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August 2021 Chef of the Month – James Couch (Chef Jaycee)

We’re happy to introduce our August Chef of the Month, James Couch (Chef Jaycee)! Chef Jaycee is currently a Sous Chef for Compass Group in Tysons, Virginia, and the owner and executive chef of Chef Jaycee LLC, serving the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. Ever since he was a child, he was interested in cooking and found himself checking out cookbooks in the library instead of standard children’s books! He then went on to culinary school at JNA Institution of Culinary Arts in Philadelphia, PA and after graduation, he pursued a degree in Management at James Madison University. Chef Jaycee is a strong-willed, passionate chef. He has a keen eye for developing creative plates and encourages others to always keep an open mind and never stop learning. He’s cooked for various clients including Ambassadors to the United States and CNN news anchors. As a private Chef, he’s catered private meals to NFL players, CEOs and White House officials! We’re so impressed by Chef Jaycee’s story and can’t wait to share his delicious recipes.

1. Where were you born? 

I was born on the Fort Lewis Army Base in Seattle, Washington. My dad was in the Army and we moved to several places throughout my life.

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

I am a Sous Chef for Compass Group in Tysons, Virginia. I am also the owner and executive chef of Chef Jaycee LLC serving the DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area.

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

My favorite kitchen tool is a Vitamix because I love making beautiful vibrant sauces and smooth purees, and a Vitamix helps get the job done perfectly.

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

I would say sight is my sharpest sense. I have a keen eye for developing creative plates and can quickly notice if anything is out of place on the plate itself or in pictures. Because of my sharp sense of sight, I’m able to react to things quickly – people are often so surprised at how fast I react to catch something that is falling!

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Work ethic and attitude means everything in the kitchen. Also, I would advise to never think you know everything and don’t have anything to learn. Even if you have your way of doing something, always be open to the point of view of others.

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

Every chef should know mise en place. Mise en place is a French term meaning to have all your ingredients in order. Not having your ingredients in order can easily throw off your entire meal.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food means the food tastes just as great as it looks. Good food gives you a feeling of excitement and has you walking away from the table looking forward to the next time you can taste the dish. It can take you back to when you were a kid, or even as deep as feeling it in your soul.

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

To me, the jacket is the most important piece of my chef outfit. The jacket itself has to fit just right – not too baggy, long enough, and has spaces for my thermometer, pens, etc. When I think I look good, I feel good about myself and give off a positive energy.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

I love to work with anything acidic like lemon, limes, vinegar, and wine. Acid can be used in so many different ways to elevate a dish, from tenderizing meats to adding clean, fresh, bold flavors to your sauces.

10. Favorite city to dine out in? 

New Orleans, Louisiana has been my favorite city to dine out in. I love seafood and Creole food and love that they pack all their food with great flavor and seasonings.

11. Best dish you have ever made? 

My best dish is Grilled Porcini Crusted Beef Tenderloin and Butter Poached Lobster Tail with Truffle Potato Puree, Roasted Asparagus, Port Jus, and Microgreens. Surf and turf is one of my favorite dishes to make and this dish specifically always brings out the best reactions from my clients, which is one of the reasons I love to cook.

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

Top Ramen and Sandwiches! After being around food all week, I want the most simple and quick meals.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

President Obama and his family. I look up to him because he has showed me that anything is possible with hard work. In my eyes, it would be an honor to cook for him.

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

Chefs need to be strong both physically and mentally in order to deal with the pressure from your job. Difficulties of a chef include staff calling out, food budgets, long hours, and keeping your composure when everything could be going wrong. As a chef, you often have to accept criticism on your food because no chef could ever appease to everyone’s palette.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

I have always been interested in food. In elementary school, while other kids were checking out Magic School Bus and Goosebumps books, I would check out cookbooks from Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse. I was raised by a single mother, who worked 16 hour shifts at night and sometimes left my brother, sister, and I to cook for ourselves. I would go in the kitchen and try to make recipes with Top Ramen. When I left for culinary school, I found out my grandfather was also Chef, though he passed away before I could meet him. Knowing this solidified that the culinary world was for me.

