04.13The Four Season’s Amaranto Restaurant – “Inside the Kitchen”

Four Season's Amaranto Restaurant

Courtesy Four Seasons Park Lane London

Ever dream of going “Inside the Kitchen” at a Four Seasons Hotel? You might want to dine at Park Lane’s Amaranto Restaurant and see what magic Chef Adriano is cooking up!

Combine the sophistication of London and Four Seasons Park Lane’s Executive Chef Adriano Cavagnini and you have culinary perfection.

Chef Adriano decided luxury travel deserved luxury restaurants and  a gourmet food experience for each guest. Chef oversaw  all facets of culinary operations when the Four Seasons opened its doors after a two year renovation several years ago. Chef continues to wow guests today.

Four Season’s star Chef Adriano created menu concepts for the Italian themed Amaranto restaurant, bar and lounge, along with all  private dining and catering. That’s a big job, but when you meet Chef Adriano, you know that no one could  exemplify the hotel’s culinary reputation to Four Season’s standards better.

Honestly, who could resist a dessert named “Six Little Sins,” when those sins are all chocolate. To be a bit more precise, this dessert item on the menu is “Sei Piccoli Peccati al Cioccolato” or for those of us at the Four Seasons who need a translation (including myself), that would be “Six Little Sinsi – Chocolate Fondant, Cocoa Crumble, White Chocolate Ice Cream (homemade, of course) Vanilla Cream, Dark Bitter Chocolate and Gianduia Chocolate Sauce.”

We were traveling with “The Blue Baker” and she nicknamed the dessert “Twelve Little Sins,” because we couldn’t’ resist ordering two orders of this fabulous dessert EVERY evening.

Four Season's Amaranto Restaurant

Courtesy Four Seasons Park Lane London

The elegant  Four Season’s Amaranto Restaurant is a seamless series of integrated rooms, where you might dine on fresh pasta in the conservatory, enjoy a drink and night time menu at the bar, or sample my favorite “Six Sins “dessert.

Charming and passionate about every phase of culinary operations,  one leaves our very special “Inside the Kitchen” tour by chef inspired to know more about food and the stories behind each dish. Did you know that the Four Seasons Park Lane London has a separate pasta drying room for their home made pasta?

Nothing short of perfection satisfies this talented Chef, who helps the hotel redefine luxury travel and dining.Who could possibly know the importance of  matching  home made pasta versus dried pasta to a sauce and why you need to distinguish the best match depending on the dish. Oh, and of course, you will find home made pasta on the menu every day.

Four Season's Amaranto Restaurant

Courtesy Four Seasons Park Lane London

Chef Adriano was born in the small town of Brescia in Northern Italy, to a family who loved food and where family owned restaurants were passed down from  generation to generation. Inspired by Chef’s mother, who had a passion for food, Chef began his adventures into the culinary world that eventually led to the Four Seasons Park Lane London, with stops throughout the world on his journey.  This man’s passion for food is contagious. To that I can attest.

Four Season's Amaranto Restaurant

Courtesy Four Seasons Park Lane London

Some of Chef’s mouth watering creations on the menu at the Four Season’s Amaranto Restaurant include homemade white onion and parmesan ravioli, green asparagus and horseradish,  saffron risotto with green peas and salmon roe for a first course, or perhaps a spaghetti salad with lobster, avocado and tomato for antipasti. We loved the skin grilled filet of John Dory, olive oil grilled and marinated vegetables, but for us, it was the always the “Six Little Sins” that won the day.

Chef Adriano’s credentials, as you would expect, are impressive and internationally inspired. What I love most about his background, however, is that when he traveled around the world, Chef  learned not only the cuisine of many countries, but  the languages as well. These include Italian, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. The reason? Chef  Adriano likes to converse with guests in their native tongues! What could be more impressive? No wonder people are talking about Chef Adriano and his food at Four Seasons London Park Lane.

 

 NOTE

Four Season's Amaranto Restaurant

Courtesy Four Seasons Park Lane London

Chef Adriano embodies the Four Season’s philosophy that there is nothing that can’t be done for a guest. My husband and I brought our granddaughter, “The Blue Baker,” to London. Chef took us on a personally guided “Inside the Kitchen” tour.  The photo above was just a little snack before we got started. Of course, each of the juices you see in the photo above (carrot, mango, orange and mango) were freshly squeezed. So with chef hat and apron in hand, we saw the workings of one of the world’s great kitchens.

Four Season's Amaranto Restaurant

Since my “Blue Baker” got her name from loving to bake, Chef asked the pastry chef for a demonstration on how the decadent “Six Sins” dessert is created.   Above is a photo of just one “sin” that must be cracked open to enjoy the molten chocolate inside. Yum.

Thank you, Chef Adriano, and your talented team of chefs for an unforgettable culinary adventure!

