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Two Local Chefs Write Cookbook With Worldly Recipes

Chef Bernard and Chef Ron will be signing copies of "Flying Pans" tonight at the Marine Room from 4-7 p.m. And there will be two signings on November 7th - one at the Macy's School of Cooking and one at the Borders in Mission Valley. For more information, go to the website Two Chefs One World.

Audio

Aired 10/29/09

Two local chefs who love to travel have written a cookbook called "Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World." Chefs Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver from the Marine Room restaurant in La Jolla have gathered all of their favorite recipes from around the world and compiled them into a book for you to use at home.

The book cover for their new collaborative book of recipes features Chefs Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver of the Marine Room in La Jolla.
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Above: The book cover for their new collaborative book of recipes features Chefs Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver of the Marine Room in La Jolla.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Ever wonder what chefs do when they travel? Well, you might guess they'd take a vacation from thinking about food and heat up a frozen dinner in the hotel room, but you'd be wrong. No, being a chef is more vocation than vacation and traveling the world is just one more opportunity to sample the endless delights of food. Two local chefs decided to assemble some of the favorite recipes they've picked up from their travels abroad and create a cookbook. It's called "Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World," and the authors are here to talk about it. I’d like to welcome Chef Bernard Guillas, Executive Chef of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, and Marine Room restaurant. Chef Bernard, welcome.

BERNARD GUILLAS (Chef): So fun to be here. Thank you for having us.

CAVANAUGH: And Chef Ron Oliver is the Chef de Cuisine of the Marine Room in La Jolla. Chef Ron, welcome.

RON OLIVER (Chef): Thank you very much.

CAVANAUGH: Well, you both travel a lot and, you know, thinking about this book, there’s this image that comes to mind of both of you talking about recipes while you’re together in the Marine Room, preparing a wonderful meal. Is that how the idea for this cookbook happened? Did you – just happenstance? Just casually come about as you traded recipes between each other? Chef Bernard.

GUILLAS: Well, it’s a bit – it’s a bit like that, yes, except that I was just flying back from Singapore and Ron and I met in the office and it was about like maybe at 10:30 at nighttime and he tells me, say, basically, Chef, you’ve been traveling like crazy. And I had a map of the world in my office, so I took that out, so I say, well, let’s check it out. And I traveled to over 40 different countries. So I asked him the same question and he told me he’d traveled to about 20 countries. So at that time I just went, hmm, that’s pretty cool. So he just tell me, well, hey, what about if we do a cookbook? So I thought it was the greatest idea and I just went, yes, let’s do it and let’s start it tomorrow. And that’s what we did.

CAVANAUGH: Now this cookbook is like – it is like a map of the world. Was that your intention? Chef Ron.

OLIVER: Right. The thing with travel that really appeals to me is that you can make friends so easily by talking to people in different countries about their food. It’s kind of like the common language. So that was what I was thinking because Chef Bernard has traveled a lot and I’ve traveled a lot but it’s not really the quantity of travel but the quality of travel, the way we travel and kind of do a cultural immersion with people. And so we had so many notes and we had stockpiled them in the office and I was just thinking, you know, this is just a manuscript waiting to happen.

CAVANAUGH: Now as you sort of brainstormed this cookbook of “Flying Pans”—great name by the way.

GUILLAS: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: As you brainstormed it, did you start just throwing out recipe after recipe? Did you have to cull it down because you had so many?

OLIVER: Yeah.

GUILLAS: Well, the first thing we had to do was this, was we had to select which country we will be showcasing. So we got onto the computer and made a list, and alphabetically, and we just went, okay, those are the 40 countries that we will be writing about. And then we will…

CAVANAUGH: Forty?

GUILLAS: Forty.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

GUILLAS: Four-zero, yeah. And then we just went, okay, now what we need to do is we need to really structure the book. So we structured the book and we wanted to bring all experience. I mean, first of all, you need to have the gathering, so at the gathering you have the cocktail and you have some tray pass hors d’oeuvres and you start to build your chapters. And into the chapters, we really wanted to do something that would be vegetarian as well. So like this, you would have a complete book. Now the book was supposed to be 185 pages. At 300 pages, Ron looked at me and say, Bernard, stop. Because it’s like when you make a recipe, it never ends. You need to stop now. So we just stopped at 300.

CAVANAUGH: And Chef Ron, when you say it’s so easy to get to know a country because people like to talk about the food that they eat, where specifically do you go to start finding out about – do you go to the markets? Do you go to the restaurants? Where do you start?

OLIVER: Well, when I travel, the first thing I look at when I’m – even before I leave is where is the market? Because that is the first place that’s going to tell you what this country’s food is really about and what their culinary traditions are about as well. But I take every opportunity I have when I travel in the restaurants, with the people who are serving you, even just people on the street, stop and ask them a question. Then all of a sudden it turns to food and now you’re best friends. So I know – and I know Chef Bernard does the same thing as well.

CAVANAUGH: You travel, too, and you check out the markets first thing?

GUILLAS: The first thing is the market for a couple of reason. I really love to embrace the culture and this is where all the soul of the culture will be because everyone shops at the market. So it’s really neat because you grab a cup of coffee or tea or everything depending on where you are and you watch people and you go from stalls to stalls and people really connect with you. And you end up by tasting a lot of different things and it makes it such an incredible journey on its own. I have to tell you, with my girlfriend, when we travel, she just go, are we going to the market? Yes. How long we will be in the market? So, I’m most likely three hours. So she is – sometimes she goes, okay, I will go shopping over there, we’ll meet over here. Because I do all the stalls. You know, when you’re at the market, all your senses are awakened. I mean, you have so much. You have the sight, you have the smell, you have the presentation, the color, the vibe. And you really should – it brings you – this is what life is all about, all that beautiful vibes.

CAVANAUGH: Now does that mean that the recipes in this book include ingredients that may be hard to find here in the U.S., Chef Ron?

OLIVER: Well, what happened is we started off with the recipes and now one thing I want to mention is these recipes in the book are inspired by the different countries; they’re not necessarily authentic recipes from different countries. But they’re based on discoveries that we’d have of different ingredients or techniques and then we bring them and kind of tailor them to the American palette and to the American kitchen.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s start to talk about what’s in this book because it’s just really a remarkably beautiful book but it also, as you pointed out, Chef Bernard, it’s in sections and you start out with cocktails. And so I imagine the research for this section might’ve been a little bit fun, Chef Ron. How did you do this research?

OLIVER: Cocktails, they’re a great way to get comfortable in the kitchen but not just because you’re drinking them.

CAVANAUGH: Yes.

OLIVER: It’s because cocktails are, I would say, they’re a basic preparation. There’s only a few ingredients, and you’re just – there’s not as much time investment in a cocktail as there is in cooking so you can really relax and have fun, not be nervous about it and just really play around. So that’s what Chef Bernard and I did, is we just played and we come up with five different bubblies based on sparkling wines, four martinis and four mojitos. These are recipes that you can do and make them and serve them in a gathering type of situation, so they’re in the Gathering chapter.

CAVANAUGH: Do you have one – we’re coming up on the holiday season. Do you have one holiday cocktail that you particularly like? Either one? I’ll take either one of you.

GUILLAS: I’ve got to tell you, there’s one who goes pretty much all the way around. You have the – the one who was done with the rose water and some pomegranate juice and this is just – makes it just fantastic. It’s very romantic, you know.

CAVANAUGH: Sounds it, yeah.

GUILLAS: And the one who is really for the – I would say is for the fall is – we have a belly poc (?) who has a little bit of Campari, grapefruit, I mean, you have the citrus are coming into play right now, and a little bit of absinthe. So absinthe, you know, it was like the ohh-ohh, crazy little liqueur. Well, you know, the day that we tried all those recipes at my house, there were no knife in the kitchen. We wanted to make sure that we were really safe. And, goodness, we all had to take a little nap in the afternoon before we had dinner.

CAVANAUGH: Nobody went mad, though.

GUILLAS: No. Everybody was so happy.

CAVANAUGH: Well, let’s move on to the recipe part after we’ve had this lovely gathering with the cocktails. This is fall, as you mentioned, and there are fall recipes, good fall recipes, in this book. There’s a Portobello Mushroom Bisque that looks quite warming and wonderful. Tell us a little bit about that, Chef Bernard.

GUILLAS: Well, I was traveling in Umbria and in the city of Monton and there was the Festa del Bosco, which is a big celebration and for artisans, farmers, academics from all over the world come in, but we go on a mushroom hunt. So mushrooms, when you gather mushroom you really have to go with someone who is a specialist because there is a lot of mushrooms who can be very dangerous. So we got porcinis, we got everything and portobellos and I just went, umm. We did a big soup because it was cold that day, and we did a big soup at nighttime. And this was where I – when I came back over here, I say, you know what, I want a mushroom that it was going to be readily available everywhere, and portobello is very meaty and is really earthy and by using only the portobello instead of all the porcini and everything else that we had over there, it would have work really well. But what we do is we fortify the Portobello Mushroom Bisque with some dried porcini mushrooms. So you take some dried porcinis who are readily available, you make sure that they are nice and dry, you put them into your spice grinder and it becomes a powder. And then just to – you put it just at the end of the making of the soup and it just pops. A little bit of pancetta, a little bit of mascarpone, and truffle oil and, guess what, ohh-la-la, umm. I got to tell you, I can feel it. It will be so good for the winter.

CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Chef Bernard and Chef Ron and they are the two chefs who have created the new book called “Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World.” Now you mentioned a little prosciutto, didn’t you, just now?

GUILLAS: The pancetta, umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: Pancetta, sorry. I’m wondering, there is a whole section in this book for vegetarians, isn’t there?

OLIVER: There is.

CAVANAUGH: And tell us about that.

OLIVER: Okay, we have a vegetarian section. It’s divided into three categories: rice, potatoes, and then vegetables. And these are items that you can make and accompany them to almost any recipe in the book. So when you’re flipping through the book…

CAVANAUGH: Ooh, uh-huh.

OLIVER: …you see a protein that you like or a different dish that you like, and then you can go to the back and you can accompany that with another vegetable or a starch. So also we have some suggestions inside the recipes. For example, on the veal dish, we suggest that you serve it with the braised endive and then that recipe is also found in the vegetable section. So you can use the book in different ways.

CAVANAUGH: That’s remarkable. I have – I hadn’t actually seen that in a cookbook before. Is that you – your invention?

GUILLAS: Yeah, I just wanted to – We wanted to really make sure that it was not only the recipe itself but add another section. So like this makes it a lot of fun and it caters to everyone.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

GUILLAS: You have the Arroz Verde who is coming from Mexico. You have a plum spice, a black rice who is coming from Thailand, you have a Bengalese rice who is coming from India and is a casserole that we make with leeks. So you have a little bit of all the flavors going. And what I love about the book is this: If you are in a mood to do, let’s say, an Italian dinner tonight, you can flip through the index and we did an index by country. So you can really build it around one country or you can become like I do sometime, I become the globetrotter. I start in India, I end up in South America and, well, I got to stop to see my grandmother in France, so you go zoom, zoom, zoom.

CAVANAUGH: You know, I have to tell you if there’s one problem with this book, it’s that there’s really just too many gorgeous desserts in here. I mean, they’re just really remarkable. There’s this one called Sardinian Almond Biscotti Torte and it’s just – it’s just as lovely to look at, I think probably, as it is to eat. Tell us a little bit about that.

GUILLAS: You know, I discovered that recipe by accident. I was not supposed to go to Sardinia. I was doing a promotion on Norwegian Cruise Line and we had really rough weather in the Mediterranean and someone broke her horn. So we had to stop by and I end up in Sardinia. Get out of the place and during, says, oh, look, there’s a interesting shop over there. We go into the shop, I start looking at things, the owners became friends instantly. So they asked me, how long do you have? Oh, I say, I got about three, four hours. We did – we tasted prosciutto, we tasted everything, and they had that beautiful cake. So they use Mirto and Mirto is a beautiful liqueur who is very good for digestion. Usually that’s what they are using with their – right after coffee, for example. But they also put him into the cakes. So this is where the cakes come from. And then Ron, Mr. Oliver, look at it, say, oh, it is a little bit naked. Why don’t we make it really look cute.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

GUILLAS: And that’s it. Ron put the really nice slices of lemon around, and it’s really fantastic. I think what really makes the book really interesting though is that you can eat off the pages because the photography that Gregory Bertolini did is just – You know, it’s interesting, Mario Batali called it food porn. I’m like Mario, are you sure you want me to write this down? And he goes, say, Frenchy, you got to write it down, man. This is unbelievable. You wrote that book with Ron together? It’s your first book? So it was really nice. He endorsed the book and it was – it’s fantastic. But, really, the – to have one pictures per recipe, really makes the world out of the book.

CAVANAUGH: Yes. I completely agree because if there’s one thing I like in a recipe book, it’s to see what it’s supposed to look like after I get through with it. Well, if you want to see for yourself what this lovely book, “Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World,” looks like, Chef Bernard and Chef Ron will be signing copies of “Flying Pans” tonight at the Marine Room from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and there will be two signings on November 7th, one at the Macy’s School of Cooking and one at Borders at Mission Valley. For more information, you can go to the website: twochefsoneworld.com. Thank you both so much for being here today.

GUILLAS: It’s our pleasure.

OLIVER: Thank you. It was our pleasure.

CAVANAUGH: And stay with us as These Days continues in just a moment here on KPBS.

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