Loews Miami Beach Hotel | Miami Beach, FL
"Do it with your heart, learn it and then teach it." That
is the motto of Marc Ehrler, a Master Chef of France and Executive
Chef of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. A native of Antibes,
located on the French Rivera between Cannes and Nice, Marc
trained with world-renowned chefs, including Alain Ducasse,
Jacques Maximin and Andre Daguin. His cooking style, a tribute
to his native Provence and influenced by travels in the Caribbean,
Latin America, California and Asia, embraces respect for tradition
Crunchy Truffle-Porcini Risotto Lollipop
Chef Marc Ehrler of Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Miami
Adapted by StarChefs
- 2 ounces black winter truffles
- 1 cup diced porcini mushrooms
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups warm chicken stock
- ½ stick unsalted butter, cut in ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Pomace olive oil for frying
Crush truffles with a fork to obtain a rustic look and to
maximize flavor. Over medium heat, sauté diced porcini
mushrooms in 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add the Arborio rice,
stirring until lightly browned. Add ¼ cup of warm stock
to the rice, stirring constantly until evaporated. Continue
to add stock ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly during
additions, reducing the liquid. After about 15 minutes of adding
the stock and stirring, test the rice. It should be soft on
the outside, and slightly firm on the inside. If the rice is
not done, continue to add small amounts of stock. When rice
is al dente, turn off heat, stir in the crushed fresh black
truffles and butter, and finish with 3 Tablespoons extra virgin
olive oil. Fold in the grated Parmesan cheese to bind risotto.
Spread rice onto a sheet pan to cool down. When cool enough
to handle by hand, shape the risotto into small balls and
roll balls in panko breadcrumbs. Chill risotto balls and then
fry in a sauté pan with pomace olive oil until golden
brown. (Pomace olive oil has a neutral flavor and is ideal
for frying.) Once fried, insert lollipop sticks into each
ball and serve.
AT: What is you philosophy
ME: My Mediterranean
approach has been confirmed throughout the years - simple,
not simplistic. I don’t use cream – I use vibrant
ingredients. Having traveled everywhere, my philosophy remains
the same but the ingredients change – I adapt local
ingredients to my philosophy – from the tropics to California,
AT: You have considerable
experience working in hotels, as well as restaurants. How
do you compare the two?
ME: What I like is to
be able to make a group of people move in the same direction.
Usually in hotels we have larger crews or teams. You have
to become a much better manager with expenses and promotions
because you have multiple restaurants. And when you’re
working with other chefs in the hotel, you have to constantly
create excitement for those people to perform. You don’t
spend all day in one kitchen, so what’s exiting is managing
multi-operations. But I still approach all these restaurants
in the hotel this same way, as if they were freestanding operations.
AT: Are there any secret
ingredients that you especially like? Why?
ME: Right now I’m
on a citronelle kick – from smoking it to grating it,
to wrapping fish around in the whole leaves. But this evolves
constantly. My favorite ingredient in whole world is olive
oil – I have a collection that I get from all over the
world. I spend time doing tastings and teaching my team. Olive
oil is like wine. It’s a seasoning, not just fat.
AT: What is your most
indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
ME: I recently got a
thermomix and I’m still playing with that – it’s
a lot of fun and the potential is unreal. But something you
don’t see many people using any more, that I use a lot
is the kitchen fork like in the rotisserie kitchen. Everyone
uses tongs, but I use the fork. Also the Peltex fish spatula,
and a beautiful knife. Right now I’m using the Porsche
knife – designed by a Japanese master – it’s
AT: Is there a culinary
technique that you have either created or use in an unusual
way? Please describe.
ME: For a long time I
used to bread sauces – I’d take a really good
sauce and chill it until it becomes gelatinous, then bread
it and pan fry it in a little butter. People are amazed to
see something crunchy turn into something liquid. You can
put it on top of beef tenderloin. When you touch it, it breaks
and the sauce takes over the plate. Another thing I used to
do was a vodka ice cube - I used to serve it with caviar–
it’s a chemistry-oriented trick to freeze vodka without
changing the flavor, and keeping the clarity of the pure product.
AT: What is your favorite
question to ask during an interview for a potential new line
ME: How are you inspired?
Do you need people to inspire you or do you find inspiration
on you own? I always find inspiration; I don’t even
have to look for it.
AT: What tips would
you offer young chefs just getting started?
ME: You really have
to learn the basic foundation in order to create or to be
around for a long time. Be open-minded. Don’t rush it.
There’s no secret, no miracle to it.
AT: What are your favorite
ME: I have 2 that I go
back to constantly – the original book of Alain Ducasse
– because it’s exactly what I believe about food.
The one I cannot live without is Escoffier – the Culinary
AT: What cities do you
like for culinary travel?
ME: In the US, definitely
New York. Everything is there. I would also say Japan –
I was in Osaka to open the Ritz-Carlton – I’d
definitely go back. Spain - Barcelona and the Basque region–
the food there is very similar to the food from where I come
from in France – same approach but different ingredients.
AT: What are your favorite
restaurants in Miami?
ME: Zipang – it’s
a small Japanese restaurant on Biscayne Blvd. It’s a
tiny restaurant. Nothing pretentious and nobody knows it.
But the chef/owner Toshiya deserves to have 50 times the guests
and glory that he has. He spends so much time finding the
AT: Where do you see
yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
ME: The location I don’t
know, but I see myself happy, doing what I enjoy doing the
most, which is sharing what I’ve learned through the
years - my food philosophy and pleasures of the table. It
could be here or anywhere.