Liberté Yogurt & Tasting with Chef Vitaly Paley at Imperial Portland {Sponsored Post}

Last week I attended a private tasting with Season 9 Iron Chef America Winner, Vitaly Paley, and Liberté Yogurt. All I can say is I hope you’re not reading this hungry 🙂


There were a total of four pairings by Chef Vitaly Paley at this event; Hazelnut Yogurt Tea Cakes (with raspberries), Peach Passionfruit Smoothies (with coconut water and chia seeds), Quail Tikka Masala (with radish and cucumber raita), and Bananas Foster Parfaits. Each recipe was made with at least one of the Liberté’s yogurts and were otherwise created with fresh, local ingredients. I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Chef Vitaly about how he came up with the different recipes and what he was going for:

When creating my own culinary experiences, I love to combine regional flavors with historic techniques,” said Chef Paley. “Adding Liberté yogurt to the mix allowed me to expand my repertoire and create pairings that stay true to our shared passion for flavor-focused innovation while honoring simple, pure ingredients.

Chef Vitaly created some inspiring pairings for the different Liberté yogurts, both their Greek and Méditerranée varieties. One favorite of mine was the Bananas Foster Parfait as it creates an amazing snack, dessert, or even (for some of us) breakfast.

What was truly amazing to me was that this parfait was made with french vanilla yogurt! I normally cannot even smell french vanilla yogurt with out feeling ill. I blame all the summers I spent with my grandmother as a child. She loved french vanilla yogurt–and at that age I didn’t like any yogurt.

Fast forward about 15 years, and here I am with this delicious looking little parfait eyeing me from across the table and an acclaimed chef smiling at me, explaining how he came up with this particular pairing. I had a nice big spoonful before I even heard him say…french vanilla. Now, it may have been my matured tastebuds, but this yogurt was different than what I had encountered in the past. The french vanilla was creamier than others I had tried in the past, and it left no bitter aftertaste. The french vanilla pleasantly surprised me, and the parfait glass was empty in a matter of seconds.


Bananas Foster Parfait

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 6 T brown sugar 
  • 2 T rye whiskey 
  • 1 T butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 containers of Liberté Méditerranée French Vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Method

In a sauté pan, combine brown sugar, whiskey and butter. Over low heat, cook to melt sugar. Continue simmering until thick and syrupy. Peel the bananas and cut each in thirds then each third split lengthwise, for a total of 12 pieces. add the bananas to the pan and cook until just soft. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. In a clear glass, spoon half a container of Liberté Méditerranée yogurt. Top with 3 banana pieces and a sprinkle of nuts. Spoon remaining yogurt over, then 3 more bananas and some of the pan syrup and a last sprinkle of nuts. Repeat with second glass.

Chef Vitaly Paley


Chef Vitaly was a joy to be around. He’s renowned for his cooking and I was a little starstruck having known him from his winning role as Iron Chef America 2011. He owns three restaurants in the Portland area (Imperial, Portland Penny Diner, and Paley’s Place), is a published author (The Paley’s Place Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Pacific Northwest), and was, most recently, nominated as a 2012 and 2013 James Beard Foundation Semifinalist for Outstanding Chef. Chef Vitaly and Vitaly Paley Restaurants have earned recognition in national media outlets including Food & Wine Empire Builders 2012, Saveur Magazine’s “Top 100,” The New York Times, appearing on The Martha Stewart Show, Wall St. Journal, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast, GQ, Oprah Magazine, USA Today, Travel & Leisure and Food Arts as well as local support and accolades from local media outlets such as The Oregonian, Portland Monthly, Willamette Week, PortlandFoodandDrink.com and Wine Press NW.

What I enjoyed most about meeting this chef was his focus and knowledge of the depth of flavors associated with the foods he prepared. He very obviously enjoyed cooking with high heat (the oven pictured above is 700°F+ and goes all day long!). He is excited to be working with Liberté and his positivity is infectious.

Liberté Yogurt

Liberté yogurt began in Montreal, started by the Kaporovsky family in 1936, and has since made its way to the U.S. Recently introduced to the Portland area, Liberté stays true to its roots of excellence and distinction, producing a delicious yogurt with simple ingredients, notable flavors and a clean, pure finish.

Liberté Yogurt has two different lines: Greek and Méditerranée. The Méditerranée flavors consist of whole milk and cream, as well as live, active cultures and real fruit. The Greek is made with fat-free skim milk. The yogurt is finished with high-quality fruit. And as you should expect, they refrain from adding gelatin, sugar substitutes or preservatives. Their yogurts also come in a variety of flavors including: blackberry, blueberry, peach & passionfruit, lemon, strawberry, coconut (Méditerranée only), french vanilla (Méditerranée only), and plain (Méditerranée only),

Final Thoughts

My biggest concern was openly addressed by Megan, a representative of Liberté, and that was–do you use r-BGH-free milk? Her answer was a resounding yes! She then followed up to note that their big goal is to cut out corn completely, as there have been many references to GMO corn going into use within the food supply. The hope is to have corn (in this case cornstarch) removed from both lines of yogurt before the end of the year if all goes according to plan.
I’m interested to see whether or not Liberté comes out with full-fat versions of their yogurts. I find that certain fats (like the ones that naturally occur in cow’s and goat’s milks) are good for the body and contain nutrients our bodies need. I have also found it increasingly difficult to find large containers of whole fat Greek (or otherwise) yogurts at even high-end grocery stores. Another question that came to mind was why larger tubs of Liberté yogurt aren’t more widely available? The larger tubs create less plastics waste and can make the yogurt more affordable to purchase in large amounts. Liberté is definitely doing something right in showing its mealtime versatility, but what about in its convenience of purchase for the consumer? Does the form in which it’s available now make it too much like its closest competitor, Yoplait?

Have you tried this new yogurt?

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