San Ysidro Ranch‘s Executive Chef, Matt Johnson, has been intrigued by the culinary arts since he was very young. After graduating at the top of his class in Santa Barbara’s School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, Johnson took the opportunity to travel to Europe and explore the unique cuisines of different European countries while working under some of the top culinary talents of Italy, Spain and Portugal. After returning to California, he worked as Sous Chef at the exclusive Windows on the Water in Morro Bay, Summerwood Winery and Inn in Paso Robles and at Pebble Beach, and the Inn at Spanish Bay on the Monterey Peninsula.
Having experienced the full range of fine dining and extraordinary wines on the Central Coast, Johnson came back to Santa Barbara as Executive Sous Chef at the ultimate destination, San Ysidro Ranch, where, four years later, as Executive Chef, he expresses his experience in masterfully creating every dish as a blend of organic inspiration and culinary art.
Garden Fig and Grilled Peach Salad Serves 2.
Cut Peach in quarters and season with olive oil, salt and pepper and lightly grill on both sides. This can be done ahead of time. In a large mixing bowl toss Peach, Figs, Cherry Tomatoes, Shaved Onion, Candied Walnuts, Lettuces and half of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Transfer Salads to two plates and top with whipped honey crème fraiche and aged balsamic. Drizzle remaining dressing around plate.
1 Large Ripe Peach
4 Ripe Black Mission Figs (Halved)
8 Cherry Tomatoes (Halved)
4 Cups Arugula
4 Cups Pea Shoots
4 ½ Cup Radicchio (Julienned)
¼ Cup Shaved Onion
¼ Cup Walnuts (Chopped and Candied)
¼ Cup Whipped Crème Fraiche and 1 TB Honey (Whipped together until stiff Peaks)
1 TB aged balsamic
¼ Cup Fennel Pollen Vinaigrette (Recipe Follows)
Fennel Pollen Vinaigrette
¼ Shallot (sliced)
¼ Cup Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
1 TB Honey
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Lemon (Juiced)
¼ Cup Ice Water
¼ Cup Champagne Vinegar
1 Cup Fennel Pollen Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Add all ingredients in blender and blend on high. Slowly add in Fennel Pollen Oil. If still too thin add a little more oil.
This story was originally published in the winter 2016/17 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.