A day at Uptown Farmers Market means you have a bevy of exceptional produce and local products, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with it all. That’s why we’ve enlisted the help of the pros, local chefs, to create dishes featuring market products in live demonstrations, right in the middle of the Saturday market. Executive Chef James Ducas of Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn was second up in our eight week Summer Chef Series. We launched with Chef Rebecca Tillman of The Pointe Hilton last week. Chef Ducas is known for embracing farm-to-table fare at his Paradise Valley restaurant and teamed up with fishmonger, David Antonelli, of Holy Mackerel Fresh Seafood, to introduce our Uptown market-goers to tilefish.
Not familiar with tilefish? David explains that it’s a dense white-fish, comparable to halibut. Tilefish feed on shellfish like shrimp, imparting a slightly pink hue and an added sweetness in flavor. David, a restaurant industry veteran, jumped into the world of fishmongering, finding that there was a distinct lack of high-quality, properly-sourced, fresh (never frozen) fish in the Valley. He attributes much of his success to the support of fellow Uptown Marketeers, naming especially, Bob McClendon of McClendon’s Select.
Chef Ducas knew that the firm nature of tilefish would lend toward use in ceviche. A Latin dish, some folks in the crowd were under the impression that it was a raw fish dish. However, the acid from the lime creates a reaction with the fish, technically cooking it. Chef Ducas prepared his ceviche, noting that the chives and basil should be added near the end, right before serving. If they’re added too early, along with cooking the fish, the lime can have a tendency to cause these beautiful green herbs to turn brown.
Chef Ducas wasn’t alone in the demo booth. He was assisted by Chef Joe Hobson, also of Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn and Selena Rodriquez from C-CAP. She is currently a junior at Glendale High School and is thrilled to be a part of this important program that actively prepares high-school students for careers in culinary through active training with professionals. C-CAP is also known for significant post-secondary scholarship opportunities. She rolled up her sleeves and put her training to work, slicing up Noble Bread that was served with fresh ricotta and assembling the final dish for presentation.
The ceviche was served on top of a bright, market-fresh tomato gazpacho granita. The frozen granita featured the familiar summer flavors of Bob McClendon’s tomatoes, fennel, peppers, celery and cucumbers. Again, every single item in the dish came from our buzzing market and the generous team from the Hermosa Inn brought recipe cards with the exact ingredients and directions to recreate the dish at home. Adding to the excitement of the morning’s foodie festivities, we sent four lucky raffle winners home with $50 gift certificates to Lon’s at The Hermosa Inn so they could experience first-hand, the talents of Chef Ducas and his team.
We are looking forward to continuing our chef series and seeing what creative dishes emerge as the seasons shift. Want a front-row seat at the chef’s table? Subscribe to our weekly e-mail list and follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). We look forward to seeing you at the market at North Phoenix Baptist Church, our incredibly gracious hosts that make our twice-weekly market possible.