CHEESE not just cheesy
BEYOND AMAZING FLAVOR, CHEESE
BRINGS OTHER QUALITIES TO THE MENU.
BY MAGGIE HENNESSY
heese takes center stage in so many beloved dishes, it’s
easy to forget the subtle, playful, balancing qualities it can
provide—whether injecting umami into the background of a
dish, or toying with our expectations about classic compositions,
from soufflés to cacio e pepe to quesadillas. Even overtly
cheesy dishes can benefit from capitalizing on cheese’s more
It’s no secret that creative inspiration often stems from
tradition. For chef, author and Emmi Roth USA consulting chef
Elizabeth Falkner, that means turning typical Swiss cheese-containing dishes such as soufflés on their heads.
Falkner took inspiration from the soufflé-centric stalwart
Cafe Jacqueline in San Francisco, where she loved to go for a
cheese soufflé followed by a chocolate soufflé for dessert. “I
thought, why don’t I just put them together?” she says.
Because Switzerland is well-known for cheese, milk
chocolate and a penchant for “putting Ovaltine and Ovomaltine
in everything,” Falkner created a soufflé composed of milk and
dark chocolate, Ovaltine and cave-aged Gruyere. She finishes
it with aged Gruyere caramel sauce, which she lowers to room
temperature before pooling into the center of the baked soufflé
after making a slit in the top.
OPPOSITE: Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s milk chocolate and Kaltbach Le Gruyere cheese
soufflé with caramel sauce.
“The malty milk chocolate thing totally makes sense with
the Gruyere—which I think has to do with the dairy background
notes,” Falkner says. “That made me want to break down and
amplify or accentuate both of those ingredients working together
in both salty and sweet.”
The same goes for a riff on French onion soup she’s
developing. She begins with a consommé made from a raft of
caramelized onions, mushrooms, celery, chicken thigh meat,
sherry, chicken stock, broiled bread and Appenzeller cheese,
which she strains through a cheesecloth. To finish, she adds
Appenzeller cheese-filled dumplings made from eggs, bread
flour, toasted bread, caramelized onions and mushrooms.
Elsewhere, at fine-dining newcomer Bellemore in Chicago,
chef/partner Jimmy Papadopoulos distills flavors reminiscent of
cacio e pepe into a whipped pecorino mousse that he pairs with
slow-braised lamb belly, shaved kohlrabi and red grapes pressed
with verjus rouge.
Charleston, South Carolina’s Zero Restaurant + Bar playfully
mixes highbrow and lowbrow with its Pulp Fiction-referencing
Royale with Cheese. Chef Vinson Petrillo reduces cream by half