Chef Adrian Day-Murchison Preps for California Giant Berry Farms Chef Invitational
SANTA PAULA, CA - What do heavy metal and blueberries have in common? Both are rocking the plate for Adrian Day-Murchison, Product Development Chef at Calavo Growers and finalist for the 4th Annual California Giant Berry Farms Chef Invitational. In the lead-up to the event, I had the chance to chat with this revered chef to gain her unique perspective.
“As a chef, we not only rely on our knowledge, but also on how current trends affect our output. Plant-based meal options are still at the forefront of the trends, so naturally produce is becoming more of the star in some shape or form,” Adrian began. “A huge positive is the increased consumer learning and knowledge of different types of produce and cooking techniques. The seasonality mantra of ‘in season cooking’ protects the flavor and sustainability of the ingredient. Also, with inflation being a pain point, chefs are leaning more on how to feature produce as a main entrée to better stretch their food dollar.”
Adrian has always been eager for learning, and this spurred a span of positions ranging from dessert menu consulting, assisted living and catering, to food photography and TV demos. She began cross-training as sous chef with Compass Group in the Eurest Dining sector, then moved to the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Sacramento. Her favorite and longest position was as a Chef Instructor and Campus Ambassador for 10 years at Kitchen Academy, later becoming Le Cordon Bleu Sacramento.
“Currently, my journey has led me into the product development world,” Adrian told me. “Calavo has truly allowed me to create and showcase produce in a way that gives consumer convenience and encourages them to think outside the box for their next meal.”
Speaking of out-of-the-box thinking, the dish Adrian created for the Chef Invitational is the Spiced Blueberry Lamb Waffle Burger with Strawberry Feta Tzatziki, and her description of the recipe is even more mouthwatering.
“I wanted to showcase how to use flavor profiles of the berries in different cuisine and textural approaches. I think of it as a fusion brunch burger that is a flavor bomb and has to be enjoyed with both hands,” explained Adrian. “The savory spiced compote with blueberries cuts through the heaviness of the lamb, while the waffle adds a sweet vanilla crunch that plays up the natural sweetness of the berries. Slathering on the strawberry feta tzatziki creates a slightly sweet, cooling, and creamy herbaceous effect that rounds out the burger.”
As Adrian noted, events like the California Giant Berry Chef Invitational gives chefs a chance to approach an ingredient in a different view.
“Everyone knows berries make fantastic desserts and smoothies, but innovating with a purpose to create something still familiar with an unfamiliar placement keeps a chef on their toes,” she said. “When we get a chance to do that, the respect and appreciation for the ingredient grows even more. Also, by allowing chefs ‘behind the curtain’ to walk the fields, talk with the farmers, and expand their knowledge, it pays itself forward for future innovation. Lastly, events like this further strengthen vendor relationships and how they can better team up for innovation and efficiencies that benefit both sides.”
Still wondering how heavy metal relates to blueberries? One peek at Adrian’s kitchen will make it clear.
“I personally thrive and love to cook, bake, and innovate in the kitchen to heavy metal, hard rock, and ’90s grunge music,” Adrian revealed. “I’ve learned to add more variety to our kitchen playlist but still keep some surprise bangers on there. Sometimes, you just have to identify and accept what helps put you in the zone to execute your best self.”
Truer words have never been spoken! For more chef insights ahead of the Chef Invitational, stick with us at ANUK.