By Karla Wall
Cooking has always been a passion for Matthew Rogers, executive chef at the Chart House at the Golden Nugget Lake Charles.
“I’ve been drawn to cooking since I was old enough to stand at the stove,” he says.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Rogers decided to turn that passion into a career. He attended Lewis and Clark Community College, and was hired at a restaurant as a dishwasher.
“I found I enjoyed the atmosphere, the energy and the work,” he says.
His on-the-job training continued with stints as executive chef at Charley Gitto’s in St. Louis, as buffet line cook and then sous chef at Argosy Casino in Alton, Ill., as sous chef at Hollywood Casino in St. Louis, then as sous chef before becoming executive chef at Chart House.
Rogers, whose specialty is Italian cuisine, says his philosophy regarding food and the restaurant industry is simple.
“It’s all about the ‘wow factor’ for the guests,” he says. “I want them to be excited when they see the food. It’s satisfying to see the guests excited when their meal is brought out to them, and it’s great to see them afterward and hear they’ve enjoyed their meal.”
That’s why Rogers is excited about Chart House’s new fall menu, which features simple yet sophisticated dishes like this grilled mahi dish that’s perfect for a mild Louisiana fall evening.
Chart House Indian Summer Mahi
4 6-ounce mahi portions
Pinch salt and pepper
1 pound cauliflower florets
2 ounces Brussels sprouts leaves
8 ounces roasted tomato fennel sauce (see accompanying recipe)
4 ounces saffron corn puree
16 radish slices, shaved using a peeler
8 grilled corn slabs cut from cob, minimum of 1/2-inch x 1/2-inch slab
Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Place the fish on a heated BBQ grill and cook (approximately 3-3-1/2 minutes per side) or until cooked through. While the fish is grilling, place the cauliflower florets in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Lay out on a sheet pan and place in a 375-degree oven. Roast for approximately 5-6 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
Using the back of a spoon, make a 3-inch circle with roasted tomato fennel sauce in the center of the plate. Streak saffron corn puree around the roasted tomato sauce. Place the fried cauliflower portion in the center of the plate.
Lean the fish on the cauliflower.
Sprinkle the radish slices and parsley leaves around the fish. Evenly space the grilled corn slabs around the fish on the plate.
Roasted Tomato Fennel Sauce
7 ounces fennel bulbs, core removed, julienned ¼-inch
2 pounds Roma tomatoes, core removed, cut in half
2 ounces shallots, cut into quarters
1/2 ounce garlic cloves, whole
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper mix
1/2 cup olive oil
In a large mixing bowl, combine the fennel, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper mix, and olive oil. Toss well to coat evenly. Transfer the mixture to a sheet pan, spreading in a thin, even layer. Roast the mixture in a 400-degree oven until roasted golden brown (approximately 7-8 minutes, depending on your oven). When done, place in the refrigerator to cool. Once cooled, place the roasted vegetable mixture in a blender and puree for one minute.
Saffron Corn Puree
2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 pound corn kernels, cut from cob
Place all ingredients in a sauce pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. When done, place in the refrigerator to cool.