Saturday, December 19, 2009

Crown Roast of Pork

Those looking for something a little different for the holidays might want to try their hands on a Crown Roast of Pork. My recipe for Crown Roast of Pork with a chestnut apple stuffing was featured in the Albany Times Union. Click here to be taken to the article written by Ruth Fantasia.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New York's Outdated Systems

Getting a liquor license is such a chore in NY as stated by Steve Barnes in his blog today. The state is working on new systems, but this won't help us out here in Schenectady right now. The application procedure has become, I wonder how people would feel about a restaurant opening without wine and beer for awhile. It is a concern for all of us, but we are working out the kinks.

So many phone calls to return tomorrow, so many appointments to make. My day started at 6:00 am today reading resumes, then I was off to the Hall of Springs to prep for the reopening of the Patron's Club today, over 100 reservations on the books. Opened at 5:30pm, got it all out in a mostly timely manner... It is hard to get 100 covers out from a 10 items menu in 60 minutes mind you. Actually it is more difficult to get it all out o the kitchen as the whole board fires all at once and there are only a couple of us in the kitchen, but we got through it.

Got done with that phase of my day at 10:00pm, drove home, finishing the menu for Winedown and trying to find a dishwasher and prep station for the kitchen online now. Back to the Patron's Club again at 8 am tomorrow to start it all again.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Competition in Central Florida

I'm sending in an application to compete in an American Culinary Federation sanctioned culinary competition in Central Florida taking place in September. The main ingredient needs to be a whole muscle of pork, so this is what I came up with.

A Celebration of the Noble Swine


Crispy Pork Belly topped with Fines Herbes Salad

Offal Frito Misto

Sautéed Parisian Gnocchi
With Burgundy Braised Pig’s Cheeks
Patty Pan Squash, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Taggiasca Olives

Hoping the new Asian Market has some pig parts to use, making this tonight for dinner.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interpreting The Chef's Uniform (Repost)

I've been having some conversions recently with people about chef's uniforms and my feelings on what I feel one should wear to be a professional. Instead of rehashing my argument with a new blog, I thought I would repost one of my older blogs which stated my feelings. Some of the statements will seem out of context as the blog post was written in 2007 when I lived in Boston.


So a comment came up during my blog from yesterday about chef uniforms. This comment came from statements about those horrific denim coats they wear on Iron Chef America. I ironically had a conversation with someone else today about chef uniforms and I guess I should give all of you my take on chef uniforms and how I came to the current uniform I adhere to and promote in the industry.

When I went to culinary school, we had a pre-meeting for each culinary laboratory class. During this meeting our uniforms were checked to make sure we adhered to what was 10 years ago, the basis for what has become the American Culinary Federation standard for culinary uniforms. We were to wear checkered chef pants, black shoes, a white t-shirt with no print, a CLEAN, unstained chef coat, the silly floppy chef toque, and a name tag. It was also at this time that the funky uniforms started to emerge from companies like Chefwear.

I will admit that I went for the funky wear for some time. Yes, yes I owned chili pepper pants, I even had a skull cap that matched and a chef coat with some fringe to go with it. I am soooooo glad that there are no pictures that exist from then. I wore clogs for a few years as well, never those odd Croc things that Batali wears, but to each their own. I tried wearing a bandanna for a few weeks at one time as well, as I shave my head and it was just horribly uncomfortable to me.

I worked for a small restaurant in Stowe, VT for a short period which might also bring out my disdain for the denim chef coat. The place was called Blue Jean's Cuisine and I actually showed up to the interview wearing a denim chef coat and denim chef pants. I got the job, but holy crap was I embarrassed afterwards.

After years of playing around and trying to have fun, I came to a point in my career a few years back that drove me to a point where I want perfection in everything I do. I have refined my cooking skills, my culinary knowledge and my professionalism in the kitchen. Part of that concentration for me was a change in my uniform.

Other chefs can go with the funky gear, but I have realized from my past that that was sort of a "mess" in my head that ended up being portrayed in my uniform, and honestly it showed in my cooking back then as well. Maybe others are a bit different and take their uniform as a way to express themselves, but honestly they aren't expressing themselves, they are just wearing a pattern that a company is trying to sell them. They are the Hot Topic of chefs maybe? Please take no offense if any of you wear these uniforms, but it is just the passion I have for my career.

We would never see a traditional French chef wearing this odd commercialized style of uniform. It is about the cooking and making sure we look appropriate in the public eye. Our presence has to say we are chefs, with passion, integrity and we need to be put together well so that our guests have faith in us. What we do outside of the kitchen is up to us when we are in the kitchen we are there to please the guest not just ourselves.

So what is the uniform I wear today? The pants I wear are pressed black pants, nothing expensive JOS Bank casual pants as they are a bit heavy weight for the safety and they are easy to clean and wear well. Chefwear has just come out with a new perm press tailored pant that I am thinking of trying though. I wear solid black socks along with a black shoe that can be shined from Sketchers (UPDATE: I now wear Doc Marten clogs, the Sketchers fell apart to easily) I wear a plain white t-shirt and my chef coat is a plain white, usually well starched coat that I have started ordering from New Chef as they don't charge for the ACF logo on my coats and it is pretty cheap to add embroidery of my name. My hat is a machine washable high toque with a Velcro back.

To take this back to yesterday's blog, it just reminds me of two of my favorite competitors from The Next Iron Chef. Gavin and Besh both had a high-level of professionalism. As much as an Iron chef should be making innovative and competitive food, we should be professionals and they certainly were dressed as professionals. Besh's sport coat outfit in France gave me confidence as well. We always need to be on spot in public and I feel he is certainly a New Orleans gentleman.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Troy Pig Out Recipes

So today was a hectic day, prepared my recipe for gnocchi with olives and summer vegetables on WNYT Channel 13 in Albany. Then I rushed over to Troy to do a 30 minute demo at the Kansas City BBQ sanctioned festival in Troy. I prepared a couple of my favorite simple recipes using some BBQ smoked ingredients including smoked sausage, smoked pork chops and smoked bacon. As requested, I am posting the two recipes I prepared here.

Smoked Sausage Salad
1 lb. Smoked Sausage
8 oz. Red onion, sliced thin
8 oz. Celery, sliced thin
1 tbsp. Chives, minced
1 tbsp. Flat leaf Parsley, chopped
3 oz Apple cider vinegar
4 oz. Extra Virgin olive oil
To taste Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, for best flavor allow to marinate for at least 4-6 hours. Serve with some croutons made from day old pretzels.

Choucroute Garni
1 lb. Sauerkraut
1 each Spnaish onion, diced medium
4 oz. Bacon, smoked, chopped
6 oz. Smoked pork chop
6 oz. Smoked sausage, kielbasa or otherwise
1 each Yukon gold potato
1 cup Chicken broth
2 cups Riesling or other slightly sweet white wine
1 each Bay leaf
4 each Juniper Berries
6 each Black peppercorns
2 oz. Sweet Vermouth

Method:
1. Heat a pan over medium heat, add bacon and render fat. Add the onions and saute to golden brown. Add the sauerkraut, juniper berries, black pepper corns, bay leaf, broth, and wine and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Add the pork chop, smoked sausage, potato and vermouth and simmer until the potatoes are tender and serve.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Patron's Club Menu for Summer 2009

I will be the chef for the Patron's Club at the Hall of Springs located in Saratoga Springs, NY. The restaurant is open on the following dates:

July 8-10th
July 14-18th
August 5th-22nd opened on Wed-Saturday

Below is the entree menu, there is also a Meditteranean Table which includes a daily fresh soup, smoked fish display, shrimp cocktail, salad, pasta dish, along with a number of small bites from traditioanl tapas and antipasto to hors d'oeuvre.

I will post some pictures of the dishes later this week.

Olive Oil Poached Cod
Salt Cod Potato Cake, Rainbow Chard
Fines Herbes Salad

Chicken and Mortadella
Braised Chicken Thighs with In-House Made Mortadella
Dandelion Greens, Fingerling Potatoes
Poached Egg

Seared Loin of Lamb
Catelli Colorado Lamb Loin
Gnocchi á la Niçoise sautéed with Thyme Lamb Sausage,
Niçoise Olives, Summer Squash, and Heirloom Tomatoes

Herbes de Provence Steamed Chicken Breast
Served Chilled with a Summer Vegetable Salad
Peruvian Purple Potato Salad
Champagne Vinaigrette and Mimolette Crisp

Fennel Pollen Dusted Pork Chop
Braised Fennel, Charred Red Onions Marinated in White Balsamic
Saffron Orzo, Blood Orange infused Olive Oil

Rosemary Grilled NY Strip Steak
Grilled Treviso Wrapped with Prosciutto
Creamy Polenta with Pecorino Romano
Black Truffle Balsamic Reduction

Pan Seared Scallops
Herbed Cauliflower Puree, Sautéed Salsify and Radish
Banyuls Reduction, Tahitian Vanilla Salt

Veal Piccata
Lightly Pan-Fried Veal Cutlet from Catelli
Spinach Sautéed with Garlic, Grapes, and Pine nuts
Squash Blossom Risotto

Taggiasca Olive Pork Shoulder Ragu
Handmade Pappardelle Pasta
Taggiasca Olive Sauce
Tuscano Olive Oil

Summer Vegetable Bouillabaisse
Artichokes, Leeks, Fennel, Onion, Garlic, Celery, Zucchini, Spinach
Simmered with Lemon, Orange, Tomato Water, Pernod, and White Wine
Crispy Fennel Tofu “Croutons”
Aioli on Croustade

