I have always loved Chef Joshua Linton’s recipes. They are simple and superbly flavorful so when I got an email from the chef saying he had just started his own line of spices, I was thrilled. I am happy to say that I have sampled many of the spices in his line and they are terrific. I interviewed Joshua about his work, his food and his spice line:
Tell me about your background:
JL: Through many rich and diverse experiences throughout my life, my passion and love for globally influenced food and cooking has been distilled. I spent much of my childhood in the suburban surroundings of Detroit, Michigan. I am very fortunate that at the time the Detroit area boasted an amazing concentration of people with Middle Eastern and Arabic heritage. From a very early age I enjoyed the food and cooking from this part of the world as well as my family’s own traditional eastern European Jewish cooking.
At the age of 16, I lived in Helsinki, Finland, and traveled Scandinavia with my family. By this point, I was completely infatuated with the concept of becoming a chef and devoting my life to good eating. The year I spent living in abroad provided an amazing backdrop to taste, eat, and explore my developing palate in ways I would have never imagined possible. After returning to the states and graduating cooking school at the Culinary Institute of America, I was set on immersing myself in ethnic cooking from across the world. My introduction to a foreign culture opened my acceptance and awareness for food as part of our ethnic and cultural identity but also an extension of our personalities, life experiences, and beliefs.
What is your approach to cooking?
JL: My approach to cooking is a derivative of my upbringing and exposure to an international palette of flavors and ingredients. This, combined with my experience working with a diverse group of talented chefs (T. Yagahashi, F. Payard, F. Cardoz, J. Andres) further expanded my awareness of traditional and contemporary global cooking. I believe one of the most amazing aspects about food, on an international scale, is to see the same ingredients being prepared so differently in various growing regions around the planet. This acts as a wonderful commonality between people and ethnicities but also reveals the differences in belief and technique that set apart the cooking from one culture to another.
Tell me about Joshua Tree – Spice Studio
JL: The philosophy of Joshua Tree – Spice Studio echoes that of my personal style in the kitchen. I love to eat food prepared with soul; food that says something about the person who prepared it. I cook with big flavors because I want those who eat my food to know I have personality, that I have something important to express. My spice line enables both home cooks and chefs alike to create brilliantly flavored, aromatic dishes without the stress of sourcing, smoking, roasting, grinding, and blending spices. In my spices, cooks will find a complete flavor profile weather it be for Hickory Smoked Tellicherry Pepper Crusted NY Strip Steak or Aleppo Chile Spiced Lamb Kebab Sandwich. My spices and blends make global cooking easy and delicious at home.
-Hickory Smoked Brazilian Sea Salt
-Hickory Smoked Tellicherry Black Pepper
-Hickory Smoked Chinese 5 Spice
-Hickory Smoked Clove-Bergamot Orange Powder (seasonal availability)
-Aleppo Chile Rub
Tell me more about the smoked spices
JL: The use of smoke, as a flavor, in the creation of a dish increases depth and interest, but also provides a field of contrast in the perception of other ingredients and taste sensations. In the creation of my spice line, and with the intention of making some of my favorite flavors feasible and convenient to consumers, I have perfected the technique of infusing the rich, aromatic qualities of hickory smoke into several of my spices and blends. The slow and consistent exposure the spices have to smoldering hickory embers imparts a deep amber color and infuses layers of intense aroma which remain well balanced with the natural flavors of the spices. Consequently, this process proves an apparent, yet restrained, use of a smoky nuance in the final dish.
And guess what? Chef has agreed to give away a sampling of his wonderful spices to one lucky LIFE OF SPICE reader. Just leave a comment here about what your favorite spice is. I will pick a winner on Thursday, November 18th 2010 at 5:00 p.m.
My favorite is cumin!
I love, love cardamom in coffee, sweets, chicken and beef. It makes everything taste wonderful and exotic.
Chili and lime is a wonderful combination. I can just imagine the possibilities.
I love smoked paprika. All of these hickory smoked salts and spices sound amazing!
So hard to pick just one. Since I have to, then Cumin is the one. I love toasting it, then grinding it to get a gloriously rich and aromatic powder which adds so much depth to simple tastes like yogurt and chopped salads.
hmmm… choosing only one spice is a very difficult thing – because I love sooo many spices … if I had to pick just one though I’d have to choose Black Pepper
My favorite spice is whole coriander, which I grind with my mortar and pestle and throw into various curries. I love that it’s elbow grease alone that releases the seeds’ beautiful fragrance…
It’s a tie between Aleppo pepper and Ras El Hanout, that beautiful Moroccan spice blend.
I have a little different take on the concept of “favorite spice.” Sure I have some that I use more frequently than others, but when others taste a dish that I’ve prepared and can’t quite identify the spice or spices, I feel it’s been a successful dish. I’d prefer a response to a dish I’ve made like, “Hmmm, this is sooo good, what am I tasting, what is in this dish?” rather than, “Oh, I taste the cumin,” or “This beef dish has got to have thyme in it.” When the spices or herbs permeate a dish and scream their names at first bite, the subtlety is lost, and the spices or herbs are front and center rather than the overall “feel” or “impression” or “taste” of the dish. I want people to love it of course, but what I want them to love is the wonderfulness of the dish, not a particular spice or herb that screams at them.
I love lots of spices, but if I had to choose one, it would probably be cumin.
i think my favorite spice would be cardmom although it is hard to choose just one ..
My absolute favorite spice is chipotle. The smokiness is sexy, dreamy, and delicious–all at the same time.
Cinnamon is my favorite. Seems like I am always buying more. It’s my comfort spice–reminds me of Mom, fires in the fireplace and holiday baking.
The Joshua Tree spices sound great for anyone who avoid pork but miss the smokiness that bacon adds to recipes.
Charu – you win! Email me your addy please 🙂