Executive Pastry Chef Oralia Perez
At the Bloom and Bee at The Post Oak Hotel, the lovely indoor decor evokes the ambiance of a luxurious outdoor garden full of natural light and pastel hues. “From the very beginning,” Chef Oralia says, “we’ve had a focus on desserts—and on being as creative, even whimsical, as possible.”
Early on, Bloom and Bee served a unique twist on Baked Alaska, a dessert that quickly became a signature dish for them. As another eye-catching one, Chef Oralia and her team used a dry beehive with dried meringue and ice cream. The specifics of the flavors vary by season, and are usually fresh—and are topped by plucked viola petals to create a vision of bees flying around.
Chef Oralia also uses violas from The Chef’s Garden in savory applications, including salads. She sometimes uses them when they’re fresh. Other times, they’re dried and sprinkled with sugar. They’re even used in drinks in creative ways.
Executive Chef Matt Baker
Besides being the executive chef of Gravitas, Matt is also the owner—and, ever since the restaurant opened five years ago, they’ve used violas in dishes.
“I love how The Chef’s Garden’s violas are the perfect size, that of about a dime. This allows us to customize plates, using multiple ones on a single plate without it being overwhelming.”
Each year, Gravitas offers a seasonal salad as a first course with twenty-five to thirty items on the plate. “Violas play well in this dish because of their subtle sweetness. I also appreciate their nice bright colors—meaning, natural colors—that aren’t too exotic. Instead, they look classic, natural, elegant.”
At a previous restaurant where Chef Matt worked, violas were used in a chips and dip dish: a ranch flavored custard with trout roe and homemade potato chips. The roe was blanketed over a white herbed custard; on top were scattered violas in shades of orange, yellow, and purple.
“These violas hold up well without wilting or drying out too quickly,” he says, “so you get good usage.”
Executive Chef Malcolm Prude
A chef at Le Basque, Chef Malcolm loves all varieties of The Chef Garden’s edible viola flowers, including the mixed offering—and he also admits to a special fondness for blackberry sorbet. “These violas complement dark chocolate desserts at our dessert bar,” he says. “Meanwhile, we use the burnt honey sorbet with fish dishes, including a pan seared scallop where the combination of violas’ floral flavor and sweetness works well.”
In his canapes, Chef Malcolm uses individual viola petals, such as on a lobster roll, to add bright color. He also uses an arugula-viola combination as garnish on trays. At a recent luncheon held to raise breast cancer awareness, he ordered three hundred pink-purple violas and put one in each Cosmo drink.
“I love all varieties,” he says. “They’re all beautiful whether whole or as petals.”
Chef de Cuisine Justin Gomes
At Travelle at The Langham Chicago, we bring in a mixed variety of violas as they get used in so many of our outlets. Their versatility is a big part of why we bring them in.
Our Executive Pastry Chef Walleska Cianfanelli uses blackberry sorbet, blueberry cheesecake, and the banana cream violas. They provide the perfect contrast of color and elegance to our Costa Rica Reserva, a plate including Arabica coffee, cashew praline, and cafe con leche gelato.
You can also see them on a few of our cocktails as well; currently, it is best highlighted by one of our classics created in 2018 by Slava Borisov: the El Pajaro featuring mezcal, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Tawny Port, chocolate and walnut.
More About Vibrant Violas
To use them in your own dishes, you can choose from these viola varieties:
Banana cream violas
Blackberry sorbet violas
Blackberry swirl violas
Blue raspberry sorbet violas
Blueberry cheesecake violas
Blueberry cream violas
Blueberry lemon sorbet violas
Blueberry swirl violas
Burnt honey sorbet violas
Lemon meringue violas
Orange marmalade violas
Plum sorbet violas
Red raspberry sorbet violas
Red raspberry swirl violas
Rhubarb lemon violas
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