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Chef Kalman Shares Insight on the Art of Dehydrating Ingredients with The Los Angeles Times

September 7, 2016

Why chefs love dehydrators, plus some recipes you might actually try

By: Gillian Ferguson

Kitchen gadget fads come and go, but every now and then an appliance outlives a trend. The Robot Coupe, an industrial food processor with a tireless engine, and the Vitamix, the Ferrari of blenders, are as commonplace as pots and pans in restaurant kitchens today. And now, at least in Los Angeles, an unlikely addition vies for their counter space — the decidedly unsexy dehydrator.

At restaurants all over town, black plastic boxes the size of countertop toaster ovens quietly purr from the dark corners of dry storage. At their most basic, these machines employ a lamp and a fan to circulate dry air at temperatures that range from 95 to 155 degrees. The slow, steady airflow preserves fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood by evaporating moisture and thereby removing the potential for spoilage.

By design, the dehydrator pulls long hours — apricot slabs need 24 hours at 135 degrees to shrink into fruit leather, and tomatoes require a full eight-hour work day to shed their moisture, but compared with solar drying, which can take days even in sunny climates with low humidity, the modern-day dehydrator is to sun-drying what the blender is to a mortar and pestle – easy and efficient.

Recipe: Bar nuts with dehydrated kimchi »

It was over 40 years ago when Air Force engineer Roger Orton constructed the first Excalibur in his Sacramento garage. The invention came on the heels of his grain-grinder kit, a DIY appliance that sold 10,000 units and introduced him to a clientele of rugged individualists. At the suggestion of a friend, he began tinkering with existing dehydrators and created the first controlled-temperature environment for drying food.

The early models were a hit with Depression-era home cooks who saw it as a way to save money and store food, as well as baby boomers who wanted to make fruit leather for backpacking trips. Over time organic gardeners caught on, as did hunters and preppers who used it to make their own jerky. Orton won over Ann Wigman, an early pioneer in the raw-food movement, who went on to champion his device, and even sold it to dental offices, which use it to dry those plaster of Paris molds of your teeth. But in the hands of chefs, Orton’s dehydrator morphs into a creative tool that can add flavor, manipulate texture and best of all, eliminate food waste.

At Alma, chef Ari Taymor’s restaurant inside the Standard hotel in West Hollywood, the Excalibur is always buzzing. On a recent visit, the dehydrator was busy sucking the moisture from Taymor’s house-made kimchi, which would later be ground to a powder and used to season the restaurant’s bar nuts. Sprinkled over popcorn or used to season scrambled eggs, one can imagine the same kimchi powder becoming a habit-forming pantry staple.

Elsewhere in the kitchen, dehydrated fruits and vegetables become mise-en-place for dinner service. Dried apricots will soon be reconstituted in chicken broth to form sweet and savory gummies, and dehydrated corn silk will be deep fried and fashioned into an edible birds nest — a quaint presentation that delivers a salty satisfying crunch.

Beyond the culinary usefulness of building a pantry, the dehydrator has wooed chefs across the city as a tool for reducing waste. On a recent afternoon at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, chef Jeremy Fox showed off a mesh tray lined with gnarly clumps of dried beet pulp, the fibrous leftovers from juicing. “I feel wrong if I throw anything away,” he said while examining the pulp, which is part of the base for the edible soil in his signature beets and berries salad.

Recipe: Caprese salad with heirloom tomato skin chips »

For Fox, the dehydrator is a solution to a problem, a way to stop time on product that might otherwise go bad. “Having it be delicious isn’t necessarily the point,” he says of the desiccated vegetable matter. It’s utilizing the product that matters.

For instance, he continues, “If I make this carrot powder out of scraps or peels and put it into something, has it necessarily elevated the dish? I’m not so worried about elevating it. I don’t want to make it worse, but I’m using it when I could have just thrown it away and called it a day.”

So the solids from straining Rustic Canyon’s posole sauce — a mix of raw poblano and jalapeño peppers, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar and salt — are dehydrated, ground to a powder and used to season the steak. The resulting green powder tastes “like salsa verde Doritos,” Fox says, and is craveable in its own right.

Similarly, chef Bruce Kalman of Union in Pasadena utilizes the dehydrator to rescue roasted tomato skins that would otherwise end up in the compost bin. Long a proponent of root-to-leaf cooking, even cherry tomato stems at Union are salvaged and dehydrated for an earthy tomato salt.

