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Up Close with Chef Michael Symon by blogger Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.

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16208_10205206493744557_6653510623717721083_nI have known Michael some three years now, having first met him at the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland back in 2012. Relaxed, humble and completely accessible, if you are fortunate enough to spend any time at all in his presence, or watch him interacting with his family, or sit with him shoes off, feet up, watching a Browns game on a Sunday afternoon, you’d be hard pressed to associate this laid back everyman with the public dynamo we all know as the public ‘Chef Michael Symon.’ His trademark laugh and smile are always right below the surface waiting to bubble over at a moments notice. When he’s back in his beloved Cleveland, friends and family are his focus. But, underneath is a man who is driven. A man who’s aware of how lucky he is to have achieved what he has, but not one that takes it for granted. See way back when, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work, first cheffing, then as a restaurateur, then as a beloved TV personality. The accolades now, are the result of years of hard work and dedication. To his craft. To his family. To his employees and to his friends.

-dcdce867be975666I have watched as fans approach him, hoping for a minute of his time, or a smile, or an autograph. I have never seen him not stop to take the time to make someone who approached feel important, even if it’s a simple hello, a smile or to request a picture. Onstage, I have watched him capture the audience, making eye contact as if he’s talking directly to each and every person there. He makes folks feel like they could easily sit back and grab a beer with him, over conversation about food, or riding his motorcycle, or debating with him over his favorite Cleveland team, The Browns. I’ve heard folks remark of him, “Wow, he’s just like me.” Having spent time with him, I can honestly say, “It’s real.” It’s what has launched him to the top of his profession, garnering the title America’s Favorite Chef.

112_0806_03z+iron_chef_michael_symon+symon_cookingI recently caught up with him between shoots of his hit TV show The Chew, which he co-hosts with Daphne Oz, Clinton Kelley and fellow chefs, Carla Hall and Mario Batali. His TV career is varied and lengthy. Since 1998, with appearances on Sara’s Secrets with Sara Moulton, Ready, Set, Cook and Food Nation with Bobby Flay, hosting over 100 episodes of The Melting Pot and his winning season one of The Next Iron Chef on Food Network in 2008, he has been a regular in our homes. He appeared on four Food Network/Cooking Channel shows, hosting Food Feuds and Cook Like an Iron Chef, judging season three of The Next Iron Chef and competing on Iron Chef America.In January 2012, his show Symon’s Suppers, premiered on Cooking Channel and in September 2011, he joined the cast of The Chew as one of the show’s five hosts. Most recently, Michael was a mentor on the first season of Food Network’s All-Star Academy. 

A successful restaurateur, Michael recently opened his 14th B Spot Burgers, to go along with his other eateries, Lola Bistro, Lolita,Roast, Bar Symon and Mabel’s BBQ. With his hectic schedule, I asked him if he misses being in the kitchen, just cheffing. “No,” he laughed emphatically, “You know, I think that the misconception of a chef, especially in my capacity as a chef-owner, is that we work the line every week. I’m in the kitchen yes, but not on the line at a particular station. If you work just a station,” he expanded, “when it gets busy, you see just that one station. I prefer to work the kitchen. I expedite, I watch the cooks a lot, but I haven’t worked a particular station in God knows how long. Now, I do spend time on each station with the cook the first week when we open a restaurant.”

Michael-Symon-Cutlery

Many of you who are fans of the Iron Chef, will be happy to hear that Michael has a new signature line of cutlery coming out with Ergo Chef, LLC., available for delivery beginning in mid July, 2015. About a year in the making, Ergo and Symon will produce five individual knives for the Symon series. The blades will include a 9-inch chef knife; a 6-inch chef knife; a 6-inch serrated utility knife; a 7-inch vegetable cleaver; and a 3.5-inch paring knife. A four-piece steak knife set will also be available. The knives will be ground in the conventional Western-style, rather than with a Japanese beveled edge that is growing in popularity. Michael has opted for a small selection of blades, rather than an extensive collection of knives. “I’m of the belief you don’t need a giant set of knives, just a couple that perform at a high level,” Symon stated. “they have a unique handle that is not only stunning, but also very comfortable and durable.

11061317_10206200703880903_7222602543719262059_nI asked him, “Why Ergo?” “I love doing business with people that I like being around,” he offered. “and yes, they make a beautiful knife and they make it at a super reasonable price. But aside from that, Michael and Scott Staib are just great people. If you’re going to work with someone or partner with someone, you want them to have the same beliefs you do and the same morals you do. They are just really good people.” I asked Michael what was most important to him in making a decision to put his name on a knife or series of knives. “For me,” he responded, “there were a couple of things that were important. First, it had to be a knife that I was very comfortable using in the kitchen myself. Secondly, I wanted it to be a knife that any one of my professional cooks in the kitchens of my restaurants would use and be comfortable with. Lastly, I wanted it to be affordable for the home cook. Chef knives can be crazy,” he continued, “I personally have been collecting knives for 25 years and I have knives that are ridiculously expensive. I wanted to get the look and feel of those knives, but in a package that the home cook would be comfortable buying. I also wanted a knife that one of my cooks on the line would be comfortable using every night, on the line, putting up with the wear and tear of putting out 300 meals. It had to be at a very high level for me to put my name on it, from a quality and look stand point, but also something that would be accessible to the home cook.” Michael has not been shy in stating in the past that a chef or cook only needs a few good knives and I asked him to expand on that thought process.

B_q5VSRUYAAb30o“I don’t think you need every knife in the set in order to get everything done, We have 2 chef’ knives, both a 9′ and 6 inch, a good serrated knife, a pairing knife and a vegetable cleaver because I do love using a vegetable cleaver. Then, we also have our steak knives.” I mentioned to him that some have remarked that even at the reasonable price, it’s still a bit expensive. He answered, “Obviously life is about what you can afford. That said, to be able to get a knife for $69-$79 that will last you a lifetime, as opposed to a knife you can get for $20 that you have to replace in a year, it just seems like a pretty easy decision to me.”

slide-slide_d5df7999-6bae-4c45-9406-328f0567c456_2713x1078_source-1000x400-Q90_1407801074639Our conversation then turned to his new hit show, The Chew. Winner of the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host along with his co-hosts, I asked him if when he first started this journey with the show back in 2011, he had any idea it would be the juggernaut hit that it has become. “I think with anything in life you hope for the best and plan for the worst,” he offered, “Obviously I knew when we started that I already had a long term relationship with Mario, so I knew that was going to work. The other three hosts I had not met before. To end up being paired up with 4 other people who all have ended up being best friends, God I mean, you couldn’t ask for more than that. We all just immediately got along and it’s only gotten better from there.” He added, “All of us cherish it and don’t take for granted for a second how lucky we have it.”

the-chewI pressed him for a behind the scenes anecdote that I could share with you all and he immediately spoke to Clinton being the cast’s practical joker. “We’re like a family,” he explained, “so there’s definitely a lot of razzing, kinda like you get between brothers and sisters. Every one definitely can give a joke and take a joke. This past week for instance, Clinton got me a couple times really good, so I had the person in charge of wardrobe order all his pants two sizes two small. When he was getting ready he kept saying, ‘You know these are cut really weird, these are not fitting correctly.’ He laughed, “It happens all the time and we really do have a good time with each other.”

Grandma’s Risotto; A Recipe from Chef Symon

We then moved the conversation to a bit of the person behind the persona side of these interviews, discussing his relationship with his wife, Lizzie and his home life. “We met in the restaurant business back in 1990 and we opened Lola about 17 years ago. My favorite thing I ever do is cooking dinner for Lizzie and my family and friends, just making a meal at home. There’s nothing more enjoyable than that.” I asked about his hectic schedule and how the two of them balance it and their personal life. “It’s like anything else, you get used to it. It’s all about the people around me. I am fortunate to have folks around me that I’ve been working with some 20+ years now. Liz is with me at all times, no matter where CASTELLO MICHAEL AND LIZ SYMONwe are. We go back to Cleveland every weekend. We shoot Tuesday through Thursday then we head back to Cleveland.

I asked him to describe a typical day off for America’s Favorite Chef. “I’m an early riser,” he offered, “so I’m up usually by 5:30am. I head out and putz around the garden for about two hours or so, then I’ll head out on the Harley to the gym, get a quick workout in and hopefully sneak in 18 holes of golf. After that I head back home about 1 or 2 o’clock and see what Lizzie wants for dinner and we hang out the rest of the day, me, Lizzy, Kyle and the dogs. I asked him “What’s usually for dinner?” and he said “Well Lizzie is a vegetarian so oddly enough, being the meat chef, and I do eat a ton of meat, a lot of days I’ll cook a vegetarian meal for both of us. The good thing is that with Lizzie being vegetarian it always keeps me balanced.”

CQ1009_Michael-Symon-02_s4x3_lgI then asked Michael for the most important advice he would give to someone looking to make cheffing a career. “Be humble,” he answered immediately, “learn something new everyday and don’t be afraid of hard work because if there is one profession that truly rewards the hardest worker, it’s this one.” I followed up asking his advice to young culinary students. “I went to culinary school to be a chef and only a chef and maybe someday, own my own restaurant. If you’re going to culinary school to be a chef , be a chef. Forget being on TV,” he warned. “If you’re angle is to be on TV, then you should go to school for the arts and learn to cook along the way” He also offered some advice to the aspiring home cook who wants to up their game in the kitchen. “Learn the techniques, not the particular recipes. If you learn the techniques, then you can make any recipe and make it your own.”

I then turned the questions to a subject we both have in common; Our love. respect and admiration for Chef Jacques Pepin. Michael’s has been quoted as saying that Jacques has been the most influential TV chef of all time. I asked him to expound on that a bit. “The thing that I love about Jacques is every time you watch him on TV, you learn something. From that, he has still made it entertaining and fun. More so than all those things, he is one of the most humble, caring people you’ll ever come across.” I can attest to this. A few years ago, after sitting with Jacques and casually discussing food and cheffing over coffee, he suddenly invited me to spend the day with him and have lunch at the International Culinary Center in New York City. Little ol me! Truly a bucket list moment for me. I asked Michael if he had a personal anecdote about he and Jacques that impacted his life. “I was really lucky.” he stated, “I was the executive chef of a restaurant called Giovanni’s in Cleveland. I was 24. Jacques was in town and I got a call from his culinary producer, Susie Heller, whom I knew, and she told me she was bringing Jacques and Julia (Child) in for dinner.” He laughed, “Lou, I was literally a trembling mess. I went out after the meal to say hello and he said, ‘I loved the meal. I loved it because it was so simple.’ I’ll always remember that and it’s always how I’ve tried to cook. Clean and simple. I remember he had a veal chop with morel mushrooms” It was immediately obvious in that statement that this was a special moment for Michael and I remarked to him that I thought it telling that even 22 years later, he remembered the evening and exactly what he prepared as if it were yesterday. Cool story.

FFS-Bnr2014As we finished up I asked him one last question pertaining to the Fabulous Food Show held each November in Cleveland and the place where I first met him. As it his Michael’s hometown, it seems a special show for him. Invariably as we sit backstage in the talent’s Green Room as it were, which has the talent trailers, lounging area with food and so forth, it seems Michael’s entire family comes to visit. I have met his mom, dad, aunts uncles and cousins as they’ve enjoyed these small family reunions. I asked him what’s so special about doing the show. “I think that because of the size of it you really get to interact with the people that come to it. Though it’s a big show, it has a very intimate homey feel to it. It has a warm Mid-West feel to it. I just think it’s a special show. And, Lou, anytime you can do a show and your mom can come see you from 10 minutes away, it’s a good show.”

It’s seems there is no slowing down for this driven, dynamic chef. Michael revealed that he has a new show debuting on Food Network, Friday July 10th, but that was all he could share. Long-standing contractual clauses containing stiff penalties for disclosing specifics regarding any Food Network shows in production remain in force. Cleveland’s Iron Chef says he will continue co-hosting his popular ABC-TV daytime show, The Chew. His most recent Food Network series, All-Star Academy,, in which he mentored a team of home cooks while vying against star chefs Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli and Curtis Stone, just concluded.

To connect with Michael, visit his website, www.michaelsymon.com or connect with him via social media on Twitter: @chefsymon, Facebook; Michael D. Symon and Instagram: @chefsymon Michael also has a series of cookbooks, t-shirts, hats and more, all available here: Cookbooks and more….

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this brief glimpse inside the world of Chef Michael Symon as much as I did bringing it to you!