Olive Oil Poached CodSalt Cod Potato Cake, Rainbow Chard
Fines Herbes Salad

Chicken and MortadellaBraised Chicken Thighs with In-House Made Mortadella
Dandelion Greens, Fingerling Potatoes
Poached Egg

Seared Loin of LambCatelli Colorado Lamb Loin
Gnocchi á la Niçoise sautéed with Thyme Lamb Sausage,
Niçoise Olives, Summer Squash, and Heirloom Tomatoes

Herbes de Provence Steamed Chicken Breast
Served Chilled with a Summer Vegetable Salad
Peruvian Purple Potato Salad
Champagne Vinaigrette and Mimolette Crisp

Fennel Pollen Dusted Pork Chop
Braised Fennel, Charred Red Onions Marinated in White Balsamic
Saffron Orzo, Blood Orange infused Olive Oil

Rosemary Grilled NY Strip Steak
Grilled Treviso Wrapped with Prosciutto
Creamy Polenta with Pecorino Romano
Black Truffle Balsamic Reduction

Pan Seared Scallops
Herbed Cauliflower Puree, Sautéed Salsify and Radish
Banyuls Reduction, Tahitian Vanilla Salt

Veal Piccata
Lightly Pan-Fried Veal Cutlet from Catelli
Spinach Sautéed with Garlic, Grapes, and Pine nuts
Squash Blossom Risotto

Taggiasca Olive Pork Shoulder Ragu
Handmade Pappardelle Pasta
Taggiasca Olive Sauce
Tuscano Olive Oil

Summer Vegetable Bouillabaisse
Artichokes, Leeks, Fennel, Onion, Garlic, Celery, Zucchini, Spinach
Simmered with Lemon, Orange, Tomato Water, Pernod, and White Wine
Crispy Fennel Tofu “Croutons”
Aioli on Croustade

From the SCCC Kitchen: For some fruity goodness, you can't beat the heat

Fell like making a dessert this summer but don't want to crank up the oven, or do you just want to try something a bit more healthy? Check out my recipe along with the video over at the Schenectady Gazette Website for Grilled Fruit Kabobs with an article written by my friend Jeff Wilken. Enjoy that summer grilling. Check tomorrow's Gazette for my Asian burger with 5-Spice fries recipe!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From the SCCC Kitchen: Radishes get star treatment in vegetable dish

Radishes, those are those little red gems many of us slice thin and toss into a salad, but what else can we do with them? Many things actually, all we have to do is look outside of our normal American culinary repertoire. In my current recipe featured in the Schenectady Gazette this week, I look to France for inspiration where cooking radishes is nothing out of the ordinary. Take a look at the article by Jeff Wilkin, along with a short video on my sauteed radishes with peas and arugula.

American Culinary Federation Election Results

The numbers are in, they have been tallied and the American Culinary Federation has announced the results of our new board members for the coming term. The torch will be passed at the ACF National Convention next month in Orlando, FL. You can read more about the American Culinary Federation and the election results here.

President: Michael Ty, CEC, AAC


Treasurer: James Taylor, CEC, AAC, MBA


Secretary: David Ivey-Soto, CEC, CCA, MBA


Vice President Central Region: David Russell, CEC, AAC


Vice President Northeast Region: William Tillinghast, CEC, AAC, MBA


Vice President Southeast Region:Jeff Bacon, CEC, CCA, AAC


Vice President Western Region: William Franklin, CMC, AAC


Chair, American Academy of Chefs: Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC


Immediate Past President: John Kinsella, CMC, CCE, WGMC, AAC


Also elected to serve as vice chair, American Academy of Chefs, is Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

From the SCCC Kitchen: Mediterranean hamburgers and oven fries are delightful pairing

My summer series of recipes began this past week in the Schenectady Gazette with the articles written by the venerable Jeff Wilkin. The first recipe of the summer season pays tribute to the summer grill with my Mediterranean burger. Think ratatouille flavors and ingredients put into a hamburger along with some tasty, yet healthy oven baked Mediterranean spiced fries.

Check out the recipe and the video of me talking about the dish here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Foundations

A message from my friend George from grad school, I had to share:

How’s it going? Commonwealth Ave has not been the same since you left. The shadow of your fedora creeps no more against the greasy, weathered bricks of dark, recessed dorms. The smoke of duck fat lingers in the alleys and open windows, yet you are not there. Screams pierce the night scolding the modern world for its insolence toward a culinary past secure in its techniques, foundations, and resourcefulness. Is it you or the ghost of you?—like Hamlet’s father you haunt the devoted to avenge the wrongs of the non-believers. “ Foundations,” we whispered in the ears of those who would listen. Damn the tubes, the circulators, the foam, the oxide—these are the false prophets, we warned. But they would not listen. The magic flashed and they succumbed to it. So we wait…and we wait still. The cycle is near completion. Until then, my comrade, hold fast to the promise of the egg. Stay loyal to our five mothers who have served and will serve again. I wipe my brow with the cloth of our masters and repudiate those who mock our simplicity. In the end it, it will be the clock moving backwards which will propel us forward. In the words of our brothers, I say again, foundations, foundations, foundations….

Friday, June 12, 2009

What have I been reading?

I'm often asked what books I am currently reading. I tend to read about one food writing book a week along with a number of magazines, papers, texts and culinary books, depending on what i am working on and what my mind have gravitated towards.

For the inquisitive mind though, this past week I picked up ten books from Barnes and Nobles (Buy four get one free promotion), purchased a couple items on Amazon.com and also picked up a couple from the Open Door Bookstore on Jay Street in Schenectady.

At Barnes and Nobles I picked :
Culinaria Russia by H.F. Ullmann
Culinaria Hungary by H.F. Ullmann
The Complete Joel Robuchon by Joel Robuchon
Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It by Karl Weber
The End of Food by Paul Roberts
Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For-From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz
Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen
New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories by Susan Tucker and S. Frederick Starr
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

From the Open Door BookStore:
Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans by Marcelle Bienvenu and Judy Walker
Home Sausage Making : How-To Techniques for Making and Enjoying 100 Sausages at Home by Susan Mahnke Peery and Charles G. Reavis

On Amazon.com:
Good Morning, Kimchi!: Forty Different Kinds of Traditional & Fusion Kimchi Recipes by Sook-ja Yoon
NOVA: Mystery of the Senses - Taste DVD Series: Nova

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tiki Drinks and Tommy Bahama Shirts


Did you know that Tiki drinks are all the rage again? I had no idea, but so says Jason Wilson of the Washington Post. It's a good thing I like wearing my Tommy Bahama shirts while drinking a Zombie or Mai Tai on my back deck. They may have gone out of fashion with everyone else awhile ago, but I have always loved Trader Vic's style drinks.

I remember back when I was a kid, there was a local Chinese restaurant (which sadly went the way of the Chinese buffet many years later) used to have all these fun cocktails in the funky glasses (no I was never allowed to have one back then) Yes, I even own the proper glasses for these drinks, Scorpion Bowl anyone? In many of the Chinese dim Sum houses in NYC and Boston you can still get these funky drinks. While I'm home, I mix my own. If you are looking for some recipes, take a look here on the Trader Vic's website.

Sourcing Good Seafood

I was up at Spoon and Whisk in Clifton Park again last night teaching a class on outdoor charcoal grilling. One of the dishes I prepared was a grilled Alaskan Salmon over a spinach salad which had grill sauteed fennel, roasted peppers and a raspberry vinaigrette. Invariably whenever I offer a seafood dish I am asked where to find decent seafood in landlocked upstate New York. I often joke, "drive to NYC or Boston". I am only really half joking, because it is hard to find decent seafood up here, but if you are discerning and know what you are looking for you can occasionally find some decent products locally.

Where do I buy my fish? The Asian Market on Colvin ave. in Albany, NY. They generally have a really great array of fresh WHOLE seafood, which is important to me, I can see the eyes, gills, etc. to check for freshness which i will get into after my list here. They will clip the fins and what not off to leave you a whole fish, or they will fillet the fish as you desire. You want fresh you say? If you like catfish, you do not get fresher as they pull it right out of the tank and dispatch it for you. They pretty much always have a great array including red snapper, yellow tail, cat fish, cod, eel, clams, oysters, mullet, herring, flounder, sole, shrimp, carp, tuna, mackerel, striped bass, salmon all depending on the season. They also have some fun stuff occasionally like geoduck clam, razor clams, soft shell crabs, turtles (live even), giant snails, baby snails, I'm even shocked once in awhile when I go in. I love this place, but come with an open mind, don't mind any language barrier there might be, they will get you want you need.

Lee's Market on Central ave. is another Asian market in Albany. On the days where I can't find what i want over at the Colvin Market, or if I just don't feel like going into the larger shop I will go here. Plus the people are super friendly here. Their selection is quite good as well and everything is super fresh.

Cousins Market in Albany is a wholesaler which supplies many of the local restaurants. They carry mostly the normal stuff you would expect to find in a normal fish mongers, salmon, trout, cod, shrimp, clams, oysters and seasonal items as well. I have neither a negative or a positive overall feeling for their products.

