Tag Archive | "Zach Lutton"

The Witte Wants to Help You Stick to Those New Year’s Resolutions

The Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway, wants to help you stick to those resolutions to eat better this year. So, they’re offering a little help from a local chef as part of Salud! Culinary Nights, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14.

culinary nightsThe tasty and interactive evening will feature chef Zach Lutton, executive chef of Zedric’s Fit With Flavor, which has two San Antonio locations. He’ll be offering healthy foods for the new year: Zedric’s Chicken Tortilla Soup with an Avocado Relish, Pecan Crusted Chicken with Brown Rice Pilaf and Ratatouille with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Organic Peanut Butter Chocolate Chews with Fresh Berries.

Enjoy conversation with tips for a healthier, new you while sipping wine from Bending Branch Winery that has been paired with each menu item. Bending Branch Winery is a sustainable practice and organically focused operation with award-winning wines, including their Petite Sirah, Picpoul Blanc, Cabernet and more.

Set in the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Demonstration Kitchen in the brand new H-E-B Body Adventure Powered by University Health System, Salud! Culinary Nights programs continue the H-E-B Body Adventure’s mission to provide the community with healthy lifestyle alternatives through local chefs and a diverse array of cuisines and topics focusing on empowerment, health IQ and wellness. Meet local chefs, farmers, ranchers and food historians in an intimate setting as they present information, history and stories about the selected Salud! Culinary Nights menu.

Each program will also feature a wine, beer or cocktail pairing from Texas winemakers, brewers and mixologists.

This class is limited to 60 guests per evening and tickets start at $50 per person, $45 for Witte members and include a souvenir wine glass. For more information, call (210) 357-1910 or visit

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Paella’s a Dish You Can Make to Suit Your Tastes

Food lovers watch Zach Lutton (center) and an assistant create a massive paella with plenty of seafood in it.

Food lovers watch Zach Lutton (center) and an assistant create a massive paella with plenty of seafood in it.

Making a good paella is all about layering the flavors you have, which could be anything from lobster and clams to chicken and chorizo. Then there’s the sofrito, an aromatic mixture of garlic, tomatoes, peppers and onions cooked in olive oil, as well as saffron and rice.

Zach Lutton of Zedric's adds a prawn to his paella.

Zach Lutton of Zedric’s adds a prawn to his paella.

But the key ingredient, in Zach Lutton’s opinion, is the stock.

That’s what the owner of Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go believes, and it’s what he says helped him win second place in last year’s Paella Challenge at the Pearl Brewery. This year’s challenge is Sunday, and Lutton will be back, hoping to move up to first place. To give himself a warmup and promote the event, he offered a demonstration of how to make the Spanish dish during a recent Pearl Farmers Market. If the reaction of the crowd is any indication, his bounteous tray topped with heads-on prawns, mussels, clams, baby octopi, chorizo, peas, red bell peppers and even some lemon halves should keep him in the running.

“The stock is the most important ingredient in the whole dish,” he said, adding that he had made his with both lobster bodies and chicken.  “It is the flavor of the paella.”

But that doesn’t mean you’re home free if you’ve got good stock. Paella takes practice, Lutton said.

“This isn’t a quick thing,” he told the crowded class during his cooking demonstration. “Take your time with it. Practice it a few times.”

To begin, decide the ingredients you are going to use. Start with the rice, which should be short grain, such as Bomba, not arborio, which is the rice used in risotto. If chicken is on the list, brown it in some olive oil at the bottom of the pan, but don’t cook it through. You can remove it and use the oil base to make your sofrito, though Lutton doesn’t. He slow cooks his for two hours and lets it rest over night.

But this the time to add it to the pan. Then the rice goes in and each grain gets coated. This is the point when the chicken returns to the pan as well as the chorizo, followed by the stock. Again, this is not risotto, so you don’t stir and stir until each last drop of stock has been absorbed. In fact, you don’t stir the dish at all as it cooks over the heat. But you do need to watch it. After 15 minutes or so, “when you see the rice coming up and the liquid disappearing, you’re headed in the right direction,” the chef said.

Zach Lutton dishes up paella.

Zach Lutton dishes up paella.

Be careful that too much liquid doesn’t disappear or you could burn your paella. Expert paella makers want a crusty bottom, which is also known as socarrat, but no one wants it burned. And Lutton advised beginners not to worry about that. He admitted that he doesn’t pay attention to that when he’s making paella, though it is one of the categories paellas are judged on in competitions.

