South LA Meals Diaries: Chef Turok dazzles shoppers with ingenious flavors
Brian Menendez, also known as Chef Turok, has worn quite a few hats in his lifestyle: DJ, chef, author, baker, owner of Turok’s Cheesecakes. He’s carried out it all.
Chef Turok’s good expertise can be summed up by the origin of his nickname, “Turok,” which was supplied to him in large school as a nod to his inventive pursuits. He commenced a profession in tunes when he was 18, at which level his title grew to become Johnny Turok as his have homage to Johnny Carson.
“Once I started out doing the job in the kitchen it just progressed into Chef Turok, and I had a catering firm named Ready Turok due to the fact I was constantly completely ready to rock a kitchen area or a restaurant suitable on the location,” he explained.
And that suitable there is as accurate a assertion as at any time: Chef Turok rocks the cheesecake globe.
As informed by Chef Turok, his cheesecake journey started in his Salvadorian domestic, watching his mom in the kitchen and experimenting with distinct components that he identified all around the house. He then switched paths fully and started out DJing and even went on an underground hip-hop tour. On his way again from the tour, he had a further desire to improve his vocation path.
“I decided that I was heading to just take two months away from every thing to determine out what I actually want[ed] to do with my lifetime. Two days immediately after finding back from the tour, I observed a professional for the Cordon Bleu and it just brought again everything…Within that same week I just enrolled and went proper into school,” Chef Turok stated.
Right after ending culinary school, Chef Turok spent time as a sous chef at various restaurants. Sadly, 1 of these work opportunities ended with a operate-related harm that took him out of the sector for four decades. All through that time, he made a decision that if he couldn’t be in the kitchen, he would do the future most effective matter: take in delicious food items and publish about them. For the reason that of the incident, Chef Turok had acquired body weight, but he claims that this was an benefit in food-running a blog.
“You can never have faith in a skinny chef so I thought I was rather reputable with my dimension,” he explained, laughing.
Nevertheless, this career didn’t shell out the payments, so he searched for some thing else.
Chef Turok contacted a close friend who was promoting artisanal products and solutions at a coffee store in Boyle Heights and requested if he would sample a cheesecake.
“I told him that I make cheesecakes and if he liked them, he could market them,” Turok said. “If not then at the very least I tried. So I took actually the last 50 bucks that I had to get myself to the spot and I had him try them. As soon as he bit into it he actually just pointed and said ‘I want that.’ He acquired what I had on hand.”
In a stroke of fate, 30 minutes later, the Los Angeles Magazine food items writer and taco connoisseur Invoice Esparza showed up, tried the cheesecake and also liked it. Two months later on, Turok’s Cheesecakes was highlighted in the journal. Due to the fact then, Esparza has invited Chef Turok to all the festivals he has arranged.
“It was just the proper position at the suitable time. I couldn’t have asked for anything else. So then I just held hustling and attempting to get into diverse destinations and was usually on the grind,” Turok explained.
The recipe for these now-popular cheesecakes was developed when Chef Turok was in a cheesecake-creating course at culinary school. Up until eventually that place, he had by no means baked.
In fact, he walked into course that working day under no circumstances possessing even designed a Betty Crocker boxed cake mix. Speaking of that fortuitous day, he claimed, “I went into the walk-in fridge and I noticed they experienced the tub of mascarpone cheese there, and I questioned the instructor, ‘What if I did a cheesecake with this?’’’
After just one calendar year of perfecting the recipe, Chef Turok experienced established his signature cheesecakes.
Unlike standard cheesecakes which use cream cheese, Turok’s cheesecakes use mascarpone. Mascarpone is commonly reported to be an Italian variation of cream cheese, but so soft that it can be scooped with a plastic spoon. Despite the fact that mascarpone is far more highly-priced than cream cheese, for Chef Turok its use is justified by the textural big difference.
“It basically melts in your mouth as soon as you chunk into it. It doesn’t adhere to the roof of your mouth like a certain manufacturing unit does,” he stated.
Chef Turok helps make his sauces and crust from scratch. Alternatively of just applying graham crackers, he also provides almond food into the crust to aid keep dampness. In other text, as the Turok’s Cheesecakes website states, “this is the best damn cheesecake you’ll ever test.”
Two enthusiast favorites are the sangria cheesecake and the creme brûlée cheesecake. The sangria cheesecake has a tart sauce that is generously poured above a slice, assuring that each and every bite is coated with the smooth flavor. Where by as the sangria cheesecake stands out with contrast in taste, the crème brûlée cheesecake contrasts in texture. The challenging shell is torched in entrance of the customer’s eyes, and it releases smoke that turns the plating into a present.
Chef Turok generates flavors like these based mostly on what is in period. He also results in flavors precisely for foodstuff festivals these types of as Bill Esparza’s Taqueando Competition. For illustration, the aloha kine was produced for a food items pageant and pays homage to the time Chef Turok lived in Hawaii. The crust works by using macadamia nuts and Hawaiian vanilla, and the cheesecake is topped with freeze-dried pineapples and strawberry chips.
Inspite of these ingenious flavors, Chef Turok has achieved buyers who assert to not like cheesecake. Just about every time, he will make them a guarantee and suggests, “You know what, consider it. If you really don’t like it, you do not have to fork out for it.” Each individual time, the consumer will take a bite and stops in their tracks, astounded. This is what he finds to be the most gratifying part of his enterprise: observing his customers’ faces the 1st time they choose a chunk of a person of his cheesecakes.
In an email to the Day by day Trojan pertaining to the pandemic, Chef Turok reported he experienced to shut shop for 4 months for the basic safety of his family members and himself. He reopened in July and partnered with an additional restaurant in Uptown Whittier to carry his cheesecakes. He is taking orders for pickup and delivery, and has implemented safeguards to maintain his prospects secure.
A single day, Chef Turok hopes to have a brick-and-mortar store from which he’d provide his cheesecakes. He also needs to be in a position to generate sufficient cheesecakes to not only source other dining places, but also to supply cruise ships.
For now, consumers can assist Turok’s Cheesecakes by obtaining them at a assortment of dining places which include Holbox in the Mercado La Paloma in close proximity to USC and Michelin-starred Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse in downtown Los Angeles. In fact, when the proprietor of Nick and Stef’s 1st tried Chef Turok’s cheesecakes, in accordance to Turok, he had only one particular factor to say: “This shit’s fucking excellent. And I want to provide it.”
Apart from the dining establishments that offer Chef Turok’s cheesecake, his scrumptious creations can also be viewed on Instagram @turokscheesecakes and ordered by way of his web page www.turokscheesecakes.com.