Studio Gourmet presents Chef Arnold Eric Wong

Studio Gourmet Host Brad Lev with Chef Arnold Eric Wong

By Christina Dunham
Photography by Jennifer Myers & Arlene Boro

I finally checked off one more item from my wish list. Food is an insatiable passion, and I’ve often fantasized about having a celebrity chef take over my modest kitchen, creating culinary masterpieces just for me and my significant other. Just the thought of standing across the kitchen counter a from celebrity chef, watching intently as he (or she) sliced, diced, chopped and created gastronomical magic, makes my mouth dribble.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to experience the next best thing at Circolo Lounge in San Francisco, at the live taping of Studio Gourmet. Produced by Brad Lev, the event is a combination live cooking demo/talk show that (as Brad point’s out) is “not about the food.” To date, the show has featured celebrity chefs Martin Brock (Gary Danko), Hoss Zaré (Fly Trap), Mark Dommen (One Market), Matthew Accarino (Spqr) and Russell Jackon (Lafitte).

Kicking off with cocktails and culminating with a candid Q&A, the event attracted a motley cast, all sharing the same curiosity and fondness for food.  The evening’s featured chef was Arnold Eric Wong, who has graced the galleys of acclaimed establishments such as Silk in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Masa’s, and Café Kati, as well as founded award-winning restaurants like Eos and Bacar, and is currently the consulting chef for E&O Trading Co., a sleek Asian fusion restaurant and lounge in the heart of Union Square.

On the menu was Chef Arnold’s famed Shitake Mushroom Dumplings, which started out as a one-time special at Eos, 15 years ago. Named after the ancient Greek goddess of the dawn, Eos was the first American restaurant touted by food writer Michael Bauer “to do Asian fusion well.” On the heels of the restaurant’s success, Chef Arnold was named the 1996 Rising Star Chef by Gourmet Magazine.

With a background in business and architecture, Chef Arnold has parlayed his knack for methodical execution into the art of systematic food preparation, such that recipes he created can be replicated by his staff, “even while I’m away on vacation in Maui,” he joked. “There is a rhythm to everything,” he stated. Back at Eos, it’s this solid rhythm that enabled him to produce 300 dumplings an hour.

Studio Gourmet Host Brad Lev with Chef Arnold Eric Wong, Amy Martinez Wong, GEV Correspondent Christina Dunham, Jennifer Myers & Arlene Boro

The audience waited patiently as Chef Arnold plated the finished product, mumbling out loud about the intoxicating aroma of garlic and ginger wafting from the open kitchen. Stuffed with shallots, celery root, carrots, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and shitake mushrooms, the dumplings were served with a buttery concoction of soy, sweet mirin, and rice wine vinegar. It took all the constraint I could muster to resist taking seconds, as this was after all meant to be shared dish. I did, however, steal the remaining drips of sauce from the plate and poured it over my last bite of dumpling. Nom. Nom. Nom.

As the interview concluded, Brad hit the chef with his five signature questions, the last of which exposed a pleasant revelation – Arnold and his wife Amy are expecting their second child. “As chefs, we work so hard and give so much of ourselves to the business. After I met Amy, I discovered there was a lot more to life.” And that zest for new experiences now include an annual pilgrimage to Burning Man.

For information or to attend the next event, visit StudioGourmetSF.com. For more about Chef Arnold’s restaurant, visit EOSanFrancisco.com.

To try out the Shitake Mushroom Dumplings at home, check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz. Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 oz. Oil
  • 2 oz. Butter
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 oz. Ginger Root, minced
  • ¼ lb. Shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. Shitake Mushrooms (#2grade), stems removed and reserved
  • ¼ lb. Carrots, peeled and ¾” diced
  • 2-3 Stalks of Celery, ¾” diced
  • ½ lb. Celery Root, peeled and ¾” diced
  • 2 oz. Sherry Wine
  • 4 oz. Soy-Mirin-Vinegar (1 part each of the following: soy sauce, mirin, unseasoned rice vinegar)
  • 6 each Fresh Water Chestnuts, peeled and minced fine
  • 1 stalk Lemongrass, minced very fine
  • 1 bunch Green Onions, sliced thin
  • ¼ bunch Cilantro, minced
  • 1 Tbs. Cornstarch, sifted
  • Sea Salt (to taste)
  • ¾ tsp. White Pepper
  • 2 packages Round Dumpling Wrappers
  • 6-8 cups Soy-Mirin-Vinegar (1 part each of the following: soy sauce, mirin, unseasoned rice vinegar)
  • 1 lb. Unsalted Butter
  • Green Onions (Garnish)

Filling Preparation:

  • To prepare the mushrooms, remove the stems and set aside.
  • Using a food processor, fill the bowl 2/3 full with mushrooms and process until the pieces are 1/8”.
  • Repeat until all the mushrooms, including the stems are chopped.
  • Repeat the same for the carrots, celery, shallots and celery root.
  • Set all the chopped vegetables aside.
  • In a shallow pan or rondo, heat the sesame oil, olive oil and butter.
  • Sauté the garlic, ginger and shallots. Cook until lightly toasted.
  • Add the chopped mushrooms and stir well (*the oils and butter will be completely absorbed by the mushrooms. Constant stirring is necessary as the vegetables will begin to stick to the bottom of the pot.)
  • Continue to stir the mushrooms, as it will eventually get moister as they cook down.
  • Add the chopped carrots, celery and celery root.
  • Continue to stir and cook down. 10 minutes.
  • Add the sherry wine and reduce.
  • Add the soy-mirin-vinegar sauce and reduce.
  • Remove from heat and spread out onto a sheet pan to cool.
  • Add the remaining ingredients.
  • Form the dumplings. Refrigerate until ready to cook (may be frozen and kept up to one month)

Cooking Instructions:

  • Use a layer of semolina or cornmeal on the sheet pan to prevent the dumplings from sticking to one another.
  • Poach the dumplings in barely boiling water until they just begin to float (the wrappers will be about 70% cooked)
  • In a sauté pan, heat approx. 4-6 oz. of the soy-mirin-vinegar mixture.
  • Add the dumplings and toss to coat them well. *the sauce will be absorbed into the wrappers and cook them further.
  • Keep cooking until the sauce has reduced to a little less than half.
  • Add approx. 2-3 oz. of cold butter in very small pieces.
  • Reduce heat and toss until the butter has emulsified into the soy-mirin-vinegar to create a thickened sauce.

Recipe Courtesy of Chef Arnold Eric Wong

Christina Dunham is a serious food and wine enthusiast, social media junkie, trend watcher, tech nut & sociaholic. When she’s not painting the town red, she’s busy ruling the corporate world as a VP for Marketing and Business Development Manager at Froomz.com and consulting for Dale Carnegie. Visit her at http://www.christinadunham.com