The One Recipe Every Home Cook Should Master, Say Top Chefs
The best holidays are those that revolve around good food and quality time with loved ones, and Earth Day is no exception. To celebrate our planet sustainably while eating well at home with family and friends, we decided to talk to a few prominent chefs that are well-known among the conservationist, foodie, and interior design communities alike. Specifically, we asked the chefs at Belcampo, Otium, Bouchon Bakery, Providence, and Le Comptoir to give us a lesson in going green in the kitchen.
Though they all agreed that sustainability is a commitment, they also made it clear that going green is super accessible once you're equipped with the right information. And through our conversations with these leading industry leaders, we learned that gourmet food goes hand in hand with being environmentally conscious. Scroll through each chef profile below to find out where they shop for the freshest ingredients to make the best quality meals at home, plus their exclusive kitchen secrets.
Timothy Hollingsworth, Otium
Get to Know the Chef: After working under Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, chef Timothy Hollingsworth founded his own restaurant, Otium. Set in downtown Los Angeles right next to The Broad museum, this dining experience hits the spot for foodies and design aficionados alike. With large glass windows for a flood of sunlight as well a natural wood facade, the space itself is an ode to nature's beauty.
Standout Initiatives: Otium works with a stylish soap line called Further to recycle its excess oil, and the restaurant also collaborates with Dock to Dish L.A. to procure all its seafood ethically. Also, to conserve energy at home while cooking, Hollingworth suggests cooking with a Donada, which "is a Japanese clay pot that has great heat retention, and so it does not need as much direct heat."
The Shopping Cart: "If you're obtaining your ingredients from the right sources, then the dish can be sustainable," Hollingsworth says. And he's all about hitting up local farmers markets. "Supporting local farmers and building relationships with the people who provide your food is very important."
Green Thumb: And if you want to get even more local, why not grow some gardens in your own backyard? Hollingsworth explains, "We grow our own herbs and lettuces at our vertical gardens on the mezzanine at Otium." And the gardens are run with LA Urban Farms, so the "team tend to the gardens and pick their own herbs whenever needed."
Pro Tip: "It's key to keep in mind how you're utilizing the trim of the products as well. Let's say the recipe calls for lemon juice, then we would make sure that we are also utilizing the lemon zest in some way—preserving it or maybe making a vinaigrette with it, so nothing is wasted."
Secret Weapon: If you're going to invest in cookware, Hollingsworth says to focus on "good knives, cookware, plates, and towels, rather than using something disposable or flimsy. They'll last a lifetime and will ultimately be better for the environment."
Go-To Meal: "My wife is Lebanese, so I like making ful medames," Hollingsworth says. He particularly likes making it for breakfast on a day off when the whole family can enjoy it together.
Compost Made Easy:
LeeAnn Tolentino, Bouchon Bakery
Get to Know the Chef: LeeAnn Tolentino is the head pastry chef at Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills, which is one of the many incredible spots in the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. If you haven't yet, you should definitely try her macaroons.
How She Reduces Waste: One of the ways she gets creative in the kitchen is by making pastries out of dough scraps. "Monkey bread is a delicious product that's derived from utilizing our croissant and kougin amann dough trim. We take the trimmings and toss it in cinnamon sugar and bake them into individual molds, which results in a delicious pull-a-part monkey bread." If that's not a tasty solution, we don't know what is.
In Her Shopping Cart: Tolentino shops at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market every Wednesday and Saturday, both personally and for work. Her favorite farms to buy from are Harry’s Berries for strawberries and cherry tomatoes, berries from Pudwill Farms, and peaches from Frog Hallow Farms. "I try to go every week to personally pick them out and meet with the farmers," and this personal touch is always nice.
Green Thumb: "We were inspired by The French Laundry garden and we have created a small garden box located in our Beverly Hills kitchen terrace where we grow tomatoes, herbs, and edible blossoms."
Pro Tip: "If you have some leftover roasted chicken, you can simply dice it and make an omelet for breakfast and take it even further and make chicken fried rice for dinner."
Go-To Meal: When Tolentino received a basil plant as a gift, she "started using it in different applications, "as she believes "simple ingredients are the basis of a great dish." Her favorite? Bruschetta, both for a simple family meal on a weeknight or a bigger get-together as an appetizer. Make sure to get your tomatoes from the farmer’s market and then top it off with grown basil, garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Stylish Reuseable Grocery bags:
Caleb Orth, Belcampo Meat Co.
Get to Know the Chef: Caleb Orth is the head chef at Belcampo Meat Co. in Santa Monica. Though Belcampo has quite a few yummy restaurants throughout the country, it's also a farm, butcher shop, and processing plant.
How He Goes Zero-Waste: "In both my work and my home, I try as hard as I possibly can to have virtually no waste. At work, that translates to things like using every part of the animal, including the bones." That may sound impossible, but here's how he breaks it down for us: The shoulders can be used in a Cuban sandwich, "the trotters and other bones can be used in bone broth, the belly is braised and pressed, the skin is used to make chicharrones, the trim is used to make pork grind to sell in the butcher shop, and the fat is rendered and used as lard for cooking." So zero waste is totally doable.
His Golden Rule: Orth's commitment to sustainability extends beyond his professional endeavors. He rides the Metro rail to and from work so that he's not burning gas.
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The Shopping Cart: Orth highly recommends shopping from farmers markets if you want fresh, high-quality ingredients. That being said, quality often comes with a price. But it's worth it.
Pro Tip: "Buy your meat from a small farm that has information available regarding what the animals were fed, their age, and their living conditions. Buy local and seasonal produce. If you want to make something with tomato in the winter, buy canned tomatoes. Do not buy anything that contains palm oil in its ingredients."
Go-To Meal: Pizza is Orth's favorite food to eat at home, which we can definitely get behind. "I buy flour and yeast that is produced in California, fresh veggies and herbs from farmers markets for the toppings and the sauce, and if we’re having meat on the pizza, I buy it from Belcampo," says Orth.
Gary Menes, Le Comptoir
Get to Know the Chef: Gary Menes is the chef behind Le Comptoir, a counter-only restaurant with eight seats and eight courses. Trust us when we say you will never enjoy eating a plate of veggies as much as you do when Chef Menes prepares it for you in this intimate setting. It's perfect for a date night. When we had the privilege of joining Discover Los Angeles at Le Comptoir, we finished the evening with a round of drinks at the buzzy Walker Inn, which is located right next door.
If you're obtaining your ingredients from the right sources, then any dish can be sustainable.
Standout Initiatives: "We use induction cooktops at home and at the restaurant," Menes says. The outcome? You'll end up using 90% less energy than you would with a gas stove, "which is only 35% efficient." Aside from appliances, "we also compost all our vegetable scraps, egg shells, and spent coffee grounds," he says.
The Shopping Cart: Mennes grows 80% of all the vegetables and fruit he serves at the restaurant. And you can absolutely taste the fresh difference. He also shares with us that he gets the majority of his cookware and kitchen supplies from Chef's Toys.
His Golden Rule: Use every part of the ingredient. Don't waste a thing.
Go-To Meal: Simple yet delicious, buttered corn is Menes's favorite meal to make at home. He uses fresh corn from his garden and douses it in a bit of French cultured butter.
Green Kitchen Essentials:
Michael Cimarusti, Providence
Get to Know the Chef: Michael Cimarusti is the chef and co-owner of the acclaimed seafood-centric restaurant Providence. It's received two Michelin stars and several James Beard award nominations.
How He Goes Green: As someone who believes that it's extremely important to be environmentally conscious, Cimarusti only gets ingredients for his restaurants that come from vendors with the same values. In other words, vendors "who are considerate of sustainability in the way that they raise animals," he says.
In His Shopping Cart: He gets a lot of the herbs and flowers that they cook with at Providence from the garden on the roof—yet another case for growing your own at home. And everything else comes from the farmers market or his own fish market, Cape Seafood and Provisions.
Pro Tip: "Wild fish is susceptible to weather and the environment, so you have to be flexible with what you put on the menu." In that vein, Cimarusti says it's a lot better to swap out a fish for something that's fresh than it is to stick to the exact recipe.
The Golden Rule: "Consult the source, especially when it comes to fish." A good way to make sure you're eating seafood sustainably is to consult the Monterey watch guide, which has a downloadable app.
Go-To Dish: Cimarusti's favorite dish to make at home is another MyDomaine favorite: pasta. Not only is it "a delicious comfort food, but it's super easy to put together." Agreed, again. "I really like doing pasta with bitter greens or young broccoli, maybe a fish, but with the majority of flavor coming from the greens."
What efforts do you make to cook and eat more sustainably at home? Do you plan on following any of the chef advice above? Sound off in the comment section below.