Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Kuniko Yago

Hometown: Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan

Profession: Executive Chef, upcoming David Myers restaurant, Los Angeles, CA

Culinary Education: Self-taught

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Nabemono in any style, a family-style hot pot dish in Japan

Kuniko is living the American Dream, and she came to food in a roundabout way. Unhappy working in finance in her native Japan, Kuniko picked up and moved to Los Angeles, getting a job as a server at a noodle house in Los Angeles. Here, she met Chef David Myers of the Michelin starred Sona, who, moved by Kuniko’s passion and zeal, suggested she test her culinary aspirations in his kitchen. Not only did she rise to the challenge -- an un-trained cook in one of the city’s most famed kitchens -- she blossomed. Five years later, she is Myers’ protégé and most recently served as Executive Chef of his popular Los Angeles restaurant, Comme Ça. She will be opening his upcoming Los Angeles restaurant as Executive Chef in December 2012. In 2010, Kuniko was named’s Rising Star.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Tina Bourbeau

Hometown: New York, NY

Profession :Executive Chef/ Senior Director of Research and Development, FreshDirect

Culinary Education: Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (I.C.E.)

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Celeriac ravioli, Roasted Peconic Bay scallops

Tina is a complex chef and individual, who has worked directly with such great chefs as Nobu Matsuhisa, Masaharu Morimoto, Toshi Tomita and Claude Troisgros. She served as Omikase Chef at Nobu in New York before moving over to Nobu Next Door, where she was Head Kitchen Chef and earned three stars from The New York Times. Tina then helped open Cello with Executive Chef Laurent Tourondel, where they also received three stars from The New York Times. Tina moved on three years later to lead the kitchen at Nicole’s. Most recently, Tina serves as Executive Chef and Senior Director of Research and Development for FreshDirect, an online grocer delivering fine foods throughout New York City. Posted on

Monday, October 29, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Brook Williamson

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Profession: Co-Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Hudson House (Redondo Beach, CA) and The Tripel (Playa del Rey, CA)

Culinary Education: No formal culinary school; learned in the kitchen

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Crispy duck confit with wild mushroom bread pudding and caramelized brussel sprouts

Brooke is a self-taught chef who started her culinary career at age 15 as a teacher’s assistant at the Epicurean Institute of Los Angeles. At age 18, she started working as a pastry assistant at Fenix at the Argyle Hotel, and was soon noticed by Chef Ken Frank, who invited her to work in the savory kitchen. Brooke moved onto the acclaimed restaurant Michael’s in Santa Monica, where she became Sous Chef within a year. After a brief internship at the celebrated restaurant Daniel in New York, Brooke returned to Los Angeles, where she was appointed Executive Chef at Boxer and later Zax. During her tenure at Zax, she was heralded by The Los Angeles Times as a “culinary wunderkind,” and was also the youngest chef to ever cook at the James Beard House. Brooke left Zax to open Amuse Café and Beechwood with husband Nick Roberts, where she earned the title “Rising Star Chef” by In 2009, they opened American gastropub Hudson House, and most recently The Tripel. When she’s not calling the shots at her restaurants, she can be found spending time with her family, running, hiking, traveling, or wandering around the farmer’s market.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Tyler Wiard

Hometown: Denver, CO

Profession: Executive Chef and Culinary Director, Elway’s Restaurant Group, Denver, CO

Culinary Education: Hands-on restaurant experience

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Colorado Lamb albondigas Soup

Tyler is the super hyper and energetic Culinary Director for all four of John Elway’s restaurants. He’s been an Executive Chef at four white tablecloth restaurants and has cooked at the James Beard House more times than he can remember. He’s also worked with Michael Mina and Michel Richard. In 2007, he was voted “Top Chef Denver” by 5280 Magazine, and in 2008 was the National Winner of the 19th Annual Taste of Elegance competition. Tyler goes big or doesn’t go at all, and has used that quality to work up the ranks and control some of the best restaurants in Colorado.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Bart Vandaele

Hometown: Roeselare, Belgium

Profession: Executive Chef and Owner, Belga Café and B Too, Washington, DC

Culinary Education: Culinary Institute for Restaurant & Hotel Management, Bruges, Belgium

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe Chef’s Dinner: Belgian fries, topped with braised veal cheeks, truffle, foie gras, and served with Belgian mayonnaise

Bart eats, breathes, and sleeps restaurants and food. With a rambunctious personality and flare for strong opinions, Bart loves to share his passions for Belgian cuisine, Belgian beer, and Belgian culture. He is the Executive Chef and Owner of Belga Café, a restaurant in Washington, DC specializing in Belgian food and beer, and the upcoming B Too. Bart began culinary school at age 12, externing at Michelin-starred Au Vigneron, and moving on to work at renowned Belgian restaurants including Piet Huysentruyt and Restaurant Scholteshof, which earned two Michelin stars during his tenure as Sous Chef. Bart moved to DC in 1997 to serve as Executive Chef to the Ambassador to the European Union, followed by the Dutch Embassy. In 2006, Bart won's “Rising Star Chef” award, and in 2007 he prepared the Belgian Beer Lover’s Degustation at the James Beard House. He was also knighted in the order of Leopold II in 2009. Bart’s cooking is a combination of rustic and refined, playful yet soulful.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life After Top Chef Episode 4 Previews

We've been getting mixed reactions to this show on our Facebook page. Are you watching? We are - and find it very interesting. We think it's explained a lot about Spike, for instance.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Joshua Valentine

Hometown: Del City, OK

Culinary Education: A.O.S. Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu, Minneapolis

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Joshua discovered his passion for food from reading cookbooks in high school. His culinary career began in a Mexican restaurant at age 19, where he worked various positions to garner a firm understanding of the inner workings of the restaurant industry. After realizing his passion for the culinary arts, Joshua attended culinary school and went on to gain experience at a variety of restaurants, including Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis and Local in Dallas. Joshua continued his culinary career in Dallas where he joined Stephan Pyles and Samar by Stephan Pyles as Line Cook and Sous Chef. His talents led him back to Oklahoma where he became the Chef de Cuisine at The Coach House restaurant and, most recently, General Manager and Executive Chef at Divine Swine. He recently relocated to Dallas with his wife and three daughters, where he is working at FT 33.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Meet the Chefs - John Tesar

Hometown: New York, NY

Profession: Chef and Restaurateur, Spoon Bar & Kitchen, Dallas, TX

Culinary Education: La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, Paris

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Squid ink spaghetti, razor clams, baby squid, uni, black garlic, and preserved lemon

Known for his stylish, modern American cuisine prepared with classic European techniques, John has garnered much acclaim throughout his 20-plus years in the restaurant industry. He started his culinary career at Club Pierre in Westhampton, followed by stints at 13 Barrow Street, 44 & Hell’s Kitchen, Vine and The Supper Club in New York, where he cooked alongside Anthony Bourdain. He then moved to Las Vegas to work with Chef Rick Moonen at RM Seafood. In 2007, John moved to Dallas, where as Executive Chef of The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, he received five stars from both Modern Luxury and Dallas Morning News and was a James Beard semifinalist for “Best Chef Southwest.” During his tenure at The Cedars Social, Dallas Morning News voted it “Best New Restaurant.” John, who was proudly named the “Most Hated Chef in Dallas” by D Magazine in 2011, is currently gearing up for the opening of Spoon Bar & Kitchen, a seafood-focused fine dining restaurant set to open in Fall 2012.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Sheldon Simeon

Hometown: Hilo, HI

Profession: Executive Chef, Star Noodle, Lahaina, Hawaii

Culinary Education: Culinary Institute of the Pacific and Maui Culinary Academy

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Pork with winter squash

Sheldon talks the Hawaiian talk and loves to cook with local island ingredients, but is confident when competing against Mainland chefs. The Executive Chef of Star Noodle in Lahaina, Sheldon is a two-time James Beard semifinalist -- for “Rising Star” and “Best New Restaurant,” both in 2011. Also in 2011, Maui Nokaoi Magazine named him “Chef of the Year.” Food & Wine Magazine named Sheldon “Best New Chef People’s Choice” nominee in 2012. He learned his basic culinary skills at Disneyworld, where he also met his wife, but his competitive nature has ensured his continued success that has landed him all of these accolades.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Jorel Pierce

Hometown: Denver, CO

Profession: Chef de Cuisine, Euclid Hall, Denver, CO

Culinary Education: Johnson & Wales, Denver, CO

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Honey, pale ale, rosemary glazed vegetables

