Thursday, October 23, 2008

Buckhead Beef Food Competition, Atlanta October 2008

Just recently gained access to the pictures I took while at my latest food competition. See, I was in a huge rush to get home (4.5 hour drive after a 10 hour day!) that I accidentally left my bad ass camera in the competition kitchen! Luckily, there are a few honest people left in the world and one of the chefs mailed it back to me. I just got it today, hence the fact that I now have access to said pictures!

Ok, so, this was an F3 category/ mystery basket food competition hosted at the "Le Cordon Bleu" Culinary School in Atlanta, GA and sponsored by "Buckhead Beef". There were only 25 competitors (I was number 23) which made it nice and intimate. We had access to a common pantry of many popular and well known common items and the protein was revealed to us right before we were to begin.

Our allotted time consisted of 10 minutes to bring in our tools and set up our stations, 30 minutes to write a menu based on our newly discovered protein (which was one of five items; Red Footed Chicken, Free Range Lamb, Milk Fed Veal, Sustainable Alaskan Halibut or Wagu Flat Iron Beef Steaks, all top quality all the best there was to offer.) and the previously mentioned common pantry items, 1 hour to cook 4 servings of 1 course, 10 minutes to plate up and 10 minutes to clean up. And, believe me, it was the fastest 2 hours of my life! WHAT A BLAST MAN!!!

I got to show my stuff a little and won a silver, not too shabby. Not too happy with the way the pictures of the food looked, especially since I wasn't able to take any pics until about 20 minutes after completion. So, the sauces look a little messy and the meat a little dry, but you'll get the gist of things!

I did, however, make kudos from the judges for working very clean and organized as well as making my own pasta. I was surprised no one else attempted it, not even ravioli! Slackers, lol.

My menu was:

Roasted Asparagus with Thyme Citrus Hand-Made Tagliatelle, Pan Seared Lamb Loin, Pan Jus and Basil Oil.

The judges mentioned that they would have liked to see the meat sliced thinner, so I got a silver instead of a Gold. Better luck next time :/

Competition Kitchen

My dish (dried out from the lights, lol)

Another view of the competion kitchen

A close up of that wicked pasta :D

Judgement :o

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The forager strikes again!!!

So, a friend of mine foraged up a couple dozen pounds of Hen of the Woods mushrooms and was gracious enough to hook me up with a few. So, keeping with the chef-food-lover-food-geek thing, I had to cook them up. I plan to cryo-vac those bad boys for future use. But, of course, before they cooled, I had to eat a few of them yummy things. YEAH, GOOD STUFF!!!

After cleaning the hell out of them (about 6 times), trimming them up and making sure there were no more bugs (gotta love organic produce, lol), I sauteed them in olive oil, butter, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, wine and salt and pepper for a couple minutes (house smelled awesome!) to cryo-vac them in one pound increments for easy use.

Thanks for the shrooms dude!!!

The finished product steaming away :)

My mees :)

WOW, almost 7 pounds!

Yeah, thats after I trimmed them!

Ain't they perty? :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

A tour of S&D coffee company!

I just got back from a tour of the S&D coffee company sponsored by the local ACF chapter. About 20 of us were led around this awesome place to see how they create some of the best coffee in the country! It was TRULY impressive and beyond any scope of imagination. And, not only did I score a sweet coffee mug, but I won the 50/50 lottery! :) See, it pays to go to your local Culinary Federation meetings, lol.

My visit with insanity...

So, with our recent finances being a bit tight (thank you Mr. Economy!), I answered a job ad on craigslist to help out at the local Nascar track. It was at the main "members only" club house for three days of racing; Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

I put in a total of 48 hours in three days, I was beat.

Let's revisit that gracious event, shall we?

To say that it was unbelievably-crazy-insane in that kitchen would be an understatment. Aside from the massive amounts of food (we're talking in the tons! The feeding number I got was a total of about 7500 people!) that we cranked out, it was one of, if not THE loudest kitchens I've ever stepped foot in.

The combined levels of decibals from the searing, grilling, the hood vents sucking, buzzers from the ovens and steamers, the phones ringing, the chopping, the cussing (mostly from one particular country bumpkin farm girl with an affinity to gangsta rap music and singing) and, let's not forget, the screaming from the brigade of fellow Northerner Chefs, Sous Chefs and Cooks, made it impossible to think straight!

None of us were even aloud to stay still for a moment. There was a time when I just stood there for one second, catching my breath, when one of the Nazis (the uniforms made them look like Nazis, sorry, lol) came over to me and ordered me to get busy, do something, it was great man. I felt like I was back in the begining 20 years ago learning how to chop onions and shit, lol.

Just because WE, the grunts, weren't aloud to stay still, catch our breath, or EAT, didn't mean that it wasn't going on around us. If you were "in charge" or worked for the local food service company, or were friends/ relatives to the aformentioned, you had the God-given right to stand there and do nothing. If you had a mic stuck to your shoulder, you were even aloud to SIT IN AN OFFICE most of the time, lol. Boy, there were a few times that I wished I had one of those mics. My sciatic nerve was throbbing quite a bit.

Anywho, overall it was a great time. Long hours, yes, but I got to meet some awesome people, some famous people and felt alive and full of purpose for the first time in a while. I guess standing that long brought me back to how grateful I should be for the life I lead today. To think that I could be doing that shit EVERY DAY like I used to just sends chills down my spine.

Check out these pics I clicked off with my cell phone.

We marked over 2000 pieces of chicken breast!

Tons of Spagetti Squash!

What a view man!

Me and a few from the crew!