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The Top tools for every professional Chef

Chef in kitchen on blog.chefuniforms.comHave you ever heard the saying “A Tool is only as good as the person using it?”

Every professional chef has their favorites that they just can’t live without! They will use these items over and over even when it’s falling apart or broken, until they are like, “okay, I have to replace them now!”

From all of our Chef of the Month interviews this year, one of our questions asked was “what is your must have kitchen tool for professional chefs?”

Here’s the list of their “must haves” that made our Chefs of the Month celebrated for what they do in the kitchen:

Chef Ron Duprat – Thermal Circulating Bath. It enhances the flavor, texture and aroma of dishes.

Chef George Duran – Pickle Picker. It is a device that has 3 prongs and so easy to use to get those must have pickles! I love the name and it is a tool that not everyone has.

Chef Jenn Louis – Bob Kramer’s Knife. “Bob Kramer lives in Olympia, Washington. He’s one of the only guys in the US who makes handcrafted knives of really high quality. (He has an interest in samurai sword-making and has made a few.) I met him at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in 2011. I told him I’d been wait-listed for years and that it was my birthday, and he made me a workhorse steel knife. He takes many, many layers of metal and puts them in a 2,300-degree kiln. His skill level is just phenomenal.”

Chef Brian Rutherford – Japanese Mandolin. It is a versatile veggie cutter and it cuts vegetables very thin and very fine like a julienne cut (cutting into long, thin strips, like matchsticks) and batonnet cut (another type of long strips).

Chef Anish Rana – Knives! I love Wüsthof knives which is a German brand.

Chef Jason Connelly – Spoons. I love my spoons like Banquet Spoons. They are versatile and can use them on fish and veggies and saucing.

Chef Lorenzo Boni – French Made Cast Iron Dutch Oven – I love the way it is designed and it cooks so easily and the food comes out great!

Chef Robyn Almodovar – Spoon. A nice tablespoon.

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

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

Chef Lisa Nakamura – A great pair of Knives – you can do anything with them. I like the brand, Global because they are easy to sharpen and maintain.

Chef Carlos Gaytan – Vitamix Blender. I can do many things with it like sorbets and purees.

Chef in kitchen on blog.chefuniforms.com

Professional Chef Knives seem to be the leading choice…..

We would like to know what are your favorites that you cannot absolutely live without in your kitchen?

 

LisaHeadshot2sm_crop

November’s Chef of the Month – Lisa Nakamura

Chefuniforms.com Chef of the Month - Chef Lisa Nakamura featured on blog.chefuniforms.comLisa K. Nakamura is a writer, chef and owner of Allium Restaurant on Orcas Island, Washington. She hails originally from Hilo, Hawaii, where she spent many a rainy afternoon reading and re-reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Her love of languages and stories was nurtured by Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and strict elementary school teachers. A natural parrot and mime, Lisa has enjoyed living overseas and all over the United States, listening and learning new tongues, tales and traditions.

Bucky the Dollar Bill is Lisa’s first attempt at writing a book, and at self-publishing. This book tells the story of how a single dollar bill changes the lives of many people in a small town when he is spent, reflecting Lisa’s support of a strong local economy. Trivia information about Lisa: she has her degree in botany from Arizona State University; she was a flight attendant for almost nine years; she is an avid knitter of straight things like scarves, as she has not mastered the art of knitting something round like a hat.

Congratulations Chef Lisa Nakamura on being our Chef of the Month for November! It was our pleasure getting to know you! Our white chef coat looks great on you!

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

Gnocchi Bar, Seattle, WA.

2. What is your birthplace?

Seoul, South Korea

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

When I was a flight attendant, I used to do a lot of gourmet cooking on my time off and I used to watch a lot of cooking shows like Julia Child’s and other Chefs. With the practice, I got better at it and really enjoyed it.

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

I like being outdoors – skiing, hiking and biking with my husband. I like to spend time with my family and I also like to read a lot and write and blog – which is very therapeutic for me.

5. What is your favorite social media platform?

I am torn between Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is like a conversation that you share in depth about what you find interesting and Twitter is immediate news.

6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

A great pair of Knives – you can do anything with them. I like the brand, Global because they are easy to sharpen and maintain.

Chef Lisa Nakamura Must Have Kitchen Tool - Global Kitchen Knives

7. What is your specialty dish?

Gnocchi like polenta, sweet potato and potato. I do what matches the season and add my flair to it.

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

Slugs and live Octopus.

