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Chef Eddie G’s Sauteed Seafood Medley

Sauteed Seafood Medley with Safron Pasta Garlic Cream Sauce (1).pngI’ll title this, “All Chefs Detest Recipe Writing.”

I’m assuming anyone reading this recipe is a more advanced cook/Chef, based on Chef Uniforms demographics and following. Rather than focus on the recipe let’s focus on the techniques. Let’s assume we are cooking for 2 to 4 people.

The most important part of any dish is the sauce, and all sauces are derived from 5, “Mother Sauces.” RE: Escoffier 1910. In this case, it is a Bechamel Sauce.

2 – Bunches Garlic – cleaned

1 – pt. Heavy Cream

In a medium saucepan simmer garlic until soft.

2 oz –  EVOO coat large saute pan

4 oz – grape tomato halved, mushroom sliced, scallop, clam, mussel, shrimp, lobster – anything you like – asparagus …, think color . Saute in a large pan until cooked through.

Ladle Garlic Cream Sauce into Large saute seafood mixture and continue saute until desired consistency, usually to coat the back of a spoon.

1/2 lb.  Add any cooked pasta to mixture; cavatelli, linguine or fettuccine.

Top with chopped parsley, grated cheese and crushed black pepper .

Restaurant cooks love this recipe because it is a quick pick up. If a kitchen is in the weeds, this dish if mise en place correctly can be ready in 2 to 3 minutes, as opposed to a medium-well filet mignon which can take 20 minutes cooked correctly.

Stay tuned for more recipes and techniques to follow.

Follow Chef Eddie G’s #CulinaryJourney 

Twitter: @eddiegchef

Instagram: @ChefEddieG

Facebook: @ChefEddieG

ChefEddieG.com 

August 2017 Chef of the Month Lauren Lawless

 

 

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Chef Lauren is wearing Coat #83315 in Black with Hot Pink

We’re so excited to introduce our newest addition to our Chef of the Month program, Lauren Lawless! Our August chef is self-taught and owns her mark as being an out-of-the-box, “unique” chef for the modern, ever-changing consumer. Chef Lauren is a mother who manages a full-time job, as she finishes her bachelor’s degree in business, all while breaking into the food industry. Watch Chef Lauren compete on MasterChef season 8.

Read more about Lauren below and shop her look!

 

1. Where were you born? 

I was born in Orange County but I grew up in San Diego my entire life.

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

I work for Accredited Debt Relief I am in a senior account executive and I help people become debt-free, we are based out of San Diego.

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

I love a good cast iron skillet and a high-quality sharp knife.

4. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Don’t be scared to take risks, be creative, try new flavors, textures and techniques. Plus, always make your creation your own, be original because it will set you apart.

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

I think all chefs should master how to chop and how to perfectly cook your protein.

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

When I am picking out my chef outfit, the three most important things to me are fit, comfort, and style.

7. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

I really like working with different global spices such as turmeric, ginger, and saffron. I also love all kinds of pepper, fresh herbs, and chili peppers.

8. Favorite City to dine out in? 

San Diego of course and Las Vegas.

9. Best Dish you have ever made? 

Halibut with creamed corn.

10. Place you eat most often on your days off? 

A few of my favorite restaurants in San Diego – Mr. Sushi, Costa Brava, Arrivederci and C Level & Island Prime.

11. Who would you like to cook for?

Oh, I would love to cook for Anthony Bourdain or Wolfgang Puck

12. What is currently on your DVR or Netflix queue? 

Some of my favorites are Chopped, MasterChef, Anthony Bourdain, Chefs Table, Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Burnt.

Connect with Our August Chef of the Month:

Website: https://www.cheflawless.com/home

Instagram: @chef_lawless

Twitter: @chef_lawless

June 2017 Chef of the Month Marcela Ferrinha

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Chef Marcela is wearing Chef Uniforms Coat #83511

Summer is about to get a lot sweeter with our June Chef of the Month, Marcela Ferrinha! A Brazilian native who now resides in Utah as a pastry chef that specializes in delicious vegan desserts. Read more about her life and pastry chef expertise below and make sure stay tuned all month long to see her tasty and delightful creations!

 

1.Birthplace:

I was in born Rio de Janiero, Brazil. I moved to the U.S. ten years ago – on June 1st.

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

I’m in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have a business called The Sweet Brigadier, where I work as a private catering chef.

I am also a pastry chef at Zest Kitchen & Bar in downtown Salt Lake. In 2016, we won 5 awards from a local newspaper, one being Best Vegan Restaurant and we got awarded third place for best dessert in the state of Utah.

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

My offset spatula, I use it for everything!  Also, the oven without it, I can’t make most of my creations.

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

Vision, I eat with my eyes first!

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

You have to read and study a lot – it is like being a doctor – researching and trying new things all the time. Change recipes. Modify everything. Even if you want to change a regular recipe into vegan or vegetarian – you make something totally new and awesome. The more knowledge you have, the better your creations will be.

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

How to make rice, not everyone knows how to do that, also cook eggs. I am terrible at that because I don’t eat them, so it’s hard for me to cook them. For pastry chefs, tempering chocolate, the more you practice the better you get. It is very tricky.

7. What does good dessert mean to you?

A good dessert has balance in the flavors and sugar. I eat a lot of sweets, but sometimes you go to bakeries and the desserts look beautiful, but you take a bite and can’t eat it because is terribly sweet, and you can’t distinguish the flavors in it.

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

I like colors. I have a lot of colorful ones from Chef Uniforms, I have the white with pink buttons, polka dots light pink, green, purple, white and now I got an orange one.

I also like the ones with light fabric and they have to have long sleeves. They need to be extra small, I don’t like the “baggy” ones.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Chocolate. I have 55 different flavors of my chocolate truffles, it is my specialty. I love mixing strawberry and chocolate together, that pair is always good.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

Sao Paulo in Brazil. You can find any kind of restaurant there. New York City, it is very similar.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

My chocolate truffles are super popular, my clients love them. I also made a vegan chocolate pot de crème with salted caramel popcorn once that was amazing!

12. Name someone you’d love to cook for.

People who appreciate service and good food. Sometimes it is hard to cook for people who don’t care about that. It is really nice to get compliments and know when people love your food and appreciate that.

If it were to be a famous person, I would love to cook to Mario Francesco Batali or Gordon Ramsay. It would be scary to hear their feedback but I think they would teach me a lot of things just by trying my food.

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

When I moved here, the only two things I knew how to cook were rice and ham & cheese sandwich (LOL). At that time I was working as a trainee in management in a country club in Florida, in their restaurant. And I was pretty much eating only bread and a lot of fast food.

On my days off, I was bored at home, so I asked the chef there if I could come in and help them in the kitchen. My first day, I cut all my 10 fingers. So, the chef asked me to do the dessert and salad stations, was when I felt in love for sweets. Also, I gained a lot of weight of my bad eating habits, so I was kind of forced to learn how to cook.

Want to get to know Chef Marcela more? Connect with her online!

Website: http://www.thesweetbrigadier.com/

Facebook: The Sweet Brigadier Chocolate Truffles

Instagram: @thesweetbrigadier

Twitter: @SweetBrigadier

Shop her look!

May 2017 Chef of the Month Aryen Moore-Alston

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Chef Aryen is wearing ChefUniforms style 83355 in Black with White

Hooray for the Month of May! We’re excited to introduce our May Chef of the Month, Aryen Moore-Alston! Tune in this month for eclectic recipes and exciting exclusives like Chef Aryen featured on TV and even more. Read more below to find out more about our beaming May Chef of the Month!

 

1. Birthplace:

I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. But I was raised in Naples, Italy and spent 12 years of my life there.

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

I am based out of Memphis, Tennessee. I work at Sweet Potato Baby which is a catering and baked goods company and café where I am the owner and executive chef.

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

My Sous Vide machine and kitchen tweezers.

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

Taste. Definitely taste.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

I like to relate it to the movie Finding Nemo, when Dory tells them to “Just keep swimming.” There are so many setbacks in this profession and all you can do is just keep swimming and trek forward. If you don’t get the dream job or you don’t like what you are doing right now just keep swimming and go after that goal. There is so much competition I always say infuse your personality into your cuisine.

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

Learn the basics. Know your sauces you can always start a great dish or meal with a good sauce. Oh, and keep lemons on hand.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food means love. There is not one thing that I can say about dining that doesn’t take me back somewhere, whether it is eating with my cousins at my grandma’s house. Food is the way I show love. Food is my soul and it warms my soul and gives me a natural high. This is one of the few careers that you still touch with your hands. I love when people say they love my food. It makes me want to be better and try harder with every dish.

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

Definitely the style. I am a female and normal chef coats can swallow the female shape. I don’t want to look like a man in an industry dominated by men. I do the same thing as men but I want to feel pretty. I want to feel like a female. So the most important thing is my coat having great style, cut to accent my figure, and the perfect fit. The fabric also needs to breathe and feel good.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Oh gosh, that is so hard. You can’t go wrong with garlic. Garlic is a staple ingredient in most of my dishes. Oh, and I love salmon. Salmon is my all-time favorite; it brings out so many different flavors. Salmon and garlic.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

New York, ah you know what I am going to have to go with L.A. Los Angeles is bringing so many new and different flavors, cuisines, and you can find any type of food you want.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

Oh wow- whoa. One of the best dishes I think I’ve ever made has to be recent. It was a Rosemary scented lamb with a mint pea puree. I made it for my Valentine’s Day Chef’s Table. It was definitely the most amazing lamb I have ever made. I was like, “oh yea, I just rocked it.”

12. Person you would most like to cook for?

I’d really like to cook for my dad again.  He passed away when I was 11 years old. He is the one I’d love to have one more meal with. He taught me how to cook. I’d like to just make a smorgasbord of food for him from different countries from all over the world. The way I found him and his death was very traumatic for me but he is the reason I cook now so I’d really like to just dine and sit with my dad and have one last meal together.

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

Passion and realizing that nothing else was making me happy. I have a BS in computer science and have worked in several industries. After appearing on Food Network Star, Season 10, I came to the realization that I love to cook and share my food with people. I am a giver and this is my way of giving to others. I realized I had to become a chef because by not doing it I was holding back sharing something amazing with the world.

Want to hear and see more of Chef Aryen? Connect with her online!

Website: http://www.sweetpotatobaby.com/

Facebook: Sweet Potato Baby

Instagram: @sweetpotatobabyco

Twitter: @SweetPotatoBC

Shop her look!

Chef Carter’s Flank Street Tacos

Prepare yourself because we’re talking tacos! There are tacos and then there are TACOS. This recipe is the real deal, so it’s time to say no to drive-thru tacos or the ones out of the box. Get excited and ready for a flavorful recipe that comes from Chef Carter, a Texas native and our April Chef of the Month. These Flank Street Tacos will live on as your go-to on Taco Tuesday.

Street Tacos

Flank Street Tacos

Ingredients:

1 pound of flank steak, tenderized

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp chili powder

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

Canola oil

Garnish:

½ medium white onion, diced

½ cup cilantro, chopped

Queso Fresco cheese (white Mexican cheese)

Wedge of lime
Corn Tortillas

Heat grill to high heat.

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, mix cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper and chili powder. Rub/pat mixture generously over steak then sprinkle garlic on meat. Drizzle with Canola oil.

2. Grill steak on high heat searing both sides for 3-4 minutes each. Steak should look brown. Move steak to another burner on low and let sit another 3 minutes on each side until internal temp reaches 130-140 degrees.

3. Remove meat from heat. Let rest 5-10 minutes.

4. Chop/dice onion. Chop cilantro.

5. Warm tortillas on the grill or on a stovetop in a pan.

6. Cut meat in strips or bite sized pieces against the grain of the meat. Place meat on tortilla and garnish with onions, cilantro, and cheese, to taste. Can place the lime wedge on side or squeeze over mixture before you roll up the tortilla.

Tacos are popular in my house and in Austin, we have a lot of food trucks that serve any kind of taco you can dream up. These Flank Street Tacos are so easy to make and taste so good!

Shop ChefUniforms.com now! Keep in touch with Carter, our April Chef of the Month and see all the amazing things he has coming in his future!

Instagram: @chef.carterhull

Twitter: @chef_carterhull

Chef Carter’s Smoked Gouda Fundido

As the temperature outside rises, so do the number of invitations to BBQs, pool parties, and potlucks. This Smoked Gouda Fundido recipe from our April Chef of the Month, Carter Hull is the perfect party appetizer! No need to spend the extra money on food platters or time on elaborate dishes, this recipe is simple and combines outstanding Southwest flavors. Plus, it is a definite crowd pleaser and marvelous for sharing.

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Smoked Gouda Fundido

Ingredients:

8 oz Gouda cheese (I use a Dutch Gouda by Mill Dance)

4 oz cream cheese

4 oz sour cream

4 oz mayonnaise

5 strips of bacon

2 oz green chilies

1 tablespoon pimentos

1 teaspoon garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions:

1. Cook bacon.  Pat dry and then crumble into small pieces. Set aside.

2. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to a saucepan on medium heat. Add minced garlic to the saucepan and cook until golden brown. Set aside.

3. Grate Gouda into a medium bowl. Add cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Mix together. Slowly add crumbled bacon, green chilies, pimentos, and garlic to the gouda mixture. Mix until well until combined.

4. Pour into individual ramekins. Put ramekins into the oven and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Note: Fundido makes a great appetizer. The individual ramekins are nice for parties because you can place them in different locations so everyone is not gathered around the same dish.

Love Jr. Chef Carter’s recipes? See more of our April Chef of the Month here:

Instagram: @chef.carterhull

Twitter: @chef_carterhull

Guest Recipe: Chef Ana Birac’s Planika Mousse, Jam and Candied Planika

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We will be finishing off the month of March with a sweet treat from our September 2016 Chef of the Month, Ana! As our first international chef from Croatia, Ana shared amazing flavors and techniques with us last year and this recipe is no different! If you are in need of a new dessert idea or want to try something fresh this recipe will not disappoint. It brings together flavor, elegance, and flair.

Planika is a Croatian seasonal fruit that grows in autumn. It looks very much like cherry tomatoes with small bubbles. It tastes something like a mixture of strawberries and raspberries. If you can’t find planika near you, substitute strawberries or raspberries for this recipe.

Ingredients

0.25kg Puff Pastry ≈ 8.8 ounces

0.5kg Planika ≈ 17.6 ounces

0.5kg Sugar ≈ 17.6 ounces

0.1kg Honey ≈ 3.5 ounces

0.25L Sweet Cream ≈ 1 cup

0.2L Yogurt ≈ 4/5 cup

0.1kg Butter ≈ 3.5 ounces

0.1L Triple Sec ≈1/4 cup

0.2L Prosecco ≈ 4/5 cup

0.2L Rum ≈ 4/5 cup

 

Directions:

  1. Roll out one thin crust of a puff pastry. Bake it in the oven about 15 minutes at 200⁰C (400⁰F). Leave it aside to cool down.
  2. Put water to boil. Add about half of planika and throw it in the boiling water and blanch for about 3 – 5 minutes (until if softens).
  3. Take it out and blend it. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. During that time mix sweet cream with 0.1kg (3.5 ounces) of sugar, honey and yogurt and keep mix it until you get nice and firm mixture, but it must be soft enough to mix with a spatula.
  5. Add cold planika and stir well.
  6. Spread that mixture over cold puff pastry and put it in the cooler for a couple of hours.
  7. While your cake is cooling down, take one clear pan and melt the butter and add in (0.2kg/7 ounces) of sugar.
  8. Mix it well until the sugar completely melts, then add in Triple Sec and Prosecco and cook until the alcohol evaporates.
  9. When that happens mix in the rest of planika and cook until planika falls apart. Then strain it through a sieve and leave it in the fridge until if firms up a little.
  10. Caramelize (0.1kg/3.5 ounces) of sugar.
  11. Add in Rum and mix it until you get a nice thick mixture. When it cools down, throw in the rest of planika and then roll it in the sugar.
  12. Move it from freezer to the fridge 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Do you want to be featured as our next ChefUniforms.com Chef of the Month? Apply here.

Chef Megan’s Spicy Gorgonzola Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Spicy MashSweet potatoes were arguably one of the trendiest foods in 2016. We saw sweet potatoes on toast, as bread substitutes, puddings, and pies. But March Chef of the Month, Megan puts an amazing spin on the trendy potato. Warning – recipe below will induce hunger.

 

Spicy Gorgonzola Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Serves:  4-6

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cooking Time:  Approximately 30 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Yams or a bag of small Organic Sweet Potatoes
  • 5oz of a smoky blue or Gorgonzola cheese (For those feeling adventurous, go with something extra smelly. For a family or for a dinner party, go with something mild to medium)
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Cayenne Pepper (If you love heat as much as I do, sub the Cayenne Pepper for something spicier – I used Trader Joes Ghost Chile Pepper).
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup of cream (I use a heavy whipping cream, but you could also use whole milk if you are looking to make it healthier)
  • ½ stick of unsalted butter – room temperature

You will need:

  • Food Processor
  • Large Pot filled half way with water
  • Knife

Directions:

  • Place a medium to large pot on your stove top, fill half way with water (enough to cover all the potatoes), add 1 teaspoon of salt, and turn on high to bring to a boil.
  • While the water is heating up, scrub the potatoes and peel off skin. Cut the sweet potatoes into small to medium even sized pieces.
  • Once water is boiling, add potatoes.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your potatoes.   Rule of thumb:  when you can use a fork and easily break a potato in half, they’re ready
  • Place all ingredients and the cooked sweet potatoes into the food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Pro Tip: Add salt/pepper/spice to taste – start slow and work your way up to the level you want. You can always add more, but if you make it too spicy right way you won’t be able to tone the heat down.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Top with roasted veggies for a hearty and filling Vegetarian Meal.
  • Serve alone as a side dish at your next dinner party.
  • Top with Scallops & Filet Mignon (pictured) for a romantic dinner or splurge meal.

Follow Chef Megan for more recipes:

Website: www.forkthisdish.com

Instagram: @forkthisdish

Twitter: @ForkThisDish

March 2017 Chef of the Month Megan Corcoran

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Megan is wearing ChefUniforms coat style 86515 in Pebble Grey w/ Black

The countdown to Spring has officially begun and we’re eager to introduce our March Chef of the Month, Megan Corcoran. A lover of fresh food, she has been cooking since high school and college but up until a year ago, she worked in Social Media, Marketing, and Sales. In the last year, Megan started her own website and company, auditioned and appeared on Food Network, and made numerous other television appearances. Her chef career has seriously taken off, read more about her success and life below and stay tuned for her amazing recipes throughout the month!

1. Birthplace:

I was born in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania. It is maybe an hour outside of Philadelphia.

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

I own my own website and soon to be catering company. It is called Fork This Dish. We are based out of Arlington Virginia.

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

I would definitely say my food processor more than anything. You can do anything with it. You can make sauces or purees. It is a great way to make bases for dishes. I used to never use it but slowly I started using it more and more. Now it has become a regular and I use it for everything.

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

Sight. I was a dancer my whole life. I don’t know what I’d do without visual keys and I think I have transferred that over to cooking. I see a dish first and then make it. I don’t think my presentation skills are the best they can be. But for me, the presentation of a dish is very important.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

I did cook in a couple restaurants. But I really have no formal training outside of that. I had been thinking about starting this blog and business for years. I told all my friends I wanted to do it. But I never felt ready. Finally, I just did it and it has been an amazing year. I guess I would just say do what you want even if you don’t feel ready. I never learned how to cook on the news but I just went and did it.

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

I would say cooking eggs. That is a good place to start. It sounds crazy but a lot of people overcook them. Or they don’t know how to make different kinds of eggs like over-easy eggs. Cooking eggs is great practice, you can use different pans techniques. Eggs are a good place to start and a cheap way to mess up. Honestly, I have spent an entire day making eggs and watching Bobby Flay’s YouTube Videos on how to make perfect eggs. Whatever he does, I follow.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me means fresh. I am very particular with where my food comes from. I think it is important to only buy organic and when I can I try and find it locally. I don’t eat a lot of meat but I do sometimes and I’m to the extent of on Thanksgiving my family and I go to a farm and pick our own turkey. I want to know where my food comes from. I don’t want to buy and eat food with chemicals, we should be more aware of what is in our food. For me buying fresh, organically, and local is good food.

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

When I cook, I really like being comfortable. I typically wear jeans or khakis. I used hard top shoes and wear a polo type shirt. For my chef coat, I like short sleeves with breathable material so it doesn’t get too hot.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

I really like cooking with white wine. I just like putting wine in my food. Plus, I cook a lot of seafood and white wine is the perfect base for seafood.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

I was dying to leave and my friends will laugh when they read this, but hands down, the best food is in Philadelphia.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

For my final audition to make it on Food Network, I had to make a dish live. It was extremely nerve-wracking and I was just getting over being sick so I didn’t have time to perfect the dish or practice. But I had an idea and vision and it was the best dish I’ve made. It was a truffle corn puree with scallops and shrimp with a ton of butter, bacon and fresh truffle. It was insane, I wish I wrote down the recipe.

12. Place you eat most often on your days off?

I work from home. So most days I cook for myself. But whenever I am home in Glenmoore. I go to Ron’s School House. It is so good, the food is fresh off the table and they have an extensive menu. They make this fresh pasta but also delicious carrot cheesecake.

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

I have two Food Network heroes. I have cooked for one of them but the other is Scott Conant. I would like to cook for him a lot, I think he is great.

14. What is new on your DVR?

So I pretty much religiously watch Chopped. The other thing I just finished watching was West World. It was so good but I just found out the next season isn’t coming out for another year and a half so I am pretty devastated. I might just re-watch the past season.

Want to see more from our March Chef of the Month? Follow Megan here:

Website: www.forkthisdish.com

Instagram: @forkthisdish

Twitter: @ForkThisDish

 

February 2017 Chef of the Month Alekka Sweeney

 

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Chef Alekka is wearing CU coat #86515 in Sky Blue

We’re celebrating February aka ‘the month of love’ by bringing you an extra sweet Chef of the Month Alekka Sweeney! Chef Alekka is an owner of a shop that teaches pastry and baking classes near Chicago. Alekka is not only a baking and pastry master chef, she also has with an amazing personality accompanied with great advice and experience. It was truly a special treat for us to chat with her. Read more about our awesome February Chef of the Month below and stay tuned for her delicious recipes throughout the month.

1. Where were you born?

I was born in Naples, Italy. But I am American and so are both of my parents. My dad was in the Navy and stationed there so I was born there.

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

I am the owner of my shop called Give Me Some Sugar that is located in Roscoe Village, Chicago.  But it is not a bakery, it is a school where we teach classes on baking and pastry. I started the company 10 years ago. The first 2 years were in classes in client’s homes so that I could build up a client base and test recipes. This was right at the beginning of shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss. Back then my car was basically a mobile cake decorating machine; it was filled with buttercream. So eventually I had my real estate agent look for places. I visited so many places but then I found it. When I walked into the shop, I had a “this is it,” moment and we’ve been at this location for the past 8 years.

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

I can’t live without an offset spatula, serrated knife, and the mixer I’ve had since I was sixteen.

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

Smell.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

It is a tough industry to be in. You have to work nights, weekends, and holidays. But my best piece of advice is to find the pastry chef or chefs that you admire and respect. Try and work for them, even if it is for free and during that time learn as much as you can. Before you land on the place you want to work forever, the best thing you can do is learn and get as much as experience as possible. I’ve worked in hotels, bakeries, corporations, big business, small business. The culmination of doing all of that led me to where I am today.

Make sure to get your hands in everything and don’t settle on one thing. Work for as many people as you can so you learn new perspectives and different ways of doing things. And be prepared to stand on your feet for a long time, invest in your shoes.

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

Measuring properly. I see a lot of people using the wrong measure tool. Even on TV, I see people measuring dry ingredients with a tool that is for liquids. It is my pet peeve. First understand your recipes, master the basics, and make sure to read the recipes correctly. Baking is very precise.

7. What does good food mean to you?

I think the pastries I gravitate towards are the ones that make me think of my mom and being at home. I grew up eating my mom’s homemade bread. My mom saves water from mashed potatoes and makes potato bread, it is amazing. So I gravitate towards foods and desserts that are farm to table.

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

I am so happy the industry is coming out with chef coats for women. Cuts for women that show that you have a waist. I also like front and side pockets to hold my must have my sharpie. I really like the women’s style of pants and chef coats. Especially not having to look like a potato sack. The features I like are having something that is both flattering and functional.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Chocolate. I really like tempering chocolate and making chocolate candies. I kind of had to teach myself. I used to work at a candy place in Chicago and I really had to learn myself. At that job, I had to temper white chocolate in the middle of the summer. I just kept playing with it over and over again and now they call me the chocolate tempering queen.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

Chicago first and then Pittsburgh is a close second. Pittsburgh is getting up there. Chicago is the one I like the most. You can get any kind of food here from any culture. I like that Chicago has amazing hole in the wall restaurants. It doesn’t have to be super fancy but you can go down an alley and in a scary door and the food is amazing. Chicago is a city that can satisfy any type of craving.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

It’s really simple. I really want to blow you away with a fancy French pastry. But whenever I go to my friend’s house or a party they always ask that I make chocolate espresso brownies. They are really fudgy and rich.

12. Person you would most like to cook for?

Dorie Greenspan. I really respect and admire her career path. She just released Dories Cookies and it is something like her 12th baking book. She’s comparable to Martha Stuart. She was before all the food bloggers, Instagram and Twitter accounts. She just seems so nice and super sweet and I just would like to hang out with her and bake cookies all day.

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

Two different versions of this story. I will tell you the real one and you can decide whether it is appropriate to publish. I was 24 at that time and it was 1997. After you go to culinary school, you have to do an internship somewhere. Normally once you are done with school most people go back to their internship and work there. I did that as well. The pastry chef at the time was involved with the owner’s daughter and he had a problem with alcohol. One day, they didn’t know where he went and they needed a wedding cake made in two days. They turned to me. This was in 1997 remember, there is no google, no videos, no internet to help me.

I turned to Martha Stuart’s wedding cake books. I always say it chose me, I didn’t choose it.But I have a very statistical mind and I follow formulas and recipes very well. It was the best thing for me. Baking is strict but it still leaves room for creativity. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Final note from Chef Alekka:

It was a series of events that got me working in this industry and then staying in it. First, it is a great industry to work in and there are so many outlets where you can work as a chef. You can travel, be a personal chef, baker, own a business or restaurant.

And this industry and food will never be replaced by a robot. Food is how you show your love. I have met people and all the places I have got to go are because this industry helped me get there.

Get in touch with our February Chef of the Month:

Website: Give Me Some Sugar 

Facebook: Give Me Some Sugar

Instagram: @givesugar

 

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