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Randy Zweiban Executive Chef/Owner, Province

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Randy Zweiban Takes the Kraft Challenge

Executive Chef/Owner, Province

A chef at an American restaurant finds inspiration with Kraft.

Province burst onto the Chicago dining scene in the fall of 2008, garnering acclaim for its Latin-infused American menu and its eco-friendly practices. The restaurant, famed for its value-driven, farm-to-fork food, is housed in a gold-level LEED certified building. Randy Zweiban, Executive Chef/Owner, is the force behind Province, serving dishes such as 10-hour braised lamb over cornbread and Cuban pork bocadillos.

We challenged Chef Zweiban to develop a fall/winter comfort-food recipe using a Kraft product. He answered with Baked Spanish Tortilla with Salsa Verde Greens. "I was really pleased with how the flavors played together. It's really a warm bacon and potato salad inside a Spanish tortilla," says Chef Zweiban. "When I think about menuing comfort foods, I think about recognizable safe zones of ingredients. I like to take those ingredients, but present them in a way people haven't seen before."

province - Operation Stats: 1 unit - 2 day parts served (lunch and dinner, with no interruption between services) - $2.5-3 million volume sales

Adding complexity of flavor

A traditional Spanish tortilla is an omelet made with eggs, potato and onions. Here, Chef Zweiban adds depth of flavor with Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard and Kraft Mayo Real Mayonnaise. "The mustard has great texture and complexity — it's got more going on than a regular Dijon," he says. "The Kraft mayonnaise adds a smooth mouthfeel and nice, tart flavor, and it keeps the tortilla moist." For smokiness, saltiness and crispness, he turns to Oscar Mayer Bacon.

Once he cooks the diced potatoes with rendered bacon and shallot, he brings in mustard and mayonnaise. Then, he whips eggs, heavy cream and water in a Vita-Mix, adding both air and volume. He pours the egg mixture into a cake pan, then adds the potato hash and salt and pepper to encrust the tortilla. Chef Zweiban bakes the tortilla until set. For service, he cuts a wedge out, and plates it with a bright salad of greens dressed with Salsa Verde, a fresh and spicy blend of poblano, serrano and jalapeño peppers and tomatillos mixed with blanched spinach and cilantro, and emulsified with Kraft Golden Italian Dressing, lemon juice and lime juice.

Behind the chef

Chef Zweiban takes the trend of small plates to the next level, letting diners craft their experience through various portion sizes and price points. "We try to give people an opportunity to dine the way they want to," says Chef Zweiban.

Value plays an integral part behind the menu design. "We're a café, and that's what I strive for," he says. "We don't have $10 appetizers — they're still in single digits. My passion is to make food that my guests like, and present a lot of value within it."

Chef Zweiban unplugged

Ingredients inspire Chef Zweiban. He looks at the year broken into six food seasons — from January and February's root vegetables, to November and December's pears and pomegranates. He changes his menu every two months, reflecting the changes throughout the year. "Some dishes stay the same, but we change out the accompanying sides or garnishes," he says. "Going with the seasons doesn't have to be difficult. There's a rhythm to it, and it just keeps everything fresh and new."

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

KRAFT:

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

ZWEIBAN:

Mayonnaise, olive oil and mustard.

KRAFT:

What is your favorite kitchen tool?

ZWEIBAN:

A high-speed blender. I love my Vita-Mix, and use it for mixing, emulsifying, making soups and making sauces.

KRAFT:

Who would you most like to cook for?

ZWEIBAN:

President Obama!

KRAFT:

Where was the last place you dined?

ZWEIBAN:

The Hearty Boys for Sunday brunch.

KRAFT:

What is your favorite Kraft product?

ZWEIBAN:

A.1. Steak Sauce or Kraft Mayo.

Baked Spanish Tortilla with Salsa Verde Greens
Baked Spanish Tortilla with Salsa Verde Greens

This Baked Spanish Tortilla with Salsa Verde Greens brings home a Spanish-influenced comfort food with American sensibilities.

Salad Cubano
Salad Cubano

You can also try Chef Zweiban's Salad Cubano, a deconstruction of the famous Cuban sandwich.

Chef Zweiban – Province