Chef Allen's creator, chef Allen Susser, and author and radio host Linda Gassenheimer were on hand for the opening celebration of Books & Books' newest café, at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science. The Books & Books café features sandwiches and salads created by Allen, as well as a variety of coffee drinks. Allen and Linda Gassenheimer participated in a lively conversation, answering a variety of questions, ranging from favorite restaurants to cooking tips.
Allen Susser: The key to cooking is mise en place, which literally means "having everything in place." Organize your cooking. When you see cooks on a show make a dish in 30 minutes, it's because their vegetables are chopped and everything is organized. Once you have your mise en place in place, any recipe is easier.
Linda Gassenheimer: How do I test a recipe? I cook it. The big test is my family. If I test a recipe and my husband doesn't like it, he walks out the door.
Favorite Places to Eat in the Keys
Linda Gassenheimer: What's your mood? In Key West, I like Blue Heaven. The restaurant used to be a bordello. It's the perfect place for brunch, filled with roosters roaming around. I also like restaurants off the beaten path, like Azure. They make a Key lime French toast. In the lower Keys, I like the Square Grouper. A "square grouper" was the name for bales of marijuana that were ditched in the water by smugglers. The cracked conch with wasabi dressing is terrific. I also like Bob's Buns in Islamorada for their blue crab eggs Benedict and their potato chip cookies.
Suggestions for Young Chefs Starting Out
Allen Susser: Education is important, but I suggest you work in the industry before you go to school. And enjoy working nights, weekends, and holidays.
Linda Gassenheimer: Develop your palate. Go to Europe and eat.
Allen Susser: The simpler the better. I love cracking open stone crabs and eating the sweet lucious meat.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Linda Gassenheimer: I love food, and I love sweets. I want nice, fresh tastes. Just good, simple food.
Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB