Thank You Chefs.

October 29, 2011

The baseball playoffs finished last night in St. Louis in exciting fashion. Most people probably don’t realize that both teams in the World Series are teams who utilize Delaware North Companies Sportservice culinary talents. Many of our best chefs have been traveling back and forth and working incredibly long hours to serve the many thousands and thousands of fans who love baseball so dearly. It takes an incredible effort and I want to thank them for everything they’ve done and the energy they’ve put forth. I am very hopeful that many of them will write something for the blog that talks about their experiences. Over the past few weeks, while all these chefs were making their playoff runs – there simply wasn’t enough time for the chefs to stop and download their thoughts to the blog. But, stay tuned. We will be getting thoughts and insight from all of them.

Thank you again for all your efforts.

A Thank You From Chef Torres.

October 24, 2011

A few weeks ago I posted a recap of the International Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs Competition that Chef Reilly Meehan won. I mentioned that myself and Chef Randy Torres were very helpful in training and working with Meehan, who is a very talented you chef. The other day, I received this note from Chef Torres.

Hello Chef Henin,

Thank you for the nice e-mail, and once again, knowing you has really paid off. Thank you for all your help and guidance with Reilly. He really took to hear all you had to say, especially about the butchery and was even commended for his butchering skills by the judges. Because of your extra push, Reilly was really able to become the best of the competition. Our relationship over these years has made be a better cook, competitor and coach. I may be asking for your help again on keeping a promise I made to Reilly in that if he was the win the prestigious completion, we would celebrate at the French Laundry – and we were hoping with your influence, we might be able to make that celebration dinner extra special. More importantly, we would be honored to have you with us on the night we visit the restaurant if that’s at all possible.

Once again Chef, thank you for the years of knowledge and support.

Randy Torres

Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

October 19, 2011

This is a very important post from Chef Percy Whatley. He attended an event focused on Latin cuisine which is a growing segment in American food.  Enjoy.

I recently had the privilege of attending  the annual “Latin Flavors, American Kitchens,” – a professional development seminar at the new Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, TX.

The seminar was a tightly held agenda of short demonstrations with prominent chefs from various countries.  Peru, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Equador, Cuba, Guatemala and the Southwestern United States were all represented.

Some like it hot, others don’t.  What was eye-opening for me was the variety of spice levels the different countries desire.   There was everything from quite spicy, to almost no heat at all, just using the mild chilies for flavor only.

Many of the cuisines use similar in ingredients, however, just a different ratio to signify the unique flavor profile of the culture.  These ingredients include well known and widely used items such as:  cilantro, tomatoes, onions, masa harina, corn, pumpkin, mushrooms, etc.  The chilies are where it became new: aji Amarillo, chile tepin, chile pasado, chile Colorado, and the wider known, ancho, guajillo, arbol, negro and New Mexico.  The fresh ones included habanero, jalapeno, Serrano, Fresno, Hatch, Pablano, red and yellow sweet bells, etc.  The variety was colorful and inviting and each had their own flavor profile which added to each particular dish.

Many of the cooking styles are familiar to most of us.  There was, however, the iconic meat skewered on a cross, cooked over an open fire there though.  Something we don’t see very often.  This time it was a baby goat, or Cabrito, which was tender and juicy.  Lots of different kinds of salsas and salads, and an amazing Amazonian fish called Pirarucu that was amazingly tasty.  It is a gigantic, and prehistoric, fish.

Overall, the experience brought to light the diversity of Latin American cuisine.  Given that it is a major market segment within the United States, and an ever-growing population segment, we cannot ignore the fact our ability to deliver food inspired by this style of cooking has to continually evolve and improve.  It is not just tacos and burritos anymore, it is much, much deeper…OLÉ!!!

Saratoga Farmers’ Market.

October 10, 2011

I received an e-mail from Chef Brian Sterner a bit back that talked about Farmers Markets across New York State and how they were doing this year and season. I found it interesting to note that the Saratoga Farmers’ Market has been named the best farmers market in New York State. I know that Chef Sterner and his staff at Gideon Putnam often use this market for produce. It’s exciting to learn they have such a strong source of food and partner in this farmers market. Here’s a link to the best farmers markets for 2011 around the country. Give it a read and find one near you where you can being to shop for produce.

International Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs Competition.

October 6, 2011

I wanted to post a link just as an FYI from La Chaine des Rotisseurs USA regarding a “young chef” who was selected to represent the United States last month in Istanbul. This is the very first time the USA won the first place/golf medal in the competition in its existence. I am happy to have been instrumental and helpful in the process of “fine-tuning” the candidate (Reilly Meehan).

Reilly has just graduated from the Professional Culinary Institute in Northern California and has many great talents and skills and will do well in his culinary future. Read the full write-up on Reilly here.

Three Tips to Hone your Creative and Culinary Edge

October 5, 2011

Thanks so much for these strong tips from Chef Scott Green. He read them on the Ideas In Food blog and was kind enough to pass them along. I encourage everyone to read them below and also the full post at Ideas In Food. Every chef should read and take something from these tips.

1. Be curious. Our favorite question in the kitchen is “why?” Finding out why things work or why they interact the way they do or simply why something tastes so good often leads to those inspirational “a-ha” moments. Never assume you know the answer to someone else’s question. If you’re curious about how someone did something then (respectfully) ask them. Their approach may surprise you. In this world of social media and shallow relationships, being able to reach out and make an actual connection with someone by sharing ideas is priceless. Creativity doesn’t flourish in a vacuum. We all need stimulation to stay motivated.

2. Be a problem solver. Never be afraid to try something new. Failure is your biggest success in the kitchen. Sound counterintuitive? Failures force us to look at things from a new perspective and take some chances. Success breeds complacency. The long road uphill is a lot more rewarding than the quick tumble down a slippery slope. Never assume something won’t work until you try it yourself. Even if you don’t get the results you want you will probably learn something valuable in the process. Time is never wasted if you gain new insights that will help you toward your goal.

3. Relax and enjoy yourself. Try to have fun with whatever you’re doing. Enjoy the hot breeze on your cheeks from the grill or the sizzle of the sauté pan. Look around the kitchen and revel in knowing that you’re part of a team sharing a common goal, to create a wonderful dining experience, be it at home or in a restaurant. Inhale and enjoy the scent of food cooking. Relax at the table with friends and family and take the time to really enjoy your meal. The memories you create will make you a better cook. The times when we get stuck creatively are the times when we think too much, put too much pressure on the idea of success and try to carry the load by ourselves. Smile, roll your shoulders and enjoy the process. Once you conquer this challenge there will be another. Might as well have fun with it.

More Thoughts On Culinary Cup.

October 3, 2011

This is feedback from the commis for the Delaware North Culinary Cup team. He is a student at the Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Boston. He also works part time with Chef Kevin Doherty. He is a well-disciplined young culinarian and I think he does a strong job of relating his experience.

Dear Chefs,

As le cummis for Team Delaware North, I learned a number of different things but some of the most valuable ones I learned are the following: I saw the importance of teamwork and using every person for a different job (not just the four chefs who are cooking and cutting and then le cummis stands around and cleans dishes like I’ve seen on other teams). Every member of the team has value that can be added even if it’s cutting mirepoix and then sweeping and cleaning then jumping right back into the fight to help out as needed. To be successful in a competition, you have to be quick, accurate and clean. Always be on top of what you are doing in case of a hiccup so that it can be corrected as quickly as possible. Equipment should be checked half way through just to make sure everything is working properly. We also has a proper plan of action to correct mishaps just in case something did go wrong.

When working, you shouldn’t have more than tone tool and one type of product on your cutting board. It truly is easier to complete the task at hand than to be jumping all over the place with different products and equipment. Make sure to separate garbage and compostable materials and try to minimize waste as much as possible t show the different values each part of the food we use can contribute to the dishes. If the judge asks you why you are using a certain method to do something, have a good answer and explanation as to why you are doing it that specific way. Training is an important key to be successful in any aspect of life. If we train as we fight, the outcome will always be known. But, when training under unexpected or harsher conditions, it will help the team develop and be able to adjust, adapt and overcome in any situation.

Having incredible and talented chefs to critique you beforehand and tell you what they think is wrong and what needs to be done to achieve your best and most excellent effort helps a lot. Being able to hear advice from a master chef as to how to be better truly is a priceless experience and the most important thing is when the experts speak and listen because rank is achieved with hard work and mastering ones trade and one would be dumb not to pay close attention to them. Proper time management is also an important role while competing and having a good and strong time sheet cal also help a lot in finishing in timely fashion.

Another thing I learned is that many chefs are backyard mechanics – they create their own tools to facilitate the job and still have a proper outcome – that can be an important key of creativity. When a budget is in place it is important to follow it to every last penny needed. If it gets bad, eat an MRE (meal ready to eat) or a salad, cheap and inexpensive can take you a long way and Golden Corral has unlimited food for $12.00. Lastly, the two most important things I learned from all the great chefs I had the pleasure of working with and learning from is to have fun and a passion for what you do. Without those two, there is no purpose in doing this. You would just be another cook in the masses.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Jonathan Restrepo

Northeast Regional Education Forum.

September 29, 2011

This is a wonderful recap post from Chef Brian Sterner about his recent experiences. He is right – we can never stop learning.

Here’s a recap of my past weekend.

I should first note the title of this Forum changed this year. In the past, it was referred to as the Northeast Regional Educator Forum. I believe this was a proper title change as it opened the door to Chefs of all walks. We all need continued education and we all must continue to educate our teams. We ended on Sunday while walking away with many new contacts and a few good things to share with our team.

