In Chef’s Choice, a Naperville Sun asks internal chefs to share their culinary credentials and practice and to pronounce about a featured plate found on their menu.
This week, we pronounce with A.J. Saldivar, 25, sous prepare during Hugo’s Frog Bar in downtown Naperville, who started his career as a prep prepare during age 16 for a grill in his Warsaw, Ind., hometown. After 3 years, he changed to a kitchen during Maggiano’s Little Italy in Oak Brook and, after 4 years there, assimilated a staff during Devon Seafood and Steak in Oakbrook Terrace.
His jump to Hugo’s was as a prep prepare for a chain’s Chicago plcae dual years ago.
Question: How prolonged were we operative downtown before we came to Naperville?
Saldivar: we was downtown for 6 months, and afterwards we was eliminated and finished a sous chef.
Q: You’re still a unequivocally immature man. What finished we select this career trail contra something else?
Saldivar: we always enjoyed cooking and being around my mom in a kitchen. We have a unequivocally large family.
Q: How big?
Saldivar: Too many to count.
Q: When we were a kid, was it only prevalent for your mom to say, ‘Come to a kitchen — we’re going to make this?’ or did we only ramble in on your own?
Saldivar: we wandered in on my possess and we’d make elementary things as we was flourishing up.
Q: Such as?
Saldivar: We’d make meatloaf — it’s one of my favorites that she used to make before she passed. She’d make her famous immature bean stew or a corn casserole. Scalloped potatoes were always my favorite. That was arrange of my birthday plate each year.
Q: For many, food is some-more than something to means life. There is always another connection. What’s that for you?
Saldivar: It takes me behind to childhood with my mom, perplexing opposite things in a kitchen.
Q: Were we a picky eater as a kid?
Saldivar: Not really. we didn’t like my vegetables much, though my tastes were flattering broad.
Q: we don’t wish we to give divided any family secrets, though you’ve mentioned meatloaf a series of times and it’s not a unequivocally formidable thing. Why was it so wonderful?
Saldivar: It only was something we did together and was one of a initial things we got my hands into so we only kind of connected with it that way.
Q: What would we contend was a biggest plea we had to overcome in apropos a sous prepare so quickly?
Saldivar: Being a parochial child from Indiana and entrance to a large city, it was a enlightenment shock.
Q: What’s a ability set we struggled with before we finally mastered it?
Saldivar: Knife skills are always a challenge. Learning how to mangle down fish and opposite pieces of meat.
Q: When did we comprehend we had arrived as a prepare and we could contend to yourself, ‘I’m a professional’?
Saldivar: When we was during Maggiano’s within a initial year. we finished this family plate and everybody desired it and would sequence it. It was off a menu.
Q: What was it?
Saldivar: It was a plate we’d eat after people worked. They called it ‘Pasta de A.J.’ and it had an Alfredo sauce, a garlic cream sauce, sharp Calabrian peppers, some chives in there and farfalle pasta, duck and, of course, bacon — since bacon goes good with everything. When in doubt, supplement bacon.
Q: What are 5 must-have cupboard mixture we always have in your house?
Saldivar: Salt, pepper, garlic, red peppers flakes and bacon. Simplicity is all we need.
Q: we know we combined a plate you’re featuring today. Tell us about it.
Saldivar: This is a grilled salmon. We call it “Grilled Faroe Island Salmon” and it’s served with a honeyed potato puree that has nutmeg, salt, white peppers and complicated cream along with a grandma smith apple and onion slaw. It’s surfaced with crispy honeyed potato straws and micro arugula.
Q: You’ve finished something here with textures, haven’t you?
Saldivar: Yes. We have a tawny honeyed potato on a bottom and a crunchy honeyed potato on top. It’s been on a menu about a month. we messed around with a puree a bit and a white peppers gives it a spice.
David Sharos is a freelance contributor for a Naperville Sun.