The Flavor | Unique Insight on the Industry

Chef of the Week: Nicolas Baron

Chef Nicolas Baron has traveled the world in the name of culinary arts. Following his initial chef training in France, he worked at two Michelin Star two-starred restaurants: Auberge du Vieux Logis under Master Chef of France Yves Louet and Le Close Longchamps under Chef Maurice Brazier. He then earned his bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Sydney, Australia before serving as a sous chef at Maxims Singapore for two years, followed by two years at Club Med Bali and Lindeman Island. He then served as a private chef for former Beatles lead guitarist, George Harrison, and his son, Dhanni. Before transitioning to private catering at Rebecca Jean Catering, where he now works as lead chef, he served on the executive catering team at Apple.

What are three of your grocery store staples?

Gilroy garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and aged Italian Parmesan cheese.

In addition to participating on the ChefsBest panel, how else are you involved in the culinary community?

I am with La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and participate at such culinary events as Maître Rôtisseur and at other times as a judge/food critic around the Bay Area for various organizations.

Can you think of a time while participating in a panel that the results of the quality definition surprised you?

The product we were evaluating was plain coconut water. Most of the chefs agreed that coconut water should taste like “coconut,” as in what one is used to tasting as coconut, such as shredded coconut or coconut milk.

The problem is that this criteria isn’t a true assessment for coconut water. Having lived in the South Pacific many years, I know that true coconut water out of a coconut does not taste like coconut as most folks think. Luckily, a veteran Master Taster of Southeast Asian background backed my statement up.

Look at coconut water as you look at milk. On one end, there is low 0% fat milk, and on the other end, you’ve got double thick cream at 55% fat. Coconut water is on the low end, while coconut cream is up there in the fat department. Hence, the taste of coconut in coconut water is very mild and not leading.

What is the most original dish/recipe you have ever created?

The most original recipe I’ve ever created is Tomato Crumble. Use bruschetta style seasoning in your diced tomatoes, and cover with good amounts of breadcrumbs/Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This recipe provides a nice crust and warm tomatoes. Super umami!

What is your favorite ingredient in the kitchen and why?

EVOO (extra virgin olive oil!). EVOO can be used for salads, seasonings, Mariner’s, and cooking—even in your hands to keep them healthy and young!

  • Process

    We don’t take our role of defining America's best-tasting foods lightly. Learn more about the detailed agenda our panel follows during a tasting. Explore a step-by-step guide of our proprietary judging process.

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  • Chefs

    Our team of judges is the secret ingredient in our proprietary process. Check out the rigorous training each member of our panel undergoes and get to know a few of our executive-level chef judges.

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  • Case Studies

    Our ChefsBest Award winners promote their accolades in a number of ways to shoppers and grocers. Find out how recipients share the news in store and through efforts like POP, FSIs and direct mail.

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