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011

Opening reception was not necessarily the most beneficial. There were about 45 people in attendance, many just stopping by for a few minutes as they were arriving to the forum. There was no real introduction or welcome but rather a mixer type evening. We were left to basically introduce ourselves to one another to strike up casual conversation.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011

Morning started about 5 a.m. with Matt and I stopping by the hotel to finish prep and pack up for the evening “dine-around dinner.” We arrived at the Schenectady County Community College at 7 a.m. to unpack and begin dressing our display table for the dinner. We joined everyone for breakfast and quickly made our way to the General Session. There was a brief keynote welcome by the Regional Vice President (Williams Tillinghast, CEC, AAC, MBA) and an introduction of the National President (Michael Ty, CEC, AAC). From there, we were right into our first lecture/demo on pheasant cookery (MacFarlane Pheasants) by Christopher Tanner, CEC, WCC, CHE, MLA. Mary Jo Bergs talked about the farming of the Pheasant (history, breed, processing, shipping) while Chef Tanner prepared a few dishes to taste. Following this was a seminar on Math Skills for Chefs by Anthony Stianese, CCE. This particular seminar was far more geared to the educator on how to teach math skills to students. After a quick break we sat through a lecture on American Regional BBQ by Chef David Campbell, CCC, CCE. We learned of the differences between Texas, Memphis, Kansas City and North Carolina and what makes each unique to their region. This was a good setup to the lunch that was provided. We had the opportunity to taste the different styles of BBQ. After lunch we had the opportunity to choose a hands-on class. Classes to choose from were: European Pork Butchery (which I chose), Artisan Hearth Breads (Matt attended), a tour of Horizon Bradco, Maine Lobster (by Wlifred Berjau, CEC, CCE, AAC) or SMART Board interactive whiteboards. Matt and I chose what we figured would be most beneficial for us and our operation. Breads are something we haven’t done much with at the hotel and something we are considering doing with our new Combi Therm. As for pork butchery, we continue to do most of our own butchery in house. This class has shed new technique on Hoof to Snouth as CIA’s Chef Thomas Schneller, CHE, showcased the Austrian style of butchery on a local Flying Pigs Farm product. There is quite a bit of difference from the American way to say the least.

Upon completion of this Matt and I were right into preparing our table at the dine-around.  We joined five other local restaurants in serving tasting portions of NY Street Food.  Our Menu: NY State Fair Chicken Spiedies and Vegetable Dosas.  We seemed to be the highlight station of the night (not to toot our own horns).  I think many were surprised to see we would attempt something (Indian Dosa) clearly out of what one would think our comfort zone is.  The vegetarian training last year by Ambarish Lulay paid off (again)!!!!  Dosas are a fast growing trend in NYC it just seemed fitting for us to do it.  By 10pm it was time to end the day…..

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011

Back at it by 7am.  After a quick bite to eat we were right into learning the art of Indonesian cuisine.  Chef Yono Purnomo, CEC took us on a trip from his childhood 50+years ago in Indonesia to present day.  He has been serving this melting pot cuisine for 25 years in Albany, NY.  From there we were into learning some Food Photography and Multimedia techniques from Stefan Ryll, CEC, CCE and J. Desmond Keefe III, CEC, CCE of the Southern New Hampshire University.  It was a short day but full of information.  We were able to share some of what we learned and experienced with our kitchen team in our staff meeting on Monday!  We even walked away with a little charcuterie…..

All in all, it was a great experience.  We have been approached to be the host sight for the 2012 Forum.  I will let everyone know how this unfolds.  Thanks again for allowing us to attend…………………………B

More Thoughts on Delaware North Culinary Cup Experience.

September 27, 2011

Chef Kevin Doherty (and Team Captain) also had some quick thoughts on the experience at the Culinary Cup competition. I wanted to share them below. He is also putting together a more formal reflection piece you will see in the next few days.

These are my quick running thoughts and reflections having just completed the Culinary Cup competition.

~ It was a busy year for the Boston Bruins with winning the Stanley Cup. When we started training for Culinary Cup competition one of the major thoughts was – do we have enough time to train so that we can truly compete?

~ Next thought: Who will be the team members? Who is the pastry chef? We need to identify quality chefs who won’t crumble under pressure.

~ Need to remember than when a chef undertakes training like this – it impacts their families. How will families react?

~ Establish a menu. What is possible? Where can we get stronger? Can we do this?

~ Time to schedule practices. Chef Jamie has a baseball game? Damn. Conflicts like this are a constant challenge.

~ That second practice was not bad, definitely better than the first. But, we are not yet medal material. We need to get there.

~ You know what will help? A review from three Certified Masters Chefs who are honest and willing to kick our butts. Let’s ask the Cordon Bleu if we can use their school…

~ Wait, I need to call Mary Burich to help with books. Sorry Mary, we sent you Greek and you turned it into a work of beauty…and you did it in three days.

~ Did we book flights yet?

~ Hotel rooms. Yes, we’ll need those. Let’s share rooms and save money.

~ Let’s go shopping for food. We are on a budget. We need potatoes, olive oil, fruit…

~ Hungry? The Golden Corral all-you-can-eat buffet is only $11.53/person. They have salads.

~ Babalous Bodatious BBQ – Texas Ribs = Yum.

~ You have to find time to de-stress. Let’s have some fun.

~ Somebody just lost their sunglasses when they blew out the car window…

~ What do you mean you don’t have a lift gate, my boxes weight 940 lbs…

~ Don’t let Jamie use iPhone to get us back to the hotel. He’ll get us somewhere, but it may not be our hotel.

~ I need to find some flowers in Florida, can you do a New England fall colors theme?

What We Learned As A Team

~ All jobs are of equal importance. No one person is too good for any task when it comes to team preparation.

~ When you get a seven-page critique from three Certified Master Chefs and you listen to what they say, you will win a gold medal. Thank you so much Chef Henin, Chef Dumont and Chef Mancuso.

~ Sleep is overrated. When you compete, you do what the team needs and you just do it.

~ We are a team. We eat together, travel together, iron napkins together. We do whatever it takes to be successful.

~ As we were taught, drive the route, know where you are going. Plan ahead.

I also need to give a quick list of people who were involved in this project and deserve recognition.

The Team: Jamie Caudy, Patrick Kilduff, Liz Silva, Jonathan Restropo (Student)

The Mentor: Chef Roland Henin, CMC

Delaware North Companies Leadership: Mike Zielinski, Richard Dobranski and everyone who supports the idea of pushing Culinary Arts

Back up Support: Chef Mancuso, CMC and Chef Dumont, CMC

Le Cordon Bleu – for letting us use the school facilities

Jon Espelage – Former chef at Marriott World Center and my college roommate

Jon Walsh Tampa Hockey – Sous Chef

My wife Maureen and the kids: Edward, Caitlyn and Joey

Chef Josh – For holding down the fort.

Thank You Chefs.

September 23, 2011

I have loved reading the responses from the Chefs who went to the Culinary Cup competition in Orlando. Their responses have been EXCELLENT…even better than their cooking, ah!

In all seriousness, I think they are great because they take reader into the action and they can experience it just the way it was and you still feel it. They capture the core of the story and are full of energy. I can’t thank them enough for sharing their experiences.

I know that other responses are expected and we also have some great posts about Farmers Markets coming up. I’ve also asked all the chefs who are experiencing their first “competition experience” to write one page summaries about what they learned and how their eyes were opened.

Congratulations to everyone for a great performance. Competitions improve the “breed” and make us better chefs and cooks than when we started the process.

In Good Cooking Always,

Chef Roland Henin, CMC

Things I Learned…

September 22, 2011

Chef Jamie Caudy served as the Pastry Chef for the Delaware North team that recently competed at the Orlando Culinary Cup competition and earned 2nd place. He has put together some interesting notes on what he learned about life in and out of the kitchen during the experience.

Things I Learned That Are Important

~ Desserts should always have a tart component
~ Never clean up until all the desserts have been plated and gone out to the dining room, you might short yourself on ice cream
~ Be as organized as humanly possible
~ Be prepared to work. Cleaning, washing dishes, ironing. It’s all a team effort.
~ Sleep every second possible, otherwise you might not get any sleep at all.
~ Practice is crucial – work out all the kinks so you’re not caught with your pants down.
~ Bring dry ice or liquid nitrogen because the freezer is almost never cold enough

Other Things I Learned

~ How to cheat at Scrabble
~ You can put a Toyota minivan into park without coming to a complete stop first…
~ Chef Kevin and Pat don’t listen to the British woman on the GPS. And you can only drive as fast as the car in front of you.
~ Chef Pat is also known as Captain Throw It Away
~ You really shouldn’t move a refrigerator from a convention center to a hotel room and then back to the convention center and expect it to work properly
~ Don’t expect your name to be spelled correctly on your chef jacket
~ Don’t expect your chef jacket to fit
~ Always pack bananas
~ Don’t forget potatoes
~ There is more than one Hampton Inn in Florida

Competing and the Orlando Culinary Cup Experience.

September 21, 2011

This is a very informative and strong piece from Chef Patrick Kilduff who works for our Boston team at TD Garden. He recently competed down in Orlando and the lessons he learned are important to share. We will be posting a number of thoughts on this competition in the next few days.

It’s funny that Chef Kevin and I got started competing in hot and cold food. It’s a good thing I listen and listen well – because I’ve been able to learn from the mistakes that other chefs and Chef Kevin have made in their earlier competitions and transform that into medals for my 12 competitions (even a high silver in a cold food platter that I put together on a Friday and worked 30 straight hours to present on Sunday morning at the Boston competition). I truly believe Chef Kevin is a great teacher and leader. I like the friendly competition that we have to see who can get the most medals or even when six master chefs have tasted the dressing I made and said the salad was OK but when we got to the dressing it blew the salad out of the park… But, Chef Kevin still trumps me with the IKA medal. I think such friendly competition between the chefs makes for a growing team willing to learn. It’s when you don’t have this that you become stagnant.

