Profile: Advertising Executive Tony Biel
Tony Biel is a very good cook. Take a quick scroll through his Facebook page, and marvel at the photos of the succulent, elegantly plated dishes Tony cooks from scratch almost daily for dinner: baked cod en papillote with herb butter; turkey meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce; lobster rolls; Wagyu meatloaf with shiitake mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes; chicken paillard; chicken Marsala; chicken piccata.
“For me, cooking is cathartic and relaxing,” said Tony one recent morning in his cozy West Hollywood condo. He was raised in Wisconsin and became fascinated by all things culinary early on. “I tried escargots when I was 12 and absolutely loved it.” Both of his parents cooked, and his mother especially was a great, exploratory cook. “She had a big cookbook collection and would often test recipes on me and my older brothers.”
In college, Tony spent a year abroad at the University of Amsterdam, and his journey continued in the kitchen. He was part of a dinner party group, along with 10 friends in his dorm. “Every week, we would compete [to see] who comes up with a better dish,” he said. Years later, when he lived in Boston, he had the opportunity to meet Julia Child ("She cooked a bouillabaisse for 100 people at a charity luncheon"), who gave him a hug and blessed his gourmet adventures.
Today, when Tony cooks, he gets inspiration from the ingredients he finds at his local farmers’ market; or he plays with re-creating the dishes he likes at his favorite L.A. restaurants (Bestia, A.O.C., Café Stella, Trois Mec and Tar & Roses).
Age Old enough — Hometown Oconomowoc, WI — Where do you live? West Hollywood, CA — Occupation Digital and mobile advertising sales — Signature dish Herb crusted salmon; chicken Marsala; or filet mignon, but love to experiment with whatever is fresh at the farmers' market, and meat market — Who taught you how to cook? My parents, my brother Steve, and friends at University of Amsterdam — Favorite kitchen tool Parchment paper — Always in your pantry Penzey's spices — Go-to snack Pistachios or Siggi's yogurt — Favorite cuisine French or Californian — Do you diet? No. I focus on fresh ingredients, and limit processed foods. — Food addictions Archer Farms Potato Chips (Jalapeño or Habanero Ranch) — Food allergies Scallops — Food fad pet peeve Faux truffle oil — Who’s your sous chef? My partner Ali — Drinking while cooking? Yes. Dinner includes Chopin on the rocks with mezzetta jalapeño stuffed olives — What’s for dinner tonight? Grilled sirloin steak, roasted cauliflower, and whole wheat pasta with sage brown butter and shiitake mushrooms — Do you ever cry over spilled milk? No. I use Bounty. — Best meal you ever had Most recently—dinner at Bestia, Maude or Trois Mec; brunch at Barrel & Ashes
Mushroom Creste di Gallo Carbonara
As part of his Amsterdam dinner club, Tony created this carbonara version—an interesting spin on the classic Roman pasta recipe. “It is easy, inexpensive, and you can add other ingredients based on what you like. For example, I love mushrooms, so I throw them in.”
He uses creste di gallo, a medium-size pasta that looks like macaroni with a mohawk—the Italian name translates as “crest of the rooster.” This asymmetrical pasta shape—hollow in the center and curvy on the outside—is a perfect vessel for the luscious, creamy, eggy sauce, which clings to it easily.
- Serves 4
- 3 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup shallot, diced
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, sliced (6–7 mushrooms)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 10 ounces creste di gallo pasta
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra for serving
- Sauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until crisp, about 6–8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain excess fat. Wipe the skillet clean, add the olive oil, shallot and mushrooms, and cook over medium heat, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the bacon, and remove from the heat.
- In a bowl whisk the egg with the heavy cream.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt to a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often, until al dente—tender with a bite. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water, and set aside. Drain the pasta in a colander, and put it back into the pot.
- Immediately add the egg mixture and the cheese to the hot pasta, and toss over very low heat, coating it with the creamy sauce, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the mixture, or the eggs will curdle. Add the mushroom mixture and combine. You may add some of the reserved water if the pasta is too dry. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and serve with the extra grated Parmesan.
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