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A Labor Day Gift for our Fans

Labor Day 2013

Labor Day Weekend is finally here! We all work so hard throughout the year, sometimes it’s nice to feel appreciated and receive something in return. That’s why we’re giving all of our loyal customers and fans Free Shipping on all orders over $99! This offer won’t last long, so be sure to take advantage and pick up a new chef uniform before 9/2/13 at midnight, EST! Simply enter the source code HOORAY2 at checkout.

Also, if you haven’t participated in our Photo Contest yet, it’s not too late! Simply follow the instructions below, and you could be one of two lucky winners to receive a $100 E-Gift Card to ChefUniforms.com! Good Luck!Labor Day 2013 (2)

Cook up a New Look! The ChefUniforms.com Photo Contest

CHEF_Entry_page

Attention, culinary enthusiasts! As you know, Chef got a new look – well, now it’s your turn! Now is your chance to be one of two lucky winners to receive a $100 E-Gift Card for ChefUniforms.com! Participating is simple:

  • Enter Now using the contest app at the top of our timeline with your “before” picture, along with a caption of why you want/need a new look.
  • Voting will last from now until September 8th at 11:59 PM EST (so get started today!)
  • Tell your friends and family to vote! They can vote once a day per Facebook user, so come back every day!
  • The two contestants with the most votes after September 8th will each win a $100 E-Gift Card for ChefUniforms.com. Winners will be announced September 9th on our Facebook Page.

It’s that simple, so get started today! Good Luck!

Contestants must be 18 years or older and residents of the United States, not including Puerto Rico and other US Territories.

Interview with Chef Michelle Gurbal

Michelle is one of the runners up from our last Chef Uniforms NRA Contest back in April, as well as a model chef. That made July’s Chef of the Month decision a very easy one! Below is a little biography, followed by our interview and a little something extra for our readers.

A little about Michelle

Michelle grew up in Florida, and is a single mother of a beautiful daughter and handsome son. She is a sister to two older brothers and two younger brothers.  Her passion for cooking began as a child, spending time in the kitchen watching her mother and grandmother. While her brothers were watching cartoons, she was watching the greats: Julia Child, Graham Kerr, and let’s not forget Justin Wilson.

Michelle told us, “I received my very first cook book when I was 14. My Mom got it for me with green stamps.  I remember the day she and I sat down and filled all the green stamp books, and when we were done, we counted them and she handed me the catalog and said, pick something, and all I remember seeing in that book was “The Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.”  I don’t think it was much of a surprise to my Mother.  That was the start of the rather large collection of cookbooks that continue to grow today.”

At the age of 16, Michelle was lucky enough to be taught the art of Real Italian cooking by the famous boxer, Jake LaMotta, also known as “The Raging Bull”.  It was then that she learned that true Italians say “Gravy”, not “sauce”.

Over the course of her life she has been in and out of the food industry working in restaurants and catering while working towards a degree in Design from Penn State University.  Prior to pursuing her career in culinary arts full time, she worked as a residential designer for 15+ years, still catering on the side, because of her love and passion for cooking.

“ When the housing market took a fall I was faced with the decision of what am I going to do now to support myself and children, and everyone had the same answer for me. “What do you mean, ‘What are you going to do now?’ You’re going to do what you love and do best, COOK!”

“With many years of experience in the Restaurant, lounge and full service catering business,  I consider myself to be self-taught. My work with many great local chefs and cooks over the years has influenced and added to my evolution as a chef.”

“So here I am now living a dream.  Cooking full-time, creating foods that people love. I have always loved watching people enjoy the food I prepared for them, and I wait for the sounds they make when tasting it for the first time and the occasional roll the eyes to the back of their heads is a huge plus.”

The Interview

1. What made you decide to become a chef?

I have been cooking since I was 8 years old. I went to PSU and have a degree in Design and was a residential designer for 15 years. I did small catering jobs on the side, only because I love to cook. When the housing market took a bad hit I was pretty much out of a job, and so I decided to turn to my one true love to make a living and I have never been happier.

