So Much More Than a Cook

Salvatore Giuliano doesn’t just cook for a living.  As Executive Chef of The Restaurant at Ponte one would think he spends his working days grilling steaks, chopping onions, whipping egg whites and mastering gastriques, but an executive chef does so much more than cook.  In a nutshell, he runs the entire kitchen.  This includes managing the kitchen staff, training new hires, maintaining quality and sustainability, ordering equipment and supplies, planning menus, visiting local farms and purveyors to select only the freshest ingredients, managing a budget, researching and keeping up with food trends, assigning tasks, maintaining a clean and orderly kitchen and overseeing each dish that goes from the kitchen to the guests in the dining area.  Phew!  With all this going on, it’s no wonder that executive chefs task most of the actual cooking to their staff.  Don’t get me wrong, in order to achieve this position, chefs cook and train for years. When a new menu is presented at the Restaurant, it is Chef Sal who has created it and spent hours in the kitchen cooking up every dish multiple times in order to get it just right.  When they are to his satisfaction, he trains his staff exactly how to execute them.  And, for the record, it’s not unusual to see Chef Sal cooking up lunch or dinner right alongside his team, especially during a special event.

During our recent New Year’s Eve dinner at The Restaurant Chef Sal decided to make one of the most luxurious, classic and splendid dishes in the culinary world: Beef Wellington.  Traditionally, it is a whole tenderloin of beef that is coated in pate de foie gras and mushroom duxelles (a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots, herbs and butter).  It’s finally wrapped in a sheet of puff pastry and baked until golden brown. It is most often sliced in individual portions and served with a sauce.  Check out Chef Sal at work:


Is that bone marrow on the side?  I can’t even…

You can be sure that everything you see on that plate is local, grassfed, seasonal, fresh or all of the above.  We think it’s easy to see Chef Sal’s passion for food, good ingredients and cooking by the gorgeous dishes he implements day in and day out.  Most recently, he and his team debuted their new winter menu and it is getting rave reviews.  Among the new dishes are Ragu alla Bolognese made with slow-cooked beef and pork, red wine tomato sauce, fresh tagliatelle pasta and sharp pecorino cheese, and a Roasted Fennel Salad which features gorgonzola cheese, candied walnuts, bing cherries and champagne honey vinaigrette.  See the full lunch menu here.

Sal’s view on his position is simple but significant: treat guests as if they are in his own family dining in his own home.  Bravo, chef, it’s working.

Chef Sal’s Beef Wellington

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 cups chopped cremini mushrooms, then pulse in a food processor until finely blended
  • 5 Thin slices of prosciutto
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lb (1 sheet) frozen puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator overnight
  • 3 lb center-cut tenderloin of beef, trimmed, side muscle removed from your local market butcher
  • 3 tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Make the duxelles

Heat the butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over low heat. Add the shallots, stirring for a couple of minutes, until shallots are translucent. Add the pulsed chopped mushrooms.  Continue to stir, raise the heat to medium. Keep cooking until the mushrooms have evaporated most of their liquid while cooking down to a thick paste type mixture.  This should take about 20 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Stir in parsley, pull off the burner and set aside to cool.

Assemble and bake the Wellington

Remove the beef from the refrigerator and set on your work area on a plate for 30 minutes to take the chill off of it. Pat the beef dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the 1 tsp olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (cast iron would work great) over very high heat until hot. Carefully place the beef in the pan and sear on all sides until it is evenly browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a sheet pan and brush the 3 tbs of Dijon mustard all over the seared beef and cool.
Lay your puff pastry on the work bench, lay the 5 slices of prosciutto butting each other in the center of puff pastry dough.  Than spread ¼” thin layer of your mushroom duxelle over the prosciutto to three quarters of your puff pastry sheet leaving approx. 1.5” dry on both ends.  Than three quarters of the middle leaving approximately 1.5” dry from duxelle on the bottom and top of puff pastry sheet.

Place the tenderloin on the lower portion of the mushroom duxelle and carefully roll/wrap it around the filet, pressing and molding it into a long cylinder. Brush some of the beaten egg along the bottom edge of the seam and then press gently to seal; trim off any excess then seal the pastry on both ends.
Lightly grease a large baking sheet with some sort of oil spray. Lift the Wellington onto the sheet, seam side down.  Place your oven rack in the center of the oven than preheat to 400°F.
Brush the Wellington with the remaining beaten egg.  Place the Wellington in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 375°F.  Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F.  Continue baking until the internal temperature reads 125 degrees for medium rare, approx. Wellington.  Serve with mashed potato and asparagus, baby carrots or your favorite starch and vegetable

–Erica Martinez

–Recipe from Salvatore Giuliano


Posted by , January 13, 2015 No comments

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