry CuttersDuo Decorating TubesCandy Thermometer, Stainless Steel Mandoline Blue Steel Oven Baking Sheet.

FABULOUS FOOD & FESTIVE FLOWERS

A MATFER MOMENT: FABULOUS FOOD & FESTIVE FLOWERS
By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer’s passion for taste transcended to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California where the scene was set for guests to enjoy one enchanted evening. And enjoy it they did. Phenomenal food and fantastic flowers were perfectly paired at this amazing Field to Vase dinner for 130 special guests. 

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach  

Guests sipped wine and enjoyed a magical meal prepared by Marissa Gerlach, Executive Chef of the Vista Valley Country Club. She created delectable dishes-from appetizers to sides, mains and dessert-that were inspired by the flowers themselves. As she said,” The farm to table movement is a concept I believe in and fully support. I like that Fields to Vase does the same. When I am planning and preparing a menu, the amazing bounty of organically grown local Californian ingredients are my daily inspiration. Spring fruits, herbs and vegetables are as colorfully vibrant as these amazing floral fields. It was a fun challenge and honor to create this menu using Matfer’s excellent products from preparation to presentation alongside the gorgeous flowers.” Everything was the best of the best behind the scenes and at the table within the stunning setting of the Field of Flowers.  

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Incredbily delicious and pretty appetizers prepared in the Matfer Bourgeat Flexipan Savarin Mold

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa GerlachMatfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Field to Vase Chef Marissa Gerlach Matfer Bourgeat Sponsor

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Delicious pickled beets and fresh whipped butter beautifully prepared by Chef Marissa Gerlach and housed in Matfer Mason Jars.

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Cured Meyer Lemon, Goat Cheese, Charred Eggplant & Thyme

Marissa says, “I adore heirloom tomatoes and their beautiful hues of oranges and yellows were the ideal match for the ravishing ranunculus in the same tones. I used Matfer’s long handled terrific tweezers to build each crostini with the various elements including the basil flower garnish”.  

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Wild Ramp Aioli and Pineapple Chives

“Scallops and bacon are great together and I loved using the Matfer Mise en Bouche Spoon to present them. It was the perfect classic yet modern mix!” exclaims Marissa.

Chef Marissa Gerlach from Vista Valley Country Club              Grilled Carrots, Green Garlic Pea Puree, Walnuts, Mint & Smoked Salt

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

The Beauty of Beets! Marissa admits, “Beets are just so versatile and beautiful. I do a lot of pickling and I’m so glad I could use the Matfer Appetizer Jars to present elements like the Beets and Meyer Lemons on the table. This Blackberry Beet Salad with the Goat Cheese, Fennel and Spring Mix garnished with toasted Almonds, Tarragon and White Balsamic Vinagrette complemented the rich red and magenta flowers incredibly well. Flowers and food really blended beautifully.”

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Salmon Creek All Natural Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry and Rhubarb Chutney

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Grilled Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto & Lemon Aioli

Marissa explains, “Pork is a main course favorite of mine especially when roasted and served with chutney. The sweet and sour contrasts of the raspberry and rhubarb with the deep flavor of the meat just works and its so pretty! With the side dishes I wanted them to complement the pork as well as acknowledge the beauty of the table scene and the environment.  I wanted everything to exude freshness and festivity. Grilling is so pure and nothing says spring like bright orange carrots and lovely green peas and asparagus”.

Matfer Bourgeat Farm to Table Field to Vase Event The Flower Fields Carlsbad CA Chef Marissa Gerlach

Carrot Cake Pineapple, Walnuts, Raisins & Candied Carrots with Cream Cheese

Marissa acknowledges, “I wanted to end with something special and I love making this dessert! It just felt like it belonged on this menu because the orange carrots with pineapple aligned well with the orange and yellow blooms. And of course the fresh flowers on top were the ideal finish. Using Matfer’s bright green piping pastry bag and tips made it extra smooth”.

