KITCHIT: WHAT IS THE ONE KITCHEN TOOL (OTHER THAN A GOOD CHEF'S KNIFE) THAT YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?
KELLEY HELDT: My cast iron pans.
WHERE CAN YOU BE FOUND/WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR DAYS OFF?
Walking in a beautiful corner of nature.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY OR EVENT:
A casual dinner party, with multiple courses so the the guests can "graze", enjoying the food and each others company.......
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING A CHEF?
I find a sense of reward and accomplishment when a guest finds they enjoy a dish of mine with an ingredient they otherwise thought they would not like.
WHAT IS YOUR SIGNATURE DISH?
Mainstay: pan roasted rack of lamb au jus, root vegetable gratin with lavender goat cheese, seasonal green vegetables.
Lately: chawanmushi of oysters broiled in uni custard with confit of baby leeks, roasted chestnuts
& saffron - nasturium butter
DESCRIBE YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MEAL:
A tasting menu at Le Bernardin in New York: a tour de force of surprising and classic combinations, done with restraint and exceptional quality of seafood & ingredients.
MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT IS:
Chez Panisse, Chef Mavro, Le Bernardin
FIVE INGREDIENTS I ALWAYS HAVE ON HAND ARE:
freshly made vegetable stock, meyer lemons, fresh ginger,
kosher salt, vermouth
WHEN I'M AT HOME AND COOKING JUST FOR MYSELF, I MAKE:
Mixed plate: steamed quinoa, pinto beans, chicken mole, avocado, and steamed gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
WHAT IS ONE FOOD OR DISH THAT YOU WOULD HAPPILY EAT EVERY SINGLE DAY?
Pho....(with No MSG !)
TWO EGGS "MY WAY" ARE:
"shirred": 2 eggs baked in a ramekin with lemon zest, grated gouda and creme fraiche
ONE FOOD THAT I'LL AVOID AT ALL COSTS IS:
Raw uni (sea urchin).....but LOVE it cooked, it becomes sweet like dungeness crab in custard form.
WHAT IS NEW AMERICAN CUISINE ?
Often I am asked, "what is your speciality ?"
I prefer to use the umbrella term of "New American" to describe the cuisine that incorporates technique and method from global cuisines to best prepare ingredients available seasonally and in their prime.
Cuisine may be a word of French origin, though it encapsulates the craft of cooking in all cultures. As a cook, I have had the good fortune to work for and with many great Chefs in my 20 + years of professional experience: in Californian, Italian, French, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Thai & Vietnamese cuisines.
A Chef's "style" is as individual as a fingerprint. We all learn the basics of cuisine and then take it our direction. However, learning, progressing and fine tuning never ceases -- that is why I love to cook. My "style" is to be true to my Craft: my motivation and inspiration comes from the privilege to turn ingredients into happiness.