This Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, 12 semifinalists will compete for one coveted position on the Bocuse d'Or USA team. The winning chef and commis (assistant) will compete for the world title at the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, France, next year. While at Chefs' Holidays, I sat down with Percy Whatley, The Ahwahnee Hotel's chef and a returning semifinalist, to hear how he plans to take Team USA all the way. More, after the break.
I've always loved incorporating the piquant flavors of anchovies and capers into pasta sauces or fish dishes. But, as they are often brined or salt-packed, both can have an acerbic quality — so a little bit goes a long way.
I learned how to reduce the harshness while watching Manresa chef David Kinch prepare beef and oyster tartare at this year's Chefs' Holidays. To tone down capers, caperberries, or anchovies, soak them in milk for about a half hour. If you don't have milk, you can opt for warm water, which also helps to reduce salinity.
What are your tips for working with capers and anchovies?
I knew little about the process of making duck confit and rillette — that is, until I watched chef Matt Bolton make the two at this year's Chefs' Holidays. It was a revelation to realize how something as simple as preserving meat in its own fat could produce such tender results.
Another groundbreaking concept? The idea that the paddle attachment of a standing mixer can be a boon for things savory as much as sweet. To shred the confited duck for his rillette, the chef didn't bother with a fork, knife, or cutting board; he simply dumped the meat in his mixer (with the paddle attachment), turned it on, and within moments had perfectly shredded duck meat.
Have you ever used a mixer to shred meat?
Source: Flickr User FotoosVanRobin
Last week, I took a trip to Yosemite National Park for the kickoff session of The Ahwahnee's annual Chefs' Holidays. The event ended with a big blowout dinner, but I walked away with tons of tips. Chef Matt Bolton, who runs the kitchen at Pacific's Edge restaurant in Carmel's Highlands Inn, showed the audience how to confit a duck leg to make pâté-like rillette.
But I was most impressed with his other dish, tiny cubes of butternut squash slow-cooked in the style of risotto, and topped with foraged mushrooms. While preparing his dishes, Bolton offered a number of suggestions for cleaning, storing, and cooking with fungi. See them when you read on.
Since I don't frequent Yosemite National Park too often, I had to make the most of my time while I was there for the first session of Chefs' Holidays. In addition to taking cooking classes, that also meant an intimate meal at The Ahwahnee Dining Room — plus a detailed tour to highlight the building's history. Keep reading to get a behind-the-scenes look.
I enjoyed every bite of the 2010 Chefs' Holidays cooperative dinner, which featured five courses from talented California chefs. But I might have been most pumped about trying Matt Bolton's venison chop. I'm definitely an adventurous eater. Living in the city, however, I don't have wild game too often. Hence, anytime I spot elk, boar, venison, or even alligator on a menu, I spring for it. Still, less-than-daring diners might be turned off by the thought of eating game or wild meat. How do you feel about it?
The 25th annual Chefs' Holidays — a monthlong culinary event at The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite — started off with a bang when chef Cal Stamenov whetted a watchful audience's pre-lunch appetite by demonstrating how to make caramelized diver scallops and crème brûlée crepes.
Chef Cal, who is the culinary director at the posh Carmel Valley spot Bernardus Lodge and the executive chef at its Marinus restaurant, wowed the crowd with a stunning scallop presentation (which, incidentally, stole the show at the event's later gala dinner). He assured us that scallops are just as easy to prepare at home, as long as you keep a few important things in mind. See the chef's key pointers — and more photos! — after the jump.
On Tuesday, the first session of The Ahwahnee Hotel's 25th annual Chefs' Holidays came to a close with a blowout dinner — and my lucky self was there to partake in the event. At the cooperative dinner, each of the chefs prepared one dish in the five-course meal, which was served by candlelight in a majestic dining room lined with sugar pine trestles and floor-to-ceiling windows that showcased Yosemite Park. Between the jawdropping ambiance and the even more impressive food, it was certainly a Winter evening to remember. For my favorite moments, read on.
This week, I attended the first session of the 25th annual Chefs' Holidays, a monthlong culinary event that takes place at The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, CA, each Winter. The celebrity chef-studded affair, which included kitchen tours, cooking lessons, and a blowout gala dinner, proved to be as educational as it was recreational.
One of the highlights was a cooking demonstration led by headliner David Kinch. The James Beard-nominated chef (who defeated Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America!) is the brainchild behind Manresa, the Los Gatos, CA-based restaurant at the forefront of California cuisine. But despite his haute background, Kinch focused much of his lesson on one simple principle: season properly. Learn the chef's rules for seasoning when you read more.
The holidays may be over, but that doesn't mean you should stop celebrating with food. Whether you're craving truffles or interested in sustainable farming, there's something going on that's right up your alley. I'll be in attendance at the first session of the monthlong Chefs' Holidays, a celebrity-chef-studded event that includes cooking classes, demos, kitchen tours, and a big blowout gala dinner, all in the middle of Yosemite National Park. Stay tuned for a report from the field — and should you find yourself there, look out for me!
What are you up to this week? Do share what's going on in your neck of the woods.
- DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois Farm Show – Jan. 6-7
- Vail, CO: Big Beers Festival — Jan. 7-9
- Sonoma, CA: Sonoma Valley Olive Festival: Martini Madness — Jan. 8
- Salem, OR: Oregon Wine, Food & Brew Festival — Jan. 8-9
- Coconut Grove, FL: Great Taste of the Grove — Jan. 9
- Santa Cruz, CA: Santa Cruz Fungus Fair — Jan. 9-10
- Yosemite, CA: Chefs' Holidays at The Ahwahnee, Session 1 — Jan. 10-13
- New York, NY: Truffles and Banfi — Jan. 11
- Boulder, CO: Twisted Pine Potluck — Jan. 12