Category Archives: European

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

The world is full of great food and chefs – we only need to open our tastebuds to them. For instance, at Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse, at The Phoenician, a Starwood property, French-born Executive Chef Jacques Qualin may be the area’s only stove helmer to have worked at four Michelin restaurants – two in France and two in New York – a very rare distinction. If you are a sports fan, it’s like saying you played soccer with Manchester United and Real Madrid; then moved to the United States, and played baseball with the Yankees and Mets.

Qualin, like many chefs, started cooking with his mother, tying his apron strings and sticking close to her, learning about food from the region of his birthplace, Franche-Comté, home to Comte and Emmenthaler cheeses. As a young cook, he traveled to Paris, where he studied under Michelin-rated chef Michel de Matteis, working at his three-star Restaurant Taillevent, defined by The New York Times as “the best in Paris, if not all of France.” Several other kitchens later, including working for Daniel Boulud in New York at the world famous Le Cirque, Qualin worked again in Paris as at the cosmopolitan Restaurant La Marée, before working with his friend Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Jojo’s on East 58th Street as the culinary great’s first sous chef.

After closing his seventy seat restaurant in upstate New York, The French Corner, The New York Times reviewer said, “(Qualin) created a unique and wonderful restaurant…delightfully rustic and complex all at once.” Vongerichten asked him about working together again, this time in Phoenix. He says, “I had been in France and New York City for fourteen years and I was looking for opportunities to come to the West Coast.”

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu SauceWorking in the Valley of the Sun, Qualin now defines himself as a “Frenchman who cooks with an Asian flair,” speaking to Vongerichten’s penchant for European and Asian cuisine. He says about working at J& G Steakhouse, a long distance from European Michelin restaurants, “I like good food and I like the brasserie-style we have at J&G. It’s a different restaurant than before, but it’s a steakhouse. I like that.”

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

How long have you been cooking?
I have been cooking as far back as I can remember, I have loved cooking my whole life.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I get very excited when I see or find a product that looks pristine in quality and freshness, and that’s the way the flavors will come out the best. French cooking is my soul, Italian my guilty pleasure, and I like all Asian types of cooking.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
I love hot sauce, so I always have good selections from wacky hot to mild. French mustard is a must too and fresh herbs.

What do you cook at home?
Everything from a six course tasting for my friends, to a simply grilled fresh fish. I do like to do some classical French dishes that remind me my childhood or some Asian dishes, like a Pad Thai.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
To be open to try new things and flavors.

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Ignorance.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
I used all of them, but I tend to go back to Pyrex as it’s PBA free and can take extreme heat or cold, such as liquid nitrogen.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
All of them! Depending on the mood and the occasion or the food. I love to start with a ginger margarita or a crafted beer and wine (red or white), with a preference to the old world.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Many of them! I do have quite a extensive collection, from old traditional French cookbooks to the latest trends in cooking.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Cake tasters are very helpful for checking the food.

Your favorite ingredient?
Hard to say; there are too many I like, from yuzu to ginger or mint.

Your least favorite ingredient?
Fish sauce.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Not doing anything in the kitchen.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French/Asian.

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu SauceBeef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
All, I like a nice Prime beef grilled to perfection, Milk feed Chicken roasted whole, Smoked and Braise Pulled pork sandwich with Habanero sauce, or seared tofu with a cilantro pesto.

Favorite vegetable?
Beets.

Chef you most admire?
Hard to pick because there are so many. Maybe Francis Mallman, as I like his philosophy of cooking and being genuine to the product.

Food you like the most to eat?
I like perfectly cooked pastas, Miruguai sashimi, fresh line-caught fish, and flavorful soups.

Food you dislike the most?
Okra.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None, not into that at all.