Until next time,

Bon Apetit,

Lou


Product Spotlight: Michael Symon Cutlery

Michael-Symon-Cutlery (1)

4070 MS 7inch Cleaver S

This 7 inch Vegetable Cleaver and Scooper Knife was designed with Chef Michael Symon for chopping and scooping your vegetables and fruits from cutting board to fry pan or plate. The sturdy yet thin blade is .068 inches thin by 3.350 inches wide by 7 inches long blade allows you to cut and scoop up lots of food. It will get through the toughest veggies with little effort. This knife is crafted per my specifications from high carbon German Stainless steel for durability and one of the world’s best handle materials G10 fiberglass resin which will withstand the toughest kitchen environments. The handle is .725 inches thick by 1.050 inches wide in the middle by 5.1 inches long including the bolster. Two polished rivets in the handle complete the clean look. Order yours here: 7″  Vegetable Cleaver

4090 MS 9inch Chef SThis 9 inch Chef Knife was designed with Chef Michael Symon and is known as the workhorse in the chefs’ kitchen. It’s a must have for chopping veggies to slicing chicken and proteins. The sturdy blade is .090 inches thick by 1.9 inches wide by 9 inches long allowing you to cut very large foods with ease. This knife is crafted per my specifications from high carbon German Stainless steel for durability and one of the world’s best handle materials G10 fiberglass resin which will withstand the toughest kitchen environment. The handle is .725 inches thick by 1.050 inches wide in the middle by 5.1 inches long including the bolster. Two polished rivets in the handle complete the look. Order yours here:  9″ Chef Knife

4066 6inch Chef SThis 6 inch Chef Knife was designed with Michael Symon and is better known as the little workhorse in the kitchen. This smaller and lighter chef knife is perfect for those who get intimidated by larger knives and super for the beginner cook, while a seasoned cook will use it for small tasks. It’s a must have for chopping veggies and proteins. The sturdy blade is .090 inches thick by 1.7 inches wide by 6 inches long allowing you to cut through tough veggies with ease. This knife is crafted per my specifications from high carbon German Stainless steel for durability and one of the world’s best handle materials G10 fiberglass resin which will withstand the toughest kitchen environment. The handle is .725 inches thick by .980 inches wide in the middle by 4.8 inches long including the bolster. Two polished rivets in the handle complete the look. Order yours here: 6″ Chef Knife

4060 MS 6inch Utility SThis 6 Inch Serrated Utility Knife was designed with Chef Michael Symon for slicing bread, bagels, and tougher skinned vegetables. A must have for every kitchen. The sturdy blade is .090 inch thick by 1.2 inch wide by 6 inch long allowing you to slice smoothly through tough crusts or soft fresh loafs straight out of the oven. The wide serrations produce very little crumbs and can even thinly slice meat without tearing. This knife is crafted per my specifications from high carbon German Stainless steel for durability and one of the world’s best handle materials G10 fiberglass resin which will withstand the toughest kitchen environment. Order yours here: 6″ Serrated Utility Knife

4035 MS Paring knife SThe Michael Symon 3.5 Inch Paring Knife is designed for small peeling, garnishing and slicing of fruits and veggies. The sturdy blade is .068 inches thick by .780 inches wide by 3.5 inches long allowing you to cut smoothly through veggies with ease. This knife is crafted per my specifications from high carbon German stainless steel for durability and one of the world’s best handle materials G10 fiberglass resin which will withstand the toughest kitchen environment. The handle is .670 inches thick by .800 inches wide in the middle by 3.950 inches long including the bolster. Two polished rivets in the handle complete the look. Order yours here: 3.5 Inch Paring Knife

4045 MS 4pc Steak Set IMG SMichael Symon 4 Piece Serrated Steak Knife Set. This precision sharp serrated steak knife edge is designed for smooth slicing through tough crusted chicken, juicy steaks, pork chops and all your proteins. The special design and grind of the serrated edge tips will not tear your food. These steak knives even works great for bagels, bread and tomatoes. The beautiful G10 handle adds an elegant look to any kitchen table or special occasion. The set comes in a gift box with care instructions so we have you covered. Order yours here: 4 Piece Serrated Steak Knife Set

 

Til next time,

Ergo

Mike StaibUp Close with Chef Michael Symon by blogger Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.
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March: GMO’s, Michael Symon & the new Ergo/Symon knives

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Symon knivesWe here at Ergo have a great announcement for you all. Later this year you’ll be able to add Michael Symon knives to your kitchen. Cleveland’s Iron Chef and co-host of ABC-TV’s daytime hit show “The Chew” inked a deal with Ergo Chef to create a line of signature blades.

We will produce five individual knives for the Symon series. The blades will include a 9-inch chef knife; a 6-inch chef knife; a 6-inch serrated utility knife; a 7-inch vegetable cleaver; and a 3.5-inch paring knife. A four-piece steak knife set will also be available. Symon says that the opportunity to produce his own line of knives was appealing because of the quality of the tools Ergo Chef produced for a small number of other celebrity chefs.

“They sent me a knife years ago which has always been one of mine and Lizzie’s [wife Liz Symon’s] favorites in the kitchen – even though it is sitting next to knives 5 times its price,” Symon describes the knives as providing “good balance and strength of blade.” The knives will be ground in the conventional Western-style, rather than with a Japanese beveled edge that is growing in popularity. He’s opted for a small selection of blades, rather than an extensive collection of knives. “I’m of the belief you don’t need a giant set of knives – just a couple that perform at a high level,” Symon added. “It will have a unique handle that is not only stunning but also very comfortable and durable,” Symon said. We are very excited to partner with Michael and will keep you all up to date as to when the knives will be available.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips
gmo-cartoonThis month we are going to cover what is a very controversial topic, GMOs. We’ll take a look at the What’s Why’s, When and How’s of this topic. We are definitely in the NON GMO camp here at Ergo and thought you should have the facts so you can make the right food decisions for your family. There are two very diverse camps, for and against to GMOs and we’ll explore both sides to be fair.

So what exactly are GMOs?
Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. These techniques have allowed for the introduction of new traits as well as a far greater control over a food’s genetic structure than previously afforded by methods such as selective breeding and mutation breeding.

Commercial sale of genetically modified crops began in 1994, when Calgene first marketed its Flavr Savr delayed ripening tomato. To date, most genetic modification of foods have primarily focused on cash crops in high demand by farmers such as soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil. These have been engineered for resistance to pathogens and herbicides and better nutrient profiles. GM livestock have also been experimentally developed, although as of November 2013 none were on the market.

There is broad scientific consensus that food on the market derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food. However, opponents have objected to GM foods on several grounds, including safety issues, environmental concerns, and economic concerns raised by the fact that GM seeds (and potentially animals) that are food sources are subject to intellectual property rights owned by corporations, so we’ll look at both sides pf this controversial coin:

On The Plus Side:

keep-calm-gmo-safeThese plants can help farmers boost their yield by making crops that can live through a drought or the cold and resist disease. Backers say GM products will help us feed the extra 2 billion people that will fill the planet by 2050. GMO supporters believe that using science to make the changes is better for the planet than older farming methods. Crops built to resist pests lower farmers’ need for toxic chemical pesticides. They also require less soil to be tilled, reduce runoff, and keep the soil in place. Scientists can create crops that contain vital nutrients. Swiss researchers created a strain of “golden” rice with high amounts of beta-carotene. Monsanto produced soybeans with lots of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Other crops, like papaya and cassava, can be made to withstand disease.

On the Negative side:

ban-gmo1Crops built to withstand herbicides could breed with each other and transfer their genes to weeds. These “superweeds” would also beat the herbicides. On the other hand, GM fans say this is nothing new. Even nonchemical technologies create superweeds. The process often mixes or adds proteins that don’t exist in the original plant. GMO foes fear these will create new allergic reactions. They also worry that foods made to resist disease and viruses will linger in your system after you eat them, and that could make antibiotics less effective. But no studies confirm this claim. The long-term effects of adding new genes to common crops are still unclear. While the industry and health leaders cite hundreds of studies to support its safety, not to mention 20 years of animal data, experts say studies that show bad effects on animals — like harm to the kidneys, liver, heart, or other organs — should carry more weight.

So Are GMOs safe?
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

Are GMOs labeled?
Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. 64 countries with over 40% of the world’s population already label genetically engineered foods, including the entire European Union. China labels genetically engineered foods. The same companies that fight GMO labeling in the US reformulate or label GMOs in the foods they sell overseas. Labelling was introduced to give consumers the freedom to choose between GMOs and conventional products. Essentially, if a foodstuff is produced using genetic engineering, this must be indicated on its label. Actual labelling practice, however, is far more complicated – and must be planned and regulated with issues such as feasibility, legal responsibilities, coherence and standardisation in mind.

How common are GMOs?
In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food.
Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)

Some ingredients that seem low-risk may have less-visible high-risk ingredients.  Take, for example, dried fruit.  Raisins and similar fruit are sometimes packed with a small quantity of oil to keep them moist.  This oil, when used, is sometimes high-GMO-risk.  As such, it is critical that we do take the time to look carefully at ingredient spec sheets during the verification process, to ensure that risks like this are effectively mitigated, even in apparently low-risk products. Contamination incidents have occurred with seemingly “low-risk” products (rice, starling corn, flax). Non-GMO Project Verification supports manufacturers in being able to quickly and proactively respond to unexpected contamination issues. Verifying only high-risk products puts a heavy burden on consumers to know what products are at risk of containing GMOs.  Many people, even in the world of Natural Foods, don’t know what a GMO is, let alone which crops and processed ingredients are high-risk.

Through verifying low-risk products, the Non-GMO Project’s work builds consumer interest and industry investment in Non-GMO, even for crops that aren’t genetically engineered yet.  Biotech is constantly working to patent and commercialize new organisms (salmon, apples, etc.), and the more companies that have committed to Non-GMO production, the more resistance these new developments will see prior to release.

What are the impacts of GMOs on the environment?
Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.

How do GMOs affect farmers?
Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.

Chef’s Spotlight
0002957Chef Michael Symon cooks with soul. Growing up in a Greek and Sicilian family, the Cleveland native creates boldly flavored, deeply satisfying dishes at his four restaurants in America’s heartland: Lola, Lolita, Roast and B Spot. He also shares his exuberant, approachable cooking style and infectious laugh with viewers as an Iron Chef on the Food Network.

Since being named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 1998, Michael and his restaurants have been awarded numerous honors: In 2010, he was the first chef ever to host the annual Farm Aid benefit concert; Bon Appetit magazine included B Spot on their list of “Top 10 Best New Burger Joints”; and B Spot’s Fat Doug burger won the People’s Choice Award at the SoBe Wine & Food Festival. In 2009, Michael earned The James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Great Lakes and the Detroit Free Press named Roast “Restaurant of the Year.” In 2000, Gourmet magazine chose Lola as one of “America’s Best Restaurants.”

In 2010, Michael appeared on four Food Network/Cooking Channel shows, hosting Food Feuds and Cook Like an Iron Chef, judging season three of The Next Iron Chef and competing on Iron Chef America. Michael won season 1 of The Next Iron Chef in 2008, earning him a permanent spot on the panel of esteemed Iron Chefs. He made his debut on the network in 1998 with appearances on Sara’s Secrets with Sara Moulton, Ready, Set, Cook and Food Nation with Bobby Flay, before being tapped to host more than 100 episodes of The Melting Pot.  He is now the co-host of ABC’s popular daytime show “The Chew” and can be seen in a new Foodnetwork’s new hit show “All Star Academy

While Michael shines on television, he is a genuine hometown guy who made his name cooking in his Midwestern restaurants, all of which became critically acclaimed. Lola opened in 1997 and is now the cornerstone of Cleveland’s dining scene. Lolita, a Mediterranean-style bistro in Cleveland’s historic Tremont neighborhood, opened in 2005. Roast brought Michael’s meat-centric cooking to Detroit’s Westin Book Cadillac in 2008, and two Cleveland locations of B Spot opened in 2009, showcasing his passion for burgers, bratwurst and beer.

Michael published his first cookbook, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen, in 2009, sharing home cook-friendly recipes that draw on the flavors of his heritage. In 2012 he published Michael Symon’s Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers, and his latest book in 2013,  Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners

When he’s not working, Michael is riding his motorcycle through Cleveland, cooking at home, playing golf, thinking about his next tattoo, gardening in the backyard and spending time with his wife, Liz, and their bullmastiff, Ruby, and Old English bulldog, Ozzy.

Recipe
This month, rather than just give you one recipe we thought we’d spotlight our new partner Michael Symon, who gives us some great recipes from his Cooking Channel Show, Symon’s Suppers, using bacon. We hope you enjoy!

Till next Time,

Ergo

Mike StaibMarch: GMO’s, Michael Symon & the new Ergo/Symon knives
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The Language Of The Kitchen & Food Network’s, Jeff Mauro

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Hi and welcome to the first Chop Talk of 2015. We’re excited this year with some new products and happenings here at Ergo. We’ll have more on that later on in 2015. Starting off this year since everyone likes a good list, in our first Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips we’ve compiled a pretty cool selection of phrases heard in professional kitchens everywhere. From Amuse-Bouche to Velouté, we cover the Language of the Kitchen. Next up is a Chef’s Spotlight on Food Network’s Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro. Jeff graciously gives us a recipe for a decadent Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich as well. We are proud to announce to new product for 2015. Last month we debuted our new Juicer, this month, Ergo is bringing you Crimson Series Straight Handled Chef’s Knives for you traditionalists out there. Enjoy!

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: 

The Language Of The Kitchen…contibuted by Louis S. Luzzo

restaurant-kitchenTo some, the language of the professional kitchen is like a second tounge. I have heard it described as “the linguistic abnormalities that sometimes ascribe themselves to the professional, and/or commercial kitchens”  In this edition of  Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips, #FTKT, we’ll explore and explain the phrases, definitions and concepts in relation to cheffing and working in a commercial kitchen. This way , the next time you receive a Tourchon, you’ll know what your getting! Following is a list of words and definitions. Some words you need to know. Some you probably should know. Some are just fun to know. Then there are the ones you want to know, in order just to show off. Secondly, because everybody loves a good list. Third is because in order to be a complete chef in your own kitchen, cooking, interpreting recipes and mastering the techniques, you need to be able to understand what’s being asked of you by a particular cookbook or chef’s recipe.  Enjoy!

