Want to Know How to Make French Bread?

Jonathan's French Bread
1 pound 9 1/2 ounces BREAD FLOUR
1/2 ounce SEA SALT
17 ounces WATER
Fermentation: approximately one hour, Proofing: approximately 30 minutes
Baking: 28 minutes at 425°F

A special thanks to Shauna Yarbrough (it was so fun to teach you!), Cameron Robins, Cody Owens, and Hunter Sebresos


Grapefruit Dessert

As I was researching fresh fruit desserts this morning, I was surprised to find that the grapefruit is highly neglected.  We grew up having grapefruit halves for breakfast all the time and now that I'm temporarily spending time at my sister's apartment I see that the breakfast tradition has passed on to the next generation.  Consequently, there are many many grapefruits here--partially thanks to the season and partially thanks to Costco bulk buying.  Having somewhat of a soft-spot for these dessert worthy fruits I spent all morning thinking of numerous ways to include grapefruit in a dessert.  The winner--for today at least--was a light and refreshing spooned dessert with such a unique flavor it almost danced in my mouth the moment I tried it.

Grapefruit Curd
Looks delicious does it not?  This is what I did.  Since grapefruit is a citrus, I decided to make a grapefruit curd.  It didn't take much sugar to off-set the tartness of the fruit.  The pale ruby color of the grapefruit juice was lost when mixed with the yolks but the curd, in the end, had a slight pinkish hue--a stark difference from the vibrant color of traditional lemon curd.  I added some ginger and extra citrus to enhance the flavor.  I also included a little bit of butter in the formula to add to the silkiness of the curd which created a very smooth mouth-feel.  I dished the curd into little glasses and allowed the curd to set in the fridge.  While the curd-filled glasses chilled, I made a Tahitian vanilla Chantilly cream (Penny and Sam brought home some pretty incredible vanilla from their honeymoon to Tahiti).  I topped the curd with the cream and garnished the dessert with some plums.  I know it seems like an odd pairing, but I must say that combination is quite divine--the plum adding a hint of tart back into the overall experience.  Well, needless to say it was a fun morning of experimentation; and now I can boast that I've created a fine dessert using none other than the underestimated grapefruit.  Contact me if you want the recipe.


Feature on LA Times Food Blog

Check out LA Times Food Blog's most recent post, Meet Jonathan Wing.


Yigit Pura and Gourmet Ice Cream

Did any of you watch Top Chef Just Desserts?  If you did, then you'll know who Yigit Pura is.  Not only that, you'll know just how incredible he is.  There were, of course, so many talented pastry chefs on the show; but my friends and I were always Yigit fans from the very beginning.  He was always so inventive with his flavors and he consistently created impeccable desserts not only in taste but in aesthetic value as well.  Interestingly enough, Yigit also chose a culinary career path later on in the game.  I'm pretty sure he was studying business management--sound familiar?  I could go on, but suffice it to say it was no surprise that he won.

The reason I'm even writing about this is because this past weekend I was visiting my sister in Salt Lake City and she casually mentioned that "the winner of that Top Chef Just Desserts show [would be] presenting at the local home and garden festival."  Well, I definitely could not pass up the opportunity to learn from the man himself!  That night at the South Towne Expo Center Yigit gave a demonstration on sorbets and gourmet ice creams--strawberry sorbet, chocolate ganache ice cream, and salted caramel ice cream.  Utterly delicious.  I have to admit, I've never felt so entirely star-struck.  After his demonstration, Yigit was taking pictures with fans so naturally, I joined the queue.  There were so many things I wanted to say and ask; but instead, all that came out of me was:

Jonathan: "Uh, hi.  Can I take a picture?"

Yigit: "Yes.  What's your name?"

Jonathan: "Um, uh, (awkward pause), J . . . Jonathan."

Yigit: "Nice to meet you, I'm Yigit."

I don't know what was wrong with me.  I really don't get nervous in these types of situations, but I suppose it's almost comical that I don't even remember what else I really said at that point.  All I know is a bunch of gibberish came out of my mouth instead of all of the things I actually wanted to say and ask.  What a shame, eh?  Ha!  You know, if I had a good hour with Yigit, this is what I would want to ask him and discuss:

"What is your source of inspiration in creating original desserts (taste, ingredient use and pairing, design)?"
"What do you do to keep "current" with new culinary techniques and methods, and how do you keep learning, in general?"
"If you had to pick one experience throughout your culinary career that helped you develop the most as a pastry chef which would it be, and why?"
"What is a day in the life of Yigit like?"
"How has your life changed since TCJD?"
"When is your new San Fransisco dessert store 'Tout Sweet' opening?"

