Food & Drink

June 24, 2012

Interview with Pastry Chef Ben Roche of moto restaurant, Chicago

When Pastry Chef Ben Roche was in town recently I had a chance to sit and talk with him; he’s as entertaining as his “no rules and no boundaries” dessert creations or as some may call it, “molecular gastronomy”. Roche defines this style as “fun, purposeful, creative, and delicious”.  Roche is the Pastry Chef at Moto in Chicago and is the co-host of ‘Future Food’ on Discovery’s Planet Green network along with Moto’s Chef/Owner Homaro Cantu. Roche and Cantu play dual roles as chef and inventor combining both the scientific and artistic processes of cuisine, defying culinary convention by taking guests and fans on an awesome gastronomical ride. This week we find out about the man behind the LN2 as this week’s Chef in the Spotlight, Ben Roche.

Pastry Chef, Ben Roche

South Florida Food and Wine: Classic pastry chef goes rogue with no rules and no boundaries, you’re bucking the traditional system every step of the way; how did you discover your unique approach to baking and pastry?
Ben Roche:Well, I started out with the basics and knowing the foundations of more “classic” pastry. I think that is the basis for any type of modern cuisine. You must know the fundamentals; from there you can expand or develop creativity.

South Florida Food and Wine: Tell us about your restaurant, Moto in Chicago.
Ben Roche: Moto has been open since January of 2004 and it’s been a constant growth/progression/evolution since then. What we aim for is incorporating fun, originality, innovation, technology and a bit of science into the “fine dining” experience.

South Florida Food and Wine: Molecular Gastronomy. You and Moto’s Executive Chef, Homaro Cantu have built experience dining around this food science phenomena how did this come about for you?
Ben Roche: It’s more about creating an experience, on that is memorable and fun and, of course, delicious, more than it is creating a scientific anomaly. Originally, Moto was Homaro’s vision and after I came on (about 4 months after they opened) it was such a different approach to cooking for me (but it made a lot of sense) that I was able to just jump on board and help him to execute his vision and help him to take it further.

South Florida Food and Wine: When did you realize that baking and pastry was your passion?
Ben Roche: Right as I began culinary school. I attended Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI. My first ‘hands-on’ course was a bread class with Peter Reinhart, which was huge. I owe a ton of the drive and ambition to create “world-class” food to him and his teaching style and his talent. He is a master and I was lucky to get started with him. The other major moment was a demonstration of “25 Textures of Water” that I attended, given by Albert Adria, in 2002. At that point I realized that anything was possible.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite “sweet” item to make?
Ben Roche: I love making ice cream. I think, for me at least, it is the best texture/ way to convey flavors in a dessert. Or maybe I just like to eat it.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one go-to ingredient and why?
Ben Roche: That’s tough. It changes. For a while I was using Greek yogurt for a lot of things, sauces, ice creams…it has a beautiful natural creaminess and acidity. It is great to balance any dish. Right now I am using a lot of wood, actually. Bourbon barrels, burnt cinnamon, smoked cardamom husks, sassafras branches, etc.

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s not all about being in the kitchen for you making LN2 ice cream but your TV show, media partnerships, and recipe creation for NASA. How did all this happen; did you seek it out or did it find you, by way of nuclear fission?
Ben Roche: Most of the time we get approached by these groups. With the TV show, it was kind of destined to happen. Our food, not just the presentation but also the preparation, has always been very visual. We had done many segments on other people’s shows so eventually it just made sense to do it ourselves. We are never short on ideas.

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal and dessert be?
Ben Roche: I don’t even know where to begin…sorry!

South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to share a dessert with and why?
Ben Roche: I always love sharing desserts with my fiancé, Regina. She likes eating sweets more than I do (I mean, I work with them all day long, so I normally crave salty and bitter things) so she gets really into it. We like to discuss how a dessert either works or does not work for us.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one guilty pleasure food?
Ben Roche: Something greasy late at night after work.

South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at? other than your own
Ben Roche: Yusho, a restaurant by Matthias Merges. He was the Chef at Charlie Trotter’s when I worked there and probably one of my biggest influences as a chef. He’s the best I’ve seen and actually a very nice, down-to-Earth person. I have total respect for what he’s done and continues to do.

South Florida Food and Wine: Who would you most like to create a dessert for? And why?
Ben Roche: The last really fun, on-the-fly creation was a dessert for Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins. It was a hollow, frozen sphere of pumpkin ice cream, made to look like a pumpkin (complete with “vines” and “lines” down the sides of it), a few different pumpkin seed elements, different textures and I came out to the table with a giant “meat tenderizer” hammer hidden behind my back and after I described the dish I smashed each ice cream sphere with the hammer. He thought it was awesome. It’s moments like that where I have to stop and think, ‘when I was 14 I was watching this guy’s band on MTV, loving it. Now, I just served him something he says he’s “never seen anything like that before” and he just gave me a fist-bump.’ That was cool. I guess I like the opportunity of making a very specific dish for someone that I know will blow their mind.

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Ben Roche: I don’t even know, maybe one day I will find out. I try to keep busy, even when I’m not physically working at the restaurant. There is always something going on. As long as I am enjoying what I’m doing, or at least feeling that the work I’m doing is worthwhile, then I can be happy continuously pushing. It’s not a very “balanced” schedule though.

moto restaurant  945 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

2012 Spotlight Interviews
Girl Power, Interviews with Female Chefs, Vintners and Entrepreneurs
2011 Spotlight Interviews
2010 Spotlight Interviews

Love the South Florida food scene? Check out our newly published book (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95), Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale







 
 

 
Seafood Linguine Fra Diavolo

National Food and Drink Days in September

It’s always something, and national food and drink holidays are no exception. While seemingly silly and superfluous it is a public relations dream come true. How some of these commemorative days come into being is ironically ...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 
Advertisement
 
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
1

 

 
1394410_736843956329143_1152054614_n

2014 Delray Beach Wine and Seafood Festival Seminars

Delray Beach continues its’ decade long tradition of producing unique and entertaining street festivals. Now in its third year the 2014 Delray Beach Wine & Seafood Festival offers visitors the opportunity to stroll the pa...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 
 
Chefs Panel Delray Beach Wine and Seafood Festival

2014 Delray Beach Wine and Seafood Festival Chefs Panel Discussion

As if my big news about publishing a digital magazine wasn’t enough to keep me on my toes this summer; equally as exciting, coming down the pipeline, is our partnership with the dynamic event producers at Festival Managem...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

CAPTCHA Image

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>