Jorel was raised hunting game animals like bear and antelope --- his mom would whip up a mean lemongrass antelope -- so he took from those cues and makes very unique food too. His pad thai pig ear dish has even received national acclaim. Named “Best Rising Star Chef” in 2011 by Denver Westword, Jorel worked at highly-acclaimed, James Beard finalist Jen Jasinski’s Rioja, before partnering up with Jasinski to open Euclid Hall. Jorel now mans the kitchen at Euclid Hall, where he can explore his creative style of cooking. He’s also a talented butcher, and can take down an entire antelope in less than 20 minutes.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Carla Pellegrino

Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Profession: Executive Chef and Owner, Bacio (Las Vegas, NV) and Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina (Henderson, NV)

Culinary Education: French Culinary Institute, NY

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Short ribs braised in barolo wine, served with celery root puree and caramelized shallots

Carla is a Brazilian-born, Italian-raised chef that is a household name in Las Vegas. She is currently Executive Chef and Owner of two Vegas staples -- Bacio, at the Tropicana Hotel, and Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina, in Henderson, Nevada. When Carla first came to America, she attended culinary school and then, with Frank Pellegrino, Jr., opened Baldoria Restaurant in New York City. In 2006, a dream became a reality when Carla moved to Las Vegas to open and run Rao’s Las Vegas. She’s cooked at the James Beard House five times, and in 2009 was named VIP member of the James Beard Foundation and a Women in Food Honoree. She is currently working on her first cookbook.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Jeffrey Jew

Hometown: Washington, DC

Profession: Personal Chef

Culinary Education: A.O.S Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute of America; B.S. Hospitality and Tourism Management, Virginia Tech

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Ricotta panna cotta with brioche crumble, peaches, basil and dark chocolate ice cream

Jeffrey was an Army brat, who was introduced to cooking by his father and grandfather early in life. He graduated first in his class at the Culinary Institute of America, and has worked as the Culinary Director of Abbey Road Overseas Program in Florence, Italy, Head Chef to the Embassy of Italy, trained under Chef Angela Hartnett at the Connaught Hotel in London, and worked as Chef de Cuisine at Marvin and Blackbyrd Restaurants in Washington, DC. He is now a personal chef, where he has the opportunity to use the influences from his travels to incorporate Asian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Italian, French, and Spanish ingredients to his dishes.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Daniel O'Brien

Hometown: Clarkson, NY

Profession: Chef and Owner, Seasonal Pantry, Washington, DC

Culinary Education: Culinary Arts & Service Management (BPS), Paul Smith’s College

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Chocolate chestnut soup

Daniel is a quirky and hugely creative chef who opened Seasonal Pantry, a market and supper club in Washington, DC, two years ago. Here, he gets to do what he wants, and even created a Wu-Tang Clan-inspired menu for one supper club dinner. Seasonal Pantry has been awarded the coveted Washington Post Editor’s Pick, and was also named one of “10 Best New Restaurants” in the Washingtonian. After a three month internship at Le Laurier Hotel in France, Daniel went on to serve as Executive Chef at Mill Creek Golf Club in New York, Sous Chef at Equinox and Executive Sous Chef at Bibiana Osteria, both in DC. Born and raised in rural New York where he worked in the family garden, most of Daniel’s cooking is country rustic. The five ingredients he keeps on hand at all times is capers, fleur de sel, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and duck fat.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Danyele McPherson

Hometown: Waynesville, NC

Profession: Sous Chef, The Grape Restaurant, Dallas, TX

Culinary Education: B.A., Anthropology, UNC – Chapel Hill; attended Culinary Institute of America and left for an internship

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Chicken fried veal sweetbreads with truffled stone-ground grits, pomegranate gastrique, pickled mustard seeds, and petit greens

Danyele serves as Sous Chef at one of the oldest, most well-respected restaurants in Dallas, The Grape, under Brian C. Luscher. here, Danyele and Luscher focus on bistro fare with a strong specialization in charcuterie. While she may be a relative newbie, Danyele went from intern to Sous Chef in just two years under mentor Stephan Pyles at his namesake restaurant, outlasting four executive chefs and leading the culinary force behind Fuego, a 10-course tasting menu that uses scientific techniques applied to cooking. She has also traveled with Pyles to multiple Food & Wine festivals, executing their dishes. Very humble about her food and always trying to learn more, Danyele has a raw talent that enables her the opportunity to shine. Her current menus reflect her interest of fresh, seasonal, local fare, and highlight her interest in making simple flavors and classic dishes new and exciting.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Life After Top Chef Episode 2 Previews