Matfer Bourgeat Proud Sponsor of Field to Vase Dinner Tour

Matfer Bourgeat is a proud sponsor of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, a series of private, intimate, must-attend gatherings that place seasonal, local and sustainable American Grown flowers at the center of the table where locally grown food, beer, and wine is served by a farm-to-table chef.

Join Matfer at the next Field to Vase Dinner Event on June 19th in Monterey, CA. For details on the upcoming event and to purchase your tickets, click here. Bonus! Matfer Bourgeat customers receive $35 off the ticket price with promo code: MATFERUSA

CHEF SPOTLIGHT - EXECUTIVE CHEF MICHAEL BRYANT, THE CHURCHILL

Chef Spotlight:
By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Executive Chef, Michael Bryant’s passion for cooking and creating memorable mouthwatering dishes from the freshest of ingredients began early while growing up in rural Virginia. Working his way up in established kitchens in Virginia led him to Florida into the renowned New World Cuisine kitchen of Norman Van Aiken. There and then in Norman’s California restaurant, Michael further developed his culinary skills before moving on to Bin 8945 in West Hollywood,  acclaimed Joe’s in Venice and famed Father's Office. A winner of Food Network's Chopped, his unique and impressive interpretations of New American Cuisine with worldly flavorful daring twists are now making their mark at The Churchill, a Los Angeles gastropub extraordinaire.   

INTERVIEW: 
Q: As an established Executive Chef, what is your philosophy in the kitchen? What inspires you?
A: The world of flavors inspires me! Synergy is really important to me too. My inspiration and philosophy go hand in hand. Keep it simple, local and fresh, fresh, fresh. I always say remember who you are when you cook, your heart, your soul, your roots. Have fun doing it while educating those around you. That is what I learned from those above me who gave me opportunities to try and to do when I first began. They taught me to be prepared and to keep stretching my ability and my sensibilities. I love what I do and that just makes me more aware of the diverse ingredients and spices that surround me. As an Executive Chef, I am always asking myself, “How can I mix and match these elements for a dynamite result for my patrons?”

Q: What do you like about being the Executive Chef of the Churchill?    
A: A gastro pub is a perfect type of restaurant for what I like to do. It has a really welcome vibe that ideally matches my hope for guests who come with open minds and ready-to-try-anything palates. The Churchill is a terrific place to be with patrons who are curious and excited about what they eat. Everyone here and everything on our menu is real and the appreciation is pure. It’s a relaxed multi-layered adventure on a plate in every way. I love the casual rustic yet refined décor and our busy bar with great wines and spirits complement our small plates from the internationally inspired menu.  

Q: This small plate offering of Spanish Octopus sizzling with green beans, tomatoes, lemon, garlic and harissa is stunning and a sensational hit on your menu. How did you develop it?
A: Taste, taste, taste. I just kept mixing and matching until it worked! I’ve always found octopus exotic and presented it on my menus even before it became the current rage and “it” ingredient of the day. It is luscious and soft and absorbs flavors so well. I love heat so the hot chile spice of harissa really works. But I love contrasting that with the coolness of acid like I get with Meyer lemons. And for me any type of garlic used in all sorts of ways-roasted, sautéed, as fresh paste is an ingredient with depth. The freshness and textures of the green beans and tomatoes add another flavorful part.  Together, these all make me happy and the results speak for themselves.   



Q: What is it about the Matfer products that make a difference in your preparation and results of your various dishes?
A: The high quality of Matfer products is consistent. They continue to go above and beyond what I need all of the time. I appreciate that. The commitment they project about and with their wide assortment of items translates to my commitment to wanting to use them. It adds another layer of confidence that the dishes I am preparing will succeed. It’s a no brainer formula really. Use the best ingredients, the best chefs’ tools, give it your best effort and you’ll create the best dish you can. My mentor Norman Van Aiken used Matfer products so I knew from the start that these were the ones that made a difference.

 

Q: What do you think of Matfer's Classic Ceramic Pan, Copper Round Frying Pan, Copper Egg Pan, Chef Tweezers, Fish Spatula Turner and Multi-Purpose Kitchen Knife?  
A: They are all excellent. I love the beauty of using copper from start to finish. The way Matfer's Classic Ceramic Pan and Copper Round Frying Pan retain the heat with no muss no fuss as I am blending flavors and ingredients is awesome. And the Copper Egg Pan is stunning and perfect for my Spanish Octopus Small Plate presentation. And I’m particular about the instruments I use when I’m cooking and then garnishing so the sturdiness yet delicacy of the Tweezers, the Fish Spatula Turner and the kitchen knife all really work for me.  

 
Q: What are your favorite Matfer must-have tools?
A: I always rely on the Matfer kitchen knife, tweezers and spoons. The same ingredient rarely tastes exactly the same twice because of weather and ripeness so I taste everything each and every time I’m cooking it so I always need that spoon! I love to chop and the precision of the knife is great. I give each ingredient attention when I’m plating them so the tweezers let me do that well.

Fish Spatula Turner Matfer Bourgeat

Chef Michael Bryant Matfer Bourgeat Chef Spotlight Copper Frying Pan

Q: Marcel Boulestin a 19th century renowned French Chef and Restauranteur said, “Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.” Do you agree? 
A: I completely agree with him. Big bold flavors matter to me. They are what make beautiful dishes. To get that blend of amazing explosive flavors from herbs and spices that add intrigue to a dish comes from instinct and attempt after attempt to see and feel what tastes right. I thrive on experimenting with elements from around the world to continue to challenge myself and to create new combinations. And I love that he is French since my Mom is French and that is where my interest in cooking began!  

Q: On a personal note, what is your favorite ingredient to use when you cook?
A: I love heat so chiles of all kind remain a favorite. And I just keep looking and tasting to see what else catches my attention and feeds my soul. 


TOOLS FOR THE TASTE: 

Matfer Bourgeat Copper Plate Taste and Tradtion Small Plates

As an executive chef, you know that less is more and fresh is  best. Use Matfer's Copper Round Frying PanCopper Egg PanClassic Ceramic PanChef TweezersFish Spatula Turner & Multi-Purpose Kitchen Knife for your own small plate signature dishes.  

TASTES & TRADITIONS: SMALL PLATES. BOLD BITES

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert


Matfer Bourgeat Copper Plate Taste and Tradtion Small Plates

Big things come in small packages but bigger better and bolder flavors are being created on sensational small plates!  The current small plate phenomenon sweeping its way onto restaurant menus may seem like a fad but this is far from the case. In fact, this delectable tradition has been part of the beginning of memorable meals around the world for centuries.

For Ancient Greeks and Romans to French, Italian, and Spanish Nobility as well as Russian Tsars, English Royalty and American Aristocracy, miniature arrays of diverse and delicious delights were originally created to whet guests’ appetites as an enticement to what followed. Any and all appealing creations were acceptable. These included chunks of cured meats and cheeses to slices of spiced breads with creamy dips and spreads, to opulent olives and vibrant vegetables to pieces of fresh or smoked seafood.  
Small plates by any other international name- canapés or hors d’oeuvres in France, antipasti in Italy, mezes in Greece, tapas in Spain, zakuski in Russian, starters in England, appetizers in America- are truly still small plates to savor while sipping. From then to now, the culinary concept and its concoctions have evolved enormously. What has changed is that these flavorful perfectly sized small plate portions have now become eclectic full dining tasting experiences unto themselves that leave multiple sensational everlasting impressions on patrons’ palates. 
 

FEATURED CHEF SPOTLIGHT: EXECUTIVE CHEF MICHAEL BRYANT, THE CHURCHILL - LOS ANGELES, CA

Chef Michael Bryant Matfer Bourgeat Featured Chef Spotlight
Bigger beautiful bites beckon on a smaller plate sensation that is piled high with sustainable seafood and fresh farm ingredients seasoned with gorgeous garlic and happening hot harissa. Take a look at how Chopped Winner and Executive Chef Michael Bryant at The Churchill LA uses the Matfer Bourgeat small copper pan for a ravishing small plate result.  > Featured Chef Spotlight

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE: 

Matfer Bourgeat Copper Plate Taste and Tradtion Small Plates

As an executive chef, you know that less is more and fresh is  best. Use Matfer's Copper Round Frying Pan, Copper Egg Pan, Classic Ceramic PanChef Tweezers, Fish Spatula Turner & Multi-Purpose Kitchen Knife for your own small plate signature dishes.  

