Tag Archives: interview with a 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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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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February 2021 Chef Of The Month – Amy Brace

We’re excited to welcome our February 2021 Chef of the Month into the mix – meet Pastry Chef Amy Brace! She’s the proud owner of Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe, a divine pastry shoppe in Hopkins, Minnesota that serves made-from-scratch custom cakes, gourmet cupcakes, macarons and more! Pastry Chef Amy has been baking her entire life and after working in the medical field for 10 years, she decided to follow her passion. She first began her baking journey out of her home in 2014 with 5 weddings. By 2015, she grew to 36 weddings, and in 2016, her dream came to fruition when she opened her first brick & mortar. Chef Amy is a lover of breakfast food, a proud small business owner and a dedicated, creative individual. Read more about her story below, check out her shoppe & shop her look!

1. Where were you born? 

Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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

I am the owner of Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe in Hopkins, Minnesota.

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

My favorite tool would have to be a piping bag! You can do so many different things with what you put in it such as frosting or macaron batter and changing out tips to create beautiful artwork that comes out of the bag.

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

I would have to say hearing is my sharpest sense. So no secrets around me, ha!

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs? 

For aspiring chefs, I would remind you to never stop learning. There are things to learn from every mistake, every person, and every situation you are put in. Learn not only about what you are passionate about, but what those around you are passionate about too.

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

Every chef should know how to make a beautiful silky buttercream. As a pastry chef, your cakes can live and die by the buttercream you make them with.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food to me is always made from scratch. Every aspect of the dish has been thought out and planned to be together to accent the other parts of the dish. Once they are put together in that perfect bite, you are transported to true beauty in food form.

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

When selecting my chef outfit, it needs to be comfortable, breathable, stretchable, and the arms aren’t too long that they have to be rolled up to not get caught in a mixer.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

My favorite ingredient to work with would have to be butter. It can be added to so many different desserts, and completely transform them. From using it in ganache to using it in Swiss meringue buttercream, either one wouldn’t be the same without butter.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

We haven’t been to too many cities outside our own, so I would have to say Hopkins! We have everything we need from everyday staples, to authentic tacos and amazing pub food.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

The best dish I have ever made I would say was a turtle bonfire cake. It was a chocolate cake filled with salted caramel, chocolate ganache and pecans frosted in toasted homemade marshmallow frosting. It’s like a cozy summer night all wrapped up in a cake!

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

Breakfast! I would eat breakfast all day every day if I could. I started making our bread for home fresh anytime we need a new loaf, and my favorite has been French toast made with Japanese milk bread topped with bourbon maple syrup and bacon.

13. Person you would most like to cook for?

I would love to bake for Kristen Bell, because I think she would love the desserts we make at the Shoppe, and would think our little bakery in Hopkins is adorable not only for adults, but for families with kiddos.

14. What made you decide to become a chef?

I have been baking all my life with my mom, and had been working in the medical field for 10 years. After watching Cupcake Wars and bringing my experiments into work, it turns out I was ready for a change. I started out of my home in 2014 with 5 weddings, and quickly grew to 36 weddings in 2015, and opened my first brick & mortar in June 2016. We have grown a crazy amount as a company in the last 4.5 years, and say cheers to many more!

Connect with our February 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @amyscupcakeshoppe
Facebook: @amyscupcakeshoppe
Twitter: @AmysCupcakeShop
Website: https://www.amyscupcakeshoppe.com/
Pinterest: @amyscupcakeshop

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

October 2020 Chef of the Month – Chef Eddie G.

We’re excited to re-introduce the talented Chef Edward Gallagher III A.K.A, Chef Eddie G., as our October 2020 Chef of the Month! An alumnus of Johnson & Wales University of Culinary Arts, Chef Eddie G. is also a celebrity chef, restaurant consultant, TV Personality and the star of his own TV show, Chef Eddie G. Locavore. This Chef is originally from New York and he likes to say that he’s now based in “whatever hotel [he’s] in that night”, and reflects on his love of traveling the world to share his love cooking for people. We’re honored to have him in our ChefUniforms family! Stay tuned for some delicious recipes & shop his look!