As for our local supermarkets in the area, i have a love hate relationship with some of them. If I am picking up seafood form a grocery store, I will generally go to Price Chopper. They store their fish properly on fresh ice with a proper barrier once the fish is in fillets. Now someone is going to read this and tell me they have an issue with their local store. That is where the local management would have to be addressed, the company as a whole has high standards but sometimes some of the staff might not follow the rules, but that happens anywhere. The important thing here is to know how to select your fish in case your local shop does not go through its seafood fast enough. As for the other grocery shops, i just really don't bother. Hannaford in Latham Farms is pretty good, otherwise I think with the options I listed above, they fulfill my quality needs.


Now there are times I want some specialty items, let's say I am planning a crawfish boil for instance. I usually buy about 40-50 lbs of live crawfish and i think the only way to buy them is to have them shipped directly from Louisiana. I have held about a half dozen boils over the last few years and I always get mine from Louisiana Crawfish Co. They are consistent, less than a 5% loss of product (some are going to show up dead, it is just a fact of ummmm life. They also sell alligator meat, crawfish tail meat, crabs, turtle meat, gulf shrimp (fresh shrimp not that the frozen stuff we've all eaten for so many years). Are you looking for a King Cake for your next Mardi Gras? They sell those as well.

All Fresh Seafood is another great mail order company. You will certainly pay for your products ordering them online, it is expensive to mail ice and pack it properly and it is sent either same day or next day mail. All Fresh Seafood carries a number of different products, filets, whole fish, shellfish, etc. Rather than just shopping online, it is good to call them to see what they have fresh from the waters.

Here is a list of what to look for in quality fish:
Eyes: The eyes should be bright, shiny and moist, they should not be sunken in at all, they should have a nice roundness to them.
Gills: If the gills are present, they should have some redness to them signifying the presence of of blood and not being subjected to too much air.
Scales: The scales should be firm and should not flake off easily.
Fins: The fins should spring back easily, and should have firm webbing.
Flesh: On whole fish the flesh should be firm and should not impress when a finger is pushed on it. On fillets, the flesh should spring back readily after a finger is pushed into the flesh.
Smell: For years I've heard people say fish should have no smell, that is patent nonsense, fish always has a smell. The smell should be of fresh saltiness, maybe a sweet aroma. Certain fish like salmon are fatty, so they have a slightly stronger smell and as such go bad faster as well so it is important to smell your fish before buying it. When in doubt, don't buy it.


Here is a good website to check for sustainable seafood, many species are at risk of being lost from poor fishing tactics and over fishing.

Here is a chart on the recommended cooking temperatures for fish and other animal proteins.

Here is a chart from New York Seafood Council on nutrition facts for different seafood.

Here is a chart on the seasonal availability of seafood in New York.

Here is a good chart on "cooking times" for a variety of seafood.

Monday, June 8, 2009

She can cook his sorry ass under the table and she knows it

I've always appreciated female cooks and chefs, Anthony Bourdain says it best in this montage I found earlier today.


The Afghan Grill

Did you know there was an Afghan restaurant in Latham, NY? Neither did I until I drove past the Peter Harris Plaza a half dozen times recently for travels to Troy. Luckily I decided to turn my head to the left on one of the trips back and I noticed the sign that read Afghan Grill: Authentic Afghan Cuisine and (the word Pizza had been scratched out). The word pizza being scratched out did not scream "come eat here now!!!" to me, so I ignored the little place after a few more trips back and forth to Troy.

I was visiting my mother this past Sunday and we went down to the Schenectady Farmers Market (you must go here, amazing produce and other goodies, I'll talk more about that another time) and we decided we wanted lunch. I don't recall my mother being an adventurous eater when I was younger, but she will try just about anything, she's had Indian cuisine with me, been to WD-50, Bar Boulud and other places, so I thought maybe we should try the Afghan Grill.

The exterior of this place does not do it justice, beautiful decor, great tapestries, well adorned tables (even if they are glass covered), a little sitting area for what looks like someone plays some traditional music once in awhile and an exposed ceiling which is popular these days and looks good if done properly.

The menu has a great selection, we had the Kado Borani, butternut squash sauteed and topped with a tangy red yogurt sauce, along with Boolani which were crisp pastry turnovers stuffed with vegetables like green onion.

We both opted for different kabobs, I went for the trio which had lamb, chicken, and kofta (ground meat, in this case beef, seasoned and shaped on the kabob) over a well flavored rice. My mom opted for the lamb kabob. Truly tasty, well seasoned, the meats were moist and not dry like many places outside of the area I have been to.

We opted for no dessert, we had enough to eat. I did take home some Kaboli Palow which is the Afghan version of Lamb curry, I couldn't resist. I had green tea, mom had iced tea (they don't serve alcohol btw), when all was said and done the bill was $50.00, which was two apps, three entrees, and two drinks, wow a bargain and for such great food. I will be back again, and again, and again.


The Afghan Grill
http://www.theafghangrill.com/
952 Troy Schenectady Road (in the Peter Harris Plaza)
Latham, New York 12110
518-783-9200 - Phone

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I Love Monte Cristo Sandwiches

A Monte Cristo with a fig confiture and Foie Gras, oh man. My apologies, it is in French. Is it a Monte Cristo? I don't know, but I'm still going to make it. I think even in French, if you pay close enough attention to what he is doing you can make it. Perhaps I will try to write a recipe in the next day for anyone who wants to try to make it. Although, hrm, figs aren't exactly in season yet, I can always try some high quality dry figs to make the confiture.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Korean Restaurants

I absolutly love Korean food. I cook Korean food quite often, but I also like to try Korean food at any number of Korean restaurants when I get a chance. Years ago the only place to get good Korean food, or Korean food at all, you had to go to a major city like NYC, Boston, San Francisco or otherwise.

I'm happy to say that the Capital District of New York now boasts four Korean restaurants. All four of these restaurants are Korean/Japanese restaurants, and from all of the owners I have been told that this is because Korean food is still a little difficult for many Westerners, which I can see with the strong flavors, spice and fermented tastes in the various banchan dishes. It isn't a far stretch to find both of these cuisines togehter due to their shared cultural history, both good and bad. One of my professors in the past told me though, that war and political discourse always leads to good food, an interesting philospohy I must say, but that is a topic for another day.

At anyrate, I thought I would share the four locations here, I have eatten at all four and they all have some dishes they do very well. If you are squeamish about trying Korean food, start off with something simple like kimchi pancake, the Korean BBQ dishes are generally easy to approach due to their slight sweetness, but be careful if you are not fond of spicy as most Korean BBQ is spicy. If all else fails, ask the waiter/waitress they usually love introducing people to Korean foods.

Albany
Ta-Ke Korean Food Specialty

Colonie
Arirang (Owned by the same folks who own Kim's Market)

Latham
Ginza Japanese & Korean Cuisine
Kabuki Restaurant

Friday, June 5, 2009

BBQ Restaurants Capital District NY

I spent a little time and compiled a list of BBQ restaurants I found in the Capital District Area of New York and the outlying areas. I give no personal promises of what quality each location gives as I haven't dined at most of the locations. I have heard good things about Capital Q Smokehouse in Albany, Brunswick BBQ in Brunswick, JR's BBQ in Burnt Hills.

I personally don't go out for BBQ much as I make it often at home. I generally wait for my trips down south to get my BBQ at a restaurant, but having lived in the area again for about a year, I might consider trying some of these locations in the near future. That is after to 15 lbs of various BBQ is out of my refrigerator from the class I taught at Spoon and Whisk this past Wednesday.

Albany
Capital Q Smokehouse

Ballston Spa
J-Bob's Tennessee BBQ

Burnt Hills
JR's Barbeque

Brunswick
Brunswick BBQ and Brew

Clifton Park
Giffy's Bar-B-Q

Colonie
Smokey Bones Bbq & Grill
Shane's Rib Shack

East Greenbush
Lodge BBQ Lounge & Catering

Guilderland
Chico's BBQ

New Lebanon
Shaker Mountain Barbeque

Saratoga Springs
PJ's Saratoga Style Bar-B-Q

Schuylerville
Dr. T's Barebone Bbq (has odd hours, so make sure you check it out first, one of the few places I have been to on this list and I like it quite a bit, call before you travel out that far to verify the seasonal hours of operation)

American BBQ

I recently taught a class on American Regional BBQ at Spoon and Whisk in Clifton Park, NY. A resounding success, the class partook in a number of regional BBQ specialties. They got a taste of Memphis-Style BBQ which use a dry rub with no sauce, while the Kansas City style BBQ pork shoulder has a dry-rub, a wet mop marinade and is served with a sweet tomato based sauce, sweetened with cane sugar. In lieu of the basic Texas brisket which uses only salt and pepper for flavoring, I opted to offer the Kansas City version which uses a mustard/beer/vinegar marinade which is then coated with a dry rub. Going down south to Carolina, we had a basic South Carolina BBQ shoulder, seasoned heavily with salt and pepper, smoked, and then served with a sweet mustard/vinegar based BBQ sauce, and we also had a basic North Carolina dip sauce which is simply tomato puree, vinegar, water, and a touch of salt and pepper.

The highlight to me was the BBQ Prime-Rib, which was a 6 rib roast rubbed with a flavorful dry-rub, marinated over night and then smoked slowly up to medium-rare. I served this along with a delicious horseradish dipping sauce made from the drippings from the roast, mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, and seasoned with salt and pepper. For sides we had some cornbread smoked in a high temp smoker and for dessert we had a strawberry/blueberry crisp from the same high-temp smoker.

Those of you looking to learn a bit more about BBQ can check out the following links:

Kansas City BBQ Society
Illinois BBQ Society
New England BBQ Society
Great Lakes BBQ Association
International Barbeque Cookers Association
American BBQ Society
BBQ-Festivals.com

BBQ Equipment and Recipes:
Weber Grill Creations
BBQr's Delight (smoke pellets)
Yoder Smokers
Kingfish Smokers
Barbecue University (Great TV show)
BBQ-Smoker-Recipes.com
Barbecue'n On the Internet
BBQ-TV.com

Local and Semi-Local Upcoming Competitions:
July 3-5 2009 I Love Barbecue Festival Lake Placid, NY
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Contact: Dmitry Feld, PO Box 1122, Lake Placid, NY 12946.
Phone: 518-523-2071. Fax: 518-523-4106. dmitry@usaluge.org

July 10-12 2009 New Jersey State Barbecue Championship North Wildwood, NJ
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Contact: Eric Shenkus, 201 New Jersey Ave, North Wildwood, NJ 08260.
Phone: 609-523-6565. njbbq@njbbq.com

July 10-11 2009 Ohio Veteran Barbecue Cook-Off Kettering, OH
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Contact: Jim Ferguson, 2908 Valley View Drive, Fairborn, OH 45324.
Phone: 937-416-7924. jlferguson@woh.rr.com

July 18-19 2009 Troy Pig Out Troy, NY
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Contact: Elizabeth Young, 274 River Street, Troy, NY 12180.
Phone: 518-727-9786. info@troybid.org

July 24-25 2009 Monmouth County Fair 2nd Annual BBQ State Championship - Blues & BBQ 1500 Kozloski Road, Freehold, NJ
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Contact: Helen Fiore, 805 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738.
Phone: 732-842-4000, ext. 4225. Fax: 732-842-4162. hpfiore@monmouthcountyparks.com

July 25-26 2009 The Harpoon Championships of New England BBQ Windsor, VT
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Contact: Fitz Granger, 306 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210.
Phone: 617-574-9551, x 525. Fax: 617-482-9361. fitz@harpoonbrewery.com

Upcoming Classes I will be teaching: at Spoon and Whisk in Clifton Park, NY
1675 Route 9
Clifton Park, NY 12065
Phone: (518) 371-4450
E-Mail: Info@SpoonAndWhisk.com

Outdoor Charcoal Grilling • Wed, June 10th, 7 PM

Tonight Chef Tanner will teach you how to use your charcoal grill, as well as the proper cooking techniques of direct and indirect grilling.
Menu: Grilled Corn and Goat Cheese Pizza, Grilled Salmon with Roasted Peppers and Spinach, and Italian Panzanella Salad on the grill.

Exotic BBQ and Grilling • Wed, June 17th, 7 PM

Most cultures have their own type of BBQ or grilling. This class is about different styles of BBQ and grilling found in other cuisines.
Menu: Jamaican Jerk grilling, traditional Korean BBQ, Moroccan Kefta Kabobs, and Japanese Yakitori.

Knife Skills • Wed, August 26th, 7 PM

To cook really well, you need to know how to use knives properly. We’ll cover all the basics of use, care, and sharpening. Demonstration, plus hands-on practice session. Includes a brief discussion about mandolines.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

English Style Slow Cooked Curry Pork Shoulder

I was at the Troy Farmer's Market today and picked up 20+ lbs of various pork parts. One of the pieces I picked up was a 4.5 lb of pork shoulder. I am teaching an American BBQ class on Wed., but was really in the mood to have a slow cooked pork dish today that was a little different. So I decided to make a version of an English dish that I like. This dish is often done with Chinese 5-spice (Fennel seed, anise seed, cinnamon, black pepper, and clove) which I am not fond of for some reason, I've always disliked it. I decided to grasp onto the English love of Indian curry.

Ingredients
Pork Shoulder 10 lb

Spice ingredients
Ginger, peeled 2-inch piece
Garlic 5 cloves
Soy sauce 1 tablespoon
Red Pepper Flakes 2 teaspoons
Sea Salt 1/2 tablespoon
Ginger, ground 2 teaspoon
Canola Oil 1 tablespoon
Curry Powder 1 tablespoon


Method:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grate, or mince garlic and ginger, combine with remaining spice ingredients to make a paste.
3. Score the fatty side of the pork shoulder with 1/2 inch slices in a grid work pattern. Place into a roasting pan, fat side up, and spread half of the curry paste over the pork. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the pork from the oven, reduce the heat to 225 degrees. Flip the pork shoulder to have the fat side down, spread the remaining curry paste over the pork, add 1 cup of water to the pan and place back into the oven on a rack. Slow cook the pork shoulder until very tender, which can be from 12-18 hours, it is all about the texture, not the time.
5. Serve with some steamed Basmati rice.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Cooking Courses at SCCC


I am offering a number of cooking classes, continuing education classes at Schenectady County Community College this summer as is another instructor. While my classes are directed to the advanced amateur cook and professional chef, the courses by Chef Sokol are geared toward children, teens and young adults. Registration is available online (register here, course numbers here).

Modern Charcuterie for Advanced Amateur Cooks and Chefs: Learn how to prepare forcemeats for pâtés, terrines and sausages; handle, store, and stuff casings; prepare condiments including ketchups, flavored mustards, cold sauces and dressings; and practice the proper way to cure and smoke meats and seafood. Instructor: American Culinary Federation-certified executive chef and certified culinary judge Christopher Tanner. Meets 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on four Mondays, June 8-29. $415.

Fundamentals of Taste and Flavor: Go on a journey of flavors through cooking methods using a range of ingredients, including herbs, spices, aromatics, oils, vinegars, produce and dairy items. Students will also attempt to understand the development of flavor through cooking techniques that impact flavor: sauté, poach, smoke, steam. Instructor: Tanner. Meets: 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on four Tuesdays, June 9-30. $400.

American Culinary Federation Certification: Certification through the American Culinary Federation (ACF) demonstrates skill, knowledge and professionalism to the food service industry. Learn details of the practical and written tests for the various certifications with the ACF. Students will also have a full practice of the practical exam proctored by an ACF practical examiner. Instructor: Tanner. Meets 9 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. Three days, Monday through Wednesday, July 20 to 22. $350.

Professional Baking for Children (age 10 to 13): Instruction in measurement, mixing, sanitation and the baking of breads and pastries. Instructor: Gail Sokol, an SCCC adjunct culinary instructor and author of “About Professional Baking.” Two sessions, both 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday: July 6 to 9 and 13 to 16. $375 each session.

Professional Baking for Teens (age 14 to 17): Recipes will include vegetable summer rolls, tukey and olive empanadas, vegetarian strudel, double-chocolate biscotti and more. Instructor: Sokol. Two sessions, both 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday: July 20 to 23 and 27 to 30. $375 each session.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bulgogi Pork and Kimchi Fried Rice Burrito

I think I just invented the best burrito ever, and it just happens to be healthy. I make a variety of Korean kimchi which I keep around often. I also happened to make some short-grained brown rice to go with another meal a couple days ago which lead to me making stir-fried kimchi brown rice for dinner the other night with tofu.

Which lead me to today, I made a couple types of sausage and had some pork shoulder left over. So I decided to make some Korean BBQ pork

Korean BBQ Pork:
14 oz thin sliced pork shoulder
3 tablespoons Korean red pepper (not the same as crushed red pepper, so make sure you use the real thing)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin

Toss meat in the remaining ingredients and marinate for thirty minutes, then stir fry in a hot wok.

So I took a whole wheat burrito wrapper, heated it slightly so it would fold easier, tossed a bit of the kimchi rice in there, a couple ounces of the Korean BBQ pork, along with some pea shoots from a local farm, any greens would work though. Wrap it in the traditional burrito way and place it in a hot pan with some sesame oil, placing another pan on top to weigh it down. Turn it after golden brown, 4-5 minutes, brown the other side. Serve with sour cream mixed with a bit of Siracha hot sauce.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wolff's Biergarten und Wurst Haus

Who would've thought a little slice of Germany would come to downtown Albany? Just that has happened though with the opening of Wolff's Biergarten und Wurst Haus. If you are looking for a fine-dining restaurant, this is not your place, if you are looking for a casual fun place with great beer and good food, then this is your place.

Opened by the owners of Bomber's Burrito, Wolf's offers 14 draft beers (Spaten Optimator being a personal favorite) and 23 bottles beers, and not a one of them is Budweiser you know that American brewery umm no longer owned by an American company. These are German, Belgian, and Czech beers which are all high quality beers, many of which are hard to find.

The seating here is communal at a number of picnic tables, set-up to be like a biergarten might look in Germany. I'm not usually a fan of communal seating at large tables, but it seems to be a popular trend. To the back of the room there are a number of dart boards, I hear a dart league has been formed, and up in front is a ping pong table to keep you busy while downing your beer and food. In the summer it looks like a large garage door will be opened, which is the front of the bar/restaurant, which will bring some fresh air into the place, and I'm sure big crowds as well. A number of televisions play futball, or soccer to us underclass Americans, check out the televised schedule here.

If you are coming to Wolff's for food, be ready to serve yourself. You order your food at the back of the main room, either by telling the person behind the counter your order from a menu hung behind them on the wall, or for inebriated with poor vocal skills, little cards similar to a sushi bar are available to check off what you like. You then go sit down where you like, wait for your name to be called and go pick up your food. This all lends to the casual nature of the place, and also cuts down on the cost of waitstaff I am sure which in a time of rough economy makes sense.

