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September 2018 Chef of the Month Penelope Wong

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We are thrilled to introduce our September Chef of the Month, Chef Penelope Wong! Since childhood, Chef Penelope has spent her life in the kitchen, from working at her family’s restaurant to being the Executive Chef at Glenmoor Country Club in Colorado. She displays her passion for food in her dishes and in her diligent work towards learning something new every day. Chef Penelope will soon be exploring new goals in the world of cuisine! Read below to find out more about Chef Penelope Wong!

1. Where were you born? Denver, Colorado

Where do you work and where are you based? I am currently the Executive Chef at Glenmoor Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, CO.  I’ve been here for 20 years and have been the Executive Chef for the last 14 years.  I will be finishing up my tenure here in September of 2018 to pursue other goals.

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

I’m very old fashioned.  While I love my tweezers and my chef spoons, when it comes to kitchen tools I’m pretty simple, my favorite knife is my Messermeister Oliva santoku knife and a well-seasoned sauté pan that’s great for getting a perfect sear on a beautiful fish fillet as well as finishing a pan sauce in. I don’t even own a gnocchi board; whenever I make gnocchi (which is quite often), I use the back of a fork to shape them!

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

Hmmmmm…that’s a toss up between smell and taste.  I’ve got an extremely keen palette for layering of flavors and can easily pin point missing layers. And most times I can easily detect which items are being prepped by the aromas wafting through the kitchens and throughout the clubhouse.

4. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

 Never stop learning.  The greatest thing about this industry is that there is ALWAYS something to learn.  Whether you’ve been classically trained, or you grew up in restaurants your whole life, there is something new to learn every single day in the kitchen.  Humility is the gateway to knowledge. I come in to my kitchen everyday with the hopes of learning something new, whether it be from one of my dishwashers regarding cuisine from their childhood or from one of my fellow managers in how they dealt with a difficult situation.

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

If there’s ever just a little something missing and you can’t place your finger on it, add a splash of vinegar. It’ll brighten all the flavors you’ve already infused into the dish and add another layer.

6. What does good food mean to you?

Good food is everything.  Good food is nostalgia and integrity to me.  My integrity as a chef is because of the flavors of my childhood.  Most of my childhood memories center around food, and most of it involved my large family and close friends.  If you think about it, have you ever had a bad memory in which good food was involved?  Bad memories and good food simply cannot coexist.

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

Especially as a woman, comfort and durability are key.  I’ve purchased chef coats in the past that were cut ‘for a woman’s shape’ only to find out they were tailored to help accentuate a woman’s shape rather than to fit a woman’s shape.  When I’m in the kitchen all day prepping for service, prepping for large events, getting through service, going through inventories on order days and breaking down boxes on delivery days, I could really care less that my chef’s coat accentuated my womanly shape.  A woman’s chef coat and pants should fit her body with comfort and provide ease of movement that comes with being a working chef.

8. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Kaffir Lime

9. Favorite City to dine out in?

Bangkok

10. Best Dish you have ever made?

Yum Kai Dao – Thai fried eggs.  This was one of my father’s favorite dishes to eat. Although maybe not the best dish I’ve ever made; but one of the tastiest.  Most people have a misperception about chefs being difficult to please.  But this is one of my favorite dishes to cook and eat.  It’s rice and eggs.  It doesn’t take much more than that to satisfy chefs.

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

Noodles.  I’m a sucker for noodles.  Chinese hand pulled noodles. Thai noodles. Pho noodles. Pasta noodles. Dumplings (technically still a noodle, just flattened and stuffed with something!)

12. Person you would most like to cook for?

My mother.  She passed when I was 16; and although many childhood memories include dishes that she taught me how to make, I never had the opportunity to cook a meal for her when I finally took on this profession as a career.

