The HTC Chef

Hotel Voice, Fall 2021


By Alex Hing, Union Sous Chef, Millennium UN Plaza

In the Academy award-winning animated movie titled after this vegetable casserole, Ratatouille, a rodent teams up with a kitchen steward to win over a cynical Parisian food critic by transforming this French peasant dish into something sublime. You can do the same if you cook it with love.

The first thing is to use good ingredients. I use all of the vegetables from my Community Supports Agriculture (CSA) share. Then, there are a couple of techniques you should master. I cut the yellow squash and zucchini using the macrobiotic method, also known as the pencil cut: starting at one end cut the log at a diagonal to get a ¾ inch piece and then roll it ¼ of a turn and cut another diagonal through the face of the first cut, roll it again ¼ of a turn and continue until it is finished. You can also do this with the eggplant, but traditional ¾ inch cubes are also fine.

Searing the vegetables is where most home cooks blow it and the result is a soggy mess. Even though this is a casserole, it should be as dry as possible. This is because most home stoves do not have industrial BTUs, so the pan does not get hot enough. This step takes guts. Heat a frying pan on the highest level until the pan smokes and then even more until the smoke disappears (a drop of water will bounce in the pan). The Chinese call this wok chi, making the pan (and the food) come alive. Use only enough olive oil to lightly coat the pan and immediately add just enough of the cut vegetable leaving space for the vegetable to move. Most of the time you have to make it in batches one vegetable at a time, bringing the pan back to beyond smoking for each batch. The eggplant will immediately absorb the oil, but do not add more oil. Continue to move the eggplant and it will release the oil when it is done, which will be when it turns a golden brown. Put each batch into a large mixing bowl to cool.

When the vegetable mixture has cooled, add just enough tomato sauce to lightly coat the mixture and gently toss. Casseroles always taste better the next day. Put it into a baking dish and heat. As is, it is dairy and gluten free but, you can top it off with grated cheese or breadcrumbs if you’d like. Eating it cold in this summer heat is also good.


1 small eggplant, ¾” diced

2 medium yellow squash, ¾” pencil cut

  1. medium zucchini, ¾” pencil cut

1 red bell pepper, ½” cut

  1. yellow bell pepper, ½” cut
  2. jalapeno peppers fine dice (optional)

1 medium yellow onion ½ “ diced

5 cloves garlic chopped

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt per batch

1 pinch fresh ground black pepper per batch

¼ cup tomato sauce

The measurements are always a suggestion. Taste, taste, taste as you go.


1. Sautee eggplant and squash a batch at a time in a small amount of oil adding garlic, herbs and seasoning. Put each batch into a large mixing bowl.

2. Sautee the peppers and onions together and add to the mix.

3. After the vegetables have cooled, fold just enough tomato sauce to coat into the mixture.

4. Put the mixture into a dish and bake at 425F for about 10 minutes. Microwave is okay if you are not going to top it off with cheese or breadcrumbs.