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Posts tagged ‘Chef’

Paula Deen Has Diabetes – So What?

“Everything in moderation… including moderation.” – Julia Child

Here’s where I weigh in (pun intended) on the firestorm that ensued after Paula Deen‘s confession that she has known she has Type II diabetes for three years. Basically… so?

A good public relations decision for Deen would have been to have come clean three years ago about her diabetes. But is she really required to disclose her medical history? Do we know the health concerns of other celebrity chefs? Because she has diabetes, does that make it forbidden for her to cook anything other than “diabetic” food? I really fail to see the logic in all the “Shame on you, Paula Deen!” mentality.

Julia Child knew what was what. In addition to her rather famous quote above about moderation, she has also said, “The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit. ” Is Julia vilified because she advocated getting loaded? No. Is Keith Richards a “bad role model” because he plays the guitar with arthritic hands? Is he “promoting” an activity that may or may not bring on a physical affliction? (The answer to that is, or had better be, a resounding, “HELL NO!”)

The thing is… and this is a shocker… Paula Deen is NOT the only celebrity cook who uses ingredients that are less than healthy for you. Hell, I found a fairly decadent fettucine recipe in one of my Cooking Light magazines! Butter, half-and-half, (less fat) cream cheese and TEN strips of bacon! Cooking “light?” Indeed.

The Food Network, publishing companies, celebrity chefs… anybody who promotes cooking and food is usually doing so TO MAKE MONEY. Like it or not, we are a capitalistic society.

I’m not saying that a lot of her food isn’t bad for you. A lot of it is. She does really like butter and mayonnaise. But the bottom line is, Americans are fat because of the choices we make, and changes in our society that make physical exertion less likely than it used to be. Paula Deen cooks on television. She doesn’t come into our homes and shove pie down our… well… pieholes. We do that. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF WHAT WE EAT.

Deen has expressed dismay that more chefs haven’t come forth in support of her. That too is a public relations decision, on their part. Emeril Lagasse did speak out in support of Deen. He disclosed that although he does not have Type II diabetes, it runs in his family. “We in our household have been dealing with it [diabetes] for many, many years. In the words of Julia Child, ‘it’s about moderation.'” (See? Always listen to Julia!) Take a look at Emeril on Good Morning America:
Emeril Lagasse Talks Paula Deen, Diabetes, Makes Braised Pot Roast With Vegetables.

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Zingaro 515

If you haven’t heard about Zingaro 515 yet, you need to! After hearing much buzz on Twitter and in the Des Moines Register about Zingaro opening in Sherman Hills, I decided that I needed to investigate, and inform my readers about this new dining experience.

Zingaro 515 opened on Dec. 2, and is located in the Scheuerman House in Sherman Hills, at 1605 Woodland Ave. Zingaro is self-described as, “A chef-driven restaurant in the heart of Sherman Hill. With an approach unseen with in the Des Moines culinary world.”

The sight of the house brought back an immediate childhood memory for me. I lived in the Sherman Hills district during most of my childhood. My family would go on walks, sometimes “downtown”  and we always walked right past the Scheuerman House, which is directly across the street to the west of Hoyt Sherman Place. Rumor has it that I was a stubborn child, and disliked walking anything but SLOW. About the point at which I would get tired and start to lag just happened to be right in the vicinity of the Scheuerman house! I can still remember it.

Anyway, after further research I discovered that Zingaro 515 is a “pop-up” restaurant. Local chef/blogger Sam Auen gives a superb explanation in his blog, Locally Grown.

“Pop-ups are popping up in larger cities (shocker) and play on a chef’s creativity.  It’s a way for those chefs without big money backing to expose the world to the product of their obsessive culinary nature.  The goal of these places is not to become a fixture, but to burn brightly then move on to something new.  Sometimes these ventures are a testing ground for the viability of a concept or to showcase an intended static restaurant concept to the public and especially to people who may want to invest in the particular chef’s future.  Did you catch that one?  This is awesome semi-guerilla dining at its rawest.”

