4/19 – 4/20/14
lifestyle & arts
THE NORTH SHORE WEEKEND
a matter of taste
There is accounting for taste with this chef ■ by katie rose mceneely
Michael Tsonton is the new chef at Market House and MH Fish House in Lake Forest. How did you start cooking? Product of a single-parent home. My mother worked; I learned with my brothers to put food in the pan and make things more delicious. Years cooking? Nineteen years. What made you decide to become a professional chef? I became serious about being a chef when I decided that if I ever wanted to own my own restaurant, it was a good idea to learn how the kitchen ran. I left my job as a general manager to become a cook, and I just fell in love with it. I learned it the old-fashioned way — school of hard knocks. Best recipe tweak? One of the things that I learned was not to cook with your eyes, but to cook with your taste buds. If the dish is all white and it tastes perfect, then it stays all white. You don’t throw things into the dish because it “needs” color. The food should be delicious first; you can make it pretty after that. I also learned — my background is in fine arts, I was printmaker — cooking is not art. It bothers me when people say that it is. It’s artistic, but it’s not art; it’s craftsmanship. I know how hard art is. Cooking is not that hard. Favorite cuisine to make? My training and background is pretty Frenchbased. We’re in the process of changing
Fish House’s concept to more EuroJapanese. I’m enthralled by a lot of cultures, so I’m pretty well versed in a lot of different arenas. My biggest thing is I’m a Midwest kid; I’m more attuned to seasonal cooking. What do you like to eat at home? My kids don’t realize how spoiled they are yet. My wife is a talented cook — it’s pretty standard fare, but it’s homemade. Worthwhile gadget? I always have a spoon in my pocket. I take a heavy serving spoon and pound it out flat, so it’s [part spoon, part spatula]. Favorite cookbook? I really love the “Uchi” cookbook by Tyson Cole. It’s been around for five or six years, but I just got back into it — I love the way he feels about food, his employees and his clientele. I share the same sensibilities. Favorite vegetable? Celery, no two ways about it — it’s so undervalued. Funniest or most memorable kitchen incident? I just finished a consulting gig, and we had a food runner who was a young kid, pretty green. My sous chef and I cooked up a joke where we pretended there was a set of stairs under the carpet on the hot line — we’d pretend to go down. The kid would stand out front forever because he thought there was a set of stairs by the line. Market House and MH Fish House are located at 655 Forest Avenue in Lake Forest. For more information, visit themarkethouse.com or call 847234-8800. ■
photography by joel lerner
Recipe: Salt Cod Brandade Soak 1 pound salt cod, skin removed, in water, covered and refrigerated, for 3 days (change water twice or more daily). Drain, and cut into small pieces. Simmer 2 cups whole milk, 3 ½ cups heavy cream, 8 cloves garlic and 2 large russet potatoes (peeled and chopped) until potatoes are fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add salt cod, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Reserving 1 cup liquid, transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add 1 cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream, stirring until mixture is almost smooth and adding liquid if needed. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, and then fold in 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves. Finish with chopped fresh parsley, chives and a drizzle with oil. Serve warm with country bread toasted.
out & about
What are your plans for this upcoming weekend?
Nancy & Philip Sheridan, Winnetka “We’re going to Florida and church.”
Connor Tsui “I’m going on an Easter egg hunt!”
Sarah Kahn, Glencoe “I’m going to Pennsylvania to spend Easter with family.”
Mary Baubonis “I was planning to take a road trip with my family when fortunately my car broke down. It was a blessing in disguise. Now we are flying to Florida!”
Mike Wehrs & Greg Bucko of Sunset Foods, Highland Park “Working for our Sunset customers!”
Kelsey Garcia and Daniel Seyller from Gordon Salon “Kelsey is taking her new bike out for a ride and Daniel is hanging out at Robin Night at Berlin’s in Chicago.”
Barbara Kestin, Highland Park “Relaxing and some yard work!”
Rebecca & Daniel Richman, Glencoe “We are celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday.”
Amy Eisenberg, Highland Park “Celebrating my 40th birthday and going to my son’s baseball games!”
Svetlana Klevanskaya and Pam Cerasani of Scissors Edge in Winnetka “Going to church and spending time with family.”
Linda Ralias, Winnetka “Going to symphony, church and then organizing an egg hunt for my 4 grandchildren.”
The North Shore Weekend (East Zone) is published weekly and features the news and personalities of Evanston, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka,...