LisaScolaro, Executive Chef of Movable Feast//Photo by
Food trend I love:
Healthy awareness. I love that people are starting to realize that eating less processed food and ingredients grown closer to the earth are so much better for them. I have been able to really influence and entice people into trying a more varied menu, especially vegan and vegetarian items. We are definitely serving more cutting-edge comfort food that is super healthy. Of the four to six soups I keep on rotation, I have been able to get customers to try new flavor combinations: Thai watermelon smoothie, turmeric-ginger-carrot bisque, za’atar eggplant and tomato—all soups made from fresh reductions of ingredients without heavy roux or thickeners. A lighter version of eggplant Parmigiana is an eggplant caprese made without any breading and roasting the eggplant without a lot of oils or fats. The staff is also learning to suggest dishes to pair together for our takeout case. An example of this would be polenta with caponata and broccoli rabe-stuffed chicken.
Food trend that should go away:
Gluten free. Such a buzz (kill) word right now. People should research gluten’s properties a little more before they drop that phrase.
Ingredient I love:
I love experimenting with exotic cuisines, actually using different countries’ indigenous fruits, vegetables, sauces and spices. My new favorite spice blend is za’atar with sumac. It works well with chick peas, eggplant, poultry. Also aquafaba—whipped chick pea liquid—is so exciting for vegan replacement or egg white. It changes the game for macaroons, veggie cakes and all kinds of baked goods without the addition of chemical substitutes.
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Tool I can’t live without:
My 8-inch Henckels French knife has been in my hand almost 30 years. It is an extension of myself. My University of Delaware students in the HRIM Culinary major gave it to me when they graduated. It is a cherished gift, and I would feel naked without it in the kitchen.
My favorite cookbook:
Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook” always brings back fond memories of my grandmother. I have her Blue Books of handwritten recipe notes that she wrote while watching Julia Child on TV.
My favorite restaurant:
Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. I went there for my birthday and was treated by Chef Trotter like a queen. His mother was hosting that night and found out it was my birthday. (The reservation had been booked for a year and I was a bit excited.) Charlie gave me a tour of the kitchen, and someone in his kitchen staff recognized me from Delaware. Charlie whipped around in amazement and said, “Are you famous?” He gave me his cookbook and signed it, “After cuisine there is only love.” I’ll never forget that meal. Rest in peace, chef.
My final meal:
My grandmother’s stuffed artichokes, a time-consuming preparation of fresh globe artichokes carefully stuffed with the Italian trinity of garlic, Parmesan and bread crumbs, drizzled with olive oil and splashed with lemon, steamed till tender—and my mom’s spinach and leek sorta, a traditional pastry stuffed torte with sautéed leeks, spinach, cheese and eggs. No one will ever cook like those two. I want to be surrounded by my family, reminiscing and laughing. That’s the way to go. Plus, it takes a while to eat an artichoke properly.