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

The passion for food is in my blood.  As a child, I was always more interested in what was going on in the kitchen rather than running around with my cousins and playing.  I was always wanting to learn in the kitchen and when I was finally allowed to help in the kitchen with the matriarchs in my family during Sunday dinners, I remember how proud I was of myself to finally earn the privilege of being included in this weekly ritual.  When I turned 12, I would go to my family’s restaurant to help out on the weekends, and rather than staying in the front of the house to help seat people or ring people up, I ended up in the kitchen everyday helping my father and grandfather with prep and eventually getting through services.

Connect with Our September Chef of the Month:

Instagram: @penelopewong

 

August 2018 Chef of the Month Claude Luciani

We are proud to introduce our August 2018 Chef of the Month, Chef Claude Luciani! After growing up in the Bronx, he made the move to South Florida where he now owns the Pizza Rustica Hollywood location. His mouthwatering, cheesy pizza will not disappoint! Although he loves pizza, you will find him cooking all different meals during his time off. Read more below about Chef Claude’s love for the art of cooking.

1. Where were you born?

I was born in Bronx, NY.

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

I own the Pizza Rustica Hollywood location in Hollywood, Florida.

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

I actually have two favorite kitchen tools – my 8 inch knife and my stainless steel pan. I have cooked with these tools for over 12 years.
4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?

My sharpest sense is touch. Feel is very important as a chef.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

My advice would be to never give up and always make every dish a masterpiece.

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

Every chef should know and perfect their knife skills. They are not only important for safety, but also for your dish’s presentation.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food is using quality ingredients and not trying to over complicate your dish.

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

Comfort and mobility are most important for my chef outfit.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

My favorite ingredient is olive oil.

10.Favorite City to dine out in?

New York!

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

Baked avocado with tomato basil salad and sauteed shrimp in a wine and butter sauce.

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

I like to grill different varieties of meats and vegetables on my days off.

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

I would most like to cook for Gordon Ramsay.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I always loved to cook and it allows me to be creative in my every day life.

Connect with Our August Chef of the Month:

Instagram: @pizzarusticahollywood

Facebook: Pizza Rustica- Hollywood

 

July 2018 Chef of the Month Andres Sen Sang

We are so excited to introduce our July Chef of the Month, Chef Andres Sen Sang!  He is a recent winner of Chef Showdown 8 with his signature Quinoa Latina and Chili 35 dish. If you do not find him in the kitchen as the Executive Chef for Suyo, a GastoFusion restuarant in the Bronx, you can find him with his family or working on his own business ventures – Eighty6Brand. Read below to find out more about Chef Andres!

1. Where were you born?

I was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador. After High School, I came to the states with my father and brother to visit. My father asked me if I wanted to go back home or stay in the states and I chose to stay. It was one of the best decisions I made in my life!

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

I am currently the Executive Chef at Suyo GastroFusion in the Bronx. It’s a New Restaurant and Bar in the Bronx serving Peruvian and Asian infused dishes. We just released the Bar menu and will be releasing the Dinner menu in a few weeks. We are bringing progressive/ modern cuisine to the Bronx. Now you don’t have to go to the city to get that kind of dining experience. The Bronx is where it’s at right now, we are really up and coming.

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

My favorite tool in the kitchen is my knife that I got while I was at The International Culinary Center. I decorated the end of the knife with yellow, blue and red tape to represent my Ecuadorian flag. I’m proud of where I came from.

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

I would have to say my sight and touch – these two go together for me. I use my sight to take in my surroundings. I look at colors, shapes and sizes and then I also feel the texture of things. I combine these things to create my dishes. This is why they go hand in hand.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

My advice for aspiring chefs would be to keep grinding. You have to keep motivating yourself daily. Always be consistent in your work and always maintain a good work ethic. Make connections with people everywhere you go, networking is a powerful thing in this industry. Stay humble and grateful for all the opportunities you get. Don’t ever be afraid to fail, it actually turns out to be a great lesson for next time.

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

I would say to always listen and pay attention to details. Always make sure that your kitchen is organized. Your stations should be prepped and set for success. A successful Chef once told me, “always be proactive not reactive.” That has really stuck with me.

7. What does good food meant to you?

Good food to me means that it was cooked with love and passion. Good food is that type of food that you always remember exactly where you were, who you were with and how delicious and satisfying the food was. It becomes more than just good food, it becomes a memorable dining experience.

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

Bronx Chefs are all about swag. You don’t necessarily have to be professional all the time, but you should always look clean. I’m all about a fitted hat, ripped jeans and sneakers. It should be comfortable and allow me to move. It’s a new generation out here and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Salt and pepper. Sometimes these two ingredients are all you need… oh and love. Salt, pepper and love.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

I would have to say my hometown of Guayaquil. I mean, there is nothing more satisfying that food from your home town. It’s delicious and nostalgic.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

Sesame crusted Salmon with Sesame Edamame Mash and Jicama tossed in Ginger Carrot Miso Dressing.

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

Days off, what are those?!?! Just kidding… On the rare occasion that I get a day off I like to have a nice piece of steak with a baked potato and a beer.

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

I would most like to cook for my parents. They are back in Ecuador and I have not had the honor of cooking for them as of yet. I hope to make it happen soon.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

First of all, I never in my life imagined that I was going to be a Chef. I got my first job in this industry in the bakery at Virgil’s BBQ in NYC. I took the job because I was young and needed money. I slowly realized that I actually liked what I was doing. I worked my way up from that position. As I worked my way up, my passion for cooking grew. It just came so natural. I guess it was my “calling” as people put it. I couldn’t have made this all happen without support from my wife, family and friends. I truly love what I do and I love the journey I’ve taken to get here.

Connect with Our July Chef of the Month:

Instagram: @chef_andy_one

Facebook: Andres Sen Sang

 

June 2018 Chef of the Month Julie Herrera-Lemler

 

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We are excited to introduce you to our June Chef of the Month, Chef Julie Herrera-Lemler! She is an prize-winning baker as well as a jack of all trades! If she is not baking, you can find her teaching baking classes, public speaking or even officiating weddings! Read below for more on our June Chef of the Month and her tips and tricks to having a successful career in baking!

1. Where were you born? 

I was born in San Jose, CA.

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

I am the owner of You Betcha Cupcake! In Rochester, MN

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

I have a couple favorite kitchen tools. I love Several different sized cookie scoops.  These are essential for measuring just the right amount of batter for different sized cupcakes. I also need baking tips for creating different frosting looks to accompany the perfect garnish. Finally, I must have my multi kitchen timer – because a busy girl has a million things going at once.  Mine has four timers on it – all with different alarm tones.

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

My eyes. Everyone eats with their eyes first. Details and neatness matters. If you have a beautiful dish – that is the very first impression of what’s to come.

  5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

I have a couple of things. Volunteer in a kitchen whenever you can. Get the experience of working in different kitchens with different people. Another tip is to find yourself a mentor.  A good mentor (or two) will guide you on the right path.

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

Be organized. Set everything up prior to your start and you won’t have to run around looking for things.

  7. What does good food meant to you?

Good food makes everyone happy. Everyone has to eat but I means something when you take the time, make it right and it turns out good/great!

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

Color and comfort are most important.

 9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

Berries. Berries are not only delicious but they are beautiful in any dish. The color of berries is like no other.

 10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

My own! Rochester, MN has many new places and has become quite the culinary town in the last couple of years.

 11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

Key Lime PIE Cupcakes. They are my prize winning cupcakes. It is made with a homemade pie crust at the bottom, a key lime cake, key lime cream cheese and butter frosting and a fresh raspberry on top.

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

Anything Asian!

 13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

My father. He passed away before seeing me thrive in my elements of baking. Before he passed, he told me he liked my cooking.  That has stuck with me to this day.  Although he enjoyed my cooking, I know he would have enjoyed my sweet treats.

 14. What made you decide to become a chef?

My passion started with a bake sale for charity. I held it two years in a row and by the end of the second year; I discovered that I really had a passion for creating beautiful small treats.

Connect with Our June Chef of the Month:

Website: http://www.youbetchacupcake.com/

Instagram: @youbetchacupcake

Facebook: You Betcha Cupcake

Twitter: @YouBetchaCupcak

May 2018 Chef of the Month Will Staten

Meet Chef Will Staten, we’re happy to

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 introduce him as our May 2018 Chef of the Month! Chef Staten is the founder and head chef of Ragin’ Cajun Cookin’, Dubs’ Rubs Spice Line and Dubs’ Po’ Boy Shop. You can find him in Las Vegas cooking or working on special projects. Read below to find out more about Chef Will Staten!

 1. Where were you born? 

I was born in Maine, but due to my parents both being in the military, we traveled the United States and the world living in various cities, states and countries.

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

I own and operate Ragin’ Cajun Cookin’, which is a private chef, catering & restaurant consulting business. We are currently finishing up the outfitting of a food truck as well as creating a restaurant/service industry hospitality group to go along with a site location for 2 cafes and grab-n-go’s.

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

My favorite kitchen tool for creating dishes has got to be my spoons from Chef Spoons. They allow me to precisely place each ingredient where needed, plus they give me the ability to mix perfectly and taste test as I cook.

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

My sharpest sense would probably have to be my ears and nose (yes 2). My reasoning is because you should be able to actually hear when food is done, as well as smell when something is good or bad. I know when fried chicken is done by the sound it makes (or stops making), much like I know when gumbo is finished or ruined, by the smell it gives off.

 5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

The advice I’d give young chefs would be the advice that was given to me as a teenager and throughout college while earning my degrees. Enjoy it to the fullest and learn as much as you can. When you feel you know everything about the business, it’s time for you to walk away because you no longer can offer anyone anything due to being closed-minded.

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

With my expertise being in the Cajun-Creole realm, I would personally have to say every chef should know how to make a roux. Not just one type, but multiple types since they cover many different dishes and cuisines.

 7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food means that people are smiling, their mouths are full, and their bellies are content. Good food is the feeling of always wanting more, yet knowing when to stop as to not get tired of the cuisine or style of cooking.

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

The features I look for most when selecting my chef outfits are those that represent my personality, my character, my interests and my culinary view. I like contrasting colors because it represents my understanding of the Yin-Yang concept, the give and take of the culinary world and life.

 9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

My favorite ingredient to work with has got to be garlic. There’s so many ways to incorporate it and have different effects on the dish and the palate. From fried garlic and black garlic, to garlic paste and garlic infused oils, the possibilities are endless.

 10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

From living in many places and doing business and vacations across the globe, I’ve got to say that my hometown of Las Vegas is my favorite dine-out city. I have friends in many restaurants and because we are now the “Culinary Capital of the World”, how could I NOT pick Vegas?!

 11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

Judging by my belief, my daughter’s, my wife’s, friends or clients, there is a different answer for each. In my personal opinion, I would have to say my Jambalaya. It’s what everyone knows me for in every city I travel to.

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

On my days off I think I’m like every other chef. I like to eat steak, bacon cheeseburgers and tacos. Simple stuff that takes no time and little cleanup (if done right).

 13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

I’ve cooked for many world renowned chefs in the past, but I would say I would love to cook for Paul Prudhomme and Justin Wilson (if they were still alive) or Leah Chase, as they represent the style of cooking that I have adopted through years of tradition, learning and experiences.

 14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I actually stumbled on to becoming a chef because of the redundant and crappy meals my parents would always make. I got my first job at 15 years old and started experimenting with the ingredients we had at the restaurant where I worked. Because the choice was mine to create something new or stick with the regular menu items, I never got bored of what I got to eat. Being creative lead me to many different careers within culinary and even the martial arts world, which in turn was a mirror image of culinary.

