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Food is in your soul. It's in your blood. You just know if it's going to work.
May 2015 Issue / Vol. 3, No. 9                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Kevin Binkley

May 2015
Chef's Larder

Sarah Beth Spear
Rum Princesa

A Year in Champagne
The Movie

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Squash Blossoms:
Floral flophouses?

The Dining Room

Grand Poppy Liqueur:
Message in a bottle.

Yogurt by Janet Fletcher




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Executive Chef Umit Kaygusuz; Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, California Most executive chefs know their way around the kitchen, can balance a budget, and manage the needs of their staff while fulfilling the desires of their diners. You might say they have, figuratively speaking, been around the culinary block a few times. And some, like Umit Kaygusuz, consider their culinary block a microcosm of the whole world. Kaygusuz grew up in South Africa and learned to cook at the side of his grandmother, Katrine Kaygusuz. Katrine’s parents were French, and she had a double-passport. She was born and raised in South Africa and got her education in France. Kaygusuz said his grandmother was a chef in Paris during the 1980s. For a small amount of time, he said, she was also a pastry instructor at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. He has a tattoo, which he shared only that it represents his grandmother’s handwriting, as an endearing memory of her. That, and a talent to cook. “Just using the senses to formulate something,” Kaygusuz related what he learned at his grandmother’s side. “You smell the ingredients and touch them. That was the most special thing.” Grandmother Kaygusuz passed away when Kaygusuz was eight years old. But he spent enough time with her in the kitchen to end up taking culinary courses at—after he attended at University of Capetown for architecture. “I studied,” Kaygusuz said about his architectural visions, “but I didn’t finish.” At the time he attended architecture classes, he was cooking in the evenings. The latter won. “I ended up cooking more,” Kaygusuz said, “so I quit architecture school after about two years and joined the culinary school (Silwood School of Cookery). I took three years of gastronomy there and a year of wine (Cape Wine Academy). I trained at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Capetown. It was a part of the Orient Express Hotel Company. That was my first job.” Kaygusuz didn’t ditch what he learned in architectural school. In fact, he said he uses the concepts “a lot” when he cooks. Enough for him to say he “constructs dishes.” “You have that sense of how to build something,” Kaygusuz said. “The design. Perspective. When you’re creating in art, you learn perspective. Such as, big things go in back.” Kaygusuz ended up a wunderkind. The 34-year-old not only perfected his skills in his favorite part of the kitchen, that of the saucier, but he became the youngest executive chef in the company. “I’m still the youngest,” Kaygusuz said. Recipe for Red Quinoa includes garlic, medley of roasted seasonal vegetables, Sherry vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, chopped fresh parsley