…and Trey makes three

Euphoria, the Greenville, SC food, wine, and music festival is coming up in a week and a half (September 21-24).  And today we have come to an end of our chef chats.

This week Chef Trey Bell is under the culinary microscope.  Chef Trey is a Columbia SC native who has spent time in the kitchen of Wylie Dufresne.  Chef Dufresne is famous for spearheading the molecular gastronomy phenomena.  Currently, Chef Bell can be found in his Greensboro eatery LaRue Elm paying homage to Southern cuisine.  In August, he opened RueBar which uses unique, artisanal components.

What follows are my questions and his verbatim answers.

1.) For your tomato sandwich: Duke’s, Hellmann’s or homemade?  What kind of bread?  Dukes, Cheapest white bread I can buy – Wonder bread2.) What is your “Can’t wait to get your hands on” seasonal ingredient, and what’s your favorite treatment?  Chanterelles; Confit & jar them and serve on toast

3.) What is your guilty pleasure?  Mcrib, big mac, large diet coke and a large French fry

4.) What do you make when you get home from La Rue and it’s late, and you’re hungry?  Shin black ramen noodles with a raw egg cracked in

5.) What five tools can you not live without?  Tourne knife, circulator, combi-oven, deep fryer and food dehydrator6.) What five ingredients can you not cook without?  Salt, butter, garlic, shallots, olive oil

7.) What is one dish that a novice cook should learn for entertaining that’s easy, impressive, and inexpensive?  (Any recipe you care to share will be highly appreciated)

Frittata:                                                                                                                                          Chanterelles, San Marzano tomatoes, poke greens, eggs & cream and gruyere

8.) What in the culinary world angers or disappoints you?  Terms like mixology and farm-to-table … because they’re so misrepresented9.) What in the culinary world pleases you and gives you hope for the future?  Influx of small producers that we’re seeing more and more of… a lot of farmers are more interested in old, heirloom varietals…

10.) What’s your birthday dinner?  Oysters & bourbon on the coast in SC (Feb birthday so oysters are still so good at this time) – my SC birthday dinner

11.) What do you take on a picnic?  Epoisse, Spanish red wine (tempranillo or rioja), crusty bread

12.)  What food trend or ingredient are you totally and completely over?  Kale13.) What is the best way for passionate but not affluent people to discover fine dining?  Pour over cookbooks in a book store – new stuff by Phaedon (new Nordic cuisine, Peruvian cuisine)

14.) You worked with Wylie Dufresne, who by anybody’s yardstick is an imaginative, innovative chef.  What’s the most ambitious, mad scientist idea you’ve had, have you tried it, and if so how did it work out?  We made a layered terrine out of pigs’ ears… sous vide them and packed into terrine mold… sliced cross cut and fried one side and served with toast points/crostini… it was absolutely ridiculous! Served at LaRue Elm upon opening… we may even have a photo!15.) What is one thing about you that nobody would ever guess?  I rebuild typewriters and old brass blade fans… I know how to restore them and Brittany Spears TOXIC is a top 10 favorite song and I’ve seen the movie CLUELESS more than any other movie

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have.  Despite the different personalities, philosophies, and even geographic locations, these chefs, and almost all chefs have two necessary traits in common.

Creativity and generosity.Thanks for your time.

Three to get ready

This is week three of our conversation with Chef Dominique Crenn, 2016’s world best female chef and participant in this year’s Euphoria food and wine festival in Greenville SC, on the weekend of September 21-24.  Along with other chefs, including La Farm’s Master Baker Lionel Vatinet, Chef Dominique’s innovative and imaginative cuisine will be showcased Saturday evening at the Seeing Stars dinner.

Iron Chef America is a competition series based on the hit Japanese show.  It pits a stable of chefs; dubbed “Iron Chefs”, against chef-challengers.  The two go head to head in Kitchen Stadium.  Using a mystery theme ingredient, a culinary battle ensues during which each chef creates a minimum of five dishes.New Iron Chefs were anointed in The Next Iron Chef, a single elimination series with ten of America’s premiere chefs competing for the title.  In 2009, Chef Dominique competed in season two, which eventually saw Jose Garces winning the title.

