5 Cooking Tips (Plus a Secret Recipe) From a Top Chef

Flank Steak Cobb Salad, courtesy InterContinental Toronto Centre

Who doesn’t want to cook like a top chef? Here are a few secret cooking tips from Executive Chef, Shawn Whalen, Azure Restaurant & Bar, InterContinental Toronto Centre. Plus, just in time for barbecue season, his recipe for Flank Steak Cobb Salad.

www.torontocentre.intercontinental.com;  www.azurerestaurant.ca

  1. Always use a thermometer to check/measure the doneness of food. This alleviates any guess-work in cooking.
  2. After cooking, always allow a roast rest for several minutes before slicing. This allows the tension in the muscle to relax, which will promote tenderness and moisture retention.
  3. Brown the meat before or even after cooking to maximize flavour.
  4. When sauteeing or browning food, never over-fill the saute pan. An over-crowded pan will cool down, allowing water from the food to release. The saute affect will turn into a boil and no browning will take place.
  5. Always cook with salt. Salt brings out the natural flavour in foods. Cook with good salt, sea salt.


Recipe: Flank Steak Cobb Salad

Yield: 4 Salads


2 Flank steaks

400 mL Flank Steak Marinade, see recipe, below

4 pc Quail eggs, hard-boiled

8 pc Pancetta, thinly sliced, pan seared to crisp

60g Romaine lettuce, chiffonade

80g blue cheese (the chef prefers Ontario devils rock)

160g red onions, grilled and thinly sliced

160g Tomato & avocado salsa, see recipe, below

50mL Clementine Vinaigrette, see recipe, below



400mL Buttermilk

10g Scallions, minced

5g Garlic, minced

5g Onion, minced

Puree buttermilk with scallions, garlic and white onion. Pour mixture over steak and let marinate over night.

Avocado and Tomato Salsa


1 Avocado, finely diced

1 roma tomato, finely diced

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

10 g red onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

30 mL lime juice

45 mL vegetable oil

5 g fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Mix together all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sherry Clementine Vinaigrette


25mL sherry vinegar

25mL clementine’s, peeled, juiced

1 pc shallots, peeled, chopped

5mL honey

1 tsp dijon mustard

75mL canola oil

Puree, in a blender, the vinegar, clementine juice, shallots, honey and Dijon until smooth.

Slowly add the oil to create an emulsified vinaigrette. Season to taste.


Season the marinated flank steak with salt and pepper, grill to medium rare or 125F, testing with a digital thermometer. Let rest.

Dress the romaine with the clementine vinaigrette and place in individual main course salad bowls.

Warm up the pancetta and onions.

Garnish salad with blue cheese, warm onions, pancetta, avocado salsa and quail egg.