Chef John Therres of M Bar at the Renaissance M Street Hotel is serving up Chocolate Cherry Jubilee Shortcakes during the
Cherry Blossom Festival, free with purchase of any appetizer or entrée. It’s just a sample of the upscale comfort and whimsy used in his modern American menus. We managed to snag a few minutes of his time to ask the usual questions…
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Does a kitchen aid count? I have a meat grinder attachment, a sausage stuffer attachment, and pasta rollers. It is certainly the most versatile. If it doesn’t count, then my tablespoon measure–it slides back and forth so that you can measure a teaspoon, 1/2 tablespoon, and tablespoon all with one device. I’ve had mine 12 years now. I am sucker for anything that has multiple uses and is durable.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Chef tables/open kitchens, and not just because I constantly see the inner workings of a kitchen. For the most part, they are pretentious and lacking the general zaniness of everyday kitchen life.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
It would probably be some kind of mutant diner with whimsical or upscale versions of classic diner dishes. Think bacon cheeseburger, but the burger is a patty composed of ground bacon. A popular item for special events at the hotel is my ground bacon and bleu cheese burgers (with pear ketchup! See recipe after the jump.)
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
I try and go to the farmer’s market most Sundays (Dupont Circle), and I think my favorite local products are the cheeses. They will let you sample all of them, and it takes great restraint not to buy them all.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Customers that douse their food in salt and pepper before they even taste it. Or even worse, people that talk on their cellphones in restaurants.
What do you drink/eat after work?
Beer. I really love Guinness, and the Sam Adams Seasonal White Ale. As for food, it’s probably junk food: potato chips or something fried. Recently I’ve become obsessed with falafel.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home? Will you share the recipe with us?
My favorite thing to cook at home is probably fettuccine alfredo–it’s simple and decadent. The recipe for the pasta is from a friend–it’s got a lot of eggs, but it holds up really well. The sauce, well, that was just trial and error.
500 grams of flour
2 whole eggs
15 grams of milk
15 grams of heavy cream
Mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the center, and pour in the yolks, whole eggs, milk, and cream. Using a fork, slowly whisk the liquid into the flour. Once incorporated, knead for a minute or two just to ensure that everything is incorporated. cover and let sit for an hour. Roll out and cut. Cook for two to three minutes until floating and done.
2 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2 cups grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano
salt and fresh ground black pepper
Heat cream and butter in a saucepan over low heat until blended. Add 1 1/2 cups of cheese, and continue stirring until blended. Add pasta, continue heating. Add the yolk, and stir quickly to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop into two bowls and garnish with remaining cheese.
Here’s Chef Therres’s recipe for the pear ketchup…