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Customer Profile - Featured Recipe

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Going Green

Like most independent operators, Jose Duarte, chef/owner of Boston’s Taranta, is always seeking ways to control costs. His road to green, eco-friendly practices was paved by simple mathematics. “I started looking into ways I could save money through cutting down on the restaurant’s operating overhead,” says Duarte. “The results were amazing, so it snowballed from there. If you save energy, you save money—it’s that simple."

Since starting his quest two years ago, he has implemented more than 30 green upgrades to his restaurant, including the installation of tankless water heaters, water-conserving spray heads and energy-efficient lighting. Through his efforts to save money on energy costs, he has found his calling in life. “I now look at every business decision with an eye toward being eco-friendly,” he says. On top of the cost savings, Duarte says there are other windfalls. “Eco-friendly practices have become relevant to our customers,” he says. “They care, and although we don’t market ourselves as a green restaurant, they find us. And the press! You get a lot of press when you make strides for the environment."

1. Installed two DW-200 Dual Technology Dual Relay Wall Switch Sensors in both bathrooms.

2. Installed two XL-C XLERETOR hand dryers. “They use 80% less energy than any other electric hand dryer,” says Duarte. He predicts that the dryers will pay for themselves in less than a year, and will offer a 95% cost savings over paper towels.

3. Switched to paper on top of tables instead of linens to minimize industrial washing. “This will help us save money, and we will be mixing the used paper with all compostable items as soon as we are ready to start separating all organic materials,” he says. Currently, he’s looking for post-consumer paper roll.

4. Installed tankless water heaters. Back in January, Taranta’s 100-gallon water-heater tank broke. “The cost of replacing with a similar tank was way over 10K,” says Duarte. “We then started research on what can we install that is energy efficient and environmentally friendly.” He landed on three Takagi TK-3 tankless heaters. “We are receiving a $300 rebate per unit,” he says. “The cost of installing the equipment was less than replacing [the old one with a traditional tank], and we will be saving at least 40% more gas than [if we were] running a tank.”

5. Installed low-flow/pre-rinse spray valves. “It’s one of the easiest and most cost effective energy-saving devices available for restaurants,” says Duarte. In addition to minimizing water consumption, water-heating energy and sewer charges are also reduced. “Our diswashers love the product because it is easier for them to rinse dishes before running them through the dish machine,” he says. According to Duarte, replacing a typical spray valve that flows up to three gallons of water per minute (GPM) with a low-flow unit (1.24 GPM) can yield the following results:

1 hour of use/day = 60 gallons (water savings)
2 hours of use/day = 120 gallons
3 hours of use/day = 180 gallons

Chef Jose Duarte

By the time he was four years old, it was clear that Jose Duarte was destined for the hospitality industry. At his family's home in Peru , it was not uncommon for guests to e greeted and welcomed by the young Duarte , who ushered them inside and offered refreshments.

In 1976, Duarte and his family left Peru for the town of Acarigua in Venezuela.

After high school, Duarte 's technical training in tourism began at the Universidad Nueva Esparta in Caracas , Venezuela . Following school, Duarte moved to Boston with a mind to improve his English and apply to hospitality programs within the US. Accepted to Lynn University in Boca Raton , Florida he began his studies in the Hotel and Restaurant School , balancing his academic workload with internships under the direction of chef-owner Marco Pindo at Ristorante Sapori. Duarte honed his skills within the hospitality industry by exploring a wide range of opportunities. As catering director for the Philadelphia Distance Run in '96, '97 and '98, he gained the necessary experience to start his own small catering operation. The catering gave him the freedom ad flexibility to head back to school for his MBA in food service operations. Once again at Lynn University , Duarte co-authored of a chapter in an introduction to Hospitality book, Senior Services Management , and prepared an instructor's manual for the Gourmet Camper, a multicultural food preparation and nutritional summer camp program. After finishing his Masters Degree in 1998 he accepted a position developing gourmet adventures for families from around the world with ESF Adventures.

In July 2000, Duarte once again settled in Boston, opening Taranta in Boston's historic North End. He was awarded with "Boston's most gracious host" by Stuff magazine 2006 and 2007. Taranta is a marriage between Italian and Peruvian Cuisine, using unique Peruvian Ingredients. Duarte participated in Madridfusion 07, 08, During the year 2007 Duarte has been a leader in the green movement in regards to sustainability and green business. His Restaurant Taranta minimized garbage production to 1%, composting and recycling, buying local, using green power, a vehicle that runs with used cooking oil, all energy efficient Lighting and appliances.