TASTES & TRADITIONS: TERRINE TERRITORY

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Bourgeat Terrine

It is March and meat matters, particularly pork! Terrines are a terrific way to bridge the culinary gap between the coolness of winter and the sprouting of spring.

In French “terre” means earth and the terrine is a highly regarded cold pressed meat appetizer or entree in France. However, the terrine’s actual origin dates back to the Romans. Whether pig, duck or goose, they sliced, diced and ate all parts of the prey that they hunted. Yet, it was the innovation of the French Chefs during the Middle Ages who used rectangular loaf earthenware they called “terrines” to create memorable meaty masterpieces for the royal court meals and ceremonial feasts.

In the early nineteenth century, Napoleon liked the practical purpose of serving his troops slices of cold salted and preserved pressed pork or fowl alongside chunks of baguette. Farmers and butchers went on to make “meat loaf” from their livestock and crops that then became a routine lunch item for French laborers.

Today, the Romans’ rustic ritual of using the whole animal in a terrine loaf continues. Truly a timeless kitchen classic, the triumphant terrine has experienced a welcome resurgence as a refined and flavorful part of a meal. In fact, it never really went away. It kept its delicious presence close to its French roots until now where the terrine leaves its mouthwatering mark on menus worldwide!

A CLEVER CHEF AND HER PIG! - EXECUTIVE CHEF MARISSA GERLACH

Matfer Featured Chef Excecutive Chef Marissa Gerlach

Pigs and truffles have always been a match made in hog heaven! With a little help from fresh herbs, mushrooms and other vegetables, see how they marvelously merge into an enticing earthy yet elegant terrine from a clever chef and her pig.

Read this months Matfer featured chef spotlight with Executive Chef Marissa Gerlach >  

As an inspirational chef, you are guaranteed a perfect outcome for your own modern terrine creation when you use Matfer's Exopan Steel Meat Pie Mold, Black Steel Round Frying Pan, Bourgeat Excellence Casserole and Bourgeat Sauce Pan, the Stainless Steel Ladle, and Matfer's Black Steel Round Crepe Pan.  

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: MARISSA GERLACH

A CLEVER CHEF AND HER PIG
Matfer Bourgeat USA CEO, Alain Stammler couldn’t hold back a hug for this month’s featured Executive Chef Marissa Gerlach when she created a mouthwatering Terrine!

Matfer Bourgeat Featured Spotlight with Executive Chef Marissa Gerlach

Matfer Bourgeat CEO Alain Stammler and Executive Chef Marissa Gerlach

Executive Chef, Marissa Gerlach’s winning approach to cuisine has developed through commitment and determination as she cooked her way up and through celebrated award winning restaurants in Sonoma and Napa. She has worked at Cyrus alongside Chef Douglas Keane, named one of the top 10 chefs of Food and Wine Magazine, 2010 and later at The Restaurant at Meadowood, a three stars Michelin dining room and resort. Chef Gerlach then returned to her hometown as Chef De Cuisine at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel, which was named 2011 Restaurant of the Year by Rivera Magazine. Vista Valley Country Club and its members now benefit from Chef Gerlach’s expertise and delectable creativity.

Marissa Gerlach Chef Spotlight Terrine

INTERVIEW: 

Q: As an established Executive Chef, what inspires you?
A: The farm to table movement. Growing up in California with a Mom who loved to cook, we’d have fun in the kitchen together. I came tounderstand early on that the state is a mecca of phenomenal ingredients that can turn into memorable dishes. And I am inspired by that every day and each time I go to an open market to shop for vegetables, produce, meats and seafood.