The Gourmet Review

09.20“Inside the Kitchen” at Wynn’s Mizumi

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy Wynn Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas does it again. Their over the top, jewell of a Japanese restaurant is Mizumi. What a dream dining experience, featuring a combination of  dazzling atmosphere and food.

The chef who transforms this movie setting every night is Executive Chef Devin Hashimoto, who provided  an “Inside the Kitchen” tour for The Gourmet Review not too long ago.

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy Wynn Las Vegas

Mizumi’s award winning Chef Devin is responsible for creating the “wow” factor for every dish. Is it culinary art or is it dinner? Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two.

Not surprising, when you realize that Chef Devin was named “Best Chef on The Strip” by Vegas Seven in the magazine’s 2012 Restaurant Awards issue.

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy The Gourmet Review

Integration of the outdoor water elements teeming with the sumptuous interior of the main dining and robatayaki  room, with the elegant red decor, is simply gorgeous. Hard to believe this is Las Vegas, when your table overlooks either a miniature lake, cascading waterfall, koi pond, pagoda or Japanese garden.

Of course, food is the star and you’ll find all the classic Japanese dishes here, including sashimi, sushi, robatayaki and teppanyaki. It’s always the details, though,  that make the difference. For example,  Chef Devin flies in the prized Binchotan wood, used for grilling, from Japan. The wood costs nearly $10,000 per month. I will attest that it is the secret for my favorite lemon grilled, skewered chicken wings, but how many restaurants go to such extremes?

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy Wynn Las Vegas

The menu is creative and mouth watering, as Chef Devin blends great food with artistic presentation. Honestly, the food looks like edible art. Sometimes I  feel a bit guilty disturbing my plate. Well, not guilty for too long, because the food itself is out of this world.

Most of all, the success of Mizumi is in the detail. Everywhere. The lobster for the Mizumi roll above is spiny lobster flown in from Australia, served sashimi style or whole. The live lobsters are kept in a tank in the kitchen. Nothing could be fresher.

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy Wynn Las Vegas

It’s hard to miss Chef”s passion for an authentic, yet modern, take on traditional Japanese food.

Dobin Miso Soup, pictured above, shows off Chef Devin’s artful take on miso soup.

Whether you try traditional sushi or simply order some of Chef’s signature creations, such as his 72 hour braised American Waagyu shortrib “kakuni,” with creamy satsuma potatoes, fava bean and red wine miso sauce,  you’ll be delighted. That was a mouthful to describe, but it gives you a visual of the food. Or, perhaps you’d like to try the Thai snapper flown in daily from Japan?

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy Wynn Las Vegas

So, where are you going to eat at Mizumi? I love the pagoda, next to the waterfall, that provides the setting for the the best rated table in Las Vegas. Lush landscaping abounds. If you can’t reserve the pagoda table,  ask to sit next to the sliding doors in the main dining room overlooking the pagoda.

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy Wynn Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy The Gourmet Review

I keep mentioning Chef Devin’s eye toward detail, whether it be the food or simply picking out the china for Mizumi. Look closely and note the traditional Japanese masks. Where else will you find a chef who thinks of transforming one of these masks into a chocolate, edible desert? That’s right. A dessert of pure white chocolate that matches one of the masks on the wall.

So, I’ll be back soon. Like other repeat guests, Chef Devin makes sure the guest experience is unforgettable, yet manages to shake up the menu enough to bring locals, as well as visitors, back again and again.

Don’t miss Mizumi on your next visit to Vegas!

P.S. Chef Devin has officially been added to my favorite chef list at the Wynn, along with Chef David from SW and the Lakeside, who gave us our first interview for The Gourmet Review, and Chef Theo from Sinatra, who introduced the youngster  to truffles. Check them out on The Gourmet Review.

– The Gourmet Review

NOTE

A great guest experience in an award winning restaurant is a team collaboration, according to Chef Devin. It’s the ambiance of luxuxrious surroundings, but most of all it’s the service from people going the extra mile.

When you first enter Mizumi, you encounter two of the best professionals at Wynn. General Manager Andrea Ung and Assistant General Manager Caroline  Soller. They will not only welcome you to dinner, but guarantee you’ll feel like family before you finish your evening.

Long time sommelier Louis Hamilton knows his wines and is a consumate professional. These are the faces of Mizumi, along with a fantastic group of wait staff, that make sure the restaurant lives up to Chef Devin’s culinary expectations.

Wynn Las Vegas

Courtesy The Gourmet Review

Our kitchen tour with the “Blue Baker” included a a step by step demonstration on how to make sushi. Did you know that a proper sushi knife can cost up to $9,000? Pretty impressive. Thank you, Chef Masaru.