Well, I may never get that chance; but at least I had the opportunity to attend the demonstration, learn, and snag a picture with a brilliant pastry chef.  I did decided to make my own gourmet ice cream by using one of my mother's favorite ingredients--avocado.  It really had nice flavor and a beautiful silky mouth feel.  Above all, my mother loved it--especially the fact that I used the skins of the avocado as vessels to hold the ice cream (she's so practical).  If you want the recipe, just email me.  Cheers!

Avocado Ice Cream


Up Close and Personal

Many apologies!  I haven't given up on posting, it has just been a busy two weeks in meetings and planning for my upcoming television show.  Stay posted for the next few days and you'll be counted among the first who may have a chance to appear on the show!  Follow and you won't miss it.

This post is written specifically for all of you who have taken the time to read my blog and share this unexpected culinary journey with me. Thank you for your encouragement and support! It is exciting to be moving forward with an imminent instructional baking television show. I truly feel blessed to have the opportunity and such great family and friends to support me along the way. So many of you have reached out to me and have asked specific questions about “my story.” Well, I think it’s about time I answer all of your questions, eh?

Where are you from?

Niagara Falls, Canada

What is your ethnicity?

Half-Filipino, Quarter-Dutch, Eighth-Chinese, Sixteenth-German, Sixteenth-Irish (and yes, that equals 100%). Even though I was born a Canadian, I am currently a citizen of The United States of America (two years this month, actually). Oh, even though I have no ethnic connections to France or Haiti—I also speak French and Haitian Creole.

How old are you?

Ha! I ALWAYS get asked this question and the majority of people say fifteen—I’m not even joking! Despite the youthful appearance, I am turning a quarter of a century mid-May.

Are you single?

Ha! Yes, I am. :( A lot of people have a hard time believing this, but I have never been in a serious relationship. Surprised? Well, it’ll happen someday!

Other than baking, what other things do you love?

There are SO MANY things I love! Where to start?

Hobbies: I’ve played the piano ever since I was six-years-old. I don’t play professionally or compete anymore but I do love to sit and play for hours just to escape life—it’s a stress reliever. My favorite composers to play are Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Debussy, and Chopin. I really enjoy writing music and singing! I love home projects—interior design, painting, tiling, and decorating. I’m super artsy—I like to oil paint, take photographs, and do graphic design. Sports? My warm weather sport is tennis and winter, skiing.

Interests: I am and will forever be a student of learning—I love to study. I also love to have so much fun spending good quality time with family and friend trying new restaurants, going to concerts, broadways, and the movies, going out dancing, or even just sitting around talking. I really love listening to music. I grew up listening to classical music, The Cranberries, and Bjork; but my tastes for good music are not bound by any type of genre. Rule of thumb, if it’s good music then it’s good music. My favorite playlist right now includes artists such as: MIKA, Edward Maya, Alex Lloyd, Coldplay, A Fine Frenzy, Imogen Heap, Marina and the Diamonds, and many, many more.

Guilty Pleasures: I’m a sucker for back massages, Martinelli’s sparkling cider, and good style.

Travel: I absolutely LOVE to travel and have serious withdrawals when I don’t. Places I’ve been outside of North America include: Israel, Egypt, Jordan, France, Switzerland, Ireland, England, Austria, China (Hong Kong), Japan, and Haiti. I love learning about different cultures and, of course, trying different kinds of foods!

If you could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Other than my relationship status—not a thing! Ha! That said, however, I’m constantly trying to improve myself day-to-day.

What was the last thing you ate today?

Well, before I left my apartment this morning I made a delicious Panini with my homemade focaccia (an incredible blend of rosemary, garlic, basil, and olive oil) and aged cheddar (it was the only cheese I had left in the fridge). Anyway, it was simple, fast, and easy; and with a few sips of my Canada Dry, it was perfect. Oh, I also had some chocolate cake iced with a dark chocolate ganache.

How do you stay so skinny?

Okay, this question isn’t a fair question to ask! I have a hard time putting on weight. I do, however, try to eat very healthful foods and control my portion sizes when it comes to desserts. Luckily, I mostly bake for other people—ahem.

What is your favorite dessert?

I’ll never turn down an authentic French macaroon (I’m rather picky when it comes to these delectable treats and know that the best ones can only be found in France—prove me wrong!).