Recipe: Roasted Whole Snapper Citrus and Garlic with Yuzu sauce

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

For the Yuzu Mayonnaise
3 each Egg yolks
1 tsp Salt
2 oz Yuzu juice
1 oz Lemon juice
1 oz Orange juice
1/2 qt Grape seed oil

Combine all but the oil in the robot coupe and drizzle in the oil to emulsify. Put in a siphon and charge with 2 cartridges.(soda)

Roasted Snapper:
1 pc Snapper 1.2# deboned from the inside and still attached and scored.
3 slices of Yuzu
3 slices of oranges
6 slices of fresh Ginger
1 tbsp. cilantro picked and chiffonade
1 tbsp. mint picked and chiffonade
6 slices of Serrano peppers
15 g garlic sliced ¾ inch
½ cup Olive oil

Season the fish with salt on all sides, arrange all the slices and the herbs evenly inside the fish. In a Dover plate, pour the oil and the garlic in the bottom then lay the fish on it, baste with the olive oil. Cook in the oven at 375 F for 10 min, basting it often. When almost cooked, finish under the broiler to get a nice brown color while basting. Drain ¾ of the oil, leaving the garlic inside.

To serve:
1 pc of fancy lemon
1 small bunch of cilantro
On a big black plate, fold a white napkin squared, put the hot plate on it. Add the lemon and cilantro and cover with the lid, serve the Yuzu mayonnaise on the side.
– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Paris’s 8th Arrondissement

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Paris's 8th ArrondissementMany words have been written to describe Paris. We aren’t going to attempt a vain-glorious description ourselves, but trust us that the city is breathtaking in April. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and many others have sung “April in Paris,” an ode to the city and its springtime affliction. No other urban setting seems to blossom from relief of winter’s gray as does Paris when the March rains have abated and, in their wake, colorful flowers emerge. Yet Paris is also stunning in summer – although crowded, and during the holidays when delicate ornaments and poinsettias decorate many of the facades, buildings, and shops. Paris is beautiful, period, at pretty much anytime of the year.

The 8th Arrondissement, also known as The Golden Triangle, is defined by the boulevards of Champs-Elysees, Avenue Montaigne, and George V, producing one of the world’s most desirable neighborhoods. Indeed, many of Paris’s legendary hotels are situated in the area, including the grand Plaza Athénée, the incomparable Four Seasons, and the exquisite family-owned boutique Hotel San Regis.

Mostly residential and business-oriented, the area has become more of a shopping district, giving Rue Saint-Honóre a run for its euro as the most haute couture street in Europe. Along tree-lined Avenue Montaigne, visitors can shop a host of LVMH boutiques from Celine, Chanel, Gucci, and Dior to name only a few.

The area is also home to several Michelin-starred dining experiences. If you are a dining aficionado, experiencing one of a Michelin restaurants is an absolute must. The French are masters of fine dining, having pretty much invented it – and personally, I love the pomp and flourishes.

April in Paris (Vernon Duke/ E.Y. Harburg, 1932)

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Paris's 8th ArrondissementBreakfast: Paris’s Eighth arrondissement is one of the world’s most luxurious neighborhoods, known for the couture houses and the historic Four Seasons, George V sits regally amongst them. With its stratospheric ceilings, tapestry covered walls, and elegant cornicing decorating the rooms, this is French dining at its finest. Why have breakfast in the three-Michelin starred room when dinner is an epicurean delight? Mon Cherie, if it’s warm, the terraced doors are open wide and the glorious springtime sun dances through the clear glass vases of Jeff Leatham, the hotel’s artistic director and his legendary floral arrangements. (The Four Seasons, George V’s  hotel budget for flowers, at one time, was close to a half million dollars.)  Rainbow prisms dance through the vessels of water and into the 19th century hotel’s courtyard. You know you are in Paris. Sublime.

Our Suggestion: You think you’ve had scrambled eggs? From personal experience, I will tell you haven’t had deux oeufs until you them at Le Cinq at the Four Seasons, George V. At 18€  for a pair of eggs, whipped into clarified butter, there is really nothing more decadent or surreally edible than the pale, Easter yellow–colored curds. They are served with crust-less toast points, housemade crème fraiche butter, and a selection of jams and preserves. The large tapestried chairs and tables, as well as each place setting, were designed specifically for George V.