Connect with our August 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefjayceee
Website: https://www.chefjaycee.com/
Facebook: @infoChefJaycee 

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Chef Gabe’s Butternut Squash Soup

If you’re looking for a creamy and savory addition to your soup repertoire, you’ve come to the right place. Chef Gabe, our July 2021 Chef of the Month, shared his delicious butternut squash soup with spiced crème recipe. We can bet that it’ll become one of your new favorite dishes!

delicious butternut squash soup with spiced crème
Photo cred: @image.diy

Soup Ingredients

  • 1-butternut squash
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Kosher Salt – to taste
  • Black Pepper – to taste
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1 large onion- diced
  • 1 head of garlic
  • Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon- add more if desired
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • Ground Ginger- to taste
  • Ground Coriander- to taste
  • ¼ cup Maple syrup

Coconut Cream Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Black Pepper- to taste
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Kosher salt- to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut squash in half vertically and remove seeds using a spoon.
  3. Oil exposed sides of the squash, season with salt and pepper-place face down on foiled pan and place in the oven, should roast until fork tender and the skin blisters-about an hour or so.
  4. Tear a medium size sheet of foil and place garlic in the center, brush with some olive oil and season with salt. Twist foil tightly and roast garlic for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Remove squash from the oven and cool, using a spoon, scrape the roasted squash from the skin and place in a bowl. Cut top off of garlic head and press the garlic to extract the roasted garlic.
  6. Place medium size pan over medium high heat, add 2 tbsp butter and oil to the pan once butter starts to brown slightly, add onion and cook until tender, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add squash and cook for 2-3 minutes, season with ginger, cinnamon, coriander and pepper.
  8. Add vegetable stock ½ quart at a time until fully incorporated, if you want soup slightly thicker, use less of the stock.
  9. Pour contents in blender and blend on medium to high speed. Adjust seasoning and add maple syrup to sweeten. Ladle and serve.
  10. To make crème, simply mix together the listed ingredients and adjust to your liking.

Connect with our July 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @the_gabriellewis
Website: https://www.chefgabeonline.com/
Facebook: @GabrielLewis97
TikTok: @the_gabriellewis

Chef Gabe’s Seared Bison NY Strip w/ Sweet Potato Mash & Sautéed Asparagus Recipe

Sweet potato, delicious asparagus and a juicy NY strip? Count us in. Chef Gabe, our July 2021 Chef of the Month‘s Seared Bison NY Strip with sweet potato mash & sautéed asparagus is the delectable recipe we never knew we needed. Steak-lovers, get cooking!

Seared Bison NY Strip with sweet potato mash & sautéed asparagus

Bison Steak Ingredients

  • 1 Bison NY Strip Steak
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • 3-5 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Branch Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Sprig Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic-Smashed

Mash Ingredients

  • 1 Medium-large Sweet Potato
  • 2 tbsp Melted Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • Pinch of Kosher Sal

Asparagus Ingredients

  • 5 Spears Fresh Asparagus- Trimmed
  • 2-3 cups Chicken Stock
  • Black Pepper
  • ½ Fresh Lemon- Juiced
  • Brightfresh Micro Arugula

