Chef Jody Denton
Meet our Featured Chef: Jody Denton Co-owner and Executive Chef Jody Denton, an experienced chef, restaurateur and national food product developer with more than 25 years in the industry, opened Merenda in Bend, Ore. August 2002. At Merenda, Denton combines his passion for food and fine dining with his talent in the kitchen. Merenda is Denton’s fourth restaurant. Prior, he was the executive chef and chief operating officer of renowned San Francisco restaurants LuLu, Azie and Zibibbo (named one of the top 20 restaurants by Gourmet readers) and operated LuLu Gourmet Product Company and LuLu Catering Company. Denton first discovered Bend five years ago when he was invited to participate as guest chef in a non-profit cooking event. He returned each year and over time fell in love with the town. According to Denton, Bend is on the edge of a sophisticated melting pot. He saw an opportunity to bring something new to the town – fuse outstanding, reasonably priced food, great wines from around the world and an upscale metropolitan feel with its stylish, outdoor lifestyle. In early 2002, he discovered the ideal restaurant space in the heart of downtown Bend and permanently moved with his family. Before opening his own restaurants, Denton headed up kitchens at some of the nation’s top restaurants, including The Eccentric and The Big Bowl Café in Chicago; Eureka and the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles; The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and Red Sage in Washington, D.C. (named Esquire Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year under his watch in 1992). Denton has received training from several of the finest chefs in the world from Los Angeles to Dallas to Switzerland. Among the many mentors who have had a significant impact on his career include Wolfgang Puck, Dean Fearing, Mark Miller and Rich Melman.
Recipes by Chef Jody Denton
Ricotta Basil Gnocchi
- 4 oz. basil, stems removed
- 4 oz. spinach leaves
- 1 pound ricotta
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup flour
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- ½ cup grated parmesan
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Submerge the basil and spinach leaves in the water for ten seconds, remove and shock in ice water immediately. Remove from the ice water and squeeze very, very dry. Rough chop with a knife.
Place the chopped greens in a food processor along with the egg and a little salt and pepper and chop until a paste forms and no large pieces remain.
Place the paste in a bowl along with the ricotta and mix well. Check seasoning then add the flour. Mix gently until all the flour is incorporated but be careful not to over mix.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Roll the dough into strands about ¾ of an inch thick and about one foot long on a well floured cutting board. Cut with a sharp, clean knife in pieces about ¾ of an inch wide.
Drop the gnocchi a few dozen at a time into the boiling salted water. After about one minute they should float. Remove the gnocchi from the water and place on a pan and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Continue the process until all of the gnocchi are done. Keep the water hot.
Warm a large sauté pan and melt the butter and at the same time drop the gnocchi back in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove the gnocchi from the water and place in the pan and toss with the butter, adding a few tablespoons of the cooking water to the pan.
Remove from the heat, portion into bowls or on plates and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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