Mizumi 3 chefs

Here are the wonderful chefs showing us how to prepare our favorite grilled, skewered lemon chicken appetizer.These are only a few of the 30 chefs that work so hard at making the dining experience at Mizumi an unforgettable one.

Thank you for a great afternoon!

-The Gourmet Review.

01.21La Mamounia “Inside the Kitchen” | A Moroccan Culinary Tour

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Courtesy La Mamounia

Ever wondered how a hotel creates the delicious food enjoyed by guests? We asked Chef Fabrice Lasnon, Executive Chef at La Mamounia in Marrakesh, Morocco, that very question.

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Courtesy The Gourmet Review

Few places in the world offer such a dizzying array of food inspired by so many countries. Chef Fabrice spotlights the diversity of cuisine and spices in this ancient crossroads of Marrakesh and Northern Africa.

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Courtesy The Gourmet Review

Inspiration comes from many countries, as Chef Fabrice routinely purchases ingredients from Spain, France and Italy. For example, he uses four different lemons for four different seasons. Limes might come from France and Spain.

Wandering through the markets of Marrakesh is exciting and will inspire anyone who loves to cook or savor great food.

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Courtesy La Mamounia

Executive Chef Fabrice was kind enough to take my 12 year old “Blue Bakers” and me on an underground “Inside the Kitchen” tour of the fabulous hotel La Mamounia, while we were in Marrakesh this summer. The state of the art kitchen more closely resembles an underground city than a hotel kitchen!

Here, Chef Fabrice insists that everything is made from scratch –  from stocks and pastas to desserts more closely resembling artwork than actual food. It was a treat for us

The source of foods is staggering.  Meats include local and imported veal, 100 large branches of fresh mint a day  and, with the exception of oysters, seafood from the Moroccan coast. Morocco is geographically situated to take advantage of a wide array of cultural influences. La Mamounia’s kitchens just might be the ultimate chef’s dream kitchen.

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Courtesy The Gourmet Review

We hopped on a golf cart to see Chef Fabrice’s pride and joy – his organic garden. Vegetables, herbs and so many variations of each. Chef’s team squeezes an average of 300 kilos of fresh oranges a day. Nothing quite like having an orchard hundreds of years old on the hotel grounds!

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Courtesy La Mamounia

There’s a separate preparation area for nearly every type of food, from butchering and seafood preparation to creating chocolate candies and countless kinds of breads that proof throughout the night. Two different rooms for flours separate the actual preparation rooms where breads are formed and pastries are created and finished. Afterall, no one wants flour flying all over a room!

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Courtesy La Mamounia

Chef supervises all food preparation at the hotel, including separate kitchens for three amazing restaurants.  Le Francais restaurant, shown above, is elegant  and shows off the culinary talents of Chef Jean Pierre Vigato. The room is luxurious and warm, with soft candlelight and beautiful flowers.

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Courtesy La Mamounia

L’Italien restaurant, showcasing the talents of Chef Dan Alfonso, is delightful for evening dining, as well as casual outdoor dining for lunch shown above. The interior of the restaurant at night is sophisticated and pristine with white tablecloths. Even the simplest pastas take on an elegant twist in this setting.

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Courtesy La Mamounia

Le Marocain restaurant features the fabulous culinary delights that spotlight traditional Moroccan cuisine. Located in a Riad in the heart of the gardens, Marocain is opulent beyond description in its traditional surroundings. Chef Rachid Agouray blends the best of current and traditional cuisine.

Chef Fabrice’s passion about every detail related to food preparation and presentation is contagious. He and his team embody the heart and soul of exotic Morocco at La Mamounia and makes guests want to return again and again.

As La Mamounia’s architect, Jacques Garcia, so aptly observes, “La Mamounia provides an experience so unique, it becomes an integral part of the myth that defines it.” 

Make La Mamounia, one of the greatest hotels in the world,  your next dream destination!

NOTE

Chef Fabrice is a native of Normandy and loves a challenge. Because of easy access to so many food sources, Chef takes advantage of transforming food items from France, Italy, Africa, Malaysia, Turkey and throughout Morocco in the hotel’s many restaurants.

Chef’s creativity and originality is reflected in his use of contrasting colors, flavors and textures. He describes his cooking as “healthy, light and moving, French with Eurasian influence.”

Chef Fabrice honors local culinary traditions with new approaches to texture and ideas. He and his team, whom he always credits, creates an extraordinary culinary experience for guests at La Mamounia. Come and see for yourself!

– The Gourmet Review

09.11Yacht Hyperion | “Inside the Kitchen” on a Super Yacht

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Courtesy Yacht Hyperion

Imagine getting up in the morning and going to work in the kitchen of a magnificent yacht. This is a reality for Chef Karina Hines. It’s no wonder she’s inspired every day by the crystal blue waters of the Bahamas one week or the calm waters of the Mediterranean another. One thing is certain; the combination of passion for food and inspirational surroundings create the perfect culinary adventure for a guest on board the 155 foot sailing yacht Hyperion.

