Kirk Warner’s Traveling Kitchen


Known as the Traveling Chef, Kirk Warner lives a busy chef’s life cooking and teaching around the world. He grew up in a foodie family in Paw Paw, Michigan. After visiting Flavorista Tracey in nearby Saugatuck this summer, I realized what a foodie mecca it is.

Tracey introduced me to Kirk via her great friend Jill. Every summer Jill hosts a cooking class with chef Kirk and her close friends at her gorgeous home on Lake Michigan.

Kirk’s first entrepreneurial food experience was at the ripe age of 11 selling bratwurst with sauerkraut and caramelized onions he made during the Wine and Harvest Festival in Paw Paw.

As he grew older, he really didn’t want to be in the food business and went to graduate school for film. But years later found himself lured back into the life.  Now he lives is St. Louis. Warner Family reunions are referred to as fat camps where Kirk’s family prepare, eat, repeat and speak about their next meal minutes after the last crumb has been consumed at the table – a family after my own heart.

I adapted Kirk’s harissa (North African Chile Sauce) for the platter of grilled vegetables for Mo’s birthday party.

Harissa Sauce for Grilled Veggies

This is a hot and fiery sauce with loads of flavor.  It is a great condiment for rice, soup or even scrambled eggs.

Makes 2 cups

5 jalapenos, roasted, peeled and seeded (less if you want to make it not as spicy as a typical harrissa, I like to use 3)
2 large Red Bell Peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 1/2 tsp. toasted cumin seeds, ground
1 1/2 tsp. coriander seed, toasted and ground
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
6 tlbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup whole milk yogurt
salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, except for the yogurt, and puree. Reserve 1/2 cup of the harissa for use on sandwiches (a la Flavorista Tracey). Add the yogurt to the remaining harissa. This keeps 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Use this sauce on grilled vegetables or as a condiment to leg of lamb. In addition to sandwiches, it can also be used to spice up a stew or soup.

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