Chef Ben Pollinger
Ben Pollinger, Executive Chef at Oceana Restaurant (55 East 54th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues, 212-759-5941), has developed a unique cooking style that artfully blends locally produced seasonal ingredients with global flavors. Pollinger's work was recognized in July 2008 when Oceana was awarded three stars in the New York Times and again in October 2008 when it was awarded a Michelin star for the second year. His sophisticated dishes, which highlight his international travels and background at some of the world's most prestigious restaurants, also display his passion for creating a positive relationship between the earth and the sea. His commitment to cultivating this harmonious balance between the earth and the table is also evident at home in New Jersey, where he lovingly tends to his 500 square foot organic garden, which provides many of the vegetables and herbs used in his dishes at Oceana.
Pollinger discovered his love of cooking while cooking part-time in his college dormitory at Boston University and went on to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, graduating as class valedictorian. Upon graduating he headed to Monte-Carlo to work for one year at the world-renowned Le Louis XV under Alain Ducasse. Throughout his time in Monaco, Pollinger explored the local culture, traveling extensively through the neighboring countries of France, Italy and Spain and developing his love and respect for local flavors, seasonal ingredients and the relationship between natural products and the art of cooking.
Upon returning to New York, Pollinger worked under Christian Delouvrier at Lespinasse. He spent the next seven and a half years working with renowned New York City chefs Michael Romano at Union Square Cafe, and Floyd Cardoz at Tabla. As Chef de Cuisine of Tabla, Pollinger learned about true Indian flavors and further expanded upon his global repertoire. During this time, he was greatly influenced by Danny Meyer's emphasis on hospitality, which is a quality he brings with him to the experience he creates at Oceana.
Pollinger generously donates his time to various charitable organizations such as City Harvest, Share Our Strength, Autism Speaks and the James Beard Foundation. He also serves as an advisor to the French Culinary Institute and the Alaskan Seafood Marketing Institute.
Oceana Restaurant, the flagship of the Livanos Restaurant Group has been serving the finest in seafood cuisine for over fifteen years. Look for Pollinger's and Oceana's move in summer 2009 to its new location at 1221 Avenue of the Americas, on the corner of West 49th Street and 6th Avenue.
"As a seafood restaurant we are sensitive to fish supply. Alaska seafood supports our mission of sustainable fish populations. From a culinary perspective, Alaska seafood is impeccably fresh and has unmatched flavor and texture."~ Chef Ben Pollinger
Sautéed Alaska Weathervane Scallops with Citrus Salad and Avocado
Ingredients:1 each grapefruit, segmented, with zest reserved
1 each Mandarin orange segmented, with zest reserved
1 each orange, segmented, with zest reserved
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. chilis, sliced
8 leaves Thai basil, chiffonade
8 leaves mint, chiffonade
8 leaves cilantro, chiffonade
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 cup avocado, pureed
1 pound Alaska Weathervane scallops
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup toasted cashews
Spicy baby greens for garnish
For the Citrus Salad:
For the Avocado Puree:Scoop the flesh from the avocado and blend in a blender with lime juice until smooth.
For the Scallops:Season scallops with salt and pepper. Sauté in canola oil over medium heat until golden on one side. Add butter and let brown lightly. Turn scallops and cook to an even golden brown.
To Serve:Place a few dollops of avocado puree to one side of plate. Evenly distribute citrus salad. Sprinkle with toasted cashews. Garnish with a few sprigs of spicy baby greens. Distribute scallops evenly.
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