I asked Chef Kevin three years ago if we could enter the super challenge. We got busy and had no time to do much of anything between working the Celtics and Bruins playoffs – TD Garden is nonstop. Chef being chef, he said, “what the heck” and sought permission from above and was given the green light for 2011. We started drafting menus and recipes. I look back at this experience and remember something that was said to me by the people at Ideas In Food. It was Alex Talbot who said, “we as the creators will need to place a scale and document there every move.”

We started measuring and scaling and finally had a rough draft of our recipes for the competition. The time was to put this together for pictures. As always, we are last minute for things – (not that we try to be) – it’s the nature of a championship building and pop up VIP parties every day.

To kick off practice, we set some tables outside the Legends kitchen and set five induction burners for the effect of cooking on electric. This was interesting as we needed to establish our timing for searing and boiling. It went well and we were able to get a timeline and plates out with food that tasted good. We sat back and revised some things for the next practice and updated some timelines. For our second practice, we set up again and created timelines, packed the refrigerator up and we were off. This practice was a bit different and we noticed a bit more flow as our timelines kept us on track and we were not guessing about what’s going on and who is doing what. We could look at the master sheet and see we were behind or we were ahead. It was time to pack it up and take the show on the road at the Le Cordon Bleu College in Cambridge.

This time, Chef Kevin reached out to Chef Roland Henin, CMC, to help get us to the next level along with Dan Duman, CMC, and Robert Mancuso, CMC. This was just like the real deal. We had adjusted even more, knowing that play time was over and we did not want to waste their time. So, Chef Roland had a small meeting with us and let us know his feelings and thoughts on this competition as it was bigger than the usual ones we had competed in. He informed us of how organized we needed to be. He drew diagrams of kitchens, set up spaces and created timelines for each of us. He even talked to us about getting to know the “lay of the land” once we got to Orlando. This proved to be a great idea. This planning and many hours of planning proved to be a great benefit as we watched the other teams set their kitchens and flip flop around as they weren’t prepared…

Cooking Day for us came on Sept. 9, 2011 at 6 a.m. We arrived at 4 a.m. with a U-Haul that had our equipment packed inside. We unloaded the truck. Chef Kevin had rented to Queen Mary’s that we had build and stocked the night before and shrink wrapped and placed on the truck. There was food in the cooler that was labeled in course order (1-4). Road boxes on the sidelines were set with electric burners, robo coup, a blender and an appropriate extension cord. The judges looked and knew we were ready. They knew if there kitchen did not work we had plan and could execute if we needed to. We had a full diagram of the kitchen and how we were going to utilize tables and ovens. We even had diagramed plates for all the courses. We left nothing to chance.

The time came for us to set the kitchen and with a simple pull of Chef Kevin’s duct tape, we had the diagram on the wall and we looked like a ballet act, smooth and precise – just the way we drew and set it up. We also duct taped a clock on the refer door set to the judges clock. Now, it was time to cook. We moved in unisons and never crossed each other. We only spoke when we needed to ask for something. We had no hidden agenda for the judges to rip us apart. They watched and left. Looking to see where they went – they went to the next team that was struggle to keep their kitchen clean and in order. We cooked for our five hours then took our heat lamp and hot plate out while we lined the table with table cloth. Chef Kevin and I started plating the first course and Chef Liz and the student helping us started on the second course which had several components. Chef Kevin and I started on the entrée. We made our window – hot food, hot food, cold food, cold – clean up and wait for restaurant service.

The floor judges came over (Chef James Hanyzeski, CMC, and Chef David Turcotte, CEC) and told us we did very well and that they liked how we worked as a team and that they could not find any problems with the kitchen and sanitation. They did however want to know if we had used an oven thermometer to make sure we had the correct temperature. This was one thing we did not pack. Also the judges thought the electric range I had kept them on was a waste of energy. Next, the tasting judges wanted in.

An excellent group of three Master Chefs (Chef Klaus Friedenreich, CMC, Joeseph Deker, CMPC, and I can’t remember the last one). I said to myself, “this will be interesting” as they started in with a breath of fresh air. They tried to savor the flavors and textures. Their only real comment came on our duck empanada as they would have liked us to be have made a nice dough. They liked the salad but when they added the dressing – they said it was amazing. They also thought our dessert could have benefitted from a tart component to take away from all the sweet. All in all, they had few suggestions and we received rave reviews. It was a good day. Did I mention we only slept one hour the night before?

The next day, we watched other teams cook and we concentrated our attention on Chef Kevin Walker, CMC, and his team. This was the team to beat. We watched and watched and we learned amazing things just from watching.

With the cooking over, it was time for the awards ceremony. Nine teams in all as they called the teams from lowest score to highest, we knew we were in the top four just based on what we had seen. They called the fourth team – not us. They called the third team – not us. Then they called the 2nd place team – Delaware North Companies with a Gold Medal and a score of 36.89. We were in shock. Some members of our team had never competed before – it was all a great experience.




Farmers Markets In Full Bloom.

August 29, 2011

Right now we have tons (and I do mean TONS) of gorgeous Farmers Markets taking place every single week all over the country. These farmers markets have beautiful fresh fruits and gorgeous veggies our chefs are able to use. I would like to think our chefs will have some thoughts they can share via the blog about these markets. They are relatively inexpensive, very seasonal and certainly worth talking about. The fruits and veggies offered at these markets are much more valuable in my opinion than pre-made, pre-packaged, pre-anything or commercial/industrial products. Let’s wake up and get to these farmers markets and share thoughts via the blog about how they impact us as chefs.

Thoughts On Tomatoes.

August 24, 2011

Thanks to Chef Percy Whatley for this post about summer produce in Yosemite. Enjoy.

Just a few thoughts as we begin to see some of the great summer produce that is hitting our shelves this time of year.

It has been a long wait since we had such a late beginning to the warm weather inCalifornia.  With ourYosemitewaterfalls starting to finally recede, it is a sign when the tomatoes begin to show up from our local grower, Brenda Ostrom.  She provides us with two things throughout the year….eggs and heirloom tomatoes.  When the heat is high, the chickens slow down their laying, but the tomatoes keep her busy through October.  When the heat starts to go away, the chickens begin to lay more and the tomatoes start to wind down.  Brenda also keeps herself busy by being the area CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and going door-to-door to deliver baskets of vegetables and fruit that she gathers from other local area farmers.

These tomatoes are something out of the ordinary though.  The French use a word TERROIR, meaning soil (loosely translated to flavors imparted by the earth in which it is grown, generally referred to in viticulture with grapes and wine), there is something about her soil at her farm.  At 3,000 feet in elevation, it is one of the higher farms in the foothill Sierra Nevadas.  The granite sand and loam in these soils make it so magical.  These tomatoes are sweet and tomato”ey” like nobody’s business!  I have done side-by-side cuttings of the same tomato variety with a tomato from our other organic farming friends, T&D Willey Farms in the lower central valley, and there really is no comparison.  Terroir is everything with these fruits, very similarly to our grape growing wine industry.  I wish I could share the experience with the real thing, but to get your salivary glands “a-flowing”…here is a picture of these precious tomatoes!

Happy Eating (or pretending you’re eating).

From the Knife’s Edge

August 20, 2011

A blog post from Chef Frederick Clabaugh at Tenaya Lodge.

Fall tends to be many chefs favorite time of year with the fall harvest of rich squash, savory lamb and deep red wine to accompany all.

The method of preserving the berries for the year and making chutneys is also one that stands out. These methods have lasted centuries as they were and still are important to the stores of a good household or accomplished kitchen. With the clash of cultures the world of food is ever expanding and has change the art of cuisine, turning it on the chef to become evermore creative and more inventive.

I have chosen to share a few recipes that do exactly that, using classic items such as the tomatoes and the basils to add a twist. With the lamb dish using a BBQ sauce thats untraditional, Tamarind Barbecue Glaze with Star Anise Syrup are certainly a new world blend.  To finish the classic Chocolate dessert with the fall twist of pumpkin ice cream.

Bon appetite to all!

The Salt and Pepper Rule.

August 19, 2011

Here is an interesting post I wanted to share from Chef John DiGiovanni who works at Nationwide Arena. All of us chefs do have our own unique methods.

As chefs we all have a method to our madness. It’s the little things that make us who we are. It may be something that was passed down from chefs we worked or mentored under. It may be something new we learn from another area or picked it up. I’m sure if you asked my cooks, I have many, but my main two are that my spices must be arranged in alphabetical order on their shelves and the salt and pepper rule.

The salt and pepper rule basically started one time when I was walking through my kitchen and finding little containers of salt and pepper mixes in random places made by different cooks and each blend was different. It would drive me crazy!   I don’t care for salt and pepper blends, mainly becasue I like to have more control when I season. Because of this, the salt and pepper rule was created:

“Kosher or sea salt. Keep the pepper in the mill. Keep them separated.”

I had to break it down even further:

“Kosher or sea salt“-I generally use kosher salt for curing and seasoning meats and sea salt for everything else. The kosher salt has large crystals and is more effective to pull out moisture in proteins. I like to use sea salt when I am cooking pasta or baking as it dissolves quicker than kosher.

“Keep the pepper in the mill”  How old is that pre-ground pepper in the pantry? Once ground, pepper loses its aromatics quickly.

“Keep them separated” Goes back to control. What if you have the right amount of salt, but need to add some pepper? Or vice versa? Also I usually like to add black pepper at the end of cooking.

I’m curious to see who out there agrees or disagrees with my salt and pepper rule and why. I love to learn new things. Do you have a particular “salt and pepper rule”?

Top Dining Trends.

