Featured Chefs

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Meet Chef Simona Lauren, our May 2022 Chef of the Month

As we walk ourselves into warmer weather, it is with a lot of excitement that we introduce or May 2022 Chef of The Month, Chef Simona Lauren. Her presence in the kitchen and our tables can easily be described as a ray of sunshine. While obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Lithuania in Economy Sciences, her true love for food was always going along with her. Her set of skills which features fine dining cuisine, wine, and food pairing, kitchen design, menu development, budgeting, and other hospitality standards has been highly influenced by her  Austrian, German, Italian, French, Scandinavian chefs training. Over the years she has had the opportunity to help open nine different restaurants  in Lithuania, Norway and the United States, including one of her own.

Providing her clients with a delicious and nutritious meal that meets each of their requirements is a priority for her. Chef Simona Lauren has been certified as a Nutrition Coach at the National Academy of Sports Medicine in the United States.

Join us in getting to know more intimately this incredibly versatile Chef by reading her interview below:

1. Where were you born? 

Lithuania

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 

Phoenix, Arizona. Private Chef Simona Lauren.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?

My Kitchen Aid appliances and my Santoku knife.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?

I would say all of them. My most preferred ones are taste and vision.

5. What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?

Never give up, follow your dreams and do what is right. Never forget to treat everyone around as you would like to be treated.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?

An organized and clean space will help to make your work not only easier but also greater. The way you and your workspace look will affect your dish too.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Memories. A great dish should bring you memories and become a topic of conversation.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 

Comfort.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

Chocolate and fish.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

London.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

There’s a lot of them so it’s really hard to say, but from the dessert side, I would say the Chocolate Morel Truffle Sphere in Bavarian Mousse cloud.

12. What do you like to eat most often on your days off? 

Good homemade mama’s food. Lithuanian Stuffed Cabbage is my favorite, or Asian Ramen Soup.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

My grandfather.

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?

A bad and disrespectful restaurant environment, where long hours of dedication can literally kill you.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?
My grandmother when I was 4 years old. We were making ravioli. I told her I wanted to have my own restaurant.

Connect with our May 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefsimonalauren
Website: www.chefsimonalauren.com
Facebook: Simona Lauren

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April 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Keith Sarasin

Join us as we introduce our Chef of The Month, Chef Keith Sarasin. Chef Keith is a three-time author, restauranteur, and public speaker who grew up in a small city in New Hampshire in the United States. Founder of The Farmers Dinner (est. 2012) and owner of Aatma restaurant, Keith has a passion for Indian cuisine and often uses Indian flavors to complement his farm-to-table dishes. You can tell this chef gives all of him to his plates when he says, “To cook from your soul, you must discover who you truly are as a person, only then can you discover who you are as a chef.”

We’re delighted to make him part of our Chef of the Month initiative and shining a light on what fine cuisine really is about! In his words “Chefs are conduits that help bring the story of love and fellowship to families.”

Getting to know Chef Keith

Where were you born? 
Nashua, New Hampshire.

Where do you work and where are you based? 
I am based in Manchester, New Hampshire and I am the chef owner of Aatma and The Farmers Dinner.

What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
I love my Vitamix, it is so versatile and I use it all the time.

What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
Smell, for sure.

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Stay curious and stay humble.

What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
Learn to balance fat with acid in your dishes.

What does good food mean to you? 
It means a connection from the farmer to the dinner. Chefs are conduits that help bring the story of love and fellowship to families.

What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 
Style, comfort and durability.

Favorite ingredient to work with? 
Spices!!!! I study food from the Indian subcontinent so spices are so important.

Favorite City to dine out in? 
Boston. Boston has an INCREDIBLE food scene with amazing chefs.

Best Dish you have ever made? 
I love making this Kolhapuri Masala Duck. I dry age the duck breast with a freshly ground Kolhapuri masala and sous vide it then sear it. It is absolutely delicious.

What do you like to do the most often on your days off?  
Spending time with my girlfriend and our dogs.

Person you would most like to cook for? 
My Mother and my guru, Kurush Dalal.

What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
Mental health issues. I feel like most chefs are taught to just keep pushing through and we don’t often discuss how we are feeling.

What made you decide to become a chef?
My mother was a single mom. She worked a lot and I wanted to contribute. When I had to pay my way through school, I took a kitchen job to help with tuition.

Connect with our April 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @keithsarasin
Aatma Restaurant: www.aatmarestaurant.com | The Farmers Dinner: www.thefarmersdinner.com
Facebook: @chefkeithsarasin

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Oven-baked Marinated Beets and Labneh Cheese with Almonds

Bringing the mystery to our kitchens and tables, Chef Simona introduces her Marinated Beets recipe. Carefully delivered along Labneh cheese and almonds after going through an oven-baked process. We invite you to dive in and experience the new flavors this plate can bring to your future meals! Below is a detailed list of ingredients for both the main dish and marinade. Follow this recipe and you can too accomplish this culinary work of art!

Ingredients

  • 3 medium beets
  • 1 jar of labneh cheese (this can be replaced by goat cheese)
  • Rice paper (most commonly used to make Spring Rolls)
  • 2 cups of oil
  • 50 grams of almonds
  • 100 grams of arugula salad
  • 100 grams of frozen green peas
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 a.s. soda
  • A pinch of salt

For the marinade

  • 100 ml. of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 200 grams of sugar
  • 300 ml. of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 corns of allspice

Production Process

  1. Place the unpeeled beets on a baking sheet and bake at 180C for about 40 minutes until slightly soft.
  2. Heat the oil, preheat the fire, and place it on the rice paper.
  3. Everything will happen very quickly, so be sure to have a paper towel, where you will place the baked rice paper. As soon as they puff, pull them out immediately.
  4. Boil a cup of water, add baking soda, boil the peas for 2 minutes, simmer and place them in ice-cold water. Drain them.
  5. In a blender, add your handful of mint, salt, and blanched peas. Add 3 tablespoons of water and grind everything to a smooth mass. If you want the mass to be a beautiful green, make sure the blender doesn’t heat up.
  6. Prepare a pot and add all the ingredients for the marinade, bring to a boil.
  7. Get the cleaned beets and cut into slices with the thinnest number of “mandolins”. Add the still warm marinade and keep them in there for at least a few hours.
  8. Take some of those beets, drop them in the blender and make a puree out of it for beautiful plating and textures.

After a few hours, you can start plating the dish.

Connect with our May 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefsimonalauren
Website: www.chefsimonalauren.com
Facebook: Simona Lauren

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Asian-marinated Squid by Chef Simona

Dive in with us into Chef Simona Lauren’s Asian marinated squid with squid ink spaghetti and sriracha mayonnaise. This innovative recipe allows 4 servings and can be described as a fresh and exclusive twist on a plate where squid is the main character.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized cooled octopus
  • 3 tablespoons of squid ink
  • 150g. of spaghetti pasta (I use homemade, but you can do without them)
  • 4 slices of garlic
  • 80 grams of Ponzu sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce (it can replace Chili sauce)
  • 100 grams mayonnaise
  • 2 lemons

Production process

Before making squid, be sure to boil it in boiling water and peel off the skin. Scalded octopuses do not harden during baking and do not become rubbery. Be sure not to skip this step.

Squid Marinade

  1. Stir in the ponzu sauce, grate the lemon zest, finely chop the garlic, add the 1st-century sriracha and leave to marinate until the pasta is ready. Salt is not needed, because the ponzu sauce is already quite salty.
  2. Boil water. Add salt and a pinch of oil. Cook the pasta for 7-8 minutes or until they are almost cooked, but still a little green inside (al dente).
  3. Put the pasta in a preheated pan with the remaining finely chopped garlic. Add the water in which you boil the pasta and 3 tablespoons of edible squid ink. Sautee for a few more minutes until the pasta is soft and black.
  4. Mix the mayonnaise with the remaining sriracha sauce.
  5. In a heated skillet, fry the squid over high heat until cooked through.

Connect with our May 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefsimonalauren
Website: www.chefsimonalauren.com
Facebook: Simona Lauren

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Deviled Eggs with Crispy Chicken Skin by Chef Keith

Ingredients

  • 6 Chicken Skins
  • 6 Eggs
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 4 tablespoons Pickle Juice
  • 3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Hot Sauce

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Get two baking sheets that are the same size.

