Tag Archives: chef

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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In Print: Clips from Food Sections

popup5. – The Chicago Tribune Stuffed Acorn Squash Makes a Hearty Entree “Acorn squash stuffed with apple-almond-cherry basmati pilaf”

4. – The Boston Globe Kids’ Menus? Oh Grow Up! “Down the street at the Japanese restaurant GinGa, Jack Broomhead, 5, is gleefully sucking down salmon sashimi and shrimp tempura. And at Dok Bua Thai Kitchen, Hannah Siegenberg, 10, and her sister Julia, 17, are drinking tea and sharing a Thai appetizer of dried shrimp, lime, chilies, and Chinese broccoli wrapped in spinach leaves. Hannah’s choice for where to celebrate her recent birthday: the Japanese restaurant Fugakyu.”

3. – The LA Times A Toast to the Caipirinha “Now that Brazil is slated to become the first South American country to host the Olympics, maybe Americans will pay more attention to one of its finest exports: cachaça. Made from fermented sugar cane juice, the clear, fiery liquor puts the defining kick in Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha.”

2. – The NY Times A White House Chef Who Wears Two Hats “His name is Sam Kass. And when he’s not grilling fish for the first family or tending tomatillos in the White House garden, he is pondering the details of child nutrition legislation, funding streams for the school lunch program and the best tactics to fight childhood obesity.”

1. – The Washington Post Country Cook “Michael Psilakis needs a goat. He reserved one, but there was confusion about when the famous chef from New York would pick it up, and the village butcher sold it to someone else. Without it, Psilakis could not make the braised goat, the moussaka, the pasta with goat ragu or the traditional Cretan wedding rice, which is cooked in goat broth. Most of the menu he has planned to show me would be ruined.”

photo from The NY Times

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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: 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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From the Kitchen of: Massimo De Francesca

We’d like to offer a warm welcome to Washington, DC to Massimo De Francesca, a Canadian/Italian chef who has cooked in Italy, Canada and Grand Cayman as he takes on the executive chef position Domaso Restaurant in the Hotel Palomar Arlington. Exciting additions to the menu at Domaso include a saffron scented pappardelle with wild mushroom ragu, creamed fennel and parmiggiano, a squash gnocchi with fontina fondue, thyme and pumpkin seed pesto, and braised beef short ribs served with yukon gold mashed potatoes and porcini with a marsala demi glace.

Domaso

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
My favorite kitchen gadget is a mini hand held battery operated frother.  I use this to blend some of my sauces at the last moment, or to enjoy either an espresso macchiato or cappuccino at home.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
I try not to think of any cooking technique as overrated as different techniques work for different chefs and certain techniques are better suited for specific cuisines.  However, I do believe in good old fashioned, natural slow cooking, and that I don’t believe will ever be overrated.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
I’d enjoy opening a casual sports bar offering higher end New American cuisine.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
I’m new to the area and still learning about all the local farmers and purveyors in the region.  So far, Smithfield’s Virginia ham has to be one my favorite local products which I use in one of my dishes.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Well there aren’t many, but I have to say that my biggest pet peeve is when customers order steak of some sort, and ask for it to be cooked medium-well, but they still want it to be juicy.

What do you drink/eat after work?
Water is my favorite drink by far as I drink at least 4 to 5 liters a day.  After a long day’s work nothing is more refreshing then spring water.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
One of my favorite things to cook at home is an Italian style bouillabaisse.  My other favorite thing, which doesn’t require too much cooking, is a peanut butter and nutella club sandwich.  I make mine with three layers of wheat bread, with only one slice toasted for texture and the other slices smothered with peanut butter and nutella.

Photo by Darko Zagar

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