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Q+A with Chef Greg Daniels // RECIPE: Haven’s Pumpkin Gratin

Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2013 by Mona Shah

Q+A with Chef Greg Daniels as seen in LOCALE Magazine, by Kristal Docter - online here at localemagazine.com.

Culinary Credentials
I’ve been cooking since I was a kid – always getting my hands into something in the kitchen. I started in the profession about eight years ago when I enrolled in culinary school. I had worked as a bartender and knew that I wanted to stay in the industry. I love the kitchen, and I love every aspect of the industry. It’s given me an outlet for my creative side and a chance to share my love for food with the guests in our restaurants.

Top Three Proudest Chef Moments

Opening Haven Gastropub in Orange – this was obviously a huge part of my journey: my first chef position and we were busy from day one. I tattooed the logo on my arm a few weeks after we opened, even before I was a partner in the business. I was, and still am, very proud of this restaurant.
Seeing other chefs hang out at Haven. As chefs, we’re usually very particular about where we spend our time and what we choose to eat. Having chefs who cook food that I enjoy eating and admire as people is a testament to what we set out to do: open a place that we all want to hang out at even when we’re not working.
Making my family proud. Hearing the words “I’m proud of you” is priceless. Those moments will forever be mine.

Cooking Style | Influences
Classic comfort food, refined – essentially, I make food I want to eat. I also think it’s very important that each plate that comes out of our kitchen is beautifully presented, whether its Mac n’ Cheese or a grass-fed New York steak – people eat with their eyes first. I’ve also learned a lot from spending time at other amazing restaurants in the U.S. and abroad, I’ve been influenced by some of the greatest chefs in the world in one way or another.

Secret Factoid
If patrons don’t know something about me, there’s probably a reason for that, and I intend to keep it that way.

Favorite Cooking Tool
The Shun Gokujo Boning and Fillet knife. It’s a magic knife that makes me look much more skilled than I am. A sharp knife along with an individual trained to use it can go a long way. This knife is one that I use to do precise butchering work for tasks like deboning a pig’s head or filleting a salmon.
When you’re not in the kitchen, you’re…

Spending time with my daughter – she keeps me very busy outside of work. I spend just about every moment I have with her and my wife. I love to eat out, and I take my daughter with me. Before she turned one, she had been to three different Michelin starred restaurants. My life revolves around food and family – whatever I can fit within those parameters is what I spend my time doing.

RECIPE: Haven’s Pumpkin Gratin

Perfect side-dish for any get-together
3 sugar pumpkins (small pie pumpkins about 8 in diameter)
2 Cups Grana Padano cheese (finely grated, divided)
3 Cups heavy whipping cream (divided)
Kosher salt to taste (approximately 3 Tbsp, divided)

1. Wash pumpkins in cold water.
2. Cut pumpkins in half, lengthwise, to create a flat surface; remove rind with a heavy-duty peeler or sharp knife. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and fibers.
3. Cut crosswise into 1/8-in thick slices, using a mandolin or sharp knife.
4. Preheat oven to 425°. Layer the slices, overlapping slightly, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 10-inch round baking dish to make one layer.
5. Top with about a third of the cream, cheese and salt. Repeat, making two or three more layers, topping each with cream, cheese and salt. Be sure to leave at least ¾ inch of space empty at the top of the dish so that the cream won’t boil over.
6. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until you can easily pierce the gratin with a paring knife.
7. Serve alongside a wintertime family meal. Serves 10-12 people.