Chef Q&A: Jesse Housman of Bistro 821

Jesse Housman, chef and co-owner of Bistro 821.

Photo by LEIGH TAHIROVIC, Staff // Buy this photo

Jesse Housman, chef and co-owner of Bistro 821.

Bistro 821 Chef Jesse Housman likes his open kitchen.

Photo by LEIGH TAHIROVIC, Staff // Buy this photo

Bistro 821 Chef Jesse Housman likes his open kitchen.

Jesse Housman, chef and co-owner of Bistro 821.

Photo by LEIGH TAHIROVIC, Staff // Buy this photo

Jesse Housman, chef and co-owner of Bistro 821.

Bistro 821

821 5th Ave S # 103, Naples, FL

Education and experience? “I graduated from Boston University’s culinary program that was run by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. I was part of the first class of 12 in 1984.”

What is the hardest part of your job? “As a chef it is making everyone get along as a team in the kitchen.”

What is the best part of your job? “Cooking of the food and getting to see everyone from our open kitchen.”

Who would you invite to dinner? “Jacques Pepin, he’s my culinary hero. He actually taught me, and I am fascinated by him. I was into fast food and he brought me up into fine dining.”

What would you make? “If you invite a French chef you have to make a properly roasted chicken and potatoes.”

What is your inspiration for cooking? “I had spent time with French chefs and I just wanted to be like them.”

What is your favorite food indulgence? Definitely chocolate. I like El Ray chocolate from Venezuela. They are from old growth trees that have been rediscovered in Venezuela and are very special.”

Are you using any new ingredients or products? “The newest thing I’m using is Carta Fata, a professional cooking foil. The foil is clear so you can see the ingredients and can tell when it is ready. You place the ingredients onto a sheet, wrap it up, tie it and place in the oven. It puffs up when heated and the flavors stay in packet. I make a Florida seafood red curry in them and it is plated with rice and then opened at tableside and spooned onto the rice. It is awesome.”

What would you be if you weren’t a chef? “An animator. I dappled in it in high school and college.”

What should every home kitchen have? “A convection oven. It browns better on the outside and cooks better than a standard oven.”

Where do eat when you go out? More often than not it is Thai food.”

What is your favorite time of day? “Late night, after work.”

What is your perfect meal? “A giant T-bone steak, rare. The most decadent thing I can think of for dessert if a flourless chocolate cake.”

What is in your refrigerator at home? “Homemade lasagna, apples, plums, yogurt and vegetables.”

What is your favorite cookbook? “ ‘The Art of Cooking’ by Jacques Pepin. It is an instruction manual, and I have a signed copy.”

Jesse Housman gave us his recipe for Uptown Mac Sauce and Mac and Cheese for 5

Uptown Mac Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Spanish onion, diced

1/4 cup leeks, diced

1/4 pound unsalted butter

3/8 cup bay leaf

1/16 cup shallots, chopped

1/16 cup garlic, chopped

1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/8 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, grated

3/8 cup yellow cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup Granna Padana cheese, grated

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

3/8 cup flour

1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and white pepper to taste

Preparation

Seat the onion, bay leafs and leeks in the butter.

Add the shallots, garlic and cayenne pepper and cook a few more minutes, but do not brown.

Add the flour and cook to combine the roux. Use enough flour to make a tight roux (thicken).

Add the milk and cream and whisk to combine.

Add the nutmeg and cook for 20 minutes on low heat.

Take off the stove and puree with an immersion blender adding the shredded cheeses slowly.

Pass the mixture through a China Cap (strainer) and season with salt and white pepper.

Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

1/2 tablespoon shallots, chopped

1/4 tablespoon garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup assorted grilled vegetables: zucchini, yellow squash, Bermuda onion, leek, and red and yellow peppers, diced

1 ounce prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into short strips

6 shrimp, any size

1 ounce chicken stock

7 ounces penne rigate, pre cooked

4 ounces Mac and Cheese Sauce (recipe to follow)

1/4 cup crust mix (1/4 cup of Panko, Japanese bread crumbs, and grated grana padana cheese mixed together)

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato, chopped

Preparation

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic and shallots for one to two minutes. Do not brown.

Add the shrimp and cook for one minute tossing the shrimp in the garlic and shallot mixture.

Add the chicken stock, grilled vegetables, cheese sauce, prosciutto, basil and tomato and mix well.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat and add the penne rigate and toss together.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with crust mix to lightly cover.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven until it bubbles and is browned.

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