Stew3

With all the buzz in the last six months or so, you’d think that the Instant Pot was a brand new piece of kitchen equipment. In fact, Instant Pot Company, a Canadian-based company, was founded in 2008. The appliance itself debuted in 2010. Thanks to social media and huge deals from Amazon, though, Instant Pot has more recently become a sensation. There are user clubs on Facebook, bloggers who post Instant Pot-specific recipes, and vast numbers of postings on places like Pinterest and Instagram. 

With that in mind, we thought we’d ask one of our members who uses Instant Pot to explain why she does and how it’s working for her. Jennifer Zirkle, who runs The Ginger Chef in Michigan, loves hers. Read on to learn what it helps her with. And enjoy her GF Beef Stew Recipe:

Following social media these days can be an adventure but if you’re following food trends on your favorite sites you’ve no doubt seen mention of an Instant Pot. These electric pressure cookers seem to be the biggest trend launching 2017 and home cooks are in love with them. They’re part slow cooker, part pressure cooker, part rice cooker and part saucepan. As a personal chef, they can be incredibly versatile and free up some much needed stovetop space.

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I have been using my Instant Pot since September with amazing results. I’m working to become an expert in all of its many uses and I have found it to be such a time saver. My clients have reveled in the results of tender meats and stews that taste like they’ve been cooking all day. I’ve used it to make tender Osso Bucco, Wild Rice Chicken Stew, Beef Tips in Gravy, perfect Homemade Chicken Stock and even quick items like steamed green beans that turn out perfect. These little pots of magic combine the convenience of a crock pot with the speed of stovetop cooking. Perfect mac and cheese can be done in 15 minutes rather than 4 hours in a crock pot or even the multi-pan inconvenience of stove-top morney sauce and noodles.

Electric pressure cookers have many preset settings to choose from. Settings vary from model to model but most have a stew setting, rice cooker setting, beef, chicken, etc. Some models even offer you a customization tool to add more or less pressure or to add more or less time to each setting. For example, when making chicken stock, I set it to the “soup” setting and increase the time from 40 minutes to 100 minutes.

Recipes are popping up everywhere from Pinterest to even more reputable sites like Tasting Table https://www.tastingtable.com/cook/national/instant-pot-recipes-pressure-cooker?utm_medium=email&utm_source=TT&utm_campaign=Weekend&utm_content=Editorial

I’ve taken several of my favorite crock pot recipes and cut the time by a quarter. I’ve even taken my gluten- free beef stew recipe and given it an Instant Pot twist. I’ve included the recipe below. I encourage you to schlep the extra equipment to your next cook day.

Stew1

Gluten-Free Beef Stew for Electric Pressure Cooker

Yield: 2 to 3 quarts

Ingredients

2 pounds stew meat
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup rice flour
2 medium carrots, diced
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
6 cups beef stock
¼ cup sherry vinegar
1, 10-ounce bag mixed vegetables
Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions

  1. Season stew meat. Set Instant Pot to “sauté.”
  2. Add olive oil and stew meat. Brown meat to develop flavor.
  3. Add butter and rice flour. Stir to combine.
  4. Add carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, stock, and sherry vinegar.
  5. Place cover and set Instant Pot to “Stew.”
  6. Let Instant Pot run. When finished cooking, let pressure release naturally.
  7. Uncover and add mixed vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let vegetables warm thoroughly and serve or freeze for later.

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Are you using an Instant Pot for client service? What difference has it made to your cooking routine?

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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The first of the food prognostications for 2017 has been published. Sterling-Rice Group has identified 10 of what they call Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends for 2017. Here they are:

  1. Wake + Cake: Dessert no longer is served only after dinner. They cite two studies to justify dessert for breakfast. The first is from Syracuse University, which says a daily dose of chocolate improves cognitive abilities, such as memory and abstract reasoning. Tel Aviv University found that eating dessert after breakfast could help people lose weight.
    Jennifer Zirkle cake1
  2. Dosha Dining: The mainstays of Indian culture are spreading to the States. They cite the spice turmeric as an example, noting that turmeric serves as a consumer conduit into the ancient practice of Ayurveda, a holistic science focused on physical and emotional balance. Consumers will learn more about their doshas, or natural constitutions, and gravitate toward foods and practices that provide balance, reduce inflammation, and improve energy and stamina. Among the things to look for are dosha bars–three flavors corresponding to the three doshas (pitta, vata, and kapha); turmeric tonic, available as tonic shots and tea, to restore balance; and dosha pops, candy made as a cureall from herbal tea.
  3. Plant Butchery: We’ve cited this trend on our Facebook page. As Sterling-Rice Group notes, a new breed of butcher shops is emerging that caters to both vegans and meat lovers. Not only will display cases feature cuts of meat and chicken, but also plant-based mock versions of chicken, ham, meatballs, steak, and charcuterie. These plant-based foods go beyond seitan and soybean, but also feature chickpeas, corn, peas, legumes, and fungi.

