Friday, November 16, 2012

My Favorite Chefs List, Nov 2012

My favorite chefs don't over salt their food. I am not against salt I am just against food that only tastes like salt. The chefs listed below know how to salt their dishes so that the flavors of the ingredients still shine through. They are also all farm-to-table chefs. This means they source at least part of their ingredients from local farmers, ranchers, fisheries, and dairies.

Chef Drew Belline, Georgia. I first met Drew at the Floataway Cafe in 2009. I pestered the server so often, to verify I was correct about ingredients I guessed, that Drew came out to greet me after the meal. He sourced 70-75% local ingredients for the Floataway menu. Now he has his own restaurant called No. 246, in Decatur.

Chef Craig Mombert, North Carolina. I first met Executive Chef Craig in 2010, while visiting the Davidson College cafeteria. His favorite expression is, "Salt is not a seasoning, it is a flavor enhancer." I must also mention Dee Phillips, Director of Dining Services, who is the driving force behind the sustainable, green practices of the college.

Chef Dean James Max, South Florida. I first met Dean at Jodi Swank's farm-to-table dinner in 2010. He showed me, through his 12-course dinner that it was possible to source local and still have amazing flavors. I am a fan of his restaurant--3030 Ocean in Ft. Lauderdale. Chef Dean is no longer at 3030 Ocean.

Chef Francesca Golub, South Florida. I met Francesca early in 2010 but I would have to wait until 2012 to try her food. Her company Francesca's Terra Verde Farm Club had a tour of C & B Farm in Clewiston. There she delighted all with a delicious locally sourced meal that included grass-fed beef.

Chef Jeremy Salamon, South Florida. He was just 17 years old when I met him in 2011, at the Wyland Living Green Fair. He prepared the most delicious bowl of pumpkin soup I have ever had. His humble, open style of communicating, and his incredible palette made me an instant fan.

Chef Greg Williamson, South Florida. I met Greg after a 2011 cooking demo at D & D Family Farms, in Stuart. He made low sodium dishes with produce picked that day. "I used to not care how long a distance it took to get an ingredient if it tasted good. Now I want to keep it seasonal," said Greg. D & D Farms closed in 2013.

Chef Tim Lipman, South Florida. I met Tim back in March 2012, when he first opened his restaurant--The Coolinary Cafe. I was impressed by his light salting style. I love his interpretation of food with Florida sourced ingredients. I also like his willingness to try new things like Florida wine.

Chef Dana Johnson, West Florida. I first met Dana at Rosa Fiorelli's Vineyard-to-table dinner in March 2012. He and his culinary students catered the event using local west coast ingredients. I was impressed with the imagination of the dishes. He has a company called Savory Scenes.

Chef Kira Volz, South Florida. I first met Kira at a Mother's Day brunch in 2012, on Paradise Farms. I was impressed by her use of edible flowers in an all vegetarian spread. She said she did not have to use a lot of salt to enhance the flavors of her dishes because her ingredients were so fresh.

Chef Tony Adams, Central Florida. I first met Tony at the Audubon Park Community Market, early 2012, in Winter Park. I bought a delicious Po' Boy roll made with Ft. Myers scallops. He has a food truck called Big Wheel Provisions. His rule is to source at least one local ingredient per dish. Big Wheel Provisions Food Truck closed in 2013.

Chef David A Didzunas, Central Florida. I first met David at an Growing Synergy Open House lunch, Oct 2012, on The GreenH2ouse farm. He is an Executive chef at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, and has been supporting local farmers for five years. I enjoyed his salad made with Florida shrimp.

Updated April 2015

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