The Dish: Chef Todd Kelly

Chef Todd Kelly has an unusual backstory. He spent most of his childhood here in New York, but at age 11, his father moved the family to Mauritius, a tiny island off the coast of East Africa. There, in a place with no radio or TV, no pizza or hamburgers, he first learned to cook. 

After returning to the U.S. in his teens, he got a job peeling potatoes in a restaurant outside Philadelphia and later worked in Pittsburgh, Charlotte and San Francisco. 

These days, he’s moved up in the world -- a long way up. Todd is now executive chef of the award-winning restaurant, “Orchids at Palm Court” at the Hilton Netherland Plaza Downtown Cincinnati Hotel. 

Here are some of Kelly’s signature recipes. 

Lardo crusted strip steak with red wine sauce 

Yields one steak 


4 each 10 oz strip steak
2 oz smoked paprika
2 oz shiitake mushroom powder
4 oz soy sauce
2 oz butter
Salt and pepper


  1. Season steaks with paprika, mushroom powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Sear meat in a skillet until dark brown.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the steaks in the pan with soy sauce and butter coat with soy butter and finish meat in the oven until just under desired temperature.

Lardo crust 


8 oz lardo, small dice
2 each shallotsm diced
4 each garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped parsley


  1. Fold all of the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Top each steak with lardo mixture and broil until golden brown and slightly rendered.

Red wine sauce 


1 cup button mushrooms
1 750ml red wine
4 each sprigs of thyme
1 each bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock


  1. In a sauce pot, add red wine, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf. Reduce by half.
  2. Add the chicken stock and reduce to desired consistency.

Note: To assemble -- Place the red wine sauce on the plate and place steak on top. Garnish with fingerling potato chips.

Shaved serrano ham with marinated fennel, pomegranates and argulua 

Yields 4 portions


6 oz serrano ham shaved paper thin
1/2 each fennel bulb
2 tablespoons lemon vinaigrette (1 part lemon, 3 parts olive oil)
1 each fuyu persimmon
1/2 each pomegranate seeded
1/2 cup arugula
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel pollen 


  1. Shave fennel very thin using a Japanese mandolin. Toss with lemon Vinaigrette, salt and pepper.
  2. Split vanilla bean and scrape the seeds. Add to the extra virgin oil and season lightly with salt.
  3. Cut persimmon into 10 wedges, removing the core. If the skin is tough, it will need to be fieleted off of the wedges.
  4. Place shaved ham on a platter.
  5. Arrange fennel and persimmons on the platter with the ham. Garnish with the arugula, pomengranates and dust with fennel pollen.

Ricotta tortellini

Yields 4 

Ingredients for pasta dough

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 each egg yolks
2 each whole eggs
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons water 
1 tablespoon salt


  1. Blend all ingredients and knead for 10 minutes.
  2. Refrigerate and let dough rest for one hour.

Ingredients for pasta filling

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 each egg yolk
1/2 cup grated permesan cheese 
2 tablespoons chives, chopped


  1. Blend all ingredients. Roll the pasta to about 16th of an inch.
  2. Cut pasta using a round 4” cutter.
  3. Place a dollop of the filling in the center. Brush water around half of the dough and fold in half and seal. Bend the tortellini around your finger and seal with water and pinch shut. Repeat until you have desired amount.
  4. Simmer pasta in salted water for four minutes. Remove from water and toss with olive oil. 



1 each shallot, diced
1 each celery stalk, diced
1/2 each fennel bulb, diced
4 each garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 cup white wine
1 each 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
4 each oregano sprigs, chopped
1 each bay leaf
1/2 each lemon zest peeled with a peeler 


  1. In a sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the shallots, celery, fennel, garlic and chili flakes. Cook until tender and fragrant without any color.
  2. Add the white wine and reduce by half. 
  3. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, oregano, bay leaves and lemon.
  4. Over low heat, simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. 

Cheese curd 


1 box tempura batter, (you can also batter with flour, egg and bread crumbs)
6 oz white cheddar cheese curds 


  1. Follow directions for the batter. Dredge curds in the batter and fry at 350 degrees until golden brown and melted. 

Grilled bread 


8 each thick slices of artisan sourdough bread


  1. Rub bread with olive oil and season with salt. Grill or toast under a broiler.

To assemble: Place the sofrito on the bottom of a bowl. Arrange tortellinis on top. Garnish with the cheese curd, 10 basil leaves and grilled bread. Finish the dish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Friend brussel sprouts 

Yields 4 


3 lbs brussel sprouts cut in half
1 each 28 oz bottle of pomegranate juice
2 cups white balsamic vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 oz Coach Farms aged cheese 
1 each pomegranate 


  1. Place the pomegranate juice and vinegar in a small sauce pan and reduce by half. 
  2. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature. Add the oils. Fry the brussels sprouts at 350 degrees until golden brown. 
  3. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Place sprout in a bowl and top with aged goat cheese and pomegranate seeds.

Mom’s sugar pie 

Yields 1 tart/pie

Ingredients for the tart dough 

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 lb butter
1 cup water 


  1. Mix flour and salt. Cut the butter in small pieces. Add butter to flour mix and break by hand. Then add the water, mix until incorporated. Refrigerate for at least one hour. 
  2. Roll dough to about a 16th of an inch to fit a 10” tart shell. Blind bake the shell for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  3. Premade pie shell unbaked can be substituted. If so, bake filled pie for about 45 minutes.

Ingredients for the batter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons diced butter
Fresh nutmeg as needed


  1. Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the vanilla, salt and cold water and whisk. 
  2. Fill the tart shell with the mixture. Top with small pieces of butter. 
  3. Grate fresh nutmeg over top and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the pie is set.

Ingredients for the whipped cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 each spice berries (or Allspice)
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup maple syrup


  1. Mix cream and season with fresh grated spice berries. cinnamon and maple syrup. 

Note: Chef leaves the cream more savory to balance the sweetness of the sugar pie.

To assemble: Remove tart for tart ring. Place a dollop of the cream on top and garnish it with fall fruit such as figs, gooseberries and persimmons. 

Chef’s old fashioned cocktail

Yields 8 cocktails 

Ingredients for ice 

1 3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup bitters


  1. Heat water and sugar until it dissolves. Cool to room temperature and add bitters. Freeze in 2” ice cube molds.

Rest of ingredients

16 oz four roses single barrel, barrel-proof whiskey
2 each orange
4 each Luxardo cherries

To assemble - Place 1 ice cube in each glass. Pour 2 oz of bourbon over top, and garnish with strips of orange zest and Luxardo cherries.