Tag Archives: seasonal ingredients

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!

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.

Chef Jimmy Rodriguez’s Smoked Wahoo Fish Dip Recipe

wahoo

“Our Wahoo Comes from the Florida Keys and all the smoking is done in our Historic Blue Marlin Fish House”

Try out this new recipe for your summer beach days!

Recipe:

  • 3 Fresh Smoked Wahoo (Large Diced)
  • 5 Philadelphia Cream cheese (Room Temperature)
  • 3ea Red Onions (Small Diced)
  • 2 Stalks of Celery (Small Diced)
  • 2 Whole carrots (Minced)
  • 1 cup Heavy cream
  • Natural preservatives

Method: 

  1. Mix all produce with room temperature cream cheese well.
  2. Add smoked wahoo and mix by hand folding over gently.
  3. Add heavy cream to batch and refrigerate covered with film for 3 hours
  4. Remove from cooler and gently fold in sea salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with Chef Jimmy’s Yogurt Cilantro sauce, Lime Wedges and Cuban Crackers.

December 2014 Chef of the Month – Carlos Gaytan

Chefuniforms.com December Chef of the Month - Chef Carlos Gaytan featured on blog.chefuniforms.comChef Carlos Gaytan’s culinary journey has been one of hard work, persistence and dedication. Having arrived in Chicago in early 1991, he began a career at Sheraton North Shore Hotel, quickly working his way up to pantry cook, line cook and banquet cook during his first year of employment. He earned a position as a Chef Garde Manger and discovered he possessed a highly artistic and creative ability to carve on ice, fruit and vegetables. He participated in many food and ice carving competitions- winning several awards. Having perfected his skills in handling both hot and cold foods for over six years, he began his employment as Chef Garde Manger at the Union League Club of Chicago in 1996. For over seven years he worked under the guidance of Chef Michael Garbin. He honed his ability to cook a wide variety of foods and ultimately became the Banquet Sous Chef. The Union League Club has ranked as the second best private club in the nation and it became the place where Chef Carlos Gaytan gained the additional knowledge he needed to lead a successful career.

In April of 2004 he was offered the position of Chef de Cuisine at Bistrot Margot where he worked tirelessly and passionately at creating the art of food. Over the years, he has worked with renowned French Chef Dominique Tougne and has participated in such events as the Confrerie de la Chaide de Rotisseurs, the Moet and Chandon Brunch and the Annual Flora Springs Dinner Auction in Napa Valley.

Today, Chef Carlos Gaytan is thankful, as he was able to see his dream become a reality in May of 2008 by opening his own restaurant Mexique on Chicago Avenue in Chicago. With great creativity, love and dedication he applies his knowledge of French cooking techniques and ingredients to his roots of traditional Mexican cuisine creating a revolution of Mexican gastronomy. Mexique has received much recognition since its opening. Within the first three months CS Magazine recognized Mexique as one the best restaurants in Chicago. Mexique was named one of the top new restaurants of 2009 and best restaurant in 2010 by Chicago Magazine. In 2011 Chef Carlos received the American Culinary Federation Windy City Chapter Chef of the Year Award for his extraordinary achievements. Mexique has had the honor of participating in Chicago Gourmet for the last three years and Chef Carlos was chosen as one of five Celebrity Chefs in the 2012 Taste of Chicago. Chef Carlos has also shared his love and knowledge for cooking as professor of Regional Mexican Cuisine at Kendall College Culinary School. In 2013 Mexique received its highest honor yet by being a Michelin one star recipient. In 2013, Chef Carlos participated on the famous TV program Top Chef, arriving to the semifinal phase and is currently participating in Master Chef South Africa due in 2015. In 2014, Mexique received for another year, the Michelin one star.

Congratulations Chef Carlos Gaytan on being our Chef of the Month for December! Your journey as a chef has inspired us!

1. What is the name of your company and where are you based?

I am the Executive Chef and owner of Mexique Restaurant based in Chicago. I wanted to represent Mexican and French influences in my cuisine.

2. What is your birthplace?

Acapulco, Mexico

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

I have been cooking since I was a little boy frying tacos on the street and loved it! I became very comfortable with it and wanted to pursue it as a career.

4. What do you enjoy doing outside of being a chef?

Soccer.

5. What is your favorite social media platform?

Twitter

6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

Vitamix Blender. I can do many things with it like sorbets and purees.

