Featured Chefs

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Chef Dakota Soifer’s Harissa Recipe

Our Chef of the Month Dakota Soifer has shared another great recipe with us! You can use his Harissa as a great grilling marinade, add it to yogurt or aioli for a great dipping sauce, or even use it on its own as a vibrant condiment.



2 C Seeded & roughly chopped fresh fresno chilies

6 Cloves garlic

2t Tomato paste

1/2 C Pequillo peppers

1T Cumin

1T Coriander

1T Black cumin

2t Hot smoked paprika

1t Salt

2T Olive oil


Toast the spices until fragrant and grind finely.  Put the chilies, garlic, salt and half the spices into a food processor. Let the processor run for a few minutes stopping it every now and then to scrape the sides down. You are trying to achieve a very smooth, almost liquid-y consistency. This will probably take longer than expected, be patient.  A well pureed base will ensure a successful Harissa.  Once pureed, add in the tomato paste & peppers along with the rest of spices.  Stir in the olive oil by hand, you don’t want an emulsion.  This will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, just pour a very thin layer of oil on the top to protect from oxidization, between uses.


Chef Dakota Soifer’s Oyster Mushrooms with Sherry Recipe

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Oyster mushrooms with Sherry.

At the cafe we love sherries and were always looking for a way to get people to drink more of it.  This dish, while great on its own, is a great showcase of how fun pairing sherry with food is.  We encourage you to check it out.


½ lb oyster mushrooms

2T Olive oil

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1T (heaping) picked fresh thyme leaves


Black pepper

1/4c mushroom or vegetable stock

1T butter

1T fine sherry

Great EVOO


Trim the woody root off the oyster mushrooms, saving them for mushroom stock.

In a thick bottomed pan with enough space to accommodate all of the mushrooms in a single layer, heat the 2T of olive oil over a high heat.  It is really important that the mushrooms aren’t overcrowded when they cook or the will steam rather than sear, muting the flavors & mushing the texture.

When the oil is simmering and almost smoking, dump the mushrooms in.  Don’t stir them right away let them sit & cook nicely for a moment.  Just stir once in a while. Think of it more as searing little steaks than stirring vegetables up in a pan.  Using this technique will help you take advantage of the mushroom’s unique texture and give the dish more character.

After 3 to 4 minutes and the mushrooms are browning nicely, stir in the butter, garlic and Thyme.  Once the garlic turns golden and the Thyme has become very aromatic, stir in the stock and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.  After the stock reduces and become a thick flavorful sauce, add in a nice splash of the sherry, careful not to flame it, return to the heat for a few more seconds and you’re done!

Serve over soft polenta, or on grilled bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with some great extra virgin olive oil.


Chef Dakota Soifer’s Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons – Just what your pantry needs!


Chef Dakota Soifer has shared with us some of his favorite recipes.  See what special ingredient he always has on hand at his restaurant, Cafe Aion!

We love preserved lemons at Cafe Aion.  It is one of the most important ingredients that help make our identity.  The only tricky thing about them is that they take a long time (4-60 days) to properly cure. We usually make a 20lb batches every couple weeks!  For (most) home use a small amount will go a long way and if you get into the habit of making a batch every month or so, you won’t run the risk of being out.

You’ll need:

4 lemons

3/4c sugar

1 1/2c salt

1T coriander seeds

1 cinnamon stick

3 chili de arbol

1 Qt Ball jar


Mix all the salt, sugar and spices together.  Cut the lemons almost into quarters, top to bottom, so that the four pieces are just connected at the tip.  Stuff each lemon with a big pinch of the salt mix and then put into the clean jar. After jamming all the lemons into the container pour any extra salt & seasonings in as well.  Then, with your hand or a wooden spoon press the lemons to begin releasing some of their juice.  Screw the top on and keep in a cool dark place for 2 months, turning the jar over every week or so.  Eventually the salt will pull out more and more of the lemon’s natural juices turning the packed salt into an intense brine, softening the lemons’ skins & introducing some of the spice’s flavors.  After 2 months, or as long as you can wait, take a lemon out, rinse it under cold water & discard the pulp.  Pull one of the quarters off and lay it skin side down.  With a sharp paring knife slice away as much of the white pith as you can.  The yellow peel is the good stuff, use it as bigger pieces in braises and roasts or chop it finely and sprinkle into grain-salads or atop a paella!



