March 2014 Chef Of The Month, George Duran

George DuranGeorge Duran is not your traditional chef. His passion for food and media has differentiated him from typical chefs, that being in restaurants.  He has always worked in media and technology since he was in College. He is an International Chef and Entertainer and Author of “Take this Dish and Twist It.” He is known for his Food Network Show, “Ham on the Street” and has been the host of TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off since 2010. He has appeared as guests on The Dr. Oz Show, NBC Today Show, CBS This Morning, The Wendy Williams Show, The Nate Berkus Show and many others. He is one of the Celebrity Chefs for IMUSA, a Hispanic and International cookware company.

Born and raised by Armenian parents in Caracas, Venezuela, George’s diverse background helped him succeed at NYU as the Host of the Award Winning Radio Talk Show, HYE Time Radio. Duran’s interests lie in French, Armenian and South American cuisines as well as cinematography and video editing. He currently lives in Long Island City, NY. Enjoy getting to know George below as we did…..

Congratulations Chef Duran and Thank You for bringing your Unique Flair to ChefUniforms.com!

1.   Where were you born?

Caracas, Venezuela

2.   What made you decide to become a chef?

I have always had a passion for food and an inclination to be on the air for Radio and TV. It was just part of my destiny. In my single days, my food affair took off in college when I used to cook for my dates and cooked not your typical college food, like mac and cheese or sandwiches but gourmet food. It turned out, they really enjoyed my food! (laughs heartily)Cooking is such a social tool and many of my dorm mates were also happy to be my tasters. On the other hand, I became the host of the award winning radio talk show, HYE Time Radio and it became the #1 in the radio market.

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

My life encompasses TV and cooking. My passion for food is so immense and surrounds eating and always looking for food but I must say that I love to bike and playing with technology. I am a computer nerd and also do video editing. Since my son came into my life, I love hanging out with him and playing with him.

4.   What is your favorite social media platform?

Facebook – I can embed pictures and videos. Pinterest is a close 2nd.

5.   What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

A 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.

Pickle Pickler

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

I really love it! I love authentic Asian cuisine – Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese…

7.   What fabric and style of chef uniform do you enjoy wearing the most?

Organic Cotton – it feels nice and light. I always have my uniforms custom made and work with a silk screening artist in Brooklyn. Your uniforms are a reflection of who you are as well as your cooking. I like to make it as entertaining as possible.

8.   Chef George Duran’s Spice Rubbed Beer Can Chicken Recipe (with options for game hen and turkey)

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Grill: 1 hour / Yield: 4 servings

Maybe it’s just me, but when I see a chicken standing upright and begging to be eaten, I can’t help but comply! Caution: Don’t drink the leftover beer!

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oilSpice Rubbed Beer Can Chicken

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons table salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) chicken

1 (12-ounce) can beer

Heat a gas or charcoal grill with a lid big enough to accommodate the bird. Put a drip pan below the grates.

Mix the ingredients for the Spice Rub until they are well blended. (This will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 week.) Rub it all over the chicken, inside and out.

Open the beer and take a big swig or just pour out a couple of ounces. Sit the chicken on the beer can so the legs are at the bottom and the wings are at the top. Stand the beer can on the grates over the drip pan. Put the cover on and cook over indirect heat until the juices run clear, about 1 hour. (If using charcoal, push the coals to 1 side so the chicken is not over direct heat.)

Note: This chicken can also be cooked in a 350 degrees F oven. Just stand the beer can in a shallow roasting pan and cook about 1 hour or until juices run clear.

~His experience and advice~

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

Since 2002. I was a home chef but also studied in Paris at the École Supérieure de Cuisine Française (ESCF – Higher School of French Cuisine at Ferrandi) for 3 years.

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

Go and work in a restaurant for 2 weeks for free and work hard with long hours and if you are still excited about becoming a chef, then there’s your answer.

11.   Can you offer some advice for aspiring chefs?

It is important to know where you want to go whether it is TV, open your own restaurant or bistro or actually work in a restaurant. Your brain is a goal oriented organ and humans are designed to follow goals. Give yourself a goal and achieve it.

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

Good seasonal ingredients are difficult to get during the winter. I live in Harlem and they do not have high end markets. For example, organic grapes are impossible to find outside of winter but you end up working with you have.

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

I research online, read magazines and cookbooks and then merge all the info together. I try it and keep perfecting it until I am satisfied it has the taste and texture and look I want.

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

See what’s out there and then perfect it.

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

Technology has made things so much easier for us like searching databases depending on the topic, see what is in season and choosing recipes.

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

        – Dirty Dozen – an informative app that gauges the safety of various fruits and vegetables based on pesticide levels.

        – Seafood Watchprovides recommendations to help you choose ocean-friendly seafood at your favorite restaurants and shopping to cook meals.

        – Still Tasty – it shows you how long you can store food to keep it fresh.

~2014 and The Future~

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

For the US, I am seeing more Europeanized methods influence us here like charcuterie. We are also providing better cuts of meat to our customers like salami or ham. Our ham slices are competing with the quality that Spain is known for and sells. Artisan cheeses are also a big hit but the biggest trend is local food where people want to eat and support local food markets.

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

A lot of my clients want healthy food because they are more health conscious. I also have a preference to make healthy dishes based on how I have grown up. Our ways of cooking in Venezuela was not the healthiest. This revolution has also motivated me to teach my son when he gets older to eat healthy and also I have gotten involved with Dr. Oz’s Healthcorps to teach little kids to make healthier choices. Imagine chicken breasts are the size of a human breast….I want to continue educating people to stop making poor eating habits.

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

I don’t think a kitchen can be 100% green but it is realistic to have a balance of green and non green kitchens just by the small things. For example, composting – just by using a grain of wood that you can salvage rather than cutting a new tree to get new wood will save the environment. In culinary school, I was taught there is a lot of wastage generated by kitchens and it really does not have to be like that.

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

It gives us feedback. People can see where I am and what I am doing and ask questions without any problems to get a response. I like to get in touch with my customers.

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