Vitamix_pro_blender_04 - Chef Carlos Gaytan must have chef tool

7. What is your specialty dish?

I do not have one but several…like pork belly and seafood.

6. What’s the strangest thing you ever ate?

Escamoles – which is ant’s eggs. This is native to Mexico and is very good. It is interesting and does not have a lot of flavor.

7. Who would you most like to cook for?

My family and 16 year old daughter.

8. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time? What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I do and love very simple food like seafood.

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

Comfort and soft fabrics. I like Egyptian cotton and short sleeves as well.

~His experience and advice~

10. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?

I never went to cooking school. I have been in the business for 23 years and a chef for 10.

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

Have to get the basics at the beginning. Work for different restaurants to get to know different styles and cuisines.

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

They need to be professional and get to their job on time, look clean and be constantly learning.

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

I like to shop for ingredients and cook with what is available. I don’t experience much challenges.

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

When I travel, I do and eat out a lot and get fresh ideas.

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

Yes. It is very important because you can find ingredients you knew about or never worked with and try new dishes.

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

From experience, I just put it together and go with the flow.

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

Chefs should include seasonal ingredients all the time.

18. How do chefs use technology in their day to day operations?

They can get creative with what they have and do not necessarily have to buy expensive cookware and accessories. For instance, like a $5,000 steamer for example. As an alternative, I use a Mexican Tamale Steamer for $30 which would do the same thing.

~2014 and The Future~

19. What dining trends do you see taking place in 2014?

Mexican cuisine is becoming a sought after food because of the big, bold flavors it provides.

20. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef?

We try to cook healthy but you tend to sacrifice flavors and it is all about finding that balance.

21. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be environmentally friendly?

Yes, Green Kitchens are great and possible.

22. How does Social Media play a role for Chefs today?

A lot. We get a lot of business from social media and customers don’t forget about you but are constantly talking about you.

November 2014 Chef of the Month – Lisa Nakamura

Chefuniforms.com Chef of the Month - Chef Lisa Nakamura featured on blog.chefuniforms.comLisa K. Nakamura is a writer, chef and owner of Allium Restaurant on Orcas Island, Washington. She hails originally from Hilo, Hawaii, where she spent many a rainy afternoon reading and re-reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Her love of languages and stories was nurtured by Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and strict elementary school teachers. A natural parrot and mime, Lisa has enjoyed living overseas and all over the United States, listening and learning new tongues, tales and traditions.

Bucky the Dollar Bill is Lisa’s first attempt at writing a book, and at self-publishing. This book tells the story of how a single dollar bill changes the lives of many people in a small town when he is spent, reflecting Lisa’s support of a strong local economy. Trivia information about Lisa: she has her degree in botany from Arizona State University; she was a flight attendant for almost nine years; she is an avid knitter of straight things like scarves, as she has not mastered the art of knitting something round like a hat.

Congratulations Chef Lisa Nakamura on being our Chef of the Month for November! It was our pleasure getting to know you! Our white chef coat looks great on you!

1. What is the name of your company and where are you based?

Gnocchi Bar, Seattle, WA.

2. What is your birthplace?

Seoul, South Korea

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

When I was a flight attendant, I used to do a lot of gourmet cooking on my time off and I used to watch a lot of cooking shows like Julia Child’s and other Chefs. With the practice, I got better at it and really enjoyed it.

4. What do you enjoy doing outside of being a chef?

I like being outdoors – skiing, hiking and biking with my husband. I like to spend time with my family and I also like to read a lot and write and blog – which is very therapeutic for me.

5. What is your favorite social media platform?

I am torn between Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is like a conversation that you share in depth about what you find interesting and Twitter is immediate news.

6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

A great pair of Knives – you can do anything with them. I like the brand, Global because they are easy to sharpen and maintain.

Chef Lisa Nakamura Must Have Kitchen Tool - Global Kitchen Knives

7. What is your specialty dish?

Gnocchi like polenta, sweet potato and potato. I do what matches the season and add my flair to it.

8. What’s the strangest thing you ever ate?

Slugs and live Octopus.

Chef Lisa Nakamura’s Pickled Beets and Bleu Cheese on Crostini Recipe

Chef Lisa Nakamura Pickled Beets and Bleu Cheese on Crostini Recipe found on blog.chefuniforms.com

Serves about 12

1 bunch medium size beets

4 ounces fresh arugula

1 lb of bleu cheese (bleu d’auvergne, Roquefort, Maytag or Gorgonzola)

¼ olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 baguette

 

For pickling brine:

1 cup red wine vinegar

¾ cup white sugar

1 T kosher salt 1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

3-4 all spice berries

1 piece star anise

Bring all of the pickling brine ingredients to a boil in a stainless steel pot. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and let it cool.

Peel the beets, and then cut into fine julienne. When the brine is cool, add the beets to the brine. Refrigerate for at least one day.

For the crostini, take the baguette and slice on the diagonal into very thin slices, about ¼ inch thick. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until crispy. The crostini at the outer edges of the baking sheet will be done first. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely. These can be made the day before, and stored in an air-tight container.

To serve, place on each crostini slice a good amount of bleu cheese. Top with an arugula leaf (you can de-stem for a neater appearance). Add a few slivers of the pickled beets and serve.

9. Who would you most like to cook for?

American rapper, Macklemore. He is an American rapper from Seattle. I admire the fact that he launched himself into the stratosphere through hard work and determination and he has such an awesome story.

10. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time? What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I do. I like Chinese or Indian and every now and then, sushi.

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

Fabric is huge. I like a good weight cotton, 100%. Not polyester because it makes me too hot. I like long sleeves and love the grommets under the arms and pockets are also huge for me.

~Her experience and advice~

12. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?

I have been cooking for 18 years and studied at a small French culinary school in Maryland, called LAcademie de Cuisine.

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

Before you spend money on schools, go get a job in a kitchen first and if you like it, then go to school.

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

Get into the best restaurant when you can even if it means washing dishes or picking lettuce, because when you are there, you should be learning and be aware of everything. When the opportunity presents itself, you can step into those shoes. The first couple of jobs you take will show you the path you will follow in your culinary career.

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

When I was on Orcas Island, I really felt it. In Seattle, it is very seasonal but I do actually like to cook in the season. You have to be creative in what you serve as you don’t have the ingredients that you would normally use.

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

Oh yes. A lot of times…We live in a very competitive world and it is great to see what other people do.

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

Oh yes. First of all, if you do not go to the farmer’s markets once a month, you will not know what’s in season and what is good quality. You have to be aware. It reminds you of what you can do and also generate ideas.

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

If I am pretty sure it’s going to work, I will run it as a special. I also cook for my family and based on their feedback, put it on the menu.

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

You should be asking these questions…

  • Who is going to be cooking?
  • How much storage space will your restaurant have?
  • What kind of dining will you do – fine or casual?
  • How big is your kitchen?
  • How big is your dining area versus your kitchen space?
  • What is your restaurant location? Some dishes will fly and some will fall flat based on location.
  • What will be the age of your clients – teenagers, seniors, working class etc?

Once you open the restaurant, you might change these things again even if you have it all planned as you discover more.

20. How do chefs use technology in their day to day operations?

  • I read the NY times Dining Section and many other sites which other chefs do as well.
  • Social media forums
  • The Internet – you can get so much info.
  • Square, Open Table applications
  • Payment processing systems so restaurants offer less waiting times for their client’s payments
  • Google – google places to eat or find out information about ingredients via our smart phones
  • Texting – this makes it so easy to communicate with your staff
  • Many advances in Kitchen Appliances – makes things so much easier for us to cook

21. What phone apps do Chefs use in their day to day?

Chef’s Feed – http://chefsfeed.com/

 

~2014 and The Future~

22. What dining trends do you see taking place for 2014?

  • Restaurants are becoming more specialized and very individualized like ramen restaurants or gelato places
  • Casual dining – people are eating out more often 2 – 3 times a week
  • Adventurous – people are being more adventurous like trying out ramen restaurants for example
  • Food Sensitivities – restaurants are adapting their menus more to include these types of customers

23. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef?

I am a butter and cream kind of girl. It is hard not to have that in my dishes. I am learning that less is more and how to do that and still have people indulge. I think about do I serve dishes made with wholewheat or bleached flour or organic versus conventional? I would love to go organic all the time but will people pay the price? As a consumer, I do not go organic all the time but as much as possible. Also thinking of questions like how do we use the waste from our kitchens wisely can help us be more “green.”

24. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be environmentally friendly?

Restaurants that are old buildings – it is harder for them to convert to “green” and be outfitted that way. They cannot adapt so easily to recycling or monitoring chemicals or how much compost they can use.

With a new restaurant, you can set it up from scratch by using solar panels, auto heaters and the costs will eventually pay these off. You can push it as far as you want too with a new restaurant and hopefully we can all get to that point.

25. How does Social Media play a role for Chefs today?

It flattens the pyramid. It makes me more approachable and I can connect directly with my consumers or guests. I am not just a person in a white chef coat. You can tell a lot about chef’s personalities via social media. A lot of the time chefs receive praise and criticisms but to share great things and have a dialogue and get feedback is even greater. It gives us an idea what is important to them. When we work during the social hours, it is great to know what is going on about them and connect as we only see them once or twice during the year.

October 2014 Chef of the Month – Andrea Litvin

Executive Pastry Chef Andrea Litvin - Chefuniforms.com October Chef of the MonthAthens native Andrea Litvin brings her pastry expertise to The Spence as she teams up with Top Chef All-Stars winner, Chef Richard Blais. Growing up in Athens, Litvin was very much influenced by her mother who worked for The University of Georgia’s Horticulture Department. Litvin enjoyed learning about how food is grown and how it makes its way into her home. During this time, Litvin planted a garden at their home where she harvested and cooked everything that came through their kitchen, furthering her passion for cooking. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, Litvin’s first stint in the kitchen was at Chef Richard Blais’ restaurant Home. From there, she worked briefly at Flip Burger Boutique before accepting her first pastry position, under Gary Mennie, as part of the opening team at The Livingston. Here, Litvin was able to build a solid foundation of basic pastry techniques. After a year at The Livingston, Andrea was off to New York where she accepted a position on the opening crew at famed Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen.  At Richard Blais’ The Spence, Litvin creates amazingly simple and classic desserts with a twist. She has been featured nationally in Garden & Gun magazine and The Chicago Tribune, to name a few. Tasting Table named her one of the “Best Pastry Chefs of 2013″ and she was a recent nominee for Food & Wine Magazine’s “The People’s Best New Pastry Chef.”  Litvin currently lives in Buckhead and spends her free time reading, exercising and going to movies. She is also a proud member of Slow Foods Atlanta.

Congratulations Chef Andrea Litvin on being one of our Pastry Chefs for the Month for October!

 

1. What is the name of your company and where are you based?

I am the Executive Pastry Chef for The Spence in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

2. What is your birthplace?

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

 

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

When I was younger, my mom worked at the University of Georgia in the horticulture department and from growing and tending to our garden in our backyard, I developed my love for cooking.

 

4. What do you enjoy doing outside of being a chef?

Reading magazines, trying different fashion, art, museums.

 

5. What is your favorite social media platform?

Instagram

 

6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

A Scale – I must know exact measurements down to the gram!

Scale Kitchen Tool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. What is your specialty dish?

Making ice creams that are vegetable based like carrot mint.

 

8. What’s the strangest thing you ever ate?

Lung – when I was working for Richard Blais and we worked at the Food and Wine Festival in Hong Kong, there was a food festival nearby. There was a street vendor that sold it and it was covered with hot mustard and when I tasted it, it stuck to my teeth. I will never eat it again.

 

Chef Andrea Litvin’s Lemon Meringue Pie with Aerated White Chocolate Mousse

Lemon Meringue Recipe

150g lemon juice

110g butter

130g sugar

3 eggs

44g yolks

Cook the lemon juice, butter, and sugar together in a double boiler.

Temper in the eggs and the yolks and cook into thick

Pipe into a prepared mold and bake at 300F until set

Brown Butter Crust 

24g oil

130g butter

72g water

72g brown sugar

300g AP flour

Brown the butter with the oil.

Add in the water and the brown sugar.

Mix in the flour and combine.

Rest in the fridge.

Roll out between parchment paper and bake at 325 until brown

Aerated White Chocolate Mousse 

4 yolks

90g sugar

250g white chocolate

65g butter

4 whites

150g heavy cream

Whip the yolks and the sugar together until light and fluffy.

Brown the white chocolate in the oven.

Combine the white chocolate and the butter together in a blender.

Drizzle into the sugar, yolk mixture.

Whip the whites until soft peak.

Whip the heavy cream until soft peak.

