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TASTES & TRADITIONS - SAVOR CEVICHE!

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Ceviche Susan Feniger Matfer Spotlight

This super South American specialty marries citrus-marinated raw fish with salt, onion, cucumber and chilies to create a mouthwatering melody on the plate and palate. Ideal as an appetizer or a light meal, the secret here lies in the type of chili used in different recipes.

Historians and locals alike haggle over the fishy heritage of this culinary star as to whether it originally hails from Peru or Ecuador.  Both claim the tasty tradition as their own especially since the two countries’ coastlines are abundant with superb seafood, bountiful lemon, lime and orange orchards as well as numerous varietals of chilies. In fact, the Moors introduced the “sibich” food and acid meeting-method to the Spanish who in turn passed the process on to the Americas hence its eventual name “sebiche or ceviche”.

Being prominent fishermen, the Incas certainly had a hand in developing the dish by adding a squeeze of citrus to their daily catch that made it eatable without it being cooked. As time progressed and territories shifted, other Latin American countries noted the preparation and went on to design their own interpretations.

Today, distinguishing elements alter from country to country from what is in it to what accompanies it whether they be tortillas, tortilla chips, corncobs or sweet potato slices. Most renowned is the Peruvian powerhouse blend that highlights the sultry and spicy native “Aji Amarillo” pepper that combines tuna and halibut with lemon, lime and orange juices. At the Ecuadorian table, shrimp is a major seafood component while the Mexican style is heavier on tomato and onion in the mix. Regardless, the clout of ceviche comes to be when the freshest of fish is enhanced by the “bite” of citrus and salt to create an exquisite end result.  

Susan Feniger Matfer Featured Chef Spotlight

FEATURED CHEF SPOTLIGHT: CHEF SUSAN FENIGER
The Matfer Team enjoyed a delicious and inspiring flavor-filled day at the renowned Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles. Award winning Executive Chef & Co-Owner Susan Feniger presented a stunning ceviche with plantains using ideally matched Matfer tools.  
It is no wonder her sublime ceviche is one of this award winning chef’s most hailed concoctions. See how and why her fabulously fresh raw fish, citrus and chilies creation leaves a lasting impression and patrons wanting for more. Read the spotlight >

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
As an inspirational chef, you can put your own culinary stamp on ceviche when you use Matfer's Stainless Steel Seafood Tray, Citrus Juicer, Mandoline 2000s, Copper Round Frying Pan, Hemispherical Bottom Mixing Bowl and Sugar Measuring Pourer.

MATFER ANNIVERSARY WINNER PAYS IT FORWARD

By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Chef Liz Sutton Thompson

Matfer Bourgeat cooked up a fun question and answer contest with some great prizes to celebrate its 200th anniversary. To honor the company’s bicentennial birthday, chefs around the country were asked why they trusted Matfer products and how they used them. The diverse responses were phenomenal and Matfer was most appreciative of the time and effort each chef took on their application. Every applicant had a terrific story to share and choosing the top three was no easy task. The added flavor and flair to the submissions from Grande Prize Winner Liz Thompson, 2nd Place winner Andrew Miller and 3rd Place Winner Barron Hamilton caught our judges’ attention to declare them the winning recipients.

What moved Matfer most was what we heard once the contest was over and what Grande Prize Winner Liz Thompson Sutton did with most of her prize winnings. Take a look below to see why. Enjoy and happy cooking!

GRANDE PRIZE WINNER: Pastry Chef Liz Thompson Sutton, Los Angeles, California 
As a culinary professional who teaches pastry, Liz loves going through the Matfer Bourgeat catalogue putting together her wish list of items. In her inspiring Matfer story, she told how “chocolate was an area that I was never totally trained in but always fascinated by.”

“When I went to my first Matfer Bourgeat Warehouse Sale last year and saw all of the chocolate molds and supplies that were affordable, I went crazy and bought a lot of things! They sat for a while and then I was asked to teach a chocolate class at work so I got busy using all of the things I purchased. I self-taught myself all about tempering and went on to make beautiful hand crafted chocolates. Coincidentally soon afterwards I was asked to participate with other chefs in a restaurant show in China and I ended up demonstrating chocolate. Thank you Matfer Bourgeat for giving me the opportunity to learn to work with chocolate because of all of your fantastic items.”

As the winner, Liz received 200 Matfer Bourgeat items worth $5,750. She chose to keep the ones that worked for her professionally, especially the many different kinds of Matfer pastry tips.

But what makes her win so inspiring is that Liz then paid her joy and appreciation for food and preparation forward by personally donating many of the Matfer Bourgeat items that were more suitable for savory use to a food bank where she volunteers called MEND. They cook for and feed over 30,000 people a month. Click here for more information on MEND.

