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Managing a kitchen on the High Seas

Managing a Kitchen on the High Seas found on blog.chefuniforms.com The Executive Chef is typically responsible for the management of the kitchen on a cruise ship called the galley. Usually he will have previous experience in a four or five star restaurant and culinary school training. Duties include supervision of the entire galley staff, food planning, quality control and directing all of the culinary and associated operations throughout the vessel. Cruise line work is extremely demanding and is all-consuming. You eat, breathe and live the job when aboard. There are no days off – it is a 7 day work week. Most cruise lines serve passengers around the clock.

Usually the Executive Chef doesn’t actually create the recipes or menus that are prepared onboard. They are done at the cruise line’s headquarters. But he does estimate daily needs and help set food orders.  The Executive Chef is also responsible to mentor, develop and provide on-the-job training to subordinates.

Working in the galley of a cruise ship is very different from any other kitchen on land. From the moment you board the ship it’s rock ‘n roll – and not just the movement of the ship. The 24/7 operation is fast paced and intense and must be able to handle and resolve every unexpected challenge. For example, what do you do with the bananas for fruit salad that have ripened too quickly? You add Bananas Foster to the dessert offerings. For fire safety, there are no gas stoves onboard. Former land based chefs must make the adjustment to cooking on electric stoves. For safety reasons and to prevent disease, food storage, food preparation and actual cooking are all done in separate areas.

The size of the ship and the number of restaurants and dining rooms on board determine the number of kitchens needed to turn out the massive numbers of meals, desserts and snacks needed to keep the passengers fed and happy.

The environment of a cruise ship galley is one of high pressure. The Executive Chef must have excellent planning and organizational skills in order to ensure quick and elegant presentation of meals to cruising guests from all over the world – many with very discriminating palates. Fine dining has become highly anticipated on luxury cruise lines. He must also be able to resolve issues such as inappropriate service and answer numerous food related questions.

So although there are similarities between land- based kitchens and kitchens on the high seas, there are also big differences.

Managing a Kitchen on the High Seas found on blog.chefuniforms.com

What has been your experience managing and/or working in the kitchen for a cruise liner?

Andrea Litvin

October’s Chef of the Month – Andrea Litvin

Executive Pastry Chef Andrea Litvin - Chefuniforms.com October Chef of the MonthAthens native Andrea Litvin brings her pastry expertise to The Spence as she teams up with Top Chef All-Stars winner, Chef Richard Blais. Growing up in Athens, Litvin was very much influenced by her mother who worked for The University of Georgia’s Horticulture Department. Litvin enjoyed learning about how food is grown and how it makes its way into her home. During this time, Litvin planted a garden at their home where she harvested and cooked everything that came through their kitchen, furthering her passion for cooking. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, Litvin’s first stint in the kitchen was at Chef Richard Blais’ restaurant Home. From there, she worked briefly at Flip Burger Boutique before accepting her first pastry position, under Gary Mennie, as part of the opening team at The Livingston. Here, Litvin was able to build a solid foundation of basic pastry techniques. After a year at The Livingston, Andrea was off to New York where she accepted a position on the opening crew at famed Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen.  At Richard Blais’ The Spence, Litvin creates amazingly simple and classic desserts with a twist. She has been featured nationally in Garden & Gun magazine and The Chicago Tribune, to name a few. Tasting Table named her one of the “Best Pastry Chefs of 2013″ and she was a recent nominee for Food & Wine Magazine’s “The People’s Best New Pastry Chef.”  Litvin currently lives in Buckhead and spends her free time reading, exercising and going to movies. She is also a proud member of Slow Foods Atlanta.

Congratulations Chef Andrea Litvin on being one of our Pastry Chefs for the Month for October!

 

1. What is the name of your company and where are you based?

I am the Executive Pastry Chef for The Spence in Atlanta, Georgia.

2. What is your birthplace?

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

When I was younger, my mom worked at the University of Georgia in the horticulture department and from growing and tending to our garden in our backyard, I developed my love for cooking.

4. What do you enjoy doing outside of being a chef?

Reading magazines, trying different fashion, art, museums.

5. What is your favorite social media platform?

Instagram

6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

A Scale – I must know exact measurements down to the gram!

Scale Kitchen Tool

7. What is your specialty dish?

Making ice creams that are vegetable based like carrot mint.

8. What’s the strangest thing you ever ate?

Lung – when I was working for Richard Blais and we worked at the Food and Wine Festival in Hong Kong, there was a food festival nearby. There was a street vendor that sold it and it was covered with hot mustard and when I tasted it, it stuck to my teeth. I will never eat it again.

Chef Andrea Litvin’s Lemon Meringue Pie with Aerated White Chocolate Mousse

Lemon Meringue Recipe

150g lemon juice

110g butter

130g sugar

3 eggs

44g yolks

Cook the lemon juice, butter, and sugar together in a double boiler.

Temper in the eggs and the yolks and cook into thick

Pipe into a prepared mold and bake at 300F until set

Brown Butter Crust 

24g oil

130g butter

72g water

72g brown sugar

300g AP flour

Brown the butter with the oil.

Add in the water and the brown sugar.

Mix in the flour and combine.

Rest in the fridge.

Roll out between parchment paper and bake at 325 until brown

Aerated White Chocolate Mousse 

4 yolks

90g sugar

250g white chocolate

65g butter

4 whites

150g heavy cream

Whip the yolks and the sugar together until light and fluffy.

Brown the white chocolate in the oven.

Combine the white chocolate and the butter together in a blender.

Drizzle into the sugar, yolk mixture.

Whip the whites until soft peak.

Whip the heavy cream until soft peak.

Fold the whites into the egg/white chocolate mixture.

Next fold the whipped cream into the above mixture.

Fill an isi canister and charge twice.

9. Who would you most like to cook for?

Chef Pichet Ong. He specializes in desserts and I follow him on Instagram.

10. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time? What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I do. I like asian Cuisines like Vietnamese and Szechuan, BBQ, Miso and Bangladeshi as well. I like to try stuff that’s unusual.

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

As a woman, it is hard to find a good fitting chef coat especially for small frames like me. I like a short sleeved, fitted chef coat that is light weight.

~Her experience and advice~

12. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?

5 years. I went to the Culinary School at Le Cordon Bleu College in Atlanta.

13. What education or experience would you recommend for aspiring chefs?

Work somewhere for free. Work in the kitchen first. You can do different things like baking or food and when you work in many places as possible, you will see what you like. I love cookbooks and have over 500. My husband and I are big collectors and we read a lot which is my next piece of advice.

14. What would you recommend as far as on-the-job training?

I like to see people bring notebooks and take notes on techniques and getting down the basics which is very important.

15. What is your greatest challenge in getting the ingredients you need?

Seasonal stuff is hard to get. I work with Mother Nature and find sustainable alternatives and improvise with what is available.

16. Do you try to experience your competitors’ food? Do you ever get ideas from them?

Believe it or not, I am not a big dessert person. I only try desserts form people who I look up too. When I am travelling, I eat and try more things but in Atlanta, I don’t eat much dessert.

17. Do you think it is important to visit the markets rather than just have standard orders?

Absolutely. Atlanta is very diverse and it is important to visit markets.

18. How do you test a new recipe without putting it on the permanent menu?

I ask the Chef and the Sous Chefs for their input as well as the cooks and waitresses so they can get excited about it and promote it to our guests.

19. Do you try to experience your competitors’ food? Do you ever get ideas from them?

I look at what we are serving and do modern twists. With respect to southern cuisine, it depends on the clientele whether they like bold portions and different flavors and like to try new things.

20. How do chefs use technology in their day to day operations?

I use nitrogen and a refractometer to measure sugars and fruits.

21. What phone apps do Chefs use in their day to day?

I use Ratio app which is an all-purpose kitchen tool and guide that gives me basic methods and calculates ingredient amounts for all critical cooking preparations.

~2014 and The Future~

22. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef?

More comfort foods and less portions. I pay attention to food trends like gluten free and cook with less sugar or if the news is featuring foods with alot of flavors, I incorporate that into new dishes.

23. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be environmentally friendly?

It is hard to be sustainable in the kitchen because it is not setup that way and costly to run. We do as much as we can.

