He may be one of the youngest chefs in San Diego, but don’t let his age fool you! Jose Ruiz is one talented chef, and he was nice enough to sit down and let us into his world for a minute! Read on…
Molly: Tell me about yourself, please include what you are doing now
Jose: I am 25 years old, Mexican-American, born and raised in San Diego, California. I am currently the Executive chef at Herringbone La Jolla and have been working in the industry for over 10 years.
M: How did you get into cooking?
J: My family friends owned a sushi bar where I got my fist job washing dishes, from there I gradually worked my way up to prep cook, then working on the line to eventually becoming a sushi chef at the age of 17. From then on I was hooked.
M: Who inspires you in the kitchen?
J: Im inspired by all the old grandmothers, butchers, farmers and fishermen that have taken there passion and created old traditions. These are the classic chefs who have paved the way for new innovation. I feel like with out understanding the origins of where it all started its harder to know where its all going.
M: What interested you in getting tattooed?
J: Both my father and my uncle are heavily tattooed, and I have been surrounded by that kind of lifestyle since I can remember. From cars and tattoos, to art and everything that goes along with it.
M: What was your first tattoo?
J: My “Ditch”, a red rose with music notes and spider webs.
M: Who do you admire in the tattoo industry?
J: There are a lot of artists that I admire but someone who stands out to me is Sergio Hernandez ‘Surge’ at 7 Seas, San Diego. He is an innovator when it comes to Mexican-American art in San Diego and is one of the most all around talented people I know. Along with being an artiest he is a Jiu-jitsu champion, successful musician, amazing family man, all the while staying humble.
M: If you could get tattooed right now, what would it be and who would do it?
J: Besides finishing a very large piece I have on my stomach, I want to get a traditional Aztec serpent and black panther on me back. Right now my main artiest is Dan Pryor at 7 Seas, we have built a great friendship and he’s an amazing artiest.
M: Do you own any tattoo magazines and which ones?
J: No, but I flip through some while I get my hair cut.
M: Why do you think so many chefs are heavily tattooed?
J: I think it has become less of a taboo now for chefs to be heavily tattooed, and regardless of how odd some of us might look it doesn’t say any less about our craft and what we are doing. Every one of us has a story to tell and some like myself have chosen to express that on our bodies and through our food.
M: Do you have any cooking advice for those who don’t cook much?
J: Dont over think it!! Its just food, and its all about trial and error.
Jose also sent us one of his specialties, try it out!
Chicken fried sweetbreads with tabasco caviar, pickled mustard seeds and whipped blue cheese.
1 -2 veal sweetbreads
2 cup flour ap flour (dredge mix)
1 cup corn starch
1 cup corn meal
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder to taste ( for fry flour)
1.5 qt butter milk ( for soaking and frying)
For mustard seeds:
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For Tabasco caviar:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon agar agar
7 sheets gelatin, bloomed (softened in ice water)
1 pint very cold canola oil ( chilled in freezer for 4 hours)
For Blue cheese whipped cream:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
5 sheets gelatin, bloomed ( softened in ice water)
1 bowl of ice
1 Pickled mustard seeds:
Combine sugar, red wine vinegar and mustard seeds in a sauce pot with a pinch of salt and simmer slow until mustard seeds are tender, about 20 – 30 minutes reserve in liquid.
2 Making tabasco caviar:
Put the water and Tabasco into a sauce pot with agar agar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in bloomed gelatin sheets. Take an eye dropper and drop Tabasco mix into the cold oil, when all Tabasco is in the oil, strain away the remain oil and you will have the caviar.
3 Blue cheese whipped cream:
Slowly heat up heavy whipping cream in a sauce pot, little by little whisk in blue cheese crumbles as soon as all the blue cheese is incorporated whisk in bloomed gelatin sheets. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator. As soon as it’s cooled place blue cheese heavy cream liquid into a table top mixer with whisk attachment put bowl of ice underneath the bowl to keep the bowl as cold as possible. Whisk at medium speed until it looks like whipped cream season with a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper to taste-be careful not to over whip.
4 Veal Sweetbreads:
Take 1 quart of buttermilk and brine (soak) sweetbreads for 24 hours in refrigerator, remove from butter milk and wash off remaining butter milk under cold water. Heat up a pot of heavily salted water ( for poaching ) as soon as the pot is boiling place sweetbreads into the water and lower heat to a simmer. Depending on the size of the sweetbreads let them simmer about 15-20 minutes or until the sweetbreads have firmed up, remove from water and place into ice bath to cool (shock). Once cooled clean membrane(outer skin)and cut into large pieces and place into remaining 1/2 quart of buttermilk with a couple dashes of Tabasco and marinade.
5 Flour mixture ( dredge )
Combine flour, corn starch, corn meal, a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder in a bowl and mix.
To assemble and serve:
Heat fryer to 325 or a large pot with oil, dredge sweetbreads in flour mixture and redredge In buttermilk then flour mixture. Carefully place pieces in fryer. Fry until golden brown about 3-4 minutes. Carefully remove and place on paper towel. On plate place on a light bed of greens (arugula, mizuna, frisée, etc. so they don’t roll around ) with whipped blue cheese, and garnish with caviar,mustard seeds with liquid and Micros or chopped parsley.
Damn! Thank you Jose, you went all out!
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