Tag Archives: chef

July 2017 Chef of the Month John Offerdahl

Offerdahls Pic 1John Offerdahl began his professional football career in 1986, when he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round. John was an inside linebacker, and had an extremely successful professional football career spanning a total of 8 years. He founded his first restaurant, Offerdahl’s Bagel Gourmet, while he was still playing football professionally, igniting his passion of freshly made food eventually leading to the creation of his quick-service chain of restaurants now known as Offerdahl’s Off the Grill.

Recently we had the opportunity to speak with John and we’re so thrilled to have him as our July Chef of the Month. Check out our visit to Offerdahl’s Off the Grill!

Keep reading to learn more about his time on and off the grill, and words of wisdom for future chefs looking to enter the industry.

1. After your incredibly successful career in professional football, what got you interested in the food business?

I was in the midst of contract negotiations with the team – actually the longest holdout in Miami Dolphins history – and during that time my wife Lynn and I started doing research into the food business, especially bagels, knowing that my professional career could potentially end at any moment! We happened to be in the market at a time when new technology, including a new type of bagel-manufacturing machine that made the process much more efficient and cost-effective, was revolutionizing the industry by combining two separate processes into one. We asked our lawyer at the time if we should really attempt to enter the restaurant business, and he began asking us questions: Where did we grow up? Do you have any previous restaurant experience? Business experience? It became painfully clear that we had all the wrong answers to these questions. Despite that, he later sent us a package saying his answer was inside, and low-and-behold it was a bagel toaster.

2. Tell us a about your restaurant, Offerdahl’s Off the Grill.

We are a fast-casual diner specializing in providing fresh, healthy choices that let you leave feeling refreshed, not weighed down! Since our founding in 2000, we have grown to six stores around South Florida.

3. What is your favorite hobby/pastime to participate in outside of work?

Bridge. I love the game and it is by far one of my favorite pastimes. I play every Wednesday with a group of four close friends. It gets extremely competitive and I absolutely love it! It keeps my mind sharp.

4. How many employees do you have at your stores?

We have more than 120 employees across our six stores.

5. What made you choose Chef Uniforms as your uniform supplier for over 120 employees and are you satisfied with the service you have been provided?

We are not only beyond satisfied, we love them! I walk into our stores and I am so proud of the way my employees look. A combination of factors – the branding, the embroidery, the styling, it just all comes together really nicely. I wear mine almost every workday! They hide grease and stains really well, especially due to the dark colors we chose. Most importantly though was the customer service Chef Uniforms provided. My wife Lynn said she was so impressed by how responsive you guys were as a company and by how well we were able to work together as partners to create this uniform line.

6. What is your favorite/best dish you have ever made?

The Inside Lineburger! I love making them because I can customize it with whatever ingredients I want in the burgers, creating new tastes and flavors! The largest one I’ve ever made was about the size of my grill!

7. Tell us a little about the charitable work you do.

Working through a charitable Foundation I created called the Handoff Foundation, we assist in enabling the homeless to get off the street and focus on rebuilding their lives. We also host an annual charity event called the Gridiron Grilloff – a premier venue where football and food meet. As a food, wine, tailgate festival, it is a fun way to support the less fortunate by bringing together professional Dolphins players with some of South Florida’s best professional chefs!

8. What’s the best piece of advice you would give aspiring chefs?

The best piece of advice I could give to people considering entering the restaurant business would be to keep your 40 hour a week job and spend another 20 hours on top of that in working in the food industry. Not only will that give you appreciation for what working in food is like, but it will also give you an idea of how much time is required for a successful career in the restaurant industry. 60-hour work weeks are not only common, but nearly required for success! Also, I’m a big believer in pursuing your dreams, because after all, who would have thought I could have entered the bagel business!

Stay connected with our July Chef of the Month:

Website: http://www.offerdahls.com/

Instagram: @johnofferdahl

Twitter: @GridironGriller

May 2017 Chef of the Month Aryen Moore-Alston

IMG_3564

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!