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

Watch and ask questions to everyone you see cook, or who you know that cooks. Everyone has special techniques and short cuts they can share, some of the best cooks are those who have learned through life’s trial and errors. The only dumb questions are the ones that aren’t asked.

3. What would you recommend as far as on-the-job training?

Work in every aspect of the restaurant field; front and back of the house.  You will have more knowledge and compassion for your fellow co-workers.  This will help you become the very best Executive chef because you will know what everyone’s part is and what they go through to have a smoother-running operation in both the front and in the back of the house.

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

When you want to buy local, a lot of the time it is just impossible. When you want fresh ingredients all the time – sometimes that just is not an option.

5. Has the price of energy and fuel affected your industry?

Yes it has. Food venders have to charge more because they still have to transport the food from place to place, and that has to be passed down the line.

6. Do you see new dining trends surfacing?

I think people are coming around as to knowing that food really does taste better when it is not cooked to death.

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

I love the cotton blend chef coat with a ¾ length sleeve.

8. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time?

Oh yes most definitely. It helps in getting your juices flowing tasting other cuisine.

9. Do you try to experience your competitors’ food? Do you ever get ideas from them?

Yes, and sometimes it also reassures me that what I am doing is the right thing.

10. Do you think it is important to visit the markets rather than just have standard orders?

Oh yes, absolutely…

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

I make them for the employees and family and friends. They will be most honest with you because they want you to succeed.

12. Do you notice any resistance to the unhealthier dishes?

No, people are going to eat what appeals to them.

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

Cook what you like and what you’re good at. Also check out what other restaurants in the area are serving and that too will help you.

14. Can you offer some advice for aspiring chefs?

Follow your heart. Cook what you like and step out of your comfort zone often.

15. Would you please send us a recipe for our readers?

Chicken Milano

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth, divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 8 ounces dry fettuccini pasta

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 3/4 cup of the chicken broth; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Add the cream and bring to a boil; stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and sauté chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until the meat feels springy and is no longer pink inside. Transfer to a board; cover and keep warm. Discard the fat from the skillet.
  3. In the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil; stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add to the cream sauce; stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sauce.
  5. Cut each chicken breast into 2 to 3 diagonal slices. Reheat the sauce gently if needed. Transfer the pasta to serving plates; top with chicken and coat with the cream sauce; serve.

Since Michelle was so happy to participate with us and stood out in the competition, we decided to give her a $25 Chef Uniforms Gift Card! Congratulations, Michelle, and thank you for participating with us!

Interview with Chef David Wilson

Chef David Wilson was our runner-up in the 2012 ChefUniforms.com NRA Contest, and is also May’s Chef of the Month! With 568 votes, David came within just 3 votes of our winner, and for that reason, along with his winning attitude, he is deserving of such a title! David was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, and provide our loyal readers with a little insight into the mind of a chef. Bon Appétit!

1. How did you go about getting all of your votes? What did you do that helped the most (Facebook, Emails, etc)?

A great friend, a deaf chef, just recently won the Eater.com “Hottest Chef in America” contest. I had done a lot of promotion to help him win. He returned the favor and had a big chunk of the deaf community show their support. Facebook was used voraciously to illicit votes… We came in like 6 or 7 votes behind the winner, Jessica. Glad she won it; I think it will benefit her career tremendously.

2. Did you use your ChefUniforms.com gift certificate yet? If so, what did you buy? If not, what do you plan on purchasing with it?

Yes, bought some new work pants. The grunge cargo pants. Tons of compliments on them so far. Good job!

3. Why did you want to become a chef?

Because of the bad boy image and the groupies… Oh, and the wonderful laid-back work schedule…

4. What fabric and style of uniform do you enjoy wearing most?

White coat, cloth buttons. Solid color cargo pants. Black bistro apron. Dansko clogs. Any fabric that doesn’t chafe…

5. Do you enjoy dining out in your free time?

Of course, do you think I wanna cook after 14 hours in the kitchen? Wait, free time?

6. Do you see any changes in food trends?

Change happens on a continual basis. Can I predict what the new trend will be? Heck no. I just want to see more robots. See below.

