June 22, 2021

Scaling Recipes, Romesco Sauce, and Old Bay in Crab Cakes - Daniel Gritzer, Culinary Director of Serious Eats part 2

Scaling Recipes, Romesco Sauce, and Old Bay in Crab Cakes - Daniel Gritzer, Culinary Director of Serious Eats part 2

This week, I have part two of my conversation with Daniel Gritzer, Culinary Director at SeriousEats.com.  I’ve been a big fan of both Serious Eats and The Food Lab for a while, and was really excited to talk to Daniel about his work there. We had a long discussion, so I broke our conversation into two parts. Part one aired last week, and it’s linked here (https://www.podpage.com/chefs-without-restaurants/a-conversation-with-daniel-gritzer-culinary-director-of-serious-eats-part-1)

On this episode we discuss, scaling recipes, cooking on a boat, the original pepper used in Romesco sauce, atole, and being thoughtful when developing recipes. We also tackle the controversial topic of Maryland crab cakes and Old Bay. Where do you stand on the topic?

This week’s show sponsor is Olive & Basket. For a wide variety of olive oils, vinegar, spices, sauces, and gourmet food items, visit their website Oliveandbasket.com to have their products shipped to your door. Use discount code CHEF20 for 20% off your order.

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DANIEL GRITZER

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Serious Eats Website https://www.seriouseats.com

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Daniel's Twitter https://twitter.com/dgritzer

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Transcript

Chris Spear:

Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris Spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. They're caterers research chefs, personal chefs, cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fall into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s I've literally never worked in a restaurant unless you count Burger King or Boston Market. This week, I have part two of my conversation with Daniel Gritzer, culinary director at seriouseats.com I've been a big fan of serious eats and the Food Lab for a while and was really excited to talk Daniel about his work there. We had a long discussion, so I broke our conversation into two parts. Part One aired last week and is linked in the show notes. On this episode we discussed scaling recipes cooking on a boat, the original pepper used in romesco sauce, atoll A's and being thoughtful when developing recipes. We also tackle the controversial topic of Maryland crab cakes and Old Bay. Where do you stand on the topic. And a reminder that you can help support our podcast and the Chefs Without Restaurants network by donating through our Patreon. Monthly support starts at just $5 a month, go to patreon.com/chefsWithoutRestaur nts to find exclusive recip s and see our tiered rewards. And now on with the show. Thank so much for listening and h ve a great week. Do you have any recipes that are notoriously hotly debated? Like is there something you can remember where you posted a recipe and people were like, not that it didn't work? And maybe maybe it's not a recipe? You know, it's like when someone posts like how to clean cast iron. That's like one of those things that always is like a hot topic. Do you have a lot of those like in the comments section or on Twitter where people like, I can't believe that's how you would make this. Can you think of anything?

Daniel Gritzer:

Oh, yeah, it happens a lot. It happens actually, merrily. You're in Maryland. Yeah. My mom grew up on the eastern shore. I grew up in Brooklyn, so I can't lay any, you know, direct claim to, to kind of Maryland life, but I definitely got it from my mom. Growing up eating crabs, the value of a human and my family was directly connected to how like well and quickly they could they could clean a craft. And I did a crab cake recipe. Maryland crab cake recipe and one of my prized cookbooks in my quite large cookbook collection is this little community cookbook from Galena, Maryland, from the 60s or something that obviously among other things, has crab cake recipes in it. And so when I was doing research on my Maryland crab cake recipe that was certainly one of the places I looked, and you brought this up already Old Bay. These old recipes didn't have old banned them. And of course I was aware I love Old Bay. I have nothing against old but I ended up going down the road of doing my own spicing based, you know, more along the lines of kind of what I was seeing Nice old recipes, and not just using Old Bay to sort of add all of that flavor to the crab cake. And it set off like all sorts of arguments in the comments because there were people coming and going. I'm from Maryland. And this recipes Bs, there's no Old Bay, it's not a Maryland crab cake period, the end Case Closed. And I was like, well, that's funny, because I've based this recipe on like, research that is really clearly showing that in your very state in kind of the heart, you know, one of the one of the hearts, I don't know what the heart of Maryland is, but like, the eastern shore is so sure, certainly, like a culture an important cultural part of Maryland. There's an Old Bay, just going back, you know, what is it? 50 years? 60 years? Yeah, I

Chris Spear:

don't know when obey was started.