He was more concerned about getting the seasoning right. Paella is a subtle dish, so a strong spice such as saffron has to be used judiciously. “Don’t add too much saffron, because it can overpower the dish,” he said. He limits his other seasonings to salt and pepper.

Shortly before the broth had been absorbed, Lutton and his assistants added the seafood to the top, again not stirring the mixture. Instead, they planted the bottom of the shellfish into the rice mixture, so the heat could cook them, allowing the mussels and clams to open. The enormous prawns were set in a ring at the center, while the baby octopi were arranged in a ring around the outside. Peas and red peppers were sprinkled on top, adding color as well as flavor.

The entire pan was then covered in aluminum foil so it could rest before serving. The crowd was getting a little hungry, waiting for a sample. “I promise y’all’ll eat soon,” he said with a chuckle. “Just give me about 10 more minutes.”

Tenting the pan allowed the steam to cook any of the seafood above the rice. It also released an enticing aroma that had people eager to try a dish, which Lutton and one of his assistants spooned up in generous amounts, making sure people could taste whatever they wanted from the array of meats that had been included.

Only Lutton seemed to find fault with the paella, which he said was slightly soupy. “But it’s still good, no matter what,” he added. “That stock is awesome.”

Zach Lutton's paella

Zach Lutton’s paella

If you want to make your own paella, be aware that proportions vary depending on the size of the pan used. Pans run in size from 7 1/2 inches to those more than several feet wide. Your best bet is to find a recipe, such as Leslie Horne’s for Texas Quail, Chorizo and Mushroom Paella, which was created for a 15-inch paella and serves about six people. You can find paella pans and burners at GauchoGourmet, 935 Isom Road, and Melissa Guerra Tienda de Cocina in the Pearl Brewery, 312 Pearl Parkway.

You can also make paella any way you like. In Spain, you might find some cooks using pasta instead of rice. You could use only vegetables or only seafood, eliminate the seafood entirely or add what you have in the freezer.

I judged a non-traditional paella challenge in Austin last fall alongside James Canter, the chef who won last year’s Paella Challenge. We tasted a Hawaiian paella seasoned with jamaica, or hibiscus flowers, and another topped with fried eggs and avocado in a ranchero style. One team offered a chicken tinga paella with radishes and cotija cheese. There was even a dessert paella, which was actually more like rice pudding. The winner was a soul food paella made with pig’s feet, ham hocks and chicken gizzards among an array of down-home ingredients. The pictures below illustrate that the type of paella you make is bounded only by your own imagination.

For information on the fourth annual Paella Challenge, click here.

Paella Ranchero

Paella Ranchero

Soul Food Paella

Soul Food Paella

A Hawaiian paella with shrimp, pineapple, artichokes and hibiscus rice.

A Hawaiian paella with shrimp, pineapple, artichokes and hibiscus rice.

Chicken Tinga Paella

Chicken Tinga Paella







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A Tasty Dozen: Best Tastes of 2012

Pan-Roasted Snapper with Pickled Slaw and Corn Maque Choux Puree

We love recipes — reading them, testing them, and posting them on SavoSA.

These were some of our favorites from the year that just ended — in fact, we have a list of 12, from 2012. The list includes recipes from local chefs and cooks, as well as one from a contestant in the Almost Famous Chef’s Competition. There are sweets and healthy treats as well.

Look them over once more — and you might be ready to get into the kitchen again very soon.

John Griffin contributed to this article.

Cocona Ceviche, prepared by chef Elizabeth Johnson, CIA San Antonio.

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A Hankering for Roast Chicken That Gets Under the Skin

Give me some skin!

You can separate some people by their politics, their sports team allegiances, their taste in music or even their drink of choice.

I’m a chicken person. I ask people what their favorite type of chicken is.

Fried chicken? If you’ve had the best, such as a crackling bird from Tommy Moore’s or Mr. and Mrs. G’s, that’s practically greaseless yet loaded with flavor from first bite, then I know I can respect your opinion when it comes to most food. I’ll also start to drift off on memories of some crunchy thigh or drumstick that had just the right blend of salt and pepper in the flour mix and seasoned each mouthful. If fast food is all you have time for, and Popeye’s is near the top of the list, I’ll nod in agreement.

Although I grew up in Kentucky, I hate to admit it, but I can’t find much to agree with when people start singing the praises of KFC. Soggy, supermarket fried chicken is even more of a let-down, even when served cold, picnic style.

