Chef Vernon Hickman Shares His Recipe

“I will always be grateful for the influence of Chef Fisher in my life. He had the passion for the work and he passed that on to me. Now, I have the best job in the world, teaching what I love.”





Chef Vernon Hickman’s love of cooking took 
Chef Vernon Hickman’s love of cooking took root in the home. He was impressed as a boy watching his mother putting together meals in the kitchen. By 16 he was working at The Outlaw Inn, but it wasn’t until he began work at The Game Keeper with chef John Fisher that his love of cooking turned into “the passion.” 
Transitioning into culinary education 31 years ago allowed Hickman to spend time with his wife and two sons, and share the passion with his students. For the past 10 years, he has been head of the Culinary Arts program for the West Ada School District. He also oversees the student-run restaurant Café Renaissance, which is open to the public for lunch 11:30 a.m. to noon most Thursdays and Fridays from November through May. 
This month, Hickman is sharing an easy to prepare, yet sure to impress dish, fish en papillote, perfect for Valentine’s Day. 
“Served in a heart-shaped parchment opened at the time of serving, the delicious aroma makes you feel very special,” Hickman says. “This can also be customized for a vegetarian, or by substituting the fish for shrimp or chicken; you can really cater this dish to delight the ones you love.” 
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” is the heart of Chef Hickman’s philosophy. He trains his students to work hard and be good at what they do, always reminding them to be humble. 
For more information on Café Renaissance, visit WestAda.org/Culinary.

Fish en Papillote


Yields two servings                                          

Cooking method: Baked in paper

You’ll need:
2 12-inch-by-18-inch sheets of parchment paper

Ingredients

    
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  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter                                             
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  • 1-2 tablespoons shallot, minced                                          
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  • 1/4 cup carrot, julienned   
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  • 6 asparagus spears, fresh                                 
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  • 1/4 cup red onion, julienned
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  • 1 tablespoon your choice fresh herbs: dill, tarragon or thyme            
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  • 2-4 sliced crimini mushrooms
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  • 2 fish fillets 
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  • 1 lemon zest and sliced 
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  • 1/2  fennel bulb     
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  • 5 cherry tomatoes                                             
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  • Salt and pepper, to taste                                             

Optional:

    
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  • Bell pepper (any color), diced
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  • Turnips
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  • Parsnips
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Directions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
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  3. 2. Cut two pieces of parchment paper into large heart shapes by folding the paper in half and drawing half of a heart and cutting out. Then unfold to reveal the whole heart (like you did for making hearts for Valentine’s Day).

  4. 3. Brush each paper with clarified butter to prevent sticking.
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  6. 4. Toss the mixed vegetable together. You can mix any combination you prefer. For a vegan option, you can simply omit the fish and add more types of veggies. Lay 1/3 of the veggies on one-half of each of the hearts, so you can fold it over later. Hickman likes to place a bed of vegetables under the fish fillet, sprinkle with seasoning, then top with more veggies and moisture-foods like tomatoes and lemon slices to aid in the steaming effect. Pour remaining butter over the top and sprinkle with fresh herbs of your choice.
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  8. 5. Fold the uncovered half of each heart over the fish and 1vegetables, and fold and crease the edge of the parchment paper approximately 2-3 inches at a time, overlapping the new fold slightly over the last one, sealing the edges.
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  10. 6. Place on a metal baking pan and bake for approximately 10 minutes. The parchment paper will puff up and brown. Remove from the oven and snip the center of the paper and pull apart with two forks and serve immediately, or you can impress your guests by placing it in front of them and then opening it. You and your guests will love the aromatic herbs and vegetables, but be careful of the steam!