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place sweet potato in oven and cook for 30-45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let sit.
  3. Remove steak from fridge and allow to set at room temperature for 30 minutes. Use paper towels to remove any surface moisture.
  4. Heat chicken stock in a medium size stock pot. Taste the stock to test the salt level. If too flat, add some kosher salt and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add asparagus to the stock and cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Take out one piece and test. If slightly tender, pull the rest and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove from bath and set aside.
  6. Blend together seasonings to create steak seasoning. This is whatever your preference is ex. More garlic, more onion or more pepper. Build it to your taste. Cover the steak with your seasoning blend.
  7. Place medium size sauté pan over medium high heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and place steak in hot pan. Sear for 90 seconds and check the sear, if the crust is solid then flip and lower the heat to medium, if not, sear for another 30 seconds.
  8. Once flipped, sear for 60 seconds and add more olive oil, garlic, thyme and rosemary and baste the steak.
  9. Flip steak on the sides to sear off any fat. Continue to baste the steak for another 2 minutes.
  10. Use a thermometer to achieve the desired cook. I recommend medium rare -130 degrees.
  11. Once its reached the desired temp, remove from pan and rest the steak, preferably on a roasting rack, place herbs and garlic from pan on top of steak to help flavor permeate further.
  12. Peel sweet potato and combine all the ingredients. Using a fork, mash together the ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  13. .Heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil and add the asparagus. Sauté for 60-90 seconds and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add a few tbsp of lemon juice to the pan. For meatier flavor, add a few tbsp of chicken stock before removing from the heat.
  14. To plate, place your mash on the plate first, then the asparagus and finally your steak. I recommend slicing the steak and finishing with a sprinkle of salt to season the inside of the steak. Top with the incredible Brightfresh Micro Arugula and enjoy.

Quick Tip: The micro arugula adds amazing spice and freshness to the dish. For more intense flavor, toss the arugula in a quick vinaigrette made from the lemon juice, honey and olive oil!

Connect with our July 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @the_gabriellewis
Website: https://www.chefgabeonline.com/
Facebook: @GabrielLewis97
TikTok: @the_gabriellewis

Chef Gabe’s Seared Scallops With Collard Greens and Bacon Pork Gremolata

Our talented July Chef of the Month, Chef Gabe shared his delicious Seared Scallops w. Southern Collard greens and Smoked Bacon Pork Panko Gremolata recipe! This award-winning Chef’s dish is infused with rich flavors – we truly can’t get enough. Find his recipe below!

Scallop Ingredients

  • 5 Fresh Diver Scallops (U10)
  • ½ Fresh lemon
  • 3 TBSP Butter
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 branch Rosemary
  • 1 clove Garlic-smashed

Collards Ingredients

  • 1 Bunch Collard Greens- destemmed
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 3 Strips Raw bacon- diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic-minced
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Gremolata Ingredients

  • ¼ cup Pork Panko
  • ½ cup crushed up Bacon
  • 1 clove Garlic- Grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Garnish Ingredients

  • Fresh Truffle- Preferably white Truffle
  • Bright Fresh Microgreen- Chefs Blend
  • 1 Bunch Seafood Mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup sake
  • 2 tbsp. Soy Sauce

Directions

  1. Place sauté pan over medium heat and add bacon for greens, remove bacon, but leave fat in the pan. Add garlic and cook for 15 seconds then add the greens.
  2. Add vinegar and cook for 15 seconds, add the chicken stock and reduce to medium low heat. Cook until tender. Season to taste.
  3. Mix together ingredients for gremolata in a bowl and toast in a pan over medium heat. Remove and place in a bowl.
  4. Over medium high heat, place a sauté pan big enough for the mushroom and heat. Add butter, once melted, add mushrooms and cook until they start to get a bit brown. Add soy and sake and cook until sauce in almost completely gone. Remove from pan immediately.
  5. Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Place in pan clockwise starting at the top of the pan. Sear until you get a rich golden color and then flip.
  6. Add butter, rosemary and garlic and reduce heat to low. Baste scallops for 30 seconds to 1 minute-depending on how think your scallops are. Squeeze lemon over scallops and remove from the pan.
  7. Plate with each scallop sitting on top of gremolata. Shave fresh truffle and top with microgreens. Enjoy!

