Chris Moore looks back on his childhood in Toledo, Ohio, with fond memories of his grandparents’ backyard.
“I remember cleaning fruits and vegetables after picking them,” she says. “My grandfather and grandmother used to give me a bunch of green beans to cut the ends off before pickling. I helped my grandfather prepare the pickling liquid, then I helped put the beans in mason jars to store. to eat later. They actually turned out pretty well. My grandmother was a great cook.
Now she not only cleans fruits and vegetables for herself when cooking at home, but prepares them and a host of other dishes for guests who dine at Chattanoogan where she is the new chef. Executive access to all of the hotel’s restaurants, from Forge (formerly Broad Street Grill) to High Rail on the rooftop and Stills + Mash next to the hotel lobby.
Here she talks about working at a hotel the size of The Chattanoogan and how she fell in love with cooking.
Q: Who inspired you to become a chef?
A: I don’t remember anyone having much influence on that decision. I started working in restaurants to pay my rent, and it lasted. I fell in love with the industry and the people who work in it – such a great collection of people with varying life experiences and backgrounds. I was drawn to it and I fitted in well.
Q: Who do you consider your mentor?
A: Chef Philippe Boulot. He is a French master chef and winner of the James Beard award. I worked for him in Portland, Oregon.
Q: How long have you been in Chattanooga and where did you work before coming here?
A: I moved here in January. Before that, I lived in Birmingham, Alabama and worked at the Chattanoogan’s sister property, the Elyton Hotel (another Hilton property). Prior to that, I spent a few years at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
Q: What are your duties as Executive Chef?
A: That depends on the day. Generally speaking, I am responsible for the daily running of the kitchen and the management of the people who work there. But every day I’m a coach, a mentor, a cook prep, a student, a menu writer, a sounding board, and often a prankster.
Q; What is the difference between working for a restaurant in a hotel and working in an independent restaurant?
A: There are so many more moving parts.
Q: What food or trend do you think is overdone in restaurants these days?
A: Culinary challenges in a mystery box. I’m amazed that there are actually cooking shows on TV with this premise.
Q: Who would be the other three people at your dream dinner party?
A: My mother, my grandmother and my grandfather. They have all died within the past five years. I think they would like to find out how far my food has come.
Q: What is the most important cooking tool in your kitchen?
A: My red vegetable peeler. One of my sous chefs, who still works with me, gave it to me in a Christmas stocking a few years ago. I still have it, and I still love it.
Q: Is there a cookbook or website that you draw inspiration from?
A: Yes, “Girl in the Kitchen” by Stéphanie Izard.
Q: What food is your guilty pleasure?
A: Gummy bears.
Q: What ingredient are you crazy about right now?
A: Ras el hanout. It’s a Moroccan spice that I try to incorporate wherever I can.
Q: Describe your general culinary philosophy.
A: Food should be accessible, prepared with traditional techniques and from sustainable sources.
Q: Which chefs do you follow on social media or admire their work and career in general?
A: Stephanie Izard and Dominique Crenn. Both are very forward-thinking, creative and incredibly talented female chefs.
Q: How would you describe Forge’s menu?
A: Southern Progressive.
Q: There are several dining halls at Chattanoogan. Which is your favourite?
A: It is not fair! I can’t pick a favourite. I must say that right now I am devoting myself body and soul to Forge and Stills + Mash. I love the vibe at High Rail, though, and can’t wait to bring brunch back there.
Q: What is one of your favorite meals when cooking for yourself at home?
A: Seared salmon with pistachio salsa verde. Anything I can make quickly and eat over rice or green salads, like this salmon, is fine with me.
Seared Salmon with Pistachio Salsa Verde
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1 garlic bulb, peeled
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 fillet of salmon
Make salsa verde: Combine mint leaves, parsley leaves and garlic on a cutting board and finely chop together. Transfer to a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, pistachios, lemon zest and lemon juice; mix well. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of remaining olive oil. Generously season the salmon fillet with salt and pepper. Add the salmon to the hot skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the salmon and repeat the cooking time or until cooked to your liking.
Top salmon with pistachio salsa verde and enjoy with a salad or over rice or pasta, if desired.
Contact Anne Braly at email@example.com or annebraly.com.