The food is pretty good, and are all dishes you might expect from a casual biergarten. Schnitzel in three forms make their way to the menu, no weinerschnitzel though, which a visitor from Germany might protest as a few of my German friends have stated that schnitzel should only be made with veal and not pork. I tried the pork schnitzel however, and it was very tasty. The spatzle which accompanied it was very good as well.

The offer a variety of wurst (sausages), which are not prepared in house, but they are a high-quality sausage from a local purveyor, and I always love a local business supporting another local business. I tried the weisswurst, it was very good. Other dishes include a Currywurst, traditionally done with a curry infused sausage with a tomato based curry sauce, this one was done with a bratwurst with the sauce on top. A good rendition of the dish, and likely there was no location to attain the curry sausage. The french fires that accompany the dish are quite good as well.

There are a number of other options, including a traditional Bavarian meatloaf, rouladen, and a number of other tasty traditional dishes. You can even just order a pretzel, some french fries, onion rings or even a hamburger, perhaps accompanied by some roasted Brussels sprouts.

I will certainly be back again to Wolff's, especially when they lift up the garage door. So many more dishes to try, and so many more beers to go with them. Make sure you go check this place out.


Wolff's Biergarten und Wurst Haus
895 Broadway
Albany, NY 12207

518-427-2461
Website

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From the SCCC Kitchen: Green Thai Curry With Chicken allows cook to adjust spiciness

Check out Jeff Wilkin's article on the Schenectady Gazette's website From the SCCC Kitchen: Green Thai Curry With Chicken allows cook to adjust spiciness featuring my Green Thai Curry with Chicken recipe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sweet Flavors of Thai Curry

I've been playing with some Asian flavors in some traditional dishes the last few months after having taught a number of Asian cuisines to my students in Modern Culinary Trends and Techniques. I am competing in an American Culinary Federation competition in a couple weeks out on Long Island. I've decided to work on my pastry skills, so I came up with the following dish for a 90 minute P/2 (Cold Plated Pastry) entry.

Sweet Flavors of Thai Curry

Red Curry Devils Food Cake with a Green Papaya and Mango Salad
Paired with a Terrine of Coconut and Green Curry Ice Creams
Sesame Tuile
(Either a Peanut Butter or Mango) Creme Anglaise

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Ham Leftovers

Ham and Pea Risotto
http://wnyt.com/article/stories/S875446.shtml?cat=10127
Serves 4


Ingredients
1/2 lb Peas
¼ lb Ham, diced
4 cups Chicken broth
3 tablespoons Olive oil
½ each Onion, finely chopped
1 each Garlic clove, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup White Wine
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
¼ cup Mascarpone cheese
to taste Salt and Pepper



Method

1. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a small pot. While the stock is coming to a simmer, add the olive oil to another pot over medium-high heat. Sauté half the onion 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 4-5 minutes or until the onion and garlic begin to turn golden brown. Add the Arborio rice to the onions and sauté for 2 minutes and then add 1 cup of the stock and the Pinot Grigio wine and stir constantly until all of the stock has been absorbed. Add the peas and ham, continue to add stock one cup at a time until the four cups have all been absorbed, the rice should not be dry it should still have some "movement" to it.

2. Mix in the Pecorino Romano and Mascarpone cheeses to the risotto and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to keep warm.


Chef Christopher Allen Tanner, CEC
Chef-Instructor Schenectady County Community College
School website - www.sunysccc.edu
Personal food blog - www.cheftanner.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Price Chopper Ham Demo and Tastings


I will be at the Price Chopper in Slingerlands from 1:30-4:30 pm tomorrow afternoon featuring their spiral cut hams for Easter. Yes they pay me, but I honestly would not support a product that I wouldn't buy. The producers of the ham for Price Chopper only produce pork products, that is what they specialize in. Price Chopper always chooses the best for what they will sell under their label, so the Central Market hams are better than the other hams you will find along side them in the market, but often for a fraction of the price. Those other hams that cost less, sadly are of low quality. Usually their hams run for 3.99/lb, they will be on sale for 2.99/lb at all locations, but be sure to stop by the Slingerlands store tomorrow to say his if you have the time.

Store Address:
1395 New Scotland Ave.
Slingerlands, NY 12159

Demo time: 1:30-4:30

From the SCCC Kitchen: Asparagus Risotto and Vegetables makes flavorful spring dining

Check out Jeff Wilkin's article on the Schenectady Gazette's website From the SCCC Kitchen: Asparagus Risotto and Vegetables makes flavorful spring dining featuring my Asparagus Risotto recipe for those fresh Spring asparagus.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Aperitivo Revisited


Sometimes I have a bad meal at a restaurant and yet I return again, and again the meal isn't stellar, and yet for some reason I return again in hopes to find that a place has gotten through its growing pains. Aperitivo in Schenectady, NY has been one such restaurant.

I have dined there about three or four times and had just about written the restaurant off. I found some of the dishes to be lacking in proper execution, while the portion sizes even for "small plates" were absurd for the price. However, I made another attempt last night as I had heard there were some recent changes to the location.

I never think to check the Proctor's schedule when I go out to eat in Schenectady, as I live a couple miles from the venue, I just don't think of it as a "special event" location, I guess you just get used to things. Last night Aperitivo had a "Proctor's Menu" which meant it was somewhat limited due to the high-volume of guests coming in, not quite sure how I feel about that, but there was still plenty to choose from.

The small plate dominated menu has been beefed up with a pretty big selection of larger plates. After talking to the bartender and some other people, it just seems that many of the guests didn't get the "small plate" concept. I for one love this concept which is very popular everywhere else in the country. It gives one a chance to try a large number of small plates to sample the many flavors that the chef has created.

I proceeded to order a number of items, the Surf and Turf roll which I have had in the past and hated, was so much better, flavorful and had a wonderful texture. Next I moved on to a dish called Mussels Panzanella, good simply cooked muscles, change the name though please, Panzanella is a salad made with day old bread or crusty bread cubes along with tomatoes and other fresh vegetable. Other than a tomato broth and some toasted baguette on top, it had nothing to do with Panzanella. Moved onto the Beef Carpacio, which I complain about every time because of the portion size. The portion itself has not increased but it is now accompanied by what I believe to have been some truffled sheep's milk cheese, a very tasty dish and I love truffles. The Lobster Arancine (balls of day old risotto usually breaded and fried, the name translates to "little oranges" which is what they are meant to look like) were full of flavor, although they were a little over fried. I'd skip the gnocchi, either they were really overworked, or they were prepackaged. If you can't make gnocchi in-house don't offer it as they will always be rubbery, gnocchi should be tender in texture. I asked for a dish off the regular menu and was accommodated, duck confit with risotto. The confit was good, a little heavy on the sun-dried tomatoes which the confit was sauteed with. The risotto had a good saffron flavor to it.

Finished the meal with a 20 year-old Talisker, the bar has a pretty good selection of whiskeys, a good amount of high-end Scotch and Bourbon. Aperitivo is a restaurant that seems to have come into its own, I met the chef, Devon, at the end of the meal whom is a graduate from Schenectady County Community College's culinary arts program. He is doing a wonderful job and I am looking forward to going back in again.

Aperitivo Bistro
426 State Street Schenectady, NY 12305
(518) 579-3371 Fax (518) 579-3372
info@AperitivoBistro.com

Restaurant Website

Lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30am-2:00pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10:00pm; Sun 4:00pm-9:00pm
Pub Fare: Mon-Fri 2:00pm-Close
*Hours may be extended for Proctors shows, call for info.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Art and Economics of Charcuterie Part 2 (StarChefs.com)

The Art and Economics of Charcuterie Part 2

by Amanda McDougall and JJ Proville
photos and video by Antoinette Bruno
March 2009

Interview
John Toulze on Charcuterie


In-house charcuterie programs have experienced exponential growth over the past two years. It is arguably the biggest and most far-reaching trend we’ve seen—bordering on an all out culinary movement. US Chefs are learning the craft—from old school/Old World techniques to more modern ones—and developing their own programs large and small.

With this in mind, we’ll be publishing a multi-part charcuterie series that looks at several different operations, but all run by chefs with a penchant for curing and aging all sorts of animal parts with a goal of bringing in some serious revenue for their restaurants.

Zach Allen and his Vegas salumi operation—not to mention his oversight of all of Batali’s dozen other restaurant salumi programs—was the first in this series of features. The second in the series takes a look at how chef John Toulze of the girl and the fig (restaurant, café, and catering) and Estate works his brand of charcuterie into his two restaurants and catering operation (see below). Seattle’s Adam Stevenson of Earth & Ocean at W Seattle is third in line, discussing his charcuterie program from a hotel chef perspective. The fourth piece goes small-scale with El Dorado Kitchen chef Justin Everett’s charcuterie on-a-shoestring.
Part 2: A Multi-Restaurant Operation on a Smaller Scale
For chef John Toulze, making good and safe charcuterie is “all about pH”—knowing that you’ve got the right amount of acid to kill off the bad stuff, but keep the good stuff. Of course, extensive reading, practice, and some trial and error, also contribute to a fine end product—and Toulze does plenty of that.

A self-taught charcutier, Toulze has been making all forms of charcuterie for nearly all of his life (he remembers witnessing his parents arguing over how to best make headcheese as a kid), and professionally for over a decade. As a novice, the chef started with what he calls “wet charcuterie,” country-style pâtés and mousses; years later, he’s graduated to smoked bacon, chorizo, rosette de Lyon, sopressata, and 18-month cured prosciuttos. All in all, Toulze and his team produce anywhere from 7 to 11 products for the two restaurants, café, and catering operation.

