Charm City Cook: Chef Talk
Chef Jon Lindenauer has pretty much done it all.
Check it out:
Attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and studied under Chef Hartmut Handke.
Cooked at top four-star restaurants in New York City, including Jean Georges and Les Cèlebrites.
Served as a food and wine consultant for Michael Skurnik Wines.
Worked as a freelance consultant for The Food Network’s “Iron Chef” television program.
Held the position of Chef de Cuisine for Bon Appétit for six years.
And now? He’s Director of Creative Research & Menu Design at The Classic Catering People, where he worked as a chef from 2001-2002.
Lindenauer says, “Coming back to Baltimore and to The Classic Catering People is in a lot of ways bringing my career full circle. One criticism people often make about catered food is that taste and quality diminish because it’s prepared en masse. That’s simply not the case. The Classic Catering People has always been a trusted household name and I’m ready to take the company a step further, driving home the message that à la carte catering for any size event is possible.”
I sat down with Chef Jon Lindenauer to get to know this fabulously talented Baltimore boy.
Charm City Cook: What do you love most about food?
Jon Lindenauer: The never-ending quest to learn more and the creativity involved. You are giving a part of yourself, and when you sit down to a meal with others, you are all similar. The barriers come down.
CCC: What aas it like to work at Bon Appetit? Was it at all intimidating going in? I’d think that might be a bit like a fashion stylist going to work at Vogue.
JL: It was amazing! It was not really intimidating because I was ready for it, and after working in NYC for top chefs and opening restaurants, not much intimidates you. You know your capabilities.
CCC: What sorts of things are you doing in your new position as Director of Creative Research & Menu Design with Classic? I would think it would be kind of different all the time.
JL: Creating menus and recipes. Cooking with the fantastic chefs and staff at The Classic Catering People. And, yes, it is different everyday – and that’s what I thrive on!
CCC: Was food a big part of your upbringing? Did you cook when you were a kid?
JL: Very much so. I was making sauces and baking when I was 9 years old.
CCC: Lots of kids get to choose the meal on their birthday…anything they want (to a point, I suppose…) What would be your ‘birthday meal’ now?
JL: Hard to say…Depending on my mood, but since my birthday is in the summer, I’d go with BBQ or something Asian and fragrant.
CCC: Baltimore can be a pretty traditional food town, especially when it comes to catering. You know, the ‘ol split plate of filet and crab cake can get a little boring. How do you get your clients to trust you and go with a little more creative menu?
JL: Talk to them about food and impassion them.
CCC: The whole idea of sustainability is such a buzz right now, but it’s real, too. How do you go local but still make it work on a larger scale at Classic?
JL: I use the local/sustainable approach as long as it makes sense to me. I am responsible, but also must give the food quality and taste priority.
CCC: What food trend can you absolutely not stand?
JL: I can’t really answer that. All trends have their merit.
CCC: Do you have time to watch any food tv? If so, are there any celebrity chefs you really enjoy?
JL: Not really. I go online and watch the Basque (Spanish) Chefs, and the cutting edge chefs.
CCC: Okay…obligatory…when you cook at home, what do you like to make? Do you have a favorite ‘go to’ meal?
JL: USDA Prime dry-aged Porterhouse on my Weber charcoal grill, cooked over wood charcoal and Mesquite wood. Paired with sautéed mustard greens and a Malbec from Argentina, that is perfect simplicity.
Jon has generously shared his recipe for a summer fave, gazpacho. Enjoy!
Yield: 8 portions
2 cups peeled and diced (1/4 inch) hothouse cucumber
2 cups diced (1/4 inch) red bell pepper
2 cups diced (1/4 inch) ripe tomato
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) red onion
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup finely sliced green onion
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
1. Place all of the diced vegetables in a large bowl. Add the tomato juice, vinegar, oil, and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Place 1/2 of the mixture in a blender and puree the contents. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
3. Garnish with the green onion and olive oil.
Thanks, Jon – Best of luck in your work at Classic!