Archive for June, 2015

#BetterBurgerProject: Meet Chef Brooke Williamson

Brooke Williamson Better Burger Project

Brooke Williamson of The Tripel in Playa Del Rey, CA give us a peak at her Better Burger and even tells us her favorite kind of mushrooms! To learn more about the chefs participating in your area, click here.

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and why you love to cook!

I’ve always known I wanted to be a chef. I grew up watching Julia Child and would plant myself in front of the TV learning everything I could from her. There are even Julia Child quotes written on the walls in our new culinary retail boutique, Tripli-Kit.

  1. Why are you participating in the Better Burger Project?

We have burgers on the menu at each of our restaurants, and I love the idea of adding mushrooms to the blend to provide our guests a more nutrient rich, healthier option.

  1. Tell us about your burger! What makes it “better”?

The Tripel’s Aged Beef n’ Ground Shroom Burger is made with Taleggio cheese sandwiched between two 4oz shroom-burger patties, bread and butter pickles, sweet pickled Shimeji mushrooms, red jalapeño, fried egg, shredded lettuce and avocado mayo all on an onion brioche. Perfect balance of richness and tangy pickle… I have yet to meet an unhappy carnivorous customer.

Better Burger by Chef Brooke

  1. Why do you love to cook with mushrooms?

Mushrooms retain a lot of flavor and their texture makes for a perfect blended burger patty! They also add an umami that fits the occasion perfectly.

  1. Do you have a favorite summer memory with burgers?

Who doesn’t really?! Burgers are the perfect American nostalgic grill food. My dad used to add blue cheese crumbles to the mix… I think that was my first appreciation for stinky cheese as a kid.

  1. What’s your favorite burger condiment?

Habanero hot sauce! We bottle and sell our own at Playa Provisions. I love it on everything, including burgers.

  1. Do you have any tips and tricks to grilling?

Don’t smush your patty. Be patient and let the meat keep the juice that it deserves…

  1. What sides would you recommend serving with your burger?

I like to balance a good rich burger with a side of something refreshing to cleanse the palette. I often find that a simple dill pickle does the trick.

  1. Tell us a bit about your new restaurant and cooking style.

Our newest restaurant is Playa Provisions, which opened last summer. It’s a 4-in-1 concept which includes an ice cream shop called Small Batch; a market counter serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, King Beach; a back-room whiskey bar called Grain; and a more high end dining space dedicated to seafood called Dockside. The restaurant reflects our love for both fresh seafood and dishes that are both comforting and nostalgic.

  1. How did you get started in the restaurant/culinary industry?

I began working as a teacher’s assistant at the Epicurean Institute of Los Angeles, then as a pastry assistant at Fenix at the Argyle Hotel under Ken Frank at the age of 19. Soon after, I started at Michael McCarty’s Michael’s in Santa Monica as a hot apps cook and moved my way into a sous chef position. Then I was appointed executive chef at the Los Angeles Boxer. After that, I worked with my husband Nick at Zax before opening our first restaurant Amuse Café, and then later Beechwood in Venice. Now, Nick and I own and operate Hudson House in Redondo Beach and The Tripel, Tripli-Kit Playa Provisions, all in Playa del Rey.

  1. What’s your favorite type of mushroom?

I love porcini and shiitake mushrooms – they’re so versatile, and have a great umami quality. I also love pickled mushrooms and find that shimeji mushrooms work as a perfect pickling mushroom like in our Better Burger Project burger.

#BetterBurgerProject: Meet Chef Maneet Chauhan

We’re excited to share that Chef Maneet Chauhan of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville is a participant of the Better Burger Project! To learn more about chefs participating in your area, click here.


Q1: Tell us a little about yourself and why you love to cook!

A1: I fell in love with food at a very young age, when I was a child in India, I would eat a meal at home and then go to visit my neighbors and pretend I had not yet eaten so that I could have a second dinner.

