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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Union!

February 4, 2016

Looking for something really nice to do on Valentine’s Day? We’ve got a special menu planned that’s sure to make your valentine fall in love. And let our servers pair the perfect wine for you. Our Wine Director, George Pitsironis has curated some of the best, sustainably grown, organic wines in the country. It’s sure to be a night you won’t forget, so reserve your table now as seats for the evening are limited.
 

Valentine’s Day Menu

START
 
BREAD & GIARDINIERE, house made cultured butter, Hepp’s sea salt (7.)
PORK MEATBALLS, San Marzano tomato, caper berries, lardo, chile (15.)
HOUSEMADE STRACCIATELLA, roasted garlic, crostini (14.)
HOPE RANCH MUSSELS, guanciale, burnt semolina grandine, pan con tomate (24.)
COTECHINO SAUSAGE, beluga lentils, soft poached egg*, Black winter truffle (22.)
WILD MUSHROOMS, G&T polenta, Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar, sage, rosemary (15.)
 
FIELD
 
SHAVED FENNEL SALAD, arugula,grapefruit,house made ricotta, fennel top sorbet (16.)
BROCCOLI DI CICCIO, garlic, chile, Meyer lemon (13.)
BRAISED WEISER FARMS COLLARDS, peruano beans, San Marzano tomato, guanciale (12.)
CAULIFLOWER “agro dolce”, golden raisins,candied garlic, capers (14.)
 
PASTA
 
SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITARRA, San Marzano tomato, garlic, fresno chile (17.)
TAGLIATELLE, pork ragu, Parmigiano-Reggiano, gremolata (18.)
SQUID INK GARGANELLI, Maine lobster, fennel, meyer lemon, truffle butter (24.)
PORCINI LASAGNETTE, golden chanterelles, rosemary, Parmigiano-Reggiano (23.)
POTATO LEEK MEZZA LUNA, Parmigiano-Reggiano, walnut pesto (18.)
FUSILLI, pork fennel sausage, spigarello, Pecorino-Romano (18.)
BUCATINI CACIO E PEPE, Pecorino-Romano, black pepper, 63° egg* (17.)
 
MAIN
 
PORCHETTA, Weiser Farms potatoes, salsa verde *limited availability (29.)
HALIBUT (North Channel Islands, CA)orzo, sunchokes, maitake mushrooms (36.)
STRACOTTO, Niman Ranch beef short rib, salt pork, barley risotto, gremolata (38.)
 
SPECIALS
 
OIL POACHED SANTA BARBARA SPOT PRAWNS, passmore ranch caviar, fennel pannacotta (19.)
SANTA BARBARA SQUID, peruano beans, preserved meyer lemon (18.)
BROILED SPINY LOBSTER, uni butter, gremolata, braised greens and beans (100.)
MARIN SUN FARMS (POSSIBLY NIMAN RANCH) BEEF PORTERHOUSE for 2, mustard-tarragon butter, polenta, marrow toast (80.)

KCRW Gets Our Italian Soda Recipe

January 5, 2016

Recipe: Union’s Pomegranate-Orange Italian Soda

Posted January 1, 2016 by Camellia Tse
 
Union-Bruce-Kalman
Bruce Kalman picks up his pomegranates from JJ’s Lone Daughter Ranch
 

 
This week at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, we met up with Chef Bruce Kalman of Union in Pasadena and Knead & Co., his brand new pasta bar and market that’s slated to open in Downtown LA’s Grand Central Market on January 11.
 
Among other things, we found him shopping this week for pomegranates from JJ’s Lone Daughter Ranch. Combining the best of this season’s fruit, his sous chef, Cassy Pugh, and general manager, Francis Castagnetti, Jr., have come up with a freshly squeezed Pomegranate-Orange Italian Soda that is a must-try at Union.
 
While everyone might have his or her own technique for deseeding pomegranates, Bruce begins by slicing them in half. Then, holding one cut-half so that it’s facing down into a bowl, he taps the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon until the seeds fall directly into the bowl. Some suggest using a bowl of water to avoid staining your hands while gathering the seeds, but Bruce prefers not to. Instead he picks out the white pith so as not to lose any of the essential pomegranate oils. He then blends the arils in a Vitamix and strains the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, which he reduces to create a pomegranate syrup for the soda’s base.
 
Union-Pomegranate-Orange-Italian-Soda
Union’s Pomegranate-Orange Italian Soda
 
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Photos From Feast of the Seven Fishes

December 31, 2015

Thanks to everyone who came out to our special event dinner, “The Feast of the Seven Fishes.” What a lovely way to spend the holiday. Please enjoy these delicious pictures of each one of Chef Kalman’s special courses.
 
Thank you to the Los Angeles Chefs Column’s Facebook Page for all photos.
 
Smoked uni- scrambled duck egg – pickled shallots – alba white truffles
 
2
 
Santa Barbara squid – braised peruano beans – preserved meyer lemon
 
1
 
Crudo of black cod – fennel panna cotta -Passmore Ranch caviar -radish salad
 
6
 
Halibut croqueta – carrot romesco – charred baby leeks – bottarga
 
5
 
Chilled olive oil poached ridgeback prawns -compressed persimmon – arugula – fennel top granita
 
3
 
Squid ink bucatini – octopus bolognese – gremolata
 
4
 
Steelhead trout all aqua pazza – Hope Ranch mussels – black barle – calabrian chile oil
 
7

Chef Kalman Featured in Winter Issue of “Life & Thyme”

December 14, 2015

Be sure to pick up the winter issue of Life & Thyme to see the ‘Winter Potluck’ feature with Chef Bruce Kalman.
 
 

 
 
From the Life and Thyme website:
For Issue Four of Life & Thyme Magazine, The Winter Issue, we asked ourselves a question: What if this holiday, we could cook for some of the chefs that feed us all year long?
 
Answering that hypothetical evolved into a full-blown holiday potluck, complete with offerings from some of Los Angeles’ most accomplished culinarians, hosted at the home of Union Restaurant’s Chef Bruce Kalman. The menu was made up of items from each guests’ holiday memories—from Chris Oh’s sukiyaki to a beef stracotto from Kalman’s kitchen, sides and snacks from David LeFevre and Nick Shipp, cookies from Duff Goldman and a hulking take on apple pie from Hedy Goldsmith. L&T’s founder, Antonio Diaz made his mother’s posole, and I contributed some Italian cookies from my grandmother’s canon.
 
Turns out, cooking for and with chefs isn’t a whole lot different than doing it with our own families. We overcrowded the kitchen despite the fact that there was plenty of space elsewhere, we cracked jokes and we debated the usual hot-button issues (Shake Shack or In n Out?), we passed around plates and shared dish-washing duties. And like any good holiday meal, we all ate way too much, but still somehow found room for dessert.
 
Because what we learned in posing this challenge to ourselves is that regardless of experience level or setting, there’s one great and universal truth––that at the end of the day, we all just want to eat pie straight outta the pan.
 
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Chef Kalman writes for Munchies

November 11, 2015

Enjoy the following article from our head chef, Bruce Kalman, on why the flour is the thing. You can also see the full article at the Munchies website here.

Stop Eating Store-Bought Flour

Working with different flours is like making music. Like the nuances that a specific instrument can bring to a song, each flour has the ability to completely change the tone of your pasta.

I hand-make pasta every day, and used to be all about Caputo 00 pizzeria flour from Italy until I found out that it’s one of the most unsustainable products out there. They grow it in the States, ship it back to Italy for processing, and then send it back here to sell it. And at that point, it’s not even fresh anymore.

This is why I decided to only use seasonal, local varieties of wheat flours for my restaurant,Union. I’m fortunate because I work with Grist & Toll, an urban flour mill in LA, but there’s ways that you can obtain fresh flour as a home cook. It’s well worth the effort, because when you mill your own flours, the results actually smell like flour. The stale stuff from the supermarket has no character at all.

Alternative grains have the power to transform the comfort foods of childhood into something much better.

The same weather conditions that allow the West Coast to grow amazing produce also allow it to grow a variety of wheats. And because of these weather patterns, I source my flours from California, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon. But it’s not all easy. At first, developing my recipes was a bit rough because the dough reacts differently than the traditional stuff, but I like to think of using different flours as if I’m playing a game.

Alternative grains have the power to transform the comfort foods of childhood into something much better. For me, it was baked ziti. Nowadays, I use locally milled flour to create fresh pasta that was ground just a few hours before. And when I work with ingredients like traditional semolina flour, I have another technique that involves charring the grain before making the pasta.

For me, working with seasonal food doesn’t just mean working with produce, but changing different components of my recipes to suit the season.

I have a friend who has a strong aversion to gluten and doesn’t eat products made with traditional flour because it makes her stomach hurt, yet she can eat my spelt pasta and my bread. This is probably because spelt flour has a lot less gluten than traditional pasta and it is more easily digestible, but I’m no scientist. So it goes to show you that just when you think you know everything about the power of alternative grains, some crazy ancient grain will pop up every now and again to make everything better.

As told to Javier Cabral

Chef Kalman cooking for James Beard Dinner

October 15, 2015

Chef Kalman has new line of pasta t-shirts!

September 16, 2015

Bruce Kalman’s Op-Ed: “Why Chefs Should Also Be Owners”

June 16, 2015

Our esteemed chef and owner, Bruce Kalman has written an op-ed for Eater LA. On the eve of opening his second restaurant, this time in Grand Central Market, Chef Kalman lets us in on his success which includes having a great business partner, training his staff to expect the worst and cooking from the heart. Please enjoy the full feature below or at this link.

