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Profile: Holistic Chef Eric Salazar

Serves 8–10Chicken Stock1 whole chicken (3–4 pounds)1 pound chicken feet, washed, claws cut off1 chicken carcass5 large carrots, trimmed2 parsnips, trimmed6–8 cloves garlic, peeled4 onions, skin-on, halved4 stalks celery, green part included15 sprigs parsley10 sprigs thyme10 sprigs dill1 tablespoon black peppercorn1 4-inch piece fresh ginger, skin-on1 tablespoon saltMatzo Balls¼ cup fat (half chicken schmaltz, half olive oil)4 eggs, separated1½ teaspoons salt1 clove garlic, minced1½ tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped1½ tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground2 tablespoons chicken stock1 cup matzo mealOlive oilChicken Matzo Ball SoupChicken stock5 carrots, peeled, sliced into ¼-inch rounds2 parsnips, peeled, sliced into ¼-inch rounds2 zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch rounds3 stalks celery, sliced into ½-inch pieces1 small yellow onion, peeled, diced½ cup fresh parsley, chopped¼ cup fresh dill, chopped1 garlic clove, mincedMatzo ballsSalt to tasteBlack pepper, freshly ground, to taste {pinterest_rich_pins_images} Profile: Holistic Chef Eric Salazar {/pinterest_rich_pins_images}

Profile: Holistic Chef Eric Salazar

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    Eric Salazar
  • 2/13
    Chicken Matzo Ball Soup
  • 3/13
    Whole chicken and chicken feet
  • 4/13
    Carrots and parsnips
  • 5/13
    Celery, garlic cloves and ginger
  • 6/13
    Parsley, thyme and dill
  • 7/13
    Black peppercorns and salt
  • 8/13
    Picked over chicken meat
  • 9/13
    Egg yolk, schmaltz and herb mixture with matzo meal
  • 10/13
    Beat the egg whites and add them to matzo mixture
  • 11/13
    Let the matzo mixture rest in the refrigerator for 45 minutes
  • 12/13
    Scoop out 2 tablespoons of matzo dough, and using your hands, create matzo balls.
  • 13/13
    Carrots, parsnips, zucchini, celery, onion, parsley, dill and garlic for the chicken soup

Text, photos and food cooked by Michal Martinek

Jul 1, 2015

Print this recipe

Eric Salazar is a very good cook. On a recent Sunday afternoon, I was standing in his well-equipped kitchen in Chatsworth, California, sampling his latest creations: crunchy par-boiled carrots scattered with fresh parsley and doused with kicky vinaigrette—his oft requested potluck dish—and a piece of freshly baked loaf of bread. Both were excellent.

“I bake once a week,” said Eric, a personal chef who cooks and customizes menus for adolescent clientele in a drug and alcohol rehab facility in Ojai. “Mostly loaves, occasionally challah, brioche and pancakes. I created my sourdough starter in 2009 from crushed grapes and flour; it developed, and I’ve been feeding and using it since.”

Eric’s culinary calling came early. “As a kid, I would mentally combine flavors in my head,” he said. “Peanut butter/banana/strawberry or Monterey jack/soy sauce both sounded great to me.” He watched cooking shows on local TV and felt like “I could do this.”

His parents were good cooks, especially his father. “He made great menudo”— traditional Mexican beef tripe soup with red chili peppers. “I didn’t really know what it was but thought it looked cool, so I ate it.” Sometimes they went to an Italian deli, bought cured meats, tomatoes and olive oil, and made pizza together from scratch.

Eric’s maternal grandmother lived closed by and let him come help her in the kitchen. “She taught me so much,” he said. “How to make salad dressings, how to bake, different cooking techniques, and how not to be wasteful. She was a child of the Depression, so for example, she told me to always use my finger to scoop out all the egg white from an egg shell.”

Eric lived in a seminary boarding school between the ages of 14 and 18, and he briefly entertained the idea of becoming a priest but ultimately decided to cook professionally. He spent eight years as a chef at Project Angel Food—an L.A.-based nonprofit organization that delivers meals to critically ill clients—developing recipes for people with various health conditions and dietary restrictions.

“I was responsible for 240 different meals a day,” he said. “Low-fat, low-sodium, vegan, vegetarian, and so on. It taught me discipline, but it was fun, too—to come up with creative solutions for the recipe to work and taste good.”