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Courtesy The Gourmet Review

Every morning, guests would find pitchers of freshly squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice, along with Chef’s superfood cereals, power bars, muffins, breads  and platters of fresh fruit. What time does this magician wake up to make all this food from scratch every morning? Mind you, the teaser buffet pictured above is just to tide guests over until everyone is up and ready for breakfast.

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Courtesy The Gourmet Review

After the bravest of  guests took a morning swim in the ocean, everyone sat down for a formal breakfast that changed daily. Frittatas were one of our favorites.

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Courtesy Lou Owen

An artist at work! Chef Karina always paid close attention to how every plate was presented. The food didn’t just look delicious, I can attest to the fact that it was delicious.

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Courtesy Lou Owen

Once on board the Hyperion, one knows this is a sailing yacht. Despite its jaw dropping angles and high-speeds, most of the food prep and service wass done with the boat in motion.Needless to say, all guests chose to be firmly planted in one place by choice while sailing. Not so for the Chef. Bay Scallop Ceviche anyone?

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Courtesy Lou Owen

Everyone anticipated each meal throughout the day for good reason. We loved the lemon crab salad with cucumber ribbons and prawns crackers. Mmmmmm.

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Courtesy Lou Owen

Imagine this for a “to do” list; prepare a scrumptious breakfast, organize a gourmet picnic basket lunch on a romantic deserted island, prepare appetizers for a birthday celebration, and finally serve a formal sit down dinner in the main salon with a dessert of cheesecake air with vanilla passion and raspberry beret. Now, that’s a perfect way to end an amazing day!

Thanks for a great week, Chef Karina. You spoiled us beyond words!

NOTE

Australian born Chef Karina is the first to modestly tell you that she is a cook and not a formally trained chef. To me, anyone who can create such exquisite meals that are both healthy and artistically presented, while sailing at what seems to be a 45 degree angle, deserves the title Chef. Sorry, Karina, you are Chef Karina to all your guests.

Karina has pursued her passion for the culinary arts in London, Antibes and  private estates and yachts around the world. She specializes in Italian, Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. Karina is constantly exploring new culinary directions, including molecular gastronomy, gellification and super foods. Chef’s healthy creations are inspired by her travels to Europe, Spain, England, South Africa and Morocco, to name just a few. Chef Karina might go to 15 markets while in port for a particular ingredient, or to create her own spices and herbal blends/butters for recipes she is creating. Amazing!

A special thank you to Captain Daniel, who navigated us safely on our journey, as well as his tremendous crew of eight that included Chief Stewardess Lou from Wales, First Mate Barney, Chief Engineer Devo from South Africa, Second Engineer Joe, Bosun Nico and Second Stewardess Kate from Canada. You spoiled us all and we can’t thank you enough!

– The Gourmet Review

04.24The Four Season’s Pastry Chef Linda | Inside the Kitchen

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Tell the truth. Don’t you think dessert is the best part of the meal? Chef Linda Rodriguez is pastry chef for Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. She is talented and passionate about each creation served at the hotel, from breads to pastries to desserts. The whimsical corn ice cream above was made with fresh pureed corn and topped with caramel corn. Not found on the menu, special occasions sometimes call for special creations. Corn ice cream is one of them!

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Courtesy Brad Packer

Any foodie worth their salt knows that dessert is an art form. Nowhere is the term “culinary arts” more appropriate than when  Chef Linda focuses her attention on the grand finale of a meal.

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Whether constructing elegant wedding cakes, making sugar sculptured desserts or simply adding the final drizzle of chocolate to the perfect towering chocolate masterpiece, Chef Linda knows the  importance of visual appeal, as well as good taste. She created this dessert for Valentines day, so guests could crack open the see through sugar ball to eat the goodies inside.  All this topped a yummy molten chocolate cake.

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The chocolate covered vanilla ice cream bon bons are one of my favorite desserts. Each bon bon is hand shaped and then quickly dipped into liquid chocolate. During the holidays, the Beach Tree restaurant serves as many as 5000 bon bons. It’s a visual head turner served over dry ice.

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Whether it’s a choice of chocolate or flavor of the day soufflé, a “Spring into Mango” selection with kaffir lime mango cake and fresh mint laced mango or the delicate pastry concoction above, there are selections to please everyone.

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Or, perhaps a little tirimisu with a chocolate curl and just a hint of chocolate sauce. Or maybe you want to try the “I Wanna Chocolate Wana” with Hawaiian chocolate, black sesame pastiness and macadamia nut cream. The selections change often and each one is delicious.

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Want to have your “fruit” for the meal? Why not try Chef Linda’s “Chocolate Gone Bananas,” with a warm banana and chocolate tart, laced with Hawaiian chili peppers and Hawaiian chocolate ice cream.

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Chef Linda, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America,  has over thirty years experience as a pastry chef. She can tackle any challenge.

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Whether it’s a grand desert or a decadent creation for VIP guest arrivals, Chef Linda makes me want to disregard all manner of counting calories and simply savor each bite. One can always exercise tomorrow!

NOTE

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Chef Linda was kind enough to teach my “Blue Baker” some of her secret tricks for making elaborate, show stopping cakes. This was the perfect afternoon activity  for a young lady aspiring to be a baker herself!

Be sure to check out Chef Linda’s Lemon Rricotta Pancakes featured in Lucy Lean’s “Made in America – Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food” cookbook.

-The Gourmet Review

02.13“Inside the Kitchen” | Four Seasons Hualalai | Farm To Table

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The Gourmet Review

The Four Season’s “Farm To Table” nine course tasting meal was over the top. What an evening! Instead of dining  oceanside at  the fabulous Pahu i’a restaurant, Executive Chef James “Jim” Babian surprised with a two person chef’s table “Inside the Kitchen.”

Chef Jim is serious about using local products. Check out the menu below. It was inspired by Chef’s visit to the farmer’s market earlier in the day and supplemented with a few calls to local vendors for delivery that afternoon. Over 160 local ingredients are utilized on the menus at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. The menu was extravagant. Check it out!

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Courtesy The Gourmet Review

Kumumoto Oyster Duo

Foie gras-teri & Kalamansi, shiso, olive oil, black salt

Henriot, Brut Rosé

The oysters are from the Natural Energy Lab. Chef wanted a stark contrast, so

the  first oyster was topped with a small piece of seared Foie Gras and teriyaki

ginger jus. The second was tart, with locally raised Kalamansi lime, fresh

micro shiso and a touch of black lava salt. 

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Tea Smoked Kona Shrimp

Uni cream

Domaine Barat Chablis 2009

 The shrimp were harvested that morning. Chef Jim and Shaun lighty smoked them in a

wok with tea leaves, Maui brown sugar and star anise, gave them a quick sear

and finished them with an ala minute uni sake cream emulsion. They also

fried the heads to a nice crispy texture and served them with a simple lemon wedge.

Fresh fried shrimp heads .   .   . “yummy.”   – Chef Jim

(Ahhhh, Chef, this is an acquired taste for most of us.)

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Spicy Ahi “Thai Style Crudo

Mizuna, Kamuela cucumber, radish, micro basil

Selbach-Oster Riesling 2009

The #1 Ahi that came in that day from the Honolulu auction block was lightly 

chilies and then layer over Waimea raised Mizuna, watermelon radish, Kamuela

cucumbers and basil from the hotel garden.

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Roasted Waimea Beets and Pineapple

Goat feta, pineapple balsamic reduction

Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay 2009   

Chef’s preference is to eat fruit separately or as dessert, rather than mixed into salads.

“I guess I’m a purist when it comes to flavor and parings  and find one usually

overpowers the other. In this case, I went on a limb and asked Chef Shaun what

he thought about paring roasted pineapple (it mellows the tartness) with local beets and

pulls them together with Puna goat cheese.  We tried it separately.

 It was OK, but combining it was a pleasant surprise and an example of flavors

that really complimented each other and created its

own unique flavor when eaten together.”  – Chef Jim

(Read the rest of this entry…)

11.11Four Seasons Menu Tasting | Inside The Kitchen

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Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is known as much for its dining as it is for  luxurious hotel accommodations. Great ingredients, with an emphasis on farm fresh local selections, are the key. Food takes center stage. All photos in this post are from the new menu debuting tomorrow.

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Executive Sous Chef Nick Mastrascusa has been overseeing tastings this week for his new menu at Four Season’s Beach Tree Restaurant, as well as new menu changes at Pahuia and Lava Lounge menus. I was fortunate to be included in the winter menu tasting today. It was a culinary treat.

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The White Bean with Crispy Pork Belly Garnished Soup was inspired by a recent culinary trip to Italy. Chef Nick and Chuck Wilson, Manager for the Beach Tree Restaurant, traveled to Tuscany. They spent time at Antinori Vineyards. The White Bean Soup was their favorite Italian dish. Chef Nick put his own spin on this Italian favorite and added crispy pork belly pieces as a garnish. It was fantastic.

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The Chicken Marsala (seen above) was melt in your mouth good. Chef Nick is passionate about food. He is the first to tell you he has a story for each dish on the menu and would gladly talk about each one for an hour. Whether it’s his grandmother’s recipe for Gnocci and Paella or one of his new menu items, this man loves food.

