You’ve read about Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center in this space many times before. They’re the sprawling oasis in National City that teaches primarily low-income children the joy and benefits of organic gardening and cooking–turning kids on to getting dirty to get veggies growing and then turning them on to eating the nutritionally packed veggies they grow. They also have fun educational events for parents and families, host herb and veggie plant giveaways, and even host yoga classes. It’s an exciting place and one where I’ve spent many many enjoyable hours as a volunteer cooking instructor. For more visit http://www.sandiegofoodstuff.com/2013/05/seedling-soiree-for-olivewood-gardens.html
Lifetime has picked-up the all-new reality-competition series, “Supermarket Superstar,” hosted by Stacy Keibler, in which aspiring food-product inventors will pitch their concepts to a panel of industry experts for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to have their creations launched nationally in a major grocery chain. The new series debuts this summer, and Lifetime has ordered 10 episodes.
Produced by The Weinstein Company (“Project Runway”) and Studio Lambert (“Undercover Boss”), “Supermarket Superstar” will feature contestants pitching their creations to three research-and-development mentors. As the mentors critique each idea from their professional points of view, each contestant must then further develop and refine every aspect of his or her product before presenting the final concept to a top supermarket buyer.
The winner of each episode will be rewarded with an investment in his or her product and a chance to return in the season finale, where one individual’s dream will be realized when his or her product receives a nationwide launch and is introduced to millions of customers in a major grocery chain’s stores.
One of the series’ R&D mentors is Chef Andrew Hunter, former vice president of culinary development for Chef Wolfgang Puck and owner of Culinary Craft, a culinary-development agency based in Los Angeles. Hunter calls the new series “the first show of its kind to feature R&D and the product-commercialization process for retail food products. This show will feature Culinology® in action for all the world to see. ‘Supermarket Superstar’ is a very exciting endeavor for our segment of the industry.”
“Culinology,” a term coined by the Atlanta-based Research Chefs Association, is the blending of culinary arts and the science of food. For more info on the increasing emphasis on the critical roles of R&D chefs, visit www.chefandrewhunter.com and www.culinology.org.
While chatting with Chef Bart Dorfman by phone today a topic came up that I have not addressed in the forums for some time, and Bart suggested I do so today, so here it is:
What is the difference between a personal chef service and other home meal replacement, meal delivery service; grocery store HMR pickup service; drive by restaurant pick up service and other HMR (home meal replacement) meals available in the market place today?
I’ve said many times for many years that what separates personal chefs from pick up or delivery service home meal replacements is the SERVICE aspect of our programs. Many times, personal chefs replace Mom or Grandma in the household from a standpoint of being that person who pays scrupulous attention to what the members of the family WANT and NEED to feel well and to feel supported.
Personal chefs are SCRATCH cooks using fresh ingredients. Personal chefs are giving their clients exactly what they want, exactly the way they want it to be enjoyed WHEN they want it.
Personal Chefs conduct an in depth assessment of each clients’ food preferences not only from a standpoint of what and how they like to eat, but also from a standpoint of allergies, sensitivities and flavor or ingredient prejudices. If a client dislikes an ingredient or is sensitive or allergic to an ingredient, we can guarantee that ingredient will never cross their threshold. I repeat, we can GUARANTEE it!
Delivery services pick up services and home meal replacements are designed and prepared for a broad-based palate and are intended to NOT offend clients who purchase them. In so doing, they actually manage to offend EVERYONE because the food tends to be bland in its makeup and its attempt to not offend anyone. Personal chef meals are palate specific to the client’s taste and the client’s requests.
Personal chef custom designed, palate specific meals taste exactly the way the client wants them to taste and reflect the client’s specific wants and needs. Further, their meals are most often prepared in the safety of the client’s kitchen where the personal chef is the guarantee of safe food preparation for the client’s peace of mind.
In today’s changing and aging population more and more people are being diagnosed with specific medical challenges or are simply reaching the realization that eating food that is NOT prepared from fresh ingredients or sourced from reputable NON GMO ingredients can have a negative effect on their health and well-being. A personal chef will do the research for the client’s needs and source ingredients from local purveyors who guarantee their safety. We are actively working to protect our clients from harm and contribute to their well being and the quality of their lives by providing nutritious, delicious meal support from safe food sources.
