Ask a Chef: Timothy Hollingsworth, What are Your Favorite Flavor Combinations?

Timothy Hollingsworth
This year’s JBF Rising Star Award winner, Timothy Hollingsworth of the French Laundry, gives us some great seasonal ingredient match-ups to make the most of late summer’s incredible bounty.

1.  Eggplant, Mint, and Tamarind
“The sweetness of the tamarind complements the earthy flavor of the eggplant, and both are balanced by the freshness of the mint. At the French Laundry we like to apply this flavor combination to sautéed big fin squid from Japan. At home any light seafood dish would carry the flavors well.”

2.  Tomato, Squash, Olives, and Basil
“This combination is the epitome of late summer, when the garden is producing amazing squash, tomatoes, and basil. At the restaurant I like to confit the tomatoes, brunoise the squash, olives, and basil, and serve it all over a piece of olive oil-poached cod.”

3.  Grilled Bread with Tomato, Burrata, and Olive Oil
“I could eat this every day! It’s all about the products and the simple preparation. To go a step further, I will slice the tomatoes thin and then marinate them in a mixture of fleur de sel, minced shallots, cracked black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.  After marinating for 30 minutes at room temperature, the whole preparation takes on an additional depth of flavor.”

4.  Corn, Celery, Pickled Ramps, and Truffles
“When combined, the sweetness of the corn, the earthiness and intensity of the truffles, the crispness of the celery, and the acidity of the pickled ramps creates a balance of flavors that can garnish a number of dishes: soup, scallops, guinea hen, even beef.  At the end of the meal we’ll sometimes pair these flavors with a nice sharp cheddar.”

5.  Watermelon, Lime, and Salt
“The salt really brings out the sweetness of watermelon, and adding the bright acidity of lime is a classic move. To apply this combination at the restaurant, we will compress the watermelon in a lime syrup. The flavor of the lime is infused into the watermelon while at the same time intensifying the color and vibrancy of the fruit.”

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