August 17, 2011

A new article from Luxury Travel Magazine details the results of a study that highlight the top five dining trends for 2011. I believe it’s important for chefs and those working in the culinary/hospitality industry to be up-to-speed on what new ideas are impacting our profession. The five trends this article lists are the Rebirth of the Gentleman Farmer, Omakase with a Mixology Twist, Nose to Tail Dining, The Finish: Torn Between Two Lovers and The World of Wine is Flat.

Those are headlines that the article’s author gives to sum up the trends. You’ll have to read the full piece to learn how these ideas are impacting chefs, our profession and our work. What other trends have you noticed in the culinary world recently that you think we need to focus on?

Photos of Chef Paul Padua.

August 12, 2011

Here are some photos of Chef Paul Padua from his National Pastry Chef of the Year competition. We will post Chef Paul’s own reflections on the experience soon.

Chef Paul Competes for the National Pastry Chef of the Year title.

August 11, 2011

Thank you to Chef Percy Whatley for sharing his thoughts on Chef Paul Padua’s recent competition and the ACF convention. We will post photos of Chef Paul and his own thoughts over the next few days.

I had a great excuse to go to the ACF National Convention inDallas,TXthis year.  The Ahwahnee Pastry Chef Paul John Padua was competing for the National Pastry Chef of the Year title and I wanted to show the support he needed to stay focused and comfortable throughout the days of the convention.

First off, a few words about the Pastry Chef of the Year competition:

Chef Paul has been training for this for three months, along with training for the Amoretti National Pastry Team Championships.  Talk about an extremely heavy workload!  The Pastry Chef of the Year competition begins with the regionals, which took place in April.  Each regional winner, Northeast, Southeast,Midwestand West, goes to the nationals to compete against each other for the national title.  When Chef Paul won the Western Regional Chef of the Year title, it was on the toes of the Pastry Team Championships.  He had to train double, which, anyone who has competed knows is aLOTto take on along with your day to day job.

After the team championships, Paul worked on his presentation every day prior to traveling toDallasfor four weeks.  He would come in around 9 AM and not leave until 1 or 2 AM the next day.  The competition (and practice sessions) entailed a showpiece of 18” minimum height (chocolate, sugar, etc), an entremet (plated dessert) composed of Splenda no calorie sweetener and the mystery ingredients provided, and a glazed petite four.  The entremets and the petite fours need to be in five portions, one for show and four for the judges to taste. All of this needs to take place in 2.5 hours with the assistance of a commis.

Chef Paul and his assistant (Ian Cornelius) travel toDallas…

Thanks to Chef Christopher Tunnell at Choctaw Casino, Chef Paul was able to do a practice run of the competition two days before the event and do some of the necessary prep that he needed.  Chef Christopher was very accommodating and even lent Chef Paul a couple of pieces of equipment so that he would not have to travel all the way fromYosemitewith even more than he was already traveling with.  It is wonderful the subsidiaries don’t hesitate to cross those lines of internal hospitality.  Chef Christopher and his team also came down to root him on the day of the competition…Thanks again Chef Christopher and your team for all of the help and support shown to Chef Paul!!!

On the day of the competition, Chef Paul showed great focus on getting all of the items accomplished.  His time slot was last, so all of the other pastry chefs would show before he would in 15 minute increments.  He had his showpiece complete before any of the other chefs, and he had to repair it once as it was, when the main support piece came off of the mantle it was mounted on…many of the spectators cringed as he almost dropped it!!!  He was quick with his hands and saved the sugar sculpture from shattering though…Thank Goodness!!!  At this point it looked good with his time line.  He had his glazing of his petite fours complete in a timely fashion and everything was looking good at that point.  When it came to plating the entremets, he had some trouble with the ice cream and the caramel sauce and unfortunately set him back 8 minutes late.  Each minute is points shaved from your total.

After observing the other pastry chefs, my opinion may be a little biased, but Chef Paul performed well and without the unfortunate time lapse making him late in his service window, he would have been close, if not above, the front runner.  His showpiece was nice, the spectrum of textures was complete on the entremets, the glaze and garnish work on the petite fours was sharp and consistent between all of the pieces.  We have a very talented pastry chef indeed…

Now, part deux…the convention:

The convention happens every year, somewhere in theUSA.  Throughout the convention are opportunities to network with industry peers, to gather much needed CEH’s (continuing education hours) for recertification, general sessions, gala dinner gatherings, and to dabble in a trade show with various food products and kitchen equipment.  It is, hands down, the largest gathering of culinary professionals in the nation.

There are a number of competitions during the convention.  These include, student team championships, Pastry Chef of the Year, Chef of the Year, Chef Educator of the Year, along with a few others that are sponsor driven, but are in no way, any less intense.  All of these are open to the public for viewing at no additional charge to you, as long as you have a valid pass.

The cost of the convention, if you were to go for the 5 days, is around $800.  This includes various dinners, lunches and breakfasts.  If you do what I did and attended for two days, then it comes to $125 per day, one meal per day is provided.   I went on a budget, as we all should in this economy, and stayed at the Holiday Inn next to the airport for $120/night rather than at the much more posh Gaylord Texan (host hotel of the convention).  This Holiday Inn had a shuttle that took you to the convention center and back, so, a car was not needed, except that we had some affairs to attend to in downtown Dallas, about 20 miles away.  All in all, the cost of the event, including travel, rental car, hotel and meals, was under $2000 for me to go.  The benefits, for all industry professionals, are the networking, the CEH’s, observing the competitions, the trade show, and maybe to bump into old friends.  It has been five years since my last convention, and in my opinion, this is too long of a wait between them.

It is always productive to attend conventions, at the very least, every other year.  In other words, ask your General Manager for support now so that it can be budgeted for next year.

More Sustainable Seafood Information.

August 6, 2011

I wanted to continue the strong discussion on sustainable seafood today with this article about sustainable seafood myths and the many different ways our environmental decisions impact the food we eat. It’s a different look at the situation and reminds us our decisions need to go beyond simply selecting food with stickers that tells us sustainable.  The article makes this statement, “most imminent threat to our oceans: greenhouse-gas emissions. Even if every human planet miraculously decided to buy only seafood stamped with the Whole Foods seal of “sustainability,” marine species will still be doomed.”

The article moves on to offer ideas on how we can improve the situation including incorporating seafood’s carbon footprint into sustainability rating standards –  and I encourage you to read it.


More Info On Where Our Foods Travel.

August 3, 2011

Susan Ettesvold, CEPC, a baking instructor at the College of Southern Idaho sent me a link to a story about a clever project from a British designer to label produce according to their mileage. I found it interesting and thought it was a great follow up to the “lobster” travels stories Chef Sterner posted late last week. This is more evidence that sometimes (possibly too often) our food is taking too long to get where it needs to be.

Nationwide Arena Chef To Cook For First Lady of Ohio.

August 2, 2011

It’s not much of a secret that Ed Kowalski, suites chef for Delaware North Companies Sportservice at Nationwide Arena, knows his way around the kitchen. But who knew he was such a savvy networker?

Thanks in part to his use of social media, a personal blogroll and of course, his cooking skills, Kowalski landed a one-hour spot during the First Lady of Ohio Karen Waldbilling Kasich’s cooking demo at the state fair. The event, First Lady’s Day: Nutritious and Delicious Cooking, gets under way Aug. 4 at 1 p.m.

“The first lady (of Ohio) is a follower of mine on Twitter,” Kowalski said. According to Kowalski, the invite came out of the blue. He received a phone call from one of the Kasich’s, who advised she read the recent Columbus Dispatch article about working with Blue Jackets prospects and not only does she follow him on Twitter (@polskakielbasa) she reads his personal blog –

The first lady and her husband, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, will assist Kowalski in preparing a fresh, nutritious dish with an emphasis of local products.

In Response To “What Took These Lobsters So Long To Get Here?”

August 1, 2011

I worked and lived inNova Scotia, mostly Cape Breton, for many years of my life and I can sort of explain the “lobster situation.”

When the lobster season opens up (and usually for the next few months after) there is a surplus of availability and a low demand and therefore the fisherman can’t get great prices for their lobsters.

So, what they do is they sell a few to pay for the gas, the baits and some labor but, they hold most of their lobsters in nets, pens or tanks and they keep them in there until the season is over at which time the availability is much reduced and therefore the prices can be much higher. Lobster the fisherman would have charged 60 cents per lb. for during the high season…now they are getting $3 or more per lb. You can understand the rational behind this process. These guys didn’t fall of the last turnip trucks as my good friend Nick, used to say…

Sure they have to also feed the lobsters somewhat, but this is no problem since they catch other fish and use the trimmings as food.

The problem that arises is this.

Just like every shellfish such as crabs, lobsters do molt and during that time, they are in a commercial sense…totally worthless. So, the fisherman who are holding a bunch of them try very hard to sell them all off before that process occurs. At which time, you or the lobster meat cannery, can get a very good deal.

So, now I hope you have a better understanding of what is happening with the lobsters.

In Good Cooking Always.

What Took This Lobster So Long To Get Here?

July 30, 2011

Chef Brian Sterner sent me this note and photo earlier today. I thought it worth sharing. I will post a response in a day or two with some additional thoughts.

Maybe I’m behind the times, so please let me know if I am, but this was a first for me.

I’ve embedded a picture of a tag that was on one of our 200+lobsters yesterday afternoon. Oddly enough, I actually entered the code this morning at This ended up being an interesting eye-opening task.

The information it pulled up was: What is this fish? Who caught it? And, how was it caught? It was all quite interactive.

I learned this specific lobster landed at Meteghan, Nova Scotia Dec. 27, 2010. I am sure many believe their lobsters are caught within a few days of it reaching the docks. Clearly, this is not the case. It shows how an item that, in reality, is within a day or two trip actually can take 7+ months to reach our plates.

I am curious to learn more about this organization and will be on the hunt to find other items that include these tags. I hope you enjoy checking this out.

Lessons In Cooking Economics.

