Friday, December 15, 2017
CHEFS, WHAT IS YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE IN THE KITCHEN?
PHOTO KEVIN DOOLEY/FLICKR
As a chef, what’s the one thing that’s guaranteed to bring you out in a cold sweat, the nightmarish scenario that keeps you awake at night? Messing up the ordering perhaps, or sending out an undercooked dish to a top food critic?
We came across this interesting thread over on Quora, which asks chefs what their worst nightmare would be. Take a look below and let us know what your worst nightmare would be over on our Facebook page!
My worst nightmare as a chef is power outages.
- Ordering food from the supplier and it not turning up.
- Working with staff who don't clear up after themselves.
- Staff who don't listen, aren't punctual, insubordinate and have bad personal hygiene.
- Working with floor staff who don't know what they're doing.
- Trying to work without the proper equipment.
- Never getting paid properly for the work you do.
- Running out of the most popular meals because the staff have eaten the ingredients.
Any chefs nightmare has to be the boss who:
a) thinks Gordon Ramsay is the world's finest chef.
b) thinks he IS Gordon Ramsay.
Having chefs in your brigade who don’t have any any passion for what they are doing.
Fire system suddenly engages and fire sprinklers going off during service.
An owner that won't buy quality ingredients and meddles incompetently with the menu.
Fire, and the fallout of fire.
Poisoning customers would be the worst nightmare under any conditions.
My worst nightmare is a bad recession – I worked through the recession of 2008, etc, and everyone's hard work was all for naught. You just couldn't win.
Losing water. The restaurant has to shut down.
Rebellious staff that won't follow instructions.
People getting sick. A bunch of them. And it being our fault … I’m not sure I would recover from it.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
CHRISTMAS LIMA BEANS: AN EASY RECIPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Have you discovered the pleasure of dining on Christmas lima beans? Their rich texture, nutty flavor and beautiful patterned exterior makes these beans a luxurious addition to any meal, especially Christmas dinner.
WHAT ARE CHRISTMAS LIMA BEANS?
Christmas lima beans are larger than regular lima beans. They are considered an heirloom variety and come in a variety of colors. Some beans are cream-colored with dark specks while others are reddish or a deep blue with beautiful white streaks.
Christmas lima beans are also called chestnut lima beans and are pricier than regular beans, which makes them an ideal holiday treat.
HOW TO COOK CHRISTMAS LIMA BEANS
Christmas lima beans are cooked in much the same way regular beans are prepared. They benefit from an overnight soak and are best simmered with aromatics such as garlic, onions and carrot for added flavor.
The best way to eat Christmas lima beans is to allow the cooked beans to sit overnight in a zesty vinaigrette. You can enjoy the beans as a salad or pair them with grains, vegetables or meats.
A CHRISTMAS LIMA BEANS RECIPE YOU'LL LOVE
- 2 cups of Christmas lima beans, picked over and rinsed
- 1 carrot, cut in half
- 1 onion, cut in half
- 1 shallot minced
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bunch of Italian parsley
- the zest and juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (more for serving)
- salt and pepper
1. Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. The next day drain the beans, rinse and put them inside a large pot or pressure cooker. Add the onion, carrot, one garlic clove and about 10 sprigs of parsley.
2. Cover with water and cook until tender, about 35 minutes on the stove top or about 12 minutes in an electric pressure cooker (with natural steam release).
3. Once they have softened salt the beans to taste and allow them to sit in the cooking liquid for 20 minutes. Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and drain the beans.
4. Mince the remaining four garlic cloves and sauté them in extra virgin olive oil for five minutes. Add the beans and toss well.
5. Chop the remaining parsley and sprinkle over the beans. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss well. Season to your liking with salt and pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving (or better yet allow the beans to sit in the fridge overnight). Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil before serving.
ALEX KRATENA: ‘BALANCE IS THE KEY’
What are the current trends in the world of drinks? Alex Kratena, bartender and cocktail consultant, talks about the constantly changing world of drinks.
The world of drinks is booming. Trendy spots seem to be popping up left and right and cocktail hipsters with big beards and suspenders are roaming wild. Cocktails trends are moving at a pace I can’t keep up with. So, I decided to sit down with the man who not only keeps up with the trends but sets a couple of his own along the way: Mr. Alex Kratena.
Alex was awarded the Best International Bartender at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012 and Bar Personality of the Year 2013 by Imbibe Magazine. He is the former Head Bartender of Artesian, which under his stewardship was recognized as Number 1 in the World’s 50 Best Bar Awards by Drinks International in 2015, for the fourth consecutive year.
