Thursday, August 25th, 2016
By Guest Blogger, Susan Robbins, C-CAP President
With the current rage in the dining scene to make desserts center stage, I am looking forward to returning this fall to Parlour in the Kensal Green area of London for Chef Jesse Dunford Wood’s star epicurean performance. This tour de force is definitely worth a detour!
While Chef Wood’s first act of savory courses deserves great applause, his dessert tasting menu gets a standing ovation!
First words of advice- Book his private tasting table for you and your six best “mates.”
Second words of advice- Relax and enjoy the show.
As sweet sensations are the focus here, the charismatic Chef Wood takes you into another world when he dons earphones on you and your guests and puts on a dessert extravaganza to a medley of Disney-esque tunes. He first prepares your long table for this confectionary spread by rolling out aluminum foil over its entire length and anointing each square inch with flavored cheesecakes, luscious macarons, s’mores made on site with a blow torch, multiple variations on British Arctic Rolls (ice-cream filled cakes), chocolate truffles, and the list goes on and on. The entire display is painted with a Jackson Pollack array of caramel, chocolate and berry sauces. I could easily become a Chef Wood groupie and return every week for this sugar rush, but I don’t have enough elastic in my wardrobe.
Last words of advice- Be sure to catch the Parlour, one of the best shows in London. A culinary hit not to be missed when you¹re craving a very sweet evening.
Thursday, August 18th, 2016
By Guest Blogger Carla Seet
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to enter the kitchen of one of your favorite chefs? Deborah Grausman, C-CAP founder Richard Grausman’s daughter, won the opportunity to do just that when her mom placed the winning bid on a private baking lesson for two with Sarabeth Levine during the silent auction at C-CAP’s Annual Benefit. Known for her signature jams and delicious pastries, Levine is the mastermind behind Sarabeth’s, the nine-restaurant empire that includes a wholesale bakery and a jam factory.
Deborah has been a fan of Sarabeth’s since her parents took her to the Upper West Side restaurant as a young girl. After their meal, Sarabeth invited her downstairs to the kitchen and offered her a brownie straight out of the oven. What child wouldn’t fall in love with a chef generously offering fresh-baked treats? Sarabeth’s generosity even extends to her relationship with C-CAP. As a long-time supporter of our organization, she has donated auction items and has been a participating chef at all of C-CAP’s benefits.
Accompanied by her friend, Lauren Jelencovich, Deborah went into the lesson hoping to learn how to make two of her favorite items from Sarabeth’s—corn muffins and scones. She wasn’t disappointed! Among other baked goods, they made Sarabeth’s traditional corn muffins, and added fresh blueberries to the batter for a sweet twist on the classic recipe. They also prepared currant scones and ate them right out of the oven with some of Sarabeth’s famous jam. The trio had so much fun that Sarabeth invited them back for a cookie-baking lesson in the fall.
Photo credit: Kathryn Cooper Photography http://www.kathryncooperphotography.com/
Friday, August 12th, 2016
By guest poster Tammy Jaxtheimer, C-CAP Hampton Roads Program Director
I am a beach girl! At a young age my family spent time on the Rhode Island beaches. When we moved to Mississippi, we enjoyed the Gulf Coast beaches. We had a spell of no beaches for two years, while my dad’s Naval pilot career took us to Iceland, but we always missed the scent of that sweet ocean air and sand between our toes.
Today I live in Virginia Beach, where my dad transferred after Iceland. We were not walking distance to the beach, but when I was a teen, my friends and I would ride our bikes to the ocean regularly. Our beach bag would always have water and a salty snack.
I continue to live in Virginia Beach with my two teenage girls. A day on the beach for us means fun, sun and good eats. We will take cut up watermelon chunks, fresh cherries, and fresh firm red grapes. We will bring whole fruit, such as peaches and apples with a small cutting board and a sharp paring knife—and some sharp cheeses and pecans, pistachios or cashews. If I have cottage cheese on hand, I will also take the fresh red grapes and make a healthy parfait, topped with chopped pecans. This concoction is fresh, clean, nutritious and refreshing.
During the summer we keep frozen edamame on hand. Throw a few bags in the cooler and they help keep the other items cold as well. We also bring fresh baby carrots and some ranch dressing. Additionally, I make homemade hummus fairly regularly and love to pair that with fresh Lebanese pita or pita chips.
Beach Block of Cream Cheese
Unwrap a whole block of cream cheese and place in a glass or plastic container that has a tight fitting top. The following toppings are great for the beach.
Asian- Top with lots of soy sauce and cover completely with toasted sesame seeds; serve with Nabisco Wheat Thins—or other crackers of choice. I have found wheat thins to be the best combination.
Nautical- Top with cocktail sauce and then crab meat and/or chopped cooked shrimp. Bring crackers of choice or baguettes.
A simple way to make chicken salad is buy a rotisserie chicken, shred the chicken and add what you would like—such as green grapes, walnuts, Craisins, mayo, and balsamic vinegar. Put in a covered container and bring yeast rolls, whole wheat bread or a sturdy cracker.
Tips for Avoiding Sand Monsters
If you have young kids who constantly have sandy hands and always want to dig their hands into a big bag of chips, pretzels or cookies, I strongly recommend having plastic baggies on hand. Fill up the individual bags for the little sand monsters, so the adults can enjoy the same snacks sand free.
Thursday, August 4th, 2016
By Guest Blogger Kieran Cawley
August is here, and our Summer Internship Program is well under way. It’s an exciting time, and the first opportunity for many of our students to step into a professional kitchen. They benefit from valuable on-the-job experience, but it can be a steep learning curve. So we decided this week to catch up with some of our C-CAP supporters and alums and asked them to share their kitchen woes as well as some advice for our budding chefs.
We asked them to describe their first job in the industry, the mistakes they made along the way (that they can laugh about now), and most importantly, the advice they would offer to the beginning chefs as they embark on their first jobs in the kitchen.
Here’s what they had to say:
Andrea Anom – Executive Pastry Chef, Streetbird Harlem
My first job in the industry was hosting at TGI Friday’s. Most kitchens weren’t thrilled by a résumé of mostly office work, so I began my journey in the front of house.
During a stage, the Sous Chef who interviewed me asked me to fetch the cabbage. I returned with a deep lexan full of cabbage heads. He responded, “Wow, I only needed a couple heads, but you’re strong!” I worked for that company for four years.
A great attitude is contagious. If you have drive, determination and a good attitude, nothing and no one can stop you!
Jason McClain – Executive Chef, Jonathan Club, L.A.
My first job was at the Riverton Country Club. I was a bus boy, dishwasher and prep cook at 16 years old.
When I was a butcher, I forgot to scale the fish. Once the orders started going out, the chef started to yell!
Learn your craft and take your time. Create a discipline and work on your time management, organization, and learn good technique. Work for a great chef and don’t worry about the money in the beginning.
Benjamin Miller – Co-Owner, South Philly Barbacoa, PA
My first job was washing dishes at my grandparents’ restaurant when I was 6 or 7. I used to work for cheeseburgers and milkshakes. They had a luncheonette which served the local community of Easton, PA for many years. It was the kind of place where customers served their own coffee and you would always see my grandfather working with a white t-shirt and apron. I have the same uniform.
I once cooked a terrine without a water bath. That experiment failed! I learned my lesson, and the reason for my failure. I guess it was worth it!
Observe everything. Then use your discrimination to choose what good you want to take with you when you move on, and what things you saw that you would do differently in your own place. As a future chef and business owner/entrepreneur, you can make a big positive impact on your community. In some respects, it’s more important to focus on that, because as your community grows and gets stronger, their ability to support your business improves as well. If you are just worried about making money, the love and the quality just won’t be there.
Carmine Guglielmino – C-CAP Alum and Self Employed
My first job in the industry was at The Hudson River Café back in 1996.
My first (painful) mistake was not using the protective guard the first time I ever used a mandoline. All it took was one slip and there was blood everywhere. It made for a very interesting rest of my shift. To this day, I try to avoid using a mandoline at any cost!
It is the most basic rule, but read all recipes from start to finish! I still do this, especially when I am trying out something new. Learn the proper way to perfect the recipe, and then make it your own from that point on.
Antonio Tanzi – C-CAP Alum and Roundsman, Hilton Garden Inn
My first job in the industry was at the Marina Café in Staten Island as a prep/line cook.
Probably preparing more food than was needed, but it seemed like a good idea at the time to have enough food than to run out!
My advice is to trail first to know what you are doing and what tools you will be dealing with. If you do not know something, it’s better to ask than to mess it up or risk injuring yourself.
Bethania Peña – C-CAP Alum and Line Cook, Restaurant Daniel
My first job in the industry was right out of summer job training (FOH) at Café Gray.
My first mistake was to complain to one of the pastry chefs that my feet were hurting!
Take the first week of your first job to learn and see exactly what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to do it. Take notes and listen. If you have to complain, wait until you get home and complain to your cat.
Stay tuned for more stories from our friends and alumni, and share yours with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! #CCAPIsCooking
Thursday, July 28th, 2016
By Guest Blogger Eliza Loehr
We teach our C-CAP students everything from knife skills to life skills but one thing they don’t learn until their first day on the job is how to talk like a chef. With job training in full swing, many of our students are learning first hand the complexities of the language of the kitchen. For those non-chefs out there, imagine it’s your first day on the job and the head chef screams, “you’ve got three salmon all day, I need two steaks on the fly and if you didn’t do enough mise we’ll be 86 chicken by 6!” What does she mean ‘all-day’? What the h*@# is 86 and why is the steak flying? Don’t worry! Here is the essential kitchen jargon you need to know before stepping foot in the BOH*.
- On the line – the ‘line’ is the kitchen space where the active cooking is done, often set up in a horizontal line. This is where the term ‘line cook’ comes from.
- Run a dish – Running refers to bringing a dish to a table. You will often hear ‘I need someone to run this now!’ or ‘I need a runner over here!’
- Cambro – a large, square plastic storage container. They generally have different colored tops for the different sizes, and are referred to as such – i.e. “grab me a red top!”
- On the fly – When a dish is needed immediately it gets to skip the line, this is often because of a mistake – i.e. “Give me two waffles on the fly!”
- Fire – An order given by the head of the line to start preparing your order – i.e. “Fire the lamb!”
- Mise – Short for ‘Mise en Place’, this refers to having everything prepped and in its place before service.
- All day – The amount of orders you have to cook at any given moment. For example, if one hamburger comes in on a ticket and then two more come in on another, you have three hamburgers all day.
- On deck – This refers to what you have coming up – i.e. “three hamburgers all day, two pastas on deck”
- 86 – This refers to when you’re out of a dish. There are lots of theories on where this term came from, but no matter the source, it’s a very important one to learn!
- In the weeds – When you’re far behind and it will take you a long time to catch up, you are ‘in the weeds.’
- To short – If a purveyor doesn’t bring you your full order, they ‘shorted’ you. For example if you ordered four cases of potatoes and they only bring you three, you can scream, “They shorted me a case of taters!”
- Behind – This one’s essential! You will hear chefs and waiters alike calling ‘behind’ when they walk behind anyone that’s working so that the person knows not to step backwards. If you don’t use this you will be in deep trouble or covered with hot food!
- Trail / Stage – A working interview in the kitchen is called a trail or a stage. Cooks will often ‘trail’ for a day, or ‘stage’ for a few days or a few weeks unpaid before they are hired or to gain more experience.
- Covers – Covers refers to the amount of people you served in a night – i.e. “We pulled 400 covers last night!”
- (Number)-top – This refers to how many people a particular table seats – i.e. a 12-top is a table for twelve.
- *BOH / FOH – BOH stands for Back of House, this refers to people that work in the kitchen. FOH stands for Front of House, this refers to anyone that works ‘on the floor’, or in the front of the restaurant.
- Low-boy – A low boy is a fridge that goes under the counter and opens up by your knees.
- Pick up – This refers to the FOH staff picking up the food and bringing it to the table – i.e. “I need a pick up ASAP! The food is dying on the pass here!”
- Speed rack – A tall metal rack on wheels used to store sheet pans.
- Hotel Pan – A deeper style pan (about two inches deep) that you often see used in hotels above Bunsen burners to serve buffet style food.
Tweet us your kitchen jargon and war stories @ccapinc #KitchenJargon!
Thursday, July 21st, 2016
Guest Blogger: Carla Seet
If you had walked through any grocery store five years ago in search of gluten-free items, you would have left empty-handed and discouraged. These days, more knowledge about Celiac and gluten-sensitivity has led to a rise in demand for gluten-free products, and a trip to the store can get you a gluten-free substitute for almost any food item your heart desires. But why is this important for people who aren’t sensitive to gluten? The rise in demand for gluten-free flour and the increased popularity of ancient grains means that we now have easy access to a huge variety of flours when creating baked goods. Tailoring the flour you use to the type of baked good you’re making can bring your grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe to the next level. It’s time we break out of our All-Purpose flour rut!
But first things first…what is gluten? Gluten is a protein made up of two sub-proteins, gliadin and glutenin, found in the endosperm of cereal grains. The most common gluten-containing grains are wheat, barley and rye, but other grains also contain gluten or have a high potential for cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains during processing, such as oats.
In baking, gluten provides structure and elasticity. When gluten-containing flour is combined with water and kneaded, as when making bread, the proteins are strengthened and stretched. As the dough rises and gas is trapped in the strengthened protein links, it is able to maintain its general shape. Gluten also has binding properties and provides moisture and a soft crumb or texture to baked goods.
Without gluten, bakers have to get creative. Using a gluten-free flour blend that’s customized to the type of baked good you’re making can help bring out specific qualities, such as chewiness or moistness, to make up for the lack of gluten. For example, using almond flour can bring out more moisture in cakes, cookies and quick breads thanks to the high fat content of almonds. So if you’re interested in experimenting with different flours, choosing a gluten-free flour can transform your baked goods by adding new flavors or textures.
Use this handy how-to guide to start experimenting with your own customized flour blends:
Thursday, July 14th, 2016
By Guest Bloggers Kieran Cawley and Eliza Loehr
Things are getting competitive here at C-CAP H.Q. To mark National Culinary Arts Month, we’ve been sharing our culinary tips with you daily across our social channels. Now, half way through the month, we’ve decided to step things up a gear – with a cook-off!
In the ring we have our Operations Manager Eliza, and our Events and Marketing Coordinator Kieran, tasked with cooking the best breakfast. While Eliza hails from New Hampshire, Kieran started out life in Manchester, England. This is more than just a cook-off; this is Team USA Vs. Team UK! Who will prevail?
Kieran: When it comes to a winning breakfast there can only be one option – the ‘Full English.”
This isn’t an everyday day breakfast; well not if you want to watch your waistline, but it’s a weekend treat for sure! I’ll be rustling up sausage, egg, and bacon with a fried tomato, toast and the hero of the dish… homemade ‘British’ baked beans!
Eliza: As a New Yorker, it’s hard to admit we don’t have it all, but when it comes to a true American Breakfast, I had to look to the south. I went with the age-old classic of Johnny Cakes with soft scrambled eggs, thick-cut bacon, and a maple jalapeño butter to top it all off.
Kieran: Whoa, jalapeños first thing in the morning!?
Us Brits prefer to start the day with a cup of tea & toast so I’m not really sure about laying on the heat this early in the morning…
And what is it with you guys putting syrup on everything?
Eliza: Baked beans and tomatoes? Not really my ‘cup of tea’ as the Brits would put it. When he mentioned sausage, I couldn’t get the image of a blood sausage out of my head all day!
How Did It Taste?
Kieran: I hate to admit it, but that’s pretty good! The maple jalapeño butter is actually my favorite part; it gives a nice little kick to the eggs. I’m a convert!
I’d say my beans win over the American variety every time though. Unlike the sweet BBQ flavor I find over here, these beans have a lovely rich tomato sauce and are guilt free – no sugar in sight!
Eliza: Turns out I’ve never had proper baked beans. Those were actually the best part of the meal!
I’m a sucker for anything with corn, so a corn cake with crispy edges is always a great way to start. The bacon adds the salt and the fat while the eggs add a smooth texture and the jalapeño maple butter brought it to the next level!
So Who Won?
Well, that’s up to you! Head over to our Instagram page to vote for your favorite dish!
Do you want to taste Eliza’s Johnny Cakes with jalapeño maple butter? Or see what all the fuss is about Kieran’s baked beans? Find the recipes for both on our Facebook page now!
Thursday, July 7th, 2016
By Guest Blogger Eliza Loehr
One of the biggest food myths is that eating healthy is expensive. While there will always be a new health craze with a high price tag, those inflated costs generally reflect the demand and the marketing, not necessarily the health benefits. My personal mantra is “EAT REAL FOOD”. When you stick to the basics, eat minimally processed, local foods, and eat a balanced diet, you will save money, lose weight and support your local economy without breaking the bank.
An incredible meal does not require unhealthy or expensive ingredients. The two most powerful ingredients to achieve strength, depth and balance of flavor are onions and garlic. These also happen to be some of the healthiest and cheapest ingredients in the store. Strong flavors come from spices, herbs and acidic ingredients such as vinegars or citrus. Deep flavors come from umami-rich ingredients such as garlic, onions, meats, shellfish, mushrooms and tomatoes.
By buying simple, real foods with few ingredients (that are all pronounceable!), you are doing your body and wallet an enormous favor. Marketers will always have a new “healthy” food or beverage, but don’t forget that diet soda was once thought to be a health food! Stick to your gut, and your gut will thank you.
Tips to eat healthy while saving money:
- Prepackaged bulk foods: Grocery stores often purchase prepackaged foods in bulk that are much cheaper than the brand name products. Because the store pays a bulk rate and cuts out the middleman, they are able to offer a much lower price without cutting the quality.
- Go local and seasonal: When you buy local, you are usually buying organic. Many times small farmers don’t have the money or time to go through the organic certification. Buying what’s in season where you live supports your economy, and nothing beats the flavor and health benefits of fresh vegetables. Many large companies aim to “just” pass organic inspections and inject food with many chemicals. Your local farmers don’t need chemicals to mass-produce. Local meat and produce, even without an organic label, is healthier and more worth your money than organic products from food giants.
- Don’t pay for packaging: Whenever possible, avoid paying for packaging. Fancy packaging means that your extra dollars will pay for plastic, paper or metal, and not better quality. Excess packaging also typically comes with more processing, which goes against the mantra of eat realfood!
- Shop store brand products: Quite often the top or bottom shelves house store brand products that mimic the popular products found at eye level. Generally these products are very similar but are less expensive due to minimal advertising and development costs.
What do you do with your groceries now? Stick with C-CAP for National Culinary Arts Month. We are sharing cooking tips on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all month long. #CCAPTip
Thursday, June 30th, 2016
Guest Blogger: Eliza Loehr
You may have noticed the phrase “ancient grains” taking over the grocery store shelves in the past few years. Cheerios now boasts a mix of ancient grains, quinoa fills entire sections of the store and rye berry salad has taken the place of egg salad in the prepared foods case. But how far back are we talking when we use the ambiguous label of “ancient”? As it turns out, while some grains like teff have been harvested for up to six thousand years, we didn’t stop eating these so-called ancient grains until the 1960s.
Meet Jeff Zimmerman. Jeff was born to a wheat-growing family in North Dakota. His family had been in the business of poly-farming for centuries and grew dozens of varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains. In the 1960s, a newly created genetically engineered variety of wheat was introduced to the market that promised to triple the yield these farmers had ever seen. Within a few years, nearly every family within 100 miles of the Zimmerman farm was ditching their multi-crop farms and was prospering from this new wheat variety. But as with most booms, there was a bust. Diseases hit hard, and with monoculture sweeping across the state, the diseases wiped out nearly every single farm. Jeff’s family high-tailed it to Arizona.
As he got older, his family became interested in local and heritage varieties of food. When he realized there was no heritage wheat available, he wanted to find out why. That’s when he stumbled upon White Sonora Wheat. Jeff and his family soon opened Hayden Flour Mills, selling single-origin White Sonoran Wheat to bakers in their area. While most of the flour we know is a highly processed blend of grains to ensure consistency, single-origin grains take on the terroir of their growing region. Bakers were noticing hints of lemon from batches on the east of town, and a flowery scent from the batches that came from the north. Many industrial wheat growers look for durability and consistency in their crops rather than flavor, dramatically changing the way our bodies process the milled product. While gluten allergies seem to be increasing, the new generation has begun to dig into their grandparents’ old boxes, pull out the seeds of the past and sow a new food future for us. The rise of ancient grains may seem to parallel every other food trend sweeping the nation, but the health benefits, flavor and history that this particular trend brings to the plate indicates that this one is here to stay. The story of Jeff’s family tells the story of food in America in the 20th century: small family farms that were overtaken by promising industrial agriculture and its staggering yields are now slowly reforming as the new generation is beginning to reintroduce the diverse and flavorful crops of our past. Anson Mills, the de facto leader in the ancient grains revolution, has this to say about why this change is important to them,
“Why do we make this effort? We could simply lie down and lament the future of American agriculture. But instead we choose to extend the promise of pleasure—pleasure in the fine flavors of grains and vegetables produced with an eye to the integrity of cuisine and the integral character of farming. It’s been going beautifully so far.”
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
By Guest Blogger Jill Lloyd, Director of Development
Ah, a visit to the City of Light! How romantic!! But wait – not so romantic when moms have three teenage boys in tow who want to explore the culture, meet the locals and eat, eat, eat!
Upon arrival, we set out for lunch at Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germaine, which offered fabulous café food and wonderful people watching. The Salade de Nicoise was just the thing before exploring Paris and the Picasso Museum.
After enjoying the buzz of the city and an eventful visit to the catacombs, we ventured to Les Climats, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the 7th District.. We had a table in the beautifully appointed bar, where we were surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine. The sommelier recommended a bottle of wine that was a crowd pleaser, and we were given the most fabulous amuse-bouche of fluke, lemony avocado puree and zucchini. What a way to start the evening! We then ate filet of beef that was served with mushrooms and a pinot noir bernaise sauce (which I am still dreaming about) and pigeon that was served with asparagus and delicate potato crisps. We were then treated to an assortment of delectable desserts. What a meal!!!
On Sunday we ventured to the 9th District for brunch at the highly-acclaimed Buvette and to visit with our friends, the Mayers. At Buvette the boys scarfed down a plate of perfectly cured and beautifully sliced prosciutto, lots of fresh-squeezed orange juice, croque monsieur, potato pancakes with smoked salmon, lentils with trout and eggs with more delicious prosciutto before venturing out to the Louvre.
The Café Saint-Germaine was a favorite stop throughout our stay where the boys enjoyed late-night orders of croque monsieur, and the local cafes were always good for buttery, flakey croissants and jolts of café au lait or the perfectly seasoned chicken. A street vendor who served up tasty, smokey kabobs was also a hit with the teenage crowd.
After a full day of exploring the city, when the boys ventured out on their own, the moms ventured out too! One stop was the historic Bar Hemingway at the Ritz. The Ritz, one of Paris’ most romanticized Belle Epoque hotels, first opened in 1898 and just re-opened after a four-year renovation. Collin, the bartender at the Hemingway, is a genius who mixed up the most delectable cocktails while entertaining those of us who were lucky enough to find a seat at the bar.
Another great stop was the Four Seasons Hotel George V near the Champs-Elysees. The flowers throughout the hotel were breath-taking, and the cosmos at Le Bar were especially appreciated after a full day of enjoying the neighborhoods, the museums and the parks.
Café Lipp, which was established in 1880 on Boulevard Saint-Germaine, was the final stop on our eating adventure. This iconic Parisienne restaurant and Historical Monument serves French bourgeois cuisine and is full of friendly, attentive waiters and beautifully decorated ceilings. The delicious and fun meal when the boys wrote lots of postcards to loved ones, ended with amazing desserts that included profiteroles, floating islands and napoleons. It was a fantastic way to end a memorable visit to Paris.
Maybe not such a romantic visit, but fun, fun, fun (and delicious) nevertheless!