Many personal chefs work directly with local organic farms and CSA groups (community sourced agriculture) who provide weekly produce for residents of the community. Not every client will request this type of service, but for those who want to know where their produce, seafood and often meat are being sourced, personal chefs can tell them.
The world we live in is less than friendly sometimes. I have often said that if someone creates a “charm school” for retail clerks they will become very rich, because most retail clerks are surly, disinterested in the client’s needs or opinions and could really care less whether or not the client enjoys the experience of shopping in their establishment.
Personal chefs, on the other hand are actually asking their clients: What would you like, what do you need? I’ll get it and do it for you! Good grief, folks. We are a bright spot in their lives because we actually ask them want they want and then we GIVE IT TO THEM!!
Personal chefs ROCK, and our client’s are wise to be using our outstanding services to ensure their enjoyment of our custom designed healthy delicious meals in the comfort of their own homes and having the time back in their lives to enjoy dining with their family and loved ones.
As the world celebrated another Earth Day recently, research shows that America’s pork producers have made huge improvements in environmental management over the last 50 years. The research found that modern pork production methods have led to a 35% decrease in the carbon footprint, a 41% reduction in water usage and a 78% drop in land needed to produce a pound of pork compared with a 1959 baseline.
“As a pork producer, I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve made as an industry,” said Conley Nelson, National Pork Board president and producer from Algona, Iowa. “But today’s competitive market demands that we do even more to improve how we produce pork. That’s why pork producers are working together to fund new environmental research that will help us build on the progress we’ve made over the past 50 years.”
Several on-farm practices have helped improve U.S. pork’s overall environmental sustainability. These were primarily related to the continuous improvements made over the years in how farmers care for their animals through better nutrition, health and overall management, as well as through improvements in crop production. One example in the report shows that feed efficiency of pigs has improved 33%, which means that animals consume less feed for every pound of meat produced. This is a major factor that reduces both the amount of land required for growing grain and the amount of manure produced by pigs.
While the recent data on the sustainability metrics offer a positive reflection on past performance, Nelson said today’s pork producers are not standing still in terms of environmental progress. “To us, Earth Day is much more than a single day or week of heightened environmental awareness—it’s an engrained part of how we care for our animals, the environment and our communities as we provide healthy pork products for our consumers.”
The National Pork Board has defined four pillars of environmental sustainability—carbon footprint, water footprint, air footprint and land footprint. According to Nelson, the Pork Checkoff is making inroads into all of these areas with farmer-directed research and the creation of on-farm tools. Most notably, producers can now use the Live Swine Carbon Footprint Calculator to calculate the impact and improvements on their own farms. As each of the four pillars of environmental sustainability are completed they will be integrated with the others to provide a tool that pork producers can use to further their ongoing efforts to protect the natural environment in all of their farming activities.
For recipes featuring today’s pork, visit www.porkbeinspired.com.
Anne Willan, founder of École de Cuisine La Varenne and acclaimed cookbook author, on April 9 received both the Jane Grigson Award for distinguished scholarship and depth of research and the Culinary History Cookbook Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) at the association’s 35th-annual conference in San Francisco for her and husband Mark Cherniavsky’s book, The Cookbook Library: The Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook (University of California Press 2012).
Both awards recognize a cookbook that is distinguished by a variety of criteria, including the presentation and writing of recipes, editorial context and writing style, research and scholarship, design layout, overall quality, creativity and excellence.
This year’s conference, “Dirt to Digital: Real Food in a Virtual World,” brought together more than 600 chefs, cooking teachers, cookbook authors, journalists, food photographers and food marketers from around the world.
“I am so honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Willan. “This book has been a labor of love, and I can say without hesitation that this award has been one of the greatest achievements of my career.” The Cookbook Library: The Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook, is based on Willan’s and Cherniavsky’s extensive antiquarian cookbook collection. It was also awarded the Hall of Fame Award at the 2013 Gourmand Book Awards and Paris Cookbook Fair and was recently nominated for a 2013 James Beard Foundation Award.
