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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Escoffier Online graduate Christa Ruvolo, Julie Moran, and Candy Wallace on the set of The Balancing Act

Well, this is a treat! I’ll be appearing on Lifetime TV’s award-winning show The Balancing Act on Oct. 15 and 22. The segment I’m on will be geared toward educating women on the culinary industry and pastry arts, as well as inform them as to how they can achieve an industry-recognized culinary certificate online from APPCA’s partner Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy. In fact, I’ll be joined by an Escoffier graduate and new APPCA member Christa Ruvolo. She’ll discuss her journey through the program and how it gave her the opportunity to manage the dining facility at a large Marriott property in Orlando. And, she’ll prepare a couple of dishes on the show.

Here’s a preview.

So, how did this come about? Well, as a member of the August Escoffier Schools’ International Advisory Committee, I’ve been a proponent of online education for years. I truly believe that affordable education should be available to all who are interested and committed to learning. I support the efforts of and programs developed by the Auguste Escoffier Schools to deliver realistic, affordable culinary training. When students successfully complete the program, they receive an industry-accepted professional certificate that enables them to pursue a career in the culinary industry.

BalancingAct_Lifetime

This meshes perfectly with The Balancing Act, which is geared toward bringing busy, on-the-go women positive solutions and cutting-edge ideas to help balance their busy lives. On the show, host Julie Moran interviewed Christa and me about how woman who are seeking realistic, attainable careers that will afford them the opportunity to support themselves and their families–as well as fulfill their spiritual and emotional goals–can go into the culinary industry. Let’s face it, traditional culinary education can be both time consuming and expensive. We explain how the Escoffier online training is not just affordable, but allows students to complete the program on their personal time schedule so that they can move forward in months, not years.

Christa's salmon dish on The Balancing Act

Christa’s salmon dish on The Balancing Act

Christa personifies this track. This is a second career for her. She’ll tell you herself how well the online training program worked for her–and she’s going to prepare some delicious dishes that showcase her culinary skill set. And we both were charmed by the very gracious Julie Moran, who was warm and encouraging on set. She and the production staff and crew made both Christa and me very comfortable and ready to share our information and anecdotes. It was wonderful to see Christa, who was a bit nervous about the interview, light up once the cameras were on. Now I understand the term ‘broadcast charisma!’ Christa has it and I got to watch her star shine!

Be sure to watch–and pass it on to your friends. The show airs from 7:30 to 8 a.m. on Oct. 15 and 22 on Lifetime.

 

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This week marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. On Wednesday evening at sundown, Jewish communities around the world will welcome Rosh Hashanah–the New Year (the Hebrew year 5775). Ten days later comes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is also a day of fasting. That day ends with a celebratory meal that breaks the fast.

gefilte fish

Gefilte fish

There’s hardly a Jewish holiday that doesn’t involve food–and foods specific to the holiday. Come Rosh Hashanah, celebrants will be sharing slices of apples to dip into bowls of honey to harken a sweet new year. Challahs, usually braided into a straight loaf for each Shabbat Friday night are still braided but shaped into a circle for the High Holidays. Most traditional Rosh Hashanah meals will include dishes like gefilte fish served with horseradish, chicken soup with matzo balls, roasted chicken or brisket, and perhaps an apple or honey cake for dessert. To break the fast at sundown of Yom Kippur, many Jewish families choose a  buffet of light fare–usually dairy oriented–with noodle kugel or cheese blintzes; salads; bagels, lox, and cream cheese (as well as white fish and smoked cod) on a platter with sliced tomatoes, red onions, and capers; maybe some chopped liver, pickled herring, egg salad, and lots of mini rye and pumpernickel breads.

Personal chefs with Jewish clients may find themselves asked to prepare holidays meals for them and their families. So, for those who haven’t much experience with this type of food we thought we’d give you some resources for planning a meal and finding recipes–including your own APPCA colleagues–along with discussions here on our forums that offer recipes.

APPCA member Shelbie Wassel of Shallots Personal Chef Service in Maryland grew up with traditional holiday fare. “We had matzoh ball soup, chopped liver (made with mayonnaise, not schmaltz–chicken fat–I come from a family of bad stomachs), and brisket in Lipton’s onion soup,” she says. “I’ve long given up on the powdered onion soup–too much salt!–and now make a brisket with coffee.”

Mrs. Ribakow’s Brisket
Courtesy of Shelbie Wassel
Serves 8

3 1/2 to 4 pounds brisket, first cut
2 medium onions cut into chunks
1 bunch celery, leafy tops only, sliced
1 large bay leaf
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup black coffee
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the bottom of a roasting pan. Place brisket in the pan and sprinkle the top of the brisket lightly with more salt and pepper. Arrange onions and celery around and on top of the brisket. Drizzle with the ketchup. Roast meat, uncovered for 15 minutes to sear.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Add bay leaf and coffee, then cover tightly with foil. Continue cooking for approximately 2 1/2 hours longer. The meat should feel tender when fork is inserted in the thickest part.

Remove from oven and let cool before slicing. Refrigerate gravy and vegetables. Skim off fat.

To serve: Puree gravy and vegetables in a blender. Pour over sliced brisket. Cover with foil and heat through in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Add some kick to the dish by offering freshly grated horseradish on the side.

Tzimis

Tzimis

So, what would you serve with the brisket? Well, tzimis is a really traditional dish focused on roasted carrots and dried fruit. Do it right and each ingredient sparkles. Mess it up and you got a mushy mess. So, epicurious.com to the rescue with a contemporary tzimis recipe here. But you don’t have to go completely traditional. A great salad, a side of grains of some kind, and veggies all work great.

And remember, you’re probably also serving matzoh ball soup and gefilte fish even before you hit the main event. Let’s talk matzoh balls first. These are Eastern European Jewish dumplings made with matzoh meal, eggs, water, and a little fat. The goal is for them to be light (floaters) as opposed to dense (sinkers)–although there are some who prefer sinkers.

APPCA member Linda Berns of CustomKosher,LLC. in Maryland has been making her gramma’s recipe for matzoh balls all her adult life. It’s oh so simple. And, as Linda explains, according to Jewish lore, matzoh balls are eaten at Rosh Hashanah because they remind us of the cycle of life and change of season ushered in by the new year.

Linda Berns’ Matzoh Balls

Yield: About 8 to 9 matzoh balls

1 cup Streits matzoh meal (be sure to use the Streits brand)
4 eggs
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a liberal 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. While the water is coming to the boil, set a bowl filled with water next to the stove. You’ll use the water to moisten your hands while forming the balls.

When the water come to the boil, crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat vigorously. Add approximately 1/8 teaspoon salt to eggs and continue to beat. When the eggs are well beaten, add the matzoh meal and continue to stir to combine with the eggs. Your mixture should be sticky to the touch and not shiny.

Dip a hand into the bowl of water to wet it, then scoop out enough matzoh mixture to form into a dumpling the size of a large golf ball. Drop gently into the boiling water. Repeat until you’ve used all of the matzoh mixture. If your batter becomes too dry, stir in another egg and a little more matzoh meal to avoid having hard matzoh balls.

Bring the water back up to the boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and let the matzoh balls simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. You’ll see your matzoh balls float and puff to approximately twice their size. Take care to not let the water boil out of the pot or your matzoh balls will stick together and stick to the bottom of the pot.

Once the matzoh balls are done cooking, you can add them to the chicken soup. You can also make them in advance and keep them refrigerated, covered so they don’t dry out. Add them to the soup pot as you heat it up on the stove. When serving, place the matzoh ball(s) in the bowl first, then ladle out the soup.

Photo from Linda Berns

Photo from Linda Berns

Here are some websites where you can get more recipes for both matzoh balls and the chicken soup. Be sure to cook them first, then add to your chicken soup. P.S., You’ll see Passover mentioned a lot in recipe notes–matzoh balls and chicken soup  are multi-holiday dishes.

Andrew Zimmern’s version in Food & Wine

Smitten Kitchen version

Bon Appetit version

As for the gefilte fish (also served on Passover), this is a dish filled with tradition. Like many Eastern European Jewish dishes it was a way to create a nutritious dish on a very limited budget. Back in the day, this dish was handmade with inexpensive white fish (often carp, mullet, or pike), ground and then mixed with onion, eggs, and matzoh meal–or other ingredients–and shaped into individual ovals. Then they’re poached, cooled, and served chilled with a side of ground horseradish. These days, most people simply buy jars of it and perhaps doctor it a bit by adding cooked, sliced carrots and onions. But our Shelbie makes her own and you can find her recipe here.

Photo from Shelbie Wassel

Photo from Shelbie Wassel

Can’t forget the challah (egg bread)! Here we send you off to one of the best teachers of classic Jewish cooking–Joan Nathan. Our Caron Golden has been making challahs since she was a child, but when she saw this video of Joan Nathan making this challah, she converted. Try it; you’ll like it.

Round braided challah

In fact, for any of these dishes, simply Google the dish and Joan Nathan and you’ll get something splendid. Like her apple honey cake, which Caron made last year. You’ve got to try this!

Joan Nathan's Apple Cake

Now for Yom Kippur. You don’t really need to do a lot of major cooking since you want a gentle meal to follow a day-long fast. Salads are good–including a good tuna and/or egg salad. Pick up some rye and pumpernickel breads at a Jewish bakery, along with some challah, to put out. If you want to make chopped liver to create a real old-timey table, here’s a terrific recipe from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), which is more modern than what your client’s bubbe (grandma) probably made. For chopped liver, you’ll want crackers or broken pieces of matzoh to serve with it.

A classic treat for Yom Kippur (although you can serve this anytime of the year–except Passover) is noodle kugel. This is a sweet, rich casserole made with wide egg noodles, sour cream, cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. Some people like to add fruit–fresh, canned, or dried–to it and top it with everything from bread crumbs to ground up Corn Flakes. Caron recently published her family recipe on her blog San Diego Foodstuff, which is as traditional as it is simple to make–pure comfort food.

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Another favorite is blintzes–crepes usually filled with a soft cheese like farmer cheese or ricotta, but also fruit–commonly cooked blueberries or apples. We send you back to Smitten Kitchen for these.

These dishes should get you started and will certainly make your clients happy as they ring in the new year!

What dishes do you make for the High Holidays? What is a client favorite?

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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Many of us in the business are comfortable cooking with grape leaves (think dolmas) and any number of herbs. But are perilla leaves in your wheelhouse? These broad, serrated aromatic leaves are a part of the mint family, native to the mountainous regions of Asia. Somehow, they found themselves in Northwest Arkansas, where APPCA member Kathy Dederich of Chef Please! Ltd. is based.

Kathy and her husband relocated to Bella Vista, Arkansas from Chicago. She brags that the region was listed as one of the top places to retire in the U.S. as well as one of the country’s safest cities. Just south is Walmart’s headquarters. Nearby is Tyson Foods and JB Hunt. The area has now reached a population of half a million and Kathy is proud that their food culture has evolved to the point that four local chefs have cooked at the James Beard House. One was a semifinalist.

Kathy has been cooking since she was a kid. Later, married and working at the family printing company, she enrolled in The Cooking & Hospitality school known as CHIC and later acquired by Le Cordon Bleu. She earned her degree with presidential honors and while still at the printing company first started cooking professionally for a friend from cooking school who was the in-house catering manager for a downtown law firm. The friend needed help serving outside catering clients, including Roger Ebert and, her all-time favorite, Ray Charles. The light bulb went off by then and Kathy has been a personal chef since 2007, when she joined APPCA and landed her first weekly client, a woman with Alzheimer’s Disease whose children wanted to keep her in her home. She was with them for over three years until moving to Arkansas.

Since then, she’s been thinking about how to incorporate some of the area’s indigenous ingredients into her dishes. Perilla leaves were an immediate go to.

perilla leaves close up

“Perilla leaves grow wild in the area,” she notes. “Usually I make Korean sesame leaves, which includes garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, sesame seeds, ground red pepper, and a bit of sugar. I use them as a carrier for rice. Some people eat it with meat.”

But it occurred to Kathy that they would be a terrific candidate for pesto. Instead of using pine nuts, she uses black walnuts–also native to the area–as well as local goat cheese in lieu of Parmesan.

perilla pesto

“The result is quite nice,” she says. “There is a lot of oil in the walnuts so not as much olive oil is needed. The perilla leaves are not nearly as strong as most mint, so it’s not overpowering.

Interestingly, Kathy uses the pesto primarily with rice instead of pasta because, she explains, Arkansas is one of the top rice producers in the country. She also includes sun-dried tomatoes from her garden, using–what else–the Arkansas traveler variety. Enjoy this as a side dish with chicken.

photo 5

Kathy has generously given us her recipe for all of us to enjoy:

Perilla Leaf Pesto
From Kathy Dederich

Ingredients
2 cups perilla leaves
1 cup black walnuts, toasted
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces goat cheese
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Perilla Pesto with Rice

What’s your favorite recipe that incorporates local ingredients?

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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For the home cook, leftovers can mean another meal or two. But how about if you’re a personal chef and you have bits of treasure from dishes you’ve made? You don’t want them to go to waste. And they could probably lend themselves to some stunning new dishes.

Food that’s been safely handled, prepared properly, and stored correctly is simply good food. Most personal chef clients find their custom-designed meal support programs keep leftovers to a minimum but if you find yourself in a leftover-heavy position–as the chef or the client–you might find some of these tips helpful.

Salad bowl

Let’s look at the easy stuff first–ingredient leftovers. If you have unused herbs or proteins–such as chicken, beef, sausage, fish or other seafood–or grilled vegetables, you can certainly use them in an omelet or frittata, or as a filling for ravioli or wontons, or in soups or salads. Quesadillas and tacos are also great ways to use extra fresh ingredients. Leftover pasta can also go in a frittata–or soup. Got mashed potatoes? Make mini shepherd’s pies or use it to top a casserole.

veggies for garlic scapes pesto pasta

Prepped but unused onions, tomatoes, peppers, lemons, watermelon, or anything else coming from the garden can enhance and complement any number of dishes. The watermelon pieces that were part of dessert the night before can be tossed with sliced heirloom tomatoes, pieces of feta cheese, olives, and arugula for a sweet and savory salad.

Our colleague Carol Borchardt of A Thought for Food and her new blog, A Cookbook Obsession, recently wrote about turning vast amounts of leftover grilled sweet corn into smoky sweet corn puree, which she paired with seared scallops. After heating some butter and a little bacon fat from cooking up four slices of bacon, she sauteed chopped scallions, then added the corn kernels, cream cheese, and half and half. Then she added cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper before pureeing half the mixture. Pieces of cooked bacon and chives are added to the mixture and served with seared scallops.

Seared Scallops with Smoky Corn PUree

Photo courtesy of Carol Borchardt

Risotto is another one of those leftover dishes that never tastes quite the same warmed up the next day. So, how about making risotto pancakes with sauteed mushrooms and onions and strong meltable cheese, like gruyere? Add a binder, like a beaten egg, then form a ball just a bit larger than a golf ball with the risotto. Flatten it into a oval in the palm of your hand. Make an indentation in the middle and add the mushrooms and cheese. Then close it up over the filling. Repeat until you’ve used up the risotto. Saute the pancakes in butter or olive oil on both sides until crisp and serve.

Making pies and have leftover dough? Roll it out and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, then get out the cookie cutters. You’ve got cookies to bake.

There are numerous web resources for you to get ideas as well.

  • Food52: Experts and home cooks contribute to this site. Here’s a blog post on creating refreshing summer rolls with leftover fish, plus links to 10 other recipes for leftover fish.
  • Foodinese: Leftover stir fried veggies can be soggy and unappealing after their initial debut on the table. Here’s a video on turning them into dumplings.
  • Epicurious: Got leftover grilled salmon? Flake it, Make a sandwich on ciabatta, per this recipe.
Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

  • Food Republic: Wow, they must think you never finish a meal. Here are 15 recipes for using up what’s in the fridge.
  • Bakepedia: Are you a baker with leftover ganache or buttercream? Even dessert leftovers can get a new life with these ideas.
  • Tasting Table: Now we’re getting hard core. These “leftovers” are more like the trimmed off stuff you’d ordinarily toss, like stems, leaves, pods, and peels–even baguette ends. But they’re fantastic in all sorts of dishes. Here’s how to use them.
  • The Kitchn: Turn dinner leftovers into lunch. If it reheats well (or is good cold), easy to eat at your desk or the lunch cafeteria, and is easy to transport, you’ve got a delicious lunch. Here are 10 leftover ideas.

Any meal in which there are leftovers is simply another opportunity to make the most of your tasty, beautifully prepared ingredients–whether it’s reheating or reinventing.

What are your favorite leftover ingredients? Have you developed a repertoire of dishes based on leftovers?

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.

Don’t forget to sign up for our September Personal Chef Seminar Weekend!

 

 

 

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Enjoying lunch and some San Diego sunshine at a recent weekend seminar

Enjoying lunch and some San Diego sunshine at a recent weekend seminar

I’ve planned a terrific, intensive two-day seminar for new personal chefs next month at my home in San Diego. These intimate seminars of no more than 10 people are always a hit with attendees for several reasons. The first is simply the amount of information we cover on how to get your business up and running–profitably–as quickly as possible. We review the training program and manual at your pace and answer all your questions. We review your business plan, and go over finances and best practices in marketing. We get into SEO for your website, advertising, and media exposure. And we introduce you to Personal Chef Office and the Personal Chef Forums.

We’re personal chefs so naturally we also talk recipes and cooking methods. I have some great resources for using equipment like pressure cookers. Even if–and we assume you are–a terrific cook, you’ll learn all sorts of great cooking tips from us–and from your fellow attendees.

And, speaking of fellow attendees, the two-day seminar is a great opportunity to bond with others from around the country in your same situation–who are committed to providing delicious healthy meals and are in a dedicated pursuit of information and techniques to create them. They’re also just getting started in this profession. You’ll have people with whom you can share questions and experiences with long after the weekend is over.

In short, you have the opportunity to spend a weekend with an experienced working personal chef who can assist in building a realistic plan for start up, promotion, target marketing, administration, and customer service–as well as menu planning, recipe development, sourcing, food storage, containers, and countless other topics. This is invaluable information and will save you both time and money in starting up and building your business.

One of the issues that comes up most–which we cover thoroughly–is the client assessment form. This is the way you and your client get to know one another. You’ll learn what foods they like, what their priorities are, what their dislikes are. They’ll have a chance to review your menu and select dishes. In the seminar, we’ll review with you how best to conduct the assessment, how to look for potential issues, but most importantly, how to have a productive discussion that leads to a good and long relationship for both you and your client.

photo 1

We’ll also go over the best way to book clients so that you have extended commitments and we’ll review our standard client service agreement so you’ll be confident discussing it with your client.

We know that as exciting as starting a new business is, the challenges can be intimidating. You need to develop a reliable clientele, you’re going into someone’s kitchen to do the cooking, you’ve got to bring equipment with you and be able to get everything–including clean up–accomplished efficiently. All this can be daunting at first. We’ll talk you through it, answer your questions, and give you the confidence to get out there and fulfill your dreams.

As Mary Ziebart of Chicago said of our most recent weekend personal chef seminar, “I wanted to get back into the kitchen again and make people smile. This seminar took the fear out of starting my own business.

Val Cathell of Virginia, who also attended our latest seminar, had long been a star in her own kitchen and was encouraged by friends to go into business for herself. But cooking for friends and launching a food business are two very different things. So, she joined APPCA and attended the seminar. “It was invaluable in helping me understand the important business aspects of being a personal chef. Your instruction was thorough and so entertaining. Your personal stories were wonderful and provided great insights and tips on things to do and not to do.”

photo 4-1

Dennis and I have been at the forefront of this profession for decades. Our love of what we do–which is to help members like you reach your goals–comes from the heart. The personal chef seminar is where head and heart meet. They’re small personal, interactive, and impactful. We want to share with you the benefit of our many years of experience so you can return to your community and wow them with your talents. Your success gives us great satisfaction.

Be sure to sign up for our September seminar so you can take that great leap forward!

Have you been to one of our weekend seminars? If so, please share your experience here. Have questions? Please ask away!

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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Nicole Gaffney

We’re all a little too aware of the way personal chefs have been portrayed on reality food shows. The producers have long had a habit of selecting wackadoodle folks who have nothing in common with the craft and career path we’ve honed. So, when we learned that APPCA member Nicole Gaffney was selected as a finalist of Food Network Star, we knew that finally we’d be well represented to the public.

Nicole didn’t let us down. Indeed, she did us proud. On Sunday night we watched the finale with bated breath, hoping that as one of the three finalists in this long road she’d prove the winner. Unfortunately, viewers–in all their wisdom–selected cowboy Lenny.

On Rachael Ray

In our eyes, though, Nicole is truly a winner–and she knows it, too. Out of tens of thousands of applicants she was selected to compete. She made some gaffes (who didn’t!), but she learned from them. And, she was a trouper. Remember Episode 3’s Cutthroat Kitchen challenge when she got a spice grinder to grind her meat for spaghetti and meatballs and then, in the middle of making her dish, she was sent to stomp grapes? Who else could channel Lucy Ricardo and turn grape stomping into a charming comedic routine? That was our Nicole!

Stomping the grapes

“You have to be slightly insane to do a competition like this,” she laughed back then.

In that same episode, she came out of whatever shell they judges felt she’d been locked in and helped create a zany Hershey’s commercial selling Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, trilling her Spanish R’s like a nut in her blue poncho–and helped win the challenge.

Reese's Pieces

Nicole’s Coastal Cuisine point of view (our Jersey girl “Food Network Star de la Mare”) was consistent, week after week. Okay, she had to get over her self-acknowledged “resting bitch face,” and find her bubbly side. And she did. She came to be at ease in front of the camera. The turning point came in week six, when Giada told her to just let go and stop being wound up so tight. “Be who you want to be.”

Green screen dreams

That was what she told call-in viewer Traci from New Jersey on finale night. “When Giada told me I was wound up too tight, I realized I needed to relax.”

Presentation counts for a lot, clearly, on a television show. But the food can’t fail. And in every challenge, Nicole’s food was praised by the mentors. They loved her food from the first–from her sesame-crusted tuna with spicy soy glaze that was her introduction to us, her couscous salad that chef Alex Guarnaschelli had to follow her on, her spicy pork kabobs with pineapple that she demoed at Knott’s Berry Farm, her fried frogs legs with spicy tamarind glaze and cucumber mango slaw along with her desconstructed s’mores dessert in Las Vegas, and even her spicy shrimp and vegetable lettuce wraps–even though it wasn’t a hit with the little kids. Okay, there was that brush up over prosciutto versus serrano ham–but let’s just let that go…

Vegas pool party

When Bob opened that first red envelope on finale night and it turned out that Nicole had hit third place, you could see the disappointment on the part of the judges and Susie, who told her, “I’ve always thought the world of you and just seeing you today so elegant and such a lovely person… It would have been a pleasure to have you join this family.”

With Robert Irvine

Bobby Flay told Nicole that she had a natural ability to be on camera. “I was rooting for you all the way. This is just a bump in the road to your success.”

And here Nicole showed all the class she’s demonstrated throughout the competition. “It’s been a huge dream of mine. It was life changing. I’ve grown so much as a person and learned so much about myself. Maybe I’ll get to be on TV someday.”

Ronnybrook Milk Bar

Nicole, no doubt your dreams will be realized. But whatever you do and whatever path you take, you’ve already shown the world what a real personal chef can do and be. You’ve been one of the best ambassadors for our career that we could dream of. Bobby’s right. This is just a bump in the road. Your journey is just beginning and there are great things in store for you! We will avidly be reading your blog Too Full for School to learn what’s up next!

#teamNicole

What did you think of Nicole’s run on Food Network Star? Is there a cooking show you want to audition for?

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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