24. How does Social Media play a role for Chefs today?

Huge for chefs like Instagram and Twitter – I follow chefs and see what they have and do.

Great Cities for Dining

Great cities for dining in the us and the world found on blog.chefuniforms.comDedicated foodies know eating is now a reason to travel. It might be to a city with a long history of great good, or you might want to check out a current culinary hotspot. If you’re planning a gastronomical tour in the United States, here are the current top 10 cities to eat your way through per the Conde Nast Traveler:

  1. New York City
  2. Napa
  3. San Francisco
  4. Charleston
  5. New Orleans
  6. Chicago
  7. Carmel-by-the-Sea
  8. Santa Fe
  9. Healdsburg
  10. Boston

If you’re planning an international trip to try some of the food meccas of the world, according to U City Guides, here are the top 10 destinations worldwide that offer a variety of flavors for all budgets:

  1. New York City
  2. Tokyo
  3. Lyon
  4. Barcelona
  5. San Sebastian
  6. Paris
  7. London
  8. Copenhagen
  9. Bangkok
  10. Sao Paolo

What city have you enjoyed immensely and must go back that you would add to the list based on personal experience? We are excited to hear!

Charlise Johnson - Intimate Eats

October’s Chef of the Month – Charlise Johnson

Charlise Johnson - Intimate Eats found on blog.chefuniforms.comChef Charlise Johnson is the owner of Intimate Eats, a bakery that specializes in made from scratch baked goods. As the daughter of a caterer, she was exposed to various cooking techniques at a young age, but it was her love of baking that really warmed her heart. Her goal as a baker is to not only make visually stunning confections but to also make sure they taste as good as they look. For more information, please visit her online at www.IntimateEats.com, www.Facebook.com/IntimateEats, and on Instagram @intimateeats.

Congratulations Chef Charlise Johnson on being one of our Pastry Chefs for the Month for October!

Your desserts look fantastic and we appreciate your business! Our chef coats look great on you….

 

1. What is the name of your company and where are you based?

I am the Pastry Chef for my Baking company, Intimate Eats based in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

2. What is your birthplace?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

My mom is a caterer and I grew up around food my entire life and fell in love with baking which fueled my passion to start my own baking company.

 

4. What do you enjoy doing outside of being a chef?

Love going to the Movies. I like romance and all Marvel Studio movies like XMen and Spiderman series.

 

 5. What is your favorite social media platform?

Instagram

 

6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

KitchenAid Mixer – they are so amazing. I make all kinds of things with it like dinner rolls and cupcakes. It makes life so much easier.

KitchenAid Mixer - Charlise Johnson's Must Have Kitchen Tool found on blog.chefuniforms.com

 

7. What is your specialty dish?

My Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have been making it since I was 9 years old and it makes me always think of home every time I bake them.

 

8. What’s the strangest thing you ever ate?

Squid Pasta – I love it!

 

Chef Charlise Johnson’s Gingerbread Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Frosting       

Charlise Johnson Gingerbread Cupcake, Chefuniforms.com Chef of the Month for October 2014

Ingredients:

2 cups cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

2 cups dark brown sugar

½ cup melted butter

¾ cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup molasses

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 24 cupcake pans with liners.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Set Aside. Cream butter, oil, dark brown sugar, eggs, milk, and molasses with electric mixer. Add flour mixture to butter mixture a little at a time until blended.

Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake about 15 – 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in pans on wire racks for 2 minutes and then remove from pans.

When completely cool frost with Whipped Cream Frosting.

 

Whipped Cream Frosting

1 cup butter

5 cups powdered sugar

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Beat butter with electric mixer. Alternately add powdered sugar and whipping cream until smooth and frosting reaches desired consistency. Add more or less cream if necessary. Stir in vanilla.

 

9. Who would you most like to cook for?

Oprah Winfrey – I would love to just meet her and because she loves food, bake a great dish for her. She is such a phenomenal woman!

 

10. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time? What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I love to dine out. My favorite cuisine is Italian because I love pasta.

 

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

Color is the most important feature for me. I don’t like the traditional white chef coat and love colors like red and pinks. I also like black piping and soft fabrics.