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Chef Nick utilizes over 160 ingredients from the Hawaiian Islands. He puts a fresh spin on even the simplest of dishes, substituting a heartier potato served alongside the grilled ribeye.

Sous Chef Angela Kenyon gave a wonderful presentation of each dish, with a description of the fresh ingredients and an explanation of preparation. You’ll remember her fantastic Lobster Salad and Beef Caprese Salad from earlier posts.

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How does a dish end up on the menu? Throughout the year, the most popular specials of the day become candidates for roughly 50% of the menu items that will change quarterly. The cioppino, shown in the photo, was inspired by Joe Panganiban, Beach Tree’s all star supervisor.

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Roasted Carrot Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Salad will be served as a heartier, seasonal winter salad. Heirloom baby carrots from local vendors are roasted in herb oil, salt, pepper and honey before being roasted until slightly caramelized. This dish was inspired by Ricki in the  Beach Tree kitchen.

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Seared Ahi Panzanello, Olives and Tomato Salad combines fresh seafood with another seasonal salad selection. In this salad, leftover bread is tossed in herb oil, grilled and cut into large cubes to create an updated version of this Italian classic dish. Inspired by the best breads in Puglia in southern Italy, Chef Nick adds slices of seared ahi to give this salad a distinctive Hawaiian flair. Lane also lent a touch to this dish in the kitchen. In Chef Nick’s kitchen, everyone has a chance to contribute.

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Mac Nut Crusted Scallops with Kabocha Squash and topped with fried crispy sage is Chef Nick’s take on traditional scallops.This will be served on a bed of fresh corn puree and sure to be another menu favorite.

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When asked why the Beach Tree’s pizza is so fantastic, Chef Nick will tell you that the secret of the dough is that it is made from scratch with winter grown “OO” flour from Italy. The flour is ground extra fine and produces a pizza that not only tastes better, but is healthier. Aside from traditional pizza toppings, this seasonal item will feature thinly pounded ahi tuna with a salsa verde (no tomatoes!) to reflect a tropical theme.

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When we didn’t think we could eat one more bite, Pastry Chef Linda arrived with a selection of new dessert items. Some favorites, such as chocolate covered bon bons, never change, but there always needs to be room for something new!

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Chef Linda oversees all the bakery and pastry items at the hotel and has a flair for the artistic, as well as delicious mouth watering desserts.

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For those having dietary restrictions, the Mochi dessert, with cream coconut, local citrus, roasted pineapple and cake is the perfect way to end a meal. This was presented as the “no” dessert; no gluten, no dairy, and no nuts! Fabulous.

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Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing the ice cream selection of the month. Look closely at the photograph. This is Corn Ice Cream topped with caramel corn. Chef Linda explained that the freshest local corn is picked and immediately shucked and pureed into a creme anglaise as a base for the ice cream. It was amazing, with just a hint of fresh corn.

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It was a great afternoon for anyone that loves food. No one does it better than the team at Four Seasons.

A special thank you to Sebastian Hinsch, Director of Food and Beverage at Hualalai, for including me in the final menu sampling. What a fantastic selection of great new dishes.

NOTES

Our tasting group in photograph from left to right, included Sebastian Hinsch, Chef Nick, Chef Angela, Chef Linda and Chuck Wilson.

– The Gourmet Review

10.31The Four Seasons Hualalai | “Inside the Kitchen”

Four Seasons has a reputation for great food, so it’s no surprise to find rising culinary chefs creating fabulous dishes at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Executive Sous Chef Nick boasts that Chef Angela is one of those rising stars. Check out her Grilled Beef Caprese Saladand her Hawaiian inspired Lobster Lillikoi Salad recipes. They are healthy, quick to prepare and delicious.

The Blue Baker and I, along with my youngest daughter, had the privilege of doing an “inside the kitchen” tour with Chef Angela this summer. Since the Blue Baker is now 11 years old, she had a few things she wanted to try during our hands on cooking lesson.

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First, we watched Chef Angela demonstrate how to make the pasta dough for the Beach Tree Restaurant that evening. Of course, all the dough is prepared in house with that special 00 flour that Chef Nick flies in from Italy.

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Then it was time to decide what type of pasta to roll out for the evening, while the fresh pasta sauce cooked in an enormous pot on the stove.

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The process of running the dough through the pasta maker takes a lot longer than I thought. Over and over the dough is put through a press like apparatus until it is rolled super thin. Only then is it actually cut, portion controlled and placed on a tray ready for evening diners.

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Next, we made pizza from scratch. Then we tried to “throw” the dough into something that resembled the shape of a pizza. Chef Angela was clearly more successful than my two girls at this!

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Finally, Chef Angela demonstrated how to dip the vanilla bon bons into liquid chocolate. I know what you’re thinking; you’d love to just eat some of that warm chocolate. Well, rest assured, we did just that and it was delicious!

