SPOTLIGHT > CULINARY PARTNERS
Robert Gerstenecker From Easy-Bake Oven to Master on the EGG
The Stir-Fry & Paella Grill Pan is perfect for creating traditional paella recipes as well as delicious stir-fry meals! Experiment with different meats, poultry, seafood and seasonal vegetables to create your own interpretations of these popular international dishes. Perforated Grill Woks make it easy to cook vegetables, meat, seafood or any other smaller pieces of food that might slip through the standard cooking grids.
From humble roots do great trees grow, and Robert Gerstenecker, executive chef at the Big Green Egg Culinary Partner Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, says he’s old enough now to laugh about the story that seems to follow him everywhere – that his first cooking was done on an Easy-Bake® Oven at age six, in his parents’ house on a farm outside Toronto! “I think I’ve advanced enough to live that one down – but still enjoy the memory,” he says. “It’s just one of many great memories of growing up on a farm, the youngest of four boys, and being happy in the kitchen or garden with my mother.” After receiving his diploma in culinary arts from George Brown College, Gerstenecker earned a coveted internship with the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, starting his career baking on the nighttime shift, later moving into pastry duties. He’s been with the Four Seasons group for 26 years now, 12 in Atlanta, where he and his multi-cultural staff – “I tend to hire people who love and can cook very flavorful food” – create dishes that are Indian, Somalian, Jamaican and Russian. Robert’s parents came from Bavaria, in southern Germany, and he grew up eating dishes with a lot of herbs, spices and deep flavors – goulash, for example. The Four Seasons’ fifth-floor rooftop patio gave Robert the perfect place to return to his roots, albeit on a smaller scale. Every year he plants a garden to grow fresh herbs and vegetables, many of which make their way into his recipes created for cooking on the EGGs he keeps on the rooftop patio. “I fell in love with the Big Green Egg the first time I cooked on it. There’s almost nothing that you can’t cook on an EGG – and make it better. One of my favorites is lamb – I grill it first, then add some hay from my farm and make it ‘hay basket lamb.’ Or snapper that is dressed with lemon slices inside and tea leaves outside before we give it a salt crust, and then serve it in a beautiful coconut broth. Short of taking guests to my own small farm, cooking outside on my EGGs is the best way I know to share my own and my team’s passion for farming, for fresh, just-picked ingredients and for a technique that delivers flavor to the food exactly the way I want it to. I can always count on my EGG for that.” Photo courtesy of Andrew Thomas Lee