Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Episode 3: Chef Jet Tila, The Charleston, Santa Monica CA

Chef Jet Tila's toothpaste commercial
Chef Jet Tila was the ideal candidate for a mystery ingredient that would have sent weaker chefs screaming and running for the door; his bigger than life persona convinced us that he was the right person to take on our biggest (literally) challenge to date in Kamikaze Kitchen's Episode 3. Chef Tila takes command of every situation he's in, and Episode 3 of Kamikaze Kitchen was no exception - armed with his knife-laden mini-coffin, Tila addressed the situation with skill, strength and science. Of course, Chef Tila is no stranger to challenges on a gargantuan scale - in addition to breaking world's records for the longest California roll at (at an impressive 442 feet) and a record for the largest stir fry (1,085 pounds in a single wok), he recently took the Guinness crown for a 6,658 pound fish stew at UMass Amherst (using the same pan as the one used for the stir fry).

Tila cut his teeth as a boy working in the renowned Bangkok Market and Royal Thai restaurant in L.A.'s Thai Town, further honing his skills at Le Cordon Bleu and California Sushi Academy. In addition to appearing on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, Chef Tila has also regularly appeared on NPR and the Food Network, as well as clashing blades with legendary chef Masaharu Morimoto on Iron Chef America. Tila has written regular columns for The Los Angeles Times and Las Vegas Weekly, is a frequent guest on KCRW's Good Food with Evan Kleiman and is the host of KLAA's radio program, The SoCal Restaurant Show.
Making Chef Tila an offer he can't re
Chef Tila's reputation led him to be chosen to helm Wazuzu at Wynn Las Vegas’ Encore casino in Las Vegas, where he served as Executive Chef from 2008 through 2011, a stint that earned the restaurant a place on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List Tables” list. In 2011, he returned to Los Angeles to partner with Chef Alex Ageneau on the innovative BistroNominics fine dining pop-up. He recently became owner and Executive Chef of The Charleston in Santa Monica, California a night spot, drinking and dining establishment that exudes a classy 1920s vibe, which is where Kamikaze Kitchen caught up with him to do a little contract work and accept an offer he couldn't refuse. Chef Tila quickly dispatched of our victim and transformed an alligator's head into a variation of The Charleston's signature dish which he simply calls, "Gator and Waffles". If you feel so inclined to acquire an alligator's head from ExoticMeatMarket.net and attempt Chef Tila's creation, a recipe is provided here:

The assembled Gator and Waffles

Gator and Waffles

Chicken-fried Alligator
  • 1/2 gallon buttermilk
  • 2 qts. water
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Cajun or crab boil spices
  • 1 gallon oil (grape seed or peanut)
  1. Using a sharp knife, pull as much meat as possible off the alligator's head in pieces about the size of two fingers; if you find a bullet, set it aside as a conversation piece
  2. Heat the water until boiling and then add the salt; when the salt is dissolved, remove from heat and refrigerate
  3. Add the pieces of alligator meat to the cold salt water, making sure the meat is completely submerged; refrigerate for 1 hour
  4. Pour off the brine and rinse the container, placing the meat back in afterwards
  5. Add enough buttermilk to cover the meat and refrigerate overnight
  6. Drain off and replace the buttermilk and refrigerate for at least another 2 hours
  7. Combine flour and your choice of spices in a large bowl
  8. Heat the fryer or large skillet to 350°
  9. Dredge the meat through the flour until evenly coated
  10. Add the meat to the oil and fry until brown color is achieved; remove and drain on a rack


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  1. Combine all ingredients and blend until evenly mixed.
  2. Coat hot waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Pour or ladle waffle batter evenly onto hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown

Assembling the Dish:

  1. Stack the alligator fingers upright on the waffle
  2. Garnish with chopped red onion and chiles, top with cilantro
  3. Serve with small cup of maple syrup with swirl of Sriracha
Follow The Charleston on Twitter at and on Facebook at /TheCharlestonLA
Follow Chef Jet Tila on Twitter at on Facebook at /chefjettila
and on the web at http://charlestonla.com/

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Episode 2: Chef Kyle Schutte, 54Twenty, Hollywood CA