 

12. Are you familiar with Chefuniforms.com? 

Yes. My favorite chef item is the Women’s Traditional Fit Chef Coat with Piping, style # 83315. I had bought from you guys earlier in the year and got 2 colors: True Red with Black and Pink Lady with Black. I like the embroidery done.

 

 

~Her experience and advice~

13. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?

2 years ago when I started my baking company. I did not go to Culinary school but learnt from my mom and I also take classes during the year.

 

14. What education or experience would you recommend for aspiring chefs?

Keeping current with trends. There are always new things to learn like for example, I took a few classes to help me perfect my skills: Modeling Chocolate class by Award Winning Food Network cake designer Lauren Kitchens, Classes at The International Sugar Art Collection by Nicholas Lodge and at craftsy.com.

 

15. What would you recommend as far as on-the-job training?

Having consistency with your ingredients. I make Apple Cinnamon cupcakes and the apples have to be cut the same way or else I will produce a different result and my cupcakes will not turn out the same way as it has done before.

 

16. What is your greatest challenge in getting the ingredients you need?

I like to use Seasonal ingredients all the time but my greatest challenge is getting them out of season when my customers are asking for them and I have to purchase them from international sources instead of my local markets. I prefer buying from them.

 

17. Do you try to experience your competitors’ food? Do you ever get ideas from them?

Yes. So many people are in the baking industry and I don’t see my competitors as competitors because everyone has a sweet tooth and a lot of bakers have their own niches so as an industry together, we can satisfy many consumers. I personally have a sweet tooth and always eat from them as well and get ideas from other chefs on Instagram.

 

18. Do you think it is important to visit the markets rather than just have standard orders?

Yes. It is important to always use local produce in your dishes.

 

19. How do you test a new recipe without putting it on the permanent menu?

I use my brother and boyfriend to try new recipes and get feedback from them and they are very objective too! I then make adjustments as necessary.

 

20. How do chefs use technology in their day to day operations?

I use social media a lot and get orders via email to my phone as well as from Facebook. I also use new techniques via looking at videos on YouTube. I use conversion charts online to get my measurements verified as well as in the kitchen, I use a tool called The Fondant Mat which helps roll out the fondant easier.

 

21. What phone apps do Chefs use in their day to day?

I only use social media.

 

~2014 and The Future~

 

22. What dining trends do you see taking place in 2014?

People want organic fresh ingredients more in their food and also expect the same in pastries as well.

 

23. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef?

I have never grown up like that and it is a difficult thing to implement in baking. People have asked me for sugar free and gluten free products but I don’t do it because it is not my area of expertise but I have been thinking about it more and will probably learn about it and test a few products down the road.

 

24. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be environmentally friendly?

It is great but not realistic right now. If it got easier to implement, then a lot of chefs would move in that direction. Whoever does it, I highly commend them.

 

25. How does Social Media play a role for Chefs today?

It puts me in direct contact with my customers and I am able to build better relationships with them. I am also able to network with other chefs whom I would not normally meet. It also raises the bar and pushes me to make better products as well from ideas I see posted from other chefs.

The Kale Craze

The Kale Craze on blog.chefuniforms.com

 

Up until a couple of years ago Kale was the leafy green stuff used to garnish plates and platters or decorate salad bars. Or, you might see the curly variety growing as a decorative filler in plant beds. The purple variety is especially attractive.

More recently, possibly due to the popularity of the farm to table trend among a lot of restaurants or the rise of Community Supported Agriculture (this is a system in which a farm operation is supported by shareholders within a community who share both the benefits and risks of food production) or the discovery and sharing of its nutritional value by so many “foodies”, kale has become the darling of the vegetable world – move over brussel sprouts! It’s become so popular, there’s even a National Kale Day the first Wednesday in October which happens to be today!The Kale Craze on blogchefuniforms.com

Kale really, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet and is a member of the family that includes broccoli, brussel sprouts, collard green and cabbage. A single cup of chopped kale which has 33 calories, has 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of Vitamin A, 134% of Vitamin C and 684% of Vitamin K. Additionally, there’s copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorous. It’s rich in antioxidants and full of fiber.

So, do you want to try it out? When shopping for kale, look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems (the leaves can range in color from dark green to purple to deep red). Separate the stems right away to ward off bitterness. Or, if you have a green thumb, you can easily grow it yourself. It’s self-seeding, grows at will, stands up to heat and cold, or can even be planted indoors in pots.

