What a challenge to select a winning recipe when so many of the submissions simply overwhelmed us with their creativity and their "wow" factor!
This year's winner, Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut, was a surefire choice with all who were treated to samples of the entree. We loved the fact that the packages of fish could be prepared early in the day and then conveniently rest, covered, in the refrigerator until it's close to the dinner hour. This is such an elegant preparation offering a complexity of tastes ... yet, it's so easy to prepare and no one will ever know how undemanding it was to fashion.
When we asked Mike if we might print a little about him on our website, he sent us the following information:
Chef Mike is a fourth-generation San Francisco restaurateur. He started in the industry at the age of eight, peeling prawns at his family’s restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf-- a skill developed from his great grandfather Luciano first arriving in San Francisco from Sicily in 1887. He honed his skills while attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where he graduated with honors in 1981.
Mike was the executive chef at A. Sabella’s seafood restaurant from 1983 through 1998. In 1986 he became operating partner. Mike also owned and operated Sabella’s Deli and Sabella’s Restaurant of West Portal.
Mike has appeared on ABC, NBC, The Discovery Channel, CNN, and several local television and radio stations. He has taught cooking classes for Williams-Sonoma, Shallots Cooking Schools, Santa Rosa Junior College, JobCorp’s advanced culinary training on Treasure Island, the California Culinary Academy, and with James Beard at Macy’s. He has also appeared briefly in films such as Father’s Day with Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, and Village of the Damned with Christopher Reeves, and also produced food for television sets.
Since leaving the Wharf, Chef Mike has consulted on projects for several companies including Andre Boudin Bakeries and Instill’s Foodscape Project in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association. In 2000, he was vice president of business development for Bountyfood.com, a foodservice-related Internet company. He owned and operated Sabella’s Seafood Restaurant in West Portal, San Francisco from 2001 until 2004, and was a chef instructor for the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Mike also consulted at SFO for Gate Gourmet, the world’s largest airline catering company where he helped design and implement menus for United Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Northwest, KLM, EVA, Cathay Pacific, Air China, Asiana, Hawaiian, and others, producing up to 26,000 meals per day and $67 million in annual sales.
He is currently Business Review Manager for Sysco Foodservices, the nation’s largest broadline distributor.
The judges have to confess that here in this remote area on the southern Oregon coast some ingredients are not always easily accessible. When we found that the only fresh halibut was somewhat thinner than we desired, we purchased 12 fillets rather than the 6 called for in the recipe. Then, when it came time to layer the mushroom mixture on the fish, we stacked 2 fillets on top of each other, placing a portion of the mushroom mixture in-between the 2 layers as well as on top of the stack. We completed the composition by wrapping the bundle with the 2 slices of prosciutto as directed in the recipe. We highly recommend this procedure if you, too, are challenged when it comes to finding halibut fillets with a good thickness to them.
Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut
1 large leek, dark green portion removed and cut into paper-thin coins
8-10 large crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
6 halibut fillets
12 paper-thin slices prosciutto
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch sea salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Saute leek, mushrooms, and onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook one minute. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Rub a small amount of olive oil onto the halibut fillets. Season with pepper and salt.
- Place an equal amount of the leek/mushroom/onion/garlic mixture on each fillet.
- Wrap 2 slices of prosciutto around each fillet. Liberally brush with olive oil.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 130-135 degrees.