Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sad News

As I sat down to dinner tonight I was tapped on the shoulder by a former group mate. The original group I started the CIA with have long been graduated/moved on to the bachelor program and I see some old classmates from time to time.

He had a solemn look on his face and asked me:

"Hey did you hear about Chas?"

Turns out my former classmate Chas Ebeling died a month or so ago. From my understanding his heart gave out in the kitchen and was pronounced dead on the scene.

I knew Chas to be one of the most focused, hard working cooks I’ve ever had the privilege of working beside.

Quiet as he was, you could always count on him to make some random comment at some random time that made everyone laugh.

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to speak with him again before his passing.

I’m left with only a reminder of how fragile life is, and how quickly the bright path of so many can be snuffed out.

The culinary world will miss you greatly Chas, Rest in Peace man.

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"One must retain the base, the foundation, and build on that modifying and refining to suit changing tastes in changing times" Chef Farnand Point

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Shoutout Sundays: Overseas Edition

Sometimes we stumble across things that were uncertain about at the start. We approach them carefully and, where normally we'd toss them aside without a second thought, we are strangely curious about them.

Such is the case with Cha Xiu Boa

I stumbled across this blog via Michael Ruhlmans and was at first slightly confused by it. It was about food yes, but historical and philosophical about it.

The gut feeling was to run away. It was too much, it made no sense, flee while you can lest you be further confused! But I couldn’t help but return to it time and time again. The pictures and the text alone were astonishing, beautiful, and mesmerizing.

I returned to it from time to time, often finding something to chuckle at but most importantly astonished the depth at which it is written.

My feelings about Cha Xiu Boa were solidified today when I rolled over to the page to find this beautifully written and profound post entitled, Life Could Be Flavorful.

Something so simple, but at the same time deep if you think about it long enough.

I invite you all to visit Cha Xiu Boa often, and stick with it, confusing at times your brain gets used to the obvious translation difference and suddenly you’re brought into a world of a person who both loves and respects what we put into our mouths.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Method Madness: The Perfect Hardboiled Egg

There are countless Tips and Tricks that you pick up along the way in this industry. Small methods that cut down energy needed to do a task and make your life a whole lot easier.

Its in the spirit of spreading GOOD Information that I will now share tricks and tips that I have learned that I know to work well in a segment I’m going to call Method Madness.

Today I give you:

The Perfect Hardboiled Egg

Credit for this trick has to go to Chef John Reilly. Chef Reilly showed me this trick when I was in his Garde Marger class and it has NEVER failed me. It takes 10 minutes to make the perfect hardboiled egg.

-Place eggs into pot; fill pot with warm water from tap till they cover eggs then one inch above.

-Place pot onto stove, DO NOT SALT THE WATER. Even though an egg has pores there is little point to salting the water, the short time it takes the egg to coagulate (cook) does not allow the salt to pass through the pores and have a good enough effect on flavor. Adding salt also changes the reaction of heat with the water. Contrary to popular belief it does NOT make water boil faster, it merely holds the water temp higher for a longer period of time.

-Turn on heat to high, cover pot.

-When water begins to boil start timer. Let boil for 5 Minutes

-After water has boiled for 5 minutes remove pot from heat, uncover and let sit for 5 More Minutes.

-After it has rested for 5 More Minutes place eggs into an ice bath to cool.

- Enjoy immediately or hold. You will notice the whites are perfectly cooked and the yolks are bright yellow with no grey or green spots.

The Perfect Hardboiled Egg!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Its ON!

My roommate and I have decided to enter the 16th Annual CIA Chili Cook-off.

Chili is both one of my favorite dishes to eat and cook so this should prove to be, if anything, fun.

First step is submitting a recipe for review. The top 8 recipes will be chosen to compete in the actual cook-off.

Its one of the biggest in school competitions we have, also yielding the largest first place prize...8oo$, and bragging rights that you make the best damn chili on the CIA campus. The moneys nice, but man the bragging rights are awesome!

After I submit our recipe and hear if we made it to the finals I will share it with you all

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another.. Great Debate

I’ve added a poll on the right side of the blog here in response to this post directly.

The topic came up again today, not directly by me or involving me, but was overheard in passing.

It’s an old debate, but one I think needs to be stressed in particular at this point in Professional Culinary History.

The argument for both sides is strong, Culinary School vs School of Hard Knocks.

In my opinion we need to pay very close attention to this debate now because of the influx of culinary students, and as a result the increased amount of graduates from culinary schools flooding the market.

The food industry has always been a high need, low skill, high turnover business. That’s mainly why it’s so very hard to get loans and investors for new restaurants and why so many go under so very quickly. There are many many elements into why exactly it happens; Lack of funds, lack of planning, high turnover, theft (VERY HIGH factor), and legal reasons being the top few. People are more apt to sue a restaurant over anything then probably any other business I can think of. Its one of the reasons the industry (and even some culinary schools) teach their card carrying members to Incorporate. When you do so you may lose the corporation in a lawsuit, but you won’t lose the shirt off your back. You can start over, so to speak.

But the main focus of mine, being a culinary school student, is the concern about the influx of culinary students/graduates. Now on one hand I may be a little bitter about the whole thing. My opinion is slightly biased. At my age I’ve been involved in the culinary scene for awhile, let’s just say Pre-Food Network when being a Chef was still a dirty word for high school students to say. When I was looking at culinary schools in high school Johnson and Wales only had its Rhode Island and Virginia campuses, and Pennsylvania Culinary was recruiting students as if they were all made of some precious metal.

What has happened since that time has really blown my mind, even as a current student at the Culinary Institute of America. Requirements for acceptance have slipped, the schools have become more like a meat grinder of education then an institution, and there is a general feeling of mass production in the classroom.

From my standpoint Culinary school was my best option for a professional cooking career. With no high end restaurants where I come from and barely any spots in the semi decent ones open to a "newbe" it was the one best chance at getting a foot in the door. What is happening now seems to be a mix of social frenzy and increased information. The more America looks at the Food Network the more there’s a push for the glitz and glimmer of it all. Unfortunately if these kids only knew what awaited them in the industry.

On the other end of the spectrum you have those who grew up in restaurants. Grew up slaving behind the lines, moping floors, scrubbing out walk ins. They got where they are through blood, sweat, tears, and by someone’s good graces. What’s happening now seems to be a push and pull between these two sections. Bitterness is growing in the Hard Knocks camp..

"F%&$*ing culinary students, think they know it all"

..and misunderstanding is ever present in the Culinary Grad camp...

"Well if he wants to work in a kitchen he should go to culinary school".

Both of these are quotes I’ve heard time and time again.

The more the meat grinder that is Culinary Higher Education turns out grads the more flooded the market becomes. I’m not just talking about kitchens. Advertising, Research and Development, Management positions... all being jammed with grads.

The Food service industry, mainly kitchens, have been formed by a strong network of hard knocks cooks, and even harder knock chefs for ages. Now that is being threatened by a sea of classroom taught, fresh faced cooks eager to get their piece of the Food Network Dynasty.

So the question I pose to you:

If you had to choose, which would you choose?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Attention Choco-holics

I have come to nurse along your desire for all things chocolate with nothing more then a recipe... but not just any recipe, oh no no nooooo...

What we have here, is a recipe for... Chocolate Truffles. *Dun Dun Duuuunnnn*

So grab a pen and paper, or if your internet inclined Cntrl C, tranfer to Word, Cntrl V and lets get started.

Chocolate Truffles
Makes about 50 truffles, scale as needed

You will need the following items:

2 Large Stainless steel bowls (One bowl filled less then halfway with ice water)
2 Pots, 1 Pot is used as a double boiler so the bowl should fit snuggly into the pot.
1 Pint/Quart/or Cup measuring cup
1 Heat resistant Rubber Spatula
2 Sheet trays (Cookie sheets are fine for home use)
Wax paper (2 to 3 sheet tray size sheets should be fine)
1 Fine Grainulated Sifter
1 medium bowl
1 pot (Again to fit the medium bowl)
Latex/Foodservice Gloves

In order or importance/Prep list

Part One
1.5 # of Semi sweet chocolate. If your buying for home use and using bars break apart. DO NOT USE SEMI SWEET PELLETS/CHIPS.
8 oz Heavy Cream
4 oz Curacao Liqueur Orange flavor works best, but other liqueurs work well to.

Part Two
2 #'s Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 # Cocoa Powder, sifted

Part One:
-Crush your semisweet chocolate and place into large bowl
-Place about a half a cup of warm water in the first pot and place on stove on medium heat, allow water to come to a simmer and maintain that temp. **DO NOT PLACE BOWL ON POT YET**
-Measure out cream and Liqueur, do not mix.
-Place cream in second pot, bring just to a boil on stove.
-Working quickly add boiling cream to chocolate, working in smooth motions with a rubber spatula (heat safe). Be aware the chocolate may seem as though it is "siezing" on you, keep working the chocolate as best you can
-Place bowl onto double boiler and add Liqueur.
-Work in swift but smooth motions to ensure all chocolate has melted. You should end up with a velvet like look to the chocolate but still offering a slight resistance when stirred.
-Remove from double boiler and place bowl into ice bath. Stir chocolate gently, pressing against the sides of the bowl to smooth out any and all lumps. When the chocolate begins to feel stiff and becomes hard to mix by hand, scrape down the sides of the bowl and place into freezer. (Make sure to clean off spatula and hold for next step)

What we have done in this step is created the base for our truffles. This mixture when cooled to the right temp will be pliable enough to roll into balls, but soft enough to eat with ease.

Step Two:

-Place semisweet chips into medium bowl.
-Place over second double boiler
-Melt chocolate about 2/3'rds of the way.
-Remove pot and bowl from the heat and continue to stir the chocolate till compleatly melted. Once this is done remove bowl from double boiler.
**This Melted Chocolate will need to be at about room temp when used in the final application. Slightly lower then body temp (98 degrees F), If it gets too cool replace over double boiler and warm slightly.**

-Place wax paper on one sheet tray, dust liberaly with cocoa powder. Hold for final application

-Place wax paper on second sheet tray. Hold for final application.

Final Application

Remove chocolate from freezer. Ensure it is warm enough to mold, but cold enough to not melt. Get together your sheet tray of Cocoa, your melted chocolate, and your dry sheet tray.

**If you have foodsafe gloves, now would be a great time to put them on!**
-First, form your chilled chocolate into bite size balls (Slightly larger then a large marble) Hold on wax paper. Work quickly at to ensure chocolate maintains correct tempurature, move chocolate in and out of freezer as needed. **Formed balls do not need to be rechilled, once shaped they can stay out**

-Once all your balls have been made Lay out your Mise en place (prep) in this order:
(Based off a right handed person, sorry lefties- just reverse ;-) )
Left- Sheet with formed balls
Middle- Bowl of melted chocolate
Right- Tray with cocoa powder
Far right- Container that you will hold your truffles in

Working from Left to Right:
-pick up a ball with one hand
-hold over melted chocolate bowl, using opposite hand dip into chocolate, transfer ball to that hand, roll ball gently in melted chocolate. **The idea is not to smother the ball in melted chocolate but to give it a nice coat.**
-using "Clean hand" drop ball onto tray with cocoa, roll in cocoa till covered, transfer to clean container.
**This process is alot easier with two people, one coating the balls the other rolling and transfering to container**

Repeat as needed till all balls are done.
These can be held at room temp.

There you have it, Easy Truffles!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Now What?", A student dilemma

Every couple months the CIA hosts career fairs and invites numerous employeers to recruit on campus for externs as well as graduates.

Today was one such fair and as I made my rounds shaking hands, meet and greets, and shoot the breeze I realized, sadly, there was no job site that really jumped out at me.

With graduation looming just after the new year the thought of securing a post school job has been forefront in my mind. Yet, with the unique situation I find myself in finding a job I know I can perform well at and make something out of is seeming to be harder then I thought.

I was hoping to be able to look into some avenue of food writing, but alas no such luck at this job fair.

My choices seem limited post graduation, only graduating with an Associate Degree limits the options that are open to me and with no other degree to back me up my hopes rested on slugging it out on a hot line while I pieced it all together.

I tell myself not to worry, that this is what to expect after graduation.. but after wandering around the career fair today I got horrible mental images of being stuck doing prepared meals for upscale grocery stores or worse yet... getting stuck behind a desk doing R&D or something of the sort... oh the humanity!

There is still time till G-Day but I dont want to wait till the last minute to find something. Ending back up where I started is not really going to work to well for me.
So I plug away, studying as hard as I can and hoping that something out there screams to me in a language I understand...

"Psst Hey you.. yeah you!... Come work here, youll love it."

Monday, August 13, 2007


Im Starving!!!!

That is all

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A New Frontier

For those of you who have been reading my blog here for some time will know that I often post links from Bob del Grosso's blog called "A Hunger Artist".

I email Bob from time to time to share links and info that I find while slipping and sliding along the internet.

After emailing him earlier this week with a story he wrote back that he was interested in having me guest blog/contribute to "A Hunger Artist".

This is very exciting for me and a step in a good direction. I want to thank Bob for this chance and invite you all to join me there from time to time for a first person look into the life of a Culinary School student.

A Hunger Artist

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Counter Attack

I got a call today from a former classmate of mine who’s currently working at a restaurant in Philadelphia.

I asked him if he had any contact with the protesters fighting the Foie Gras Battle Royal. He chuckled and said .."you know when I first saw those Hugs For Puppies *Expletive Deleted* I thought, hey cute name.. now all I want to do is (mess) with them."

I took that as a yes.

Luckily the restaurant he works at has gone relatively unscathed, say for a few sidewalk protests.

The conversation took an amusing turn when he mentioned some of the crafty ways Chefs are both passively and actively fighting back.

During one protest in the city one chef was kind enough to send the busy protesters some complimentary hor'dorves during dinner service, complete with server and silver tray.

Another neat thing allot of the cooks of these establishments have been doing is "Infiltrating" ( I won’t tell you how because I don’t want to be responsible for the system getting screwed up..ever seen 50 angry cooks? not pretty) the organizations that protest and tracking their protests to stay a foot ahead.

One story that really amused me and strengthens the point I have previously made about the reason why the Foie Fight is such a tough one for chefs. The uninformed public in general has no idea what Foie Gras really is, how it’s farmed, and what the details are. Along comes PETA and Pals and suddenly we find ourselves staring down angry customers..why? because PETA and Pals tell them all the "Horrible and Inhuman" things we do to get Foie Gras. The uninformed are being led to believe in half truths and allot of times lies.

So how do you counter act it? well my friend explained to me they had a very long term customer call and demanded to speak with someone in the kitchen. The Sous Chef took the call only to hear "...If you continue to serve Foie Gras I will no longer be returning my business to your restaurant."

After an apparent 30 minute phone conversation the Sous chef explained the process of making Foie Gras, the fact he had personally visited the location where they buy the Foie to ensure no cruelty, and other interesting Foie facts.. to which the customer replied "oh, I had no idea.. I look forward to my next meal in your restaurant".

Sometimes it just takes a little talking to work through your differences...

Hugs for Puppies, how bout a hug for a chef?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The gift that keeps on giving..

Thanks to Methadoneklinic's wife to (indirectly) pointing me in the direction of this article that talks of New Zealand Scientists trying to see if the distance food travels really is harmful to the environment.

Which lead me to yet another great article in regards to a topic I touched on briefly before about corn in America today. I’ve been reading Omnivores Dilemma and enjoying Michael Pollack’s writing immensely, though a little heavy on the science sometimes. He does a lot of talking in the first few chapters of the book about the financial plight facing American corn farmers today. The biggest and most crucial point he seems to make is how our government seems to not only to be the cause of the issue (though I’m really not surprised) but only compounds things by "staying the course" in all that they do in regards to corn and agriculture as a whole for the country.

The article I found in the NY TIMES addresses the high market for corn farmers land. Though it may not seem weird to the uninformed, allow me to give some detail as to why this worries me.

The financial issues I mentioned before stem from the falling prices of Type 2 corn, which is the kind that is grow on 90% of Americas large scale corn farming land. The prices have been falling since the revamp of The New Deal during the Nixon administration. The surplus of corn has basically become greater due to the shift in how America buys its corn from the farmers. Higher yield=higher profit... as least you think it should. What’s happening is a kind of agricultural/Fiscal twilight zone in which the more farmers farm, the less they tend to make. There are a number of reasons for this, hence why the first few chapters in Omnivores Dilemma are solely about corn, which I can’t possibly type out here.

Suffice it to say, the American corn farmer is not going to be making it on the Forbes top 500 list ANY time soon, but the corporations that buy from them just might.

But about the article in question..
Now that you know a little history, let’s talk about the present. "Corn Land", as Ill call it, is being bought up at very high prices (compared to original cost) because of really one thing... Ethanol. This byproduct from processing corn is being seen by some as the way out of our current energy crisis and dependence of fossil fuels.

Ever forward acting, and less forward thinking we seem to want to buy up "Corn Land" to create Ethanol farms. Now I wouldn’t say using a resource in hopes of "saving ourselves" is not a bad idea, especially when it’s a renewable resource... but what we face now is a serious long term crisis.

We are robbing peter to pay paul here folks. The outlined life of a bundle of corn, at least 90% of type 2 corn, is a series of tubes, holding pens, and grinders bent on both supplying us with the processed food we love oh so much and the stockyards where we keep our thousands upon thousands of herds of cattle in the form of feed.

Pick up any jar of processed food and look at the ingredient label. Chances are you’ll be staring at least 3 items on that label that are derived from corn.

So take a step back and take a good look at the facts. Corn Farmers barely stay afloat farming the large amounts of corn we need to produce the lifestyle we have become accustom to, along comes the chance to sell the farm for more then its really worth and your told its in the name of saving the environment.

I put myself in the shoes of those farmers. I see a way out of struggling to keep my farm afloat that will net profit for me.

I’m afraid for the American corn farmer folks, and I think maybe you should be to..
You think the price of milk is high now? I hate to see it soon if this keeps up..

"Id like mine on the rocks please.."

Thanks SO much to my friendMethadoneklinic for pointing this wonderful piece of news out to me.

Apparently the Diageo Company, which bottles and sells Smirnoff Products, has come up with a wonderful idea to catch consumers of a few watchful groups.. The Health Weary, The Water Friendly, and the Alcohol Worried.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Smirnoff Source!

What’s so special about this product you ask?

Smirnoff Source™, the new premium malt beverage offering from Diageo North America that combines pure spring water with alcohol is now on beer retailers' shelves and high-end bars throughout the Northeast. At 3.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), this new premium malt beverage, with a hint of citrus, has fewer calories and lower alcohol by volume than most popular domestic beers.

um... so let me guess this straight.. Your selling me watered down alcohol, because you think I want it that way? Hell, if I wanted a watered down drink Id go to any bar in my area and ask for anything on the wall!

This had me laughing for some time. Best part is they say "Fewer calories and lower alcohol by volume" like we should be surprised, no kidding Sherlock.. your adding spring water to it!

I wonder how long this will last on the shelves. If the trend of American Consumers in recent years tells us anything its gonna be the hottest thing since sliced bread...

Speaking of bread.. Ill have to remember to post the recipe for the Olive Ciabbiata we made today. Normaly I dislike olives, was never a big fan, but this bread is.. well amazing.


Thanks again to Methadone for linking this video of the tv spot for this crayness.

Now after watching that I have both the urge to hit a club AND workout... strange.. is smirnoff programing us for the next fad in the club scene?

Monday, August 6, 2007

In Search of...

.. Sorbet in upstate NY.

I have been, directly and indirectly, searching since my return to school for a location that serves really good sorbet.

I have yet to find one. It seems that folks in Hyde Park and surrounding areas fail to realize how utterly important sorbet is to my diet. Its like asking me to go without oxygen!!! inconsiderate...

So my search continues as I try desperatly to find a really good sorbet dealer...

..I wonder if theres a guy with a hat and trenchcoat down an alleyway somewhere selling sorbet out of pocket?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Excuse me sir, did you eat Rafaels yesterday, smoke, then have desert?, cause we found you by a drop of sweat... oh and you shouldnt have had that pie, your diabeties wouldnt like that

So apperantly Big Brother is not only watching us, but what we eat, smoke, drink.. and if you commit a crime is his town all he needs is a drop of sweat to take you out, and I dont mean on a date!

*Thanks again to Bob del Grosso for this one, I dont know where you find this stuff but please GOD keep finding it!

Id also like to do a shameless self plug and a plug for my friends over at while Im at it.

Its very rare that I find an out of the norm movie that I really really love, and for anyone who follows this knows how much I love(d) Ratatouille (oh and you havent seen it yet your dead to me, dead you hear me!) will know that if I find a movie I like I feel the need to share that love with everyone and anyone.

So after seeing Sunshine the other week I immediatly emailed my Uber-G33k friends at and begged to be given the chance to post a review of the movie.

and Here it is..

And check in on them every so often, if you love comics, movies, gaming or just plain g33kn3ss youll love them... I tend to fancy Youtube Tuesdays...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

In Pursuit...

I’ve always loved a great loaf of bread. Fresh out of the oven, soft interior, hard crunchy crust... it’s the stuff of dreams!

Being in bake shop this quarter has got me craving bread like no other. Giving me flashbacks of summers at my grandmothers, whose apartment outside Philly was a few blocks from a commercial bread factory, sniffing the air with that sweet smell of baking bread.

In lecture we talked briefly about how, in the time allowed for classes it was hard to make a really really great loaf of bread and it got me thinking..

What if I used my own time and the schools resources in an attempt to make some really really great bread.

So tomorrow I am approaching my Chef to ask his assistance in created a few loafs of excellent bread over the next couple weeks.

Hopefully all will go smoothly and in a week or so Ill have a few loafs of bread to enjoy and ship out.

Anyone interested in getting one of my experiments need only ask, if I have enough Ill be more then happy to send them off if all goes well.

In any case, I’m really generally excited to break some really great bread.

I have to point out this wonderful video posted by Bob del Grosso

Ladies and Gentlemen... If your going to protest something for god sake, ask what the hell it is!