Are you a movie buff? I am. But one of the downsides is that no matter the topic, there always seems to be a scene from a movie that provides just the illustrative image you don’t want to have. For caviar, there are two and both involve Tom Hanks. The first is the holiday party scene in Big, when Tom the boy/man digs into some caviar not knowing what it is and when he finds out, he pushes it out of his mouth in the way only a grossed out kid can. The other is in the romcom You’ve Got Mail when he and Meg Ryan’s character–also at a party–get into an argument after she discovers he’s the Fox of Fox Books trying to take her down and he starts scooping up all the pricey caviar garnish to eat just to irritate her.

Tom Hanks aside, caviar usually gets much more lofty treatment. In fact, it’s one of those foods that is considered elite and unreachable for the masses. And, sure, the good stuff… the really luxurious good stuff is. I can’t get enough of it when given the chance, but my budget prevents me from wildly indulging. And I’m sure that if you’re catering New Year’s parties or brunches you’re dealing with the same issue. But  I’ve come across a wide variety of caviars that are very tasty and pretty budget friendly. And I’m not talking about the questionable über salty jars of fish roe you’ll find on shelves at places like CostPlus. A visit to Whole Foods or specialty stores or shopping online should offer a variety of options that you can put on the menu without breaking the bank. And, honestly, is there any food more celebratory or that says Happy New Year more than caviar, especially when accompanied by a flute of champagne?

Here are some options:

California Caviar sells a lovely white sturgeon caviar called the Royal. It’s a sustainably farm-raised product from Northern California. The white sturgeon has a taste similar to Osetra. The roe is medium sized, dark, and with a sweet buttery texture. I can’t stop eating it with a spoon, but it’s delicious on a blini with crème fraîche and a little smoked salmon or tossed with butter in fettuccine. Buy some for a client cocktail party for guests to enjoy with sparkling wine or buy a package to give as a client gift.

Salmon roe, which you might recognize from Japanese menus as ikura, is easily found at Japanese markets. I can’t get enough of this roe. These big, juicy beads create a wonderful salty, tangy explosion when you bite into them. I’ve enjoyed these on scrambled eggs, on blini, on a bagel with cream cheese (best brunch dish ever), and as a topping on stuffed mushrooms. Those stuffed mushrooms also incorporated capelin roe, sometimes known as smelt roe–or masago on sushi menus–and  tobiko, or flying fish roe, which glistens like black diamonds in light. I blend the masago with sour cream and crème fraîche and chopped mushroom stems, which I used to stuff the mushrooms. Then I top the mixture with the salmon roe and a dab of tobikko.

You can also use the capelin roe to make taramosalata, a terrific Greek dip. Or use it for sushi or as a garnish. Both the capelin roe and tobiko are quite sweet and flavored with soy sauce.


Whole Foods carries several varieties of the Caviar Russe brand. Yes, you can get a pricey ounce of imported Caspian Osetra Russian sturgeon, but if that isn’t feasible, try the whitefish caviar from the Great Lakes region, salmon caviar or ikura, tobiko, or–what I took home and enjoyed–hardwood smoked caviar. Get your splurge back on with imported Siberian Russian sturgeon. You can buy online also.

And, if you have a vegetarian client, you can create dishes with Seaweed Caviar, sold by Fine Caviar.

Need blinis? You can also pick up a package of Caviar Russe’s cocktail blinis. They are easy to heat up quickly and, while not quite as good as homemade, they are just fine and make life a whole lot easier for a busy holiday party caterer.

Or, chefs, you can make your own. This recipe for buckwheat blinis comes from San Diego chef Ryan Studebaker.

Buckwheat Blinis
From Ryan Studebaker
Yield: About 12 blinis

Ingredients

2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup butter, melted but not hot

Directions

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add milk and egg yolk and whisk until smooth. Whisk egg whites to soft peaks and folk into the batter along with 2 tablespoons of the butter.

Brush a nonstick pan with butter and heat over medium heat until hot. Drop five to seven level tablespoons of the batter at a time onto the pan and cook until bubbles form (about 45 to 60 seconds). Flip the pancakes and cook an additional 45 to 60 seconds.

Serve immediately if you can. Otherwise, hold them at room temperate and reheat in the oven briefly later if needed.

Enjoy–and everyone at APPCA wishes you a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2018! Happy New Year!

Is caviar on the menu for your New Year’s catering or personal celebration? How do you like to enjoy it?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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We all like to know what’s trending, whether it’s fashion or film, streaming media or music. And, of course, food.

Google recently released its 2017 list of most searched items in a variety of categories–from people and global news to actors, elections, and songs/lyrics. It’s really fascinating. In fact, the number one search among all categories was Hurricane Irma. The top “how to”? How to make slime. Go figure.

One of the categories is recipes. Here you’ll have not only the top 10 recipes searched but also their links. Since we figure you like to be on trend, here’s a look at what people globally wanted to learn how to make:

1) Chicken breast recipe
2) Ground beef recipe
3) Poğaça tarifi (Turkish bread recipe)
4) French toast recipe
5) Kek tarifi (cake recipe)
6) Pork chop recipe
7) Spaghetti squash recipe
8) Coleslaw recipe
9) Pesto recipe
10) 餃子 レシピ (Dumpling recipe)

Let’s look at a couple of the recipes to get some insight into what was going on. For the chicken breast recipe, the greatest interest came from Canadians. That was followed by the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. The U.S. only came in at the fourth position, followed by New Zealand. Related to searching for your basic chicken breast recipe was searching for air fryer chicken breast recipes, followed by–of course–recipes for instant pot chicken breast recipes, then (surprisingly) airline chicken breast recipes, and finally in the top five, sous vide chicken breast recipes (four and five were the same, just worded slightly differently).

Canadians must be great recipe searchers because they were the top searchers for ground beef recipes, followed by the U.S. For Turkish bread, don’t get cocky–it wasn’t Turks; it was us! Jamaicans were the most interested in French toast. Filipinos were all over pork chops. Canadians, again, were most interested in spaghetti squash. Americans (!) were most curious about coleslaw recipes, but get this, Malta has the most interest in pesto recipes. American’s didn’t even make the top five. There wasn’t any info given for the cake or dumpling recipe searches.

Now what can you do with this knowledge? Well, it’s something to keep in mind as you’re menu planning, of course. Chicken breasts and ground beef are food items that are versatile and relatively inexpensive. Spaghetti squash is obviously a great substitute for pasta. Coleslaw is fast and easy to make and pretty inexpensive, too.

And pork chops… oh, pork chops. Pork chops are the only food that’s on Google’s list of most searched-for recipes in the world and list of most-searched for recipes in the U.S. Pork chops also made the list in 2016.

Pork Porterhouse Pork Chop with Garlic Sage Compound Butter

With that in mind, here’s my favorite way of making pork chops. This is a one-pound Pork Porterhouse Pork Chop with Garlic Sage Compound Butter that serves two. I buy these from a butcher because supermarkets generally wouldn’t carry these thickly marbled chops. The process is extremely easy. All I do is grill it on my stove top.

It begins with a 24-hour brining. I used a simple brine inspired by Chef Anne Burrell that includes kosher salt, fresh sage leaves, crushed garlic, sugar, and a bay leaf mixed in a quart of water. Stir it up, add the chop, cover, and refrigerate.

At some point between brining and cooking you can make a simple compound butter to add even more richness to the dish. Because my brine includes sage leaves from my garden, I stick with the flavor profile and make a compound butter with minced sage leaves, diced red onion, garlic, and sea salt. All you need to do is leave a stick of butter out until it’s room temperature, slice off about a tablespoon and melt that in a small saucepan.

Add the sage, red onion, garlic, and sea salt, and sauté gently until it’s just cooked through, about five minutes. Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a small bowl. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Then slice the rest of the butter, add the slices to the bowl, and thoroughly mix all the ingredients with a fork. Pull out a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap and place the butter mixture on it. Shape into a small log about an inch thick. Then fold the paper or wrap over the log and roll it a bit until it’s evenly shaped. Then fold up the rest around the log and refrigerate it at least an hour so that it’s firm (you can also make it a couple of days before). Remove it from the refrigerator before you begin cooking the chop.

When you plan to cook the chop, remove it from the brine and pat it down to remove the excess moisture. I also trim off much of the fat cap. Slather the chop in olive oil and, as Burrell suggests, sprinkle the meat with crushed red pepper flakes. Heat a cast iron skillet and when it’s good and hot, place the chop in the skillet and cover with a splatter guard.

