Heirloom Tomatoes: 24 Chefs Share Their Favorites

Sure, the end of August signals that summer is almost over, but it also heralds the height of heirloom tomato season across the nation. There are a seemingly endless number of varietals of heirloom tomatoes from which to choose, including Black Krim, Hungarian Heart, and more (and endless debate as to what constitutes an heirloom tomato, which we won’t get into here). To narrow down the field we asked chefs to share their favorites and showcase how they’re serving what is arguably the most delicious ingredient of this year’s harvest.

Philippe Bertineau, Benoit, New York, New York
“Deliciously flavored Sun Gold, Red Currant, and Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes pack more sweetness.”
Order them in: The heirloom tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm with red onion, basil, sherry vinegar, and olive oil.

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Eric Brennan, Post 390, Boston, Massachusetts
“We are now getting our heirloom tomatoes from Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell, Massachusetts. Owners Carl and Marie Hills grow some great tomatoes, especially the Black Prince, Pink Brandywine, and Green Zebra. After they did some research on other areas that were growing heirlooms, they started their own in 2004 and soon became the award-winning growers of heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes in the state.”
Order them in: Kimball Fruit Farm’s heirloom tomatoes + charred sweet corn with griddled halloumi, fig balsamic, and purslane pesto.

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Matt Christianson, Urban Farmer, Portland, Oregon
“At Urban Farmer, we grow heirloom tomatoes on the restaurants’ rooftop garden. My favorite variety is the Indigo Blue Berries tomato because of its rich, dark color and because they are high in anthocyanins, which protect against a myriad of human diseases.”
Order them in: The heirloom tomato salad.

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Kevin Cuddihee, TWO, Chicago, Illinois
“In-season tomatoes are one of my favorite ingredients, green zebras have a great natural acidity that goes great with burrata, and the red onion basil vinaigrette rounds out the dish nicely. We like to let the ingredient shine on the plate and in- season heirloom tomatoes are the perfect star.”
Order them in: The Green Zebra tomatoes with burrata cheese, Vidalia onions, and red onion-basil vinaigrette.

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Laurence Edelman, Left Bank, New York, New York
“Any heirloom tomato that is perfectly ripe is going to be the best tomato you’ve ever had. There are a few that are particularly beautiful. There’s an heirloom tomato that is shaped like a heart called Hungarian Heart. It’s a good mix of flesh and juice and they’re really big and cool looking. Sometimes they are so big that one tomato could be a light meal.”
Order them in: The heirloom tomato salad with Spanish goat cheese and marinated eggplant.

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Michael Ferraro, Delicatessen, New York, New York
“The Cherokee Purple are my favorite because they’re very plump, juicy, and large in size. Plus, they’re very flavorful and taste a bit less acidic than other heirloom tomato varietals.”
Order them in: The heirloom tomato + burrata salad with green olive pesto and focaccia croutons.

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Michael Goodman, Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
“I like the versatility of Brandywine tomatoes. This sweet tomato has a pinkish flesh and a wonderful acidity that is great for salads. Seared or grilled, they work very well with a nice, cold pressed extra virgin olive and sea salt and paired with a sexy white wine.”
Order them in: Zucchini “spaghetti” with zucchini pesto and heirloom tomato tartare.

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Todd Kelly, Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
“I prefer the smaller Black Cherry heirloom tomatoes because they are sweet and juicy with a more moderate acidity, making them very versatile. “
Order them in: The heirloom tomato and mozzarella “balloon” caprese salad with saffron tomato gelée, pickled onion, arugula, and shallot lavosh.

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Michael Kornick, mk, Chicago, Illinois
“I love Brandywine tomatoes because of their rich flavor. Brandywines have a balanced amount of acid and are thick and meaty with a delicious juice. Their skin peels easily for quickly cooked pasta sauces and with freshly grilled fish.”
Order them in: The colorful heirloom tomato salad with watermelon, pineapple, mint, oil-cured olive, and a buttermilk crisp.

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Chris Macchia, Labriola Ristorante, Chicago, Illinois
“My favorite type of heirloom tomato is the Cherokee Purple because it has fantastic tomato flavor—and of course, it’s fun to say!”
Order them in: The caprese salad with tomatoes, pesto powder, heirloom tomato sorbet, buffalo mozzarella, and basil foam.

Heirloom Labriola Purple Cherokee Caprese (3)

Aaron Martinez, Intro, Chicago, Illinois
“The Sun Gold tomato is always consistent in flavor and texture. Very sweet tomato and not mealy. I chose this tomato for a melon dish because of its sweetness that pairs so well with the seaweed-infused tomato water. The savory and sweet combination really balance each other out.”
Order them in: The tomato and summer melon plate.

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Tory Miller, L’Etoile, Madison, Wisconsin
“We use a large variety of heirlooms for this dish, but my choices this year are Cherokee Green, Cherokee Purple, Yellow Brandywine, Jaune Flamme, and Aunt Ruby’s German Green. I pick tomatoes with low acid and small seed to meat ratios. Then, all you have to do is add salt.”
Order them in: Part of the seven-course tasting menu, Miller serves Snug Haven Farm heirloom tomatoes with baby cucumber, radishes, peekytoe crab, and pine nuts.

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#ProducePlayoff Draft for the #NoKidHungry Benefit in NYC on 8/25: ICYMI

On Tuesday, August 25th, Betony restaurant in New York will host the Produce Playoff benefit in honor of No Kid Hungry. In anticipation of the event, participating chefs and beer, wine, and spirits experts, including Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park), Eli Kaimeh (Per Se), James Kent (The NoMad), Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske (Contra), and Rebecca Isbell (Betony), Jeff Taylor (Betony) and Thomas Pastuszak (The NoMad), gathered at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan to officially draft the fruits and vegetables they’ll be showcasing next week.

Emceed by Eamon Rockey of Betony, the draft had strict(ish) rules set forth by host chef Bryce Shuman. Everyone could select one vegetable or fruit in two separate rounds. We ran (all around the market and even into chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten), we laughed, we perspired in the hot sun, and a few chefs even made a couple of under-the-table trades. It was all in good fun for a good cause — helping to end childhood hunger in America. Follow their exploits as they raced against the clock and each other to claim the most coveted local bounty of the season, with these shots from photographer Simon Lewis. Then, purchase your tickets to join us on Tuesday for a delicious meal prepared by these talented culinary professionals while supporting No Kid Hungry.

Bryce Shuman practices his game face in the hopes of intimidating his fellow chefs.
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Chef Daniel Humm mugged for the camera before the fun began.
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The Union Square Greenmarket’s most promising players waited patiently, hoping to be selected.
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On your mark, get set…
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Do these ‘maters have what it takes to make the cut?
In a last-minute bid, they accessorize in the hopes of catching the participants’ eyes.
In a last-minute decision, they accessorize in the hopes of catching the participants’ eyes.
File this one under ‘Great New York Moments’: Chef Daniel Humm bumps into chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who was browsing the market over his morning coffee.
File this one under ‘Great New York Moments’: Chef Daniel Humm bumps into chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who was browsing the market over his morning coffee.
Is it a coincidence that chef Humm chose French breakfast radishes after his run-in with Jean-Georges? We think not.
Is it a coincidence that chef Humm chose French breakfast radishes after his run-in with Jean-Georges? We think not.
The corn tries to act natural while chef Shuman ponders his decision.
The corn tries to act natural while chef Shuman ponders his decision.
Chef Shuman sinks his teeth into his Produce Playoff pick with corn from Sycamore Farms.
Chef Shuman sinks his teeth into his Produce Playoff pick with corn from Sycamore Farms.
True story: Chef Eli Kaimeh went straight for the gorgeous fairytale eggplant.
True story: Chef Eli Kaimeh went straight for the gorgeous fairytale eggplant.
I really hope he remembered to use the #produceplayoff hashtag.
I really hope he remembered to use the #produceplayoff hashtag.
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There were grape expectations around the pours the wine experts would pick.
Some of the somms got really into feeding their fellow competitors grapes.
Some of the somms got really into feeding their fellow competitors grapes.
Seriously, what's up with the wine guys and the grapes?
Seriously, what’s up with the wine guys and the grapes?
No, really.
No, really.

