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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Thank Babaar, the elephant in the room

If I had to guess, I was 8 years old, and at the time my father was one of the lead engineers at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. As such, we would find ourselves receiving tickets to a random quartet in the West Wing, or passes to a special event on the Mall or on the occasion in question, a reading of “Babaar the Elephant” at the Kennedy Center.
I was excited to hear our weatherman from WTTG read one of my favorite childhood books; I awaited the reading in rapturous anticipation. Alas, I realized that I had to go to the bathroom and that my time of imagination would have to wait.
I begged my father to let me go alone, and he acquiesced, believing that I surely wouldn’t be able to get that wrong since it was right down the hallway. Mayhap he was a little too confident in my navigational abilities at the ripe age of 8.
I asked the usher, a nice old man, where I would find the restroom, and he pointed and said “Down the hall to the left; by the elevator.” Following his instructions, I found myself in a room that housed the door I came in, an ominous door to the left, and the aforementioned elevator. Seeing no bathroom door, I decided to investigate further by going through the unmarked door.
It wasn’t until it slammed behind me, with the echoes of its metal frame bouncing off concrete walls that I realized that I was locked in a stairwell; a dimly lit stairwell. I banged on the door for what seemed like an eternity, but knowing that no one was within earshot, I started traversing stairs. I went up, I went down. I went anywhere I could. But, the doors were all locked. Tears and snot running down my face, I knew that I was doomed.
Desperate, I tried one last door. Finally, I was free, and my grand entrance was into the kitchen of the rooftop restaurant, pots clanking, people yelling and flames taller than me. One look at me and the cooks just laughed, gave me an arm around the shoulder, got me to the chef who made sure to get me a Coke, and I was personally escorted by chef to my seat in one piece.
I often wonder if that was when I realized I wanted to be a chef. Maybe I have Babaar to thank for all of this.

Grilled Salmon

Serves 4
4 6-ounces pieces salmon
Olive Oil
Trimix,” as needed (recipe follows)
3 cups Braised leeks & Fennel (recipe follows)
1 cup Beurre blanc (recipe follows)
Fried fennel fronds for garnish

1. Heat a grill until very hot and well-seasoned so that the salmon does not stick
2. Brush salmon with oil and season liberally with trimix
3. Place presentation-side down on the grill and cook for about two minutes
4. Keeping tension on the spatula so that you can lift fish with ease without tearing it, turn the salmon 45-degrees to create the hash marks
5. After two minutes, repeat this process by flipping salmon over. If you are like me, you can cook it for about a minute on the underside and eat it a little undercooked
6. Serve salmon on a bed of braised leeks and fennel and sauce the plate with a considerate amount of beurre blanc
7. Garnish with fried fennel frond and serve with a dry white wine, such as a Chenin blanc


Makes 1/4 cup
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. Black pepper
1 Tbsp. Granulated garlic

1. This was a classic preparation that we made at Johnson & Wales in the 80’s, and it still serves its purpose to this very day
2. Just combine these spices and use wherever you would use salt and pepper (within reason. If you are over-garlicked, just leave it out)
3. Keep in an airtight container for up to a month

Braised Leeks & Fennel
Makes about 1 quart
2 Tbsp. Clarified butter
1 large fennel bulb, or 2 medium
3 each Leeks, whites and some light green parts
2 each Shallots
4 each Roasted garlic cloves
1 cup White wine
2 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste

1.    Heat the butter to medium and add the fennel and leeks
2.    Sweat them until they are tender, which will take quite a while
3.    Add the white wine and vinegar and reduce by half
4.    Finish with salt and pepper and keep warm until service

Beurre Blanc
Makes 2 cups
2 cups White wine
1 Leek whites only
1 Shallot, julienne
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 3/4 pound Whole butter, cold, in chunks
Salt & White pepper as needed

1.    Combine the first five ingredients in a sauce pan and heat to medium
2.    Reduce slowly until it is in half
3.    Add cream and reduce by half. It should be a viscous sauce
4.    Pull the sauce off the heat and add the butter chunks, one at a time, and swirl them in until fully incorporated before adding the next
5.    Strain, season and serve. The addition of the cream will help to keep it stable much longer than in the case of the traditional beurre blanc