August 2016 Chef of the Month Dakota Soifer


Congratulations Chef Dakota Soifer for being our Chef of the Month for August! See what he has been cooking up at his restaurant Cafe Aion, in Colorado.

Where were you born:

I was born in South China, Maine.

Where do you work and where are you based?

I am the chef and owner of Café Aion in Boulder, Colorado

What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?

My Paella pan is my favorite tool. It is made out of pounded carbon steel and the shape and thickness of the pan are great. I have one that is 12 inches and some that are 3 feet for when I cook for big farmer’s markets and large parties. I can get 40 or so servings out of each pan! I have a Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant, so we make a lot of Paella.

What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?

I think touch would be my sharpest sense.  Growing up, I was always playing in the dirt in the garden helping my dad who was a carpenter.  We did a lot of hands on and hands in things. I love to be hands on in all aspects- feeling the fresh produce we get in and even in rebuilding the restaurant. I have a degree in architecture, so when we remodeled the restaurant I was able to build the bar, design the community tables and the kitchen.

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Don’t rush to open your own restaurant or jump from position to position. In this day and age, people move around quite often and try to get a sous chef or executive chef position as quickly as they can and there is really something to be learned while spending years at the same restaurant throughout the seasons.  Try to enjoy the process or you will burn out quickly if you don’t go slow.

What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?

Everyone chef should know how to bake bread. It is something that’s kind of become lost and it adds a complexity and another layer of wonderfulness to a restaurant. The difference of a fresh quality is a special thing. It is really nice when you can see people slowing down and baking bread well.

What does good food mean to you?

Good food is thoughtful. It has a human touch.  It’s not an assembly line.  It is interesting how many of the very best or highly regarded restaurants become scientific and industrial in prep and production now. Everything has become too perfect. As a business owner, I understand how important it is for consistency and controlling your product, but in a way its gets away from the real joy of cooking.  I also think good food is created on a wood fired grilled.  The real fire introduces a part of nature that can’t be tamed or totally perfected at home. There should be a difference in eating at home and eating out at a restaurant.

What trends do you see emerging in the near future?

I see fast casual currently trending.  It is really interesting from a business point of view.  You see people taking the farm to table and sourcing things carefully and then applying that on a larger scale. It is somewhat sad to see restaurants becoming more standardized. You can now have wine on draft from a keg.  Everything has become fast and easy.  There is no patience in cooking anymore.

What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets)

Definitely comfort and breathability.  I need to be able to move around and not feel like I’m wearing a cardboard box. You wear a chef coat because it’s a sign of your profession.  They’re white, which in our industry is ridiculous, but if you can work and keep it white, you’re skilled.  You can take pride in knowing that you look good to your guests and clean to keep your professional mentality.

What is your go-to chef outfit? Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc?

Jeans and a white t-shirt with my Dansko clogs.

Favorite ingredient to work with?

I really love bread.  It is so cool what you can do with a loaf of bread.  It is obvious that you can create sandwiches, but you can also tear it up and roast it to create crunchy croutons. You can do anything with these! You can use them to absorb sauces, add to a soup to create a luxurious consistency, create breadcrumbs to add texture to seafood pastas. It is so versatile and simple.  It lives on after its fresh state to being stale and has many different uses throughout its lifespan.

Favorite City to dine out in?

It may be clichéd, but San Francisco has a special place in my heart.  I moved out there after I graduated college to pursue my cooking career.  I moved around to get myself into the best places to work on my career, had no responsibilities, and was in my early 20s.  I had extra cash to go and try all these different places and explore the culture of San Francisco.

Best Dish you have ever made?

Paella.  It is a special dish for the restaurant, but one time a few friends of mine and I had an idea to have a mid-day picnic party.  We went into a field and made a fire. We had wine and cooked a paella and homemade sausage. It was great!

Place you eat most often on your days off?

