Who is she:
Chef Antonia Lofaso needs no introduction. She was our favorite competitor on both Top Chef Season 4 and Top Chef Allstars where she made it to the last three, and she is the Executive Chef at the L.A. gastropub Black Market Liquor Bar.
Why we love her:
We were inspired by her mouthwatering homestyle Italian cooking and entertained by her ability to intimidate some of the more confident Top Chef contestants with her skills and witty one-liners. But mostly, we love her because not only is she a woman at the top of her career, she is also a single mother to her 7-year-old daughter. Antonia is currently working with Campbell Soup’s Address Your Heart Kitchen Project where she is spreading the word about heart healthy meals. She shares with us one of her favorite health-conscious dishes.
It’s such an honor to interview you! We are big fan of yours and have watched all of Top Chef Season 4 and All-Stars. You made it to the last three in the All-Stars season. That takes not just a lot of talent but also tremendous focus. What would you say is the most important characteristic to have when becoming a chef?
Most important quality for a being a chef is being a leader and a teacher at the same time. Your cooks need to want to work for you, to hold a brigade and have it work properly, your cooks need to feel inspired and that they are learning something.
You are currently the Executive Chef at the gastro pub Black Market Liquor Bar. What is your favorite food and drink pairing on the menu?
Red Hot and Bothered with Duck Sopes. It’s a Jalapeño-infused strawberry cocktail that goes great with a rich sope.
That sounds incredible! How would you describe the LA food scene? How would you say that it is different from what is going on in San Francisco and New York?
I’m so excited about the LA food scene! We use the most beautiful, fresh, farmer’s market veggies from farms that are so close. LA is all about ease and grace in its cooking and I believe we are at the front of the line with chefs who just want to make fun, thoughtful, non-pretentious food.
What’s a typical day like for you at the restaurant?
Typical day at Black Market unfortunately starts with paper work! LOL! Making sure we are getting the best prices, checking quality of products, going over a “to do” list for my sous chef, organizing and developing new dishes, etc. As my cooks arrive, I like to do my own line checks of our prepared foods. And as service starts I take lead and expedite at least three nights a week.
How do the meals you prepare at home compare to the ones that you make at the restaurants that you have worked at?
Depends on the particular meal and time of day. I have taken many restaurant dishes and served them at home for a dinner party or just fun Sunday night dinner. But mostly it’s a yummy chili or Bolognese with penne. Or sometimes it’s just a bowl of cereal…
We are already so impressed with your abilities as a Chef but right now you are also working with the Address Your Heart Kitchen Project. What is the main goal of this project and why did it appeal to you specifically?
Heart disease has recently become a part of my family. I really want to inspire and give advice about different food options and how to make better choices for themselves.
Heart health is so important! How can we incorporate ingredients that are good for our hearts without skimping on taste?
It’s really about keeping your options open and knowing there is inspiration in every aisle of the supermarket. I love using a lot of fresh herbs and citrus to enhance the natural flavors of food.
Working with the Address Your Heart Project has inspired you to renovate your own kitchen. What tips can you give us on kitchen makeovers? It’s a lot harder than it looks!
Kitchen makeovers are no joke! But I know mine will be so worth it and I’m so excited to have a kitchen that is user friendly and tailored to my needs. That is the advantage that I can’t wait for!
Chef Antonia Lofaso’s Goat Cheese Panzanella
with Chicken, Tangerines and Tomato Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
3oz crumbled reduced fat goat cheese
6 cup arugula
6 tangerines, supremed (peeled and sectioned)
2 – 4oz butterflied chicken breasts
½ small red onion, shaved
4 pieces Pepperidge Farm® Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat bread
1T extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
2T Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Condensed Tomato soup
3T chopped flat leaf parsley
4T freshly picked basil
2T chopped shallots (or 1t of chopped garlic if shallots are unavailable)
½t salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 250F. On a medium baking sheet, brush 2t extra virgin olive oil on Pepperidge Farm®Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat bread and allow to dry out in the oven for about 15 minutes until bread becomes crisp to the touch. Break dried bread into 1/2 inch pieces about the size of a large crouton and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Condensed Tomato soup, shallots and chopped parsley. Slowly stream in remaining extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.
Prepare 2 – 4oz butterflied chicken breasts. Season with 1/2t salt and pepper and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken breasts on a suitable high heat baking sheet and place in broiler on high for 3 minutes on each side. Allow to cool. Chop once cooled.
In a large mixing bowl, combine arugula, red onion, bread, chopped grilled chicken, goat cheese and dress lightly with tomato vinaigrette. Garnish with tangerines and fresh basil before serving. (We don’t want the tangerines to break apart so just lay them gently throughout the salad to serve.)