Do you know about Macy's Culinary Council? It's an all star line up of celebrity chefs including Rick Bayless, Wolfgang Puck, Ming Tsai, Cat Cora, Emeril Lagasse, and more. The goal? To bring cooking back home. In Macy's stores across the country, Culinary Council chefs provide cooking demonstrations and share essential tips. (Check the events page for dates near you.)
Last week, home town Culinary Council member, Chef Tom Douglas, took the helm at Macy's kitchen. With thirteen restaurants under his banner ("soon to be fourteen"), a radio show, the launch of a new cookbook, and appearances across the country, it was fun to see Tom in action.
Macy's flagship store, downtown Seattle
Hot off the press! Tom Douglas' Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. Tom was quick to note the recipes have been tested...and retested by three pastry chefs and two home cooks.
As the crowd swelled to over 100 attendees, I was grateful for prime seating.
Cameraman, ready for action!
Chef Tom Douglas paused for a photo, then quipped, "I have a face for radio."
The Macy's kitchen is an island in the middle of their retail floor.
And my seat was dangerously close to the Le Creuset display!
Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Broccoli Rabe and Fontina
Surprise! I didn't know Dahlia Bakery sold sandwiches. My loss. Of the three recipes we sampled, this was my favorite. The trick here is to caramelize the broccoli rabe and "use a fatty cheese." Tom was quick to add, "That recipe is so good, it actually made the cover [of the book]."
While conversation hovered on the book, Tom took a question from the audience.
"Baking is too precise. I don't measure correctly and then things don't come out right."
Tom's response lingered with me for days:
Learning to bake: "It's worth the effort. I suggest you make one recipe three times. The first time you may make a mistake. The second time, you figure out where you went wrong. The third time...you got it figured out." Repetition is the key.
The next recipe was Tom's contribution in the Macy's Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook.
Coffee-Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy
"Seattle is famous for its coffee. And that inspired me to stuff the turkey cavity with whole roasted coffee beans. Turns out the add a nice toasty-smokey aroma that seasons the bird from within. I leave them in even after the turkey is done. If a few slip out at the table while I'm carving, it's a good conversation starter."
Chef tip: Instead of roasting one big turkey, roast two smaller turkeys. (I'm a fan of this method too.)
Chef tip 2: When buying a knife, make sure you can get your hands on it, and hopefully on a cutting board. Be sure you get a knife that fits your hand. Tom's hands are large and with the wrong knife, his knuckles hit the board.
Herschell Taghap, Tom's social media guru, passing out samples.
Pear Tarts with Dreamy Caramel SauceAnother recipe from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. "I've been making this tart for 25 years." Here Tom's illustrating how to make caramel.
Chef tip: Use a high-sided pan for caramel. When you add cream to the caramelized sugar, it bubbles up ferociously.
Chef tip 2: Chef recommends All Clad stainless in, stainless out pans. Why? They hold up to the abuse in a professional kitchen. In his kitchen, the average All Clad pan lasts 10-15 years. For the home cook? They'll last forever.
Passing out the Pear Tarts. This portion size would be perfect for parties, no?
As I was walking out the door, look who I spotted! Meet Stacy Fortner, Pastry Chef at Dahlia Bakery. Dear Santa, please bring me a copy of this book!