Chef Ulfet was born in Istanbul, Turkey where she started to learn and develop her cooking skills specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. She has her Certification in Baking and Pastry from The Art Institute of Atlanta. After her relocation to Charleston, which is a new Food and Wine destination, she enrolled at Culinary Institute of Charleston to study under many talented chefs to sharpen her skills. Since February 2014, she has joined with Farmer Lee Jones as the Chef de Cuisine at the Culinary Vegetable Institute at Chef’s Garden. Recently, she was named the Best Chef at 2014 Asheville Wine and Food festival. She is the first female ever who competed and won!
What is one book you most often recommend to aspiring student chefs?
If I have to train somebody, or if I am talking to a student, there is always this one book I recommend. Personally, I was skeptical before I enrolled in culinary school. One day, I went to Barnes and Noble, and I bought Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. I finished that book in ONE DAY, the next day that I enrolled in Culinary School. That’s my go to source for what it’s like to work in a kitchen and be a chef. You have to feel it in your heart. I like to give this book to whoever works under me. Just read it, and you will understand what life is as a chef.
Where do you usually look for inspiration for recipes?
Luckily in today’s world, there are internet sources, books, and Ebooks. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and somethings it’s bad – like when you have 25 windows open on your computer and it’s just overwhelming.
I’m old fashioned. I like to go to the bookstore and flip through books. Not just books written by someone famous either. But books written by people I have not heard.
Also I follow chefs on Instagram and Twitter. I try to keep myself relevant, and I like to see what other people are doing – What flavors are in, what is trending. You have to stay relevant.
What’s your most recent fascination (i.e an ingredient, technique)?
What has been in my head a lot is this dish I’ve been developing. The inspiration for it came when I was in this thrift store. I was looking at this painting of a beard with a cat right in the middle and a bird on the side. From there I wanted to make a dish. Take really thin shredded pastry popular in the Mediterranean called Kataifi, it looks like hair, that is the beard. The middle features seafood – because cats like seafood, and birds fly and eat earthworm – which goes with the idea of alternative protein, so this will have some earthworm or crickets.
Do you have an original recipe that you would be willing to share for the readers?
Dark Chocolate Vacherin
3 large egg whites 2 Tbs icing sugar 1 Tbs grated 60 % dark chocolate
1 C sugar 1 C water 2 Tbs coconut cream 1/4 C crushed pistachios
1 can coconut milk 1 Tbs icing sugar
Pre heat oven 275 F. Whip egg whites to stiff pick, sprinkle icing sugar slowly and continue whipping until egg whites becomes glossy. Gently fold grated chocolate to mixture, with spatula spread vacherin on non stick silpat bake 1 1/2 hour, turn off the heat and let it cool in the oven.
Place water and sugar in a non stick pan, slowly bring up to a boil, maintain medium heat until sugar mixture turns golden brown, turn off the heat, with hand whisk incorporate coconut cream with sugar caramel very quickly. It will bubble first, then will go down. Stir pistachios and spread the brittle sheet tray and let it cool.
Turn can coconut milk upside down and let it rest in the fridge over night. This will help cream part to accumulate on the bottom of the can. Gently open the can on the still keeping it upside don and release the water. Place thick coconut cream in a blender with whisk attachment whipped it with sugar until stiff pick.
For more about Chef Ulfet, other chefs, and a guide to recipe development please take a look at our upcoming book!