Tag Archives: executive chef

Chef Ana Birac’s Cucumber Roll Recipe

Another delicious recipe coming from our Croatian September Chef of the Month Ana Birac. She wows us again with her mouth-watering Cucumber Roll.

cucumber-roll-image

Ingredients:

Cucumber – Crème fraîche – Horseradish Roll – Carrot Cream – Baked Marinated Red Beetroot – Apple Caramelized in Coconut Butter – Pistachio Powder

 

For 2 people:

0.1kg cucumber ~ 3.5 ounces

0.005kg Crème fraîche ~ 17 ounces

0.005kg fresh horseradish (grated) ~ 17 ounces

0.1kg carrot ~ 3.5 ounces

0.05kg whipped cream ~ 1.7 ounces

0.1kg red beetroot ~ 3.5 ounces

0.005kg honey ~ 17 ounces

0.005kg lime ~ 17 ounces

0.001kg thyme ~ 1 teaspoon

0.1kg Granny Smith apple ~ 3.5 ounces

0.005kg coconut butter ~ 17 ounces

0.002kg pistachio powder ~ a dash

Olive oil – as needed

Salt, pepper – as need

Directions:

Peal the cucumber into big noodles. Put them on a board slice next to the slice and spice with salt and pepper. Then cover them with plastic foil and put in the fridge and marinate for 15 minutes.

Cut red beetroot brunoise (into cubes). Blanch it in water until it softens, and then grill it. Marinate it with honey, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.

Cut Granny Smith apple brunoise (same size as beetroot into cubes). Dissolve coconut butter in a pan and bake the apple for a minute or two until it softens.

Peel the carrots and cook in vegetable stock until they are fully cooked. After, put them in thermomixer, add the whipped cream and ¾ of pistachio powder. Mix it all together until you get a smooth cream. Season it with salt and pepper and then put it in the fridge to cool down.

Once again use the thermomixer – mix crème fraîche, grated horseradish, salt and pepper. When you get a texture like spread, you’re done.

Take the cucumbers out of the fridge. Spread crème fraîche and horseradish cream over it and roll them up.

Put the product on the plate and finish with the rest of the pistachio powder sprinkled around the plate.

*Note because Chef Ana is from Croatia, she uses metric system measurements (along with the rest of the world). Once again, we have done our best to convert the measurements to the U.S. customary system. 

 

Chef Ana Birac’s Chickpea Butter Recipe

Our September Chef of the Month, Ana Birac sends us her Chickpea Butter recipe all the way from Croatia.

chickpea-butter-image

CHICKPEAS BUTTER

For 2 people:

0.25kg* chickpeas ~ 1 cup

1L cooking cream ~ 4 ¼ cups

0.5kg sour cream ~ 2 cups

salt, pepper – according to your taste

 

Cook chickpeas in cooking cream until it becomes soft and tender. Watch out, the temperature of cooking cream cannot pass 83 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Fahrenheit! When the chickpeas are cooked, leave it aside to cool down. After one hour it will be ready for the next step. Take the thermomixer and put it inside. Mix it until you get smooth paste. Pass it through a sieve and leave it in clean bowl.

Put the sour cream in the blender and whip it until it becomes a mixture very similar to ordinary butter. Add chickpeas, salt and pepper to your taste. Mix it until you get a mixture just like butter – nice and tender.

Put it in the fridge and leave over night to cool down.

You can use it as a spread on the bread, to spice the dishes or to cook on it.

 

Bon appétit!

*Note because Chef Ana is from Croatia, she uses metric system measurements (along with the rest of the world). We have done our best to convert the measurements to the U.S. customary system. 

 

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!

Chef Dakota Soifer’s Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons – Just what your pantry needs!

lemons


Chef Dakota Soifer has shared with us some of his favorite recipes.  See what special ingredient he always has on hand at his restaurant, Cafe Aion!

We love preserved lemons at Cafe Aion.  It is one of the most important ingredients that help make our identity.  The only tricky thing about them is that they take a long time (4-60 days) to properly cure. We usually make a 20lb batches every couple weeks!  For (most) home use a small amount will go a long way and if you get into the habit of making a batch every month or so, you won’t run the risk of being out.

You’ll need:

4 lemons

3/4c sugar

1 1/2c salt

1T coriander seeds

1 cinnamon stick

3 chili de arbol

1 Qt Ball jar

Directions:

Mix all the salt, sugar and spices together.  Cut the lemons almost into quarters, top to bottom, so that the four pieces are just connected at the tip.  Stuff each lemon with a big pinch of the salt mix and then put into the clean jar. After jamming all the lemons into the container pour any extra salt & seasonings in as well.  Then, with your hand or a wooden spoon press the lemons to begin releasing some of their juice.  Screw the top on and keep in a cool dark place for 2 months, turning the jar over every week or so.  Eventually the salt will pull out more and more of the lemon’s natural juices turning the packed salt into an intense brine, softening the lemons’ skins & introducing some of the spice’s flavors.  After 2 months, or as long as you can wait, take a lemon out, rinse it under cold water & discard the pulp.  Pull one of the quarters off and lay it skin side down.  With a sharp paring knife slice away as much of the white pith as you can.  The yellow peel is the good stuff, use it as bigger pieces in braises and roasts or chop it finely and sprinkle into grain-salads or atop a paella!

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.

June 2016 Chef of the Month – Brian Mullins

Brian Mullins-in the kitchen

Congratulations Chef Brian Mullins for being our Chef of the Month for June! See what cheesy concoctions he has been making in Miami!

Where were you born?                

I was born in Long Island, New York.

Where do you work and where are you based? 

I live and work in Miami.  I have food trucks and two brick and mortar locations for Ms. Cheezious.  It started as a food truck in 2010 and we opened our first brick and mortar on February 1, 2015 and our second this past April.

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

My favorite kitchen tool is a good knife.  It can become an expensive habit!

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

Hearing.  In the restaurant industry we need to listen to people and our guests’ feedback.  You can’t be emotional if someone doesn’t care for something.  You need to be able to hear them and make changes.  A lot of people don’t listen to what their customers have to say.

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?  

Put in the time.  Learn to take every opportunity presented to you when you’re not working.  Ask to volunteer, to work with other chefs and offer to work at any event.  Keep your head, down mouth shut and observe what’s going on around you.  Be humble, pay attention and ask questions.

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

Proper seasoning in general, but especially salt.  It can change a lot of things so learn how to use it correctly.

What does good food mean to you?    

Good food means family. I grew up in a house where my mother, grandmother and aunts all cooked really well.  My best memories are of big meals made from scratch in the kitchen that took hours or days, depending on what they were cooking.  We all sat down together and ate really good meals. Now, my family and friends in the industry get together to create good meals and share those new memories.

What trends do you see emerging in the near future?  

No one is really doing shakes in Miami, so we brought it back. We launched them a month or so ago. Florida is so hot; everyone wants a cold milkshake.  We did a midnight snack shake – a chocolate shake with chocolate and peanut dipped pretzels, caramel popcorn and chocolate covered potato chips topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. For all the Miami people, we did a Pastelito shake with a guava cream cheese and vanilla base garnished with a fresh Pastelito on top.

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

I want it to fit well and look good.  Who doesn’t want to look good?  I am big in the shoulders, so I need to be able to move.  The coat needs to be moveable and breathable.  I wear a lot of chef shirts.  Being in South Florida, it is hot all day, every day and even hotter in the kitchen.

Favorite ingredient to work with?    

Obviously, cheese.  But besides doing grilled cheese, I really love smoking meats and BBQ.  I like making pulled pork and ribs.

Favorite City to dine out in?   

New York. I love every place. There are so many people from so many places around the world that you can get anything. It’s so rich in culture.  If you want Mexican, someone from Mexico will make it or if you want dumplings, someone will make you authentic dumplings.  I can always have one more slice of pizza as a snack in between meals too.  I come home 10 pounds heavier from every trip!

Best Dish you have ever made?     

Probably ribs.  Like I said, I love smoking meats and barbecuing.  You can take a long time to prepare them to impart a lot of flavor, and I create a good sauce.  I can make them ahead of time and heat them up when I have friends over.  I never have a problem having people show up for my barbecue.

Place you eat most often on your days off?      

The Hillstone.  I always know what I am getting.  The food is good and the service is always great.  Since I have so few days off, I want to have a meal served to me properly. I don’t want to leave a restaurant mad on my day off.

Person you would most like to cook for?         

I would like to cook for José Andrés.  He seems like a cool guy to hang out with.  I would love to make Spanish food and tapas with him.  He has always been a super nice guy when I have met him in the past.  Like I said before, my best memories are good meals with family and I think cooking for him would be like that.

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

I started cooking at a very young age.  Growing up, my mom was a single mom.  We would fend for ourselves from an early age.  When I was like 7, I would wake her up while she was sleeping to open jars.  She was always in the kitchen cooking and making breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone.  After seeing my mom, grandmother and aunts cook, I wanted to emulate what they were doing. I would figure things out and make stuff that tasted good and get everyone sit down to have a good meal.

What is new on your DVR?      

You would have to ask my wife.  When I come home, I sit down and she puts on whatever she wants and I can just sit still finally.  I don’t get much time at work to sit still.

May 2016 Chef of the Month – Jimmy Rodriguez

Chef Jimmy's Blue Pic.

Congratulations Chef Jimmy Rodriguez for being our Chef of the Month for May!  Find out what Chef Jimmy has been up to while introducing big, new flavors to the BG Florida State Parks!

  1. Where were you born?

I was born in Havana, Cuba.  I was in Cuba until I was 12 years old.  I came over to America in ‘85.

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

I currently work for BG Florida Parks.  The three state parks included are Oleta River State Park, Hugh Birch State Park, and John U Lloyd State Park.  I am involved in turning the state park concession stands and Blue Marlin Fish House into a better dining experience.  I am implementing the use of higher quality products and standardized recipes that the entire company will follow and produce to my personal standards.

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

My favorite kitchen tool is my chef coat.  This is an important tool to help protect me from being burned and scratched in the kitchen.  It also gives me a sense of pride and lets people understand that there is a professional behind the wheel, but also a graduate that loves his craft.  In my chef coat, I always carry a thermometer, a flashlight, a knife and a sharpie.

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

Taste is my strongest sense.  I have trained my palate to know exactly what a dish will taste like before even needing to taste it.  With my training and experience, I am able to follow a standardized recipe and use the knowledge of the ingredients I am incorporating and not need to taste the dish.  Nothing has too much or too little seasoning.  This knowledge has led to much of my success.

  1. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

You must love your craft.  I hate culinary programs that fill students’ minds with the idea that “he who wants a college degree, not knowing the fire they are about to jump into, can get a degree.”  College kids think they can get a degree and get a top dollar job, and it’s the furthest thing from that.  Students should have a job in the industry before going to school so they know what they are getting themselves into.  You have to have a love for food and for the craft.

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

If you wouldn’t serve it to your mother, you should never serve it to your guests.  If you are in doubt, throw it out.  The quality of your product is a MUST.

  1. What does good food mean to you?

Good food is about texture and the timeliness of getting the dish to the customer.  The little details are important.  You want to be able to differentiate between every ingredient in each bite.  No one wants overcooked chicken and vegetables and mushy carrots.

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

I call it the Pan-American menu.  Many menus now relate to all types of people and can have French style cuisine, Caribbean style cuisine, etc. all on the same menu. With my real knowledge of different cuisines from Cuba, I want to make sure all restaurants have a mixture and that everyone has an alliance to the food being served.