Daniel Gritzer:

Yeah, so and it seemed I never fully explored this after but it seemed to kind of emerge that there's two things there was like when did old they really become a dominant brand in Maryland? And also regional that there were there were possibly regional variations were in some parts of Maryland, like in the Baltimore area, like if you didn't put Old Bay like, yeah, starting at some point in time, you were not doing it. Right. But in other parts of Maryland, that wasn't necessarily the case. And you know, I think probably Old Bay slowly his sort of spread. It's, it's a it's Dominion on the crab cake realm. But that one was really fascinating to me, because I was like, I've got some pretty good primary texts here to counter this emphatic argument that I have, you know, this Yankee has swooped in and completely disrespected the crab cake. So that was, that was um, that's one example. It

Chris Spear:

happens a lot. Well, crab cakes still go. I mean, it's like, is it deep fried? Is it pan fried? Is it boiled in the oven? Is there any kind of like people say, like, I don't put any filler, it's like, there needs to be some kind of writing in there. Like it. Like for me, even if it's just like a scant amount, like something to hold it together. It is just too wet if you don't, but people argue me. So mine has Old Bay in it. I use panko, which, you know, none of your recipes would have because nobody use panko in the 60s or whatever, I just find it tedious to cut white bread, you know, all the old recipes were like take white bread, cut the crust off, cut it in small little things. But when recipe, you know,

Daniel Gritzer:

go also, really yeah, it wasn't just recreating those recipes, but I was using them as a touchstone. So when I saw those old recipes, and they didn't have all day, I was like, well, I this is assigned to me that I can do a real Maryland crab cake, something that's honoring, you know, is respectful to the tradition. Without obey, like, obey doesn't have to be in one. If you want to put it That's awesome. Like, it's delicious. Yeah, but you don't have to wait, you know, that's that is not in and of itself enough that you know, offensive move, and then for the exact reason you're articulating, I grabbed the panko because it's like, well, why do we probably want some kind of white bread? What is panko? It's it's really fluffy, dried white bread. It's like, it's awesome. Like, what is panko?

Chris Spear:

Well and it's easier when you're doing big batch. So one of my claims to fame or whatever, I guess not fame because nobody knows about it. I worked for Sodexo, you know, huge contract food service company. I developed their Maryland crab cake recipe which is used globally. So like if you were in a business dining accountant, Tokyo, and they were using the recipes, which you know, all accounts are supposed to use uses that you know, and one of the things is you have large accounts, I worked at a place where we had you know, 750 people there eating all the time, we can't be cutting bread to toss in. It's like my cooks need to use like a five pound bag of panko or something. We're mixing it in this big thing. But you know, this was my, this was my only glimpse into Test Kitchen life, which I'm sure is your life all the time. But I I was working at an operation, but they sent me down to gaithersburg where their North American headquarters is. And I went to the test kitchen for a week. And I didn't realize I would spend five days working on like three recipes, right? Like, we're going to make the crab cakes, we're going to take volume measures of everything. We're going to take weight measures, we're going to make the crab cakes at 353 75 400. We're going to scoop them in three rounds, four rounds, five rounds, okay, we like it when you use one pound. But when we scale it up to like 20 pounds, like does the Old Bay blow it out and we need to like reduce it down. It was fun, but I can't imagine doing that every day. It was super interesting. But yeah, I was given the job of creating the Maryland crab cake recipe which they have in their database. So

Daniel Gritzer:

that is really cool. It's It is really these kinds of things. The scaling thing that you're talking about is really an interesting one, like some recipes, you could scale infinitely, right? Like, it'll just keep working. It'll just keep working like

Chris Spear:

a lot of them zoned. And that's the thing with contract food is like you're scaling to the umpteenth level, like, anytime you're getting into cooking for a hospital, a business or retirement community, like you're, you're making hundreds of things, it's not like home, or even a restaurant where we're doing, you know, 40 covers tonight, when you you know, if you're doing big catering events, like when you're making 400 crab cakes, like the scaling might be off when you're making, you know, super 600 people like that might not, you know, cooks would come and say like, This calls for two and a half cups of clothes, is that right? It's like, No, no, like, no like, but you know, if you had like half a teaspoon of cloves, and something, then the scaling is going to tell you that it's like two and a half cups, and it's like, that's, I just don't feel like that's going to be a good thing. Like, let's start slowly, and get their, you know, get closer. And that's another thing that like you have to teach people when they're doing high volume cooking.

Daniel Gritzer:

Yeah, some of those things I can't even imagine. I mean, I don't with what I do, I don't deal with recipes getting multiplied to that level, which is really like a fascinating window into how wonky stuff can get, if you scale that much. Some you know, you see it on even smaller levels, you know, websites, food websites, you're often talking about, like, you know, what would be cool functionality, like, you know, if we could just have a wish list and you know, unlimited time and resources will be cool. And one that comes up a lot is like, would it be nice if it you know, you could just skip like, you could just the user could just enter the number of servings and the recipe would like automatically scale. And I'm always like, don't do that, please don't do that. Because if you build the tool, it implies to the user that it works. But it was most of my recipes, I would be very uncomfortable even suggesting that that work. So

Chris Spear:

that's how all this software works. You know, like the software we had, we had a food It was called food management and the recipe database was there. And every time you just change the number of servings it scaled it, but we had to train all of our chefs really well to look at that and and see, but a lot of that. That's why they're trying to do it in the test kitchen, and kind of err on the side of lighter on some things that they know would blow out, like some things are going to be fine, like the onions are going to be fine. And I bring up clothes because think about like how powerful they are.