Union’s Bruce Kalman: Why Chefs Should Also Be Owners

by

An opinion piece by chef Bruce Kalman of Pasadena’s Union.

Bruce Kalman is the chef of Union, which opened over a year ago to critical acclaim and a steady stream of diners in Old Town Pasadena. Partner Marie Petulla offered to give Kalman some of the ownership, which has set the restaurant up for long term success. Here now, Kalman bring his perspective as a co-owner and chef of the bustling operation.

My career started in the mid 80’s in Jersey, making pizza, chicken parm sandwiches and antipasti salads. Mind you, I was just 13, but after one day I was hooked! The ingredients, the energy, the sarcasm; I fell into the food and beverage industry head-first. Since then, I have experienced working in numerous restaurants and hotels, from fine-dining to fast-casual, all very unique, yet all had one thing in common: An owner.

This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I had the opportunity to work with a lot of owners directly and learn a ton about operations, business, drinking, smoking weed, and then some. I also learned about the frustrations chefs have working with owners who keep them on a tight leash (reference Jon Favreau in “Chef”). It’s the recipe for an extremely uncomfortable workplace, with tension so thick you can cut it with a knife. Everything and everyone suffers: The food, the staff, and, ultimately, the guests, usually resulting in a loss of business and sales. Can you guess who is blamed?

Now that I am both a chef and an owner, I get it, and I see both sides. You have a responsibility to the guest, and a responsibility to the staff. These days I spend most of my time developing chefs and cooks, teaching them how to stand on their own two feet and the importance of everything, not just the food.

Their responsibilities are endless – cook great food all day every day, move their asses, keep the place clean, keep things organized, make sure items on the shelves face the front like a grocery store, work like a team, have a great attitude, respect ingredients and each other, etc. The list keeps going, but this is what it takes to become a great chef and, ultimately, a great restaurateur. When my chefs ask me how I’m able to see everything, I tell them I was taught to come in expecting everything to be wrong every day. It trains you to constantly scan the room like Kit from “Knight Rider.”

Opening Union has been such a wonderfully challenging experience. During friends & family, myself and my two sous chefs decided we would set up the line and figure out where mise en place should go, as we were cooking for guests. Maybe not the best decision I have ever made, but I was free to make that decision. I was free to write the menu without “approval” from a boss; no burger required! We wanted the menu to be defined not by what was currently trending, but by the ingredients we were procuring from our purveyors, like Ben Hyman from Wild Local Seafood, and Nan Kohler from Grist & Toll, who actually opened her mill in Pasadena around the same time we opened Union.

I have a lot of chef friends, many of whom have visited me at Union, and the response is typically the same: “This food is unadulterated you!” I don’t claim to be the best chef in the world, or even in LA for that matter, but freedom has led me to cook and create some of the best food of my life. People can taste that passion.

The opportunity to partner with Marie Petulla was a definitive moment for me. She is one of the best people I know and having a partner that shares your philosophy is not only vital to the success of a restaurant, but vital for creating a cohesive team from the front to the back-of-house. There is no dividing wall between the two, like in a lot of restaurants. We always joke about how much we used to fight during the opening of Union, and say, “Hey, at least we were communicating!”

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When people talk about how much they love the Union experience, we talk about what a big role our symbiotic relationship plays in our success. We taught our team hospitality first, service second which makes for an incredible feeling as soon as you walk through the door. I’m not saying that everything is hearts and rainbows all the time, as that would be a pipe dream! But when we have to be tough, they understand that it all comes from a great place, and that our vision and philosophy is rich and meaningful. They drink our “Kool-Aid,” which of course is local, natural, sustainable, and humanely raised!

If restaurant owners would just realize that they would benefit from allowing their chefs to do the job they were hired to do, their top lines would most likely increase, resulting in a bigger bottom line and a happier environment. Now more than ever I understand the stress and pressure that comes with owning a restaurant.

However, I also know that I can’t do it alone, so everyone’s voice needs to be heard. I do my best to teach the standard and expectations, and then try to step back and allow the team to do their best. It’s tough sometimes, but it’s the only way to build a solid foundation to grow a company. Marie and my shared commitment to operating this way has been an instrumental part of Union’s success, and something we are both excited to expand upon when we open the pasta bar at Grand Central Market this summer.

I’m not saying I haven’t learned a lot from the owners that I couldn’t deal with, in fact, without them I wouldn’t be the leader I am today. In the end, I just realized that I don’t like being told what to do!

Chef Kalman is Fair Trade’s June Basket

June 3, 2015

The Fare Trade is featuring our very own Chef Kalman for their June basket! He’s put together an awesome batch of goods for you and they’ve got a bunch of tutorial videos up so that you can use everything like a professional chef.
 
Follow this link to purchase your very own basket.
 