    "Faux" Reuben

    “Faux” Reuben

  4. Food Waste Frenzy: We’ve also talked about this. What was once considered trash (stems, skins, pulp) are not products to be utilized. Think watermelon rinds, riced cauliflower stems, chips and burgers from discarded juice pulp, and vegan leather made from pineapple leaves.

    Charred leek greens salt

    Charred leek greens salt

  5. Snackin’ Sardines: Consumers, said Sterling-Rice Group, continue to fish for protein-rich snacks. Recent interest in Basque cuisine and the rise of Portugal as the newest destination for culinary and global exploration will drive sardines to the forefront. High in omega-3s, protein, and umami flavor, sardines simply served on crusty toast with lemon, garlic, and aioli make for an uncomplicated yet elegant addition to any snacking situation.
  6. Noodle on This: Noodles! It’s not just for spaghetti. Asian noodle traditions are becoming American favorites as consumers seek more authentic experiences. So we have Thai pad see ew, Vietnamese pho, and fresh Japanese ramen. Chinese lamian, or hand-pulled noodles, adds another layer of both taste and visual showmanship. Customers slurp their share while watching a master noodle-smith knead, stretch, and swing dough into strands for soup.
  7. Mocktail Mixology: Have clients who don’t care for alcohol? A category of upscale mixologist-created mocktails are being shaken and stirred for those who don’t care to drink alcohol every time they dine. Alternatives to the old standby of club soda and lime feature fresh-pressed juices, flavored teas, sipping vinegars, and macerated and muddled herbs, spices, and fruits. From nonalcoholic happy hours to standalone mocktail menus, beverages are being positioned as unique experiences that can be enjoyed sans the hangover. (Our favorites? Aged sherry vinegar from Spain and homemade shrubs)

    Berry Shrub1a

    Berry shrub with seltzer

  8. Goat! Get It!: Goat is the next go-to protein, says Sterling-Rice Group. Goats have a high ratio of interstitial collagen (the stuff bone broth devotees are bonkers over). The meat is also low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. Already 63 percent of the world is eating goat. It can be a great foundation for spicy and sour preparations, can be kosher and halal, and is sustainable to raise.
  9. Cook + Connect: The saying “sharing is caring” rings true with chefs, home cooks, and foodies alike who are taking advantage of the sharing economy, says Sterling-Rice Group. Smartphone apps like Eatwith and “Etsy for dinner” app Umi Kitchen connect eager eaters with communal dining experiences. And the fleet-farming movement allows others to farm your lawn in exchange for the opportunity to sell most of the produce.
  10. Migratory Meals: All over the world people are relocating, some by choice, others under duress. While host countries continue to face challenges associated with helping refugee populations, one area where these different groups are finding common ground is food, according to Sterling-Rice Group. By celebrating their unique cultural heritages and cuisines, refugee populations are beginning to carve out their own culinary connections with their new home countries. Look for menus that highlight cuisine with herbs and fresh flowers, orange blossoms, cardamom, fenugreek, sumac, pistachio, and pomegranates. Sounds familiar to those of us who live in San Diego, where multiple refugee populations have long settled and introduced older residents to new cuisines. Check out local markets to incorporate new-to-you ingredients into your dishes.

    Afghan sweet bread

    Afghan sweet bread

This is just the first of what will surely be many more prognostications for 2017’s culinary scene. We’ll keep you posted as we discover them.

What are some of the culinary trends you’re beginning to see in your region? Please share them with us below!

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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Rainbow Swiss Chard, The Morning Star Ranch3

If you’re working with clients who have type 2 diabetes, hopefully you’ve consulted with nutritionists and learned what a well rounded diet is to keep them healthy and happy. All the experts say the best foods for T2 diabetics—the “free” foods—are the green foods. Lettuces, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and the like. This isn’t to say they shouldn’t eat carrots, squashes, beets, string beans, radishes, sweet potatoes, or other vegetables. They absolutely should eat a rainbow of vegetables to get all the nutritional benefits. But many—like carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes—have higher carb counts so they can’t enjoy a free for all with them.

But if you think vegetables, especially greens = salad, stir fry, steaming, or boiling but nothing more imaginative, you couldn’t be more wrong. Here are some alternatives to the same old, same old.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Carol Borchardt’s Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Roasting vegetables could become your best weapon to beat veggie boredom. Your client may wince at the thought of eating Brussels sprouts, for instance, but roasting them brings out a whole other set of caramelized flavors. You can do the same with baby artichoke hearts in the spring and summer—just strip off the outer leaves till the light green ones appear. Broccoli, string beans, and asparagus also benefit from roasting, as does cauliflower. In fact, you can make “steaks” with cauliflower. Cut the head into thick slices, rub with olive oil and herbs, and roast. Red bell peppers are terrific roasted, skinned, then marinated in olive oil, herbs, and salt for an appetizer. Try steaming, then marinating eggplant in olive oil and garlic for an appetizer.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup

Soup can be a terrific way to eat greens. Add Swiss chard or kale to a mushroom barley soup or bowl of lentils. Or feature greens in its own soup. Don’t love the texture of broccoli? Want to change up asparagus? Chop it up and place it in a pot with low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock just to cover and a couple of chopped red potatoes. Add herbs, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are softened. Then either put the mixture in a blender or use a stick blender to create your own low-cal, low-carb creamy soup.

