Chef Ken’s love of cooking began when his father moved his family from California to Yvoire, France. He achieved national recognition at age 21 at the famous Los Angeles restaurant La Guillotine and has continued that meteoric rise ever since. Today helming his critically acclaimed and heavily awarded Napa Valley institution, La Toque, Chef Ken continues to set the bar for excellence and change the way we experience the world around us through food.
Chef Ken is a co-founder and co-creator of Reflux Gourmet, and proud to be RxG’s first consumer.
When cooking in winter, I am always drawn to root vegetables. There is something steadfast and comforting in a root – the very thing whose entire purpose is to ground, grow, and nourish the rest of the plant. Many of them are overlooked far too often but are simply delicious if you give them a chance. Plus, no one will ever tell you to eat fewer vegetables. I first tasted celery root as a teenager living in France and it was a revelation. Who knew celery had a root that tasted better than the stalks?
It wasn’t until much later that I learned intellectually what my heart and stomach instinctively discerned: celery root is a gift meant for healing. Celeriac is a strong anti-inflammatory, packed with antioxidants. It also offers a wonderful source of vitamins B, C, and K; along with essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. A great source of fiber, celeriac also supports gut health. Naturally a very alkaline food, it works to help neutralize and soothe an acidic stomach. All of this might, contained in an unassuming root, is at your very fingertips!
During this season of reflection and resetting, I find comfort in refraining from complicating the simple; in taking advantage of the salves nature has provided for us, and using that moment of peace to relish and refocus. In that moment, I am back in France, bathed in the golden light unique to that special piece of earth with the scent of herbs ever in the air – a teenager with every door open and waiting for me. In those moments, I also remember all the doors yet to be discovered and how joy seems to have a way of multiplying through the years.
In sharing this special dish that means so much to me, I hope that you, too, may find yourself in a reprieve of peace and comfort. A place where you are able to be in the joy of the past and future all at once. A place of healing.
Whatever dish speaks to your heart, may it ground you in the past, give you a taste of the future, and nourish you with the strength you need to get there.
My most favorite, and rather unusual, way to prepare celery root is to roast it whole.
Enjoy! From my kitchen to yours…
Roasted Celery Root with Caraway Crème Fraiche
1 celery root (pick one that feels dense, heavy and solid)
½ cup crème fraiche
¼ tsp caraway seeds, toasted and ground
Salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare the Celery Root –
Scrub the outside of the celery root with a plastic scouring pad and trim off any stubborn little roots. Drizzle with a little olive oil and rub it all over the outside and sprinkle with some kosher salt. Place it on a baking sheet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Roast in the oven until it feels tender in the center when probed with a cake tester. Depending on the size of your root, this should take close to 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep warm until serving.
For the Caraway Crème Fraiche –
Mix the ground caraway with the crème fraiche and season to taste with salt. (Whole caraway seeds are better here as you can quickly dry toast them in a sauté pan before grinding them. Ground caraway will work, but freshly toasted spices have better aromatics.)
To Serve –
Cut the celery root into wedges, warm the caraway crème fraiche and drizzle over the top. I like to sprinkle it with freshly chopped chives.