During 2007 he was able to reduce approximately 90 tons of CO2 equivalent. Using new products such as PLA and LED. He is also a regular TV guest on NECN TV Diner. Duarte received the "Green Business Award” 2008 from the City of Boston and his last accolade is the "Chefs of Chefs” Award by Rutherford Crystal at the Houston Food and Wine Week in June 2008.

The Recipe

Cassava Gnocchi with Peruvian-style Green Lamb Ragù

Yield: 4 servings

For the gnocchi:
1/2 pound cassava roots
1 small russet potato
all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground pepper

For the ragù:
2 cups chicha de jora or beer
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons ajì amarillo paste
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cubed
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch cilantro
2 cups chicken or beef stock

Make the gnocchi: Peel the cassava roots. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add salt, the cassava and the potato. Boil until the vegetables are tender (the cassava and potato may be done at different times). Remove from the water, peel the potato, and roughly chop. Remove the center fibers from the cassava, and roughly chop the roots. Place the cassava and potato in the bowl of a food processor, and sprinkle in a little bit of flour. Pulse to combine until you have a dough. Add more flour if necessary to get a consistent texture, but don’t add too much or overprocess. On a very lightly floured work surface, take a piece of dough and roll into a 1/2-inch-thick log. Cut the dough into bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife, and place on a cookie sheet or plate. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer, and freeze until the gnocchi are firm to the touch. At this point, you can place the gnocchi in a heavy-duty plastic bag because they will not stick together. Freeze until ready to use.

Make the lamb ragù: In a large bowl, combine the beer or chicha, paprika, aji amarillo paste, salt and pepper. Add the lamb cubes, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Remove lamb from the marinade, and pat dry. In a large pot over high heat, warm the olive oil, and sear the lamb until golden brown all over. Remove the meat from the pan, and set aside. Turn down the heat to medium, and add the remaining oil. Add the onion, and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and continue cooking until the mixture starts to become pale golden. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the cilantro with a bit of olive oil, and purée. Add the cilantro purée to the onion, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the stock, and bring to a boil. Add the lamb, cover and simmer gently over very low heat until meat is fork tender, around 3 hours.

To serve: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add salt. Add the gnocchi, and cook until tender. Drain, and toss with the lamb ragù. Serve with freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the side if desired.

Grilled Double-Thick Pork Chop with a Rocoto Chile-Sugar Cane Glaze
Yield: 4 servings
This dish is served with sautéed spinach and giant Peruvian corn as well as a seared yucca cake. You can make this dish with regular, single-cut pork chops, but it’s much more succulent with the doubles.

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup chancaca or raw sugar cane juice (aka panela or papelon)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
12 garlic cloves, smashed

For the spinach and giant Peruvian corn:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, julienned
3 cups spinach leaves
2 ears giant Peruvian corn

For the yucca cakes:
2 large yucca roots, peeled
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon

For the pork chops and glaze:
4 double-thick pork chops
freshly ground pepper
olive oil
8 ounces chancaca
4 tablespoons rocoto chile paste

Make the brine: In a large pot, mix all of the brine ingredients together, and add 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and stir to ensure that the salt and chancaca are dissolved. Let the brine cool in the pot, then place it in a large container, and add the pork chops. Cover, and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

Make the spinach and giant Peruvian corn:
In a sauté pan, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions, and cook until caramelized, about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Set aside.
Prepare a grill with both hot and medium cooking areas. Brush the Peruvian corn with a bit of olive oil, and grill over the medium-hot portion of the grill for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cut the kernels from the cob. Add to the caramelized onions along with the spinach. Sauté over medium heat until the spinach wilts. Set aside.

Make the yucca cakes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the yucca and salt. Boil until the yucca is tender, and drain. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil over low heat in a small sauté pan. Add the garlic cloves, and slowly cook until pale golden. Be very careful not to burn.

Remove the center fiber from the yucca, and place in a bowl. Smash with a fork, and add the roasted garlic and olive oil. Form this mixture into cakes about 1 1/2-inches in diameter, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and sear the cakes on both sides. 

Make the pork chops and glaze: Remove the pork from the brine, and pat dry. Season the chops with pepper, and brush with oil. Sear the chops directly over the hottest part of the open grill for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Then move the chops to the medium-hot area of the grill, cover the grill, and cook to desired doneness.
Meanwhile, heat the chancaca sugar in a small saucepan until it melts. Add the rocoto chile paste, salt and pepper. Stir, and set aside.

To serve: Divide the spinach and corn mixture among 4 plates. Add a seared yucca cake, and a pork chop to each plate. Drizzle the pork with the rocoto glaze mixture, and serve.

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