Mondelēz International is fortunate enough to have an exceptional chef in residence. With over 25 years of professional culinary service, Executive Chef Patty Mitchell knows her way around a recipe, and she’s sharing what inspires and delights her in and out of the kitchen.
Constantly coming up with the next big idea is no easy task. That’s why Chef Patty looks to all places—and all ingredients— for inspiration. From finding new flavors to pioneering new ways to use classics, Chef Patty is sharing the inside story on how ingredients help to shape her greatest, and most exciting, creations.
How do you develop recipes using ingredients in unexpected ways?
I combine my experience from what I enjoy eating and a multitude of flavor preferences in ways that I hope will create something new and different—sometimes having a dramatic effect and sometimes just slightly swaying from the original concept. For example, I have a good friend who loves carrot cake. For his birthday, rather than bake the typical carrot cake, I molded a thin sheet of carrot cake into a long tube mold. I then filled it with caramelized pineapple jam infused with vanilla bean and star anise and a mousse made with white chocolate and cream cheese. I garnished the cake with crispy pineapple chips. Not fancy but different.
How have ingredients surprised you when you tried them in a new recipe?
Sometimes you find that a new ingredient in your pantry goes particularly well where you didn’t expect and doesn’t work in something you were sure it would shine in.
One of my favorite new recipes we’re working on for 2019 is the RITZ Pimento Cheese Dip with a RITZ Fried Pickle. I’m seeing pimento cheese dips a lot, it seems to be on trend.
In our version, we use some of the juice from the pickles and ground RITZ Crackers. The buttery, salty and sweet flavors from RITZ balance the acidity from the pickle really well.
Have you ever been surprised by a flavor pairing that didn’t come out as planned?
While playing around with ingredients, I’ve done a ton of stuff that hasn’t worked out. Some things just take more trials.
I once made a biscotti with OREO Cookie that I thought would be super easy. It was not easy at all. It didn’t deliver on the brand equity that I wanted. I did a plain biscotti with just vanilla. Biscotti can be hard to work with and it just wasn’t letting the OREO Cookie flavor shine the way I expected it to. When that happens, I’ll keep trying and modifying things until I am happy with the result.
When I was developing OREO Cookie Butter and OREO Cookie Dough, I had to do 15 iterations of each. For food safety reasons, I wanted it edible out of the refrigerator and not too hard. I wanted the right texture for each of them, so I had to play around with them a lot.
What ingredient attributes do you try to highlight when creating recipes?
In general, you want to highlight the attributes of each product that make the consumer fall in love with it. And that could be different for each person, but there are still those steadfast attributes that everybody is going to notice. For example, OREO Cookies have deep dark notes of cocoa, and we want to make sure it has the vanilla creme flavor. We also want to look at the textural attributes.
I’m only satisfied when it not only tastes great, but it achieves exactly what I want from the ingredients. It’s a fight I fight every day to determine how much OREO Cookie I put in my recipes to make sure the brand equity comes through.
When you make a dessert with OREO Cookies, you want your customer to see it, because that will help sell it. And then of course it has to taste like it. Our Edible Cookie Dough made with OREO Cookies, for example, looks like an OREO Cookie. Just seeing it makes you want to take a bite of it. It looks like ice cream but it’s cookie dough and it’s intriguing.
For RITZ Crackers, there are a lot of attributes that you want to capture when you’re using it. You can’t do something that tastes like RITZ without the texture of a RITZ Cracker. You want it to be flaky; it’s a softer crumb. When you eat RITZ they just dissolve in your mouth. It’s not a crunchy crispy, but more of a soft crispy, for lack of a better term. It’s buttery and salty with a slight undertone of sweetness. And if you left that sweetness out, you’d be missing something. The color is not too dark—like a deep-fried item—but it’s not too white either. It’s somewhere in the middle. Visually you have to look for the color and texture—a softer, not overwhelmingly crunchy bite.
What are examples of ingredients that have multiple applications in different recipes (for example, sweet and savory)?
