Celebrity Chef Tom Van Lente

Meet Tom Van Lente – Celebrity Chef, plus a recipe!

Tom Van Lente is the Chef/Owner of TVL Culinary.  He has cooked at many of Chicago’s finest restaurants and was recognized as a “Rising Star Chef” by The James Beard Foundation, and as one of “30 Chefs in the Country to Watch” by Plate Magazine.

“This year will be my sixth year at Celebrity Chef Ball.  Chandra Ram (former Meals on Wheels Chicago Board chair and long-time Celebrity Chef Ball chair) asked me to join the ranks of some incredibly talented chefs.  Needless to say, I was incredibly honored.”

“Celebrity Chef is a fun and meaningful event. The chefs know how much people paid to attend, and we make sure they have a great time.  Eighty chefs and more than seven-hundred people come together to raise the funds to support our housebound and hungry neighbors.”

“Every year, I think about the people Meals on Wheels Chicago serves as I prepare my menu. I want to make sure my course is memorable, and I see that same commitment in the other chefs, some of whom traveled from other cities to participate.  There is a lot of heart and emotion in that room, and I look forward to it each year.”

Chef Van Lente Ramp Risotto – serves 6

3 TBSP good EVOO

1 yellow Spanish onion – minced

2 cloves garlic – minced

2 C Arborio rice

1 C dry white wine

Salt and pepper

About 5 C preferably homemade chicken stock, or vegetable stock if needed – warm, not boiling

About 1 C grated parmesan cheese

2-3 TBSP good butter

2 TBSP bacon – chopped (optional)

3 TBSP ramp puree (recipe follows)

3 TBSP ramp roasted ramp bulbs – chopped

Ramp puree

2 bunches ramps*

1-1.5 c good EVOO


1 TBSP chardonnay vinegar

Separate the bulbs from the leaves

Toss the bulbs with 2 tbsp. oil, S&P and roast in 350* until tender, 12-15 minutes.  Store at room temp.

Put the ramp greens in blender with remaining oil and puree with vinegar until a bright green puree has been made, maybe a minute or 2.  Be careful the blender doesn’t stay on too long, it will cook the greens and turn them brown.  Ramp puree can be frozen up to 3 months.

Use a wooden spoon!!

Sweat the onion and garlic in the oil, be sure not to brown, about 5 minutes

Add the rice and toast throughout.  Making sure the rice gets hot to the touch but not browned/burned

Deglaze with the wine.  Make sure to reduce until wine is gone or the finish product will have an overwhelmingly wine taste to it = not good.

Add the stock 1 C at a time while stirring constantly.  This helps agitate the rice and will help break down the outer starch of the grain which in turn makes it creamy

After a few ladles, taste the rice, it may still be a little crunchy.  Keep adding more stack as needed.  Don’t add stock until the previous ladle has been absorbed.  May take up to 40-45 minutes.  Once you get the soft creaminess of the rice, add the butter, parmesan, bacon, ramp bulbs and ramp puree.  Continue stirring until everything is incorporated and you’ve reached your desired consistency.  Scoop risotto in warm serving bowl, top with more grated parmesan.

Thank you Tom, we cannot wait to see what you create for us for our 30th Anniversary Celebrity Chef Ball, November 9th.