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The chocolate bon bons are now one of our family’s favorite desserts. The presentation was on dry ice and we ate until we could eat no more.

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We loved how friendly everyone was. Each person worked quickly, but always with a smile and a friendly greeting.

That’s Chef Will, Garde Manager at the Resort, saying good bye to us. A big thanks to Chef Angela and her crew for a great “Inside the Kitchen” tour of the Beach Tree restaurant.

-The Gourmet Review

10.17Celebrity Chef Thomas Keller Interview | Inside the Kitchen

Celebrity Chef Thomas Keller

Courtesy Google Images

Celebrity Chef Thomas Keller has it all. Whether it’s delicious celebrity recipes focusing on comfort foods with a special twist, or the perfect desert at the end of the meal, you know that you are in for a gastronomique delight.

Readers can get a glimpse into Chef Thomas Keller personally and professionally in excerpts from Anne McBride’s interview with Chef Thomas Keller. Find out what it’s like having restaurants on two coasts, the background behind  menu concepts, opinions on today’s sustainability and a little about Keller personally.

How did you decide when you opened the French Laundry to go for that concept over something more casual?

The decision was made for me because that’s what the restaurant’s format was. It was a prix fixe menu. They didn’t offer any choices in their prix fixe menu. It was one menu. It was like Chez Panisse. Sally and Don Schmitt, who opened French Laundry, opened it about the same time that Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse, and it was just about ‘come to my house and have dinner. This is what we’re cooking tonight.’ They offered a four-course menu at that time, and when we first opened, we offered a four-course menu, and then we added a five-course menu to it. And it just evolved from there, slowly but surely, then we eliminated the four-course menu, and we added a nine-course menu. We added a vegetable menu. The process of evolution. Then we changed the five courses to seven courses. So, little by little, it evolved to what it is today.

Is that the best way to experience your cuisine?

I think it’s the best way to experience anybody’s cuisine who’s in this group that I’m in, if you will, and I don’t say that in an arrogant way, because I don’t know [laughs]. I mean, the idea of writing a menu for me, now, is becoming obsolete.

But would you be able to switch to a non-menu format?

I hope so. That’s my direction. If you come in tonight, you should have enough confidence in this restaurant, in this staff, in the chefs in this restaurant, and their ability to procure the best ingredients, and say, ‘okay, the chef is cooking for you tonight.’ You would say, ‘fine.’

And you don’t think people trust you?

I think people have become accustomed to having way too many choices in our society and our cultures. It becomes confusing. Dining’s about experiencing the person you’re with and having a good time, and having really good food in a really wonderful, environment, with great wines, and service in the correct way. I feel most comfortable, and this is from my experience, going to my colleagues’ restaurants, and saying, ‘Daniel, just make whatever you want,’ because I know that you’re going to do something great. And certainly, he does. So when I start to think about this, this is very interesting, because I go to these restaurants. I don’t order a thing. The wine comes. The food comes. I can spend time with the person I’m with. I enjoy the food. I don’t really have the expectations that I have about what I’m ordering. To me, that’s extraordinary. And that’s the way it used to be.

The original restaurants didn’t have menus. You’d go in and they would feed you. But as things evolved, people felt that they had to have choices. You look at wine lists today. Why do you have to have 2,000 choices on the wine list? To really look at the wine list, and study the wine list, in a way to be able to make a choice, you spend half an hour or 45 minutes. And what is your guest doing while you’re looking at the wine list? You and I are out to dinner, and I’m going to spend 45 minutes with the wine list, and you’re going to sit there and look at me? You’re going to be kind of upset, no?

Probably!

Right [laughs]. So I’m going to say, ‘we’d like some really nice wine. Maybe a Pinot Noir, from California, or from France, and I want to spend around 300 dollars tonight on a bottle.’ The sommelier comes back with two choices. Okay, because I trust the sommelier. That’s his job. He should know his wines in his wine cellar.

I think that a lot of people just want to be in control of what they’re eating.

But what is the definition of pure luxury? Not to be in control. To go into an environment, and trust the environment, and just enjoy it. When I go on vacation, I don’t want to go to a place where I have to have choices. I want to go to a place where everything is taken care of. I don’t have to ask for something.

How big is your wine list here at Per Se?

Too big. It’s ridiculous. I’m talking to my sommeliers about that. But sommeliers are saying ‘we need to have more wines, more wines.’ Forgive the phrase, but it becomes like a pissing contest. Who can have the bigger wine list.

But you asked about directions of the menus. Hopefully we’ll get to [abolish menus]. Like next door, at Masa. There’s no menu. You can go in there, and you have one of the most extraordinary meals of your life. Did you need to choose anything? No. He did it all for you. And in many ways, it’s such a relief, having that part done for you at this kind of restaurant.

