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Jacoby Ponder - February Chef of the Month_2016

February 2016 Chef of the Month – Jacoby Ponder, CC CPC

Jacoby Ponder - February Chef of the Month_2016

After serving ten years in the U.S. Navy as a Personal and Private Chef, Chef Jacoby Ponder established FireSyde Chef & Co. in 2010. Ponder created FireSyde Chef to provide quality personal and private chef services to Hampton Roads, Virginia. He has received his extensive culinary arts and business management training at The Culinary Arts Institute of Virginia and ECPI University – graduating with both an Associates and Bachelors as a Private & Personal Chef.

With over a decade of experience in culinary arts, hospitality and business management, Ponder has acquired culinary skills to work in upscale environments. Ponder provides five-star meals for Admirals, foreign dignitaries, senior government executives, movie stars and celebrities alike. He has prepared dishes for names such as President George H. W. Bush, Bruce Willis, Vivica A. Fox, as well as reality television personalities on TLC’s “The SisterHood.” Ponder was a finalist on the Food Network hit show “Chopped”, where he placed as runner-up in the grueling Military Salute episode (Season 15, Episode 8) and now an uncontested win in September 2015 on Food Network’s latest and toughest hit series “CUTTHROAT KITCHEN.”

He is also very involved in his community and has been apart of the Virginia Beach Farmers Market (Featured Chef for Healthy Cooking and Wellness), Norfolk Public Schools (Chefs Move to School), Eat Fresh Buy Local (Featured Chef to Promote Buy Local Initiatives) and VA Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Cooking Matters).

Congratulations Chef Ponder on being our Chef of the Month for February!


Birthplace: Monroe, Ga.

Where do you work and where are you based?

I work for myself (Private and Personal Chef) for the Hampton Roads Area of Va.

I am also the owner of Norfolk Kitchen Lab in Norfolk Va. that just opened. Nestled in the heart of the River View Community ( Norfolk), the Norfolk Kitchen Lab is your new place to experience food excellence and Chefs at their absolute best. With 3 engagement platforms, all culinary enthusiasts can live out their kitchen aspirations in the following ways:
– By renting a standard fully equipped kitchen for food prep,
– By becoming a student of private cooking classes and learning the finer points in regards to nutrition and healthy eating, and
– By attending a monthly 7 course “Chefs round table”  meal to enjoy a display of unmatched skills of the Chefs & Staff.
With several ways to interact and entertain (not to mention the sole use of fresh produce grown in 4 neighboring greenhouses), the Norfolk Kitchen Lab stands to be the newest and most prolific addition to the downtown area.

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

My favorite Kitchen tool is my knife! I love creating dishes from fresh and local grown ingredients.

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

My sense of smell!

What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Don’t be afraid to take chances, and be adaptable to change.

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

Be forever humble and also be a student of the Craft.

What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me means a dish that is well thought out and smells good! Also taste even better, to make one reminisce.

What trends do you see emerging in the near future?

Most certainly a trend is a marriage of fresh locally grown ingredients, I see the industry moving to an “Eat Fresh Buy Local” theme.

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

Features like button styles, and fabric type like light fabrics that are flexible. Something that is urban and looks fashionable.

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

My go-to-outfit that I prefer would definitely be tees, pants and hats. I prefer Chef Jackets whenever I’m in a management capacity.

Favorite ingredient to work with?

My favorite ingredient(s) to work with are fresh herbs and spices. I feel that they dictate the flavor profile of the dish which is very important.

Favorite City to eat out in?

My favorite city to eat out in would have to be between San Francisco or San Diego, anywhere in the bay area!

Best Dish you have ever made?

The best dish I have ever made would have to be my famous Herb Crusted Salmon.

Place you eat most often on your days off?

I love to eat at this one place in Norfolk Va. – Todd Jurich Bistro…… They have the best truffle fries ever!

Person you would most like to cook for?

I would love to cook for …..Umm…I don’t know. I’ve already cooked for the President so, I’ll have to think more on this question….

What is new on your DVR?

The latest episode of Food Network show Chopped!

Ace Champion - January Chef of the Month_2016

January 2016 Chef of the Month – Ace Champion

Ace Champion - January Chef of the Month_2016Chef Champion comes from the great food state of Louisiana.

He specializes in Cajun/Creole, the taste of New Orleans.

He has over 18 years of culinary experience ranging from Certified Meat Cutter, Executive Chef, Event Coordinator, Personal Chef, as well as Cooking Class Instructor.