Liz also gifted some specialty items to dear friend Executive Chef Claud Beltran (See our July Chef’s Spotlight) who just opened Bacchus Kitchen, a new restaurant in Pasadena, California. 

2ND PRIZE WINNER: Chef Andrew Miller, Seattle, Washington

“My favorite Matfer story takes me back to my early cooking days in Portland, OR. I was a line cook at Atwater's in 1995. My buddy Don was in the purchasing department and brought me a Matfer Bourgeat spatula. Don was so excited and leaned into me to make the point that this was a high-end professional small ware. Don hit the prep table repeatedly with the grey spatula exclaiming that it would last forever. I’m not sure what happened to Don, but my spatula has been with me ever since with my knife kit. And it has been with me and used in many different kitchens in various countries. When I introduce Matfer products to others, they are impressed. It always reminds of the time when Don gave me my first Matfer Bourgeat product—that great spatula.”

3RD PRIZE WINNDER: Chef Barron Hamilton, Austin, Texas

“I have always had a passion for copper cookware from France. I wanted the best copper cookware I could get, and that is indeed what I got. The first time I was able to actually feel the magnificent weight of my Matfer Bourgeat copper pots and pans with iron handles, to see the gleam of their beautiful rosy copper, and to be forced to squint as the light beamed from the highly polished stainless steel interior, was a moment that will always stay with me. The excitement of putting the smallest of my Matfer Bourgeat pans on the burner of my little apartment stove and to perfectly saute some shallots is one of those moments I savor. To be able to serve a gorgeous Coq au Vin, or Daube de Boeuf in the large Rondeau that was now mine was a true triumph as an amateur home cook who would soon embark on a professional career. These pieces of culinary art will outlast me, and whoever continues to use them long after I am gone, will, no doubt, get the same pleasure.”

MANY THANKS!
Liz’s generosity made a huge impression on the Matfer team. Community outreach to give back and make a difference so mirrors our company philosophy that we then sent MEND additional Matfer products to use in their food bank kitchens. It was all in all a winning combination with a very happy ending.

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: EXECUTIVE CHEF CLAUD BELTRAN / BACCHUS RESTAURANT

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Claud Beltran Bacchus and Eatery Restaurant Pasadena

Executive Chef & Restaurant Owner Claud Beltran made the rare transition from aerospace engineer to professional chef before opening his own successful establishments. His passion for home cooking lead him to enroll at UCLA Extension Culinary Courses followed by hard work and being mentored by Chef Thomas Keller in all levels of a restaurant kitchen. A native of Pasadena, Chef Beltran started a catering company Claud & Co. and now is also the proud proprietor of The Eatery and his recently opened restaurant Bacchus Kitchen. Both have received stellar reviews with an impressive loyal following.

INTERVIEW:

As an established Executive Chef of your own restaurants and catering company what inspires you?
Passion, commitment to excellence, integrity, humor and a sense of adventure all inspire me. Growing up, food was important in my home. I’m of Mexican and Lebanese descent so time at the table was important. But I began my career as an aerospace engineer, and then went to cooking school and worked and trained further in restaurants.  I’m very passionate and logical at the same time. This combination works perfectly as a chef who owns and runs a business because I’ve found I need to have both a practical and passionate mindset.  I often make sure I’m hungry when I cook since this regularly motivates me to create something that is much more enticing to me and for my guests. I love what I do and I want my patrons to enjoy each and every dish that comes out of our kitchens.

MATFER PREP CHEF - SLICER Claud Beltran

What do you like about being the Executive Chef/Owner of Bacchus Kitchen, The Eatery and the Claud & Co. Catering Company?    
I like the diversity of working on the big and the small picture. Intimate restaurants are more free flow and individualized compared to the larger catered events. However, the two cover both sides of the spectrum for me. Bacchus Kitchen and The Eatery are simply extensions of inviting friends into my second home. And my restaurants, I hope, are that- homey neighborhood places with a warm and welcoming vibe that offers great quality delicious tasting food and wines.

I want it to feel like an intimate casual dinner party every night. I change my menus every month and keep them very seasonal. I love doing special tasting menus like the paella. I can try unique interesting dishes with a global appeal at the restaurants and if they are well received I can add them to my bigger event offerings. I enjoy making small and big impressions on patrons’ palates that may surprise them and, I hope, make them happy. It’s what keeps cooking interesting for me.

