Chef Kilduff Earns PCIII

April 12, 2011

This is a great piece from Chef Kilduff who just earned his Pro Chef III certification. It is a phenomenal achievement. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on the experience and I’ve pasted them below.

Training for the PCIII was probably the hardest experience I’ve endured. It started with just a simple thought; I think I’m going to take the PCIII. Chef Doherty kept saying, “let’s book it.” So, we booked it. Through the hard season we had, there was not much time for preparation. The games kept coming and coming, the concerts still went on and boom…I got my assignments, Japan and South America. I started really reading and practicing in just one week. I crammed and crammed until I left Monday night for the Tuesday start. I had packed everything I could think I’d need. In competing I learned to rely on nobody but myself as I choose my own destiny.  I think Day 1 was the toughest as it was the first time I cooked in front of the school judges. I had some really high scores that day. I had a 91 on my test and a 96 on my practical. I was on top of the world. I thought this would be a piece of cake.

Then Day 2 happened. My requisition was not in the kitchen, the requisition that I had built last week and emailed was not there. I thought, is this a test to see how I react? I politely asked, “Chef did you get my requisition?

“I did not see it in the kitchen,” he said. It’s not here! I wondered to myself, why is this happening to me,  but in the tough time I pulled out my bag of tricks for Japan as it was the stuff I practiced with and I was comfortable. The chef said, “Wow you’re really prepared,” and then he apologized and got the rest of the stuff I needed. After the practical it was time for the test which was extremely difficult. I had a nice score and thought, wow, another strong day.

Day 3 was on us. At this point I was exhausted. I was reading all the study guide books at once and it was giving me a headache. Try reading four days straight. The whole exam is a one and done deal so you could be sent home for failing an exam. That kind of stress and the stress that comes from knowing you could at any point waste all your time and effort and the company’s time and money…it really hit me hard that I needed to succeed.

I lost about seven pounds during the process as I couldn’t eat lunch or snacks due to my stress and the nerves that ran through my body. On Day 3 I was given a market basket (it’s a little different from a competition market basket as you get it the night before and not 20 minutes ahead of time) and asked to write and execute a four-course menu. Oh, can’t forget the wine pairing either. This experience coupled with the written test was one of the worst sections of the process and it sent me into a tailspin. Nothing I studied for was comparable to this test. I crammed and the only time I had to study was late at night…so I did not get much sleep.

Day Four (the final day) I had a Human Resources Quick pro quo case to present and a Powerpoint with the financial info for the accountants to grade. Oh yes, I said accountants, not chefs. These guys were number people. This is just another time when you need to be on point. They put you in the situation where you are the chef of a failing restaurants with numbers that are out of place, inventories that are wrong and questions that need to be answered along with cooking and testing. You really need to start this financial project on day one or you won’t be able to prepare and pass it. If you’re unprepared, it’s likely you’ll be sent home.

It was the moment of truth when the results were delivered. I went in the room with a feeling like someone kicked me in the gut. Then I learned I had received a four-day score of 86.6. It wasn’t great but it let me know that I can hold my own.

The challenges I face were many. For starters, attempting this in the middle of the season as things were gearing up for the playoffs and parties were occurring had me feeling unready. I had thought of canceling because I had such little time to study. The main thing is you need to be an active participant in cooking daily. I felt a little cheated when I learned that many others had been spoon fed the test for the last three weeks in what’s called a submersion class for the PCIII. But, I believed in my ability to cooking and felt that I could cook circles around these guys. The biggest lesson I took from this experience is that I will never be perfect and that motivates me.  I do believe when you think you’ve achieved perfection, then you no longer have a drive to learn because you are content with the status quo.

I say if you’re ready for an incredible challenge, then go for your PCIII. You are the only one who truly knows if you are ready.


Strong Review At PETCO Park.

April 11, 2011

As many of you know, baseball season began about 10 days ago and fans have been pouring in to their favorite ballparks around the country. Delaware North Companies Sportservice operates at several MLB stadiums around the country, so this is a very busy time of year. I have been on the road constantly for the past few weeks. PETCO Park Chef Ambarish Lulay sent me this article last week that offers a strong review of the food at PETCO Park. The article talks about several dishes fans can enjoy and the new Food Network cart. I’m very proud of Chef Ambarish and his team’s efforts at PETCO Park. Please read the article to learn more about their great (and delicious) work.

What’s New To Eat At PETCO Park.

