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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.