He is also an honors Culinary Arts graduate of Fox Valley Technical College, one of the nation’s premiere culinary schools.

Chef Champion cooks with a strong passion and makes it a priority to visualize his entrees while preparing them, so in turn… he can empower others who struggle with cooking. Chef Champion infuses cultures and ingredients to create a flavor that gives you a champion cooking experience and the know-how to cook a little appeal yourself!

The Law of Attraction & the Power of Positive Thinking are the cornerstone of Chef Champion’s passion for food. He believes that if you think you can be a great chef or cook, then you will realize it, but if you think you won’t be a great chef or cook, then you probably won’t hit the mark. Chef Champion believes that before you hit the kitchen, focus on what you want. The result? You’ll serve up a great dish almost every time!

That’s why Chef Champion created, 8 steps to Your Perfect Meal, a simple plan to help viewers or readers (available in book format, too) be more positive in the kitchen on their way to greater productivity and creativity. “I now understand my purpose in life and that is to teach the world everything I can about food for the mind, body, and soul,” concludes Chef Champion.

Congratulations Chef Champion on being our Chef of the Month for January!

Birthplace: I was born in the bay area of California where I spent most of my childhood. I was then further raised in Louisiana where my try heritage is.

Where do you work and where are you based? I own my own business “Chef Champion LLC.” In my business I am a Private Chef, Culinary Instructor both private & public, Visionary Motivational Speaker as well as a Menu & Recipe Developer for local restaurants and private companies.

What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes? Hands down my 8” Wusthof Chef Knife. There is not much I can’t do with this knife. When I hold this tool, it feels like an extension of my body which allows me to create in detail.

What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses? I would say what I call the 6th sense. To me this is when I can manipulate my conscious mind to flow freely with my conscious mind to view all senses as one. This allows me to use my senses in creation without acknowledging the use of them. If I had to pick one though, it would be my sight. This is where I can learn and see. My sight allows me to turn my vision into reality on a plate.


What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs? Never give up on your dreams. Albert Einstein said it best when asked how are you so smart he replied and said “It’s not that I’m so smart it’s just that I stay with problems longer than most people.” This lets me know when chasing my dreams no matter how hard or how long it takes, I will get there if I don’t give up. Be true to yourself and what you believe in.

What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect? Every chef should master the art of visualization. It is a necessity to have a clear vision of what’s to come before it happens. This will allow you to always be 2 to 3 steps ahead of yourself. The proper technique is called “Visual Motor Rehearsal.” This means one would visualize a recipe or an event inside their mind. This works as a form of practice without having to lift a finger. You can find more tips on this topic and other cooking tips in my book “8 Steps To Your Perfect Meal.”

What does good food mean to you? Good food means food that looks good, taste good, and does good things once it’s inside my body. Food should be good for the mind, body, and soul. I also view good food as that is live and raised properly. My motto is cooking with live foods. That means in one way or another, the food we eat was once alive.

What trends do you see emerging in the near future? The power of positive thinking. I see an awakening of the mind of chefs and people all over the world to trust in there inner souls and become who they want to be. I see cooking changing from the sometimes negative to being fun, exciting and healing.


What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (Particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets) My personal favorite is the long sleeve. I feel this is the more elegant professional look I am going for. I also enjoy all of the color selections you can get at This allows me to keep my image sharp and unique. I also love the mesh coats. Being a celebrity chef I cannot afford to not look professional on camera. They have an excellent selection of mesh chef coats for men and women.

What is your go-to chef outfit?  Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc? I don’t have a specific one. I have 4 branches of my business that require a certain type of coat. For instance when I speak, I where a heavier longer coat. When I am cooking, I use a mesh coat and when I am outdoors in the summer, I use my short sleeve mesh coats.


Favorite ingredient to work with? Anything fresh. If I had to pick one, I would choose garlic. I think this is an ingredient that should be added to all savory dishes. I also love the health benefits. I have high blood pressure and eating lots of this delicious herb helps me regulate my pressure.

Favorite City to eat out in? New Orleans. I have never been to a city with as big as a variety of fresh homemade food. This city definitely brings out the flavor.

Best Dish you have ever made? I would say my Cherry Apple Pie with a Caramel Moscato Rum Sauce. What makes this dish so good and unique is instead of mixing the apples and cherries, I  separate the recipes, then layer them together separating them with cream cheese and topping this off with my homemade caramel rum sauce. The layers of flavor excites any taste buds.

Place you eat most often on your days off? At my home. This is where I can relax, create and enjoy my family.