Probably a dumpling shop that I go to with my daughter.  She is 8 and loves dumplings equally as much as I do. I have my partner in crime and we take down a large spread of them.  Dumplings are not something I cook or do often at home.  They are of a different cuisine and use other flavors than what I am around at work. My daughter and I have either pan fried pork or Chinese soup dumplings.

Person you would most like to cook for?

My grandmother was always very supportive, but she never got a chance to come to my restaurant. It would be cool to have had her to come to the restaurant.

What made you decide to become a chef?

I was in college for architecture, but I got a job cooking to make some money.   It was really fun! I was 20 or 21 and working late was always a party scene.  It was really cool and fun, and I was doing well.  Eventually I got a promotion and was taken under the wing by guys in the industry that I thought were cool and doing good stuff.  I didn’t get into it as my end goal.  I just followed a path and different opportunities opened up.

What is new on your DVR?

Bob’s Burgers is pretty funny.  I am not much of a drama person.  I want to giggle and relax when I’m watching tv. It’s a funny show and has to do with food.

Look out for some mouth-watering recipes from Chef Soifer this month!

Chef Joy Crump’s Steak Breakfast Sammy Recipe

FOODE_Courtyard picture

Have a great breakfast outside at FOODE with this mouthwatering open-face breakfast sandwich!


Serves 4


  • 4 New York strip steaks, thin cut, about 4-5 oz. each
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 large eggs
  • salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (any kind you have…parsley, cilantro, chives, thyme, etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 thick-cut pieces of your favorite rustic bread or baguette
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups fresh baby arugula
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • good quality olive oil, for drizzling



Heat a grill, indoor grill or grill pan to medium-high. Season steaks with salt & pepper.  Grill steaks until they’re cooked to medium, about 3 minutes on one side, flip and then 2 minutes on the other side.  Remove from the grill and set aside.  Keep grill hot.


Heat a skillet medium. Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs in a bowl. Melt the butter in the pan. Add the eggs and stir until softly scrambled.  Remove the pan from the heat.

To assemble:

Place the bread slices or baguette halves, cut side down, on the grill and toast until lightly golden brown, about 45 seconds. Remove and turn the bread over, placing one on each plate.  Top each with 1/4 cup of cheese, top the cheese with a strip steak and then divide the eggs on top of each steak. Top each steak with a mound of the arugula, scatter on the chopped tomatoes and drizzle with a hefty dose of olive oil.


Chef Crump’s Grilled Shrimp Recipe

shrimp salad image

Check out Chef of the Month Joy Crump’s fresh Grilled Shrimp Recipe. Try it out for a nice summer meal!

Grilled Shrimp with Peach Vinaigrette


2 fresh ripe peaches, pitted, cut into chunks

3 tbsp. champagne vinegar

2 tbsp. honey

¼ tsp. cayenne

1 cup canola or vegetable oil

2 tbsp. freshly chopped tarragon

  • Place the peach pieces in a blender.
  • Add the champagne vinegar, honey and cayenne.
  • Puree until combined.
  • Pour contents of blender into a medium bowl.
  • By hand, whisk in the canola oil.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste with salt.


Simple Shrimp Marinade

2 lbs. shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails off)

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, oregano, etc.)

1 tsp. salt

Cracked black pepper

  • Marinate shrimp for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the marinade and place on a hot grill (400 degrees).
  • Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning once.  Shrimp should be firm and opaque; do not over-cook.
  • To serve:  place the grilled shrimp over a simple green salad, over cooked rice or polenta.  Drizzle generously with peach vinaigrette


Chef Crump’s Black Bean Burger Recipe

Black Bean Burger picture

Joy Crump’s Black Bean Burger Recipe

It’s a recipe that took her almost two years to complete!

