The perfect raft trip Pad Thai |

The perfect raft trip Pad Thai

Susan StoneHighland Foodie

When I asked a friend to name the best cook she knew, she paused briefly and said, Kate LeVasseur – she made an awesome Pad Thai on our raft trip.Love and devotion. These two words summarize Personal Chef Kate LeVasseurs passion for food and cooking. Youd have to be passionate to produce a meal like Pad Thai on a river trip where the sand, wind and managing food in the coolers are a bit more challenging than cooking in the comfort of ones own kitchen. As she said, It forces you to plan ahead and get it right.I look forward to a LeVasseurs book of river recipes, which she has compiled, but not yet published. It will contain information from planning stages to presentation and, of course, cocktails. In the meantime, she has graciously shared her Pad Thai recipe, which is a twist on the traditional recipe – for the betterment of flavor.LeVasseurs devotion to her craft means she keeps a journal when she dines out so she can recall the subtle nuances of the chefs interpretation of a dish, the ingredients used and wine pairings. She seeks out new inspirations and food adventures, loves to find new ways to work with familiar ingredients and to try new ingredients.She not only loves to cook, she loves having people enjoy the food she prepares for them. And she loves to make the foods people love.These traits are critical to the success of a personal chef. After all, you must please the palate of the person or family for whom you cook. (A personal chef comes to your home and cooks your favorite food for you – how great is that?)In addition to 18 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, LeVasseur honed her skills at Cook Street Culinary School in Denver. She is a member of the American Personal Chef Association, is fully insured and Serve Safe Certified.As a child, LeVasseur played restaurant, so she has always been interested in good food. Her experience in restaurants as an adult revealed her desire to work in a more creative environment, one not constrained by a set menu. Being a personal chef fulfills her desire to be more creative, to create new and interesting dishes. Sources of inspiration to LeVasseur include books, magazines and the Food Network. I asked what her Food Network show would be – LeVasseur responded, A cross between Anthony Bourdains No Reservations and Bobby Flays Throwdown Challenge. She loves to read anything by Bourdain and to cook from Bobby Flays cookbooks. Other cookbook stalwarts are Joan Stromquists “Santa Fe Recipe” and “Santa Fe Lite & Spicy Recipe” – LeVasseurs favorite on page 183, the Ore House Grilled Salmon with Spinach Pecan Pesto. From The Bon Appetit Cookbook, edited by Barbara Fairchild, LeVasseur loves to prepare the Pan Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shitake Cream Sauce found on page 398. Chef Al Sapien is LeVasseurs local inspiration – she loves his out-of-print Culinary Creations Collections, from his days as chef at the Shed restaurant years back in Winter Park. LeVasseurs kitchen always contains sea salt, good olive oil, dried chilis, fresh pepper to grind and her favorite tools: the Microplane grater, the Kitchen Aid stand mixer and her food processor. In summertime, she loves to go to the farmers market in Granby for fresh produce. She also shops at Winter Park Market and at Middle Park Meats in Kremmling.To hedge against escalating food prices, LeVasseur grows herbs, sugar snap peas and chard in containers on her balcony. She recommends to those on limited budgets to, Grow your own spinach and lettuce for your salads. Shes right. You cant beat the flavor of lettuce freshly plucked from your garden. Were lucky to have the perfect climate for these tender greens.LeVasseurs most successful improvised dish was Seafood Crepes with Pernod Cream Sauce (tomato based, with Provencal flavors, orange zest and finished with cream). Her go-to, hands-down favorite meal to cook is Roasted Poblanos stuffed with goat cheese and crabmeat.Chef Kates Pad ThaiServes 8For the Peanut Sauce, blend:1/2 cup coconut milk1/2 cup peanuts (or peanut butter)1/4 cup rice wine vinegar1/4 cup ponzu (or soy sauce)1 Tbs. sweet soy sauce*1 Tbs. garlic1 Tbs. red curry paste1/2 cup basilDrizzle in, while blender whirs:2 Tbs. sesame oil1/2 cup vegetable oilYou will also need:1 pkg. rice noodles2 lbs. peeled and de-veined medium-sized shrimp1 1/2 cup carrots, julienned1 1/2 cups sprouts8 cups mixed field greens or mesclun2 Tbs. chopped peanuts4 Tbs. sweet soy sauce8 wooden skewersSoak skewers in water for 30 minutes. Cook rice noodles according to instructions on package. Divide the shrimp onto the 8 skewers, brush with peanut sauce and then grill them for 4 to 6 minutes per side.In a hot wok, saut carrots and sprouts in 1 Tbs. vegetable oil. Add peanut sauce and noodles and stir fry until hot. Garnish with chopped peanuts, sweet soy sauce, field greens and shrimp skewers.*Note: Sweet soy sauce is available in the Asian foods section at Safeway.More information on LeVasseurs business, Winter Park Personal Chef Service, can be found at her website or phone (970)531-8069 or e-mail her at Contact Susan Stone, The Highland Foodie, at or 970-531-1952 for clarifications or with comments or suggestions for future articles.

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