Things get a little rockier when rotissere chicken comes up. Are these people talking about those all-too-often mealy creatures you grab  at the supermarket when you just don’t have time to cook that night? Those are more an act of desperation than a real delicacy, and my opinion has slid just a touch.

If someone mentions boneless, skinless chicken breast by itself, I generally stop listening. It’s like listening to someone praise store-bought white bread, although I think the bread often has more flavor. Chicken breast is what I gladly give to others or what I save for chicken salad, when mayonnaise, sour cream and a few more seasonings are there to add flavor.

Herb-Roasted Chicken

Mention roast chicken, however, and I definitely see friend material. It means you know the joys of tearing off a piece of glistening skin and having it crackle in your mouth. Suddenly, your senses take over as you take in the texture and the sound as well as the aroma and the flavor. There is a reason this succulent taste of heaven is an international classic.

But getting that perfect bird isn’t always easy. I’ve tried numerous recipes in the past. I even bought a wonderful cookbook called “Roast Chicken and Other Stories,” though I have to admit that the chicken recipe may be my least favorite of all that I’ve tried. I even bought a special chicken roaster. And I’ve loved experimenting with the various cooking  techniques people swear by, from cooking the bird at a low temperature for a long time or starting the temperature really hot to get the skin crispy and then lowering it while the rest of the bird cooks.

What is driving me is a taste memory of the best roast chicken I’ve ever had, which was about 13 years ago at the Old Chatham Shepherding Farm in upstate New York. Chef Melissa Kelly stuffed slivers of truffle under the skin and used just enough butter to get practically lacquer the skin. The meat underneath was moist, as if the butter basted the meat while the truffle perfumed it. Never again, however. I haven’t seen the likes of it on her menu at her subsequent restaurant, Primo in upstate Maine.

My desire to find the best roast chicken recipe led me to two area chefs, Chris Cook from Oro in the Emily Morgan Hotel and Zach Lutton from Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go. Both started from the same point: Use a really good chicken, preferably one raised responsibly in the area from a ranch such as Peeler Farms or Vital Farms. Then they went off in opposite directions, yet both produced the crispy skin  and juicy meat I crave. (If you’re wondering about my obsession with the skin, then you don’t get roast chicken at all. Let me just say that I’ll roast an entire chicken for dinner. Then I’ll sit down and eat the skin. If I’m still hungry after that, I’ll have a thigh.)

Young Chicken Confit

Cook prepares his confit style in duck fat the day before serving. Then he roasts it the last step of the way in an oven that allows the skin to reach that perfect crackling stage. The end result is dizzying with the achiote carrots and the rest of the vegetables you can serve with it. It does take a good deal of preparation, so you might want to leave the cooking up to Cook and enjoy this dish at Oro in the Emily Morgan, 705 E. Houston St., where locals can enjoy 20 percent off their meal.

Lutton’s recipe starts out on a high temperature and stays there, which made me slightly nervous. He uses olive oil under the skin instead of butter, though a combination of the two might also work. My fears were groundless. The skin came out a rich brown that bypassed the usual golden color and yet carried a load of flavor. It was also so easy that I’ve made it twice, just to be sure — and to get a little more of that skin.

I realize my roast chicken fixation is arbitrary, but I can’t help. I can only feed the addiction. Now, it’s your turn. What’s your favorite way to prepare chicken? Or what’s the best chicken you’ve ever had?

In the meantime, try Cook’s and Lutton’s recipes. Both are excellent methods of preparing this classic dish.


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Herb-Roasted Chicken from Zach Lutton of Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go

Zedric’s Herb-Roasted Chicken

Do you love roast chicken with crispy skin? This recipe from Zach Lutton of Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go is an easy way to get just that.

You can vary the herbs to suit your tastes. I tossed in a tiny bit of tarragon, dill and sorrel to taste.

The real secret is to use the best chicken you can find. Lutton uses Vital Farms, which is from the southeastern side of Austin. Any naturally raised chicken should have the flavor you’re looking for.

Zedric’s Herb-Roasted Vital Farm’s Chicken

1 whole Vital Farms chicken
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more, divided use
1/2 cup of a blend of Italian parsley, chives and thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 carrots, peeled
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 pint of chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup flour

Stuff the herbs under the skin before roasting.

Preheat oven to 400.

Take the chicken and run your hand in between the skin and breast to make space for seasonings. Take the olive oil and blend with the herbs and garlic to form a paste, then season the chicken’s cavity and breast with salt and pepper. Once seasoned add the paste inside the cavity and outside in between the skin and breast and also on the skin.

