By Denise DuBois
Christopher Walters, better known as Chef Chris, has traveled all over the world creating fabulous dishes with the best ingredients.
The most notable places he’s cooked are in Indonesia and Australia. He’s also spent time in Morocco and parts of Asia.
“You have to learn how they cook,” Walters said. “With different spices, the whole culture is a lot different than we’re used to. You have to do as the Romans do. Follow their direction and learn as much as you can. And that’s with any country. Learn their culture and how they cook. It’s opened my mind to a lot of different cuisines.”
Now, the native Londoner lives on the river in Smiths Station and is the executive chef at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. He has been all over the country cooking in hotels, sports arenas and more. He made his way to the Chattahoochee Valley nearly three years ago after being with the Georgia World Congress Center for years.
“I knew about the Trade Center but I never had the intention of coming to the country. As I’m getting older, I wanted a peace of mind and working 100 hours a week wasn’t a way of life,” he said.
For the second year, Walters has been invited as one of 12 chefs across the country to attend the Spectra Culinary Innovation Summit in Philadelphia. It’s a place where Walters and other chefs can learn more about their craft.
“We learn innovative ways to create dishes that we can use in convention centers and stadiums or arenas,” Walters said. They say it’s a competition, but I say it’s fun.”
He had to submit a recipe to be considered for the summit and his recipe included a jerk chicken wrap because it can be served anywhere with just a few modifications.
Walters began cooking at age 16 in London and Paris and hasn’t stopped since.
“I always say that food is my love. This is what I’ve done for years. I like being creative and dealing with people and teaching. This is Southern-driven cuisine, but we put our flare to it,” Walters said.
As for advice for those who don’t or can’t cook, Walters offers this: “You have to figure out what you would like to cook. If you like a recipe, follow the ingredients. Cooking is a joy. The best way is to open a bottle of wine, put on some music and take it step by step.”
Try his recipe below:
Makes Approx. 140 one-ounce Empanadas
6 lbs. Hormel Fire Roasted Pork Shoulder,
3 lbs. Diced Butternut Squash, Roasted and
1 C. Brunoise Fresh Pineapple
2 T. Bush Dreams Forrest Berry and
2 ea. Limes, Juiced
¼ C. Glenview Farms Spreadable Brie
¼ C. Finely Sliced Green Onion Tops
3 oz. Rykoff Sexton Orange Juice not from
20 ea. Sheets of 12” Square Parbaked Thin
Rich’s Flat Bread
280 ea. Toothpicks for Securing Empanadas
Oil for Frying
Salt and Pepper to Taste
#10 can Angela Mia Tomatoes Peeled and
Diced in Juice
2 btls. Chef’s Line Soda Ginger Beer
16 oz. Rykoff Sexton Orange Juice not from
1 ea. Medium Pieces Ginger, Peeled and
1 ea. Medium Red Onion, Small Dice
1 C. Brown Sugar, Packed
¼ C. Oil for Sautéing
10 ea. Cloves Garlic, Minced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 bags Cross Valley Farms Superfood Slaw
½ C. Coconut Rum
4 bunches Cilantro, Washed and Chopped
1 qt. Coleslaw Dressing
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1. Combine the first 8 ingredients of the empanada section. Mix well. Adjust seasoning as needed.
2. Using a 4” ring mold, cut rounds out of the flatbread. You should be able to get 7 out of each sheet.
3. Drop flat bread rounds into hot oil for 5 seconds to soften them for assembly.
4. Using a 1 oz. disher, portion a 1 oz. scoop into the middle of the pliable flat bread round.
5. Bring up the edges and using 2 picks, secure the empanada closed. Be careful not to have filling leak out of sides.
6. Shingle onto sheet pans and wrap until ready to fry.
7. Fry for 3 minutes at 350*F.
1. Using a 6-qt. stock pot with medium high heat, add ¼ cup of oil and sauté the onions and ginger until onions are translucent.
2. Add garlic and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring, so garlic doesn’t burn.
3. Add brown sugar and cook until sugar has fully dissolved and created a paste.
4. Deglaze pot with the 2 bottles of ginger beer and orange juice.
5. Bring to a boil and then add the can of peeled, diced tomatoes.
6. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to medium low and let reduce by ½ until sauce thickens. Make sure you stir regularly to prevent sauce from burning.
7. Adjust seasoning and let cool.
8. Once sauce has cooled completely, use a blender to puree into a smooth sauce. Make sure to adjust seasoning again after pureeing.
1. Combine the rum, cilantro and coleslaw dressing in large mixing bowl.
2. Add the slaw mix.
3. Adjust for seasoning.
4. Place in cooler until ready to use. Use same day.
Plate Up and Presentation
1. In a concessions environment, place 3 fried empanadas, with picks removed, in vessel and zig zag cold coulis from a squeeze bottle onto empanadas. Place coleslaw on side.
2. In a suites and catering environment, fry empanadas and remove picks. Julienne the scraps from the flat bread sheets, deep fry them, and place as a bed in the chafing pan so the empanadas stay crispy. Shingle 2 rows of empanadas on the sides of pan. Place slaw down the middle of pan on top of the flat bread nest to absorb the liquid from the slaw and not to heat it too much. Either zig zag the sauce over the empanadas or place in a decorative bowl on the side.
3. This can also be used as a passed hors d’oeuvres. Place small beds of slaw (1/2 golf ball size) on passing tray. Fry empanadas, remove picks, and place one on each small bed of slaw. Zig zag sauce over the entire tray and empanadas.