Chef Julie Frans
As the Signature Chef at the Miami Beach restaurant, Essensia, Chef Julie Frans is truly dedicated to creating dishes that are both good for the body as well as the environment and embodies the “inspired by nature” philosophy. Globally-inspired and flavorful, her recipe for Grilled Gulf-Caught Corvina with Fennel, Apple and Celery Root Slaw exemplifies her farm-to-table, ingredient-centric approach. Have a hard time finding corvina? Chef Julie recommends using a sustainable sea bass style fish, such as the black sea bass. A tip from Chef Julie: "Focus on the ingredients of your food, and use high quality products that are bursting with life and flavor. If the ingredients of your dish are worth tasting, why mask them with a heavy dressing, sauce, or store-bought vinaigrette? Enhance the flavor with a high quality infused olive oil and sea salt, which won't overpower or mask the flavors of the food."
Keep reading for an exclusive interview with Chef Julie Frans and for her Grilled Gulf-Caught Corvina with Fennel, Apple and Celery Root Slaw.
Where do you look for inspiration in the kitchen?
My food is very ingredient focused. I search far and wide, across sustainable and organic farms, specialty producers, and local purveyors, and find the ingredients I want to work with. I highlight the ingredients I want to feature in the spotlight, then play with flavors and techniques to see what ingredients pair the best to highlight these features. It's all about coming up with the perfect balance of flavors, color, and texture, without losing the integrity of the ingredients. I try to let the foods do the work- rather than trying too hard to change them from their original (perfect) state!
What 3 ingredients are you never without?
Extra virgin olive oil, coconut milk, spicy pepper or hot sauce
What is your favorite “day-off” from the restaurant meal?
Thai food! Paneng curry with brown rice, pad thai, green papaya salad, and spring rolls (:
Do you prefer sweet or savory?
What is one skill that is essential for every home cook to know?
To sauté: Heat your pan on medium high, then add your olive oil. It should immediately thin when it hits the pan, but not spit or smoke. Then quickly start adding your ingredients. If you start with a cold pan and heat it with the olive oil, you are basically cooking the goodness out of the oil, and it has a higher likelihood to overcook and taste burnt or smokey. You never want it to smoke. If it starts smoking, start over- don't add your food or it will be ruined.
How Chef Julie uses Lucini® infused extra virgin olive oils:
I used to spend a lot of time, ingredients, and effort in blending vinaigrettes. Now, more than ever, I am simply combining different flavors of high quality olive oils and vinegars, and adding more fresh herbs into the salads and vegetables.
For a fresh and healthy slaw, I add to shredded cabbage and carrots: pickled red onion, shaved radish, fresh parsley, fresh mint, sea salt, fresh pepper, and a combination of Delicate Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil and apple cider vinegar.
For a cold quinoa salad, I mix cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, grilled diced zucchini and corn kernels, fresh herbs like dill, parsley, mint, and basil, and farm feta. For the dressing, a simple mix of Delicate Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Pinot Grigio Italian Wine Vinegar.
For a salad of romaine lettuce, strawberries, blue cheese, and marcona almonds, the salad gets a distinct flavor from candied fennel, pickled onions, and fresh basil. A heavy vinaigrette would overpower the salad's natural flavors, so I use Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil and white balsamic, with sea salt and ground pepper.