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

It needs to be durable, breathable, good quality material, and washes and dries well.  I prefer long sleeves with arm pockets to protect my arms and hold everything I need.

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

I always wear a bandana to keep my hair out of my face. Also, I use aprons only when prepping.  Don’t walk out of the prep area with an apron.  The apron protects the food from you, not you from the food.

  1. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Lately it has been Greek yogurt.  I try to incorporate it into everything, even my Caesar dressing has Greek yogurt in it.  I no longer use preservatives in my food, so you will not find any mayonnaise or sour cream in my kitchen.  I preserve everything with lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, etc. to keep it fresh.  Smaller batches with no preservatives is the secret to success.

  1. Favorite city to dine out in?

Miami.  There is a wide range of restaurants in all the different areas that have been built up like the Art District and Liberty City.

  1. Best dish you have ever made?

My Cilantro yogurt sauce.  I make an emulsification of Greek yogurt, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs.  Always organic ingredients, no preservatives.  It goes with everything- fish, chicken, been, even French fries.

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

I eat mostly at home and don’t dine out a lot.  Lately I have been perfecting recipes for croquettes using different meats and fish with all fresh ingredients. I will have a line of croquettes and sauces out before 2017.

  1. Person you would most like to cook for?

My Wife! Dee Rodriguez, she is my biggest fan as well as my critic. My inspiration.

  1. What made you decide to become a chef?

In Cuba, I had been cooking since I was sitting in my grandmother’s lap.  When I came to America, I used to be a tour guide and air boat Captain.  At the end of the tour I would reach in and hold an alligator so people could take pictures.  Eventually, my wife told me it was too dangerous, so I went to culinary school.

  1. What is new on your DVR?

The Marlins baseball season from last year.  I didn’t watch it live, but I watch every minute of every game at my leisure.  I’m still finishing last season!

Managing a kitchen on the High Seas

Managing a Kitchen on the High Seas found on blog.chefuniforms.com The Executive Chef is typically responsible for the management of the kitchen on a cruise ship called the galley. Usually he will have previous experience in a four or five star restaurant and culinary school training. Duties include supervision of the entire galley staff, food planning, quality control and directing all of the culinary and associated operations throughout the vessel. Cruise line work is extremely demanding and is all-consuming. You eat, breathe and live the job when aboard. There are no days off – it is a 7 day work week. Most cruise lines serve passengers around the clock.

Usually the Executive Chef doesn’t actually create the recipes or menus that are prepared onboard. They are done at the cruise line’s headquarters. But he does estimate daily needs and help set food orders.  The Executive Chef is also responsible to mentor, develop and provide on-the-job training to subordinates.

Working in the galley of a cruise ship is very different from any other kitchen on land. From the moment you board the ship it’s rock ‘n roll – and not just the movement of the ship. The 24/7 operation is fast paced and intense and must be able to handle and resolve every unexpected challenge. For example, what do you do with the bananas for fruit salad that have ripened too quickly? You add Bananas Foster to the dessert offerings. For fire safety, there are no gas stoves onboard. Former land based chefs must make the adjustment to cooking on electric stoves. For safety reasons and to prevent disease, food storage, food preparation and actual cooking are all done in separate areas.

The size of the ship and the number of restaurants and dining rooms on board determine the number of kitchens needed to turn out the massive numbers of meals, desserts and snacks needed to keep the passengers fed and happy.

The environment of a cruise ship galley is one of high pressure. The Executive Chef must have excellent planning and organizational skills in order to ensure quick and elegant presentation of meals to cruising guests from all over the world – many with very discriminating palates. Fine dining has become highly anticipated on luxury cruise lines. He must also be able to resolve issues such as inappropriate service and answer numerous food related questions.

So although there are similarities between land- based kitchens and kitchens on the high seas, there are also big differences.

Managing a Kitchen on the High Seas found on blog.chefuniforms.com

What has been your experience managing and/or working in the kitchen for a cruise liner?

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