You may wonder what "Home-Run dishes" are. Chefs grew up eating from all sorts of food, may them be dishes cooked by their family or simply dishes that were served as a specialty in their hometown, in short, they were "run by the home of the chefs". These dishes helped inspire these chefs into creating what they put on their restaurant's menu today. In this article we will look into a collection of dishes that made a mark to these chefs, and the creative twists they have added to help launch their special dish onto the restaurant menu.
Look at this picture. Who would've thought this could be an everyday salad? It's not, but according to Bjoern Alexander, WHISK's head chef, this is a new revamp of a dish that held sentimental value. Hailed from Germany, Bjoern grew up having the country's version of the potato salad. Traditionally potatoes were boiled and combined with cucumbers and onions and dressed with sour cream and mayonnaise. Chef Bjoern recreated this dish adding a few twists and complexity to the salad. He created an eggless mayonnaise with milk, oil and lime juice. For the cucumber dressing, Bjoern added coriander leaves and jalapenos for a hot-and-chill sensation. The rest is an assembling job - slices of roasted potatoes, lightly pickled onion rings, garlic blossoms, and fine-slices of radish, all artfully arranged on a plate. Presentation aside, this revamped "Potato Salad with Cucumber and Mayonnaise" is a new twist of the traditional potato salad. Note the surprising flavor of garlic blossom sneaking up as each bite takes in a mix of flavours all combining in the mouth.
Mike Boyle, executive chef of Azure Restaurant Slash Bar, comes from Chicago. For him the most comforting food he's had at home were the all-American Beef Stew and Macaroni & Cheese. To create a good beef stew, one must gets down to basics. Chef Boyle uses beef chuck and short rib for the stew, mainly because both cuts have texture that yields over time during the stewing. A large amount of vegetables must be added to the stew. This includes potatoes, carrots, and celery root. The gelatinous bits from the beef and the potato will help thicken the sauce during cooking. The beef stew is served with a slice of butter-rich pastry, not only will it enhances flavor profile of the dish, but it also creates a contrast of texture between the tender chunks of beef, the sweetness of vegetables and the crispness of flaky puff pastry.
Another American classic, Macaroni and Cheese may be common most, but Chef Boyle creates his with a technical twist. Instead of creating a roux, a sauce-thickener made with flour and butter at the beginning of the sauce-making process, Chef Boyle adds cream cheese during the making of the cheese sauce, which also contains Parmesan, Fontina, and White Cheddar cheese. The cream cheese, with its dense, thick texture, will help thicken the cheese sauce. After the macaroni are cooked, the cheese sauce is added, followed by chopped chives and breadcrumbs and the dish is quickly baked to create a crunchy coating on the top, which develops a contrast in texture to the soft creamy macaroni beneath.
Famous for his creative take on desserts, Ryan Zimmer of Cucina brings surprises to the table with his play on textures and flavours. In this summer's new collection of desserts, Chef Zimmer is inspired by his grandmother's baking expertise. Zimmer's grandmother has been a master baker, especially great in making a mean apple pie. For years Zimmer wanted to learn the secrets behind the pie. Now Chef Zimmer creates this dessert, named "Caramel Apple", based on the magnificent pies he's had growing up. Shaped like an apple beignet, this dessert comprises a meringue-coated Caramel apple ice cream sitting on top of freeze-dried pears, oatmeal streusel and vanilla custard. For greater enjoyment, Chef Zimmer sprays ginger oil on top of the dessert as it is served to the guest. The sharp zing of ginger essence, combining with sweet apple and caramel, is truly what apple pie would smell and taste like.
Carmine Esposito, executive chef of Cucina, coms from Naples, Italy, where his family cooks seafood like residents of Naples enjoy off the coast. Chef Esposito presents "Sedanini with Mussels and White Beans", a dish often cooked and served to him in many family meals. White beans are cooked until soft, followed by the addition of mussels. The Sedanini pasta are added after the mussels have opened their shells, absorbing all the juices. While the mussels are fresh and lightly briny, it's the white bean mash at the bottom that tastes the best. With a texture like a chunky mashed potato, the white beans absorbs all the flavorful juices from the mussels.
Italians have strong feelings about food and family, as both have an intertwining relationship to one's upbringing. Many classic dishes are transcended through generations by sharing at the family dinner. To Eugenio Iraci, executive chef at The Mistral, the "Lasagne" is the quintessence of Italy's family-oriented food culture. "When we were little, we started making the pasta dough for Lasagne on Sunday morning, then we made the ragu, which would take 6 to 8 hours," explained Chef Iraci. "The family would all hang out in the kitchen, tasting and nibbling and chatting as we go. It's a favorite family pastime, almost as much as the dinner itself." Chef Iraci revamped his family recipes and put his favorite lasagne onto The Mistral's a la carte menu. He started with replacing pasta with layers of crepes, which makes a lighter dish, followed by stacking layers of ragu made with pork neck, veal cheeks and beef. The crepes absorbs the sauces but are considerably lighter than pasta
Tuscany has been a foodie's paradise. Chef Francesco Pasquini of Bella Vita comes from the Tuscan town of Montevarchi. Based on traditional use of salt cod throughout Tuscan cuisine, Chef Pasquini tweaks on the recipe for a contemporary revamp into the restaurant's "Atlantic Cod Fish Timble with Black Truffle and Tuscan Bruschetta". Chef Pasquini prepares a codfish mash by simmering the fish in milk. The mashed cod is topped with shavings of black truffle and served with toasted Tuscan bread slice on the side. The cod fish is soft and creamy, and the slight briny flavor goes surprisingly well with the earthy black truffle shavings.
Another family dish from Chef Pasquini is the "Peposo del' Impruneta, ancient Tuscan recipe Braised Beef Shank in Chianti red wine, served with Mashed potatoes and Baby Carrots". Taken from an age-old recipe in the Tuscany area, Chef Pasquini makes this stew with large amount of tomatoes and red wine and let the beef shank slowly cook to perfection under a low heat and a long period of time. The gelatinous nature of the beef shank remains moist and tender throughout the stewing, while the tomato wine mixture cooks down into a thick, meaty sauce, which makes this an extra homely dish when served with a fine mashed potato on the side.