(Photos by Matthew Pasley of shots.on.ice)

By J.A. Chase
Special to the AFRO

Cast Iron Cooking © holistically feeds the mind, body and soul and speaks to the “home cooks” that don’t have time to dig through cookbooks every day but want to prepare healthy and flavorful dishes

This is how Chef Jurdae’ speaks about the preparation and service of his food, which carries his brand of Cast Iron Cooking and reminds his clients that family, flavor and freshness are the cornerstones of his brand.

“I specialize in working with everyday ingredients to create fresh and flavorful dishes. I taste every fresh, raw and cooked ingredient,” Chef Jurdae’ said. “Being able to savor each ingredient as it stands alone allows me the opportunity to ‘see’ the taste of a dish building as the flavor profile emerges for what I’m creating.”

Table setting at Chef Jurdaé (Photos by Matthew Pasley of shots.on.ice)

He sees his work as a partnership between himself and his clients. “I work together to marry their theme, audience and ultimate dish selection.  I don’t have a checklist of dishes to choose from because being a chef is about creating food – not just cooking it,” the master chef said. “I develop dishes that are Soul Food inspired and that both feed and incorporate the rich culture that surrounds me every day. I most enjoy working with green vegetables, potatoes, and various meats, and I work hard to take what we know and create new flavor profiles and develop dishes like Kale Pesto.”

Getting into the recipe, the chef said, “Kale Pesto uses what we know (kale) and couples it with the perfect combination of spices and ingredients to entice and broaden the palate of attendees to a baby shower, for example.  I am able to introduce new flavors and textures to 50 guests, taking them from the traditional kale and ham hocks to Kale Pesto; with this comes the gift of watching their eyes brighten when layers of flavor permeate every taste bud.”

An advocate of lifelong education and training, Chef Jurdae’ earned his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts from Stratford University.  His vast knowledge of the science of food allows him to modify the taste of raw kale in this featured recipe.  While the novice sees a lemon, Chef Jurdae’ sees a tool to cut the bitter and sour taste of raw kale, simultaneously allowing its rich and savory texture to impeccably pair with the other ingredients to formulate a delectable dish.

Chef Jurdae’ creates everywhere – driving, riding his bike or when visiting farmers and international markets where he’ll taste different foods he’s never used before. Talking to strangers and building relationships throughout the city are what make him a true Baltimore Chef.

He creates with music at full blast like many artists, but from preparation to presentation, he never feels complete until he’s had the final conversation with his client. When the partnership has come full circle and he sees the smiles, hears the laughter and warm words from those who have trusted him with their milestones, the job is finally complete.

“This is when I know that we have come together and created a masterpiece. To be a great chef, you can never stop creating.  You can never stop growing and searching for the next perfect technique, and if you can’t find it – then YOU create it.  This is the hunger that separates a good chef from a great one.”

KALE PESTO

  • 2 cups of torn kale and parsley, combined
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • 1 clove roasted garlic
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ¼ to ½ cup raw almonds

Instructions:

  1. Pulse the kale, olive oil, salt, roasted garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Toast than add almonds. Pulse until the almonds are ground to desired consistency.
  3. Serve with pizza,  salads, sandwiches, pasta, eggs, soup, crackers etc.