Connect with our July 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @the_gabriellewis
Website: https://www.chefgabeonline.com/
Facebook: @GabrielLewis97
TikTok: @the_gabriellewis

July 2021 Chef of the Month – Gabriel Lewis

Photo Credit: @image.diy

We’re so excited to welcome our July 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Gabriel Lewis! Chef Gabe was born and raised in Oklahoma City and is now a private chef in the area, owning his business, Chef Gabe LLC. He attributes his love of cooking and desire to become a chef to his mother, Lisa Lewis. Chef Gabe is an award-winning chef and recently won the Okie Award Best Chef 2019 for the state of Oklahoma, he was also a top 7 contestant on MasterChef! He’s gone on to earn a position under Chef Aaron Sanchez and a culinary arts degree paid for by Gordon Ramsay. On his days off, this successful Chef enjoys eating ramen and finding ways to perfect his craft. Shop his look, stay tuned for his incredible recipes and read more about Chef Gabe’s story below!

1. Where were you born? 
I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, it’s home.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I operate as a private chef under my own business Chef Gabe LLC based in Oklahoma City, but I travel as needed.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
Most people are surprised to hear that my favorite tool is just a normal spoon. I use it every time I cook to baste, flip proteins, stir sauces, plate dishes, etc. In my opinion, it’s one of the most important tools in the kitchen.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
My sense of taste is definitely my sharpest sense. It’s instrumental in helping me layer flavors in each dish I craft.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
My advice to aspiring chefs would be to challenge yourself daily. Push yourself to transform an ingredient in as many ways as you can, try that foreign spice or vegetable, find the flaws in your dishes and cook them until you cannot find them anymore. Repetition and adversity breed amazing results.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
The art of the sear! I believe searing is the key to making or breaking a dish in most cases. A steak without a good sear is sub-par, but a steak with a perfect crust lives in the memory, haunts it until you get to sate that craving.

7. What does good food mean to you?
Good food to me is food that brings people together, unites you with memories you’ve been estranged from. Good food allows you to get lost in the plate. Good food should be able to birth happiness from experience or unite you with a moment you shared with someone that is no longer here but lives through those flavors. That’s what good food means to me.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 
When I’m selecting a chef outfit, I am looking for something that sets me apart from my colleagues. I like to have an outfit that screams professionalism, yet doesn’t intimidate or speak louder than the dishes I produce. I want my outfit to speak of what food is to follow, clean, refined and personable.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
My favorite ingredient hands down has to be salmon. It’s so versatile yet temperamental, affordable and stunning when cooked properly. Salmon was the first protein I ever perfected, it holds the crown for me.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 
I would probably say Denver is my favorite city to dine in currently. There is a beautiful array of flavors and cultures mashed up and showcased in the mile-high city. You can find something for anyone, especially foodies.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 
The best dish I ever made has to be this seared Atlantic salmon w/ wild mushroom truffle risotto garnished with micro kale, cranberry glazed portobello “leaves” and white truffle. The flavor and texture contrast were phenomenal as was the presentation. Now I’m craving it haha.

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off? 
On my days off, I’m generally eating a delicious bowl of Tori Paitan from my favorite restaurant in Oklahoma City, Goro Ramen. If that’s not an option, I’ll make a simple roast chicken at home and eat on that for a few days.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
I would love to have the opportunity to cook for Graham Elliot or Cat Cora. Both chefs have played a significant role in my journey as a chef and I would love to repay that by crafting the best meal I could for them!

14. What made you decide to become a chef?
My mother, Lisa Lewis. She was always a caretaker of the people she loved, always showing that love through food. Watching her cook and try new techniques, travel through food and cook for those she loved inspired me to dedicate my life to the craft. I try to make her proud through every dish I create.

