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April 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Keith Sarasin

Join us as we introduce our Chef of The Month, Chef Keith Sarasin. Chef Keith is a three-time author, restauranteur, and public speaker who grew up in a small city in New Hampshire in the United States. Founder of The Farmers Dinner (est. 2012) and owner of Aatma restaurant, Keith has a passion for Indian cuisine and often uses Indian flavors to complement his farm-to-table dishes. You can tell this chef gives all of him to his plates when he says, “To cook from your soul, you must discover who you truly are as a person, only then can you discover who you are as a chef.”

We’re delighted to make him part of our Chef of the Month initiative and shining a light on what fine cuisine really is about! In his words “Chefs are conduits that help bring the story of love and fellowship to families.”

Getting to know Chef Keith

Where were you born? 
Nashua, New Hampshire.

Where do you work and where are you based? 
I am based in Manchester, New Hampshire and I am the chef owner of Aatma and The Farmers Dinner.

What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
I love my Vitamix, it is so versatile and I use it all the time.

What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
Smell, for sure.

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Stay curious and stay humble.

What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
Learn to balance fat with acid in your dishes.

What does good food mean to you? 
It means a connection from the farmer to the dinner. Chefs are conduits that help bring the story of love and fellowship to families.

What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 
Style, comfort and durability.

Favorite ingredient to work with? 
Spices!!!! I study food from the Indian subcontinent so spices are so important.

Favorite City to dine out in? 
Boston. Boston has an INCREDIBLE food scene with amazing chefs.

Best Dish you have ever made? 
I love making this Kolhapuri Masala Duck. I dry age the duck breast with a freshly ground Kolhapuri masala and sous vide it then sear it. It is absolutely delicious.

What do you like to do the most often on your days off?  
Spending time with my girlfriend and our dogs.

Person you would most like to cook for? 
My Mother and my guru, Kurush Dalal.

What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
Mental health issues. I feel like most chefs are taught to just keep pushing through and we don’t often discuss how we are feeling.

What made you decide to become a chef?
My mother was a single mom. She worked a lot and I wanted to contribute. When I had to pay my way through school, I took a kitchen job to help with tuition.

Connect with our April 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @keithsarasin
Aatma Restaurant: www.aatmarestaurant.com | The Farmers Dinner: www.thefarmersdinner.com
Facebook: @chefkeithsarasin

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Chef Adriana’s Octopus Galician Style with Potatoes and Paprika Recipe

Seafood AND potatoes? Count us in! Our March 2022 Chef of the Month’s Octopus Galician style with potatoes and paprika is our newest go-to dish.

“This recipe was inspired by the north of Spain in Galicia, this dish has very few ingredients and is simple to make and the flavor accent is Smoked Paprika and a really flavorful robust olive oil.”

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of octopus cleaned, head and beak removed
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes 
  • ¼ cup of robust extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced in half
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Garnish: flat leaf parsley or microgreens

Directions

  1. In a 6 qt pot, boil water and add the bay leaves and onion.  
  2. Dunk the octopus 3 times to “scare it” then add back in boiling water and boil for 25 min.
  3. Remove octopus and set aside and save water
  4. In this water add the potatoes and boil for 12 min or so until fork-tender, the flavor of the octopus left in the water will infuse them with flavor.
  5. Slice the potatoes and create a base of the potatoes on a plate, place the octopus on top drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and salt.
  6. Garnish with micro-greens and parsley

Connect with our March 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefa_adriana
Website: https://www.drianafoods.com/
Facebook: @drianafoods

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March 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Adriana Sanchez-Perez

We’re delighted to introduce our March 2022 Chef of the Month, Chef Adriana Sanchez-Perez! Chef Adriana was born in Venezuela and her family is from Spain. Today, she resides in San Diego, California, where she is the founder of Driana Foods, a company that shares the flavors of Spain through food like paella, tapas, and sauces!
If Chef Adriana looks familiar, that may be because you have seen her on Food Network, FOX 5, and KUSINews! Not only is she a talented chef, but she is also a Flamenca dancer! Her cuisine is inspired by the bold flavors of Spanish cuisine and she bases her success on crafting each dish with love. Her motto? “Cooking, eating and sharing these bonding moments are what we live for”.