Age 47 — Hometown Monterey Park, Los Angeles County (my parents still live there) — Where do you live? Chatsworth, California — Occupation Chef, specializing in therapeutic diets and menu design — Signature dish Raised in a large family, when asked to bring something for a family celebration, I don't mind others bringing mains or featured proteins, so I really enjoy making vegetable dishes: Vignarola, my roasted root vegetables or my signature, carrots vinaigrette. — Who taught you how to cook? REDO: Research, Experience, Disasters and Observation! — Favorite kitchen tool A sharpened 10-inch chef knife, and my copper beating bowl — Always in your pantry Sourdough starter (circa 2009), malted milk, peanut butter — Go-to snack Peanut butter; fruit—right now it's oranges from Ojai — Favorite cuisine Toss between Italian and Chinese — Do you diet? I don't need to take on any more irritability in life. — Food addictions Cold cereal, ice cream and malted milk (especially together or separately!) — Food allergies Beets upset my stomach — Food fad pet peeve GF. Enough said — Who’s your sous chef? No one yet — Drinking while cooking? Sure. Why not? — What’s for dinner tonight? Pho or maybe lox with a pumpernickel bagel — Do you ever cry over spilled milk? If it's over 1/2 a gallon — Best meal you ever had [That’s a] hard question. I have four distinct, multisensory experiences Bruce and I have enjoyed together: 1) Tidepools Restaurant, Kauai, Hawaii, 2006; 2) Bucato, Culver City, CA, 2014; 3) Craft, Century City, CA; and 4) Lucques, West Hollywood, CA, 2007.

Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

Eric makes this gutsy, incomparable soup for his husband Bruce, who is of Jewish heritage. The real secret, and what puts an oomph into it, is the strong chicken broth—an amalgamation of gelatinous bone marrow, sweet root vegetables, and a bouquet of fresh herbs—that is simmered slowly and undisturbed for 8 hours. 


  1. Serves 8–10
  2. Chicken Stock
  3. 1 whole chicken (3–4 pounds)
  4. 1 pound chicken feet, washed, claws cut off
  5. 1 chicken carcass
  6. 5 large carrots, trimmed
  7. 2 parsnips, trimmed
  8. 6–8 cloves garlic, peeled
  9. 4 onions, skin-on, halved
  10. 4 stalks celery, green part included
  11. 15 sprigs parsley
  12. 10 sprigs thyme
  13. 10 sprigs dill
  14. 1 tablespoon black peppercorn
  15. 1 4-inch piece fresh ginger, skin-on
  16. 1 tablespoon salt
  17. Matzo Balls
  18. ¼ cup fat (half chicken schmaltz, half olive oil)
  19. 4 eggs, separated
  20. 1½ teaspoons salt
  21. 1 clove garlic, minced
  22. 1½ tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  23. 1½ tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  24. 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  25. ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  26. 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  27. 1 cup matzo meal
  28. Olive oil
  29. Chicken Matzo Ball Soup
  30. Chicken stock
  31. 5 carrots, peeled, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  32. 2 parsnips, peeled, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  33. 2 zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  34. 3 stalks celery, sliced into ½-inch pieces
  35. 1 small yellow onion, peeled, diced
  36. ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  37. ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
  38. 1 garlic clove, minced
  39. Matzo balls
  40. Salt to taste
  41. Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste


Prepare the chicken stock. Place all ingredients in a large soup pot, and fill it almost to the top with water. Cover the top with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to low and let simmer for 6 hours. Strain the stock through a colander. Reserve the chicken meat and discard the rest.


Refrigerate the stock for 8 hours or overnight, and then strain the fat that has risen to the top (optional).


Prepare the matzo balls.Mix the chicken schmaltz with the olive oil. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium-size bowl and mix with the schmaltz. Add the salt, garlic, dill, thyme, parsley, black pepper, and chicken stock. Combine with the matzo meal. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the matzo mixture, and let rest in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.


Fill a medium-size soup pot with water, add 1 teaspoon salt, and bring it to a boil. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of matzo dough, and using your hands, create matzo balls. You should have 10–12 pieces. Using a spoon, put them carefully into the pot. Cover with a lid and boil for 45 minutes. Drain, place the balls in a small bowl, and drizzle some olive oil over them to prevent from sticking. Cover and set aside.


Prepare the soup.Place the chicken stock in large soup pot. Dilute the stock with water (20% water/80% stock), and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips, zucchini, celery and onion, and simmer over medium-high heat, until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Add the herbs, garlic and matzo balls and cook for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.


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