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Wednesday 25 October 2017

Hestan’s NanoBond™ Technology – The Crème de la Crème in Cookware or Just Another Marketing Ploy?

For the Shokunin in Japan, craftsmen who specialize to an extraordinary degree to be masters of their profession, the search for excellence and even for perfection is a never-ending journey. 

Ninety-one year old Jiro Ono is Japan’s highest expression of Shokunin; he has worked tirelessly from the age of 7 to become the greatest sushi craftsman alive today. Ono is still to be found at his sushi counter at Ginza station, serving up perfect morsels of vinegared rice, yet his drive for perfection is far from finished.

Reading about Hestan’s founder Stanley K Cheng in Napa Valley USA, I found a lot of resonance with the work of Jiro Ono and hundreds of other Shokunin I have encountered in Japan and across the world.

Cheng’s lifelong quest has been to innovate and excel in the cookware industry. Since the 1970s, he has been at the cutting edge of his field, including the introduction of non-stick surfaces to hard anodized aluminium, the breakthrough which led to non-stick cookware. Today, his company (Hestan and Meyer Corporation) is the largest cookware distributor in the USA and the second largest in the world. 

Cheng has created a culture of excellence around the Hestan name that goes far beyond its cookware. There is the Hestan Vineyards in Napa Valley, as well as Hestan Commercial and Hestan Outdoor cooking appliances. Hestan Commercial reinvented the restaurant kitchen with a lineup of well-designed commercial cooking equipment, one of their most notable advocates is Head Chef and Shokunin Thomas Keller of the 3 Michelin-starred restaurant The French Laundry.

Most intriguing for me though is the Hestan Barn, a culinary “think tank” and laboratory that brings together a team of outstanding chefs, engineers, designers and winemakers to revolutionise cookware and think of different ways to cook.  It was here in the Hestan Barn that the USA team trained for the most prestigious international cookery competition, the Bocuse d’Or, winning the gold medal in 2017. 

It was also here at The Barn that Stanley Cheng and his team developed a new cookware range with Hestan’s NanoBond™ technology.

With 14 global patents, NanoBond technology uses a triple-bonded construction: thousands of titanium-based nano layers bonded directly to stainless steel, itself wrapped around a central core of pure aluminium.

The resulting super-dense cooking surface is said to be stain and scratch-resistant, and the titanium coating to last a lifetime. It does not use any chemicals or coatings that might wear off over time like what happens with standard non-stick pans.

Pans with NanoBond™ technology are also said to have 35% better heat conductivity and to be 400% (four times) harder than stainless steel pans. They certainly have a gorgeous design, with elegant ergonomic handles and flush rivets.

Besides this, Hestan states that their NanoBond™ technology results in pans that:
- are ‘stick resistant’ rather than non-stick 
- maintain their titanium lustre and beauty for a lifetime
- have no limit to the heat they can withstand
- do not affect or react with foods
- are easy to clean
- are highly resistant to oxidation at high heat
- have five times the lifespan of a normal stainless steel or aluminium-clad cookware. 

Launched in the USA in January 2017, the NanoBond™ range is sold exclusively there by Sonoma-Williams, and in the UK, you will only find it at Harrods, where it was launched in September 2017. 

I was approached by Hestan to put some of their claims to the test with four of the range of pans, and have been doing just that over the last five months. The Hestan pans I used for this review included:

28cm frying pan - £269 - https://www.harrods.com/en-gb/hestan/frying-pan-28cm-p000000000005730165?bcid=1504779447433

20cm saucepan with lid - £299 - https://www.harrods.com/en-gb/hestan/covered-soup-pot-20cm-p000000000005730181?bcid=1504779447433

26cm stockpot with lid - £449 - https://www.harrods.com/en-gb/hestan/stockpot-and-lid-26cm-p000000000005730180?bcid=1504779447433

36cm wok - £499 - https://www.harrods.com/en-gb/hestan/frying-pan-28cm-p000000000005730165?bcid=1504779447433

First Impressions Count

The pans feel really sturdy and solid, substantial without being too heavy. On closer inspection, the design is beautiful with a pewter-grey tinge to the surface. The surfaces are silky smooth, and even the rivets binding the handles to the pan are recessed to avoid food getting stuck and making them very easy to clean.