Fold the whites into the egg/white chocolate mixture.

Next fold the whipped cream into the above mixture.

Fill an isi canister and charge twice.

 

9. Who would you most like to cook for?

Chef Pichet Ong. He specializes in desserts and I follow him on Instagram.

 

10. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time? What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I do. I like asian Cuisines like Vietnamese and Szechuan, BBQ, Miso and Bangladeshi as well. I like to try stuff that’s unusual.

 

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

As a woman, it is hard to find a good fitting chef coat especially for small frames like me. I like a short sleeved, fitted chef coat that is light weight.

 

~Her experience and advice~

12. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?

5 years. I went to the Culinary School at Le Cordon Bleu College in Atlanta.

 

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

Work somewhere for free. Work in the kitchen first. You can do different things like baking or food and when you work in many places as possible, you will see what you like. I love cookbooks and have over 500. My husband and I are big collectors and we read a lot which is my next piece of advice.

 

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

I like to see people bring notebooks and take notes on techniques and getting down the basics which is very important.

 

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

Seasonal stuff is hard to get. I work with Mother Nature and find sustainable alternatives and improvise with what is available.

 

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

Believe it or not, I am not a big dessert person. I only try desserts form people who I look up too. When I am travelling, I eat and try more things but in Atlanta, I don’t eat much dessert.

 

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

Absolutely. Atlanta is very diverse and it is important to visit markets.

 

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

I ask the Chef and the Sous Chefs for their input as well as the cooks and waitresses so they can get excited about it and promote it to our guests.

 

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

I look at what we are serving and do modern twists. With respect to southern cuisine, it depends on the clientele whether they like bold portions and different flavors and like to try new things.

 

20. How do chefs use technology in their day to day operations?

I use nitrogen and a refractometer to measure sugars and fruits.

 

21. What phone apps do Chefs use in their day to day?

I use Ratio app which is an all-purpose kitchen tool and guide that gives me basic methods and calculates ingredient amounts for all critical cooking preparations.

 

~2014 and The Future~

22. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef?

More comfort foods and less portions. I pay attention to food trends like gluten free and cook with less sugar or if the news is featuring foods with alot of flavors, I incorporate that into new dishes.

 

23. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be environmentally friendly?

It is hard to be sustainable in the kitchen because it is not setup that way and costly to run. We do as much as we can.

 

24. How does Social Media play a role for Chefs today?

Huge for chefs like Instagram and Twitter – I follow chefs and see what they have and do.

Charlise Johnson - Intimate Eats

October 2014 Chef of the Month – Charlise Johnson

Charlise Johnson - Intimate Eats found on blog.chefuniforms.comChef Charlise Johnson is the owner of Intimate Eats, a bakery that specializes in made from scratch baked goods. As the daughter of a caterer, she was exposed to various cooking techniques at a young age, but it was her love of baking that really warmed her heart. Her goal as a baker is to not only make visually stunning confections but to also make sure they taste as good as they look. For more information, please visit her online at www.IntimateEats.com, www.Facebook.com/IntimateEats, and on Instagram @intimateeats.

Congratulations Chef Charlise Johnson on being one of our Pastry Chefs for the Month for October!

Your desserts look fantastic and we appreciate your business! Our chef coats look great on you….

 

1. What is the name of your company and where are you based?

I am the Pastry Chef for my Baking company, Intimate Eats based in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

2. What is your birthplace?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

My mom is a caterer and I grew up around food my entire life and fell in love with baking which fueled my passion to start my own baking company.

 

4. What do you enjoy doing outside of being a chef?

Love going to the Movies. I like romance and all Marvel Studio movies like XMen and Spiderman series.

 

 5. What is your favorite social media platform?

Instagram

 

6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

KitchenAid Mixer – they are so amazing. I make all kinds of things with it like dinner rolls and cupcakes. It makes life so much easier.

KitchenAid Mixer - Charlise Johnson's Must Have Kitchen Tool found on blog.chefuniforms.com

 

7. What is your specialty dish?

My Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have been making it since I was 9 years old and it makes me always think of home every time I bake them.

 

8. What’s the strangest thing you ever ate?

Squid Pasta – I love it!