Chef Lisa Nakamura’s Pickled Beets and Bleu Cheese on Crostini Recipe

Chef Lisa Nakamura Pickled Beets and Bleu Cheese on Crostini Recipe found on blog.chefuniforms.com

Serves about 12

1 bunch medium size beets

4 ounces fresh arugula

1 lb of bleu cheese (bleu d’auvergne, Roquefort, Maytag or Gorgonzola)

¼ olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 baguette

 

For pickling brine:

1 cup red wine vinegar

¾ cup white sugar

1 T kosher salt 1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

3-4 all spice berries

1 piece star anise

Bring all of the pickling brine ingredients to a boil in a stainless steel pot. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and let it cool.

Peel the beets, and then cut into fine julienne. When the brine is cool, add the beets to the brine. Refrigerate for at least one day.

For the crostini, take the baguette and slice on the diagonal into very thin slices, about ¼ inch thick. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until crispy. The crostini at the outer edges of the baking sheet will be done first. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely. These can be made the day before, and stored in an air-tight container.

To serve, place on each crostini slice a good amount of bleu cheese. Top with an arugula leaf (you can de-stem for a neater appearance). Add a few slivers of the pickled beets and serve.

9. Who would you most like to cook for?

American rapper, Macklemore. He is an American rapper from Seattle. I admire the fact that he launched himself into the stratosphere through hard work and determination and he has such an awesome story.

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

I do. I like Chinese or Indian and every now and then, sushi.

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

Fabric is huge. I like a good weight cotton, 100%. Not polyester because it makes me too hot. I like long sleeves and love the grommets under the arms and pockets are also huge for me.

~Her experience and advice~

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

I have been cooking for 18 years and studied at a small French culinary school in Maryland, called LAcademie de Cuisine.

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

Before you spend money on schools, go get a job in a kitchen first and if you like it, then go to school.

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

Get into the best restaurant when you can even if it means washing dishes or picking lettuce, because when you are there, you should be learning and be aware of everything. When the opportunity presents itself, you can step into those shoes. The first couple of jobs you take will show you the path you will follow in your culinary career.

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

When I was on Orcas Island, I really felt it. In Seattle, it is very seasonal but I do actually like to cook in the season. You have to be creative in what you serve as you don’t have the ingredients that you would normally use.

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

Oh yes. A lot of times…We live in a very competitive world and it is great to see what other people do.

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

Oh yes. First of all, if you do not go to the farmer’s markets once a month, you will not know what’s in season and what is good quality. You have to be aware. It reminds you of what you can do and also generate ideas.

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

If I am pretty sure it’s going to work, I will run it as a special. I also cook for my family and based on their feedback, put it on the menu.

19. What is your advice for planning a menu for a new restaurant?

You should be asking these questions…

  • Who is going to be cooking?
  • How much storage space will your restaurant have?
  • What kind of dining will you do – fine or casual?
  • How big is your kitchen?
  • How big is your dining area versus your kitchen space?
  • What is your restaurant location? Some dishes will fly and some will fall flat based on location.
  • What will be the age of your clients – teenagers, seniors, working class etc?

Once you open the restaurant, you might change these things again even if you have it all planned as you discover more.

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

  • I read the NY times Dining Section and many other sites which other chefs do as well.
  • Social media forums
  • The Internet – you can get so much info.
  • Square, Open Table applications
  • Payment processing systems so restaurants offer less waiting times for their client’s payments
  • Google – google places to eat or find out information about ingredients via our smart phones
  • Texting – this makes it so easy to communicate with your staff
  • Many advances in Kitchen Appliances – makes things so much easier for us to cook

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

Chef’s Feed – http://chefsfeed.com/

 

~2014 and The Future~

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

  • Restaurants are becoming more specialized and very individualized like ramen restaurants or gelato places
  • Casual dining – people are eating out more often 2 – 3 times a week
  • Adventurous – people are being more adventurous like trying out ramen restaurants for example
  • Food Sensitivities – restaurants are adapting their menus more to include these types of customers

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

I am a butter and cream kind of girl. It is hard not to have that in my dishes. I am learning that less is more and how to do that and still have people indulge. I think about do I serve dishes made with wholewheat or bleached flour or organic versus conventional? I would love to go organic all the time but will people pay the price? As a consumer, I do not go organic all the time but as much as possible. Also thinking of questions like how do we use the waste from our kitchens wisely can help us be more “green.”

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

Restaurants that are old buildings – it is harder for them to convert to “green” and be outfitted that way. They cannot adapt so easily to recycling or monitoring chemicals or how much compost they can use.

With a new restaurant, you can set it up from scratch by using solar panels, auto heaters and the costs will eventually pay these off. You can push it as far as you want too with a new restaurant and hopefully we can all get to that point.