Marissa Gerlach Executive Chef Matfer Spotlight Exopan Meat Pie Mold

Q: What do you like about being the Executive Chef of an impressive dining room like that of the Vista Valley Country Club?
A: I really enjoy developing menus for our club members that highlight the freshest of elements that are found in Vista Valley’s backyard. It is a very fulfilling give and take exchange of experiences. They trust me to try new appetizers and entrees and I trust them to be honest about what they like and don’t like. I make sure I combine classic choices with innovative touches.

Q: You are in charge of all of the preparations at the Club, from meals in the restaurant to private events and special tasting menus. How do you do it?
A: I am very lucky. No Executive Chef can be anything without the support and backup of their team. The most important lesson I learned about being in a professional kitchen was working together to create success. We learn from each other. I have been so fortunate to work with and learn from remarkable chefs. At the Club, I look upon it as a group effort and I have a strong, very hands-on team. We work really well together.

I love seasons and create daily and weekly menus accordingly that will intrigue and I hope delight the club members’ palates. The special tasting menus and evenings are also such a joy to present. Wine pairing dinners are always a big hit and I am really looking forward to our upcoming Pork & Pinot event. I’m excited that I will get to serve a pork terrine with summer vegetables similar to the recipe I’ve just developed for Matfer and the Club’s March menus!

Q: Your Truffle & Mushroom Pork Terrine with Spring Green Garlic, Peas and Mustard Greens is gorgeous. How did you develop it?
A: I love braising, curing and embracing salt of the earth elements! I became enthralled with the French passion and method of making terrines all year long. Putting them together and implementing diverse seasonal ingredients is a wonderful challenge for me. I look at preparing a terrine as creating a piece of edible art on a plate. Not fussy, just delicious and beautiful where I can mix and match flavors and colorful sauces that intrigue guests. They are then pleasantly surprised with their first bite and finish it all off. I smile when I see an empty plate come into the kitchen after service!

Matfer Featured Chef Spotlight Marissa Gerlach Vista Valley Country Club

Excellence Casserole in Featured Chef Spotlight with Executive Chef Marissa Gerlach

Mater Bourgeat Excellence Casserole

Matfer Bourgeat Featured Chef Spotlight with Marissa Gerlach - Terrine Territory

Q: What is it about the Matfer products that make a difference in your preparation and results of your various dishes?
A: I trust Matfer products. They make my job so much easier. I can then get on with cooking and creating. The items are timeless yet keep evolving with chefs’ needs and wants. Matfer products were always in the Michelin kitchens I trained and worked in throughout my career. I learned and knew early on what a difference using them makes from start to finish of a recipe and its final result.

Matfer Bourgeat Featured Chef Spotlight with Marissa Gerlach - Terrine Territory

Q: What do you think of Matfer's Exopan Steel Pie Mold, Black Steel Round Crepe Pan, Black Steel Round Frying Pan, Bourgeat Excellence Casserole and Bourgeat Sauce Pan and the Stainless Steel Ladle?
A: They are all amazing especially since they allow me to work so well with hot and cold items throughout the process of making a terrine. Right now, the front runners are the two Matfer Steel Round Sauce Pans and the phenomenal Steel Meat Mold. I love that no matter what type of terrine I make, it always comes out just right with no sticking since the side latches open and the bottom slides out. Both the Black Steel Round Crepe Pan and the Black Steel Round Frying Pan are also fantastic. The size and shape of these pans are perfect because they are sturdy and easy to handle. The black steel holds heat well and evenly which makes them ideal for searing.

Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Frying Pan in Featured Chef Spotlight with Executive Chef Marissa Gerlach

Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Crepe Pan in Chef Spotlight with Marissa Gerlach

Matfer Bourgeat Meat Pie Mold in Chef Spotlight with Marissa Gerlach

Matfer Meat Pie Mold Featured Chef Spotlight with Marissa Gerlach

Q: What are your favorite Matfer must-have tools?
A: I always rely on the Matfer whisk and the ladle no matter what I’m preparing. And I think the Matfer Orange Mitts are a cool color! It’s fantastic that they keep my hands and arms so safe from burning especially when I’m concentrating on removing something hot from the oven or stove.