The handles are ergonomically designed from case stainless steel, being wide and flat to enable a good grip without risking them over-turning. 

The Hestan logo is beautiful, written in full at the base of the handle, and with an embossed H at the tip.  Frying pans and saucepans have an oval slot in case you want to suspend them from a hook, or alternatively they stack efficiently.

Performance under Pressure

During my time at Le Cordon Bleu, I got to use and was impressed by top quality cookware from the American firm All Clad, and by de Buyer from France. Top professional kitchens around the world will be familiar with these, as they have been considered to be the best of their type and to deliver consistent cooking results.  Hestan's is, however, aiming to raise the bar by introducing its NanoBond™ technology to their pots and pans.

Today at my supper club events and cookery classes, my Hestan pans get heavy use and are bashed around a lot. Even though I do not have Le Cordon Bleu’s budget, I have always looked out for cookware that is well made, and of as good quality as I can afford.

Beautiful as new after 5 months use!

The Hestan pans I have used over the last five months still look nearly as perfect as they did when I first came out of their boxes. Though they have not been scratched or dented, I noted some colour tarnish at the bottom of the pans.

Light colour tarnish

Stick Resistance

From my years of cooking experience, I know that fried food does not stick if the pan has either a non-stick coating or if it has been proofed with a built up layer of oil and salt over time.

Although not completely non-stick, I found that Hestan’s 28 cm frying pan’s surface was indeed ‘stick resistant’, and this did not wear off over time, as non-stick coatings do sooner or later in my experience.

The Dreaded Non-Stick Egg Frying Test

Though there were some desirable signs of food caramelization visible on the surface of the pan, food did not stick. There was rapid heat conduction on either my Aga hot plate or a conventional gas flame, and even fried eggs cooked uniformly and came away smoothly from the pan.

Image courtesy of Hestan

Heat Conductivity and Evenness 

But for me, the major advantage of the Hestan pans was the evenness of heat distribution and the rapid conductivity of heat. Don’t you hate it when you are cooking something and parts get burned while other areas are still not cooked?

Image courtesy of Hestan

This was definitely not the case with Hestan’s 36cm wok – with no limit to high heat and improved conductivity compared with other standard pans, Hestan’s wok quickly achieved searingly high heat, just ideal for imparting that desirable ‘wok-breath’ (a wonderful charred flavour) into my stir-fried food.

Versatility – From Hob to Oven and Table

Hestan’s range of pans are all metal, with no plastic, rubber or other materials, making them ideal for use in the oven as well as on stove. In many professional kitchens, steaks and other meats are usually caramelized in the pan over a high flame (pan-fried), and then finished in the oven to complete their cooking under an even heat.  Hestan’s range are well designed for this purpose, while looking great on the table too.

Image courtesy of Hestan

The Verdict

Over the five months I have used Hestan’s pots and pans at home and at my supper club events, I have been reassured that the company’s claims really do stack up. With great heat conductivity and evenness, the pans are also durable and will probably last many years. They are sturdy, well-designed and gorgeous too.

A decent, well-designed pan can make or break your meal. Choosing the correct vessel (for both its quality and size) to cook a dish is an important decision that will help you make the most of your cooking. With busy working lives and less time now spent in the kitchen, pans like Hestan’s will make this time count giving you consistently good cooking results.

Image courtesy of Hestan

Hestan pans are not cheap, but good quality equipment never is. If you want the best pans you can afford in your home and business that will last a lifetime and take up that up that precious kitchen cabinet space, consider buying Hestan’s.

Image courtesy of Hestan

You do not need to be a Shokunin or 3-star Michelin chef to cook a great meal at home. But in your pursuit for kitchen excellence, Hestan is here to help along the way.

To discover more about Hestan and their range of cookware, visit their website here - https://hestan.uk.com/

To purchase Hestan cookware, visit the Harrods store or website here - https://www.harrods.com/en-gb/designers/hestan.


To celebrate the launch of the luxury cookware brand in the UK, Hestan is running a competition for a chance to win a gastronomic weekend in Paris!

