Cold Platter Competitions: Nothing Easy.

October 25, 2010

A guest post from Chef Kevin Doherty.

There are many chefs who have turned their back on cold food competitions as they believe they take too much time and require a dying skill in the profession. I believe the exact opposite and encourage any and all chefs to take part in these competitions. In my opinion, if you can do cold food well, you’ll do hot food even better.

I recently took part in a cold platter competition in Ohio that required my full attention and energy. The event was located in Ohio which posed a large challenge for me as I oversee operations of TD Garden in Boston. To accomplish everything I needed to, I worked on some of the big pieces for the platter in Boston after my 10-12 hour work days at TD Garden. It required me to put in a lot of time on the weekends and evenings to manage my responsibilities at the Garden and put myself in the best position to perform well at the competition. In all honesty, it took me several weeks of preparation.

When the time came to put everything together for the event in Boston, I loaded all the items I’d prepared into a cooler and drove the 10 hours from Boston. When I arrived at the competition site, I had to become quickly acclimated to a different kitchen and working without any assistance from other chefs.

Any platter you create for these competitions requires a theme and I named mine “The Three Little Pigs.” As Chef Roland Henin would say, “you must theme your platter before you can build it.”

The platter itself consisted of three pieces of the pig that are traditionally unused – the ear, foot and tongue. The true skill of a good chef is to turn nothing into something and make it a thing of beauty. That was my intention with this platter.

Along with preparing the food items, I also needed to pour gelatin on the platter that would hold each item in place. This is an incredibly difficult step as you lose points for any ripples or bubbles that are created during your pour. You need to be extremely careful to get it right because once you set something on gelatin; you won’t be able to move it anymore.

In the end I received a high silver medal with a score of 33.9. I missed a gold medal by just a pinch. I received a perfect score for my gelatin pour but lost points because my platter had some empty spaces and my apples were considered too large. I have included photos of the platter in this blog post.

I am proud of my effort as these are not easy competitions. I know that I could have achieved gold had I made one or two slight adjustments, and that will motivate me for future cold food competitions.

Once I’d wrapped everything up in Ohio, it wasn’t time to relax. One of our chefs in Buffalo had a minor health problem and needed my assistance preparing for a weekend sporting event. As chefs who work for the same company, we always have to be ready to pitch in and help each other out. I was happy to quickly travel to Buffalo and oversee the long days our culinary team needed to prepare. Needless to say, it was a rewarding and challenging experience, but one that didn’t provide me much time to sleep.

Thank you for the time,

Chef Kevin Doherty


Buffalo to Yosemite to Florida….

October 19, 2010

Hello All,

I have blogged in the past about how much I look forward to and enjoy our Culinary & Hospitality Council Meetings that Delaware North holds in Buffalo, N.Y., every other month. I flew into Buffalo last week to attend another meeting and it was great to see the many different leaders of the company. These meetings are where we make the decisions that affect all the chefs working so hard around the country.

I am in the midst of another busy stretch as from Buffalo I will fly out to Yosemite National Park where we will work with a group of six chefs who are fine tuning their competency for higher professional certification. These weeks of training and testing are some of my favorite as they really enable me to instruct and help younger chefs.  Nothing makes me prouder than to see a chef learn he or she can achieve something they didn’t know they were capable of doing.

I even had the chance to catch up with Ralph Wilson Stadium Executive Chef Larry Johnson who will be one of the chefs taking his certification exam in December. He will be out in Yosemite this week working to further prepare for his exam. He has been practicing tirelessly over the past few months while also managing operations for a 73,000-seat NFL stadium. I have asked him to put together a blog post about what it’s like to have such responsibilities and commitments.

Once we are done in Yosemite it will be Bon Voyage time as I need to fly directly to the CIA in Hyde Park for a Certified Master Chefs meeting. Then I will head to Florida to help with efforts at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Later this year I’ll be hopefully back in Yosemite for some of the impressive holiday events like the Bracebridge Dinner and the winter grandeur.

The past month has been a busy time for me and I apologize that I haven’t been able to comment on all the things happening at Delaware North and our culinary world. I am grateful for the other chefs who’ve shared guest posts. I promise to blog more regularly over the next few weeks.

Alright, there are planes to catch and chefs to coach. I must go now.

In Good Cooking Always,

Chef Roland Henin, CMC

 


Happenings at The Lodge.

October 12, 2010

Let me begin by saying thank you to Chef Roland for offering me the chance to post a blog about everything happening in the kitchens up here in Ohio at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake.

Steven Sterritt

It’s been a busy year and that’s a good thing, but I need to extend a kind thank you to our entire culinary staff at the lodge. I’m always blown away by how hard and how well our team works on a daily basis. It makes me proud to be the executive chef of such a great team.