Culinary Words Index
Amuse-Bouche ~  also known as amuse-gueule, amusee, petite amuse and lagniappe. A French term that literally means ‘mouth amusement.’ These are tiny bites of food served before a meal to whet the palate and invigorate the appetite. They’re more whimsical than hors d’oeuvres, and smaller than appetizers.
Aperitif ~ French term for an alcoholic beverage served before a meal as an appetizer to stimulate the appetite. It can be a punch made to complement the meal, but it is usually a white wine, sherry, champagne, or a sparkling wine.
Assiette ~ French for “assortment,” as in cheeses.
Bain-Marie ~ A  hot water bath that is used to keep food warm on the top of a stove. It is also to cook custards and baked eggs in the oven without curdling or cracking and also used to hold sauces and to clarify butter.
Béarnaise ~A classic reduction of wine, vinegar, tarragon and shallots, finished with egg yolks and butter.
Béchamel ~A basic white sauce of milk, butter and flour.
Beurre blanc ~A thick sauce of butter, white wine and vinegar.
Beurre noisette ~Butter cooked to a hazelnut (noisette) color.
Beurre rouge ~ Beurre blanc, but with red wine instead of white.
Blanch, blanching ~ To briefly plunge food into boiling water and then into cold water to stop cooking.
Bouquet garni ~ It is a small bunch of herbs, which traditionally consist of a bay leaf, sprig of thyme, and a sprig of parsley, tied together with kitchen twine and tossed into the sauce as is.
Braise ~ a slow-cooking method for tough cuts of meat or poultry and even stringy vegetables.
Brine ~ A mixture of salt water, sometimes herbs and spices designed to increase the moisture holding capacity of meat. by having the meat soak in it for from three hours up to three days, resulting in a moister product when cooked. 
Brunoise ~ It is a French word used to describe a mixture of vegetables, usually onion, celery, and carrot, which has been very finely diced, then cooked slowly in butter.
Butterfly ~ To split food (usually meat, fish, or poultry) down the center, cutting almost, but not completely through. The two halves are then opened flat to resemble a butterfly. Often this is the first step when preparing a roast that is to be stuffed and rolled.
Caramelize ~ (1) To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a clear caramel syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown. (2) Heating of meats or vegetables until the natural sugars in them break down and turn light brown. Sugar will begin to caramelize at 320 degrees F.
Carry-over cooking ~ heat transferring from the hotter exterior of the meat to the cooler center. As a general rule, the larger and thicker the cut of meat and the higher the cooking temperature, the more residual heat will be in the meat, and the more the internal temperature will rise during resting, due to carry-over cooking. This means the meat must be removed from the heat at an internal temperature lower than your desired final internal temperature, allowing the residual heat to finish the cooking.
Cassoulet ~ A slow-cooked marriage of white beans and assorted meats such as pork, duck or goose.
Celeriac ~ More commonly known here as celery root.
Charcuterie ~ The French term for delicatessen-style items.
Chasseur Sauce ~ Chasseur is French for hunter. It is a hunter-style brown sauce consisting of mushrooms, shallots, and white wine (sometimes tomatoes and parsley). It is most often served with game and other meats.
Chef de Partie ~ Also known as a “station chef” or “line cook”, is in charge of a particular area of production.
Chiffonade ~In culinary terms, a chiffonade describes a way of cutting herbs and lettuces into thin strips or shreds, which look a bit like rags.
Coddle ~ To cook food slowly in water just below the boiling point.
Cold-smoking ~ Curing meat (hams, sausages, bacon, fish) in the smoke of smoldering wood or corncobs at temperatures from 60 to 100 degrees F.
Compote ~ refers to a chilled dish of fresh or dried fruit that has been slowly cooked in sugar syrup, which may also contain alcohol or liqueur and sometimes spices.
Compound butter ~ Also known as finishing butter, flavoring butter, or beurre composé in French, A compound butter is butter that has been flavored by blending softened butter together with various ingredients.
Confiseur ~ The candy cook.
Confit ~ Meat (usually goose, duck or pork) that is slowly cooked in its own fat and preserved with the fat packed around it as a seal.
Consommé ~ Meat or fish stock that has been clarified.
Coquilles St. Jacques ~ Scallops cooked in white wine with a little salt, peppercorn, parsley, bay leaf, chopped shallots, and water. A sauce of fish stock, butter, flour, milk, egg yolks, and cream accompanies them.
Coulis ~ A type of a sauce which derives its body (either entirely or in part), from pureed fruits or vegetables.
Court bouillon ~ It is a French term that means, “short broth.” It is used in place of water when boiling various types of food (mostly used for poaching fish or as a base for fish soups). The broth is made of wine, water, herbs, and spices. It usually is also flavored with onions, celery, carrots and cloves.
Crème anglaise ~Rich custard sauce, often used as a topping or plating accompaniment to fruits and pastries.
Crème fraîche ~ Cream that is allowed to set and thicken to a velvety rich texture.
Dauphine ~ Croquettes made by combining potato puree with pastry dough, forming the mixture into balls and then rolling them in bread crumbs and deep-fried.
Deglaze ~ To dissolve the remaining bits of sautéed or roasted food in (a pan or pot) by adding a liquid and heating. The resultant mixture often becomes a base for a sauce to accompany the food cooked in the pan.
Demi-glace ~ A rich brown reduction of meat stock, Madeira or sherry, and other ingredients. Used as a base for many other sauces.
Duxelles ~ Often used as a garnish or to flavor sauces and soups, duxelles is a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs cooked in butter until it forms a thick paste.
Emulsion ~ The mixture of two liquids that cannot normally combine smoothly (e.g., oil and water). Mayonnaise and hollandaise are two familiar emulsions.
En croute ~ A food that is wrapped in pastry and baked.
Enophile ~ A person who is knowledgeable about and enjoys wine.
Epicure ~ A person of refined taste who cultivates the knowledge and appreciation of fine food and wine.
Fumet ~ An intense stock made most often from fish or mushrooms, used to add flavor or body to another stock or sauce.
Hollandaise ~ An emulsion of egg yolks, lemon juice and hot melted butter, the smooth, rich sauce is often an accompaniment to vegetable, fish and egg dishes.
Meunière ~ Literally “miller’s wife” in French, this cooking technique (used primarily for fish) involves a light coating of flour before sauteing in butter or oil.
Mirepoix ~ A combination of diced carrots, onions, celery and herbs cooked in butter; used to flavor a wide range of dishes.
Mousseline ~ A sauce made airy with the addition of whipped cream or beaten egg whites.
Niçoise ~ Dishes typical of cuisine from the Nice, France, region, where garlic, black olives, anchovies and tomatoes are nearly always part of the mix.
Noisette ~ a) French for hazelnut; b) small, very tender round steak, usually of lamb beef or veal, cut from the rib or loin; c) as in beurre noisette: butter heated until it turns nut brown; used as a finishing touch for many dishes, especially fish.
Paillard ~ A thin slice of meat, grilled or sautéed.
Papillote ~ The term “en papilotte” is used to describe a dish that is cooked (and usually served) in a parcel of greased parchment paper that protects it from the high heat of the oven and retains aroma and flavor.
Pâté ~ Ground meat, fish or vegetables blended with fat and seasonings; can be smooth or chunky, served cold or hot.
Pâte ~ French for dough, paste or batter.
Pot-au-feu ~ Meat and vegetables simmered in water.
Poussin ~ A small, young chicken.
Prix fixe ~ French for fixed price, a complete meal that features a limited number of selections at a preset price.
Quenelle ~ A small, delicate, poached dumpling of meat, fish or vegetables.
Rillettes ~ Meat, usually pork, slowly cooked in seasoned fat and made into a smooth paste, then packed and sealed with a thin layer of fat. Served cold.
Roulade ~ A French term for a thin roll of meat or cake around savory or sweet fillings.
Roux ~ A slow-cooked mix of flour and fat, used to thicken soups and sauces.
Terrine ~ a) kind of pâté made of pieces of meat in a deep dish with straight side; b) an earthenware container, or the dish cooked therein.
Torchon ~ Method of cooking foie gras by which it is placed in a towel (torchon in French) and poached.
Velouté ~ A creamy white, stock-based sauce.
Verjus ~ Sour liquid made from unripe fruit; used to flavor sauces and condiments.

Chef’s Spotlight: Jeff Mauro

home_slide1Born in 1978 in Chicago, IL, Jeff Mauro was a ham on a roll from the very beginning. As one of 4 kids, he competed for attention not by making his sisters cry, but by making his family laugh. Jeff’s flair for the stage was discovered early on in the Roosevelt Jr. High 3 legendary production of Let George Do It! From that point on, he immersed himself in the performing arts and flourished.

After graduating from Bradley University in glorious Peoria, IL, he opened up a deli with his cousin and instantly fell in love with cooking. During the day Jeff would craft sandwiches. During the night, he satisfied his comedic bug playing the role ‘Tony’ in Tony and Tina’s Wedding. With both his professional cooking knowledge and performance skills polished, he moved to Los Angeles in an attempt to meld his two loves – cooking and comedy.

After a few years hustling in Hollywood, he upped the ante and enrolled in culinary school to refine his cooking skills. Jeff graduated Valedictorian, packed up his Honda and returned to Chicago where he was a culinary instructor, a successful private chef, and local comedic home_slide0performer. After 3 unsuccessful audition attempts, he finally landed himself on Season 7 of Food Network Star, which he totally won.

Jeff Mauro is now the star of Food Network’s Emmy-nominated Sandwich King, $24 in 24 hrs and The Kitchen. He has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Steve Harvey Show, Chopped, Cupcake Wars. When not making TV,  Jeff loves spending time with his wife and first love Sarah, playing above average blues guitar and roughhousin’ with his five-year-old son and co-star Lorenzo. His favorite color is pastrami. You can get more information about Jeff on his website: www.jeffmauro.com Follow him on Social Media: twitter, facebook, instagram.

Recipe
Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese
Courtesy of Jeff Mauro
SHOW: The Best Thing I Ever Made
EPISODE: Bring the Heat

Ingredients
6 jalapenos, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup shredded aged Cheddar
8 slices country white bread
2 tablespoons salted butter

Method
ED0206_jalapeno-popper-grilled-cheese_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapePreheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the jalapenos with 1 tablespoon olive oil, some salt and pepper and lay skin-side up on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the skin is blistered, 10 to15 minutes. Place in a plastic baggie for about 5 minutes loosen the skin. Pull off the skin, remove the majority of seeds and ribs, and slice. Set aside.

Spread the mascarpone on 4 slices of bread and divide the Cheddar among the other 4 slices. Divide the sliced jalapenos among the 4 sandwiches. Close, and butter both sides of the bread.
Heat half of the remaining oil on a flat griddle over medium heat. Grill one side of the sandwiches until golden. Remove, heat the remaining oil and repeat with the second side until golden and the insides are all melty and gooey.

Ergo Products Spotlight

8″ Chef Knife Crimson SH Straight Handle

SH Crimson Chef SThe New Crimson SH (Straight Handle) 8″ Chef knife is designed with a comfort handle and tapered bolster. Ergo Chef designed this for the tradition knife lover while sticking to our precision blades and heat treat process for longer edge life. The blade steel is made in Germany for unmatched quality and precision ground and finely honed to perfection. The handle is crafted with G10 (Fiberglass Resin) which is deemed the worlds strongest handle material by many. The beautiful look is created to mimic wood grain without the maintenance of wood. Lifetime Warranty. Order yours today & discover the Ergo Chef difference! List Price: $130.00  Price: $94.99

 Gourmet Store Spotlight

storeCooktique, is located in Tenafly NJ. They celebrate 37 years of providing professional service in a small town atmosphere. Looking for an unusual gadget, a wedding present, a hostess gift, or specialty food?  They are just the place you need. Avoid the hectic rush of mall shopping while enjoying some of these perks: unbeatable prices, no lines and friendly service, park right behind the store; get free gift wrapping; have a custom made gift basket created as you wait; purchase and ship a gift the very same day; and much, much more.  There is always something new at Cooktique as they constantly seek out new vendors,  lines and colors, as well as the latest in specialty food trends and gadget inventions.  Check out the specialty gourmet coffee department. They offer 28 varieties, guaranteed to be fresh and satisfying, at the lowest prices or your money back. They carry all the Ergo Products so stop buy for all your kitchen ware needs. West Railroad Avenue. Tenafly, New Jersey 07670 Phone: (201) 568-7990 Fax: (201) 568-5966 E-Mail: cooktique@msn.com

Mike StaibThe Language Of The Kitchen & Food Network’s, Jeff Mauro
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The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey & Spotlight on Actress Kelly Le Brock’s, Kelly’s Kitchen

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Hi everyone and welcome to this frigid Thanksgiving edition of Chop Talk.

Roast TurkeyWe just want to thank everyone who came out to the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland. We had a great show and our Ergo Products were a big hit! In this edition of  Chop Talk we are all about Thanksgiving! First up is tips on making the perfect holiday turkey from the Gourmet Guy, Louis Luzzo, who gives us a delicious cranberry sauce recipe. Next, we have a special Chef’s Spotlight on actress Kelly Le Brock, who also graces us with a simple green bean side dish recipe. Last but not least we have our Gourmet Store Spotlight Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond with two stores in Connecticut. Take advantage of savings with our Black Friday Sale and Cyber Monday Sales SAVE 20% on all product when you purchase from our website here online, Friday, November 28, 2014 and Monday, December 1st, 2014.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips

Making the Perfect Holiday Turkey
by Louis S Luzzo, Sr.
Roasting a turkey during the Holidays can either make or break a successful meal. Like many at home cooks, I have a few horror stories of the days before I became the self proclaimed, “Gourmet Guy.” I am going to give you some fool proof rules-of-thumb and methods to insure that your Thanksgiving meal comes off as a complete success that will wow your guests. From the Menu Planning, to Proper Seasoning , to how to pick the right turkey, we’ll take a look at all the basics.~ Lou

How big of a turkey should I roast? 
Most importantly, we need to count the amount of guests we will be serving. A good rule of thumb to go by would be:
~One (1) pound of raw turkey per person which includes a moderate amount for leftovers.
~1 1/2 pounds per person, if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftovers.
~3/4 pound of whole turkey per person for no leftovers.

To properly thaw the turkey (if frozen), we recommend leaving it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days to slow thaw under a cool temperature. If you are pressed for time, you may place it in a sink or a container in the sink and run cold water over it for a few hours. Once the bird is thawed, you are ready to prepare it for cooking.

 Brining (optional)
Not every home cook will go the extra mile at home, but I found that brining your turkey can incorporate a great level of flavor and make your turkey extremely moist. I typically brine most poultry and pork before cooking, and have made several different types of flavored brines. A brine by definition is; a strong solution of water and salt used for pickling or preserving foods. A sweetener such as sugar or molasses is sometimes added. I really enjoy molasses and brown sugar and balance it out with some savory herbs, bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic. Depending on the size of the bird, you can brine a turkey for a few hours, or even let it go overnight. But, it is very important to remember that the brining solution is high in salt and you must adjust and lessen the amount of salt you use in your seasoning when you prepare your turkey for roasting.

Seasoning & Prepping the Bird
The next step can be a lot of fun, as you get to be very creative with seasoning and preparing your turkey. Seasonings offer a great deal of flavor and can be as simple as salt and black pepper, or as elaborate as Cajun spice or a rub consisting of garlic, chilies and dried herbs. Be sure to rub the entire cavity with your seasoning blend of choice, and always lubricate the outside of the skin with oil or butter so the seasonings will adhere and cook into the bird.