Cooking came as a natural extension of my love for food. It is very creatively rewarding and exciting plus I have always felt an obligation to show the world that REAL Indian cuisine is fresh and vibrant with beautiful colors and flavors, because Indian food has been so poorly represented in so many parts of  the world.


Q2: Why are you participating in the Better Burger Project?

A2: I have worked with the mushroom council in past and loved it (well my good friend and a fellow  chef Jehangir Mehta connected me with the mushroom council, he does so many inspiriring creations for them).  There is so much versatility in the use of mushrooms in cooking.   I love to add mushrooms to a burger to make it moist and succulent. Also, the fact that the James Beard Foundation is involved was the icing on the cake…. And who dosen’t love a good burger??


Q3: Tell us about your burger! What makes it “better”?

A3: I make a ‘Malai mushroom chicken burger’ the reason it is (I like to say different, not better… you can say better) is the fact that the spices and ingredients that are used in the recipe are not commonly paired with burgers or mushrooms

But we have somehow worked out a magical ad delightful recipe that will excite your tastebuds to no end.


Q4: Why do you love to cook with mushrooms?

A4: I love to cook with mushrooms because of their wonderful earthy quality, they are both versatile and under utilized in the culinary world.


Q5: Do you have a favorite summer memory with burgers?

A5: Growing up in India, I had very little exposure to American culture and cuisine but I recall being fascinated with the Archie comics and Jughead often having a big juicy burger in hand. This captivated me and I would attempt to recreate what I thought a burger would taste like with our local ingredients and spices.


Q6: What’s your favorite burger condiment?

A6: Tamarind Chutney, Indian masala ketchup


Q7: Do you have any tips and tricks to grilling?

A7: Although these may seem like no brainer things-it is very important to make sure that your grill is clean and also to give your burgers, hot dogs, etc the attention they deserve.

Time is of the essence when you are perfectly grilling protein. Don’t just throw your meat on and walk away.   Do not use too much starter fuel because you will taste it


Q8: What sides would you recommend serving with your burger?

A8: Mushroom chaat dusted potato fries with mango chili ketchup.


Q9: Tell us a bit about your new restaurant and cooking style.

A 9: Chauhan Ale and Masala House in the embodiment of how I want America to view Indian food yet with a bit of a Southern twist for comfort. The ingredients are flavorful and fresh and the spices will delight the palate however there are some familiar  dishes to those born and raised in the South.


Q10: What’s your favorite type of mushroom?

A10: Chanterelles;they are delicate in flavor and texture, they mushrooms offer a slight floral note… they are delicate while still asserting their presence

Tagliatelle Pasta with a Light Mushroom Sauce

Denise from Chez Us shares her tasty Tagliatelle Pasta with a Light Mushroom Sauce with us!

Tagliatelle Pasta with a Light Mushroom Sauce by Chez Us

June is here, and it is time to start thinking about eating lighter during the hot summer months.  As I write those words I think to myself that it is rather funny, as being in the Bay Area, June is the coldest summer ever, and we are still enjoying hearty comfort food.  Regardless, this recipe for  Tagliatelle Pasta with a Light Mushroom Sauce is not only perfect as lighter fare, but it is comfortable food as well as being a quick and easy dinner option.

Tagliatelle Pasta with a Light Mushroom Sauce by Chez UsTagliatelle Pasta with a Light Mushroom Sauce by Chez Us

If you are like me, I always have a stash of mushrooms tucked into the vegetable bin, as they can go from breakfast to dinner in a matter of a few ingredients.  In our home, Wednesday tends to be the busiest evening for us, and this dish makes it on to the table very often.  It is quick and I can have dinner on the table within 30 minutes.

I like to use a mixture of mushrooms from earthy cremini to tender white buttons.  Shiitake mushrooms add a bit of mystery to a dish, as well, their texture is really outstanding.  I simply sautéed the mushrooms with olive oil, shallots and garlic;  I use green garlic when in season.  There is enough moisture in the mushrooms that it is not necessary to add any stock or water.  Besides the mushrooms, I use thyme as well as some heat with chili flakes which enhances the flavors of the mushrooms.  If I have a jar of artichoke hearts in the pantry, I roughly chop them and toss in before serving.