I am very fortunate to be a member of the Delaware North team as it lets me do what I love and really connect with people. Recently I took part in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Heart Health Day, an event that takes place along a 2-mile path and focuses on living well. I did cooking demonstrations on how to eat healthy and helped raise money for the AHA.

There is always great work to appreciate at the lodge and something to look forward to in the future. Our team will help host and execute such upcoming events as a featured Beer Dinner & Pairing with Sam Adams Brewery, Vintner’s Appreciation Dinner and a Victorian-themed holiday celebration in December. All of these events will require our chefs to work hard and be at the top of their game.

I’ll even have the chance to help those staying at the lodge cook at our upcoming “Cooking with the Chef” event, which features flavors of the Mediterranean. Some of the dishes will include seared scallops on saffron-infused risotto and braised lamb and goat cheese tartlet.

It’s an exciting time to visit the lodge. It’s even more exciting to work in the kitchen here.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Steven Sterritt

Executive Chef
The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake


Helping Farm Aid Serve The Good Stuff.

October 8, 2010

If you read this blog or know me from my work or personal life, you know I love nothing more than using local and natural foods when cooking. I believe that these kinds of food are the real “good stuff.”

I wanted to spend a few minutes recognizing our Sportservice chefs at Miller Park who played a big role in helping put together Farm Aid’s 25th annual benefit concert. They served more than 30,000 people using mostly foods that were grown right in the state of Wisconsin.

I didn’t attend the event as I’ve been busy, busy, busy but one of my fellow chefs told me they served hamburgers, buns, pulled pork sandwiches, pizza, gourmet wraps and popcorn that was all produced nearby. Other items on the menu were caramel apples, muffins, and fresh cider from local orchards.

Farm Aid is a benefit concert that raises money for family farmers and helps people recognize the value in local produce. I’m happy that Delaware North helps with this event from time to time.

 

All I’m saying is that whether you’re preparing a five-star gourmet meal or making burgers for sports fans, it’s always good to use local foods. Now, all this talk of foods is making me hungry. I will blog again soon.

In Good Cooking Always,

Chef Roland Henin, CMC

 


From Yosemite to New Meadowlands.

October 6, 2010

This is a guest post from Chef Beth Brown.

In March, I embarked on a journey from Yosemite National Park in California to East Rutherford, N.J., along with my husband and fellow chef, Jeff Wheaton. After having worked for several years as chefs for Delaware North Companies’ parks and resorts division at Yosemite’s lodges, including the historic Ahwahnee, we decided it was time for a change and for new challenges.

 

Beth Brown

 

So, we accepted sous chef positions at The New Meadowlands Stadium with Delaware North Companies Sportservice. Having never worked in a stadium or opened a brand-new facility, we really had no idea just how challenging this undertaking would be. I remember landing in Newark, driving to East Rutherford and then seeing the massive monolith for the first time. I was both excited and scared.

At first, the learning curve was huge, but I quickly found a mentor in Executive Chef Eric Borgia (just as Chef Henin said I would) and began to learn the ropes. I found that my experience in resorts helped me in Sportservice immensely. It did not prepare me for the sheer scale of the facility, the pallets upon pallets of food or the vast amount of labor it takes to run an operation of this size. However, it did prepare me to take on the Commissioner’s Club.

The Commissioner’s Club is a beautiful 400-seat venue, catering to 20 luxury suites. The club is adorned with leather, dark wood and two large fireplaces. I was excited this was my spot. With the guidance of Chef Borgia and Chef Chris Harkness, who came from the New York City caterer Great Performances to help oversee the stadium’s premium areas, I quickly began developing menus.

This is where my resort background really came in handy. I am still curing duck, butter-poaching lobster tails and glazing short ribs, but the menus are fun and interactive. I always include stadium fare because as much as people love lobster, it is a football game and people still want a hot dog. I love taking stadium fare and elevating it. Last week, for example, the baked-potato bar was decked out with all the usual accompaniments – chili, bacon, sour cream — plus some surprise toppings:  truffle butter, crème fraiche and caviar.

While I am settling in with Sportservice nicely and every event is becoming a little more natural to me, I am still in awe of all the people, food and planning it takes to feed so many hungry fans. That is just my side…my point of view. I work with many other chefs, my husband included, who also have stories about this huge undertaking, the opening of this giant we call New Meadowlands Stadium.


Changing Seasons at Gideon Putnam Resort

October 1, 2010

Our world moves very fast, but I always believe it is easier for chefs to enjoy the change in seasons. We have to pay attention to changes in crops, flavors and local offerings to bring our customers the best food they could possibly want. That is what we do at Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs on a daily basis.

This is my first blog and I am grateful that Chef Roland has allowed me to post. We are just coming off of our busiest season of the year – summer. It’s very fast paced at Gideon Putnam during the summer months because of everything that happens in Saratoga Springs. People from around the world visit our area for horse racing, ballet and orchestra shows and outstanding concerts. These people often visit us to spend the night and enjoy our food.

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