In a case of sweet, sweet karma, in 2010 she competed on Iron Chef America where she trounced Chef Michael Symon in battle yogurt.

Chef Michael Symon.  He’s not just unhappy about that ugly jacket he’s wearing…

Chef Crenn and I recently had a phone interview.  This is the third and final part of that conversation.

Iron Chef; where by the way you were robbed, Oh, you are sweet, but I didn’t want to.  Oh Really?  Looking back, I am not someone who would be happy doing that.How did you keep coming up with such imaginative and original dishes during the competition?  You know, I’d just look at the ingredient and try to understand what the ingredient is about.  Kind of like, go back, deep into your memories, and do things that perhaps, you have eaten before; maybe what you mother used to cook, and you’re just being creative, you know?  And it’s quite interesting, because you compete with others that don’t have the same background that you have or come from the same country.  Obviously, this is not France, and that was my point of reference.  Then you are judged by those that are not French at all, so I try to connect with them.  It was a lot of fun–it was a lot of fun.Things that you guys came up with, week after week, some of them should have been classics.  You wonder why someone hadn’t come up with that fifty years ago.  One time they gave me a sea cucumber to cook.  But they didn’t give me fresh, they gave me frozen sea cucumber, and I’m like, “Really?  Are you serious?”  So, anyway.

I have one more question for you, and I won’t steal any more of your time.  What is one thing about you, that no one would ever guess?  I used to be a little ballerina.  Yeah, I was not disciplined enough, I guess.  And, I was so bored.  Yeah.Chef, thank you so very much for taking time for this.

Chef Dominique Crenn may not have had the discipline for ballet, but she had enough to earn a baccalaureate in economics and a bachelor’s degree in international business from the Academy of International Commerce of Paris, then move to San Francisco and start her education all over in some of the best restaurants and under the tutelage of its best chefs.  And only nine years later she was so well regarded she moved to Indonesia as the area’s first female executive chef.

I’ll bet, on that journey, she was never bored.Next week is the last pre-Euphoria chef chat.  Chef Trey Bell, of Greensboro’s LaRue Elm, will be under the microscope.Thanks for your time.

Profile, the second, part deux

*This column will be running on Wednesday, August 30, on the food page of The Henderson Daily Dispatch.

Last week I shared the first portion of my telephone interview with Chef Dominique Crenn in advance of her participation at the Euphoria Festival in Greenville SC, on the weekend of September 21st.   She’s chef/owner of Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn in San Francisco.  Chef Dominique was also named world’s best female chef in 2016.

Here is the second part of that conversation.

What are some items that you can’t cook without? A good spoon to test.  What…, salt, great olive oil…French olive oil?  From Spain; great organic olive oil.  I know, I love the French, but the Spanish is just amazing.  I’ve spent a lot of time in Spain. A lot of great cheese…French cheese.

What is your favorite cheese?  You know I love comte cheese, and blue cheese, Roquefort or Fourme d’Ambert.

So, you know, I need to have a scale in the kitchen too.

What is one dish that a novice should learn that is inexpensive, but which also can be used for entertaining?  They need to learn how to make the best French omelet. What in the culinary world angers or disappoints you?  When people don’t think before cooking.  They are not conscious and thoughtful about what they are buying.  In a restaurant also, you know?  Restaurants have a responsibility not only to cook, but to the farmers and the community that we are living in.  I think it’s important for us to be involved in any way that we can with the community that surrounds us.  And we are not growing the food, the farmers are growing the food.  Just get involved—get involved with your rancher, get involved with your fishmonger, get involved with the person that is making cheese—get involved with your community.  And when they don’t do it, that really angers me.

So, what in the food world makes you happy and gives you hope for the future?  Children give me hope.  Food is the core of the society.  If there is no food, no understanding of what food is, then there is no society.How do you deal with the stuff that you have to put up with as a female chef?  My approach is to be smarter than they are, without putting them down.  I deal with it with in the most intellectual and positive way I can.  If I’m dealing with someone who’s acting with much annoyance, I just don’t answer them.