The prize includes flights for two from any UK airport, a 2-night stay at the prestigious hotel in the centre of Paris, La Maison Champs Élysées and a gourmet culinary experience at Le Jules Verne, Michelin star restaurant owned by the most renowned chef of his generation, Alain Ducasse.

For more details and to enter the competition, visit their website here - https://hestan.uk.com/2017/10/16/weekendinparis/

This review feature was commissioned and sponsored by Hestan. The London Foodie maintains full editorial control over all content published on this site as always.

Friday 20 October 2017

Brunching Nikkei Style at Chotto Matte London

Name: Chotto Matte Brunch Menu

Where: 11–13 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4RB, http://www.chotto-matte.com

Cost: £50 per person for brunch with alcoholic drinks, or £45 per person with non-alcoholic drinks, available on Saturdays and Sundays only, between 12 and 4pm.

About: This was a revisit to Chotto Matte, a Peruvian Nikkei restaurant set on Soho's busy Frith Street, you can read my first Chotto Matte review here.

Born from the Japanese diaspora living in Peru, Peruvian-Nikkei cooking is much more than just a trendy fad – it was born out of necessity in the early 20th century as most Japanese immigrants lacked the necessary ingredients to cook their home fare. Instead, they resorted to using the fantastic produce of Peru, from Pacific fish and seafood to the high altitude vegetables of the Andes, and the fruit of the Amazon. Today, Peruvian-Nikkei cuisine is very much part of the mainstream diet in Peru, with dishes like Tiradito and Maki Acevichado being just as popular as ceviche or causa.

I wrote about this style of food in my cookbook “Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way” available on Amazon here. You will also find one of Chotto Matte’s recipes in the book as they kindly contributed towards it.

Set over 3 floors with an outdoor seating area great for people watching, Chotto Matte has an uninterrupted funky soundtrack that certainly makes for a party atmosphere. The décor is bright and colourful with plenty of natural wood, stone and glass. On the ground floor, there is a vast, UV-illuminated mural created by Tokyo-based graffiti artist Houxo Que. Chotto Matte is undeniably a beautiful restaurant.

What We Ate: There are two choices of brunch menus - one featuring fish and meat, and another for vegetarians. We tried one of each. 

We kicked off with a ceviche of seabass sashimi, served with sweet potato, crunchy Peruvian corn, coriander, chive oil and a zingy leche de tigre (tigers milk – the dressing used to ‘cook’ fish in ceviches and tiraditos).

The vegetarian opener was Chotto Matte’s famous paper-thin vegetables – a crunchy and refreshing medley of daikon, carrot, beetroot, quinoa, physalis, lime and chia seeds.

The fish sushi had a selection of fish, each topped with its unique seasoning. Tuna, scallop, and yellowtail were delicious, and I particularly enjoyed the salmon with dots of aji amarillo, and seabass with truffle cream.

The vegetarian sushi selection was equally good and very creative – this included tamago omelette, nasu (aubergine), avocado, shitake mushroom, courgette and yasai (vegetable) truffle roll.

The tempura course was Nikkei Sepia - calamari with an aji amarillo and yuzu emulsion (a Japanese citrus) with sugar and mayonnaise. I loved this but wished the portion was a tad more generous.

The vegetarian tempura featured tender stem broccoli and shiitake mushroom, with a delicious scattering of tempura diced chilli.  Though the batter was light and crunchy, the broccoli was slightly overcooked.

From the robata grill, Asado de Tira was in our opinion the best of all dishes on the menu - a wonderfully tender beef short rib with asparagus, purple potato puree and teriyaki jus.

The Pollo Den Miso (chicken with a miso-based sauce) was also excellent – this had deliciously smoky charred chicken, carrot, daikon and yellow chilli salsa.

The vegetarian robata grill equivalent was Calabacin al la Parilla – this was a platter of chilli courgette, pickled shallots and crisp-fried sweet potato. We enjoyed this although we felt this was a little uninspiring and more like a side dish than a main course in its own right.

The Nasu Miso was cubes of aubergine marinated in Japanese miso, with apricot, puffed soba, and sesame seeds.