Willan has had an extraordinary career in the culinary arts and is recognized as one of the world’s preeminent authorities on French cooking. She founded École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris in 1975. Her accolades include the IACP Lifetime Achievement Award, James Beard Foundation Award and Bon Appétit Teacher of the Year Award. Willan is also the author of more than 30 cookbooks. Notable titles include La Varenne Pratique; the 17-volume Look and Cook series; and The Country Cooking of France, which won two 2008 James Beard Foundation Book Awards.
Willan is also working on a memoir, to be published this autumn by St. Martin’s Press. Born in Newcastle, England, she now divides her time between Santa Monica, Calif., and France. For more information about Willan, her books and La Varenne, visit www.lavarenne.com. You can also follow Willan on Twitter @AnneWillan.
The IACP awards program includes four primary categories: the Cookbook Awards, the Bert Greene Awards, the Digital Media Awards and the Awards of Excellence. In addition to Willan, this year’s award recipients include well-known food and culinary thought leaders such as Marion Nestle; celebrity chefs such as Marcus Samuelsson and Charles Phan; and popular online sites, such as food52.com and saveur.com. For a complete listing of all award winners, click here.
Consumers will soon find more consumer-friendly names on packages of fresh pork cuts in retail meat cases across the country. The new names, such as the porterhouse pork chop, are designed to allow retailers to differentiate and merchandise pork cuts more effectively while aiding shoppers in selecting and preparing pork.
Before the renaming process took shape, the National Pork Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association collaborated on in-depth research over an 18-month period. The research showed consumers are often confused by the different names for similar cuts of meat and, as a result, do not know how to cook a variety of cuts now available in the meat case.
To overcome this challenge, the National Pork Board is working to simplify pork-cut names and include basic usage and preparation information on the package. Several cuts of pork will now match the names for similar beef cuts for easier consumer identification and preparation. New pork names to look for in the meat case include:
* Pork Porterhouse Chop (previously a loin chop)
* Pork Ribeye Chop, bone-in (previously a rib chop center)
* Pork Ribeye Chop (previously a rib chop)
* Pork New York Chop (previously a top loin chop)
The new cut names will eventually align with the foodservice industry, as well, to provide a consistent consumer perception of pork at restaurants and at home.
“Grill Pork Like a Steak”
Hand in hand with a simpler shopping experience comes simpler grilling advice. As the new cut names suggest by their alignment with popular beef steak names, pork is a great choice for the grill—and consumers can cook pork chops just like their favorite steaks.
For medium-rare to medium chops, the National Pork Board recommends grilling to an internal temperature between 145° and 160°F, followed by a three-minute rest. A digital cooking thermometer is recommended to help ensure an accurate final temperature.
For more information, visit www.porkbeinspired.com.
About a third of U.S. adults say they want to cut down or be free of gluten in their diets, the highest percentage making this claim since The NPD Group, a leading global information company, began asking the question in 2009. NPD’s Dieting Monitor reports that 30% of adults—or roughly one in every three—claimed to cut down on or avoid gluten completely in January 2013.
“For as long as NPD has been tracking the eating habits of Americans, which is since 1976, they have been expressing a desire to eat healthier foods and beverages,” says Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst. “It’s not that we want health and wellness more, but that we are constantly changing how we address health and wellness. A generation ago health was about avoiding fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium in our diet. While those desires still exist for many, they no longer are growing concerns. Today, increasingly more of us want to avoid gluten in our diet, and right now it is nearly 30% of the adult population … and it’s growing. This is the health issue of the day.”
Balzer points out that as recently as 2011, it appeared that this “health” trend might have run its course, but then more Americans started to say they would like to cut back or avoid gluten in their diets. With the latest information collected from NPD’s Dieting Monitor, a greater portion of the adult population is interested in cutting back on or avoiding gluten in their diets than ever before reported.
Interest in gluten-free menu items at restaurants is also growing. In NPD’s CREST® foodservice market research, which tracks daily how consumers use restaurants, consumers are asked if they ordered something off the menu that was listed as high protein, whole grain, sugar free or described in another way. The incidence of consumers ordering food described on the menu as gluten free or wheat free has grown over time and is now more than double what it was four years ago—accounting for more than 200 million restaurant visits in the past year.