In the heat of the summer make a chunky gazpacho soup. Nothing could be better for you nutritionally and it’s packed with the bright flavors of tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, chiles, cilantro, and garlic. Want some protein with it? Add roasted shrimp or fresh crab.

Use greens as wraps instead of bread. It works at In ‘N Out. It’ll work for you. Slice roasted chicken or turkey, add some marinated veggies or pickles, wrap in Romaine and you’ve got a crunchy “sandwich.”

One of my favorite dishes to teach to kids in the kitchen is zucchini pancakes. But what we always do is list off other vegetables you can make the focus of pancakes. How about spinach or other greens? Or carrots? Or broccoli? Or turnips? Or a combination of favorites? The key is to shred them so they’ll incorporate into a pancake.

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes

Are you clients missing potato chips? Try kale and Swiss chard chips. Here’s a way to mix your greens and get your crunch. Wash and thoroughly dry the greens. Then strip leaves from the tough ribs and roughly chop the leaves. Toss with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees until crisp.

You know you can sub spaghetti squash or spiralize zucchini for pasta. But what about a substitute for rice or couscous? Cauliflower comes to the rescue. This is a neat trick I learned. Cut up the florets, putting aside the stems to snack on. Then put the florets into a food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse until the pieces look like little grains of rice. (Be careful that you don’t just run the food processor and it turns to mush.) You can use it raw, like a grain, tossed in a green salad. Or sauté the “cauliflower rice” in a little oil, then top it with tomato sauce for an extremely low-carb dish. You can freeze the raw “rice” to use later.

And don’t forget the smoothie. Most people assume smoothies are fruit based, but I like to mix it up with spinach and low-carb berries (frozen in the off season)—and a little banana. This is a perfect breakfast and for someone trying to make sure the day doesn’t go by without vegetables, you’ll know at minimum you packed in a couple of cups first thing in the morning.

How do you make sure your diabetic clients get enough greens? Share your favorite dishes!

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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CandyWallaceAPPCAheadshot (low rez)

This past weekend, Escoffier Online International Academy celebrated its 2016 graduating class online and our own Candy Wallace delivered the commencement address. Candy considers it to be a tremendous honor to have been asked to speak to the students, but it’s no surprise that they would invite her. After all, she has had close ties to Escoffier. In 2014 she was inducted into Disciples of Escoffier, and has been serving on the Advisory Committee of the Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts.

During her 12-minute talk, Candy reviewed her own culinary career and how, 24 years ago, she came to launch the then-new profession of personal chef. For Candy, it’s all about having options throughout your career. You may start on the line in a restaurant and love the demands and hours of that job. But maybe 10 years in or 20 your priorities change. Candy wanted to create an option for culinarians who wanted to continue to cook for people to be their own boss, have their own business, focus on their dreams–but in a way that suits their changed lifestyle or interests.

In her address, Candy emphasized the value of learning in the course of a culinary career. She told the graduates that if they’re entering the industry in a restaurant to learn something everyday. To volunteer to take on tasks. To keep your mouth closed and do what you’re asked and do it with joy. The time will come soon enough when your skills catch up with your opinions and your opinion will then be valued by a time-pressed executive chef.

And, throughout your career, she said, “Read, watch videos, travel if you get the chance. Developing a global palate is a lifelong journey that you’re going to enjoy. Get out, look around, taste, and talk to the farmers and chefs and fishermen you encounter in your travels and learn.”

Candy also did a special call out to one of our valued APPCA members, Beth Volpe of Savory Eats by Beth in Glendale, California. Beth, she said, had joined APPCA and launched a successful personal chef business but wanted to have official culinary credentials, so she asked Candy for advice. Candy suggested Beth enroll in the Escoffier Online International Academy. Beth did so the next day and now she was one of the graduates Candy was congratulating in her commencement address. “She kept her word and did the work. I’m proud to call her my colleague,” Candy said.

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It turned out that shortly after the delivery of the address, Candy received this note from Beth:

Hi Candy,

At 8:00 am this morning Joe (my husband) and I settled in with our coffee to watch Graduation.  I was very excited for him to hear you speak and put a name to the face.  You are obviously my mentor and he has heard me talk forever about you and your success. Your speech was so fantastic and outlined your journey and the culinary path of being a personal chef. Needless to say we both about fell off the couch when you mentioned me. And at the same time started tearing up. We were so shocked and so humbled and proud. I can’t thank you enough for such a mention. I feel so honored and am still in awe. You have certainly made our day, our month, our year. 

I had my family watch this graduation ceremony not knowing that I would be mentioned and they too were thrilled.

Thank you for remembering me.  You changed the course of my life and allowed me to make the dream come true.

With warmest regards and XOXO

Beth

We hope that as you search for your culinary direction you consider all your options–there are so many now–and that a grounded education is your first step. And if your journey is to become a personal chef, that you get in touch with Candy at APPCA so that she can help guide you on your path and give you the help you need to establish and run a thriving business. We hope that watching her address below gives you the inspiration you’ve been looking for to take your next steps!

Are you considering a culinary career? What is your passion when it comes to food and cooking? Is being a personal chef an option for you?

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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beat-slay-love-cover=final

We thought we’d take a break, have some fun this week, and give you a behind-the-scenes look at how a group-written mystery came to be. And who doesn’t love a good mystery! If you do–and you also enjoy the mystique of chef culture–you’ll love this newly published literary romp by a quintet of five mystery authors, one of whom is San Diegan Taffy Cannon, whom I got to know after moderating a writer’s panel earlier this year. Beat Slay Love by Thalia Filbert (Thalia Press/$14.99) is a marvelously gruesome comic mystery that follows the serial murders of chefs across the country in ways that will never let you look at food preparation in the same way again.

Nebbishy food blogger Jason Bainbridge tag teams with FBI agent Kimberly Douglas to suss out who the unpredictable killer is. A disastrous filming of “Kitchen Turnaround” in New Jersey launches the story, which then heads to Montana for a taping of “Love Bites” that meets a grisly end. The murders continue in Maine at “Lobstavaganza,” followed by death at an Austin barbecue competition. You’ll also hit San Diego and New Orleans, and then land in New York at the celebrated Chelsea Market where a Food Network-like show is being taped and culminates in a gruesome discovery nonetheless written for laughs.

All the while you’ll be immersed in an out-there view of chef culture, replete with inflated egos, kinky sex, and cut-throat competitiveness. It’s a wild, witty, enjoyable ride that has a remarkably consistent voice, given how many cooks prepared this delicious broth. And these cooks—Cannon, Kate Flora, Lise McClendon, Katy Munger, and Gary Phillips—were clearly having a great time playing together in their literary kitchen.

“The idea came up in email discussions about three or four years ago, after we published an e-collection of short stories called Dead of Winter,” recalls Cannon. “I have no idea who first had the idea, but I was busy with other projects at that time. Also I didn’t see how it could possibly work, since we live in San Diego, LA, Montana, Maine, and North Carolina — and were working without an outline. The project began with a theme — somebody killing the celebrity chefs of television — and a vague notion of the killer. From there on it was a leap of faith.”

The four other participants each wrote a section, says Cannon, and then in June 2014 she was given a chance to read it and sign on if she changed her mind. Well, she loved what they were doing and immediately joined in.

Taffy's Touch of Tarragon

Taffy’s Touch of Tarragon

“We would send the manuscript around in order and each person would add material,” Cannon says. “Sometimes it would be brand new, sometimes it would be inserted in what had gone before, and always it would introduce new material in some fashion. I continue to be proud (and astonished) that it all came together so well at the end.”

One author wrote the beginning and concluding chapters. The rest went through a couple of rounds and then everyone had the opportunity to edit the entire manuscript—and everyone had to agree that they were finished, which it was by August 2015. Then Cannon’s daughter, a professional proofreader, reviewed it. Cannon says it was a totally amicable process.

In case you missed the play on words, the title is a send up of course, on the bestseller Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Cannon says it went through a couple of revisions before they settled on the final title. When the collaborators started talking about using a pseudonym, Thalia seemed natural since they are all blog participants in the Thalia Press Author Coop. Filbert, she says, was close to Gilbert, “and also a little nutty.”

Even the cover design was a group effort, says Cannon. McClendon, one of the founders of Thalia Press designed the cover, with much group input. And Cannon wants to make sure that she also gets due credit for cooking the bacon on the cover.

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We’re very proud of the efforts made by our Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter (MARC) to bring our members in the area together as an additional resource to network and share information. This year, Shelbie Wassel of Shallots Personal Chef Service in Owings Mills, Maryland is the chapter president and she organized and hosted their recent spring meeting. Shelbie has written a wrap up of the meeting and Carol Borchardt of A Thought for Food in Memphis supplied us with photos. Thank you both for your contribution!

Our MARC group celebrated the arrival of spring with a two-day meeting based at my home, but with a number of outings and speakers.

Sipping margaritas

We began with dinner Friday night at a funky little restaurant called Alchemy in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. The next morning the meeting went into full swing with over 20 attendees from New York down to Virginia. We also had Chef Carol Borchardt visit us from Memphis!

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Judy Harvey's tuna-stuffed eggs

After a breakfast that featured homemade gravlax with bagels ( a special thank you to Judy Harvey for making the tuna stuffed eggs, when I ran out of time) and a beautiful breakfast cake made by Chef Peggy Haser, we held a short business meeting. Laura Knight (A Knight’s Feast) reviewed our bank account and we elected Keith Steury (The Food Sherpa) as our new secretary. We also had the group quite excited when we announced the current planning of a trip to Alsace, France to be hosted by MARC member, Chef Bernard Henry.

