Tag Archives: Interview

From the Kitchen of: Guillermo Pernot

Today’s Chef Feature comes from Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar’s Concept Chef Guillermo Pernot.  Orlando, Philly and Atlantic City have already been nibbling up his traditional and updated cuisine, now we’re lucky enough to have his genius  in Penn Quarter.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A very sharp Global knife

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Foams and sous vide

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Asian.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
In Lancaster county, PA, Glen Brendel.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Substitutions.

What do you drink/eat after work?
Fresca, what ever is left over in my refrigerator, or an fried egg sandwich.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Fish, any type.

Keep reading for the recipe for Ropa Vieja from Chef Pernot… Continue reading

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From the Kitchen of: Jaime Montes De Oca, Jr.

Today’s Chef Feature comes from Zentan’s Chef de Cuisine, Jaime Montes De Oca, Jr..  Head over to this new hot spot for one of my favorites, the Singapore Slaw.  It’s amazing – and huge!  It has 19 fresh ingredients including hazelnut, carrots, fried glass noodles,  is topped with a salted plum dressing and is one of my favorite dishes from around town.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Vita Prep – high speed blender!

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Molecular gastronomy.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Latin-Asian fusion.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Ramps & spring garlic.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Customers who do not share with us their feedback when there is a problem while they are still at the restaurant so we can try to fix it.

What do you drink/eat after work?
NY style pizza and a nice cool beer.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
A simple pasta with Spanish Ortiz anchovies, Thai bird’s eye chilies, flat leaf parsley, lots of garlic, regianno cheese, and EVOO.

Keep reading for Chef Jaime’s recipe for Couscous with Chickpeas, Dried Cranberries and Feta Cheese

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From the Kitchen of: Darren Wightman

Today’s Chef Feature comes from Ping Pong Dim Sum’s Chef Darren Wightman.  Head over to this new hot spot in Chinatown for one of the best happy hours in town.  From 4-7 everyday, indulge in $3 dim sum, $4 beer and $5 cocktails and martinis.  What to try you ask?  I loved the Charsui buns, steamed shu mai and chicken puffs.  And slurp down a kumquat mojito or two to put the day’s stresses behind you.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A 4 pound roast meat chopper – It’ll chop a car in half.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Foam sauces and anything that’s been tortured.  Give it to me straight – just two or three ingredients.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
An homage to where I’ve lived.  I’ve spent a great deal of time in Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan.  So, how about an Asian Tapas Bistro?

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Our produce guys – Belair.  They’re always bending over backwards to find me exotic, tropical ingredients, like dragonfruit.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Is this low sodium?  and seasoning before they taste something.

What do you drink/eat after work?
I like Beringer Reserve Chardonnay and a good single malt Scotch.  I love braised meat – it’s such good sticky, cold weather comfort food.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
A simple pasta with Spanish Ortiz anchovies, Thai bird’s eye chilies, flat leaf parsley, lots of garlic, regianno cheese, and EVOO.

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From the Kitchen of: Claudio Pirollo

Today’s feature comes from Chef Claudio Pirollo at one of my favorite gem’s in the city – Et Voila.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
My convection oven

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
I love tapas-style food. Small plates that allow you to taste more of a menu.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
I love Italian food and would love to open an Italian trattoria on Capitol Hill.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
My favorites really do change with the season. In the summer I love ripe tomatoes and in the winter great Virginia beef or root vegetables.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
I struggle with customers whom come into the bistro desiring American food, and leave upset because we do not have much of it on our menu. We do very authentic Belgian & French fare and we do have some guests who do not appreciate that.

What do you drink/eat after work?
I love to end service with Chimay beer and will generally eat our carbonnade beef (a Belgian beef stew with beer braised beef) or penne with pesto and a lot of reggiano cheese

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
I love to cook a simple beef tartare. It is quick simple but very tasty. Click below for the recipe… Continue reading

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From the Kitchen of: Antonio Burrell

Today’s feature comes from Antonio Burrell, the chef de cuisine at newly opened Masa 14.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Right now, it’s the wok. I absolutely love the versatility and just all around usefulness of the wok station at work. Need boiling water in 90 seconds? Done. Smoking some fish? No problem. Steam dumplings? Easy as can be.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Sous Vide cooking. I was happy to see it being used more often a few years ago but lately it’s being done poorly more often than not. If it’s not done right it just becomes a buzz word and not about what an amazing effect it can have on the food you’re cooking.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
That’s a tough one. I’ve always cooked using the flavors I use now no matter what type of cuisine I was cooking at the time. Introducing Asian flavors into French or New American cuisines is something I’ve always done here and there. I wouldn’t say that the food would be extremely different but I would have to go with Asian influenced French. I’ve always loved the dedication to ingredients and technique that French food demands.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Bev Eggelston of Emerald Family Farms. He heads up a fabulous breeding program for heritage breed pork. When you talk to the guy he just makes you care about pigs more than you could ever imagine. The guy just loves, LOVES what he does and his enthusiasim is infectious.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
I love everything about every customer, but if it was one thing, it would be customers who automatically season their food with salt and/or pepper without ever having tasted it. The food arrives at their table, and you watch them, without ever breaking stride in their conversation, start to salt and pepper the food. How do they know it needs any seasoning? They never tasted it! Then sometimes you get those plates back because they’re too salty…….