Daniel Gritzer:

Yeah, clothes make things

Chris Spear:

nasty. Yeah, fast. It takes some intuitive ness to it, there's a lot of things that we've done that I'm like, Yeah, the scaling is not right on that

Daniel Gritzer:

is the idea that they sort of, they get it to work up to a certain sort of number of multiples. And then it's like, Look, if you're going to take this serving for 20 and make a service for 400. You like whoever's on site needs to understand that they mean, then they may need to make some, you know, on the fly decisions to sort of not do anything stupid, is that the idea?

Chris Spear:

Yeah. And this software ties into like ordering and everything. So it's this whole thing that like, now I take this recipe, and it's gonna be for 30 people, it's been costed out at the home office level. So we know that, you know, it's this is how much it costs. So then it gives you like a shopping list. So when you're ordering from Cisco, or whoever. So now I'm making 500 portions of lasagna. And I know that it's going to, you're going to need like two cases of ground beef. And you're going to need this and that and it's scaled that recipe out from a 20. You know, 20 cut lasagna to like five pans of 20 cut lasagna, but you have your grocery list for Cisco saying you need to order two cases of ground beef, it's really one and a half. But you're going to need two cases, right? So you do your whole week's worth of ordering within that system. And then it adds it all together. And then it kind of gives you your shopping list of everything you need to buy all in one shot kind of adding it together across the board. Yeah. So that's like a whole different level of cooking. And that's where I've spent a good deal of my career is like high volume cooking.

Daniel Gritzer:

That is a whole I've long time ago, I did some catering type work, which is high volume, but not not not anything on that level, you know, of having having stuff figured out. It's also you see me cynical for so much of what you do, you're in different people's kitchens all the time. And that's got to be

Chris Spear:

you plan for Worst case scenario. Let me tell you, because you,

Daniel Gritzer:

obviously you come with your knives, I bring

Chris Spear:

every bit of cooking equipment except a stove and an oven. So I mean, that is the variable there. The question I ask is really how many ovens you have, like I have one oven in my house at home so many people especially as you move up in like wealth and class that people these days have two ovens which is which is nice and that that's where it gets challenging for bigger parties. You know, like a party for six or eight is fine, but I do dinner's for 12 to 15. And like, if everything's in the oven, it's like, well, you need to have two ovens. And if you don't, then we can't have roasted ribeye and roasted potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Like you've got two racks in there, right? We're gonna have to do something on the stove, or in a pressure cooker. But if you've got two ovens, then we can do that. But for everything else, I bring every pot pan utensil I need I even have portable convection ovens I can bring with me, I have portable induction burners, I don't usually need them. But you still get into these weird scenarios with counter space. And just you know, they've got a coil, old of the stove, the coil burners or last top.

Unknown:

That's, but it's, you know, they

Daniel Gritzer:

send you um, like a photo of their space.

Chris Spear:

A lot of chefs asked for that. And that might be something I do. I haven't had any issues with that. I guess you don't Institute new protocols until you have an issue too many times. Right.

Daniel Gritzer:

At this point, you've probably, you know, you've

Chris Spear:

seen it all. Yeah, you've probably there's probably very little you would walk into where you weren't like a boat. I someone asked me to cater on a boat. They were doing like a sunset, a sunset cruise on the Potomac. And I thought boat like yacht or something. And they said, Yeah, there's a grill there you can use and you can bring a portable oven if you need it. And I got there. The grill was like, the size of a 10 inch dinner plate like round, right? And I had to cook every everything on this. So I bring the oven, and the captain of the boat is like nano like that's gonna blow the generator. Like you can't bring this on the boat. So you have the grill. So I see the grill and it has like a propane tank like the mini, you know, little one that I use for my blowtorch. And I'm gonna have to I have to cook like scallops. I have to do like a ribeye steaks. They want mashed potatoes. Thank God, I made them ahead of time, but I'm like reheating mashed potatoes and a frying pan on the grill.

Daniel Gritzer:

And where are you holding everything well, but you got this one little grip.