Cook for four to five minutes on each side until the internal temperature is about 145° and then hold the chop vertically with a pair of tongs to grill the edge of fat. That’ll take about a minute. Remove from the skillet and let it rest. You should have a chop cooked medium rare.

Cut the meat off the bone and slice it. (Save the bone to gnaw on secretly later.) Place the slices on the cooked mustard and top with a couple of slices of the compound butter.

Are any of these among your top recipe searches? What is your favorite item on this list?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

 

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Every December Candy and I put together posts designed to help you address the big looming change in the calendar and get a fresh start on the new year. Some people want to build their business, some want to expand services. Others want to identify new ways to help their clients—perhaps bringing health or nutrition expertise to a specific range of people or simply deciding they want to be more efficient and rent commercial kitchen space for prep. And some chefs are looking to find more life/work balance for themselves.

Whatever your new ideas are for 2018, we want to help. We can start with the basics, getting you more focused with business plans that will help guide you through the year as well as a checklist for prepping for what’s coming. We can help you figure out marketing, if that’s an issue. We can provide you with inspiration from fellow members if you’re interested in specializing in a specific type of client or healthcare issue.

You get the idea. Since we’ve written about all these over the years I thought I’d put together a round up of these posts for you that are just as fresh and relevant now as when they were first written.

General Review:

End of Year Checklist: Start here for the basics—from reviewing and updating your business plan to reviewing your equipment and organizing records for taxes.

Making Changes in 2017? Tell Your Clients Now!: Candy addresses how to talk to clients about issues like price increases or other changes in service.

Time for Your Year-End Business Review: Candy’s advice for reviewing the past year and making plans for what you want to create in the new year—from how to enjoy your business more, evaluating your income streams, and marketing.

Is a Commercial Kitchen Right for You?: Most personal chefs travel to clients’ homes to prep meals, but some chefs are opting to rent commercial kitchen space. Here’s why and how.

Marketing:

Five Venues for Marketing Your Personal Chef Business: If you’re looking for marketing inspiration, check out these tips.

Can Public Speaking Help Your Business?: Members offer tips for getting started in public speaking

Are You YouTube Ready?: Here’s why you should start doing video to market your business—and how to do it, from fellow chefs.

Five Essential Marketing Tools for Personal Chefs: We get down to the basics, from photography and business cards to a Facebook page, good website, and chef’s coat.

Marketing Your Business Through Williams-Sonoma Chef Demos: Member Anne Blankenship explains how she got into doing demos at the retailer and how it works.

Specializing:

Serving Clients with Dementia: Christine Robinson and Dennis Nosko of A Fresh Endeavor Personal Chef Service talk about how they work with dementia clients and their family.

Cooking for Patients with Cancer: Member Gloria Bakst explains how she helps clients with cancer.

Cooking for Special Diets: Tom Herndon of Hipp Kitchen gives insights on cooking for clients with special needs.

How to Create a Vegan Menu for Clients: Here we learn from Jim Lowellbach of Custom Provisions about how he developed a vegan menu for clients.

Cooking for Seniors: Do seniors need personal chefs? Yes, and here’s why and how to best serve them.

Taking on Special Diets: A Personal Chef Challenge: Food sensitivities?: Yes, you can handle this. Learn how.

These are just some of the many posts we’ve written over the years to help you go further in your business and meet your life and professional goals. We have search capability so if you’re looking for more information, put it in the search engine and see what else comes up.

And if you have any questions or concerns about running your personal chef business, give Candy a call or shoot her an email. She loves to hear from you!

What have you got planned for 2018? Anything we can help you with?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

 

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One  of the things we have tried to reinforce for personal chefs as a way to increase business is raising your profile in your community. Now this can happen in a variety of ways–public speaking, chef demos, and teaching cooking classes, for example. But it can also take the form of media participation. If you’re doing something unusual, like helping an organization raise money you could send out a press release to local newspaper editors. You could also send out releases based on your professional expertise, such as a personal chef’s tips for how to manage holiday cooking. These could lead to stories written about you or inclusion in a larger piece. Just being out in the community could lead to media attention you weren’t even anticipating. Or you could strive to get a regular column in a local publication or website or contribute to a blog (like this one).

Three of our members have gotten some media love recently, and we thought we’d share each with you as inspiration for what you can do in your community–and to give them some blog love!

