New Chef Sizzling at Toast Carmel Valley
March 6, 2012
Credentials won't chop a carrot or bone a chicken for you, but they don't hurt, especially when they include a name like Keller.
The already impressive Toast Carmel Valley (659-8500), where both the Benedicts and housemade biscuits are beautiful, has a new young chef stirring in some impressive history.
Grady Parker helped launch Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas with Thomas Keller, managed shipping and receiving for Pebble Beach Food & Wine and now wants to do a lot more than the best Parisian (or flour-based) gnocchi in the county. (He says he was so prolific at perfect pasta nubs that he was the reigning authority in the Bouchon kitchen—"Not too dry, not too wet, flavor right, piping it out and cutting into the precisely right dimension, blanching for exact time, and after that bring back to the pan, and pan sear so it’s nice and caramelized, and comes out like a pillow.")
“We’re definitely trying to get more fresh seafood and better presentation,” he says, “more in-depth flavor profiling and unique style of plating.”
He points to the pan-seared sea bass with fennel and onion confit with olive tapenade ($18) as one of his favorite examples (he gets all of his sustainable fish from Robbie's Ocean Fresh Seafood and goes organic whenever possible).
"Simple—not too technical," he says. "Some of the simplest is some of the best."
He's also excited about his salmon ($22)—seared to a crisp crust, finished in the oven, and layered over braised romaine lettuce with fingerling coins served with herb buerre blanc—and mussels with saffron-herb butter ($11).
That makes two of us. And bring on the signature Parisian gnocchi ($15) with seasonal veggies, mushrooms and beurre nouisette sage while you're at it.