Category: chef life

It’s not a Sundae

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This is the realization of an ice cream dream flavor.   Presented above is yerba mate ice cream, fernet spiked fudge, fresh mint candy, candied cocoa nibs, and creme chantilly.

The vanilla ice cream base is infused with mate tea before it is spun.  A rich, thick, gooey dark chocolate fudge is finished with a moderate hand of fernet- a minty herbaceous digestif that is a staple in the Argentinian liquor palette.  Here I combine two flavors that demonstrate a large culinary influence in Argentinian culture.

The ice cream is complimented with two crunchy textural items- a crumbly mint candy and the harder cocoa nib.  The mint candy is a simple ingredient that I am very proud of.  It is a method that I contrived by trial and a small dash of non-intention, or coincidence perhaps.  I wanted to make a candy cane concept that was crushed.  The main issue is that when you crush sugar candies they leave sharp shards that can impale the tongue.  I figured that candy canes must be made from pulled sugar, and from there I intentionally created sugar crystals.  Normally the crystallization of sugar in an end product is a mistake- it changes the entire texture to that of a sandy nature.  I took that effect and manipulated  it into a desirable form.  These large crumbles have a strong flavor of fresh mint leaves, that quickly dissipate after a few rounds with the teeth.

I am pretty much obsessed with candied cocoa nibs- they are just divine.  This very rich and bitter little nugget of raw cocoa responses alarmingly well to a dose of sugar-coating.

The final touch to the dish is a dollop of whip cream, a refreshing cloud of creaminess to lift the dish up, to add some air to the web of flavors and textures.

 

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Cook’s Conundrum

It’s never actually worth it, the perfectionist life of a chef.  It’s not worth the money, the back aches, the missing out on having an outside life, not seeing your friends, skipping every holiday to work in a hot kitchen for no extra pay or appreciation, cutting vacation short, skipping the summer tan.   It’s not worth the countless extra hours, the extreme attention to details that no one will ever see, all the subtle nuances that just end up get covered up with decoration.  Yes, there are short cuts, and people who makes these hacks tend to do well, because it’s not very often that the customer notices.  It’s not worth cooking for a living- it’s hardly making a living or having a life of your own.  It’s choosing to be a servant when you don’t have to be one.

The truth is that it is compulsive, it is a personal trait to make everything perfect to present something in a dimly light dinning room, to make every edge smooth and perfectly flush on a cake that is then covered with a border.  I have to make everything perfect, just to smash it.  Why?  So that I can sleep at night, so that I can feel good about every single thing I make time and time again- whether it’s a once in a life time wedding cake, or any one of the countless numbers of labor intensive penguin shaped ice cream sandwiches that go out on daily basis to the masses of diners.

Focused on the Blur

After so many first times, it must, at some point, level out and start to get easier to do things for the first time.  It Must. Right? Or is it like how getting fully submerged in a cold lake on a hot summer day never gets easier no matter how many times you shock dry skin into the heavy wet water?

I have a great salt and pepper blend of confidence and humility, but I get nervous-I am not graceful on my feet.  I am a behind the scenes person, I am the focus of my delusions, but secretly super shy.  Interviewing a chef is like photographing Sasquatch, we are creatures not fully of this dimension and most times talking is hard.

I remember the first time I split and scrapped a vanilla bean- a long, thin, small, precious, and plump, ready to create a subtle explosion of flavor- I was hands shaking with my pairing knife, afraid to waste any one of the million seeds, knowing that this was a turning point in my life- one small step, the first one really, into a study that I so enthusiscitcally pursue.  So everytime I do something for the first time, I remember how natural it is for me to split a vanilla bean.

T Minus Countdown

Ok everyone, so it’s the last official day before we officially start serving the general public with their opinions and their impressions and their reviews.  Am I nervous?  I would say terrified is more appropriate of a feeling.  Am I starting out with safe desserts?  Crowd pleasers that are tried, tested, and true?  Well, no, obviously.  That would be too easy.  There is risk involved, there is a good chance of failure.

Things not helping my anxiety:  the boys are killing it with their dishes and their execution.  These are professionals with professional tongues.  Every time I taste the food, my ego is like “what the fuck are you doing here?”  I have wanted this for a very long time, I have worked very hard to get here. I have the training, the education, the creativity, the work ethic, the vision, yet still, I feel unprepared, and no amount of work will make me feel prepared.  After a 6 month build up, and 3 weeks of work til you drop, the focus of a med school student, I still feel like a wet lost dog.

Thanks for listening everyone, see you on the hot side of the counter.

Seeing Tres

 

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Early summer’s rendition of 3 leches:

Lemon-poppy seed cake with buttermilk added to the traditional three milk soak, rhubarb preserves, fresh market strawberries, confit lemon, strawberry chantilly, violet meringue.

Light and bright like spring’s glorious rays warming up our frosty skin, delicate like those first flowers brave enough to poke out of the hard ground, melts in your mouth like fresh spun cotton candy.

Flavors mimic a sweet tart candy, just sour enough to make you crave another subtly sweet bite.  A disappearing crunch, a creamy cloud texture, a cartwheel of flavors to carry you home.

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Coming Attraction

Prototype week at work means taste testing and tweaking.  Its time for the early summer dessert menu to sprout its warm weather wears.  Spoiler alert: everything must contain a berry.  Its berry season and I must exploit this seasonal ingredient fully.  We are all very impatient to have fresh food again, and I anxious to use fruit!

One example of lessons studied this week:

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The quarto chocolate is almost ready to hit the plates, it just need to be refined a bit more.  What’s on the inside you ask?  What exactly is it? Well, you are just going to have to wait and see…

Spring Remodel

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Black Bottom Brazilian Cheesecake, Violet Meringue, Rhubarb

 

Forging for spring ingredients,

Feeling frantic for bright flavors,

Inspired by natural colors

Enrobed with the love of chocolate

Somehow we find a way to wait patiently for the spring produce to pop.