Fresh fruit is not only the top snack food consumed in America, it is also one of the fastest growing, according to new snacking research from Port Washington, N.Y.-based The NPD Group, a global information company. NPD’s recently released “Snacking in America” report finds that growing concerns about health and eating right are contributors to the increasing popularity of fruit as a snack.
One of the reasons that fruit holds the top snack position is that it’s eaten throughout the day resulting in its inclusion in more snack occasions than other snack foods, according to NPD, which examined attitudes and behaviors about snacking as well as snack selection drivers. During the two-year period ending March 2012, fresh fruit was consumed as a snack in 10 more snack occasions a year than chocolate, the next top snack food, and 25 more occasions a year than potato chips, the third most-popular snack food.
NPD’s snack research finds that consumption of snack-oriented foods is motivated by different needs: health and weight, hunger satiety, on-the-go/convenience, routine/habit, cravings and a treat/reward when watching TV, visiting friends or other social activities. Fresh fruit ranks No. 1 in five of the six needs states: health and weight, hunger satiety, convenience, routine/habit and satisfying a craving.
Another factor contributing to the popularity of fresh fruit is that it is a favorite snack among all ages. Consumers 65 and older eat the most fruit, followed by children under 12. Teens, ages 13 to 17, eat the least amount of fruit, but their consumption increases as they get older.
An aspect of fruit consumers, other than their age, is the type of snacker they are. Healthier snack consumers snack more often between meals and eat a wider variety of healthy snacks, and fruit is their top go-to snack.
A national panel of expert judges named a Wisconsin Gouda as the 2013 U.S. Championship Cheese on March 13.
Marieke Penterman, of Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., took top honors out of 1,702 entries from 30 states for her Marieke Mature Gouda (pictured), aged six to nine months. Out of a possible 100 points, Marieke Gouda scored 98.31 in the final round of judging, during which judges re-evaluated the top 16 cheeses at an evening gala to determine the overall champion.
First runner-up in the contest, with a score of 97.89, is Tarentaise, a semi-hard alpine cheese made by Spring Brook Farm/Farms For City Kids Foundation in Reading, Vt. Second runner-up is Medium Cheddar, made by Team Cracker Barrel Natural Cheese, Agropur Weyauwega for Kraft Foods in Glenview, Ill., which scored 97.88.
“Every medalist should be extremely proud of being recognized as the best of the best in the largest national cheese competition ever held,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the biennial competition.
Capturing the most gold medals was Wisconsin, with 47 of the total 81 categories judged. Vermont and New York came in second among the states, with six golds apiece. Oregon had four gold medals, while California, Idaho, Illinois and Ohio all took three. Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico and Utah each captured one apiece.
The United States Championship Cheese Contest is the largest technical evaluation of cheese and butter in the country and is rooted in more than 120 years of history, beginning when the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association held its first cheese contest in 1891. In recent years, the event has flourished, more than doubling in size since 2001. This year, more than 30,000 pounds of cheese were entered into the contest.
For more information on the contest, as well as complete results for all 81 entry classes and contest photos, visit www.uschampioncheese.org.
APPCA Original Live Two-Day Personal Chef Seminar
April 13-14, 2013
L’Academie de Cuisine, Gaithersburg, Md.
The American Personal & Private Chef Association’s live two-day seminar, presented by Founder and Executive Director Candy Wallace, has set the gold standard for training in the personal-chef industry across the United States for the past 15 years.
Fee: $950. Participants receive all training materials, two days live intensive training, certificate of completion, one year membership in APPCA, full ongoing business support and much more.
ASK ABOUT A SPECIAL DISCOUNT TO STUDENTS AND ALUMNI OF L’ACADEMIE DE CUISINE.
Saturday, April 13: 8:30 a.m. –5 p.m.
Sunday, April 14: 9 a.m. –1:30 p.m.
For more info on the APPCA’s Original Live Two-Day Personal Chef Seminar—describing all the benefits of a full year of membership, which is included in the seminar fee—click here. Register for the Gaithersburg seminar via that link, or, contact the APPCA at (800) 644-8389 or email@example.com.