POM Chef Q&A With Mat Schuster of Canela Bistro in SF
To celebrate the season, we’re talking to some of our favorite chefs to see what they enjoy most about fall.
First up, we had a chat with chef Mat Schuster of Canela Bistro & Wine Bar in San Francisco. We discussed his favorite autumn produce, where he dreams about traveling during the fall and winter months to get culinary inspiration, and how he uses pomegranates in his dishes.
POM: What are some of your favorite fall fruits and veggies to work with?
Chef Mat Schuster: Personally, I love Jarradale pumpkin and love to roast it. We work with a local farmer who brings me lots of them during the season. I also like pomegranates — both using the seeds for salads, as well as juicing them for sauces.
What do you love about cooking this time of year?
Braises, stews, earthy flavors of fall, warm foods, rich sauces with tender meats…
How would you describe your cooking style?
I think my style is a bit of a mash up, probably like many people. I was actually just thinking about this because I went to see “100 Foot Journey” over the weekend.
I grew up in a Jewish family in Texas, so there are two strong culinary traditions right there. Then I spent a part of college in Rome and was later trained in a classic French style after I returned to the States. Having lived in California for the past 14 years has definitely given me a love of our great produce, seafood, local meats and cheeses. I have also been a student of Spanish cuisine for the past 9 years, having traveled there almost 20 times and learning recipes from family over there. So it’s definitely worldly and eclectic.
How do you work with pomegranates, either in the restaurant or at home? Any simple tips for home cooks?
One of my favorite things to do is juice them. I fell in love with this when I was in Israel. We were in the open air markets and they were juicing them on the street directly into cups. It was one of the most refreshing treats of the trip. I still love to juice them and turn them into sauces, and even make a winter gazpacho.
Where is your dream vacation to take over the holiday break?
It would be pretty amazing to go back to Tel Aviv and sip some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice at a cafe table on the beach with my feet dug into the sand!