Black Steel Paella Pan

Black Steel Paella Pan

Black Steel Paella Pan

Black Steel Paella Pan

Paella is such a versatile recipe with different interpretations. What makes your version unique?
I really enjoy creating a one-meal dish that features diverse elements and flavors that blend well together. Paella allows me to do that. I make different paellas all year long as the seasons change. In this instance, I omitted the classic sausage and seafood and played up the summer vegetables. Chicken breast complements the traditional saffron and it allows the freshness of fantastic heirloom tomatoes and asparagus to shine through along with the onions and red bell pepper. I’m really happy with its colorful layered presentation so that it looks as good as it tastes. And I like to make sure our wines match well with our menu selections. This summer paella pairs beautifully with light white wine like a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc or a red Pinot Noir.

Black Steel Paella Pan

How do you go about preparing your various dishes?
For me, it is all about quality and authenticity. I only use the freshest of seasonal ingredients and the tools I use to make a dish have to be of that high caliber too. As an engineer who became a chef, I really respect the design, efficiency and durability of my professional kitchen utensils.  I’ve got to say on the prep side the Matfer Prep Chef - Slicer with all of those inter-changeable blades is an amazing game changer for me in vegetable chopping! It is light to the touch, quick and easy to use and it delivers perfect even cuts. I also like how a mixing bowl fits right under the slicer to catch the vegetables as they drop. The slicer works for restaurant dishes as well as for mass chopping for the catered events.

On the cooking front, the Paella Pan is a stunner. It is heavy and thick enough for the broth to boil the rice yet the sides are high enough to build the elements. Most importantly, it distributes the heat evenly for balanced cooking. It’s a terrific size that can serve 6-8 people. I love that it goes straight from the oven to the table.

Aluminum Conical Collander

Geisser Messer Chef Knife

What are your favorite Matfer must-haves?
I really like the Giesser Messer Multi-Purpose Kitchen Knife. It chops beautifully and I like how the handle feels in my hand. I can really chop and control at the same time! The design and depth of the conical colander really works for me when washing vegetables and fruits. And I use the various sized Flat Bottom Mixing Bowls all of the time.  For instance, I really like how the bowl fits right under the Multi Prep Chef - Slicer so the chopped vegetables just drop right into it.

Geisser Messer Chef Knife

Geisser Messer Chef KnifeExoglass Spoon

How did you choose the names for your restaurants?
My love of food and wine is so true and so simple that both names made sense! The Eatery came first and evolved as an extension from our catering company Claud & Co. As the God of wine, Bacchus fit the notion of a casual bistro/wine bar where people could come to sip and savor.

Claud Beltran Bacchus Kitchen

Famed opera singer Luciano Pavorotti said, “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote attention to eating.” Do you agree? 
This says it all for me. It is why I wanted to open neighborhood restaurants. He was right. Devoting attention to eating is one of the nicest things about life. Stop. Come in and dine at my restaurant. Please enjoy the food, the drink and the company. The appreciation of music, food and wine are a lot alike and this quote hits that note.


TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
As an inspirational chef, you are guaranteed an outstanding outcome for your own personalized paella when you use Matfer's Black Steel Paella PanMatfer Prep Chef - SlicerAluminum Conical Collander & Giesser Messer Multi-Purpose Kitchen Knife.

TASTES & TRADITIONS - PAELLA PERFECTION

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Black Steel Paella Pan

Viva L’Espana! Paella - Spain’s national dish- adds sizzle and spice to any summer menu. This alluring one-pan wonder classically combines seasoned saffron rice, garlic and onions with elements from the country’s fertile Mare y Montana (the sea and the mountains). 

The history of this unique grain-based specialty blends the tastes and traditions of two cultures. Over 1200 years ago, when the Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula, they brought their agricultural expertise with them. They introduced an improved rice irrigation system from the Arab and Roman worlds to the local farmers when they realized the area’s weather and soil made the crop thrive, especially in Valencia.  

With its warm Mediterranean air and water, this Eastern Spanish region became the hub for growing and then exporting the commodity throughout the country and Europe. Royal banquets often featured rice dishes. Savvy field laborers and kitchen servants gathered banquet leftovers-whether they were chicken, rabbit, fish or vegetables and cooked them with their daily rice staple in a “patella” (Catalan for a high sided skillet pan). Hence, thanks to the name of the pan, “paella” was born.

Throughout the centuries, its palate power and prestige has gained mouthwatering momentum with multiple ingredients and diverse interpretations. Today, from city to city, the entrée remains a delicious shining star on menus, at culinary competitions, family feasts and festive fiestas.

