Sarasota immigrant Jose Martinez, proprietor-chef of Maison Blanche on Longboat Key, widely regarded the area’s best restaurant, is recreating the dinner that made him the James Beard Chef of the Day in June.
Chef Jose (Joe-zay) Martinez is a Michelin-rated chef who trained under some of the masters of haute-cuisine in Paris. He apprenticed with Joël Robuchon at Restaurant Jamin in Paris. He worked at Lucas Carlton, also in Paris, with Alain Senderens, a founder of New French Cuisine; and with Chef Michel Guerard at Eugénie les Bains, which earned three Michelin stars.
Chef Jose started his own restaurant, Maison Blanche, in Arrondissement 8 in Paris. He was awarded the coveted Michelin Star for outstanding culinary achievement while there. But he wanted more and decided to come to the United States. After some searching, Jose and his wife, Victoria, decided on settling in Sarasota. Qualifying for a green card as an alien with extraordinary ability, Chef Jose was able to move his entire family and start his restaurant here.
Now he has brought his New French Cuisine to the United States.
“Jose has a passion for food,” said Victoria, who commands the front of house responsibilities. “He is a perfectionist, in crafting, preparing and presenting his cuisine; his standards for quality and innovation are quite high.”
This sentiment is shared by a majority of the food press and critical media in Florida and reflected in Chef Jose’s honor in 2010 of being nominated for Best Chef in the South by the James Beard Foundation, America’s leading culinary organization. Chef Jose’s James Beard Foundation nomination coincided Maison Blanche’s Zagat ratings, the highest combined total for any fine dining establishment within miles of Longboat Key at a commanding 27 rating for food and a 26 rating for service.
In June of this year Chef Jose was named chef of the day at the James Beard House for a dinner he orchestrated entitled “French Elegance.” The dinner he crafted included 5 elegant dishes: green asparagus soup with baby artichokes and fava beans; tomato confit, Brussels sprouts and potato crisp; pan-seared Rouget with cauliflower puree, hazelnuts and Kalamata olives; Hudson Valley foie gras and duck pie with savory wine sauce; and a Florida lemon tart with almond meringue and raspberry coulis. The dinner made him a finalist for the James Beard Award.
Chef Jose has generously provided the recipe for one of his creations:
Pan-Seared Rouget with Cauliflower Purée and Kalamata Olives
2 ounces Kalamata olives
extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces cauliflower
½ tablespoon minced preserved lemon
1 ounce hazelnut oil
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 whole rouget (red mullet), fileted
1 ounce hazelnuts, toasted and crushed
Place olives in a blender. With the motor running, slowly add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil until the olives form a rough purée. Remove and set aside.
Boil or steam the cauliflower until soft, then purée along with the hazelnut oil and preserved lemon in a food processor until smooth.
Add enough olive oil to a skillet to coat the bottom and heat. Sear the rouget for 1 minute (or to preferred doneness).
While the fish are searing, place some of the cauliflower purée on each of 4 plates as a bed for the fish, and transfer the filets onto the purée as soon as they are done. Drizzle the kalamata sauce over the fish and purée, and garnish the crushed hazelnuts. Serve.
Chef Jose is recreating the entire dinner at 6:30 p.m. Wed. Oct. 17 and Thurs. Oct. 18 at Maison Blanche, 2605 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key. In order to make a reservation call, (941) 383-8088; maisonblancherestaurants.com.
You may also be interested in:
- Background Press Release about Chef Jose Martinez
- Watch Chef Jose speak about the James Beard Dinner