Lisa K. Nakamura is a writer, chef and owner of Allium Restaurant on Orcas...
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 Johnson – 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.
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.
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?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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.
What do you think of our apron? What other great styles appeal to you?
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.
What has been your experience managing and/or working in the kitchen for a cruise liner?
Dedicated 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:
- New York City
- San Francisco
- New Orleans
- Santa Fe
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:
- New York City
- San Sebastian
- 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!
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!
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.
- 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)
- Prepare pasta according to package directions and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
What is your favorite Kale dish? How has this superfood benefited you personally?
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.
Location: Brooklyn, known as Kings County is one of New York City’s 5 boroughs.
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
TripAdvisor’s Top 12 Most Recommended Restaurants in the Area:
Michael’s of Brooklyn
Table 87 Coal Oven Pizza
The River Café
Ample Hills Creamery
Gino’s Restaurant & Pizzeria
Have you ever been to Brooklyn? What are some of your favorite dishes you have eaten over there?