  • Price: 18€.  At the time of this writing, it equates to about $9 an egg but it does come with the toast. Coffee is separate. (Ahem.)
  • Hours: 7:00am – 10:00am
  • Website: http://www.fourseasons.com/paris/dining/restaurants/le_cinq/
  • Address: 31 Avenue George V, 75008, Paris, France
  • Phone: 33 1 49 52 71 54

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Paris's 8th ArrondissementLunch:  Publicis Drugstore. A drugstore for your allergy medicine, a bookstore for reading, three restaurants including Chef Joel Robuchon, a perfumery, a bar, and a movie theatre. Take your medicine, followed by coffee at the bookstore – you read a little of Hemingway because you’re in Paris and that’s what l’americains do – then head to the cinema. (In Paris, people see films or cinema – never a movie or a screener.) Repeat. No need to go anywhere else. It’s an upscale, chic version of a strip mall. Nothing quite like it.

Our Suggestion: La Brasserie. Have a burger. Just eat it. It’s delicious and as you’re eating it you say to yourself, “Why aren’t American burgers this good? All. The. Time.” Have some wine to wash it down. If you get a window table, you can finagle your camera so the Arc de Triomphe, your food, and strolling Parisians are in one shot.

  • Price: 15€
  • Hours: 8:00 am – 1:00am
  • Website: http://www.publicisdrugstore.com/
  • Address: 133 Ave de Champs-Elysees 75008, Paris, France
  • Phone: 33 1 44 43 79 00

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Paris's 8th Arrondissement Cocktail: L’Avenue. You’ve worn out your credit cards shopping up and down Avenue Montaigne only to come to the legendary L’Avenue. European celebrities, Hollywood stars, and the fashion elite hang out just to mingle like it’s a Vanity Fair party.  And the paparazzi hang out, waiting for their shot. It’s a must for any well-dressed, cosmopolitan tourist-  but it is very difficult to get into even after being open for over a decade. If you arrive early enough and settle in with one of your shopping bags from Chanel, Dior, or Celine, they will seat you for an afternoon aperitif. (This is a sister establishment to the famed Hotel Costes, and the Costes Brothers team, who created the omnipresent electronic-based bar music almost twenty years ago. You’ve heard it from Singapore to Buenos Aires to Greenland.)

  • Our suggestion: Order a glass of French wine or a martini.  Europeans never put enough ice in the cocktails.
  • Price: Varies
  • Hours: 8:00am – 2:00am
  • Website: http://www.avenue-restaurant.com/
  • Address: 41 Avenue Montaigne, 75008, Paris, France
  • Phone: 33 1 40 70 14 91

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Paris's 8th ArrondissementDinner: Pershing Hall.  The hotel and restaurant is glorified by the fashion industry’s elite and is contained in a 19th century building leased by the United States. The hall was dedicated to the John J. Pershing, the only general to receive the highest rank of General of the Armies, during his lifetime. Designed by the late, fabled Parisian decorator Andree Putnam, who planned the interiors for Ian Schrager’s New York-based boutique property, Morgan’s Hotel. Heavy glass bead curtains partition separate dining areas. A vertical garden rises up six stories on one side of the inner courtyard, making the inhabitants feel as if they were part of Tarzan’s jungle without leaving the safety of Paris. This is a revered piece of design work which has now been copied the world over – and the best part, you get to eat there.

Our suggestion: Beef or tuna tartare. Tartare is very much a French gastronomic invention. Made with impeccable grades of meat, a “steak” is finely chopped with capers and herbs and topped with a raw egg. Delicious.