July 25, 2011

This is a great column from Chef Ambarish Lulay — this is the kind of piece all our chefs should be sharing via the blog.

We may all remember the amicable bickering in our households around mealtimes. The lack of variety, the repetition, the inexpensive cuts of products, the ever escalating prices, etc. The “you need to finish what’s on your plate because it costs me x$ a pound” was a common piece of communication around dinner times. Despite the circumstances and the family income, the parents still managed to put food, good or not, on the tables and somewhere down the line inspired people like us to become cooks.

There was a whole piece of economics and pricing involved in this activity that I find is not much different than what we do today on a bigger scale. I remember shopping for vegetables as a kid for the household at crowded markets. The okra had to be the freshest, the green beans had to have a nice snap and not be limp, the stalks of the eggplant had to be the rich green and not brown, and the cucumbers had to have some weight to them.

I could go on and on about these household “specs” that I was required to follow. Then there was the price per pound and the math. You had a certain amount of money and had to fit a certain amount of food stuff at certain quantities within that money. This is not any different that what we do now.

The bigger challenge was what the mothers and the grandmothers did with these products to turn them into meals for their worst critics – the family. They always had an understanding of the “budget” and somehow knew the quantities to produce. To make something special for their family, they sacrificed somewhere else. After all the income wasn’t going up! How they juggled this is perhaps something the can share on this blog. In the end, they made it work.

As chefs in tough economic times, we are faced with these challenges daily. I have tried to look at all menus and evaluate if they can be executed with less people or running – bar style, tapas style, flex or tasting menus, etc. I have tried to evaluate all menus in the building to streamline cross utilization and included concession in the process. We make marinara, salsas, chili, nacho/taco meat and such products on cleanup days at the end of the home stand to utilize all possible waste.

The trim from the pristine pieces of short ribs used in suites becomes short rib pot pie in another restaurant. The chickens that would have normally been carved become chickenWellingtonsand take on a graceful form. They come together with leftover vegetables and miscellaneous cheeses and other friends to give us an old classic. Leftover seafood becomes an appariel for a seafood cake sold as a special or a seafood burger. The list can go on and on and perhaps we could write our next Delaware North cookbook – 101 Pathways of Transforming Leftovers.

The point that I am making is that we know this stuff. We are all doing it at our units. We have seen some form of it in our households growing up. It took me some time to see some of the same principles in action as we continue to run our kitchens efficiently in today’s climate. It is a full circle.

Where Do My Fish Come From and Local Food.

July 24, 2011

Catching up on my reading after traveling toKennedySpaceCenterfor the final shuttle launch, I found two very interesting articles from Fast Company that should intrigue other chefs and those who care about their food.

The first discusses a new technology that allows you to see not just where your seafood comes from, but also to connect with the fisherman who caught it – all with the snap of your phone’s camera. This is another example of how people can be more informed on where their food is coming from and where it’s been. Chefs will need to work harder to understand this as well to best serve customers.

The second article touches upon whether or not the local food movement can continue to grow into a truly profitable venture or if it will just become a fad. I’d encourage everyone to read this and share their thoughts. How do you feel about the local food movement?

A Trip To Kennedy Space Center (7/5-7/10)

July 22, 2011

Dan Thorington recently traveled to Kennedy Space Center to assist our culinary team with preparation and execution during the final shuttle launch. His thoughts, memories and experiences are recorded below.

Tuesday July 5, 2011

I arrived at Orlando International Airport this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. and proceeded to Chef Charles at baggage claim. From there, the two of us headed to pick up a rental car. Chef Charles had already taken care of the paperwork for the car as he had arrived in Orlando a few hours before I did. We drove to the hotel we were staying at for the week – the Best Western in Cocoa Beach. After settling in, we met up with Chef Roland Henin and went to Sushi Tai Tai for dinner. It was a very uneventful first day in Florida.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today I met up with Chef Charles for breakfast at the Best Western before we were to head up to Kennedy Space Center to begin work for the day. We left at 7:30 a.m. and it only took a half hour to get there. We first had to get our ID badges before heading into work. It only took a couple minutes to get our badges since we had both been there before and they already had our information on file.

I met up with Chef Gidget and Chef Aina. We went over what was going to happen over the next couple days. Chef Henin met us there rather than riding with us. One of the first things I noticed while working was how much less workers there were than the last time I had been at Kennedy. This shocked me because everyone had already been there since at the earliest 7 a.m. and dishes piled up quickly because of all the guests that were coming to the park for the shuttle launch. They were able to overcome the difficulties of this by working just as hard to catch up and stay on top of everything.

Today was mainly a prep day although we did have to prepare a lunch buffet for about 150. The menu was a simple one: roasted chicken, steamed vegetables, mac and cheese, rice and mini corn dogs. Vicky, who is one of the cooks at Kennedy, was able to do this party by herself. Most of what I prepped today was sliced deli meats – enough for about 500 sandwiches – on a slice that was really old but we were able to overcome it. After slicing the meats I helped Chef Henin to prepare fruit for fruit platters. Watching him work is amazing because you don’t think he’s going to get done but he’s just so precise and clean that you realize everything is timed out. He taught me a few tricks when it came to cleaning fruit, such as using a whole lexhand tub with a perforated one on top and then shaking the fruit in the ice water so not only does it shock the fruit, it clean it and all the dirt settles to the bottom of the whole tub.

We broke for lunch about halfway through the day. It’s a good thing to stop every once in a while in the Florida heat to sit down because even though the kitchens are cooled and have fans, if you are not careful the heat can catch up with you. After lunch we finished off the day making 350 turkey wraps which were to be used for paninis at Orbit. We left a little after 5 p.m. for the day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I began this day the same way I began Wednesday by having breakfast with Chef Charles. We arrived at Kennedy Space Center at 8 p.m. We kicked off the day with a brief sit down with Chef Gidget and went over everything that was going to happen between that morning through Friday afternoon when the launch would take place. I started my day off traying up enough cookies for 400 box lunches and another party for Friday afternoon. This came out to be just over 950 cookies.

Once they were trayed up I started baking them off. Their ovens temperature gauges were a little off so they tended to cook a little hotter then they should have. As the cookies were baking I washed a couple cases of oranges and apples. While cleaning the fruit they had another buffet going on and one of the things that stood out to me was that there was a breakdown in communication between the buffet runners and the cooks. We were able to overcome this hurdles as a team and finish strong on the party. Chef Charles worked on cleaning vegetables for the next couple days and Chef Henin started making fruit trays with the fruit he cleaned the day before. After finishing the cookies and cleaning the apples and oranges, I made up a couple vegetable platters for a BBQ they were doing that night. The last thing we did for the day before leaving was take all the cookies I made and bag them up for the box lunches. We left for the day at 4 p.m. because we had to get back to the park at 1 a.m. since it opened at 1:30 a.m. for the launch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Goods and Bads of Food Trucks.

July 18, 2011

The emergence of food trucks has been a big trend in the United States over the past few years and I know some of the chefs have posted about their impact on the blog. I found this New York Times article which examines the goods and bads of food trucks to be quite thorough. As with most things in the food world, there are numerous different perspectives when it comes to how cities should handle the food trucks.

Have you ever eaten from a food truck? What are your thoughts on this trend? I’d love to hear people’s opinions. Even if you don’t comment, I urge our chefs and everyone to read the article.

New Buffet At Wheeling Island.

July 15, 2011

Chef Chris Matta oversees our efforts at Wheeling Island. He kindly shared the below blog post about some changes his staff has directed recently. I thank him and his staff for their hard work.

Earlier this year our team at Wheeling Island decided to renovate our buffet and completely rebuild our fast casual area. We knew the timelines would be tight and the planning had to be exact for us to be successful. We began in February with the idea of having the outlets open before the 4th of July all the while keeping a temporary buffet open in our showroom. This was a golden opportunity to really bring our outlets into the 21st century. We began by conducting focus groups to determine what our customers truly wanted and began working with architects on renderings. We decided on a New York Deli and Pizza shop and to add an Asian food station, improved Italian food station and a new cold bar to our “new buffet” as well.

To make the renovation we basically changed the entire look and setting of both venues. The designing, equipment specifications, menu planning, product specifications, recipes and procedures began to take shape from that. The whole process of closing and reopening two very busy outlets almost simultaneously was no doubt a challenge. But, we knew we had to take the bull by the horns and get this ready.

The hardest part was not necessarily opening and redesigning the restaurants from the ground up, it was getting all the other departments to agree on the overall direction. In a casino environment you have presidents, vice presidents, marketing, player development, Facilities, cleaning, food and beverage directors and the chefs who all have an opinion and idea on how things should work. Trying to get everyone on the same page with even something as simple as pizza, yet pizza, was a huge challenge. Thick. Thin.Chicago.New York. Stuffed. Hand tossed. White pizza. Calzones….just to name a few. Then, we had to start training and ordering and getting everyone in line, and that does not count the buffet closing as well. I can tell you it was a stressful and frustrating time but it proved to be well worth it.

We now have two beautiful and well-received outlets that the staff and customers can be proud of every day. We also can now offer the best food our chefs can prepare. I can honestly say without a doubt that if it was not for my Sous Chefs (Josh, Harry, Chuck, Nate and Hope) and Managers (Megan, Lee, Amy and Mike) we would not have pulled this off. I want to personally thank them and say job well done.

Answer for Invasive Species: Put It on a Plate and Eat It

July 12, 2011

Chef Brian Sterner sent me this article from the New York Times about how chefs could potentially use seafood in a new responsible manner. It deals with the topic of eating invasive aquatic species. I encourage you to read it as it offers some new and interesting ideas.

Cooking For Prospects

July 8, 2011

Another perspective on teaching the hockey prospects to cook. Thanks to Chef John DiGiovanni.