Take the celery, carrots and onion and toss them in a mixing bowl with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Take a small sheet pan and spread all the mirepoix across the pan. Lay the chicken on its back. Place it in the oven for 1 hour. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it is cooked to 165 in the deepest part of the breast.

Let the chicken rest on a cutting board, and take a strainer over a small sauce pot and strain the cooking juices into the sauce pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and slowly sprinkle the flour across the liquid (this is called the singer method) and stir to incorporate until it becomes the consistency of sand. Take the stock or broth and slowly add while stirring the roux. The final product will be a sauce that will be really nice with the chicken. Make sure that the sauce simmers for 15 minutes to allow the flour to cook out.

Makes 1 chicken.

From Zach Lutton/Zedric’s Healthy Gourmet to Go

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Paella and Perfect Weather, Just as Johnny Hernandez Ordered It

Zach Lutton of Zedric's makes his paella, which won second place in the challenge.

Ty-Lor Boring uses his burner to cook lobster.

Saturday did not end on a pretty note, in terms of weather. Cold, miserable rain left the ground saturated and spirits low. Luminaria had to be postponed, and hopes were not high for the third annual Paella Challenge at the Pearl Brewery.

"Top Chef" favorite Lindsay Autry

Yet on Sunday morning, the clouds fled the scene, leaving a healing sun in its wake that dried out the amphitheater and made for a perfect afternoon that drew hundreds of people who wanted to sample paella made by many of the city’s best chefs as well as several out-of-town visitors, including several chefs from the recent “Top Chef” Texas season.

Credit for the success of the event goes to organizer Johnny Hernandez, said David Kellaway, managing director of the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus, which is also at the brewery.

The event is a fundraiser for the culinary school as well as the educational arm of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“The energy and passion (Hernandez displays) towards educating our youth in the culinary arts cannot be quantified,” Kellaway said.

The student team from Lanier placed second in the new high school challenge.

Hernandez, who owns La Gloria Ice House and True Flavors Catering, had wanted the lot power washed before the event, and it seems as if God obliged, the school official joked.

The styles of paella varied greatly. Jason Dady and his crew presented a version blackened with squid ink yet brightened with fresh green herbs. The folks from Max’s Wine Dive offered a Texas paella with game meats and a chipotle butter. Visiting chef Tim McCarty from Minnesota offered three P’s: pork, prawns and popcorn, with ribs and pork belly in the mix.

Mustachioed chef  Ty-Lor Boring from “Top Chef” added a dramatic touch by firing his lobster directly in the flames of his burner. Last year’s champion, Jeff Balfour of Citrus at the Hotel Valencia, offered a paella that featured chicken and arrived topped with egg, which was meant to leave you wondering which came first.

Winning chef James Canter celebrates with his son.

In the end only three of more than two dozen entries would be honored. They were, in order, James Canter of Alhambra in McAllen; Zach Lutton of Zedric’s: Healthy Gourmet to Go, 9873 I-1o W.; and Peter Holt of Lupe Tortilla, which has a San Antonio location at 21103 U.S. 281 N.

Canter arrived at the winner’s table with his son perched high on one shoulder, prompting Kellaway to remark that he had already been given the best award of all.

This year, for the first time, San Antonio high schools were eligible to complete in their own division. Six schools showed up, including Burbank, John Jay, Lanier, McCollum, Memorial and Roosevelt. There was a lot riding on a terrific paella from the students, because the winning team will receive a four-day, all-expenses-paid trip to the CIA’s main campus in Hyde Park.

The winners, in order, were John Jay, Lanier and Memorial.

McCarty, who works for Sodexo, participated last year and was certainly enjoying himself once more. “As long as I make a great paella, I’m already a winner,” he said, while spooning up plates and handing them to the crowds that waited in line.

It's paella for all, with many of the chefs, including Steven McHugh of Luke, making multiple trays.

It's paella for all, with many of the chefs, including Steven McHugh of Luke, making multiple trays.


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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Whataburger Helps Santa; Zedric’s Open; Z’Tejas Begins Brunch

Santa, Whataburger employees and Christmas Under the Bridge help some children have a merry Christmas.

Santa, Whataburger and Christmas Under the Bridge make the season bright.

Spreading Christmas cheer.

Whataburger gives Santa a hand

This year, Whataburger partnered with Christmas Under the Bridge as part of Whataburger Serves, the company’s long-term series of themed activities that demonstrate Whataburger’s service-oriented approach to business.

Employees from the burger chain collected 550 toys from an internal toy drive and more than 60 employees helped Santa this past Saturday distribute toys under the bridge.

