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November 2018 Chef of the Month Gina Sansonia

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Image 2We’re delighted to introduce our November 2018 Chef of the Month, Gina Sansonia! Chef Gina is the Executive Chef/Owner of Cucina Bambina, a mobile, gourmet Italian eatery that is located in Hollywood, FL. Gina is a driven and passionate chef, with a zest for life…and basil! We can’t wait to share her story and delicious recipes!  Read below to learn about Chef Gina Sansonia and her passion for food.

 

 

1. Where were you born? 

I was born and raised in New York.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 

I’m the Executive Chef/Owner of Cucina Bambina Inc. We’re a mobile, Gourmet Italian Eatery based out of Hollywood, FL. We travel all over the state participating in various festivals in addition to catering private events.

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

I have an obsession with spoons…. they’re just so handy!

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

I have a keen sense of smell.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you have passion, drive, a strong work ethic and a vision….you can make it happen-you just have to put in the work

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

Work smarter …. not harder.

7. What does good food mean to you?

I firmly believe that good food comes from the heart, along with quality ingredients.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 

COMFORT and style.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

I’m OBSESSED with basil.😍

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

NYC, baby! Although I would like to check out the Chicago food scene. I hear amazing things.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

I make a mean rice ball if I do say so myself and many call me “The Meatball Queen”. Both of those are always crowd pleasers.

12. What do you like to eat most on your days off?

I typically don’t sit down and eat structured “meals”. I’m content with a good old bag of Doritos surprisingly enough!

13. Person you most like to cook for? 

Hands down my nieces and nephews. I love how excited and engaged they become.  It really is special.

14. What made you decide to become a chef? 

After losing my father to cancer, and being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it made me look at food differently and (not to sound cliché) made me realize that life is too short. I just went for it!

Connect with our November Chef of the Month: 

Instagram: @cucinabambinainc

Twitter: @CucinaBambina

Facebook: Cucina Bambina Inc

A Real Thanksgiving Treat From Chef Ace Champion

It’s 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The aroma of baked turkey still simmers through the living room. The mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and stuffing has already maneuvered itself into leftovers and now sits in the fridge inside a plastic container. The fall inspired tablecloth has been branded with gravy droppings and bread crumbs. Hungry gazes have glazed into satisfied smiles.

You can’t help but think: I couldn’t possibly have another bite. Except…

“What’s for dessert?” You utter the words that everyone is thinking.

Pecan pie? Pumpkin pie? Apple pie? 

Nope. Not this Thanksgiving. Thanks to Chef Ace Champion, we have a mouth-watering treat that is just waiting to be gobbled up at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not your average pecan pie, it’s Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with White Chocolate Ganache Drizzle. What can we say? There’s always room for dessert.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with a White Chocolate Drizzle

Make 1 pie for 8 slice servings

Pie Ingredients:

3 large eggs

1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar – packed

1 Cup Light Corn Syrup

3 tablespoons Southern Comfort – 3 ounces

2 tablespoons Real Butter

1 tablespoon Heavy Whipping Cream – optional

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon/a pinch of Salt – Kosher or any Table Salt

1 – 1 1/2 Cups Pecan Halves – Ruff Chopped

3/4 Cup Chocolate Chips – Semi-sweet baking chips/half way melted

1 Pre-Made Pie Shell – to fit a 9″ deep dish pie plate

Drizzle Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Southern Comfort – optional

8 ounces White Chocolate – melted

1 tablespoon Cream – for the right consistency

1 teaspoon Dark Brown Sugar

Instructions for the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie:

1. Roll pre-made pie shell to fit a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate.

2. Transfer pastry to pie plate; trim to 1/2 inch, beyond edge of plate and flute edges.

3. Par-bake the pie shells for 10 minutes on 325 degrees then remove from oven and cool.

4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrups, bourbon, butter and salt until blended.

5. Fold in 1 cup pecans and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

6. Pour filling into crust; sprinkle with remaining pecans and chocolate chips.

7. Bake at 325° for about 1 hour & 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is puffed and set.

9. Cool completely on a wire rack.

10. Allow the pie to rest for at least 2 hours before cutting.

This is a great make a day ahead pie!

Instructions for the White Chocolate Ganache:

1. In a double broiler, add the cream and Southern Comfort and allow cooking for about 2 minutes on a steady medium high heat.