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Kristen Kish

Hometown: Kentwood, MI

Profession: Chef de Cuisine, Stir – BL Gruppo, Boston, MA

Culinary Education: A.A., Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu, Chicago

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Financier

Kristen currently works as Chef de Cuisine at Stir, a Barbara Lynch entity that serves as the company’s epicenter of education. Stir hosts demonstration dinners seven nights a week featuring a revolving menu that showcases different styles of cooking, cuisines and regions. Previously, Kristen worked as Chef de Partie for Michelin starred Chef Guy Martin at his Boston restaurant, Sensing. Kristen’s personal style is modern and contemporary French cuisine with Italian influences. Her favorite thing to cook is a French macaron.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Eliza Gavin

Hometown: Telluride, CO

Profession: Chef and Owner, 221 South Oak Bistro, Telluride, CO

Culinary Education: Diplome de Culinaire, Le Cordon Bleu, Paris 

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Flatiron steak with Bleu d’Auvergne mushroom reduction

Eliza trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but loves cooking in “little ol’ Telluride” where she can be the boss. This highly competitive chef hates it when people say they put love into their food and says, “it’s not love -- it’s work.” Eliza defines her cooking as Modern Bistro Cuisine, preparing fresh ingredients simply, with bright flavors prepared with French Classic techniques, and serving them in an intimate atmosphere. Her cuisine is comprised of influences from her extensive travels throughout Europe, the Caribbean, New Zealand, Australia and Southern United States. Eliza began working at 221 South Oak Bistro in 1999 and bought it a year later. She has two published cookbooks, Foreplay: A Book of Appeteasers and Recipes from 221 South Oak Bistro.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Gina Keatley

Hometown: Boston, MA

Profession: Dietitian and Founder, Nourishing USA, Harlem, NY

Culinary Education: B.S. Nutrition, New York University; A.S. Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management, Art Institute of New York City

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Roasted vegetables with figs and pancetta

Gina is a culinary author, award-winning dietitian and founder and CEO of Nourishing USA, a community food program that feeds tens-of-thousands across America. Utilizing her professional and educational experiences, Gina has become known for her food-focused appearances, cookbooks, her campaign for the use of fresh foods in low-income areas, and as an American Diabetes Ambassador. She has been recognized for her charity work, being named a 2011 CNN Hero and L’Oreal Woman of Worth. Additionally, The Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, American Culinary Federation and The James Beard Foundation have recognized Gina for her culinary and humanitarian impact. If she could have a last meal with anyone, it would be steamed blue crabs with her husband and family, with the bibs, hammers and newspaper on the table.

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Micah Fields

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Profession: Executive Chef, The Standard Hotel, Downtown L.A.

Culinary Education: Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts, Pasadena, CA

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Savory butternut squash and kale bread pudding with wild mushrooms and a poached duck egg

Micah has never had a single bite of pork or shellfish until the age of 18, as the son of an orthodox Catholic priest who strictly followed religious kosher law. Now he’s obsessed with pork and everything that comes from the sea. Micah is the co-founder of Chefs Who Surf, an organization that promotes sustainable seafood and ocean conservation. He serves as Executive Chef at Los Angeles’ The Standard Hotel, and has been featured on, was the opening chef for Venice Beach’s Hotel Erwin where he served up what Food & Wine magazine hailed as the “perfect post-surf breakfast,” featured in various food and travel magazines and was named Pasadena Weekly’s “Rising Star Chef.” Micah named his twin daughters Saffron and Sage to ensure the culinary thread continues through his bloodline.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Anthony Gray

Hometown: Macon, GA

Profession: Executive Chef, Southern Art Bourbon Bar, Atlanta, GA

Culinary Education: Hard knocks -– self-taught

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Apple cobbler with oatmeal crumble and vanilla ice cream

Anthony serves as Executive Chef of Southern Art Bourbon Bar, where he gets to showcase his deep appreciation for Southern ingredients and traditional charcuterie. Growing up in Macon, Georgia, his family had a farm-to-table approach to cooking before they knew what it was -- going out in the backyard to shoot it, cook it and eat it. He met Chef Frank Lee while studying at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, and took a position with him at Slightly North of Broad, where he was introduced to the Maverick Southern Kitchen family. When they opened High Cotton in Charleston, South Carolina, Anthony worked up the ranks and eventually led the kitchens of both the Charleston and Greenville locations. In 2012, named Anthony “Atlanta Rising Star Chef.” He and his wife recently welcomed a baby boy.

