Celina Tio: American Comfort Food that Feels So Good


On Grand Boulevard, Chef Celina Tio is cooking up American feel-good classics in her own style at Collection.

Chef Celina Tio’s newest restaurant Collection (1532 Grand) differs from her Brookside flagship restaurant, Julian, known for its feel-good cuisine with influences and tastes from around the world. Collection’s menu assembles continental dishes from the James Beard Foundation award-winning chef that she describes as “American feel-good” food.

From braised short ribs to Spanish mac-and-cheese to Campo Lindo chicken, guests will find local ingredients (as available) and heightened flavors prepared using classic techniques. The following dishes reflect the style of food found at Collection, but drop by this month to try her updated summer menu.

Royalty, Celina Tio-style

Scallops Oscar is a variation on veal Oscar, a dish named in honor of Sweden’s King Oscar II that consists of sautéed veal cutlets topped with crab or crayfish meat and béarnaise sauce and garnished with asparagus spears. Tio’s version presents a trio of scallops atop asparagus spears with hollandaise sauce and morsels of crabmeat. Chef Tio says, “I use a new seafood vendor out of Boston that gets my order from the boat and packs it directly into the FedEx container. The taste of these scallops is hard to beat.”

Carrots with Character

A starter that surprises and impresses guests is a dish of cumin-roasted carrots served with harissa crème fraiche. The earthy sweetness of caramelized carrots plays off the mild heat of harissa, a North African hot chili sauce typically found as a paste and used as a condiment. Cream moderates the spice and adds depth to the jewel-colored carrots. Chef Tio once served these carrots while preparing six types of dishes as a guest chef at a restaurant that only offered a 24-course tasting menu. She says, “I only put one carrot on a dish for a single course and felt like a dork, but they were a hit. Guests said they were the most amazing dish of the night.”

Veal Appeal

Her veal shank pot roast comes with potatoes, carrots and chard. While other main dishes include seared local trout, lamb shepherd’s pie and baked rigatoni with house-made sausage and ricotta cheese, the veal shank presentation is especially impressive. Chef Tio says, “Once an order of the shank goes out and people see it, everyone else starts to order it. It only takes one to get their attention.”