Jason McClure, executive chef at Sazerac in Seattle, is a warm, endearing guy working in a warm, endearing restaurant. (Looks like there's a theme here.) When you walk in the doors, you see the glow of the rustic wood-fire oven used for baking artisan pizzas. And that's just part of the spark McClure brings to the table. He's earnest about using a bounty of ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest (fresh seafood, for starters) and favors foraged treats, from nettles to ramps to fiddlehead ferns. McClure is always quick with a smile and conversation. No wonder people find it easy to ... well, warm up to him.
- Q: Savory ingredients might seem unlikely candidates for using in desserts. Which work well?
- A: There are many! Salt is my favorite. And then there are sweet onions, beets, herbs, vinegars and of course super-trendy bacon.
- Q: What's your favorite savory dessert you've created?
- A: I once featured a cheesecake spiked with local tangy goat cheese and then paired it with compote of pears with cinnamon and a bit of cracked pepper. The comforting familiarity of cheesecake created a canvas to showcase some unusual savory ingredients.
- Q: Why go the savory route when creating desserts?
- A: I'm not one of those "I don't like sweets" guys. I do like dessert and sweets, but find some savory elements are great counterpoints to sweet flavor profiles. The very popular marriage of salt and caramel illustrate this perfectly. I have made French toast ice cream flecked with bacon. The two iconic breakfast items, one savory and one sweet, work surprisingly well together.
- Q: Ever been particularly inspired by a sweet-and-savory dessert you've tasted?
- A: There is an oyster bar in Seattle called The Walrus and the Carpenter. They have a very minimal sweets selection, but one I enjoyed immensely was a plate of naturally sweet and caramel-y Medjool dates drizzled with a little fruity green extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with crunchy, flaky sea salt. It was simple and delicious.
- Q: Any predictions for savory ingredients we'll start seeing in desserts this year and beyond?
- A: I think we'll continue to see wide use of sea salts, cured pork products and sweet vegetables like corn, carrots and beets. I also believe that those dabbling in molecular gastronomy will keep creating tongue-in-cheek sweet versions of savory classics. I was just reading about a pastry chef in Vegas that's creating a Caprese with compressed watermelon and panna cotta ... it looked exactly like tomatoes and mozzarella. We'll see more of that kind of inventive thing.
Behind the Apron: Featured Recipe
Chef Jason McClure of Seattle's Sazerac plays culinary matchmaker with sugar and spice. You'll fall in love with his recipe for salted caramel-ginger macaroons.
Salted Caramel-Ginger Macaroons
Check out the macaroon recipe
Sazerac | 1101 Fourth Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 | Phone: (206) 624-7755 | www.sazeracrestaurant.com