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Keith M. Schroeder, executive chef of the Marriott Atlanta Northwest in Atlanta, Georgia

Kraft on Craft

Executive Chef Keith M. Schroeder Takes the Kraft Challenge

A chef at an international hotel chain finds inspiration with Kraft.

For this issue's recipe challenge, we called upon Keith M. Schroeder, executive chef of the Marriott Atlanta Northwest in Atlanta, Georgia. We asked him to create a pasta salad using a Kraft product. His Grilled Vegetable and Whole Wheat Pasta Salad not only delivers beautiful flavor, color and texture, but it also hits that hard-to-find sweet spot. His recipe keyed into the whole food trend, while keeping the dish both accessible and appealing.

"I have to keep in mind my audience, but I want to give them healthy choices and great flavor. By combining grilled vegetables and whole wheat pasta with a really flavorful and somewhat creamy dressing, I think I managed to do both."

Marriott

Building a Better Pasta Salad

"I wanted every element in this dish to build flavor," says Chef Schroeder. "From the whole wheat penne, which adds nuttiness and structure, to the garlic confit, which adds a sweet and pungent background."

His citrus vinaigrette performs double duty as both a marinade for a rainbow of vegetables—asparagus, bell pepper, fennel, red onion, yellow squash and zucchini—and as a dressing for the salad. He combines lemon, lime and orange juices with grated fresh garlic, Grey Poupon Dijon mustard and sherry vinegar. He slowly whisks in canola oil and olive oil to emulsify. At this point, some of the vinaigrette is brushed onto the vegetables, which marinate for 30 minutes and are then grilled. To dress the salad, Kraft Mayo Real Mayonnaise is added to the remaining vinaigrette for mouthfeel and cohesion. "I just add a little of the mayonnaise to bind the salad and give it a lush texture," says Chef Schroeder. His garlic confit (garlic steeped in olive oil with fresh thyme and red-pepper flakes) is mashed and mixed into the salad, which is then garnished with fresh chervil, chives and parsley.

"The vinaigrette is obviously key to a successful dish here," says Chef Schroeder. "I chose Grey Poupon as a driving element in the vinaigrette for its balance. It's easy to add Grey Poupon to large-quantity recipes because of that balance. I find with other brands, you need to tweak to compensate for their astringency."

Behind the Chef

Although good food is indeed a passion for this chef, what drives him is what he calls the people component. "Cooking with fellow chefs is what fulfills me," says Chef Schroeder. "The craft is wonderful, but far and away, working with other people is my passion. The differences among us are energizing. I have become fluent in Spanish. I've met people from all over the world because of this career. I've learned about Indonesian cooking, Turkish cooking, Gambian cooking—I get a sociological education every day that I work, and I pour that energy into my recipe design."

Chef Schroeder Unplugged

He is passionate about the integrity of technique, product and team. "If I focus on those three things, then the food is going to be great," says Chef Schroeder. "In cooking, my belief is that technique and integrity of ingredient drives all. The beauty of technique can get lost if a chef spends too much energy compounding flavors".

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

KRAFT:

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

SCHROEDER:

Lemon, thyme and olive oil.

KRAFT:

What is your favorite kitchen tool?

SCHROEDER:

My microplane. I love the texture of the ingredients that come through a microplane, and it's incredibly efficient.

KRAFT:

Where was the last place you dined?

SCHROEDER:

An upscale Southern comfort-food restaurant in Atlanta called Two Urban Licks.

KRAFT:

What is your favorite Kraft product?

SCHROEDER:

Grey Poupon Dijon mustard. It's got such a good flavor profile, of course, but also I love it because I grew up with it. My mom used to make me ham sandwiches on rye bread that were slathered with Grey Poupon.

What's Next for Chef Keith M. Schroeder?

Chef Schroeder is currently working on a new restaurant concept to roll out later this year for 15 hotels under the HEI Hotel and Resorts umbrella.

Grilled Vegetable and Whole Wheat Pasta Salad
Grilled Vegetable and Whole Wheat Pasta Salad
Brown Sugar-Lacquered Ribs
Brown Sugar-Lacquered Ribs

Chef Schroeder's unbelievable recipe of Brown Sugar-Lacquered Ribs.

Chef Schroeder – Marriott