Chris Spear:

I'm just wrapping everything in foil. And I there wasn't even a work surface. Like when I got there, there was a table in the galley area. But they took the table out to eat so I was able to prep on it. But once the first course came, they carried that out and I was on my knees using like, the bench as my like, like I've got a cut. So I'm on my knees using my cutting board and then the captain comes out. He's like, you can't have that on there. You're gonna like ruin the upholstery. I'm like, What? What the fuck do you want me to do? Like, I was just like, over it. And I said never again but and the customer loved it. And it went off without a hitch. And now I get calls all the time. Like, my friend is renting a boat to do a cruise on the Potomac. I'm like I just I can't like unless it's like the you know, mansion yachts and there's like a full kitchen. I just can't do it. So I've kind of seen it all at that point.

Daniel Gritzer:

That really is seeing it all I mean that's about is that's about as scrappy as you can get in terms of figuring out how

Chris Spear:

luxury but scrappy its kitchen kitchen impossible. Yeah, but I had never had I mean, beautiful, who doesn't want to have like a beautiful sunset cruise out on the Potomac. You know, like he stopped right in front of the Lincoln Memorial. At sunset, these people brought a professional photographer with them to do a photo shoot. And I'm just kind of like chillin, you know, it's not a bad life, right. Like previously, I had an office that overlooked a dumpster. And now you know, like, even I'm a little stressed, they offer me a glass of champagne, and I can have some champagne and you know, hang out on the water, like, life's pretty good. You know? Yeah, as long as you can pull it off.

Daniel Gritzer:

I know, I haven't been in restaurants for a long time. But I know that as stressful as those moments are. That's also like, in some ways, those kinds of challenges are the things that you feed off of the most in this line of work where it most definitely,

Chris Spear:

it's like yeah, especially once you're done with it, like when you're sitting down. You're sitting in the car, you're like ah the endorphins start to the adrenaline starts to wear off and you're just like, ah, like I'll never do it again. But But you know, it was fun

Daniel Gritzer:

Yeah. This to be like my every every gig but like that was a as a story. And I survived. I used to work the pasta station at this Italian restaurant and you know, pasta service in an Italian restaurant and lunch is brutal. Like that's like every table every chair is ordering pasta like you're You are the show, and it's compressed into a like two hour window like dinners can be marathons and they can be rough, but like usually they're more, you know, a little bit more spread out. So it's a little bit more of an endurance game, whereas like once was just like it all just came it was a it was a tsunami. It's like a tidal wave. It all just comes at once and it's all pasta and when I first started it was you know, horrible. It's just like, every day was painful and I remember just getting to a point where like, you get so good at it that you, you feel like you're in the matrix, right? You're like, time doesn't exist for me, I see everything. Like, I don't The world is not photons, the world is like quarks like that zone. Yeah, you are in that zone, you're just like, you can't, you can't, you can't possibly, and then you start to wish for more you're like, give me the worst thing ever, because that's what I want to do today, because I want something that tests. It's a lame analogy. But if you're Neo in the matrix, and you're like, once you realize that the whole world is just like, you know, you can see the zeros and ones, then you're like, I don't want to just like deal with this one bullet flying at me, like, bring the whole, like, bring every army in the world. I want to see what I can do with this skill. And that's a cool feeling. Like it's when you get you know, that that kind of moment of just sort of being at your, your most polished. And you know, free like you they just like every time you walk into a into a new client's place. It's like, what's it going to be this time, like ever This is unknown. Every time there's just got to be a

Chris Spear:

it's a mixed bag. You know what I'll say? my very favorite parties are bachelorette parties. Because they're fun. They're easy going. There's a lot of young girls who want really good food, like they know good food, they also pay the best, I think millennials get a bad rap. But Millennials are also spending money like they're gonna die tomorrow, which isn't the worst thing like I think they, you know, they they value experiences and recognize that like, I'm more likely to get a 25 to 30% tip from them and get stiffed by like a Gen X or or even a baby boomer, you know, and they're just casual. And it's just like, there's no stress. Like I come in like, oh, we're having Nick Ronis, do you want to Negroni and then it's like, serve food whenever we're going out to the pool. And then you just like, put up some cool food. And like, it's for me, it's just like, ah, like, I love it. I have a question. We jumped right in the conversation, how did you end up working in Syria seeds,

Daniel Gritzer:

I was an editor at food and wine. And my food career started in restaurants. And then I got a job at time at New York. And that was not time at New York was all about going out. So it was restaurants and bars. And it was a really good, it was a great place to learn the you know, reporting, fact checking, sort of basic journalistic practices that are a part of, you know, even food writing. And then, then I went to put in wine. And so I was a food editor there. And so a lot of I wasn't in the test kitchen, as a test, kitchen cook, but I was recipe editor. And also, I had a like, monthly column that was sort of like the food nerds column. And now, you know, my thing was, I was always nerding out over everything. And my colleagues who were it was, I really had a great time there. They were always saying like, Daniel, like, you've done enough research to write, you know, a book on this, and you only have three pages. You know, you don't need to go that far down the rabbit hole. And so the certain point, so actually, a former foot and colleague of mine who had left tipped me off that he'd seen Kenji posting that he was looking for someone to join him at Syria seeds and expand the recipe program there. And, you know, I had been a big fan of the site already, like, and so I was like, well, that is a place where I can go down the rabbit hole over and over and over again. And so yeah, so that's, that's how I ended up at Ceres.