Yield: 8 burgers

3 (8 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed; divided.
Small bunch fresh cilantro, stems and leaves included
1/2 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups rice, cooked and cooled
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon ancho powder (or any mild chili powder)
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse 1/2 the black beans, all of the cilantro, bell pepper, and onion until the mixture begins to break down. Note: this shouldn’t be a smooth puree. You should still see whole beans, larger chunks of veggies and even some whole cilantro leaves in the mix. This will add to the burger’s finished texture. Remove the blended bean mix from the processor and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining beans, the rice, eggs, ancho powder, garlic powder, salt, and breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly with a spoon until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Spray the lined baking sheet with cooking spray. Form the mix into eight burgers of equal size, ideally using a 4-inch ring mold. You can also form the burgers with your hands; roughly 3/4 cup mix per burger. Place the formed burgers on the prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees F for 16-20 minutes or until nicely browned. Burgers will be slightly firm to the touch. They will continue to solidify as they cool.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from pan and serving.


joy-beth-feature picture

July 2016 Chef of the Month – Joy Crump

joy-beth-feature picture

Congratulations to Chef Joy Crump for being our Chef of the Month for July! See what Chef Crump has been cooking up at FOODE!

Where were you born?                

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA.

Where do you work and where are you based? 

I am based in Fredericksburg, VA.  FOODE and Mercantile, my two restaurants, are both in Fredericksburg.  I’m usually at both restaurants all day every day.

What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes? 

My grill.  I think fire touching food is very basic and there is no substitute for it. I put anything and everything on the grill- fruits, vegetables, protein, herbs, anything at all!

 What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?   

I think sight has become my sharpest sense.  I have learned to look at everything very macro. I can walk into the room and see what’s going on with 30 employees while at the same time seeing if something is cooking too long.  I can see the vibe and see if were in trouble in the kitchen all at once.

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?  

Be patient with your growth.  What’s getting young chefs now, is they expect everything to happen overnight and to receive a lot of rewards for their work. Reality is the very opposite in this industry.  The culinary profession is very thankless.  You are on a team and not singled out, but if you work hard, before you know it you will be standing out.

What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?    

There is a discipline that goes along with being a good chef.  I think every chef should be making lists to never forget the a,b,c,d that goes along with every day.  Having a list for every task helps build your habits in the kitchen.  I live and die by list making, there is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off!

What does good food mean to you?    

What we try and do is remind people what they love about a thing, a dish, or even Thanksgiving. We like to remind people what they remember and love about that thing and introduce something new in how we present it to them.  We give you a little different twist on your everyday food, but it should still feel familiar and comforting.

 What trends do you see emerging in the near future?  

Definitely hyper local ingredients.  Chefs are now counting on themselves more than farmers to provide their products.  People want to feature things that they have grown themselves, which now has become everything- the meat they have cured, cheese they have made, herbs they have grown.  People don’t only want what is made just in your zip code, but what is made in your kitchen.  Chefs are reinventing their list of ingredients based on what they can accomplish in their own space.  Everything we have in our restaurants, we make in house.  We are working on moving to another location where I hope we can smoke and cure more than we have been able to in our own commissary where we have a small smoker now.  We like to smoke not just proteins, but also oils and vinegars, fruits, cheeses and even seasoning, especially salt.  Being able to accomplish this on a bigger scale makes me very happy!

What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets)   

Having pockets and a nice fit are definitely the most important to me in finding a chef coat.  I have to make sure that the things I need and use every day are in there- my phone, sharpie, notebook, thermometer.  I find a lot of chef coats that look great, but with no pockets to hold anything.  I’m not a small chick, but I don’t like wearing men’s chef coats.  They’re usually too boxy for me.  I want something that is fitted and a women’s cut, but I hate when they are super girly and bell out at the bottom.  Just a simple chef coat with a tailored fit and pockets is what I like.

Favorite ingredient to work with?  

Salt!  Food is asleep without it and awakens with it.  People are afraid of salt and afraid to overuse it.  We have a fast-casual restaurant where you sit down and if you need a refill, you get up and get it for yourself.  We do not put salt and pepper shakers on the table, but we will put them out in the common area.  Our goal is to make the food perfect and for the customer to not need extra seasoning.

Favorite City to dine out in?   