Chef Kyle Schutte vacuum seals some of the ingredients for his peacock dish
In Episode 2 of  Kamikaze Kitchen, we brought to Chef Kyle Schutte at 54Twenty what we thought was a collection of unusual ingredients that would have him baffled and bemused. Our desire to work with Chef Schutte stemed from experiencing his innovative work utilizing molecular gastronomy while he served as the Executive Chef at the former Vū Restaurant in Marina del Rey, California. Modest and highly personable, Chef Schutte seems to only be limited by his imagination; he rarely follows others and eagerly shares his technique. It is not uncommon to see him waiting and bussing tables, asking patrons for their opinion on the cuisine. Kyle has only been in the Los Angeles area a few years; his foray into the culinary arts began in May of 2004 with an entry level position at the Tuscarora Mill restaurant in Leesburg, Virginia, which frequently made Washington D.C.'s annual top 100 list.

Having begged forgiveness for the pizza fiasco

He continued his education at the Art Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating early with President's List honors. While in Atlanta, Chef Schutte worked under the guidance of Executive Chef and Iron Chef America / Top Chef participant Richard Blais and Chef Tom Harvey; as recognition of his skills, he was quickly promoted to Sous Chef at the age of 24. In 2009, he was the first chef in North Carolina to utilize cutting-edge molecular gastronomy techniques, including the use of liquid nitrogen.

Shortly after his arrival on the Los Angels area, Chef Schutte was tagged as one of the city's top young chefs to watch in 2011 by Angeleno Magazine and was honored with one of LA's top five pork dishes on Grubstreet. During his tenure at Vū, the restaurant was named one of L.A.'s top 10 hotel restaurants by the Huffington Post.

Chef Schutte's most recent venture has been fast-tracking the former Angel's Diner in Hollywood into the 21st century with a unique take on not-so-typical diner fare at 54Twenty. It was an extreme pleasure working with Chef Schutte, having been floored by his engineering of peacock organ meats into a spectacular dish whose ingredients were barely recognizeable. Chef Schutte presents his elaborate recipe for the epic dish here for your creative enjoyment - good luck! The episode's mystery ingredient can be purchased from ExoticMeatMarket.net:
The assembled peacock liver, heart and tongue dish
Peacock Hearts, Liver and Tongue

