Professor, blogger, tweeter and chef, Christopher Koetke shares some of his tricks around the kitchen
When chef Christopher Koetke, VP of The School of the Culinary Arts of Kendall College, Chicago was in the sixth grade, he knew he wanted to be a food professional for the rest of his life. Koetke was raised in Valparaiso, Indiana on his mum’s cooking — she specialised in baking. The gregarious chef is also an expert ice carver with a degree in French literature. He travels around the world experiencing local cuisine, interacting with local gourmands, appearing on cooking shows, blogging, tweeting and demystifying cooking techniques in general.
We caught up with him over a free-wheeling cooking demo at the ITC Windsor, and later, over lunch, where he proceeded to demolish a healthy pile of Kerala parathas and Chettinad chicken curry with undisguised relish.In between hearty mouthfuls, he shared his foodie preferences and cheat sheet with us.
I think dosas make fantastic breakfast food. In my home, crepes and waffles rule, although I love eggs — really farm fresh, over easy with thick yellow yolks, and buttered toast. Add some hot sauce, potatoes, mushrooms or spinach for a real feast.
My fridge is always stocked up with different mustards, especially hot ones! Milk for my morning cafe au lait, carrots and celery that are my base ingredients and lots of lettuce — since I love salads especially when made from strong, bitter greens. I keep assorted miso, to add some depth and flavour to different dishes.I always pat meat or fish completely dry before cooking to prevent it from sticking to the grill or sauté pan. And to brown the meat just right.
I drain spaghetti and immediately mix in some fat like olive oil or butter. This adds flavor and keeps the pasta from sticking together.
I never overcrowd my pan as the food then cools down the temperature of the metal and it is impossible for the heat source to keep up. Thus, meat turns grey and vegetables get soft and mushy.
I like to use a small amount of vinegar or citrus juice when cooking to turn purple vegetables like red cabbage a beautiful color. And to keep white vegetables very white. But acid with green vegetables is a disaster and renders them an unappealing dark green colour.
For the perfect roast chicken, use a top quality bird, position the bird breast down in the oven, use high heat to brown the skin initially, never overcook it and preferably brine it ahead of time in a mix of water, salt, sugar and seasonings to keep it really moist.