*Tip For Crispier Skin
Crisp skin and a moist center is what we all desire when roasting the perfect turkey and I have learned a little trick to enhance the outer skin. Carefully lift the skin up around the bird and slide a few pats of softened butter underneath. Generously rub the outer skin with butter and your seasonings, and let them sink in for about an hour before roasting. Many family recipes include stuffing the bird with all kinds of aromatics or even a traditional bread stuffing. It is totally up to you to decide which way you want to go, but stuffing a turkey’s cavity can really enhance the flavor of the meat. It’s important to have a good carving set and Ergo has you covered. just click the link to see more  about Ergo’s Carving Set

Stuffing & Dressing
There are two schools of thought when it comes to stuffing; In the Bird (stuffing) and & Out of the Bird (dressing). In my house we make both, or sometimes do a Cornbread Oyster dressing as well. In some households, the turkey is stuffed with other birds; a boned chicken is stuffed into a boned duck, which is then stuffed into the turkey.

Roasting Your Turkey
So, now that we are ready to roast, how do I know how long it should cook for, and how high the temperature should be? USDA says that a turkey should not roast under 325 degrees Fahrenheit, so that’s a fair starting point. Approximate cooking times for an unstuffed turkey are as follows: (it is around 20 to 30 minutes per pound)

~10 – 18 lb bird 3 to 3 ½ hrs
~19 – 22 lb bird 3 ½ to 4 hrs
~22 – 24 lb bird 4 to 4 ½ hrs
~24 – 29 lb bird 4 ½ to 5 hrs

One helpful hint to achieving a nice golden skin, is to start the “searing” process by cooking it in a 400 – 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size) to start the browning process (sugars begin to caramelize), then lower the temperature to 325 degrees and slow roast for the appropriate time. Basting is another way to impart even browning and to distribute some of those great flavorful juices. You may baste with the juices found in the bottom of the pan, or use some type of fat.

Also popular, is to baste with another flavorful liquid, for example a brown stock fortified with apple cider vinegar and herbs. If the bird begins to brown too much, you may cover it with aluminum foil until it has reached doneness, and then finish for the last few minutes uncovered. Be careful not to cover the bird entirely, as you don’t want to steam the turkey.

How do I know if my bird is done? The USDA recommends that the turkey be cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees as measured in the innermost part of the thigh. If the thigh is 165 degrees, the breast meat is likely to be 10 degrees hotter. Many cooks would tell you that a turkey roasted to those temperatures is overdone and would taste unacceptably dry. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, try not to rely on those “pop up timers” that come with most turkeys. You can also prick the leg joint with a fork, and if the juices run just slightly pink or clear, the turkey is done.

To test the accuracy of your instant read thermometer, insert the tip about 2 inches deep into boiling water. At sea level it should register 212 degrees F. If it does not, replace it; or if it has a calibration device, reset it for accuracy. Nobody wants an overcooked bird, so start checking your bird about 3/4’s of the way through the total recommended cooking time.

Gravy
Time to make the gravy!  On the stove top, use the same pan that you roasted this delicious turkey in. The drippings and leftover fat and liquid are going to make this gravy a very tasty one. I like to use a ratio of 1 Tablespoon of fat to 1 Tablespoon of flour to create a “roux” that will thicken my gravy. You can use chicken or turkey stock, or even just deglaze with sherry or white wine and add water. Just be sure to cook out the flour so it doesn’t leave a raw taste to the gravy. Season to taste.

Turkey is done, gravy is ready and now it’s time to roll out all the fix-ins. Cranberry sauce, sweet potato pie, cornbread stuffing, yams, green beans, creamed onions, apple and pecan pie are just some of my favorites! Try something new this year and let me know how it comes out! We all have a lot to be thankful for and I am very blessed with such wonderful family and friends. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

Chef’s Spotlight

10590572_849163398435648_4765779657361956619_nOur Chef’s Spotlight this edition is actress Kelly Le Brock and her new food platform, “Kelly’s Kitchen.”

Interview excerpt courtesy of the blog Kitchen Rap with Louis S. Luzzo, Sr. Click the link to read the full interview. 
“With Kelly’s Kitchen, Kelly is all about healthy eating and good healthcare, starting in the kitchen, at the table. “It came about within the last four years,” she offered. “I am just horrified at the way people are eating and I really want to get out there and show people how to make a delicious meal out of a bag of beans or a bag of brown rice. It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat well. Yes it is expensive in time, but that is something that people have come to confuse with eating healthy being expensive in dollars. Seems that people don’t have time anymore,” she lamented, “but you can make a decent meal in 30 minutes. Families should have to drop their phones in a little basket when they come through the door and sit down every night at the dinner table and look at each other. Really talk to each other.”

She has lent her voice and become an ambassador for a cause she believes in, foodtweeks™ and has re-emerged from a self imposed cocoon with a new-found, vibrant voice. “It’s time to give back,”she declared. “We don’t need to leave our country to help people, they are right here in our face. I know what it’s like to struggle for food or not have enough to eat. There are people in this country a paycheck away from hunger. I am the ambassador for this great new app that is affiliated with 50 food banks across the country. The beauty of it is that there are people who are always trying to get healthy cutting calories, they take those calories and put them into foodtweeks™ and those calories go into the food bank and translate to available food.” For every calorie users “tweek” from their food, foodtweeks™ makes a donation to a local food bank so they can distribute the same number of nutritious calories to feed a hungry child and their family. There’s no cost of any kind to the foodtweeks™ user and it’s easy for food banks to participate. You remove calories. They give them away!” Find Kelly on Social Media; twitter: @KellyLeBrock@AtKellysKitchen

Recipe 1

Sauteed Green Beans Courtesy of Kelly Le Brock
Ingredients
20 oz bag of  french green beans(if using fresh beans us a good handful per person)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp butter
Salt to taste

Method
If using fresh beans, remove the ends and julienne. Place beans in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove immediately and place in an ice bath to stop cooking keep color. On the stove top, heat a cast iron skillet. Place butter and garlic and sauté until garlic is translucent. Add green beans and sauté for another minute until beans are heated through.  Remove,place in a bowl, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt to taste and serve.

Recipe 2

Old Fashioned Cranberry Sauce Courtesy of Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.

Homestyle_Cranberry_Sauce.ashx Ingredients
12 oz Cranberries, Fresh Frozen
1 3/4 Cups Water
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 Cup Orange Juice
1 Tbl Orange Zest, Chopped
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 Cinnamon Stick

Method
Place all ingredients in a sauce-pot, except for the cranberries and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, add the cranberries to the liquid. reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 minutes until all of the cranberries have “popped”. Remove the cinnamon stick, and cool. The liquid will be loose and will thicken once it cools.

Gourmet Store Spotlight

slide1Founded in 2001, Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond, formally Chefs Equipment Emporium of Wallingford, opened its doors to the public as a kitchenware specialty showroom retailer that prides itself on quality, affordability and accountability.  At Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond, they are passionate about cooking and understand your need for reliable, long-lasting and high quality kitchenware.

With an additional expanding of products offering to meet all your kitchen needs, Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond also offers commercial and residential cookware, cutlery, bakeware, small kitchen electrics, gourmet food and ingredients and Kitchen Tools, Utensils, gadgets and more gadgets.  Their wide selection along with their friendly, well-trained staff ensures that they are your authority for cooking, dining and entertaining.

They are a customer focused, family owned company serving the Connecticut area and beyond! Their friendly and knowledgeable staff is always on-hand to help you navigate your way through the thousands of unique items they offer in order to make your next culinary adventure the greatest yet!

If you have questions that their website does not address or items that you cannot find, you can call them at 860-828-9601 or email them at info@Kitchengadgetsandbeyond.com. Visit their two locations:717 Berlin Turnpike, Berlin, CT 06037 (860) 828-9601 ~ 920 South Colony Rd, Wallingford, CT 06492 203-269-3971 and follow them on facebook here.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale

Save 20% on all Ergo products on our Black Friday Sale, November 28, 2014  and Cyber Monday Sale, December 1, 2014 when you purchase online at www.ErgoChef.com.

From all of us at Ergo Chef, we wish you and yours a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving.

Till next time,

Ergo

Mike StaibThe Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey & Spotlight on Actress Kelly Le Brock’s, Kelly’s Kitchen
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A Fabulous Food Show time of year.

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Brrr!!! Welcome to a brisk, chilly November. We are getting excited as this month, we will be traveling to Cleveland for one of the best food shows in the country, The Fabulous Food Show, at the I-X Center, Nov. 14- 16th. If you are in Cleveland and attending, stop by the Ergo booth and say hi to Scott, Mike and Chef Randy and check out all the great Ergo products available. This time of year, one great way to feed your family is simple one pot meals so in this edition of Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips we are covering Cooking with Woks. Our Chef’s Spotlight is the Jersey General Chef Frank Benowitz. We have a deliciously healthy Chili recipe from Kimberly Winder. Our Gourmet Store Spotlight this edition is Bowery Kitchen, located in NYC’s Chelsea Market. And lastly, we have an awesome Spotlight and coupon code discount on our Crimson Series Knives.

Food Tricks and Kitchen Tips: Cooking with Woks

wok1The Wok
One of  our favorite methods of cooking is in a wok. They are simple, yet very versatile, require little oil, making them an economical way to cook. A woks unique shape allows it to distribute heat evenly through the pan and get very hot, making them perfect for stir-fry cooking. While they may not be necessary for every kitchen, for true food enthusiasts eager to recreate their favorite Asian recipes and flavors in their own kitchens, a wok and steamer are musts in their kitchens.

Thousands of years ago, Chinese cooks figured out how to prepare healthy food quickly using a simple piece of equipment – the Chinese wok. Once you’ve decided to add a wok to your supply of kitchen equipment, you’ll want to shop around to choose the best model. Originally, all woks were round bottomed and made of iron – designed to be used with the traditional Chinese wood stove. Gradually, the iron was replaced with carbon steel. Today, there are all types of woks on the market: aluminum, copper, stainless steel.Traditionally, the wok came with two metal handles, making it easy to lift in and out of the stove. I prefer the modern woks that have one long wooden handle, like a skillet, they are easier to handle in my opinion.

wok2The wok’s most distinguishing feature is its shape. Classic woks have a rounded bottom. Hand-hammered woks are sometimes flipped inside out after being shaped, giving the wok a gentle flare to the edge that makes it easier to push food up onto the sides of the wok. Woks sold in western countries are sometimes found with flat bottoms — this makes them more similar to a deep frying pan. The flat bottom allows the wok to be used on an electric stove, where a rounded wok would not be able to fully contact the stove’s heating element. A round bottom wok enables the traditional round spatula or ladle to pick all the food up at the bottom of the wok and toss it around easily; this is difficult with a flat bottom. With a gas hob, or traditional pit stove, the bottom of a round wok can get hotter than a flat wok and so is better for stir frying.

Seasoning Your Wok:
wok3You may have heard that it is very important to season(carbonize) the cooking surface your wok before trying it out for the first time. This is a the most important step, if you are to get years of fabulous food from your wok. This only applies to carbon-steel or cast-iron woks. If you have purchased an electric or non-stick coated wok, be very careful as the pan can get to hot ans catch fire. See your instruction manual for specifics on seasoning if you have one of these types. Seasoning removes the preservative oil manufacturers place on the wok to prevent it from rusting, replacing it with a light coating of cooking oil. It is also important to properly clean your wok after each use. 

~Wash the wok in hot water with a small amount of liquid detergent and a scrubber (such as a stainless steel sponge or pad).
~If needed, scrub the exterior of the wok with the scrubber and an abrasive cleanser. Do not use the abrasive cleanser on the inside of the wok.
~Rinse the wok and dry thoroughly.
~Place the wok on high heat.
wok4~Move the wok, turning it and tilting it up to the rim and back, until the metal turns a blueish-yellowish color.
~Remove the wok from the stove element. Turn the heat down to medium-low
~Add a thin film of oil (about 1½ teaspoons) over the entire inside surface of the wok. There are several ways to do this. One is to use a paper towel to rub the oil over the surface. You may want to use tongs to hold the paper towels. Another way is to use a basting brush for barbecues or any other heat-proof brush to brush on the oil.
~Heat the wok on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes
~Wipe off the oil with another paper towel. There will be black residue on the towel.
~Repeat steps 7 through 9 until no black residue comes up on the paper (about 3 times). The wok is now ready to use.

wok5If your wok becomes gunky and sticky or gets rusted you can clean the wok with salt. Simply put half a cup of salt in the wok and heat on high, reduce the heat if it gets too hot. Using your spatula send the salt up to the edges very carefully. Hot salt is dangerous. Do this for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Allow the salt to cool to warm. Using a cloth rub the spots where the salt has stuck to in order to get rid of the gunk or rust. Discard the salt and wash the wok in hot water with a soft sponge. Re-season the wok.

Cooking With Your Wok:

wok6Cooking in a wok is very simple. Many things can be cooked in a wok. Remember that woks are meant to cook very quickly so it will be necessary to have everything prepared. When preparing food to be cooked, remember that small uniform pieces will cook the most evenly. After adding a tablespoon or so of oil, heat your wok on medium to high heat. Cook meat first and when it all seems done on the outside, add any vegetables and sauces. In only a few minutes, the meat will be completely done and the vegetables will be tender yet crisp. You may also fry, braise, or poach in a wok. Gauging the temperature for each of these cooking techniques is very important. Keep in mind that oil and water do not mix, so if you decide to poach in a wok, be sure to dry and season the pan thoroughly after you’ve finished.

Wok-WhiskRecognized as the cleaning whisk or the bamboo wok cleaning brush, this small broom-like brush is made of bamboo bristles. Bundled jointly and tied at the top with strings, this easy device is the answer to removing stubborn food remains while not damaging the wok. Just use the bamboo wok cleaning brush in a swirling motion below running water. The bamboo whisk is tough and functional and it can be used for mainly stainless steel cookware. This bamboo wok cleaning brush may be ordinary in appearance but it is a well-organized and simple way to clean your wok. After using the brush to remove the food bits, scrub your wok with dish detergent and hot water. Dry the wok and rub a bit of oil around the inside of the pan. This will make sure your wok lasts a long time and that it gives your food a great flavor.