November 2016 Chef of the Month Mikey Termini

We are happy to announce our new Chef of the Month for the month of November, Mikey Termini! He is a very talented chef, and we are excited to showcase Chef Mikey throughout the month. Read more below to find out about Chef Mikey’s life as a chef in Hawaii and now Florida. Make sure to stay tuned in the following weeks for his excellent recipes.

  1. Birthplacmikey.jpge:

I was born in Santa Cruz, Calfornia which is in Monterey Bay. Straight out of high school, I went to Maui, Hawaii and spent the last 15 years there cooking.

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

Currently, I work at the Four Seasons PB&G Pool Bar and Grill in Orlando, Florida a part of Walt Disney World.

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

My favorite kitchen tool is the spoon in my back pocket- I use it to taste dishes and spooning out sauces.

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

That would have to be touch. I am great with my hands. I like to create things, feel out all of the textures and turn food into something great.

  1. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Run. Just kidding, keep the passion and don’t burn out. Find the love for food in everything you do whether you are making burgers and french fries or a $60 halibut plate.

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

Have patience. In my experience, the one thing so many cooks and chefs don’t have a lot of is patience. Stay patient with the day to day work, if you have good patience, you can be a real strong leader in the industry.

  1. What does good food mean to you?

Love. The feeling of someone putting a lot of care into what I’m eating and bacon.

  1. What trends do you see emerging in the near future?

I wish breakfast food would get a little bit bigger and work towards transforming it to a dinner atmosphere. Breakfast is one of the least tapped parts of eating. It is a great meal, nice, full, rich food at breakfast time takes you back to when you were a kid.

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

The most important to me are the looks and style. I hate chef coats that are too baggy or the lines being too big for my build. I really look for nice lines that are not bunched in the back but at the same time are not too tight but fit just right.

  1. What is your go-to chef outfit? Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc?

I always go back to white coats. I always like a nice white coat with long sleeves that are rolled up, paired with black slacks and a waist apron with a loop for my towel.

  1. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Bacon is my number 1. But after spending so much time in Hawaii,  I love using sweet chili sauce. My favorite way to use it is by adding it to crab cakes for sweetness and a little bit of spice.

  1. Favorite City to dine out in?

San Francisco, California. Because I grew up in Monterey Bay going into the city, I have never eaten at a bad restaurant there.

  1. Best Dish you have ever made?

One thing everyone wants me to cook when I go home is a pasta carbonara. It is an Italian dish that I like to make with fresh pasta peas, pancetta egg cream sauce and top it with truffle oil

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

Home. I love going to the Asian markets and getting stuff there. I usually like to get duck or some kind of pork dish depending on what they have.

  1. Who is a person you would like to cook for?

Bruce Willis or Rob Zombie. They are not chefs, but I would love to cook for them and be around them for a night.

  1. What made you decide to become a chef?

When I first moved to Hawaii, I was doing dishes at a restaurant, and the chef there asked me if I wanted to be a cook or a bartender. I chose cook because I figured I could last a lot longer on food than alcohol.

  1. What is new on your DVR?

Stranger Things on Netflix, it is a TV show that has a Stephen King type vibe. Then once The Walking Dead comes back on, that will fill my DVR because I’m a diehard zombie fan.

Chef Anthony Hunt’s Top Fishing Techniques

anthony-smile-with-bait

Typically, our chef of the month provides three recipes. However, this month we are switching it up a bit. After speaking with our October Chef of the Month, Anthony Hunt we quickly realized his love and passion for fishing. Chef Anthony or maybe we should say Fisherman Anthony has finished top 10 in 7 tournaments, fished over 48 events, and his largest catch was over 24 pounds! You can see more of his fishing success stories here.

We got to talking about his fishing techniques and competitions and decided it would be great if he provided us with a fishing recipe for success. So this week our October Chef of the Month explains and gives us a few fishing pointers! Enjoy!

Flipping and pitching are some of my favorite techniques to do while competing at the National FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) Tournament circuit.

Here is the gear I use to do this very skilled technique:

Okuma TCS Rod and Reel Mat Daddy 7’6 with a Helios Air 7:3.1

Reel. 1.5 Pro Tungsten

Mustad pen grip flipping hooks

Fished on 65-pound Test Smackdown Seaguar Braid

Favorite plastic bait to use is Gary Yamamoto Flappin Hog in Black and Blue Fleck

Some information and direction on flipping and pitching:

Flipping involves peeling off about 50 to 75 percent or more line than the length of the rod and simply feeding the line back through the guides as you drop and lift the rod.

Pitching involves releasing the lure from your hand with an underhand pitching movement as you let the line feed through the guides while you thumb the spool.

Pitching and flipping are lure specific ways to fish. By that I mean there are only a few types of bait that are used with these techniques which also dictates the types of cover we fish.For example, you can pitch a slow, stationary bait such as a jig or worm, or you can pitch a faster-moving bait such as a spinnerbait.

Flipping the bait is usually only done with a stationary type bait, whether it is plastic or pork. By the way, it is not recommended to pitch crankbaits.Of course, when pitching or flipping, you will want to use as light a bait as possible, so you do not spook the fish.

Worms with a 1/8-ounce weight pegged or 3/16- to 1/ 4-ounce jigs with pork trailers should be the ticket in shallow water.Jigs and worms with up to a 1-ounce weight may be necessary to penetrate thick weeds such as hydrilla.

Now go catch some fish!

OCTOBER 2016 CHEF OF THE MONTH ANTHONY HUNT

We are excited to announce our Chef of the Month for October is: Anthony Hunt!  See what Anthony is all about below and look out for his awesome recipes to come throughout the month!

Where were you born?anthony-face-with-bait

I was born in Laurel, Delaware.

Where do you work and where are you based?

I currently work at Yolo Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, as a corporate pastry chef and works for the restaurant people (group).

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

The Sous-Vide cooking immersion cooker.  It slowly cooks to keep the flavor locked inside. It doesn’t have an effect on the texture and keeps the food moist.

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

Taste. Some of your senses intertwine with each other. But I always try to taste as much as I can. I hated mango and cilantro because my taste buds did not understand it. After tasting it over and over I could finally understand the beauty in the flavors. I look for something different than what I pick up the first time.

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Do something else. Be a teacher or be a chef only if this is something that is in your heart.  It is not a fly by night career, you have to really love it. Sometimes you may not figure that out right away. It takes time maybe 10 years after you start your career, then you’ll find out whether you aren’t into it or you’ll really love it. I was following my brother in the industry and I didn’t think I had it. I watched him fall out and I found that I really had a knack for it. Make sure you love cooking, pastries, and people – everything that is in the industry.

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

How to make an egg. The simple foundation in culinary is worth that if you can’t make an egg, he/she probably can’t boil a hot dog or make a steak. Knowing how to make a good scrambled egg is paying attention to the coagulation and the residual heat otherwise it will kill your egg every time.

What does good food mean to you?

Something you experience and taste. You can give the most expensive wagyu or whatever but I can taste the person’s passion in their food.

What trends do you see emerging in the near future?

Super-foods are taking over. Quinoa evolving kale and kale pesto alongside hearty greens and spinach. Healthier trends will evolve into the restaurant side and the heavy sauces will disappear, it’s happening already.

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

For me a few things make good qualities in a chef coat. Egyptian cotton is a fabric I have grown to love over the years because its lighter. Having mobility is important you want to be able to stretch and make sure it’s not pulling on you. I shouldn’t have to put pounds of starch on it, I also like breathing holes. Dressing as a chef now is at its coolest point ever. We are not the traditional tall hat guys anymore; the style is a lot looser now.

What is your go-to chef outfit? Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc?

A custom chef coat that looks like every day clothes. How cool and breathable the jacket is. A pair of jeans and clogs. Then top it off with a cool apron and baseball cap and an old school Buff fishing bandanna, I have a mop head.

Favorite ingredient to work with?

I get excited about fish.  Especially fish that is caught by me. I love the freshness of fish – it cannot touch water, must be on ice and cooked the same day. Saltwater fish only. My favorite fish is flounder.

Favorite City to dine out in?

I am going to have to say Miami. I really like The Federal Restaurant, my friend is the owner.

Best Dish you have ever made?

I think it is a mojo pork belly with a cilantro key lime pie filling custard. Crispy curry lentils succotash grits cheesy grits and corn chutes (micro corn chute).

Place you eat most often on your days off?

Probably at the S3 restaurant. I really like the fresh sushi options and they have one of the best macaroni and cheese in the world.

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

My mom.  I haven’t cooked for my mom yet. I have been cooking for a long time, over 20 years. I have also been away from my mom for 20 years. Every time I go home my brother cooks so I haven’t had the chance to cook for my mother.

What made you decide to become a chef?

I kind of needed to pay for fishing. Fishing was the priority I never knew I would be in the chef industry this long. It took 10 years to learn that I loved it. I started to realize how many contrasts and textures flavors there are. The creativity and the artsy flow of cooking was the main force and reason, outside of wanting to compete and beat my brother.  The creative process is what I really love. I am at a point in my chef career where I don’t pull from other chefs anymore I pull from my own palate.

What is new on your DVR?

My episode of my food network chopped.  Episode 26 season 5 desserts.

 

 

Chefuniforms.com’s First International Chef of the Month- Ana Birac

Congratulations to Chef Ana Birac- our September 2016 Chef of the Month! She is Chefuniforms.com first featured International Chef. All the way from Croatia, Chef Birac was almost as excited as we were to have her as our September 2016 Chef. Read below to learn more about her life cooking across the globe and stay tuned for some awesome recipes she sent us for you to check out!

ana-picture-with-staff

  1. Birthplace:

I WAS BORN ON JULY 31ST, 1991 IN ZAGREB, CROATIA.

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

I WORK IN ROVINJ – ISTRIA ON THE CROATIAN ADRIATIC COAST, WHERE I ALSO LIVE AT THE MOMENT. I’M BASED AT THE A LA CARTE RESTAURANT IN THE OLEANDER HOTEL– THAT IS BASED BETWEEN SOME OF THE BEST HOTELS IN THE WORLD: MONTE MULLINI (NO.1 IN THE WORLD), LOND (NO.3 IN THE WORLD) AND EDEN.

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

MY FAVORITE KITCHEN TOOLS ARE: A SHARP KNIFE, GOOD TWEEZERS AND A THERMOMIXER.

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

TASTE, MOST DEFINITELY.

  1. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

DON’T EVER LOSE MOTIVATION. BEING A CHEF IS THE BEST JOB EVER BECAUSE THERE ARE A MILLION WAYS TO SURPRISE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM FEEL ENCHANTED, HAPPY AND SATISFIED. YOU CAN CREATE YOUR OWN COLORFUL LITTLE WORLD MADE OF INGREDIENTS.

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

A SHARP KNIFE AND AN ENDLESS IMAGINATION ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS IN THE KITCHEN. AND OF COURSE, A TOUCH OF LOVE AND CRAZINESS.

  1. What does good food mean to you?

FOR ME GOOD FOOD IS MADE WITH LOVE. IT DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN EXPENSIVE AND NUMEROUS INGREDIENTS. YOU JUST NEED TO PREPARE IT WITH LOVE AND PASSION, YOU NEED TO GIVE YOURSELF TO THAT DISH.

  1. What trends do you see emerging in the near future?

UNFORTUNATELY, IT SEEMS THAT TECHNOLOGY IS TAKING OVER THE KITCHENS AND REPLACING CHEFS. BUT AS LONG AS THERE ARE YOUNG CHEFS TRYING TO BEAT THE MACHINES, I SEE A LOT OF NEW VEGETABLES, SPICES AND PLANTS ENTERING THE KITCHEN SCENE.

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

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR ME IS THAT MY CHEF COAT IS COMFORTABLE. AS AN EXECUTIVE CHEF, I SPEND 15 HOURS PER DAY IN THE KITCHEN WEARING MY UNIFORM. IT HAS TO BE LIGHT AND COMFY, BUT ALSO I LIKE IT TO BE A LITTLE FUNKY – WHETHER IS IT COLORFUL, WITH DOTS, WITH SOME PICS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. I ALSO PREFER LITTLE POCKETS ON MY LEFT UPPER ARM TO KEEP MY PEN, TWEEZER AND SPOON.

  1. What is your go-to chef outfit? Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc?skull-pants-image

MY GO – TO CHEF OUTFIT DEFINITELY MEANS PANTS AND COATS. APRONS HERE AND THERE, HATS (I HATE TO ADMIT IT, BUT ONLY WHEN HEALTH INSPECTOR COMES J ) AND GOOD SHOES.

  1. Favorite ingredient to work with?

MY FAVORITE INGREDIENTS TO WORK WITH ARE VEGETABLES (NO ONE SPECIFICALLY), BUT BEFORE EVERYTHING I ADORE THYME!

  1. Favorite City to dine out in?

I DON’T REALLY HAVE FAVORITE CITY TO DINE OUT IN. IN GENERAL, IN CROATIA THAT WOULD PROBABLY BE ZAGREB. FOR ME THAT IS MY LIVING TOWN  – ROVINJ. BUT DON’T GO OUT TO A RESTAURANT, GO TO YOUR FRIENDS HOME AND ASK THEIR GRANDMA TO COOK FOR YOU. YOU’LL HAVE THE BEST DINNER EVER!

  1. Best Dish you have ever made?

HOME MADE “ŠTRUKLI” FILLED WITH SQUID RAGOUT, DRIED TOMATO AND MOTAR SAUCE

 Place you eat most often on your days off?

BEACH OR WOODS – IT’S IMPORTANT THAT IT IS IN THE OUTDOORS AND WITH FRESH INGREDIENTS.

 Person you would most like to cook for?

FOR ALL MY FRIENDS AND PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN SUPPORTING ME DURING THIS WHOLE PROCCESS OF BECOMING AN EXECUTIVE CHEF.

ALSO FOR ALL THE PEOPLE THAT MEAN SOMETHING TO ME IN MY LIFE.

FROM CELEBRITY CHEFS: GRANT ACATZ – OF COURSE, RENE REDZEPI, ALEX ATALA AND

ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ.

  1. What made you decide to become a chef?

LOVE FOR THE INGREDIENTS, LOVE FOR THE FOOD, LOVE FOR THE JOB, LOVE FOR THE UNIFORM.

I’M TELLING YOU – THE BEST JOB EVER!

THERE ARE NO LIMITS, THE IMAGINATION IS ENDLESS, COLOR YOUR PLATES AND MAKE THEM LOOK DIFFERENT AND PERFECT EVERY SINGLE TIME.

  1. What is new on your DVR?

THERE’S PRETTY MUCH NOTHING AND EVERYTHING NEW ON MY DVR! YEAH, FUNNY SENTENCE, I KNOW.

WELL, LET ME PUT IT THIS WAY: I AM TRYING TO DO SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY. SOMETIMES IT WORKS AND I GET COMMENDATION AND SOMETIMES I JUST… DO SOMETHING WRONG AND EVERYTHING GOES DOWN THE TOILET.

BUT I NEVER GIVE UP AND ALWAYS KEEP POSITIVE, SO THERE IS USUALLY SOMETHING GOOD TO TAKE A LOOK AT.

Come back next week for a new recipe from Chef Ana Birac!

Chef Dakota Soifer’s Harissa Recipe

Our Chef of the Month Dakota Soifer has shared another great recipe with us! You can use his Harissa as a great grilling marinade, add it to yogurt or aioli for a great dipping sauce, or even use it on its own as a vibrant condiment.

Ingredients:

meat

2 C Seeded & roughly chopped fresh fresno chilies

6 Cloves garlic

2t Tomato paste

1/2 C Pequillo peppers

1T Cumin

1T Coriander

1T Black cumin

2t Hot smoked paprika

1t Salt

2T Olive oil

Directions:

Toast the spices until fragrant and grind finely.  Put the chilies, garlic, salt and half the spices into a food processor. Let the processor run for a few minutes stopping it every now and then to scrape the sides down. You are trying to achieve a very smooth, almost liquid-y consistency. This will probably take longer than expected, be patient.  A well pureed base will ensure a successful Harissa.  Once pureed, add in the tomato paste & peppers along with the rest of spices.  Stir in the olive oil by hand, you don’t want an emulsion.  This will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, just pour a very thin layer of oil on the top to protect from oxidization, between uses.

Enjoy!

Chef Dakota Soifer’s Oyster Mushrooms with Sherry Recipe

oyster mushrooms image

Oyster mushrooms with Sherry.

At the cafe we love sherries and were always looking for a way to get people to drink more of it.  This dish, while great on its own, is a great showcase of how fun pairing sherry with food is.  We encourage you to check it out.

Ingredients:

½ lb oyster mushrooms

2T Olive oil

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1T (heaping) picked fresh thyme leaves

Salt

Black pepper

1/4c mushroom or vegetable stock

1T butter

1T fine sherry

Great EVOO

Directions:

Trim the woody root off the oyster mushrooms, saving them for mushroom stock.

In a thick bottomed pan with enough space to accommodate all of the mushrooms in a single layer, heat the 2T of olive oil over a high heat.  It is really important that the mushrooms aren’t overcrowded when they cook or the will steam rather than sear, muting the flavors & mushing the texture.

When the oil is simmering and almost smoking, dump the mushrooms in.  Don’t stir them right away let them sit & cook nicely for a moment.  Just stir once in a while. Think of it more as searing little steaks than stirring vegetables up in a pan.  Using this technique will help you take advantage of the mushroom’s unique texture and give the dish more character.

After 3 to 4 minutes and the mushrooms are browning nicely, stir in the butter, garlic and Thyme.  Once the garlic turns golden and the Thyme has become very aromatic, stir in the stock and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.  After the stock reduces and become a thick flavorful sauce, add in a nice splash of the sherry, careful not to flame it, return to the heat for a few more seconds and you’re done!

Serve over soft polenta, or on grilled bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with some great extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy!

August 2016 Chef of the Month Dakota Soifer

dakota_1-1-3

Congratulations Chef Dakota Soifer for being our Chef of the Month for August! See what he has been cooking up at his restaurant Cafe Aion, in Colorado.

Where were you born:

I was born in South China, Maine.

Where do you work and where are you based?

I am the chef and owner of Café Aion in Boulder, Colorado

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

My Paella pan is my favorite tool. It is made out of pounded carbon steel and the shape and thickness of the pan are great. I have one that is 12 inches and some that are 3 feet for when I cook for big farmer’s markets and large parties. I can get 40 or so servings out of each pan! I have a Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant, so we make a lot of Paella.

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

I think touch would be my sharpest sense.  Growing up, I was always playing in the dirt in the garden helping my dad who was a carpenter.  We did a lot of hands on and hands in things. I love to be hands on in all aspects- feeling the fresh produce we get in and even in rebuilding the restaurant. I have a degree in architecture, so when we remodeled the restaurant I was able to build the bar, design the community tables and the kitchen.

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Don’t rush to open your own restaurant or jump from position to position. In this day and age, people move around quite often and try to get a sous chef or executive chef position as quickly as they can and there is really something to be learned while spending years at the same restaurant throughout the seasons.  Try to enjoy the process or you will burn out quickly if you don’t go slow.

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

Everyone chef should know how to bake bread. It is something that’s kind of become lost and it adds a complexity and another layer of wonderfulness to a restaurant. The difference of a fresh quality is a special thing. It is really nice when you can see people slowing down and baking bread well.

What does good food mean to you?

Good food is thoughtful. It has a human touch.  It’s not an assembly line.  It is interesting how many of the very best or highly regarded restaurants become scientific and industrial in prep and production now. Everything has become too perfect. As a business owner, I understand how important it is for consistency and controlling your product, but in a way its gets away from the real joy of cooking.  I also think good food is created on a wood fired grilled.  The real fire introduces a part of nature that can’t be tamed or totally perfected at home. There should be a difference in eating at home and eating out at a restaurant.

