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World Chefs: For Tison local, seasonal ingredients are key

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Bruno Tison uses his classical French culinary training and the freshest American ingredients to create innovative dishes that have earned a Michelin star for the restaurant Sante in northern California.
/ Source: Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Bruno Tison uses his classical French culinary training and the freshest American ingredients to create innovative dishes that have earned a Michelin star for the restaurant Sante in northern California.

Tison moved to Sante at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, where he oversees a staff of 150, from the company's sister property, the Plaza Hotel in New York, where he cooked for the rich and famous, including the weddings of actor Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, real estate mogul Donald Trump and comedian Eddy Murphy.

He trained with some of France's greatest chefs, including Bernard Waterlot, Roger Verge, Michel Guerard and Alain Chapel before moving to the United States more than two decades ago,

The 52-year-old Frenchman talked to Reuters about his approach to cooking, his favorite ingredients and a program at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts -- Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, which offers gluten-free meals and dishes on request for guests with diabetes and heart disease or for those who follow macrobiotic, raw and vegan diets.

Q: Have you always wanted to be a chef?

A: "Being raised in my grandfather's bakery, I always had a passion for cooking great food. My grandfather was somebody who loved art, painting, nice things. When there was a celebration at home he would cook the entire dinner for the whole family and guests, hand-write the menu with a beautiful ink pen, French style, and he would make a beautiful flower arrangement."

Q: How would you describe your style of cooking?

A: "French. It is very French but, of course, I've been working in the United States for 28 years so there is definitely a very strong American influence. I would categorize American influence as a bit of Asian, southern, Italian, Spanish -- a melting pot of cuisine. The United States has such a wide range of cuisines that you have to be influenced by that ... I am a big fan of using local, organic, sustainable products."

Q: Do you have a signature dish or favorite ingredients?

A: "I love to cook with fish and vegetables. I'm a fly fisherman. I fish for salmon and trout and I love wild trout, wild salmon. I love to work with those two products."

Q: How does the restaurant's menu for guests' dietary needs work?

A: "I worked on the program with the nutritionist to put the program together ... Each hotel offers a choice of dishes that cover the different diets and lifestyle. The requirements are pretty simple. We create the dishes around the products I already have in my kitchen ... all that changes is the way the dish is prepared.

Poach Filet of Loch Duart Salmon, White Wine and Vegetable Nage, Petit Baby Vegetables -- serves 4.

For the Nage (broth):

3 oz. sliced white onion

3 oz. sliced carrot

2 oz. sliced celery

2oz. sliced leek

2 oz. sliced fennel bulb

1/4 bu. thyme

3 ea bay leaves

1/4 tarragon

15 ea black peppercorns

4 cloves garlic

1 qt. white wine

2 qt. vegetable stock or spring water

4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tablespoon salt

For the Salmon and Petit Vegetables:

4 ea. 5 oz. boneless skinless Loch Duart Salmon Filets

12 ea. baby turnips, peeled and blanched until tender

12 ea. baby sweet carrots, peeled and blanched until tender

12 ea blue Lake Beans cleaned and blanched until tender

12 ea. baby fennel, cleaned and blanched until tender

2 tsp. whole butter

To Garnish:

Chervil sprigs, fennel fronds, and remaining olive oil.

For the Nage (broth):

1) In a medium stock pot sweat all the vegetables over medium heat in the 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.

2) Add the white wine; bring to a boil, reducing by half.

3) Add the vegetable stock, as well as the remaining herbs and spices. Continue to simmer for about 1 hour.

4) Strain the nage, cool and reserve.

For the Salmon:

1) In small rondeau (wide, heavy-bottomed pot) bring the nage to a simmer.

2) Season the nage with salt to achieve the desired flavor.

3) When the nage is at a very light simmer, add the salmon filets, reduce the heat to a very low flame and cover.

4) Remove the salmon when the desired doneness is achieved.

For the Petit Vegetables:

1) Add all the baby vegetables into a medium saut pan with a small amount of the nage, as well as the butter.

2) Bring the mixture to a boil, reducing to form a glaze.

To finish:

1) Arrange the salmon in the center of warm entree-sized bowls.

2) Place the baby vegetables decoratively atop the salmon filet.

3) Pour approximately 4 ounces of the hot Vegetable and White wine nage into the bowls.

4) Garnish the dish by placing the fennel fronds and chervil sprigs atop the baby vegetables, drizzle the remaining extra virgin olive oil into the nage on each bowl.