7. What are your future plans for your business?

Hire a mutant culinary ninja robot army to help me in my quest for world domination. Or work my fingers to the bone for the next 20 years and retire on some measly crappy retirement fund… I like the robots and world domination option better…

8. Is there any one thing you would have done differently in starting your culinary career?

Not one thing. I’ve seen and experienced some amazing things/people and learned a lot of life lessons in my culinary career and I’m one happy soul.

9. What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into culinary school?

Run as far away as possible! No, I jest. Focus on getting some real time experience by picking up hours at a catering company, country club or hotel. Even offer your services for free just so you can learn from working professionals and develop some hands on skills before you finish school. You will also realize in a working kitchen if this is the career choice for you. Professional kitchens are hot, stinky cesspools with all the dregs of society under one roof. You quickly wonder if tuition was well spent or not. Remember, you will see this kitchen more than you see your own house or apartment. Some of us, a rare breed, thrive on the working kitchen stress and environment. It quickly grows on you. Learn from professionals. Travel and experience different cuisines when you start out, you won’t have time later and learning different cuisines will benefit you tremendously later in your career.

 

Thank you to Chef David Wilson, and congratulations on being May’s Chef of the Month!

Interview With NRA Contest Winner, Jessica Cheek!

We caught up with ChefUniforms.com Contest winner, Jessica Cheek for a quick interview before she heads off to the 2012 NRA Show next weekend!  Check out what she had to say about winning the contest:

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1.  How does it feel to win an all-expense paid trip to the 2012 NRA Show?

It is honestly a complete honor to have won an all-expense paid trip to the 2012 NRA Show. Not only have I wanted to go to this show, I get to go for free and visit one amazing city.

2.              What do you plan on getting out of your trip to the NRA?

I will benefit so much from my trip to the NRA in so many ways. I hope to learn many things that will help me be successful when starting up a bakery for myself, which has always been a dream of mine. It will also be super great to see all the top chefs that will be attending the show.

3.              How did you go about getting all of those votes? What did you do that helped the most (Facebook, Emails, etc)?

Many of my good friends and I teamed up to spread the word. We made flyers to put up around town and in busy restaurants that we attended often. I also created an event on Facebook telling everyone to go vote and tell everyone they know. The site to go vote for me went all across the world. I also sent out the site to all of the contacts in my phone. Overall, I think that Facebook was the most successful of all because so many people are on Facebook and it was very easy to spread the word around.

4.              Why did you want to become a chef?

Cooking is just something I absolutely love to do, and I have always been pretty good at. Cooking pairs with creativity in many ways and I have a lot of talent when it comes to creativity. You can express yourself so much in the foods you cook and people look to chefs every day for food, because it is essential to life.

5.              What fabric and style of uniform do you enjoy wearing most?

In the kitchen, I like to wear a white basic women’s chef coat with thin material so I can stay cool while cooking and the way the women’s fit are just very comfortable and are not baggy so they don’t get in the way. Also, it’s a must to have a pocket on the side for my thermometer and sharpie, since I always need those. With pants, I like to wear black women’s fit chef bands with an elastic band so I can make adjustments when needed.

6.              Do you enjoy dining out in your free time?

I love dining out in my free time. It is always great to go out and try new things, also new atmospheres. There is nothing like going out and getting a good meal with good friends.

7.              Do you ever get menu ideas from your competitors?

You can really learn a lot from other people’s menus. I wouldn’t ever take any of their recipes to use, but getting ideas from them is no problem. You can change an idea and make it into something completely better or totally different from what it was when it was started.

8.              Do you see any changes in food trends?

I actually see a lot of changes in food trends more and more every day. People are trying many new ideas that may have never been seen before. A lot of new ingredients are being used in preparing different foods, also in presenting them.

9.              Is there any one thing you would have done differently in starting your culinary career?

I would not change a thing about how I started my culinary career. I am happy with the way it started and it has been very successful for me. I can only hope that it keeps being this good to me.

10.          What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into the culinary field?

The best advice I can give, and the best advice I have ever heard is to follow your dreams! The first day of culinary school, I was told a quote, and it is a quote I am yet to forget and is very dear to my heart. “Don’t let the fear of failure overcome the joy of success”. If you keep this mind set, you will always be successful in everything that you do. Being in the culinary field is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Have a great time at the show, Jessica, we look forward to hearing how it was!

 

Drumroll…..We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Jessica Cheek for winning the ChefUniforms.com contest for an all-expense paid trip to the 2012 National Restaurant Show in Chicago, IL!  Below is her entry for why she deserved to win this trip, keep an eye out in the near future for a more in-depth interview with Jessica.

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Jessica Cheek

570 Votes

“I deserve to win this trip because culinary for me, is an absolute passion. It is what I do every day and will be doing for the rest of my life. I know that that cooking is what I was born to do and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. When I am in the kitchen, I feel like I am on top of the world. You can express yourself so much with the foods that you cook.
I started off wanting to make cakes and decorate them. Baking is more of what I like to do. But, I decided that if I was going to go to culinary school, I was going to do cooking and everything. I am truly glad that I made this decision because it is going really good for me. Although, I am going to a community college in the small town that I live in, I think I am learning just as much as I would at Johnson & Wales or any other big culinary university. I just finished my first semester and am finishing up my second semester right now. I made the dean’s list this past semester and I hope to make it from here on. I am also joining an honor society. I have so much fun in school and I love going.
I hope that someday I can be an inspiration to children, just as Cake Boss and all other famous chef’s and baker’s are to me. My two brothers are my heroes and are part of the reasons I do what I do. The cake I made and posted a picture of, I made for my little brother for his 4th birthday. Any cake they dream up, I make for them every birthday they have. I will continue to do this as long as they let me. Also, the picture I posted where I am holding the tray was at a hors d’oeuvre party that I attended with school. On the tray is lemon fennel slaw and procuitto on crustini.
It would be such an honor to attend the National Restaurant Association show and would mean more than you could ever imagine to me.”

Here is a recap of what she has won:

  • Round-trip airfare to and from Chicago, IL
  • Entrance fee to the NRA Show
  • Hotel stay at boutique luxury Loop Hotel, Hotel 71
  • Check for $425 to be used for taxi rides and food
  •  Her very own featured article on the Chef Vibes Blog.

We would like to thank everyone for their interest and participation in the contest!  We will also be sending our runner up, David Wilson a $50 ChefUniforms.com gift certificate and Michelle Gurbal and Nathaniel Baker each $25 gift certificates for all of their efforts.  We’re not done yet!  EVERYONE who entered into the contest will be receiving a coupon code for ChefUniforms.com to their email, so watch for that.   There will be more ChefUniforms.com contests in the future, so be sure to check back on our Facebook page and Chef Vibes Blog.  If you do make it out to the show this year, be sure to stop by our booth (#1742) and say hi!

Ready…Set…VOTE!

2012 NRA Contest

The day is FINALLY HERE!   Let the voting begin for the 2012 ChefUniforms.com Win a Trip to the NRA Show Contest!

These contestants need your help to win!  You decide who you think deserves to win an all-expense paid trip to the 2012 NRA Show in Chicago, Illinois! So go to our voting page, choose your favorite culinary professional or culinary student, and get your vote on!

Our contestants bake, fry, broil, sauté, grill, you name it to bring us mouth-watering dishes day in and day out and are now looking to their adoring public for help. Every vote counts, so if you’re one of the contestants, don’t forget to vote for yourself! Enlist your family, friends, and co-workers to help your cause (they may be looking for some meals in return…we can’t help with that!) Just remember: only one vote per person is allowed.

Now get out there, and ROCK THE VOTE!

Hurry! Time is Running Out to Register for a FREE TRIP to NRA!

NRA Contest Reminder

There is only one week left to participate in our fabulous contest! In other words, you have 7 MORE DAYS until the contest registration closes, and you’ll have missed the opportunity of a lifetime. In case you didn’t hear about it yet, ChefUniforms.com will be sending ONE lucky winner to the 2012 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Illinois! For more details, you can read all about it in our blog post: ChefUniforms.com Wants to Send YOU to the 2012 NRA Show!