Both robata grilled options came with sake-sautéed broccoli with Huacatay sauce. I enjoyed this particularly for the sauce, a deliciously zingy one made with the Peruvian huacatay, a mint-tarragon type of herb which is the base of this sauce together with the fruity aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli).

For dessert, both menus had an intensely rich, creamy and bitter chocolate pot, frozen mochi balls of mango, and of yuzu, with a passion fruit brûlée topped with pomegranate seeds. The desserts were very well conceived - rich and intensely flavoured. The menu offers a choice of tea or coffee.

If you visit the restaurant, not everyone in the table needs to order the same menu. For example a couple can order one menu each containing the vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Even tough I felt that the non-vegetarian menu was the strongest menu, this way you would get the best of the variety that the restaurant can offer. 

What We Drank: There is a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails on the brunch menu, and we opted for the Bloody Mary – made with Belvedere vodka and Chotto Matte’s own cocktail mix.

With the food, the menu includes a choice of a half bottle per person of a Prosecco, an Albarino or a Rioja Reserva. We chose the Albarino, Irexario de Saiar, Bodega Sucesores de Benito Santos, Spain, 2016. Crisp and refreshing, this had plenty of citrus, apricot characteristics to balance the flavours on the plate.

Likes:  The robata beef short rib was for me the highlight of the meal. We also enjoyed the sushi and particularly the vegetarian sushi platter. The Bloody Mary was refreshing and spicy.

Dislikes: Some of the vegetarian courses were weak including the grilled courgettes, I would have felt short-changed if that was meant to be my main course.

Verdict: Chotto Matte's brunch menu is a great opportunity to try a range of the restaurant’s signature Nikkei dishes, a cocktail and ½ a bottle of wine per person. At £50pp, the quality and variety of food offered makes it a good deal not to be missed. Recommended.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Do You Know Your Cajun From Your Creole? - Discovering the Cooking of Louisiana at Galatoire's

Words & Photography by Matthew Brown and Luiz Hara

Name: Galatoire’s Residency at The Colony Grill, Beaumont Hotel

Where: The original Galatoire’s is at 209 Bourbon St, New Orleans, USA, LA 70130 - http://www.galatoires.com/

The Galatoire’s residency took place at The Colony Grill, The Beaumont Hotel, 8 Balderton St, London W1K 6TF - https://www.colonygrillroom.com/

Cost: A three course meal from the Galatoire’s menu at The Colony Grill cost on average £50-60 per person, not including drinks or service. Starters were an average of £15, main courses ranged from £20 to £40. New Orleanian cocktails, given new flair by The Beaumont’s American Bar, were priced at £15 each.

About: Galatoire’s is probably the most famous restaurant in New Orleans. Founded by Frenchman Jean Galatoire in 1905 the restaurant still serves the classic dishes that it used to make for regulars such as Tennessee Williams.

Like Jean Galatoire, current Executive Chef, Michael Sichel, spent more than a decade learning the culinary techniques of France. He honed his skills in Provence, before returning to America and moving to New Orleans because, as he boldly stated to us when we interviewed him - “Lousiana has the greatest cuisine in North America”. We were very intrigued to learn more.

Galatoire’s specialises in the cuisines of New Orleans and Louisiana. Both are heavily influenced by Cajun influences, which came with the French-speaking Acadian people when they were forced from Canada by the British, and Creole cooking, which combines French and African influences. These cuisines gave us classic dishes as different as Oysters Rockefeller and Jambalaya - that can be incredibly difficult outside of the US.

The beautiful rooms at The Colony Grill, host of Galartoire's Residency in London

Sichel also told us that he fell in love with London when he was here to cook for the US Olympic team in 2012, and so couldn’t resist when he was invited back to take up a residency at The Beaumont to celebrate the NFL Series games taking place in London. These games mark the start of the NFL season, and draw Americans, and fans of Americana alike, to the city. 

What We Ate: We started by sharing two of Galatoire’s most iconic dishes. Oyster’s Rockefeller is near enough impossible to find in the UK, so they just had to be ordered.

We had six large oysters from Carlingford on Ireland’s East coast, grilled and decked with the emerald-green Rockefeller topping - made with creamed spinach and herbsaint, an aniseed liqueur famous in New Orleans. The topping was rich and buttery and flooded the palate, so to best savour the salty mollusc underneath. 