Connect with Our May Chef of the Month:

Website: https://www.ragincajuncookin.com/

Instagram: @theblackbeltchef

Facebook: Ragin’ Cajun Cookin’

Twitter: @ragincajuncookn

April 2018 Junior Chef of the Month Chef Simone Bridges

We are excited to introduce Chef Simone Bridges as our April 2018 Junior Chef of the Month! Chef Simone is a 12-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida who demonstrates excitement, drive and passion in everything she does. At such a young age, Chef Simone has been able to grow her business as the Goddess Food Factory including cooking classes and a subscription box! Read more about our Junior Chef of the Month Chef Simone below!

 1. Where were you born? 

I was born in the beautiful, sunshine city of Jacksonville, Florida.

 2. What are 3 things most people don’t know about you? 

  • I am a very shy person, when it’s one on one if I don’t know you yet. When I am baking and I get to know you, I’m very energetic. Also, when I’m in front of a large audience I shine bright.
  • I love to play sports, especially basketball and track. My favorite sport is running track. I have a lot of energy in me and I always love to compete. I love the competition, the speed and the wind pushing against my face when running track. It puts me in a good mood.
  • I love to play with and teach kids, especially babies.

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

My favorite culinary tool is a wooden spoon. I use a spoon to mix up different recipes and to taste the food I’m cooking. I’m always using a spoon and it is very easy to carry around when traveling.

4. What advice would you offer for aspiring young chefs?

My advice would be to put your best foot forward every single time you are baking. I like to imagine baking for Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, or Beyoncé. Make it the best you can every time, so it can be the best for the people you are baking for.

5. What made you want to begin the Goddess Food Factory?

I started the Goddess Food Factory because I wanted a way to connect with other girls like me and other people who like to bake. It is a great way to connect me with other children and a way for other kids to learn how to cook. A lot of grandmas like to cook, so the kids can be the grandma they might not have had or the mom/dad who can’t take time out of their busy day to sit down with their kids or know how to bake. With the Goddess Food Factory, I like to take simple steps to make it easy for them to learn.

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

My chef coat must be pink – it’s my signature color, and it must have pockets on it for my chef tools or flyers and my card to hand out. Another thing I need is comfort – the texture must feel right and smooth.

7. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

Sugar – sugar makes everything taste right. It perfects everything, sugar is the key ingredient!

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

Every chef should know how to present their dish. Presentation is key. You want it to look and taste good. You do not want it to look all over the place and messy, it should be plated well. Some people taste with their eyes initially. If it doesn’t look good, they may not taste it at all.

9. Best Dish you have ever made? 

My best baked dessert would have to be my famous snicker brownies! The chocolate melts in your mouth with the caramel inside. The flavors are well combined and it has a crunchy nutty and silky chocolate sauce that makes you want to dance when you bite into it.

10. Who is the person you would most like to cook for? 

I would love to cook for a few people- Michelle Obama and Beyoncé. Michelle Obama is the first black woman in the white house and she teaches us how to keep our heads high. She is a great inspiration for all little girls. I admire her so much Beyoncé has been my favorite singer since I was 5 years old and she’s such a phenomenal woman. I would love to have a seat at the dinner table with the whole family. We would eat a great meal or desserts prepared by me and chat about her kids, her inspiration for her music, and I would ask about business advice because she’s a mogul.

11. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years in your culinary career?

I see myself with a lot more products in my merchandise line and having my own baking show in which I cook and bake with other celebrity chefs. I want to travel all over the world to empower and inspire other young children. I want to have TV commercials, maybe even a reality show about my life and business, and to compete on Food Network. Additionally, I would love to be a judge for a kid’s baking championship to inspire other kids all over the nation.

Fun Facts!

Chef Simone has been on the cover of Inspire magazine, the Steve Harvey show, in the news, appeared on Trinity Baptist Network in Smile of a Child commercials.

She teaches kids in elementary school to help them get a better understanding of STEM-based learning through her ExSTREAM Baking program, in which she infuses baking and cooking with Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

You can book our Junior Chef of the Month for motivational speaking, purchase products, desserts, and subscription boxes!

