Hubert Burda Media

Chef Talk: Jay McCarthy

What makes a good steak? We talk to the Texan aerospace engineer-turned-chef on his visit to Jakarta.

Chef Jay McCarthy

With a cowboy hat and checkered pants on top of his all-white chef attire, Jay McCarthy definitely screams Texas. Aptly, he's in town for Got American Beef? specials at C's Steak & Seafood, Grand Hyatt Jakarta this week.

McCarthy's cuisine is described as "a blend of native Texas cuisine with tropical flavours". The combination comes from his early years in Jamaica and formative years (McCarthy studied aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University) in Texas.

"That's how I develop flavours that are light, tropical and fruit-based. But I present them using the Texas technique of smoking," McCarthy, who spends most of his years consulting, teaching and lecturing, says.

Having been in the industry for over 20 years, designated as a Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, consulted major hotels and restaurants around the world and now managing five restaurants in Colorado, it is only apt to ask the chef the ultimate question: what makes a good steak?

Chef Jay McCarthy

Sugar Cured Prime Beef Tenderlion (250 gr) - with apple brie cheese velouté

The meat

First, the quality of the meat. I know where each piece of meat I use comes from – which farms, how they care for the cattle, what food the cattle eats – because it all affects the characters of the meat. For example, in Texas, the cows are corn-fed, whereas in other parts of the world they are grass-fed or grain-fed. The meats would have different nuances.

When I choose a piece of meat, I always go for the one with the most marbles in it. It’s different from how my mother does it, because she always go for the piece with most flesh and least fat. There was this one time, I cooked her dinner and she asked me how I managed to make the steak so tasty and juicy. I wouldn’t dare to tell her that the meat pick is what makes the difference (laughs).

The technique

I always feel that I can only do justice to a good meat by cooking it well. Throughout the years, I have learned how each cut has different types of muscles in it. Some parts of the cow have strong, well-exercised muscles, so they translate into lean beef. On the contrary, other parts have muscles that are rarely used, and they produce softer beef with more fat in it. That’s why different cuts need to be sliced with different techniques.

Another basic thing to pay attention to is the temperature of the meat. When the meat is thoroughly at room temperature, it will retain its juice when grilled. On the other hand, if the meat is still partly cold when grilled, it will not cook evenly and has little juice in it.

Chef Jay McCarthy

Seared Chuck Flap Salad - romaine lettuce and warm beef jerky vinaigrette 

The equipment

Lastly, the equipment you use affects how your steak turn out. For example, we can compare electric stove to gas stove. The latter provides more powerful heat as compared to the first. Here at C’s Steak & Seafood, they use a very powerful wood fired grill that enables me to create a perfect steak topped with a thin crust that adds to the overall experience of savouring a steak.

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Chef Jay McCarthy at Grand Hyatt Jakarta
The chef is serving a special 4-course dinner at C's Steak & Seafood, Grand Hyatt Jakarta from September 6 - 10. To reserve a table, call (+6221) 2992 1383 or 2992 1234 ext. 3400 or email cs.ghjakarta@hyatt.com. For more info, visit their website.