Is it hard to be you?

Yeah. Sometimes, I really want to be bad and do something terrible, but I realize I can’t do it anymore. I have the responsibility. You have to be strong enough to accept the responsibility. And strength comes with experience. So hopefully, I’ll continue to be able to set the right example. But I guarantee you that I always won’t. I mean, I’m a human.

NOTE

These questions are excerpts from a longer, in depth, interview by Anne E. McBride for The Institute of Culinary Education. It’s a fun read for anyone appreciating great chefs and their culinary achievements. Check out Anne’s blog for more fun reads!

Per Se was just named the best restaurant in New York City by the New York Times!

– The Gourmet Review

 

 

 

06.02Inside the Kitchen Eric Klein Interview | Spago

Eric Klein Interview

Spago’s Eric Klein Courtesy Jeffrey Green

Spago’s Executive Chef Eric Klein is passionate about his job and it shows. It’s why guests return night after night to Spago’s in Las Vegas. Eric’s smile is contageous and spreads throughout the kitchen, where he continuously deflects credit to his staff, as well as guests, whom he greets like family. The food is so beautifully presented,  guests always pause before picking up a fork!

Chef Eric  was kind enough to share a little about his background, along with a tour of the kitchen for the “Blue Baker” and myself.

Eric Klein Interview

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Q  Where did you grow up and learn to cook?

In northeastern France, Alsace. But it’s not what we — what person influences, it’s life in general that influences you to cook something. I mean I love to give a smile to the people.

Eric Klein Interview

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Q  What is your favorite food you cook at home?

You know, when you cook every day like we do, the most simple food is the most important thing. Sometimes, it’s food that comforts you, food that makes you happy, not one food. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a kind of food junkie. I like to eat popcorn and, you know, potato chips.  You spend time with your family, so that’s  what’s  the most important thing.

Eric Klein Interview

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Q  What do you enjoy most about your job?

I do not enjoy. I love my job. I think what I love the most about my job is to be in contact with people and be a part of a celebration. It’s hard sometimes. But, you know, there are so many things to be joyful about cooking and why we love a job is to make a difference and give — reach other people.

Eric Klein Interview

Courtesy The Gourmet Kitchen

Q  How much time do you spend creating dishes?

Creating a dish comes by inspiration. It is not just “Okay, today I’m going to create a new dish” and I’m thinking about it. When you cook every day and when you change food all the time, we go with the flow that’s coming in season and say “Ah, let me try something out” and I cook something on the spot and it becomes something  different. So, we spend a long time researching things and reading and looking at what’s happening, and what’s going on around the world.  We think about it and we eat it. We want to please the customer.

Eric Klein Interview

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Q  Where do most of your ingredients come from?

Eric Klein Interview

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Our ingredients come from all over the world. We have Yuzu coming from Japan. We have the onions coming from Spain. We have fish from Hawaii and the four corners of the world.  We have halibut coming from Alaska. We have oysters coming from the Pacific Ocean. We have our stone crab from Florida and meat coming from Japan.  All the products are coming from all over the world.

Eric Klein Interview

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Q  So you go to a central person who oversees all that?

We have companies all over the world – in Chicago, a company in San Francisco, a company in L.A. who are importers. They know what we like, so they call us once a week. “Hey, we’re getting some asparagus this week. Do you want some?” or “We have something today they like from Japan, like Japanese Kobe beef.”

Some (ingredients) are directly imported from Japan. Yuzu comes directly from a small farm in Japan.

Eric Klein Interview

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 Q  Do you have vendors that grow any specific ingredients for yo

Eric Klein Interview

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We have a local land farmer who grows lamb for us. He’ll say, “I got the lambs ready. And then we serve the lamb, which is locally grown.

Eric Klein Interview

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Another example is Olsen Farm in Nevada. They grew all the microgreens for us. And basically, we say, “Oh, we like this microgreen for radish, we like chives, we like onions, we like .   .   .    or they come to us and say, “Hey, Eric, we have lot of land. I want to grow some melons and some tomatoes. How much do you need?” I say, “Listen, you bring them. I’ll buy them from you.” So the answer to your question is  yes.

NOTE

Thank you Eric, for showing us the kitchen and taking the time  to be interviewed.

What impressed us most is that every single item on the menu is made from scratch every day – every single bread, pasta, dessert, including the six different ice creams and sorbets featured daily. Every item, from whole halibut to meats and chickens are butchered in the kitchen to ensure only the freshest quality meats ever reach the plate.

There is a hands-on component to Spago, which is what makes it such a special place. Chef Eric’s attention to detail in the kitchen, which includes ordering only the very best ingredients, combined with the professionalism of the staff, makes dining here an extraordinary experience!

– The Gourmet Review

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