Chefs Spotlight
images (3)Chef Frank Benowitz
Since 2003, Chef Instructor Frank Benowitz has been employed by Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in West Windsor, NJ as a professional staff member in the Hotel, Restaurant Institutional Management (HRIM) & Culinary Department and teaches a multitude of HRIM, Culinary and Business courses. Chef Benowitz is a MCCC graduate and went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree through Thomas Edison College and his Master’s Degree through Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Spending only a few years working in hotels and restaurants, much of his culinary knowledge was a result of culinary book study/classes and then working with dozens of extremely talented Chefs and absorbing information/culinary techniques to build a sound foundation to teach his students. His love of food and cooking is apparent in each demonstration and each class in which he teaches. He truly feels that you must continuously learn and improve your knowledge/skill base to be successful in the culinary world. As such, he serves as Hospitality Club Advisor (winning the prestigious Advisor of the Year Award twice already) – creating/serving menus for catering efforts typically between 50 – 300 guests. Also, he has served as a Judge for a variety of savory and sweet culinary competitions throughout the Tri-state area.

In 2006, he became co-host and co-producer of Dish It Out with Chef Doug Fee (originally airing only locally in Mercer County, NJ and now available in multiple counties in NJ along with upstate New York, Maine, Connecticut, South Carolina and soon in to appear in additional states via their local television channel markets). Dish It Out, will enter its 9th season in Fall 2014, and has won multiple awards, including a 2014 Silver Telly. Several episodes are now available on the internet via You Tube shown in many culinary schools throughout North America.

salsajar Speaking of awards, he has earned the 1st Place People’s Choice Salsa Award, many years in a row, at the annual NJ State Chili and Salsa Championship. Also, in 2013, Chef Benowitz won 2nd Place in the NJ State Seafood Challenge held at the Governor’s Mansion. By popular demand, following numerous awards, his famous mango salsa is now available for purchase via The Jersey General.

In recent years, Chef Benowitz has had the pleasure of working with/for several celebrities along with some well-known Chefs such as: Robert Irvine, Walter Scheib, Ellie Krieger, Michael Voltaggio, Fabio Vivani, Mike Isabella, Aaron McCargo, Jr., Jose Garces, Cat Cora, Sara Moulton, Bobby Flay, Rick Bayless and Emeril Lagasse.

Recipe  
Here is a Healthy Fall Recipe where good knives come in very handy to prep. From Kimberly Winder– who will be a regular monthly contributor. Here is a recipe for Vegetarian Chili that is really delicious and requires a lot of chopping. I make it frequently in the winter and fall.  It is a perfect football recipe, too.  Even carnivores like it.

Vegetarian Chili
by Kimberly Winder
Prep time: 15 minutes
Prep notes: Cooking time: 30 minutes Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced, (or one can organic diced tomatoes)
1 carrot, cut into quarter moons
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups cooked or canned red, black or kidney beans
1 cup water
2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt

Method
Heat oil in a large heavy pan and sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, carrots, chili powder and cumin and sauté for 5 minutes. Slowly add beans, water, tomato paste and salt. Cook on low to medium heat for 20 minutes.
Notes
Add as many veggies as you like such as bell peppers, zucchini and corn kernels.

Gourmet Store Spotlight

Shop with the top Restaurant chefs and professionals as well as Food Network Stars at Bowery Kitchen Supplies. Opened for business on the famous Bowery Street Restaurant Supply Street in 1975, supplying New York’s finest Restaurants, Bars, Lounges, Deli’s, Bakery, Pizzerias & Caterers! they opened a second store in the The Chelsea Market Home, also home to The Food Network Studios and numerous other well known food related establishments.

On a daily basis the on-stage personalities and talented chefs in hundreds of kitchens in New York use their cool gadgets and traditional chef tools to create feasts for the stomach as well as the eyes. Visit them and experience the market yourself.

Bowery Kitchen  located in the New York City’s Chelsea Market, with entrances at 75 Ninth Avenue and 88 Tenth Avenue. Chelsea Market is an indoor arcade-style market (one whole NYC avenue-to-avenue block) with the finest raw and prepared food shops in downtown Manhattan. Mailing Address is: 460 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 USA Telephone: 212-376-4982 Fax: 212-242-7360 Or you can email them at: Info@Bowerykitchens.com

Chop Talk Product Spotlight

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Ergo Chef G10 CRIMSON Cutlery is crafted from high carbon German Steel with precision sharp edges. The handles are made with the world’s strongest G10 (Fiberglass Resin Material) in a redish brown wood grain look finished with 3 rivets & a polished end cap for perfect balance. No maintenance is needed on the handles. Polished blades are stain resistant and easy to clean and maintain. Includes the following precision sharp polished knives & tools: 8″ Chef, 8″ Carver, 8″ Serrated Bread, 7″ Nakiri, 6″ Santoku, 6″ Utility, 3.5″ Paring, qty. 8 – 4.75″ Steak knives, an 8″ Honing Rod and Heavy Duty Poultry Shears. All fit nicely in the beautiful Bamboo storage block. Order this ultimate kitchen set today and never buy another set of knives again. Lifetime Warranty!

Ergo Chef Cutlery’s Crimson Series Chop Talk discount coupon code for 15% OFF.

Coupon Code: VIPfall15

Till next time:

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibA Fabulous Food Show time of year.
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Barbecue Styles of America: A Guide to Regional Barbecue Flavors

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Hi and welcome to another edition of Chop Talk. As you all know we are all about BBQ here at Ergo and October is no different. Summer is over but we still spend many waking moments thinking about grilled meats. After all what better excuse to ‘test our knives’ than with a nice brisket hot and juicy off the grill. To that end, we have a guest blogger this edition who has been here before, Robyn Medlin Lindars. and this time she brings us on a trip around the country with her Guide to Regional Barbecue. This month also brings our own Chef Randall Smith competing with Doug Keiles and Adam Feinberg on the Ribs Within BBQ team for Ergo Chef in the 4th Annual High Point BBQ Battle in Clarksburg, MD October 10 – 11, 2014. And this month’s Chef Spotlight is David Letterman who provides us with a great Fall recipe, Apple PepperJack~Pumpkin Cheese Cake.

Guide to Regional Barbecue Written by Robyn Medlin Lindars

Barbecue is personal. Ask anyone what makes for good ’cue and the answer varies, probably based on where they’re from. To understand barbecue styles is to understand what barbecue is. Barbecue is a method of cooking meat, traditionally tough, less expensive cuts, in a wood-burning pit over a low temperature for a long period of time to create tender, moist, flavorful results. Regional flavors are based on the type of seasoning used. The seasoning may date back to the first settlers in the area. For example, Germans settled in South Carolina and brought a strong mustard-based influence to barbecue. Here is a historical breakdown of barbecue by region: the history of each regional flavor, its differences, and restaurants that serve it. Who knew barbecue was so diverse?

Kansas City

Barbecue Styles of America – Kansas City Style BarbecueKansas-City-style barbecue includes a wide variety of meats, and is perhaps the most popular style in the U.S. Kansas-City-style sauce, a tangy and sweet, tomato-and-molasses-based sauce, is what many think of when they think of barbecue sauce. Memphis native Henry Perry, known as “The Father of Kansas City Barbecue” opened up the first commercial barbecue restaurant in 1907. His disciple Arthur Bryant opened up shop in 1930. Today, Arthur Bryant’s is one of the most famous barbecue restaurants in the country. Kansas City is home to the American Royal, known as the World Series of barbecue. The Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) has over 15,000 members and is the largest sanctioning body of barbecue competitions, at more than 400 per year. KCBS contestants enter four main categories: chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket, judged on taste, appearance, and texture.

Signature Style: Tangy, Sweet; Tomato-and-Molasses-Based Sauce Meat Specialties: Burnt Ends from a Beef Brisket Where to Taste: Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City, MO

Memphis

Barbecue Styles of America – Memphis Style BarbecueMemphis-style barbecue is primarily pork, notably ribs, often served dry versus the wet western style of other regions. “Dry” means chefs use only a dry rub for flavoring, while wet style uses a sauce applied during the entire cooking process. A “mop” sauce is often mopped on during the cooking process to keep the meat moist. Traditional Memphis-style dry rub consists of salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, sugar, and a variety of other spices. Many restaurants serve their ribs dry with sauce on the table for those who want it. Memphis is home to the legendary Memphis in May or “Superbowl of Swine:” the largest pork barbecue competition in the world. Notable restaurants include Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous (named to the list of top five best ribs and mail-order meat byEsquire), Interstate, Neely’s, Corky’s (known for their presence in national grocery stores and mail-order service), and Memphis Barbecue Company.

Signature Style: Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Cayenne, and Sugar Dry Rub Meat Specialties: Pork Ribs Where to Taste: Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous in Memphis, TN

Texas

Barbecue Styles of America – Texas Style BarbecueTexas-style barbecue is all about the beef, especially the brisket. Texas has four distinct styles of barbecue: East Texas, Central Texas, West Texas, and South Texas. The emphasis in Texas falls on the meat, not the sauce. Texas-style sauce is usually thin and tomato-based, mixed with beef drippings, chili pepper, and spices. The Germans and Czechs brought meat-market-style barbecue to the central part of the state; it originated in the butcher shops and can be found at places such as Mueller’s or Kreuz Market near Lockhart. “Hot Guts” is the old-school terminology for the German-inspired local sausage of the nearby Elgin area, known as the sausage capital of Texas. Every spring, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo hosts the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest. The contest is one of the largest in the state and typically hosts over 300 teams. Austin is home to Franklin Barbecue, named by Bon Appétit as the best barbecue restaurant in the country.

Signature Style: Thin, Tomato-Based Sauce with Beef Drippings, Chili Pepper,  Meat Specialties: Beef Brisket Where to Taste: Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX

North-Carolina

Barbecue Styles of America – North Carolina Style BarbecueNorth-Carolina-style barbecue has two distinct styles: Piedmont (also referred to as Lexington style) and Eastern style. Lexington, North Carolina, refers to itself as The Barbecue Capital of the World. Lexington style uses pork shoulder; the sauce is a vinegar-and-tomato-based red sauce that is often used in place of mayo as the base for coleslaw. Go to Lexington Barbecue Restaurant for authentic Lexington-style ’cue; don’t forget to order a Cheer Wine, the state’s local cherry-flavored soda, to go with your sandwich. Eastern style, found in the eastern and coastal parts of the state, focuses on the whole hog; the sauce is only vinegar and pepper, which is often used as a mop sauce during cooking. There is much debate within the state as to which style of barbecue is most popular. North Carolinians show off their barbecue chops at the Lexington Barbecue Festival, which was named the Official Food Festival of the Piedmont Triad Region of the State of North Carolina.

Signature Style: Vinegar-and-Tomato-Based Red Sauce, and Vinegar-and-Pepper Sauce Meat Specialties: Pork (Whole Hog) Where to Taste: Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, NC

South-Carolina

Barbecue Styles of America – South Carolina Style BarbecueSouth-Carolina-style barbecue can be divided into three different styles, one of which is the only one that uses a mustard-based sauce. The state’s western section features a peppery, tomato-based sauce. The central area focuses on a German influence with that notable mustard sauce, referred to as Carolina Gold. The third style hails from the coastal Pee Dee region and uses a thin, spicy, vinegary, peppery sauce. The South Carolina Barbecue Association holds more than 10 different barbecue competitions through out the year. Based on their competition results, the association names an overall state champion each year.

Signature Style: Mustard-Based Sauce Meat Specialties: Pork (The Whole Hog) Where to Taste: Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, SC

Kentucky

Barbecue Styles of America – Kentucky Style BarbecueKentucky-style barbecue has two separate barbecue regions: the western region and south-central region. The western part of the state, home to the most popular style, is known for its mutton-based barbecue, which comes from the wool production that began in the 1800s. The mutton from a mature sheep is typically served with a vinegar-based sauce called mutton dip. This popular combination can be found at the Old Hickory Restaurant in Owensboro. Owensboro hosts the International Bar-B-Q Festival, which features a Mutton Glutton party, followed by a 5k that helps burn off some of those calories.The south-central part of Kentucky is known for its use of thin-sliced pork shoulder dressed with a pepper-and-vinegar sauce.

Signature Style: Mutton Dip, a Vinegar-Based Sauce Meat Specialties: Mutton, Mature Sheep Where to Taste: Old Hickory in Owensboro, KY

Alabama

Barbecue Styles of America – Alabama Style BarbecueAlabama-style barbecue is all about the pork. You will find smoked pork shoulder, butt, or ribs. Various parts of Alabama embrace bordering regions, including the styles of nearby Tennessee and the Carolinas. Their influence can be seen in the sauces: one sauce is distinctively Alabama and called Alabama White Sauce. This characteristic mayonnaise-based barbecue sauce also includes cider vinegar, lemon juice, horseradish, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Big Bob Gibson’s of Decatur, Alabama, lays claim to the creation of Alabama White Sauce, which was originally used for “baptizing” chickens; however, it is now used as a sauce for pork as well. Alabama’s finest barbecue chefs compete each year for the Alabama Governor’s Cup, which is presented to the barbecue teams who complete the Alabama Barbecue Trail with the most points.

Signature Style: White Sauce (Mayonnaise-Based, With Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Horseradish, Salt, Pepper, and Hot Sauce) Meat Specialties: Pork (Shoulder, Butt, Ribs) Where to Taste: “Big Bob” Gibson Bar-B-Q of Decatur, AL

Chef’s Spotlight

DaveOur Chef’s Spotlight is David Letterman (and no relation to the comedian/talk show host) David grew up in the family food business, Bonafatto’s Fruit & Grocery, started in 1919, transforming to a take home meal shop in the 1970’s,  gradually adding a small restaurant. In January 1990, David became the third generation of Bonfatto to enter the business, and within a year he successfully established a second location.