Presentation

Our keynote speaker was Joan Norman, owner and operator of One Straw Farm, one of the largest farms in the state. The farm not only services many of the finest restaurants in town, but also runs a huge CSA. Joan shared stories of her 30 years in the farming business and discussed the use of biodegradable mulch film and how that distinguishes her farm from those that claim to be 100 percent organic.

Our next speaker was Dara Bunyon, a local Baltimore food blogger, whose business, Dara Does It, dabbles in all things food. She shared interesting tidbits from her blogs, such as the top items that people steal from restaurants! (Not just salt shakers!)

Our third speaker for the morning, MARC’s very own, Lettie Lavalle (Leave Dinner to Lettie), is also a social media expert. Lettie walked us through the confusing maze of various sites and helped to demystify the ever-growing world of social media and how it relates to personal chefs.

Featured salads

Lunch time provided an opportunity to chat with friends and enjoy an all-salad buffet that featured a duck confit salad over baby greens and spinach with dried cherries and a curried chicken salad with homemade mango chutney as an accompaniment.

After lunch, Mary Stewart and her daughter Katie Enterline of The Grateful Table presented a kitchen demo for us. Mary prepared individual lemon curd soufflés, similar to chocolate lava cakes. Katie demonstrated her whipped cream, using coconut milk in lieu of heavy cream. OMG! I guarantee that this will become my dinner party dessert of choice! Beautiful and delicious!

Lemon Curd Souffle demo

Our next event, included a lovely drive through horse country to reach Bastignati Winery. We sampled five wines…some very nice, some not my thing! However, several of us purchased bottles to go.

Winery

Our evening concluded with a potluck dinner, prepared by the attendees. If you have never attended a potluck prepared by personal chefs, then you are missing a treat! Amazing starters included Jim Huff’s bacon jam, Sharon and Bruce Cohen’s Tuscan tomato bread soup, and Mary Stewart’s risotto cakes. Dinner followed with Ayisha Jones’ fig jam tenderloin and Keith Steury’s Asian pork BBQ. Sides included Laura Knight’s asparagus salad and Marta Mirecki’s  fennel radicchio salad. April Lee generously provided an amazing collection of wine, including a lovely chocolate dessert selection.

crabcakes

Our next meeting is scheduled for October 2 to 3, 2015. MARC meetings are open to members of the APPCA in good standing!

Why do we do this? Well, we’re a group of people who truly enjoy each other’s company. We’re brought together through our membership in APPCA and have much in common. Personal chefs are people who love food and travel, and therefore have a zest for life. I think chefs by nature are passionate, artistic people who have a nurturing desire to please others by feeding them. Put all those qualities together in one room and you are bound to have a good time! The meetings we hold allow us to recharge our professional batteries and share work experiences with those who understand the ins and outs of the profession.

Doesn’t this sound like a great opportunity in your area? If you’re an APPCA member, let us know if you’d like assistance in forming a chapter in your part of the country.

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.

 

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APPCA member Lola “Dee” Dondanville has run her personal chef business, Just Deelicious, since 2012. Her Bullhead City, Ariz.-based company does mostly special occasion gatherings (not much call where she is for weekly service, she says) and supplies healthy lunches for several non-profit organizations. She also writes a healthy food blog called What’s Cooking, Healthy Cooking by Lola Dee. When she told us that she’d been asked to speak at an elementary school career day about being a personal chef, we just had to get her to share her experience. Here it is:

I received a call in January from one of our local elementary school teachers, inviting me to speak at career day at Sunrise Elementary, here in Bullhead City, Ariz., where I live and work. She found my name by googling “personal chef” for our area. My name popped up on the APPCA site, as I happen to be one of the only personal chefs listed in Mohave County, Ariz. She asked me to create a 30-minute presentation for three successive groups of 4th through 6th graders. My assignment was to not only give information about being a personal chef, but to directly relate it to math, science, and English. Of course, I planned on doing some preaching about healthy eating too! Brilliant!

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I was excited and honored to be invited. As it so happens, Sunrise Elementary is a beautiful new school, just around the corner from my home. Once I found the right door and made it through security, I was greeted by some of my fellow presenters, the proverbial butcher, baker, and candlestick maker. I met a doctor, the county coroner, (forensics is a popular career), a lawyer, firemen, EMT’s, a pastry chef from Harrahs, and many others. We made our way into the auditorium to the assembly of the entire student body featuring a pep talk presented by our Parks & Recreation Director, a Bullhead City native.

The enthusiasm and sheer energy coming from a room full of elementary school students is palpable. I began to feel a rush of happy energy just being in their presence. It was near Valentine’s Day, so my bright pink chef’s coat and chef hat with my custom embroidered heart logo that means “Cooking From the Heart” were very appropriate! The kids responded so positively, and were so excited, gazing at me with beaming faces and smiles.

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After the assembly, I was shown to “my” classroom, where I would be making my presentations. As it turns out, I was assigned to the art teachers classroom, and she happens to be the daughter of a good friend and colleague of mine! Janet made me comfortable, and set me up with a table, erasable board, and everything I needed for my presentation.

