I’ve always been a fan of really fresh food. I grew up in Ohio and went hunting and fishing with my dad. Nothing tastes fresher than catching a fish and cooking it over an open fire. My dad was a great cook and I fell in love with his simple style: fresh steaks and seafood, a quick sauté with fresh bluegill or bigmouth bass. We went ice-fishing and grew our own vegetables, and my grandparents raised cows and pigs that provided us with dairy and plenty of meat all year long.
In high school I worked in restaurants as a dishwasher and cooked on the line in small, family restaurants. I loved the energy of the business and culinary school was a natural progression. After cooking school, I moved on to Chicago with Marriott Hotels and worked with some very talented chefs.
Now in my cooking, I combine the best of my Midwest, farm-to-table background with what I learned from working in high-end restaurants. Food is about making people happy, whether you are in your home cooking for your family or cooking molecular-inspired 24-course tasting dinners in restaurants. Basically, I meld the best of spaghetti and meatballs with foie gras. I believe that every plate that comes out of my kitchen should taste delicious and be beautiful to look at.
When I am home, usually late at night, I am a huge breakfast fan. I love pancakes with fresh fruit compote or soft poached eggs over anything.
- 8 ounces of pork belly, bacon, or pancetta cut into ½-inch cubes
- white wine (optional)
- 2 T olive oil or butter
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- ½ each of a red, yellow, and green pepper, chopped into ½-inch cubes
- 6 fingerling or red potatoes blanched for 5–8 minutes in boiling salted water and cooled in ice water then cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 T flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- pinch of chili pepper flakes
- fresh sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 5 egg yolks
- 6 ounces melted butter at room temperature
- 1 ounce of Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 ounce chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 chipotle pepper pureed & strained
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- 3 farm-fresh eggs
- sea salt
- 1 ounce white vinegar
HOW TO DO IT
To make the hash, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the pork belly, bacon, or pancetta. Cook the meat until it is brown and caramelized and then remove and drain on paper towels. Deglaze the pan with white wine or wipe the pan out. Add the olive oil and onions, blanched potatoes, herbs, and garlic. When vegetables are sautéed, add the caramelized meat back to the hash and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
Fill a saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. When water begins to boil, place egg yolks into a large bowl and place the bowl in the saucepan, making sure the water comes only halfway up the bowl. With the bowl in the hot water, begin whipping the yolks vigorously and continue whipping until egg yolks are pale and fluffy. Whisk egg yolks for another 3–4 minutes and remove the pan from the heat. Slowly drizzle the butter into the egg yolks to create an emulsion until all of the butter is incorporated. Add the Tabasco, parsley, lime juice, chipotle, and salt and pepper and season to taste. Keep the sauce warm but not hot.
Fill a large saucepan or pot with water. Generously salt and bring to a boil. When water begins to boil, add white vinegar. When water is rapidly boiling, drop eggs into the water very gently and poach for 4–5 minutes. Gently remove eggs with a slotted spoon.
Spoon the hash onto the plates, place one poached egg on each portion of hash, spoon the chili hollandaise over the top, and serve immediately.