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OCTOBER 2021 CHEF OF THE MONTH – CHEF CARLINE BENGTSSON

We’re pumped to feature our October 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Carline Bengstsson! Chef Carline was born in Jamaica and grew up in Minnesota. Quite the world traveler, she’s also lived in Switzerland and has traveled throughout Scandinavia and the Asia Pacific! Today, she’s the founder and sole proprietor of Dine4Dinners®, a program dedicated to combating hunger & partnering with organizations that provide meals to those who need it, based outside the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul in Lindstrom, Minnesota. Through the company, more than 73,000 meals have been donated to feed the hungry! In addition to her work as a Chef, she’s the proud author of the cookbook, Carline’s Fork & Cork, Simply Delish, dedicated to treasured moments in the kitchen with loved ones. Chef Carline is a passionate, selfless Chef, and we can’t wait to share her story with you this month! Find out more about her story below and keep your eyes peeled for some delicious recipes.

1. Where were you born?
I was born on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica; moved to Minnesota as a child but consider myself a citizen of the world as I worked and lived in Europe (Switzerland), spending lots of time in Scandinavia and traveled to Asia Pacific.  I now reside in the beautiful little town of Lindstrom located forty minutes northeast of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
 I am the founder and sole proprietor of Dine4Dinners® based outside the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul in Lindstrom, Minnesota.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
Because I grew up learning the simplicity of creating good eats with minimal tools, I have come to love using a good stainless-steel handle, rubber spoons & spatulas with high temperature tolerance.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
My sharpest sense out of the five senses is sense of sight.  I see, eat, and taste food with my eyes.  For me, food must look appealing initially (plated well), driving that excitement of the taste buds to want that first bite, and yet looks too pretty to want to eat, but you dive in anyway to experience that first bite.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
To aspiring chefs, I offer, to stay the course, not losing sight of your brand of cooking, continue to push forward bringing it to light any way that you can.  Social media provides a platform for sharing about one’s passion.  Be bold, focused, and positive in making a difference in the kitchen and your respective community.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
When working in the kitchen, consider prepping all ingredients ahead of time and make a concerted effort to clean up as you go versus waiting until the very end.

7. What does good food mean to you?
Good food means to me nourishment for body and soul – a delightful consumption of amazing combinations of foods and ingredients from around the world making unique flavors to satisfy the palate.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit?
When selecting a chef outfit, I am drawn first to styling, followed by breathability and comfort in wearing it while working in the kitchen.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
My all-time favorite ingredient to work with is steak seasoning.  In my opinion steak seasoning is not just for steak and compliments any dish well: shrimp, fish, chicken, soups to name a few.

10. Favorite city to dine out in?
This is a difficult one to respond to because we have so many fabulous restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul, so I will say when I am traveling, my favorite city to dine out in, is Las Vegas, so many restaurants with sophisticated food experiences to enjoy.  

11. Best dish you have ever made? 
As simplistic as this sounds, but it would be chili. Chili is not something I grew up with eating as a child or adult for that matter, but my husband loves a good chili and so I created my own recipe which has become the talk of my neighborhood and it’s on the menu for our annual (out in the winter elements) fire and ice party each February.

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off? 
On my days off and more so at the end of the week, homemade pizza is the meal for the evening with a nice glass of wine.  Why pizza?  All leftover ingredients from meals throughout the week is used to make unique pizzas such as sausage, spinach, artichoke with mozzarella finished with extra virgin olive oil and fig balsamic.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
There is not one specific person I would most like to cook for; my passion is to cook and serve those who believe in and share in the mission of giving back to those in need because there is joy in giving back and in making a difference in other’s lives. Gathering around the dinner table to share in a meal and conversation translates to a bigger purpose – paying it forward to nourish the souls of many.

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
Difficulties chefs often encounter is finding time to take for themselves to recharge.  I think this is particularly important to do deliberately, although I know it can be personally rewarding to know your food creations are loved and enjoyed by those who partake.  Also being a chef does not often come with fame or high monetary recognition.  Chefs’ work is for the passion of cooking and making a difference.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?
I decided to become a personal chef after retiring from corporate life following careers within the insurance, military avionics and medical technology industries at Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Honeywell and most recently Medtronic, where I was a people/program manager. 

As previously mentioned, I immigrated to Minnesota from Jamaica as a child.  Later in life, grew up to marry a native Swede which sealed my affinity for the culture, language, and country.  Following the death of my first husband, Lars, I published my first cookbook “Carline’s Fork & Cork, Simply Delish!” which is dedicated to treasured moments together in the kitchen creating and partaking in good eats with my mom, siblings, husband, extended family, and friends. 