Connect with Our April Chef of the Month:

Website: www.goddessfoodfactory.com

Instagram: @goddessfoodjax

Facebook: Goddess Food Factory

Twitter: @goddessfoodjax

Youtube: Goddess Food Factory

 

 

March 2018 Chef of the Month Patty Francis

We are excited to introduce Chef Patty Francis as our March 2018 Chef of the Month! Chef Patty has a passion for creativity. She loves to express her creative side through many avenues, and we are lucky that baking is one of them! Read more below about Chef Patty and her love of baking.

  1. Where were you born?

I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I moved to the States when I was 13 years old. I’ve lived in Lynn, MA practically my whole life as this has been my adopted home for over 20 years.

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

I am the proud owner and cake artist of Luna Sweets in Lynn, MA.

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

My favorite kitchen tools are any that provide precision; measuring cups, spoons, scale, etc. I’m such a perfectionist and you need to be when you’re a baker, the wrong measurement can ruin a recipe in no time.

  1. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Believe in yourself. I still find myself doubting my skills and looking for approval sometimes. Confidence is the most important thing to have in the kitchen. It frees you up and lets you be the best you can be.

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

Know your temperatures. Whether it is food safety temperatures, sugar stages, etc. cooking temperatures are so important. They are the difference between a successful dish and a cooking/baking fail.

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

A chef outfit needs to be comfortable. I move about a lot in the kitchen, I don’t like feeling restrained, to warm or too cold. It needs to feel like second skin so I’m focused on what I’m doing, not on what I’m wearing.

  1. What is your favorite ingredient to work with?

My favorite ingredient to work with are eggs, they are so versatile. Eggs are in everything from cake, custard, meringue or savory dishes like quiche, Spanish tortilla, etc. Eggs make everything better and did I mentioned that breakfast is my favorite meal? I can have breakfast anytime and eggs are a quintessential part of it.

8. What is your favorite City to dine out in?

My favorite city to dine out is definitely Santo Domingo. There’s so much variety, especially if you are like me and love Dominican food.  I love to eat Chimis (a Dominican version of a burger) from a food truck, or have fried fish and Yaniqueques at the beach, or go to Jalao Restaurant for live music and great ambiance. There’s so much to eat and so little time when I visit my country.

9. What is the Best Dish you have ever made?

The best dish I’ve ever made is strawberry shortcake cake from Luna Sweets. It’s my favorite cake on the menu. It’s very light, has tons of fresh strawberries which is one of my favorite fruits. It’s made with sponge cake, filled with whipped cream and chopped strawberries and frosted with strawberry meringue buttercream. It’s so delicious, I almost ate a 8 inch cake by myself.

10. What is the place you eat most often on your days off?

When I eat out on my days off, I usually eat Mexican food. Mostly, because I love having chips and salsa with a tall glass of Margarita. It’s my guilty pleasure that I indulge in whenever I possibly can. Nothing like fried food and alcohol to help you get the edge off.

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

I’m currently watching all the Marvel Studios series on Netflix while waiting on my favorite shows to return. I just finished watching Daredevil and The Punisher, but I cannot wait until the new seasons of Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and The Americans come back.

Connect with Our March Chef of the Month:

Website: http://www.lunasweets.com

Instagram: @luna_sweets_

Facebook: Luna Sweets

Twitter: @Luna_sweets_

Youtube: Luna Sweets

February 2018 Chef of the Month Amy Irizarry

Meet Chef Amy Irizarry, we’re happy to introduce her as our February 2018 Chef of the Month! Chef Amy is the Executive Pastry Chef at Bite Bakery and Café in Downtown Utica, NY. Read more below about Chef Amy Irizarry and her love of cooking.

  1. Where were you born?

I was born in Utica, New York.

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

I am the Executive Pastry Chef at Bite Bakery and Café in the historic Franklin Square of Downtown Utica, NY

  1. What is your favorite kitchen tool to use while creating your masterpieces/dishes?

My favorite kitchen tool would be my commercial grade KitchenAid mixer. It is the perfect size for small to medium batches of just about everything from macarons to bagel dough. My Thermoworks Thermopop digital thermometer is a close second. Baking is a science, and temperature is extremely important. Thermoworks has made a thermometer that is easy to use and accurate.

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

My sharpest sense would have to be my sight. I am obsessed with final touches and miniscule details. I love putting desserts together and making all the garnishes flow just right.

  1. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

If you’re an aspiring chef, I would like to offer this piece of advice: work hard. This is a crazy industry. You will work holidays, weekends, and in less than favorable temperatures. If you can work hard through all of that, you will be successful.

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

I think every chef should know and perfect the ability to understand what your customers want. Sometimes I want to put all these crazy flavors together and I have to stop and think about what my customers actually want. Over the years, I’ve struggled with finding a balance of being able to turn some of my ideas into a product that my customers will love. Having that ability is what makes you an amazing chef.

  1. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me means happiness. Whether it’s an amazing dining experience at the best restaurant in the city, or Taco Bell after a 16-hour shift because it’s the only place open on your way home. That happiness you get from eating something you think is good is what every chef sets out to recreate.

  1. What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? 

I believe the most important feature in a chef coat is the pockets. I always look for coats that have a lot of space in the arm pocket. As a pastry chef, I need a pocket that can hold more than just pens. The pocket must be big enough for pens, thermometers, mini offsets, and the occasional paring knife or pastry brush.

  1. Favorite ingredient to work with?

My favorite ingredient to work with is chocolate. From baking to tempering – it is by far the most versatile and challenging ingredient to work with. Chocolate is more than just a cupcake flavor. It can be a massive showpiece you’ve worked on for months, or it can be molded into the perfect bonbon. The possibilities are endless.

  1. Favorite City to dine out in?

My favorite city to dine out in is actually the city I work and live in; Utica, New York. Some of my favorites restaurants here are The Tailor and the Cook, Mötus, and The Local Farm to Table.

  1. Best Dish you have ever made?

One of the best desserts I have ever made was a Valentine’s special a few years ago while working at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, for a restaurant called TS Steakhouse. The dessert consisted of layers of champagne bavaroise and strawberry curd over a chiffon base filled with a blood orange and champagne insert that sauced the plate when you cut into it. I made the insert using a technique called Spherification, where you create a chemical reaction by adding calcium lactate to the blood orange sauce and freezing it in small half sphere molds, then putting the frozen spheres into a sodium alginate bath which creates a thin skin around the insert while the center stays completely liquid.

  1. Who would you most like to cook for?

The person I would most love to bake for is Chef Dalia Jurgensen. I read her book in 2012 when I was a few years into my career and questioning why I was working in this industry. Her book solidified in me that crazy love for whatever being a Chef means. She is an amazingly talented Pastry Chef and instructor who inspired me to stay focused and work hard instead of walking away from the industry that I love so much. I would love to be able to sit down and swap kitchen stories and learn a t

hing or two from one of the greats.

  1. What made you decide to become a chef?

My parents inadvertently made me want to become a Chef. I’ve always loved art, drawing and painting. I wanted to go to school for art, but my parents were worried I would end up being a starving artist and told me how much I would struggle in an oversaturated field of work. I’ve loved all things food since I can remember, and I figured the closest thing to a career in art I could really succeed in was Pastry Art, so I ended up going to culinary school. It was by far the best decision I have ever made.

Connect with Our February Chef of the Month:

Instagram: @pastrykhaleesi

January 2018 Chef of the Month John Charles

 

Meet Chef John Charles, we’re happy to introduce him as our January 2018 Chef of the Month! Chef John attended Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas and worked in various Italian restaurants in New York to perfect his craft. Our January 2018 Chef of the Month is now a private chef located in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, specializing in Italian cuisine. Read more below about Chef John Charles and his advice for current and future chefs.

 

 

1. Where were you born?

I was born in Utica, New York.

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

I am a private/personal chef out of Garland, TX. Serving the Dallas and surrounding areas. I also work as a manager for Sur La Table helping customers with their cooking needs.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool to use while creating your masterpieces/dishes?