Connect with our July 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @the_gabriellewis
Website: https://www.chefgabeonline.com/
Facebook: @GabrielLewis97
TikTok: @the_gabriellewis

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Chef Mollie’s Vegan Mushroom Scallop Recipe

One of our June 2021 Chef of the Month‘s favorite dishes, the Vegan Mushroom Scallop Recipe is also vegan-friendly! Chef Mollie especially loves this dish because of the “bright, powerful components that come together in a delicate harmony”. She enthuses about being able to taste each layer of flavor without any of the flavors overshadowing each other. “It’s a graceful balance of extravagance and subtlety”. Find the recipe below!

vegan mushroom scallop recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 large king oyster mushrooms, caps removed & reserved for other use.
    • Stems sliced into one inch rounds similar to scallops
  • 1 c veg stock
  • 1 in piece of Kombu or 1 tsp dried kelp powder
  • ¼ c champagne or white wine
  • ¼ c yuzu ponzu sauce
  • 1 T white miso
  • 2 seaweed snacks, torn
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed & halved
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 2 Tbs Vegan Butter mixed with ½ Tbs Miso Paste
  • Grapeseed/Neutral Oil

Directions

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to almost a boil, then remove from heat.
  2. While marinade is heating, score both sides of the mushrooms in a crosshatch pattern, making sure to not cut through the mushroom.
  3. Place in a shallow dish, and cover with marinade for 3-6 hours
  4. Remove mushrooms and pat dry. Heat sauté pan over high heat with oil. Sear on each side 1-2 minutes til a golden char begins to form. Add Vegan miso butter and baste for additional 1-2 minutes.
  5. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Served with Yuzu Beurre Blanc, Pea Puree, Charred Corn & Spicy Pickled Carrots

Connect with our June 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @chefmollieg

Website: https://www.chefmolliegllc.com/

Tik Tok: chefmollieg

Chef Mollie’s Mixed Citrus & Garlic Mojo Chicken Recipe

Our June 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Mollie is sharing her delicious mixed citrus & garlic mojo chicken recipe! Take chicken breast to the next level with her mouth-watering marinade. To top off the entire dish, she also recommends serving it with a side of mango salsa, maduros (seared sweet plantains) black beans and Arroz Verde – can someone say yes, please?!

Chef Mollie is sharing her d

Ingredients

  • 2.5 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1.5in cubes
  • 3 Tbsp Grapeseed oil
  • 3 Tbsp garlic, smashed & minced
  • 1/4 cup orange juice + ½ Tbsp zest
  • 1/2 c grapefruit juice + ½ Tbsp zest
  • 1/4c lime juice + 1 tsp zest
  • 1/4c lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp comino molido
  • 1/4c chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano, Mexican preferably
  • Few Tbsp salt

Directions

  1. Whisk all marinade ingredients together. Taste for salt, spice, and acidity.
  2. Save about 1/2c marinade separately, then use the rest to marinate chicken pieces for 1-2 hours.
  3. Heat another Tbsp grapeseed or neutral oil in a pan over medium high heat, add chicken pieces, making sure to not overcrowd the pan (might need to do in batches) and sear on each side for a few minutes until it’s cooked through.
  4. Allow any excess marinade from the pieces to reduce in the pan and coat the chicken further with the mojo, and add the remaining reserved ½ cup mojo to the chicken while cooking.

Connect with our June 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @chefmollieg

Website: https://www.chefmolliegllc.com/

June 2021 Chef of the Month – Mollie Guerra

We’re welcoming the sunny month of June with our talented June 2021 Chef of the Month, Mollie Guerra! Chef Mollie is a South Texas native, originally from Corpus Christi and now resides in Dallas. She’s a personal chef out of Dallas and has her own meal prep business that services the Dallas-Fort Worth area! Recently, she’s been able to expand and now offers corporate & event catering and will also run a seasonal pop-up in DFW called La Chefita! Chef Mollie has always loved cooking and she remembers watching cooking shows on Saturday morning with her mom. She then participated in a Culinary Arts program while in high school, and that is when she truly developed her passion for her craft. Chef Mollie is hardworking and gives it all she’s got every day. She believes that if you’re truly passionate about something, you should give it your all and never look back.
Stay tuned for some incredible recipes & shop her look!

1. Where were you born? 

I’m originally from Corpus Christi, definitely a South Texas native and a beach bum! But I’ve lived in Dallas for almost 20 years, so this is definitely my home now, at least until the next adventure takes me somewhere else!

