Chef Paul Hamernik from St. Francis joined us this weekend for our Uptown Market Chef demo. He arrived early and had the C-CAP students walk around the market that morning to pick out fresh ingredients from McClendon’s Organic Select, Farm Phoenix and other local vendors. What they chose created a spectacular Winter Salad.Chef Hamernik prepared the Winter Salad using mixed greens, shaved fennel, candied pecans, shaved cranberries, shaved Anjou pear and finished it off with a flavorful grapefruit and rosemary vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was made using grapefruit juice, rosemary, olive oil, honey and salt. The candied pecans were prepared using cloves, cinnamon and star anise and all those flavors were thoughtfully used to create a Christmas feel.The C-CAP students carefully chopped up the candied pecans for the salad, skillfully shaved the raw cranberries and pears into thin slices and made sure the salad was mixed properly. What inspired the Chef to make this salad? “I really wanted people to see how easy it is to utilize the ingredients that are readily available” and that also happens to be the concept behind St. Francis Restaurant. St. Francis keeps the menu seasonal and prepares their dishes with the freshest ingredients available and kids always eat free!As guests of the market came up to try the salad, everyone was surprised to learn about the use of the cranberry. Rarely do we see cranberries used raw, we tend to cook them down and sweeten them with sugar. As a raw ingredient, cranberries are very tart and strongly flavored. Chef Hamernik used them in their natural state to add texture to the salad but with a thin enough slice, it was able to add just enough tartness to the flavor profile and didn’t overpower the palate. Another great ingredient used two ways in the salad was the fennel. As many of you know fennel has that sweet anise flavor and is wonderful in dishes raw or cooked. The bulb was used to add that licorice taste to the salad but the feathery fronds were used to add texture and for presentation. They looked like little Christmas trees in the salad. When I asked Chef the key to creating a great salad no matter the ingredients you use, he said stick to these key things because it’s all about balance: You want there to be a bitter, sweet and sour component and some crunch to add texture. The dressing you use should follow the same rules and he prefers using vinaigrette that’s versatile. He says to keep it simple and don’t over complicate the ingredients, which is why he only used five ingredients in the dressing for the winter salad.Thanks again to Chef Hamernik and the C-CAP students for preparing a delightful seasonal salad and to McClendon’s Organic Select and Farm Phoenix for the ingredients. We love being able to extend our thanks to the restaurants by offering you all a chance to win one of 4 $50 gift cards to the restaurant. Stay in the know by subscribing to our weekly e-mail list and follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).