Monday, September 24, 2012

Episode 1: Chefs Ben Ford and Gavin Lansdale, Ford's Filling Station, Culver City CA

Chef Ford prepping the kitchen for what's in the bag
On this premier episode of Kamikaze Kitchen, Val and Eddie visit Executive Chef Benjamin Ford and Chef du Cuisine Gavin Lansdale with a special mystery ingredient that is perfectly in line with Ford's Filling Station's nose-to-tail philosophy. Ford's reputation for using uncommon cuts, as well as preparing dishes such as head cheese and scrapple from scratch earned them a spot on The Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Kamikaze Kitchen co-host Eddie Lin. Both Michelin and Zagat recommended, Ford’s Filling Station received two and a half stars from the Los Angeles Times within the first month of opening.

In addition to Bizarre Food, Chef Ford has appeared on Iron Chef America, The Today Show, Martha Stewart, After Hours with Daniel Boulud, Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution, Supper Club with Tom Bergeron, and The Food Network Sandwich Challenge. Ford's tenure includes The Farm of Beverly Hills, Opus, and Campanile, and after helming Chadwick in Beverly Hills, he opened Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, one of the the first true gastropubs in America. Ford is an urban forager who frequently finds the ingredients of his dishes in the hillsides of Los Angeles and his home. After leaving the University of Southern California to study at the University of Dijon in Burgundy, France, Ford returned to the States to study culinary arts at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He has also spent time with acclaimed chef Alice Waters at the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, and then at the Skywalker Ranch where he helped run three on-site concept restaurants catering to the working community of Lucas Arts, Lucas Films, and THX.

Chefs Lansdale and Ford try to identify their mystery ingredient
A devoted family man, Ford still finds time for charitable culinary events including launching a garden at Farragut Elementary School in Culver City dedicated to teaching students about planting and harvesting an organic garden and serving as Chef Chair for Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation: Los Angeles, an annual culinary festival benefiting Share Our Strength-sponsored food banks in Los Angeles, whose goal is the ending of childhood hunger in America. He also lends his time to the LA Mission, which strives to be a world leader among missions that provide for the poor, restore the addicted, and eliminate homelessness. In honor of LA Mission’s 75th Anniversary, Chef Ford created and prepared a Christmas meal for over 5000 homeless in downtown Los Angeles. Ford’s first cookbook is planned for release at the beginning of 2014.

As Chef de Cuisine at Ford’s Filling Station, Chef Gavin Lansdale enjoys cooking up clever new ways of forging unexpected ingredients into approachable and delicious plates of food.  A native of the rural East of England, Chef Gavin is no stranger to life on the farm and draws inspiration from the hard work and sacrifice of those who provided the building blocks that enabled him to hone his craft.  He demonstrates his respect for ingredients through his simple yet thoughtful preparations that allow the freshness and flavors of food to shine. Chef Lansdale graduated from the Art Institute of California – Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Management. His cooking career began with an unpaid internship at JiRaffe Restaurant in Santa Monica, California, which eventually led to an entry-level position in the kitchen there. During his years at JiRaffe, Lansdale worked his way up the kitchen ladder under the mentorship of Chef de Cuisine Chris Minutoli. In 2009, he was chosen to join the team at Ford’s Filling Station, and he has since enjoyed learning from and collaborating with Executive Chef Ben Ford. Chef Lansdale is especially proud of the Filling Station’s recent title at the 2012 Cochon 555 competition in Los Angeles, in which he played an integral role in developing the menu and organizing the team.  In his very spare time, Chef Gavin follows all things sport, Manchester United in particular.

Chefs Ford and Lansdale present their recipes here for the two dishes created for Episode 1 of Kamikaze Kitchen; the episode's mystery ingredient can be purchased from

Beaver Tail Chile Verde Taco
  • 1 beaver tail
  • 15 tomatillos
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 Serrano chiles
  • 1 jalapeno chile
  • 2 pasilla chiles
  • chicken stock
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • corn tortillas
  • pickled shallots

  1. Sear the beaver tail over high heat until the skin starts to puff up; once puffed up, remove all the skin from the tail and clean.
  2. Roast the beaver tail in a 250° F oven until tender.
  3. In a pot, add the tomatillos, sliced Serrano and jalapeno chiles, and diced yellow onion and then cover with chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until the tomatillos are tender and start to breakdown.
  5. Roast the pasilla chile over a open flame; once cool, peel and de-seed and then add it to the pot.
  6. Blend the tomatillo mixture with the cilantro (reserving a few sprigs of cilantro aside for garnish).
  7. Once the beaver tail is tender, remove it and allow it to cool. Pull the meat off the bone and add it to the chile verde sauce, returning it to the pot to simmer for another 30 minutes to allow flavors to incorporate.
  8. Heat up the tortillas and wrap them a napkin to keep them warm. Pull the leaves off of the cilantro sprigs you had set aside and mix with the pickled shallots.
To assemble the taco, take two tortillas and add a spoonful of the beaver tail chile verde. You can add more of less depending on the size of tortilla you have, garnish with the salad of cilantro leaves and pickled shallots.

Beaver Tail & Sausage Flatbread
  • 1 beaver tail
  • 1 pkg Mattinata sausage/sweet and spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 ball of flatbread/pizza dough
  • 2 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can blanched/peeled tomatoes
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Sear the beaver tail over high heat until the skin starts to puff up; once puffed up, remove all the skin from the tail and clean. 
  2. Roast the beaver tail in a 250° F oven until tender. 
  3. Remove the tail and allow it to cool before pulling the meat off the bone; set the meat aside 
  4. Split the sausage casings, then sauté the sausage in a pan with a little oil until the meat is almost fully cooked.
  5. Cut the onion in half, then slice to about ¼ inch thick; sauté half in a pan until caramelized and set aside. Sauté the other half of the onion in a pot until translucent and then add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.
  6. Add the canned tomato, 1 tbsp. of fresh, chopped oregano, and 1 tbsp. of fresh chopped thyme and then cook the mixture down by half, blending into a smooth sauce.
  7. Roll out the flatbread dough in the shape of a beaver tail and brush a generous layer of the tomato sauce, topping with a sprinkle of the mozzarella.
  8. Add the caramelized onion, beaver tail and sausage meat (making sure to evenly spread the ingredients across the flatbread).
  9. Bake at 400° F until the dough is cooked.

Follow Ford's Filling Station on Twitter at @FordsFilling, and on Facebook at /FordsFillingStation.
Follow Chef Ben Ford on Twitter at @ChefBenFord, and on Facebook at /Chef-Ben-Ford.
Folow Chef Gavin Lansdale on Twitter at @mufc_chef