Many years ago, back when my husband was my boyfriend and we would occasionally cook meals at his home, I found myself continuously surprised by the undisclosed riches tucked away in a galley city kitchen. My rummaging around yielded a double-bladed asparagus peeler, a pastry cutter, springform pans, a mandolin, an ice cream maker, a brigade of cheese knives and the occasional “what’s this for?” question to which he might reply “Oh, that’s a special tool used for poaching eggs.” Suddenly, I was in discovery heaven.
This was no ordinary bachelor kitchen.
Back then, my husband lived with his younger brother who was and is an accomplished chef. Open the freezer and, in addition to the frozen pizza, one would find homemade veal demi-glace. I still remember the first meal that his brother, Mark, cooked for us. Grilled, center cut pork chops, sliced from the loin, in a chasseur sauce. “It means hunter’s sauce,” Mark explained, as he sautéed tomatoes, mushrooms and parsley. At first bite, the flavors were sharp and clear from the parsley and tomato, then full and meaty from the pork and mushroom. Everything balanced, the meat a juicy revelation.
Today, Mark teaches aspiring chefs and most recently, has entered in the Sears Chef’s Challenge. We watched Mark demonstrate how to make sesame encrusted salmon with Chinese long beans and an orange ginger reduction in front of an enthusiastic audience. Mark is competing with other chefs from Chicago in this round and if he wins, he’ll move onto a national round. Readers can help Mark Maassen by clicking on the link above in bold and voting for him. Please do. Voting is open until July 10th.
The dish above was made by Mark during one of the cooking demonstrations.