Person you would most like to cook for? Most definitely Jesus Christ. I can see the image of him eating at the last supper wondering what chef had the honor to cook for him. I hope one day I will. December 2015 Chef of the Month - William Werner, Chef/Partner Craftsman and Wolves

December 2015 Chef of the Month – William Werner, Chef/Partner Craftsman and Wolves December 2015 Chef of the Month - William Werner, Chef/Partner Craftsman and WolvesWilliam Werner is Chef/Partner of Craftsman and Wolves (CAW), an award-winning
contemporary patisserie and cafe with a nod to classic French technique and an
emphasis on seasonal change, offering pastries, cakes, confections, confitures, breads,
desserts, as well as savory fare and signature drinks. Current locations include CAW
Valencia in the vibrant Mission district of San Francisco, a farmers’ market stand at the
venerable CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and an online retail shop shipping

Since opening the first location in 2012, Werner has garnered praise both locally and
nationally in publications, including New York Times T magazine, Wall Street Journal,
Real Simple, Esquire, and Bon Appétit, and GQ magazine named his famous “Rebel
Within” as #6 on “The 50 Best Things to Eat and Drink Right Now.”

In addition to opening a second location in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood
this fall, William and team are expanding the online retail shop with new products to ship
both nationally and internationally. Werner serves as a Valrhona Pastry Chef Consultant and leads professional culinary
demonstrations and classes around the U.S. and Canada.

Chef Werner is a James Beard Foundation “Outstanding Baker” 2015 finalist, Dessert Professional’s “Top Ten Pastry Chefs of America 2015,” The Passion Company’s “2015 Most Passionate Chef/Restaurateur in San Francisco,” San Francisco Magazine’s “2014 Best Pastry Chef,” Plate Magazine’s “2014 30 Chefs to Watch,” Star Chefs’ “2013 Rising Star Artisan” and James Beard Foundation “Outstanding Pastry Chef” 2012-2014 semi-finalist.

Congratulations Chef Werner on being our Chef of the Month for December!

1. Where do you work and where are you based?
Craftsman and Wolves, a patisserie and cafe with two locations in San Francisco.

2. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces?
Gray Kunz spoon

3. What is your Wisk Hand? Left or Right?
Right hand

4. What advice would you offer for aspiring pastry chefs?
Dig deep to the roots, don’t get caught up in the current trend, take time to understand the basics.

5. What is one tip every pastry chef should know and perfect?
How to work with chocolate.

6. What does a great dessert look like to you?
I believe you eat with your eyes first, so an appetizing dish is key, usually minimal wins for me, all ingredients on the plate are harmonious and make sense, nothing is there just to be there.

7. Favorite ingredient to work with?

8. Favorite Dessert City?

9. Best Dish you have ever made?
Braised beef cheek risotto on a camp stove

10. What trends do you see emerging in the near future for Pastry Chefs?
I see more health conscious desserts that don’t sacrifice flavor and texture — luxurious meets beneficial, if you will.

11. What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets)
Short sleeved chef coats are my favorite, only one breast pocket, and definitely fitted. I’m not a fan of pen holders on the sleeve.

12. What is your go-to chef outfit?  Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc?
Vintage Metallica t shirt, jeans and full bib apron.

November 2015 Chef of the Month – Eva Salazar, Cake Designer November 2015 Chef of the Month - Cake Designer Eva Salazar

Eva is wearing our Black w/ Hot Pink Women’s Contrast Trim Long Sleeve Chef Coat – Style # 40518

Cake Designer Eva Salazar was born in Spain where she grew up in a very gastronomic environment, but it was when she moved to Miami, she transformed her hobby into a full time passion. Eva created a little studio called Makememycake where she made stunning and delicious custom cakes for all occasions. “I love to see the face of my clients when they see their cake!”

She also writes a blog where she shares some tips and tutorials about cake design. Her first cake decorating book, “Tartas Esculturales” came out in October 2014 with a lot of fun projects. She also taught around the world which allowed her to have contact with her students and created an opportunity to get to know them. She is a Craftsy instructor with two online classes released, “Fabulous Bows and Fashion Details” and “Cakes with Style.” People can learn how to make different cakes and use all the techniques to achieve amazing results.

Eva said “Making and designing cakes has been a blessing because it made me find my place in this life.”

If you want to take any of her classes, click here for future dates and times.

Eva is very down to earth and we enjoyed getting to know her! Her cakes are stunning and the attention to detail is immaculate!

