Chef & Restaurant Owner
Chef Michael Kornick is a nationally-recognized leader in the culinary arts. He has experience working with some of the most influential chefs and restaurant operators in the US. In 1985, Kornick made his debut in Chicago’s culinary scene as an executive chef at Gordon. He went on to serve as chef/partner of restaurants Marche and Red Light, followed by a position as corporate chef for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. In 1998, he opened mk The Restaurant, which has been acclaimed by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago magazine. Kornick was nominated for five consecutive years as “Best Chef, Midwest” by the James Beard Foundation.
In 2009, Kornick launched DMK Burger Bar, another Chicago mainstay that has received national acclaim for its delicious food and friendly first-class service. In 2011, he introduced Chicagoans to sustainable fresh seafood with the opening of Fish Bar. A year later, he unveiled Ada Street, featuring farm-to-table cooking and, in 2013, brought American Heritage BBQ to Chicago’s Taylor Street with County Barbeque.
While Kornick is most recognized for his numerous accomplishments in the kitchen, he is also sought after as an authority on restaurant management and hospitality. His expertise was instrumental in opening 16 restaurants and nightlife venues for the 9 Group. Today, Kornick is a consultant to the Palms Casino Resort/9G in Las Vegas, a position he has held since 2001.
Michael Kornick’s sincere appreciation for bison makes him an instrumental member of The Bison Council. Bison has been on the menu at mk since 2002, and bison burgers are one of the most popular items at DMK. He will guide consumers in understanding the ease of cooking bison at home and will demonstrate how it can be used as a substitute in classic red meat recipes.
(Photo credit Richard Pack)
Of all the cuts of bison, which is your favorite, and what’s your preparation of choice?
I love the bone-in ribeye the best. I love the portion size, and the bone adds to the appearance of a great man’s steak. I enjoy cooking the steak on the grill, charring it well, and serving it with a relish, like pico de gallo or salsa verde, which is bright and tasty.
Why do you enjoy cooking with bison as opposed to other red meats?
Bison cooks quickly, has great flavor, and eats rich and delicious. I am especially interested in bison’s nutritional values and its lower level of cholesterol. I think bison picks up the smoke off the grill perfectly, and it adapts to slow roasting in the oven better than beef, because you do not have to render out the fat.
Bison is such a lean protein. What simple tips can you provide home cooks in preparing a juicy bison dish for the first time?
Cook bison less than beef. It is lower in fat and is very tender and delicious when cooked rare to medium. For pan roasting, sauteing and grilling, as high a temperature is not necessary to produce great results.
To retain moisture, I like to moisten the meat with olive oil before cooking and allow it to rest before cutting and serving. An individual portion should rest for about five minutes, while large roasts require ten to fifteen.
While bison is certainly tasty on its own, it can be intimidating to first-timers. Are there classic dishes with proteins like beef, chicken, or fish that can be reinvented using bison?
Any beef dish, like Steak au Poivre (steak with peppercorns and peppercorn sauce) or Filet Mignon Béarnaise, can be easily recreated using bison. For adapting poultry or fish, I love thinly sliced bison steak with a lemon caper and parsley vinaigrette, or roast bison instead of roast chicken with Herbs de Provence.
How should bison be cooked—rare, medium, or well-done?
It’s best not to exceed a medium temperature. It’s also important to remember that the temperature of the meat continues to rise approximately ten degrees when taken off the grill or out of the oven. Allow an individual steak to rest for about five minutes and a large roast to rest for about ten to fifteen minutes before serving.
For individual steaks, the temperatures should read as follows when taken off the grill:
- • 120 degrees for medium
- • 110 degrees for medium rare
- • 100 degrees for rare
For large roasts, the temperatures should read as follows when taken out of the oven:
- • 130-135 degrees for medium
- • 120-125 degrees for medium rare
- • 110-115 degrees for rare
Ellie Krieger, the host of the Food Network & Cooking Channel’s popular Healthy Appetite is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian. Her career-launching first book, Small Changes, Big Results, a how-to on simple habit changes that yield optimal results, was recently launched in an updated format. The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life, Krieger’s second book, was an immediate New York Times best seller. In addition to being named to Amazon’s Customer Best Seller List for 2008, The Food You Crave won the 2009 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Award and the esteemed 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for "Best Cookbook with a Healthy Focus." So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week also became an instant New York Times best seller. Following So Easy, Krieger released Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy, a collection of healthy versions of comfort food classics. Her next cookbook, Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less, will be available in January 2014.
Krieger has a master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University and was an adjunct professor at New York University in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health. Her clientele includes homemakers, CEOs, and notable celebrities.
Krieger brings years of expertise to The Bison Council and serves as a strong advocate for incorporating bison into the daily diet. She is enthusiastic about educating consumers on the many health benefits of bison and how it is a delicious alternative to other, more conventional proteins. Her insight inspires red meat lovers to live a healthier lifestyle without sacrificing flavor.
Why is bison a healthy choice?
Bison is a meat lover’s dream! It tastes incredible — very much like beef, just richer and subtly sweeter, yet it is extremely low in fat and calories. Bison lets you have all the meaty taste and satisfaction you crave without any downsides.
How can bison be incorporated into a diet?