We’re talking about the trip of a lifetime! You will be able to meet experts in the culinary field and learn about the next big culinary innovations around the corner! Did we mention it’s all FREE?! Take a chance and enter our contest. Who knows, you just might win!

Still not convinced that you don’t want to miss this event?  Did you know that Bill Clinton is the keynote speaker!?  Also–check out the official preview for this year’s show:

2012 NRA Show Official Preview

For more information about the contest and for complete rules and regulations, please visit www.chefuniforms.com/contest.  We hope to see you there!

Interview with Chef Aimee Bacon

Aimee was one of the contestants in our ChefUniforms.com Cash for the Holidays Contest with the highest number of votes, and is March’s Chef of the Month! Below is a short interview with Aimee about her experiences in the contest and her career thus far. Enjoy!

1.       How did you go about getting all of your votes? What did you do that helped the most (Facebook, Emails, etc)?

I got many of my votes through Facebook and email.  Also, a lot of my friends and family shared my link on their Facebook pages and emails to help get votes.

2.       Why did you want to become a chef?

I wanted to become a pastry chef/baker because of my creativity.  Also, my parents had brought me up with a great appreciation for food, and I think baking and pastry is a beautiful art form, and I wanted to create that.  Also, I have a huge sweet tooth!

3.       What fabric and style of uniform do you enjoy wearing most?

My favorite style of uniform is the polyester/cotton blend traditional chef coats with long sleeves.  They are very professional looking and comfortable too!

4.       Do you enjoy dining out in your free time?

I love to dine out!!! I constantly seek out new restaurants and bakeries to try to enjoy new dining experiences.

5.       Do you see any changes in food trends?

I find that baking and pastry is becoming very popular.  Especially small portions such as cupcakes and cake pops because they are the perfect size, make great gifts, and are very eye appealing.

6.       What are your future plans for your business?

I have so many future plans for my business.  I would like to build my clientele before opening a store front, so I would preferably like to start with a small shop that is used for cake consultations and wedding cake designing.  I eventually hope to open a huge traditional bakery that offers a variety of everything, and maybe even open a huge business that includes a bakery, restaurant, vineyard, orchard, etc. that offers the ultimate dining experience.

7.       Is there any one thing you would have done differently in starting your culinary career?

I can’t specify something that I would have done differently.  In this career, you work hard, make your mistakes, and learn from them.  Making mistakes is the best way to learn and perfect your skills.  Practice definitely goes a long way!

8.   What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into culinary school?

My advice would be, if you absolutely love to cook/bake and are passionate about food, follow your instincts.  It is truly a rewarding career if you love it and put your hardest work into it.

Thanks again to all who participated in the ChefUniforms.com Cash for the Holidays Contest!

ChefUniforms.com wants to send you to the NRA Show 2012!

NRA 2012 Contest

Attention all culinary professionals and culinary students! How would you like to rub elbows and learn from over 50,000 industry professionals while exploring Chicago, IL? Well, ChefUniforms.com is holding a contest where the lucky winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Restaurant Association Show 2012 in Chicago!

ChefUniforms.com will be sending one lucky winner to the 2012 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Illinois! But wait… there’s more.  Not only will the winner get a free NRA Show pass, but they will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip, including: round trip airfare to Chicago, a three night stay at Hotel 71, a boutique luxury hotel in Chicago’s Loop valued at $600, a check valued at $425 for taxi fares and meals AND your very own featured article on our Chef Vibes Blog!

All you have to do to enter is fill out our online entry form at www.chefuniforms.com/contest by March 23rd, e-sign our rules and regulations form, submit an original recipe, a photo of the dish and one of yourself, and a short description of why you believe you deserve to go to the NRA Show. You will then be sent a link to your very own voting webpage on March 26th, which you should send to all of your friends and relatives, encouraging them to vote for you (we hear that food bribery works quite well!). Votes will be tallied after the virtual voting booths close on April 23rd and the Grand Prize winner will be announced on April 24th.

Let the contest begin!

For more information about the contest and for complete rules and regulations, please visit www.chefuniforms.com/contest.

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