Tag Archives: interview with a chef

August 2017 Chef of the Month Lauren Lawless

 

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

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

Read more about Lauren below and shop her look!

 

1. Where were you born? 

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

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

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

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

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

4. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

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

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

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

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

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

7. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

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

8. Favorite City to dine out in? 

San Diego of course and Las Vegas.

9. Best Dish you have ever made? 

Halibut with creamed corn.

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

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

11. Who would you like to cook for? 

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

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

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

Connect with Our August Chef of the Month:

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

Instagram: @chef_lawless

Twitter: @chef_lawless

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. 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

June 2017 Chef of the Month Marcela Ferrinha

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Chef Marcela is wearing Chef Uniforms Coat #83511

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

 

1.Birthplace:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vision, I eat with my eyes first!

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

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

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

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

7. What does good dessert mean to you?

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

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

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

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

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

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

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

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

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

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

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

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

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

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

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

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

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

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

Facebook: The Sweet Brigadier Chocolate Truffles

Instagram: @thesweetbrigadier

Twitter: @SweetBrigadier

Shop her look!

May 2017 Chef of the Month Aryen Moore-Alston

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Chef Aryen is wearing ChefUniforms style 83355 in Black with White

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

 

1. Birthplace:

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

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

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

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

My Sous Vide machine and kitchen tweezers.

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

Taste. Definitely taste.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

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

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

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

7. What does good food mean to you?

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

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

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

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

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

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

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

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

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

12. Person you would most like to cook for?

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

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

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

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

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

Facebook: Sweet Potato Baby

Instagram: @sweetpotatobabyco

Twitter: @SweetPotatoBC

Shop her look!

April 2017 ChefUniforms First Junior Chef of the Month Carter Hull

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Junior Chef Carter Hull is wearing Uncommon Threads Coat Style #426.

Spring is in full bloom and we’re thrilled to announce our April Chef of the Month – Junior Chef Carter Hull! Chef Carter is 13-year-old from Austin, Texas who shows us all you are never too young to be passionate, positive, and chase your dreams. Although Chef Carter is young in his career, he has been very successful, speaks eloquently and is wiser beyond his years! Plus, he tears it up in the kitchen, this is going to be a month of food you won’t want to miss. Read more about our first Junior Chef below and stay tuned for some of his amazing recipes!

 

 

1. Birthplace:

I was born in Austin, Texas. I currently live in Austin and am in 7th grade.

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

  • I am a twin, we are fraternal so we don’t look alike plus we have nothing in common not even hobbies. We are basically complete opposites.
  • I am involved in student council a lot and I am also a boy scout, whenever we go on campouts everyone always asks if I can cook. I usually I say no because I don’t want to be a full-time chef on cookouts.
  • I am starting to learn how to speak Chinese, not a lot of people know this because most people learn how to speak Spanish.

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

I would probably say my chef knife and my cutting board. The dishes that you are cooking always vary but your chef knife and cutting board stay the same. I feel like they are really important and my favorite tools to work with.

4. What are some cool things that have happened to you since you were on Kids BBQ Championship?

The biggest thing that happened was that my school district asked me to create a barbecue sauce recipe that they wanted to use. So I did that and now all the middle and high schools in my district use my barbecue sauce recipe, I am known as the BBQ guy.

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

I think probably my sense of smell. You only have one pair of eyes but your sense of smell is like having eyes on the back of your head in the kitchen. When cooking something, smell is really important.

6. What advice would you offer aspiring chefs?

I think the biggest piece of advice I would give aspiring chefs is to be you, be courageous and do what you are comfortable with. To start the best thing is to be you and put you on a plate. And as you get better and have more experience you can expand from that.

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

I would probably say learning how to make deviled eggs is important. It is pretty easy but you can do them so many ways and they are very versatile. Plus, regardless of your skill level, deviled eggs look fancy and sophisticated.

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

When I first started I stayed around aprons. But as I have grown a little as a chef, I moved over to chef coats because they look more professional. So right now, I am into the chef coats.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

I think my favorite ingredient is probably potatoes. You can do a lot with them and they are a great ingredient to work with and to have in the kitchen. You can do so many things with potatoes, grill, roast, and go so many directions. I like to experiment with potato dishes.

10. Best Dish you have ever made thus far in your career?

That’s really hard. I think my family’s favorite dish is a dish I make and it is basically little steaks on top of potatoes with roasted asparagus. All of the components are simple but the way you put it together is what makes the difference. This dish is really elegant.

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

I think my family or younger kids. My family gives me good constructive criticism especially if I make something completely out there they still give me positives that it tasted good. Also, I like cooking for younger kids because I think it helps inspire them. Kids can do hobbies besides play sports and I think cooking is such a good skill to have. I like being a part of their culinary journeys.

12. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Well, I haven’t really thought that far. But I really see myself going back to basics, solidifying a good base of what I have done in the past 5 years. Go over what I do well and what I can improve on. For now, I am looking towards some kind of culinary school.

Stay tuned for more from Junior Chef Carter! Want to be our next Chef of the Month?  Apply here: http://bit.ly/2oOndGV.

March 2017 Chef of the Month Megan Corcoran

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

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

1. Birthplace:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

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

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

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

7. What does good food mean to you?

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

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

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

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

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

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

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

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

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

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

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

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

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

14. What is new on your DVR?

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

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

Website: www.forkthisdish.com

Instagram: @forkthisdish

Twitter: @ForkThisDish

 

February 2017 Chef of the Month Alekka Sweeney

 

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Chef Alekka is wearing CU coat #86515 in Sky Blue

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

1. Where were you born?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smell.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

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

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

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

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

7. What does good food mean to you?

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

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

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

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

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

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

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

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

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

12. Person you would most like to cook for?

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

13. What made you decide to become a chef?

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

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

Final note from Chef Alekka:

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

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

Get in touch with our February Chef of the Month:

Website: Give Me Some Sugar 

Facebook: Give Me Some Sugar

Instagram: @givesugar

 

January 2017 Chef of the Month Stefen Dobrec

 

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Chef Stefen is wearing ChefUniforms Bold Stripe Apron style #300BOL

Happy New Year, we hope you celebrated the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 with loved ones and great food! All of us at ChefUniforms are excited for another year of awesome chefs, great recipes, and exciting news coming your way.

We’re starting 2017 off with a bang and are very excited to introduce our January 2017 Chef of the Month, Stefen Dobrec! Read more about his life and journey as a chef below.

1. Where were you born?

I am from a little town called Danville in California.

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

I run my own website called BigChefLittleKitchen.com. The inspiration for the name came from me being almost 6’4” and cooking in my small Manhattan apartment kitchen. The name was one of those “ah-ha” moments that just came to me, I checked the domain and it was available so that’s how it all started.

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

My chef knife. Honestly, I use it the most, it is the tool I have invested the most money in. So much chopping goes on in the kitchen. I always say to invest in two things, your shoes and your bed. My third is a good chef knife.

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

Probably my taste. I am not a big recipe guy. I visualize it first and hope that through trial and error it turns out tasting the way I want it. Then after I taste it and perfect it, I go back and figure out the measurements for a recipe.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

The main advice I would offer aspiring chefs is to cook every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s one meal, three meals, or five meals. Cook something every day. I try to cook something new but even if I don’t and I end up cooking one of my staple dishes, every time I cook it I try to make the dish better.

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

Make and master scrambled eggs. It is the simplest thing, but it goes a long way. I’m sure most people feel the same way. There is an ongoing joke with my girlfriend’s side of the family that you have to “make Stefen eggs.” My only secret to delicious eggs is season them before hand and whip them with a form to make them light and fluffy.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food means a lot of things to me. It’s almost an event. It’s sight, the smell, the taste, the sounds, and the people you are with. Good food is just being around a table with family and friends and enjoying a variety of things.

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

I am pretty standard; I like to wear business casual. The biggest thing is the apron for me. My go-to is my apron over the top of a collared shirt with rolled up sleeves. I like my apron to have one or two pockets in the front, with sturdy material that I know will last after multiple washes. I also keep a towel because I am constantly washing my hands and need a place for my phone just in case I get sudden inspiration and want to add it to my notes.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with?

My favorite ingredient to work with is beets. They are so versatile. My signature dish is my beet sliders. They are a very underutilized vegetable. You can roast, grill, shred them; they can be sweet or savory. To me, the possibilities are endless.

10. Favorite City to dine out in?

I have to say New York City. It is the culinary capital for a reason. There is a great mixture of 5-star restaurants as well as mom and pop places. Both have high quality and equally delicious foods. Plus, you can find whatever you are craving during any time of the day or night.

11. Best Dish you have ever made?

Honestly my breakfast mac and cheese, it’s not as healthy as most of the other stuff I make, but honestly, it is ridiculous.  The mac itself has sweet potatoes and jalapeño, and the whole thing topped with a sunny-side egg. I personally like to add Sriracha too. It’s even better served with mimosas.

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

My dining room table. I said my best advice is to cook every day and I try my best to abide by it. I cook breakfast and dinner almost every single day. And lunch most days as well. I am big on preparing my groceries the day I get them so it is easier to come home and throw something together.

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

Honestly Bobby Flay. My love for food and cooking came when I was young and would come home after various practices and watch Boy Meets Grill or Iron Chef America.  Just to be able to cook for him and get his input and just talk to him about food and cooking would be insane.

14. What is new on your DVR?

I was all in on Westworld; So on my DVR I would say I’m most looking forward to starting the new show by Donald Glover, Atlanta.

Stay tuned and check back for some amazing recipes from Chef Stefen that will be shared throughout the month. Make sure to check out his website BigChefLittleKitchen.com and follow him on Instagram @bigcheflittlekitchen.

December 2016 Chef of the Month Rod Knight

chef-rod-jump-with-hat2Can you believe 2016 is coming to a close already? We are extremely excited to showcase our last Chef of the Month for the year: Chef Rod Knight!

We guarantee this is one Chef of the Month you don’t want to miss! Chef Rod went above and beyond and his step-by-step recipes are incredible. Read more about his life and chef career below and make sure to check back next week for his first recipe!

1. Birthplace: Danbury, Connecticut

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

I work at a French brasserie called Thursdays on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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

My favorite kitchen tool is the vacuum chamber machine. It allows me to literally marinate or pickle something within seconds. It significantly cuts down a lot of time and the amount of waste. Plus, once you vacuum an item it increases the shelf life exponentially.

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

Interesting, I think that my sense of touch is my sharpest sense. I have never cut myself more than a nick and I think that has to do with my sense of touch.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

I would say stay curious and focus intently on the details. Good dishes are a combination of very small parts that are put together well. Make sure you are aware of how you communicate. How you communicate is a very important part of being a chef because how you speak and what you say translates to everyone you work with and it will literally better the team.

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

Keep your pans hot. You aren’t going to get far without hot pans.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me is something that is exciting to share with others. It also takes into account health and nutrition. I believe you can’t untwine the two. What we are eating and how we are eating but it has to be good for you. Also, good food is fresh with fresh ingredients. I guess to sum it up good food is passion on a plate.

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

There’s been a lot of talk about no tipping. All of the servers’ wages and all of the food prices would get raised to cover the no tipping paradigm. Personally, I think if companies do raise the minimum wage, they will expect more from the employees.

I see a lot more with digital cloud services for cooks training and communication. I think we are going to see a breakdown of titles and positions and see more of the cooks and prep cooks taking on more responsibility which would allow the chefs on duty to administer more effectively. With everything online we are learning faster and quicker and the guys on my team who are in school ask me questions that stump me all the time. On a broader level, this will lead to a lot more creativity to make the things.

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

I definitely go with a short sleeve. I like to go with styles that breathe easy. I do like a more traditional style but with a modern fresh approach. I am slim, so I prefer a slimmer fit. I don’t like button ups. The coats I have now have material like Nike dry fit that wicks away moisture and are light weight.

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

For my go-to workwear, I usually wear a cargo style black pant. I typically wear one of my white chef coats. Sometimes I will wear a cap but I always wear crocs.

11. Favorite ingredient to work with?

This is hard, my favorite ingredient I like to work with is Dijon mustard.  I specifically like to pair it with maple, mustard, and Cajun to make a really good marinade that is a little spicy. For a quick fix, I like to have pan seared salmon and splatter mustard on there and bread crumbs. Or red wine vinaigrette adding Dijon. I find it to be a very versatile condiment. But of course, you can’t live without eggs.

12. Best Dish you have ever made?

Okay, so this is fun. I came across this recipe maybe a year ago. I came across a website that had Berbere, an Ethiopian spice. Last year I really got into spices. This one is really cool, so I tried it out. It is smoky, spicy and red in color. It is extensive work to toast it and to process it. It has a very eastern flavor, I guess they have been using it for centuries. So I went to the fish market and got Bronzino. I was having some people over for dinner so I did a dry rub and got a really nice roast on the fish, it was almost magical. I served it with lemon roasted tomatoes. It was very exotic, with Chile peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, and a little bit of nutmeg.

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

There is a sushi place in Pompano Beach. It is called 9 Face Sushi and they knock it out of the ballpark. Always fresh, the service is amazing. I like to sit outside and enjoy the view.

14. Person you would most like to cook for?

You know what, I’d like to cook for Stan Lee.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

I am an only child. My mom is a chemical engineer. I would get out of school and go home. I would watch 3 shows on Food Network. These shows got me into and gave me permission to get my hands dirty. I would have food made, I can’t imagine it was good at the time. So I started doing things in elementary school.

But I applied and got into a Connecticut vocational technical school in the culinary department when I was in high school. I started learning techniques. My junior year, Johnson and Wales got accreditation and I got an associate’s degree in culinary. It took burning a lot of things and figuring out where I went wrong and teaching it to the next person. To sum it up, I became a chef because of curiosity and a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am creative. Being a chef, I found a happy place to be and express my creativity every day.

16. What is new on your DVR?

On my DVR is Preacher, The Walking Dead, and The Flash. Those are my top three shows that I make time to watch.

Once again thank you to Chef Rod Knight and don’t forget to stay tuned for his recipes that will be featured throughout the month.

 

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.

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