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).

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A Visit to The White House.

June 13, 2010

Even after all these years as a certified master chef (CMC) and the corporate chef at Delaware North Companies, I still get excited when I travel to new places and meet incredible people.

Back to the kitchen boys.That’s exactly how I felt last Friday when I and five other Delaware North chefs visited the south lawn of the White House and met First Lady Michelle Obama. There are still moments that make my stomach flip and flop and this was one of them. The six of us had come to the White House to participate in the launch of the First Lady’s Chefs Move to Schools program, a call to action to chefs to partner with schools to provide nutritional information and cooking advice to schools, educators, parents and children.

I have been asked to lead this effort for our company. I must say I am honored. I have several passions related to cooking and teaching and I will take great pride in working through this Chefs Move to Schools program to help fight childhood obesity across our country. I firmly believe if people understand more about where their food comes from and how it is prepared, they inherently will make healthier decisions.

The event was extra special for me as I was able to share it with my “gang.” Also at the White House with me Friday were Sportservice Regional Executive Chef at TD Garden Kevin Doherty; Sportservice Regional Executive Chef at Progressive Field James Major; Parks & Resorts at The Ahwahnee Executive Chef Percy Whatley; Gaming & Entertainment Executive Chef at Fairgrounds Gaming & Racing Scott Green; and Sportservice Executive Chef at PETCO Park Ambarish Lulay.

Delaware North Companies Vice President of Corporate Communications Wendy Watkins and Great Performances CEO Liz Neumark also joined us. Both of them are very passionate about the childhood obesity issue in our country and working to stop it through their professional endeavors.

As you can imagine, it was a special event for me and everyone in attendance. It is just the beginning of what promises to be a great initiative in our nation’s schools. I have posted a few pictures below, but also, you should read the accounts of others here and here. I am stronger with food and cooking than I am with words.

Alright, now it’s back on a plane and back to work.

In Good Cooking Always,

Chef Roland Henin, CMC

Our team at the White House