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

I’ve been a Personal Chef out of Dallas for the past few years, but last year I started my own meal prep business servicing the DFW area. Since then, I’ve gratefully been able to expand and grow the business and we now also offer Corporate & Event Catering, run a seasonal Pop-Up restaurant out on Lake Texoma, along with my favorite – private Chef’s Tables and dinners.

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

As it is for most Chefs, my knives are my babies. Your knife cuts are the basis for almost all dishes, so it’s imperative to have one that is sharp, versatile, and comfortable for you. Not everyone has the same style preference so it’s important to try different blades and see what’s best for you. As they say, using the right tools for the right job makes all the difference. 

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

This is a tough one to answer, because it’s hard to say just one. Cooking is one of the few things that invokes all five of the senses, but they all need to work together – you can hear the sizzle in your pan and know your oil is hot enough; you smell the aromas of herbs and spices that you’ve incorporated into the dish, or can smell a dish burning sometimes before you see it; you can tell what a dough needs just by feeling the texture, even without tasting it. No singular sense should outshine the others, because they all work together in such a beautiful harmony.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Whatever it is you think you can’t do, do it anyway. Try it, go for it. Take that leap of faith. If you don’t know how to do something, learn. Ask questions, watch videos, read recipes. Never lose that hunger or drive for knowledge. Every day I learn something new, and it’s what helps push me forward. Sometimes I have moments, especially after those 14 hour days that go back to back to back, where I want to quit or give up and I just have to remind myself, I get to wake up every morning and do what I love. Not many people get that chance, so if this is something you’re truly passionate about, give it your all and never look back.

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

Aside from your basic knife cuts, one of the most important things is learning how to season your dishes properly and balance flavors. This is a hard one, because something you might think is too salty might be just right for someone else. The same goes for acidity and sweetness, but it’s all about balance. Knowing when a dish isn’t right and being able to accept that and know what can be added/changed to make the dish the best version of what it can be.

7. What does good food mean to you?

When I take a bite of something and start doing the little wiggle dance, you know it’s good. But it isn’t always just about the taste; sometimes you can really see the intent and thought process behind a dish, the technique and skill. There’s nothing against simple, classic dishes, but I’m all about layers and bright flavors that make you question. Good food evokes emotion, joy and passion, which are the same feelings that I put into my dishes when creating them.

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

Aside from comfort, efficiency and pockets, I love when my coats are as bright and exciting as my dishes are. I love Chef Uniforms because they offer a wide variety of colors and styles, which helps me feel like I’m still able to bring a little of my personality and style in the kitchen.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

If you can’t tell by now, I have a hard time just choosing one thing, haha. It changes by the season, by the day. My favorite ingredients are ones that I haven’t worked with, because those are the ones that challenge me the most. By stepping out of my comfort zone it helps inspire me to develop new recipes and try new things. I love learning, and there’s no better way than trying something new.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

One of my favorite cities to dine in is definitely San Francisco. You can be at an intersection and have a Scandinavian restaurant on one corner, and then Persian, Peruvian, and Malaysian restaurants on the others. It’s the epitome of fusion dining and cuisine and allows you to experience new flavors and dishes from cultures that aren’t often times aren’t showcased enough. 

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

I hope I haven’t made it yet, haha! There are so many dishes that I’ve made that were my favorite for a little while, until I started playing with it more or recreating it or trying something new. While I can understand the benefit to having signature dishes, I don’t want to say one single thing is the best dish I’ve ever made, because I don’t want to cap myself at any point. Each time I make a dish I see if there’s a way to make it better than the last. I will definitely be the first one to admit if one of my recipes needs tweaking!