The Planning

It’s one thing for chefs to train their cooks on a technique or a dish, but it is something else completely to do the same thing for a group of young hockey players. Their chosen profession is on the ice, making plays, scoring goals, getting into fights…not simmering, pan searing and making dressings. So much planning was required not only to teach them but to make it as interactive as possible and grab their attention.

It started with meeting with the strength and conditioning coach and asking, “what do you want them to learn to cook?”

We weren’t looking to turn them into chefs, just teach them a thing or two to cook for themselves. We discussed meat cookery first. The strength and conditioning coach wanted them to be able to cook a chicken breast and a piece of salmon. We discussed thermometers and proper cooking temps, and that I would create a simple recipe for them to make at home.

Next came grains. Pasta was out, brown rice and quinoa were in. We discussed going over the basic technique and how to add flavor. Then we moved onto salads. The coach wanted them to have a basic understanding of what went into a salad and what things to avoid (iceberg). He also wanted them to know how to make a simple vinaigrette so they could avoid the bottled dressings.

As it was impossible to cram 30 athletes plus coaches and the chefs into the kitchen, we thought it was wise to divide the team in half over two days. With each group split into groups of three rotating through all the stations.

After the first class, we reviewed what we did and made adjustments for the second class to make it more interactive. Let everyone make their own pappiote, making vinaigrettes with a bowl and whisk instead of a blender, starting a large batch of brown rice for them to work with.

It was rewarding to be able to teach what I could to these young hockey players and to give them a glimpse of what I do in the kitchen on a daily basis. I am looking forward and preparing to do the same thing for training camp and beyond.

Teaching The Prospects – Another Perspective.

July 7, 2011

Chef Ed Kowalski has also weighed in with his thoughts on the experience of teaching the NHL prospects. I’ve posted it below. I will also post thoughts from Chef John DiGiovanni later today or early tomorrow. Thank you for the contributions.

From our initial meetings with Strength and Conditioning Coach Kevin Collins, our decision to offer cooking lessons to the Blue Jackets’ prospects was an exciting project. And, the response has been equally exciting and tremendous. From the immediate feedback of the prospects (average age of 19 – many of whom had never cooked a meal for themselves before) to the inquiries from arena staff about the possibility of having a class for them in the future, I think it really touched on both a need for education as well as a desire to pay attention to what is being put into our bodies. It is my belief that one of the most important roles chefs have is to be educators.

My part of the camp was limited to teaching and preparation of grains (brown rice, quinoa and couscous) due, in large part, to a fractured ankle that I recently suffered that hampered my mobility. I wanted to instruct these young athletes not only on how to cook the grains but also the nutritional properties of each (quinoa as a “complete protein” vs. brown rice as “incomplete,” etc.) and how to impart levels of flavor based on the addition of other ingredients, spices and herbs. They were also given instruction on how to dice onions and chop fresh herbs. The players were all very enthusiastic and attentive.

As I observed the players during class, it struck me that this was so much more than a cooking demo…it was, perhaps just as importantly, a team-building exercise. Players were showing the same teamwork in the kitchen that they are expected to exhibit on the ice, and some friendly competitions arose among them as well (who could dice onions the best, which group made a more flavorful quinoa dish, etc.). An added bonus was the presence of foreign (non-North American) players, because they could impart some insight into what flavors were popular in, say, Sweden or the CzechRepublic. So, I learned something as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chef Ditri Discusses Teaching The Prospects

July 6, 2011

Our chefs at Nationwide Arena recently taught a cooking class to the team’s new prospects. I blogged about it recently. Below is a personal account from Chef Joseph Ditri.

I really enjoyed working with the young prospects during the camp we had at Nationwide Arena. They were all really into learning about food and how to prepare it. I worked the protein station where I showed them how to cut and prepare chicken breast and salmon. The first day we cut the proteins for them, but the coaches asked for them to do more hands-on cutting during the second class.

I also worked with the prospects to teach them how to pan sear the chicken breast and salmon as well as char grill the meat. We also made “salmon en papillote” (we showed them how to make it in foil so they could make it at home). I also instructed them on the proper times needed to properly marinate protein.

Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching The Prospects.

July 6, 2011

Chef John DiGiovanni sent me a note recently to let me know that beginning with this year’s Columbus Blue Jackets Rookie Prospect Camp, our Delaware North chefs at Nationwide Arena are giving cooking lessons to the young players. I think this is a great effort by our chefs as instructing these young players how to truly cook and eat healthy food will help them in their athletic careers.

According to Chef DiGiovanni, the chefs worked with Kevin Collins, the Blue Jackets strength and conditioning coach, to develop a menu and plan to teach the prospects the importance of nutrition. They also shared basic cooking skills with the prospects who took part in the hands-on training.

The class began with everyone assembled in the Time Warner HD Lounge. Chef Joseph Ditri welcomed everyone and introduced Chef John DiGiovanni and Chef Ed Kowalski. Afterwards, Chef DiGiovanni reviewed some basic food and knife safety. The players were provided a sheet that had basic recipes for the item they cooked and a temperature guide that was laminated for easy use in the kitchen. Afterwards, the prospects were given a brief tour of the kitchen.

Read the rest of this entry »

No More Watching TV.

June 28, 2011

I believe that many of the articles we post to the blog are incredibly informative but I still love the posts from the chefs that generate feedback, discussion and reaction from other chefs. Even if that feedback is negative, controversial or positive… it’s important to build upon the conversation.

Reading the articles, while informative, can sometimes be like watching TV as it doesn’t require participation. The blog is meant to inspire contributions, interaction and thinking. We still need to get input and participation from many of the chefs who’ve just been reading and watching thus far.

I highly doubt the chefs at Delaware North have no opinions, thoughts or happenings worth sharing on the blog. The more ideas we share the more we can learn from each other and move our culinary efforts forward.

The blog is not a one-way street. It’s a source for discussion and response and I’m hopeful some of the posts we have coming up will create that.

The goal isn’t to watch TV with the blog. It’s to communicate and participate.

From Buffalo to Buffalo….

June 24, 2011

This is a wonderful new post from Chef Brian Sterner.

A few months back I was asked to work on a project for West Yellowstone. Delaware North was in the midst of renovating one of the restaurants at the Holiday Inn there. I was asked by Christian DeVos to work on the menu concept by developing dishes and recipes and then following that up with a couple trips to work on training the crew. At first I thought, absolutely, what a great opportunity. This thought was quickly followed by…”Oh no, what do I know about the Midwest?” You see, I grew up in Buffalo, NY, the home of chicken wings and cold beer (Canadian) and of course snow.

I quickly hit the books and Internet to research what that area is known for, all to find out, SNOW; along with Big Skies and an abundance of Buffalo.  Oh, and let’s not forget Huckleberries…  The concept we were working on was to be our take on “Open Range” Cuisine.  A lot of time was spent focusing on good down-home cooking along the trail.  Meatloaf, Trout, Johnny Cakes, Pilot Bread, Bison Pot Roast and Big Cuts of Meat quickly made their way onto the menu.

It’s amazing how a culinary journey can start in Buffalo (New York) and continue with serving Buffalo from Montana….

A big thanks goes to Chef Henin and Delaware North for the continued opportunities…  I am looking forward to the next culinary adventure!

Eat The Whole Fish.

June 22, 2011

I want to begin with a big thank you to Chef Kevin Doherty for posting about his team’s efforts during the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. I can tell you that nothing about the work they put in is average. I’m also excited to know that Chef Jeff Wheaton will be sending in a piece that offers his perspective on the events at TD Garden. Any other chefs involved in this event or others – please send your thoughts.

Someone forwarded me this article that Helene York wrote for The Atlantic about sustainable seafood. Her general premise is that for seafood to be truly sustainable – chefs and consumers need to learn how to use every part of the fish. It’s an excellent piece that captures what is going on in the industrialized seafood/fish harvest sector. It doesn’t have to always be this way, but it is the current state.

Read the article and then send along your thoughts on the topic.

Just Another Average Day During The NHL Playoffs.

June 21, 2011

This post comes from Chef Kevin Doherty.

The NHL Playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals proved to be one of the most exciting and challenging times of my career as a chef. I’ve tried to capture how non-stop the action could be on game days at TD Garden in the post below.

8 a.m. Monday morning: Someone says, “Where is Chef?”

The answer: He’s in Banners preparing for the Chairman’s visit. He just learned the number has gone from 12 to 53 people. There are people coming on different planes at different times.

Not a problem. Where is Chef Patrick?

He’s knee deep in press feeding for the 650 members of the media and Chef Kevin Liebfred from New Meadowlands Stadium is running the press rooms too.

There are some more challenges….

“Who ordered Pepsi? We’re a Coke house.”

“There is turn in the middle of press feeding as the menu needs to change for local media…”

No problem. Ok.

“Where is Chef Liz?” She is with Chef Jamie Caudy from the Minnesota Twins operations.

“Also, the Vancouver ownership suites need to be gluten free. Not a problem, right?”

Right. Yes. Okay.

“Chef, we also need a birthday cake in 20 minutes for the Chairman’s event.”

“Tell Chef Liz we need 48 full sheet pizzas for ESPN event.”

“Who is firing up the Bruins’ post game meal?

“It’s almost game time, are we ready? Go up to Banners and tell Larry I have the salmon and the Bistro tenders coming in today so we can do the mis en place…”

Right. Yes. Ok. What else is on our To Do list.

“Tell Chef Josh and Jeff that I need to see the latest VIP suite list…oh, it’s three pages long. We’re going to need 15 minutes to review. There are so many VIP attending these games. We need to get everything right.”

“I will drop off the pastry for concessions in the commissary in the next 20 minutes.”

“Yes, I called Steve ‘sushi chef’ who rolls in Banners raw bar. He has 67 pre ordered slates.”