The first group filed in, all bubbly and excited. The first question I asked the kids was, “So who wants to be a chef?” Almost every single child raised their hand excitedly, which really tickled me. I then began my presentation, covering all my bullet points followed by a question-and-answer period. I shared personal stories, about my background of childhood poverty and divorce, and how my single mother of five was the original Martha Stewart. I described how my Mom/role model did organic gardening, cooking, canning, baking, sewing, crafts, remodeling, and so much more. The kids could relate to this, as many are experiencing hardships in their own lives. They began to open up and share stories of their own. It was very touching!

I was easily able to connect a personal chef career to the value of knowing math by doing examples of math problems for costing meals, and the exact formulas we use to be profitable. Food safety and baking were my examples of science. Vocabulary was utilized by discussing all the words and terms we use in cooking. I emphasized hard work, self esteem, responsibility, business management, marketing, sales, and customer service, in addition to the cooking skills. I, of course, pitched healthy eating and  cooking. My healthy eating mantras for the kids were: “Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Find the ones you like and eat them often” and “Cook real food at home with your family.”

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The second group was equally enthusiastic, but by the time the third group came in, they were getting restless, so it took more energy to keep them captive. They were really excited about getting their photos taken and being featured on my blog, Facebook, etc. It made them feel famous, as they all seem to watch TV cooking shows. 😀

I think the most poignant memory of the day for me was from a sweet young Mexican boy, 11 years old, who very seriously told me he needs to take care of his family and look after his mother. He told me his mom is a very good cook and wanted to know if I could hire her if I needed some kitchen help, but told me she does not speak much English. Such a sincere, sweet and caring young boy, trying to help his mom. It really melted my heart.

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That’s about it. I was so jazzed the rest of the day. Being around these kids was so uplifting and fun. I would recommend this experience for any of my fellow chefs if you get the chance. It is both fun and uplifting, and is great marketing as well. As personal chefs, it really gives us validation to be included on career day, alongside other chefs with prestigious careers. It also puts your good name and brand out there for potential bookings. As you can see I hung up my sign and also handed out cards.

Lola Dondanville, aka “Lola Dee” because Dondanville is way too long, 🙂

Are you sharing your personal chef career experiences with the next generation?

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.

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Ten Food Trends to Watch in 2015

Filed under: Bites & Bits , Author: Caron Golden , November 20, 2014

Ever wonder how those food trend predictors come to their conclusions? CBS News interviewed culinary director Kara Nielsen of Sterling-Rice Group, a brand development company which recently released its trends predictions. She tells CBS that their research evaluates culinary shifts and the evolution of consumer behavior. She also looks at societal forces shaping the future of the country, “including aging baby boomers who are increasingly focused on their health; entrepreneurial millennials looking for opportunities to start new types of food businesses; as well as the growth of Asian and Latino communities with their own strong culinary traditions.” And, she notes, that food trends are also influenced by core values, including the desire for joy, adventure, and community.

So, according to SRG, what will be in the markets and on restaurant menus next year? They fall into 10 broad groupings:

1. Advanced Asian: Forget “Chinese” or “Japanese.” Instead, we’ll be seeing more complex and true-to-region Asian foods. It’s spicier and funkier, appealing to the “advanced” Asian food lover. Diners will be discovering Northern Thai cuisine, Japanese okonomiyaki pancakes, and the tangy flavors of Filipino foods.

Matcha latte bar

2. Matcha Madness: The quest for vitality will lead to Japanese matcha, a nutrient powerhouse green tea that’s hitting the market in convenient formats. Made from crushed green tea leaves, matcha is full of antioxidants, L-theanine and beta carotenes. Next year’s go-to energy and wellness beverage offers a calming energy with less caffeine than green tea, but with more nutritional benefits. These include sparkling match tea, sweets, baked goods with matcha, matcha-based sauces.

3. Cannabis Cuisine: Being in Boulder, says SRG, gives them unique insight into the, uh, budding edible marijuana trend. Forget pot brownies, today’s edible come in many forms, including confections, bars, simple syrups, and even bottled cold-brewed coffee. Cookbooks, cooking classes, and online reviewers legitimize the burgeoning industry, which already has a food truck.

4. Hop-Free Suds: Countering the surge of IPAs, brewers are taking a cue from their medieval predecessors and using herbs, spices, and other bitter plans to provide flavor balance and aroma to beer instead of hops. These seasonings, or gruits, include mushrooms, sassafras, rosemary, tea, hemp, and even reindeer lichen, yielding intriguing flavors instead of hoppy bitterness.

Yakatori

5. Incendiary Charcoal: With more grilled Asian foods, like yakatori, more chefs are turning to ancient styles of charcoal. Japanese charcoal, or bonchotan, is kilned oak that burns at 1,652 degrees to 2,92 degrees in a clean, odorless, and smokeless way that allows food to cook fast and retain natural flavors. Thai charcoal can do the same. Beyond the grill, charcoal is also coloring breads, crackers, lemonades, and even beauty products.

