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MARC EHRLER
LOEWS MIAMI BEACH HOTEL
1601 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305-604-1601

Biography »

Interview:
Amy Tarr: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Marc Ehrler: My parents inspired me to become a chef– I never had to decide anything. It was meant to happen. I grew up in a family that was very food-oriented – my father was in the business and I used to cook with my grandmother.

AT: Where did you complete your culinary training?
ME: I went to school in Nice at Lycee Hotelier. I also worked in the south of France in a small restaurant called La Gravette in Antibes as an apprentice.

AT: You’ve worked with masters like Alain Ducasse and Andre Dauguin. Do you consider these chefs your primary mentors?
ME: Alain Ducasse and Jacques Maximin were big inspirations. But my biggest inspiration was my father. Those chefs helped confirm that my father and my mother’s cooking – traditional from Nice – was right. At the time, classical French cuisine was heavier. When I worked with Jacques and Alain, they were cooking with olive oil and making the same things that I ate growing up.

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MARC EHRLER
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 and simplicity.


Crunchy Truffle-Porcini Risotto Lollipop

Chef Marc Ehrler of Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Miami Beach, FL
Adapted by StarChefs

Crunchy Truffle-Porcini Risotto Lollipop On StarChefsYield: 24 Lollipops

Ingredients:

  • 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
Method:
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.

Interview Cont'd

AT: What is you philosophy on cooking?
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, to Florida.

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 pure steel.

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 cook?
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 cookbooks?
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 Guide.

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 perfect product.

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.




   Published: October 2004

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