Market Chef : Javier Canteras

Market Chef : Javier Canteras

July 27, 2011 |  by  |  Chef Demos

Javier Canteras is one busy man. At his day job, Chef Canteras  serves up delicious food to the good people (no really! sure the Bard encourages us to ‘kill all the lawyers’ but no, really! some are nice!) of the law firm Stahancyk, Kent, & Hook. Surely the luckiest person at the firm is Jody Stahancyk. As the senior partner, she has her evening meal prepared personally by Canteras. All those long hours in a suit really do pay off I guess! On the weekends, and in all his spare time, he also caters all the dinner parties, events, and fundraisers for the firm. On top of it all, when the sun goes down, Javier goes totally un-corporate, pouring his blood and sweat into his new catering venture, Salt & Flame.

Thinking about his childhood inspirations, Javier recalls a specific, smelly, visceral food memory, the kind we food lovers cling to. “I can remember my father teaching me how to cut an onion at age 8. Really, the heart of my cooking is my family; the techniques handed down to me. The recipes from my grandfather’s restaurant in Andalusia that were passed down to my Father, who began teaching me to cook at such an early age.”

It wasn’t all romance and dreams of the South of Spain. In his youth, there were plenty of missteps – including a particularly notable run-in with a microwave dessert-focused cookbook. He preserved, though, and thanks to a family full of great cooks, Javier was never far from a great bite of food, a taste of inspiration, where cooking came naturally and food was always delicious.

Though Chef Canteras did eventually go on to receive more traditional culinary education at Western Culinary Institute’s Le Cordon Bleu program, he feels that his real education came not through classroom hours clocked, but through the blood that pumps through his veins. The food that he cooks for the people in his life, the people he works for – not to mention the food he’ll be cooking for YOU this coming Sunday! – is a direct expression of himself, his roots, memories. The edible, smell-able, tactile incarnation of a family of great chefs.

Grilled Summer Vegetable Panzanella Salad

  • 2 zucchini or equal sized summer squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 2 ears of corn, husked and boiled
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick rings
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 oz goat cheese
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 loaf rustic white bread, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon zest and juice, garlic, honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Next, toss in the halved tomatoes and olives; set aside.

Heat a grill or grill pan.  Toss the zucchini, corn, and onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.  Grill until just cooked through turning them half way.  Drizzle the bread with the remaining olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and place on the grill.  Cook just until some charred marks are achieved and the bread is slightly crunchy.  Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, and the vegetables into bite sized pieces.

To assemble: Toss the grilled bread, vegetables, basil and parsley into the tomato and olive mixture.  Coat everything really well with the dressing and let it sit for 10 minutes to absorb flavors.

Serve at room temperature topped with crumbled goat cheese. (I also like to serve it topped with a fried egg!)

Serves 4-6


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