That changes all the time, but I think right now it would be Nashville. Every year my business partner and I go to a new city to check out the food scene.  Last year we went to Burlington, Boston, Chicago and Nashville to eat our faces off and try as much as we could.  The food scene in Nashville was so cool and community based.  It was somehow so friendly and down home, while being refined at the same time.

Best Dish you have ever made?     

You’d probably have to ask someone else that! But my favorite dish that I have made would be my fried chicken.  My mom recently passed away, and she taught me how to make fried chicken. To me, family and things that reflect that for me are most important.  My fried chicken even won an award for us and nothing can top that!  Our chicken and waffles are the best in Virginia and I’m so happy we could share that recipe and tradition with a lot of people.

Place you eat most often on your days off?     

I go between Soup & Taco and Tarntip Thai.  Tarntip Thai has really authentic, yummy, cheap food.

Person you would most like to cook for?         

Probably my mom.  If I could cook for her, that means she would still be here.

What made you decide to become a chef in the first place?       

I have a big family. I have 5 brothers and sisters and my parents got divorced when I was 3.  My siblings and I all traveled a lot back and forth because my parents lived in different cities.  We had to get on a plane and travel to each other, which was really expensive. We didn’t have money to buy each other gifts for every occasion, so we stayed at home and cooked together.  It was such a great expression of love when we could all be together with family.  Holidays were huge in our family!  Thanksgiving is the day you don’t dare miss and it gets bigger every year than the year before.  Cooking together is what you do to say I love you and we cook our asses off! I didn’t realize until I was in my 30s that I could do what I love for a living.  It really is a real extension of my family for me.

What is new on your DVR?      

I’m watching a show called S.T.R.O.N.G!  Sylvester Stallone is the executive producer and Gabrielle Reece is the host.  It’s awesome! They pair up women who are on a journey to find their strength and their inner bad-ass with top male trainers.   It’s not just a weight loss program, it’s really to help empower these women who have gone through bad circumstances.

Ms.Cheezious Milkshakes!

Fire up the BBQ and get out the ice cream for this Fourth of July! There is nothing better than a creamy, cold milkshake on a hot summer day. We hope you celebrate your holiday in the sun with fun, friends, and food, of course! Chef Brian Mullins of Ms. Cheezious has come up with two unique shakes that you wont be able to resist!

First up is the Midnight Snack Shake.

Midnight Snack Coral Gables

Look no further for you sweet and savory needs than this outrageous shake! Your taste buds will be in heaven with a chocolate shake topped with chocolate covered potato chips, caramel corn, a peanut-dipped, chocolate covered pretzel and finally some whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

For all of you with a need for sweet, check out the new Pastelito Shake.

Pastelito Shake

This new Miami-inspired concoction is a vanilla and guava shake garnished with a fresh guava filled pastelito on top of a mountain on whipped cream!

Don’t miss out on these delicious milkshakes and more from Ms.Cheezious!

Happy Fourth of July and happy eating!


Kick off the summer with this outrageous BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese recipe. Chef Brian Mullins does not disappoint with this tasty treat!

BBQ Pulled Pork

BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese

(Adapted for pressure cooker)


3 – 4 lbs pork butt (cut into chunks)
1 Medium yellow onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, crushed
Kosher Salt
Your favorite barbecue sauce
1 16 oz beer, your choice
4 slices Texas Toast or other thick cut bread

8 slices Cheddar cheese

Salted butter, softened


Start by salting the pork once you’ve cut it into pieces.

Place the pork into slow cooker.  Add the diced onion and crushed garlic.  Mix all the ingredients around and cover with beer.  Close cooker and cook for 4-6 hours.

When the time is up open the lid and remove the meat setting it aside. It will be very fragile, so be careful when you try to move it. Cover with tin foil and let it cool for a little while to lock in the juices. Then, using two forks, shred the meat.

Add back some of the sauce and juices from the pot to the pulled pork.  Salt to taste.  Add some of your favorite BBQ sauce.

Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Place 2 cheddar slices on each piece of bread.  On two slices add big scoop of BBQ pulled pork the top with 2 other slices of bread  Place on the griddle or pan; cover with a metal bowl and let the sandwiches get a nice golden brown, wait 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, cover again and cook until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.


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