Chefs are coming up with creative alternatives to the orange vegetable and finding new ways to showcase seasonal flavors.
Fall means the arrival of pumpkin, but some chefs are turning away from the overload of the orange vegetable and embracing other seasonal flavors.
In Oakland, California, at the newly opened Oaxacan restaurant Agave Uptown, a fall lineup of flavors highlights produce that Chef Octavio Diaz receives directly from Oaxaca, Mexico, and his local farm in Healdsburg, California.
Diaz incorporates squash blossoms and the pungent herb epazote into empanadas and molotes. Diaz also creates a dessert empanada filled with pineapple and served with tequila ice cream, he says.
At Gather in Berkley, California, Chef Charis Wahl highlights seasonal and locally sourced fall ingredients by using protein cooking techniques on vegetable-focused dishes.
With Wahl’s Mediterranean-influenced and spiced roasted Japanese eggplant, she incorporates red rice, quinoa, tahini, tomato chermoula, whipped feta, and cherry tomatoes.
At national chain Il Fornaio, Chef Maurizio Mazzon of the Woodland Hills, California, location created a Cappellacci di Zucca, a ravioli filled with butternut squash and walnuts served with tomato sauce, brown butter, Grana Panado, and crispy sage.
At The Hairy Lobster in Portland, Oregon, classic cuisine is combined with modern cooking influences for a shared plate concept, and the menu is focused on heritage raised or grown ingredients.
To welcome fall, wife and husband team Mellisa and David Root created a gingerbread pudding with stewed heirloom apples, wild arugula, spicy whipped sweet potatoes, seared foie gras, and agrodolce.
“David and I created the dish together because it evokes memories of childhood fantasies of sugar plum fairies and gingerbread houses ... filling one with an internal nostalgic feeling of magic," Mellisa Root says. “The dish has a great balance of spice, sweet, and salt, with a great combination of textures. It is decadent, but just right.”