Congratulations Eva Salazar on being our Chef of the Month for November!

1. Where do you work and where are you based?
I am located in North Miami, Florida where I run my studio called Makememycake.

2. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces?
For baking, something as simple as a rubber spatula and for cake decorating, I can’t live without my Crafty Knife.

3. For Cake Designers, what is your Wisk Hand? Left or Right
I think I am both hands because I always have something in my hands, it doesn’t matter which one!!

4. What advice would you offer for aspiring cake designers?
Always keep learning. Techniques make us transfer our ideas to the table. And another thing, never give up!!

5. What is one tip every cake designer should know and perfect?
Respect the amounts and times but keep a touch of risk.

6. What does a great cake look like to you?
Of course, a delicious cake inside but aesthetically, a clean cake has half way won. The other half is that touch of magic that when you see the cake, it makes you smile.

7. What trends as a cake designer do you see emerging in the near future?
Naked cakes, rustic, organic, fruits, vegan but especially rich in flavors respecting the product.

8. What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets)
First I have to love the color and design, yes I know, I know…but…Then a soft and light fabric is important and I prefer 3/4 sleeve because I am always cold.

9. What is your go-to chef outfit?  Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc?
Always a nice chef coat.

10. Favorite ingredient to work with?
No doubt Chocolate and Vanilla for baking and Fondant for decorating.

11. Favorite Dessert City?
Paris, Madrid and New York.

12. Best Cake you have ever made?
I think it was when I recreated Manhattan in a cake. It was 6 feet long and had all the details that you can find the city. And my personal favorite was a poodle dog cake that looked so alive that when I finished the cake I was about to feed it!!

Eva Salazar’s Cake Portfolio November 2015 Chef of the Month - Cake Designer Eva Salazar

Eva is wearing our Hot Pink w/ Black Women’s 3/4 Sleeve Traditional Fit Chef Coat – Style # 83358 November 2015 Chef of the Month - Cake Designer Eva Salazar Wedding Cake November 2015 Chef of the Month - Cake Designer Eva Salazar Wedding Cake November 2015 Chef of the Month - Cake Designer Eva Salazar Custom Cake October 2015 Chef of the Month - Chef Chocolatier Maura Metheny

October 2015 Chef of the Month – Maura Metheny, Chef Chocolatier October 2015 Chef of the Month - Chef Chocolatier Maura MethenyChef Chocolatier and Head of Design and Innovation at Norman Love Confections, Chef Maura Metheny, a Massachusetts native, was formally trained in ceramic arts and glass before turning to a career in pastry and chocolate. She earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts in New York and then, intrigued by the artistry of baking and pastry, earned an associate degree in pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. At the end of her studies, Metheny moved to Lucerne, Switzerland, where she worked in pastry and chocolate. She returned to the United States to join The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, creating desserts and confections for the hotel’s acclaimed fine dining outlets.

In 2001, Metheny began assisting Chef Norman Love part time while continuing to work full time at The Ritz-Carlton. In 2003, she joined Norman Love Confections full time as the chocolate production manager for the Fort Myers-based confectioner. In this position, she designed and oversaw the daily production of more than 35,000 pieces of handmade, ultra-premium confections, as well as the production of G Chocolate for Godiva, FM Artisan by Norman Love for Fannie May Chocolates and numerous specialty lines for resorts, restaurants and shops nationwide.

Metheny was promoted to head of chocolate design and product innovation in 2011. She is responsible for the development of new products, packaging design and the continued development and execution of all chocolate lines produced by Norman Love Confections. Metheny, having traveled the world to numerous classes and competitions, takes her inspiration from both industry and art to design and create beautiful and indulgent lines of airbrushed confections.

Metheny was chosen as one of the 2015 Top 10 Pastry Chefs in the United States by Dessert Professional Magazine, and Johnson & Wales has invited Metheny to return to her alma mater as a Distinguished Visiting Chef in 2015. She was selected as a 2014 “40 under 40” honoree by Gulfshore Business magazine, she was the recipient of the 2014 National Product Design Award for the Love Origins product packaging; and she was selected as a judge for the 2014 Pastry Live competition in Atlanta.

She competed as a team captain in the Pastry Live 2013 National Showpiece Championship, heading one of only eight teams chosen to compete in Atlanta. Metheny, with co-worker Chef/Chocolatier Dan Forgey, was named National Showpiece Champion for the Best Overall/Most Excellent Showpiece and Best Chocolate Showpiece. She also placed second for Pastry Live 2013 Chocolatier of the Year.

In March 2013, she earned a bronze medal in the 24th annual U.S. Pastry Competition for Pastry Chef of the Year, sponsored by Paris Gourmet in New York City, and was featured on the cover of the April 2013 issue of Dessert Professional magazine for the competition. She had previously earned silver medals in the 2008 and 2009 Florida Showpiece Competitions.

A consummate professional, Metheny strives each day to be better than the day before, and to assist Norman Love Confections in continually raising the bar within the industry.

We met with Chef Metheny in Fort Myers and had such a good time getting to know her and seeing where she worked. She has a bubbly personality and is very talented! The process in making these chocolates is quite the undertaking but so worth it! Norman Love Confections sells their beautifully designed and delicious chocolates (which we gladly tasted and brought for our co-workers) retail in their Chocolate Salon and they also have a cafe selling their gelato icecream and savory meals for lunch and dinner.

Congratulations Maura Metheny on being our Chef of the Month for October! Enjoy getting to know this talented Chocolatier as we did! October 2015 Chef of the Month - Chef Chocolatier Maura Metheny at Norman Love Confections

Norman Love Confections Chocolate Salon

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

Norman Love Confections in Fort Myers, FL


2. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces?

My hands. So many artistic techniques are done with your hands alone but if I had to pick something I would say a set of soft pastry brushes. Applying color or luster dust to transfers and molds, brushing away particles on a showpiece, melted butter or glaze on a pastry, they are very handy and versatile.


3. What is your Wisk Hand? Left or Right?

Mainly right but I use both interchanging.


4. What advice would you offer for aspiring Chef Chocolatiers?

Find a Passion and learn as much as you can about it, whatever aspect of the industry fascinates you most you can never go wrong in learning and it will lead you to working in what you love most.


5. What is one tip every Chef Chocolatiers should know and perfect?

It sounds silly but, Tempering. Knowing how to temper, maintain temper, and problem solve or correct a temper in various environments is the most crucial, even when working with machines. Most people rely on machines but if something goes wrong you won’t know how to properly adjust the settings if you don’t understand the principle.


6. What does a great dessert look like to you?

One that is stunning enough to make me pause and admire it but still appetizing enough to make me want to eat it the second I recover from admiring.


7. Favorite ingredient to work with?

Vanilla, I love simple flavors, and vanilla custard or cream is always my favorite.


8. Favorite Dessert City?

That’s very tough, I think from my core I say Paris. Only because the desserts I have eaten in other cities that I have loved have been because they have aspects of French pastry in them.


9. Best Dish you have ever made?

One of my favorites to this day is one that I learned the techniques from a Chef of mine from the Ritz and I’ve used in Fine Dining. It is a whole tangerine skin hollowed out and confit with an orange, chocolate and tangerine dessert built inside. Layers of orange cake, chocolate cream, fresh tangerine curd, and citrus granite. It is still one of my favorite desserts and techniques. It looked like a fresh tangerine dipped in clear syrup placed on a clean white plate with the stem still attached and the whole thing was edible.


10. What trends do you see emerging in the near future for Chef Chocolatiers?

I’ve seen some very fun influences from Art into chocolate décor and bon-bons. Things from faux finishing to wax sculpting and silk screening, great color combinations in plated dessert and entremets from the chocolate decors. It’s very exciting.


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

Short sleeved, curved fit with vents on sides or back and breathable material that will resist wrinkling, sleeve pockets, no breast pockets and flattering lines.


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

Thin suit pants with front square pockets for cell phones (yes multiple).

A very thin colored t-shirt under my coat for living in FL and having to run errands without a coat and still be presentable and comfortable in the heat.

And a company cotton ball cap, it’s helpful for very long hair and does not fall off when leaning over or when walking between buildings in the hurricane season. =) September 2015 Chef of the Month - Baker Luisa Millan

September 2015 Chef of the Month – Luisa Millan September 2015 Chef of the Month - Baker Luisa MillanBehind every cake is a story….

We had such a great time chatting with Luisa. She is so humble and talented! She got into the business of baking by watching TLC and Food Network’s Cake shows. She said “I can do that” and started designing cakes for her family and friends. At their parties, their guests loved her cakes and orders started coming in and before you know it, word of mouth just took care of the rest! She considers herself an artist more than a baker. When we saw her cakes, we were amazed by the level of detail and the way Luisa remembered each of her client’s stories. So heartfelt and fascinating….

