Executive Chef John Medall of The Patio on Lamont Street makes good use of ‘unusable portions’. Get his recipe here for Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Basil Oil Garnish. His number one rule in the kitchen: “Nothing goes in the trash!”
Q&A with Executive Chef John Medall of The Patio on Lamont Street
By Maria Desiderata Montana
Q: What is your cooking background and how did you come up with the idea of putting good use to otherwise ‘unusable portions’ ?
JM: I was born into the hotel business. Money matters and I figured, hey, if I can save the restaurant a ton of money by recycling ingredients while in turn helping the environment, why not? The more I can use, the less I take from Mother Nature. Farmers work really hard to provide products for us, if we respect that, the products will be around longer.
Q: Where do you get your organic ingredients?
JM: We have an herb garden outside our restaurant on a small patio where we grow a variety of ingredients including Swiss chard, thyme, basil, mint and chives. Our owner Gina Champion Cain also has a large organic backyard garden and brings us all kinds of healthy goodies.
Q: Do you feel you have a special creative talent in the kitchen?
JM: Yes, I have always been able to think of creative ways to use ingredients. However, I also have the help of two great Sous Chefs, Andre Fuentes and Bob Kennedy. We brainstorm everyday on what great dishes we can invent from unusable portions that would normally end up in the trash.
Q: Tell me about your popular dog treats, what are they made of?
JM: I’m a dog lover with three dogs of my own. Leftovers from pork ribs and pork shanks are trimmed of all the fat. Then the ribs are baked and ground-up from drippings of pork or whatever I have on hand that day. The final touch is adding Peanut Butter, which dogs love. I turn this into doggy biscuits, and every dog that comes in gets one…or two!
Examples of Medall’s re-creations include the following:
- Ripened tomatoes become Tomato Gazpacho
- Oyster mushroom stems are roasted and tossed with herbs, and served with fresh pasta
- Santa Barbara Sea Urchin remains become Sea Urchin butter
- Spring onion bottoms are used to make Spring Onion Pesto
- Swiss Chard Stems are braised in wine and butter, and used for garnish
- Serve fish with the skin attached
- Fish bones are simmered and turned into fish stock or soup (stock can be placed in the freezer for later use)
- Remains from sashimi grade Ahi Tuna is made into ceviche or tuna salad
- Corn stalks are cooked down for a starchy milky product that’s perfect for a veggie based soup or corn chowder
Chef John Medall’s Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Basil Oil Garnish
Yield 1/2 gallon
In a blender incorporate the following:
- The equivalent of 4 medium heirloom tomatoes or any tops and bottoms of tomatoes you might have
- The equivalent of 3 stalks of celery by using the tops and leaves
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic
- The equivalent of 2 red or yellow bell peppers by using the tops and bottoms
- The equivalent of a half of a red onion by using any trim or scraps
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- A pinch of red chili flake or small red chili’s with a little spice
- A large pinch of any fine herbs ( parsley, thyme, rosemary)
- The equivalent of 1/2 cup of left over tomato juice or bottled water
- A large pinch of celery salt
- The equivalent of 3 slices of day old bread
Blend all ingredients until smooth on high speed and slowly add extra virgin olive oil (1 cup total ) to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, garnish with basil oil and a pinch of chiffonade basil and serve
Use any and all stems and left over leaves from basil. Place all ingredients in boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately place in ice water.
In a blender incorporate all blanched basil with 2 cups canola oil and a pinch of salt and pepper until smooth
Heat this mixture in a sauce pan just until oil starts to boil and immediately place in a bowl over ice to cool. Once cool strain through a very fine mesh strainer and or cheese cloth
The Patio on Lamont Street/4445 Lamont St San Diego, CA 92109 (858) 412-4648 www.thepatioonlamont.com