2. Add the chocolate chips in a few at a time to allow them to melt nicely with the cream and whiskey.

3. Cook until all chocolate is melted and you have a smooth consistency in your sauce.

4. Note if the sauce is too light, add more chips and if it’s too thick, line it out with a little cream or whiskey.

Presentation: Place a slice of pie on a small plate and top with pecans and drizzle.

Enjoy this delicious dessert!

Chef Morghan’s Banana Bread Recipe

Whether it’s for breakfast, brunch or dessert, Chef Morghan’s Banana Bread is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth! Find her recipe below, and savor the flavor!

Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup AP flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 TBS Vanilla

2 eggs

3 very ripe bananas

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350°F and grease a loaf pan.

2. Mash and beat together eggs and bananas.

3. Add the vanilla, the butter and sugar, and combine.

4. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

5. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture.

6. Do not over-mix!

7. Pour batter into prepared pan.

8. Cook in the oven for 50 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

*Note: Let banana bread cool for about 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Tip: Add a sprinkle of brown sugar on top of the batter before putting in the oven for an extra sweet crunchy top.

You may also add any nuts or chocolate to this recipe if you’d like.

 

Connect with our October Chef of the Month:

Get Her Look!

Instagram: @chefmorghan

Facebook: Morghan Medlock

Website

 

Chef Morghan’s Shrimp Pasta Recipe

Shrimp. Pasta. What could be better? How about shrimp pasta? Chef Morghan has shared a mouth-watering shrimp pasta recipe that is a perfect dish for either lunch or dinner. Get her recipe below, and give your taste buds a treat!

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Ingredients

1 pack linguine pasta

1LB shrimp (peeled & deveined)

2 TBS EVOO

2 cloves fresh garlic

1 tomato chopped

Parsley bunch

1/2 lemon

Salt/pepper to taste

1 TBS red chili flakes

Sprinkle of shredded Parmesan

 

Directions

1. Boil pasta according to instructions on package.

2. Rinse and dry and season shrimp with salt, pepper and red chili flakes.

3. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add 1-2TBS of a high heat oil (veggie, canola, grape seed).

4. Add 1TBS of minced garlic to the heated pan, then add shrimp and begin to sauté just until the shrimp become pink (careful not to overcook them).

5. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside. DO NOT RINSE PAN!

6. Leave all drippings from sautéing the shrimp in the pan and add 1 TBS of olive oil to pan.

7. Dice either a whole or 1/2 tomato depending on how much you like tomatoes.

8. Drain pasta and add to the pan. Begin to toss the pasta around in the drippings and EVOO. Then add the diced tomato and trim the heat to low.

9. Season Pasta with salt and pepper.

10. Add shrimp and toss everything around in the pan on low heat.

11. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and the juice of the 1/2 of lemon. Plate and serve.

 

Connect with our October Chef of the Month:

Get Her Look!

Instagram: @chefmorghan

Facebook: Morghan Medlock

Website

 

Gridiron Grill-Off 2018 Chef Spotlight: Chef Eric Kaszubinski

The Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine & Music Festival is almost here! We have loved getting to know some of the talented chefs who will be participating in this year’s event. We’d like to introduce you to Chef Eric Kaszubinski of Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa.

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1. Who inspired you to become a Chef?

Food Network was not around till I was in high school.  However I would see chef’s including the late Julia Child and a program called Great Chefs on television which drove me to want to discover and learn more about food from around the world.  On a more personal level, my family has always been involved in the food business.  Some of my fondest memories are being in the kitchen with my family cooking up a traditional Polish meal.

2. What nationalities or trends inspire your cuisine? (ie Thai, French, casual American, tex-mex)

Growing up, my family hosted exchange students from Japan and China.  I feel that my curiosity of their cuisine has played a role in some of the items I put on my menus today.  I would not say that I represent one style of food, instead I cook what I want and what my guests want; great food inspired by what is around us.

3. What is one of your favorite ingredients and why?

This is a tough question to narrow down just one ingredient as my favorite.  I have many items that I like to use and I also feel that this continues to change as I evolve my cuisine.  I would say that one of my favorite ingredients would be a sea scallop.  There are many ways to prepare this, whether it is raw or cooked.