Luisa Millan established Fabulous Cake Couture in 2010, a creative, custom cake company serving all of South Florida. Her background in architecture, design and passion for baking makes the perfect combination for translating form, structure and color into a delicious piece of edible art. She continues to push the boundaries with every new cake design and takes the opportunity to try different techniques and flavor combinations to exceed expectations. All of her custom cakes and cupcakes are freshly baked from quality ingredients and delicious flavor combinations to please every palette. Read on further to explore Luisa’s world as a Baker and check out her cakes below!

Congratulations Luisa Millan on being our Chef of the Month for September!

1. Where do you work and where are you based?
My business is called Fabulous Cake Couture and I am based out of Miramar, Florida and am looking to open a specialty cake retail store in the near future.

2. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces?
For baking, measuring cups is essential as all recipes are accurately measured in order to achieve the same consistency and flavors in every baked good.  For decorating, a pasta roller. This is my best friend as it helps me achieve even fondant thickness for my hand made flowers and other decorations.

3. For Pastry Chefs, what is your Wisk Hand? Left or Right
I am a righty!

4. What advice would you offer for aspiring pastry chefs/bakers?
Learn the basics, techniques, etc. and then enhance your own.

5. What is one tip every pastry chef/baker should know and perfect?
Don’t over work your dough. Be able to feel the consistency and be mindful of baking times.

6. What does a great cake look like to you?
A great cake is one that reflects all of the recipient’s requests in flavor, design and structure.  It has clean lines, great design, smooth surfaces and harmonious colors.

7. What trends as a baker do you see emerging in the near future?
Cakes are becoming more mainstream to include vegan.

8. What features are important to you when selecting a Chef Coat? (particular fabric, style, sleeve length, pockets)
When selecting a Chef Coat for my use, I look for comfort. A fabric that is breathable and not stiff and has an attractive feminine design. I prefer short sleeves as I do not like the fabric to disturb any part of my finished cake.  I also look for one that has a low neckline and no buttons or other protruding ornaments that may leave a mark on my fondant finishes as I work covering my cakes.  I prefer pastel colors and prints that camouflage spills and food markings.

9. What is your go-to chef outfit?  Do you prefer coats, tees, pants, shorts, aprons, hats, etc?
When I do cake shows and other trade shows, I prefer a Chef Coat that is feminine with light pastel colors and my company logo.  For work, I prefer a short sleeve Chef Coat or tee with pants.

10. Favorite ingredient to work with?
My favorite ingredient for baking is flavor extracts and for decorating, fondant.

11. Favorite Dessert City?
My favorite dessert city is Las Vegas.  I was amazed at the variety and creativity of the pastry chefs at the various casinos.

12. Best Cake you have ever made?
The best cake I have made so far was made for my uncle’s 75th birthday.  There are two loves in my uncle’s life, his Dalmatian dog and dominoes.  He lives in Key Largo, Florida and was having a surprise party there.  It was a challenge for me to make a sturdy structure that would withstand the long travel as well as come up with a design that would incorporate both of his passions.
The final design included a domino table with a map of Cuba (his native land) and surrounding islands, domino chips and his dog at the bottom of the table.  The dog was made of rice crispy treats and fondant cover, all hand painted in edible ink.  The cake made it safely to Key Largo and was a hit!! Here is a picture of the finished cake. September 2015 Chef of the Month - Baker Luisa Millan

Luisa Millan Uncle’s 75th Birthday Cake representing his 2 loves – his pet dog, a Dalmatian and dominoes.

Luisa Millan’s Portfolio September 2015 Chef of the Month - Baker Luisa Millan September 2015 Chef of the Month - Baker Luisa Millan

Luisa Millan donated a Dog Hydrant Cake to an event hosted by one of the Housewives of Miami and was auctioned for $400.

5 Tips to help Chefs Survive Their First Job in the Kitchen

Chefs first job in the Kitchen Chefs first job in the Kitchen

We’ve seen how messy things can get when you don’t respect the kitchen. We’ve seen how accidents can happen when you aren’t paying attention. These things can and will happen, but a seasoned chef will know just how to avoid some common missteps and mistakes on the job. A newbie, however, will need all the help they can get – which is why we’ve compiled a list of tips to surviving your first job in the kitchen.