What do you drink/eat after work?
Because I get out of the restaurant so late most days I usually just grab a bite to eat there. Just about every night it’s been the same. Tuna roll, crab wontons, fried rice and a shot of tequila ;)

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
When I do get a day off to cook at home, I usually try to make something my wife and kids like. It’s either one of two things: Roast pork carnita tacos or Fried Chicken dinner with macaroni and cheese and biscuits. However, when my Mom and Dad are visiting and we’re all together, I always make my Gumbo. It is always a crowd pleaser and it makes great leftovers (if there are any).

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From the Kitchen of: Joe Raffa

joe4Through November 2nd, join in the Day of the Dead celebration at Oyamel as Head Chef Joe Raffa invites guests to experience one of the most important holidays in Mexican culture with a special menu featuring tasty tamales, specialty handcrafted cocktails and a tamal cart on the Oyamel’s patio. When you’re there be sure to check out the custom-made altar adorned with candles and marigolds, the flower that is often used to decorate gravesites in rural Mexico – it’s pretty amazing!  Click here for a coupon for a FREE Sloe Dead Fizz, one of the specialty cocktails being offered during the event.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
The Vita Prep XL. It’s the Godzilla of blenders, and we love it in the kitchen. One of my sous chef’s hugged it the day it arrived. It makes our moles so much easier to puree. Besides that, I have my knives. I converted to Japanese knives several years ago. A knife is the most important tool a chef has. A good Japanese knife raises that tool to the level of art. It’s inspirational to work with something that an artisan has devoted substantial time and energy to create, both in terms of food and tools.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
My answer is more of a philosophy. Cooks are easily excited with new tools and techniques. Take sous vide for instance. It is an amazing cooking technique when used where it makes sense for the food. Unfortunately, you find people using the technique for everything just for the sake of using the machines. The important thing is the food. Whatever techniques bring the best flavor out of the food is what you should use. Not necessarily the newest fads.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Food from my home!!! I’d love to open a Hawaiian restaurant and introduce people on the mainland to the flavors of the islands. One of my fellow Hawaiian chefs in ThinkFoodGroup and I cooked a luau for Jose Andres a few months ago. We had so much fun and became so homesick all at the same time.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Bev Eggleston from Eco-Friendly Foods. I really respect the traditions of small farmers that he is trying to promote. And his meats are just SO good.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
That they don’t all come in to Oyamel every day!

What do you drink/eat after work?
Rum. In a good Mai Tai. Heaven.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
This is the hardest question. My favorite thing depends on my mood. When I cook food from Hawaii it just pulls on my heartstrings. My wife is from Alabama, and her grandmother, aunt and mother taught me a lot about Southern cuisine, which also makes me very happy. I just can’t bear to claim a favorite thing, because there’ll be so many other things I want to eat!

Click here for Chef Raffa’s recipe for butternut squash soup…

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From the Kitchen of: Rachael Harriman

Chef RachaelFrom The French Laundry to Per Se, today’s chef of the week, Rachael Harriman is certainly not short of any experience in the kitchen.  Harriman is currently the Chef de Cuisine at The Mandarin’s new restaurant, Sou’Wester.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
My favorite kitchen tool aside from knives would be a rubber spatula. In my opinion you can’t cook a meal without one. Whether you are mixing, stirring or scraping, a rubber spatula is a must have.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
This is a hard question to answer. There are so many different techniques to cooking, and because of all these techniques we have so many restaurants to choose from. If I had to choose one though, it would be the anti-griddle. There was one time I went to an event, ate something that was made on the anti griddle, and it burned my tongue.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
If I was going to open a restaurant with a different cuisine, I would serve “country” Italian. Food that was rustic and highlighted the flavors of each single item. Fresh pasta, thin crispy pizzas.  Comforting and delicious.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
I have been lucky enough to start working with Heidi Fahey of Chailey Farms outside of Purcellville, VA. This is the farms first year, so there has been a lot of wondering and waiting to see how the fruits and vegetables will develop. It has been a very interesting learning process, and I am very excited to see what becomes available this fall.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
I guess my biggest pet peeve would be when guests don’t show up for a reservation.

