Kane's Young Executive Chef Takes His Steak Seriously
|Photo by Andres Aravena|
Although Ganem has made a career in steak-house kitchens, he says his "dream later in life would be to open a small restaurant, no more than 60 seats. It will be fine dining; the cuisine style would be whatever is on my mind at the time. It would be something very technical but affordable, like no more than $60 for a five-course meal. Every day I'll change the menu. People just come in to eat... kind of like cooking for my friends."
Until then, we are happy to keep our eye on him at Kane. We asked Chef Ganem to discuss how his background has affected his personal style, and to divulge the most popular dish on the menu.
New Times: You've been a chef at BLT Steak, Bourbon Steak, and now Kane. What is it about steak houses that turns you on?
Daniel Ganem: One of the things I love is a nice juicy steak. It's always great -- it gathers a lot of people at home or out in restaurants. I think it's one of those items that always makes you go back and feel homey.
You worked under Martin Berastagui in Spain. What would you say are the major differences between that experience and the kitchens you've worked in since then?
Martin is one of the best chefs in the world, 3 star Michelin, #27 on Pellegrino's list - you think you're going to encounter some guy that is forbidding because he knows so much. But actually he's very humble. He's right next to you, teaches you the little details and all the things that makes his cuisine so unique. Everything is so meticulous, we're using little tweezers and everything is plated just like you see in the pictures.
Are there different characteristics as to how a kitchen of that caliber is run?
Having 40 stagieres that don't get paid, but are there because this is what they want and they want to learn everything from this chef and do this for life. That's one thing that makes a big difference. In restaurants you have guys that are cooking as a job and then you have cooks that really want to learn and go the extra steps. With Martin, you have 40 of those guys - and you all learn from each other and everyone's passion. At the end you inject yourself with that and make yourself better too.
How do you think that affected your personal style?
My love with the detail and the clean plating representing the ingredient and the whole respect for the ingredient, like Martin taught me for example, you have 2 things in the dish: salt and pepper. Pepper changes the flavor but salt elevates the flavor. So for me you will see with fishes I don't use pepper at all in the fish. We just put the salt so it elevates that flavor. The same is true with vegetables. Steaks can carry pepper, they can carry that extra flavor to the table. But fish is very nice and delicate. You have to be very careful with the seasonings.
What's the most popular dish on the menu? What do you make back there most often?
Our steaks of course are popular. People like ribeye. That's what I order when I go to a steakhouse, ribeye or topcut. Spinalis is how that's called. On cruises what they do is they have the cowgirl steak and they cut it so that part at the end is the spinalis. It looks like a flank steak but it's so good.
Do you think there is a secret to ordering? Are there cuts that offer real bang for the buck?
My thought is the skirt steak is one of those. It's really flavorful and also it's nice and tender. You have the filet - it's very tender but lacks some flavor. Then you have the strip, which has a lot of flavor but also has a lot of texture to it. In the end you want something that has a lot of flavor and also great texture. I think the skirt steak is one of those that, after the rib-eye, I would definitely order.
What's the secret to cooking a perfect steak?
It's the love. You might season the steak with salt and pepper and put some love into it. If you do that it will be perfect.
Tomorrow the conversation with Chef Ganem continues as we discuss his opinion on steak ordered well-done, and get the lowdown on what the hell is in that special Kane sauce (a tasty steak-house freebie).
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