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

It flattens the pyramid. It makes me more approachable and I can connect directly with my consumers or guests. I am not just a person in a white chef coat. You can tell a lot about chef’s personalities via social media. A lot of the time chefs receive praise and criticisms but to share great things and have a dialogue and get feedback is even greater. It gives us an idea what is important to them. When we work during the social hours, it is great to know what is going on about them and connect as we only see them once or twice during the year.

Comprehensive Waste Management Strategies for Restaurants

Food Waste Management Hierachy found on blog.chefuniforms.com Communities across the country are facing mounting solid waste disposal problems. Existing landfills are quickly being filled to capacity and finding and opening new ones are becoming increasingly more difficult and expensive. These expenses are ultimately passed on to residents and businesses. According to the Center for American Progess, “landfills are a significant source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the United States. They are the nation’s third-largest source of methane emissions, producing 18 percent of that pollutant.”

Restaurants can do a lot to minimize or reduce these cost increases by incorporating simple recycling and waste reduction programs that will eliminate much of the waste otherwise thrown away.

Here are some tips we thought would be useful in designing a waste reduction program from California Integrated Waste Management Board. California has been a leader in taking waste reduction under their belt and have made major progress. Some tips may only apply to full-service restaurants and quick service restaurants or all may apply to both.

PURCHASING:

  • Ask your suppliers to keep you advised of new and existing products that meet your needs and are packaged in ways which can reduce the amount of material to be disposed.
  • Ask your suppliers to take back shipping boxes for reuse and recycling.
  • Serve carbonated beverages from a beverage gun or dispenser rather than by the bottle or can.
  • Recycle wine and liquor bottles.
  • Buy bar mixes in concentrate form, reconstitute and portion into reusable containers.
  • Buy and use dispenser beverages (juice, ice tea, hot chocolate) in concentrate it bulk form.
  • Use refillable condiment bottles and refill from bulk size containers.
  • Use health department approved refillable condiment dispensers (cream for coffee, sugar, ketchup, etc.) instead of portion-controlled packets.
  • Buy shelf-stable food supplies in bulk when sales volume and storage space justifies it.
  • Consider buying pickles, mayonnaise, salad dressings and the like in containers such as plastic-lined cardboard, cry-o-vac or foil pouches rather than hard plastic pails and buckets.
  • Buy lettuce precut during the times of year when the precut cost is equal to or less than the true cost of bulk lettuce.
  • Buy meats in bulk or uncut form and cut to size.
  • Buy shelled eggs in bulk if your egg usage for general cooking or baking is 3 or more cases per week.
  • Purchase paper products made from recycled materials.
  • Eliminate as much Styrofoam as possible and replace with paper packaging.
  • Use straw-style stir sticks for bar beverages instead of the solid style and use only one per drink.
  • Serve straws from health department approved dispensers rather than offering them pre-wrapped.
  • Use reusable coasters instead of paper napkins when serving beverages from the bar.
  • Use reusable table linen and dinnerware.
  • Use hot-air hand dryers in your restrooms.
  • Use cloth cleaning towels.
  • Use plastic trashcan liners made of recycled HDPE instead of ones made of LDPE or LLPDE.
  • Purchase cleaning supplies in concentrate.
  • Use multipurpose cleaners and whenever possible use cleaning agents that are the least toxic or nontoxic.
  • Use cleanable and reusable hats for kitchen employees instead of disposable paper ones.

 

PRODUCT HANDLING AND STORAGE:

  • Check your produce deliveries carefully for rotten or damaged product. Return any substandard product before signing off on the delivery.
  • Rotate perishable stocks at every delivery to minimize waste due to spoilage. Date products with the date received in case they get mixed up.
  • Clean food coolers and freezers regularly to ensure food has not fallen behind the shelving and spoiled.
  • Arrange both refrigerated and dry storage to facilitate easy product access and rotation.
  • Store and handle unwrapped paper supplies so as to prevent them from inadvertently falling on the floor.
  • Store raw vegetables and other perishables in reusable airtight containers to prevent unnecessary dehydration and spoilage.
  • Reconstitute stalky vegetables (celery, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, etc.) that have wilted by trimming off the very bottom of the stalks and immersing them in warm water (100° F) for fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Date freezer products, wrap tightly and use in a timely fashion to minimize waste due to freezer burn.
  • Donate extra food to a food bank.