More Thoughts On Sustainable Seafood

April 9, 2011

Since the topic of sustainable seafood is a hot item in the news these days I like to share as many good stories and updates on it as I can. I like for people to read opinions on both sides and make their own decisions. This article talks about how we may be fishing our oceans to low levels for certain species and regardless of whether you believe that or not, it’s something us chefs need to think about. Please take time to read this article.

The World’s Oceans and Sustainable Seafood.

Baseball Season Is Here.

April 6, 2011

As many of you know, baseball season is back. Chef James Major captures the essence of the sport’s return and really offers some insight into the hard work our chefs are putting in around the country.

People can feel it. The snow is melting. The leaves are beginning to bloom on the trees. There is a certain, welcome feeling in the air. Spring time has arrived.

Spring time means a rebirth of sorts for the Earth and that baseball season is upon us. I’m currently in Baltimore after leaving Cincinnati and Cleveland to partake in each city’s rich traditions as they welcome baseball season back. Each home opener I’ve assisted with has been a lot of work, but in the end the fans were happy, the food was good and the home teams have won. Plain and simple, I love this time of year.

As many of you may know, I served in the Navy and I am a proud American. Nothing says America like baseball. The smell of the freshly popped popcorn, the roar of the crowds and all the culinary marvels the fans can get in their ballparks from chicken and waffle sandwiches, braised chicken and beef tacos, hand rolled pretzels, steak and egg sandwiches and here in Baltimore…the best crab cake in the city. Sometime I can’t believe how lucky I am to be part of it all.

The creativity we put into our food at these ballparks and sporting units is amazing. All our chefs buckle down and work as one to make it an incredible culinary experience for the fans. I tip my hat to my fellow chefs out there who make what we do in Delaware North Companies Sportservice look easy. All I can really say is…PLAY BALL.

May The Force Be With You,

James Major

Honoring Other Chefs.

April 5, 2011

Last Tuesday I attended a special event in New York City during which the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) honored several chefs including Paul Bocuse. The CIA named Bocuse the Chef of the Century and there were numerous other notable chefs there including Thomas Keller, Todd English, David Burke and Charlie Trotter, just to name a few.

I was only able to stay for a short bit as I had to get back to Kendall College to help a group of Delaware North chefs who are training for CSC certification. Still, it was a nice event and it was wonderful to see everyone. Chef Bocuse is truly a great chef who did a lot for all of us chefs and cooks around the world.

This article will give you a bit clearer picture of last week’s events.

More Photos From Nutrition Summit.

April 4, 2011

Last week I had several chefs post notes about their experiences at a recent Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts Nutrition Summit. Chef Brian Sterner made a very thoughtful post and also sent some additional photos along. I wanted to include more of the photos and they are inserted below. I appreciate his willingness and time to send them to me.





Garden Chimichurri

More Blossoms

More artichokes

Healthy Notes From Nutrition Summit.

April 1, 2011

Thank you to Chef Frederick Clabaugh for sending his thoughts on the nutrition summit. As you can see he’s been a busy traveler and eater since the summit. I am grateful for his willingness to share his thoughts.

First off, let me apologize for the delay in getting these thoughts on paper and to you. Soon after the summit I was on a flight to London to dine and be entertained English style. I’d also like to mention I had the joy of dining at The Fat Duck, Saint John, Harrods and many other top-of-the-mark venues.

Challenging the new way of thinking about the way we eat in the United States and being able to pass that knowledge on to our guests will be invaluable to the successes of American health. Utilizing the program and being more aware of what we serve our guests is also critical to the health and way of living to our patrons. Organic foods and sustainable products will certainly play a large role in the healthy eating practices of the world. It’s important for chefs to have strong knowledge of caloric intake and to offer a choice of those items that will benefit the public. Given the tools and mission to involve both the guests and chefs – I think it is a great challenge and one that I see benefitting us all.

Master Cook Version 11 will list calories, sodium, fat and fiber, giving the chef a starting point to work from and enabling them to adjust as needed to provide a healthier-option menu. Listing in a booklet and online the calories, sodium, fat and fiber will state to the customer we are committed to quality food and healthy eats as a leader in the food service world. Healthy offerings (fewer than 500-calories items) will be denoted on the menu, giving the client some direction as to those items.

All of these thoughts stem from what truly was a great experience with all the chefs at the Nutrition Summit.

From The Cutting Board of Chef Clabaugh