When Brian Wright told his high school guidance counselor he wanted to be a professional chef 23 years ago, the counselor laughed at the idea.
But Wright ignored him and went straight to culinary school after high school graduation. After becoming a successful chef, he offered cooking classes through his company.
“My guidance counselor came to every one of those classes,” recalls Wright, who was pleased his counselor finally realized that his dream had been worth pursuing.
Today at 39, Wright is the executive chef for Standard Market and oversees the company’s many restaurants, including the newest one in Naperville. Wright has been on site at the Naperville location making sure everything is running smoothly.
“Standard Market is a chef-inspired concept,” Wright says. “We try to be seasonally focused, offering the best products available in a time period. We also try to be innovative in offering different items.”
The chef is always willing to share his ideas and recipes with customers and has even emailed out his recipes to fill requests.
He challenges others to alter tried-and-true recipes with a variety of ingredients to create new dishes.
“Sometimes all it takes is varying the cheese in the recipe,” he explains.
So if the recipe calls for goat cheese, consider using honey-laced goat cheese. Instead of plain white buns for hamburgers, try a pretzel bun or a multi-grain roll.
“Or use a new spice mix like our steak dust, which is great for seasoning meat, fish, french fries or vegetables,” he says. “Just play with the ingredients, and you will be amazed at the results.”
As summer heats up, Wright likes to pull out his grill.
“Vegetables are great on the grill,” he notes. “Yellow squash, mushrooms, zucchini — all are great for grilling.”
One of his summer favorites are grilled portabello mushrooms. Wright first cuts off the mushroom stem. He then mixes together olive oil, finely chopped shallots, balsamic vinegar and a little steak dust or other seasoning mix. He pours the mixture into the mushroom caps.
“I let the mixture absorb into the cap for about 20 minutes and then I grill them,” he says. “At the very end, I add a little goat cheese and a few blue cheese crumbles and let it melt. They are delicious.”
Grilled fish is another summer treat.
“It is important to choose fish that have a firmer flesh for grilling. Lemon sole is too soft for an outdoor grill, but sword fish, tuna, salmon, calamari all will take the heat and hold up well,” Wright says. “Always put fat on the grates before grilling fish. I use a towel coated with olive oil to rub a coating on the grates. This is important because it helps reduce sticking, but it also makes for great grill marks on the fish.”
If using a marinade for the fish, be sure to drain the fish well before putting it on the grill, the chef warns.
“The more fat that is on the fish, the more chance there is of a flare up that will blacken the fish and make it less appealing.”
Salmon is great for grilling, Wright says.
“We grill the salmon skin side down first and then flip it,” he says. “The skin will peel right off.”
For most fish varieties, Wright prefers to grill the fish and then add a finishing touch of olive oil and salt or other seasoning before serving.
“I prefer to keep it light,” he explains. “Fresh fish has so much flavor that you don’t need to do too much.”
The chef shares the recipes for two of his summer favorites. One is a salad, which he claims is like “summer on a plate.” The second is grilled tuna with a Ponzu dressing.
“People love the Ponzu dressing and use it on all sorts of things from fish to vegetables,” he says. “It is a delicious mix.”
If you go
What: Standard Market grand opening event, featuring face painting, balloon twisting, free scoops of Jeni’s ice cream and food demonstrations
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 7
Where: Standard Market, 1508 Aurora Ave., Naperville
2 green tomatoes
1 cup flour
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup clarified butter, divided
1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1/3 cup honey
1 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup blanched asparagus tips
First make a citrus honey vinaigrette by placing honey, orange juice and mustard in a food processor. Blend. Slowly add 1 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup clarified butter and blend. Chill mixture. Blanche asparagus tips until crispy tender.
To prepare tomatoes, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, granulated garlic, pepper and chopped parsley in a bowl. In a second bowl, beat together eggs and place flour in a third bowl. Slice tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices. Dip tomato slices into flour. Shake off excess. Dip into eggs and then into breadcrumb mixture. Be sure to coat both sides. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup clarified butter in a frying pan. Add tomatoes and cook on both sides until golden brown.
Place on a plate. Drizzle with citrus honey vinaigrette. Top with blanched asparagus tips, goat cheese and pine nuts.
Grilled Ahi Tuna Steak with Ponzu Dressing
4 6-ounce portions of Ahi Tuna
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons Standard Market steak dust
Ponzu Dressing ingredients
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (ground chili sauce)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice with pulp
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice with pulp
1/4 cup rough chopped cilantro
1/2 cup minced green onions, white portion only
1/4 cup minced shallots
To make Ponzu Dressing, combine 11 dressing ingredients. Whisk until incorporated and refrigerate.
Heat grill to high and brush grates with olive oil. Season both sides of tuna with steak dust. Grill steaks for 2 minutes. Turn and cook to desired temperature. Remove from grill and top with Ponzu dressing.Tags: food, Naper Eats