3. On one sheet, lay the chicken skins flatted out. Salt them and place the second baking sheet on top of the chicken skins to press them down.

4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Let cool for 10 minutes.

5. In a pot of boiling water, boil the eggs for 10 minutes until fully cooked. Let the eggs cool completely and peel.

6. Cut the peeled eggs down the middle and place the yolks in a medium mixing bowl.

7. Add mayo, pickle juice, hot sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper to the yolk mixture.

8. Mix the yolk mixture well and blend until smooth.

9. Chill for 2 hours.

10. Place this mixture into a pastry bag or a zip lock bag with a cut in the corner to pipe this mixture onto the egg.

11. Break the cooled chicken skins into small pieces. Top the egg with the chicken skins.

Connect with our April 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @keithsarasin
Aatma Restaurant: www.aatmarestaurant.com | The Farmers Dinner: www.thefarmersdinner.com
Facebook: @chefkeithsarasin

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Chef Keith’s Masoor Dal Samosa Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • Pinch of Hing Aka Asafetida
  • 2 teaspoons of Cumin and Ajwain Seeds
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons Turmeric
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups of Masoor Dal
  • 1 tablespoon Kassori Meti
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1/4 cup chopped Coriander (Cilantro)

Directions

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan.

2. Add a pinch of hing into the oil.

3. Add cumin and ajwain seeds (2 tsp. each).

4. Once they pop, add 1 cup of onion to the oil.

5. Add 3 tsp of ginger.

6. Add 2 tsp of salt and stir.

7. Add 3 tsp of turmeric and ¾ cup of chopped tomatoes.

8. Add ¼ cup of water.

9. Add 3 cups of dal and cover the mixture with water.

10. Cover the dish partway and cook for 20 minutes on low heat or until the dal absorbs all the liquid.

11. Add Kassori Meti and Garam Masala (1 tsp).

12. Add chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Connect with our April 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @keithsarasin
Aatma Restaurant: www.aatmarestaurant.com | The Farmers Dinner: www.thefarmersdinner.com
Facebook: @chefkeithsarasin

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Chef Keith’s Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

We couldn’t wait to share one of Chef Keith’s incredible recipes! Take a bite of his Indian-inspired, Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.

This is a dish consisting of diced chicken breast in curry sauce. The dish was popularized by cooks from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh living in Great Britain and is offered at restaurants around the world.”

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 chiles
  • 2 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 lbs. chicken breast
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 5 tablespoons yogurt
  • Chopped Coriander (Cilantro)
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Directions

1. Heat oil in a pan.

2. Add onions.

3. After 2 minutes, add ginger garlic, salt, garam masala, and chilies.

4. Dice the chicken breast.

5. Add brown sugar, turmeric, and chili powder into the onion mixture cooking for 2 minutes.

6. Add tomato puree sautéing off.

7. Add diced tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes.

8. Add this mixture to a blender and blend well for 2 minutes.

9. Cook chicken in the pan you used for the onion mixture.

10. Once the chicken is cooked, add the blended sauce.

11. Add curry leaves and half the chopped coriander. Cook for 20 minutes on low.

12. Add yogurt and stir well.

Connect with our April 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @keithsarasin
Aatma Restaurant: www.aatmarestaurant.com | The Farmers Dinner: www.thefarmersdinner.com
Facebook: @chefkeithsarasin

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Chef Adriana’s Octopus Galician Style with Potatoes and Paprika Recipe

Seafood AND potatoes? Count us in! Our March 2022 Chef of the Month’s Octopus Galician style with potatoes and paprika is our newest go-to dish.

“This recipe was inspired by the north of Spain in Galicia, this dish has very few ingredients and is simple to make and the flavor accent is Smoked Paprika and a really flavorful robust olive oil.”

