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Cooking for me started at age 15. My mom inspired me to cook with a simple line: “girls love a guy that can cook.” At that age, that is all the inspiration you need to make a career choice.
In my early days, I was making “ghetto gourmet” meals at home and managing a Dairy Queen. As I was studying culinary arts and hospitality management in school, I craved my path working at independent and corporate restaurants – not only in the back of house, but in the front of house, too. Chasing knowledge, I moved from Wisconsin to Austin, Texas to learn from great restaurants and restaurateurs like Odd Duck, Sway and La Condesa.
Continuing to fall deeper in love with everything restaurants offer, I became very interested in the overall culture of restaurants, not just the food. “Happy employees make happy guests,” is to me the most important and commonly forgotten idea in the restaurant scene. I truly love teaching and watching young chefs blossom into culinary warriors in an atmosphere where mistakes can be great and your only limits are your imagination.
Currently working and consulting for new concepts like Zymmo, Nomadic Dining ATX and Texsueño, I have found a way to use my problem solving skill set in a new way by helping others achieve greatness as the lead singers as I get to hold rhythm playing the bass.
Grilled Street Corn Halibut (Grilled corn, chipotle mayo, shishito peppers, cotija cheese)
2 cobs of corn with husks
2 5-oz. halibut fillets
1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
10 shishito peppers
1 oz. of cotija cheese crumbled
1 small bunch of cilantro
1 lime or lemon (2 center slices and the rest for juice)
2 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter cut into 4 even slices
1/4 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt, plus some for seasoning
- Remove the corn from the husks. Try to keep the husks as large as possible, leaving a very thin layer over the corn.
- Gather enough large corn husks to make wraps for the fish. Soak in hot water for 5 minutes or until the husks turn bright green and become soft and flexible. Remove and let dry slightly.
- Grill the corn over a hot grill 8-10 minutes, rotate as needed so the corn is evenly cooked with a little bit of color. Corn should be bright yellow with black spots. Remove from the grill and place in a covered container to steam and come to room temperature.
- Remove the thin layer of husk and cut the corn off the cob. Reserve the corn in a bowl.
- Toss the shishito peppers with a little oil and salt and grill on a hot grill for 3-4 minutes, rotating as needed until lightly charred. Place in the same covered container as the corn.
- After they come to room temperature, remove the stem of the shishitos and rough chop to about the same size as a corn kernel.
- Add shishito peppers to the bowl with the corn. Add 3 thinly sliced long cilantro stems, and season with salt and toss. Reserve for later.
- Place mayo in a bowl, add chipotle, paprika and juice from the one of the lime ends. Mix until smooth, and reserve for plating.
- Mix 1 teaspoon salt with 1/4 teaspoon sugar.
- Pat dry the fish, and season with the salt/sugar mix.
- Let rest until the seasoning is completely dissolved.
- Pat the fish dry and reserve.
Building for 2 fish packets
- Lay out the corn husks facing the same direction and slightly overlapping. Use enough to cover and wrap the fish (about 4-6 large pieces). This should be 2 separate wraps to make 2 portions.
- In the center of the corn husks, add about 3 tablespoons of the corn and shishito relish. Spread out the layer so the fish will have a nice bed to lay on. Think of this as refilling the corn husks, so it should be a rectangle with the longer sides going to the ends of the husks.
- Lay the fish on top of the corn bed.
- Place 1 lime slice on top of the fish and top with 1 tablespoon (2 pieces) of cold butter.
- Fold over the sides of the husks of the fish, making a packet. Twist the ends of the husks to seal them and tie each end with a little butcher twine. Cut off any extra twine so it doesn’t burn on the grill.
- Place in the fridge until ready to grill.
Cooking the fish
- Over a medium-heat grill, lightly oil the fish packets and place on the grill with the corn side of the packet down off to the edge of any hot spots. Be sure to watch for flare ups from any butter that might leak out
- Let cook for about 3 minutes and turn 90 degrees to create grill marks and even cooking, cook for another 2 minutes
- Flip the packets very gently over and cook for 3 minutes. Be careful of butter flare ups.
- Turn 90 degrees and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the fish is at 135 degrees internal temperature.
- Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Or until the fish comes to 145 degrees.
- Slice open the top of the fish packets and pinch the ends so it opens up nicely.
- Remove the lime slice, add in a few dime size dots of chipotle mayo and squeeze the last lime end over both fish.
- Top with cotija cheese, a few cilantro leaves and serve.
- Remember to eat out of the corn husk, as the husk is there as a garnish
Marinated Heirloom Tomato Napoleon Salad (fresh mozzarella, balsamic reduction, prosciutto chips, garlic confit, basil)
17-oz. bottle of balsamic vinegar
1 ½ cups of sugar
Pinch of salt
1 head of garlic, peeled and left whole
1 cup of grapeseed oil
Heirloom tomatoes, different colors
- 1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 2. Spray 2 silpats with nonstick spray.
- 3. On an upside down baking sheet, lay prosciutto out on 1 silpat and cover with another silpat.
- 4. Place another baking sheet (not upside down) over the top and place a heavy pan on top to keep the prosciutto flat.
- 5. Place in the oven and cook, rotating every 10 minutes for about 45-50 minutes until the prosciutto is golden brown and mostly crispy.
- 6. Remove the cover and bake for another 3-5 minutes to get all the steam out. Pull from oven and let cool.
- 1. Over medium heat, add balsamic, salt and sugar into saucepan.
- 2. Stirring to dissolve the sugar often, cook for about 5 minutes. Once sugar is dissolved, stir occasionally.
- 3. Reduce for about 10 minutes. When it’s getting very thick, reduce heat to low and stir frequently for another 2-3 minutes.
- 4. Pull from heat and let cool. It will be very hot and look a little thin, but with thicken when it cools down.
- 1. In a small sauce pot, add the head of garlic and grapeseed oil. Make sure garlic is completely covered.
- 2. Cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
- 3. The garlic will become very soft and sweet. Pull from heat and let cool.
Plating for 2 salads
- Slice 3 heirloom tomatoes of different colors (if possible) 1/2 inch thick.
- Slice one bunch whole fresh basil leaves, very thin chiffonade, reserve 6 large leaves for garnish.
- Slice 1 fresh mozzarella ball into slices about 1/4 inch thick.
- In a large mixing bowl, add tomatoes, mozzarella, 2 tablespoons garlic confit oil, a big pinch of salt, chiffonade basil and cracked black pepper.
- Toss so everything is evenly distributed, let it marinate for 5 min.
- To build, start with a tomato on the plate, layering with crispy prosciutto, fresh basil and
- mozzarella. Each plate uses 3 tomato slices in total with 3 prosciutto chips.
- Garnish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, and 3 garlic confit cloves. Add a tiny squeeze of lemon (optional).
This article was contributed by Chef Chase Gintner who works with Zymmo, a new app that helps food lovers experience the meaningful meals they crave, while giving freelance chefs the gigs they need.
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