Chef Says

What’s your favorite recipe you’ve been making lately?
My Coriander Cure, a.k.a. Pastrami Cure. I sometimes call it Pastrami Cure because it has the same spices and flavor profile that goes into making pastrami.  It’s so versatile—good with any red meat, fish, or fowl, and people have always loved it. Rub the meat with the cure and let it marinate briefly before grilling or sautéing.

What’s a good substitution for traditional ingredients that most people don’t know to use?
Whenever I’m making a salad course for a nice wine dinner I stay away from using vinegar in the dressing and substitute a citrus juice instead. This helps the salad course to marry with the paired wine and not clash with it

What’s one good ingredient that you can find locally grown?
Blueberries or Fredericksburg Peaches in the early Summer

If left to your own devices, what’s your go-to recipe or dish?
That depends on the weather. Cold weather calls for something rich, hot, and hearty, like braised venison shanks and simple mashed potatoes. Chicken and Dumplings also comes to mind. Hot Weather calls for something off of the grill so you don’t heat the house up more with the cooking process. In the summer time I will cook an entire meal on the grill to keep the house as cool as possible. An example would be a nice grilled sirloin steak with grilled onions, mushroom, and eggplant with either baked potatoes cooked on the grill, or “campfire potatoes”—diced new potatoes, onions, and butter wrapped in foil and cooked over the coals

You’ve got friends showing up to your home in 30 minutes for dinner. In a pinch, what is a fast and yet elegant dish?
An entire meal cooked on the charcoal grill outside. (see above) Steak (or a whole venison backstrap if they’re really good friends), chicken or salmon, an assortment of grilled vegetables, a potato dish, and even the bread cooked over the coals to go with the meal. Get the charcoal lit and then begin prepping everything. By the time the fire is ready, so is the prep. Relatively quick, very rustic, and elegant at the same time.

Pack the ultimate picnic basket.
With the guys: cold fried chicken, biscuits, pickled jalepenos, cole slaw, and cold beer. Maybe some fried peach or cherry pies for dessert. For that special woman: an assortment of good, ripe cheeses, crusty French bread, some fresh berries, grapes, and a couple of good bottles of wine or bubbles.

What’s one secret to preparing the perfect brisket?
Don’t trim the fat from the brisket until after it is cooked. Keep the cooking temperature as close to just under 200° F as possible. A good brisket takes time—12 to 18 hours—so don’t wait until the last minute.

Describe the most exotic dish you’ve ever made.
That would have to be a traditional Japanese breakfast as prepared at the Westin Hotel Galleria Dallas back when I apprenticed there and Westin Hotels were under Japanese ownership. The whole thing was very ritualistic. You had a cold, rolled omelet that was sliced, some hot miso soup with a coddled duck egg that was broken into the soup by the diner, sticky rice, all sorts of different pickled vegetables, and little dried whole fish. Every item was placed in its own decorated ceramic dish, which all fit onto an elaborately decorated wooden tray. Not something I have carried with me or would ever try to duplicate, but the whole ritual and tradition surrounding the traditional Japanese breakfast was intriguing.

Favorite local fine dining restaurant and why?
It used to be Restaurant Biga, which moved downtown and became Biga on the Banks. The quality of the food and service is unsurpassed, a great but reasonable wine list, and the ever-changing imaginative menu offerings would make any chef jealous of Bruce Auden’s ability to pull it all off.

Why become a chef? Why not become a NASCAR driver or astronaut?
Wait… what? I could have been a NASCAR driver? I think if my Mom and Dad had been NASCAR drivers, chances are good I would be one too, or at least a boot-legger. Although neither Mom nor Dad were chefs, they both loved to cook and showed their love for friends and family through their cooking. As a kid I was always in the kitchen watching and helping my Mom, or was outside with Dad working the grill. I didn’t learn everything I needed to know about the culinary arts or how to be a chef from either one, but I did learn the most important thing—good cooking begins and ends with a lot of love.

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