THE KITCHEN COMMANDMENTS

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The minute we accept a position in a professional kitchen, we accept the functional rules of operation, the guiding principles that allow every cook, and every chef to be a productive, and trusted member of a team. These rules may not be in writing and posted on a wall (although they should be), but they are understood, just the same. Each property may add others or they may adjust the focus of certain rules, but none-the-less, the rules are there.

What is most interesting, at least from my perspective, is that people need and actually enjoy working under the umbrella of a “method of operation” that is clearly defined. When this does not exist then confusion and dissent is a result. In those operations were goals are rarely met, when angst and friction rise to the surface, and where individuals find their days too unpredictable to live by, you will…

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HEY CHEF – WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

As if I wrote it myself, I’m sure others will agree.

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It’s hard to believe that time can be such a tease; when looking back is far more consuming than looking forward. Where did the time go? It wasn’t too long ago that the future seemed endless – an exciting enigma without any real long-term plan. There would be adventures, forks in the road, lots of gratification, and certainly a heavy dose of disappointment and sorrow, but a mystery just the same.

I’m sure there are some who planned it all out early on, and even some who realized that plan, but for most of us there was little wait for that curve ball to come across our plate. What did we really think that first day of kindergarten? Our nerves were on edge, wearing that new outfit and bright white sneakers, walking through that classroom door into the unknown – this was as far into the future as we could…

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COOKS – YEP – WE’RE DIFFERENT – SO WHAT?

The world has become a very different animal? Just my thoughts, regardless of taking a knee, we all need to respect each other, make anyone who wants a wedding cake, deserves it! If I’m off base Paul, please let me know? Warmest un-political Regards, Bruce

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When will this nonsense stop? How far will it go? Will we reach a point where a job posting states that eligible candidates must be of a certain political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation, or nationality? This era of polarization is incredibly dangerous and divisive. Through all of my years in the kitchen I never, ever felt that what made us different was a roadblock; it was the most important thing that made the work interesting. Certainly what is important is what makes us uniquely the same.

It is difficult to get through a day without dwelling on something that makes us all incompatible. I support this candidate and you support another. I have this belief about how a person should live and you believe another. I am for the environment and you could care less. These are all opinions based on the life environment that we grew up in, the…

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Cream of Rice Pudding with Apricot Compote

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This cream of rice pudding is infused with orange blossom, rose, and nostalgia-inducing mastic. A decadent topping of apricot, saffron, and honey compote is the grand finale in this show of flavors. I love making this in the summer months as it provides for a delicate and cooling dessert on a hot evening.

This dessert is inspired by the flavors of both Levantine and Latin cultures. While the use of rice flour is inspired by my childhood experiences in Puerto Rico, the floral extracts and mastic are so characteristic of sweet side of the Levant. Mastic, also known as Arabic gum, is a resin that comes from the mastic tree. If you have ever had that delicious and sticky Arabic or Greek ice cream, you may find the refreshing cedar-like flavor familiar. A very small pinch goes a long way here – using more than that will result in a…

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A CHEF’S ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS – #4 THIS IS AN EGG

The egg is one of the most incredible pieces of food stuff that we get to play with as well as eat! I enjoy them at least three times a week by them selves.

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One of my favorite movies is the 1954 original version of Sabrina staring Audrey Hepburn. In the context of the story she winds up in Paris at the renowned Cordon Bleu cooking school. Trying to learn to become a more domestically seasoned cook, she is presented with one of her first classes – the instructor/chef begins:

“Bonjour, mesdames et monsiuers. Yesterday we have learned the correct way how to boil water. Today we will learn the correct way how to crack an egg. Now, an egg is not a stone; it is not made of wood, it is a living thing. It has a heart. So when we crack it, we must not torment it. We must be merciful and execute it quickly, like with the guillotine.”

-From Sabrina – 1954

What struck me about this (aside from the humorous portrayal of a pompous French chef) was the reverence paid…

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WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE A LINE COOK IN THE 60’S AND 70’S – PART II

A Chef’s Life!

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frenchieFrenchie – The Statler Hilton butcher – 1970

Don the banquet chef had his full crew in place by 10 a.m. – the work in front of them was daunting. With 12 events scheduled for the day culminating in the evening banquet for 1,200 there would be no time to waste. Fortunately, much of the prep work had been accomplished over the past two days, (potatoes washed and oiled, green beans snapped and blanched, salad greens washed and spun dry, salad garnishes done, 1,500 clams casino prepped, 2,000 risotto croquettes ready for breading, mountains of mushroom caps peeled and stuffed with duxelles, canapé spreads done, parsley washed and chopped for garnish, etc.), but the finishing and service coordination would still be monumental. Six of those events were just coffee hours in the early afternoon and two were private luncheons in the Beef Baron Restaurant, so that work would be handled…

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