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Life After Top Chef Episode 1 Recap

So - it turns out that Life After Top Chef isn't really conducive to recaps. It was basically a series of vignettes of Spike, Blais, Fabio, and Jen doing what they do individually (arguing with family, fighting guilt, being an entertainer, getting bad extensions), and then a section of them together at the Food & Wine festival in Aspen.

Would love to go to that festival though.

Did anyone watch? Thoughts? Criticisms?

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Stephanie Cmar

Hometown: Boston, MA

Profession: Rounds Cook, No. 9 Park, Boston, MA

Culinary Education: Johnson & Wales, Providence, RI

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Pumpkin spiced doughnuts

Stephanie has left her wild-child days behind her and now works as the Rounds Cook at No. 9 Park, one of Boston’s most famous restaurants. Most recently she served as Sous Chef at Stir Boston, alongside fellow cheftestant and best friend, Kristen Kish. Stephanie’s love of cooking stems from a summer job at the muffin shop in Marblehead at the age of 16. After two years of culinary school, Stephanie moved to Denver to get a degree in restaurant management. Though she has no formal pastry training, Stephanie hopes to open a doughnut shop in Boston. If Stephanie were a food, she would be mayonnaise because it makes everything better.

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Life After Top Chef Episode 1 Previews

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Win Dinner for Two at Top Chef Kitchen!

Analon gourmet cookware is offering dinner for two at Top Chef Kitchen on November 10th, 2012 with Richard Blais and Grayson Schmitz scheduled to be in the kitchen. (Anolon is providing the cookware for the restaurant, in case you're wondering the connection.)

All you need to do to enter is to visit Anolon's Facebook page:

The sweepstakes ends October 25th.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4 Finale

A Just Recompense on Kerry: "Their assistants show up; Chris’s is his chef de cuisine, and Kerry is someone he works with on large events, “putting stuff together on the fly.” I’m confused. Kerry’s not cooking on a regular basis? Is not chef/owner of anything? Or executive chef? I don’t understand, just what does Kerry actually do these days? Besides fishing with Tom Colicchio? But you know, this finale is working on a special event, putting something together on the fly, so this could be an advantage for him."

Mary Alice of Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on sweet: "At the butcher's, Chris picks up beef hearts. His love letter is to his wife, and he will be putting his heart on a plate. Rim shot! Such a clever little sass. He paints a really sweet picture of he and his wife's relationship and says he wants to thank her for allowing him to live his dream. Their family photos are adorable. Color me more smitten by the minute."

LA Weekly on the differences between the two chefs: "Immediately, the differences between Heffernan and Cosentino became apparent. Heffernan, the more left-brained of the two, became focused on ingredients, believing that the stories would come later. Whereas the more right-brained, 'emotional' Cosentino allowed the dishes to build from his memories."

Gossip & Gab on something this blogger doesn't get at all: "Hottie host Curtis Stone reminded us all that he’s a chef in his own right, inviting Chris and Kerry to the top floor of the Cosmopolitan and preparing a dish in honor of each of them. He can cook, he’s easy on the eyes, he has that amazing Australian accent… /sigh."

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Chrissy Camba

HometownChicago, IL

ProfessionChef, Bar Pastoral, Chicago, IL

Culinary EducationBooks, Work and Stages

Favorite Simple Winter RecipeChicken Adobo with jasmine rice

Chrissy is a spunky Filipino woman who currently serves as Chef at Bar Pastoral, an extension of Chicago’s beloved cheese, specialty food and wine shop, Pastoral. She graduated from Loyola University, Chicago with a degree in biology, and has worked hard to shine throughout her culinary career. When she wasn’t working, Chrissy has staged at acclaimed restaurants such as Bouchon, Alinea, Blackbird, Boka, Avenues, Naha and The Bristol. In 2010, she was featured on the cover of 'Time Out' magazine for her charcuterie plate, and in 2012, Christina was featured on Grubstreet’s “101 of the Most Interesting Desserts.” If she were a food, she says, “I would be a Santol fruit – sometimes sweet, sometimes tart, unusual and a skin that can be thick or thin.”

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