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of octopus cleaned, head and beak removed
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes 
  • ¼ cup of robust extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced in half
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Garnish: flat leaf parsley or microgreens

Directions

  1. In a 6 qt pot, boil water and add the bay leaves and onion.  
  2. Dunk the octopus 3 times to “scare it” then add back in boiling water and boil for 25 min.
  3. Remove octopus and set aside and save water
  4. In this water add the potatoes and boil for 12 min or so until fork-tender, the flavor of the octopus left in the water will infuse them with flavor.
  5. Slice the potatoes and create a base of the potatoes on a plate, place the octopus on top drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and salt.
  6. Garnish with micro-greens and parsley

Connect with our March 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefa_adriana
Website: https://www.drianafoods.com/
Facebook: @drianafoods

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Asian-marinated Squid with Squid Ink Spaghetti and Sriracha mayonnaise by Chef Simona

Ingredients

4 servings

  • 2 medium-sized cooled octopus
  • 3 tablespoons of squid ink
  • 150g. of spaghetti pasta (I use homemade, but you can do without them)
  • 4 slices of garlic
  • 80 grams of Ponzu sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce (it can replace Chili sauce)
  • 100 grams mayonnaise
  • 2 lemons

Production process

Before making squid, be sure to boil it in boiling water and peel off the skin. Scalded octopuses do not harden during baking and do not become rubbery. Be sure not to skip this step.

Squid Marinade

  1. Stir in the ponzu sauce, grate the lemon zest, finely chop the garlic, add the 1st-century sriracha and leave to marinate until the pasta is ready. Salt is not needed, because the ponzu sauce is already quite salty.
  2. Boil water. Add salt and a pinch of oil. Cook the pasta for 7-8 minutes or until they are almost cooked, but still a little green inside (al dente).
  3. Put the pasta in a preheated pan with the remaining finely chopped garlic. Add the water in which you boil the pasta and 3 tablespoons of edible squid ink. Sautee for a few more minutes until the pasta is soft and black.
  4. Mix the mayonnaise with the remaining sriracha sauce.
  5. In a heated skillet, fry the squid over high heat until cooked through.

Connect with our May 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefsimonalauren
Website: www.chefsimonalauren.com
Facebook: Simona Lauren

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March 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Adriana Sanchez-Perez

We’re delighted to introduce our March 2022 Chef of the Month, Chef Adriana Sanchez-Perez! Chef Adriana was born in Venezuela and her family is from Spain. Today, she resides in San Diego, California, where she is the founder of Driana Foods, a company that shares the flavors of Spain through food like paella, tapas, and sauces!
If Chef Adriana looks familiar, that may be because you have seen her on Food Network, FOX 5, and KUSINews! Not only is she a talented chef, but she is also a Flamenca dancer! Her cuisine is inspired by the bold flavors of Spanish cuisine and she bases her success on crafting each dish with love. Her motto? “Cooking, eating and sharing these bonding moments are what we live for”.

1. Where were you born? 
Caracas, Venezuela but my family is from Spain.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I am the founder of Driana Foods, a company sharing the flavors of Spain through paella, tapas, and sauces, I am based in San Diego, California.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
They call me the Sauce Queen, so I love an immersion blender to make my sauce magic.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
Smell

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Find your unique culinary voice and add all those flavors from your childhood that were memorable to your growing up. You will find your edge.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
 Master your sauces, they make a dish sing.

7. What does good food mean to you? 
A good dish with good technique, intriguing flavors, and great textures on your palate. A great dish moves your emotions and touches your heart.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 
Style and functionality – it must perform in a hot kitchen.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
Saffron. There is a sensuality to this ingredient I just love.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 
Madrid.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 
Octopus with a tamarind sauce reduction and confit potatoes.

12. What do you like to eat most often on your days off? 
I love a good heartwarming bean stew like a Fabada Asturiana

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
 Yotam Ottolenghi

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
Trying to cook to please others than themselves, if the dish does not move you it won’t move anyone else.  You have to be fully in love with what you are making, people will feel that energy of love, which is the most delicious flavor they will taste in your dish.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?
I grew up around food crafters in my family and without realizing it, made a deep impact on me.  Later I found it was my way a give my love to others.

Connect with our March 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefa_adriana
Website: https://www.drianafoods.com/
Facebook: @drianafoods

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