Farmed Salmon Update

February 28, 2011

Here is another excerpt worth reading regarding the current state of salmon from an e-mail I received last week. It’s not always a pretty picture.

Good Afternoon,

We are seeing the biggest jump in farmed salmon we have ever endured. Here is an explanation from our salmon buyer of what are the driving factors. Please adjust menus if possible……..

Here is what is going on in the Salmon World; Bottom Line is that the World supply is short and anything that is available is being bid up by the customers so that they can secure fish. A lot of areas (Ireland, Scotland, Norway, etc) are switching year classes (which happens every year at this time), and they are short of fish. This will stay in effect for at least the next month to month and a half. Loch Duart will be OUT of fish after next week for about 3 weeks because the fish are too small to market. Chile is producing a little bit of fish, but it is very expensive and is going to Japan or Europe.

Canada is having its own issues as well. They have had some bad weather over the last two weeks, which has caused harvesting problems. Also, one of the big producers was running out of fish, so they cut their harvest schedule from 6 harvests a week to 2. That caused a big shortage out of Canada. Everything combined has driven up the prices and they will go up again next week as well.

I don’t see any relief in sight until the end of April. Certain sizes of Salmon will be tight, certain nationalities of Salmon will be tight, and prices will continue to stay high, or possibly go a little bit higher. With Lent coming up next month, the Salmon Suppliers will have to keep the prices high due to increased demand so price relief will not be coming anytime soon.


The Six-Legged Meat of The Future

February 24, 2011

This is not the most traditional topic I’ve posted on the blog. But I think it’s important to feature all ideas, thoughts and trends. This Wall Street Journal story talks about eating insects — which is more popular in some parts of the world than others. I imagine it is a topic chefs, especially the younger ones, will deal with during their careers. I encourage you to share your thoughts on the topic below.

Fish Rift

February 23, 2011

I believe this article from Louisa Kasdon who dined at the “blacklisted fish” event in Boston, where Northeast fishermen challenged the accuary of seafood watch lists is important to read. I’ve included the link below. I think it’s important to read all the different views on certain subjects.

A Trip To The CIA

February 22, 2011

I am always grateful for Chef Percy Whatley’s contributions to the blog. Here is a post regarding his recent visit to the CIA career fair.

I have been working with The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for the last seven years, placing culinary students into the brigade of The Ahwahnee in either a graduate capacity or an extern capacity.  I wanted to share with you my recent trip to Hyde Park with Chef Roland and Camille Jackson from HR Corporate.

The two-day career fair at the CIA campus is located in the student center, a large multi-purpose hall that acts as a fitness center for the students.  There were approximately 50 companies there trying to attract the attention of the students and alumni of this prestigious culinary program.  On day one, the booths were set up with whatever props you want to bring to attract attention.  We, of course, had our ultimate prop…Chef Roland Henin, CMC!!!  He is still a legend on the campus, even though it has been 25 years or more since he was an instructor there.  Day two is set for interviews with interested candidates that you meet on Day One.

Although Delaware North is a very large and diverse company, our brand is not very recognizable to the young leaders of industry at the fair.  We spent a lot of time explaining who we were, what we do, and where we do it.  Once this information became known, however, an interest was piqued and we were able to continue the conversation or even set a time-slot for an interview the next day.

As we went through this process, it was very clear to me that we do not have a strong enough presence at this school.  Many students know of The Ahwahnee, TD Garden, etc, but really, no one knows who the heck Delaware North is…this needs to change.  I foresee us taking a bigger part in recruiting at future CIA career fairs, if for nothing else than to increase exposure for Delaware North as a top culinary brand to the young professionals of tomorrow.  There are tentative plans to do this in the fall to recruit help during the busy times for Hockey and Football. I am sure there are chefs out there that would appreciate it.


Leon Smith – 2010 Best Accomplishments

February 21, 2011

Here is another “Best Accomplishments of 2010” post from Chef Leon Smith of Emirates Stadium.

I started my role as executive chef at Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal Football Club, in Sept. 2010, just a few weeks after the dramatic enhancement and redevelopment of one of our main club level dining facilities, Woolwich Suite.  This impressive stadium is only four years old and this major investment proves both the client and Delaware North are proactive in their approach to providing excellence at every opportunity by creating facilities and dining experiences that reflect Arsenal’s contemporary and world-renowned style

The Woolwich Suite was redesigned to create different experiences within the same club facility and includes theater/buffet-style dining, a stylish bar area, exclusive a-la-carte restaurants and a lounge area.  The a-la-carte restaurants offer a new experience in stadia catering and have been aptly named the W and M Clubs after Chapman’s revolutionary 3-2-2-3 WM formation.  We regularly have tasting sessions in these restaurants as part of the guest experience, adding value and theatre to their day and providing me with the opportunity to introduce new concepts, produce & flavours in a controlled way.  These have taken the form of wine tastings, ports & brandies, farmhouse & artisan cheese and more recently smoked salmon, smoked eel & Gravadlax, produced by an independent smokehouse based on the river Severn in Gloucestershire, a supplier who is as passionate as I am about the quality of his produce and the sustainability of the fish they catch & smoke

The buffet style restaurant named “The Foundry” continues the theme of combining the best of the past with the present. The Legends bar was also redeveloped and now includes a new grill offering a wider range of food options.  The style of service & delivery has been influenced by visits to the US, enabling the Emirates team to use the great ideas and share best practice within the company. The emphasis is on creating freshly prepared dishes, using only the best ingredients, simply put together, with great flavours that speak for themselves.

Opening and delivering multiple new dining experiences in one facility is a challenge in itself and this was further heightened with the eyes of both the media and the fans on us. Throughout the planning stages I considered the complexity of the menus and matched them to the skill level of our team and then provided them with excellent equipment and training to be able to deliver our exacting standards.  We involved our client in the development of our innovative menus, showing our passion for food and service and ultimately allowing us to deliver, on the day, that special experience one guest at a time. Having the opportunity to introduce bespoke food offers in to brand new state-of-the-art facilities was an experience rare to our sector and ensured we are able to uphold our reputation as a market leader

Looking forward to 2011

My food vision for Emirates in 2011 is to source and use the best quality, seasonal products that are farmed and caught in a sustainable & ethical way.  By using the best approved suppliers that are passionate about their products and the way they’re produced we will be able to offer the highest standard possible, and be confidant in the provenance and quality we serve to our guests.

I will be focused on strengthening and training my team so they have the ability to play a fundamental part in the delivery of this new club experience.  We will use our restaurant training cards, linked with GuestPath® that contain detail of suggested wines to compliment the menu, specific detail of the provenance of the food and tasting notes identifying specific flavors and textures.  This ensures our front line staff also have the knowledge and confidence to serve and recommend dishes from the ‘chef’s selection’ and to advise if our guests require assistance.

Another key element aspect of development for my team will be participation in competitions & Salon Culinaire entries.  Over the course of my career I have entered many competitions, with Gold, Silver & Bronze medals awarded as well as achieving four “Chef of the Year” titles.  For me the competition kitchen is a fantastic learning experience and its good fun too! This will give my team a great platform to showcase the skills we use every day, learn new skills & techniques, develop as a team and learn to work under intense pressure and hopefully achieve a few medals along the way.  The success of our chefs would also mean further accolades to Delaware North and more importantly to our client whose ethos is to strive for excellence both on and off the field.

Small Plates, Big Flavors

February 18, 2011

Chef Chris Harkness of Great Performances and The Plaza has written a strong post about how small plate stations are becoming more popular. I’ve included the link and encourage you to read it. Post your opinions below.


An Externship Tale

February 17, 2011

I love hearing about students and their experiences. This is a very enjoyable post from Blythe Robinson, a student who had an externship with our Yosemite Park team.

Yosemite National Park is my Notre Dame – it is Mother Nature’s greatest gift to this world. As I drove in to Yosemite Valley on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009, I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Every turn on Highway 140 revealed a view more impressive than the last. This was not my first trip into the valley, for some reason though this was the most vivid and impressive of my experiences. I couldn’t believe I was going to get to work in such a special place.

My nerves were causing my stomach to churn as I pulled in to the parking lot in front of the Human Resources office for Delaware North Companies. It was my first day of my externship for the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

I quickly filled out all my paperwork with HR, was fitted for my uniforms and then was told to call the Chef. This was it. I was finally going to meet the Chef and see where I’d be working for the next two months. I don’t know why, but I walked in the kitchen shaking with nerves. I asked to see the Chef and somebody introduced me to Sous Chef Paul Janeway. He shook my hand and that’s about all I remember. My nerves had gotten the better of me and I was doing everything in my power to remain composed. I remember thinking to myself the kitchen was huge, but I wouldn’t know until my first day of work that I’d only seen half. Chef Paul took me upstairs to meet Chef Percy who greeted me with a firm handshake and a smile. We went over the details of when I would start work. My first day was to be Thanksgiving. We finished our conversation and both Chef Percy and Chef Paul looked at me and told me to stop being so nervous, and that they didn’t bite. We laughed, I was still nervous. Then we said goodbye until Thursday.

When I walked in the kitchen Thursday, it was a mad house. I had no idea where I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to do. There were so many cooks working like a well-oiled machine, pumping out Thanksgiving dinner for 1,000 guests. Being the new extern that day made me more of an inconvenience than a helping hand, but I sure did learn a lot. Everyone worked hard and fast that day and we all went home tired.  I came in the next afternoon ready to do it all over again, only to be told that I was supposed to have been there at 6am to work the buffet omelet station. I was embarrassed that I’d screwed my schedule up on my second day, but it wasn’t a big deal. Since they weren’t expecting me to be working in the afternoon, there wasn’t much for me to do. I helped Sous Chef Reggie Powell sheet-out and hand cut pounds and pounds of black truffle tagliatelli pasta. It was my first time working with a sheeter, and I had a hard time keeping up with Chef Reggie as he sheeted out the pasta and I cut it into the correct shape. I knew my experience at The Ahwahnee would force me to work faster, and here was my first proof. Turns out the pasta we were working on would be for one of the Vintners dinners – a special event with which I was very excited to assist.

I was lucky my two short months of externship fell during the holiday season. I was able to take part in Vintners Dinners, Bracebridge, and Chef’s Holidays. I learned so much from each of the different events, but I think I took the most out of Bracebridge. Not only did we have to work fast when we were plating, we had to work fast to get through all the prep required to feed 2,400 people. I mainly worked on scaling out and forming oxtail pastries. It was tedious and never-ending work, but it taught me patience and speed. The faster and more precisely I worked, the faster the monotonous task would be finished. During Chef’s Holidays I worked with many different visiting chefs and their menus. I learned many new and interesting techniques and methods, and I made sure to ask many questions. I learned so much from each chef who came and worked with us, simply because of his or her unique, personal styles.

I can’t imagine having the same kind of experience anywhere else. The Ahwahnee is unique in that it has so many different events that no other restaurant, or even hotel, would have. I am honored to have worked with Chef Percy and his staff, even though it was for such a short amount of time. I am looking forward to returning to Yosemite as soon as I graduate from the Bachelors program at the CIA.