When it comes to the economy of charcuterie, Toulze sees making it in-house as a no-brainer. Where he once paid $7 a pound for outsourced bacon or upwards of $12 a pound for quality prosciutto, he’s now looking at getting in the raw cuts for a buck and some change per pound, plus the added benefit of knowing the meat’s source and having direct control over quality and production. “There is a tremendous opportunity for savings,” Toulze explains, “If you manage your staff, time, and space there really is not a product where your food cost won’t be amazing.”

But it’s not just about that amazing food cost that keeps Toulze keen on cured meat. He loves the process; he loves introducing people to new products; most of all, he loves having a story to tell about his food. “There a lot of food trends right now, but I think there’s one that never goes away and that’s the idea of handmade production—simple, ancestral foods that have a place and a story to be told.”

Interview with John Toulze

JJ Proville: How long have you been doing charcuterie? How did you get into it?
John Toulze: It’s been 10 years. I can remember my father making headcheese at my house and it being a total disaster [laughs].
I remember it was always a big feud between my parents on how to make it. For a kid it was a pretty big novelty to see a pig’s head in the fridge. That was a fascination for me. On Sundays we always had French bread, cheese, and a pâté of some kind.

JJP: Have you been formally trained in charcuterie?
JT: No. My experience comes from trial and error and a lot of reading; trying a lot of things; asking questions.

JJP: Was it something you immediately got into at the beginning of your culinary career?
JT: It evolved. In the beginning we always made what I call wet charcuterie. Rustic terrines and country-style pâtés with chicken liver mousses and things like that. It just kind of evolved over time and still is. You get good at something and one road will lead to another. You get good at making pâté de campagne and then you ask, what’s next? Wet charcuterie leads to some of the very simple cured dried meats. Timing and space also plays an important part. As we had more space and more time, it got easier to take on some of the more complicated elements that take months to start and finish.

JJP: Would you say that wet charcuterie is a more natural place to start at the beginning of one’s charcuterie career?
JT: I think so because it gives you that first element of the importance of your grind and it allows you to have a first look at the transformation of a product from raw to finished. The good thing is that it’s quick. There’s some technique involved, but there’s a relatively quick turnaround. Pâté de campagne takes three days.

JJP: How long did it take to reach the point where you knew what you were doing?
JT: It took a good year and a half for the dried stuff before I felt confident about understanding why things were going in one direction and not the other. We’re constantly playing with different starter cultures and different cuts, but now it’s coming from a base of understanding and being creative instead of going “OK, I think I did everything right.”

JJP: How many projects do you currently oversee?
JT: We have three restaurants and a catering company. We also have a line of food products called Fig Food.

JJP: How many different types of charcuterie do you offer in the restaurants at any given time?
JT: We usually offer between 7 and 11 types at any given time. For the Fig Café we have two or three. Right now we’ve got two types of cured salami for their cheese plate and some chorizo for their pizza.

JJP: How do you allocate the charcuterie to the restaurants?
JT: We store it until its ready and then the restaurants can take what they want. Right now we started a batch of rosette de Lyon for a salami sandwich. We brainstorm over the menus for the restaurants, make the charcuterie, and then once it’s ripe that whole batch will be brought over to the restaurant. We also have items that we frequently do like sopressata, lonzo, lardo, pancetta, rosette de Lyon, and chorizo. We always want to have three or four salamis that are ready. The only one that doesn’t rotate off the list is the sopressata.

JJP: What are the shortest and longest timeframes of charcuterie that you practice?
JT: The shortest would be something like a chicken liver mousse or a boudin, which is basically casing up some chicken liver mousse. From there it would be terrines of all different types, like pork liver terrine or pâté de campagne. We also do our own bacon and smoked salmon which are on the short side. It’s a four day process for us.

The ones that take the longest to make are the salumi, the rosette de Lyon, the Genoa-style salumi, or the large sopresattas. Right now we’ve got some prosciutto in the process which will become the longest; that takes about a year and a half. You start feeling like a wine maker because you’re aging a product and you don’t know your success until you try it!

JJP: What’s the greatest risk in charcuterie?
JT: The peril is that you don’t know how it’s going to turn out for at least a year but you can’t wait that long to start your next batch. So it’s a leap of faith that you have some idea what you’re doing. I think our confidence has evolved to a point where we’re pretty sure we can execute it and we have control over our environment enough that we can do it.

JJP: What keeps you coming back to it?
JT: It’s the suspense of not knowing how it’s going to turn out but it’s also the transformation of the product that’s incredible. I also enjoy it because some of my sous chefs really got into it and I like sharing that excitement with them about what is a very old tradition—which is really controlled spoilage.

You don’t necessarily know how it’s going to turn out and I think that’s the fun of it. Even if we change the starter culture or if we cut it a little different you have to be patient to see how that turns out. The other thing is that you have to keep pretty fastidious notes because how else do you know? That’s the excitement of it. When we take out a new batch, everyone is excited to try it and see how it is.

JJP: What are some of the important lessons you’ve learned?
JT: Some of the things that we’ve learned is that a few more grams of starter culture makes the difference between a beautiful fermentation all the way through, and having one where we couldn’t get the pH to drop fast enough, and that’s just not something that you can guess at. And you’re also dealing with products that in large doses aren’t necessarily considered safe, with your nitrites and your nitrates. That’s what I use and I haven’t gotten comfortable playing with alternatives.

JJP: Is most of the charcuterie you do pork-based?
JT: Its 95% pork. We do beef. We haven’t done a lot of lamb, but I’d like to start.

JJP: How many people are involved in the production?
JT: There are three of us. I have a sous chef that does 90% of it. He’s 23 and been working with me since he was 16. He’s really into it. I help out and so does my chef Chris Jones.

JJP: What are your favorite charcuterie items to make?
JT: My favorite things are the simplest ones. Bacon, pancetta, and the lardo. Bresaola too.

JJP: How do you make your bacon?
JT: We cure it for about three and a half days. Three days is not quite enough and at four days it’s too salty. We smoke it for about three hours. Our technique is really simple. We put it in a 210°F oven and we have an old pan that we throw a bunch of chips in that we get smoldering really good. We throw that underneath the bacon and cook it until the bacon comes up to an internal temperature of about 150°F. However long that takes is how long we smoke it. That has been a really good method for us.

JJP: What kind of wood do you use?
JT: We’ve done fig wood but apple wood has been the nicest [for the bacon]. We tried hickory, but that was just not good [for the chorizo]. It didn’t work with the flavors of the paprika and spices we put it in.

JJP: How long does your chorizo take?
JT: It takes about 10 weeks. It’s one of the most elaborate things we make. We start by cubing up the meat and doing the marinade, which takes three to four days and then we grind it, ferment it, and let it dry out for a couple days. Then we smoke it and hang it.

JJP: Do you do all the ordering and supply management?
JT: No. I work with my sous chef who does the direct ordering. We have pretty strict regulations about the way we order and the way chefs in our company order product.

JJP: How many meat suppliers do you use?
JT: We’ve been using Niman Ranch. We did make some jambon from suckling pigs and brought in a whole pig once to make coppa di testa, lonzo, and pancetta. We’d like to be able to bring in whole pigs, but we have to put together the rest of the facilities to do that. That’s the ultimate goal.

JJP: So your limitation for using whole pigs is lack of space?
JT: Not anymore. Right now it’s just getting to that next step. But one of the reasons we’ve been successful in this program is that we’ve gone step by step and we haven’t bitten off more than we can chew. Most folks don’t realize what kind of commitment bringing in a whole pig is. We have the space and we have a catering kitchen, but its off-premise. So it’s doable, but we need to make the time.

JJP: What do you do in the off-premise space?
JT: We do most of the fabrication there. Some of the easier things we can do in the restaurants like wet charcuterie and bacon, but anything that requires fermentation and extended aging time we do down there.

JJP: Should chefs starting out in charcuterie start out by ordering individual pieces as opposed to a whole pig?
JT: That would be my advice. It allows you to focus on that one product and that one item. If you are trying to do fermented and dried products, you can start with high quality pork shoulder for example. Start and get good at it. That’s been our method of growth.

JJP: How much do pay for your basic cuts? Do you always pay the same thing for your meat?
JT: No we don’t, but they don’t vary that much. You can get pork belly for $1.39-$1.79/pound price range and that’s how much we pay. Shoulder is around $1.19/pound and back fat is about a dollar. Leg is going to be more expensive. It depends on how much we order. If there are fifteen pork bellies, we can get a better price from our purveyor.

JJP: The margin seems to be pretty good.
JT: It’s a no-brainer. For example, with bacon we used to use Nueske’s and were paying around $7 per pound. There’s not a lot of shrinkage when you’re making bacon, maybe 10%. I think we’re making bacon that’s just as good if not better, and we are paying around a dollar for that [laughs]. So even in a worst case scenario we are paying two dollars a pound. But it’s not [that much], even after all the spices, salt sugars, and wood—and I’ve got plenty of wood for my wood-fired oven. [It’s the] same for pancetta—before we were paying around 6 dollars a pound. We use collagen casings to wrap the bellies and those cost around 60 to 70 cents. We can do 10 pancettas in an hour. There is a cost of labor involved, but it’s not significant.