Now, what to do with it? Well, it’s not just for smoothies anymore! Although a handful thrown into your favorite meal will definitely enhance the nutritional value. It can be simply braised in water, or apple juice will make it a little sweeter since it tends to be bitter. Make your favorite salad with it or mix with a variety of other greens. Add it to soups, stews and pasta. There are recipes out there for kale omelets, kale lasagna, warm kale salads and even kale brownies and kale and spinach chocolate cupcakes! There are kale chips on the market but lots of people are making their own.

Here’s 2 simple tried and true recipes courtesy of Wild Mint Shop.com for a quick and healthy Pasta entrée and our Chef of the Month for March, Chef Jenn Louis’ Kale Bagna Cauda.

LIGHT AND CREAMY KALE, PORTOBELLO & ZUCCHINI PASTA found blog.chefuniforms.com

LIGHT AND CREAMY KALE, PORTOBELLO & ZUCCHINI PASTA (makes 2-3 servings)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chopped organic kale, stems removed
  • 2 Tbs organic butter
  • 1/2 of a white organic onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped organic zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped organic portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Whole wheat angel hair pasta (2 small handfuls or 1 large handful)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 4 Tbs organic Greek yogurt
  • 4 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbs shredded Mozzarella (optional but better!)
  • 6 Tbs almond milk (or milk of choice)

Directions

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions and set aside.
  2. In a large sauté pan, lightly steam kale with 2 Tbs water on medium, cover and steam for 3-5 minutes. Remove kale from pan into a separate bowl.
  3. Lower heat in pan to low, melt butter. Add onions, garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms. Sauté until translucent (2-3 minutes). Add nutmeg, salt and steamed kale and sauté until kale has wilted more.

Add cooked pasta to pan. Combine veggies with pasta. Turn heat off and add milk, cheeses, and yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Want to learn more? Checkout “The Book of Kale: The Easy –to-Grow Super Food” by Sharon Hanna.

The Book of Kale: The Easy –to-Grow Super Food by Sharon Hannah found on blog.chefuniforms.com

What is your favorite Kale dish? How has this superfood benefited you personally? 

The Birthplace of our Chef of the Month, Chef Robyn Almodovar

September’s Chef of the Month, Chef Robyn Almodovar was born in Brooklyn, New York. It is one of New York City’s most populous boroughs with approximately 2.6 million people. Brooklyn is a mosaic of the diversity of its inhabitants, places to go and history. It is well known for The Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Tabernacle, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Brewery and Brooklyn Museum.

The Birthplace of our Chef of the Month, Chef Robyn Almodovar found on blog.chefuniforms.com

Location: Brooklyn, known as Kings County is one of New York City’s 5 boroughs.

The Birthplace of our Chef of the Month, Chef Robyn Almodovar found on blog.chefuniforms.com

There’s alot of Celebs and Athletes Born in Brooklyn but here’s a select few:

Aaliyah – actress, dancer and singer

Marisa Tomei – Oscar-winning actress

Barbara Streisand – Oscar-winning actress, singer, director, political activist

Jerry Seinfeld – actor and comedian

Joan Rivers – comedienne

Chris Rush – stand-up comedian

Busta Rhymes – rapper

Saul Rogovin –Major League Baseball pitcher

Jayson Paul – professional wrestler

Barry Manilow – singer-songwriter

Vince Lombardi – Pro Football Hall of Fame coach

Michael Jordan – basketball player

DeStefano's SteakHouse in Brooklyn found on blog.chefuniforms.com

DeStefano’s SteakHouse in Brooklyn

 

TripAdvisor’s Top 12 Most Recommended Restaurants in the Area:

DeStefano’s SteakHouse

Oregano

Juliana’s Pizza

Michael’s of Brooklyn

Table 87 Coal Oven Pizza

The River Café

Ample Hills Creamery

Five Leaves

Gino’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

Roberta’s Pizza

Piccoli Trattoria

Maison Premiere

Popular Brooklyn Quotes found on blog.chefuniforms.com

 

Have you ever been to Brooklyn? What are some of your favorite dishes you have eaten over there?