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Hot Dog Day: A Dozen Delicious Must-Try Haute Dogs #nationalhotdogday

The hot dog is America’s unofficial summertime dish. Whether you’re grilling by the pool, out in the wilderness on a camping trip, or enjoying a baseball game, it’s almost certain some franks will be involved. But as we know, not all weenies are created equal. Chefs are now taking the humble hot dog to a whole new level by handcrafting every component – from the link and the bun to every type of condiment and topping imaginable. In honor of National Hot Dog Day, we present a dozen delicious must-try haute dogs from top restaurants.

The Arsenal at Bluejacket, Washington, D.C.
You might feel like you’re hanging out with your Polish relatives. Executive chef Kyle Bailey fires up kielbasa on his outdoor grill, then tops it with plenty of red peppers and onions. As your uncle Piotr is fond of saying, “To jest pyszne” (Translation: That’s delicious). [Photo by Marissa Bialecki]

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Bouchon, Beverly Hills, California
We love pretzel buns so much we’ve been known to compose haikus to them (Sample: Pretzel untwisted/Chewy, salt flecked brilliance/Tastes best with mustard). Here one of the brown rolls holds a prime chuck, apple wood-smoked hot dog crowned with cornichon relish and Dijonnaise sauce.

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Bourbon Steak, Washington, D.C.
This ain’t your average hot dog. Executive chef Joe Palma handcrafts this showboat from A5 Wagyu and pork, and then finishes it off with mustard, relish, and a side of duck fat fries. Simply glorious.

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DBGB, New York, New York
This hot dog has a French accent. A housemade beef frank is shoehorned into a brioche bun then topped with sautéed onion, julienne radish, frisée, and pickled veggies. We say, “Oui, oui!”

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Del Campo, Washington, D.C.
Chef-owner Victor Albisu puts his spin on the choripán, a South American street food classic. His version features a spicy chorizo link loaded up with pulled pork, red cabbage slaw, and sweet pickle salsa criolla. It’s best enjoyed with a glass of the smoked pineapple-laced pisco punch. [Photo by Greg Powers]

Charred food

Dirt Candy, New York City
There’s no mystery meat in these broccoli dogs. Two of the verdant stalks are smoked, grilled, and quickly sautéed before they’re tucked into toasted buns. Condiments include broccoli kraut, mustard-vinegar sauce, and micro broccoli. Eat both and you’ve just consumed 800% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Seriously.

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National Caviar Day: Indulgences for Every Budget

Caviar has been around for 250 million years, making it not quite as old as Earth itself, but one of our eldest delicacies. The first documented instance of caviar comes many millennia later, from grandson-to-Genghis Batu Khan in the year 1240, and it took nearly 600 more years for it to grow into the coveted culinary delight it is now renowned to be.  

Caviar is, typically, the roe, or eggs, of sturgeon, a fish with more than 20 species, many of whom we refer to by common names familiar to caviar fans, such as beluga. However, as our cooking cultures have evolved, chefs and home cooks have appropriated the idea of caviar, creating “caviar” out of everything from eggplant to black beans and corn (Yippee ki-yay for cowboy caviar!).

According to a Google Ngram Viewer query, it reached its pinnacle of popularity in 1986, right around the old “greed is good” days. But, caviar is still fashionable, and it isn’t just for folks born with a mother-of-pearl spoon in their mouths. A taste of the real stuff can be yours for a price that won’t break the bank. In honor of National Caviar Day, we’ve rounded up indulgences for every budget from 14 restaurants around the nation. PS: We’ll let you decide for yourself whether it pairs best with Champagne or vodka (Team Craig Claiborne, FTW, in my opinion).

