Chef's Table: A Taste of the Culinary Breeding Network
The Culinary Breeding Network (CBN) is a group of plant breeders, chefs, seed growers, farmers and produce buyers dedicated to discovering and developing vegetable varieties with superior culinary qualities that thrive in the unique climate of the Pacific Northwest. In particular they work to identify varieties of interest, connect plant breeders with chefs to produce desirable varieties, actively promote traditional plant breeding and organic seeds, and increase knowledge exchange among breeders, growers & eaters.
Our Pacific Northwest Sales Rep, Ada Snyder, recently attended the CBN's 2nd Annual Variety Showcase held in Portland, Oregon in September 2015. The event brought together hundreds of farmers, chefs, breeders, journalists and more to taste existing, unreleased and new vegetable varieties & breeding lines focused on superior culinary quality. To get an insiders perspective of this amazing event and hear breeders & chefs discuss their creations, watch the Cooking Up a Story video feature or check out some beautiful photos here.
The Squash You've Never Heard Of
The CBN also works to remove barriers that present themselves to growers, chefs and eaters. Because many farmers struggle with storing winter squash, Alex Stone, OSU Vegetable Specialist, and Lane Selman, OSU Agricultural Researcher & CBN Director, are exploring the market potential of less common winter squashes that store exceptionally well. In many cases these are larger squashes with superior flavor and a drier texture; most are unfamiliar to consumers.
In order to help growers market this kind of squash, consulting chefs Linda Colwell and Timothy Wastell analyzed 14 different winter squash types and evaluated their flavor profiles, provided suggestions for their best culinary applications and developed recipes for each one.
In November 2014 they held a Squash Party at Firehouse Restaurant. They brought together 35 farmers, chefs, seed growers and produce buyers to taste each squash raw, roasted and in a recipe, and to discuss marketing strategies for the varieties. You can learn more about the event and watch Chef Wastell prepare the Black Futsu salad recipe (below) in this video.
About Chef Timothy Wastell:
Chef Wastell loves creating food that is delicious, seasonally inspired, locally sourced, ingredient-focused, and meticulously executed for all people to enjoy. From the humble origins of small family restaurants in Michigan, Timothy has worked in some of the most highly lauded farm-focused restaurants in the West, including Game Creek and La Tour Vail, Paley's Place, the role of Executive Chef of DOC restaurant, and most recently Executive Chef of Old Salt Supperhouse. Outside of the kitchen, Timothy is chef in residence to the Culinary Breeding Network.
Black Futsu Salad with Treviso, Pecorino and Anchovy
2-3 small heads of Treviso, washed
1 “grateable” chunk of Pecorino to yield about 2/3 cup grated
High-quality sea salt such as Jacobsen or Maldon
Fresh black pepper
For the Citronette
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3-1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, very gently and finely diced
1 clove garlic
4 anchovy fillets, preferably Recca brand, packed in olive oil (for a vegetarian version of this dressing, sub ½ head roasted garlic for anchovy)
Salt to taste
- Prepare the citronette – Combine the minced shallot and lemon juice in a bowl, season very lightly with salt and set aside. Finely chop the anchovy and garlic until a paste forms, combine with lemon/shallot mixture. Gently whisk in olive oil until just combined. This can be prepared up to a week ahead.
- Prepare the squash – Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop both halves. Tightly wrap and refrigerate one half for another use or tomorrow’s salad. Cut the remaining half into two or three wedges and peel away all skin from their exterior. Very carefully, slice the wedges very thinly (think the thickness of 4-5 sheets of notebook paper stacked). Season with salt very lightly in a bowl and set aside.
- Compose the salad – Cut the Treviso into thin strips and toss gently in a large bowl to separate. Gently “squeeze” the sliced squash to remove any excess moisture then add to the Treviso bowl, mix gently and season lightly with salt and pepper. Liberally dress with the anchovy citronette and transfer to a serving dish. Grate Pecorino over the top, avoiding shyness, and finish with more cracked pepper. Serve.
Stay tuned for more from the Culinary Breeding Network!
All photography by Shawn Linehan.