1. Where were you born? 
Caracas, Venezuela but my family is from Spain.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I am the founder of Driana Foods, a company sharing the flavors of Spain through paella, tapas, and sauces, I am based in San Diego, California.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
They call me the Sauce Queen, so I love an immersion blender to make my sauce magic.

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

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Find your unique culinary voice and add all those flavors from your childhood that were memorable to your growing up. You will find your edge.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
 Master your sauces, they make a dish sing.

7. What does good food mean to you? 
A good dish with good technique, intriguing flavors, and great textures on your palate. A great dish moves your emotions and touches your heart.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 
Style and functionality – it must perform in a hot kitchen.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
Saffron. There is a sensuality to this ingredient I just love.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 
Madrid.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 
Octopus with a tamarind sauce reduction and confit potatoes.

12. What do you like to eat most often on your days off? 
I love a good heartwarming bean stew like a Fabada Asturiana

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
 Yotam Ottolenghi

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
Trying to cook to please others than themselves, if the dish does not move you it won’t move anyone else.  You have to be fully in love with what you are making, people will feel that energy of love, which is the most delicious flavor they will taste in your dish.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?
I grew up around food crafters in my family and without realizing it, made a deep impact on me.  Later I found it was my way a give my love to others.

Connect with our March 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefa_adriana
Website: https://www.drianafoods.com/
Facebook: @drianafoods

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Asian-marinated Squid with Squid Ink Spaghetti and Sriracha mayonnaise by Chef Simona

Ingredients

4 servings

  • 2 medium-sized cooled octopus
  • 3 tablespoons of squid ink
  • 150g. of spaghetti pasta (I use homemade, but you can do without them)
  • 4 slices of garlic
  • 80 grams of Ponzu sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce (it can replace Chili sauce)
  • 100 grams mayonnaise
  • 2 lemons

Production process

Before making squid, be sure to boil it in boiling water and peel off the skin. Scalded octopuses do not harden during baking and do not become rubbery. Be sure not to skip this step.

Squid Marinade

  1. Stir in the ponzu sauce, grate the lemon zest, finely chop the garlic, add the 1st-century sriracha and leave to marinate until the pasta is ready. Salt is not needed, because the ponzu sauce is already quite salty.
  2. Boil water. Add salt and a pinch of oil. Cook the pasta for 7-8 minutes or until they are almost cooked, but still a little green inside (al dente).
  3. Put the pasta in a preheated pan with the remaining finely chopped garlic. Add the water in which you boil the pasta and 3 tablespoons of edible squid ink. Sautee for a few more minutes until the pasta is soft and black.
  4. Mix the mayonnaise with the remaining sriracha sauce.
  5. In a heated skillet, fry the squid over high heat until cooked through.

Connect with our May 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefsimonalauren
Website: www.chefsimonalauren.com
Facebook: Simona Lauren

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Chef Covas’ Grilled Swordfish w/ Salsa Verde Recipe

Marinated, fresh and delicious. We’re drooling over Chef Covas’ Grilled Swordfish w/ Salsa Verde recipe. Our February 2022 Chef of the Month knows how to stir things up in the kitchen!

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 swordfish steaks
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, ½ zested and juiced and the other half sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • Peppery greens, like arugula or watercress, for plating

Parsley Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ red onion, minced

Parsley Sauce Directions

  1. While the grill is heating, mix together all the ingredients for the parsley sauce in a bowl.
  2. Grill the fish for 6 minutes on each side. (Be sure to turn with a spatula, not tongs, to maintain the crispy skin.)

