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Michael Cimarusti

Michael Cimarusti's passion and curiosity for food was ignited at an early age by his grandmother, Jo Cimarusti. In the great Italian culinary tradition his grandmother, alongside his great-grandmother and aunts, made sure that every Sunday get-together was an event. Cimarusti can trace his reverence for ingredients and proper technique back to those Sunday family meals.

Cimarusti knew early on that he wanted to be a chef. After a couple of apprenticeships, he attended the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Graduating with honors, his first job out of school was with celebrated New York City Chef Larry Forgione of An American Place.

Wanting to hone his classical French cooking skills, Chef Cimarusti began working at Le Cirque where he rose to Saucier at the New York City institution. Chef Cimarusti's greatest influences were Le Cirque's Chefs Sottah Khunn and Sylvain Portay. Their reverence for quality ingredients and refined technique can be seen in his menu at Providence.

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Wild Alaska Halibut with Morels and Asparagus
Executive Chef Michael Cimarusti
Providence, Los Angeles, California
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
1lb Fresh morel mushrooms*
1/4 lb Butter
2 ea. Shallots, minced
1 Lemon, for juicing
4 (4 oz.) Alaska halibut fillets
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
12 ea. Asparagus tips, peeled, and blanched
Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch chopped chives

*Can substitute chanterelle, oyster, shitake, or button mushrooms for the morels.

Procedure:
For the Morels:
  1. Clean the morels thoroughly in several changes of cold water.
  2. Quarter the morels. Place them in a non-reactive saucepan with 1 oz. butter, shallots.
  3. A light squeeze of lemon.
  4. Cover the morels and allow them to cook slowly while you cook the fish.
For the Halibut:
  1. Dry the fish with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Warm a large skillet and add olive oil to coat the pan.
  3. When the oil begins to smoke add the halibut.
  4. Cook the halibut on high heat until the fish begins to brown lightly.
  5. Place the skillet in a 350-degree oven for 2 minutes.
  6. While the halibut is in the oven add the remaining 2 oz. of butter to the morels to thicken their juices.
  7. In a separate pan, melt 2 oz. butter until it begins to brown and roast the asparagus tips until they are well browned.
  8. Season asparagus with salt and pepper.
  9. Taste the mushrooms and the juice and adjust as needed with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
To Serve:
Remove the fish from the pan and place it on paper towels to remove the excess fat. Add the chopped chives to the mushrooms and divide them among four warmed bowls and place the fish on top. Spoon some of the morel juice over the fish, place the asparagus spears around the fish and serve.
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