Everybody wants to serve local and seasonal, but most of the time it’s just lip service. For Chef Michal Scelfo, he doesn’t do it because it’s trendy, he does it because it just makes sense. We made our way into the lower level of Russell House Tavern, a Harvard Square institution, and into the kitchen with the soft spoken and passionate Scelfo. This was easily the biggest restaurant kitchen we’ve been in so far. Today we’re cooking a melange of vegetables, inlcuding parsnips and fiddleheads, and topped with a perfectly poached egg. It’s a quick dish but one that truly encapsulates what this chef is all about; a focused, clean dish that highlights the beauty of the natural favors of the ingredients. Trust me when I say that’s easier said than done. Scelfo jumps back and forth between his mise en place and the saute station, grabbing a handful of ingredients here, and putting the parsnip puree on the heat there, he’s fluid with his movements and completely focused. He speaks about how fortunate he is to finally land in a restaurant where the restaurant’s style totally matches his own and can basically make whatever he wants. He cooks, not because he just “fell into it” like so many other chefs, but it’s a labor of love and you can see it in his face as he hustles to get the dish done, he’s excited to share the dish with us, and naturally, we’re excited to try it.
Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page
A couple of weeks ago we were invited into the Bristol Lounge at the Four Season’s Hotel to celebrate burger month, an event they chose to mark by creating different daily burgers inspired by various cities. We sat at a beautiful table overlooking the park and we sipped cocktails while we dined on a Parisian take on their famous burger and truffle fries (complete with Goat Cheese, Truffles and topped off with a fried egg). While dining, we were informed of two contests that they were running throughout the month. The first, a complimentary steak dinner for two and a night’s stay in one of the hotel’s luxury suites for the person who can eat all 31 of the burgers. (Richard was up for the challenge, Katie was a little more hesitant..) The second contest, and something that was a little more our speed; create and tweet your own burger inspired by a city not already on their list. The winner would get his/her burger featured on their menu along with an invitation to come in and try it. We immediately got to work clogging their twitter feed with ideas and they selected one of them: The Jamaican Burger: Jerk Chicken Burger with Mango Salsa and Plantain Chips! The burger will be featured on May 29th. The only problem? We’re not around that day to try it, but we’d like to send two lucky readers in our place to check it out! Are ya in??
If you’d like to see yourself at the Four Seasons, eating one of their famous burgers, you can enter simply by leaving us a comment on what fun city inspired burger you’d create and we’ll randomly select one lucky winner (and their guest) to go to the Bristol Lounge on the 29th and enjoy the Jamaican Burger! If you’d like to increase your odds of winning, Tweet “I want the @TheSkinnyBeet #Burger @FSBoston!”. We’ll be randomly picking a reader this Friday, so act quickly!
Completely in charge and confident, Chef Rebecca Newell is a leader and the force behind the global comfort food featured at The Beehive in the South End. We caught up with Rebecca on a recent Friday morning, her feet energetically shuffling across the wide kitchen space as we chatted about our favorite restaurants, her culinary background and the story behind The Beehive. She is beyond excited and passionate about food, we keep pace with her, following her back and forth from station to station while her devoted sous chefs prep for the night ahead. We’re making Moroccan Couscous with chicken and lamb and it’s a treat watching this Chopped-winning chef get to work. After buzzing (pun intended?) through a quick vegetable prep including summer squash, haricot verts and curry-roasted cauliflower, she pulls out a special vegetable stock with cabbage and saffron to give everything an extra boost. It’s these types of steps that set her apart; never missing an opportunity to add flavor, Chef Rebecca is able to adapt on the fly, but seemingly has a plan the entire time.
Watching Chef Erwin Ramos move through the kitchen is like watching a conductor lead an orchestra. He weaves from station to station, starting the Ranchera Sauce for the Chicken Enchiladas we’re about to make, while carefully attending to giant pots of simmering Black Beans, Poached Chicken, and Tomato-Infused Rice. We chat about his background and food philosophies as we roast tomatoes in the Salamander, char onions and garlic, and toast a variety of chiles, spices and avocado leaf. For Chef Ramos, it’s all about featuring the simplicity and natural beauty of the ingredients at-hand. Having grown up in the Philippines, Chef Ramos took a trip to Mexico as teenager that made him fall in love with the flavors of Mexico, and that passion is still evident today. He wants Ole to be a model of consistency, he believes each diner should have a near identical experience from one visit to the next and that all starts in the kitchen.