My pasta machine! I love using my Kitchen Aid pasta machine attachment. The tool is made in Italy and well made, enabling me to make sheets of pasta at a quick rate.

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

I would say my sense of taste. I had a lot of help refining my taste while attending Le Cordon Bleu. As a Chef, I am always tasting and adjusting until I get it just right.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Determination, and never give up. There will be ups and downs but always trust in yourself and trust in the process. Fight for what you want and always keep your standards high. Your name is on that plate, show the world who you are.

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

Taste your food throughout! When cooking pasta always cook it a minute or two less and never cook it with oil in the water. The pasta will continue to cook after it has come out of the water and if you add oil to the water the sauce will not stick to the pasta.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me means authentic. If I am eating Italian, I want to feel like I am in Sicily. Food is an experience and brings people together. Whether I am cooking for someone, or eating myself I want it to do just that.

8. What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? 

I like long sleeve coats that are crisp and professional. I like color to add some personality with the standard pocket on the left arm.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

I really like cooking with wine. From a great Bolognese to a delicious risotto, wine really helps give another depth of flavor.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

I live a few minutes from Dallas, so I’d have to say Dallas. Dallas has so many great places to dine out. No matter what your craving you’ll find something great in Dallas.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

One of my signature dishes is a play on an old-world recipe for meatloaf. It’s an Italian Florentine meatloaf. That dish gets requested quite a bit. I also really like making Veal Marsala. I love the flavor the marsala wine gives the dish. A very elegant meal.

12. Who would you most like to cook for?

That’s a tough one. I would like to cook for Giada De Laurentiis, Gordon Ramsey, and from a different side of things, Clayton Kershaw of the LA Dodgers.

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

I have always had a love for wanting to cook and cook the best most authentic food I could. My Mom’s side of the family was from Sicily, and Italy so that’s where my passion for that cuisine came from. I would buy every cookbook I could on Italian food and study as much as I could. When I got the opportunity, I went to Le Cordon Bleu and learned from a lot of great people. Cooking for people is what I love.

Connect with Our January Chef of the Month:

Website: https://www.chefjohncharles.com/

Instagram: @chef_john_charles

Facebook: Chef John Charles

Twitter: @chef_john_charl

November 2017 Chef of the Month Jonathan Scinto

 

Introducing our November Chef of the Month, Jonathan Scinto! Scinto is a Private Chef & TV Personality born in Queens, New York. Notably featured on “MasterChef,” “Rooftop Chopped,” and “Iron Chef Showdown,” to name a few. Currently,  Jonathan is the owner of Chef Jonathan’s Private Parties & Events and lives on Long Island with his wife and their 3 daughters.

 

1. Birthplace:

Queens, NY

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

I work all over the United States as a Private Chef. I am based on Long Island, NY in a mid-size town called North Bellmore.

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

My Ninja Food Processor, my Chef Knife from Kayne Custom Knives, Chicago Cutlery Knives, my Plating Spoons from Chef Spoons and Plating Gold Tweezers from TrueCooks.

4. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Stay humble and dedicated, don’t let rejection and negativity get in the way of your culinary goals.

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

Only use recipes as a tool for research, don’t be afraid to think outside the box to create your own cuisine.

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

Comfort and styling.

7. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Fresh Herbs and Spices

8. Favorite City to dine out in?

NYC.

9. Best Dish you have ever made?

Hard to narrow it down to one, but I like to cook Italian comfort food with Asian Influences. I’m doing a cuisine I invented called “Itasian”, which was first introduced at the Food Network Rooftop “Chopped.”

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

My local pizza place called Calabria Pizza

11. Who do you enjoy cooking for?

Family and Friends.

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

Mind of a Chef, anything Disney, Marvel movies, and classic TV shows from the 50s-90s.

Connect with Our November Chef of the Month:

Website: https://chefjonathans.wixsite.com/jonathanscinto

Instagram: @chefjonathans

Facebook: @ChefJonathanS

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