“I love drinking everything non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Most of my twenties, my mother couldn’t understand the concept of somebody traveling the world and making drinks. She actually thought I was a drug dealer,” Alex says jokingly. “When I was 16 I left my parents’ house and started to work in bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Slowly but surely I explored the world of cocktails and it was very intriguing. The range of products you can work with is fascinating and always developing.”
SHARING DRINKS KNOWLEDGE
Nowadays, Alex runs a small consulting company together with Monica Berg and Simone Caporale. He says the company works with everything from product development and training to marketing strategies and designing new shops. The big question of ‘are we ever going to see Alex behind the counter again’ is quickly answered, “our main goal is to open our own bar”.
When it comes to the current state of drinks, Alex feels like the education of future bartenders is key. “When we talk about the global bar scene, we can all agree that it’s constantly changing. The funny thing is that the only thing that never seems to change is the way we teach younger generations about making drinks.”
Alex is also one of the founders of P(OUR), a not-for-profit organization, which is all about sharing drinks knowledge. They currently have a P(OUR) Community Project focused on prevention of poverty in the northeast Peru.
COCKTAIL AS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
Talking about the current trends in the world of drinks Alex thinks bartenders and bars have reached a stage where they can do what they really enjoy. “You see some amazing bars really focusing on local and seasonal produce. With places like the Scout in London that only uses British produce. The Native bar in Singapore where everything from the design of the chairs to music and ingredients in the drinks is from the region. So, I think there is a big focus on individuality.”
The top cocktail bars seem to be following in the footsteps of the best restaurants in the world. A unique location and unique experience with dishes, or drinks in this case, that you can’t try anywhere else. “I think the next step for bars is to go towards this direction”, says Alex.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD DRINK?
“It’s balance. Balance is the key to life. Many people wonder ‘what is balance’? Balance is the harmonious relationship amongst the individual components. A great cocktail is affected by light, music, the scent in the air - all the way to the glass, the ice you use, how you combine the flavors, what is the composition, what is the texture etc. There are lots of different elements. As you become more knowledgeable in crafting those experiences, you pay more attention to every single one of these elements and thus create better cocktails.”
“A perfect cocktail doesn’t exist but it’s beautiful to every day try to get a little bit closer,” Alex continues.
Alex is quite candid about his favorite drink, “to be honest with you, my favorite cocktail is the one in my glass. I’m really passionate about everything and I see no reason to restrict myself. I’m always in the mood for something different.”
For a nice aperitif drink Alex suggests the readers of FineDiningLovers.com:
- 2cl Absolut Elyx
- 2cl Vermouth Rosso
- 2cl Campari
- 1 Squeezed tangerine
Shake it and top it up with tonic water. “This perfect aperitif is like if a Negroni, Americano and Vodka Tonic had a baby.”
4 CHEFS ON COOKING CARTE BLANCHE
Hundreds of chefs from around the world gathered at this year's Chefs World Summit in Monaco, where not only the best chef in the world was named as Michel Troisgros, but there were also a number of forward thinking conferences on gastronomy.
One of the themes up for discussion at this year's three day event was the concept of cooking carte blanche in restaurants, where chefs have free reign to cook off menu, serving the customer's dishes of the kitchen team's careful selection.
So, is cooking carte blanche a lasting or passing trend?
Chefs Alexandre Mazzia (AM, Marseille), Paul Pairet (Ultraviolet, Shanghai), Pascal Barbot (L'Astrance, Paris) and Shinobu Namae (Effervescence, Tokyo), four experts of cooking carte blanche took up the debate from both the chef and the customer perspective.
Here's what they had to say:
1. CARTE BLANCHE: THE BENEFITS FOR CHEFS
1. Time Management
According to the four chefs, one of the main advantages of cooking carte blanche is time management. "It's absolutely essential to cooking at the best level," said Paul Pairet. "When, like me, you have a menu in 20 services, imposed dishes are a necessity. If everyone ordered different starters or dishes, we just couldn't get it out." "When we opened L'Astrance 18 years ago, we offered 2 starters, 2 main courses and 2 desserts," recalled Pascal Barbot. "It's not enough, but already too much to go to the enth degree and really have fun in what we were doing because it took us too much time. Little by little, we arrived at the unique menu, at the blind menu, and it's a huge time saver."