FEATURED CHEF SPOTLIGHT: CHEF CLAUD BELTRAN

Chef Claud Beltran

The Matfer team spent a fun and food-friendly day at beautiful Bacchus Kitchen in Pasadena where Executive Chef & Co-Owner Claud Beltran created a summertime stunner of pristine paella using ideally matched Matfer tools.

Chef Beltran’s passion for paella allows this talented chef to reach a whole new level of flavor and flair thanks to the use of sensational summer vegetables with a spicy sizzling twist. Turn up the heat and take a peek at his scintillating dish. Read the spotlight!


TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
As an inspirational chef, you are guaranteed an outstanding outcome for your own personalized paella when you use Matfer's Black Steel Paella PanMatfer Prep Chef – slicerAluminum Conical Collander & Giesser Messer Multi-Purpose Kitchen Knife

CHEF SPOTLIGHT: EXECUTIVE CHEF DAVID CODNEY

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Executive Chef David Codney Matfer Spotlight

"Cool" was the feel and theme of the day in every way when the Matfer team gathered in Beverly Hills at the Peninsula Hotel to watch Executive Chef David Codney work his cooking magic. He created a stunning chilled pea soup using locally sourced Santa Barbara prawns, organic ingredients from the hotel's rooftop garden, and of course his favorite Matfer tools!

As an established Executive Chef, what inspires you to create?

The intensity and passion of cooking thrills me and I find the diversity of ingredients fascinating. They continue to feed my curiosity. I am very driven and feel so lucky that cooking became my thing. There is a calm that comes over me amidst the chaos of a busy bustling hotel kitchen. I thrive on it. I am a creature of habit but I love that the chef world is full of passionate people like myself who love to learn, create and pass on their creations. It is a unique to be able to focus on what intriguing dishes I can bring to the table for patrons to enjoy.

Matfer Chef Spotlight Jam Jars

What do you like about being the Executive Chef of the Peninsula?    

We have new and returning guests come and go from the hotel all of the time and that excites me. I approach each day as a new experience and a new beginning. A to and fro, and give and take process requires a positive balancing act of every member in the kitchen. I have a phenomenal team and together we are like a big wheel. We are the spokes and at the center of the wheel are the guests. We take great pride in giving our guests a memorable high quality excellent experience that is expected of this hotel and our dining venues. We prepare and serve them the best and most refined cuisine we can no matter what the meal, occasion or time of day. 

This chilled, very pretty pea soup has a luscious texture and a fantastic flavor topped off with a colorful prawn, radishes and pea shoots. How did you develop it?

Soup seems so simple to make yet the beauty of its simplicity is in the multi-layers of its preparation. Ingredients and their flavors should blend so that they enhance each other not overpower one another. It should also flaunt a refined texture topped off with alluring and appealing garnishes that are relevant. And this combination does that.  I loved using the fresh fennel and heirloom radishes from our roof top herb garden, as well as the lemons from our tree that has been here since the hotel opened. The sweetness of the Santa Barbara prawn adds another dimension to the taste. To me, the freshest of garden ingredients coming together in a chilled soup just says summer.

Matfer Taste and Tradition Chilled Summer Soup

What is it about the Matfer products that make a difference in your preparation and results of your various dishes?

Matfer’s materials are the best. Each product is a winner. I was introduced to them at CIA where I graduated. Since then, every established kitchen I’ve ever worked in has always had Matfer items. I’ve used the various elements throughout my career and they never ever let me down. They just hold up. You can tell Matfer designers talk to chefs and respect the cooking process from start to finish by the items they produce. I love the subtle touches in their designs- the handle grips, the steel pans, the jars. The high quality of Matfer is a respectful extension of what I do. Begin and end food preparation with focus and respect. Respect the tools, respect the process, respect the ingredients and you get a phenomenal result. 

What do you think of Matfer's  Exoglass Bouillon Strainer, Stainless Steel Ladle, Piano Whisk, Exoglass Petlon Spatula, Exoglass Professional Peeler, Geiser Knife & Chef’s Tweezers?

They are all just great. I keep them in the Peninsula kitchen and use each one regularly. The Exoglass Bouillon Strainer is fantastic especially when I’m making soup. When I’m straining the liquid, I push it through with the very efficient long handled Matfer ladle and it comes through smooth and silky. The strong heavy plastic base supports the strainer so I can push hard, and I love the fine mesh of the strainer’s net. I’ve always been a fan of the Matfer whisks and spatulas. They are firm yet pliable and last forever. Again the quality of these products is impressive.

I’m intense about my mise en place and I think the jam jars are even better than glass bowls. They’re deep and clear so I can see what’s where when I’m cooking and they are wide enough for my hand to grab something or fit a spoon in to scoop or sauce something out of it. I like the various lengths of the Matfer tweezers. Different ones give me flexibility when I’m garnishing a dish with final touches.   