What do you drink/eat after work?
After work I always feel like something sweet. Usually if our pastry chef isn’t looking, I will snag on of her delicious cookies. Either the peanut butter or chocolate chip, both are amazing.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Whenever I cook at home, which isn’t very often, I generally make some type of pasta dish. Pasta is great because there are so many possibilities.

Keep reading for Chef Harriman’s recipe for homemade pasta…

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From the Kitchen of: J.Paul’s and Old Glory

BUFFBATT_brooks_posterBUFFBATT_crenshaw_posterSpeaking of J.Paul’s and Old Glory and the Buffalo Battle taking place on Sunday, I was able to snag a few minutes of Chef Rich “The Pit Master” Brooks and Chef Tom “Big Wing” Crenshaw’s time to ask them the usual questions before things really heat up.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Crenshaw: Micro plane – I use it for everything, shaving cheeses, prosciutto, chocolate, you name it.
Brooks: A Mixer

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Crenshaw: Although some might hate me for saying this, molecular gastronomy. I think there is a place for it when it enhances the food but I think it is used too much for shock value these days. Sometimes searing, roasting, braising methods just have to be there to really make the dish.
Brooks: Pressure cooking

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Crenshaw: An open kitchen French bistro
Brooks: Surprisingly, a Pizza joint ….and I’d only offer take out.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Crenshaw: Any locally grown vegetable. You can’t beat the flavor of a vegetable right out of the ground.
Brooks: You can’t beat local vegetables…true southern bbq is served with fresh, local produce!

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Crenshaw: When a guest is upset because the dish doesn’t look like something they made at home.
Brooks: When guests would prefer not to eat family style…its how bbq is really enjoyed, when you get to taste it all!

What do you drink/eat after work?
Crenshaw: Usually a cup of coffee or when it’s been a particularly rough day a Knob Creek Bourbon with one ice cube.
Brooks: Diet Coke and Chicken, lots of it.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Crenshaw: It’s usually something simple. Most times I will marinate chicken thighs (they have a ton of flavor) with fresh thyme, garlic cloves and lemon. Pan sear them and deglaze with a bit of white wine and finish it with butter and fresh herbs. Plate them with some roasted fingerling potatoes, sliced tomatoes and whatever local vegetable I can get my hands on.
Brooks: Beer-can chicken (see recipe below)

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From the Kitchen of: Brian Robinson

brianIn case you haven’t caught on yet, I’m a total sucker when it comes to Southen food.  My husband keeps telling me he thinks I’m a Southerner stuck in a New Englander’s body.  3 Bar and Grill now has a great new menu filled with Southern specialties like hush puppies served with maple bourbon mustard dipping sauce, fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and Creole remoulade, oyster po’ boy served with lemon cayenne aioli and chips and fried chicken and waffles. Executive Chef Brian Robinson actually used to work at Georgia Brown’s so he knows what he’s doing when it comes to Southern cuisine!  We snagged a few minutes of his time to ask the usual questions.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Either the smoker or my new cheese knife.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Filet Mignon is far and away the most overrated food, ever. Expensive, tender, but no real flavor.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
A seafood restaurant with Asian flavors.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Babes in the Woods, a small pig farm in southern Virginia. The pork is fantastic and Bill Jones, the pig farmer, is a great guy.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Using the menu as a shopping list to create their own dish.

What do you drink/eat after work?
If I don’t go out and get a beer, it’s Gatorade and hot dogs at home on the couch.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
A nice juicy steak seared in a cast iron skillet.

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From the Kitchen of: Klaus Fritsch

Chef Klaus Fritsch, co-founder of Morton’s steakhouses, is in town this week making a stop to whip up a few classics from “Morton’s The Cookbook” while signing copies of the book he’s co-authored with Tylor Field and Mary Goodbody.  klaus_fritschWe were able to snag a few minutes to ask the usual questions…

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
The basic wooden spoon.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Infusion.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
At this point in the economic climate I would not dare open a restaurant – but in a better time, I would open a breakfast/lunch only spot – with the usual eggs and pancakes…

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Allen Brothers Meats – they sell fine prime steaks!

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
It bothers me when things are disorderly or sloppy. The customers add to the atmosphere in the restaurant so I like it when everything runs smoothly.

What do you drink/eat after work?
I enjoy a good red wine or in the summer a cold beer….as far as eating after work, perhaps a small local ethnic restaurant – love Vietnamese food.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
I love to make beef chili (hand cut beef, NOT ground beef) especially on a cold fall day while watching football in the kitchen. The recipe is below.

Click here for Chef Fritsch’s recipe for chili!

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