6. Local Grain Network: Regional grain economies are growing with farmers raising small-scale alternative grain varieties and selling them to local bakers, brewers, chefs, and consumers, who are in turn using mills to grind fresh flour for bread, pizza, and pastries. With more farmers’ markets selling locally grown grains, expect a bigger demand for countertop mills, grain-milling appliances like the Vitamix Dry-Grain Container and Wolfgan Grain Mill, and products made from fresh-milled flour in 2015.

7. Coconut Sugar Sweetness: Sugar, says SRG, is in the doghouse these days and has many gravitating toward less processed sweeteners like coconut sugar. Made from coconut blossom nectar, it has a lower glycemic index than white sugar and more nutrients, making it perfect for granolas, confections, and spreads in the natural channel. Coconut sugar also appeals to sweet-loving Paleos and home cooks making Southeast Asian recipes. You’ll find it in Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola, Kika’s Treats Salted Caramels, and Hope Foods Chocolate Spreads.

8. Farm-to-Table Kosher: Milennial Jews, seeking to eat in a more sustainable, conscious, and cultural way, are starting to keep kosher, supported by a rise in small businesses offering better tasting, better sourced, and more varied kosher far. These include artisan Jewish delis, handrafted bagel shops, and restaurants that also appeal to non-Jews attracted to food that seems cleaner and purer.

9. Hunger Games: Restaurant Edition: What combines communal dining, pop-up restaurant novelty, chef competitions, and crowd-sourced creation? It’s incubators that support aspiring chefs with kitchens, dining spaces, and marketing power.

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Kohlrabi

10. Ugly Fruit and Vegetable Movement: In line with growing concerns over food waste, this French-born trend gives misshapen and funny-looking produce a place at the table and in recipes where looks don’t matter. According to Nielsen, “People around the globe are uniting to find new ways to reduce food waste. Efforts are already underway here to raise awareness to this issue and to find resourceful ways to manage our food supply and feed the hungry at the same time.”

Buddha's Hand-Creekside Tropicals

Buddha’s Hand

Not feeling moved by these trends? Then check out Andrew Freeman & Co.’s annual trends list for restaurant menus. You’ll find scrambled eggs, more spice, more flavor through less fat, meat spreads, Spanish flavors, and more.

What trends do you see occurring in your food community? How might you take advantage of some of the trends SRG forecasts?

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.

 

 

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On Oct. 19 one of the most prestigious moments of my culinary career took place when–with the smack of a spatula–I was inducted into the Disciples of Escoffier. At a magnificent gala at the InterContinental The Clement on Cannery Row in Monterey (which I actually also co-emceed along with Disciple and Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Mary Chamberlin), nine of us were brought into this premier international gastronomic society, established in France, which honors the memory of Auguste Escoffier, the father of modern French cuisine. The society’s mission is to promote and preserve his work, and promote culinary education and apprenticeships encouraging young people to discover the desire and motivation to work as professional chefs.

Escoffier Gathering of the Gourmands

Proceeds from the gala, hosted by The American Institute of Wine & Food and Les Dames d’Escoffier Monterey chapter are slated to provide a full culinary scholarship to a Northern California student to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. My friend Michel Escoffier, Auguste Escoffier’s great-grandson, oversaw the induction.

Michel Escoffier

And, in fact, I received my Red Disciples of Escoffier chef sash from him, as Mary looked on.

Candy being inducted by Michel Escoffier

So, what kind of company was I in? The other inductees included:

  • Executive chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se
  • Chief Pierre Bain of Fandangos
  • Executive Chef Nathan Beriau of the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco
  • Wine Producer and Owner Bill Stahl of River Ranch Vineyards
  • Chef Tene Shake, President of the American Culinary Federation
  • Executive Chef Robert Mancuso of the Bohemian Club
  • Chef John Pisto, Restaurateur and host of “Monterey’s Cookin’ Pisto Style”
  • Executive Chef Ben Diaz of Rosa Mexicano

Induction Ceremony

Additionally, Chef Cal Stamenov of Bernardus Lodge & Spa, and a Disciple of Escoffier, was honored. And, Mary presented a donation to chef Paul Lee from the Drummond Culinary Academy at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, a Salinas nonprofit that works with at-risk youth, teaching them the skills to work in our local culinary and hospitality industry. Dennis and I donated a full live seminar experience, a year’s personal mentoring, and a full year membership in APPCA to a graduate of the Drummond Culinary Academy.

Candy's induction

As wonderful as the event was–and it was special–my take aways from being inducted into such a high-profile and exclusive culinary society are two-fold. Personally, it was a humbling, enlivening, and deeply meaningful experience. Only the cream of the culinary industry is ever considered or invited to participate in this society that protects and practices the legacy, philosophy, and culinary skill of Auguste Escoffier. I simply didn’t see it coming, especially since traditionally they haven’t inducted women. So, it was enlivening from the standpoint that I am one of the few women–and the only one in this group–inducted into the society to date. And, of course, it was meaningful as a public recognition of a lifelong career that has focused on establishing a different kind of career for chefs.