Be aware of your environment – kitchens can be loud, hectic and dangerous. Always know who and what is around you – and let others know when you’re near them. Learn to use these terms, if you want to keep your job (and your health), and look like you know what you’re doing:

  • Corner – coming around the corner
  • Behind you – walking behind someone
  • Sharp – walking with a sharp knife
  • Hot – walking with a hot pot

Keep a clean work space – Keep your station neat, clean and organized. That not only includes keeping all food and tools in their proper places, but keeping your chef coat or apron stain free, as well. For tips on how to keep your coat as clean as possible, read our blog, Keeping Your Chef Coat Clean During the Holidays.

Chefs first job in the Kitchen

Move efficiently – Don’t just run around the kitchen aimlessly. Know what you need, where to find it, and minimize the amount of time you spend moving around the kitchen. This is not only for your safety, but for the safety of everyone else in that kitchen. Be considerate to those around you and don’t crowd their work space by being in an area you don’t need to be in.

Don’t act like a know-it-all – Stop trying to impress everyone and do what you are told. You are new to this, and your head chef knows that. Don’t pretend to know everything just to show off. If anything, he or she will be happier to see you learning and producing consistently well-prepared dishes than to see you try something you saw on TV once and fail miserably. Always under promise and over deliver. Listen to your head chef and do as he or she says.

Last but not least, Stay Calm! – A professional kitchen is a high-pressure environment. If you are nervous or unsure, you will make everyone around you nervous as well. You can freak out on the inside, but outside you need to be calm, cool and collected. Focus on the task in front of you. Take it one step at a time, and get it right the first time. Don’t start yelling at everyone, unless you’re the head chef – unless you want a one way ticket out of his kitchen.

Chefs first job in the Kitchen

Can you think of any other tips for new kitchen staff? Post it below!

Women: Changing the Culinary Industry, One Palate at a Time

Up until recent years, women have been seen as homemakers, with the old-fashioned, traditional role in mind. However, women are breaking out now and outperforming their male counterparts in many roles and industries. While cooking is certainly not a new activity, many women have flourished in this field, and have even changed the game, so to speak, for the entire industry. We’d like to honor a few of them for their ground-breaking efforts, so read on!

Women - Changing the Culinary Industry_Julia Child

Julia Child

One of the most well-known female chefs, Child discovered her love of French cuisine while attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. After writing 19 books, including Mastering the Art of French Cooking, her first television show, The French Chef, debuted. This show was the most successful cooking show of its time (perhaps even to-date!), and brought French cuisine to the average American table.




Alice WatersWomen - Changing the Culinary Industry_Alice Waters

Waters is known as the inventor of “California Cuisine”, with her love of fresh, local ingredients. In 1971 she founded Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. She wrote 12 food related books, and was the first female chef to win the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in 1992. That same year, her restaurant Chez Panisse won Best Restaurant.


Women - Changing the Culinary Industry_Lidia Matticchio BastianichLidia Matticchio Bastianich

Bastianich arrived in New York City in 1958 after having escaped from Pola, Istria (present day Croatia) when she was just 11 years old. About 10 years later, her family opened an Italian restaurant called Buonovia, which means “On the Good Road” in Queens. When they saw how successful the restaurant was, they decided to open a second restaurant in Queens, Villa Secondo. It was here that Lidia gained the notice of food critics, going on to give live cooking demonstrations, which lead to her career as hostess on her own TV cooking show.  Years later, the family opened a third restaurant, Felidia, in Manhattan, where Bastianich became one of the first female chefs to receive a three star review.

Women - Changing the Culinary Industry_Cristeta ComerfordCristeta Comerford

Cristeta Comerford moved from the Philippines to the United States at just 23. She was recruited to be a chef during the Clinton White House, and soon became the first female executive chef of the White House. She still holds this position to this day. In early 2015, Comerford partnered with Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, beating both Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali.

Clare SmythWomen - Changing the Culinary Industry_Clare Smyth 

Head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Clare Smyth was Britain’s first female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin stars. Though she admits that restaurants tend to be “testosterone-driven,” Smyth didn’t let that affect her drive and perseverance to be successful. She is proud that as a female chef she can be collaborative and add a feminine touch to her cooking, while being tough enough to get things done in her kitchen. Her award winning South Kensington restaurant is proof of her passion and positive attitude.

Women - Changing the Culinary Industry_Rachael RayRachael Ray 

Rachael Ray is a TV cooking expert who offers daily lifestyle advice. She has created a very successful career as a TV personality, in addition to writing several best-selling cookbooks, as well as being a magazine editor. Her simple homemade 30-minute recipes are loved around the world, inspiring countless families to enjoy delicious and healthy meals. Her meals are designed to be easy, quick and low-cost.