If you simply swap in bison for beef in most of your favorite dishes, you’ll be way ahead of the game nutritionally. You can eat 4-5 ounce portions of lean meats, like bison, several times a week as part of a balanced eating plan that includes lots of vegetables, whole fruit, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds, beans, low-fat dairy, and healthy oils.
From a nutrition standpoint, what sets bison apart from other conventional proteins?
Bison is extremely lean and low in calories. It has less fat than skinless chicken breast, but gives you the real red meat satisfaction. It is rich in protein, B-vitamins and essential nutrients, and has more iron than beef.
As an RD, how long have you been recommending bison?
I included bison in my list of recommended meats in my very first book, Small Changes, Big Results, which I wrote nearly ten years ago. But, in that book, I mistakenly called it buffalo. I think that is part of the confusion for people. They are not quite sure what bison is, have not had much opportunity to try it, or are afraid it tastes gamey. However, it is absolutely luscious and rich, yet mild, and not gamey at all. Anyone who tastes it is sure to be a convert!
What’s your favorite, health-conscious bison dish?
My favorite way to cook bison is quite simple. All you need to do is sprinkle a tender bison steak with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and grill or broil it for a few minutes per side. You’ll have meaty, healthy perfection to serve. Slice the steak to put on top of a salad, or serve it with classic sides like a baked sweet potato and broccoli. I also like to marinate and stir-fry bison with lots of colorful vegetables, or use it in tacos or fajitas. You don’t need to add a lot of fat when cooking bison. Just be sure not to overcook it so it stays nice and moist.
Food Writer, Meatopia Founder
Josh Ozersky is a James Beard Award-winning food writer. He made his debut in the culinary industry as the founding editor of New York Magazine’s food blog, Grub Street. Since then, his work has appeared frequently in Esquire, Time, New York Magazine, RachaelRay.com, the Wall Street Journal and more. Ozersky has appeared on television programs such as Nightline, No Reservations, Iron Chef America and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. He is the author of nine books, including Meat Me in Manhattan: A Carnivore’s Guide to New York, The Hamburger: A History and Colonel Sanders and the American Dream, published most recently in 2012.
Ozersky is a recognized authority on meat and meat cookery. He is the founder of Meatopia, the world’s greatest meat-centric food festival, attended by some of the most well-known chefs. Thanks to Ozersky, the festival has been acclaimed as a "meat-lover’s paradise" by New York Magazine and "a glorious city of meat" by The Huffington Post.
As a known meat-connoisseur, Ozersky is a natural fit for The Bison Council. He is up-to-date on the hottest chefs, restaurants and food trends, and in-the-know with finding the best meat dishes around the country. He is as a trusted guide for those seeking a delicious bison meal, and aims to make it a more commonly served protein.
Chefs have been cooking with bison for years. What’s the best bison dish you’ve ever had, and what made it so memorable?
I would have to say, without much hesitation, that Anthony Goncalves' 15-spice bison steak at 42 in White Plains, NY was the best I can remember. Chef Goncalves prepared it as the headline protein for a dinner promoting the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY. Each course represented a part of the animal’s diet, and it built up to its climax, the bison steak, which was a real masterpiece. It was amazing – simultaneously crusty and buttery, herbaceous and hot. It was so popular that the restaurant now serves it as a staple menu item.
Why would you choose a bison dish on a menu over other options?
I’d urge people to order bison at a restaurant for two reasons: because it’s delicious and people need to learn more about it. Bison is all-natural, and has the added distinction of being the only truly native form of red meat in the country. I always recommend trying something you haven't had when dining out; it really gives the chef the chance to be creative and to take you somewhere you haven't been.
How would you describe the flavor of bison to someone who has never tasted it?
Bison is similar to great beef, with an equally robust flavor, but significantly leaner and lighter. You know you're eating red meat – it’s rich and satisfying with the beef flavor that everybody wants. And, while there’s nothing light about the flavor, the meat is less fatty, so you can get up at the end of your meal and feel great.
What chefs and/or restaurants come to mind when you think of bison?
You can find great bison dishes all over the country. I’ve traveled quite a bit and tried bison several times. I’d recommend trying it at any great restaurant, but if you’re looking for the best bison, these are my top ten from across the country:
- Fearing’s: Dallas, TX
- Foreign and Domestic: Austin, TX
- Woodbury Kitchen: Baltimore, MD
- Underbelly: Houston, TX
- Gary Danko: San Francisco, CA
- Proof on Main: Louisville, KY
- The Fort: Morrison, CO
- Beast: Portland, OR
- The Four Seasons: NYC
- 42: White Plains, NY
What are the common misconceptions and apprehensions about bison?
There’s absolutely no reason why people should be hesitant to try bison. It’s delicious, healthy and some of the best chefs in the world are doing some of their best work with it. There are definitely myths surrounding the protein, and the most common misconceptions include:
- It’s an endangered species, one still making a comeback from the 19th century: Well, thanks to the efforts of bison ranchers and producers, these animals have come roaring back from the dangerously thin numbers of old, and now have the biggest, healthiest population they have seen in well over 100 years.
- Bison is some kind of odd, unfamiliar animal: If you've ever heard of buffalo, you've heard of bison. These are the same animals whose massive herds once thundered across the Great Plains, and supported Native Americans for thousands of years. The bison we eat today is very much the same species, and continues to provide all-natural nutrition for a new generation of Americans.