Chris Spear:

And I always ask people like, what are their favorite culinary resources? And while I've said your websites mine, what are your some of your go twos? Do you have favorite websites, cookbooks, or just places for inspiration,

Daniel Gritzer:

I'm very proud of my cookbook collection. And the cookbooks I love the most are the ones that I like, either picked up while traveling and brought back in my luggage, or that I've ordered, you know, some kind of rare book that I found online or an old book or something like that, or like the Maryland Galena, Maryland community cookbook, these kinds of these special ones that are that are they're full of wonderful information that I turned to like again and again and again. And that are, you know, not as common, not that the rarity of them is what makes them special. But just I think it is very easy, particularly in the in with the internet, in a strange, no strange way that the internet kind of, in some ways, like it's lived up to its promise and it's also betrayed its promise, which is that everything is on it, but you tend to have you know, the forces that beat you tend to find the same things over and over and over again. And it can feed this sort of echo chamber. You know, you run a search, and you get the results you get. And you know, usually we're pretty happy with those results like the, it's mostly kind of doing and, you know, most of the searches, I run the answers I get, I'm satisfied. So it's working for me. But it's also like, if you stop and think about it, it's like, it's, what am I not finding, I have tricks when I'm doing searches on the internet for recipes to get outside of at least like the American search results, not not secret tricks, just you know, things to like force, you know, I want to see the recipes for this thing. In Italian, obviously, the powers that be on the internet think, based on where my IP addresses and some other, you know, things that they are going to know about me that I'm looking for English language sources, but I need to get outside of that. I want to, I want to, you know, let's, let's push beyond that. So the internet's funny in that way. So I love those, you know, all of these cookbooks in my collection, that just, they just feel like, when you're doing something like a crab cake, and somebody says, it's not a real crab cake, if it doesn't have all day, I have the resources to say, you know, I respect your opinion about one thing all day in your crab cake, but you're wrong about saying that it has to be in it, and I can prove I can, you know, got something to prove this. So I love all my cookbooks like that. And I think for online, it's, it's case by case for me, I don't have a go to, you know, they're their competitors, you know, in the sort of food media space that I that I have lots of respect for and think they do cool work. But if I'm doing recipe research, I'm you know, I'm often interested to see what some of those the obvious sites have. But I'm even more interested to see the the non obvious stuff and you know, in particular, like, getting my eyes on either the print printed or digital recipes, um, I did air quotes, they're printed digital recipes online or videos, and you know, that's the the video stuff is awesome for recipe research. It's super helpful to watch people, particularly if you're doing a recipe, it's like a cuisine, cuisine based in the country of origin, making it not that that's the final word on it. But like, that's, that's way more informative than and it's also it's crazy, because then you see where the echo chamber really the kind of the evidence that the echo chamber becomes more obvious, because you can read six English language, recipes and articles about a dish. And they all are kind of different versions of each other. The similarities are striking or there'll be some something in the technique that's the same, you know, the they're not plagiarize, but like there's, you can, you can tell they, they've looked at each other, or one of them's looked at the other one, like there's, these patterns are being repeated in the recipe creation, and then you get outside of that. And you see, like, you know, whatever that, you know, let's use Italy's example, like someone in Italy, making this thing just doesn't do that thing at all. Right? And it's just like, oh, that's wild. Like, that's completely, you know, it's not wrong, but it's just like, pushing through. And, you know, and, and there's a lot of obviously, like, criticism of like, the idea of authenticity. And I think it's very important to be careful about, you know, how we frame this stuff, but it's so helpful to be able to look at a recipe from its source or from someone whose record, you know, a better representative of the source and see what they're doing. And that's really, I really love that. I have I have so much fun doing it, and you can you know, and you can I don't speak most of the languages of the world. You can do all sorts of great stuff with translation tools doing

Chris Spear:

Yeah, Google Translate is amazing like the amount of websites they're all just copy and paste the text into my browser and translate.