A lot of times you want to play off opposites: hot and cold, salty and sweet. I worked on a recipe for Mondelēz International that incorporated NUTTER BUTTER variegate with a savory, spicy noodle dish. You might not think to add it to a savory pasta but the Spicy Peanut Dressed Pasta with NUTTER BUTTER Variegate has a nice balance of sweet and heat. So in this case, you’re playing off of the sweetness of the cookie, the savory of the peanut butter and soy sauce, and the spice of the chili sauce. This recipe is a good balance of sweet, salty, spicy and acidity.
OREO Cookie can be used in multiple applications as well—both sweet and savory dishes. I created Ribs with a BBQ Sauce made with OREO Basecake. A lot of BBQ sauces have sweetness added to them, it balances well with the fattiness of the pork for ribs. You get nice savory notes from the pork and you have the acidity of the BBQ sauce. The sweetness takes it down and softens the flavor a little bit—the cocoa from the OREO Basecake mellows it.
How do you develop unique concepts and recipes using Mondelēz products?
No matter where I go, if I see an ingredient somewhere it can make me think of something completely different. It could be a publication, it could be when I’m dining out. It could even be ideation sessions with other chefs. Or sometimes trial and error. There is no one way.
But no matter what, my brain immediately jumps to “how can I use this?” How can I reinvent this using one of my brands? Which Mondelēz products would it pair best with? What other ingredients will highlight the flavors? I’m always tuned into how I can take it to the next level with a Mondelēz International product.
What are some tips for other chefs or restaurant operators looking to develop new recipes that transform ingredients?
Look at trends but most importantly look at what your customers have been buying from you year after year. Maybe you have something as simple as an apple pie on your menu, but people come there for that pie. How can you repurpose ingredients that you already have? Why not turn that apple pie into a shake or different type of dessert? Make an ultimate milkshake and throw some GOLDEN OREO Cookies in there. You’re selling a branded item, so you’re hopefully going to get more consumer interest because you’ve elaborated on this apple pie and you’ve added a brand with which people are familiar.
What do you think about when garnishing desserts? How do you think of what garnish to use when plating a dessert?
Personally, I like to have the item that I’m making steal the show, so I want to use a garnish that doesn’t take away from that. When I think of garnishes for dessert, I’m thinking of something that adds to it or that is associated with the dessert in some way.
If you’re going to make an tiramisu with OREO Cookies, maybe you could do an OREO Cookie Tuile? So you’re still using OREO Cookie but you’re adding a crispy garnish to it. And that’s a whole different element. If your dessert is going to be creamy, like a tiramisu, I’d want to add a crispy component. You want to bring balance to the dessert with garnishes where the balance may be lacking.
Sometimes you want to bring color to your dessert, but it isn’t always necessary. I’ve never put color on just to have color. I wouldn’t throw a strawberry on the plate just because the dessert is brown.
Why is it important for restaurants to think about how food is presented, and not just the food itself? How does it help connect them to a younger audience?
The younger audience is intrigued when something is unique—when you can take a classic dish and put a new spin on it.
Social media sharing is either: “it tastes so good, I want to share it” or “it looks so good, I want to share it.” It’s not always easy to make it look like a ultimate shake but you can make it taste good and really get the customer to try it. So you have to find balance of flavor and visual appeal if you want something to go viral.
The visual aspect shouldn’t, in my opinion, be the focus, but I understand that it often is. With that said, research new ways to serve your items. This will hopefully give you inspiration on how to change the item itself to fit into new service ware or packaging. Think about how can you take what is currently on trend and add it to your dessert in a new, smart way that doesn’t feel like you are just jumping on a trend.
TASTY TRAVELS with CHEF PATTY
When planning her next great adventure, local cuisine and culinary discovery play a major role in Chef Patty’s decision. From Thailand to Cambodia, France to Mexico and other locales, the flavors of each delicious destination have inspired her in more ways than one. Chef Patty brings a piece of each unique place home in her heart—a spice, an exotic ingredient, an emerging trend—and pours the experiences into her recipes. With so many cultures and cuisines yet to explore, we sat with Chef Patty to learn more about how she satisfies her culinary wanderlust.
What do you love most about culinary travel?