For Kalman, making roasted tomato chips doesn’t just curb waste, it improves what would otherwise be a simple caprese salad. “If I want to do a dish with tomatoes,” he says, “then I want it to taste like in-your-face tomatoes.” And the dehydrator, which concentrates flavor, will achieve that.

Unlike luxury appliances like Anti-Griddles and Rotovaps, the humble dehydrator feels like less of a toy than a necessity. Forty percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted, so if a plastic box with a lightbulb and a fan can spark creativity and enhance flavor while preventing some of that product from ending up in the waste bin, then every kitchen should have one.


Union Participating in LA Mag’s “Best New Restaurants 2016 Celebration”

January 12, 2016

We’re excited to participate in this year’s celebration!  You can find all details and the link to tickets here or below.




Best New Restaurants 2016 Celebration

Join Los Angeles magazine for the annual Best New Restaurants event. Celebrate the Best New Restaurants of 2015 featured in the January issue as well as past honorees. The evening of culinary excellence will include gourmet tastings from the honored chefs at The Bellwether, Birch, Broken Spanish, Cassia, Faith & Flower, Jon & Vinny’s, Le Comptoir, Love & Salt, Redbird, Terrine, and Union, handcrafted Bombay Sapphire cocktails, beer, wine and live music.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016
7-9 p.m.

440 Seaton
440 Seaton Street, Los Angeles
(Arts District DTLA)

 *Must be 21 years or older. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

Purchase Your Ticket Today

Eater Says Union A “Top Standby” of 2015

January 7, 2016

Thank you to the Eater LA staff and friends who mentioned us a few times in this list of “Top Standbys.” You can see the full feature at this link on their website or read below.

The Top Los Angeles Restaurant Standbys of 2015

by Matthew Kang Dec 28, 2015


Friends of Eater, and Eater staff, discuss their regular spots around town.

Pat Saperstein, EatingLA and Senior Editor, Variety

All’Acqua, Wexler’s, Flores & Sons, Luv2Eat Thai, Pine & Crane, Night + Market

Kat Odell, Eater Drinks Editor

Milo & Olive, Gjusta, Zo, Petit Trois, Bestia, Jon & Vinny’s, Eveleigh, Dean Sin World.

Jeff Miller, Editor, Thrillist LA

Per usual, my standbys are local: the people at both Robata Jinya and the Sugarfish on La Brea should know me by name at this point.

Tony Chen, Eater LA Contributor

Kinjiro — the only place to get “cheap” bottles of $950 Dassai “Beyond”, served by your local A5-12 Wagyu purveyor.

Euno Lee, Eater LA Contributor

CUT, Park’s BBQ, Angelini Osteria, chi SPACCA, Union, Animal, Sticky Rice inside GCM (if we’re counting stands), and for always having a soft spot in my heart: Honda Ya.

Eddie Lin, Deep End Dining

Even with all the well-deserved accolades, the staff at Terrine never rested on their laurels, everyone from chef Kris Morningstar to bar man Ryan Wainwright along with Stephane Bombet and Francois Renaud kept raising the bar on themselves by keeping things exciting all through 2015. The brunch menu is ridiculously good with French standards like croque-madame that blows even a Parisian version out of the water. The escargot at dinner is superb, and the fish & chips are always a good bet.

For my frequent dim sum fix, China Red in Arcadia is still the place for made-to-order diminutive dumpling delights. The steamer tins are always filled with perfect har gow and siu mai, and the price is competitive with the SGV.

It’s also easy to forget an L.A. fixture like Chaya. Although Chaya Brasserie closed at the end of 2014, the Venice and DTLA locations still manage to stay inventive with plates like live uni and dashi jelly during Chaya’s Uni Fare menu. DTLA’s Chaya also freshened things up this year with the Kaisen Bar by serving whole fish in raw and cooked forms.

Esther Tseng, EstarLA

Pine and Crane, Alimento, Terrine, Night Market Song, Sugarfish/KazuNori, Trois Familia, HomeState

Lesley Balla, LA Magazine, Angeleno, Zagat

Other than my local Thai delivery spot, I found myself at only a few restaurants more than once. chi Spacca, even for drop-in focaccia del recco and some salumi; The Grand Central market, which usually meant Wexler’s, Tomas y Tumbras carnitas tacos, McConnell’s ice cream and Horse Thief barbecue, although I did mix in some oysters and coffee and cookies, when possible; and if I could go more than I do, I’d probably be at Republique every week.

