By Maralyn D. Hill, The Epicurean Explorer
Chef Kaldrovich brings a global influence to Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea. His career started at four-star Galani Restaurant at the Buenos Aires Park Hyatt Hotel. Mitchell moved on to the position of chef partie at Harpers 1 and 2 Restaurants in the prestigious Recoleta neighborhood before leaving Argentina to return to the U.S. He then held positions at L’Orangerie Restaurant in West Hollywood, California; the Duck Club Restaurant in Monterey, California; the La Palme D’Or at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida; and the luxurious Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, back in South America in Patagonia. Before moving on to his current position at Sea Glass in Maine, Kaldrovich was Executive Chef of the famous Plump Jack Café in Squaw Valley, California.
Since Mitchell will be cooking at one of the prestigious Art of Dining Dinners at the Kennebunkport Festival 2012, and today, we have to opportunity to learn a little more about him.
Maralyn D. Hill: Chef, can you share a favorite recipe?
Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich: The Wild Mushroom Tart we serve at Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea. This is one of the most popular menu items in Sea Glass. We have a fungi forager who harvests delicate varieties filled with earthy flavor. Every Thursday, Rick Tibbets, my mushroom guy, arrives at the kitchen door. He grows mushrooms, but also picks them wild in the spring, summer and fall. He brings chanterelles, black trumpets and morels. I am careful in Sea Glass to let food and the local Maine flavors speak for themselves. I have learned that, while some wines are great alone, others better express themselves paired with food, and my role as chef is to act as liaison between the two — to balance flavors between the roasted mushroom tart with Parmesan biscuit crust, goat cheese from nearby Fern Hill farm, arugula, and balsamic syrup with the earthy flavor of the mushrooms.
MDH: What wine would you pair with this dish?
MK: I recommend the full, rich Louis Latour Meursault White Burgundy. A well-balanced wine, it is touched with minerality and culminates in a lingering lemon note.
MDH: What has been your biggest “ah-ha” moment in your career?
MK: I began my career as a pastry chef. Not long ago, chefs were inclined to focus on one aspect of food preparation and become experts in that area. But after working as a pastry chef, I realized I wanted to be a more complete chef. I was interested in the science and creativity required to prepare a full menu.
I worked with several chefs, and watched and learned each of their techniques. I moved from region to region and learned to modify techniques to work with the fresh produce of that area. When I arrived in Maine three years ago, the fresh native produce and abundance of seafood available thrilled me.
If I had to define what I’m doing now, I’d say that I’m keeping it simple. We have great ingredients from the sea and from the local farms that surround the hotel. I don’t cover dishes up with too many ingredients. It’s not fusion, it’s New American, and it’s about balance. I take the best of what Maine has, and approach it with Mediterranean techniques. This is all about light and healthy food, sourced locally and often to keep it fresh.
MDH: What is your favorite cooking utensil?
MK: I use a Chinoise, a fine strainer for soups, bisques and sauces. It’s particularly good to prepare velvety smooth vegetarian soups. Having a spa at the Inn by Sea lends a focus to healthy eating. Apart from the regular menu, we also offer a vegetarian menu, and most of our soups are vegan.
MDH: What are your favorite hobbies, outside of food, of course?
MK: I love to hike in Maine and drive the beautiful scenic byways on my motorcycle. To relax, I work in my vegetable garden.
MDH: What recommendations do you have for those wanting to be chefs?
MK: I got my love of cooking from my grandmother. I started cooking gnocchi with her when I was seven for family meals. I would say to those who want to be a chef, you really have to love to feed people. To be a good chef, you should have the soul of a grandmother. I learned a lot from her. My grandmother was German, and a good economist. I learned that if you bake bread today, you have bread pudding tomorrow. You have to really love to cook for others, you have to be very smart and to make it all work, you have to be an economist in the kitchen as well.
Mitchell kindly shares with CityRoom a recipe of his favorite dish.
Sea Glass Restaurant Roasted Mushroom Tart with House-made Parmesan Crust and Fern Hill Farm Goat Cheese
¾ Pound All Purpose Flour
1 Tbs. Baking Powder
1 oz. Sugar
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, Dice
¾ Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Fine Parmesan Cheese
¼ Cup Chopped Chives
½ Tsp. Black Pepper
Put all ingredients together in a food processor and pulse to combine.
Working over a little flour, roll to 3/8’’ thick.
Cut with a 5’’ round cookie cutter.
Pinch with a fork a few times to avoid bubbles.
Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes or until very light brown. Set aside.
Our mushrooms are from Rick Tibbett’s, from Scarborough and we use: Hon Shimaji, Oyster Mushrooms & Shiitake. But any mushroom is good for this recipe.
3-6 cups Mushrooms (¼ cup per person after cooked — but of course it would vary based on the type of mushroom you use)
Salt and Pepper
Cut into small pieces, for Shiitake, use cup of mushrooms only, then sauté quickly in a very hot cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, some chopped garlic, fresh thyme,
Salt and Pepper.
Try not to overcrowd the pan with too many mushrooms at once.
Reduce Balsamic Vinegar to a syrupy consistency.
Finish the Dish
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Spoon a good amount of fresh Fern Hill Farm Goat Cheese over the cooked crust, then top with mushrooms.
Bake for 6 minutes at 350 F.
Dress some Baby Arugula with a good red wine vinaigrette & salt.
Top mushrooms with the salad and garnish with the balsamic syrup.
Executive Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich | Sea Glass Restaurant at Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth, Maine | Phone: 207.799.3134