Performance Foodservice's Katie Bulger Talks Market Trends and Centering Fresh Ahead of Chef Invitational
WATSONVILLE, CA - Ringing up Katie Bulger, I get an immediate sense for how passionate she is about food. Her knowledge and excitement are infectious, and I can’t wait to see her in action at California Giant Berry Farms’ Chef Invitational.
We both can’t help but gush over her dish, which is the Blackberry Brown Butter Seabass with Strawberry Chimichurri. Apart from the obvious affinity for brown butter we both share, I ask Katie the inspiration behind this recipe.
“When getting ready for the competition, we were told to look at the market trends and pick a few that resonated with us. I love colorful plates and using things in unusual ways. So when I saw brown butter I was like, ‘Yep, that's it,’” Katie, Division Chef for Performance Foodservice - Milwaukee, shares with me. “I also thought it would be really cool to see if I could dye or tint the fish purple. When I cook, I like to use a lot of acidity. I'm that person that I will use acid before salt.”
There’s no denying that Katie’s dish is beautiful, but I think what really makes her cooking stand out is the fun she injects into her cooking.
“When I go into this competition, my strategy is to have a great time,” she says. “This is my first real competition, but I present a lot in my job, so I don’t really have any anxiety about that. Cooking brings me joy. I mean, I just feel so fortunate to be here in the first place. I think by having fun, it’ll really come through in the end product.”
A sentiment I agree with completely. Throughout her career, Katie has done everything from cooking at country clubs to catering. She spent several years working for a casino, an experience that lent itself to a fuller understanding of food concepts across the board. She even spent time selling produce.
“I feel like I’ve been envisioning produce at the center of the plate for a long time. I love meat, but produce is usually my main focus. It was really fun learning how to handle it, how to treat it, and how to store it. It really opened my eyes to trying new things,” she notes.
As Katie says, cooking with fresh produce is adventurous—and what better catchphrase could we ask for?
With the Chef Invitational just around the corner, I extend the best of luck to Katie!