 

neon_logoIt wasn’t long before catering services were added, and then, in July 1999, David and his wife, Sherri, became full owners. The hard-working couple’s first order of business: the launching of Bonfatto’s Restaurant and Lounge, which opened in November 2000 on Bishop Street in Bellefonte and featured everything from American-Italian dishes to Bonanza Subs.

wing_logoComing from the Bonfatto family, of course David had to make his own new innovation to the family business; a new line of award-winning Bonfatto’s Wing Sauce and Marinade! They searched the world, gathering exotic spices, peppers, and yes, even fruits that make Bonfatto’s hand-crafted Magnificent 9 sauces truly magnificent.

content_SpiceCreamLogo

 

Sweet with a kiss of heat! Dessert with a dash of daring! Each of the uniquely original Bonfatto’s Spice Cream creations is a savory dessert treat—a gourmet take on premium vanilla ice cream that’s sure to keep tongues wagging! The secret is in the sauce—Bonfatto’s Wing Sauces—lightly infused throughout French vanilla ice cream with all-natural ingredients. It’s ice cream that’s a little bonkers—a sweet with a tickle of heat. And it’s everything Mom told you not to do.

Recipe

Apple PepperJack~Pumpkin Cheese Cake
courtesy of David Letterman

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the crust
3/4 cup gram cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
4-8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (plus or minus)
Bonfatto’s Apple Pepper Jack Wing Sauce & Marinade

Method
Mix the ingredients for the crust in a bowl. Put into a greased spring-form pan, pressing in place to create a uniform crust. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, remove and cool. Put the cream cheese, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend the ingredients on low speed. Once they have come together, increase the speed of your mixer to medium high and mix until very smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl mix the pumpkin, cream, vanilla, and the spices. Put this into the cream cheese mixture and mix until completely incorporated. Drizzle some of the Apple Pepper Jack onto the crust (may need to put the jar into the microwave for 30 seconds or so to make it pour easier-take the lid off first).

Spread the cream cheese mixture into the spring-form pan. Drizzle the remaining marinade across the top.  Using the back of a butter knife, swirl the cheesecake batter and marinade creating a marbling effect.  Be careful not to over blend or cut through the crust. Bake for 50 minutes. The cheesecake will be done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool on rack then release the springform.

Events

maryland bbq

 

randyhighpoint

Our own Chef Randall Smith will be competing with Doug Keiles and Adam Feinberg on the Ribs within BBQ team for Ergo Chef in the 4th Annual High Point BBQ Battle STATE CHAMPIONSHIP in Clarksburg, MD October 10 – 11, 2014.

Held annually, is a The Kansas City Barbeque Society -sanctioned event, operating under KCBS rules. It is locally operated as a fundraising event on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association by High Point Events, the Montgomery County Career Fire. Fighters Association and the Montgomery County Career Officers Association. Come spend a beautiful fall day at Montgomery County’s premier event facility, High Point Farm, while watching some of barbecue’s finest grill teams compete for top marks in four gastronomic categories: Beef Brisket, Pork Ribs, Chicken and Pork. Competition has never tasted (nor smelled) so good…nor happened for such a great cause!

Mike StaibBarbecue Styles of America: A Guide to Regional Barbecue Flavors
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Molecular Gastronomy, The Science of Food & Chef Adrian Cruz

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Chop Talk. In this edition we are covering ‘art on a plate.’ First up is a complete explanation of Molecular Gastronomy, or The Science of Food. Many of us have heard the term, but few of us, except for you educated foodies out there, actually know the origins of the term. We’ll cover it’s history, highlight some of the great chefs who employ this science in the kitchens of their restaurants and describe the various techniques that make up this cooking method. Our Chef’s Spotlight in this edition is Chef Adrian Cruz, who exemplifies the moniker of  ‘culinary artist’ with his take on art on a plate and who graciously give us a beautiful recipe and presentation for our Recipes section. Lastly we have a great announcement for all you California readers, as we have partnered with a new culinary gourmet store in Los Angeles, Van Dorn Gourmets. We hope you enjoy.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: Molecular Gastronomy

moleculargastronomy1Though seemingly new, molecular gastronomy has been around since the time of Escoffier and the term was first introduced into the lexicon in 1988 by Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti and French physical chemist Hervé This. It became the title for a set of workshops they held in Erice, Italy that brought together scientists and professional cooks for discussions on the science behind traditional cooking preparations. “Molecular Gastronomy,” first based on exploring the science behind traditional cooking methods, is also known now as the scientific discipline co-created by Kurti and This.

AchatzIf you are a fan of this discipline, then you are familiar with those chefs, such as Ferran Adrià, Grant AchatzWylie Dufresne, Jose Andres, Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal, as well as a handful of others that push the limits of creativity by breaking the boundaries between the lab and the table. If you are not familiar with it, you should be, if for no other reason than to have experienced the genre at least once. 

What is it exactly?
There are many branches of food science, all of which study different aspects of food such as safety, microbiology, preservation, chemistry, engineering, physics and the like. Until the advent of molecular gastronomy, there was no formal scientific discipline dedicated to studying the processes in regular cooking as done in the home or in a restaurant. The afore-mentioned (perhaps with the exception of food safety) have mostly been concerned with industrial food production and while the disciplines may overlap with each other to varying degrees, they are considered separate areas of investigation.

ChefHestonBlumenthalThe discipline covers some of these areas:
~How ingredients are changed by different cooking methods.
~How all the senses play their own roles in our appreciation of food.
~The mechanisms of aroma release and the perception of taste and flavor.
~How and why we evolved our particular taste and flavor sense organs and our general food likes and dislikes.
~How cooking methods affect the eventual flavor and texture of food ingredients.
~How new cooking methods might produce improved results of texture and flavor.
~How our brains interpret the signals from all our senses to tell us the “flavor” of food.
~How our enjoyment of food is affected by other influences, our environment, our mood, how it is presented, who prepares it, etc..

Though many disparate examples of the scientific investigation of cooking exist throughout history, the creation of the discipline of Molecular Gastronomy was intended to bring together the chemical and physical processes of cooking. It broke it into an organized discipline within food science; A. To address what the other disciplines within food science do not cover and, B. Cover it in a manner intended for scientists rather than cooks.

cheesesouffleHere’s a perfect example of new knowledge brought about by Molecular Gastronomy: A soufflé is based on a viscous preparation, for example a Bechamel sauce made of butter, flour and milk, to which is added cheese, egg yolks and whisked egg whites. It used to be thought that soufflés rose as the air bubbles in the egg whites grew bigger as they became warmer. However, Hervé This has measured the temperature and pressure inside a soufflé and calculated that the bubbles can swell by 20 per cent at the most, whereas soufflés can double in volume.

In fact, the soufflé rises as water from the milk and yolks evaporates, and rises to the top of the soufflé, pushing the layers of mixture upwards. This means that heating the container from the bottom produces the best results. He has also found that the stiffer the egg whites, the more the soufflé rises. The firmer egg whites have a greater volume to begin with, but the firmness of the foam also prevents the bubbles from passing quickly through the soufflé and escaping; slowly rising bubbles are better at pushing up the layers of mixture.

foiegrasganacheThe presentations that Molecular Gastronomy represents are very much in the forefront of moving food into areas never before explored. Creations such as Blood Orange Foam, or Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s ‘Foie Gras Ganache,’ are true genius applications of time honored traditional ingredients and dishes, presented with new imagination and flair. But, it’s also about what arrives at your table as well. What do diners see? How do they interact with the food? How is their experience changed by the surrealistic plating and surprising presentation, or ingredients that look like other food, or scented air released from air pillows while you dine.

Examples of Molecular Gastronomy

flashfreezing(1)Flash-freezing
Related back to my first query about flash freezing to make ice cream, El Bulli was the first restaurant to experiment with quickly freezing the outside of various foods, sometimes leaving a liquid center, using a volatile set-up involving a bowl of liquid nitrogen dubbed the TeppanNitro. Later, Alinea’s Achatz began using an appliance called the Anti-Griddle, whose metal surface freezes rather than cooks.

spheres(1)Spherification
Also known as ravioli (not the kind you eat with marinara sauce), spheres are what you get when you mix liquid food with sodium alginate, then dunk it in a bath of calcium chloride. A sphere looks and feels like caviar, with a thin membrane that pops in your mouth, expunging a liquid center. Popular experiments from the chefs above have included ravioli made from purées of things like mangoes and peas.

meatglueMeat glue
One of the greatest hits of the movement has been Wylie Dufresne’s “shrimp noodles,” which, as the name states, are noodles made of shrimp meat. They were created using transglutaminase, or meat glue, as it’s known in wd-50’s kitchen, a substance that binds different proteins together and is more familiarly used in mass-produced foods like chicken nuggets.

Foamsfatduck_pigeon
You probably know about foams, which are sauces that have been turned into froth using a whipped cream canister and sometimes lecithin as a stabilizer. They were invented at El Bulli, along with similar “airs” made with an immersion blender.

 

Dusts & DehydrationMushroompowder
The dehydration of certain well known ingredients into a dust which changes the way one might use these ingredients, an example would be Black Chanterell or Black Trumpet mushrooms. We have had this dust added to dishes as wide ranging as soups, steaks and foie gras.

Prologue
While Molecular Gastronomy may not be for you, we highly suggest that you experience this dining genre at least once. The creativity of chefs and restaurants embracing the nuances of breaking down food to the molecular level is moving food, dining and presentation to even higher levels than ever before, and frankly, we like where it is going and am excited to see who will push the boundaries of the culinary envelope even further. As the ‘dining public’ we are the beneficiaries of these talented chefs and the masterpieces and art they create on a plate. To that end, let’s move on to our Chef’s Spotlight.

Chef’s Spotlight

chefworks chef of the monthChef Adrian Cruz is an aspiring self taught chef.  At a young age, he moved from Washington State to Texas with his family. His mother’s home-cooked meals inspired him to enjoy working with food and being in the kitchen. Although he learned some techniques from his mother, Adrian’s penchant for gastronomy manifested itself by the time he was 12 years old. He was able to work and train at various restaurants in the Rio Grande Valley. He’s also had the pleasure of working side by side with his brothers. Says Cruz, “I want people to know nostalgic memories and to understand the science behind my work. I want to achieve truly unique works of art on the plate and see what creations come to my mind. I love food and creating art..”

10341744_866279300053318_7862400480523022681_nThe Cruz Brothers are known locally for their natural talent and eagerness to create innovative signature dishes – their passion for food is generational and everlasting. Chef Cruz incorporates culinary traditions from around the world into his own work, adding seasonings and techniques drawn from Asia, Mexico, Europe and the Mediterranean. He infuses precise technique with creative flair and adventuresome spirit to create a cuisine, both casual comfort food and fine dining, of great finesse and balanced flavors. His reputation has given him the opportunity to host various cooking shows for local television, participate in community fundraisers and participate in culinary contests. He joined Chefs Roll  in January of 2014 and has been travelling for events and competing around the Sates with Chefs Roll. He was chosen to be Chef Works Apparel  International Chef of the Month in 2014 and joined Chefs Life Apparel, designing his own Latin Passion Line. Chef Cruz formed a group of chefs, called Cartel Kitchen, paired with chefs who share the same creativity love for cooking where they share ideas and cater events all over United States.

Adrian wants people to know nostalgic memories and to understand the science behind His work. He strives to achieve truly unique works of art on the plate and see what creations come to his mind. Adrian loves food and creates beautiful dishes with a lot of fusion and passion for art. Cruz went from the underdog to a noticed chef with great skills. His Latin passion comes form when he started as a kid working as a migrant in Washington state with his family. He is working on new projects for his career and maybe some day own his own restaurant. If you love his food and his art on a plate follow him on facebook and at www.chefsroll.com/chefadriancruz and www.chefslifeapparel.com

 Recipe

image001Ancho Rubbed Spicy Tuna with Pickled Ginger Oranges~Apples~Asian Pears~Honey Siracha~Wasabi Avocado~Sweet Thai Chili Sauce~Fried Nori & Bacon Bits.

Courtesy of Chef Adrian Cruz

Ingredients 
6 oz Ahi tuna
1 tsp of Ancho chili
1 tsp soy
1 tsp of garlic
1 tsp of ginger
3 tbsp of bacon
3 slices of pickled Asian pears
3 diced apples
3 slices of fresh pickled oranges
3 sheets of fried Nori
1 tbsp of bacon fat

Method
Season tuna in a ancho chilli rub with soy sauce, ginger, ancho, garlic, then rubbed in sesame seeds get a none stick skillet and put in medium heat till nice and hot add bacon fat and gently sear the tuna in all sides 7 seconds each side take out and set aside after that get the nori and fry till it gets crispy take out and set to to the side next get the oranges Asian pears and apples and let them sock in vinegar with honey salt ginger sugar and citrus.

10481459_877548622259719_2812215440426453899_nPlating
Grab your honey Siracha, the Wasabi avocado, the bacon and sweet Thai chili. Add drops to your plate sprinkle the bacon bits add the pickled fruit set to the side. Now take the tuna and slice 2 inch slices add to your plate.  After that add the fried Nori and sweet Thai chili. Serve.

 

Product Spotlight

vandorn1Check it out! Ergo is proud to announce our affiliation with a new gourmet store in Los Angeles, California, Van Dorn Gourmets in Magnolia Park. They will be carrying Ergo Chef CRIMSON Cutlery, our popular Multi-Function Shears and our world famous DUO Tongs! We are pleased and excited to serve the chefs and home cooks of Los Angeles via. Van Dorn Gourmets.

Van Dorn Gourmets’ are proudly made by their own family owned and operated business dedicated to customer service, fast delivery, and of course, awesome flavor! All of their spice blends including seasoning blends, spice rubs, dip mixes, and salt blends, were developed by Brian in his own stone mortar & pestle using the finest ingredients. Brian has been blending spices, and creating unique flavor compounds for his family and friends for years and they are proud to share these wonderful blends with you. Their products also focus toward the health conscious consumer. Some of their herbs are organic, many are salt and/or sugar free, and none of their blends contain MSG.

Till next time,

Ergo

Mike StaibMolecular Gastronomy, The Science of Food & Chef Adrian Cruz
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The Art of Braising & a Chef’s Spotlight on Chef Barry Sexton….

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Hi and welcome to a special edition of Chop Talk. We would like to congratulate Adam Petramala who has been selected as the winner of our Gourmet Kitchen Store Sweepstakes and will be receiving our Crimson 6″ Santuko Knife. In this edition’s Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips,  as we approach fall, we are covering braising, teaching you how to produce those falling off the bone dishes that we all love. In our Chef’s Spotlight, we bring you Chef Barry Sexton, who gives us not one, but two great recipes. Thanks for being here and we hope you enjoy!

