Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Meet Roberto Cortez - Chef Extraordinaire

Chef Roberto Cortez is a creative genius, an incredible master of experience, and a private chef. He has impressed the likes of Paul Allen of Microsoft, actor Antonio Banderas and countless others. We’re fortunate to call him a friend.

Here are nine things about Chef Roberto’s creative approach to cooking, and his love for Tahitian vanilla:

1. Vanilla activates the senses. The human tongue can detect 5 flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. When you incorporate vanilla, you awaken so much more excitement on your palate. Vanilla is a spice that rouses memories and adds a familiarity to dishes.

2. Intimacy with the food leads to a better presentation. As a Chef, Roberto knows how his food looks best. When creating or plating a dish, take the time to consider the entire experience. Consider not just flavor, but color, texture, aroma, and sounds. Each element plays a significant role in the final presentation.

3. Texture can play a key part in creativity. Whether you’re following a recipe or creating a new dish, exploring the impact of texture can open up new avenues for creativity.

4. Leading with a concept can expand your work. Chef Robert produces spectacular experimental dining events that he calls CR8. Each one has a theme, and that concept is what pushes him to be as creative as he possibly can, all of the time.

 5. Use great equipment when photographing your work. Chef Roberto started documenting with a point and shoot camera, and friends really enjoyed the images. This was all the encouragement he needed. He quickly stepped up his game and bought a Canon. His favorite lens? A Sigma 35mm, F1.4, art lens.

6. When creating experiences, get playful! For one dish, Chef Roberto steamed beautiful little towels in vanilla water, and passed them out before serving a dish so people get a whiff of lingering vanilla with each dish.

7. As a host, the sky is the limit to creating a magnificent experience. Think about full-immersion experiences. Every sound, every smell, every temperature, every emotional response—everything can be crafted.

8. Don’t be intimidated to try new things. Even professional chefs aren’t always well-versed in working with vanilla. Many won’t touch a vanilla bean unless they’re in a class, or if they study to be a pastry chef. Experiment! For example, vanilla powder stays pure in dry mixes (muffins, cakes, etc.) - whereas sometimes extract can evaporate a bit.

9. When in doubt, go for a sauce! Vanilla can be a savory dish’s best friend. Not sure how to incorporate vanilla? Work it into a sauce. Toss a bean in and let the it infuse at the end of your preparation. The liquid will take on the oils from the vanilla.

Creativity, innovation, and unwavering desire to immerse people in unforgettable experiences. What Chef Roberto can imagine, he can create. And we have the lucky chance to be a part of it. Chef Roberto is an inspiration to us, and hopefully to you as well!

Read more about Chef Roberto: www.robertocortez.com

Pork loin marinated in vanilla beans, garlic, rosemary, aged sherry vinegar, birch tree syrup

Cherries in Tahitian vanilla and rooibos tea, lemon balm oil, cinnamon toast cream, yogurt, brown butter crisps

Amedei Chuao cream cake, sesame prailine, bisquit de chocolat, vanilla bean custard