1. Where were you born?

Manhattan, New York.

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

I do restaurant consulting, I film a TV show called Chef Eddie G. Locavore, and I’m based in whatever hotel I’m in that night. But seriously, I am fortunate to travel the world and share my love of food and cooking for people.

3. What made you decide to become a chef?

Originally, I had friends who were a lot older than me, like 5 or 6 years older, and they all worked in the restaurant business. They wanted me to work with them, and I got a job in an Italian restaurant in New York when I was 13 years old. I started in the restaurant washing dishes and worked my way up over the next few summers. Over time, the Chef said I should get into the culinary world and I thought, “that’s interesting.”

I went to Johnson & Wales University and graduated from their Culinary Arts Program, and I’ve been in the restaurant business my whole life.

That first job was just a summer job… and here we are 41 summers later.

4. What have been some of your favorite events that you’ve cooked at?

Personally, I love cooking at Super Bowl events. I’ve been doing that 10 or 12 years now, and I just love the activity around the Super Bowl.

I love cooking at food and wine festivals, and I’ve done Las Vegas, Atlantic City, South Beach, Saint Lucia, Jamaica and others.

In addition, I really enjoy doing culinary demos with large crowds — love the atmosphere — and I love the small and boutique events, too.

Super Bowl LIII

5. What television shows/cooking competitions have you appeared on?

Television Shows

Cooking Competitions

  • Maria Bartiromo competition on CNBC
  • Disney Food and Wine Festival
Chef Eddie G. Locavore Episode 4

6. You recently launched a new show called Chef Eddie G. Locavore on Amazon Prime. Tell us about that. What was the idea behind it?

It incorporates traveling, getting to see new places, meeting great people, learning about the culture and the different foods you don’t normally see.

I love that — seeing foods I’ve never experienced before and getting to cook with them.

And then every episode ends with an event, whether it’s a farmer’s dinner for four people or the Super Bowl last year in Atlanta for 250,000 people.

Cover photo for Chef Eddie G. Locavore

7. What has been your favorite experience during shooting?

Bringing my parents to the Tuscany Food and Wine Festival and the Florence Cheese Festival. All of us being together in Italy for the first time, learning about the cuisine, seeing the country… that was a definite highlight. 

8. What have you been doing during the recent pandemic?

As part of the restaurant consulting that I do, I’ve been helping restaurants formulate a game plan, figure out the social distancing aspect of it, the food safety part of it, all of those elements.

On a related note, I’ve been consulting with Gosman’s restaurant in Montauk, NY, for the past five years with the long-range focus on lowering food costs and labor costs and increasing revenue. And we’ve done that, successfully, even in this pandemic.

I’m so thankful for this, and it’s also a hard reality that a lot of my friends are losing their restaurants right now. It’s a very hard time in the restaurant industry.

Cooking for First Responders & National Guard

9. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Don’t do it! Go become a doctor or dentist or something like that.

Ok, truthfully, I love this industry.

It’s not for everybody. You have to be willing to work when everybody else is off, and be off when everyone is working. You work holidays and weekends.

But if you’re passionate about it, like I have been, there’s no greater industry to be in. To be able to nourish people, to help people —  there’s nothing more rewarding than that.

While the industry can be very thankless externally, internally it’s a very thankful industry.

During the pandemic, I’ve seen a lot more people being very thankful. More so in the beginning, but for the most part people have been grateful for our service.

Paso Robles Sip & Taste Festival

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

I would say my chef knife with the 10-12 inch blade. But I love an emulsion blender.

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

What a great question that is!

I believe it’s the art of pan searing. This is the technique that most people get the most jammed up on. I can always tell the abilities of a Chef or someone with culinary skills by how well they pan sear something, whether it’s tuna, scallops, steak. If you can put a good pan sear on a piece of meat or protein, I can usually tell whether someone knows what they’re doing or not. I think it’s the biggest technique to perfect.