JJP: What charcuterie product contributes the highest margin?
JT: Lardo has the largest margin by far. Some people love it but people can be reluctant to try it if you’re not there to really explain it to them. In the restaurants, where we do have time to explain it to them, it sells really well. It’s neat because there are not a lot of people who have had it. We recently put it on a salad and it sold wonderfully.

JJP: What other products offer similar margins?
JT: All of our bacon and all of our salamis. Prior to ramping up our production we would source very expensive salami. Now we are using pork butt for it which is around $1.20/ pound. But even with a 30-35% weight loss, you’re still in the $2/pound range and you get all the added value with how it’s made. Compare that to a $12-$14/pound product from somebody else and it’s such an incredible margin and it’s so much interesting for me to sell. There is a tremendous opportunity for savings. If you manage your staff, time, and space there really is not a product there where your food cost won’t be amazing.

JJP: Is every piece of charcuterie profitable?
JT: I think there’s no reason they shouldn’t be; I’ve never come across one that hasn’t [been]. Unless you spoil it, it should be profitable and significantly so.

JJP: What’s the biggest challenge to maintaining that margin?
JT: The biggest logistical challenge is just staying ahead. It’s really about thinking in advance about how much you’re going to use in six weeks. If you get behind, you can’t shrink your timeframe. It’s not going to go bad but you don’t want to have too much on hand.

JJP: Is putting charcuterie on the menu well fitted to the economic climate?
JT: I think so, and for two reasons: You can be very flexible with the pricing if you need to be, because you know your margins and there’s a lot of perceived value. People know there’s a lot of hand work and time involved. The other thing is that, right now, I think people are looking for a lot of comfort food. I think that salumi is the ultimate comfort food. There a lot of “food trends” right now but I think there’s one that never goes away and that’s the idea of handmade production—simple, ancestral foods that have a place and a story to be told. And it’s an easy story to tell. People are looking to get value for their money and obviously it’s about quantity and quality, but it’s also how interesting it this. What’s the story behind it? A plate of sliced cured meats and maybe some crusty bread by the fire, or a salami sandwich, or a plate of wet charcuterie is the greatest comfort food. And you can bring that to the guests in the dining room, too.

JJP: You said that sopressata was a constant on the menu. Do you always order a fixed quantity of it?
JT: No, and we have a lot of fun with that too because I’m always changing the size of it. The last one we did was all by hand and we stuffed it into beef bungs (casing). So it’s a bigger format salami. It’s basically the same ingredients but just in a different way. You get more of a mosaic look. That’s close to mortadella size and about five and a half inches in diameter. It has a six month aging time.

JJP: Where do you get the casings?
JT: I get most of them online from Butcher & Packer or The Sausage Maker. We get our cultures, molds, salts, and simple sugars from Butcher & Packer. It makes our life so much easier. It’s all very inexpensive.

JJP: How do the simple sugars come into play?
JT: We use dextrose and glucose and a couple other simple sugars. You really need to have them because they’ll help fermentation and make the process so much easier than if you use [a complex sugar like] sucrose.

JJP: At what point do you think you are going to go local with your meat supplier?
JT: We’re definitely moving towards the direction of ordering whole pigs and at that point we’re just going to have to be really intelligent about the pricing and tell a good story, and produce a really phenomenal product. That’s really the next logical step to improve what we’re doing—that is, to refine the product that we are bringing in. Now that we are at a point where we are very good at technique and making things happen it’s finding a fresher, better product. That’s where our program needs to go from there.

JJP: Is sourcing whole pigs going to remain as profitable as ordering separate cuts?
JT: I think the economics are hard on that because there’s so much additional labor involved. I also think you can charge more for some of the things you make out of it. The idea of breaking down a whole pig is a story to be told and you can build that into your price. Is it going to be more cost effective? Probably not. If you’re going to deal with whole animals, you’re going to be paying a fixed price and you’re going to be dealing with smaller producers who will charge a higher premium, as it should be. So I think from a strictly economical standpoint I don’t see how it could be more cost effective than the broken down Niman Ranch pork bellies. What we have to do is think ahead and have different outlets for it and build that premium into some dishes.

JJP: Do you have any health and safety tips?
JT: With salumi, it’s all about about pH. That’s what folks need to learn. That’s going to control your bacterial growth. For safety measures we don’t send out our charcuterie to be tested. Consistency in processing temperatures, watching your pH levels, having the right ratios, getting in fresh products—that, to me, is what you do to have a safe product. And don’t count on someone else to do your due diligence. I think that’s the chef’s responsibility. That and continually developing purveyor relationships so that you can trust your product.

JJP: Do you have any parting advice for chefs starting their own charcuterie programs?
JT: The most important thing a chef can do is read, find someone else who’s been doing it for a while, and do the basics: watch your pH, your salt and preservative ratios, and be smart about it. It’s no different than any food. If you bring in a fish five days before and hold it a room temperature, it’s not safe! There’s no different between these things. It’s really common sense

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Art and Economics of Charcuterie (From Star Chefs)


FROM STARCHEFS.COM

The Art and Economics of Charcuterie, Part 1: A Multi-Restaurant Operation with Chef Zach Allen of B&B Ristorante, Carnevino, and Enoteca San Marco

by Amanda McDougall and JJ Proville
March 2009

In house charcuterie programs have experienced exponential growth over the past two years. It is arguably the biggest and most far-reaching trend we’ve seen—bordering on an all out culinary movement. US Chefs are learning the craft—from old school/Old World techniques to more modern ones—and developing their own programs large and small.

With this in mind, we’ll be publishing a multi-part charcuterie series that looks at several different operations, but all run by chefs with a penchant for curing and aging all sorts of animal parts with a goal of bringing in some serious revenue for their restaurants.

Zach Allen and his Vegas salumi operation—not to mention his oversight of all of Batali’s dozen other restaurant salumi programs—is the first in this series of features (see below). The second in the series takes a look at how chef John Toulze of The Girl and The Fig (restaurant, café, and catering) and Estate works his brand of charcuterie into his two restaurants and catering operation. Seattle’s Adam Stevenson of Earth & Ocean at W Seattle is third in line, discussing his charcuterie program from a hotel chef perspective. The fourth piece goes small-scale with El Dorado Kitchen chef Justin Everett’s charcuterie on-a-shoestring.
Part 1: A Multi-Restaurant Operation
Charcuterie—or sausage-making at least—has been a part of chef Zach Allen’s life since childhood. His family had annual family sausage prep days to take them through the year with a steady supply of the encased ground meats. But it wasn’t until he was working at Batali’s Lupa in Manhattan that his childhood family past-time turned into a professional pursuit.

Allen has spent time with Armandino Batali, Mario Batali’s salumi-famous father, but he’s also done formal training at Iowa State University’s Meat Lab, taking one of their multi-day classes on the science (and safety) behind curing meats. He takes a hands-on approach to his salumi-making too, doing most of the work himself at the three Batali restaurants, and visiting the farms that produce the pigs he turns into cured, money-making magic.

Although Allen doesn’t skimp when it comes to paying for top-quality pork (in the neighborhood of $5.50 a pound, even!), he’s still able to bring in the profit for nearly every piece of coppa or testa that goes to a table. Allen pays top-dollar for his pork, no doubt, and the fact that he’s still making money on it is a statement in itself.

There’s intrinsic value to salumi for diners—especially as they become more and more familiar with it—but it’s especially valued when it’s made in-house and tastes as good as Allen’s. As Allen demonstrates, he can charge upward of $20 for a mere ounce and half to two ounces of product. Granted, you have to take into account the time put into each product (some require multiple brinings, rubs, and other fairly time-consuming manipulation), but in the end, it’s usually literally time (for curing) that can be the most costly aspect.

Every week no less than 1,500 pounds of pork is processed in Allen’s kitchens—it’s brined, cured, ground, stuffed, aged, and sometimes poached in beer (see his recipe for Liver Sausage). It’s a massive volume of meat to process and Allen is careful to balance the menus at the three restaurants and therefore what’s curing in his salumi walk-ins (that’s walk-ins—plural) with a range of items, some taking only a day to make (like pâté) while others cure for months (take his 9-month minimum aged culatello for example). Planning ahead is essential, especially when you have, like Allen, twenty salumi items going at a time and a half dozen in development and testing for three separate restaurants with different price points and menus.

But at the end of the day, it’s always worth the effort and the wait. In Allen’s own words, “if you look at the cost versus the price you sell it at, they all make money.”

Read the interview with Allen to learn more about how he handles his multi-restaurant salumi operation >>

Saturday, February 28, 2009

SCCC cooks compete at regional event (Schenectady County, Niskayuna)

SCCC cooks compete at regional event (Schenectady County, Niskayuna)

Posted on: 02/10/09
Jackie Sher
email: news@spotlightnews.com

This weekend students from Schenectady County Community College’s Culinary Arts program will compete head-to-head in a competition not of culinary skill, but of the mind.

Four SCCC students will head to the American Culinary Federation’s Northeast Region H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl Competition, held Feb.7 to 9 in Boston.

“They need to understand all of the definitions ranging anywhere from nutrition, sanitation, culinary basics, baking basics, as well as classical French cooking,” said Christopher Allen Tanner, chef instructor at SCCC and head coach of the team.

Participants had to memorize facts from five culinary textbooks including Escoffier’s “Le Guide Culinaire,” “Culinary Fundamentals,” “Baking Fundamentals,” and a book on management, which is produced by the National Restaurant Association.

