Lisa K. Nakamura is a writer, chef and owner of Allium Restaurant on Orcas...
The Culinary Industry both in the United States and worldwide is reflective of thousands of cultures around the globe. Food is attached in many ways to culture. The blending of cuisines and the importing and exporting of concepts, ideas and ingredients have helped to create a diverse culinary landscape. The migrating peoples around the globe bring traditions and cultural practices beyond borders.
The United States is the most diverse country in the world in terms of culture, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We are a melting pot for people from all over the globe. This variety has created a unique culture that is unlike anywhere in the world. And this divergence is especially reflected in our cuisine where it promotes tolerance, acceptance and understanding of the cultures, people and places that have affected it.
Our influx of immigrants has shifted populations from rural areas into cities because immigrants tend to inhabit urban areas. Want to experience cuisine from another country? In New York City for example, you can find South African, Scottish, Serbian, Swiss, and Yemeni restaurants to name a few. In San Francisco, there’s Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese and more. Here in South Florida, where Chefuniforms.com is headquartered, we can enjoy Cuban, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, Japanese, Haitian, Jamaican, Greek, Peruvian and the list goes on. Traveling to Portland, Oregon? You can find Argentinian, French, Irish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants.
The food truck craze has also lent itself to this culinary diversification. There are food trucks serving gourmet dishes, tacos, pizza, gyros, sushi and pad thai along with hot dogs and philly cheese steaks.
In the last few decades the hodgepodge that is America has produced fusion cuisine – that is cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions – taco pizza, Korean tacos, sushi rolls combining ingredients like basmati rice and curry with traditional nori and raw fish or vegetables.
Many of the tools now used in professional kitchens originated in other countries: woks, bamboo steamers, fondue pots, tagines and copper cataplanas for example. Newspapers and magazines publish global recipes. Television cooking and travel shows expose those not living in urban areas to food from around the globe.
Some culinary schools are actively recruiting instructors, staff and students internationally. Universities, nutritionists and home economists are teaching a new approach to the foods of the world.
The love of food has become a building block for a tolerant, civil and inclusive environment that celebrates our diversity and the culinary industry is a shining example.
Here are a few articles to demonstrate our diversity:
Huffington Post, March 28th, 2014: 10 Black Chefs That Are Changing The Food World As We Know It
Hopper.com’s Blog: The Ten Best Cities for Food Trucks in the United States
Today.com, July 8th, 2005: 10 foods that make America great
Nation’s Restaurant News, July 17th, 2013: 3 emerging cuisines
Zagat.com, September 9th, 2013: The 10 Most Exciting Emerging Cuisines Nationwide
USTranslation.com Blog, October 15, 2014: Are you missing out on 20% of your potential American customers?
What is your take on our culinary hodgepodge?
Sure, you’re a great chef. You can pull off an amazing Thanksgiving dinner without a hitch, but let’s be honest, we all know it’s not always that way. That being said, we decided to share with you some of our own Thanksgiving disasters at home for a good laugh and a bit of holiday cheer. Enjoy!
Missing a key ingredient
When Shari arrived at her Uncles Thanksgiving dinner with her made-from-scratch Pumpkin Pie in hand, she had no idea how embarrassed she would be in just a few hours. As dinner came to an end, she was so excited to have everyone dig into her dessert. It looked flawless. Perfectly cut fall leaves made from pie crust lined the edge of pie. She watched closely as the first guest cut into the pie. Uh-oh, they couldn’t cut the crust. It was ROCK HARD! Mortified, Shari scoured her brain trying to figure out what when wrong. She didn’t cook it too long. It wasn’t burnt. Oh no… The BUTTER! She forgot the butter! Who knew such a simple ingredient would change a pie from edible to inedible with the cut of knife? Needless to say, Shari has never left out the butter from her crust since that day.
To eat, or not to eat the ham: that is the question…
Tammy had one job: bring the ham. She picked the biggest one. Found the best recipe. Watched and basted it for hours until it was perfectly browned with a decadent honey and brown sugar crust. Proud of her ham, she wrapped it up, and made her way to her parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. Prize-winning ham in hand, she made her way through the door of her parents’ house and boom! Ham went one way, Tammy went the other way. After she picked up herself, and the ham off of the floor, they decide to salvage what they could off the ham, and put it in the oven on high to kill the germs. That year, there was a lot of leftover ham.
Sarah and her sister decided to prepare Thanksgiving dinner together for both of their families last year. When it came time to stuff the turkey, it took both sisters’ efforts to stuff and truss the large turkey. It wasn’t until after the turkey was stuffed and in the roaster, that Sarah’s sister realized the Band-Aid she was wearing on her finger was GONE! After staring at each other horrified, they decided to un-do the turkey, and fish through ALL of the stuffing to locate the band-aid. They couldn’t find it! It wasn’t until they dressed the turkey up for second time, and hoisted it into the oven that they discovered the illusive band-aid. There it was, hanging from the bottom of the roaster! Phew! That was a close one Sarah!
Do you have any funny Thanksgiving stories? We’d love to hear about it! Share your story with us below.
From our table at Chefuniforms.com to yours, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
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!