2. Concentrating on the Essential
Shinobu Namae opened his L'Effervescence restaurant seven years ago, just after the tsunami hit in Japan. For him, the carte blanche concept was vital. "Because of what happened, I didn't have access to many products, everything had been destroyed, so I had to do with what I had and didn't have the opportunity to offer a lot of dishes, I had to focus on the essentials" said the chef. An idea shared by Alexandre Mazzia, who added that the carte blanche was also a way of having access to the best products. "It's not me who controls my fruits or vegetables, it's the producers who bring their best to me at a particular time. The carte blanche allows us greater flexibility and we adapt to whatever happens."
3. The Balanced Menu
According to the four chefs, the carte blanche also makes it possible to offer the customer a coherent, balanced menu. "Thanks to this, we are not obliged to create a balanced dish since it is the rest of the menu that will harmonize the whole," says Paul Pairet. "In a 20-course menu, you have to have consistency from start to finish, you have to have a common thread, I need about a year to design my 'carte blanche menu' and everything is well thought out."
4. Greater Creativity
Practicing the concept of carte blanche also allows the chefs to express their creativity more. "I feel less locked up, freer and also calmer," said Alexandre Mazzia.
2. CARTE BLANCHE: HOW TO CONVINCE THE CUSTOMER1. Be a teacher
"At the very beginning of cooking carte blanche, our customers were rather reluctant," recalled Pascal Barbot. "It's all about explaining it to people and getting them to put their trust in you. Of course they are asked if there are any ingredients they don't like or if they have any allergies. And afterwards, they must be guided."
It was the same story for Alexandre Mazzia, who explained that at the beginning, the reception to his blind menu was rather mixed. "The customers were skeptical, we had to reassure them. At the time I had a very closed client who was reluctant to know what he was going to eat, now he's 'one of my biggest regulars,' said the chef.
2. Is the concept of carte blanche cooking possible in restaurants outside major cities?
According to Pascal Barbot, the principle of the blind menu can apply elsewhere, other than in large cities, provided that certain rules are followed. "We must soak up the atmosphere," said the chef from Astrance. "Depending on where you are, adapt the portions, the price, the time that the customer must spend at the table ... But it is possible!"
A point of view shared by Alexandre Mazzia, who argued that, "if we don't make suggestions, we will never change anything. As long as you create a bond with your customers, there's no reason that it shouldn't work," added the AM chief.
However, "we mustn't stop the classic menu," concluded Pascal Barbot. "We don't always have the time or the desire to spend hours at the table, so we need something to satisfy everyone."
WIN DINNER AT THE NEW NOMA ON OPENING NIGHT
PHOTO LAURA L.P. / HDG PHOTOGRAPHY
Noma 2.0, which is set to open its doors in early 2018, is offering two people the chance to be there on opening night, all expenses paid.
As chef René Redzepi details in the video message below, one lucky winner and a friend will get flown to Copenhagen for the full Noma experience, including the meal itself, flights and accommodation. Plus a tour of the fermentation lab and test kitchen.
All you have to do is donate at least $10 via Omaze for your chance to win (the more you donate the greater chance you have; so $10 gets you 100 entries, $25 gets you 250, etc). All the money goes to help fund MAD, Redzepi’s non-profit organisation that holds a symposium of the same name every year in Copenhagen.
The Noma team have been on something of a fundraising mission recently, having sold off all the furniture, fixtures and fittings, right down to the chefs’ aprons, from the original Noma at auction, making thousands of dollars over the estimate.
Find out more about how Redzepi and the team have been preparing for the reopening in the video further down.
ONE TWEET SAVES BAKERY FROM CLOSING
A small independent bakery in the US has been saved thanks to the savvy actions of the owner’s daughter on social media.
Jackie Garza’s father Trinidad was close to closing La Casa Bakery and Cafe in Houston when she decided to tweet a video of him making pan dulce from scratch.
It had been steadily losing customers since Hurricane Harvey and Trinidad, having realised a lifelong dream to open his own bakery, had already recieved an offer from a potential buyer, ABC 13 reports.
But Garza’s tweet has since been retweeted and liked tens of thousands of times, with the video clocking up over 1.3 million views.
And now, business is booming, which has come as a surprise to Trinidad, in his 70s: “I didn’t know anything about Twitter … I’m very surprised,” he said.
It just goes to show the power of social media. Like the time this restaurant was saved by a single Facebook post.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
7 CLASSIC CANADIAN CHRISTMAS DISHES
Canadian Christmas dishes are a delicious representation of the expansive terroir of the country and its diverse population.
