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

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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.