Our clients and rep chefs continue to surprise and delight us with not only their feedback but the decadent dishes that they make in our commercial ovens. In this post, we had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Daniel Tibbetts, Chef at The Gabriel Group.
In addition to recounting his inspiring career successes with us, he also shared a mouthwatering recipe for Brick Oven Roasted Scallops with Warm Michigan Corn Salad.
From a young age Dan knew that cooking was going to be a large part of his future.
He began assisting his aunt who was a private chef and acquired a hunger to learn and grow his culinary knowledge. Dan started his career in Culinary Arts in high school and working at a country club in his hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts. At the suggestion of his first Chef, Dan attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduating he had a career that took him to Vermont, Massachusetts, New York City and Chicago. He has held positions in many areas of the hospitality industry including privately owned restaurants, commissary kitchens, Country clubs and Five Star, Five Diamond Hotels.
With a lengthy career in culinary operations already on his resume, Chef Dan set out on a new adventure pivoting into sales. With positions held in food sales and restaurant equipment sales under his belt Dan moved into his current role with the Gabriel Group as salesperson and Chef, a position he has held for the past three years. After working with our ovens day in and day out, he says, “ I really enjoy the gas rotator and especially those that have a wood assist feature. Being able to set a very accurate temperature and a rotation time is such a helpful feature for chefs and cooks in the field. Consistency is key and when you have a busy restaurant having a Marra Forni Rotator helps with consistency and speed.”
What Chef Dan loves most about his job is being able to stay connected to the industry he loves without having the typical hours a chef would have. “It’s also fun to be connected to so many different food service and hospitality projects and seeing people succeed,” he says.
Here are a few of the questions we asked Chef Dan:
- What ovens do you sell the most of and why?
- I always recommend the Rotator. Its Versatility/ speed/ accuracy can really help elevate your food and service in a plethora of different styles of foodservice.
- How would you describe your culinary philosophy?
- My culinary philosophy has changed so much over the years. There are so many important aspects to cooking and hospitality. My philosophy is now based on vibe. To have an incredible dining experience doesn’t mean you have to be seated at a Three Star Michelin restaurant or in some Café in Europe or NYC. All the vibes need to be right – If the cook had a bad day the food may be subpar. If the guest feels out of place the food and service may seem below average. Everything needs to line up just right. You can have one of the best meals of your life and make a memory in someone’s back yard when everything seems to align.
- What distinguishes MF as a manufacturer in your opinion?
- The Family. The Marra Family views the ovens as part of their family. And when that kind of love and devotion is put into a product you can rest assured its going to be at the highest level of quality.
- What can you cook in a wood-fired pizza oven?
- Anything and everything! From Slinging 90 pizzas an hour to slow braising pork shoulders overnight. I have cooked whole sweet potatoes for a puree to searing steaks.
- How do you think MF ovens fit into future industry trends?
- I think coming out of the Covid years we are seeing that restaurants had to pivot their menus and service styles. We should see more and more places opening up having built their business on the idea that it needs to be able to change at a moment’s notice. So, having a piece of cooking equipment in your restaurant that can be used in a variety of different ways will fit in to this continuing trend.
- How does a wood-fired pizza oven work?
- Seasoned wood is used to get your oven up to a certain temperature and then maintaining that fire throughout the day. Its usually built up on one side so the flames roll over the top creating heat from all sides. Its really an art form to cook using wood fire. It takes skill and craft to know when to tend the fire and to maintain a consistent temperature.
- Is a pizza oven worth the investment for a commercial kitchen?
- Absolutely – it brings a level of sophistication and romance to cooking. You’re not just dropping something in a fryer. You can see, feel, and taste the difference when something has been cooked in a Marra Forni oven.
- Why is a brick oven (specifically) good?
- I think it is Great! Especially Marra Forni brick ovens because they have the proprietary bricks from Italy that really are the best in the industry for retaining and dispersing heat. Having a brick oven brings a piece of cooking equipment into your establishment that has been in use for thousands of years. Brick oven cooking adds a level of fun and creativity to any foodservice establishment.
Brick Oven Roasted Scallops with Warm Michigan Corn Salad
I’m a big proponent of utilizing the oven in as many ways as possible - most people immediately think of pizza, which is outstanding, but I really like cooking proteins like steaks and seafood and even roasting whole vegetables in the Marra Forni oven.
This recipe is a signature dish of mine as it ties in with my roots to Massachusetts by incorporating one of my favorite crustaceans – Scallops - and using local in season ingredients from Michigan where I currently reside. Tender U -10 sea scallops are at the center of this dish. They are seared in a hot cast iron pan in the Marra Forni oven which produces a great sear and cooks them extremely fast. I pair this with a warm corn salad consisting of bacon, shallots, baby tomatoes and Michigan sweet corn. The same corn is used to make a corn puree as the base of the dish. And we finish with some Tarragon and lemon compound butter. The dish can be served as an individual plate or family style.
Click here to download the recipe.
Here is the video on how to make the dish: