Chef David Lawrence, executive chef and managing partner of 1300 on Fillmore, approaches cooking as way of life. According to his website, “Truly great food has a way of transforming people’s realities…it brings them around a table to taste and laugh and share”. This philosophy was evident on Sept. 12 at Fresh Starts Chef Events, where he delighted a sold-out crowd with a variety of ‘soulful American’ dishes from his repertoire.
Inspired by his father and Graham Kerr of the Galloping Gourmet fame, Chef David knew from an early age he wanted to pursue a culinary career. Raised in England and of Jamaican heritage, he trained at Westminster College and apprenticed under Albert and Michael Roux, the same famous chefs under whom Gordon Ramsey trained. Chef David brought his passion, energy and unique style to America in the ’80’s and in 2007 opened 1300 on Fillmore with his wife, Monetta White.
With Fresh Starts Culinary Academy students, Chef David presented a menu that started with Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk Dressing. He changed up a classic croquette recipe by using panko bread crumbs and a savory blend of fresh herbs in his Panko- and Herb-Crusted Goat Cheese Croquettes. Panzanella is traditionally a tomato and bread salad served in the summer. In his version – Cornbread Panzanella Salad – he combined tomatoes with cornbread for a southern twist.
Featured main dishes included both an Andouille Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya and a Black Skillet-Roasted Catfish. To get the best flavor in his jambalaya, Chef uses dark chicken broth rather than light. The difference, he explains, is that dark stock is made with roasted bones.
He also shared his secret on how to best season a black skillet: cover the bottom of a hot skillet with salt, cook until the salt forms a crust and then throw out the salt. Once seasoned in this way, the pan should not be washed; wipe it with a rag after each use. Heating the pan before you use it again will kill any bacteria. And this seasoning method has one more benefit. The salt acts as a kind of ‘teflon’, creating a non-stick surface.
Rounding out the meal was a heavenly Peach Cobbler. Using fresh yellow peaches, this cobbler features a hint of cinnamon. The recipe used for the dough is the same one used for the popular biscuits served with black skillet fried chicken at 1300 on Fillmore.
Three wines, a 2010 Dry Riesling, a 2011 Carneros Chardonnay and a 2011 Pinot Noir were served by Jacella Wines. All three were outstanding and complimented the fare perfectly.
According to one participant, “And I can’t wait to try 1300 Fillmore! David was terrific – always engaged, and passionate about what he was doing…his enthusiasm was contagious.” We agree. — Contributed by Gary Lam with photos courtesy of Neely Wang.
Try out the delicious catfish recipe below:
Black Skillet-Roasted Catfish
4 skinless catfish fillets, 6 to 8 oz. each
1 cup olive/canola oil (pre-mixed or mix your own half and half)
4 cloves sliced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1.Combine oil, sliced garlic, chopped cilantro and smoked paprika together to make a marinade for the catfish.
2.Cover catfish with marinade and leave in refrigerator for 2 hours.
3.Heat a black skillet pan until smoking. Season catfish with salt and black pepper. Allow excess oil to drip from the catfish, then place in hot skillet and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side and cooked through.
Chef David plated his catish with jambalaya and cornbread panzanella salad