Our second starter was no less iconic. Sticks of fried aubergine, coated in breadcrumbs, were soft on the inside, but firm enough to withstand double-dipping: first into a perfectly tart Bearnaise sauce, and second into a pot of icing sugar. This unconventional but addictive dish is a Galatoire’s classic, and it looked perfect when served in The Colony Grill’s dainty porcelain.

We shared one more starter of Seafood Okra Gumbo, made with jumbo lump crabmeat, prawns and oysters. Gumbo is a Louisiana stew - the Creole gumbo generally contains shellfish, tomatoes, and a dark roux or both. Cajun gumbo is generally based on a dark roux and is made with shellfish or fowl. In the Galatoire’s version, the dark stock was thickened with okra making it more refined, light and glossy. Soft flakes of white crabmeat and large, fresh prawns were folded into the silky white rice. This was a great introduction to Creole Gumbo!

Our first main course was crabmeat sardou. In appearance, it resembles the classic brunch dish of eggs royale, poached egg on an English muffin served with smoked salmon and Hollandaise sauce. In this classic Galatoire’s brunch dish, however, crabmeat and creamed spinach are served on a base of artichoke heart, and blanketed in Hollandaise. The classic New Orleanian combination of rich butter and sharp flavours, present in the Oysters Rockefeller, worked well again here in the main course.

Our second main was Dover Sole Yvonne, Chef Sichel’s Cajun take on The Colony Grill's Grilled Dover Sole. The Colony Grill serves their Dover Sole with a rich Bearnaise sauce, but Sichel used a much simpler Meunière, made with brown butter, parsley and lemon.  The depth of flavour came from a finely balanced Cajun rub that coated the Sole.

Cajun cuisine came from the French-speaking Acadian people, who were forced by the British to move from Canada to Louisiana, and the Cajun rub balanced the heat of bell pepper with softer flavours like onion and parsley, bringing warmth and a light heat to the Dover Sole and the savoury mix of crab meat, artichoke hearts and mushroom.

For dessert, we shared a bread pudding. Made from rich brioche bread, this classic New Orleans dish resembles a traditional British bread and butter pudding. The major difference, however, came with the Banana Foster sauce that accompanied it, a dark caramel made with cinnamon, rum, and soft slices of banana. The sauce is a fantastic New Orleanian invention, its richness softened by the fresh banana, but for us the pudding was too soft, compared with its British cousin.

What We Drank: The Beaumont’s American Bar served a number of Southern American cocktails to accompany the residency.

Image courtesy of The Beaumont Hotel
We started with The Sporting Life, a Beaumont invention combining Old Forrester Statesman bourbon, Chambord and Amontillado sherry, in a light and sweet cocktail, perfect as a pre-dinner tipple. The competing bourbon and fruit flavours were as strong as each other, making this an excellent choice.

We followed this with a Sazerac, a New Orleans classic that combines whisky, cognac and absinthe in a punchy but sophisticated drink, best served as a digestif at the end of a meal. It looked like a darker Negroni, and tasted even punchier.

Likes: The Colony Grill is a brilliantly designed dining room, with spacious semi-circular red leather booths along one wall, beautiful lighting and iconic American murals on the walls. Galatoire’s is one of the most prestigious addresses in New Orleans, and The Colony Grill was the perfect place to enjoy this great North American cuisine.

Michael Sichel’s okra seafood gumbo was a revelation. The addition of the okra gave the whole thing a silky gloss, and the decadent combination of prawns, oyster and thick lumps of white crabmeat worked perfectly.

Dislikes: We’d have loved to see more desserts from Galatoire’s make it over the Atlantic, such as their Sweet Potato Cheesecake, Black Bottom Pecan Pie or the Key Lime Tart.

Verdict: The Galatoire's residency was the perfect introduction to New Orleanian cuisine, and classic dishes such as Oysters Rockefeller and Crab Sardou that are hard to find in the UK. I highly recommend Galatoire’s for your next trip to New Orleans, I can’t wait to try it for myself!

Discovering Galatoire's and The Colony Grill via @TheLondonFoodie Instagram Page:

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