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The Flavor: Alexander's Chef Boni Webb is Fearless About Food
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Chef Boni Webb brings traditional techniques and a love for all types of cuisines to the kitchen at Alexander’s in downtown Roanoke.
For Boni Webb, becoming a chef seemed to be in her blood. Family members in her native Japan have been in the restaurant business for generations, so cooking is naturally a part of her life.
She learned many traditional cooking techniques from her mother, who once owned a restaurant called The Gavel in Roanoke. In 1984 when her mother sold the business to move to Florida, Webb became a server at Alexander’s, a fine dining restaurant opened by Bridget Meagher in 1979. A professionally trained chef, Meagher became a mentor for Webb, who is now a chef and manager at Alexander’s.
“I’ve been fortunate to have so many mentors – especially women – in a male-dominated field,” Webb says.
Webb, Meagher and three other chefs work together daily at Alexander’s to create meals that fuse different styles of cuisine. They focus on simple, clean food and often use family recipes and ingredients grown in Meagher or Webb’s own gardens.
When she’s not cooking at the restaurant, Webb is likely to be found in her own kitchen. And she wants people to know that while a recipe may appear difficult, there’s no reason to fear food.
“Food is not intimidating,” she says. “It’s delicious and nourishment for our body and soul.”
For more recipes, including Seared Szechuan Crusted Tuna with Soy Glaze and Sesame Noodles, check out our March/April 2014 issue.
- 1 small daikon or red radishes
- 1 English cucumber
- 1 c. rice wine vinegar
- 3 Tbl. sugar
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt (to taste)
Boil rice wine vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add red pepper flakes. Cool.
Slice daikon and cucumber very thin on a bias; season with salt and coat with cooled vinegar mixture. Let sit in refrigerator for about 1 hour.
- 2 Tbl. wasabi
- 1 ½ Tbl. water
- 1 egg yolk*
- 1 ½ Tbl. lemon juice
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- 2/3 c. olive oil
- 2 tsp. fresh garlic, grated
*When prepared at Alexander‘s, we use pasteurized yolks
Make a paste with wasabi and water.
Place yolk, lemon juice and salt in food processor with a blade attachment; pulse to combine. Allow 5 minutes to acidulate. Slowly add the olive oil to emulsify the oil with the yolk and lemon juice. Once your mixture becomes thick, add the wasabi paste and grated garlic. Turn food processor back on until everything is blended.