When Culina of Beverly Hills needed a new executive chef, the first sample dish made by chef candidates was a seafood pizza dish.
Seafood pizza is not an easy dish to make, according to those seeking employment at Culina under the auspices of the Food Network’s show Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell.
The wisdom on the subject is that cheese and seafood don’t mix.
What’s a chef to do? Substitute with herbs, veggies, sauces and seasoning that get attention.
Chef Mette Williams was selected for the position after competing with three other chefs. Check out video posted below about Mette and how she got the job.
Williams began her seafood pizza challenge thinking about how to create big flavors.
“I want to choose things with powerful flavor but also withstand the heat of the pizza. So I’m making a bagna cauda pizza with shrimp, clams, oven roasted tomatoes,” Chef Williams said.
She turned out a seafood pizza that Culina general manager Mehdi Eftekari and former Culina executive chef Ashley James raved about.
What Is Bagna Cauda?
It is a sauce that can be and is used by some as a substitute for the typical fondue ingredients. You make it with it a variety of ways.
A typical recipe uses garlic, oil (preferably olive), butter and anchovies and dip cut up vegetables in the sauce, but Chef Williams chose to add capers and parsley to her recipe. It was used in place of traditional tomato sauce spread over the pizza dough as a base for the toppings.
One of the other chef candidates decided to use the strong flavor or a salted fish in his recipe.
Gianbattista Vinzoni chose cuttlefish and scallops as his seafood choices and topped it off with Bottarga and fresh argula. It also got a thumbs up from the Culina judges.
What Is Bottarga?
It can be called Italian caviar. It consists of fish eggs (some like tuna, others mullett) that are salted for a couple of days, then pressed into a shape that creates something more than an inch thick. It then gets aged for months. It has a strong salty flavor