Chef Q&A: Meet Chef Monica Glass

California Walnuts
Mar 29, 2018
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Chef Monica GlassParsnip Cake

Meet Chef Monica Glass! Currently the Corporate Pastry Chef for Starr Catering Group in Philadelphia, Chef Monica learned from some of the industry’s best and refined her skills at restaurants including New York City’s Gotham Bar and Grill, Le Bernardin, 10 Arts Bistro and Lounge, and Boston’s Clio Restaurant. It was during her time at 10 Arts she was diagnosed with celiac disease, causing her to reevaluate her career. Chef Monica joins us today after overcoming this challenge as a celebrated pastry chef specializing in gluten-free baking and using California walnuts throughout her cuisine.

Why do you enjoy working with California walnuts?

I love the flavor of raw untoasted walnuts, and I find it blends beautifully with many different ingredients and flavors. They’re so versatile and can be used year round.

Where do you find inspiration for original recipes with walnuts?

Inspiration that gets my creative juices flowing can really come from just about anywhere. I am greatly influenced by travel, the seasons, an ingredient or flavor profile, a walk through nature, an intriguing story or read, a pop of color, a stimulating conversation, an interesting building or structure, and delicious dishes I ate out. It might sound trite, but truly pausing for a moment, as they say to stop and smell the roses.

Were allergens a concern for you when working with walnuts?

Allergens were not a concern. I only work with nuts when there are no known nut allergies for guests.

Is your clientele concerned about healthy menu choices?

The growing trend is veering towards healthier dishes. However, there will always be a little luxury allowance for indulgence.

What is your favorite walnut dish?

At the moment, it’s the base to my carrot cake – a liquid walnut sable. It’s gluten free, a little sweet, a little salty, nutty and crunchy. This carrot cake layered with cream cheese mousse is my twist on the simple classic. The carrot cake is turned on its side exposing the contrasting layers and placed on a base of liquid walnut sable cookie. The dish is finished with a carrot caramel, candied walnuts, and parsnip ice cream.

Do you have a baking tip for working with walnuts?

I prefer the flavor of untoasted, raw walnuts. So, I like to use them in their gloriously natural state. Another favorite is to grind raw walnuts with tapioca flour and then mix with butter, demerara sugar, and salt for a delicious and crunchy streusel.

What makes you choose to use walnuts over another nut?

The combination of texture, flavor, health benefits, and versatility. But it’s the distinct flavor and ingredient pairings of the final dish that mostly drives me to work with walnuts.

What is your favorite walnut/food flavor pairing?

Mmm… walnuts, brown sugar, brown butter and rosemary.

What do you feel is the next big industry trend?

Perhaps using walnuts in the raw form for macrobiotic/raw vegan foods. Almonds and cashews are typical in these diets, but walnuts would pose a great alternative, with its nutritional value and substance!

Want to try one of Chef Monica’s recipes? Check out her Parsnip Walnut Cake!

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