What trends do you see emerging in the near future?

I see fast casual currently trending.  It is really interesting from a business point of view.  You see people taking the farm to table and sourcing things carefully and then applying that on a larger scale. It is somewhat sad to see restaurants becoming more standardized. You can now have wine on draft from a keg.  Everything has become fast and easy.  There is no patience in cooking anymore.

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

Definitely comfort and breathability.  I need to be able to move around and not feel like I’m wearing a cardboard box. You wear a chef coat because it’s a sign of your profession.  They’re white, which in our industry is ridiculous, but if you can work and keep it white, you’re skilled.  You can take pride in knowing that you look good to your guests and clean to keep your professional mentality.

What is your go-to chef outfit? Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc?

Jeans and a white t-shirt with my Dansko clogs.

Favorite ingredient to work with?

I really love bread.  It is so cool what you can do with a loaf of bread.  It is obvious that you can create sandwiches, but you can also tear it up and roast it to create crunchy croutons. You can do anything with these! You can use them to absorb sauces, add to a soup to create a luxurious consistency, create breadcrumbs to add texture to seafood pastas. It is so versatile and simple.  It lives on after its fresh state to being stale and has many different uses throughout its lifespan.

Favorite City to dine out in?

It may be clichéd, but San Francisco has a special place in my heart.  I moved out there after I graduated college to pursue my cooking career.  I moved around to get myself into the best places to work on my career, had no responsibilities, and was in my early 20s.  I had extra cash to go and try all these different places and explore the culture of San Francisco.

Best Dish you have ever made?

Paella.  It is a special dish for the restaurant, but one time a few friends of mine and I had an idea to have a mid-day picnic party.  We went into a field and made a fire. We had wine and cooked a paella and homemade sausage. It was great!

Place you eat most often on your days off?

Probably a dumpling shop that I go to with my daughter.  She is 8 and loves dumplings equally as much as I do. I have my partner in crime and we take down a large spread of them.  Dumplings are not something I cook or do often at home.  They are of a different cuisine and use other flavors than what I am around at work. My daughter and I have either pan fried pork or Chinese soup dumplings.

Person you would most like to cook for?

My grandmother was always very supportive, but she never got a chance to come to my restaurant. It would be cool to have had her to come to the restaurant.

What made you decide to become a chef?

I was in college for architecture, but I got a job cooking to make some money.   It was really fun! I was 20 or 21 and working late was always a party scene.  It was really cool and fun, and I was doing well.  Eventually I got a promotion and was taken under the wing by guys in the industry that I thought were cool and doing good stuff.  I didn’t get into it as my end goal.  I just followed a path and different opportunities opened up.

What is new on your DVR?

Bob’s Burgers is pretty funny.  I am not much of a drama person.  I want to giggle and relax when I’m watching tv. It’s a funny show and has to do with food.

Look out for some mouth-watering recipes from Chef Soifer this month!

July 2016 Chef of the Month – Joy Crump

joy-beth-feature picture

Congratulations to Chef Joy Crump for being our Chef of the Month for July! See what Chef Crump has been cooking up at FOODE!

Where were you born?                

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA.

Where do you work and where are you based? 

I am based in Fredericksburg, VA.  FOODE and Mercantile, my two restaurants, are both in Fredericksburg.  I’m usually at both restaurants all day every day.

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

My grill.  I think fire touching food is very basic and there is no substitute for it. I put anything and everything on the grill- fruits, vegetables, protein, herbs, anything at all!

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

I think sight has become my sharpest sense.  I have learned to look at everything very macro. I can walk into the room and see what’s going on with 30 employees while at the same time seeing if something is cooking too long.  I can see the vibe and see if were in trouble in the kitchen all at once.

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?  

Be patient with your growth.  What’s getting young chefs now, is they expect everything to happen overnight and to receive a lot of rewards for their work. Reality is the very opposite in this industry.  The culinary profession is very thankless.  You are on a team and not singled out, but if you work hard, before you know it you will be standing out.