I have always had a passion for cooking.  Being a leader in the community and giving back to others, came later in life, through understanding how to serve others from a place of empathy and good will.  The pivotal moment that bridged my two passions of cooking and giving back came from a decision to donate a gift of recognition points to a local food organization – giving them the opportunity to provide 400 meals to feed the hungry. I realized my calling and blended my two loves:  creating memorable meals and helping others to nourish their bodies and souls.  Dine4Dinners® was born and launched June 2020.  The business model benefits both foodies and people in need of daily nourishment. Through the company’s initial flagship model of sharing in an in-home restaurant style dining experience, greater than 73,000 meals have been donated to feed the hungry. 

Imagine, the next time you sit down to eat a meal, that you are also feeding another family. 25% of the cost of a Dine4Dinners® dining experience goes to a food organization of the client’s choice – paying forward the memorable dining experience to feed those in need.

Connect with our October 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @mosaicdelish
Facebook: @carlinesforkandcork  
Website: https://dine4dinners.org/
Blog: https://mosaicdelish.wordpress.com/blog/

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September 2021 Chef of the Month – Chef Jahnesta Watson (Chef Shaiheem)

We’re so excited to introduce our talented September 2021 Chef of the Month, Jahnesta Watson (Chef Shaiheem)! Originally from Mississippi, Chef Shaiheem moved around a lot before he permanently settled in Atlanta, Georgia. He owns The Guilty Plate Co. LLC, an Atlanta based catering company that he started back in 2016. Chef Shaiheem has been cooking ever since he was 17 years old! His first full-time job was at a burger spot in the Atlanta airport, and it helped him realize that food fueled his passions. Today, he continues to inspire his customers with the love he has for his craft and truly believes that he was placed on this earth to “Spread Light Through Food”. After all, feeding people is his love language.

1. Where were you born?
 I am originally from Gulfport, Mississippi but I moved back and forth between there and Georgia all my life. I moved to Atlanta, GA permanently in 2008.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I’m a Project manager/Sampling & Projections operations analyst.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
My Cleaver is my favorite tool, it’s the sharpest knife in my kitchen and it’s never nicked me!

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
Hearing, I am also a singer so working on that has always been important to me. No one is ever going to sneak up on me!

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Never stop creating, I challenge myself to create at least two things a week with ingredients I have never touched. I think it is important to venture out into other styles of cuisine to bring nuanced flavors to your foundational cooking style.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
The culinary tip that I think everyone should know and perfect is effectively seasoning and building flavor profiles. Every seasoning that is in your cabinet, does not belong on your food.

7. What does good food mean to you?
Good food to me is food that is cooked with love and food where every single flavor profile is vocal in your dish in the way that it needs to be heard.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 
Comfortability and style is important. I want to be able to move around easily and to not sweat too much in the kitchen. Even more so, I want to look damn good in it!

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
I love acidity so any excuse to use citrus and I am there for it!

10. Favorite city to dine out in?  
Chicago, IL hands down! Chicago is such a culinary melting pot and I love diving into everything I can get my hands on when I’m there. There is no such thing as a diet when I am in The Chi!

11. Best dish you have ever made? 
I honestly try to top myself every time I step in the kitchen, I feel like superiority to the chef I was yesterday is always my goal, so I feel like I’m only as good as my last dish. Now that I’m done pontificating, Hazelnut Coffee braised Oxtails w/ Smoked Manchego gremolata over creamy polenta.

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off? 
OXTAILS & JAPANESE FOOD

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
I would love to cook for Michelle Obama, I just love that woman!

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
I would say the most difficult thing is staying inspired and keeping yourself separated and special. It is a blessing and a rarity that you can make the money you need to survive cooking full time if that is your dream. The Chef community is infiltrated because everyone claims the word in a community that is already so oversaturated.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?
I have been cooking professionally since I was 17. Cooking truly centers me. When I am in the kitchen creating dishes for others to eat, it nothing brings me more joy.  I truly believe that I have something special in store for anyone who tries my food. I believe I was placed on this Earth to “Spread Light Through Food” and just want everyone to experience the love I have for my craft because Feeding People is My Love Language.

Connect with our September 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @thechefshaiheem
Website: https://theguiltyplate.com/
TikTok: @thechefshaiheem

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August 2021 Chef of the Month – James Couch (Chef Jaycee)

We’re happy to introduce our August Chef of the Month, James Couch (Chef Jaycee)! Chef Jaycee is currently a Sous Chef for Compass Group in Tysons, Virginia, and the owner and executive chef of Chef Jaycee LLC, serving the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. Ever since he was a child, he was interested in cooking and found himself checking out cookbooks in the library instead of standard children’s books! He then went on to culinary school at JNA Institution of Culinary Arts in Philadelphia, PA and after graduation, he pursued a degree in Management at James Madison University. Chef Jaycee is a strong-willed, passionate chef. He has a keen eye for developing creative plates and encourages others to always keep an open mind and never stop learning. He’s cooked for various clients including Ambassadors to the United States and CNN news anchors. As a private Chef, he’s catered private meals to NFL players, CEOs and White House officials! We’re so impressed by Chef Jaycee’s story and can’t wait to share his delicious recipes.

1. Where were you born? 

I was born on the Fort Lewis Army Base in Seattle, Washington. My dad was in the Army and we moved to several places throughout my life.