Swordfish Directions

  1. Heat a grill to 400 degrees F.
  2. Spray the grill with cooking spray. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and place on a sheet pan.
  3. Drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and lemon juice, including the inside.
  4. Layer sliced garlic and lemon inside the belly of the fish. Sprinkle lemon zest all over the inside and the outside.
  5. Place fish on a platter with greens, then drizzle the parsley sauce over the top.

Connect with our February 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chef_covas
TikTok: @chefcovascatering
Facebook: @ChefCovas
YouTube: Chef Covas Catering

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February 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Lauren Van Liew (Chef Covas)

We’re excited to welcome our February 2022 Chef of the Month into the mix – meet Chef Lauren Van Liew (Chef Covas). Chef Covas was born in Hackensack New Jersey and now resides in Middletown, New Jersey. She’s a previous Food Network’s Chopped champion AND Supermarket Stakeout champion! Today, Chef Covas is the Executive Chef and owner of Chef Covas Catering. Her catering company prides itself on its wide variety of services – no job is too big or small! Chef Covas has wanted to be a chef ever since she could remember, and we’re so glad that she’s accomplished her dreams! Read more about Chef Covas’ story below and keep an eye out for some of her delicious recipes.

1. Where were you born? 

I was born in Hackensack, NJ / raised in Middletown, NJ

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

I am the Executive Chef & owner of Chef Covas Catering

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

There is no other tool more important than my Chef Knife!

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

My smell is by far the sharpest sense I have.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Don’t be scared to challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone and remember that it’s all trial and error. You could never go wrong with creativity!

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

Simple knife skills are the basis of any good chef and every chef should know how to clean raw garlic properly as well as dice an onion.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Food is life! Food is love! Food is everything! Food is what brings people together. Good food makes my soul complete.

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

When picking a “chef outfit” the most important thing is to be comfortable and look professional. I do like a tapered jacket look so I can come across feminine as well as well put together.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

The base of my cooking starts with good olive oil & coarse sea salt so those two ingredients go a long way in making a dish and bringing out the flavor.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

NYC – the best city.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

I have to say my whole roasted Branzino Over Braised Escarole, Crispy Pancetta & White Beans is one of my best dishes. This dish is super flavorful and well-balanced.

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

I am obsessed with seafood and any type of seafood, but there is nothing better than a good raw bar and chilled seafood salad.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

I find the most enjoyment when I cook for my family, especially my mother & grandmother who I really admire in the kitchen. To be able to cook for her and see her proud of me and enjoy the food I make is the best feeling ever.

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?

Job stability right now. We live in a crazy time and keeping the small restaurants open has been hard for young chefs and small businesses. When you get into a kitchen, gaining respect and working your way up the line is never easy, so be modest and honest.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

Being in the restaurant industry and in the kitchen is all I know; I have wanted to be a chef ever since I could remember. There is something about the kitchen that calms me. My family has taught me that so much can be said through food, and I have always been able to express myself that way.

Connect with our February 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chef_covas
TikTok: @chefcovascatering
Facebook: @ChefCovas
YouTube: Chef Covas Catering

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Chef Chris’ Cilantro Chimichurri & Grilled Skirt Steak Recipe

Cilantro Chimichurri & Grilled Skirt Steak

What do you call a skirt steak’s best friend? We call that chimichurri. Our January 2022 Chef of the Month, Chef Chris Valdes’ Cilantro Chimichurri & Mojo Soy Marinated Churrasco recipe holds the key to our hearts. Say hello to your new and juicy steak recipe!

Mojo Soy Marinated Churrasco (Skirt Steak) Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh sour orange juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds skirt steak
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mojo Soy Marinated Churrasco Directions

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients together and pour into a large Ziploc bag, except for the steak, salt and pepper.
  2. Add skirt steak to the ziploc bag with marinade and allow to marinate overnight or at least an hour.
  3. When ready to grill, liberally season with salt and pepper. Grill until crisp and golden brown. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and serve.

Cilantro Chimichurri Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced 
  • 1⁄2 cup olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Cilantro Chimichurri Directions

1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and combine.