I contacted York Taenzer, owner of the Schuerman House, to ask about featuring the house and Zingaro 515 on my blog. I was lucky enough to be invited to view the house and chat with both Taenzer and Chef Hal Jasa. Chef Jasa is well known in the Des Moines area. He was also a chef at 25th St. Cafe and Phat Chefs, and more recently did underground dinners with the Des Moines Social Club. Jasa also had the honor of being featured as “100 Tastes to Try in 2007” in Food & Wine magazine. He’s number 51 – “Clandestine Dinners” if you want to go take a look.

Chef Jasa chatted with me about his passion for food. His specialties are charcuterie, and sauces.  According to Wikipedia, charcuterie is “the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.[1] Charcuterie is part of the garde manger chef‘s repertoire. Originally intended as a way to preserve meats before the advent of refrigeration, they are prepared today for their flavors derived from the preservation processes.[2]

Jasa also experiments with scents that he says opens up the palate. He recently featured orange creme brulee on the menu, which included “pine.” Jasa showed me how he used one dish to place a bed of rock salt, and an actual sprig of pine, then placed the creme brulee in a dish nestled in the rock salt. He is also using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream at the tables – something that excited one of my readers greatly when I shared that fact with her.

The Scheuerman House itself is a grand old Victorian home with ornate Golden oak woodwork, a fitting showcase for Chef Jasa’s culinary genius.

Authentic Victorian furnishings

A grand piano

and an elegant dining room

Zingaro will be open Thursday and Friday evenings from 5:30 to close. Diners can enjoy three courses for $30 in the dining room, or dine on five courses at the six-person chef’s table for $60. Zingaro is a BYOB restaurant, with a $5 stemware charge per table. For more information go to http://www.zingarocuisine.com. Reservations are recommended.

25 things chefs don’t tell you

Sauciers-in-training

Image via Wikipedia

Do restaurants recycle the bread basket? Are most of us bad tippers? Food Network Magazine surveyed chefs across the country — anonymously — to find out everything we’ve always wanted to know.

Chefs are pickier than you think.
Liver, sea urchin, tofu, eggplant, and oysters, of all things, topped the list of foods chefs hate most. Only 15% of chefs surveyed said they’d eat absolutely anything.

Still, chefs hate picky eaters.
More than 60% said requests for substitutions are annoying. Some of their biggest pet peeves: When customers pretend to be allergic to an ingredient, and when vegetarians make up rules, like “a little chicken stock is OK.”

When eating out in other restaurants, chefs say they avoid pasta and chicken.
Why? These dishes are often the most overpriced (and least interesting) on the menu. Said one chef, “I won’t pay $24 for half a chicken breast.” Said another, “I want something I can’t make myself.”

Chefs have expensive taste.
The restaurant chefs most often cited as the best in the country was The French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley. It ought to be — dinner there is $240 per person, before wine.

…and yet they like fast food.
Their favorite chain: Wendy’s. Culinary degrees aren’t necessarily the norm. Just half the chefs surveyed graduated from a cooking school. The rest got their training the old-fashioned way, by working their way up through the kitchen ranks.

Critics trump movie stars in the VIP pecking order.
A whopping 71% of chefs said they give special treatment to restaurant critics when they spot them; only 63% do the same for celebrities. Making out in the bathroom is old news. More than half of the chefs have found customers kissing — and much more — in the restaurant loo.

Roaches are more common than you think.
Yes, 75% of chefs said they’ve seen roaches in the kitchen. And yet, chefs swear their kitchens are clean. On a scale of 1 to 10, 85% of chefs ranked their kitchens an 8 or higher for cleanliness.

Only 13% of chefs have seen a cook do unsavory things to a customer’s food.
The most unbelievable tale: “Someone once ran a steak through a dishwasher after the diner sent it back twice. Ironically, the customer was happy with it then.”