Follow this link to Chef Kalman’s tutorials.
 
Follow this link to Chef Kalman’s recipes.
 

June’s Featured Products

(all content from Thefaretrade.com)
 
Crostini-_-Bianco-Napoli-San-Marzano-Tomatos-_-Burrata
 
Bianco DiNapoli | San Marzano Tomatoes
Crafted By: Chris Bianco + Rob DiNapoli
 
Los Gatos, CA
 
Developed by James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef, Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona as an answer to his growing need for the perfect tomato – Bianco DiNapoli illustrates his philosophy of supporting Farmers and Artisans to showcase how the best ingredients are the ones prepared simply with care. Partnering with Rob DiNapoli has allowed Bianco to accomplish just that.
 
The tomatoes are perfectly suited for all traditional uses such as Marinara sauce, Bolognese or a top a pizza inspired by Chef Bianco and used to create inventive dishes such as Shakshuka with braised seasonal greens, Bison Chili, or homemade Pesto Gnocchi.
 
Bruce-Kalman-Porchetta-Rub
 
BK Spice Rubs | Porchetta Rub
Crafted By: Bruce Kalman
 
Pasadena, CA
 
Made with 100% all-natural ingredients including HEPP’s Portuguese Sea Salt, Fennel Seed, Garlic, Rosemary, Calabrian Chile Flake, Black Pepper, Fennel Pollen, and Lemon Zest, the flavor profile was inspired by a trip our Chef Collaborator took to Italy years ago.
 
After having the pleasure of tasting a simply made Porchetta with local ingredients, Bruce has been hard at work developing a rub reminiscent of that trip enhanced by his philosophy as a chef. While the blend will complement any cut of meat its Tuscan properties also allow it to meld well in a variety of dishes and preparations. We love using it to add depth to stews and soups, paired with yogurt for crudités of seasonal vegetables, or rubbed on a perfectly crisp roast chicken.
 
Grist-and-Toll-Polenta
 
Grist & Toll Polenta
Crafted By: Nan Kohler + Marti Noxon
 
Pasadena, CA
 
Made with non-GMO corn, the Stone Milled Polenta from Grist + Toll produces a product that chefs far and wide have quickly adopted for it’s texture, flavor, and ability to meld well with other ingredients both sweet and savory.
 
Utilizing the technique shared by Chef Bruce Kalman we find the starch a great complement to mushrooms, rabbit ragu, or even a fried egg. Chill the polenta and re-fry with sage and other aromatics and top with fresh ricotta; grill and top with bruschetta; or make a cake with seasonal berries and fresh fruit.
 
Fontina+Grilled+Cheese+-+Strawberry+Jam
 
Seascape Strawberry + Rose Geranium Jam
Crafted By: Jessica Koslow
 
Los Angeles, CA
 
McGrath Family Farms, which has been growing the land in Oxnard since 1868, produces the beautiful organic Seascape Strawberries found in this sweet, acidic jam. Firm in texture and compact in size these berries are the ideal variety for preserving. Paired with Rose Geranium produces an elegance to the jam and floral notes that are ideal for early summer. While the jam is ideal for a crunchy piece of Brioche it also is a great addition to pastries, with porridge, or folded into crepes.
 
Dakota-Pop-Curried-Pig-Popcorn
 
Dakota’s Pop Parlor | Curried Pig Popcorn
Crafted By: Dakota Weiss
 
Los Angeles, CA
 
Dakota’s Pop Parlor started out a hobby fueled by a passion to see what flavors could successfully pair with popcorn. Luckily for us – the answer was many! Even better, popcorn is considered an antioxidant and low in calories.
 
This organically grown popcorn is infused with Madras Curry Toffee, Smoked Pistachios, and Hobb’s Bacon resulting in a bracingly savory and earthy mixture that lends itself well to pie crusts, atop desserts, mixed in salads, and of course, for snacking.

We’re Hiring Pastry Cooks

June 3, 2015

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Union in Pasadena is currently looking for experienced, passionate individuals to join Chef Bruce Kalman in executing his seasonal, California-inspired Northern Italian, farm-to-table menu.
 
Currently seeking candidates for:
 
• Pastry Cooks
 
Candidates should be experienced cooks that are eager to learn and excited to grow with the company. The position requires making daily trips to local farmer’s markets and building great relationships with vendors to source the finest seasonal ingredients. Hardworking team players that thrive on being dedicated and reliable are a MUST.
 
Requirements:
Must have 3 years of cooking experience in a similar discipline as well as have a flexible schedule to include availability on nights and weekends. Candidates should also have a food handler’s card. Please do not apply if you do not meet these requirements.
 
Compensation:
Salary will be based on experience and include benefits with potential bonus.
 
Please send your cover letter and resume to bruce@localsustainabletable.com when replying to this ad for consideration. No phone calls please.
www.unionpasadena.com