“There are also 53 people with allergen alerts…. No peanuts, legumes, beans, peas or shellfish….okay, we’re good with that.

“Chef Liz, do you have the cheddar popcorn?”

Ok. The planning is done. What else….

We receive an e-mail telling us the loading dock will be shrunk to one bay (we only have three) and delivery’s must be in before 8 a.m. — we’ll make this work.

I’ve posted the above stream of consciousness in hopes of describing how much work and pressure goes in to these large events. That said, there is nothing more gratifying than meeting the needs and demands of so many people and turning out world class food. So many chefs helped out, pitched in and were a part of the fun. I can’t thank them enough. I need to take special time to thank the visiting chefs: Chefs Jamie Caudy, Jeff Wheaton, Kevin Liebfred, Tait Guthrie, David Spinazzola and Justin Kane. I also must give a huge thank you to the TD Garden chefs: Chefs Patrick Kilduff, Liz Silva Hernandez, David Spinazolla and Josh Ingraham. All of you earned your stripes.

Now I can say I’ve handled two championship series from two different teams (Bruins and Celtics) in the same building in the same season. It was a wild, wonderful ride that culminated with the Bruins incredible Stanley Cup title. You can’t ask for a better ending to the season.

Also, did I mention that in the middle of all that we handled sold out concerts for New Kids on The Block and Glee… you know, average days.

A New Sort of Food Pyramid.

June 17, 2011

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has replaced its iconic food pyramid with a graphic of a plate to assist people in making better food choices and controlling portion sizes. The organization is hopeful this new graphical representation of a balanced meal will help stem the growing obesity and weight issues in the United States.

Understanding nutrition is vital for chefs and it’s important we offer menu items that are balanced, healthy and appealing to guests. Chefs can play a vital role in encouraging people to eat healthy and make better meal choices. The pyramid and/or the food plate are symbols for decision we as chefs and people should make every time we eat.

Help In Good Cooking Always.

June 16, 2011

Okay everybody, I need you help.

We’ve posted more than 120 blogs since we launched In Good Cooking Always  and I need you to let us know what is working and what is not. I traveled to Buffalo earlier this week for the Culinary Council meeting and I took time to talk to people who help me with the blog about new ideas. I even went to the Anchor Bar for the Buffalo Wings to have a longer conversation about the blog.

I think the posts we have had are great and I continue to hope more chefs will step up and engage. I think sharing articles is important but I love when chefs post about their personal experiences. That’s what we’re pushing for with the blog. We want personal accounts. We want conversation. We want debate.

I am heading to Kennedy Space Center next and will then fly home. Over the next few days and weeks we’ll launch some new blog ideas and try to do our best job. But, if you have opinions on what types of post you like or stand out — tell us. If you’re a chef with Delaware North, find a way to contribute. It’s important.

Alright, on to the next kitchen. Let’s keep making In Good Cooking Always great.

Chef Roland Henin

Make Science of Cooking.

June 10, 2011

Much thanks to Chef Fred Clabaugh for sending along this article, “Nathan Myhrvold’s Method Makes Science Of Cooking” that takes a different look at how we prepare food. Myhrvold is the author of “Modernist Cuisine” – the new six-volume, 2,400-page, 46-pound, spectacularly photographed book that retails for $625 and covers the history, science and technology of modern savory cooking.

If you read the article you’ll see that Myhrvold doesn’t prepare food in what many chefs would consider a traditional way. It’s important to read about different methods and ideas as they challenge our beliefs and push us to be better.

As Chef Clabaugh said in his e-mail to me about the article – There’s lots of fun stuff in this article that takes a look at new styles of cooking, but it also helps us remember some of the basics too.

Strong Summer For Salmon

June 10, 2011

According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, this season’s salmon harvest is the fifth largest catch in the state’s history. The Institute estimates 203 million salmon have been caught. The first salmon usually caught on their migration come fromCopper Riverand thus many salmon are referred to as Copper River Salmon.

That translates to a strong season for salmon on the menus of your local restaurants. This Nation’s Restaurant News article features comments from chefs on how they plan to prepare the salmon this summer. Chef Jeremy McLachlan believes says he’ll serve the salmon with avocado crème and strive to keep things simple.

This is simply the best time of year to enjoy salmon and you’ll see it pushed hard on menus around the country. I encourage you to read the full article but here’s a sampling of other salmon dishes from restaurants:

Other Alaska salmon dishes:
Poste, Washington, D.C.: Salmon belly tartare cones

Tulio Ristorante, Seattle: King salmon poached in olive oil with saffron cauliflower and basil yogurt

American Seasons, Nantucket, Mass: King salmon with fried green tomatoes and smoky crayfish green onion butter

Slow Club, San Francisco: Pan-roasted wild Tofino Inlet king salmon with ginger-avocado purée, Chioggia beets, snow peas and upland cress

Salty’s on the Columbia, Portland, Ore.: grilled salmon with roasted local organic fingerling potatoes, local asparagus, morels and charred ramps with garlic compound butter

Restaurant Michael, Winnetka, Ill.: pan-roasted salmon fillet over a ragout of fava beans, asparagus and morels with roasted beat ravioli

The Grille at Morrison House, Alexandria, Va.: Coho salmon with tempura broccoli, red onion gelée, mustard foam, mustard crème fraîche, potato latke, fried quail egg and salmon roe

TAG, Denver: salmon with spring pea purée, cured wild boar, charred bok choy and tomato confit

The Mermaid Inn, New York City: grilled king salmon with green lentils, red peppers and chile flakes

Prairie Grass Café, Northbrook, Ill: King salmon with grain salad and asparagus, garnished with micro greens, pea shoots and lilacs

BLT Fish, New York City: lightly seared king salmon with apricots, almonds and pickled ramps

Recess, Indianapolis: King salmon with red wine shiitake mushrooms, carrots, fennel and Bordeaux spinach


Fruit, Fruit, Fruit.

June 8, 2011

You know what one of my favorite signs of summer is? The return of great, fresh fruit to the markets.

I saw this Los Angeles Times article that picked up on the fact that fruit is returning in full force and I felt a need to share it. I love fruit. I imagine many of you do as well.

If you read the article you’ll read about Bing Cherries, boysenberries, apricots and other lesser used fruits. Maybe it will inspire you to create or find a recipe that enables you to use them.

If you do, make sure to pay attention to where the fruit is grown and if it’s local. You can’t beat local, fresh fruit. It tastes good and it means summer is finally here.



Chef Whatley Interview.

June 7, 2011

This is a great interview and article about Chef Percy Whatley at The Ahwahnee. I’ve pasted it below for you to read. It’s perfect for our Chef’s Blog.


How did you start cooking?

When I first got here [California] in 1989 as a 20-year-old with no direction, I was just here to enjoy the mountains and be a young adult on my own. The seasonal work atYosemiteenabled me to make pretty good money and get through school.

When did you get serious?

After school, I landed in The Ahwahnee kitchen, and I instantly realized I didn’t know as much about this industry as I should. The chef at that time mentored me to get into a culinary program and get educated – to get all those “book studies” done. He was a CIA alum, and I’m really happy that I chose the Culinary Institute.

Why’s that?

It is the best program in the country, if not the world. It’s the best way to get a very well-rounded curriculum of the fundamentals of culinary and baking. Just look at the talent base and the faculty there; the continuing education programs. I loved the program and loved the passion that all the faculty members have for food. Extraordinary!

You decided early on that you wanted to be in the corporate hotel scene. Why that path?

Mainly for stability and the benefits. There’s nothing worse than a broken leg and suddenly you’re $15,000 in debt! But I like the larger staff environment as well. The dynamics and the diversity of creating a team in that environment poses its challenges – but when you do meet and overcome those challenges, it feels really extraordinary when everybody’s running on all eight cylinders and moving in the same direction. There’s 60 people in my brigade – it’s not small!

That’s huge! Do you do room service too?

Yes. The hotel is only 123 rooms, but the food and beverage operation will feed 2,000 people a day because it’s a destination dining hotel.

Do you need to cook differently for customers at Yosemite?

Yes, we have a very broad spectrum of people and a really broad spectrum of expectations, so we have to find a middle ground. On one hand, a guest who’s been returning for 40 years will just go ballistic if prime rib’s not on the menu – and there are lots of those guests – so we have prime rib. Then we have international guests who really don’t understand American food, so we have to have some simple preparations on the menu that can be easily explained. And then we have people who want a super-fine dining, mind-blowing experience.

You have to have three different mental dining rooms!

Right! On top of that, in the summer, it’s “turn and burn.” People want to get in and out and go for a nice, long walk because it’s light until nine o’clock. In the fall and winter we do a more leisurely service.

You do a lot of special events in the off-season, too, don’t you – like the seven-course Bracebridge Pageant dinners?

Yes, the logistics involved for the Bracebridge are extraordinary – not just feeding the people attending, but 100 cast and crew as well. All the moving parts, all of the focus on making it special is one gigantic feat!

What are some of the other events?

We start off in November with our wine dinners, our Vintners’ Holidays, over five weeks, with eight wine-makers every week – big hitters too: Silver Oak, Ravenswood, Rombauer. There are 1 ½ -hour wine-tasting sessions, then we wrap it all up with a gala dinner. I write the menu according to the wines the vintners are choosing to pour, rather than the other way around. It’s a wonderful experience for us in the back of the house, because we can really put the subtleties in the food to pair with those wines.

I have to say, the quality of food inYosemitehas radically improved since I first started going there.

An enormous amount of effort and love has gone into shaping the culinary operations here. We really do owe it to our corporate chef, Roland Henin. He’s been my mentor over the last 12 or 13 years and has really made a huge impact. We, as chefs, are not ourselves without a mentor – we don’t become who we are.

What was his biggest impact on you?

