One wave of this dining era includes not only eating well, but doing so at home, visually embracing food in the realm of art, supporting local farmers, and an almanac approach to what’s in season where. Hopping to America in 2004, a book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano explained the importance of what’s fresh, in season and at hand. If the tomatoes aren’t ripe and plump, don’t force imports from South America, move on to something else.
Now fresh, often-millennial eyes seek out training and experience to “pop up” with innovative menus in individual houses or even empty storefronts as temporary venues. Add in fascination with unusual herbs and ethnic spins, and voila, we have private chef Nadia Deljou.
A Sandy Springs native, Deljou graduated from The Weber School, Georgia State University, the International Culinary Center in New York, and the real training ground in Manhattan where she worked at renowned Michelin-starred top shelf restaurants. Operating in Atlanta as Delle Dining, she charms even the most discerning palates.
Taste her world of curation and entertaining ideas.
AJT: How would you describe Delle Dining?
Deljou: I host intimate pop-up dinners, curating a five-course dining experience elevated by beverage and music pairings. We also host communal-style cooking classes and dinners focused on a specific cuisine and culture. Right now we’re exploring the food and music of Iran.
The pop-up dinners aim to expose our guests to new flavors and sounds and encourage lasting connections and memories. They are immersive, sensory experiences that lie at the intersection of music, food and culture.
AJT: You say that you have different ways of cooking. What are they?
Deljou: I want to challenge people to view dining and cuisine as so much more than “three meals a day” or the basic structure of “appetizer, entree and dessert.” My specialty lies in seasonal vegetable-centric shared plates that are influenced by texture, color and worldly flavors.
My philosophy “taste as you go, season as you go” encourages both my guests and students to cook with intuition. I believe recipes provide great guidelines and are the genesis of inspiration, but it’s important to understand that we all taste differently. I hope to empower people to trust their instincts and notice the greater context behind cuisine.
AJT: Share your formal training in the art of cooking.
Deljou: I’ve been cooking for large groups of people since age 11, but in 2018 I attended the “Farm to Table” program at the International Culinary Center in New York, spearheaded by Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Upon graduating, I worked in various culinary contexts, most notably Jean-Georges’ ABCV in Union Square, a high-end vegetarian/vegan forward restaurant.
AJT: What are your personal best dishes? Ethnic cuisines?
Deljou: I focus mostly on vegetable-forward food, because there’s so much variety in taste and application. Some of my best dishes highlight the complexity of a vegetable and elevate its texture and flavor, pushing the boundaries of how we view or treat something as simple as a carrot. Naturally, I pull from the flavor profiles of my Persian heritage, but also enjoy exploring Indian, Thai, Israeli, and Latin American flavors. I find inspiration in the commonalities between various cultures around the world.
AJT: What are some tips that you have discovered that make for better entertaining?
Deljou: Sharing, gathering, connecting. Music is a big part of what we do here at Delle. We like to engage with our guests in various ways, be it through the food we’re cooking, the sonic atmosphere we’re creating, or the connections and relationships that come out of the dinner parties. We continue the conversation outside of our dinners through monthly newsletters, where we share one “must-try” ingredient, one original recipe, and one current favorite musical album.
AJT: What are the trends you see up and coming for 2020? Brussels sprouts are on every menu it seems!
Deljou: I think our culture is becoming more and more intentionally interested in locality, seasonality, and celebrating the integrity of ingredients. We’re starting to see more vegetables stand alone and the integration of ethnic flavors like tahini, sumac, harissa, and za’atar into Western menus.
Here’s a sample of Deljou’s recipes:
Servings: 6 to 8
3 medium fennel bulbs
1 cup green olives (pitted)
½ cup parmesan,
½ cup champagne vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
1 small lemon, juiced
1 large orange, zested and juiced
1 large orange, segmented
What You’ll Need:
Cutting board, large bowls, knife, peeler, microplane, mandoline, tongs
Wash fennel bulbs; remove outer layer if bruised and tough. With your knife, separate the bulb from the stalks and fronds and set aside. With your mandoline, adjust the knob on the back for semi-thin cuts. Using a bowl, place the fennel bulb on top and slide down the blade continuously to produce even and consistent slices.
On a cutting board, thinly cut stalks and fronds. Toss in a bowl with the rest of the sliced fennel. Tear olives in half, shave strips of parmesan with a vegetable peeler, and toss in orange segments.
In a mixing bowl, zest orange with microplane, and juice lemon and orange. Add vinegar and whisk in olive oil to make a citronette. Season to taste. Toss everything together to combine ingredients, then toss in dressing and serve immediately.
The salt will begin to wilt the fennel, so season right before serving. Taste as you go; season as you go. I don’t really believe in recipes. I think they provide great guidelines and are the genesis of inspiration. So, use this as a tool. If you feel you want more vinegar, more orange, or if it needs more salt, go for it. We all taste differently, so use this recipe as your canvas and fill in the gaps yourself. Eat well. Cook often.