Culinary Point of View

August 8, 2014

Culinary Point of View is an interview series with chefs from all walks of life. Check back each month for a new point of view from those who love and live food.

 Chef Syrena Johnson
 

Journey of an Aspiring New Orleans Chef

A New Orleans native, Syrena Johnson’s love for cooking started at home but it wasn’t until she enrolled in Liberty’s Kitchen—a non-profit cooking school designed to help disadvantaged youth throughout New Orleans—that she realized she could turn it into a career. Johnson then entered the first-ever scholarship competition held by the John Besh Foundation’s Chefs Move! and won a scholarship to the International Culinary Center in New York. After graduating and returning to her hometown, she worked in a handful of upscale restaurants, learning from top chefs like Susan Spicer and Michael Gulotta. Here, 24-year-old Johnson shares her whirlwind journey and the kind of chef she aspires to be.

 Jared Rouben
 

Brewmaster Brings Produce to Pint

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Jared Rouben has worked both kitchen and service positions in Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago, Ill. A passion for beer brought him to brewing school, then to Rock Bottom Brewery, and finally to Goose Island’s Clybourn brewpub, where he made his mark creating beers with more than 50 chefs and farmers from nearby Green City Market. Now, Rouben’s new project, Moody Tongue Brewing Co., will emphasize what he calls “culinary brewing.” Moody Tongue employs classical cooking methodologies and techniques to incorporate ingredients into beer aside from malt, yeast, hops, and water.

 Jose Andres
 

Improving the Food System One Stove at a Time

Named “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation in 2011 and one of Time magazine’s world’s 100 most influential people in 2012, Chef Jose Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, passionate advocate for food and hunger issues, author, television personality, and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. He owns restaurants in Washington, D.C., Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Miami, and Puerto Rico. And if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, after traveling to post-earthquake Haiti, he launched World Central Kitchen, which aims to feed and empower vulnerable people in humanitarian crises around the world. Here, Chef Andrés talks about the World Central Kitchen and the responsibility he feels as a chef to help feed the world.

 Michael Laiskonis and Florian Pinel
 

Unusual Pairings Drive the Next Byte

After winning Jeopardy three years ago, IBM’s Watson decided to take its supercomputing skills into the kitchen. Teaming up with chefs from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), the Watson team launched the Cognitive Cooking project with lofty goal of seeing if a computer can help the most ingenious chefs in the world be even more creative. Drawing on a database of tens of thousands of recipes and ingredient combinations, and input from the chefs, Watson produces a list of ingredients for a dish that the regular foodie has probably never thought of. Florian Pinel, Senior Software Engineer at IBM Watson Group, and Chef Michael Laiskonis, Creative Director at ICE, share their experiences developing and interacting with Watson for the Cognitive Cooking project.

Chef Laiskonis recipe developed using IBM Watson's cognitive computing: Ecuadorian Strawberry Dessert

 Senior Culinary Nutritionist Kristy Del Coro
 

Kristy Del Coro: Good food, guilt free

After studying history in college, Kristy Del Coro’s passion for food and nutrition led her to pursue her M.S. in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. Armed with her Registered Dietician credential, she still longed to enhance her culinary skills. So, while working as a clinical dietician at a cancer center she enrolled in night classes to acquire her Culinary Arts degree. Now, as the Senior Culinary Nutritionist at Michelin-starred Rouge Tomate in New York City, she has the ability to combine her unique skillset to work hand-in-hand with the chefs to ensure the dishes are just as healthy as they are delicious.

Recipe: Roasted Broccoli & Marinated Potato Salad

 Richie Farina
 

Art + Science = Moto's Perfect Marriage

In 2008, Chef Richie Farina showed up at the back door of Moto, resumé in hand, vying to work in the Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant. In January he was named Executive Chef. His goal since day one? To elevate the idea of molecular gastronomy by marrying traditional cooking techniques with the latest in scientific technology to showcase food in a way that harkens back to where it originated from. He uses his passion for science and art to reinforce the number one driver behind his dishes—the taste.

Recipe: Strawberries & Cream

 Brad Nelson
 

Marriott’s Corporate Chef Wants You to Follow the Food

Chef Brad Nelson’s 36 years of cooking in the hospitality industry have led him to become Vice President, Culinary and Global Corporate Chef at Marriott International. He leads a culinary team that focuses on building travel memories through food and beverage experiences. In addition, his passion for sustainability inspired him to create a seafood program that enables guests to know where their food comes from.

Recipe: Brad's Quick Pickle

 Square Meals Chef Alison Mountford  

Chef Alison Mountford: Bringing the Restaurant Home

Chef Alison Mountford started her culinary career as a personal chef, but she soon realized she wanted to be able to offer her restaurant-quality meals to bigger audience. And so San Francisco-based Square Meals was started in with the goal of elevating take-away food from greasy containers and unhealthy calorie splurges to wholesome meals and fresh, tasty dishes you can feel good about eating.

Recipe: Alison's Turkey Meatloaf

Chef Gale Gand

 

Chef Gale Gand’s Sweet Success

Growing up with artists as parents, it was easy for Gale Gand to find herself studying metalsmithing in college. However, she found her true calling while waitressing at a local restaurant. From there, her entrepreneurial spirit and artistic nature lead her to become a nationally acclaimed pastry chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, television personality, and James Beard Award winner.

Recipe: Gale's Butter Ball Cookies

Georgia Pelligrini

 

Chef Georgia Pellegrini: A Girl Hunter's Guide to Conscious Eating

Chef Georgia Pellegrini’s passion for good, simple food began at an early age while fishing for trout in upstate New York. Now this chef, blogger, author and guide is shering groups of women through what maybe their first experience with hunting, cleaning, and cooking their own food.

Her purpose: to know and understand where her food was coming from—whether it is from field or stream. 

Recipe: Whiskey Glazed Wild Turkey Breast

     

Chef Michael McGreal

 

Chef Michael McGreal: Drill Sergeant & Veggie Ambassador

While pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine, Michael McGreal got a job in campus foodservice to pay the bills. Little did he know, that job would lead him to his true calling—culinary.

Much like a drill sergeant to the enlisted, McGreal hammers his students with skills they will need in the restaurant world.

Recipe: Roasted Beet and Mixed Berry Sorbet

     

Chef Andrew Hunter

   

Chef Andrew Hunter: Bringing flavor to the masses

As an R&D chef, Andrew Hunter thrives on the challenge of translating high-end culinary dishes and concepts into affordable food for the masses. His mantra: “Flavor doesn’t have to be expensive.” Relying on smart compromises that don’t sacrifice the integrity of the food, he works to successfully bridge culinary and sensory sensibility with the manufacturing or production realities. And to think...it all started scrambling eggs for his parents.

Recipe: Santa Maria Tri-tip Roast

     

Chef Jacques Gautier

   

Chef Gautier made it hot before it was cool

Chef Jacques Gautier was delving into sustainable agriculture, local sourcing, mixing eclectic flavors, and community food education before they were cool.

Palo Santo is in its seventh year of operation, and Fort Reno—his new barbeque joint down the street—is in its second year, giving Chef Gautier a solid foothold in Brooklyn’s thriving dining scene.

Recipe: Orange Almond Cake

     
     

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