Sustainability. We were buying asparagus year-round because it was available. It’s an easy vegetable to deal with in large, high-volume situations. But Roland came and looked in our walk-in in the wintertime and said, “What the hell is this?” Being an older gentleman fromFrance, he grew up in a culture where you did not have certain things year-round.


He said, “Get back to basics. Get away from forcing things onto people that really shouldn’t be there.” It made sense to us here inYosemitequite quickly. Asparagus tastes terrible in the winter!

Have you faced any challenges due to the park’s isolation or weather conditions?

Oh, yeah, It’s tough! We had to get really, really creative for our pork. We do buyMidwestpork, but I think it’s the best on the market, from Becker Lane Farm. Everything is full-circle organic. He ships whole carcasses toOakland, but there’s no way to get them out of the Bay Area. Our fish people go to the Bay Area every few days, so the processor inOaklandtakes it to a drop-off point inSan Franciscoand my fish guy goes out of his way to pick it up for us.

What’s one pantry item you can’t do without?

Butter! It’s a much more diverse ingredient than non-cooks would think. It’s a main ingredient in pastry. It’s great on toast [LAUGHS]! The mounting of butters into sauces and soups gives them that kind of intense, rich, mouth-feel that is always missing in puree soups. Without butter, it’s not the same.

Do you have a favorite butter?

I love Plugra. And the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company – their butter is over the top.

Favorite tools?

Definitely a thermal circulator. Having the ability to vacuum-pack something and cook it has changed our world.

How does it impact a big kitchen like yours, versus a smaller kitchen?

We have four line cooks on a really busy night. Each station could be responsible for over 100 plates. So preparing something to be cooked sous vide – when all the work goes into it prior – means it’s not a distraction, so the cook doesn’t lose focus. All they have to do is open a bag and give it a sear. You don’t have to babysit it in the oven; you don’t have to baste it. It softens the load and makes things much, much easier to execute at the level of cooking that we want it to be. With sous vide, chicken is always moist, it’s always cooked at the proper temperature.

Most chefs seem to see sous vide in a very narrow, but extremely useful context.

You can take that technique too far, where people aren’t cooking any more. So if you do implement it into a kitchen brigade, my recommendation is to be careful what you’re using it for – because it’s important for young cooks to actually know how to cook for their next step.

Any advice for young cooks?

Push yourself to a point beyond where you think you can’t push yourself any more – and then push one step further. Never say “I can’t do it.” Always be looking over someone’s shoulder. Always ask, “Can I do this better? Can I work harder at this one particular thing?” Never lose that focus – and never stop learning.

I hear that from all the chefs I interview! What have you learned recently?

I learn a lot from our Chef’s Holidays, where chefs from across the country come and work in our kitchen – like Michael Cimarusti [ofProvidencein LA]. We definitely learned a few things from him! But the biggest learning experience was probably doing the Bocuse d’Or for the second time.

How did you get involved in the Bocuse d’Or?

It was Roland, my mentor, who was a mentor to Thomas Keller, as well. Roland reached out to me and said “You’re the best chef in our company – you should go for it.” I applied and had no idea what the hell I was doing, so Roland coached me.

Your second time, you won Best Meat in the Bocuse d’OrUSA. What did you do differently?

The first time I did it, in 2008, I went more for the shock and awe of the presentation, instead of cooking for the judges the best I know how to cook. In 2010, I focused on the depth of flavors, the balance and harmony in flavors versus some foo-foo, weird-looking presentation. The judges are just going to take one bite – and that bite had better be the best bite that they’ve ever eaten!

How much did you train?

While preparing for the competition, I was working at my job for 12 hours, ad then I was training on top of that – five, six, seven hours a day. It was a really freaked-out schedule!

Any advice for a chef considering competing in the Bocuse?

Get ready for the rollercoaster of your lifetime. The training process needs to be extraordinarily focused. You need to get used to being exhausted on a very consistent basis, and you work through that. It’s very emotionally and physically draining – but at the end, whether you’re on the podium or not, you feel really good about your accomplishment.

I understand the physical exhaustion. But why is it so emotionally exhausting?

After every training day, you’re evaluating your stuff and reflecting on what just happened: something went wrong or the flavor profile wasn’t quite there or you tried something completely different and it didn’t work out at all.

In the recent Bocuse d’Or finals, theUSplaced tenth out of 24 teams. What do you think we need to do to move up?

That’s my big question, too! Are we trying too hard? Are there too many decision-makers? Too many opinions? Personally, my approach would be, let the natural flow of the training allow the chef to cook his or her heart out. Maybe that would help because, you know, food is love, and if we don’t love our food, it really does show.

How do you show that love when you have 250-300 covers a night at The Ahwahnee?

The biggest thing for me is to try to promote that love through the cooks we hire, to nurture passion for the industry and the food and allow them to love the food that they’re cooking. Luckily I have a really passionate brigade, and the ones who are really, really passionate are working on the dinner line. That’s the trophy at The Ahwahnee. If you don’t have the passion, you’re flipping eggs at breakfast.

What are you proudest of, in your career so far?

Becoming Executive Chef at The Ahwahnee. When I started in the kitchen in 1994, I had this subconscious goal of achieving that.

What would your “last meal” be?

Definitely pork belly. Crispy pork belly, with scallops and truffle sauce. And oxtail stew, as well. I like the funky cuts that the chefs love so much. And nothing beats a great boudin noir.

Can I get any of these things on your menu?

Not right now. We have to hide the pork belly on our menu. It has to be one of the sub-garnitures, an accoutrement to a larger cut.

Pork belly needs a better name. It needs a PR agency, I think.

Ha! Pork belly PR! The funny thing is, over the course of a week, we’ll sell over 500 pounds of bacon at breakfast, but we can’t move ten pounds of pork belly at dinner!


A Terrible Number To Hear.

June 7, 2011

This is terrible information I’m about to share but it’s important for people to hear it. One-third of the world’s food produced for human consumption is wasted each year. That is a ton of food and this article from The Guardian suggests that it equates to 1.3 tons of food.

I could go on and on about this. It is sad news. We as chefs and a society need to work harder to maximize the value we get from each piece of food. We need to plan and prepare appropriately so we don’t produce too much food. We also need to connect with local places and charities that can benefit from leftover food.

The article talks about many problems that help make this a problem — rich countries wasting food and also developing countries that lose food due to weak infrastructure. I think those of us that read this though should be motivated to do our parts to help make this less and less of a problem.

How we prepare and plan for our customers is important but we also must think creatively so we can get the most out of the food we have. I would love to see chefs share ideas about how we can do better and help ease this global problem in the comments below.

A Graphic That Shows You Where Your Food Comes From…

June 6, 2011

If found this graphic very fascinating as a chef and I imagine other people would think it was interested as well. It’s a series of words that illustrate the United States and they show which foods come from what areas of the country. Or, at least, where they originated from.

This has very necessary information for chefs but also for people who are concerned with where there food comes from — which is more and more people and that’s great news.

I have been busy the past few weeks traveling to such places as Kennedy and Yosemite. I am headed to Buffalo next week after a few days of resting. I’m hoping to have a great week of blogs.

Retro Cuisine On The Rise

June 5, 2011

Chef John DiGiovanni sent me this article which I found very interesting about how retro cuisine is returning and becoming more and more popular. What that means is that many chefs and/or food lovers have begun testing recipes from 18th and 19th-century American cookbooks.

The article talks about the efforts of Shannon Musipher who began researching the foods of early Americans and she then set out to prepare food with out the help of a commercial grocer for several months.

The article is brief but interesting so I do encourage you to read it. If you’re wondering if you’ve ever had any of the old-time favorite recipes — think pot pies, meatloaf, fondue.

Know Your Food. Always Know Your Food.

June 1, 2011

I’ve talked many times on this blog about how important it is for chefs to truly know the food they are working with each day. One of our chefs forwarded me an article that ran on Fast Company today that talks about a new report from Oceana, an international fish protection organization, that claims seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time. The report also mentions that vendors often replace species like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod with cheaper and more easily accessible varieties.

This is troubling on many levels but it has dietary and sustainable impacts for sure. It undoubtedly impacts every day consumers more than chefs who buy in bulk and may work with local fish farms. But, it’s vitally important to be aware of.

I can’t say it enough. Know your food. Know where it comes from. Take pride in what you are eating. And, read the full article so you understand more.


New Internal Temperature For Cooking Pork.

May 31, 2011

I hope everyone is feeling okay and enjoyed their Memorial Day Weekend. This is just a quick post that includes an article forwarded to me from Chef John DiGiovanni. It talks about how the USDA is now allowing pork to be cooked to 145F and we all thought it would be worthwhile to post this to the blog.

The article reads that the previously required internal temperature of 160 degrees F is no longer necessary. The agency now says 145 degrees will suffice followed by a three-minute rest before carving.

For the full report and further thoughts about how this impacts chefs and the taste of pork, read the full article.

Hang The Flag and Hug A Vet.

May 28, 2011

As Memorial Day approaches, it is important we remember those American Soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend others and this wonderful country. As I visit ballparks and watch the celebrations on the field and what we do to honor our Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who serve now and served in the past, it gives me great pride to be one who has served.

This weekend we will be offering backyard BBQ food in some of our locations and in our homes. I always like a good picnic menu, and when I do them I’m brought back to my Navy days, grilling and BBQs were a staple in the Service as we have a lot of open air at sea and in the field.

When I write my menus, it always brings me back to those times of a “Steel Beach Picnic,” — that’s what we called it in the Navy. Some of the food I did back then I still do today, but with some modern twists. You know, beans and franks, BBQ chicken, ribs, coleslaw, potato salad, melon salad, corn on the cob…the list goes on.  But, no matter what you do, enjoy it and enjoy your friends, family and weekend.

Hang the flag and hug a vet,

Chef James Major