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

I am a Sous Chef for Compass Group in Tysons, Virginia. I am also the owner and executive chef of Chef Jaycee LLC serving the DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area.

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

My favorite kitchen tool is a Vitamix because I love making beautiful vibrant sauces and smooth purees, and a Vitamix helps get the job done perfectly.

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

I would say sight is my sharpest sense. I have a keen eye for developing creative plates and can quickly notice if anything is out of place on the plate itself or in pictures. Because of my sharp sense of sight, I’m able to react to things quickly – people are often so surprised at how fast I react to catch something that is falling!

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Work ethic and attitude means everything in the kitchen. Also, I would advise to never think you know everything and don’t have anything to learn. Even if you have your way of doing something, always be open to the point of view of others.

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

Every chef should know mise en place. Mise en place is a French term meaning to have all your ingredients in order. Not having your ingredients in order can easily throw off your entire meal.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food means the food tastes just as great as it looks. Good food gives you a feeling of excitement and has you walking away from the table looking forward to the next time you can taste the dish. It can take you back to when you were a kid, or even as deep as feeling it in your soul.

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

To me, the jacket is the most important piece of my chef outfit. The jacket itself has to fit just right – not too baggy, long enough, and has spaces for my thermometer, pens, etc. When I think I look good, I feel good about myself and give off a positive energy.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

I love to work with anything acidic like lemon, limes, vinegar, and wine. Acid can be used in so many different ways to elevate a dish, from tenderizing meats to adding clean, fresh, bold flavors to your sauces.

10. Favorite city to dine out in? 

New Orleans, Louisiana has been my favorite city to dine out in. I love seafood and Creole food and love that they pack all their food with great flavor and seasonings.

11. Best dish you have ever made? 

My best dish is Grilled Porcini Crusted Beef Tenderloin and Butter Poached Lobster Tail with Truffle Potato Puree, Roasted Asparagus, Port Jus, and Microgreens. Surf and turf is one of my favorite dishes to make and this dish specifically always brings out the best reactions from my clients, which is one of the reasons I love to cook.

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

Top Ramen and Sandwiches! After being around food all week, I want the most simple and quick meals.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

President Obama and his family. I look up to him because he has showed me that anything is possible with hard work. In my eyes, it would be an honor to cook for him.

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

Chefs need to be strong both physically and mentally in order to deal with the pressure from your job. Difficulties of a chef include staff calling out, food budgets, long hours, and keeping your composure when everything could be going wrong. As a chef, you often have to accept criticism on your food because no chef could ever appease to everyone’s palette.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

I have always been interested in food. In elementary school, while other kids were checking out Magic School Bus and Goosebumps books, I would check out cookbooks from Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse. I was raised by a single mother, who worked 16 hour shifts at night and sometimes left my brother, sister, and I to cook for ourselves. I would go in the kitchen and try to make recipes with Top Ramen. When I left for culinary school, I found out my grandfather was also Chef, though he passed away before I could meet him. Knowing this solidified that the culinary world was for me.

Connect with our August 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefjayceee
Website: https://www.chefjaycee.com/
Facebook: @infoChefJaycee 

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July 2021 Chef of the Month – Gabriel Lewis

Photo Credit: @image.diy

We’re so excited to welcome our July 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Gabriel Lewis! Chef Gabe was born and raised in Oklahoma City and is now a private chef in the area, owning his business, Chef Gabe LLC. He attributes his love of cooking and desire to become a chef to his mother, Lisa Lewis. Chef Gabe is an award-winning chef and recently won the Okie Award Best Chef 2019 for the state of Oklahoma, he was also a top 7 contestant on MasterChef! He’s gone on to earn a position under Chef Aaron Sanchez and a culinary arts degree paid for by Gordon Ramsay. On his days off, this successful Chef enjoys eating ramen and finding ways to perfect his craft. Shop his look, stay tuned for his incredible recipes and read more about Chef Gabe’s story below!

1. Where were you born? 
I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, it’s home.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I operate as a private chef under my own business Chef Gabe LLC based in Oklahoma City, but I travel as needed.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
Most people are surprised to hear that my favorite tool is just a normal spoon. I use it every time I cook to baste, flip proteins, stir sauces, plate dishes, etc. In my opinion, it’s one of the most important tools in the kitchen.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
My sense of taste is definitely my sharpest sense. It’s instrumental in helping me layer flavors in each dish I craft.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
My advice to aspiring chefs would be to challenge yourself daily. Push yourself to transform an ingredient in as many ways as you can, try that foreign spice or vegetable, find the flaws in your dishes and cook them until you cannot find them anymore. Repetition and adversity breed amazing results.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
The art of the sear! I believe searing is the key to making or breaking a dish in most cases. A steak without a good sear is sub-par, but a steak with a perfect crust lives in the memory, haunts it until you get to sate that craving.

7. What does good food mean to you?
Good food to me is food that brings people together, unites you with memories you’ve been estranged from. Good food allows you to get lost in the plate. Good food should be able to birth happiness from experience or unite you with a moment you shared with someone that is no longer here but lives through those flavors. That’s what good food means to me.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 
When I’m selecting a chef outfit, I am looking for something that sets me apart from my colleagues. I like to have an outfit that screams professionalism, yet doesn’t intimidate or speak louder than the dishes I produce. I want my outfit to speak of what food is to follow, clean, refined and personable.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
My favorite ingredient hands down has to be salmon. It’s so versatile yet temperamental, affordable and stunning when cooked properly. Salmon was the first protein I ever perfected, it holds the crown for me.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 
I would probably say Denver is my favorite city to dine in currently. There is a beautiful array of flavors and cultures mashed up and showcased in the mile-high city. You can find something for anyone, especially foodies.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 
The best dish I ever made has to be this seared Atlantic salmon w/ wild mushroom truffle risotto garnished with micro kale, cranberry glazed portobello “leaves” and white truffle. The flavor and texture contrast were phenomenal as was the presentation. Now I’m craving it haha.

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off? 
On my days off, I’m generally eating a delicious bowl of Tori Paitan from my favorite restaurant in Oklahoma City, Goro Ramen. If that’s not an option, I’ll make a simple roast chicken at home and eat on that for a few days.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
I would love to have the opportunity to cook for Graham Elliot or Cat Cora. Both chefs have played a significant role in my journey as a chef and I would love to repay that by crafting the best meal I could for them!

14. What made you decide to become a chef?
My mother, Lisa Lewis. She was always a caretaker of the people she loved, always showing that love through food. Watching her cook and try new techniques, travel through food and cook for those she loved inspired me to dedicate my life to the craft. I try to make her proud through every dish I create.

Connect with our July 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @the_gabriellewis
Website: https://www.chefgabeonline.com/
Facebook: @GabrielLewis97
TikTok: @the_gabriellewis

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June 2021 Chef of the Month – Mollie Guerra

We’re welcoming the sunny month of June with our talented June 2021 Chef of the Month, Mollie Guerra! Chef Mollie is a South Texas native, originally from Corpus Christi and now resides in Dallas. She’s a personal chef out of Dallas and has her own meal prep business that services the Dallas-Fort Worth area! Recently, she’s been able to expand and now offers corporate & event catering and will also run a seasonal pop-up in DFW called La Chefita! Chef Mollie has always loved cooking and she remembers watching cooking shows on Saturday morning with her mom. She then participated in a Culinary Arts program while in high school, and that is when she truly developed her passion for her craft. Chef Mollie is hardworking and gives it all she’s got every day. She believes that if you’re truly passionate about something, you should give it your all and never look back.
Stay tuned for some incredible recipes & shop her look!

1. Where were you born? 

I’m originally from Corpus Christi, definitely a South Texas native and a beach bum! But I’ve lived in Dallas for almost 20 years, so this is definitely my home now, at least until the next adventure takes me somewhere else!

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

I’ve been a Personal Chef out of Dallas for the past few years, but last year I started my own meal prep business servicing the DFW area. Since then, I’ve gratefully been able to expand and grow the business and we now also offer Corporate & Event Catering, run a seasonal Pop-Up restaurant out on Lake Texoma, along with my favorite – private Chef’s Tables and dinners.

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

As it is for most Chefs, my knives are my babies. Your knife cuts are the basis for almost all dishes, so it’s imperative to have one that is sharp, versatile, and comfortable for you. Not everyone has the same style preference so it’s important to try different blades and see what’s best for you. As they say, using the right tools for the right job makes all the difference. 

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

This is a tough one to answer, because it’s hard to say just one. Cooking is one of the few things that invokes all five of the senses, but they all need to work together – you can hear the sizzle in your pan and know your oil is hot enough; you smell the aromas of herbs and spices that you’ve incorporated into the dish, or can smell a dish burning sometimes before you see it; you can tell what a dough needs just by feeling the texture, even without tasting it. No singular sense should outshine the others, because they all work together in such a beautiful harmony.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Whatever it is you think you can’t do, do it anyway. Try it, go for it. Take that leap of faith. If you don’t know how to do something, learn. Ask questions, watch videos, read recipes. Never lose that hunger or drive for knowledge. Every day I learn something new, and it’s what helps push me forward. Sometimes I have moments, especially after those 14 hour days that go back to back to back, where I want to quit or give up and I just have to remind myself, I get to wake up every morning and do what I love. Not many people get that chance, so if this is something you’re truly passionate about, give it your all and never look back.

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

Aside from your basic knife cuts, one of the most important things is learning how to season your dishes properly and balance flavors. This is a hard one, because something you might think is too salty might be just right for someone else. The same goes for acidity and sweetness, but it’s all about balance. Knowing when a dish isn’t right and being able to accept that and know what can be added/changed to make the dish the best version of what it can be.

7. What does good food mean to you?

When I take a bite of something and start doing the little wiggle dance, you know it’s good. But it isn’t always just about the taste; sometimes you can really see the intent and thought process behind a dish, the technique and skill. There’s nothing against simple, classic dishes, but I’m all about layers and bright flavors that make you question. Good food evokes emotion, joy and passion, which are the same feelings that I put into my dishes when creating them.

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

Aside from comfort, efficiency and pockets, I love when my coats are as bright and exciting as my dishes are. I love Chef Uniforms because they offer a wide variety of colors and styles, which helps me feel like I’m still able to bring a little of my personality and style in the kitchen.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

If you can’t tell by now, I have a hard time just choosing one thing, haha. It changes by the season, by the day. My favorite ingredients are ones that I haven’t worked with, because those are the ones that challenge me the most. By stepping out of my comfort zone it helps inspire me to develop new recipes and try new things. I love learning, and there’s no better way than trying something new.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

One of my favorite cities to dine in is definitely San Francisco. You can be at an intersection and have a Scandinavian restaurant on one corner, and then Persian, Peruvian, and Malaysian restaurants on the others. It’s the epitome of fusion dining and cuisine and allows you to experience new flavors and dishes from cultures that aren’t often times aren’t showcased enough. 

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

I hope I haven’t made it yet, haha! There are so many dishes that I’ve made that were my favorite for a little while, until I started playing with it more or recreating it or trying something new. While I can understand the benefit to having signature dishes, I don’t want to say one single thing is the best dish I’ve ever made, because I don’t want to cap myself at any point. Each time I make a dish I see if there’s a way to make it better than the last. I will definitely be the first one to admit if one of my recipes needs tweaking!

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

Right now, my favorites are always ramen and sushi. Those are two things that I haven’t spent as much time diving into learning how to make for myself, and I’m a sucker for a good bowl of Shoyu or Tonkotsu.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

I really wish I could cook for my grandparents again. They were always such huge supporters of my dreams. I wish I could show them what all I’ve learned, how much I’ve grown, and how much more I have still to come. But I know they’re still here in spirit supporting and motivating me, and I know they would be proud.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I’ve always loved cooking. I can remember growing up and watching cooking shows on Saturday mornings with my Mom, trying to rush and scribble down the recipes before the commercial breaks. I was fortunate enough to participate in a Culinary Arts program while in High School, and that’s where I really developed my passion for cooking and wanting to know why dishes tasted the way they did; why was a dish made a particular way, and what would happen if we did it a different way instead?

Cooking fulfills my need for creativity and learning; it scratches every itch. There’s always a new ingredient, a new recipe to test out. It keeps me sane and is my breath of fresh air. There’s this feeling I get when I walk into an empty kitchen first thing in the morning; it’s this calming sense of tranquility before the beautiful, hectic push of the day. It brings a sense of order and uniformity that helps center the million ideas that are always spazzing around in my head. But most of all, it’s a way for me to share my passion and joy in the way I know best – through feeding others.

Connect with our June 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @chefmollieg

Website: https://www.chefmolliegllc.com/

May 2021 Chef of the Month – Gina Clarke

Our May 2021 Chef of the Month is the talented Chef Gina Clarke! Chef Gina is California-born and raised and now resides in Malibu. She’s the head chef and owner of Malibu Seaside Chef, a high-end private chef service that provides catering, fine dining and more!
Chef Gina first studied at the French Epicurean School in Los Angeles and then apprenticed under renowned Chef Giuliano Bugialli in Florence and Wolfgang Puck in Malibu. Among this chef’s clientele are movie stars, musicians and athletes!
Chef Gina is passionate about traveling and creating delicious masterpieces. She is strong-willed and open for new techniques, ideas and methods of cooking. She believes that you can always learn from someone else when it comes to food. We can’t wait to introduce her and some delicious recipes!

1. Where were you born? 

I was born and raised in San Luis Obispo, California which lies on the Central Coast. Incredible coastline with beautiful beaches, farms, vineyards and farm to table food.

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

I am head chef and owner of Malibu Seaside Chef. I am a high-end private chef that provides services for catering, fine dining, and events. I am based out of Malibu, California, but service all of Southern California and have traveled to other states and countries to work.

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

Anything “Le Creuset” I’ve been using their pans for years and they are tried and proven with all dishes. They are beautiful, nonporous, not-reactive and resistant to scratches. They retain the heat and cook evenly throughout.

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

For me, the sense of “smell” is the sharpest of any. I can almost tell what food will taste like by the smell and if it needs any adjustments. Smell also brings back memories of prior food, restaurants and travel.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

You need to always educate yourself and be open for new techniques, ideas and methods of doing things. You can always learn from someone when It comes to food.

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

Every Chef should be able to improvise in times of need. You may be faced with many obstacles that force you to adapt and overcome in order to succeed. I’ve shown up to cook five course meals and the oven doesn’t work, thus, I’ve had to improvise and cook entire meals on the BBQ.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me incorporates all sense, I love the way food smells, tastes, the color, the textures and how it makes me feel. There’s no better food than when it brings people together.

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

The features to me that are important in a chef’s outfit are comfort, proper fit, durability and it has to be stylish.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

I love using aged Balsamic, I can use it in marinates, salads dressing, soups, drizzled over fruit and veggies.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

Florence, Italy. I attended cooking school in Florence, Italy and was able to sample the flavors throughout the region. It’s a magical city with incredible dining, flavors, wine and old-world restaurants.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

It’s hard to pick, but my husband dies over my Osso Buco. Veal shanks braised with vegetables, wine, and broth served over risotto or polenta.

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

I definitely enjoy food and dining out gives me inspiration. My favorite foods to eat on my days off are Indian, Persian, Thai and Sushi. I love big, bold flavor and lots of spices.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

I think it would be amazing to cook for the Pope, I’d make him some amazing Italian food and finish it off with dessert and a good espresso.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I was an international model from the age of 16 to my early 30’s and was fortunate travel, dine and sample food around the world. This captured my attention to food and I wanted to do something after my modeling days were over that was creative and innovative. Becoming a chef fulfilled that creative side in me and allowed me to continue supporting myself in a way that I felt needed.

Connect with our May 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @malibuseasidechef

Facebook: @malibuseasidechef 

Website: https://www.malibuseasidechef.com/

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April 2021 Chef of the Month – Jessica Scott

What better way to bring in Spring and the month of April than with our April 2021 Chef of the Month, Jessica Scott?!
Chef Jess grew up in San Diego, California and now resides in Las Vegas where she’s the corporate pastry chef for 50 Eggs Inc, a hospitality group that includes brands such as the Yardbird, CHICA and Spritz brands!
After attending culinary school, the talented pastry chef realized what it meant to become a true chef while working Sushi alongside Chef Koji. Chef Jess is driven and strives to put out the best dishes possible. She believes that one must never stop learning and embraces the fact that knowledge is limitless.
Chef Jess is the winner of Food Network’s Desert game and season 3 Halloween Baking Championship Finalist! She’s also a cheese monger and a lover of passion fruit. We’re so excited to introduce her story, plus stay tuned for some delicious recipes & shop her look!

1. Where were you born? 

I grew up in San Diego, California.

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

I am the Corporate Pastry Chef for 50 Eggs Inc that includes the Yardbird, CHICA, and Spritz brands. I am based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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

My favorite tool is the kitchen is an offset spatula. It smooths surfaces, releases product from pans, and assists in plating.

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

My sharpest sense would have to be my sense of smell. I can tell that things are baked even before the timer goes off, and it’s a big reason why I can multi-task so much!

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Never stop learning. There are so many details that go into making a food-related business work and the more that you know, the more valuable you are. Research alternate cooking techniques, perfect your computer skills, learn how your equipment works and how to make minor repairs, or even branch out and explore different cultures and where dishes have originated. There are no limits to the amount of knowledge that you can obtain and use for your own benefit.

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

Knife skills. No matter what type of food you prepare, I think that knowing how to handle, cut, and sharpen your knives is something that is taken for granted too often and shows your professionalism and respect for your craft.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me means balance. I need balance of not only just flavor, but also texture and temperature. Combine all of that and give me something I’ve never had before, then I’ll be talking about your food for years!

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

Luckily in my position I have a lot of freedom when it comes to appearance! I try to stand out while staying professional by always wearing slim-fitting coats and pants, with a colorful or unique colored apron as a statement piece.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

My favorite ingredient to work with is passionfruit. It’s a flavor that can be so powerful, but also melds so well when combined with other fruits.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

My favorite city to dine out in would have to be Mexico City. The city is bustling with life, culture, and above all else – food! The type of respect and commitment to food is seen through the quality of product and constant service being offered in even the most casual concepts on the street. You can’t help but feel inspired!

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

My favorite dish of mine would have to be the “Faux Cheesey” Dessert. It’s a complete cheese plate where nothing is made of cheese and everything is sweet! The prosciutto, salami, blue cheese, olives, and even the strawberries are all made with different pastry recipes to achieve authentic color and texture to mimic a real plate. It can be really interactive to have a full display of dishes that you simply have no idea what to expect next!

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

Most often on my days off, I just LOVE making epic cheese boards! I used to be a cheese monger for some time, and there’s nothing better than visiting a cheese shop and trying out new seasonal offerings, local salami, and some wine to complete!

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

Cooking for someone wouldn’t be on my list of to-dos, but I would love to cook WITH Duff Goldman. The dude is so nice in person, and I love that his style is always pertaining to the guest, he never cooks out of ego. I really enjoy creating and testing weird ideas out and I think that collaborating with him would be so epic!

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

When I originally went to culinary school, I didn’t really understand the meaning of being a chef. It wasn’t until I was given the chance to work Sushi at a restaurant in San Diego, that gave me that drive. My Chef not only taught me everything he knew about sushi, but he taught me the importance of respecting all ingredients, respect for others in the kitchen, and putting out the best dishes possible. Chef Koji gave me a reason to be my best self and to strive to be the best no matter the level of work it entailed.

Connect with our April 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @jessicamfscott

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March 2021 Chef of the Month – Justin Robinson

We’re excited to introduce our talented March 2021 Chef of the Month – Chef Justin Robinson! Chef Justin was born in Mobile, Alabama and now resides in downtown Atlanta Georgia. He currently owns his own business called the Chef JRob Experience in which he’s a private chef, caterer and a content creator! Adding to the list of his successful endeavors, Chef Justin is also a tax preparer AND Epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health. Chef Justin is big on his work ethic and attitude, he strongly urges that being hard-working is one of the best traits you can have as a Chef. He’s been on MasterChef Season 10, Iron Chef Showdown and is a proud cookbook author! Read more about Chef Justin story below & shop his look!

1. Where were you born? 

I was born in Mobile, Alabama.

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

I am a located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. I own my own business called the Chef JRob Experience, where I am a private chef, caterer, and content creator! I am also a tax preparer and Epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health.

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

My favorite tool in the kitchen is my thermostat. Getting the perfect cook temperature on my proteins is crucial to the presentation of a perfect medium rare steak or rare double-chop rack of lamb, or the perfect pink when slicing into my duck breast.

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

I believe that using your senses in the kitchen is key to your success in the kitchen. Multitasking all the time, your eyes can’t simultaneously see everything, so my hearing is my sharpest sense. Being able to tell whether a protein is finished cooking by the way it sounds in a pan or hearing the crackles and pops to time the execution of dishes.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs? 

You don’t have to be the best chef in the kitchen, but you have to be the most hard working chef in kitchen.

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

Plating- People eat with their eyes first and plating can make or break dishes!

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food brings good conversations and good conversations leads to great friendships. My motto is “changing lives one taste bud at a time”. I want my client’s first bite to be life changing and a lasting memory that sparks conversation and relationships outside of the kitchen.

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

I like comfortable material that doesn’t stain and that has a nice athletic fit!

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

Lime: the acidity of a lime is so versatile in array of my dishes that I prepare. A coconut curry chicken, to a cilantro lime rice, or even a sprinkle of lime salt over a steak.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

I loved dining out in San Francisco. The culture of the food was so well thought out and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

The best dish I have made to date was my Mediterranean salmon, over a sweet corn puree, cherry tomatoes and fresh buttered popped popcorn with thyme as a garnish. It was such a summery refreshing dish.

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

On my off days I find myself making tacos with leftover ingredients in the fridge!

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

I would love to cook for President Barak Obama or Snoh Aalegra.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

After graduating graduate school and trying to figure out my next step in life. I just prayed more frequently than usual asking God for direction on a path that would bring both happiness to me and him and I received a whisper that said “I got you” and I knew that perusing my culinary business full time would bring me ultimate happiness!

Connect with our March 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chef.jrob
Facebook: @chefjrob
Website: https://chefjrob.com/

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January 2021 Chef of the Month- Albertho Appolon

We’re starting off the new year with our January 2021 Chef of the Month, Albertho Appolon! Born in Haiti, Chef Albertho is now based in Texas. His scratch-made cuisine is composed of French and Caribbean creations – his dishes often use fresh and in season ingredients to dazzle his customers.
In addition to being an excellent executive chef, he’s a food photographer, traveler and consultant. Chef Albertho is the founder of the Young Chef Generation, a program that aims to help young chefs who are often looked over for opportunities and visibility because of their age. His dream to be a role model for a young generation of chefs has already become a reality. Find the rest of his story below, stay tuned for his upcoming recipes & shop his look!

1. Where were you born? 
I was born in Haiti.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I’m currently an Executive Chef. I’m also traveling and cooking. 

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

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
That would be taste.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs? 
Be Committed to Self-Improvement 
● You must be willing to take constructive criticism, and be aware of your  weaknesses.
● To improve, you must first draw a map.
● Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.
● Balance continued practice of what you’re already good at, with learning new  things.
● Keep moving. Keep trying new things. Switching to a new restaurant can open your eyes to a new world, new techniques, and new culture. No matter how much I thought I knew, it always surprised me how many different ways there could be to prepare the simplest dishes.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
Build Your Brand
● Although most of your time is spent in the kitchen, you must build a visual  brand that invites people to see your own personal creativity.
● Social Media is a crucial component of connecting to your customers
● As a Chef, you are more than just your current job. You are a leader, an  influencer, and an entrepreneur; you must create your own platform to showcase your creations.

7. What does good food mean to you?
Good food means great taste and creativity.

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

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
Anything in season.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 
Los Angeles.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 
I’ve made a lot of dishes in the past couple years, but if I must choose it will be the  Fluke Crudo that I made. The Fish is cured with salt and sugar, smoked. serve with orange citrus, sliced jalapeño, avocado puree, and crispy Quinoa. 

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off? 
I usually cook anything in my fridge because I enjoy cooking a lot.

13. Person you would most like to cook for?
My girlfriend…she’s a big fan of my delicious dishes.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?
Growing up, I was always in the kitchen with my mom as she prepared food for our family  and friends. Being in the kitchen was a way to connect more deeply with my mom, and I began to find satisfaction in the act of feeding people.
After moving to America, I began  working at a Brazilian restaurant called Beer 360. My moment of inspiration happened when I moved up from dishwasher to food runner. Being a Food Runner was more exciting than being a dishwasher. I was the final person touching the plates before they reached the  customers. It gave me a special feeling to watch someone look at the food when it first  arrived and say thank you to me after taking the first bite. In this position, I was able to see all of their delighted facial expressions, and it made me feel good, even though I wasn’t the one cooking. It was there that I fell in love with the idea of feeding people. I remember spending  most of my time at work standing in the kitchen, because that was the place where the food  runners waited for the food to be finished so that it didn’t get cold on its way to the  customers.
From that point of view, I got to see the whole preparation process: the fire, the  cooking, the baking, the roasting, the sautéing, the frying, the sauce making, the joy the cooks had when they finished a dish, and how happy they were when I told them that the  customers really enjoyed the food. It sparked a desire in me to be the one preparing the food  for people to enjoy. Through this experience, I fell in love with food, and the way that the entire experience, from kitchen to table, could bring people joy.

Connect with our January 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @the_upcoming.chef
Twitter: @Chef_Albertho
YouTube: Albertho Appolon
Young Chef Generation: @youngchefgeneration

November 2020 Chef of the Month- Robert Stewart

Chef Stew was born in Baltimore and now resides in Las Vegas. He's  a father, a gourmet chef/caterer, TV personality, celebrity chef and president of the Transition Kitchen Foundation

We’re happy to announce our excellent November Chef of the Month, Chef Robert Stew, also known as Chef Stew! A true chef at heart, Chef Stew was born in Baltimore and now resides in Las Vegas. He’s a father, a gourmet chef/caterer, TV personality, celebrity chef and president of the Transition Kitchen Foundation, a culinary arts program dedicated to teaching life skills through culinary arts in Baltimore. He’s appeared on ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’, ‘Supermarket Stakeout’ and was the winner of Cutthroat Kitchen Season 8. Stay tuned for some great recipes & shop his coat!

1. Where were you born? 

Baltimore, Maryland

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

Las Vegas, Nevada. Stew’s Stix is my restaurant concept that currently is being introduced to the market via catering in SF, LA and Las Vegas. However, I’m also President of Transition Kitchen Foundation a Culinary Arts Training based out of Baltimore, Maryland. I’ve begun to help other chefs get TV shows and it’s been rewarding for me because I get asked for help all the time and now, I have a way to do just that!

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

My favorite Kitchen tool is the whole kitchen… Tt narrow down to one thing is hard. Good pots and pans play a factor. A sharp

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

Sight would be the answer. Being as though people eat with their eyes, I’m constantly using my eyes to make sure my work pleases their eyes.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Be a sponge, absorb as much as you can, be willing to speak up and say I don’t know how to do certain things, I’ve watched so many Chefs try to prove they are skilled but fail on simple tasks. The best chefs aren’t afraid to get help, pointers and advice.  The worst chefs know how to do everything. Lastly, I always mention staffing agencies this is a great way to pop in and out of operations. This allows to earn while you learn.

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

Effective communication skills… let’s stop throwing the titles out so easily. A Chef must have lots of qualities and experience to back the claim… a real Chef runs the operation and IS a leader – great leaders know how to make the operation run effectively and smoothly.

7. What does good food mean to you?

When I can think about it days after. Or the idea of eating it already, it makes me feel amazing inside. I like to consider good food like a party in my mouth

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

Comfortability is key… I like to look nice, but I like being able to move accordingly.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

Fresh herbs, fresh fish, fresh, fresh and again, fresh… sorry my answers aren’t simplistic. To create a dish, I’m using multiple things. If I need to choose a favorite, it would be steak or crabmeat.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

New Orleans.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

All of them…but, I would say a Blondie because I made 10k with this dessert.

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

Great question… lately with so many Chefs coming on set to film, I’ve been eating their food. But, if I’m not actually cooking for someone and it’s my day off… Uber Eats isn’t a bad idea. I still enjoy Panda Express, Chipotle, pizza, wings… all the stuff that I could make but too lazy to do.

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

Bobby Flay, Jay Z, Janelle Monáe, or Halsey.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I didn’t. A Chef decided to become me. I grew up cooking as a kid as a means of survival, my mother worked nights and she did cook, but my big mouth complaining turned me into a child home cook. I then went to get trained and eventually I took an inventory of my life and realized that the natural qualities I possess and skills I acquired all wrapped into one thing made me a great Chef.

15. How to find Chef Stew?

Please visit Www.ChefStew.com

@Chef_Stew on Instagram

Robert Stewart on Facebook

Chef Stew on Linkedin

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