As you can see from the photos, the children were more than happy to meet Santa and party with people from both organizations.

Boys & Girls Club members get cooking

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio hosted its fifth annual luncheon at Citrus in the Hotel Valencia, 150 E. Houston St.

With the help of Citrus’ executive chef Jeffrey Balfour, children from each of the area’s five Boys & Girls Clubs branches helped prepare the meal, which was served to 14 people including club board members and community supporters.

In addition, the hotel presented the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio officials with dozens of toys collected from guests and employees through the hotel’s annual toy drive.

A healthy choice for those on the run

Zedric’s has opened at 2267 N.W. Military Hwy.

The healthy, gourmet-to-go place is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

Chef Zach Lutton is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., who returned to his hometown of San Antonio to cook. Once home, he noticed there was a shortage of “healthy, delicious food in San Antonio and that it was a difficult place to be health conscious,” he writes.

So, he devised a daily menu from breakfast to dinner with dietitian Victoria Dominguez that includes cage-free eggs, local produce when available and organic weekly specials. There are vegetarian dishes as well as nut-free items. All are prepared in advance and can be heated when needed.

A few items include Ground Turkey Picadillo Breakfast Tacos, Hawaiian Cobb Salad, Sirloin Steak Salad, Oven-roasted Pork Tenderloin, and Shrimp Whole Wheat Pasta Toss.

Call 210-541-0404. Click here for a menu and more information. Delivery is also available for a flat $10 fee.

If you have questions for a dietitian, Dominguez is available by appointment. Call 210-859-5673.

The agave plant

Cibolo Moon earns rare tequila certification

Cibolo Moon at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, 23808 Resort Parkway, is the first restaurant in Texas to become T certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila, or Tequila Regulatory Council of Mexico.

“This is a true honor for us,” stated Scott Siebert, director of food and beverage for the resort. “Tequila is a specialty among our beverage offerings at Cibolo Moon and this designation highlights the work we have done to ensure our guests enjoy the finest tequilas available in the most unique and memorable ways.”

Cibolo Moon’s bar currently features more than 100 tequilas. Guests can enjoy a private tequila tasting, savor one of the many infused tequilas or have a favorite tequila custom-aged in one of the restaurant’s special oak barrels to enjoy on their next visit.

There are numerous requirements to receive the T certificate, including a list of drinks prepared using tequila, dishes in which one of the main ingredients is tequila, and at least 80 percent of the staff must be trained on tequila knowledge, such as the blue agave plant that is used to make tequila.

For information, call 210-276-2500.

Watermark Grill reopens

Watermark Grill, 18740 Stone Oak Parkway, has reopened under chef Philippe Pinon.

The new chef, who was most recently at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, has introduced a new menu featuring dishes such as Focaccia-crusted Atlantic Salmon with fennel and tomato confit,  Olive Tapenade Alaskan Halibut with rock shrimp and asparagus pomodore and  Chorizo-crusted Black Cod with potato baccalau and a sauvignon herbs sauce.

“Balance is very important, not only in the spices we use to ensure the best flavor, but also in making sure that as much emphasis is put on service and the guest experience,” the chef says.

More items from the menu include Velvet Lobster Bisque, Vegetable Minestrone and Gazpacho Andalou soups; Yellow and Red Roma Tomato Tart, Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Rock Shrimp Avocado, Seared Nantucket Sea Scallops, King Crab Leg au Poivre, and Lobster and Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese appetizers; as well as Panzanella, Mixed Green; and Watermark Caesar salads.

Other entrées include Fisherman Marmite, a bouillabaisse-style dish; Seared Chilean Sea Bass with hearts of palm risotto and porcini mushroom foam; Rotisserie Achiote Organic Chicken;  Rosemary Citrus Gremolata New York Strip; and  Braised Chianti Beef Short Ribs.

Watermark Grill also has new hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Saturday; and 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 210-483-7600.

Brunch at Z’Tejas every Saturday, Sunday

Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, is now offering brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dishes include a spinach and wild mushroom omelet, breakfast enchiladas, Willie’s homemade buttermilk pancakes, and a Cajun ham omelet. The full menu can be found online at

The Weekend Fun Bar during brunch hours features the following for $3.50: Bloody Mary with Grey Goose Vodka,         Bloody Maria with 1800 Silver Tequila,  screwdriver with Grey Goose Vodka and mimosa with Domain Ste. Michelle.

For more information, call 210-690-3334.

If you have restaurant information, e-mail

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