What are some of your favorite fresh and light mushroom recipes for summer time dining?  I am sure you will enjoy this refreshing recipe as much as we do.


Tagliatelle Pasta with a Light Mushroom Sauce

** serves 4


1 package of tagliatelle pasta (serves 4)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
12 cremini mushrooms
12 white mushrooms
12 small shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon (more or less depending on heat) chili pepper flakes
1 6 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped – optional
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
asiago cheese


1. Thinly slice the mushrooms and set aside.

2. In a large frying pan over medium low, heat the olive oil, then add the shallots and garlic.  Cook until soft, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms, stir and cook over medium low until caramelized and soft.  This step will take about 6 – 10 minutes depending on the heat of your stove.

4. Stir in the thyme and chili flakes, then remove from the heat.

5. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

6. Drain the pasta, then immediately toss with the mushrooms and a drizzle of olive oil.  The heat of the pasta and the moisture on left from draining will heat the mushrooms.  At this point if you are using the artichoke hearts stir them in.

7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Grate cheese over the top.

8. Serve.

9. Eat.

#BetterBurgerProject: Meet Chef Jehangir Mehta

We’re excited to share that Chef Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti and Mehtaphor in New York City is a participant of the Better Burger Project! To learn more about chefs participating in your area, click here.


Chef Jehangir Mehta opened Graffiti in the East Village of New York City in 2007 after being highly acclaimed at New York City restaurants including Aix, Compass, and Jean-Georges.

It all started when, much to the amusement of his family’s maids and cooks, Mumbai-born Jehangir took an interest in the goings-on of the kitchen. After he voiced a desire to pursue a career in the culinary arts, Jehangir’s family put their full support behind him and sent him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Jehangir thrived at the CIA with the foundation he acquired at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering, Technology and Applied Nutrition in Mumbai.

After his first job at L’Absinthe in New York in 1996, he landed a position he truly longed for at Typhoon Brewery, where he worked as the pastry chef to the brilliant James Chew of Vong fame. From there it was a short yet logical jump to Jean-Georges in 1997. The following year, Jean-Georges Vongerichten selected him to open his new restaurant, Mercer Kitchen, quickly to become one of the hottest destinations in New York. Desiring a change of pace from the high volume of Mercer Kitchen, Jehangir accepted a position to work with Rocco di Spirito 1999 at Union Pacific, and in 2001 he joined Jean– Georges colleague Didier Virot who was opening his own restaurant. Following a short-lived but highly acclaimed run at Virot, Jehangir solidified his reputation for creating unorthodox, intellectually driven desserts as pastry chef of Compass. During this time, he extended his partnership with Didier Virot, and in 2002 opened the Upper West Side culinary destination Aix.

In 2003, Jehangir started his event management business through an online site The same year he started Candy Camp to encourage children aged between 4 and 14 to appreciate the complex ingredients in food, by preparing simple savory and sweet dishes. In 2007, Jehangir opened his restaurant Graffiti, quite simply an extension of the man and his mission, and released his first cookbook “Mantra the Rules of Indulgence” (Harper-Collins).

At his restaurant Graffiti, Jehangir gets to present food that is nothing short of inspiring. From his 50 square foot kitchen he produces some of New York’s most exciting dishes, which have been featured in not only traditional food magazines but also Vogue, and the New Yorker. Over the years, Jehangir has been seen on many national television programs including Martha! and on the Food Network.

In August 2009, Jehangir was a contestant on Iron Chef America where he competed against Iron Chef Morimoto in “Battle Coconut,”and beginning October 4th 2009 Jehangir will be a contestant on the Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef.

Jehangir’s cultural heritage fills him with endless inspiration, including Ayurveda, and his favorite ingredients, fruits and spices. Now it is only left to his imagination as to what he will conquer next.