Heike Ashcroft

Heike Ashcroft runs Just for You Personal Chef from Boston’s South Shore. She was featured in Wicked Local Hanover in November. The story highlighted her personal training license and background in nutrition, how she runs her business, and even interviewed one of her clients, Catherine Hummel and her husband Andrew Danieli of Marshfield, who have been utilizing Ashcroft as their personal chef for a year and a half.

“’Heike is unbelievable in her caring, her creativity and professionalism…we have gained our life back,’ said Hummel.

“Hummel said the couple is saving about 15-16 hours a week by not having to cook themselves, and creating more quality time with each other.

“’It is absolutely the best decision we have ever made,’ said Hummel. ‘It saved our health, our energy… even saved our relationship.’”

Heike isn’t really sure how the local newspaper’s interest in her and her business came about. All the reporter could do was tell her she got the request to write the piece from her editor. But, Heike’s best guess is something you should keep in mind as you decide how to market your business:

“I catered for a local fundraising event in a town nearby; the fundraiser was advertised in the town’s paper and it mentioned me as the caterer,” Heike recounted. “A friend of mine actually sent me a photo of the ad and, funnily enough, two days later I received a request for the interview.”

Note to self: Accept fundraising catering gig. You never know what will come of it later in the form of publicity and business.

April Lee

April Lee is a long-time personal chef in Baltimore. She was included in a recent round up of food-related activities in The Baltimore Sun. The piece highlighted her business, Tastefully Yours Professional Chef Services by Chef April Lee, and focused on her in-home cooking classes.

“’When I teach people in their homes, they’re the ones who do the hands-on work, using whatever equipment they have,’” she says. “’During the lesson, I will make recommendations on how they can best use what they already own.’”

Like Heike, April still doesn’t know how the story came to be. “This is a local lifestyle magazine and they were doing an article about interesting things families could do together. I don’t know whether someone referred my name to them or whether they just googled me,” she said.

Carol Borchardt

Carol Borchardt of A Thought for Food in Memphis, however, knows exactly how she got her gig with Community Table by Parade Magazine. Carol, who had written a regular column for her local newspaper until earlier this year when the paper had to make cuts, has also branched out with a successful blog, From a Chef’s Kitchen. She has a huge social media presence that helps feed traffic to the site.

“Community Table by Parade Magazine invites people to apply to become paid contributors,” she explained. “That’s all I did!  They do like for people to have an active social media following such as 10,000 FB “likes.”  I’m only at about 7,800, however, they liked what they saw on my blog and saw my potential for growth so accepted me.”

Carol has been writing for Parade since last March. Recently, she wrote a round-up of Breakfast Casseroles from food bloggers, noting, “I can pretty much do anything food related.”

So, what’s the secret to getting this kind of attention?

April gives a lot of credit to having a robust and well maintained website. “I will say that it’s important to keep your website current and do what it takes so that your name/site comes up as one of the first few for your particular county/area … all that SEO stuff.”

Carol would advise anyone who is looking for media attention to get active in their local food community–going to events, helping out at events. She said that’s where the local news media is going to be and it’s prime time to get noticed.

“The way I got the newspaper gig was to become more visible and I met a local food columnist who in turn worked with the newspaper to get me the gig,” she said.

And, when one gig goes away–like that local column did for Carol–consider it an opportunity to take up something else. For Carol the time she spent on the column instead went into developing her blog, which, in turn, led to the Parade gig.

Heike is making the most out of the local story on her. She’s put a link to the article on her Chef Heike Facebook page and her website. And, guess what–following the article’s publication, she received business inquiries and is in the process of following them up.

“I am thinking of re-publishing the link on FB at the beginning of the new year as people will get back into their daily routine after the holidays and may have renewed interest,” she added. “I am also hoping to have the budget next year to re-design my website for it be to more interactive so that I can easily post recipes; links to news articles; or write short blog entrees. I am learning step by step to market my business on social media, and for now try to balance my time between cooking and posting and keeping a presence on FB and Instagram.”

She’s working it! And it may lead to future articles–or writing for publications herself, like Carol.

The big takeaway? Be out there, talk up your business and your achievements, and take advantage of opportunities–or create them yourself.

Have you been featured in your local publication? How did it happen and what did you then do with it?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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