I also LOVE chocolate! So anything chocolate always brings a smile to my face.

What is your favorite thing to bake?

My favorite thing to do is bake so anything I make I thoroughly enjoy; but I guess I can answer this by saying I most frequently make bread. It’s practical.

Did you always know you wanted to pursue a culinary career? What’s your story?

This is a difficult question to answer simply because I really didn’t know that I wanted to pursue a culinary career until just recently—hence the “unexpected culinarian.” I’ll attempt to answer this pair of questions by starting from the very beginning (a very good place to start) and using excerpts from my Los Angeles Times blog article. I can rarely think back to my childhood without remembering the countless hours spent in the kitchen with my family. With a mother from the Philippines and father from the Netherlands, I think we were probably pretty spoiled with a variety of different kinds of meals growing up. My mom assigned one day a week for each of her six children to make dinner with her in the kitchen. I was Wednesday.

My favorite part was making dessert.

I can remember one time—oh, I must have been six- or seven-years-old—when my mom wouldn’t let me bake a cake because I was too young to use the oven on my own. I snuck a jar of store-bought icing out of the cupboard and iced a glass bowl that I flipped over. I tried to hide it, but I can’t keep any secrets from my mom.

I think it was shortly after we moved to the States when my dad purchased our first video camera. I used to set it up in the kitchen and record myself baking cakes and just about anything—teaching my pretend audience.

I guess you can say I really did love baking at a very young age, but no matter what I did, my parents taught me to always work hard and do my personal best and that pursuit for perfection crept into all areas of my life. After graduating valedictorian of my high school class I continued my education, but with interests and skills in many different fields, I found myself changing my major every semester. In the end, I decided on business management were I studied marketing and global management.

While studying abroad, I was on a bus leaving Geneva en route to Paris when a friend asked me, “Jonathan, what are you truly passionate about?” That question never left me. During my last year in college I set out on a quest to discover what I am truly passionate about. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the answer to that question was and has always been baking.

I had a hard time giving up the seemingly successful opportunities that awaited following graduation, but I knew I would be happier following my passion. I also knew it was essential for me to pursue a culinary education—I really wanted to be taught the correct methods and techniques. After a short interview over the phone with a representative at Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles, I was invited to visit the campus. I booked my flight and flew to L.A. the day after I took my last semester final. I remember driving by the Le Cordon Bleu campus at two o’clock in the morning shortly after arriving at LAX. I knew that was where I was supposed to be.

Culinary school was an incredible experience! Every day was something new—a new method, a new technique, a new baked good. During my time at school, I also decided what I want to do with my new found education. My mind kept returning to my childhood when I would make home videos teaching people how to bake. I finally realized, I want to pursue a career in food television. During my time at school, I worked on creating a one-of-a-kind instructional baking show. I also kept this blog where written experiences, baking tips, and photography of the gourmet creations I made in school rose in popularity and have been featured by various other food websites. Through this blog, I was discovered by various food stylists and was requested as help to style for Betty Crocker, featured on CBS’s The Talk. I finished my formal culinary education interning at The Los Angeles Times where I developed and test recipes, styled food for weekly prints and online photography, and prepped for television spots on KTLA Channel 5’s Eat Beat, and much more.

Ever since I finished at The Times, I’ve been actively pushing to produce my television show. Right now, we’re in the final stages of the proposal process and filming should begin mid-year. So, that’s my story folks. You know, each of us has gifts and talents, but in the end what matters most is what kind of good in the world we end up doing with them!


If you read all of this, my heart goes out to you for spending a good chunk of time getting to know me a little bit better. I do love to hear from all of you! Please feel free to email me questions or comments: theunexpectedculinarian@gmail.com. Again, thank you for the interest, the support, and the love! I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on the television show news as it progresses!




Homemade Pop-Tarts

Here it is--the long-awaited post on homemade pop-tarts.  These are so incredibly easy to make and you can fill them with just about anything you want.  We used our homemade frangipane, nutella, strawberry preserves, and blueberry preserves for our fillings.  This was one of the last projects I worked on at The Los Angeles Times test kitchen and definitely one of my favorites.  Can you recognize the hands below?  Anne Cusack, our photographer needed a hand model for the beauty shot and for the step-by-step.


Brussels Sprouts from Heaven

You've probably never craved Brussels sprouts, right?  Well, wait until you try this recipe!  I had never even had Brussels sprouts until we had to test this recipe at the LA Times test kitchen.  It's a keeper.