Some Canadian Christmas dishes have been passed down for generations while other holiday dishes evolved from local traditions and available ingredients. Let's take a look now at seven classic Canadian Christmas dishes and what makes them so special.
7 CANADIAN CHRISTMAS DISHES
This French-Canadian Christmas dish hails from the province of Quebec. It is a double-crusted meat pie often made from a blend of meats - often minced beef, veal and pork. Usually accompanied by a relish.
Try this recipe.
Locals combat chilly temperatures with an array of mulled drinks including apple cider and mulled wine.
These decadent bars get their name from their town of origin: Nanaimo, British Columbia. They feature a creamy vanilla center sandwiched between two layers of chocolatey goodness. Try this recipe for Nanaimo bars.
This legendary Canadian dessert features a flaky pastry filled with butter, syrup, sugar and eggs. Butter tarts can also contain raisins or nuts. Try this recipe for butter tarts.
This hearty green vegetable can withstand Canadian winters and is a common side dish during Christmas dinner festivities.
Try this tasty recipe for Brussels sprouts with chestnuts.
Buttery mashed potatoes are a must at a Canadian Christmas table. You can add a twist by making cheesy mashed potatoes.
BÛCHE DE NOËL
Another classic Canadian Christmas dish is the yule log (Bûche de Noël). This festive dessert is especially popular in Quebec.
Bring down the house with this recipe for a chocolate yule log.
WHERE TO EAT ON NEW YEAR'S EVE IN NEW YORK
Here's our pick for some of the best restaurants for New Years eve in New York, a collection of delicious places serving special menus for NYE.
Choosing a good restaurant that’s open for New Year’s eve in New York City can be a difficult task. Everyone wants to go out, almost all businesses look to create special menus and the decision of choosing what you’re going to eat for the last meal of the year can be a little overwhelming.
With all this in mind we’ve decided to bring a great selection of some of the best restaurants serving up some delicious celebrations for New Year’s eve.
THE NOMAD BAR
This is the bar of the Nomad Hotel and is owned and operated by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. They’re offering up a four course prix-fixe menu with serving starting as early as 5pm and running till 11pm. There are still a number of spots available on Resy and we really can’t imagine a warmer place to celebrate New Year in true New York style.
1170 Broadway, New York
Reserve a Table
Nishi is the still the relatively fresh faced baby of the Momofuku empire but the restaurant, which recently reopened as a full on Italian spot, kicks out some delicious food and is offering a special New Years eve menu. For $98 a person and parties up to six people accepted, Nishi is serving four course chef’s tasting menu with some Italian classic such as tortellini with brodo - which has been NYC NY pimped with foie gras.
232 Eighth Avenue, New York
Reserve a Table
CAFÉ ALTRO PARADISO
Although Café Altro Paradiso is a relative newcomer on the New York dining scene, the restaurant has quickly become of the must eat places for those in the know. They’re offering up a five course New Years eve menu that includes “tarta di manzo, tagliatelle tartufo, and lamb with salsa rustica”. A perfect place to welcome in 2018.
Café Altro Paradiso
234 Spring St, New York
Reserve a Table
The Chefs Club will be teaming up with Food and Wine for New Year’s eve with two menus that will cater for all needs. The menus will be prepared by the clubs chef in residence JJ Johnson who will be cooking up what’s described as an “Afro-Asian feast”. There will be two options, three courses fro $99 and the option to eat everything on the menu for $555. Those who take the later seating, between 8:45pm – 11:15, will also receive a Champagne toast, live DJ and party favors.
275 Mulberry St, New York
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We like this place because there’s a number of options available. The Bar Room at The Modern restaurant will be serving up a special three course menu for New Year eve and the menu looks great with some seriously delicious sounding dishes. For those who want to really get down to some series dining, The Modern restaurant will be offering two options: five course during early seating at $228 and eight course during the late sitting for $328. Of course, this is a Danny Meyer restaurant, so all those pieces include tips.
The Modern restaurant
9 W 53rd Street, New York
Reserve a Table
Here are 15 of the worst and rudest restaurant customers ever, as described by chefs and severs. http://bit.ly/2jXxz6D
190- Blue Mystic DragonThis guy was just a cute little creation that was a lot of fun! http://lucky978.deviantart.com/art/190-Blue-Mystic-...
190- Blue Mystic DragonThis guy was just a cute little creation that was a lot of fun!http://lucky978.deviantart.com/art/190-Blue-Mystic-Dra...