Top Chef Insights

Ever wondered whether a Master Chef's guilty pleasure is simply peanut butter or mac 'n cheese? Want to find out what the latest menu trends will be for the coming season? Always wondered who inspires some of the leading chefs in the industry? We've asked these questions and have the answers for you here.

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July's Featured Chef: Johannes Bernau, Executive Chef at Who Song & Larry's

Who Song & Larry's is one of the teams competing in this year's Culinary Clash: Battle Anaheim at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, benefitting the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

What made you want to become a chef?

Always wanted to be one as long as I could remember.

What is the newest food trend you see emerging? 
Street foods, and crazy tacos - which are kinda street foods. Not food trucks, but restaurants doing street foods.

What new ingredient have you incorporated into your menu?
Not really new but not used a lot, finger limes, also known as Citrus Caviar.

What was your favorite class in culinary school and why?  
Butcher class, we broke a whole baby lamb down... it was epic!! But, a little piece of my childhood died...

If you could eat anywhere in the world, besides your own restaurant, where would that be? 
French Laundry, it’s on my culinary bucket list.

Is there one comfort food that you're secretly obsessed with having at home?
Jamon Iberico (Spanish ham, best in the world) it has only been legal here in the US since 2007 and it cost $180 a pound... it so good!!

Which talent would you most like to have that you don't possess?
The ability to speak Spanish, I would like to have a full meaningful conversation with most of my cooks, not this combination of Spanglish and miming from me and broken English from them, more than just hello and telling them what to do.

What’s your favorite meal to cook for friends?
Anything really as long as it’s something they like and it’s no less than ten people. I do not possess the ability to cook for less than that. For example, last time I cooked for my girlfriend I made: grilled asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, fresh aioli, grilled bread, huge cheese and meat platter (with Iberico) charred Brussels sprouts, grilled ribeye, baked potatoes with all the fixing. she came home and looked at all this food for the 2 of us and just asked "why...?" but she was thankful

Who was your mentor as you were becoming a chef?
Peter Sherlock, he was my skills 2 instructor and I worked for him later in life, twice.

If you could cook for and dine with anyone, who would that be?
My GF, she's a chef too. Nobody ever cooks for the chef.

More about Chef Bernau: 

The Who Song & Larry’s menu, created by Executive Chef Johannes Bernau and his team, is an eclectic mix of favorite flavors from around the world. With his Japanese, Dutch and Indonesian background, Chef Johannes’ menu includes everything from quintessential SoCal Mexican favorites to fresh seafood, specialty salads, sharable starters and a unique Cal-Mex sushi menu. His bold, signature dishes include the Lobster Mac & Cheese Enchiladas and the Muay Thai Chicken Salad.

Prior to joining Real Mex Restaurants, Bernau built his career alongside several of the world’s most renowned chefs and acclaimed restaurants in Las Vegas, including his position as Executive Chef at Station Casinos and Master Cook at É by José Andrés. With only eight seats at one table and two seatings per night at É, Bernau learned the art of tableside preparation, serving 22-26 plates per seating. It was here that Bernau studied and perfected avant-garde techniques from gelee, foams, airs and reverse spherification to the proper techniques for using liquid nitrogen.

Bernau also attributes his culinary savvy to his tenure at Springs Reserve by Wolfgang Puck – from intern to Sous Chef – where he learned the art of making everything from scratch.

Bernau attended Le Cordon Bleu of Las Vegas in 2006 and graduated in 2007 with an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts. With a lifetime passion for food and multi-flavor cuisine, Bernau began cooking as soon as he was old enough to heat a skillet. His first job in the food industry was at the age of 16, at a mom and pop pizza parlor.


June Chef Insights - Ryan Vargas, Chef de Cuisine at Emeril's Tchoup Chop