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

There is a discipline that goes along with being a good chef.  I think every chef should be making lists to never forget the a,b,c,d that goes along with every day.  Having a list for every task helps build your habits in the kitchen.  I live and die by list making, there is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off!

What does good food mean to you?    

What we try and do is remind people what they love about a thing, a dish, or even Thanksgiving. We like to remind people what they remember and love about that thing and introduce something new in how we present it to them.  We give you a little different twist on your everyday food, but it should still feel familiar and comforting.

 What trends do you see emerging in the near future?  

Definitely hyper local ingredients.  Chefs are now counting on themselves more than farmers to provide their products.  People want to feature things that they have grown themselves, which now has become everything- the meat they have cured, cheese they have made, herbs they have grown.  People don’t only want what is made just in your zip code, but what is made in your kitchen.  Chefs are reinventing their list of ingredients based on what they can accomplish in their own space.  Everything we have in our restaurants, we make in house.  We are working on moving to another location where I hope we can smoke and cure more than we have been able to in our own commissary where we have a small smoker now.  We like to smoke not just proteins, but also oils and vinegars, fruits, cheeses and even seasoning, especially salt.  Being able to accomplish this on a bigger scale makes me very happy!

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

Having pockets and a nice fit are definitely the most important to me in finding a chef coat.  I have to make sure that the things I need and use every day are in there- my phone, sharpie, notebook, thermometer.  I find a lot of chef coats that look great, but with no pockets to hold anything.  I’m not a small chick, but I don’t like wearing men’s chef coats.  They’re usually too boxy for me.  I want something that is fitted and a women’s cut, but I hate when they are super girly and bell out at the bottom.  Just a simple chef coat with a tailored fit and pockets is what I like.

Favorite ingredient to work with?  

Salt!  Food is asleep without it and awakens with it.  People are afraid of salt and afraid to overuse it.  We have a fast-casual restaurant where you sit down and if you need a refill, you get up and get it for yourself.  We do not put salt and pepper shakers on the table, but we will put them out in the common area.  Our goal is to make the food perfect and for the customer to not need extra seasoning.

Favorite City to dine out in?   

That changes all the time, but I think right now it would be Nashville. Every year my business partner and I go to a new city to check out the food scene.  Last year we went to Burlington, Boston, Chicago and Nashville to eat our faces off and try as much as we could.  The food scene in Nashville was so cool and community based.  It was somehow so friendly and down home, while being refined at the same time.

Best Dish you have ever made?     

You’d probably have to ask someone else that! But my favorite dish that I have made would be my fried chicken.  My mom recently passed away, and she taught me how to make fried chicken. To me, family and things that reflect that for me are most important.  My fried chicken even won an award for us and nothing can top that!  Our chicken and waffles are the best in Virginia and I’m so happy we could share that recipe and tradition with a lot of people.

Place you eat most often on your days off?     

I go between Soup & Taco and Tarntip Thai.  Tarntip Thai has really authentic, yummy, cheap food.

Person you would most like to cook for?         

Probably my mom.  If I could cook for her, that means she would still be here.

What made you decide to become a chef in the first place?       

I have a big family. I have 5 brothers and sisters and my parents got divorced when I was 3.  My siblings and I all traveled a lot back and forth because my parents lived in different cities.  We had to get on a plane and travel to each other, which was really expensive. We didn’t have money to buy each other gifts for every occasion, so we stayed at home and cooked together.  It was such a great expression of love when we could all be together with family.  Holidays were huge in our family!  Thanksgiving is the day you don’t dare miss and it gets bigger every year than the year before.  Cooking together is what you do to say I love you and we cook our asses off! I didn’t realize until I was in my 30s that I could do what I love for a living.  It really is a real extension of my family for me.

What is new on your DVR?      

I’m watching a show called S.T.R.O.N.G!  Sylvester Stallone is the executive producer and Gabrielle Reece is the host.  It’s awesome! They pair up women who are on a journey to find their strength and their inner bad-ass with top male trainers.   It’s not just a weight loss program, it’s really to help empower these women who have gone through bad circumstances.

%d bloggers like this: