Tag Archives: chef

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 chef 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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Chef Gabe’s Butternut Squash Soup

If you’re looking for a creamy and savory addition to your soup repertoire, you’ve come to the right place. Chef Gabe, our July 2021 Chef of the Month, shared his delicious butternut squash soup with spiced crème recipe. We can bet that it’ll become one of your new favorite dishes!

delicious butternut squash soup with spiced crème
Photo cred: @image.diy

Soup Ingredients

  • 1-butternut squash
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Kosher Salt – to taste
  • Black Pepper – to taste
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1 large onion- diced
  • 1 head of garlic
  • Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon- add more if desired
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • Ground Ginger- to taste
  • Ground Coriander- to taste
  • ¼ cup Maple syrup

Coconut Cream Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Black Pepper- to taste
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Kosher salt- to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut squash in half vertically and remove seeds using a spoon.
  3. Oil exposed sides of the squash, season with salt and pepper-place face down on foiled pan and place in the oven, should roast until fork tender and the skin blisters-about an hour or so.
  4. Tear a medium size sheet of foil and place garlic in the center, brush with some olive oil and season with salt. Twist foil tightly and roast garlic for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Remove squash from the oven and cool, using a spoon, scrape the roasted squash from the skin and place in a bowl. Cut top off of garlic head and press the garlic to extract the roasted garlic.
  6. Place medium size pan over medium high heat, add 2 tbsp butter and oil to the pan once butter starts to brown slightly, add onion and cook until tender, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add squash and cook for 2-3 minutes, season with ginger, cinnamon, coriander and pepper.
  8. Add vegetable stock ½ quart at a time until fully incorporated, if you want soup slightly thicker, use less of the stock.
  9. Pour contents in blender and blend on medium to high speed. Adjust seasoning and add maple syrup to sweeten. Ladle and serve.
  10. To make crème, simply mix together the listed ingredients and adjust to your liking.

Connect with our July 2021 Chef of the Month

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

Chef Gina’s White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup

A hearty soup goes a long way. Our May 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Gina, has shared her famous White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup recipe! Whether you’re staying cozy or just trying to spice up your soup game, this dish is the ideal crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients

  • 1-pound sweet raw Italian pork sausage
  • 1-pound spicy raw Italian pork sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 1½ cups celery hearts, diced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced]
  • 1 bunch rainbow swiss chard, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 8 cups chicken stock (homemade or store bought)

Directions

Step 1: In a large soup pot over medium to medium-high heat, sauté pork sausages in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown, breaking up and rendering fat out. Transfer sausage to a bowl and return pan to stovetop.

Step 2: Over medium heat, add butter, diced carrot, onion, celery, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Sauté until soft, then add garlic and chopped chard. Add browned pork sausage and can of drained beans, stirring gently to combine.

Step 3: Add chicken stock and bring pot to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Let soup sit for at least 30 minutes before serving, garnishing with thyme leaves. As always, soup is better the next day so it’s a great recipe to make ahead of time, too.

Connect with our May 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @malibuseasidechef

Facebook: @malibuseasidechef 

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

Chef Gina’s Fall-Inspired Spring Rolls

Our May 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Gina, has shared her delicious fall-inspired spring rolls recipe! This dish is full of savory veggies like carrots, butternut squash and fresh additions like mint and cilantro. Her recipe serves 8 rolls – find it below!

Ingredients

  • 1 pack spring roll wrappers
  • 1 pack edible flowers (sourced here from Gourmet Sweet Botanicals)
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, julienned
  • 1½ cups carrots, julienned
  • 1½ cups butternut squash, boiled until tender and julienned
  • 1 bunch each of fresh basil, cilantro and mint, stems removed

Roll Directions

Step 1: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rice noodles to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain rice noodles and pour cold water over to cool.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, mix carrots, bell peppers and butternut squash.

Step 3: Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip 1 wrapper for a few seconds and lay flat on a wooden board. (Two wrappers can be used if they break easily.) On the center of wrapper, place edible flowers first, then continue with a handful of rice noodles, vegetable and squash mix, and herbs.

Step 4: Fold uncovered sides towards the center of wrapper, then roll gently from one end to the other until sealed snugly. Rolls can be kept whole, cut into pieces like sushi, or cut in half diagonally.

Dipping Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 10-ounce bottle of your preferred sweet chili sauce
  • 1 bunch each fresh basil, cilantro and mint, stems removed.

Dipping Sauce Directions

Blend sauce and herbs in a blender until herbs are in small bits. Serve beside spring rolls.

Connect with our May 2021 Chef of the Month

Instagram: @malibuseasidechef

Facebook: @malibuseasidechef 

Website: https://www.malibuseasidechef.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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Chef Justin’s Honey-Drizzled Fried Chicken Recipe

Liven up your taste buds with our March 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Justin‘s Honey-Drizzled Fried Chicken recipe! Whether you like your chicken crispy or extra crispy, this easy-to-make recipe is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Plus, the extra drizzle of honey gives it that sweet kick we crave!

Whether you like your chicken crispy or extra crispy, this easy-to-make recipe is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Plus, the extra drizzle of honey gives it that sweet kick we crave!

Ingredients

  • Chicken breast
  • 1/2 TBS garlic pepper
  • 1/2 TBS cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 TBS ranch dry seasoning mix
  • Buttermilk
  • Flour
  • Honey

Directions

  1. Season each chicken breast with ½ tablespoon of each: garlic pepper, Cajun seasoning, and ranch dry seasoning mix. Note: Also, use the same seasonings in your flour.
  2. Place chicken breasts in a buttermilk and salt mixture.
  3. Then, batter in flour and seasoning mixture. After, fry at 356 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes (until golden brown). Note: Double-Dip if you like it extra crispaayyyyy!
  4. Lightly coat fried chicken with a drizzle of honey.

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

Chef Justin’s Mac Attack Recipe

You can’t go wrong with Mac and Cheese – no matter the circumstance, it’s always a good idea. Our March 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Justin, has shared his famous Mac and Cheese recipe; otherwise known as “Mac Attack”. There’s garlic, there’s pepper, there are 3 different types of cheese…we’re all in. Find the recipe below!

Chef Justin, has shared his famous Mac and Cheese recipe; otherwise known as "Mac Attack". There's garlic, there's pepper, there's 3 different cheeses...we're all in

Ingredients

  • Noodles
  • Whipping cream
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1 TBS pepper
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 TBS ‘Slap Ya Mama’ Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gouda cheese
  • 1/4 cup Cheddar Jack cheese

Directions

  1. Bring water to a rolling boil, and pour ½ pound of noodles into a pot of 4 cups of water. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Cook hack: Throw your noodle on the wall when you think it’s done. If it sticks, rock and roll with it; If it falls off, continue to cook. 
  2. Pour ½ cup of heavy whipping cream into the saucepot on medium-high heat until it begins to boil. Caution: The cream may boil out of the pot so keep a close eye on it. 
  3. Season the cream with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Slap Ya Mama–- 1 tablespoon each. Add in ¼ cup of cheddar cheese and whisk until fully combined. Don’t be afraid to taste test in order to ensure the flavor of the base is to your liking.
  4. Pour the sauce into the noodles, and mix the combination thoroughly. Then add ¼ cup of shredded gouda cheese and mix in.
  5. Cover the top of your Mac Attack with cheddar jack cheese and cheddar cheese. Lastly, place under broil until a crisp cheese crust is achieved (1-3 min.)

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

Chef Justin’s Coconut Curry Chicken Thigh Recipe

Our March 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Justin, is cooking up a juicy recipe – coconut curry chicken thigh. Prepared with coconut milk and mixed with a variety of delectable spices, Chef Justin’s chicken curry is sure to become your next go-to meal. Try it below!

Chef Justin's Chicken Curry Recipe

Ingredients

  • Coconut milk
  • 2 TBS of tomato paste
  • 2 TBS curry powder
  • 1/2 TBS pepper
  • 1/2 TBS salt
  • 1/2 TBS Cajun seasoning
  • Chickpeas
  • Chicken thighs
  • Salt to taste
  • Peppercorn
  • Garlic
  • Thyme

Directions

  1. Add your coconut milk to a saucepan and allow it to simmer on medium heat for 6 minutes, or until it starts to bubble.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons curry powder, and ½ tablespoon of each of the following: pepper, salt, and Cajun seasoning. Give it some wrist work!
  3. Rinse your chickpeas off in a strainer, and then combine with your curry mixture. Stir until the mixture thickens. Note: Do not forget to turn off the eye! When the chickpeas are added into the sauce, do not turn the eye back on; instead allow the temperature of the curry sauce to engulf the chickpeas. Let it develop into a euphoric dish.
  4. Season Chicken thighs liberally with salt, peppercorn, garlic, and thyme.
  5. Cook on each side for 10 minutes and finish in over at 375 degrees for an additional 12-15 minutes.

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

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/

Shop His Look
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Chef Albertho’s Breakfast Potato Recipe

We’re a big believer in all things potatoes and our January 2021 Chef of the Month, Chef Albertho’s Breakfast Potato recipe does not fail to disappoint! Add poached eggs and homemade mayo to give the recipe a little kick.

Ingredients

● 2 Russet potatoes
● 5 organic eggs
● 2 limes
● 1 bottle red wine
● 1 cup of butter
● 2 cups vegetable oil

Potato Directions

  1. Peel the potatoes ( leave them in cold water while working).
  2. Cut potatoes into circles ( use a ring cutter to make different shapes if have one). Cut the potatoes half the length of an egg.
  3. Boil the potatoes on medium heat to not break them and cook until soft.
  4. Poke with a small knife in the middle. Add salt to taste on the water.
  5. Dry potatoes and sear on high heat with up to 2 oz of butter (sear until golden brown).

Poached Egg Directions

  1. Add red wine and squeeze a lime. Put lime juice in a medium pot on medium heat
  2. Bring water to a soft boil, and gently add the 2 eggs ( crack the eggs ahead of time and add to a small container).
  3. Keep wine on a soft boil until eggs are firm but soft in the middle. Add salt and pepper when eggs are done.

Fresh Mayo Directions

  1. Melt 4 oz of butter. Add 3 egg yolks in a blender.
  2. Blend on medium, add melted butter and 2 cups of oil slowly.
  3. Add 1 lime zest and juice to finish & salt to taste.

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