Experiencing different cuisines throughout my travels only made me want to travel more. The cuisine is such a big part of every culture, it’s evident when I travel. From the simplicity of seeing locals cooking on the streets of Vietnam to talking to a cheese shop owner in Italy while tasting freshly made cheese, and everything in between.
Where have your culinary adventures taken you?
I’ve traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Spain, Italy, France, Mexico, England and of course, many states within our own country.
I’ve loved, and am inspired by, everywhere I’ve gone. I want to continue to experience more cultures and their cuisines, but I especially enjoy Southeast Asia. The food is fresh and flavorful, and the local people are so friendly and happy. It makes me appreciate what I have at home even more and to not take it for granted.
What’s your favorite part about Southeast Asian cuisine?
I like the freshness of [the food]. Fresh herbs … fresh seafood, the spices not typically found in American cuisine. I’ve been to a lot of food markets there, and it’s remarkable the amount of ingredients they have to flavor the food—from fish paste to curries. And they make everything by hand. I haven’t been to Korea but I’d love to go just for the kimchi variety alone.
Any tips on how to plan a great culinary tour?
Every time I plan a culinary tour for a customer, I learn more about how to better plan the next one. Proper planning starts by discovering and aligning with the customer’s specific needs and goals. Once I choose my stops, I plan what to discuss at each location and how it relates to their business: why we’re here, what’s the big idea, what can we take away, etc. Don’t look at the menu items at each stop for exactly what they are but what they can be for the customer.
Visit each location ahead of time and, if possible, speak to the owner or manager to see if they’d be willing to talk to your group about how they came up with their concept. On your pre-tour, ask for other local recommendations. You have to be open to seeing where the day takes you.
In fact, we were waiting for waffles at Dolly Llama in Los Angeles when a man walked in holding a slushie from Taste of Universal. It looked so cool and aligned with the kinds of concepts our customers wanted for their business. We asked him where it came from and immediately headed down the street to try a slushie. It was a really cool experience.
Foodies in the industry are especially willing to share super-cool places, because the best places might not be mainstream. Like black ice cream—you can find out where it is and what everybody thinks of it on the internet, but the place down the street that you’ve never heard of might be better.
What’s a “wow” flavor moment you weren’t expecting?
Everywhere I go, I try to find where the locals are eating and loving it—both old standbys and new places. In December 2017, I had great ribs at Pappy’s in St. Louis. They were Memphis–style ribs, which I had never experienced before.
These ribs were unusually sweet compared with ribs I usually eat. Then there was some spice and very light heat. There wasn’t any sauce on the ribs; in fact, they looked dry. Part of the rub is massaged into the raw meat before it’s smoked. At the end, you add the remainder of the dry rub. So, they might look particularly dry, but they’re actually not dry at all. Then you get this sweet, light heat flavor right away and you get the fattiness of the rib and the smokiness.
It was surprising and really quite good. I started thinking about how I could incorporate OREO into smoked ribs and came up with a really flavorful recipe.
How do your travels inspire you in the kitchen?
I especially enjoy using spices or spice blends that I taste during my travels. I like to think of different ways I can use them in my cooking at home or development for my job.
The recipes you’ll find on the Culinary Center are influenced by current trends, my travels and customer interest. We have to think about who our customer is, who their customer is and how the recipe is going to be used. This year, though, we’ll probably do the most out-of-the-box items yet. We’re currently working on some exciting recipes for 2019.
The bubble waffle was becoming more trendy and I wanted to jump on that to get ahead of the curve. But the version I created isn’t a traditional bubble waffle. Typically they’ll have some mochi flour or rice flour to get that chewy texture, but ours is just a standard waffle because you have to think of how to make an emerging trend easy for our customers to implement. They would probably have waffle batter or can easily obtain waffle batter, and it’s inexpensive. It’s a balance of here is something trendy but in a way that the customers can do it and be successful.
A lot of the really cool things are coming from Korea, Japan, different places in Asia. There is a large global influence on the current food trends we’re seeing. Right now there’s a hot trend around new and exciting ways to hold ice cream. The bubble waffles are still new, but they’ve been followed up by the fish cones (taiyaki) and waffle sticks that are decorated and more photo-worthy. Chefs are also doing a lot with shaved ice.
Any place in the U.S. in particular that’s really trendy? Where is the innovation coming from?
In every city you’re going to find chefs who are being super-creative. For example, New York City’s Ice & Vice has amazing ice cream. They’re doing unique ice cream flavors and novelties in their shop.
A lot of cities are influenced by their population. Orange County, which is only an hour from LA, has one of the highest concentrations of Vietnamese people in the U.S. So you’re going to find a lot of different Asian cuisines. It also has a big Mexican population. The ethnicities that live and are concentrated in and around the cities that you go to are really going to help to shape what cuisines are becoming more mainstream in those cities. For me, it’s Chinese cuisine in New York City, Cuban influences in Miami, and Polish flavors in Chicago.
Which of Your Recipes Have Been Directly Inspired by Your Travels?
My great-grandparents lived in Reading, PA., which is Amish country. I remember growing up, always having whoopie pies. I wanted to make one for Mondelēz for the longest time. The cake part is really a close match to the whoopie pies I had growing up, but it tastes like OREO. That was a fun one.
The Brioche Toast with OREO Spread comes from a pastry I made back when I worked at the Four Seasons in Maui. It isn’t the Bostock pastry, but it’s a close approximation of it. If it’s done well, the baked brioche is sliced, soaked in a flavored syrup, then spread with an almond crème and sprinkled sliced almonds. Then it’s baked again and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
We dip ours in vanilla syrup to go with the flavors of the OREO. Then we top it with an OREO spread instead of the almond crème and bake. It isn’t true Bostock, but it’s an OREO version of it.
Where are your favorite places to eat while on the road?
It depends on where I'm traveling. When I traveled to Spain I was focused on small local spots as well as Michelin-starred restaurants. Often when traveling, I like to find the small local spots. There are a lot of hidden gems you find that way and you’re also supporting family-owned businesses.
I also had my first Shake Shack experience a couple of weeks ago in Scottsdale, Arizona. I had an amazing burger and fries. I enjoyed it so much that I went again the next week in Orlando.
What place is on your travel bucket list and do you have any food plans for that location?
I have Portugal, Venice and Greece planned for 2018. I chose these places because I haven't been there. I usually start searching for where I would like to go a couple months ahead of time. I look for what local foods I can find to enjoy and try to learn as much as possible about what is local to each place.
I am looking forward to the gelato in Venice. Some say you should judge a gelato shop by the vanilla, but I judge by its pistachio and hazelnut flavors. If they do those well, then it’s a good shop. Their gelato should be naturally colored—no bright, artificial colors.
PATTY MITCHELL CRC, CMB
Executive Chef, Mondelēz International
Chef Patty was trained in both savory and sweet cuisine. Chef Patty has accumulated over 33 years of experience producing the highest-quality pastries, confections, ice creams, wedding cakes and baked goods in fine hotels, restaurants and the manufacturing industry.
As the Executive Chef for Mondelēz International Foodservice, Chef Patty works with customers to help them get the full potential out of the ingredients they purchase from Mondelēz International to create delicious products for restaurants, in store bakeries and C-Stores.
She is the creative engine for Mondelēz Foodservice recipe development. Focusing primarily on the independent owner-operator, her innovative recipes can be scaled for all customers.
Thanks to Chef Patty’s strong relationship-building skills she has accumulated many contacts in the industry in manufacturing, ingredients and many segments of the restaurant and grocery industry. Teamed with sales, Chef Patty is able to facilitate products from ideation to manufacturing at a faster pace because of her ability to translate customer needs into reality.
Chef Patty spent six years as a professional educator in two highly regarded culinary degree programs: The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, where she received her culinary degree, and The University of Hawaii. Chef Patty spent over nine years in bakery product development at Crestone Baking Company, Galaxy Desserts and the Culinary Institute of America.
Chef Patty holds the following certifications & professional memberships: Certified Research Chef from the Research Chefs Association, Certified Master Baker by Retail Bakers of America (2009), and Certified Hospitality Educator (2001) from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, and is on the Certification Committee of the Research Chefs Association.
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