MICHAEL CIMARUSTI - OWNER & CHEF OF PROVIDENCE RESTAURANT IN LA TALKING ABOUT THE GRILL AND CHILL EVENT AT THE ALL-STAR CHEF CLASSIC
RESTAURANT STADIUM™ - This never-before-seen venue will be the center of the action at the All-Star Chef Classic, bringing over 250 fans 'kitchen-side' in an intimate VIP setting, where they can be as close to the action as possible without being in the heat of the kitchen.
BIO: After graduating with honors in 1991 from the Culinary Institute of America, Michael Cimarusti got his start in the Big Apple working with celebrated chef Larry Forigone at An American Place. Cimarusti moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania where he was appointed chef de cuisine at The Forager House Restaurant, but soon migrated back to Manhattan. After a three-year run at Le Cirque where he worked with Paul Bocuse, Gerard Boyer, and Roger Vergé, Cimarusti moved to France to expand his culinary education at La Marée and Arpege. Back in New York, he became opening chef for Le Cirque’s new venture, Osteria Del Circo. Cimarusti went on to become chef de cuisine at the original Spago in Hollywood and went on to run the show as executive chef of Water Grill. He is currently Owner and Chef of Providence Restaurant in Los Angeles.
CHEF GISELE PEREZ - NEW ORLEANS CHEF REVIVES A LESSER-KNOWN NATIVE RECIPE IN TIME FOR MARDI GRAS CELEBRATIONS
New Orleans Chef Revives a Lesser-Known Native Recipe in Time for Mardi Gras Celebrations
When you think of food and Mardi Gras most people think of beignets. But there is another New Orleans delicacy that doesn’t get as much press and should. New Orleans native and Chef, Gisele Perez suggests that this year, when celebrating life during Mardi Gras, try this unique and mostly forgotten native recipe: calás, a traditional rice fritter that was a very popular breakfast food or dessert in Creole households in New Orleans in the early 20th century.
The history of calás is very similar to many other traditional New Orleans food, coming from both African and European heritage. The name "calás" is said to have come from the African Nupe word "kara", or fried cake. The first documented mention of them was by Lafcadio Hearn, one of the earliest Creole cookbook authors, in his 18th century cookbook. Calás have a long history of being sold by slave women on Sundays (as unlike in other places in the South, slaves in New Orleans had Sunday’s off), many of whom were able to buy their and their family members freedom.
The tradition continued among the “free women of color” Creole street vendors, who sold the fresh hot calás in the city's French Quarter until WWII, after which street vending stopped. These women would sell their pastries in covered baskets or bowls during the early morning.
Traditional calás are deep fried rice cakes, made with sugar, flour, eggs and rice and has a mention in many Creole cuisine cookbooks. They are mostly served for breakfast or brunch and a traditional treat for post-First Communion celebrations. Chef Gisele says they were also a favorite after-mass treat on St. Joseph’s Day for the expatriate Creole community in post-war Los Angeles. Calás can also be served as a dessert or snack with coffee or hot cocoa.
Mardi Gras is March 4, this year celebrate with the historic calás and Chef Gisele’s treasured family recipe for this creole delight. This recipe and photo can be reprinted with credit.
About Chef Gisele Perez - A recognized food blogger and columnist, New Orleans native Gisele Perez, is an established chef in Los Angeles, California, with her company, Small Pleasures Catering. Immigrating to Los Angeles from New Orleans as a child, Gisele grew up traveling back and forth between the two cities, which instilled in her a love for New Orleans that has become an integral part of her life and career. A graduate with honors from the renowned California Culinary Academy, Gisele worked in some of the finest hotels, restaurants and catering companies in New York and San Francisco before returning to Los Angeles and starting her catering company in 1997. While some of her catering specialties may not be New Orleans-specific, everything she cooks, every buffet decorated, is influenced by it. When Gisele is in her kitchen she is constantly reminded of her grandmother, at whose knee she stood as a young child, questioning her as she cooked for her large family. Gisele has been featured in numerous regional publications and on local television and on the nationally syndicated television show, Daytime. To learn more about Gisele, visit her blog site, www.PainPerduBlog.com, and her company website, www.SmallPleasuresCatering.com.