Posts tagged Door County

Chef Q&A with Julie Zak

Close up of Cherry Stuffed French Toast

Chef Week continues with a visit to the White Gull Inn, which has been greeting guests since 1896. Located in Fish Creek part of Wisconsin’s Door County, the area draws visitors year round with its rich history, farm-fresh food and plenty to do with Green Bay to the west and Lake Michigan to the east.

The Inn, located just down the street from Sunset Park—so named for the gorgeous views of Green Bay in the evenings—does have overnight lodging, but many people are drawn to its doors for one reason: breakfast. In 2010, the Inn won of Good Morning America’s Best Breakfast Challenge with one of their signature dishes.

Julie Zak, the Breakfast Chef and kitchen manager describes the Inn’s cooking philosophy this way: “keep it simple, but use the freshest ingredients possible, emphasize local ingredients in season, don’t be afraid to innovate and experiment, and always put quality and consistency first.” Below, find out more of Zak’s kitchen experiences. And for a taste of one of her favorite recipes, try the White Gull Inn Breakfast Rice Pudding.

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?

Flour, maple syrup, dried cherries!

Your favorite meal to make or serve?

Although we are well known for our breakfasts, our lunches also have a large following.  As a special at the Inn and at home, I really love making lasagna, made from scratch with my homemade sauce using vegetables from my own garden and real ricotta cheese and Wisconsin mozzarella.

We all have a favorite indulgence, for a chef like you it must be something spectacular?

I love our Eggs Benedict, but limit myself to an order once every two or three months.

What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?

My first time cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for my in-laws, I forgot to take the giblets out of the turkey. Although it was embarrassing, we all laughed. I knew I wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last to make that mistake.

What do you suggest for first-timers?  What menu item should they make sure to try?

Definitely the Cherry and Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast. The combination of Door County sour cherries with Wisconsin cream cheese stuffed in egg bread, then grilled and served with maple syrup, is by far our most popular item at our breakfasts and was voted winner of Good Morning America’s Best Breakfast Challenge in 2010. Turkey hash with Dijon gravy would be a great accompaniment.

Don’t forget to enter the hand-crafted oak cutting board giveaway!

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White Gull Inn Breakfast Rice Pudding

White Gull Inn in the wintertime Photo credit: White Gull Inn

A special thanks to Julie Zak, the Breakfast Chef and Kitchen Manager at the White Gull Inn for providing this recipe. The White Gull Inn is located in Fish Creek, part of Wisconsin’s picturesque Door County area.

Recipe

Yield: 6 servings


Ingredients

4 cups cooked basmati rice

1 lb. frozen peaches, thawed and coarsely chopped

1 cup pitted, frozen tart cherries, thawed and drained

1 cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup brown sugar, divided

¼ cup rolled oats

¼ cup shredded, sweetened coconut

¼ cup chopped pecans

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 1 ½ quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine rice, peaches, cherries, whipping cream and ¼ cup of the brown sugar in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into prepared dish.
  3. In a small bowl, mix remaining ¼ cup brown sugar, rolled oats, coconut, pecans and melted butter; sprinkle over rice mixture. Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

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