Sunday, April 19, 2009

ACF Southeast Regional Convention Food Competition...

As many of you may already know by following my status on facebook, I recently had the honor and opportunity to partake in this past weekends ACF food competition. I entered into two categories, hot food (K4, Lamb Rack) category and cold food (B1 - 6 appetizer courses). With the help from a fellow chef at a local hotel, my main man Mike during slicing and glazing, my patient wife, gallons of coffee and most importantly God, it finally came and went.

I didn't place in either category, meaning I didn't win one medal for my troubles. Well, I did win something, actually, a "Certificate of Completion" for being there with my last name misspelled. It kinda reminded me of a time in second grade when I got one just like it for reading a book for extra credit, but this one cost me about 600 bucks in entry fees and food, lol.

But, as was pointed out on more than one occasion, I got to compete with friends and learn and that's all that matters. Well, sorry folks, learning is important, yes, and competing with your buddy's and fellow chefs that you love and respect is fun, agreed, but we all know that losing two categories in a row after spending about 60 hours cooking, testing, reading, NOT SLEEPING, slicing, glazing and so on, is a pisser. (Sorry, couldn't think of a better word that didn't include an "F" or a "K".)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitter (well, actually, I am a little. It's just been 24 hours since I left the convention center, lol). The judges handed me my scrotum in a glass, pretty much, but nothing they critiqued me on was wrong. It's perfection we strive for and they expect it. I deserved everything I got, and that's OK.

Best of all, though, I had a blast making the food, it's what I do as a chef. Making food, whether it be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or pate en croute, making food makes me happy and gives me a little rush every time. But, competing is a whole different realm of culinarianism (is that a word?). This is the food that separates the men from the boys. It's like making my moms mac and cheese for my mom, it's THAT tough. Compare it to trying to cut your own hair with dull scissors without your glasses in a foggy mirror. Sure, it could be done but you have to be a bad ass to impress anyone with the results. Seriously.

Anywho. Thanks to everyone that supported me through this. Overall, I really had a great time and look forward to pulling up my bootstraps and doing another competition very soon! First though, I'm going to go for my certified executive chef exam this June, stay tuned for blogs about that. Meanwhile, check out the menu and some pictures.

Cold food menu:

Poached Salmon and Lemon Terrine with Shiitake Mushroom Soba Noodle Salad and Soy Ginger Glace.

Canapés Assortment: Grilled Smoked Honey-Cured Duck on Parsnip Galette w/ Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette, Trout Mousse in Barquette with Roe and Red Onion Confiture on Potato Blini with Crème Fraiche and Caviar.

Pate de Compagne En Croute w/ Brown Sugar Fig Brulee and Spicy Toasted Walnuts.

Chicken Galantine w/ Pistachios and Dried Cherries, Bourbon Apricot Tart and Balsamic Reduction.

Rabbit Pie in Parmesan Prosciutto Crust, Poached Baby Root Vegetables and Basil Pistou.

Scallop Trio: Scallop Mousse in Cucumber Cups with Brunoise Vegetable Garni, Pan-Seared Diver Scallop with Dill Caper Aioli and Hickory Smoked Scallop Ceviche with Preserved Lemon Dill Marmalade.

Hot food menu:

Lamb Loin Roulade Stuffed with Greek “Loukanika” Sausage, Roasted Baby Root Vegetables, Sweet and Russet Potato Gratin and Rosemary Lamb Demi-Glaze.

And some pictures, just click on anyone to take you to my flickr page to see more show food pictures:







Tuesday, April 07, 2009

House-Made Demi Glaze Demo

So, I have this awesome food competition coming up this month in Charlotte. I've entered into both a K4 hot food and B1 cold food categories. I'll post some info on that soon.

The sauce for my K4 (1 hour hot food category where Bone-In Lamb Loin is the protein) is going to be a rosemary lamb demi glaze. Since the initial demi takes so long to make, I've decided to make it today and freeze it. A couple days before the event, I'll just pull it out and it'll be thawed and ready for service. Of course, we can't actually BRING any finished demi with us, we are however allowed to bring a double beef stock and reduce it on site. That works out a lot better anyway because it gives me more control over the finished sauce.

Anyway, thought I'd share with you this process of making one of my favorite sauce bases. Being as scratch made is ALWAYS better when it comes to sauces and stocks, I want to show you that, even though this process is lengthy, it's very easy and inexpensive to make yourself.

Check out the pics and info below:

Line your beef or veal bones on a sheet pan.

Rub them down with canola oil.

Roast them in a 375F oven until very brown, turning occasionally, for about 2 hours, more or less.

They should look like this when done.

Roughly chop some mire poix (50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery) into large chunks. After removing the roasted bones, put the veg onto the same pan and rub them down with about a 1/2 cups of tomato paste.

Roast them, turning occasionally, until caramelized.

Add the roasted vegetables to the roasted bones in a large stock pot, place the sheet pan over a burner or two on medium heat and deglaze with about 1/2 cup of red wine and some water. Bring to a simmer, scraping the pan well, reduce slightly and add that liquid with all your new-found bits in with the vegetables and bones.

Add any vegetable scraps you may have laying around (no carrot or onion skins, they will make things bitter!) along with about 6 bay leaves, a tablespoon of whole peppercorns and a bunch of fresh thyme, to the stock pot and cover in COLD water.

Bring this liquid JUST to a boil, reduce heat to a medium simmer (bubbles should barely break the surface)...

...and remove any scum/ foam that may float to the top with a ladel.

Let that large pot of goodness simmer for about 12 hours. This will extract great things out of your roasted bones, veg and herbs. The liquid by itself is an awesome beef broth/ stock, but you can reduce this liquid in a smaller pot to about half and get a really rich double stock or demi glaze. This reduction is great as a base for other sauces such as Espanole.

Some of the finished product. After it cools you will see a film of beef fat on top, just skim that off, enjoy or freeze for a later time.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Adult cooking class at the Wilkinsons

Last night was a great evening filled with tutorials, wine, fun, cosmos, food, wine and, did I mention wine?

I led 5 couples into the fun world of creating pasta from scratch. Seems to be one of my most popular and very economical cooking classes. People are always amazed by how easy it is to create their own ravioli and fettuccine with little more than a few eggs and some flour.

We filled the ravioli with spinach and ricotta, seasoned with lemon zest and Parmesan cheese. Cooked in boiling salted water and served with their choices of scratch made marinara, pesto or garlic herb butter.

To start the evening off though, we walked through the steps of creating two simple appetizers. A simple bruschetta with ricotta and pesto and goat cheese filled Parmesan cups with bacon. Everything used for the appetizers was also used with other parts of the meal. So, nothing went to waste! In these tough times, waste is not an option with home cooks and chefs alike.

To accompany the meal, we created an awesome Parmesan garlic herb bread and a spring mix salad tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Needless to say, everyone was happy and full. My job was simply accomplished.

Cool thing about cooking classes in peoples homes is that I not only get to do what I love to do, but I get to show others how easy and cheap it is to make these incredible dishes without spending gobs of money. A bowl of scratch made raviolis at some restaurants could fetch upwards of 30 bucks! We fed 10 people a full Italian style pasta dinner with creme brulee custard for dessert for about 8 bucks a head! Hows that for a stimulus package?! :)

Any who, here are a couple pictures of the happy eaters/ students.

My official 100th post! Demo number 2 at Chocolatier Barracund

Wow, 100 posts since the beginning back in 2005. Crazy how time flies. I've learned a lot these past 3 1/2 years. Met some great people, met some douche bags (you know who you are), and best of all, ate some awesome food. Yes, less I forget, I created some great food too. Ah, the food business, gotta love it. Wonder how many hours I put in since then?

So, this past Saturday, I did a food demo at a friends chocolate shop. It was the second of a monthly series and, hopefully, many to come in the future. Between the rain and the sale going on at the new IKEA, there was a small crowd of 4 people this time. They were the lucky ones. They learned how to make summer rolls with sambal and ate their weight in free samples.

Hoping for a larger turn out next month. May 2nd is the next date so come check us out!