Haitian-American Chef viaud
Chef Chris Viaud was a 2021 contestant on the television series Top Chef. Photo courtesy of Pronto Public Relations

Overview:

Chef Viaud and his family use popup to share Haitian culture with their community.

by Michael Cleverley

On Aug. 7, the New England community of Milford, N.H., will receive a special treat when three acclaimed Haitian chefs — Chef Chris Viaud, Alain Lemaire and Sebastien Solomon — come together for A Taste of Haiti at Viaud’s restaurant, Greenleaf.

Gratin lalo lambi, cod croquettes and fried mayi moulen are among a variety of Haitian-inspired dishes on the $125 prix-fixe menu the trio of chefs will prepare.

The event also doubles as one of organizer Viaud’s monthly pop-ups called Ansanm, which means “together” in Creole. He began organizing the pop-ups in 2021 as a way to reconnect with his Haitian roots, while creating space for families to connect. 

Chef Viaud fast facts

Here are a few career highlights to know about former Top Chef Contestant Chris Viaud

  • Earned a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and food service management from Johnson & Wales University in 2012. 
  • Worked at Deuxave, a modern French restaurant in Boston for three years.
  • Helped open four restaurants in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. 
  • Moved to Milford and opened Greenleaf in 2019. 
  • Launched Ansanm pop-ups with his family in 2021

“The cuisine is filled with stories,”  Viaud said, a former Top Chef contestant. “The time involved in the cooking process — from washing the meats with a citrus marinade to ensure the meat is clean, to the ingredients being used, [the] tons of herbs and spices to be prepared — allows a family to connect and talk about the day while preparing the meals.”

Viaud’s family eventually saw this tradition as an opportunity to share Haitian culture with the wider community. So they created the monthly Sunday dinner pop-up out of the same space as the higher-end Greenleaf, a farm-to-table, seasonally-inspired restaurant. 

The Ansanm events showcase Haitian culture not only through food, but also with music and art.

The menu is updated monthly, and cost varies. Check Ansanm’s Instagram account for updates.

The following are some recipes of Viaud’s favorite Haitian dishes.

“Poule Nan Sos” – Stewed Chicken in Creole Sauce

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 4  chicken thighs 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar 
  • 4 tbsp epis (Haitian marinade ) –  (prepare in advance)
  • 2 tsp adobo seasoning
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 tsp garlic powder 
  • ½ lime – juiced
  • 6 stems parsley
  • 6 sprigs Thyme
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper & 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt – to taste

Instructions:

  1. Remove skin from chicken and rinse with vinegar and lemon juice. Place the chicken in a large tall sided pan. 
  2. Add the epis, adobo seasoning, black pepper, garlic powder, chicken bouillon cube, pinch of salt and lime juice and mix well.
  3. Make “bouquet garnis” with the parsley and thyme by wrapping with a piece of cooking twine. cut a side of the red pepper and stick the cloves in it. Add bouquet and cloved pepper to the pot. 
  4. Add enough water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil to cook.
  5. After a few minutes, taste the water to make sure seasoning is ok. If more is needed, add more adobo and some salt (not too much). After a few minutes, taste again and repeat steps above if necessary.
  6. When the pot comes to a boil, pre-set your oven to broil on low/medium.
  7. Once chicken is cooked, take the thighs out of the water and place them on a sheet pan lined with foil. Carefully place in the oven and broil until golden-brown on all sides. 
  8. While the chicken is in the oven, use the water it was cooked in to make the sauce. You may need to add some water if there’s not enough in the pan. 
  9. Add tomato paste and half of the onions and peppers to the water. Bring to a boil 
  10. Once chicken is ready, add them back to the sauce, let it boil for 5 minutes and then lower heat to medium-low. 
  11. Add the rest of the peppers and onions, bring to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.

“Diri Kole ak Pwa” – Rice and Beans

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

½ cup kidney beans (soaked overnight)

2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp epis

2 tsp adobo

2 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp salt

1 cup basmati rice – rinsed

  1. Place the soaked beans in a small sauce pot, cover with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender for  about 45-50 minutes
  2. While waiting for the beans to cook, place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water runs clear. Set aside.
  3. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking water
  4. Heat the oil in pan large enough to cook the rice, add epis and cook until slightly golden
  5. Add the cooked kidney beans, adobo, garlic powder, salt and stir. 
  6. Measure out 1½ cups of bean water and add to the pan and bring to a boil. As soon as it begins to boil, add in the rinsed rice and gently stir. Reduce the heat down to  low and cover with a lid. Cook until the rice is tender and all the water has evaporated. Remove from heat and let sit before stirring. 
jars epis and pikliz
Chef Viaud sells his version of epis and pikliz at Ansanm, his pop-up Haitian restaurant. Photo courtesy of Pronto Public Relations

“Epis” – Haitian Spice and Marinade

Instructions:

Yield about 8 ounces

Ingredients:

2 scallions

¼ bunch of parsley

1 ½ oz of garlic

¼ of a large onion

1 tbsp thyme leaves

¼ each of red, green, yellow and orange bell peppers

¼  habanero pepper

1 oz olive oil

juice of ½ lime

salt to taste

Instructions: 

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend well. Taste and add additional salt if needed and blend again.

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