4. Why did you decide to participate in the Gridiron Grill-Off on November 10?

Pompano Beach Marriott  has been a longtime supporter of this event and as the Host Hotel… we wouldn’t miss it! It benefits a great Foundation, it’s here in our Pompano Beach community, it showcases the area’s culinary talents, and of course… it’s a blast!

5. What are you looking forward to the most at this years Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine and Music Festival?

Connecting with all the people in the community that I live and work in, seeing all the Dolphin “Greats”, participating in the corn-hole tournament, and the opportunity to win fan-favorite this year.

6. Any recommendations for those planning to attend the Gridiron Grill-Off for the first time?

Come early, pace yourself and make sure you vote…for me!

Connect with the Gridiron Grill-Off!

Get Your Tickets!

Instagram: @gridirongrilloff

Facebook: Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine & Music Festival

Twitter: @GridironGriller

Chef Morghan’s Vegan Waffle Recipe

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Whether you are vegan or not, Chef Morghan has shared a delicious waffle recipe perfect for any breakfast! A delicious waffle can be topped with anything you may like – try fresh berries or whipped cream if you desire. Get her recipe below for a breakfast treat not to be missed!

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 TBS baking powder

3 TBS of sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup nut milk

1 TBS vanilla

2 1/2 TBS vegetable or canola oil

Directions

1. Heat & spray waffle iron as instructed.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl combine nut milk, vanilla and oil.

4. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix together. Make sure to not over mix.

5. Scoop about 1/3 -1/2 cup of batter onto waffle iron (depending on how big it is). Let waffle cook as instructed on waffle iron

6. Plate and serve.

Connect with our October Chef of the Month:

Instagram: @chefmorghan

Facebook: Morghan Medlock

Website

 

October 2018 Chef of the Month Morghan Medlock

We are so excited to introduce our October 2018 Chef of the Month, Chef Morghan Medlock! Chef Morghan is one of a kind – she went from playing basketball to whipping up masterpieces in the kitchen. Chef Morghan has all aspects of the meal perfected from breakfast to dessert. Read below to find out more fun facts about our October Chef of the Month and her new found love of cooking.

1. Where were you born?

Pasadena, California

2. Where do you work and where are you based?

I am self employed personal chef and food blogger.

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

My favorite kitchen tool when creating mater piece dishes is my Chef’s knife that was gifted to me upon graduation of culinary school.

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

My sharpest sense out of all my senses is taste.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

The advice I’d offer aspiring chefs is that if their heart and soul is not on the kitchen then please get out of it. Food is emotional and takes everything you have to produce a delicious dish.

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

One tip every chef should know and perfect is the ability to adjust on the fly. Stuff happens in the kitchen at any given moment and as a chef your job is to be able to transform mistakes into masterpieces.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me means a dish that takes my soul on a ride as I fork around the plate. Or a dish that triggers a memory or inspires me to create.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit?

The features important to me when selecting a chef outfit are color, fit and style all of which should tell someone who I am without me having to utter a word.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Favorite ingredient to work with is an egg because you can literally put it in or on almost anything and call it brunch if you want. Not to mention it’s a hell of a binding agent. when baking.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

Favorite City to dine out in is Houston, Texas.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

The best dish I have ever made was a braised squid ink pasta.

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off?

I like to eat all things brunch on my days off.

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

The person I would most like to cook for is Gordon Ramsay.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I decided to become a chef because it is the only thing that makes me feel alive as I did when I played basketball (my first career). It’s the only other way for me to entertain a crowd, inspire people, and tell my story like I did with basketball. And lastly so my kid would never have to grow up in a drive thru at a fast food spot.

Connect with our October Chef of the Month:

Instagram: @chefmorghan

Facebook: Morghan Medlock

Website

Gridiron Grill-Off 2018 Chef Spotlight: Chef Rey De La Osa

If you are a true Floridian, you have a huge appreciation for Publix! Chef Rey De La Osa is the Resident Chef for Publix Aprons in Plantation, FL. Check out his culinary journey and what he has to say about participating in Gridiron Grill-Off Wine, Food & Music Festival for his third year in a row!

I joined Publix in 1999 to work in customer service. While attending Johnson & Wales University, I worked at The Four Seasons Hotel in Miami. In 2008, I transferred to the Prepared Foods Department at Publix Greenwise Market in Boca Raton to pursue his culinary career. I began working at the Apron’s Cooking School in 2010 to share his culinary passion with others.  I am now the Resident Chef in our Plantation location. Together with the Apron’s staff, we want students to “learn to have fun in the kitchen!”