Matfer Protection Oven Mitts in Featured Chef Spotlight with Marissa Gerlach Matfer Bourgeat Stainless Steel Ladle in Chef Spotlight with Marissa Gerlach

Terrine - Matfer Spotlight

Q: In 1851, Alexis Soyer, an established 19th century French Chef said, “Pork-no animal is more used for nourishment and none more indispensable in the kitchen; employed either fresh or salt, all is useful.” Do you agree?
A: Yes! I’m thrilled with this quote on so many levels! I’m a big fan of pork. And I have such respect for the classical French approach to food and preparation. I aspire to that. This tradition of using all of an animal to create numerous dishes was lost for a while and I treasure being part of that revival. It is nature at its best with new specialties all of the time.

Q: On a personal note, are terrines your favorite thing to eat?
A: Well, I always taste and try everything along the way of developing and testing my recipes before I serve them. So I happily eat a lot of slices of terrines! But being a Californian, I love any kind of fresh fruit and I adore heirloom tomatoes.

Marissa Gerlach Terrine

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

As an inspirational chef, you are guaranteed a perfect outcome for your own modern terrine creation when you use Matfer's Exopan Steel Meat Pie Mold, Black Steel Round Frying Pan, Bourgeat Excellence Casserole and Bourgeat Sauce Pan, the Stainless Steel Ladle, and Matfer's Black Steel Round Crepe Pan.  

INTERESTED IN BEING FEATURED IN THE MATFER CHEF SPOTLIGHT?
If you are a professional chef and would like to be considered for the Matfer Chef Spotlight. Contact Us! 

TASTES & TRADITIONS OF CHOCOLATE & VALENTINE’S DAY

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

LOVE IS IN THE AIR!

Matfer Bourgeat Taste and Traditions Valentines Day

St. Valentine was a priest who in 270 AD defied Roman Emperor Claudius II‘s ban on marriage during wartime and married young lovers in secret. For this, he was jailed and executed on February 14th. While in jail he had written a love letter to the jailer’s daughter and signed it Valentine with an x, the sign of a kiss in medieval times. In 1537 English King Henry VIII declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day and it came to America in 1629 when the Puritans arrived from England. Today, romance still abounds and Cupid, the Roman God of Love and the son of Venus the Goddess of Love, obliges.

No celebration is complete without hearts and chocolate, the sweetest aphrodisiac of all. The love affair with chocolate began with “xocoatl”, a drink cultivated from the seeds of the cocoa tree by the Aztecs and Mayans over 2000 years ago. This creamy concoction provided strength and vigor to Cortes and Casanova and soon European noblemen and ladies enjoyed sipping the intoxicating luscious potion.  Chocolate truly does contain phenylaline, the chemical that is produced in our brains when falling in love. It remains the number one candy choice worldwide. French chocolatiers were the first to create the bon-bon (good-good), a creamy centered piece of confection elegantly encased in chocolate. And in the late 1800’s, Englishman Richard Cadbury produced the initial heart shaped box containing chocolates as a romantic gift for the day. Embrace and enjoy this exquisite delight no matter what the shape.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

On Valentine’s Day, chocolate is the number one choice for a romantically divine dessert. But there’s more to this fantastic finale than just chocolate that will make loved ones’ hearts sing and their taste buds swoon. Check out the enticing sensational surprises created by Executive Pastry Chef Kriss Harvey!

As an inspirational chef, you can sink your heart into creating your own delectable Valentine Day’s Dessert when you use Matfer's Chocolate Heart Molds.    




CHEF SPOTLIGHT: KRISS HARVEY

Matfer Bourgeat is thrilled to feature Executive Pastry Chef Kriss Harvey, The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, this month in our featured chef spotlight.