Your bread basket might be recycled.
Three chefs admitted that uneaten bread from one basket goes right into another one.

Chefs work hard for low pay.
The chefs we surveyed work between 60 and 80 hours a week and almost all of them work holidays. Sixty-five percent reported making less than $75,000 a year. Waiters take home an average of $662 a week, often tax free.

“Vegetarian” is open to interpretation.
About 15% of chefs said their vegetarian dishes might not be completely vegetarian. Beware if you’re one of those super-picky vegan types: One chef reported seeing a cook pour lamb’s blood into a vegan’s primavera.

Paying for a last-minute reservation probably won’t work.
Only one chef said bribes will help you score a table when the restaurant is fully booked; he suggested “promising to buy a bottle of Dom Pérignon or Opus One.” A better bet: Being buddies with the chef.

Menu “specials” are often experimental dishes.
Contrary to popular belief — that specials are just a chef’s way of using up old ingredients — most chefs said they use specials to try out new ideas or serve seasonal ingredients. Only five chefs admitted that they try to empty out the fridge with their nightly specials.

The appropriate tip is 20%…
That’s what chefs leave when they eat out, and it’s the amount they think is fair.

…unless the service is really poor.
An astounding 90% of chefs said it’s fair to penalize bad waiters with a smaller tip.

That rule about not ordering fish on Sunday might be worth following.
Several chefs warned, “We don’t get fresh deliveries on Sunday.”

Chefs hate working on New Year’s Eve more than any other holiday.
Valentine’s Day was a close second, but don’t take that to mean chefs aren’t romantic: 54% of those surveyed said they like it when couples get engaged in their restaurant.

They secretly want to be Alton or Giada.
Nearly 60% of chefs said they’d want their own cooking show.

Chefs cook when they’re sick.
It’s a long-standing tradition in the restaurant industry: Cooks report to duty unless they’re practically hospitalized. Half of those we surveyed said they come to work sick, and they stay there through injuries, too. Many chefs have cut themselves on the job, gone to get stitches, and returned to work to finish out the night. Accidents definitely happen: Almost every chef we surveyed has been injured on the job in some way, and several chefs said they’re missing parts of their fingers.

The five-second rule actually applies.
A quarter of the chefs surveyed said they’d pick up food that dropped on the floor and cook it.

Your waiter is trying to influence your order.

By the editors of Food Network Magazine

Almost every chef surveyed (95%) said he or she urges servers to steer customers toward specific dishes on the menu each night.

Restaurants mark up wine by a lot more than you might expect.
Most chefs said that a bottle on their wine list costs 2½ times what the same one would cost in a wine store.

There’s a reason so many restaurants serve molten chocolate cake.
More than 75% of chefs said they take inspiration from other restaurant menus.

Curtis Stone Does Des Moines

I went to Iowa’s Premier Wine & Food Expo today with high hopes. Some of my expectations were met… some were underwhelmed. I think that my expectation was that this would be a sort of meet-and-greet between local food vendors, restaurants, chefs and foodies. It was that… somewhat. But for $21 per person admission I got a little of what I had hoped for, and a lot of what was a foodies’ version of the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fair. Meh. Not sure what the truck was all about, but it was pretty and shiny so I photographed it!

Highlights for me were chocolate samples from Chocolaterie Stam, Havarti and Bleu Cheese samples from Maytag, super yummy Spicy Red Pepper pasta sauce from Sorrisos Sauce, homemade tortilla chips and green salsa from Dos Rios, and taking a look at a selection of kitchen tools, gadgets, etc. from Hockenbergs (Foodservice Equipment & Supply).

Low points… a proliferation of “stuff.” Not to name any, because I’m not grumpy enough to hurt any of the vendors’ feelings, but there was a lot of unrelated paraphernalia and/or accessories. Enough said about that.

HOWEVER!… my outlaw sister and I did get to take in Curtis Stone‘s cooking demonstration, which was high in entertainment value, and a definite high point of the Expo for me.