Root Beer Spiked Peacock Hearts:
  • 2 peacock hearts
  • 2 g. root beer spice
    • 5 g. file powder
    • 1 g. finely ground star anise
    • 2.5 g. finely ground fennel seed
    • 0.8 g. ground black pepper
    • 3 g. finely ground juniper berries
    • 4 vanilla beans (seeds scraped out)
    • 0.5 g. dehydrated, finely minced spearmint leaves
    • 2.3 g. black tea
  • 4 g. finely ground orange peel
  • .5 g Kosher salt
  1. Preheat a circulator water bath to 62.8°C (145°F); while the water bath comes to temperature, season the peacock hearts with salt and add the root beer spice.
  2. Transfer seasoned hearts into a vacuum bag and seal on full vacuum.
  3. When the bath comes to temperature, cook the vacuumed sealed hearts for one hour.
  4. Remove hearts from the water bath and allow them to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer the hearts (still in the vacuum bag) into a deep container and run them under cold water until they reach an internal temperature below 4. 5°C (40°F).
  6. When the hearts have chilled, remove them from the bag.
  7. With a sharp knife remove the valve end of the hearts and discard; reserve the rest of the hearts for plating.
Peacock Livers:
  • 6 peacock livers
  • 100 ml. olive oil
  • 1 g. root beer spice
  • 10 g. thinly-shaved fennel
  • 15 g. thinly-shaved Spanish onion
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 clove thinly-shaved garlic
  • 4 fl. oz. root beer
  • 4 fl. oz. heavy cream
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  1. Sweat the fennel, onion and garlic in a rondeau over medium-low heat; when the onion is translucent, remove everything and reserve.
  2. Place the rondeau over high heat and add the remaining oil.
  3. Just before the oil gets to the smoke point, add the livers and season with salt and pepper.
  4. When the bottom of the livers have caramelized, reduce the heat back to medium-low and flip the livers.
  5. Add the reserved cooked fennel, onions, garlic along with the scraped vanilla bean and root beer spice.
  6. Continue to cook until the livers reach an internal temperature of 62.8°C (145°F) (medium).  Deglaze with the root beer and transfer all contents of the pan into a blender.
  7. Puree the contents of the pan, slowly incorporating the cream and then the parsley.
  8. When the livers have been completely pureed pass them through a fine mesh sieve and reserve all the solids in the sieve.
  9. Transfer the strained mousse into a heat-resistant container and allow to cool under refrigeration.
  10. Using a sharp knife, mince the reserved solids until they are fine enough to cannelle and reserve for plating.
Peacock Tongue:
  • 1 peacock tongue
  • 400 ml. root beer
  • 100 ml. Kosher salt
  1. Set a circulator to 87.8°C (145°F); while the water bath heats, combine root beer and Kosher salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together until salt has completely dissolved.
  2. Add the tongue to the brine in a vacuum bag and seal at 100% vacuum.
  3. When the water bath has come to temperature, cook the contents for 4 hours.
  4. Remove the tongue from the vacuum bag and allow it to rest at room temp for 10 minutes.  Remove the cartilage and bone from the center of the tongue and discard.
  5. Cut the tongue into thin strips and fry in oil heated to 350°F until crispy; reserve for assembly. 
Oak & Vanilla Sponge:
  • 100 g. wine corks
  • 2 vanilla beans (pods scraped)
  • 500 ml. cold water
  • 1 g. Kosher salt
  • 6 sheets gelatin (bronze)
  1. In a small sauce pot, combine corks, scraped vanilla beans, cold water and salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat to maintain a very low simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to steep for another 20 minutes before straining.
  4. Chill ½ of the strained oak broth in a freezer, but do not allow it to freeze.
  5. Bloom the gelatin in ice water and bring the other half of the broth back up to a high simmer.
  6. When the broth reaches a simmer, squeeze all the water out of the bloomed gelatin and whisk it into the broth.
  7. Transfer the oak and gelatin mixture to a mixer fitted with a whip attachment and then whip the broth on high speed until it forms stiff peaks.
  8. Continue to whip the gelatin and begin to slowly incorporate the chilled broth.
  9. When all the oak has been mixed together, spread it out onto a lined sheet tray using an offset spatula.
  10. Place the sheet tray in the refrigerator and allow the sponge to completely set.
  11. Remove the sponge from the sheet tray and using a ruler, cut the sponge into 1 cm. Cubes; reserve for assembly.
Celery Root Puree:
  • 2 celery root
  • 1 g. salt
  1. Square off the top and bottom of the celery root bulbs and then, using a sharp knife, remove the skin from the bulb, discarding the skin.
  2. Using a juicer, juice the meat of the celery root, but do not strain.
  3. Combine the celery root juice and salt in a small sauce pot and slowly reduce over low heat by 2/3.
  4. When the celery root takes on the color of caramelized onion and begins to thicken, transfer the reduction into a heat-resistant container and allow to cool under refrigeration; reserve for assembly.
Candied Lemon:
  • 2 lemons
  • 300 ml. Water
  • 300 ml. granulated sugar
  1. Using a citrus zester, zest the lemons in long single strokes from the center of the top to the center of the bottom.
  2. Combine the lemon zest, water and 300 ml. of granulated sugar in a small sauce pot and cook over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved and the zest is tender.
  3. Strain the zest from the syrup and toss in the remaining 100 g. of sugar.
  4. Place each strip of zest separately on a sheet tray lined with a silpat and bake at 300°F for 10 minutes.  Remove zest from oven and allow to crisp at room temperature; reserve for assembly.
Assembling the Dish:
  1. In a long shallow bowl, swipe a tablespoon of the peacock liver mousse across the center from one end to the other in an even strip.
  2. Slice the hearts on a bias about ½ cm. thick using a sharp knife.
  3. Shingle the heart slices standing up across the center of the plate on top of the mousse.
  4. Alternating sides, place three cannelles of the chopped liver and three cannelles of the celery root puree along the sides of the shingled hearts; fill in any negative space between cannelles with a cube of the oak sponge, trying to place 3 cubes on each side of the hearts.
  5. On top of each cube of oak, place a strip of crispy peacock tongue.
  6. Garnish with six strips of candied lemon and micro celery.
Follow 54Twenty on Twitter at @54_TWENTY and on Facebook at /54Twenty
Follow Chef Kyle Schutte on Twitter at @KyleSchutte2, on Facebook at /Kyle Schutte and on the web at www.kylesstyle.comhttp://www.kylesstyle.com/.