Dessert master Kriss Harvey brings unique flavor combinations, avant-garde techniques, and more than twenty years of experience to the pastry menus at The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. He studied at the famed Cacao Barry Chocolate Academy near Philadelphia under the tutelage of Master Chocolatier Pascal Janvier and then went to Paris to study with legendary pastry chefs, Christophe Felder at the Hôtel de Crillon and MOF Emmanuel Ryon of École Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil. He continued his international experience in Spain, working with Pastry Chef Oriol Balaguer at el Bulli and Oriol Balaguer Pastry. He also studied with MOF chocolatier and candy maker, Pierre Mirgalet.  Kriss has had pastry positions at The Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C., NoMi in the Park Hyatt Chicago and at Bartolotta Ristorante Di Mare at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.

For a Valentine decadent dessert that will be forever remembered, Chef Kriss Harvey created beautiful heart masterpieces with his Chocolate Lovers Cake for Two and his Warhol inspired Chocolate Heart Bons Bons.

INTERVIEW:

Q: As an established Executive Pastry Chef, what inspires you?                                                                                               

A: Chocolate and all that I can do with it. I can and do mix and match flavors with the chocolate as a base, an encasement or a topping.  I continue to be inspired to present an unexpected delightful surprise for patrons’ palates when they take that first bite of chocolate with an added flavor or element. For example I use the finest vanilla from Bora Bora because its purity makes that big of a difference. This is why I love making bons bons so much. I can keep changing their interiors and their exterior whether dark, milk, bitter sweet or white. I source the purest of ingredients that can create profound flavors with chocolate. I use everything from lemon verbena to banana ganache and amazing blends of caramel.

Q: Why are you so drawn to chocolate?

A: To me, it is one of the greatest ingredients ever. It is a worldwide element and flavor that appeals to almost everyone and the results can be magical. I am intrigued by cocoa’s remarkable ancient history and how international cultures use it differently. We can all relate to it but still learn about it from each other.  I love that chocolate unites us all. It makes the world a sweeter place.

Q: You are in charge of all of the dessert preparations at the SLS, from the various restaurants to the private events that are large and small. How do you do it?

A: For me it is all about embracing and respecting that opportunity to serve each and every guest and to always be proud of what we serve.  I believe in mentoring and I encourage the team of seventeen that work for me to give it their all. I give to them and they give to me and we give to the guests together. When you enter my pastry world, I require full on dedication where you jump in all the way. With that kind of interest and commitment we are all on the same page and deliver stunning results that blow our patrons away. We are always striving above and beyond to create and deliver mouthwatering desserts of the utmost quality.  I have a great team that I know love and respect what they do so it is a win-win situation for all of us.

Q: How did you come up with the Chocolate Lovers Cake two? And those phenomenal pieces of art heart bons bons?                      

A: I love Valentine’s Day. Come on what says love, romance and divine decadence better than chocolate cake and bons bons?! They are especially alluring when infused with the passion fruit center for the Lovers Cake and the various fruit and caramel fillings in the bons bons. They are idyllic indulgences!

Kriss Harvey's Chocolate Lovers Heart Shaped Cake for Two Matfer Bourgeat Feature

Kriss Harvey Matfer Chocolate Lovers Cake for TwoKriss Harvey Matfer Chocolate Lovers Cake for Two

Q: The bon bon bar is an SLS phenomenon. How did it come to be?

A: As a chocolatier, I think of chocolate as pieces of art so for me each bon bon is a seductive piece of art. I am an Andy Warhol fan and he loved interpretation within repetition and I share that philosophy. His work inspires me and my canvas is the bon bon. The bon bon bar became a unique showcase for our guests to pick and choose pieces. Suddenly, they wanted bons bons as gifts and memory boxes so we created the bons bons bar. I am always adding new flavors, shapes and colors to the chocolate choices.

              

Kriss Harvey Bon Bon Matfer Bourgeat


Q: What is it about the Matfer products that make a difference to the outcome of your various desserts?

A: Matfer products are the best. It amazes me that they manage to always offer better ones year after year. I am an equipment nerd and drool at the diverse items available in their catalog. I am a perfectionist and require the perfect tools to do what I do. There is no room for error and Matfer guarantees that for me. The elements are durable and innovative and the attention to detail for each piece is impressive whether it is their smallest spatula, super scraper, fantastic funnel or perfect pastry bags. I began my official pastry work training in France and was introduced to them then. I have been using their various items and dessert molds my entire career.

