Celina Tio of Brookside’s JULIAN is one of the 10 contestants in this, the third season of the series. In celebration of her appearances on the show, the chef/owner/star is hosting weekly watch parties at JULIAN where diners can watch the show and eat recreations of the foods she made in the challenge on that week’s episode. On the first episode, which she survived, the chefs were given a 30 minute challenge involving a secret ingredient – bread! All chefs were required to use the bread to make a standout sandwich. With 30 minutes, Tio composed an absolutely gorgeous Breakfast Cuban on Brioche with Slab Bacon, Chorizo Vinaigrette and Housemade Pickles… You know – kids’ stuff.
In episode one’s main challenge event, chefs had to create a dish made from an ingredient which, during the lead-up to the show, they identified as the one ingredient they’d choose if stranded on a desert island. Most chose a protein; there were several suckling pigs, a duck, chicken and a turkey. Tio’s selection? Corn.
|Breakfast Cuban on Brioche with Slab Bacon, |
Chorizo Vinaigrette and Housemade Pickles (FN.com)
A true media busy-body, Tio is active on facebook and twitter. On the day she caught up with me at Blanc Burgers+Bottles on the Plaza, she had already given three other interviews. So as a change of pace, we sat down for a quick game of five questions – a KCNapkins feature I hope to continually publish with questions and answers from other area chefs. A little light reading.
Who’s your favorite Iron Chef?
(Masaharu) Morimoto. He’s funny as hell and I love his clean food. Also like Michael Symon because of similarity in cooking styles and his infectious laugh.
There is some apparent confusion in the community about what kind of restaurant JULIAN is. How do you describe it?
Really casual neighborhood restaurant. Some just haven’t gotten the memo yet that this is a casual place. I think because of my time at The American, it’s tainted as “Fine Dining”, but it’s really chef-driven seasonal food.
Between being active on Facebook, twitter, shooting The Next Iron Chef and spending a lot of time at JULIAN, you’re a busy lady. Where do you get your energy?
Pure passion. It’s what gets me up in the morning.
|Prawn with Fire-Roasted Corn and Oyster |
With Raw Corn Salsa (FN.com)
You should be able to finish it all, and I want it to leave you wanting just one more bite. I think huge portions are a disservice. Who wants to eat that much food? I want people to visit (JULIAN) frequently so I’m steadfast in not having huge portions that drive up the cost for customers. I could put lobster on the menu every night but it’s important to me that I have affordable $15-$17 entrees. Our portion size is a good value for what you’re getting.
Most thrilling food celebrity you’ve ever met?
Julia Child. I had lunch with her in 1998. I was the Epcot Food and Wine Festival coordinating chef and she came in. I’m not normally a stargazer but that was great.
The Next Iron Chef airs every Sunday night at 8:00 CT and Chef Tio can often be found cooking/serving guests at JULIAN in brookside.