Matfer Chef Spotlight David Codney Boullion Strainer Matfer Stainless Steel Ladle

What are your favorite Matfer must-have tools?

I love love love my Matfer Black Steel Pans. I have them in various sizes and use them all of the time. They heat up quickly and cook evenly. They’re ideal for searing or sautéing. They are my go to item along with the ladles and whisks.

 Matfer Black Steel Pan and Exoglass Spatula


Auguste Escoffier, a 19th century renowned French Chef and author of La Guide Culinaire said, “Of all the items on the menu, soup is that which extracts the most delicate perfection and the strictest attention.” Do you agree?

I do agree. And I’m a perfectionist! Soup to me says it all and sets the tone for a successful meal.  It is all in the details and approach to achieve that winning result. When I’m hiring new kitchen talent, I test with soup. I can see right there and then what kind of chefs-in-training they are. I watch how they prepare it –from their station set-up to their basic process combined with creative flair.

Matfer Chef Spotlight David Codney

On a personal note, what do you like to eat when you’re not working?
I’m a back to basics guy, so simple and fresh, anything authentic. Honestly? It really depends on the day and what I’ve been cooking! 

TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

As an executive chef, you know that less is more and fresh is best. Use Matfer's Exoglass® Bouillon StrainerStainless Steel LadlePiano WhiskExoglass®Petlon SpatulaExoglass®Professional PeelerGeiser KnifeJam Jars & Chef’s Tweezers

MORE ABOUT CHEF DAVID CODNEY

Nothing pleases Executive Chef David Codney more than when the kitchens for the award -winning Belvedere or Roof Top Restaurants at the AAA Five Diamond Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills California are bustling. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, David spent a significant part of his early career with the Ritz Carlton Group in Naples Florida. There, he eventually became Executive Sous Chef. During his tenure with Ritz-Carlton, he cooked under three Certified Master Chefs and was a guest chef at the James Beard House, the Naples Food & Wine Festival, and the Southwest Winter Wine Festival. He also served on the Ritz-Carlton Task Force, helping to open new Ritz-Carlton hotels throughout North America. In 2002, he won a Gold Medal at the Javits Center International Food Expo.

TASTES & TRADITIONS - CHILLED SUMMER SOUP!

By Mara Papatheodorou, Your Tastes & Traditions Expert

Matfer Taste and Tradition Chilled Summer Soup

No matter what the season, soup is sublime and soulfully delicious. But sipping soup in the summer?!? Absolutely! This bountiful bowl of liquid is the ultimate palette pleasing paradox. When served hot, each spoonful warms us from the inside out and when served cold, cools us off from the outside in.

Soup’s start is as simple as it is humble. A mound of mud mixed with water created a pot and a bowl. Hunters and gatherers, fishermen and fishwives, and farmers and gardeners found that by placing their prey, catch, or crops into a pot of water, and heating it over an open fire, a hearty meal was born.

Derived from the Latin word “suppara” meaning to soak, linguists later found the word transferred to Old French as “soupe” and the term stuck. In the centuries since then, the elements have rarely varied, and soup is a much respected and time-honored international tradition. 

Every culture and cuisine proudly presents their special soothing version of this fortifying recipe with local flavors and flair, hot or cold. Its filling and restorative attributes actually contributed to the official word “restaurant,” where the must-have course was always soup. Its popularity has never wavered, and it remains a timeless classic choice on today’s menus too.

As chefs broaden their ingredient scope and patrons’ taste buds crave diverse combinations, a sweet or savory soupy option with a cool twist is now as normal a choice as the hotter alternative. Nothing empowers the intense flavors of fresh fruits or vegetables more than when whirled, twirled, emulsified, and pummeled to create a luscious, creamy, and chilled concoction.


FEATURED CHEF SPOTLIGHT: DAVID CODNEY, THE PENINSULA - BEVERLY HILLS

Matfer Chef Spotlight David Codney

Brrr... soup’s on! Perfectly pureed elements - from pristine peas to fabulous fennel, radiant radishes and lovely lemons come together to create a delectably blended bowl of cool soup splendor from this very talented executive chef. Hear what inspires Chef Codney and take peak at our afternoon with David Codney in this month’s Matfer Chef Spotlight. Read more>


TOOLS FOR THE TASTE

As an executive chef, you know that less is more and fresh is best. Use Matfer's Exoglass® Bouillon StrainerStainless Steel LadlePiano WhiskExoglass®Petlon SpatulaExoglass®Professional PeelerGeiser KnifeJam Jars & Chef’s Tweezers

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.