Ways to Act Like A Chef
Add Crunch with Quinoa
Quinoa has a reputation as every yoga instructor’s favorite superfood, but chefs love it for another reason: It crisps up quickly in a pan and is a fun new way to add crunch to everything from roasted vegetable salads (at Los Angeles’s Picca) to deviled eggs.
- How to Use Quinoa Crispies
- Top Deviled Eggs
- Toss in a Salad
- Add to Homemade Granola
Carve a Vegetable Steak
“It’s too rich to have as an entrée,” says chef Joshua Lawler about the most popular dish at Philadelphia’s The Farm and Fisherman. Lawler is not speaking of bone marrow or foie gras—he is referring to his Bloody Beet Steak, a purple slab that he smashes and sears, then finishes with balsamic, honey and beef or chicken jus. Treating vegetables like T-bones is in the zeitgeist; chefs are throwing thick slices of cauliflower on the plancha, smothering roasted parsnips with bordelaise sauce and convincing many diners that, as Lawler says, “Steak is boring. Vegetable steak isn’t.”
Use Exotic Chiles
Buy Bespoke Steak Knives
Any serious chef sources high-quality meats, but only the truly devoted also search out the best steak knives for their customers. “The restaurant’s name means ‘to carve’ in Italian, so we couldn’t just have some generic steak knife,” says chef Matt Molina of L.A.’s Chi Spacca, who buys elegant blades from Wyoming’s New West KnifeWorks (newwestknifeworks.com). Unlike most steak knives, these won’t shred your dinner. “I didn’t want one that tears the meat—this knife slices cleanly.”
Become a Master of Microbes
Welcome to inoculation nation: Progressive chefs are getting deep into fermentation, the process of controlled rot that adds tart, sour and funky flavors to all kinds of foods. Here, a selection of cutting-edge microbe experiments, ranked from mildly odiferous to nose-hair-singeing stinky.
Direct An Online Video Trailer
Another sign that restaurants are becoming America’s favorite entertainment: the rise of Hollywood-style trailers online. Chefs like Grant Achatz, Daniel Humm and José Andrés are using video clips, complete with animation, original music and special effects, to spread the word about new restaurants, new menus, even new cookbooks. “A video isn’t worth just 1,000 words—it’s worth more,” says Andrés.
Photo: Chef José Andrés at Washington, DC’s Barmini.
Hunt for the Best Pork, Duck & Fish
Tender Belly’s Heritage Pork “The nuttiness and marbling make it perfect for my roast suckling pig,” says chef Matt O’Neill of Aspen’s Ajax Tavern. tenderbelly.com
D’Artagnan’s Rohan Duck A crossbreed of two varieties, the Rohan is even “richer and crispier than Pekin duck,” says Boston chef Barbara Lynch. dartagnan.com
Skuna Bay’s Salmon “The flavor of this eco-friendly Vancouver Island fish is so clean,” says chef Hung Huynh of New York City’s Catch. skunasalmon.com
Bring Cast Iron To The Table
Chefs love cast iron because it’s durable and nonstick, which is why it’s everywhere, from French Blue in Napa Valley to Blue Dragon in Boston. Try the simple summer fruit dessert below—it tastes better when you eat it straight from the pan.
Pre-seasoned Lodge round mini servers go from oven to table. $13; lodgemfg.com
Try The Trend Nectarine-Thyme Crumble
Eat Your Sea Vegetables
Sea Grapes Sons & Daughters in San Francisco pairs the briny clusters with crème fraîche to serve on top of a tapioca chip as an amuse-bouche.
Sea Beans Eric Ripert serves the crunchy strands—foraged from beaches or marshes—in an octopus salad at NYC’s Le Bernardin.
Sea Lettuces At Philadelphia’s Sbraga, Kevin Sbraga loves them for their toothy texture and saline flavor. All are available at marxfoods.com.
Cook and Serve a Fish Head
Where some chefs see trash, Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly saw a signature dish: a salmon fish head, marinated in miso, maple syrup and garlic. At the NYC spot Chez Sardine, the dish represents the restaurant’s guiding principle—a Japanese izakaya infused with a trippy, gonzo spirit. “We sell more than a dozen a night,” says Brunet-Benkritly, adding that most diners need some help figuring out where the best bits of meat are.
Season with Vinegar
In a Marinade Jenn Louis of Portland, Oregon’s Lincoln marinates meat with La Vecchia Dispensa balsamic (photo). “It’s really lovely with quail and oranges.” $25; chefshop.com.
As a Dressing At San Diego’s George’s at the Cove, Trey Foshee adds a subtle lemon vinegar— Huilerie Beaujolaise Vinaigre De Citron—to seafood dishes. $18; cookingdistrict.com.
Just Before Serving Michael Voltaggio spritzes dishes with Chinkiang black vinegar right before serving at Ink in L.A. “It adds a layer of craveable, taste-bud-waking flavor.” $10; amazon.com.
Turn Everything into French Fries
Cactus Beer-battered nopales strips are a top seller at Arizona’s L’Auberge de Sedona.
Beets Austin’s Paul Qui turns the root into Japanese-style pub food at East Side King.
Parsnips NYC’s Greenwich Project finishes the crispy strips with a sprinkling of cumin powder.
Avocados At Chicago ramen bar Oiistar, the fatty fruit is fried and dusted with Parmesan.
Beef Tongue Fat-meets-fat: Braised tongue meets hot oil at Brooklyn’s Bar Corvo.