Brennan’s of Houston, Houston, Texas
Executive chef Danny Trace adds elegance to his deliciously layered take on a favorite sport-watching snack with his blue crab and caviar nachos. Fire-roasted corn, Saint-André queso, alligator pear (a.k.a. avocado) mirliton pico de gallo, and lime crema rest on crispy chips — and the whole thing is crowned with an ounce of Petrossian caviar. Dig in for $100. You may not want to share, even if your team is winning.

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Catch, Santa Monica, California
How do you make lobster even more luxe? Add black truffle and California caviar, of course. That’s what executive chef Alberico Nunziata does (along with a bit of green apple for acidic balance) at this restaurant in Hotel Casa del Mar! The fresh, light shellfish is the perfect canvas for the rich flavors of these affluent ingredients. It’s yours for the eating at $23.[Photo courtesy of Hotel Casa del Mar]

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Faith & Flower, Los Angeles, California
Potato salad has its origins in European cooking, so it’s no surprise that the staple of homegrown picnics returns to its roots at Faith & Flower, one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants of 2014. The warm new potato salad from executive chef Michael Hung is made with a creamy grain-mustard vinaigrette and generously topped with trout caviar – for just $14.

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Found Kitchen and Social House, Evanston, Illinois
While many people seek out the extravagant beluga and osetra caviars, chef Nicole Pederson stays true to her mission of offering locally-sourced ingredients, serving 30 grams of beautiful American paddlefish ($44) and hackleback caviar ($55). Crème fraîche and toast points accompany each elegant and simple dish.

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L’Etoile, Madison, Wisconsin
The flavors are big and fresh in the premier dish of the $125 seven-course tasting menu at L’Etoile. James Beard Award-winning chef Tory Miller combines local Blue Valley Gardens asparagus with smoked trout, radishes, and cattail shoots, topped with hollandaise and decadent smoked trout roe, for a light-yet-indulgent first course.

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Mas (farmhouse), New York, New York
You need a line of credit to do a caviar tasting, right? Not at Mas you don’t! The appetizer menu is an affordable way to sample wild American malossol caviar with traditional accompaniments of toasted brioche, crème fraîche, and shallots. The paddlefish is $38 for ½ ounce portion + $76 for 1 ounce. Hackleback is $42 and $84, respectively. Or, sample the wild king salmon gravlax with paddlefish caviar, baby red beets, spring onions, horseradish crème fraîche, and an ‘everything’ tuile on chef Galen Zamarra’s tasting menu.

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Minton’s, New York, New York
Down-home ingredients meet uptown extravagance with chef J.J. Johnson’s roasted Okinawa sweet potato entrée with crème fraîche onion dip and paddlefish caviar. The roast-y root vegetable is the clear star, but the supporting cast has just the right amount of flash. Try it for $29. [Photo by Liz Barclay]

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Niche, Clayton, Missouri
Chefs Gerard Craft, the 2015 James Beard Best Midwest Chef, and executive chef Nate Hereford create their own caviar in this seductive egg amuse bouche. Missouri egg custard is made with Illinois maple and maple vinegar, roasted shitake mushrooms, and a trout “caviar” fashioned from strong smoked trout stock seasoned with housemade trout garum and set with agar agar to mimic the look and umami flavor of caviar. It is available as part of an eight-course tasting menu. [Photo courtesy of Greg Rannells]

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Petrossian Paris Boutique & Restaurant, West Hollywood, California
You can’t talk about caviar without mentioning the Petrossian name, which has been synonymous with caviar since the company was founded in Paris in 1920. Executive chef Giselle Wellman created a carb-y (yet delicate) caviar dish with housemade pasta, crème fraîche, chives, and caviar (of course!), garnished with Petrossian’s trademarked Caviar Powder. Order it at dinner for $22 for a half portion and $35 for a full plate.Continue Reading