  • Price: Order the land (beef), 18€, and sea version (tuna), 18€, along with a side dish of Russian caviar served on a hard-boiled egg, 130€. To drink, a super cold martini or a flute of champagne.  That’s the way to roll.
  • Hours: Sunday – Monday, 7:00am – 1:00am, Tuesday – Saturday, 7am – 2:00am.
  • Website: www.pershinghall.com
  • Address: 49 Rue Pierre Charron 75008, Paris, France
  • Phone: 33 1 58 36 58 00

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Paris's 8th ArrondissementStay: Four Seasons, George V

I know, I know. You’re thinking who is this guy who is going to recommend the Four Seasons, Paris? First, the French are the best at service. It’s not born from fawning obsequiousness, but a genuine pleasure in making sure guests receive the best. If you are happy, they are happy. Staying at any of the French hotels is definitely an experience, but if you’re in the 8th, and  have a few Benjamins to burn, this would be my suggestion. There is an indoor pool, one of the few hotels in the City of Lights to have one (except the re-modeled Ritz will be having one soon, too).  www.fourseasons.com/paris

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: Braised Leeks in Cream and Tarragon (Kitchen Sense, Mitchell Davis)

I know that as I write this that I’m not the only person who walks into a grocery store or farmers market and says, “I want to make something I’ve never made.” Recently, it was with leeks for me. I’ve cooked leeks but always as a supporting character in pot pies, vichyssoise, and fried for decoration. Thrown into stews. Chopped for soups. Roasted with meats. However, I’ve never used a leek as the main ingredient.

In Mitchell Davis’ lovely and massive cookbook, Kitchen Sense, which we are currently cooking from for the month of May; he had a recipe for Braised Leeks in Cream and Tarragon…making the onion relative, the star of the dish. (It’s Memorial Day weekend and I’m talking about braising instead of grilling. I always did like to go against the stream. Heh.)

Besides the leeks, the cream and the tarragon, the other major ingredients are butter and white wine. Very French. Before even making it, you can imagine the taste and subtle sweetness of the leeks with the cream’s richness. (I think a really good Loire Valley sauvignon blanc or a dry Belgian, non-fruit craft beer would be a good accompaniment; a light beverage with crispness and acidity.)

Leeks at Santa Monica Farmer's Market

The methodology for making this vegetable braise is very simple but it does take a lengthy time to cook. I would make this for a holiday gathering or a dinner party when I have another item roasting in the oven. The dish is also lovely to present at a table.

Davis wants you to serve one leek per person. I feel it’s better at two leeks per person since this would be the only vegetable I’m serving; therefore, I’m doubling the recipe. If you are making the dish for two,  cut it back to four leeks. (I think you can figure that out.)

Let’s Make This Puppy: Braised Leek with Cream & Tarragon

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature

8 leeks, trimmed to white with about an inch of green

1 cup of white wine

½ cup of cream

4 sprigs of tarragon leaves; chopped

1 bay leaf

Salt and white pepper for seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use some of the butter to grease a large baking dish (maybe something that goes from oven to table).

Remove the tops of the leeks, leaving one inch of the green; thoroughly, rinse the leeks in water and then cut them in half, lengthwise. Dry them on kitchen towels. (I try not to use paper towels and conserve resources….but if you must use paper towels…do so, just remember that you can purchase really inexpensive kitchen towels at your Walmart, Target, or other large discount for pennies. You can wash them as often as you want and will last you longer than your roll of paper towels.)

Place the leeks cut side down in the baking dish and pour the wine and cream over. The vegetables should be about three-fourths submerged. If not, just add a little more wine or cream. You choose. Add the bay leaf and scatter the tarragon. Season well with salt and pepper. Using the remaining butter, spot the top of the leeks. Cover tightly with aluminum foil baking for an hour and a quarter.

The leeks should be tender. If you used an oven-to-table baking dish as I recommended, just remove the bay leaf and serve.

It’s a pretty awesome dish but a little heavy with a little too much cooking time for a regular weekday meal but for a special occasion….it’s perfect!

Braised Leeks