Daniel Gritzer:

Yeah, you can say like, I want to do this recipe or I'm you know, I'm researching this recipe I have an interest in this recipe. If I search for it under it some Oh, let's use like a Thai like Thai green curry and I type Thai green curry recipe. Well, I'm definitely getting you know, English language probably US based for the most part results combination of where Google is going to know I am and where you know the language I'm using to search. Let's do Catalan do that. So I'm going to take the you know, a lot of times you get the transliteration of the Thai right now I don't know off the top of my head what the what the words are for Thai green curry in Thai but it will be transliterated and it will be spelled using still the Roman alphabet. You know, if you search that it will still probably kind of force you back to the American results. Well, if you take that transliteration, or you know, Thai green curry even let's just an English and you run it through Google translate into Thai and I can't read Thai, but I can copy and paste the result in the Thai alphabet, then it's really same to Google, like quit it with these American recipes for Thai green curry, I want to see the time versions of this that are on the internet, and videos. And I love doing stuff like that, to inform and enrich what what I'm looking for. So you know, I don't have to, you know, I would I wish I could speak every language, that'd be great if I had the time to learn. But um, even without that, to be able to sort of use these little tricks to get outside of the, the, you know, the box that we kind of keep getting put back into through the, you know, the AI,

Chris Spear:

that's gonna bump us over to food and wine and all recipes calm and maybe if serious eats as a Thai green curry recipe, but that's what's gonna show up on the top of my feed for sure.

Daniel Gritzer:

Exactly. And, you know, no, no, look at those. But for a lot of stuff, if it's like a specific cuisine, I want to get outside of those two. I did you know, I have a recipe for romesco sauce. And for years and you know, cooking in New York City and seeing recipes here, everybody, it's roasted red bell peppers, roasted red bell peppers, roasted red bell peppers, and you just, you know, if you don't, if you don't stop to dig into it, that may, it may, one may just assume that romesco sauce is in part based on roasted red bell peppers. And it's not a roasted red bell peppers. Not that it's there's nothing wrong with using roasted red bell peppers. It's an entirely rational choice when you cannot get the peppers that are more commonly used in Spain. Today, it's a it's an entirely different pepper. It's not a bell pepper. It's not a fresh pepper. It's a dried pepper, it's not roasted, you get that complex flavor from the fact that it's a dried pepper. So it's like stuff like that.

Chris Spear:

I've never heard that in my life. And I make romesco all the time. That's yeah, check out my recipe. And I know the point

Daniel Gritzer:

is that you have to the point isn't that you have to use the new Yoda pepper, one of the main ones that is there would be used in Spain for romesco. But it's helpful to know that isn't it?

Chris Spear:

Yeah, definitely. Like because I'm sure it's just because it's hard to get. So that's been the easiest way to do it. And over time, that's become the de facto way that we make it.

Daniel Gritzer:

Exactly. And that's like the echo chamber, I'm talking like, yeah, then we all just are like, repeating this pattern that we've observed. But it's like, who informed this pattern? It's not wrong. It's not bad. There's nothing but it's like, how did this come to be? And is there more to this story? So I really like that kind of stuff. You know, and then the thing is, Okay, I get it, like in the 1980s or 70s or 60s or whenever, like, you know, food media was first publishing romesco recipes, you know, in the United States. I totally get the the move to figure out what's it What's a subsequence a smart substitution here, you can't get near the peppers. But you know, you can take a red bell pepper, you can roast it, you get this complex, charred flavor, it's delicious. It works brings the capsicum element to the to the sauce. It makes sense. Now, you know, sort of like the you know, the pros and the cons of like the internet. You can buy Dr. Yoda peppers really easily. Now they're imported and you can you know, click of a button you can you can get them. So then it's like, well, should we still be defaulting to the red bell pepper if we have this option, maybe if you want to, but like also, it's not that hard to get the other one now, so it's cool to try it.

Chris Spear:

Wow, that's going right to like the top of my to do list.

Daniel Gritzer:

Yeah, you should. I'd be curious to it. Definitely do it. And it's um, it's not wildly different sauce, but it's a different sauce. Like there's the pepper. It really shifts that dry pepper religious and what I've found testing it because I was like, Okay, well now I've I've made it with the noona peppers. And I have some sense of what that tastes like. What would I do if I can't get unit peppers? And what I found was actually like a dried Poncho is a closer substitute than a roasted bell pepper.

Chris Spear:

That's really interesting. I mean, I have those in my pantry all the time,

Daniel Gritzer:

right? So then it's like, oh, there's actually something you might it can make it potentially a little hotter because some of the anchovies have some have more heat. So it's you know, still is different, but it's like more and you get more of those like chocolaty notes, those crazy chocolaty, like Dr. Pepper notes that that you get from the Naoto peppers that I think even roasting bell pepper, you don't. You get the char, you get that complexity which you Get like that kind of chocolate Earth sweet, concentrated thing.

