Out and Proud Chef Jonathan Bardzik Talks Top Summer Food Trends

Credit: Martha Fitzsimon

Chef Jonathan Bardzik has made quite the name for himself in the culinary world that go beyond his amazing cooking abilities. For one, the dude is hot. Two, he has an approachable and lovable personality that you could easily see while perusing several different food-related channels.

He’s one of those chefs that I like to refer to as “The Bald and the Beautiful”. Others in this category are Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio and Food Network star Chris Santos just to name a few. They are the ones that keep your focus no matter what type of meal they are making.

Heck they could do a dish of eggplant and beets alone (both of those items can die) and I would still love it just based on their charisma and how they present it. Jonathan is no doubt in that list of men, and on top of that, he’s an out and proud chef who lives with his adorable husband Jason (one of our Bears You Should Know 2019) in our nation’s capital.  

Jonathan chatted with me while I was in DC recently about what he has going on in his burgeoning career, food trends he thinks will blossom in the warmer months and why it’s a great idea to cook at home as opposed to spending so much money on dining out and ordering in. Check it out.

What’s the latest in the culinary world that you are in?

It’s the start of a new season at the areas farm markets which means fresh ingredients, new recipes for my events. I’ve booked appearances every week from now through the end of 2019 and the opportunities to cook and speak in front of live audiences keep coming. I’m updating the calendar with events and my blog with new recipes as fast as I can! Plus, I’m shooting a new TV series later this year and we’re deep in planning for that. 

The warm weather is finally here. What do you think will be the biggest food trends we will see in the spring and summer? 

I love that we keep digging deeper and deeper into Asian cuisines. Cantonese has given way to the heat of Chinese Szechuan cooking and we’re exploring beyond Thai to look at Korean, Laotian and Vietnamese.  I love Asian food, so this makes me very happy!

The biggest trends I’m hoping to see are more cooking at home and a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Why? When it comes to cooking at home, I believe that life can and should be lived with joy each day and that is within reach daily by preparing a simple meal, setting a table and sharing it with the people we love. Even – and maybe most importantly – on those days when we sit at a table for one. 

As for seasonal ingredients, it’s great we can get our favorites all year round, but it becomes like Christmas every day. Just like we welcome the first flowers of spring and delight in the colors changing each fall, I think we should celebrate asparagus, zucchini and that first crisp, tart apple!

Do you have a food that you love working with during this time of year?

Spring is asparagus season. There is nothing like fresh local asparagus. It is sugary sweet like freshly hulled peas. At the start of the season my husband and I enjoy it still crisp, simmered in water with a vinaigrette or a poached egg. In a few weeks we move on to soups and simple stir-fries. One of my favorite recipes it to toss it with Portabella mushrooms and sirloin steak tips and drizzle it with Béarnaise sauce.

We all want fresh ingredients in our meals, especially over the next couple of months. How do you recommend many of us going about that without breaking the bank? 

I have two recommendations. First, buy seasonal fresh food. Ingredients that are in season and available locally tend to be in greater abundance and cost less. Even the asparagus being shipped from Mexico costs less when it’s in season in your area. Secondly, buy just what you eat. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Americans throw away 20% of the food we purchase. That averages about $2,200 per year, per household. That’s plenty of extra money to buy delicious, seasonal fresh ingredients.

Are there any favorite dishes you like to make? What are they?

I always say my favorite thing to cook is what I haven’t cooked yet. I love trying new recipes, new techniques and preparing new ingredients. My typical dinner at night begins with opening the fridge and seeing what’s inside from my visit to a farmer’s market over the weekend. That said, there are some regulars. I make a vinaigrette as part of almost every meal whether I’m dressing fresh greens or using it to sauce vegetables or meats. There’s also a special joy in preparing familiar dishes. You can just zone out and work on muscle memory. It’s almost meditative for me. 

Credit: Jonathan Bardzik

Some of us (hand raised) hate the idea of cooking all year round and prefer to order in. How do we break ourselves of that habit?

It was a tough one for me, but I gave up takeout and delivery for the entire year of 2018 and I’ve only had it a few times this year. For me, it was all about the commitment. Once I knew I wouldn’t be eating unless I cooked something, or made a dish ahead of time, the choice became easy: go hungry or cook. 

I know we’re all tight on time, but it only takes 7-10 minutes to cook a piece of fish and you can have an omelet and a salad ready in 5. Heck, in a pinch some cold cuts and a piece of fruit will fill your belly. Commit to doing it for 5 days and go from there.

You can find more on Jonathan, including his fantastic cookbooks and upcoming appearances, here.

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