 

FOOD PREPARATION AND STORAGE:

  • Adjust inventory levels on perishables to minimize waste due to spoilage or dehydration.
  • Develop and use hourly or daily production charts to minimize over-prepping and unnecessary waste.
  • Whenever possible, prepare foods to order to minimize waste due to over preparation.
  • When prepping food, only trim off what is not needed. If too much trimming is observed, retrain your prep staff, change the product’s size specification or buy it already proportioned.
  • Use vegetable and meat trimmings for soup stock.
  • Evaluate and adjust the size of your meal portions if you find they are consistently being returned unfinished. Offer smaller portions and price them accordingly.
  • Pre-cool steam table hot foods in an ice bath before placing them in the cooler. Also place hot foods into clean, shallow containers before storing in the cooler. This helps prevent premature spoilage.
  • Reuse leftover cream-based sauces and soups (that have been properly stored) within two days of original preparation to prevent waste due to spoilage.
  • Store leftover hot foods from different stations in separate containers rather than consolidating them to minimize the change of spoilage.

 

PRODUCTION AND SERVICE AREAS:

  • Develop and implement a monthly cleaning and maintenance program for all equipment.
  • Keep refrigeration in good running order to prevent unnecessary spoilage resulting from broken equipment.
  • Check the syrup-to-water (brix) calibration on your beverage dispensers at least twice a week and adjust if necessary. Also, clean the heads and dispenser tips daily.
  • Keep oven equipment calibrated to prevent over-baked product.
  • Clean fryers and filter the oil daily. This extends the life of the fryer and the oil. Use a test kit to determine when to change the fryer oil.
  • Create incentives for staff to reduce the breakage or loss of china, glass and utensils.
  • Place rubber mats around bus and dishwasher stations to reduce breakage from slipping.
  • Have employees use permanent-ware mugs or cups for their drinks.
  • Minimize excess use of trash bags by manually compacting the trash in trash cans. If feasible, purchase a trash compactor.
  • Check for discarded permanent-ware before throwing out the dining room trash.
  • Distribute condiments, cutlery and accessories from behind the counter instead of offering them as self-serve.
  • Use serving containers that fit the size of the portion size of your menu items.
  • Minimize the use of unnecessary extra packaging (double wrapping double bagging, etc.) of take-out food.
  • Use less packaging for eat-in foods than for food being taken out, or use none at all.

 

RECYCLING ACTIVITIES:

  • Set-up a rendering service for your waste grease, fat, or used cooking oil.
  • Set up a cardboard and/or glass recycling program with one of your local collectors.
  • Place a recycling bin in the bus station for your customers’ empty beverage containers, if you have to serve beverages in cans and bottles.
  • Donate empty plastic pails and buckets to schools, nurseries or churches, give them away or sell to your customers.
  • Donate old uniforms to thrift shops.

 Landfill Food Waste

Remember: Every little change helps and impacts our environment positively in the long run!

Source: (2014, March 20). Re: Restaurant Guide to Waste Reduction and Recycling, California Integrated Waste Management Board, retrieved from http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Publications/Documents/BizWaste%5C44198016.pdf

Hot off the Press!! Chefuniforms.com is featured in HGTV Magazine’s November 2014 Issue…

Chefuniforms.com Chef Adjustable Bib Apron - Chalk Stripe Black featured in HGTV Magazine November 2014You may not have noticed, but aprons have made a “come back” in the last couple of years. They seemed to have disappeared from homes around the time doing housework in high heels did circa 1960.

Today with so many more people interested in cooking, baking and entertaining at home – an apron makes perfect sense as a kitchen staple. They protect your clothes, you can wipe your hands on them and store items in the pockets.

Here at ChefUniforms.com, we are so excited that one of our professional style chef aprons, Chalk Stripe Black Adjustable Bib Apron was featured in the November 2014 issue of HGTV Magazine.

They featured a Kitchen Story showing how to get a “Restaurant look at home” and showcased different products in their “Get the Look” section.

Our “Chalk Stripe Black” Adjustable Bib Apron, Style # 4300CSB is 100% Medium Weight Twill. It has an 8” x 13” center divided pocket and adjustable neck straps to assure a customized fit. It’s 33″ long x 22 ½ inches” wide. This is a great look for both men and women!

And at only $9.99 they’re so affordable….you can try HGTV’s suggestions for their trendy “kitchen look” and get one or a few of our aprons for yourself! With the Holidays approaching, they would make great gifts and/or hostess gifts as well as for any time of the year.

Chefuniforms.com Chef Adjustable Bib Apron - Chalk Stripe Black featured in HGTV Magazine November 2014 Page 123Chefuniforms.com Chef Adjustable Bib Apron - Chalk Stripe Black featured in HGTV Magazine November 2014 Page 125The issue is already available in major grocery chains, pharmacies and other major retailers already. Check it out!

What do you think of our apron? What other great styles appeal to you?

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?

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