SEPTEMBER 17, 2012

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

LAUREN DESTENO, SOUS CHEF, MAREA, NEW YORK

"In my Italian-Spanish family," says Marea sous chef Lauren DeSteno, "food was the center of everything." So it came as little surprise to her parents when, after studying finance and Spanish at Fairfield University in Connecticut, DeSteno decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

She launched her career at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach, Florida, then took a position at Manhattan’s lauded Eleven Madison Park before joining the opening team of Michael White’s seafood-centric Marea, also in Manhattan.

The New Jersey native, who admits to a love of Bruce Springsteen, spent a semester studying abroad in Seville, Spain. During that time, she lived with an old woman who had hosted dozens of traveling students over the years and who introduced her to the joy of a potato salad made with superlative olive oil-packed tuna. "It was all about good ingredients," says DeSteno.

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DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Well-Dressed

For her Spanish-style potato salad, DeSteno uses Yukon Gold potatoes and cans of tuna packed in olive-oil. She cautions against using supermarket tuna, and warns that you might need more dressing than you think. “You want it to pool in the bottom of the bowl. Soak it up with a chunk of bread.”

Fish Tales

DeSteno works at Marea, a seafood-centric restaurant in New York City.  Her tip for selecting seafood at the market is simple: Use your instinct. “If it doesn’t look the way you think it should, don’t buy it. Ask to smell it; it should smell like the ocean. And if you’re buying a whole fish, look behind the gills. They should be bright red.” She also advises finding a fish market you like and sticking with it. “You’re the buyer,” she encourages, “so you should get what you want.”

MAKE THE
Spanish Potato Salad

YIELD

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Large eggs, 4

Ice

Yukon Gold potatoes, 2 medium (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)

White wine vinegar, ½ cup

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, ½ cup (plus more for serving)

Scallions, 2 (thinly sliced on the bias)

Flat-leaf parsley leaves, ¾ cup (finely chopped)

Olive oil-packed tuna, one 6-ounce can or jar (preferably ventresca tuna belly)

Rustic Italian bread, sliced

EQUIPMENT

Vegetable peeler

Chef’s knife

Cutting board

Measuring cups and spoons

Medium saucepan

Timer

Medium pot

Paring knife

Colander

Mixing bowls

Whisk

Wooden spoon

Serving bowl

Spatula

DIRECTIONS

1. Make the eggs: In the medium saucepan, add the

  • Eggs

Fill the saucepan with enough cold water to cover the eggs and set over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat, cover and set a timer for 7 minutes. Uncover, pour out the hot water from the pot and fill the pot with cold water and ice. Set aside.

2. Make the potatoes: To the medium pot, add the

  • Potato cubes

Cover with cold water and place over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender and the tip of the paring knife easily slides into the center of a cube, about 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and drain the potatoes through the colander.  Shake out excess water and transfer the cooked potatoes to a large mixing bowl.

3. Make the vinaigrette: In a small mixing bowl, add the

  • White wine vinegar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Using the whisk, slowly whisk in the

  • Olive oil

Pour the vinaigrette over the potatoes and season to taste with more salt and pepper as needed. Use the wooden spoon to stir in

  • ¾ of the scallions
  • ¾ of the parsley

Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl and top with the

  • Olive oil-packed tuna and the oil from the jar

4. Drain the boiled eggs and carefully peel. Once peeled, rinse the eggs under cold water to remove any remaining bits of shell. Slice the eggs into quarters lengthwise and arrange on the top of the potatoes and tuna.  Sprinkle with the

  • Remaining scallions
  • Remaining parsley
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Serve with

  • Rustic Italian bread
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