Lucas Peterson, Eater LA Contributor

Jitlada, Pho Cafe, Father’s Office, Gjusta​

Zach Brooks, Midtown Lunch, Food is the New Rock

Coni Seafood! Grand Central Market! Sea Harbour! Son of a Gun! (But if I’m being real… Kula Sushi on Sawtelle. I’ve got three kids and they all love it.)

Caroline Pardilla, LA Magazine, Eater Drinks

Terrine, Sotto, Corner Door, Cassell’s.

Bill Esparza, LA Magazine, Streetgourmet LA

A busy travel schedule, and many work related meals, limits my chances of frequenting any restaurant. But whether I was entertaining out of town guests, having an evening free to eat whatever I wanted with friends and family or referring someone to a great restaurant, I counted on Coni’Seafood, Bestia, Cassia, the Hungry Cat (my neighborhood spot), the Mercado Olympic,Guerrilla Tacos and Tacos Quetzacoatl in 2015.

Sotto Interior

[Sotto, South Beverly Hills]

Hadley Tomicki, Urban Daddy LA

Coni’Seafood, Cadet, MexiCali, Boiling Crab, Elite Restaurant, Guerilla Tacos, Mariscos Jalisco, Rosemary Grill, Maru, Traktir, Kaiten Sushi Daichan, Pot, and the kebabs at West LA’s Glaat Kosher Market

Nicole Iizuka, Senior Producer, Popsugar

Night + Market always… Kobawoo, Escala, Cadet, Petty Cash, Tatsu, Stir Market, Jitlada, Chaya, Bay Cities, Gracias Madre, hanging out at Grand Central Market & anytime I’m craving uni – I thank god that Maruhide exists.

Farley Elliott, Senior Editor, Eater LA

Alimento, Sotto, Night + Market, Union, and forever and always the El Chato truck

Stan Lee, Eater LA

Ledlow: great brunch and one of the best croissants in L.A.

The Offalo

Sweetfin Poke, Howlin’ Ray’s Hot Chicken, Guerrilla Tacos (food trucks count!)

Stacey Sun, DineLA

Sun Nong Dan in Koreatown, Sotto (still the best pizza in L.A.), and Sugarfish, my weekly sushi spot.

Crystal Coser, Associate Editor, Eater LA

Luv2eat, Terrine, Myung Dong Kyoja, Rodded, Sugarfish, Pho Consomme

Lesley Bargar Suter, Food Editor, LA Magazine

-Pine & Crane. I’m not sure how I survived without them. All’Acqua. I’m there once a week at least as it’s in my hood and they treat my toddler like royalty. Sweetgreen – on the days after a big meal, when I can only stomach lettuce, these salads really are leagues better than everyone else’s.

Joshua Lurie, FoodGPS

I actually just wrote a story about 10 of My Regular Los Angeles Restaurants. Standbys
include Cassia, Gjusta, and Taste of Tehran.

Meghan McCarron, Associate Features Editor, Eater

I just moved to LA in August and have traveled a bunch since, so my standby list is still shaking out. That said: Guerrilla Tacos at Cognoscenti Coffee every Wednesday is a gift, and Father’s Office in the Helms complex is the perfect combination of eating, drinking, and atmosphere in our neck of the woods. I have also been to BS Taqueria four times since moving here, and I can’t wait to go back.

Matthew Kang, Editor, Eater LA

wrote about this here, but Phorage, Jun Won, Chengdu Taste, Night + Market, The Corner Door, B.S. Taqueria, Apple Pan, Tacos Tamix, and Tsujita.

WeLikeLA Says Union 1 of 16 Best!

January 6, 2016

Thank you to WeLikeLA.com for listing us as 1 of San Gabriel Valley’s best. Please enjoy their full feature at this link or read their write-up on Union below.

The 16 Best Places to Eat in the San Gabriel Valley Every L.A. Foodie Needs to Try Once

You’ve probably heard a number of superlatives thrown around when talking about the food in the San Gabriel Valley.
“Best Chinese food in Los Angeles.”
Guess what? It’s all true.
But take it from someone born and raised in the SGV, the options are so endless it can trigger a sort of brain-freeze when deciding where to dine. After all, when we talk about the San Gabriel Valley it’s more than just Alhambra and Monterey Park, and it’s MUCH more than just fine asian cuisine.
Even if we exclude gateway cities like Montebello and Whittier, we’ve still got to factor in Pasadena, El Monte, Arcadia, West Covina, Rowland Heights, Rosemead and a host of other municipal areas. That’s a lot to talk about (and a lot to eat!).
Fear not Angelenos. I’m here to tell you about the best spots that locals, food critics and adept foodies are eating at in the San Gabriel Valley, and by virtue, offer up a guide to where you should consider starting your culinary exploration of the region. And, of course, I’ve got tons of specific recommendations on what to order when you make the trip.

1. Union

This 50-seat restaurant features a menu that places a California spin on Northern Italian cuisine. Opened in 2014, this farm to table restaurant in Old Pasadena has already gained recognition from L.A. Times food critic Jonathan Gold as seen in the 2015 101 Best Restaurants list. Chef Bruce Kalman (a James Beard nominee and Chopped winner) lets his ingredients shine, home made pasta in a tomato sauce with fresno chile is a popular choice, the Instagram worthy squid ink garganelli with lobster and truffle butter is out of this world. Kalman also has a passion for house-made charcuterie and pickling so make sure to order some items when available.
(Pic by Marie Buck Photography)

Take a Gardening Class with Geri Miller of The Cooks Garden

January 4, 2016

Geri Miller of The Cooks Garden has been tending some beds for us in the Pasadena Community Gardens for a few months now, allowing us to harvest directly from our garden to your plate. And now Geri is offering a class to the public on an intro to organic gardening. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a local expert!
Click here to sign up!

Intro to Organic Gardening Basics

Join us to celebrate the beginning of the 2016 winter gardening season! We are opening the season with a gardening class on organic gardening basics taught by Master Gardener, Horticulturist and Union restaurant grower, Geri Miller.
This class will include:
~ HGEL Lecture on basic gardening techniques and edibles for the cool season including: Brief overview of soil management, planting strategies, fertilizing, pest/disease control
~ The Right Plant for the Right Place – What to plant in the cool season and where to plant it.
~ Attendees will also receive A FREE fall edible plant to add to your own garden And receive a 20% discount on Geri’s Book, A Guide to Vegetable Gardening in Southern California. A guided tour of the Union Restaurant beds will follow the class.
Saturday January 16, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM PST
The Pasadena Community Garden
721 So. Pasadena Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Free street parking is available on So. Pasadena Ave. but get there early for the best spots! Limited parking is also available inside the garden.
FREE for PCG members. Non-PCG members are asked to make a suggested donation of $15 at the door payable to The Pasadena Community Garden. You must be registered to attend as seating is limited. Registration includes a LINK to the handout for attendees to view on IPad or printout & bring to class. The link will be emailed to you a couple of days prior to the class.
Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 1.03.18 PM
Click here to order Geri’s book on Amazon.

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
Santa Barbara squid – braised peruano beans – preserved meyer lemon
Crudo of black cod – fennel panna cotta -Passmore Ranch caviar -radish salad
Halibut croqueta – carrot romesco – charred baby leeks – bottarga
Chilled olive oil poached ridgeback prawns -compressed persimmon – arugula – fennel top granita
Squid ink bucatini – octopus bolognese – gremolata
Steelhead trout all aqua pazza – Hope Ranch mussels – black barle – calabrian chile oil

Zagat Says Eat Our Tagliatelle Before End of 2015

December 30, 2015

Zagat says our Spaghetti Alla Chitarra is a must “Eat before the end of 2015.”  We say, “Any day will do! ”  Enjoy their full feature at their website here or read their write-up on Union below.

10 Decadent Dishes to Eat Before the End of 2015

By Alia Akkam | December 22, 2015

Soon, well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions vowing to down green juice instead of whiskey and replace cheeseburgers with grilled salmon will be forged. Before that challenge arises, cave into temptation (at least) one more time with a restaurant rendezvous. These dishes from around the country, all hits in 2015, are decadent send-offs into a leaner 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 4.26.11 PM

(Photo by Marie Buck)

Los Angeles: Spaghetti Alla Chitarra at Union

Soon Bruce Kalman will open Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market in LA’s Grand Central Market. In the meantime, his homemade pastas spun from locally milled flour tempt carb lovers at Union in Pasadena. One example: a seemingly simple coil of spaghetti alla chitarra amped by a union of Fresno chiles and San Marzano tomatoes grown by a Central Coast farmer.

