we pay homage to chefs in general – and to one in particular. Executive Chef John Klein, who is better known around restaurant506 at The Sanford House as simply “Chef John,” is the culinary artist whose masterpieces makes you say “yum” every time you pay a visit. You might know his food by now, but here you’ll learn a little about the man behind those delicious dishes.
Arlington Today: How did you decide to become a chef?
John Klein: My grandmother was a huge influence in my decision to become a chef. From a very young age I spent time with her in the kitchen learning the fundamentals of cooking. Her instruction was the foundation of my passion for food. In the ’90s I began to take notice of the Food Network and shows like “Iron Chef.” It was inspiring to see that I wouldn’t just be a cook; there was a legitimate career I could pursue. It takes a certain amount of competitive edge to be successful in this field, and I was lucky to have a mother that pushed me to never settle. Her influence has been the driving force of my advancement in the field.
AT: What training do you have?
JK: I have an Associates degree in Culinary Arts and Business Administration from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute of America. I am currently a member of the American Culinary Federation, and am in the process of pursuing my Certified Executive Chef certification.
AT: How long have you been associated with The Sanford House?
JK: I have been with The Sanford House for four years.
AT: What makes a chef great?
JK: A great chef is well-rounded; he knows a variety of cuisines and styles of cooking. A great chef recognizes his employees’ skills and sets them up for success by putting them in the right place with the right tools. A great leader dictates the attitude and energy for the day. He is the “rock” of the team by showing compassion and keeping people motivated.
AT: What are your specialty areas?
JK: My specialties are fine dining, ice creams and seafood. Here at The Sanford House we have developed a specialty, as well, in “Inspired American Cuisine.” I find inspiration from the melting pot of cultural influences in America right now. Globalization has brought the world to our doorstep, and we can meld these styles together to make truly unique dishes.
AT: Can you share a favorite recipe with our readers?
JK: Sure. Here’s my recipe for Pecan Crusted Crab Cakes:
Crab Mixture: 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat; 2 slices of white bread with crust cut off, diced; 1 whole egg; 1 cup of mayo; 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard; salt & pepper to taste
Breading Mixture: 1 cup pecans; ½ cup Panko bread crumbs; 1 tablespoon olive oil; salt & pepper to taste. Use olive oil or
clarified butter for sautéing
- In large bowl, combine lump crab with diced bread, salt and pepper to taste.
- In a separate bowl, mix mayo, eggs and mustard.
- Add mayo mixture to crab and toss together.
- In a food processor mix the pecans, Panko bread crumbs, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Take a 2-ounce scoop of the crab mixture and roll in the breading mixture.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil or clarified butter in a sauté pan on medium heat.
- Cook the crab patty until golden brown on each side.