Anthony Martin
Executive Chef, Anthony Martin
Operation Stats:


Dinner: 6 days a week

Nightly covers: 60-140

Kraft on Craft—Double Play

The chef from Tru experiments with Philly...and then our chefs play with his recipe build.

Tru is one of Chicago's flagship fine-dining restaurants featuring progressive French cuisine on lavish, artful tasting menus. Anthony Martin became executive chef of this Lettuce Entertain You concept in September 2009. His food is precise, elegant and entertaining.

Indeed, it was his dessert innovation that intrigued us - from rounds of Honeycrisp apples dunked in beer batter, fried, then dusted in cinnamon sugar to ganache-coated chocolate mousse filled with coffee crème and partnered with coffee ice cream atop chicory dust. We asked Chef Martin to apply his creative mind to dessert recipe development featuring Philadelphia Cream Cheese. He came back to us with his Jalapeño Popper Below Zero, Fried Panko, New York Cheesecake, Jalapeño Gelée, Pineapple Foam and Fresh Pineapple. "I wanted to take a favorite cream cheese dish and turn it on its head—jalapeño poppers were the consensus when I asked the staff here at Tru. I thought it could be interesting to come up with a dessert featuring those textures and flavors," says Chef Martin. "Jalapeño peppers have a natural sweetness with just a touch of heat, and you get a nice fresh flavor from them." For the ice cream, he combines whole milk with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, egg yolk and jalapeño juice. "Philly has a really creamy, thick texture that's still soft, so it's easy to work with for an ice cream dessert," he says. "It acts almost like a stabilizer, and it helps maintain the ice cream's temperature longer." For the other element on the plate, he makes a classic New York style cheesecake with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, then brings in the jalapeño in the form of a gelée. He finishes it with pineapple foam and pineapple sticks, adding a clean, bright note to the dish.


Interpreting Tru's Recipe

Pretty cool dessert, right? And definitely fitting for Tru's sensibility of intricate, precise, sculpted desserts. The chefs at the Kraft Culinary Centre took inspiration from Chef Martin's dish, played with the recipe and came up with a more casual interpretation. "We want to deliver the wow factor inherent in such a unique dessert," says Joseph Barin, corporate chef, Kraft Foodservice. "But we want to translate it for casual menus." The result? A Jalapeño Popper Ice Cream Parfait. "Rather than a composed plate, we're serving it in a more familiar parfait, or sundae style, presentation," he says. To speed up the build, Barin uses Philadelphia Cheesecake Batter for the cheesecake component. "You don't sacrifice any of the quality in the cheesecake, but you save on time—just pour, bake and serve." That savings in labor comes in handy with a dessert that has several components to it. "The ice cream that Chef Martin developed using Philadelphia Cream Cheese is delicious—subtle, fresh flavors with a bit of tanginess from the cream cheese," he says. "The sweet panko crumbs adds a great riff on the texture of a popper."

Behind the Chef

Chef Martin's Sturgeon
Tru's whimsy and charm are captured in Chef Martin's Sturgeon "Caviar."

Anthony Martin was supposed to go to art school. He had a scholarship in hand and was actually checking out the art school with his parents when he spotted a culinary school next door. "All the bells in my head went off, and I knew this was what I wanted to do," says Chef Martin, who went on to get an associate degree from that culinary school, the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh. "Cooking is an incredible outlet for my artistic side," he says. As evidence, take a look at Chef Martin's sturgeon "caviar," presented in a whimsical tin. The sturgeon is smoked, cooked down with white wine and cream, and strained. Gelatin is added, the fish dropped into cold oil, forming perfect white pearls. A bed of avocado purée acts as an unexpected counterpoint. After graduating, he honed his artistry with culinary greats Joel Robuchon and Gunter Seeger. At Tru, he received Chef of the Year in 2010 from the Chicago Tribune. That newspaper's restaurant critic, Phil Vettel, has described Chef Martin's food as "maddeningly subtle, driving over-analytical foodies to despair."

A.1. Steak Sauce Inspiration

Chef Martin had some fun at Tru with A.1. Steak Sauce, playing off its savory, tangy flavor with great effect:

A.1. MIST: He thinned A.1. Steak Sauce with a bit of beef stock, then put the mixture into a misting bottle. He then misted Wagyu beef with the A.1. mixture while grilling it.

A.1. SPICE: He dried A.1. Steak Sauce in a dehydrator, then ground it into spice powder. He used it as a garnish on a plate, making a straight line of the A.1. powder parallel to the steak.

A.1. CUBED: He thickened the A.1. with agar agar, then cut it into cubes, pairing it with grilled steak.

A.1. Steak Sauce

More Philly Inspiration

Chef Martin worked up a few other fun dishes with Philadelphia Cream Cheese:

CILANTRO SOUP: He combined a large amount of fresh cilantro with vegetable stock and Philly, saying it gave the soup tremendous body. He finished it with tempuraed cilantro leaves.

CHEESECAKE MOUSSE: He combined Philadelphia Cream Cheese, vanilla, skimmed milk and powdered sugar, then poured the mixture into an iSi canister. The result? Puffs of cheesecake mousse.

Kraft Philadelphia

Here are a few highlights from our interview with Chef Martin:


If you were sent to a desert island, what 3 ingredients would you take with you?


I'm pretty resourceful, so I could catch my fish and find fruit and vegetables. I would bring ice cream, espelette pepper and bottled water.


What is your favorite kitchen tool?


An immersion circulator. I have two at home. It's basically a high-end crock pot that you can use for everything.


Who would you most like to cook for?


My entire family—aunts, uncles, grandparents. Most of them haven't experienced anything like what we do at Tru. I'd love for them to have that experience.


Where was the last place you dined?


At SUSHISAMBA® in Chicago. It was incredible. I live in River North, and love most of the restaurants in my neighborhood. It's a great place for foodies.


What is your favorite Kraft product?



Anthony Martin - Tru