Q&A With POM Chef Jason Santos
As part of our annual POM Chefs Series, we are chatting with cooks about what makes fall so special to them, and how they use pomegranates in their everyday cooking. This week Jason Santos of Abby Lane Food & Spirits is sharing his thoughts.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I like to think that my style is uniquely creative, passionate and fun with a touch of finesse. I like to stay true to the ingredients and let them shine but like to have fun while doing it! Liquid nitrogen in a milkshake, anyone?
What do you love about cooking during the fall?
My favorite season is definitely the fall, by far! I love how the weather starts to change, and the style of food starts to get heartier and richer. I love that the holidays are on the way, and there is so much to do that has to do with food.
What are some of your favorite fall fruit and veggies to work with?
All of my favorite foods grow in the fall: apples, squashes and more. But my favorite has to be figs — very versatile, sweet and exciting to cook with. Who doesn’t love a fresh fig?
If you were given pomegranates on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, how would you use them?
I would make a beautiful roast pork Wellington with a maple pomegranate glaze. Gordon Ramsay does love his Wellingtons and pork is more forgiving with temperature than beef, so there would be less chance of him saying, “It’s [expletive] rawwwww!”
What chefs do you admire and why?
One of my favorite chefs in the country is, of course, Chef Gordon Ramsay. I admire his standards, I love his straight to the point attitude, and his food is some of the best I have ever had.
I also love Chef Ken Oringer. He is a good friend, and he is one of the most creative chefs in the country. His passion for food is very organic and he’s taught me that good is good, no matter what the food is, whether it is late night clams in Chinatown or a good peach in the summer, or a great piece of seared foie gras.
Any simple tips for home cooks using pomegranates this fall?
They are a wonderful ingredient packed with flavor and nutrients. In my opinion, they are under-utilized and they can make a dish go from good to great.
I like to use fresh pomegranate arils on any salad as they add a great crunch. It’s a nice, creative touch that makes a beautiful presentation and makes any dish unique.