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: The Art of Braising

ShortribcloseupTender, falling off the bone, full of meaty flavors with rich yet balanced aromas of red wine and hearty vegetables. Ahhh, the art of braising! Not an easy technique by any means, but when prepared properly, a braised item can be a very memorable dining experience. Cooking, by simple definition, is the application of heat to food. But all heat is not created equal. In the kitchen, there’s a big difference between moist heat and dry heat. Whenever you add a liquid to the pot or pan, for instance, when you simmer, boil, steam, or braise, you’re cooking with moist heat. If you don’t add a liquid when you sear, sauté, fry, roast, or grill, you’re cooking with dry heat. Braising is a very unique cooking method where you are actually cooking with dry and moist heat.

In order to achieve a great flavor profile of your braised item, it is important to sear the protein in a hot pan (dry heat) in order to develop caramelization – browning flavor profiles– and seal in the juices. Then by adding a liquid (moist heat) and cooking at a low temperature for a longer period of time, the braised dish will be very tender and moist. This is definitely the best of both worlds as you benefit from all spectrums of the cooking world!

SearingSteak4Once you have decided to experiment with braising, it is important to decide which cut of meat you wish to braise. Typically, braising is a very economical way to feed the family, as cheaper, underutilized and less tender cuts of meat are used. The slow and long cooking method allows the connective tissue and fat to break down much more, leaving those tougher cuts of meat melting in your mouth! Popular cuts of meat to braise include: shanks, brisket, flank, baby back ribs, short ribs, most cuts from the shoulder, arm and leg. These parts of the animal are exercised much more than others, which builds up and toughens the muscle, therefore it is necessary to break that muscle down during the cooking process. The very popular Filet Mignon, is a much more tender cut of meat coming from the tenderloin and it is not necessary to braise it in order to tenderize, but of course it can be done. Don’t just stop with beef though, it is very common to braise poultry, pork, lamb, fish, and many vegetables a well.

coq-au-vinblork.orgNow that we’ve chosen the cut of meat, its time to develop those delicious flavors! Many popular braised dishes include Pot Roast, Beef Stew, Swiss steak, Coq au Vin, Chicken Cacciatore, Goulash, Braised Tilapia, Beef Bourguignon and Moroccan Tagine dishes.(we’ll be covering cooking in a Tagine in an upcoming installment) All of these popular dishes begin with important ingredients; the item to be braised, vegetables, (in most cases, Mirepoix; carrots, onions, celery), normally an alcohol such as a red or white wine, a flavorful liquid or stock (water can be used), and aromatics. Once the item is seared and removed from the pot, flavor development begins with the caramelization of vegetables and with the addition of a tomato product. From here, you can deglaze with an alcohol and return the meat to the pot. Cover the item with the stock, about two thirds of the way up. Bring to a quick boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and place it in an oven for a few hours. Depending on the size and cut of the item, it can sometimes go for up to 8 hours.

aromaticsAromatics play a very important role in braising. Fresh and dried herbs, spices, vegetables, and seasonings are all ways to enhance a braised item. They can be added all at once in the pot, or bunched up in a Sachet: a small cheesecloth bag, containing various herbs and spices, used to infuse flavor into stocks. These can typically include; bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems and black peppercorns.

How do we know when it’s done? The terms “falling off the bone” or “fork tender” are great gauges of doneness. Remove the cover and test the product with a fork. If it is moist enough to fully pierce through with a fork, it is probably ready.

Now it’s time to serve! We can ladle the braise or stew over mashed potatoes, rice, or vegetables, or choose to remove the meat and create a sauce with the left over braising liquid. All of those pronounced flavors will only get better when reduced down in a 2007_02_27-PotRoastpot further to fully develop and concentrate.

There’s really nothing to be afraid of and this is really not as hard as it sounds. Just take your time and like we’ve learned in prior installments of The At Home Cook Series, just follow the steps. It’s almost like a one pot meal, where presentation and knife skills are not nearly as important as the infusion of flavor from the cooking method. If you follow these easy steps to success, you are bound to create a very flavorful and palate appealing masterpiece!

Chefs Spotlight

Chef Barry SextonChef Barry E. Sexton is an accomplished chef, food stylist, food consultant and a motivational speaker with his creative talents and training, Also a culinary dynamo who is making waves.

Philadelphia native, Chef Barry E. Sexton has successfully acquired over 30 years experience in the culinary arts. The Philadelphia Art Institute graduate always believed that great food is a combination of bold tastes, textures and color. Like fine art, crucial ingredients waiting to be blended on a canvas. Chef Sexton was classically trained for more than a decade under the tutelage of Master Chef Jean Pierre Tardy, who was the Executive Chef of Le Bec-Fin for seven years.  Chef Barry worked closely with him keeping the creative process alive by using his imagination with the best and freshest ingredients available to create signature dishes at Jean Pierre’s French Restaurant in Newtown, Pa. He contributes his success to having great mentors and a vast amount of passion for food, wine and art. Throughout his career, he has practiced his culinary artistry at some notable Philadelphia restaurants and hotels also located in Bucks County.

This award-winning chef is well known for his keen sense of creativity, gourmet catering, and private cooking classes that showcase his style of cooking.  His cuisine integrates the sophisticated flavors of African, Caribbean, Italian and Asian all infused with a cultural blend from around the world.  In 1995, he was voted the Top Chef to watch, while working at Striped Bass, a well-known restaurant that specialized only in seafood flown in from around the world. Chef Sexton created dishes that reflected his proven track record among those with discerning taste. He also helped launch Zanzibar Blue, a popular upscale jazz/blues restaurant located in the Philadelphia Hyatt Hotel. Chef Sexton’s menus have been well received by notable personalities such as Rosa Parks, mother of the Civil Rights Movement, actor Denzel Washington and former congressman Bill Gray. His artful plating and delicious food attracted admirers of his unique cuisine.

Chef Sexton has also been employed as Executive Chef of the Buck Hotel & Conference Center in Feasterville as well as abroad at the five star Round Hill Hotel & Resort, Jamaica, W.I. During his stay at Round Hill, Chef Sexton was invited to prepare exquisite dinners for several Ambassadors and Prime Minister’s of the Caribbean Council.

logo_opinionated-palateA classically trained Chef, innovatively creative cuisine and a commitment to service. That’s how clients characterize the Opinionated Palate catering service. Chef Sexton’s vast culinary knowledge, great reputation for the love of food and impressive presentations, has contributed to the company’s popularity. As a caterer the Opinionated Palate won’t settle for less than the best and will exceed your expectation. They offer a full package of catering menus that can fit almost every need with many options for any type of event. The Opinionated Palate has cuisine that’s tailored to your palate. They will also collaborate a menu based upon personal tastes and budget to make the artistic vision of your event a reality. Check out the website here: https://www.opinionatedpalate.com/

Recipe
Mushroom & White Bean Soup
Courtesy of Chef Barry Sexton

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Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
1c white onion, chopped
c celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
2 Tbsp flour
3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
2 cups heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, minced
1/8 tsp red chili flakes
1 can small white beans
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste

Method
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add in garlic, cook until lightly brown.  Add in the onions, and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Add carrots and continue to cook stirring occasionally. Turn up the heat, add in the mushrooms. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the mushrooms sweat and release water. Stir in flour, add the water, stock, cream and remaining ingredients except the beans. Bring soup to a boil, lower heat to a simmer allowing the flavors to combine. Add beans and continue to cook for 12 minutes. Salt to taste. Serve & enjoy!

Crispy Mushrooms & Goat Cheese Purse
Courtesy of Chef Barry Sexton

Ingredients
24 wonton small square wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2cup onion, minced
3 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
6oz. goat cheese, softened
2 tablespoons parsley, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste

Method
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoon of butter in a large pan. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes then stir in minced garlic and cook until golden. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. In a food processor, add cooked mushrooms mixture, bread crumbs, goat cheese and parsley. Pulse until combined.

To assemble
Place 4 wonton skins on a dry work surface. Fill center of each with 1 teaspoon of mushroom goat cheese mixture. Moisten remaining corners with egg; around the edge and fold the wonton in half diagonally. Press with your finger to seal the edges of the dough. Bring the two outer corners up with a pinch and a twist to seal them tightly. They can also be shaped as a flat triangle. Repeat process until all the mixture is gone. Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a large saucepan or medium skillet to just under 350 degrees (you don’t want the oil too hot or it will burn the wontons! Experiment with a spare sheet of wonton wrappers to check. Add the purses, 3 or 4 at a time, in the hot oil and let fry for about a minute to a minute and a half, just until they are golden and crispy. Flip them halfway through. Remove from oil and drain onto a paper towel. Season with a sprinkle of salt.

Raspberry Lavender Honey Mustard
Ingredients
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1 tsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
4 tsp honey
1/2 fresh raspberry
1/8 tsp crushed lavender
Salt & pepper to taste

Method
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Strain and set aside until ready to use.

Till next time,
Ergo Chef

Mike StaibThe Art of Braising & a Chef’s Spotlight on Chef Barry Sexton….
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Ergo Chef, Gourmet Kitchen Store Sweepstakes

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 “IT’S THE ERGO CHEF ‘GOURMET KITCHEN STORE SWEEPSTAKES!!!!”

Ergo Chef would like to know “What’s your favorite ‘Gourmet’ Kitchen Store?”

Just tell us the name and address of your favorite local kitchenware store, your full name and email address in the comments of this post and we’ll enter your name into our Gourmet Kitchen Store* Sweepstakes!!!

*store must have an actual physical location and address.

PromoGood luck and thank you for participating.

Ergo Chef

Official Gourmet Kitchen Store Giveaway Rules 2014

No Purchase Necessary To Enter Or Win. A Purchase Of Any Kind Will Not Increase Your Chances Of Winning. Void Where Prohibited.

1. Sweepstakes Period: Ergo Chef, Gourmet Kitchen Store Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) begins at 9:00:00 am Eastern Time (“ET”) on 07/21/14 and ends at 7:59:59 pm ET on 08/11/14 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One (1) Random Drawing will be held on 8/17/14  at 5:00PM from among all eligible entries received during the applicable Entry Period, in order to award one (1) Grand Prize per the Entry Period. Winner will be notified by email.

2. Eligibility: The Sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia (excluding Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other United States territories), who are twenty-one (21) years of age or older as of the date of their entry and who have access to the internet and Ergo prior to learning of this Sweepstakes. Employees of Ergo Chef, LLC (“Sponsor”), and any of Sponsor’s respective affiliates, parents, subsidiary companies, and advertising and promotion agencies (collectively the “Sweepstakes Entities”) and members of their immediate families (spouses, parents, children, and siblings and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside), and/or those living in the same household of each (whether or not related thereto) are not eligible to enter or win the Sweepstakes. Void everywhere else outside the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, or where otherwise prohibited or restricted by law. Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws. By entering the Sweepstakes, participants are bound by and agree to these Official Rules, and the decisions of Sponsor and Administrator, which are final and binding.

3. How to Enter: During the applicable Entry Period, eligible entrants must log onto ErgoChef.com and leave a comment that to include name address website of their favorite gourmet kitchen store as well as their name , address, email number on this posting. There is a limit of one (1) Entry, per person, regardless of email address used, per Entry Period. Entries will NOT be carried forward into subsequent Entry Periods’ Random Drawings, if any. Normal Internet access and usage charges imposed by your on-line service provider may apply. Entries received from any person, regardless of email address used, in excess of the stated limitation will be void. All Entries must be received during an applicable Entry Period to be eligible for that Entry Period’s Grand Prize. The computer clock of the webmaster hosting the Sweepstakes is the official timekeeping device for the Sweepstakes. All Entries become the property of Sponsor and Sponsor will not verify receipt of entries.

4. Grand Prizes and Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): One (1) Grand Prize is available to be awarded throughout the entire Sweepstakes Period (one (1) per Entry Period) (each, a “Grand Prize”). The Grand Prize winner, once confirmed, as detailed below, will receive one (1) Crimson Series G10 6″ Santoku Knife valued at $120.00. There is a limit of one (1) Grand Prize per person/household, throughout the Sweepstakes Period.

5. Random Drawing(s) & Notification/Acceptance: On or about August 17th, 2014, one (1) Random Drawing will be held, from among all eligible Entries received during the applicable Entry Period, in order to select one (1) potential Grand Prize winner. Administrator, who is an independent judging agency, will conduct the one (1) Random Drawing. The decisions of Administrator and Sponsor are final and binding on all matters relating to this Sweepstakes. If notification attempts for a potential Grand Prize winner fail for any reason, or if a potential Grand Prize winner does not comply with these Official Rules, such Grand Prize will be forfeited and an alternate potential Grand Prize winner will be selected from among remaining eligible Entries from the corresponding Entry Period. Acceptance of a Grand Prize constitutes permission for the Sweepstakes Entities to use the Grand Prize winners’ name, voice, actual or simulated likeness and biographical information in connection with the Sweepstakes and Sponsor (including, without limitation, for advertising and promotional purposes) in perpetuity, throughout the universe, in all media and mediums Sponsor sees fit, whether now known or hereafter devised, without additional compensation, unless prohibited by law.

6. Grand Prize Conditions: Sponsor reserves the right to perform a background check on any potential Grand Prize winner as a condition of awarding such Grand Prize. Administrator will furnish an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 to each official Grand Prize winner for the actual value of each Grand Prize for the tax year in which the Grand Prize is awarded. Grand Prize winners are responsible for all federal, state, and local taxes (including income and withholding taxes) and all other costs associated with Grand Prize acceptance and use not specified herein as being provided. No transfers of a Grand Prize, in whole or in part, will be permitted, except at Sponsor’s sole discretion. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a Grand Prize (or portion thereof) with another prize of greater or comparable value, as determined by Sponsor. All Grand Prize details are at Sponsor’s sole discretion.

