Tag Archives: interview with a chef

June is here and so is our Chef of the Month, Claudia Diawara!

Join us in getting to know more intimately this incredibly versatile Chef by reading her interview below:

1. Where were you born? 

I was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and I got adopted by a Swiss family, so I grew up in Switzerland.

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

I’m a private chef in Miami, Florida but I travel all over the world with my clients or for my clients. I’m based out of Atlanta, Georgia.

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

My favorite kitchen tool is the Pacojet. I love making all kinds of ice creams, spices, dishes, spreads, you name it. I call this machine the Ferrari of tools. I just love it. Probably also because it’s made in Switzerland.

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

My taste for sure.

5. What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?

My advice for aspiring chefs: Stay true to yourself and know what you can and can’t do.

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

Every chef should know the basics because every recipe is based on that.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Food means everything to me – raw, cooked to eat, or just to cook.

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

To me, the most important features of a chef uniform are pockets. Also, that it’s not too hot, and that it has shape. I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing a garbage bag.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

My favorite ingredient to work with is duck.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

My favorite city to dine in is Los Angeles.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

The best dish I have ever made is probably an African Fish Stew that I made up with ingredients I had on hand. I could never come close to that one time. It was so good.

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

I love to eat Chinese hot pots all day every day lol.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

Gordon Ramsey.

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

We often get downgraded for “just” being a chef, when really, we bring people together. Everyone needs to eat.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?
My passion for food and the way it brings people together.

Connect with our June 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chef_claudiad
Business: @greenlabkitchen

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Meet Chef Simona Lauren, our May 2022 Chef of the Month

As we walk ourselves into warmer weather, it is with a lot of excitement that we introduce or May 2022 Chef of The Month, Chef Simona Lauren. Her presence in the kitchen and our tables can easily be described as a ray of sunshine. While obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Lithuania in Economy Sciences, her true love for food was always going along with her. Her set of skills which features fine dining cuisine, wine, and food pairing, kitchen design, menu development, budgeting, and other hospitality standards has been highly influenced by her  Austrian, German, Italian, French, Scandinavian chefs training. Over the years she has had the opportunity to help open nine different restaurants  in Lithuania, Norway and the United States, including one of her own.

Providing her clients with a delicious and nutritious meal that meets each of their requirements is a priority for her. Chef Simona Lauren has been certified as a Nutrition Coach at the National Academy of Sports Medicine in the United States.

Join us in getting to know more intimately this incredibly versatile Chef by reading her interview below:

1. Where were you born? 

Lithuania

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

Phoenix, Arizona. Private Chef Simona Lauren.

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

My Kitchen Aid appliances and my Santoku knife.

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

I would say all of them. My most preferred ones are taste and vision.

5. What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?

Never give up, follow your dreams and do what is right. Never forget to treat everyone around as you would like to be treated.

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

An organized and clean space will help to make your work not only easier but also greater. The way you and your workspace look will affect your dish too.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Memories. A great dish should bring you memories and become a topic of conversation.

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

Comfort.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

Chocolate and fish.

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

London.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

There’s a lot of them so it’s really hard to say, but from the dessert side, I would say the Chocolate Morel Truffle Sphere in Bavarian Mousse cloud.

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

Good homemade mama’s food. Lithuanian Stuffed Cabbage is my favorite, or Asian Ramen Soup.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

My grandfather.

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

A bad and disrespectful restaurant environment, where long hours of dedication can literally kill you.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?
My grandmother when I was 4 years old. We were making ravioli. I told her I wanted to have my own restaurant.

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

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April 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Keith Sarasin

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

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

Getting to know Chef Keith

Where were you born? 
Nashua, New Hampshire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 
Madrid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Where were you born? 

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

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

I am the Executive Chef & owner of Chef Covas Catering

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

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

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

My smell is by far the sharpest sense I have.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

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

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

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

7. What does good food mean to you?

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

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

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

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

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

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 

NYC – the best city.

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 

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

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

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

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

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

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

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

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

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

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

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January 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Chris Valdes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

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

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

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

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

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November 2021 Chef of the Month – Pablo Lamon

We’re eager to kick off this month with our talented November 2021 Chef of the Month, Pablo Lamon. Chef Pablo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and began his culinary career at the Mausi Sebess culinary institute. Success is not unknown to this chef – he’s worked at the award-winning Palacio Duhai – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, onboard Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette, and has even competed on Top Chef! Today, he lives in Miami Beach and is the Executive Chef at the Conrad Hotel Miami. Chef Pablo encompasses passion and dedication. He loves every single thing about cooking and has never looked back. All his accomplishments further prove the notion.

1. Where were you born?
Buenos Aires, Argentina. Most beautiful City in the World!

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I am the Executive Chef at the Conrad Hotel Miami, and I live in Miami Beach.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
Well, I really like using tweezers, they allow you to be very precise when plating.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
I would say smell.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Make learning your number one priority, not the money, not the city you want to live in. Find a Chef that you want to work for, and apply to work at his/her Restaurant, no matter where the Restaurant is located or how much they pay you.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
How to properly make an omelette. It is embarrassing when I see Chefs that have great experience and don’t know how to do make an omelette.

7. What does good food mean to you?
A good dish, for me, must be nutritious, delicious, meaningful and beautiful. In that order.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit?
Well, it has to be fresh, to breathe well and to look good!

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
I guess it would have to be some cut of beef that you can braise, like Ossobuco. I love long cooking methods!

10. Favorite city to dine out in?
New Orleans for sure!

11. Best dish you have ever made? 
I am pretty proud of my Beet Hummus, people love it!

12. What do you like to eat most often on your days off? 
Well, I usually try to have a balanced diet, so I try to go for veggies and maybe fish or chicken breast. I also eat a lot of sushi!

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
Definitely Daniel Humm, I would love his feedback.

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
I guess a big one is living a balanced life, especially at the beginning of your career. There is a lot unnecessary stress, crazy long hours, and bad nutrition. Luckily, now that is changing and there is more consciousness about having a healthy lifestyle in the kitchen.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?
It is weird because even though my Mom is a great cook, I did not have that “growing up cooking with your mother” type of childhood. I did start experimenting at around 15-16 years old, just because I was bored during lunch and I would play with the different ingredients…and then eat them! So that was definitely fun. When the time came to decide what I wanted to do after college, for some reason, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to become a Chef. And from the first time that I stepped into my Culinary School, I just loved every single thing about cooking and that love has never left me!

Connect with our November 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefpablolamon
Website: https://www.pablolamon.com/
Virtual Classes: https://www.pablolamon.com/virtual-cooking-classes

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OCTOBER 2021 CHEF OF THE MONTH – 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 do 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 – 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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