That, in turn, makes this an honor that reflects on the worthiness of our organization and the success of our members. It’s a clear validation of the personal chef career path. It’s validation that the level of skill and commitment to professionalism held by personal and private chefs is as real as it is for executive chefs in the commercial kitchens of the finest restaurants and hotels and private clubs throughout the world. The Disciples of Escoffier recognize this–and recognize the value of our organization as a means of building, promoting, and protecting this career path. In being honored with this induction into this great society, APPCA and its members have also been honored.

Wine opener

Now I can’t duplicate the breathtaking champagne toast by saber from that evening, but I raise a virtual glass to all of you, our APPCA members, who have also dedicated your lives to a career that seeks to bring joy, health, and well-being to clients through the food we create for them. Whenever you have a moment when life is just too crazy or you’re feeling frustrated–and we all have them–you can fend off that negativity by telling yourself that you are doing good work and that your path has been acknowledged by the best in your industry as being special and worthy of the highest honor.

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.

 

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Amy DiBiase of Tidal

One of San Diego’s most talented chefs is Amy DiBiase, now executive chef at Tidal, the beautifully renovated restaurant overlooking the San Diego Bay at Paradise Point Resort & Spa. Our friend and food writer Caron Golden often spends time in the kitchen with San Diego chefs and she recently had kitchen time with Amy, who shared with her the technique for making ricotta gnudi. While this is a year-round dish, somehow it seems especially delightful as the weather takes on a chill, so we thought we’d share this recipe with you.

The gnudi are easy to make and pair with a variety of sauces. Here we’ll show you Amy’s pairing with lamb, eggplant, and zucchini, but really, you can top it with any sauce you’d use with pasta. We love that this dish is also low carb, meaning this could be a special treat for clients dealing with type 2 diabetes. Amy uses durum wheat flour to coat the gnudi, but if you have clients with gluten issues, you could probably substitute wheat flour with a gf flour without it suffering.

So, here are the basics. While gnudi feels like pasta it’s really is cheese coated in flour. Essentially you beat together the cheeses with a sparkle of fresh lime zest and salt and pepper, pipe it into a bed of ground durum and cover it up with more of the durum.

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Let it rest, refrigerated, for 36 hours so it forms a shell that encases the cheeses. Rub off the excess durum and pop the gnudi into boiling water for about four minutes.

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Then serve with your sauce. Bite into a gnudi and what bursts from the durum skin is a warm, creamy texture with a mild flavor from the trio of cheeses. You could easily add fresh herbs like chives, thyme, or a touch of rosemary or spices like nutmeg, cardamom, or sumac to create your own flavor profile.

On this day, Amy showed Caron her current menu sauce–roasted eggplant puree with zucchini, tomato, braised lamb, and black olives. While making the sauce, she warmed the already-prepared puree in a shallow bowl in the oven.

In a skillet, she sauteed the zucchini in olive oil. Then she added the shredded braised lamb shank and a hank of butter. Once the liquid had reduced and the gnudi were cooked she dropped them into the pan briefly with the halved tomatoes. Out came the bowl with the eggplant puree and over that went the gnudi with the sauce. Then she added fresh basil before garnishing the dish with the Moroccan black olive puree.

Ricotta gnudi is also the perfect dinner party dish. Make it ahead of time up to the point where you boil the gnudi. Then serve family style on a platter with a salad and perhaps big bowl of steamed clams or mussels, and a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.

Ricotta Gnudi
From Amy DiBiase

Serves six

1 pound ricotta
8 ounces marscapone
4 ounces grated parmesan
zest of one lime
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag fine ground durum wheat flour (you can substitute all purpose flour)

*Note, the proportions of the cheeses are 1 part ricotta to 1/2 part marscapone to 1/4 part parmesan cheese. Amy says the easiest way to measure is to buy a 1 pound container of ricotta. Empty that into a bowl, then use the container to measure the marscapone and parmesan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients but the durum wheat flour until they just come together.

Spread a one-inch deep layer of flour into a casserole dish. Using a piping bag, pipe the gnudi straight onto the flour in the shape of a large Hershey’s kiss (don’t swirl like a Dairy Queen ice cream cone). You’ll probably need to use a clean finger to push the dough off the tip of the bag with each gnudi. Keep them about an inch apart.

When you’ve filled the dish with the gnudi, cover them completely with more durum flour. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 36 hours.

When you’re ready to serve them, put a pot of water on to boil. Add salt to the water. Uncover the gnudi and remove them from the durum flour. Gently brush off excess flour. When the water comes to the boil, add the gnudi. They should boil no longer than 4 minutes (cook too long and they’ll fall apart). The key is that they’ll begin to rise to the top of the pot.

Drain the gnudi and add to your sauce. Garnish and serve.

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What’s your favorite fall dish to prepare for clients?

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 don’t forget to tune in to Lifetime TV’s The Balancing Act this Wednesday and Oct. 22 from 7:30 to 8 a.m. EST/PST. I’ll be on the show to talk about women in the culinary industry and how they can achieve an industry-recognized culinary certificate online through our partner Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy.

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