1. Who inspired you to become a Chef?

I’d say my mom inspired me as she can put a great meal together with just about any ingredients she had laying around. I also watched a lot of Food Network when I was younger back when it was just starting.

2. What nationalities or trends inspire your cuisine?

Having my Latin background, it’s my biggest influence however I like different ethnic foods. I love creating recipes that fuse 2 or more ethnicities.

3. What is one of your favorite ingredients and why?

I love garlic!!!! Obviously it’s very versatile but I find a way to put some garlic in anything. No one can disagree with some roasted garlic spread on a nice piece of bread!

4. Why did you decide to participate in the Gridiron Grill-Off on November 11?

This would be my 3rd year, participating. Personally, I believe in the great causes it helps support. The event is very well organized for the chefs and guests.

5. What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine and Music Festival?

Where to begin? I look forward to working with Mark Duper once again. I’m really excited that it’s now a multi-day event with the concert series. The BBQ pit master competition is going to be really cool for guests to check out and taste some great food. Lastly the corn hole competition is a must!!

6. Any recommendations for those planning to attend the Gridiron Grill-Off for the first time?

Bring an appetite and plan on staying the entire day as there is lots to do. Make sure you download the Gridiron Grill off app and vote for your favorite! (It’ll be ours)

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Find Chef Rey at the Gridiron Grill-Off!

Connect with the Gridiron Grill-Off!

Get Your Tickets!

Instagram: @gridirongrilloff

Facebook: Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine & Music Festival

Twitter: @GridironGriller

Follow Chef Rey on Instagram: @el_chef_rey

Chef Penelope’s Pork Belly with Peas & Carrots Recipe

IMG_4037Pair Pork Belly with a subtle blend of peas and carrots using Chef Penelope’s elegant recipe. This recipe highlights the use of various spices to activate rich, complex flavors in the pork and vegetable blend. Serves up to 4 plates – see Chef Penelope Wong’s recipe below!

Ingredients

Pork Belly

  • 10 oz. pork belly, skin diamond scored
  • 4 oz. store bought or house made hoisin sauce
  • 4 oz. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 oz. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 2 C. chicken stock

Carrot Puree

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 C. peeled, rough chopped carrots
  • s&p
  • pinch star anise
  • ¼ tsp. ground toasted fennel seed
  • pinch ground clove
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground Szechuan peppercorn
  • 2 C. chicken stock

Anise Glazed Heirloom Carrot

  • 1 bunch assorted heirloom carrots, peel, tops trimmed and halved
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 4 oz. granulated sugar
  • 4 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 C. cleaned English peas
  • 8 oz. brown butter
  • 2 oz. pea tendrils

Directions

Pork Belly

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

  1. Rub pork belly with hoisin, brown sugar, white pepper and fennel seeds.
  2. Heat a roasting pan on high heat with sesame oil and olive oil.
  3. When the pan is hot, place the pork belly, skin side down and sear. Cook for 8 minutes, or until skin starts to caramelize.
  4. Flip over and sear the other side for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add in chicken stock and cover with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender and cooked through. remove aluminum foil and continue to roast for 15-20 more minutes, or until skin is browned and crisp.
  7. Slice into 4 thick 2.5 oz. slices, reserve for plating.

Carrot Puree

  1. In a small stock pot, saute minced shallot with 1 tsp. olive oil.
  2. Add in chopped carrots, salt & pepper, star anise, fennel seed, clove, cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorn.
  3. Continue to saute for 3-5 minutes, until carrots begin cooking and spices become fragrant.
  4. Add in chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower heat and allow to cook at a slow boil for 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer carrots and ½ amount of stock into a high speed vitamix blender.
  7. Add in 2 oz. chilled unsalted butter.
  8. Puree on low speed gradually increasing to high speed and continue to puree until mixture becomes smooth.
  9. Add in more of the cooking liquid if necessary.

Anise Glazed Heirloom Carrots

  1. In a saute pan, heat butter.
  2. When butter melts, add in halved carrots and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add in star anise pod and sugar, continue to saute for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add in stock and reduce heat to medium low, making sure carrots are mostly submerged.
  5. Continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, or until liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze and carrots are cooked through. Reserve.