Connect with our January 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefchrisvaldes
Website: https://www.chefchrisvaldes.com/
YouTube: Chef Chris Valdes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chefchrisvaldes
Twitter: @chefchrisvaldes
Order His Cookbook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578886456

Chef Chris’ Banana Foster French Toast Recipe

French toast may be your go-to breakfast item, but add banana foster and you’ve got yourself a new go-to breakfast (or dessert) option that we think is the real winner! Celebrity Chef Chris’ Banana Foster French Toast is the sweet perfection that we need to fuel our days. Find the recipe below – we dare you to resist eating more than one slice (it’s impossible).

French Toast Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 whole bread loaf, sliced in 1-inch thick slices

Banana Foster Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 whole bananas, sliced 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 ounce bourbon or dark rum

French Toast Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and cinnamon.
  2. Melt butter in a small pan with medium heat.
  3. Dip each slice of toast one at a time into the egg mixture for about 3 seconds per side and place in the pan.
  4. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and repeat.

Banana Foster Directions

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add brown sugar and cook for about 4 min until melted butter is mixed with the brown sugar.
  3. Add the sliced bananas and cook until the bananas are soft and lightly cooked for about 3 minutes.
  4. Carefully add the bourbon or rum and allow to flambé.
  5. Serve on top of the french toast and top with desired toppings.

Connect with our January 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefchrisvaldes
Website: https://www.chefchrisvaldes.com/
YouTube: Chef Chris Valdes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chefchrisvaldes
Twitter: @chefchrisvaldes
Order His Cookbook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578886456

Chef Chris’ Dulce De Leche Pavlova Recipe

Dulce De Leche Pavlova

We’re here for all of the meringue…good thing our January 2022 Chef of the Month, Chef Chris shared his delicious Dulce de leche Pavlova recipe! Crispy on the outside, soft and light on the inside – this dessert is a dream come true. Check it out below!

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites, fresh and at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup dulce de leche or condensed milk or both
  • Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries to use as toppings
  • Mint leaves, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9-inch circle on the parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar, about 1 spoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. Gently fold in vanilla extract, vinegar, and cornstarch.
  3. With a spatula, gently add the mixture inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge, building edge slightly making sure all sides are even.
  4. Bake for 90 minutes. Turn the oven off and let it cool in the oven for an hour.
  5. In a small bowl, beat heavy cream. Add powder sugar, beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream, dulce de leche, and or condensed milk, and top with desired fruit and mint. Serve immediately.

Additional note from Chef Chris:

“So, I’ve made a few of these, and here are some of my tips to make the perfect Pavlova”…

  • Clean your mixer, spatula, and everything with white vinegar to make sure everything is extra clean.
  • Make sure to use fresh egg whites, and they must be at room temperature.
  • DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN, this will ruin it all.
  • Make sure you turn off the oven after an hour and a half of it cooking and allowing it to cool for an entire hour…. again, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.

Connect with our January 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefchrisvaldes
Website: https://www.chefchrisvaldes.com/
YouTube: Chef Chris Valdes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chefchrisvaldes
Twitter: @chefchrisvaldes
Order His Cookbook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578886456

January 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Chris Valdes

We’re kicking off 2022 with our January Chef of the Month, the talented Miami native, Chris Valdes! Chef Chris is a Celebrity Chef, cookbook author, and the owner of Chris Valdes Catering, a full production events company! You may have seen Chef Chris on his YouTube channel, on the cover of several magazines or even on the Food Network and Hallmark Channel. His passion for food began at a very young age. Growing up in a family restaurant allowed Chef Chris to experience his love of food first-hand. He dreamed of motivating people around the world to cook and have fun in the kitchen. Today, he’s made his culinary dreams come true. We can’t wait to share his story with you and some of his Latin-inspired dishes!