Chris Spear:

Interesting and so many people also then we've moved from like charring fresh peppers to just buying jarred roasted red peppers, which like, moves it even further away because I think when you buy a jarred roasted red pepper, they don't have that same smokey characteristic is like a fresh cooked one. So we keep, like diluting it out over time.

Daniel Gritzer:

Totally. Because when you roast it yourself, and you rub the skins off, but there's little flecks that remain. And when you get the ones in the jar, they've pretty thoroughly cleaned that off. And it's, I'm not interested in it in the sense of being like, this is the only way to do it. This is the right way. It's more just like, it's so cool to know that and experience it just so that the next time you choose whatever you want to do, but you have like a different perspective on it. I think that's what I like about it.

Chris Spear:

I have a quick question from a personal note so atoll a like I'm really getting into these drinks, and I know you have a trio on your website, right? Yeah. And it calls for like using the Maseko but what if you wanted to use like a regular like I get my cn? Does masa? Could you would you use the same amount and cook it the same way? Does it just take a little longer like the difference between going from like, a masego to like a really good masa, because I ordered the Chapo Rado mix from Massey and so I'm assuming they're using their I mean, they're using their good masa and it takes like 10 minutes to cook, would you make any adjustments does

Daniel Gritzer:

their mix also already have the chocolate in it?

Chris Spear:

It does. So you buy it ready to go and it's fully ready to go. It's got the masa, it's got chocolate, it's got cinnamon, it's got dried chilies in there. And you just add, they say, you know milk or water or a combination, and it cooks up in about 10 minutes. And it's delicious. But it's not inexpensive. You know, it's like $12. And, you know, you get like four to six portions out of it. And it's amazing, but I really was interested in. So I started looking for recipes to make it on the internet and found yours. And then I saw like the orange one. I'm like, Wow, that sounds really good. But I have tons and tons of like really good mahsa in my pantry. I can't remember the last time I bought like my saika. So I was thinking oh, well, clearly it can be made with good masa. So I didn't know about like, cooking times and you know, swapping out the recipe if you had any insight into that.

Daniel Gritzer:

I wish I had more. I those. Those are going back some years. So it's also my testing memory. Yeah,

Chris Spear:

it was like 2015 or something. I can't believe I'd never seen it

Daniel Gritzer:

six years. So I don't have a good answer. I mean, so I develop those and like he said, I did him with the Maseko, which I think is you know, pretty common but also is like the it's you know, it's not the most spectacular masa product and I you know, there I think there are people who have have some real critiques about the brand like you could sort of dive into, I don't feel equipped to, to represent any side in that debate. But definitely like me, you know, just looking at something like tortillas like, making tortillas from my sake is definitely a step up flavor wise from most of the packaged ones. The more mass market packaged ones anyway, if you're not buying some some more specialty product, but there's whole levels of improvement above that with better massage a new product or a fresh masa. And I didn't test at the time with all I didn't test like those variations. It's funny you bring it up because I every once in a while and particularly in the winter, I think probably within the past week, I've probably had this thought been like, God, I really should like make a jump with Otto but like, do it with like a fresh masa?

Chris Spear:

Well, I guess I'll just start testing it out. I just don't know what their ratios are of stuff in there mix. So I know like how many grams of their mix per ounces of water, like I know for like eight ounces of milk or water. This is how many grams I use. But of those grams, I don't know, like what percentage raised chocolate versus their masa. So it might take you know, I guess I've got some time maybe make it my own little test kitchen project and see but maybe I'll use your recipe and just you go by texture, right? Like you make a batch. And if it's, you know, too thick the next time up the level of you know, liquid or

Daniel Gritzer:

my experience with it is that it's the kind of thing that you really can make a lot of adjustments in the moment like you're not locked in to, if it's too thick, for example, you're not locked into that just finit with more liquid like I think you can kind of if you take a certain quantity of whatever you're using for the next demised corn component, and you finish it and it's cooking, you know, it's simmering, and it's too thick. I think you can just find it more than thin and more. And you can even probably try to like kind of get that consistency in the zone and maybe you know, with evaporation and as it's simmering, it might, you might have to make little adjustments as you're playing with it. But then once you kind of get that where you want it, then you can play around with now I'm going to start melting chocolate into it or incorporating the chocolate. And then once you kind of get, like, the chocolate level where where, you know, you want to and you know, I assume neither of us have a real lived experience with these drinks. That

Chris Spear:

was zero. Yeah, I've never had it outside of using this mix. So

Daniel Gritzer:

so the you know, what's chocolate enough is, you know, you and I have to kind of go by our, you know, best judgment. And maybe that's maybe somebody who's, you know, from Mexico would taste it and say, yeah, you really push this chocolate too far, like you got to taste the corn more, there might be some nuance that we're you know, missing, but I would just kind of play around with it, I think and get the thickness where you want it. By just slowly adding more liquid until it seems about right, then get the chocolate is where you want it and then kind of you know, season it with the spices, I think you can kind of just dial that in

Chris Spear:

this one was really good. And I think on their website, they said like someone who worked to MPN develop the recipe, like I don't know if it was there, one of their pastry shops or someone who worked at the bar even. So now that I've had what I think is probably like a good version of it, then I have in my mind's eye kind of like where I want it to be for texture and chocolate gets less sweet than I think I was expecting it to be. So now it's like, Okay, well, I'll try and achieve that.

