We asked chefs: What’s your favorite autumn ingredient?

"We asked chefs" is a regular feature in which we ask local Tucson chefs a range of questions about chef life and food.

Last modified on October 5th, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Magdalena Big Cheese Squash at DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“We Asked Chefs” is a regular feature in which we ask local Tucson chefs a range of questions about chef life and food. Read their responses to the latest, “what’s your favorite autumn ingredient?”


Dee Buizer

Senae Thai Bistro
Dee Buizer, chef and owner of Senae Thai Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Dee Buizer, chef and owner of Senae Thai Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Bangkok, Thailand has 2 seasons: 1) hot (90s) and humid, 2) cool (80s) and less humid. In Thailand, there is no “autumn,” as we know it.

However, an autumn ingredient that I use in a dish called haw mok is acorn squash. I roast the acorn squash halfway and cook a vegetable or seafood mix in red curry paste and coconut milk with a splash of kaffir lime zest and an egg white. Then, I fill the acorn squash with the curry mix and steam it until the squash is fully cooked. Total cooking time is approximately a half hour.

I’ll offer it as a special next week: Haw Mok — a steamed curry in acorn squash.”

View our October 2017 Nine on the Line with Dee Buizer.

Adrian Castillo

Cielos at Lodge on the Desert
Executive chef Adrian Castillo at Cielos at Lodge on the Desert (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive chef Adrian Castillo at Cielos at Lodge on the Desert (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“My favorite autumn ingredient is pumpkin spice… psyche, JK.

But for reals, I have a few, but the one that’s near and dear to my heart is the pomegranate. For fall, we will be making the classic Mexican winter dish chile en nogada, which sports the Mexican flag colors, and the bright red pom seed adds such a vibrant touch to the already beautiful dish.

The green pepper is stuffed with ground pork and beef, peaches, and a variety of nuts, while the creamy sauce smothers the dish with wintery flavors perfect for the holidays.”

Riley Chandler

Pop-Up Tucson
Pop-Up Tucson chef Riley Chandler (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Pop-Up Tucson chef Riley Chandler (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Fennel. There is nothing quite like it when fennel is used properly as a highlight or accent to a dish. Or when you get the fennel ratio just right in a sausage.

Another great thing is the entire fennel plant is edible and lends itself to a wide variety of applications. It is used year-round today, but fennel is known originally, in Italy, as a fall ingredient.”

View our June 2017 Nine on the Line with Riley Chandler.

Ryan Clark

Casino Del Sol Resort
Executive chef Ryan Clark at PY Steakhouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Casino Del Sol Resort executive chef Ryan Clark at PY Steakhouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“My favorite ingredient this time of year is definitely a ripe fig. Tucson is home to so many varieties and they grow in abundance around town. I love eating them fresh with ricotta cheese and honey or making them into preserves.”

Ivor Cryderman

Ten55 Brewing and Sausage House
Executive chef Ivor Cryderman at Ten55 Brewing and Sausage House (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive chef Ivor Cryderman at Ten55 Brewing and Sausage House (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Fall is my favorite time of year. Growing up in Michigan, it meant going to apple orchards for hayrides, warm apple cider, cake donuts, and of course football.

When I think about my favorite ingredient, squash is what pops into my mind. I love the stuff. Acorn, butternut, spaghetti, pumpkin, carnival, and so on and so on, I can’t get enough.”

Read more about the Ten55 Brewing and Sausage House Grand Opening.

Michael Elefante

Mama Louisa’s
Executive Chef Michael Elefante at Mama Louisa's (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive Chef Michael Elefante at Mama Louisa’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“This is a tough one for me. There are so many great ingredients this time of year. I love cooking and creating around this time.

Parsnips are by far my favorite though. But almost all root vegetables growing now are amazing. Also, some other great ingredients to use are chicory, fennel, persimmons, and sunchokes.”

View our November 2016 Tools They Use with Michael Elefante.

Tyler Fenton

Reilly Craft Drink & Pizza
Chef Tyler Fenton at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chef Tyler Fenton at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“I’m a big fan of delicata squash. It’s so versatile and easy to use. My favorite way to cook it is to give it a nice hard char to contrast its natural sweetness and serve it with burrata and browned butter.

Autumn is sweater weather (at least in theory) so calories don’t count again until spring.”

View our February 2017 Nine on the Line with Tyler Fenton.

C.J. Hamm

Saguaro Corners • Mulligan’s
Executive chef CJ Hamm at Saguaro Corners (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive chef CJ Hamm at Saguaro Corners (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“Pumpkin spice errythang!

Naw I’m playin’… parsnips and pears.”

View our March 2017 Nine on the Line with C.J. Hamm.

Doug Levy

Feast
Executive chef Doug Levy at Feast (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive chef Doug Levy at Feast (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“I’m fond of all of it — chestnuts, root vegetables, apples, and pears — but I’m especially fond of kabocha squash because it’s sweet and earthy-funky at the same time.

Actually, as I write this, I don’t see any reason why we don’t make a dish with all those ingredients in it. We also made mincemeat to go in a dish at our wine tasting the other day, and that positively cheered me up.”

View our September 2017 Nine on the Line with Doug Levy.

John “J.P.” Pratt

Tohono Chul Garden Bistro
Executive John "JP" Pratt at Tohono Chul Garden Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive John “JP” Pratt at Tohono Chul Garden Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“My fave autumn ingredient this year has got to be pomegranate and squash. We have seven different pomegranate trees here on property, red and white, and they are just producing in abundance, as well as two different types of squashes growing up in the park — Mayo Blusher and Tohono O’odham.”

Coralie Satta

Ghini’s French Caffe
Coralie Satta of Ghini's French Caffe and La Baguette Bakery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Coralie Satta of Ghini’s French Caffe and La Baguette Bakery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“When I think about fall, I immediately think of big rich hearty dishes. In Tucson, since the weather is pretty much the same all year round, with different levels of heat and not so much cold; I don’t think about those big, meat-heavy hearty dishes or miss them.

However; I still do get in the spirit of it all and love to make things with sage. I start to crave sage in so many things. I LOVE to make a brown butter sage with butternut squash, gnocchi and pasta. I tend to eat more pasta in the winter months.

So with all of that being said, I’m going to say sage and squashes, and some delicious old-vine Zinfandels. Yummy.”

View our March 2018 Women’s History Month Episode 2.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com.
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