The Toughest Dish to Make??

Chefs, what is the toughest dish to make? found on blog.chefuniforms.comEvery professional chef and home cook probably has their own opinion as to what they think is the toughest dish to make. And, the reasons probably vary: technical difficulty, hard to find ingredients, a previous disaster with the dish, or the memory of a tough culinary school teacher or executive chef you just couldn’t please.

Some time-honored dishes are some of the most time consuming and difficult to make. But the payoff can be a masterpiece of flavor and presentation. If you’re a fan of reality cooking shows, you know there is one dish that repeatedly is either done well or thrown in the trash with a tirade of criticism from the head chef.

Beef Wellington - one of the toughest dishes to make found on blog.chefuniforms.com

We’re talking about classic BEEF WELLINGTON with all components made from scratch. Beef Wellington is a preparation of beef tenderloin, coated with pate (often Pate de Foie Gras) and duxelles which is then wrapped in crepes followed by puff pastry. It is then baked in the oven with the end result being, beef that is cooked to your preferred temperature with a beautiful golden crust.

Here is a breakdown of what the components are and the approximate time to make each from scratch:

Pate de Foie Gras: This is a smooth rich paste made from fattened goose or duck liver. It is a very meticulous preparation which includes soaking the liver in milk, cleaning the liver which includes removing the veins and then marinating it from 12-24 hours before cooking.

Duxelles: This is a finely chopped (minced) mixture of mushrooms, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter and reduced to a paste. Including all the chopping and cooking it will take approximately an hour.

Crepes: These are a type of very thin pancake. The batter is poured into a hot frying pan and spread evenly over the pan by tilting the pan or spreading with an offset spatula. Preparation should take about 30 minutes. The crepes are used to cover the duxelles and the Pate de Foie Gras so they don’t make the puff pastry soggy.

Puff Pastry: This is a light flaky pastry that is time consuming to make. It begins with a basic dough of flour, butter, salt and ice water. It is rolled out and wrapped around a slab of butter. The dough is then repeatedly rolled, folded and turned. The goal being to distribute the butter evenly in sheets throughout the dough so when it bakes the moisture in the butter creates steam which causes the dough to puff and separate into many layers. The dough must rest between each series of rolling, folding and turning. It can take 3-5 hours to make.

Once all the components are done the Wellington is assembled and baked. It then rests before being sliced and served. Hats off to all the culinary professionals who make this dish! And kudos to any home cook who attempts it!!

Have you ever made Beef Wellington totally from scratch? Tell us what is your toughest dish to make. We would love to hear!

So you want to start a Food Truck…

Food Truck Scene at Plantation Park, Plantation Florida found on blog.chefuniforms.comThe food truck business continues to boom! And with an estimated 3 million trucks currently operating in the U.S. and more being added every month, it shows no indication of slowing down. An accepting public, reality TV shows and an instant gratification mentality have all added to the popularity and maturing of the business. There has been a 197% increase in the number of food trucks nationally from 2001 to 2013 according to Business Insider.

Food trucks, which started out more as a place to run to on the corner for a quick lunch have become much more mainstream. Going to a restaurant can be frustrating at times – waiting for a table, crying babies, waiting for your food and inefficient wait staff who are expecting a 20% tip. Food trucks eliminate a lot of these issues. And then there are those gourmet food trucks that take food to a whole different level. You can find them day and night, alone or in “meet ups” in office parks, empty lots, shopping districts, popular tourist areas, sporting events, festivals, conferences/conventions, parks, beaches, bus/train stations, college campuses and areas that have night life and music but not much in the way of anything more than bar food.

According to Business Insider, the top five cities based on the number of food trucks:

  1. Los Angeles 269
  2. San Francisco 127
  3. Miami 140 (Chefuniforms’ hometown)
  4. Austin 156
  5. Washington D.C. 172

And what are they serving? EVERYTHING! From the basic burgers, hot dogs and pretzels to dishes that cater to the more sophisticated palate like coriander-braised duck, pork belly in numerous ways, bahn mi, French take away including escargot lollipops and frog legs, ice cream sandwiches with flavors like Pistachio Black Truffle and Red Wine Reduction. There’s Cajun, B-B-Q, Korean, Japanese-Mexican fusion, Hawaiian and even a truck in Washington D.C. that serves Indian food in a carnival atmosphere from the fictional location of Merlindia.