7. General Rules: By entering this Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor and Administrator, which shall be final and binding in all respects. In the event of a dispute, Entries will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of Entry and the natural person who is the authorized account holder of the email address used to submit the entry will be declared the potential Grand Prize winner. “Authorized account holder” of an e-mail address is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an email address by an Internet Access provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address. In the event that any provision(s) of these Official Rules shall be held by a court or other tribunal of competent jurisdiction to be illegal, invalid, or unenforceable, such provision(s) shall be limited or eliminated to the minimum extent necessary so that these Official Rules shall otherwise remain in full force and effect.

8. Limitations of Liability: Entrants, by participating in the Sweepstakes, release and agree to hold the Sweepstakes Entities harmless from and against any and all liability, claims, or actions, of any kind whatsoever, for any injuries, losses, or damages, of any kind, to persons (including death or bodily injury) and property, arising in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from acceptance, possession, use or misuse of a Grand Prize. Each entrant agrees to indemnify the Sweepstakes Entities from any and all liability resulting or arising from the Sweepstakes and hereby acknowledges that the Sweepstakes Entities have neither made, nor are in any manner responsible or liable for, any warranty, representation, or guarantee, express or implied, in fact or in law, relative to any Grand Prize herein. Additionally, the Sweepstakes Entities are not responsible for late, lost, stolen, incomplete, misdirected, garbled, damaged, delayed or undelivered Entries; or for any virus contracted by an entrant’s computer through participation in the Sweepstakes, or for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by computer or Internet malfunction, interference, tampering, manipulation, weather, natural disaster, acts of war, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes Entities assume no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect or delay in operation, or for failed computer, satellite, telephone, wireless or cable transmissions, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed or misdirected transmissions, technical error, theft, destruction or unauthorized access. Sweepstakes Entities are not responsible for any other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the Sweepstakes, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Sweepstakes, the processing of Entries, the awarding of the Grand Prizes, the airing of the Code Word(s), the selection and notification/verification of potential Grand Prize winners, or in any Sweepstakes-related materials. The Sweepstakes Entities are not responsible for lost, interrupted, inaccessible or unavailable network, server, wireless service, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections or any combination thereof. Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it suspects of tampering with the Entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes, to be acting in violation of the Official Rules, or to be acting in a unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person or entity. Any use of robotic, automatic, macro, programmed or like entry methods or third-party software or website, or any other devices, which subvert or manipulate the entry process will void all Entries by such methods, and disqualify any entrant using such methods. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. If, for any reason, the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned, by reason of, but not limited to, tampering, programming, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, virus, bug, worms, unauthorized human intervention, or any other causes which Sponsor, in its sole opinion, deems could corrupt, manipulate or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes and post notice of the action at the Promotional Site, and/or where Sponsor sees fit. In such an event, Sponsor will select the potential Grand Prize winners in random drawing(s) from among all valid, non-suspect, eligible Entries received prior to termination, if any, or as otherwise may be deemed fair and equitable by Sponsor. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL ANY ENTRANT BE PERMITTED TO OBTAIN AWARDS FOR, AND ENTRANTS HEREBY WAIVE ALL RIGHTS TO CLAIM, PUNITIVE, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES WHATSOEVER. IN NO EVENT SHALL SPONSOR BE LIABLE TO ANY ENTRANT OR WINNER FOR DAMAGES THAT EXCEED THE VALUE OF THE PRIZE TO BE AWARDED TO THE INDIVIDUAL ENTRANT IN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. IN NO EVENT WILL MORE PRIZES THAN THOSE DETAILED IN THESE OFFICIAL RULES BE AWARDED. SPONSOR’S FAILURE TO ENFORCE ANY PROVISION IN THESE OFFICIAL RULES WILL NOT BE DEEMED A WAIVER OF SUCH. 9. Disputes, Governing Law and Venue: THE SWEEPSTAKES IS GOVERNED BY, AND WILL BE CONSTRUED IN ACCORDANCE WITH, THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT AND THE FORUM AND VENUE FOR ANY DISPUTE SHALL BE IN KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE. IF THE CONTROVERSY OR CLAIM IS NOT OTHERWISE RESOLVED THROUGH DIRECT DISCUSSIONS OR MEDIATION, IT SHALL THEN BE RESOLVED BY FINAL AND BINDING ARBITRATION ADMINISTERED BY JUDICIAL ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION SERVICES, INC., IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS STREAMLINED ARBITRATION RULES AND PROCEDURES OR SUBSEQUENT VERSIONS THEREOF (“JAMS RULES”). THE JAMS RULES FOR SELECTION OF AN ARBITRATOR SHALL BE FOLLOWED, EXCEPT THAT THE ARBITRATOR SHALL BE EXPERIENCED AND LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN CONNECTICUT.  THE REMEDY FOR ANY CLAIM SHALL BE LIMITED TO ACTUAL DAMAGES, AND IN NO EVENT SHALL ANY PARTY BE ENTITLED TO RECOVER PUNITIVE, EXEMPLARY, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES OR OTHER SUCH RELATED COSTS OF BRINGING A CLAIM, OR TO RESCIND THIS AGREEMENT OR SEEK INJUNCTIVE OR ANY OTHER EQUITABLE RELIEF.

10. Privacy Policy: Any personally identifiable information collected during this Sweepstakes will be collected by Sponsor and used by Sponsor, Administrator, or their affiliates, agents and marketers for purposes of the proper administration and fulfillment of the Sweepstakes as described in these Official Rules and in accordance with Sponsor’s Privacy Policy as stated at Ergo Chef, LLc and as allowed by law.

11. Sponsor: Ergo Chef, LLC. 35 Eagle Road.Danbury, CT. 06810 © 2014 Ergo Chef, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Mike StaibErgo Chef, Gourmet Kitchen Store Sweepstakes
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The Backyard BBQ, Chef Rocky Fino & Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.

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Hi and welcome to the the Fathers Day installment of Chop Talk. In this edition we are going to look at the origins of the backyard barbecue. For the most part, the barbecue is an ‘American’ tradition, but we think you’ll be surprised at its origins and those who were its biggest fans. We’re sure most of you can recall some of these great times and hopefully, you have carried on these traditions. Then we’re pleased to introduce to our good friend Chef Rocky Fino in this edition of Chef’s Spotlight and we have a delicious recipe for Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips

The most plausible theory claims that the origin of the word “barbecue” is a derivative of the West Indian phrase “barbacoa,” which describes a method of slow-cooking meat over hot coals. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word back to Haiti, and others claim that “barbecue” might actually come from the French phrase “barbe a queue,” meaning “from head to tail.”

In America, barbecue can be traced back to colonial times, with a Virginia law written in the 1600s providing that, “discharging of firearms at a barbecue was prohibited.” In George Washington’s diaries, one entry, dated May 27, 1769, describes him traveling to Virginia for a barbecue. What we find most fascinating about his subsequent entries over the next few years, is that it reveals George to be the very antithesis of what we have come to believe with regard to his personality and demeanor. To most of us, the ‘Father of Our Country‘ is portrayed a stoic and serious individual, yet most of his entries concerning barbecue, are usually followed by entries about his ‘laying low for a few days and doing nothing of note.‘ Seems ol’ George was a partier at heart and we might very well have documentation of the first Presidential Hangovers! You Go George, Party like it’s 1799!”

In 1820, in a letter to her grandfather, Thomas Jefferson, Ellen Randolph wrote him of  ‘a great barbecue’ held on the Fourth of July in Charlottesville. By that time, Independence Day barbecues had become the norm. It is even recorded that upon the marriage of Abraham Lincoln’s parents, on June 12, 1806, the ‘reception‘ was a barbecue. From the book, “Lincoln: The Prairie Years, 1927,” written by Carl Sandburg, a guest at the wedding, Christopher Grahm wrote, “We had bear meat, venison, wild turkey and duck eggs, both wild and tame, maple sugar lumps tied to a string to bite off with coffee or whiskey, syrup in gourds, peaches and honey, a whole sheep roasted in a pit over coals of burned wood and covered with green boughs to keep the juices in.”

So as you can see, the tradition of gathering with your friends to cook some sort of meat over wood or coal outdoors seems to have been around for centuries.  Now if only the cool DUO tongs were available then, they may have made BBQ easier.

Chef’s Spotlight
rocky
In this edition of Chef’s Spotlight we are featuring good friend Chef Rocky Fino, author of  Will Cook for Sex: A Guy’s Guide to CookingWill Mix for Sex: 21 Classic Cocktails to Set the Mood and Will Cook for Sex Again, Again and Again. He earned himself the affectionate designation of “the show’s giggle” at a 2005 literary trade show. But when it comes down to showing men that cooking for a woman doesn’t have to be intimidating, the culinary writer and presenter takes his mission very seriously. “As men — single or married — we are challenged with enamoring our significant others,” he says. “There is no better chance to show her your affection than in the kitchen.”

In his books, meal demonstrations, and speaking engagements, Fino breaks cooking down into simple steps and complements his recipes with visual aids and amusing anecdotes about his own trials and errors – thereby reassuring men (and, often, women) that they, too, can impress a date by developing some basic confidence and creativity in the kitchen. With a playful and approachable self-depreciating style, Fino guides would-be seductors through specific topics like essential equipment, salmon vs. steak, and meals the morning after. As a pioneer in the field of pairing and cooking with craft beer, the California-based chef also challenges readers and viewers to break with tradition by serving elegant beers instead of wine to score points in the crucial categories of innovation, forethought and attention to detail.

Fino, who spent many a childhood night cooking for the family with his father, received a B.A. in Radio, TV and Film from Temple University and an M.B.A. from California State University. The skills he learned in school combine with a natural sense of humor to make him a sought-after broadcast media commentator and featured chef at food, drink and relationship expos and events across the country. To wit, Fino is the resident cooking expert for TV8 in Vail, Colorado, and appears frequently on TV news and cooking shows in Philadelphia, Manhattan and St. Louis. He’s also the featured guest chef for the Atlantic City Beerfest.

Fino’s first book, Will Cook for Sex, published by Stephen’s Press in 2005, won ForeWord Magazine’s “Cookbook of the Year” award and has received praise from publications such as Men’s Health Magazine, Maxim, Hooters Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer and St. Petersburg Times. “He provides a guy’s insight into the crazy abyss of dating and relationships,” reviewed Tracy Spicer in Pasadena Weekly. “Think of Fino as your best friend, giving you advice before the big date. Only these friendly pointers are not cheesy pickup lines or suave moves … and they most likely will work!”

As a California native, Fino has long taken advantage of the fresh ingredients and progressive culinary ideas that informed his father as he methodically prepared thousands of gourmet meals with his son. “He admitted that since I didn’t get Paul Newman looks from him, he needed to give me something else to help with the ladies,” the younger Fino remembers. “After many years of defeat suffered while trying to go toe-to-toe in the ring of the pick-up scene, I finally realized the value of that skill.” Since picking up an iron and a skillet, then and a pen and a microphone, Fino’s succeeded in picking up many a pleased woman and several books’ worth of pointers. And if any readers or viewers require proof that Fino’s techniques really work, they’re welcome to ask his very appreciative wife. You can follow Rocky on his facebook page: Will Cook for Sex and on twitter: @willcookforsex and you can find out more about Rocky on his website, www.willcookforsex.com.

Recipe
Our recipe is courtesy of @GourmetGuyMag, Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.

2008_1224Gatewayfarm0013Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin
“This recipe combines two of my favorite ingredients, Pork & Pesto and includes a special cheese called Brie Stuffed With Cheese; a combination of Brie, Stilton or Bleu and Triple cream. (I agree. we could just enjoy the cheese and leave it at that, but trust me this recipe will make you happy.)” ~Lou

Ingredients
1 3-5 lb. pork loin
1/2 cup pesto stuffing
Spice rub

The Pesto
Ingredients
3/4 cup arugula leaves
3/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup ‘Brie stuffed with cheese.’ (see NOTE)
1/4 cup pine nuts, whole
4 large cloves garlic, minced (reserve 1 tbls)
Olive Oil

Method
Place arugula and basil leaves into a food processor. Add the pine nuts and garlic. Slowly add olive oil until paste begins to form. Next take the ‘cheese’ and crumble into the mixture. Pulse until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

The Spice Rub
Ingredients
1 tbls minced garlic – Use a Chef knife
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground – Use a good Spice Grinder
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, less if you don’t like heat
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp thyme, freshly ground
1/4 tsp cumin, freshly ground
Salt to taste
Method
Place all ingredients into a spice grinder (I use whole fresh thyme, cumin pods, & peppercorns) and blend until all spices are powder. Set aside.

Method
Preheat oven to 375 degrees unless you are grilling, then preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Butterfly pork loin until ¾ of an inch thick. A 6″ Utility knife works great for this. Next, using the flat side of a kitchen mallet, pound until ½ inch thick. Using a spatula, spread the pesto mixture over the pork loin. Roll up the loin and use a skewer or chef’s twine to keep tightly closed. Take the spice mixture and rub the entire loin, making sure to coat the ends as well. (Reserve the extra rub for the sauce.)

Add 2 tbls olive oil to a large saute pan and place on medium-high heat. Sear the loin on all sides till golden brown. Once all sides are nicely seared, place the roast on a rack inside a roasting pan with sides. Set aside saute pan without removing fond. Place roast on center rack of the oven and cook for 45 minutes, making sure to periodically check for doneness after 30 minutes. While loin is cooking, add 2 tbls of balsamic vinegar and the extra rub mixture into the saute pan, making sure to scrape up all the fond. Thin with vegetable or chicken broth and cook on medium-high heat until it reduces to a roux-like consistency. Remove from heat and set aside until pork is done.

2008_1224Gatewayfarm0012Plating
Place the loin on a cutting board and let rest. Using a serrated knife, cut a few ½ inch medallions leaving the rest of the loin whole. Place on plate with medallions fanned out in front. Quickly reheat sauce. Fan out arugula and or basil leaves putting a small spoonful of sauce at their base. Serve.
NOTE: The cheese used in this recipe is called ‘Brie stuffed with cheese.’ If you cannot find this at the local store where you buy your cheese, it’s easy to make your own. Simply combine Brie, any blued veined cheese and a triple cream. WOW, you will not be disappointed. You can probably find a blue veined Brie more easily, so just add the triple cream. Enjoy!

Til next time,
Ergo

Mike StaibThe Backyard BBQ, Chef Rocky Fino & Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.
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