Saturday, November 28, 2009

Profiles of Chefs We Admire; Amber Caudle

We are still a devoted locavore (no matter where we happen to be). Pierino has been patronizing Mediterraneo in Hermosa Beach since it opened. From the name you can infer a Mediterranean theme. Chef Amber has been in charge of the kitchen for six years and she is case study in what young women chefs have to do to succeed. Her food and her talents have grown incredibly in the time we have known her.

As Chef Amber tells the story, she had no formal culinary training (like say, from one of the Cordon Bleu schools) but developed her love of the art and craft as a child cooking with her family. Her first opportunity to enter a restaurant kitchen took place in Colorado where she was allowed by the Sicilian chef to do nothing but prep. Nevertheless, she was invited to follow him to the new Mediterraneo in California. Not long after it opened, the chef and the owner parted ways. Suddenly Amber was in charge of the Med's kitchen. We can tell you from our conversations that Chef Amber is a very serious student of cooking and does practically nothing but study and cook. At first her menu of necessity had to conform to the one the exiting chef had left behind. For the most part it is tapas as in small plates with some entrees. Gradually Amber made it all her own.

Our chef has a fascination with Spanish items, even though two years ago she did a stage in Sorrento in a B&B. She is a devotee of the Slow Food Movement too. Of late she's done some freshening up to the tapas plates, which frankly we love. These were hard to sell at first, stuff like Spanish white anchovies (boquerones) and morcilla (blood sausage)but now they are a success. There are occasional specials not on the menu, but just ask to find out what they might be. We can say that on two occasions for small tables of Pierino's friends, Chef wowed everyone with off the menu dinners at a very reasonable price. This should also tell you that we are a big supporter of what Amber is trying to accomplish here. Think "Top Chef" qualifiers.

Recommendatons from the nightly tapas menu (cold and hot):

Cold: the pinxtos are exceptional but we like;

Pinxtos Anchovy (boquerones, aioli, roma tomato, egg)
Pappadews (sweet peppers, goat cheese, basil)
Fennel Salad (oranges, red onion, almonds, mint)---classic combination

Hot: our favorites include;

Tortilla espanola (potato omelette with piquillos, mushrooms, fontina, aioli)*
Sobrasada Bruschetta (manchgo, quince aka membrillo)
Lentil chorizo stew

And don't overlook the cheese plates!

So go out and support young chefs who work hard for you!

Mediterraneo is at
73 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

*Chef Amber has an ingenious method for preparing her tortilla

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