Executive Chef Anthony Bar decided that since he was unable to continue cooking at Meritage Restaurant at Callaway Winery due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent quarantine orders, he would share a little bit of his knowledge in the kitchen with his followers on social media.
“Most of the people, 99% of American people, don’t choose to eat at home every single day,” Bar said in a phone interview. “Most of them like going out to a restaurant at least three or four times a week, so, I can understand that it’s challenging for people to now have to figure out what they are going to eat each day.”
He started the series of videos and photo recipes on his Instagram account, “Chefanthonybar,” by explaining that he wanted to share a little bit about what he is cooking at home these days and how simple the recipes can be.
“It’s not fancy. It’s not fine dining food. I am eating what I am cooking for myself,” he said. “Just trying to show (how to) use all the ingredients you have, thinking about what do you have in your refrigerator right now and what you can do with it.”
Bar has a culinary arts program degree as an executive chef from the renowned school of Michel Servet in Lille, France, and has a Brevet d’Etudes Professionnelles Degree from the Academy of Lille, also in Lille, France.
He finished in fourth place at the Maurice Des Ombiaux European Cooking Competition in 2003 and was third in the Best Assistant Chef in France in 2002.
He has more than a decade of experience as an executive chef at La Maison du Faubourg in Quebec, Canada, and has been at Meritage Restaurant since October 2019.
“I just want the people in Temecula to be home and enjoy cooking and discovering something new,” Bar said. “We all are in the same situation. We are all bored with what we are watching on the TV right now, so, it’s just another thing to watch. I can give you some tips, give you information on what you should cook. It doesn’t cost me anything because that’s what I do for a living, and I am passionate about it.”
With his extensive background as an executive chef and in fine dining, home cooks might expect that his creations are very difficult to follow.
Not so, he said.
“When people see my plating and all that, they always think it’s tricky and only chefs can do it,” Bar said. “I just want to show people that there’s nothing tricky about being a chef – everybody can do it if you want to.”
He said the recipes he is showcasing are simple, but they are dishes he could sell in his restaurant if he was open.
“It’s just simple food,” Bar said.
On Friday night, April 10, Bar shared his recipe for chocolate mousse. The recipe features just 125 kilograms of dark chocolate, 25 grams of butter and three eggs. He shows his followers how to make it in his Instagram story.
He has shown his audience how to make dishes such as Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur.
“Everybody thinks it’s very hard to do,” Bar said. “But I am showing the people that it is very simple to do. You can do it with your kids, and it will take you like 30 minutes of your day.”
He said the key to his lessons is the simplicity of the process. He said most of the recipes take less than 15 minutes of prep time and less than 30 minutes of cooking.
That’s time most people have at their disposal these days.
“It is easy if you know how to do it,” Bar said. “I’m lucky because I went to school for it. My dad is a chef, so for me it’s like common sense. But I realize that a lot of people think it’s difficult because they don’t know how to do it.”
He said he knows that people have the option of picking up food from restaurants and fast-food joints, but he hopes people will learn how easy it is cook at home.
“I want people to find a balance,” Bar said. “OK, that’s fine if you want to go to the fast-food one time or two times a week. The rest of the time you need to learn to cook simple stuff at home, and it’s going to be way more healthy for you. Make sure you find the balance of what you’re eating.”
He wants people to experiment with what they already have in their refrigerator and pantry.
“Reinvent everything. Don’t have a recipe in your head, just look at what you have in your refrigerator,” Bar said. “Really use all the stuff you have at home before you have to go outside and get groceries.
“It’s all about having fun,” he said.
He said people should try to involve their children as well.
“You can take one or two hours and work on these together,” Bar said. “Then you don’t have to worry about them watching too much TV or doing something stupid.”
He said it is important to educate children about the benefits of cooking at home and what each of the ingredients do for humans.
“When they are kids, they need to understand those things because this is something they are going to use when they grow up,” Bar said.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.