James Beard Outstanding Chef Semifinalists 2011
José Andrés (minibar by José Andrés, Washington, DC)
José Andrés prepares this satisfying rice dish with lots of seafood, including hard-to-find cuttlefish, and a house-made fish stock. To simplify this dish at home, use squid in place of the cuttlefish, and skip the fish stock in favor of bottled clam broth from the supermarket.
Ben Barker (Magnolia Grill, Durham, NC)
Recipe: Pork Chops on Creamy Hominy
The first things most people think of when they hear North Carolina is college basketball, but there is also the hominy at the Magnolia Grill in Durham. The chef, Ben Barker, almost always has some sort of delectable hominy on his southern menu. Here it's served with braised pork chops and an excellent bourbon sauce.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Grill
Gary Danko (Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA)
Robert Del Grande (RDG + Bar Annie, Houston)
Jose Garces (Amada, Philadelphia, PA)
Recipe: Cod with Cockles and White Wine
Jose Garces prepares this dish with hake, a relatively hard-to-find cousin of cod. He also uses fresh juice from shucked clams to make the delicious broth. In F&W's streamlined rendition, fresh cod stands in for the hake, and bottled clam juice replaces fresh.
Suzanne Goin (Lucques, Los Angeles, CA)
Sam Hayward (Fore Street, Portland, ME)
Recipe: Two-Day Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops
Sam Hayward prefers cooking with pork from small farmers who raise heritage breeds, such as Berkshire, Gloucestershire Old Spot or Duroc. This pork is deeply colored and often as marbled as high-quality beef, and Hayward treats it with the special care it deserves. His two-day curing process is worth the time because it allows the spices to penetrate these thick and juicy chops.
Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Chicago, IL)
When Paul Kahan develops recipes, he starts with something traditional—like leeks vinaigrette, the time-honored French dish—then adds a twist. Here he substitutes fried eggs for the standard hard-boiled-egg topping and adds crisp strips of speck, a smoked prosciutto.
Melissa Kelly (Primo, Rockland, ME)
Traditional panelle, the popular Sicilian chickpea fritter, is deep-fried. For her healthier version, Melissa Kelly forms panelle onto a sheet, lightly sprinkles it with goat cheese and bakes it. Then she cuts the panelle into pieces and sautés them until they're crisp.
Donald Link (Herbsaint, New Orleans)
Chef Donald Link, the man behind Herbsaint and Cochon, has brought spirited Cajun cooking to New Orleans. This creamy sweet potato filling is fairly simple, but Link prepares the crust by hand and tosses the salad with mustard greens, which can be tricky to find. Home cooks can instead make the crust in a food processor and substitute watercress for the mustard greens in the salad.
Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia, Chicago)
Tony Mantuano created this recipe in homage to the Calçotada in Spain. The Catalan festival celebrates the harvest of calçots, which are slender onions similar to baby leeks. After peeling the charred outer layers, festival-goers dip the softened onions in a vibrant romesco sauce, which Mantuano makes with sweet red bell peppers. "It's fantastic," Mantuano recalls. "Everyone has black fingers from the char."
Michael Mina (Michael Mina, San Francisco)
Michael Mina invented this soup in the early days of Aqua, the San Francisco restaurant where he rose to fame in the '90s. He started playing with the combination of black truffles and caramelized onions and went crazy for the mix of earthiness and sweetness. This version of the soup calls for truffle-infused pecorino cheese (sold in any good cheese shop), which is melted to form a marvelously gooey topping for the oniony broth.
Charles Phan (The Slanted Door, San Francisco)
Charles Phan recalls eating numerous versions of this slightly sweet and pleasantly tangy fish soup while growing up in Vietnam. Some included only chopped tomato while others were made with a colorful mix of vegetables. Here, he adds freshly squeezed lime juice for a hit of sourness instead of the more traditional tamarind pulp. He adds bean sprouts to the soup for a refreshing crunch.
Stephan Pyles (Stephan Pyles, Dallas)
"I enjoy putting the Old and New Worlds on a collision course," says Stephan Pyles, one of the first Southwestern star chefs. At his eponymous restaurant, Pyles's Texas style is obvious: Nothing short of a crowbar could pry the stupendous bone-in cowboy rib eye with fried red-chile onions off his menu.
Photo courtesy of Stephan Pyles
Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, WA)
Frank Stitt (Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL)
Frank Stitt notices a marked difference between strip steaks cooked with the bone and those cooked without it: "There is this added flavor that the bone lends to the beef, and it keeps the meat around the bone especially tender," he says. Stitt pairs these steaks with smoky sweet potato hash browns: "Sweet potatoes have so much personality for such an inexpensive, humble ingredient."
Michael Symon (Lola, Cleveland, OH)
Michael Symon defines himself as a "porketarian," saying he can't get enough of the meat. For his luscious chili, he uses incredibly flavorful and succulent pork cheeks. If pork cheeks aren't available, pork shoulder (cut into 2-inch pieces) can be substituted.
Jerry Traunfeld (Poppy, Seattle, WA)
Recipe: Spice Crispies
At Poppy, Jerry Traunfeld creates amazing happy hour snacks like sweet-salty chevda, an Indian snack mix. Traunfeld tosses puffed rice cereal with coconut, raisins, nuts and a variety of spices and flavorings, including fresh curry leaves and amchoor (tart dried-mango powder), but home cooks can simplify by substituting lemon juice and bay leaves for the amchoor and curry leaves.
Marc Vetri (Vetri, Philadelphia, PA)
Janos Wilder (Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, Tucson, AZ)
At Janos, his eponymous restaurant at the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa, Janos Wilder creates French-inflected Southwestern dishes that have earned him numerous accolades, including the 2000 James Beard Award for Top Chef in the Southwest. In 2010, Wilder made a long-anticipated return to Tucson's city center with his latest venture, Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, where he focuses on sensational drinks and globally-influenced farm-to-table dishes.
Photo courtesy of Janos Wilder