37 E. Union St.; 626-795-5841

Update on Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market

December 28, 2015

Chef Kalman cooking for LA Food & Wine Event

August 12, 2015

Join Chef Kalman for a special event lunch as a part of the 5th annual Food & Wine Event. Space is limited, so reserve your tickets today!

Click here for tickets

From www.lafw.com
Cuisine and culture collide this August 22-25 as the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival brings some of the most celebrated culinary talent in the country together for a four day, city-wide, epicurean extravaganza. The weekend’s festivities offer guests the chance to sample the cuisines and products from some of the most prominent epicurean influencers, while enjoying the sights and sounds of the entertainment industry’s brightest talents during live culinary demonstrations, world-class wine and spirit tastings, strolling marquee events, one-of-a-kind lunches, two Lexus Grand Tastings, book signings, after parties and much more.

Now in its fifth year, the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is a four-day epicurean event showcasing the finest in food and drink culture throughout Los Angeles, and culinary personalities from throughout the country. – Average Socialite


The Union Lunch with Bruce Kalman and John Tesar

Friday 8/28 12:00pm – 2:30pm
Chef Bruce Kalman’s Union Restaurant in Pasadena describes itself as a “an intimate neighborhood restaurant that brings the farmer and guest together to celebrate the simplicity of ingredients.” Dallas , Texas Chef John Tesar, of Knife, is known for being “Committed to using the finest quality ingredients with true Texas roots and making all of their pasta in-house” , just as Chef Kalman does at Union. A more synergistic duo in the kitchen you’ll not find and both of them are nothing but fun, fun, fun as well.

“Fresh, local, sustainable, flavorful, and handcrafted”

July 30, 2015

A big thank you to The Examiner for highlighting more of Chef Kalman’s artful cuisine. But why just take their word for it? Make a reservation for yourself and get in here!

LA Chef Bruce Kalman’s Cresta Di Gallo w Santa Barbara squid at Union Restaurant

July 23, 2015
Stephen Zwick


(Cresta Di Gallo, Santa Barbara squid, lipstick peppers, pesto Di rucola, smoked almonds @unionpasadena @wildlocalseafoodco. Image courtesy of SHGfoto)

Earlier in July of this year at Union Restaurant in Pasadena, Chef Bruce Kalman put the “Cresta Di Gallo, Santa Barbara squid, lipstick peppers, pesto Di rucola, smoked almonds” on the restaurant’s menu. Explaining his inspiration for this dish Kalman noted, “I love the shape of the pasta. It’s interesting with varying textures that make it fun to eat. It kind of resembles tentacles, so I felt it would pair well with squid, and sweet lipstick peppers as well as a spicy, nutty pesto to balance the dish nicely.”

All of the ingredients in this dish are seasonal and locally sourced through a few different farms for the produce, Captain Ben at Wild Local Seafood Co for the squid, and Grist & Toll for the freshly milled flour for the pasta. All of these fresh ingredients are at peak flavor, especially the fresh squid. There is a huge difference in flavor and texture between fresh and frozen squid.

Regarding this squid, Captain Ben stated, “The problem with local squid is that a majority of it is shipped out of our country because the processing facilities in Southeast Asia and other countries are so cheap. So you can put it on a truck, put it onto a big cargo ship, ship it across the Pacific, clean it and send it back here, still call it US squid and then that squid is still cheaper than if you processed it here. That’s the frozen squid that you see sold here.”

Kalman’s chose to plate the dish simply, and rustic. Kalman concluded, “This dish really embodies our ethos at Union: fresh, local, sustainable, flavorful, and handcrafted. To try this dish or any other currently on the menu at Pasadena please make a reservation via Rezy on Union’s website. Union is located at 37 E. Union Street in Pasadena. They are open weekdays 5 PM to 11 PM and on weekends 4 PM to 11 PM. To keep up with the latest Union information, please also follow Union on Instagram and twitter.