Rachel KhooWomen - Changing the Culinary Industry_Rachel Khoo

Rachel Khoo is the epitome of a game-changer. She is young, creative, and unique in her approach to the industry. Khoo uses social media and out-of-the-box thinking to differentiate herself among her colleagues, putting her videos on YouTube and adding her own Malay-Chinese-Austrian-British spice to her food. She moved to Paris, where she opened a restaurant in her own flat, calling it the Little Paris Kitchen. Rachel used her knowledge of social media, along with her passion and creative style of cooking to become a worldwide sensation, and an overnight success.

Women - Changing the Culinary Industry_Paula DeenPaula Deen

The Food Network star was famous even before she was ever on TV. Deen, along with her sons Jaime and Bobby, owns and has operated the restaurant Lady & Sons in Savannah, GA, which serves traditional southern fare and was named “International Meal of the Year” by USA Today in 1999.

Paula did go through some rough times, though, losing both parents before the age of 19, and ending up with a severe case of agoraphobia after her divorce. She was, however, able to remain a successful cook, though, and with her famous love of all things butter, went on to become a Food Network Celebrity.

Elizabeth FalknerWomen - Changing the Culinary Industry_Elizabeth Falkner

Elizabeth Falkner graduated from art school in 1989, but taking a job as a chef at Café Claude in 1990 took her off the beaten path and changed her career trajectory. She opened her first restaurant, Citizen Cake, in San Francisco in 1997, which she still owns and is the executive pastry chef. In addition to that, she is co-owner and executive chef at Orson. Falkner is known for her platinum, spiky hair and her creative desserts, and is involved in Les Dames d’Escoffier (a world-wide organization of professional women leaders in the culinary industry), and Women Chefs and Restauranteurs.

Do you know of any other female chefs that have left a mark on you or your industry? Let us know in the comments below!

The Art of Plating: The Importance of Presentation

The Art of Plating: The Importance of PresentationMany of us have to wear multiple hats day to day. We fill many roles at the workplace – we could be a marketer one minute and a graphic artist the next, or an accountant as well as a salesperson. In the case of the culinary industry, many chefs also have to be artists to be able to stand out and draw in more customers. There is an art to dish presentation, which adds to the customer experience as a whole. The goal is to create a dining experience that tempts all of the senses, rather than simply taste alone.

There are a few different types of plating, which include “classic,” which arranges the main item in front of the plate with the veggies and starches behind, “stacked,” which is exactly as the name implies, and “shingled,” in which you would find the main item on top of a bed of vegetables or another side item. Knowing when to use each type and how to do so in a way that grabs the eye and takes the patron on a culinary adventure, is why chefs are true artists.

The Art of Plating - The Importance of Presentation_2

We included a video from Executive Chef Don Walker from Five Fishermen featuring his tips on how to plate meals at home.


Which plating method works best for you? Send us pictures of some of your best presentations!

It’s All Fun and Games until Someone Takes a Fryer to the Face

It’s All Fun and Games until Someone Takes a Fryer to the Face found on blog.chefuniforms.comIt’s great to have fun while at work. It makes time go faster, it makes the job seem less like work and more like an enjoyable activity, and it makes it, well… entertaining, for lack of a better word. However, certain work environments are not conducive to horseplay, like kitchens, for instance. Kitchens can be extremely dangerous if you aren’t careful. One slip of the wrist or even walking without paying full attention to where you’re going could be the difference between having 10 fingers and being generally healthy to being covered in boiling oil, or worse.

Imagine trying to look like a big shot, your first day on the job, and throwing battered, still-frozen fish in a deep fryer. The resulting eruption of boiling oil is enough to make that first day, also your last.

What about dancing to some salsa music, waving your arms around and having a great time (you know you love it!), and bumping into someone carrying a pot of boiling water? Sure you’ll live to cook another day, but who wants to go home with second-degree burns?

Or reaching into a blender to clean it without making sure it’s unplugged first and getting the sleeve of your chef coat caught. You may not be able to play guitar anymore, let’s just put it that way.

I don’t even want to think about goofing off around the knives. Let’s just leave that one to the imagination.

The moral of the story is, leave the horseplay out of the kitchen and you’ll all live long, healthy lives. Almost every accident in the kitchen could be avoided with some proper attention and care, so do your part to ensure that your fellow kitchen staff goes home in one piece.

It’s All Fun and Games until Someone Takes a Fryer to the Face found on

Let’s play a game.

How many accidents waiting to happen can you spot in this picture?”


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