If you’re thinking about starting a food truck business, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that it is a business – your business. Here are some things to take into consideration:

Starting a Food Truck Business found on blog.chefuniforms.com

  • Like any new business, you will need a business plan – so do your homework in advance. Research the demographics and cost of doing business in your area
  • You will need to do all the research for permits, licenses, certifications and insurance needed in order to operate. They vary from state to state, county to county and city to city. And they are constantly changing and can be very confusing. Check here for an example.
  • Check out the competition. How many trucks are operating in your area? Is your product unique? Can you price your menu competitively?
  • Research locations in your area. Check with promoters, farmers markets etc. Some have long waiting lists or give exclusive parking to only one truck with a certain type of food
  • Do some soul searching – will you be able handle the disappointment and stress of the unexpected: truck breaks down, you sell out too soon, you prepared too much, torrential rain on the day of a huge festival and the list goes on
  • How are your time management skills? The food truck business is not just about your passion for food and cooking ability. There is networking, finding reliable suppliers and ordering, marketing – especially in social media, employee schedules/issues to handle. Can you commit to hands-on ownership, long days, working 6-7 days a week and giving up vacations?
  • The industry relies a lot on cooperation – with other food truck owners, local businesses and suppliers – so you want to earn the respect of these people

 The Social Side of A Food Truck Business found on blog.chefuniforms.com

We love food trucks here at Chefuniforms.com!

If you own a food truck, what do you wish you had known before starting out?

9/11: Rebuilding What Was Lost

911

September eleventh. Just the mention of the date alone brings about feelings of anger and sadness to an entire nation of people. Just 13 years ago, one of the most tragic events in this country’s history took place, and many of us still feel the sting, even now. Nearly 3,000 people perished at the World Trade Center on that day, and their names will never be forgotten. The memorial that was built at Ground Zero draws about 10,000 visitors per day, whether or not they lost friends or loved ones on 9/11. We felt the pain as a nation, and we grieved as a nation. Now, 13 years later, we honor those who lost their lives in the attack by rebuilding as a nation.

One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, now stands as a beacon of hope for the citizens of New York and for the rest of the country. It opened its doors to tenants earlier this year, and is now a symbol of this great nation’s ability to get up and keep going after this unforgettable tragedy.

Do you remember where you were 13 years ago when you heard the news? Share your story in the comments below.

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How to Deal With Personality Clashes in a High Pressure Situation

When things get heated in the kitchen (and we’re not talking about the food here…), personalities are bound to clash. Just the presence of so many independent, creative, passionate, and ambitious people in the same room will inevitably produce some disagreement. Whether you disagree with a fellow line cook about how the Beef Wellington should be prepared or are a chef who is frustrated with his or her brigade’s failure to execute up to standards, you need to know how to deal with conflict in a situation where teamwork is crucial. Learning how to cope with the multiple personalities in your kitchen and master group dynamics will bring your brigade together in the effort to put out some truly delicious food.Gordon Ramsay

To facilitate this process and help you uplift your team to be its best, we have some advice on how to bring your team together by creating an environment for open, healthy communication. One of the most important things that you can realize as a chef is that each individual in your kitchen comes from different backgrounds. Some cooks may have gone to culinary school while others did not, some cooks prefer to learn how to prep a dish hands-on while others would rather observe. As a chef, it is your job to pick up on these learning styles and approaches to cooking within your brigade so that you can instruct and lead them first as individuals and then as a team. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to pull a Gordon Ramsay (even though he is extremely entertaining/talented) and verbally destroy one of your cooks at the top of your lungs in the middle of service. Instead, process your frustrations and discuss your problems with this particular cook away from the eyes and ears of others in an effort to preserve their dignity as well as really get to the heart of what their problem is.

In this more open, communicative environment, your team will feel more creative and united. Your encouragement of their potential should be rewarded with development in their career and some form of job advancement for those who truly shine.

What are some tips that you could give other chefs on how to overcome communicative barriers and become a more united team?

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