Peas

  1. Heat a saute pan with 2 oz. olive oil, saute peas with salt & pepper until cooked through.

Brown Butter Foam

  1. Heat butter in a small sauce pan on low heat, until butter starts to brown.
  2. Once you notice the butter starting to brown, start whisking the butter lightly to evenly distribute and brown proteins.
  3. Once desired darkness of butter is reached, remove butter from the pan to prevent further browning and possible burning).
  4. Transfer browned butter into a deep vessel. Using a handheld immersion blender,
  5. Blend browned butter at a 45 degree angle to create a layer of foam on the top.

Plating

Swirl carrot puree onto plate, spoon English peas on puree, place slice of browned pork belly nestled into peas and spoon brown butter foam on top of pork belly.  Garnish with snipped pea tendrils.

Connect with Our September Chef of the Month:

Shop Her Look!

Instagram: @penelopewong

 

 

 

 

Gridiron Grill-Off 2018 Chef Spotlight: Chef David Hackett

Who’s ready for some football & grilling!? We are revving up for our 3rd year attending the Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine & Music Festival on November 10, 2018 at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater – the ultimate celebrity culinary competition for charity. We would like to introduce one of the incredible chef’s dedicating his time and talent to support charity through the Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine & Music Festival, Chef David Hackett, the Director of Culinary & Executive Chef for the Biltmore Hotel.

Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and a 1988 graduate of Chicago’s Washburne Culinary Institute, one of the best and oldest culinary schools in the country, located in the City of Colleges of Chicago Kennedy – King Campus. Chef Dave began his culinary journey at the very early age of 12, he has now been in the Hospitality Industry for over 40 years.

Chef Dave has been the Executive Chef of many prestigious properties and resorts such as the Westin Diplomat Hotel, Westin Charlotte, Mansion at Forsyth Park, Doral Golf Resort & Spa and the JW Marriott Dubai to name a few. Chef Hackett has competed and medaled in numerous ACF, Societe Culinaire Philanthropic, Geneva Association Culinary Art salons and NICA Ice carving competitions throughout his career both local and international; including the 1996 IKA Culinary Olympics and the 1998 Le Salon Culinaire International de Londres.
Chef Hackett is a professional member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs as Conseiller Culinaire Provincial for the Southeast Region, American Culinary Federation Active Member and a Lifetime Ambassador of the WACS Emirates Culinary Guild.
He continues to give back to the community and chairs “Chefs Up Front – Flipany” and “Chefs out of the Kitchen” charitable events throughout the year.

Learn more about Chef Hackett!

1. Who inspired you to become a Chef?

I did not want to be a chef at the beginning, I wanted to be architect. But once I started working in a popular steakhouse / rib joint on the south side of Chicago and I got to see how creative a chef could be and how many different mediums of food products to work with I was hooked. Chef Paul Young and the owner of the restaurant Karoly told my father I was a natural in the kitchen and I should pursue a career in the industry.

2. What nationalities or trends inspire your cuisine? (ie Thai, French, casual American, tex-mex)

Having worked and traveled throughout my career I have adopted a few to create my style of cooking (French is what your taught in school, Italian and Mexican is what I grew on and far east for its bold unique flavors and ingredients) Creating new foods is what I love most!

3. What is one of your favorite ingredients and why?

Sea salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper – simple and clean to bring out the best in food.

4. Why did you decide to participate in the Gridiron Grill-Off on November 10?

It is very hard to say no to John Offerdahl! He is a fantastic individual! Anything I can do to help support him and his foundation I am in.
5. What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine and Music Festival?

Supporting John by making money for the foundation, having fun, networking and WINNING IT FOR THE 5th time with my longtime partner #25 Louis Oliver!! (2010 champ, 2011 champ, 2012 people’s choice champ and 2017 champ)

6. Any recommendations for those planning to attend the Gridiron Grill-Off for the first time?

Come hungry, pace yourself, have fun and enjoy a great time and vote for Chef Dave – The Biltmore Hotel!!

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Find Chef Hackett at the Gridiron Grill-Off!

Connect with the Gridiron Grill-Off!

Get Your Tickets!

Instagram: @gridirongrilloff

Facebook: Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine & Music Festival

Twitter: @GridironGriller