Stone started out by making a drink he called Emerald Eyes… a mixture of Tanqueray, Midori melon liquer, pineapple juice and ice. Stone shook the drink… not very successfully, but was a great sport about it. The third time was a charm. He topped the drink off with a touch of champagne. Wish I had written down the recipe, because I can’t find it on the web!

Stone talked about what an important role food plays in everyone’s life. To demonstrate, he chose a single female, Alicia; and a single male, Scott out of the audience. It so happened that Scott is a culinary student, and Stone put them to work making homemade tagliatelle pasta. He then had the two sit down at a table while he prepared the tagliatell with crab and red pepper. A fairly simple, uncomplicated dish… Stone highly recommended throwing in a generous amount of butter. He quickly had the dish plated up and served to the young, newly-introduced pair.

Stone shook things up even more by inviting a couple, Jan and Chuck, married for 48 years, up to the stage. Jan was immediately given a glass of champagne, a fluffy robe, and was escorted to a cushy bed set up on stage. Stone then put her husband, Chuck to work making her breakfast in bed. Dripping with innuendo, Stone had the audience laughing throughout the demonstration. That was one recipe I did manage to find on the web (see below). Okay. I was too cheap to buy the book. Yes I know I will regret it laater because when I *do* buy it, it won’t be personally autographed by Chef Stone. C’est la vie.

Stone ended the show with a question and answer session. My outlaw sister, Carol,  managed to get in the last word with her question. Not about food. Not about being a celebrity chef. “Is Bobby Flay as hot in person as he is on TV?” I thought it was awesome. Chef Stone (a little) flustered, show over. Time to go home. Our work here is done.

Curtis Stone’s recipe for Homemade Waffles with Caramelized Apples and Vanilla Ice Cream

Curtis Stone's recipe for homemade waffles

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
To caramelize the apples:
3/4 cup/168 g sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup (1 stick)/113 g unsalted butter
6 Pink Lady apples (about 2 1/2 pounds/1.1 kg), cored and each cut into eight 1-inch-wide wedges
½ cup/65 g raisins
1/4 cup/55 g heavy whipping cream
For the waffles:
1 1/2 cups/245 g all purpose flour
3 tablespoons/42 g sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons/about 5 g baking powder
3/4 teaspoon/about 3 g baking soda
3/4 teaspoon/about 4 g salt
1 1/2 cups/360 ml whole milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons (1/4 stick)/40 g melted unsalted butter
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 pints/710 ml vanilla ice cream

Method:
To caramelize the apples and raisins:

Place a large heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the sugar. Using a small sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the sugar and add the bean. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the butter. Add the apples and toss to coat.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the apples begin to soften and release their juice  Stir in the raisins. Continue to cook, gently tossing the apples occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the apples are tender but still hold their shape and the caramel sauce forms.  Stir in the cream.

To make the waffles:

Meanwhile, preheat the Belgian waffle iron. Preheat the oven to 200°F/93°C. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.  In a separated bowl, whisk the milk, egg and melted butter to blend. Add the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.

Ladle about 1/2 cup/105 ml of the waffle batter onto each of the two 4 1/2-inch-/11-cm-square grids or about 3/4 cup/155 ml over a 7-inch-/18-cm-diameter grid on the waffle iron. Cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on your iron (most new irons have a timer), or until the waffle is golden and crisp on the outside and cooked through. Transfer the waffles to the oven tray and keep them warm in the oven, while cooking the remaining waffles.

To serve:

Cut the square waffles diagonally in half or cut the round waffles into 4 wedges. Place two hot waffles triangles or wedges on each plate. Spoon the caramelized apple mixture over the waffles. Scoop the ice cream atop and serve immediately.

Lunchbox Project

Thank you, thank you! to Lisa Orgler at the Lunchbox Project for the awesome job she did on my new banner and avatar for Chef Herman’s Food Adventures! Go take a look at her great work at

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