Daniel Gritzer:

Yeah, it's so helpful to have these data points. And obviously, the more one accrues for any given thing in life, the more I think that kind of that picture gets filled in, and it becomes easier to also decide where on the sort of spectrum of possibilities we want our own version to exist. Anyone can make those decisions, you know, in any moment, but like the, like you're describing, the more you the more versions you've tasted, that other people make they, the more you're like, Okay, I have a kind of new, my impulse would have been to make this sweeter, but actually really appreciate this versions, dialed down sweetness, and I am, I kind of get that Now, like I see why that's maybe a good move here. And so then that's going to change how you do it. And if you try more over time, like you get get more and more, you know, it's who should develop which recipes is obviously a really important question. And it's a it's one that takes a lot of care because you you want an informed developer behind any recipe that has a cultural heritage. But you also don't want to pigeonhole people where it's like, well, you know, let's say I'm, I'm a New York, Jew or half Jew, therefore, like Daniel, you're like the, you're the goodfield, deficient koegel and bagels guy, like, I'm very happy to be the Garfield deficient Copeland bagels guy, but you know, I don't want to only be that guy, and being careful not to channel individuals into just these things, but at the same time having knowledgeable people work on recipes. And so that's something you know, I generally try, you know, deciding what's enough experience with something is, isn't, I think, a pretty complicated question. And not an easy one. But I personally Try not to develop recipes. If I have no experience with something like, just for me personally, like if I haven't, if you go in my archive, I'm sure you know, you will find exceptions to this, because I've been working long enough that it's happened but like, mostly, if I don't feel like I have that kind of context, that contextual sense at all, I definitely should not be the person doing it. And then deciding what's enough context is is you know, that's a lot harder. But you know, these are questions that are not easily answered, but need to be front of mind,

Chris Spear:

you have a lot of great contributing people to the website. And, you know, it's good to see that you're leaning on their experiences to bring some of their recipes to the table.

Daniel Gritzer:

Yeah. And that's something that we've, you know, in the early days of serious eats, there were a lot more contributors, but there was also not much sort of quality control in place. And so the quality of the early recipes in the early years is is kind of all over the map. And that's something that we're cleaning up actively now. And then, you know, as I think the site matured, and we said, you know, well, we don't want to have recipes, if we don't have a certain confidence level about their quality, we kind of pulled in and started working with fewer non staff contributors. You know, we just didn't have the resources to kind of do it right. And I'm really happy that that's changed now and that we're pushing back in the direction of expanding the voices on the site and having the resources now To have all of those recipes, both by our staff, and by the contributors, be more thoroughly vetted and put through a more, you know, standardized process and not just get published with, you know, which in 2008, the infancy of the site, like things got published that, like, you know, you, you look at your like, and we've removed a ton of that, and we're actively removing a lot more of that just because it's, you know, it's, it's the confidence isn't there, it shouldn't stay. But I'm really, I am really feel good that we're finding ourselves in a place where this is changing in the direction of more voices, not fewer. And I think that's, that's, that's just, obviously better in so many ways, and so good that we're able to kind of do it. Now. So

Chris Spear:

well, thanks so much. I think this has been we've had a great conversation, I don't want to hold you any longer, I'm probably gonna break this into two episodes. Cool that

Daniel Gritzer:

that's awesome. If I have I have a tendency to like digress and go on tangents. So you know, if I'm a realist, and you're like, actually, in second thought, this is what this is a one hour episode I and as someone who works as an editor, there's no hard feelings if the cutting happens.

Chris Spear:

Thanks so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it.

Daniel Gritzer:

Thank you so much for having me. I thank you for for inviting me on. It's just great to chat. I loved it.

Chris Spear:

Yeah. I'm glad we could catch up after all these years to have a not quite in person but a live conversation, right. Yeah, let's not make it both, you know, let's do it again. Sounds great. And to all our listeners, this has been Chris Spear with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. As always, you can find us at Chefs Without restaurants.com. and or and on all social media platf rms. Thanks so much, and have a reat week.