And going in another direction, I’m big with sauces. To me, being able to make a good sauce shows how good a Chef or cook is. For example, I can tell by how well they can create the five Mother Sauces: béchamel, espagnole, hollandaise, tomato, and veloute.

Pan Seared Atlantic Halibut

12. What does good food mean to you?

I’ll answer that by sharing a story. Not too long ago, my team London and Tracey were in Montauk, and we had some other friends join us. We sat around the grill, enjoyed some wine, talked, and took our time grilling lobster and cooking off clams in cream sauce and sharing it all.

To me, good food is the whole package. It’s the atmosphere, it’s the people around the table, it’s the love. It’s all that.

Good food is obviously fresh and local, but when it’s combined with the people you’re surrounded by and sharing it with, that’s what makes good food — and a great meal.

As part of our nonprofit Chefs for Vets, we also do a lot of serving of people less fortunate. It’s all about the people who are gathered around the table and sharing time.

Chef Federica Continanza’s kitchen with Chef Guy Mitchel

13. What sort of features do you look for in your chef outfit?

First of all, I love working with the team at ChefUniforms. They’re so easy to work with and they understand this industry.

Their entire collection of chef apparel — from jackets to pants to aprons — are all top of the line.

They’re great quality, have deep pockets, and the price points are extremely competitive. And they’re great looking.

The biggest thing in our business is safety, and ChefUniforms creates stylish protective gear.

As a Chef, you’re working around hot grease and flames. You don’t want grease soaking through and burning your arms or legs. Their chef coats and pants are safety-first. If grease comes off anywhere and on to these pants, it doesn’t burn you. And same thing with the chef coat. If I get a grease splatter from a pan on the stove, it’s going to hit the jacket and not burn my arm.

Their chef apparel is also comfortable while being stylish. I like the chef’s pants with the stripes. It’s like wearing sweat pants all the time — so nice when you’re spending long hours in a hot restaurant kitchen.

14. Favorite ingredient to work with?

This changes all the time! It changes based on where I am.

I love garlic. I love Sriracha. Those are the two I think of immediately.

In Montauk, horseradish is a good one. Ginger is another ingredient I like cooking with.

I also really enjoy cooking with local flavors. For example, if I’m cooking in the islands, I like a little heat — peppers, poblanos, or habaneros. If I’m in California, I go more citrusy, with lemons, oranges. In Costa Rica, it’s citrus and avocados.

Pinot Noir Braised Short Ribs, Horseradish Puree

15. Favorite city to dine out in?

I can be a homer and say New York, right?

Barcelona is also a great food town. Tuscany was out of this world, and Florence, too.

One of the best restaurants I ever went to was on the island of St. Kitts and Nevis with a view of the volcano. That was probably one of the best.

But I can appreciate a plate from the vendor on the beach selling ceviche and grilled fish out of a shopping cart just as much as a 5-star meal.

16. What is your favorite dish to make?

I get asked that a lot. I love tapas, small plates, picking and tasting different flavors. And I like people picking and tasting the different things I’m cooking.

But generically, I love doing plays on Surf & Turf — some kind of seafood and meat combination.

Maybe that’s because I’ve lived in both areas.

I was doing a cooking demonstration a few years ago at a food and wine festival and someone asked what was my favorite food to cook. I said Surf & Turf — like filet mignon and lobster tail, or a rib eye with some shrimp or scallops. I’ll never forget this young girl watching the demo raised her hand and asked, “Was that because you lived in Colorado and South Carolina?” I’d never thought about it, but maybe that is why.

Cooking in Guadalajara (Locavore Episode 1)

17. What food could you eat every day and never grow tired of?

Sushi!

But another that I could eat often is pizza. I try to keep carbs down in my normal diet and also not eat too many fried foods, but I do love pizza.

And one more — Cheerios and peanut butter. I eat this almost every day!

Contacts and Channels:

Website:

http://chefeddieg.tv/

Facebook:

@ChefEddieG/

@chefeddieglocavoretvshow/

@locavoremedia/

Instagram

@chefeddieg/

@locavoremedia/

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