The road to the competition has been taxing on the participants.

“They practice three days a week, three to five hours a day,” said Tanner. “They go through a grueling process of getting quizzed by me on the different topics.”

And that’s only when they’re all together. Participants are also expected to practice on their own. The four team members, who were selected from about a dozen applicants, all work full time and also attend school full time.

Many have little time to eat the food they’re studying so much about.

“I work about 55 hours a week at Creo, and I’m the head pastry chef here so I’m in charge of two other students who go to Schenectady County Community College as well,” said Jose Arteche III, team captain. “Then on top of that I go to school full time, but generally I stick to four classes but that’s still four days a week that I physically drive to school.”

Arteche said that one of the challenges of preparing for the competition has been learning French terms.

“Trying to remember French words when you haven’t really taken a French class is tough,” said Arteche. “We’re trying to guess in our minds what the actual words sound like. All of the questions will be read verbally so we have to really listen carefully to all of the questions.”

He said that he and his teammates are used to reading the phrases and words — not hearing them.

This is the first time Schenectady County Community College has participated in the competition in more than 10 years.

Team members include Arteche of Colonie, Valerie Inman of Watervliet, Daniel Sala of Watervliet, Lisa Valentine of Clifton Park, and Evan Weissman of Saratoga Springs. They will compete against students from Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to take home the Northeast Regional title. The winners will go on to compete in the national competition held at the American Culinary Federation’s national convention in Orlando in July.

The questions asked during the competition will be very specific.

“They need to know all the primal cuts that are found in a beef cattle and what can be done with them. They need to know the proper techniques or the amount of time to wash your hands underneath sinks before you work in a kitchen. They need to know different laws on sanitation, as well as management laws,” said Tanner.

Students might have to name the two species of fish that Escoffier recommends using for fish stock (sole and whiting), and they might have to specify the type of gas that is employed in the flour bleaching process (chlorine gas).

However, despite the endless number of facts participants must commit to memory, they and their coach are excited and have enjoyed the process.

“If anything, this has expanded my knowledge in culinary arts. I can now point things out in recipes and menus that I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” said Arteche.
You can contact news@spotlightnews.com with any questions. Also, feel free to post comments below.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

From the SCCC Kitchen: Chicken jambalaya dish easy, healthful Cooks can control level of spiciness in recipe that’s well-suited for Mardi Gras

From the SCCC Kitchen: Chicken jambalaya dish easy, healthful
Cooks can control level of spiciness in recipe that’s well-suited for Mardi Gras
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
By Jeff Wilkin (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

http://www.dailygazette.com/videos/2009/feb/10/134/

Carnival law is now in effect for New Orleans, as tourists and natives prepare for Mardi Gras.

The Cajun version of easy living includes masks, costumes and plenty of spicy food. Christopher Tanner’s version of easy living gives home chefs a fast way to celebrate the day, without all the carousing and purple and green party favors.

“It’s really easy to make,” Tanner said of his chicken jambalaya, a healthful and spicy version of a rice stew. “They call it the creole trinity; the three main vegetables are in there — celery, bell pepper and onions. They’re just sautéed with a little bit of olive oil, put the Cajun seasoning in with that along with one cup of the andouille sausage and you kind of brown that a little bit on the bottom.”

This browning puts a bit of crust in the dish, and some extra flavor.

“Then you put the rest of your ingredients in there, the tomatoes, the stock, the rest of the sausage and the chicken, add your rice, stir it up put a cover on it and let it go until it’s fully cooked.”

It’s as simple as throwing beads off a balcony. Using chicken as the main protein also makes this healthier than a shrimp-based jambalaya, as Tanner said the latter dish can be high in cholesterol. A chicken jambalaya, the chef said, means people with allergies to shellfish can fill up their bowls.

New Orleans cooking means spicy, and Tanner’s salute to Mardi Gras is a spicy one.

“What you do to make it less spicy is take some of the Cajun seasoning out,” he said. “There are 5 tablespoons in this recipe. If you want it less spicy, just put 2 tablespoons of that in there or take the Tabasco sauce out as well.”

But people should not remove too much of the seasoning and sauce — this is a Mardi Gras diversion, after all.

“You want to have some of that in there,” Tanner said. “That’s the flavor of the actual dish.”
Chicken Jambalaya

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups Spanish onions, diced medium

3 cups green bell peppers, diced medium

1 cup celery, diced medium

5 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

3 cups chicken andouille sausage (found in supermarket poultry sections), sliced in quarter-inch rounds

6 cups chicken broth

2 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes

8 ounces chicken breast, sliced julienne

3 cups Uncle Ben’s rice

2 teaspoons Tabasco

Coat the bottom of a heavy, 5-quart pot with the olive oil, place over high heat and preheat. Add onion, peppers and the celery, 3 tablespoons of the Cajun seasoning, 1 cup of the andouille sausage and cook, stirring constantly until a crust begins to develop, about 12 minutes. Add 1 cup of stock to de-glaze, cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes and julienne chicken slices, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the rest of the sausage and chicken broth. Stir in the rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender.

Stir in Tabasco sauce and serve.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Have an Offal Valentine's Day at Irving Mill

Irving Mill is a restaurant down in Manhattan on 116th East 16th st with a menu driven by American ingredients with a classical rustic French and Italian twist. They describe their menu as "Old World clean." Ryan Skeen, their chef has a decidingly Italian background with a Sicilian grandmother along with his early years at Riccardo's in Portland, Oregon. At Elisabeth Daniel in San Francisco he picked up his French style of cookery, along with stints at Daniel, DB Bistro Moderne, Cafe Boloud, and even an Executive sous chef spot at Jeanes Georges in New York City. In 2008 he was rated on of the top ten fifteen young new chefs by the James Beard Association.


So why does all of that matter. Well, I took a look at Irving Mill's website recently and found a picture of Chef Skeen lugging a small pig on his back, a man with a similar passion for the swine I must say. Upon further look, from a suggestion of a friend, I checked out his Valentine's Day menu. The main menu was the usual high end great food that one would expect from a restaurant like this, however, I scrolled down to the bottom of the page to find this wonderful addition to the menu.

7 Course Heart Tasting Menu $85

Chicken Heart Tempura with Sweet Garlic and Parsley Sauce
Duck Heart Confit & Crispy Duck Neck with Smoked Duck Bacon, Chicory and Poached Quail Egg
Grilled Pork Heart BLT with Tomato Confit, Horseradish Aioli, Parsley and Romaine
Squab Heart Sugo with Gnocchi and Burrata Cheese
Cured Shaved Lamb Heart with Pickled Beets, Rapini Leaves and Goat Cheese
Sweetbread Stuffed Calves Heart Grand Mere with Grilled Porcini, Thumbelina Carrots, Pearl Onions and Veal Bacon
Hearts of Palm Tres Leche


Holy cow, it's too bad the wonderful woman I am currently dating will be away for Valentine's Day, well maybe too bad for me and lucky for her in her mind. I might have to make a trip down to NYC for the day at any rate to just see for myself how good this chef might be. With the "guts" (pun inteneded) to put together a menu like this, along with his impressive resume, I'm guessing this menu will be an exciting venture.

Restaurant info:

Irving Mill
116th East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
212-254-1600

website: http://www.irvingmill.com/restaurant/

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Schenectady County Community College Knowledge Bowl Team

For the first time in over ten years, Schenectady county Community College will be representing the New York Capital District region in the Baron H. Galand Knowledge Bowl competition at the American Culinary Federation regional convention. This years convention will be held at the Westin in Boston, MA.

We have an amazing team this year representing the college. The members include Jose Arteche III (Captain), Evan Weissman, Lisa Valentine, Valerie Inman, and Daniel Sala. They have been practicing constantly for the last two months preparing themselves for this grueling academic competition which requires them to have a vast knowledge of culinary arts. the topics range from basic cooking and baking, to hospitality management, nutrition, sanitation, and knowledge of classical French cooking from Escoffier's le Guide Culinaire.

The competition will take place February 7th during the ACF regional convention which takes place from Feb. 7-9th. So please join me in wishing them luck next month while they take on this great challenge. The team captain and I will be on Channel 13 WNYT news in Albany next week at 8 am talking about the competition and then we will be preparing some healthy Super Bowl goodies afterward.

American Culinary Federation SCCC Spring Culinary Classic



American Culinary Federation
Capital District – Central New York
and
Schenectady County Community College

Spring Culinary Classic

Please join us on April 18-19 for a weekend of culinary excellence during an ACF sanctioned culinary competition. Local chefs and culinary students along with chefs and students traveling from far and wide to display their skills.

Local chefs will be competing in an intense Nutritional Hot Food (F/4) during which they must prepare an appetizer, soup or salad, entree, and dessert - ten portions each in a four-hour time limit with incorporation of the principles of moderation and balance as identified in The 1990 Dietary Guidelines for America, U. S. Department of Agriculture and US. Department of Health and Human Services.

Chefs will also be competing in a variety of other equally intense categories including single chef Market/Mystery Basket (F/1, F/3, F/5), two chef Market/Mystery basket (F/3), individual Contemporary dish (K/1-9, P/1-5), and “Student Skills” (S/1), Edible Cold Food (G), and Cold Food display (A-E) competitions.

For more information contact Chef Christopher Allen Tanner, CEC, CHE at 518-526-6427 or tannerca@sunysccc.edu

 
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