What do you pack for a picnic?  A good bottle of wine; rose wine.  A beautiful French baguette.  Different types of cheeses, some pickled vegetables, maybe some jam, some type of seafood, chacouterie, a lot of beautiful fruit from the market.  But I think a baguette with butter and cheese, and cornichon is good enough for me.What’s the best way for passionate, but not affluent people to enjoy fine dining?  When you want to appreciate something, you have to go with an open mind, let go of your surroundings and surrender yourself to what it is.  I know it can be kind of expensive, but I created another spot, Petit Crenn where people can come and enjoy the passion and the love that we create.  And I’m opening, in the fall, Bar Crenn, which is going to be ala carte, also, adjacent to Atelier.  I’m going to be offering ala carte, but also be offering maybe a couple of tasting menus which will be less expensive than Atelier Crenn.  I want to welcome everyone.

Next week we will conclude our conversation with Chef Crenn.  She told me a couple things that surprised me, and might give you a surprise, as well.Thanks for your time.

Chefs in Profile

On the weekend of September 21st through the 24th, there will be a food festival in Greenville, SC.  It’s the 12th annual Euphoria celebration.  The Kid and I will attend.

To get us all in the mood, I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview and get to know some very talented chefs who will be cooking at Euphoria.

First up is Chef Scott Crawford of Raleigh.

Chef Scott Crawford

In addition to five years as executive chef at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Chef Scott ran the kitchen at the groundbreaking Standard Foods and Grocery.  Last year in the Oakwood neighborhood in Raleigh, he introduced Crawford and Son, a love letter to sustainable Southern cuisine.

A champion of folks working hospitality, he founded the Raleigh chapter of Ben’s Friends, a support group for people in the industry with substance abuse and addiction issues.

All three chefs got a very similar set of 15 questions.  I believe the compare/contrast helps us to get to know and understand them a bit better.

What follows is Chef’s questions and answers; verbatim.1.) For your tomato sandwich: Duke’s, Hellmann’s or homemade? What kind of bread? DUKES! Fresh milk bread…still warm.

2.) What is your “Can’t wait to get your hands on” seasonal ingredient, and what’s your favorite treatment? Apples! I love how many different apples are grown in North Carolina. Some of my favorite treatments that happen every year: Bacon-Apple Marmalade, Vanilla Apple Pickles, Sherry-Apple Date Butter, Green Apple Granita

3.) What is your guilty pleasure? Cookie Butter!

4.) What do you make when you get home from the Crawford & Son and it’s late, and you’re hungry? I make huge, fresh vegetable salads with olive oil, and lots of vinegar and crunchy salt.

Every chef has the tools they can’t live without.  This is Julia Child’s famous peg boards with some of her “can’t-live-withouts”.

5.) What five tools can you not live without? Japanese Utility Knife, Mini Offset Spatula, Sharpie, Peeler, Pepper Mill. In a professional kitchen, these are the must haves.

6.) What five ingredients can you not cook without? Salt, Pepper, Vinegar, Olive Oil, Sugar. I can make anything taste good with these ingredients.

7.) What is one dish that a novice cook should learn for entertaining that’s easy, impressive, and inexpensive? (Any recipe you care to share will be highly appreciated) Soup! No one makes good soup anymore.

Just eat around the stones…

8.) What in the culinary world angers or disappoints you? As an industry, we still haven’t figured out how to truly take care of our own. That upsets me. I don’t have all the answers yet but I won’t rest until we can do better.

9.) What in the culinary world pleases you and gives you hope for the future? The culinary world welcomes all types and gives us an outlet for creative energy. It also offers an intensity not found in other creative jobs. It’s addictive.

10.) What’s your birthday dinner? Anything…as long as it’s with my family. 😊

11.) What do you take on a picnic? We love to go hiking and find a relaxing spot to sit and eat pastries from a local bakery called Boulted Bread.

Big fan of Boulted as well.  And yes, they grind their own, right in the bakery.

12.) What food trend or ingredient are you totally and completely over? Liquid Nitrogen.

13.) What is the best way for passionate but not affluent people to enjoy fine dining?   Tour their favorite food city lunching and brunching. Lower price point but equal excitement.

A cornu-freaking-copia every single visit.

14.) Favorite local farmers market and vendor? Ronnie Moore’s here at Raleigh Farmers Market.

15.) What is one thing about you that nobody would ever guess? At one point in my life, I lived in my car. 😳Thanks for your time.