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

Right now, my favorites are always ramen and sushi. Those are two things that I haven’t spent as much time diving into learning how to make for myself, and I’m a sucker for a good bowl of Shoyu or Tonkotsu.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

I really wish I could cook for my grandparents again. They were always such huge supporters of my dreams. I wish I could show them what all I’ve learned, how much I’ve grown, and how much more I have still to come. But I know they’re still here in spirit supporting and motivating me, and I know they would be proud.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I’ve always loved cooking. I can remember growing up and watching cooking shows on Saturday mornings with my Mom, trying to rush and scribble down the recipes before the commercial breaks. I was fortunate enough to participate in a Culinary Arts program while in High School, and that’s where I really developed my passion for cooking and wanting to know why dishes tasted the way they did; why was a dish made a particular way, and what would happen if we did it a different way instead?

Cooking fulfills my need for creativity and learning; it scratches every itch. There’s always a new ingredient, a new recipe to test out. It keeps me sane and is my breath of fresh air. There’s this feeling I get when I walk into an empty kitchen first thing in the morning; it’s this calming sense of tranquility before the beautiful, hectic push of the day. It brings a sense of order and uniformity that helps center the million ideas that are always spazzing around in my head. But most of all, it’s a way for me to share my passion and joy in the way I know best – through feeding others.

Connect with our June 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @chefmollieg

Website: https://www.chefmolliegllc.com/

Chef Gina’s White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup

A hearty soup goes a long way. Our May 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Gina, has shared her famous White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup recipe! Whether you’re staying cozy or just trying to spice up your soup game, this dish is the ideal crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients

  • 1-pound sweet raw Italian pork sausage
  • 1-pound spicy raw Italian pork sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 1½ cups celery hearts, diced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced]
  • 1 bunch rainbow swiss chard, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 8 cups chicken stock (homemade or store bought)

Directions

Step 1: In a large soup pot over medium to medium-high heat, sauté pork sausages in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown, breaking up and rendering fat out. Transfer sausage to a bowl and return pan to stovetop.

Step 2: Over medium heat, add butter, diced carrot, onion, celery, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Sauté until soft, then add garlic and chopped chard. Add browned pork sausage and can of drained beans, stirring gently to combine.

Step 3: Add chicken stock and bring pot to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Let soup sit for at least 30 minutes before serving, garnishing with thyme leaves. As always, soup is better the next day so it’s a great recipe to make ahead of time, too.

Connect with our May 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @malibuseasidechef

Facebook: @malibuseasidechef 

Website: https://www.malibuseasidechef.com/

Chef Gina’s Fall-Inspired Spring Rolls

Our May 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Gina, has shared her delicious fall-inspired spring rolls recipe! This dish is full of savory veggies like carrots, butternut squash and fresh additions like mint and cilantro. Her recipe serves 8 rolls – find it below!

Ingredients

  • 1 pack spring roll wrappers
  • 1 pack edible flowers (sourced here from Gourmet Sweet Botanicals)
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, julienned
  • 1½ cups carrots, julienned
  • 1½ cups butternut squash, boiled until tender and julienned
  • 1 bunch each of fresh basil, cilantro and mint, stems removed

Roll Directions

Step 1: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rice noodles to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain rice noodles and pour cold water over to cool.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, mix carrots, bell peppers and butternut squash.

Step 3: Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip 1 wrapper for a few seconds and lay flat on a wooden board. (Two wrappers can be used if they break easily.) On the center of wrapper, place edible flowers first, then continue with a handful of rice noodles, vegetable and squash mix, and herbs.

Step 4: Fold uncovered sides towards the center of wrapper, then roll gently from one end to the other until sealed snugly. Rolls can be kept whole, cut into pieces like sushi, or cut in half diagonally.

Dipping Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 10-ounce bottle of your preferred sweet chili sauce
  • 1 bunch each fresh basil, cilantro and mint, stems removed.

Dipping Sauce Directions

Blend sauce and herbs in a blender until herbs are in small bits. Serve beside spring rolls.

Connect with our May 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @malibuseasidechef

Facebook: @malibuseasidechef 

Website: https://www.malibuseasidechef.com/

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