Q: What do you think of the Matfer’s Heart Cutters, Chocolate Heart Molds, Rubber Spatulas, Scraper, Automatic Funnel, Strainer and Hemispherical Bowls?

A: They are all terrific. I love that the cutters are so easy to use and that the molds are seamless so there are no lines on the chocolate when you remove them. The fitting on the funnel is perfect so there is no dripping or leakage with that ideal rubber stopper. Everything is easy to use, tap out and clean.

Q: What is your favorite Matfer must-have tool?

A: The different sized spatulas and scraper. I am loyal to my spatulas and still have some of my originals! They are that durable!!

Q: What do you consider the ultimate classic dessert?

A: Believe it or not, it is not chocolate! The ultimate classic dessert is the Canele de Bordeaux (French pastry with custard center). It was one of the first desserts I learned to make and it took me 15 years to make it perfectly.  I’ve only taught 5 others to make it the way I do. I only make 12 every three days. That’s it. When they are gone they are gone. They seem to be very much in demand!  I use Matfer’s Copper Canele molds to create the perfect Canele.

 

Q: And your favorite dessert to eat?

A: Canele de Bordeaux or a dark bitter chocolate bon-bon. I have a sweet tooth!

Q: Judith Olney, the renowned chef and author of the Joy of Chocolate said, ”Chocolate of course is the stuff of which fantasies are made. Rich, dark velvety smooth fantasies that envelop the senses and stir the passions. Chocolate is madness; chocolate is delight”. Do you agree?

A: Yes, yes, yes! Definitely! It baffles me when people don’t like chocolate! It is romantic. It is sexy. It is sensual. It is everything!! I see guests’ reactions all of the time either over dessert or over at our eye-catching bon bon bar. They become enamored, delighted and giddy. Those types of reactions always thrill me. It keeps me wanting to do more and create more for that ultimate extra-special dessert experience.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tools for the Taste:  
As an inspirational chef, you can sink your heart into creating your own delectable Valentine Day’s Dessert when you use Matfer's Chocolate Heart Molds, Heart Cutters, Rubber Spatulas, Scraper, Automatic Funnel, Strainer and Hemispherical Bowls.


INTERESTED IN BEING FEATURED IN THE MATFER CHEF SPOTLIGHT?
If you are a professional chef and would like to be considered for the Matfer Chef Spotlight. Contact Us!

TASTES & TRADITIONS: GETTING ROOTED FOR A HAPPY & HEALTHY NEW YEAR

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Root Vegetable Medley Salad Chef David Padilla Matfer Bourgeat USA

Happy 2015! The end of one year and the arrival of the next bring renewal and restoration, hope and commitment to what lies ahead. The most popular resolution every January 1st is to lose weight and to make healthy choices. And since the evolution of humankind, root vegetables have been making a mark as an essential part of a well-balanced meal and culinary regime. From the Eastern Mediterranean to Northern Europe to Asia and America, these almighty vegies have always been present. They were the first to be farmed in Ancient Greek, Roman and Viking times. Scandinavians, Russians and American Colonials relied on them to carry their appetites through harsh winters. Hence the root cellar! Parsnips are cousins to carrots while bountiful beets and regal radishes are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that add vigor to your system and joy to your palate. They grow deep and sprout slowly arriving on the plate with beauty and grace becoming the true prince and princess of the vegetable kingdom.

Beauty is in the eye of the root vegetable and this ravishing root vegetable medley salad is a sight to behold. For a healthy happy start to 2015, see what earthy cousins galore come together to create this show-stopping stupendous dish created by David Padilla, Executive Chef, On Rodeo Restaurant LUXE Hotel.

David Padilla Matfer Chef Spotlight

As an inspirational chef, you are guaranteed a perfect outcome for your own vegetable creation when you use Matfer’s Mandoline 2000SSwing Salad Spinner, the Hemispherical Mixing bowls and Exoglass® Lime Green Tongs.