 

Chef Charlise Johnson’s Gingerbread Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Frosting       

Charlise Johnson Gingerbread Cupcake, Chefuniforms.com Chef of the Month for October 2014

Ingredients:

2 cups cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

2 cups dark brown sugar

½ cup melted butter

¾ cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup molasses

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 24 cupcake pans with liners.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Set Aside. Cream butter, oil, dark brown sugar, eggs, milk, and molasses with electric mixer. Add flour mixture to butter mixture a little at a time until blended.

Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake about 15 – 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in pans on wire racks for 2 minutes and then remove from pans.

When completely cool frost with Whipped Cream Frosting.

 

Whipped Cream Frosting

1 cup butter

5 cups powdered sugar

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Beat butter with electric mixer. Alternately add powdered sugar and whipping cream until smooth and frosting reaches desired consistency. Add more or less cream if necessary. Stir in vanilla.

 

9. Who would you most like to cook for?

Oprah Winfrey – I would love to just meet her and because she loves food, bake a great dish for her. She is such a phenomenal woman!

 

10. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time? What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I love to dine out. My favorite cuisine is Italian because I love pasta.

 

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

Color is the most important feature for me. I don’t like the traditional white chef coat and love colors like red and pinks. I also like black piping and soft fabrics.

 

12. Are you familiar with Chefuniforms.com? 

Yes. My favorite chef item is the Women’s Traditional Fit Chef Coat with Piping, style # 83315. I had bought from you guys earlier in the year and got 2 colors: True Red with Black and Pink Lady with Black. I like the embroidery done.

 

 

~Her experience and advice~

13. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?

2 years ago when I started my baking company. I did not go to Culinary school but learnt from my mom and I also take classes during the year.

 

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

Keeping current with trends. There are always new things to learn like for example, I took a few classes to help me perfect my skills: Modeling Chocolate class by Award Winning Food Network cake designer Lauren Kitchens, Classes at The International Sugar Art Collection by Nicholas Lodge and at craftsy.com.

 

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

Having consistency with your ingredients. I make Apple Cinnamon cupcakes and the apples have to be cut the same way or else I will produce a different result and my cupcakes will not turn out the same way as it has done before.

 

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

I like to use Seasonal ingredients all the time but my greatest challenge is getting them out of season when my customers are asking for them and I have to purchase them from international sources instead of my local markets. I prefer buying from them.

 

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

Yes. So many people are in the baking industry and I don’t see my competitors as competitors because everyone has a sweet tooth and a lot of bakers have their own niches so as an industry together, we can satisfy many consumers. I personally have a sweet tooth and always eat from them as well and get ideas from other chefs on Instagram.

 

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

Yes. It is important to always use local produce in your dishes.

 

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

I use my brother and boyfriend to try new recipes and get feedback from them and they are very objective too! I then make adjustments as necessary.

 

20. How do chefs use technology in their day to day operations?

I use social media a lot and get orders via email to my phone as well as from Facebook. I also use new techniques via looking at videos on YouTube. I use conversion charts online to get my measurements verified as well as in the kitchen, I use a tool called The Fondant Mat which helps roll out the fondant easier.

 

21. What phone apps do Chefs use in their day to day?

I only use social media.

 

~2014 and The Future~

 

22. What dining trends do you see taking place in 2014?

People want organic fresh ingredients more in their food and also expect the same in pastries as well.

 

23. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef?

I have never grown up like that and it is a difficult thing to implement in baking. People have asked me for sugar free and gluten free products but I don’t do it because it is not my area of expertise but I have been thinking about it more and will probably learn about it and test a few products down the road.

 

24. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be environmentally friendly?

It is great but not realistic right now. If it got easier to implement, then a lot of chefs would move in that direction. Whoever does it, I highly commend them.

 

25. How does Social Media play a role for Chefs today?

It puts me in direct contact with my customers and I am able to build better relationships with them. I am also able to network with other chefs whom I would not normally meet. It also raises the bar and pushes me to make better products as well from ideas I see posted from other chefs.

Chef Robyn Almodovar

September 2014 Chef of the Month, Robyn Almodovar

Chef Robyn Almodovar, Chefuniforms.com Chef of the Month for September found on blog.chefuniforms.comChef Robyn Almodovar is the owner and chef of her own Gourmet Food Truck, Palate Party. Whether she is catering for celebrities such as mega producer Timbaland, actor John Corbett, Gym Class Heroes Travie McCoy and DJ Irie or hosting viewing parties of her own shot to stardom on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen, a Season 10 “Top Finalist,” Chef Almodovar is out to ensure there is a party in the mouth every time. Since then, her path to the kitchen has made many twists and turns. Some of her accolades include Fabulous Five Female Chef’s Flavors of Fort Lauderdale 2012, Best Of the Best Miami New Times 2013 – Best Food Truck,  Al Gusto Homestead Food Truck Basket- First Place and Top 30 Taste Makers of Broward County by Broward New Times 2013. The beauty school drop-out pursued nursing and cosmetology before officially coasting into cuisine professionally thanks to the coaxing of a late night infomercial.  Throughout her career, Chef Almodovar has methodically mastered every position in the kitchen. Her culinary experience ranges from working as a line cook at Big Bear’s Brewing Company in Coral Springs, Florida, to Executive Chef at Jeff’s Beach House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 2008, she took to the high seas and managed the kitchen of a 172″ yacht, Lady Windridge. In 2011, with enough courage and tenacity to strike out on her own, she purchased a 24″ food truck and founded “Palate Party,” a fresh, mobile food caf that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. Plate Party was the first female-owned, non-dessert food truck in South Florida and it’s the only truck with a custom stage built on top for live entertainment, dancing and musical performances. Chef Almodovar manages the restaurant and splits her time between catering gigs and dominating the local food truck circle scene.

 

Congratulations Chef Robyn Almodovar on being our Chef of the Month for September!

Your food truck and Mushroom Risotto Balls rock!

 

1. What is the name of your company and where are you based?

Palate Party, South Florida

 

2. What is your birthplace?

Brooklyn, New York

 

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

I have always been great with my hands and found that the best way to help people is feed their bellies. Cooking is healing and I wanted to be a chef.

 

4. What do you enjoy doing outside of being a chef?

Riding bikes, skateboarding, dancing – hence the reason, I have a stage on top of my food truck).

 

5. What is your favorite social media platform?

Instagram and Twitter

 

6. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?

Spoon – a nice tablespoon

Robyn Almodovar's must-have kitchen tool found on blog.chefuniforms.com

 

7. What is your specialty dish?

Mushroom Risotto Balls

Robyn Almodovar's Mushroom Risotto Balls found on blog.chefuniforms.com

 

 

 Robyn Almodovar Palate Party Menu found on blog.chefuniforms.comRobyn Almodovar Palate Party Menu

 

8. What’s the strangest thing you ever ate?

Sheep Balls – just not for me.

 

9. Who would you most like to cook for?

My grandmother, “my Nanny.” She inspired me to become a chef.

 

10. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time? What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I do. I love Italian – Casa D’Angelo is my favorite restaurant.

 

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

Mobility around the arms, lightness and flexibility. I like Egyptian cotton and short sleeves as I do a lot of outside events and ¾ sleeves for high end events.

Robyn Almodovar Palate Party Food Truck found on blog.chefuniforms.com

Food Truck Scene in Plantation Park, Plantation Florida

~Her experience and advice~

12. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?

4 years and I studied at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta.

 

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

To never give up. Stay true to who you are, be passionate and never stop learning. Starting from the bottom is not a bad thing.

 

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

To be a sponge. Absorb everything thing you can. Respect the Head Chef and who you work with. Always ask questions. Don’t be afraid to continue your education.

 

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

Finding local purveyors that have a reputable product.

 

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

Yes. I always find ways to make their ideas better.

 

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

Yes. It is very important to find out what the local farmers are putting out there. You can’t eat what we don’t have.

 

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

I run features to test my customer’s palette.

 

19. How do chefs use technology in their day to day operations?

Timers, computers, molecular gastronomy which younger chefs are practicing.


~2014 and The Future~

20. What dining trends do you see taking place for 2014?

Farmer Table – more support for local markets using fresh sustainable ingredients

 

21. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef?

A lot of products have chemicals that are harmful and I cook with a cleaner palette using lot of fresh ingredients.

 

22. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be environmentally friendly?

It is very costly to have a Green Kitchen. If you have sponsors behind it, you can have one and also if you are a big company but for small mom and pop restaurants, you can’t.

 

23. How does Social Media play a role for Chefs today?

This is the way to get themselves known. Everyone is on their phones. If you want to put yourself out there, get on one.

Robyn Almodovar Palate Party Food Truck Logo found on blog.chefuniforms.com

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