1. Where were you born?
I was born on May 11, 1991, in a place that I call paradise and home: Miami, Florida. Growing up in Miami in the ’90s was truly a gift. Miami is such a magical place. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to many places around the world, and I always say the same thing: there is no place like home. You have to live here to understand its madness and why it’s so special. Our culture, the hot food scene, our beaches, and even our craziness make this place beyond special. You can walk the streets and see something new every day.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I am Chef and Owner of Chris Valdes Catering, a full production events company in Miami, FL. This past July the company turned 11 years old. Yup, I opened it when I was 19 years young.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
My favorite kitchen tool is my chef’s knife. It’s the one tool that comes into contact with almost everything and anything that you prepare. It’s the one tool I will always need and rely on.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
One of my sharpest senses is my sight. I can tell if something is overcooked, undercooked, or even spoiled just by looking at it. It’s something that developed with experience and time, and it is truly a gift.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Follow your dreams. If a career in culinary arts is what you desire, go for it. In the meantime, I recommend a part-time job at a local restaurant because we all love food but being part of the creation process is a different token. If you see you like it, and your mind wanders around the possibilities of creating a dish, then pursue it and don’t look back.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
The one culinary tip that every chef should know is that love is the most important ingredient in any dish and it’s also the one ingredient that is missing in many dishes.

7. What does good food mean to you?
Good food is nurturing to the soul. Good food is love.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit?
When selecting a chef outfit the one feature that is most important to me is durability because I don’t have time to be buying chef coats all the time. I like a good product, that will last and be worth what I paid for.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
Garlic, who doesn’t love it? Goes good on everything!

10. Favorite city to dine out in?
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities to dine out. Every dish has a story, a tradition, and a method to it. It’s filled with layers of flavor, love, and comfort. As soon as I get to New Orleans the first thing on my mind is a shrimp, chicken, and smokey Andouille sausage gumbo.

11. Best dish you have ever made? 
One of the best dishes I’ve ever made was my stuffed pork shoulder. Juicy moist citrus and garlic marinated pork stuffed with rice, ground beef, and sweet plantain mixture, and as the pork cooks, all its drippings fall on that rice mixture and after a few hours, you have that crispy pork skin.

12. What do you like to eat most often on your days off? 
On my days off my cravings could run wild but I can usually settle for a crisp, juicy fried chicken or a seared steak cooked to perfection. And I always have to end it on a sweet note like a lite brownie or a warm toffee nut cake with cold ice cream.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
Chef Emeril Lagasse, the chef on TV, my culinary superhero (after my mom, of course), and he’s probably one of the reasons that I am part of the food world today. I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to motivate people from around the world to cook and have fun in the kitchen. I wanted to inspire kids to follow their dreams. He is the one person I would love to cook for and with.

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
One of the difficulties I encounter the most as a chef is asking myself after each and every dish, does that taste good? Was that my best? Will they like it? Will they understand and appreciate my vision and process for this creation? It’s something that always crosses my mind, not because of self-doubt but because as a chef I am always striving for perfection. It’s haunting!

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

Growing up in a family restaurant has had a huge impact on me. I’ve even asked my father if I was conceived there during the busy lunch hour, as I love food and am always in a hurry.

Walking inside the restaurant kitchen every day after school was truly a thrill for me. I would just close my eyes, and, with the smells lingering through the air, I would envision what creation Mom was cooking up. Anytime I would walk into that kitchen I had questions for my mom—questions that she always took the time to carefully answer. What are you cooking today? Why does it smell like that? What are you adding to that pot? What is today’s special? And the most important question of all… may I taste?

Sometimes I would just sit down on the kitchen counter and quietly observe everything from the cooking in the kitchen, to how my father ran the restaurant –  it was like a hobby for me. These observations taught me more than I could imagine, and they would one day prove to be very handy. This along with watching Emeril for the first time on TV led me to follow my dreams of becoming a Chef.

Connect with our January 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefchrisvaldes
Website: https://www.chefchrisvaldes.com/
YouTube: Chef Chris Valdes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chefchrisvaldes
Twitter: @chefchrisvaldes
Order His Cookbook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578886456

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