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Autumn Ingredients & Spotlight on Chef Doug Keiles

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fallAutumn has long been associated with the transition from warm to cold weather, the primary harvest has dominated its themes and popular images throughout the world. For many of us, especially here in the States, the smell of freshly made donuts, watching through the window while cider is being fresh pressed, and folks starting to get that wistful look in their eyes as they start to glimpse the hint of Thanksgiving and Christmas just over the horizon, is a childhood memory that brings warm thoughts of family and friends. We’re sure many of you can remember returning home from the farmers market with arms full of fresh produce, apples, cider, fresh donuts, placing our pumpkins on the front stoop to await their fateful appointment with the carving knife that would soon transform them into the Jack-o-Lanterns for Halloween night. The cooling of the nights, the touch of color in the leaves and the anticipation of the coming holiday season always gives the air clarity, as if shaking off the haze of summer.

In keeping with the fact that everyone loves a good list, we thought we’d give you a great rundown of the some of the abundance of autumn produce and ingredients that are available, or coming available, in this coming autumn season.

Autumn Produce


ApplesThere are thousands (7500) of varieties of apples, ranging from tender to crisp to sweet to tart. Apples are available year-round, but they’re best from September to November. Apples contain phytonutrients which can help you regulate your blood sugar. Eaten raw, or used as a great addition to any cheese board, baked alone, or used in a pie, they are healthy and delicious. Apples were brought to North America by colonists in the 17th century, and the first apple orchard on the North American continent was planted in Boston by Reverend William Blaxton in 1625. The only apples native to North America are crab apples, which were once called “common apples.” All other varieties were brought here from Europe.

Celery Root (Celeriac) 

celery-rootCelery root, also known as celeriac, is the root of the celery plant. It is often available year-round, especially in temperate climates, but is at its best in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring (except in cold climates, where you’ll find it during the summer and early fall). Freshly harvested celery root is sometimes sold with the stalks and leaves still attached, as pictured here. It is edible raw or cooked, and tastes similar to celery stalks. It can be roasted, stewed, blanched, or mashed. Sliced celeriac occurs as an ingredient in soups, casseroles, and other savory dishes.


ChestnutIn Europe, Asia and Africa, chestnuts are often used as an everyday potato substitute. Although they are wonderful straight from the oven or fireplace, you can make use of the winter chestnut crop in many ways, both sweet and savory. Before trying one of the many chestnut recipes, learn about chestnut history and how to store them. Probably one of the first foods eaten by man, the chestnut dates back to prehistoric times.  The majority of the chestnut trees currently found in America are of native European stock, but Native Americans feasted on America’s own variety, Castanea dentata, long before European immigrants introduced their stock to America.  Today, most of the chestnut food crop is imported from Japan, China, Spain, and Italy. Legend has it that the Greek army survived on their stores of chestnuts during their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C. Chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes. It is no wonder they are still an important food crop in China, Japan, and southern Europe, where they are often ground into a meal for bread-making, thus giving rise to the nickname of “bread tree.”


Cranberries95%  of all cranberries are used as to make juice. The remaining 5% is used to make sauce, compotes and jellies. They are a a major commercial crop in the U.S. with Wisconsin the leading producer of cranberries, with over half of U.S. production. Massachusetts is the second largest U.S. producer. Cranberries are harvested in the fall when the fruit takes on its distinctive deep red color. This is usually in September through the first part of November. To harvest cranberries, the beds are flooded as we’ve all seen from the TV commercials, with six to eight inches of water above the vines. A harvester is the driven through the beds to remove the fruit from the vines. Although most cranberries are wet-picked, 5–10% of the US crop is still dry-picked. Labor costs are higher and yield is much less, but dry-picked berries are less bruised and are usually the ones sold at your favorite farmers market or fresh fruit stand.


datesDates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which grow in the desert. Harvested between September and March In the US they are grown in Arizona and California. They have a sweet, caramel-like taste and soft texture. Farmers markets may have fresh dates in season, but they are also available mail order from some growers and can usually be found at Middle Eastern markets.



fennelFennel has a light anise, or licorice, flavor. Crisp and refreshing when raw, but melts into a savory sweetness when slowly cooked. The tall green stalks look like celery with wispy dill-like leaves at the top. The stalks grow from a white onion-like bulb. All parts are edible, although the mild, tender bulb is most commonly used and served and is most associated with Italian cooking. It is often available year-round, but is at its best during its natural season from fall through early spring.


hazelnutsHazelnuts are used in confectionery to make some pralines, in chocolate for some chocolate truffles, and in hazelnut paste products. They are rich in protein and unsaturated fat and contain significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins. In season primarily in October, the majority if not all the hazelnuts available in the US come from Oregon. In Austria, hazelnut paste is an ingredient in the making of tortes(such as Viennese hazelnut torte). In Kiev cake, hazelnut flour is used to flavor its meringue body, and crushed hazelnuts are sprinkled over its sides. Dacquoise, is a French dessert cake, and often contains a layer of hazelnut meringue and is also a primary ingredient of the vodka-based liqueur frangelico. Over 2,000 tons are imported annually into Australia, mostly to supply the demand from the Cadbury-Schweppes company. Hazelnut oil pressed from hazelnuts is strongly flavored and used as a cooking oil.


mushroomsThere are over two thousand types of mushrooms, but only 2 ½ – 5 % are edible. Though you can usually get mushrooms all year round they are at their peak in fall and winter. Always look for mushrooms that are firm, not broken and avoid those that seem damp or smell of mildew. There are many varieties available, from Shitake to Crimini, to Portabello and more exotic varieties like the Black Chanterelle.



pearsThe pear is native to coastal and mildly temperate regions of the Old World, from western Europe and north Africa east right across Asia. Most of North American pears are grown in Oregon and Washington, and the harvest months listed here reflect that. Pears have no cholesterol, sodium, or saturated fat. They offer a natural, quick source of energy, due largely to high amounts of fructose and glucose, plus Levulose, the sweetest of known natural sugars, found to a greater extent in fresh pears than in any other fruit. Great raw, on cheeseboards, and poached.


peasFreshly frozen garden peas and petits pois are frozen within just two and a half-hours of being picked. Peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, thiamine (B1), iron and phosphorus. They are rich in protein, carbohydrate and fibre and low in fat which is mostly of the unsaturated kind. The less water you use when cooking peas, the less vitamin C is lost. Steaming helps to conserve this vitamin.



pumpkinsAs one of the most popular crops in the United States, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year. The top pumpkin producing states in the U.S. include Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. Pumpkins are a warm weather crop that are usually planted in early July. When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. Often, it is made into various kinds of pie which is a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holiday. Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as the vegetable marrow/zucchini. Pumpkins can also be eaten mashed or incorporated into soup.


QuinceA quince is a hard, round or pear-shaped fruit. It looks and tastes like a cross between an apple and pear. Unlike apples and pears though, quinces are inedible raw. When cooked, quinces develop a slightly grainy texture similar to a firm pear and develop a rosy amber color. Their season is very brief, from October to December, so be sure to get them when you see them. Quince is a great side for duck and other game meats. You can use it as a paste on cheese boards, compote, poach it and also tarte tatin.


sageOnce prized for its medicinal value, the most popular use of sage these days is in stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey. In ancient Rome, it was considered to have substantial healing properties, particularly helpful in the digestion of the ubiquitous fatty meats of the time, and was deemed a part of the official Roman pharmacopeia. Sage has been used effectively for throat infections, dental abscesses, infected gums and mouth ulcers. Great when used with game meats.


The term “summer” and “winter” for squash are only based on current usage, not on actuality. “Summer” types are on the market all winter; and “winter” types are on the markets in the late summer and fall, as well as winter.


BakedAcornSquash1_optThis winter squash is shaped like an acorn. Great for baking. A small acorn squash weighs from 1 to 3 pounds, and has sweet, slightly fibrous flesh. In addition to the dark green acorn, there are now golden and multi-colored varieties.



ButternutSquashBeige colored and shaped like a vase, this is a more watery squash and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. It has a bulbous end and pale, creamy skin, with a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. It weighs from 2 to 5 pounds. The more orange the color, the riper, drier and sweeter the squash.



Spaghetti-squashA small, watermelon-shaped variety, ranges in size from 2 to 5 pounds or more. It has a golden-yellow, oval rind and a mild, nut-like flavor. When cooked, the flesh separates in strands that resemble spaghetti. The most yellow squash will be the ripest and best to eat. Those that are nearly white are not very ripe. Spaghetti squash also freezes well.

Think outside the box when setting up your weekly menus and try different ingredients and techniques. You’ll be glad you did and it’s always great to get the family to try new things and expand their palette.

Chef’s Spotlight

DK_Grill_MasterDoug Keiles is the self-proclaimed Bacon Guru and all natural seasonings purveyor extraordinaire. He is Pit Master of the Grand Champion winning competition BBQ Team Ribs Within, TV cooking personality and a featured writer on BBQ/Grilling. Doug’s love of competition cooking is only equal to his love of his family and crafting his own bacon. Doug started as a backyard cooker making ribs that friends would clammer for day and night.  His gutsy confrontation of bringing ribs to a local operation of Famous Dave’s Barbeque in 2002 introduced him to the competitive BBQ cooking circuit. 

DK_rabbitFrom his first contest in July 2003, he learned from those around him and he was instantly addicted. He wanted to stand out from the other competitors and started mixing commercial rubs to hone his distinct flavor.  In 2006 RUB-4-All his signature seasoning was born. Over the last 11 seasons, Doug hand crafted, field tested and brought 9 more seasonings and salts to the public. These seasonings have brought Doug # Grand Championships in Grilling and # in KCBS Sanctioned BBQ contests.

He was known has the “Hippie Chef” on Twitter during his National TV Appearance as one of the top 16 Grillers on Chopped Grill Masters in August 2012, losing in the dessert round to the eventual Champion of the Event. He proudly sponsors and mentors BBQ teams across the country via his seasonings, inspiring them with “You got to rub it to win it”. This intense and favorable TV experience reinforced Doug’s passion and commitment to his grilling and BBQ. 

In August 2013 his First Place Bacon entry at Hudson Valley Grilling & BBQ Contest earned him entry to the World Food Championships – Bacon division where he placed 2nd in the World. Inspired by this event, Doug was encouraged to seek USDA Approval for his own line of bacon. Effective May 2014 his RIBS WITHIN Uncured Slab Bacon was approved for commercial sale. You can purchase it at Tender Lovin’ Grill in Hillsborough, NJ or online at

IMG_230215135347801 “There is nothing better than presenting straight forward, in your face, all natural and flavorful food”, Doug states as he was interviewed as a Featured Alumni of Rutgers University in their June Alumni quarterly bulletin. You can find Doug sharing his recipes and love of cooking as one of the featured writers in recently published, nationally available Barbecue America magazine. For more information on Doug’s line of Ribs Within Seasonings and to see him live at events go to or, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter @RibsWithinBBQ and Instagram #Dougie_Bacon.



Courtesy of Doug Keiles

10705268_10202740082687650_1129144360_nBBQ Bok Choy

“BBQ, even done perfectly, can still have a lot of fat. It calls out for sweet and savory side. This dish is my twist on southern greens. Bok Choy is lighter and really stands up to the vinegar. I usually make a lot at once, since it boils down and can last a while in the fridge.”


Ingredients:  Makes about 10 servings

3-4 lbs  Baby Bok Choy

3-4 cups  Vinegar

1 cup Apple juice or cider

1 cup Water

2 tablespoon BBQ Rub (I use Ribs Within Rubs)

2+ tablespoon Hot Salt (I use Ribs Within HOT SALT but to make yourself combine 1 tsp hot chili powder and 1 tsp table salt.)


10695427_10202740090727851_1785596848_nWash Bok Choy really well. Then starting at the white end, chop in ½” to ¾” slices until you get to the leaves. Separate the stalks and the leaves into 2 piles. (Easier to do while chopping). Chop leaves in ½” strips. In a large pot, put 1 cup of water and turn to medium high. When the water is hot, add the stalk (white) parts of the bok choy into the water. Add 1 cup of vinegar and a teaspoon of hot salt. Stir to mix around the liquid. After 5 minutes (or the stalks are starting to soften), add bbq rub. Add in all of the leaves, then the apple juice, Hot Salt and 1 cup of vinegar and stir. Cook for 10 min and taste the liquid – it should be tangy and sweetish, add more vinegar for more tang). More rub or salt or vinegar can be added to taste. Cook an additional 20-30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the leaves breakdown. Let stand 15-20 minutes to continue to breakdown and absorb the liquid. Serve in a large bowl. With tongs. Can be served cold, room temp, or warm


Chop Talk Product Spotlight


TL7007-img-1-LNow available from the talented Tony Luke Jr. known for his Philly Cheese Steaks and winning appearance on Bobby Flay’s Throw Down… The amazing Tony Luke 7″ serrated Multi-Purpose sandwich knife; perfect for easily slicing bread & meat for your favorite sandwiches & meals. The knife is a multi-purpose tool made with stain free Japanese 420J2 carbon stainless steel ground and honed with perfect serrations that wont tear food.  This can be used for slicing sandwiches, meat, chicken, bread, vegetables and fruit.
The comfort handle has a non-slip ergonomic grip with solid core for durability & control. Once your food is sliced, get cooking and use the handy new green 9″ DUO Tongs to easily saute, or pan fry your food and remove from pan to plate or pan to a fresh sliced roll. Available NOW in a special 2pc. set.

Watch the talented Tony Luke Jr. on the new Spike tv Hit Series Frankenfood with host Chef Josh Capon.  Description of show From Spike Website “Competition-reality series “Frankenfood” follows New York executive chef and restaurateur Josh Capon on his quest to discover new and unique flavor combinations by pairing existing dishes together. Without this sort of adventurous spirit, beloved dishes like the Reuben, chicken and waffles, and chocolate covered bacon would cease to exist. Now, Capon and his culinary posse are traveling across America to find the next great “Frankenfood.””

Get yours today:

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibAutumn Ingredients & Spotlight on Chef Doug Keiles
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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

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.

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.

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.

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 and


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

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

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.

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,


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:

Mushroom & White Bean Soup
Courtesy of Chef Barry Sexton


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

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

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

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
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

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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Summer Soups, Plank Grilling, Kitch N’ Kaffe and Discounted Factory Seconds, OH MY!!!

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This edition of Chop Talk we have a guest writer for Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips, Robyn Medlin Lindars who get’s us up to speed on grilling with planks. Our Chef’s Spotlight is a bit different this edition, as we highlight our good friend, John Porter of Kitch N’ Kaffe in Mahopac NY. Next, there’s nothing better in the summer than a delicious chilled soup and we have a tasty tropical version for you in our Recipe section with a Mango & Pineapple Soup. Last but not least, we have a great discounted value for you in our Chop Talk Special Deal, Factory Seconds. These are perfectly good products that came out just a bit imperfect, with minor cosmectic belmishes, that don’t allow us to send them out to stores or put on our ‘firsts’ line. Check out the discounted prices and some reviews of our Crimson G10 Series knives.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips

Plank Grilling Pointers:

Adding Flavor the Time-Honored Way

Planking is a great way to add smoky flavor to anything you put on the grill. Cooking on a plank transfers flavor from the wood as the food cooks. Salmon on cedar is one of the more common types of planked food. However, nearly any food can be cooked over a plank to add subtle smoke and make a creative presentation. Planking probably began with Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. They tied fish and game to Western Red Cedar and alder planks, then placed them around an open fire to cook over the indirect heat. Over the centuries, the practice of planking has moved from necessity to art, and now meats, poultry, vegetables, cheese, fruits, and even pizza can be cooked on a plank. The smoky flavor is what makes planking so popular. As a plank warms up, the natural oils and moisture from the wood become absorbed by the food. That transfer creates the flavor; different types of woods have their own distinct flavors.

Pick a Plank: The type of food and the type of flavor influences the best wood choice for the plank. However, all planks should be untreated wood. Also, avoid planks made from trees that have sap; the resulting taste will be bitter.

The six most popular wood types used for planks include:

Alder is best used with seafood. It produces a light sweet flavor that doesn’t overpower. Alder is similar to cedar.
Cedar is the most well known type of plank. Commonly used with salmon, cedar pairs well with almost all seafood.
Cherry has a mild, fruitlike flavor. It can be used with a variety of meat, including beef, pork, and poultry. Fruits and vegetables are also a good match for cherry.
Hickory produces one of the strongest smoky flavors. Poultry and beef are excellent choices to pair with hickory.
Maple has a sweet and subtle smoky flavor that’s not as powerful as hickory or oak. Pork and poultry are the best selections for a maple plank. A maple plank also enhances fruits such as peaches and cheese such as Brie.
Oak produces a medium, nutty, smoky flavor stronger than maple but not as powerful as hickory. Beef, pork, and poultry all benefit from oak planks.

Different Wood Types

After wood type, plank thickness is the second key factor in a successful plank-grilled meal. The shorter the time an item needs to be cooked, the thinner the plank.

Thick Meats
Pork Roasts, Prime Ribs & Whole Fish
Cooking Time – 1 to 2 hours
Plank Thickness – 1″+

Medium–Thick Meats
Pork Roasts, Prime Ribs & Whole Fish
Chicken, Pork Chops, Steaks, Salmon & Tuna
Plank Thickness – 3/4″

Side Dishes
Desserts, Fruits & Vegetables
Cooking Time – 20 to 30 minutes
Plank Thickness – 1/4″ to 1/2″

Plank Thickness

Prepare the Plank: Before cooking with planks, you must soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. Soaking the planks eliminates the fire risk from using wood on the grill.

Prepare a grill for medium heat, with both direct and indirect cooking zones. Create cooking zones on a charcoal grill by moving the charcoal to one side: the side with no charcoal is the indirect cooking side. On a gas grill, simply leave two burners off. The planks are placed on the “indirect” side of the grill; the food roasts on the planks while absorbing the smoky flavor from the wood. Grilling time varies, based on the food.
Preparing to Grill

Planking Practice Recipes: For the recipes below, prepare planks and grill as instructed above, then serve the finished food still on the plank.

Smoked Cheese: Place Brie or Camembert on a cedar plank and smoke for up to 20 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and melt. Add fresh herbs, nuts, dates, craisins, balsamic glaze, or other toppings as desired.

Cedar-Planked Salmon: Melt butter, mix in fresh dill, salt, and pepper, and brush over salmon. Grill at 350 degrees Fahrenheit on indirect heat until an internal-read thermometer reads 140 degrees. Grill lemons on direct heat until char marks form; serve with the salmon.
Alder-Smoked Shrimp: Drizzle shrimp with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin. Smoke for five minutes or until shrimp turns pink. Finish with fresh-squeezed lemon.
Maple-Planked Chicken: Make a seasoning paste of orange zest, oregano, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Rub this on chicken thighs. Cook on a plank until an internal-read thermometer reads 170 degrees.
Planked Flatbread Pizzas: Generously spray the plank with nonstick cooking spray and then dust with cornmeal so the dough does not stick. Use store-bought or homemade dough; roll out on plank. Grill the planked pizza dough until it begins to rise–about 5 minutes or so–and then add cheese and other toppings, perhaps including precooked meat. Grill pizza for another five minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and gets bubbly.
Planked Dessert Fruit: Drizzle stone fruit such as peaches with honey and cinnamon and grill until the fruit begins to caramelize. Serve with ice cream, if desired.
Reusing Planks: Planks can be reused two to four times. Since the flavor of the food may transfer to the plank, reuse planks with the same type of food. Do not use soap; scrub the planks with a brush and water, then let them air dry to prevent mold. Store them in an airtight container until the next use.

Store Spotlight

579152_10151212835934699_1879930754_nWe’d like to introduce you to our good friend, John Porter of Kitch N’ Kaffe in Mahopac NY. He is a friend, customer and supporter of ours who has a great store filled with culinary delights for the kitchen. He has graced Mahopac for years and works with the community there and we felt he deserved a shout out! Please like his page here, and check out his website here: Kitch N’ Kaffe

About Kitch n’ Kaffe:
From the store: “The store was established in 1998 by John B. Porter as a One-Stop-Shop for all your kitchen needs. Our store’s product selection has evolved into a selection of over 10,000 products that have been requested by chefs and culinary artists such as you. We pride ourselves in sourcing most any kitchen tool and specialty food ingredient used in the preparation of recipes at the lowest possible price.” Kitch n’ Kaffe, 985 US Route 6, Mahopac, New York 10541, (845) 276-0072   Unfortunately the slowing economy and bad winter has effected many businesses including Kitch N’ Kaffe, but we are doing everything we can to continue to be apart of our local business & economy.  Our Friend John Porter has worked with Ergo Chef to expand the US market with Harold Import Co. Inc. and recently decided to open an account with Go Fund Me to help during the tough times.  To read his full story & all the great community support he has given click here:  Any small donation is greatly appreciated.

Please “Help Support Kitch n’ Kaffe in Mahopac, NY”
Thank you!


Mango & Pineapple Soup

by Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.

An absolutely refreshing recipe, fantastic for summer. Lite and full of flavor, this recipe takes your fruit course outside the box and to the next level. Best yet, you can simply use this recipe as a guide, substituting fruit or adding it and many other ingredient combinations, such as coconut, or cloves. Be as creative as your palate desires and don’t be afraid to experiment. A favorite with party guests, you can serve it in a wine glass, using the cinnamon stick as a swizzle stick. Makes for an classy and unique presentation. Enjoy

Mango & Pineapple Soup

1 fresh mango peeled and cubed
1 c simple syrup*
*Simple syrup
1 cup of sugar
1 ½ cup of water
Add sugar to water and bring it to boil and you have simple syrup.

Method for soup

Place mango into a blender and gradually add syrup, making sure to test for sweetness. Once you achieve the desired sweetness, set aside and prepare the curd.

Mango and Pineapple Curd
1 ½ cup mango
1 ½ cups pineapple juice
8 oz sugar
6 eggs
3 oz egg yolks
1/2 oz or 6 sheets of gelatin
12 oz butter

Note: You must continue to whip the mixture from the start to finish. Whip until smooth and all the air bubbles have been removed. Continue to whip for two minutes more. Mixture should be creamy and smooth. 
In the top of a double boiler, dissolve the gelatin in the mango & pineapple juice. Once the water is boiling, add the sugar, eggs, yolks and butter and stir until melted. Pour into molds and freeze.

Cinnamon sticks

1 sheet of puff pastry
cinnamon sugar

Preheat to 375 F
Brush some water on the puff pastry sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon, then cut into a sticks. Bake 10-15 minutes.

To Plate
Using a bowl or a plate with some depth to it, pour some of the soup mix into the bowl or plate. Un-mold the mango and pineapple curd and place in the center. Slice some strawberries and place around the mango and pineapple curd to give it some color. If you choose to, you can add some other fruit to the soup as well. Garnish with the sticks and serve.


Chop Talk Special Deal 

Now you can get Ergo’s Crimson Series Knives at a discounted price by buying our Factory Seconds. These are knives that may have had a small cosmetic blemish, but are perfect in every other way with performance not affected at all. Below are some awesome reviews of our Crimson Knife Series knives from customeers who purchased them.


Check out these great reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars Best knife I have ever used, January 7, 2014
By Warren Rockmacher (CT, USA)
This review is from: Ego Chef Crimson Series Nakiri Knife, 7-Inch (Kitchen)
I just received this knife and I am amazed by it. It is by far the very best knife I have ever used. The craftsmanship is amazing and the knife is perfectly balanced and beautiful to look at. This is a true piece of art that every chef should have in their kitchen. I am going to get the rest of the set just as soon as I can.

5.0 out of 5 stars VERY COOL DESIGN and GREAT QUALITY, January 21, 2014
By Elizabeth (Washington, DC, US)
This review is from: Ego Chef Crimson Series Nakiri Knife, 7-Inch (Kitchen)
This Nakiri knife is amazing to use – the blade is super sharp and cuts everything with ease. The blade is the perfect size for my daily dinner prep and the ergonomic handle design makes it super comfortable to hold and use. So far, I’ve used it on several thick heads of cabbage, greens, celery, carrots and other salad ingredients, a ton of onions (for my famous French onion soup), sweet potatoes, eggplants, fennel, garlic, tomatoes, spring onions and proteins. I love the quality and design of this knife and highly recommend it. I also got a plastic “edge guard” from the company to protect the blade and recommend that, as well.

5.0 out of 5 stars perfect, July 30, 2014
By rawtimes
This review is from: Ego Chef Crimson Series Paring Knife. 3.5-Inch (Kitchen)
I sometimes feel that I could get by with just two knives: a cleaver and a paring knife. This could be the paring knife. Passes the apple test: it can core, peel and slice the apple. I am surprised how many paring knives fail that test. Nice steel. I put it through the ringer and cut plastic ties with it. The edge held up well. Then I honed it on a whetstones in a few minutes. The handle is the best. great feel, shape and look. the seams are perfect with the blade. I have never seen such a perfect seal. Great shape for a paring knife, with point and not too wide. good stainless steel that holds a sharp edge and is easy to sharpen. Pleasure to hold and use. great for eating fruit. I love the handle. Too bad they don’t make a matching cleaver [in powdered steel]. This one is sharp enough to pass the apple test. I went to the manufacturer site and got a few more items that were seconds. Their seconds are better than Shun’s firsts.

So what are you waiting for, order yours today!!!! Click for our  Our Factory 2nd Crimson Knives and our premium line Crimson G10 Series

Till next time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibSummer Soups, Plank Grilling, Kitch N’ Kaffe and Discounted Factory Seconds, OH MY!!!
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Get the most from your recipes…

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Hi and welcome to another edition of Chop Talk.

This month’s #FTKT is all about how to tackle more challenging recipes, with great tips that will make you a baking superstar to your family and friends. In Chef’s Spotlight, we have good friend, culinary personality and Iron Chef America Judge, Mario Rizzotti who also brings us a great Italian classic dessert, Panna Cotta. Check out our new Chop Talk Blog Deal, where each blog will have a special promotion and product highlight. This week’s highlight is our new Crimson Series. So without further ado, let’s get right to it.

Food Tricks and Kitchen Tips

Interpreting Savory & Baking Recipes,  l.luzzo

Recipes. Does this word excite you, making your taste buds salivate with anticipation at the promise of a delectable feast created from a list of fresh, quality ingredients? Or does it terrify you? Do you have trouble interpreting complicated recipes? If the former, you are probably one of the few who does not view tackling a new or difficult recipe as a daunting task. It also means you need to look at the fact of why the word recipe excites you. There are the latter however, who would like to take on more challenging recipes but sometimes get overwhelmed, especially if they require the use of more advanced techniques. They stick to easier recipes and miss out on enjoying some great dishes or favorites at home, sure that those more difficult methods and techniques will end in disaster. If this sometimes describes you, know two things; A. You are not alone and B. Practice makes perfect and you can learn.

How can you insure a successful outcome of a special meal your family and friends will all enjoy, instead of a trash can filled with wasted ingredients and an unexpected dinner out on the town? Only learning the proper techniques and the methods to gain them, can you truly guarantee success. so, we’re going to give you some pointers on how to more successfully navigate and decipher a recipe.

Step one is to gather your “mise en place.” This should include your tools (i.e. measuring spoons, pans, etc.) as well as your ingredients and perhaps, most importantly, your understanding of the steps required in order to complete the recipe. By making “mise en place”step one for every recipe you may choose to tackle, you will answer and overcome most of your recipe difficulties before you begin.

Start one recipe at a time and find the terms and Items you need to make that particular dish. What is your best partner in this investigative endeavor? Well, you could go out and invest in a kitchen companion book, probably a worthwhile investment for you serious cooks. For you once a month warriors or novice cooks, Twitter and the myriad of food sites out there, like this one, give great recipes and techniques to help with honing your culinary skills. Sites like mine usually have articles or video links to the more clinical sites that cater to the more advanced chef. Sites like these often define unfamiliar terms and offer you solutions for equipment you may not have, while also offering tools like converters, which allow you to convert measurements from, or to, metric.

Now, that we have our mise en place in place, how closely do we need to follow the recipe? This is an issue that can be argued from both sides. With savory recipes, the interchange and exchange of ingredients is much more forgiving than it is with baking. We view most recipes as a guide more than a stamped in stone method, especially for the more adventurous chef. With savory recipes, proteins can often be substituted for one another, within reason of course. For instance, you wouldn’t replace talapia with lamb, but you could introduce a skinless chicken breast and still achieve the same basic dish and flavor profile. Not so with baking.

When it comes to baking, it is of paramount importance to follow the recipe to the letter. Recently at a demo done by renown pastry chef, he explained why his book has its recipes in grams, rather than ounces, tablespoons or say, a cup. He stated, “With measurements, I can ask all of you to produce a cup of flour. If 5 of us did this, I would bet that each of us would actually come up with a different amount. Grams allows you to make the recipe come out exactly as intended, whether the first time making it, or the 100th.” Now most of us are not going to produce a 100th version of a recipe, especially a dessert, unless we are a professional chef working in a commercial kitchen. But baking is as much a science, as a creative endeavor. You have ingredients that must work in concert with each other, in order to have a desired end result. For instance; any recipe where you forget the required leavening: baking powder or soda, yeast, eggs will not turn out. With other cooking, you often have a bit of wiggle room for errors or missteps and some amazing dishes have been created by someone inadvertently messing up on a recipe.

Do keep in mind that when this happens, it is usually pure luck. If you stray too far from the original recipe, when baking, your end result may be an inedible mess. Does this mean you can never delete a single ingredient? Not at all! If you dislike onions, or can’t eat nuts, it is perfectly okay to omit or replace them, as they are optional items that won’t effect the integrity of the recipe or method. Optional items are often listed as just that,“optional.” But for the intermediate chef, it is not always clear which ingredients would cause a disastrous result if they are excluded, so delete or substitute with caution.

Finally don’t be afraid to seek out advice and pointers from seasoned cooks and chefs. Most people are very flattered when people seek out their advice, ask for a cooking tips or even a recipe. You can produce a great meal in the comfort of your own home, please friends and family with a special treat, all at a fraction of what it costs to eat out. It can be great fun to get the whole family involved and teach your children some valuable skills, along with the importance of following directions. In many cultures, eating good food is a ritual and a way of passing down the family traditions and flavors of your heritage. So dust off those cookbooks and jump in to your own culinary adventure.

Chef’s Spotlight 

photo-10Brand Spokesman and Iron Chef America Judge, Mario Rizzotti

Mario Rizzotti is a judge on Iron Chef America on the Food Network . He is often called to judge Iron Chefs like Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Marc Forgione, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and more.

You’ve seen Mario alongside Art Smith (former Oprah Winfrey chef & launched a restaurant with Lady GaGa); as well as Food Network TV star Ted Allen; TV host/producer David Rocco; Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten; Biggest Loser host and NBC’s Days of our Lives star, Alison Sweeney; Martin Yan and more.

photo-8 (1)Mario lives by one simple motto; a meal is not the consumption of food, but rather a celebration of Dolce Vita. For years now, with his quick wit, natural charm, and deep knowledge of the culinary world, Mario has been leading the rest of us to the “festa a tavola.”

TV audiences know him best as the seasoned yet approachable judge on The Food Network’s popular “Iron Chef America.” His Italian culinary background combined with his familiarity with worldwide cuisines and a gift for expressing just what works and what doesn’t in the most entertaining of ways makes him a standout.

Mario grew up in Rome, Italy, where his Mamma, Nives, taught him not only the fine art of cooking, but also the art of experiencing food. From there, his passion for food and cuisine evolved. At the young age of 19, Mario moved to the United States to learn how Americans use Italian ingredients. After working in the restaurant industry for several years, Mario decided to spend his time educating Americans about Italian ingredients, helping them understand what makes them authentic and how they are used in their homeland. People leave his seminars with both a better understanding of Italian ingredients and a smile on their faces from Mario’s engaging style. Mario’s website, is now a go-to destination where food lovers of all backgrounds can experience the culinary knowledge and discoveries Mario loves to share.

home3In 2002, Mario joined Academia Barilla as an Italian Culinary Specialist. In this role, Mario travels throughout the U.S. educating consumers on the differences in olive oils, balsamic vinegars, Italian cheeses and cured meats, and how to distinguish real Italian products from the many fake ones in our markets. Today Mario is with Get Fresh Produce and he is the director of specialty food division, and he sources the products of Europe directly for them, choosing the good quality directly from the mother land. Yes, Mario knows a meal is not a consumption of food but a celebration of Dolce Vita. He also knows how to make all of us from all backgrounds welcome to pull up a chair at the table. He has been called the Marcello Mastroianni of authentic Italian products and the Johnny Appleseed of Italian cuisine in USA. Find Mario on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter.


recipes4Panna Cotta
Mario Rizzotti
Time: 35 Minutes
Difficulty: Medium
Course: Desserts & Fruit
Servings: 4
Region: Piedmont (Italy)


Panna Cotta
2 cups whipping cream*
4 oz sugar
4 gelatin sheets
1/2 stick vanilla
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water

Prep. 25 Minutes~Cooking time – 10 Minutes
Soak the gelatin in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes. Butterfly the vanilla bean using a sharp pairing knife. Use the blade of your knife to remove the seeds. Place the cream, sugar and vanilla seeds in a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring with a whisk.
After the cream has come to a boil, leave it on the heat for 2 or 3 seconds, then remove from the heat and add the gelatin sheets, drained and squeezed. Stir to allow the gelatin to melt into the cream. Pour the mixture into small panna cotta molds. If you prefer, you can first transfer the mixture into a pitcher to make the process easier. Then, place the molds in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Just before serving, prepare the caramel:
Pour the sugar and 1 tbsp water in a saucepan and place it over medium heat. Bring to a boil, but do not stir. Once the caramel has browned to the desired color, add the remaining tbsp of water. Let boil for a minute, shaking the saucepan so that the caramel mixes together well and takes on a nice, creamy consistency. Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and demold it by placing the molds in a pot of hot water for a second. Remove the panna cotta from the mold and place on a plate. Garnish the panna cotta with the caramel and serve immediately.
*Chef’s Tip
If you want to make a low-fat panna cotta, try substituting half of the cream with an equal amount of milk, baring in mind that the consistency and flavor of the dessert will be slightly different.

Chop Talk  Special Deal

7crimson-img-1-SCRIMSON G10 7pc. Knife Set

Enhance the beauty of your kitchen with the wood grain look of the durable G10 handles crafted with a polished full tang and 3 rivet handle. The precision engineered blades are ground to perfection with super sharp 18 degree cutting edges for easily slicing through all your foods. Enjoy cooking and prepping food with ease and in style with this Ergo Chef CRIMSON SERIES knife set. This CRIMSON SERIES 7pc. set which includes the following items: 8″ Chef knife, 8″ Offset Serrated Bread Knife, 8″ Carving Knife, 7″ Nakiri Knife, 6″ Santoku Knife, 6″ Utility Knife, & a 3.5″ Paring knife.

////Special Promotion////

Order your G10 7pc. Knife Set online today, enter the COUPON CODE:  JULY2014G10 * with your order and receive a 10% discount off your purchase.

*Offer ends July 31, 2014, cannot be combined with any other promotions or coupons.

Til Next Time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibGet the most from your recipes…
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Some BBQ, maybe a nice piece of cake, chefs, recipes…Happy Birthday America!

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Hello and welcome to Summer and America’s birthday month. July 4th is here and grills everywhere are being fired up and the tradition of barbecue is in full swing. In this edition of Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips we are covering the the different styles of BBQ across America from region to region. Many of you cater your 4th of July parties and picnics, and we have a great caterer for you in our Chef’s Spotlight, Chef Joseph Yorio, Owner of, Event Caterers, Connecticut’s Premier Gourmet Caterer. From one-of-a-kind weddings to fully customized dinner parties, Chef Joe creates unique dining events, with personalized service that goes above and beyond. We also have a delicious recipe from Iron Chef Judge Mario Rizzotti.

Styles of American Barbecue

From Carolina pig-pickin’s to Kentucky mutton, the idea is the same everywhere; an outdoor party with friends, food, and beer. The meat is generally marinated before being put on the grill, where it’s brushed with whatever kind of sauce is available or popular. More than anywhere else, American barbecue makes use of specific kinds of wood to impart flavor in the meat: in Texas, mesquite brush is common, but hickory and oak are more readily available elsewhere. Outside the South, culinary specifics often take a back seat to the social aspect. You’re more likely to find burgers, hot dogs and vegetable skewers than pulled pork at a BBQ, but the soul of the barbecue is alive and well.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is probably best known for its dry barbecue. Most frequently used on ribs, the dry style is highly flavorful and is less messy to eat than wet. In the dry process, the ribs are coated with a rub made from ingredients such as garlic, paprika, onions, cumin, and other spices. They are then cooked in a smoker until they are fall-off-the-bone tender. Typically, dry ribs are served with a sauce on the side.

Memphis barbecue sauce has its own distinctive flavor, as well. Though the specific ingredients will vary from cook to cook, Memphis sauce is usually made with tomatoes, vinegar, and any countless combination of spices. It is generally thin, tangy, and somewhat sweet. Memphis sauce is poured over pulled pork or served along side of dry ribs. Nicknamed the “Pork Barbecue Capital of the World,” Memphis considers itself a leader in the world of barbecue. In his book, The Grand Barbecue, Doug Worgul credits the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which started in 1978, as the country’s oldest barbecue competition.

Meat: Smoked pork ribs on the slab, and pulled or chopped pork for sandwiches.
Sauce and Flavoring: Ribs are served with a dry rub made with ingredients like garlic, paprika, onions and cumin. The sauce, made with tomatoes, vinegar, and spices, is served on the side.
Cooking Method: Slow-cooked over indirect heat.
Side Dishes: Coleslaw and baked beans.

Kansas City, Missouri
This style barbecue is characterized by its use of different types of meat (including pulled pork, pork ribs, burnt ends, smoked sausage, beef brisket, beef ribs, smoked/grilled chicken, smoked turkey, and sometimes fish) along with its sweet and tangy sauces which are generally intended for liberal use.

Kansas City has more than 100 barbecue restaurants and is known in Missouri as “world’s barbecue capital.” Ribs are mostly pork, but also come in beef varieties and can come in a number of different cuts. Burnt ends, the flavorful pieces of meat cut from the ends of a smoked beef or pork brisket, are a popular dish in many Kansas City area barbecue restaurants. Kansas City barbecue is also known for its many side dishes, including a unique style of baked beans, french fries, coleslaw, and other soul food staples.

Henry Perry is known as the “Father of K.C. Barbecue.” Perry is famous for the slow-cooked ribs he served for .25 cents a slab out of a trolley barn in the early 1900’s. His legacy thrives with the city’s countless barbecue restaurants and The Kansas City Barbecue Society, which has more than 8,000 members worldwide.

Meat: Beef and pork.
Sauce and Flavoring: The sauce is tomato-based and sweetened with molasses or brown sugar.
Cooking Method: Slow-cooked over hickory wood for as long as 18 hours.

North Carolina

Two styles, western (aka Lexington) and eastern, dominate North Carolina barbecue. The annual Barbecue Festival has been held in Lexington, N.C. every October since 1984. According to the festival’s official website, the event attracts more than 100,000 people each year.

Meat: Pork shoulder (western) and whole hog (eastern) chopped or pulled.
Sauce and Flavoring: The western style sauce is called “dip” and is a thin tomato-based sauce mixed with brown sugar and spices. In the east, the sauce is a blend of vinegar, sugar, water and pepper.
Cooking Method: Both styles are slow cooked over indirect heat with oak or hickory wood. To preserve the pork and smoke flavors the meat is never basted.
Side Dishes: BBQ slaw, hush puppies (western), mayonnaise-based coleslaw and corn bread sticks (eastern) complement the barbecue. Sweet tea for a beverage and banana pudding or peach cobbler for dessert is served in both the western and eastern parts of the state. The town of Lexington alone, with a population of about 20,000 people, boasts more than 20 barbecue restaurants.

According to the Travel Channel show “Food Paradise,” the state legislature declared Lockhart the BBQ capital of Texas. The Office of Texas Tourism marks the so-called “Texas Barbecue Trail” as starting just north of Austin and continuing further south to Luling.

Meat: Beef, particularly untrimmed brisket.
Cooking Method: Slow-cooked over coals or wood in above ground smokers.
Sauce and Flavoring: No sauce is used before or during cooking. Pepper and salt are the most common seasonings. A thick tomato-based sauce with a sweet and spicy taste is served on the side of the barbecue meal.
Side Dishes: In Texas the focus is on the meat, but occasionally beans, potato salad and thick toasted white bread called Texas Toast are added to the meal. Traditional desserts include pecan or lemon chess pies.

We’re pretty sure we’ve covered the topic thoroughly. Now, all that remains for us and barbecue is the eating. Our grill has been heating up for the last 15 minutes, the ribs and shrimp marinating for the last 24 hours and veggies are all prepped and ready for grill marks. Enjoy yourselves! Experiment. have fun. Oh, and for you ladies especially; the next time your man is standing at the grill staring at an overdone hockey puck of what used to be a meat patty, feel a little pride. He’s also standing with a long line of men who, throughout history, have regularly asked, “Honey, can I get another piece of meat, this one’s had it…”

Chef’s Spotlight

JoeChef Joseph Yorio has more than 20 years of culinary expertise, catering and cooking from Rhode Island to Manhattan. A Culinary Arts graduate from Johnson & Wales, Joe has created one of the most talked about caterers in the region. He’s also one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, and has hired an outstanding staff of professionals. His exquisite, creative cuisine paired with a unique approach to event planning and design are a recipe for success whatever your occasion calls for. His two companes, Event Caterers and Picnic Caterers can take care of all your personal and corporate party and picnic needs.


eclogoAll Wedding and Gala Event clients enjoy the full service treatment:

A Complimentary Tasting at the  Gourmet Kitchen with Chef Joseph, where they’ll create your menus together. Fully Customized Menus and Table Arrangements to make your event just as you envision it, with food that looks as amazing as it tastes. Ask about their trusted Partners, including Florists, Bartenders, Musicians, Event Venues, Limousines and More. 

313503_253522441364475_1268838894_nHost a party in your home, from a festive dinner to showers and once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, create a menu to fit your needs. Ask about their Personal Chef Service. For more about Joe and Event Caterers, visit his website here.

Event Caterers~45 Padanaram Rd~Danbury CT~ 06810    To Contact Joe:



Picnic Caterers is Connecticut’s Most Tasteful Outdoor Catering Company. From Backyard Picnics to Corporate Events, We Do it All in Style.

Sister company of Event Caterers, Picnic Caterers of Connecticut specializes in Outdoor Event Catering. They take our gourmet kitchen on the road, and can set up wherever you need them, supplying portable fire pits, ovens and refrigeration, and customizing menus to fit your specific needs. If needed, they Picnic Catererscan even help you find the perfect venue for your event. Ask about their full range of catering options and all−inclusive event planning services.

Check them out on Facebook as well.


Veal with Tuna Sauce
Servings 6
photo-10Our Recipe this installment comes from Iron Chef America Judge, Mario Rizzotti, This is a light, fresh recipe of Piedmont. The delicate flavor of the veal is paired with the more aggressive flavors of the sauce, making for a completely Italian dish. Look for a Chef’s Spotlight on Mario in our next Chop Talk post later in July.

Time:1 hour and 20 minutes

1 ¼  lb  veal tenderloin
1  oz  stale bread
1 ¾  oz  vinegar
½  lb  drained tuna
⅛  oz  capers
3 ½  oz  extra virgin olive oil
½  cup  white wine
2  anchovies
3  hard-boiled eggs
rosemary to taste
sage to taste
meat broth to taste
salt to taste

40 minutes preparation + 40 minutes cooking
Salt the veal top round and brown in a frying pan using olive oil. Add the garlic and herbs to the veal and cook in a 180-200oC (350-390oF) oven, until the veal is slightly pink.
When the veal is cooked, remove from the frying pan. Using white wine, deglaze the meat drippings in the bottom of the frying pan to achieve a thin gravy. In the meantime, rinse the capers and anchovies of the salt and soak the stale bread in wine vinegar.
Allow most of the wine to evaporate from the frying pan. Then, add the capers, anchovies, bread, and tuna, removing the oil from the tuna. Stir well and cook for a few minutes.
Add in the egg yolks and stir all the ingredients. Using the beef broth, thin the tuna mixture until a desired consistency is achieved for the sauce.
Slice the veal roast and serve with the tuna sauce.

Food History
Capers can be found in most of the Mediterranean countries. They were known and sought after since Ancient times and were even mentioned in the Bible as an aphrodisiac. One of the most famous caper varieties is that of Salina, a small volcanic island located off the coast of Sicily in the Aeolian archipelago. Salina is known for its beautiful landscape and its name derived from the large quantities of salt that was produced on the island in the past. It is also famous for the variety of plants that grow on the island. The most famous is the caper bush. It has unique characteristics including the strong flavor and its olive and magma-like aroma.

Til Next Time,


Mike StaibSome BBQ, maybe a nice piece of cake, chefs, recipes…Happy Birthday America!
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The Backyard BBQ, Chef Rocky Fino & Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.


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
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,

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

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

The Pesto
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

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
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
Place all ingredients into a spice grinder (I use whole fresh thyme, cumin pods, & peppercorns) and blend until all spices are powder. Set aside.

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.

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,

Mike StaibThe Backyard BBQ, Chef Rocky Fino & Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.
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Summer, Tony Luke & Frankenfood?

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Summer-Clip-Art-12Hello folks and welcome to another edition of Chop Talk. Memorial Day is behind us, Father’s Day is coming and it looks like Summer is right around the bend. In this installment of Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips we will be covering Searing, that great technique chefs use to add that great caramelized crust to proteins such a steak, fish or poultry. The new Chef’s Spotlight highlights a great friend of Ergo, Chef Tony Luke, who has given us an interesting recipe from his new Spike TV Show, Frankenfood and last but not least we have Costco Road Show updates and locations with Chef Randy and Chef Tom.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips
SearingSteak4In today’s installment, Searing , we will start to explore the actual cooking procesess and techniques. Learning the fundamentals of cooking can impact a chef’s ability to drive levels of flavor, texture, color and presentation to the plate. Most cooking fundamentals are based on classical French techniques. Below are some definitions of important terms when referring to searing and sauteing.
Searing (or pan searing): is a technique used to cook the surface of food at a high temperature so that a caramelized crust forms. Searing is a process of cooking that creates the crusty surface texture most people find appealing and the caramelized sugars that gives us that steak flavor we want. It’s also important to not cut or poke into the meat while cooking & searing keeping the juices inside. The best way to do that and easily flip your meat is with a good pair of Tongs.
Dry Heat Cooking Method: Dry heat refers to cooking a food item uncovered without adding moisture and provides high retention of vitamins and minerals. It is normally done in a small amount of fat at a high temperature.
caramelCaramelization: To heat sugar to its melting point, at which time it liquefies into a clear caramel syrup. Fruits and vegetables can be grilled or roasted, roasted bell peppers for example, until the natural sugars turn to caramel and infuse a sweet flavor.
Maillard Reaction: This is a chemical reaction between the amino acid and a reacting sugar, usually requiring heat. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning. Many food scientists depend on this reaction to extract flavors that are imparted during the process, for use in fragrances or imitation flavorings.
Browning: The term browning may refer to several different processes. The most common type of browning, Maillard reaction, refers to a series of chemical reactions that makes foods from cookies to fried chicken and grilled steak taste and look more appealing. As the sugars in any food are heated, they change color from clear to dark brown and produce new flavor compounds. Browning is also an effective way to destroy surface bacteria on meats. A similar type of browning is known as caramelization. This is what happens to white sugar at high temperatures. Another, less desirable browning is what happens to certain fruits and vegetables when phenolic compounds in their flesh react with oxygen in the air to discolor the food. EX: Apples, bananas etc.
Color, Flavor and Crust: During the searing process, we are achieving many things. Color is an important part of flavor development. The levels of flavors that are developed during searing and the caramelization process are not easily recreated. The texture of a crust is an important part of the finished products’ mouth feel. To obtain the desired brown crust on meat, the surface must exceed 300 degrees, so searing requires the meat surface be free of water, which boils around 212 degrees.
Sealing in the Juices: The belief that searing meat ‘seals in the juices’ is widespread and still often repeated. This theory was first put forth by Justus von Liebig, a German chemist and food scientist, around 1850. The notion was embraced by contemporary cooks and authors, including Auguste Escoffier. Simple experiments have been performed to test this theory and the results are surprising. Take 2 pieces of meat and bring them to the same internal temperature, searing one of them and not the other. Weigh the end results of both to see which loses more moisture. Most of the time, the seared meat loses the same or more of its ‘juices,’ which proves the theory wrong. None the less, the purpose of searing is not to ‘seal in the juices,’ and if the product is cooked to the proper internal temperature and handled with care, it will be full of moisture and flavor.
23267693Cooking Mediums: In order to sear something properly, some type of cooking medium is needed. A cooking medium includes oils and fats that are used to begin the searing process. Cooking oil is purified fat of plant or animal origin, which is liquid at room temperature. Other fats that are often used to sear and saute with include: clarified and whole butter, coconut oil, duck fat, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, margarine, lard and all other vegetable oils. Each oil has a different smoking point and must be used accordingly.
Smoke Point: Refers to the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to break down. The substance smokes or burns, and gives food an unpleasant taste. Beyond the smoke point is the flash point, the point at which combustion occurs. Peanut oil has a much higher smoke point than vegetable oil. Vegetable oil has a higher smoke point than whole butter. Butter contains milk solids that tend to burn fairly quick, so butter must be added at the right time.
DSC_1230_cropFond/deglazing: A fond is created in the bottom of a pan during the searing/browning process. It is all the residual sugars that have caramelized to the pan. The untrained cook may look at that as a dirty pan and simply wash it and put it away. But to the aspiring chef, that leftover goodness is VERY flavorful, and can be used as the base for a delicious sauce. In order to lift those flavors back up off the pan, the art of ‘deglazing’ is needed. Choose your favorite alcohol or stock and add it to the pan then put it back on the flame. This requires some agitation, but the fond will loosen up and all of those well developed flavors are ready to use! Season with aromatics and possibly butter, reduce to desired consistency, and your wonderful pan sauce is complete.
Preparing Meat, Fish and Poultry for Searing: Portion size is important when deciding what type of pan to sear in. Next step is to dry the product of any excess moisture. The more moisture present, the more difficult it will be to achieve that perfect sear, so pat it dry with a paper towel. Even seasoning should be done next. I tend to season the top, bottom and sides of each protein, depending on its size. Bon Appetit!

Tony-Luke-JrChefs Spotlight: Tony Luke, Jr
More than just your typical Philadelphia cheesesteak joint, Tony Luke’s redefined the Philly sandwich experience with specialty favorites like the roast pork Italian and chicken cutlet. The cheesesteak was not on the menu originally; the cities love for cheese steak prompted the Luke’s to make their own version which has stayed a best seller since the addition to the menu in mid 1992. Tony Luke’s now serves up chicken cheesesteaks, seasoned french fries, hamburgers and Tony Luke’s own creation, South Philly Bites.
Tony Luke’s works directly with cattle farms in the Midwest which supplies the stores with top quality ribeye steak. All meat products are all-natural, antibiotic and hormone free. The vegetables used in toppings are grown in Southern New Jersey and prepared in the Luke family’s commissary in Philadelphia. Sandwiches are served on Liscio’s rolls, which are baked in store every day. Each sandwich and food item is cooked to order. Tony Luke’s is no longer just a sandwich shop in South Philadelphia. Tony Luke’s has turned into an international brand with 22 stores currently open in Bahrain, the Mid-Atlantic region and Florida. Tony Luke’s brings the real taste of South Philly to sports arenas, casinos, stand alone stores and in-line retail stores.
Tony Luke’s has twice been hailed by Gourmet Magazine for quality and innovation, renowned by GQ Magazine, The New York Times and is a member of Philly Mag’s Hall of Fame. The sandwich shop is featured on episodes of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, Dinner: Impossible, Man v. Food and Food Wars.  Always working to please the masses, Tony Luke’s made itself available in grocery stores through Tony Luke’s Pronto. Tony Luke’s Pronto are frozen and microwaveable authentic Tony Luke’s sandwiches. Three varieties are available: chicken cheesesteak, cheesesteak and roast pork. Two sandwiches come in a box; each sandwich goes from freezer to table in under four minutes. With fans across the country, Tony Luke’s saw a need to share South Philly favorites with those who cannot make it to a store. Tony Luke’s At Home ( offers a solution – cheesesteaks and roast pork Italians shipped frozen to your door. Each package comes with everything you need to make 8 Tony Luke’s sandwiches.

A Father’s Day Gift Idea for the Sandwich Lover from Tony Luke:

After Tony Luke used Ergo Chef products and loved the quality so much, we worked together to design a Sandwich/Everything knife at a great value just for use in his kitchens.  Crafted with a Japanese Steel, the blade is serrated that allows slicing through all sandwiches, meats and fruit with ease.  The offset handle provides hand clearance and a non-slip grip keeps you in control. The Tony Luke Knife is available here:

A Gift Idea for the Steak Lover:

When serving a great pieces of steak you want your presentation to be just as excellent.  So why not serve your steaks with beautiful quality steak knives.  A few options are available from Ergo Chef.  3 different sets to choose from $31.99 – $179.99 here:  Steak knives

Tony Luke Jr. –  How a Passion for Customers & Never Giving Up Led to His & His Families Success!

A true son of South Philly, Tony “Luke” Lucidonio Jr. is a man of many talents and enormous energy. Luke is an entrepreneur, restaurateur, actor and musician. Tony’s artistic gifts bloomed early as a student at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where he began his performance career. Tony has appeared in many feature films including Invincible, 10th & Wolf and The Nail: The Story of Joey Nardone”, which he co-wrote and co-produced. Tony has written and produced songs for Billy Paul, A&M Records and even topped the CD Baby charts with his song, “Right Here”. Tony and his restaurants have appeared on TV shows including “Man vs. Food”, “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”, “Not My Mama’s Meals”, “Dinner: Impossible” and more.
tonyandjosh_web600Tony is a series judge on SpikeTV’s first culinary based reality show, “Frankenfood“. Each episode of “Frankenfood” features local amateur food innovators competing head-to-head in order to get their unexpected food concoctions onto the menu of a popular local restaurant, win a $10,000 cash grand prize and possibly create the next big food craze. Viewers will be taken back into the kitchen with these budding culinary artists to see how they whip up their inventive food combinations and find out the inspiration behind these dishes. It’s up to host Josh Capon, series judge Tony Luke Jr. along with a rotating panel of culinary experts serving as judges to decide which creative and often outlandish dish earns a spot on the menu. Frankenfood is slated to air Spring 2014. View Tony’s reels, listen to his music and learn more at

The Wacky Surf & Turf Brunch Sandwich
6 oz Ground lamb
3 med Shrimp
Pound cake
Brie Cheese
All Purpose Flour
Club soda
Brown sugar

Make Scratch waffles or toast store bought egg waffles and set aside. Slice about a quarter of onion thin and Fry onions in canola oil till soft and lightly browned and set aside. Cook 4 strips of bacon in pan till semi crisp sprinkle with a little brown sugar and set aside. Boil shrimp in a small pot with 1cups of water a tablespoon of sugar and 2 mint leaves and half teaspoon of vanilla extract until done and cool when cooled dice into small pieces and set aside.

Cut pound cake into half inch thick piece put 2 tbl  of butter in frying pan and fry till golden brown on both sides then top with a couple pieces brie and let melt. Remove from pan and put aside. Season ground lamb with salt and pepper, mix in cooked shrimp, form into a burger and fry in pan to medium and put aside. Mix 1 tsp of sriracha with 2 tbls of mayo.

Assembly of Sandwich
Lay toasted waffle on bottom spread a layer of Sriracha mayo on it
Then top that with fried onions
Then top with burger
Then top with pound cake
Top with bacon and pour a teaspoon of honey on top of bacon
Then top that with the other waffle with sriracha mayo spread on inside

The Costco/Ergo Road Show
We are proud to announce a new Ergo Chef Sales consultant to you all. Don’t worry, Chef Randy will still be visiting your local Costco’s, but we have added to the Costco Road Show, Chef Tom Anderson. Tom will be covering the Northeast and you can find his first appearance info below. Come out and see our Chefs Randy and Tom and try out the best knives on the market.

From Thursday May 29th – Sunday June 1st, 2014

Chef Randy

Chef Randy will be at the Harrisburg, PA Costco

Chef Tom

Chef Tom Anderson will be in Edison, NJ Costco

Till next time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibSummer, Tony Luke & Frankenfood?
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Spring Mix: Steak, Chef Jason Roberts & No Kid Hungry…

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Hi everyone,

photo-6Welcome to Chop Talk. First things first, we would like to congratulate the men and women’s UCONN championship wins…wow! Well done Huskies! In this month’s installment we have a great line up. In Food Tricks and Kitchen Tips, we are covering how to grill the perfect steak. In this edition of Chef’s Spotlight we are featuring Chef Jason Roberts, a good friend of Ergo, and his upcoming ride from NYC to Washington, DC to raise funds and awareness for No Kid Hungry. Jason has also provided us with a great steak recipe for you to try out your new grilling skills with. We can’t forget the ongoing adventures of Chef Randy and the Costco Road Show. Lastly, we want to wish all those celebrating Easter and Passover our very best.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in…

Food Tricks and Kitchen Tips

79752uk7unsh4ufAs we stated in our last post, spring has indeed sprung and grilling season is just around the corner, so we thought we’d get your juices flowing by covering grilling basics, specifically as it pertains to steaks.

It all starts with good product, so be sure to purchase the best quality meat available. Know your source, and check packing and “use by” dates. Your local butcher and even Costco carry premium meats to use at home. If you have a friend in the food service industry, find out if they’d like to attend your next BBQ or maybe let you buy
some steaks from the restaurant!

grillingsteaks3So now you have your meat, let’s turn to the grill. Turn the grill on with the lid closed for about 20 minutes before using. It is extremely important that the grill is very hot, and also clean. Use a wire brush to clean off the grates before using. For extra smoke flavor, try buying some mesquite or hickory wood chips to burn over the coals or gas flame. Be sure to soak the chips in water for about an hour; this will help them smoke and smolder, rather than just flare up and burn away. Smoking Wood Varieties you might consider are Alder , Apple, Bourbon, Cherry, Grape, Hickory, Mesquite, Wine, Oak, Peach, Pecan, Persimmon, Sassafras.

grillingsteaks2There is a school of thought from some chefs who like to bring the meat up to room temperature for 20 minutes or so. It helps cook more evenly, especially when cooking further than a medium rare temperature. We at Ergo always suggest that steaks be grilled to a medium rare, so we leave it in the fridge until we’re ready to throw it on the grill. Oil your meat before grilling! You can use vegetable oil or even soybean oil, something that’s fairly neutral in flavor and also won’t burn too fast on the grill. Extra Virgin Olive Oils should NOT be used to coat the steak for grilling, but you may drizzle some over the steak or incorporate it in a sauce if you wish.

grillingsteaks1Seasonings are a personal choice and can vary from simple salt and pepper, to a five peppercorn blend and crushed sea salt, to a variety of steak salts, seasonings and rubs. Depending on how adventurous your palate is, the options can be endless, though be sparing as if a steak is properly cooked, the natural sugars caramelize and form a crust which yields an amazing flavor.

Know your Grill

grillingsteaks5Start Grilling!! Every grill has its hot spots, so practice makes perfect. Find an area on the grill that gives off a pretty even and constant heat. Place the steak carefully on the grill and LEAVE IT ALONE for about 1 ½ – 2 minutes. This is where most people make their first mistake. They try to move or flip the steak too early and it sticks to the grill. It takes a few minutes for the steak to release from the grill as the heat penetrates through the meat. You may close the lid or leave it open at this point, it’s up to you. Grill Trick: To make those perfect, diamond grill marks that you see on TV,  take your 15 inch Duo Tongs and rotate the meat about 45 degrees for diamonds and 90 degrees for squares. Then flip it over and repeat on the other side.

grillingsteaks6This is the hardest part for an at home chef. How to check if it’s done! Because each grill’s fire is different and cooking time depends on the size and shape of the steaks, it’s difficult to give exact times. But there are four basic ways to determine doneness. The first two of these methods are best for novice cooks, while the last two can be learned through experience:

A. Cut into the steak in an unobtrusive place, and examine the interior to check the doneness.

B. Slide an instant-read thermometer through the side of the steak into the center to check the temperature.
Keep in mind that the temperature of meat will increase 5 to 10 degrees after resting.

C. Use the touch test. A rare steak will feel fleshy, like an un-flexed muscle; a rare to medium-rare steak will just begin to bounce back to the touch; a medium-rare to medium steak will feel firmer still. I tend to use the hand test: Make a loose fist and press the part of your hand between the index finger and thumb. When using a relaxed fist; this will indicate rare. Slightly tighten fist and repeat touch; this indicates medium. Tightly close fist and repeat touch; this is well done.

D. Look for juices on the steak’s surface. A rare steak doesn’t release any juices. As the steak approaches medium rare, you’ll begin to see red juices forming on the surface (you might also hear them sizzle as they drip over the coals). As the steak approaches medium, it releases more juices. As it approaches medium well and well, the juices will turn brown.

***Note: Remember, you can always put a steak back on the grill if it’s too rare, but you can’t un-cook a well-done steak.

This is where the home griller usually fails. LET YOUR MEAT REST! This is the most important step when trying to achieve a flavorful and more importantly, MOIST steak. Cook the meat to about a half a temperature lower than my desired temperature (for example if I desire a steak cooked medium, I would bring it to a medium rare and then let it rest). All the flavorful juices that 43289ny5runtsv9have been stressed out by the heat, need to relax and distribute themselves throughout the meat again. Steaks should rest for about 5 minutes before being reheated and served. If you serve the steak right away, those tasty juices will spill out all over the plate after you cut into the steak. To kick your steak up to the next level and what some restaurants do to, is brush the steak with some whole melted butter before it goes on the plate. The butter really adds great flavor to that crust and helps soften up the outside of the meat. The only thing left to do is enjoy your steak, Bon Appetit!


Chef’s Spotlight

JasagamarvelChef Jason Roberts A native of New Zealand, Roberts is best known for his charismatic smile and fun personality. Having grown up in a family of food professionals, he discovered a passion for food at a young age. Turning it into a career, he spent seven years as an Executive Chef of the restaurant Bistro Moncur in Sydney, where he was immersed in the traditions and techniques of French Cuisine in by his mentor, Damien Pignolet. His accolades caught the attention of Australia’s Channel 9, where he became the host of Fresh, a cooking program which aired five days a week in Australia and New Zealand.

In January 2003, Roberts was introduced to the US on ABC’s Good Morning America. He has also appeared The Wayne Brady Show, The Sharon Osbourne Show, E!, The Style Network’s You’re Invited, New York City’s morning show Ali & Jack, and Talk Soap with Lisa Rinna. In 2005, Roberts hosted the award winning food talk show, Jason Roberts’ Taste on the PAX Television Network which earned him two American Accolade Awards for Best Host and Best Health & Lifestyle program. Roberts is the author of two cookbooks, Elements and Graze: Lots of Little Meals Fast. Jason Roberts is an internationally known chef and former cast member of the hit daytime talk show The Chew on ABC. Roberts brought his unique flair and cooking style to the show for in studio segments and traveled the country in search of unique and interesting food. He is currently working on a new cookbook, scheduled for release in late 2014,. For more information about Jason, visit his website, .

Jason bear mountainJason believes that meal time fosters deeper connections between family and friends and his motto is “A family that cooks together, stays together.” As a long time supporter of OPAL, an initiative founded in Australia that teaches families in under-served areas how to cook healthy foods, Roberts’ advocacy for healthy living continues to make a difference. He is also a partner with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign as a spokesman and advocate to end childhood hunger.

More than 16 million kids in America struggle with hunger and with his “PUT YOUR $$$$$ WHERE MY PEDAL IS campaign, Jason is raising vital funds and awareness through the 1st Annual Chefs on Bikes ride, May 30-June 1, to make sure kids have access to food where they live, learn and play. Jason plans to ride from New York City to Washington, DC, and is asking you for pledges of $1 for every mile he ride – nearly 300 miles! Every $1 you donate can help connect a child with up to 10 meals. Help Jason make No Kid Hungry a reality. You can also support Jason by Donating here.

Ergo Chef supports Jason on this campaign for No Kid Hungry and will donate 30% of all sales when you include code: NoKidHungry when purchasing from


1527033_10152164995904160_4636589275961394348_nGrilled Sirloin Steak with Herb Crust~courtesy of Jason Roberts

This crust works well with beef or fish. Once made, it will keep perfectly well in the freezer for up to 2 months. It always looks impressive when served; in fact I would be surprised if you don’t get the occasional ‘wow’ when served over your favourite piece of fish or meat.

Serves 2


For the Herb Crust

3 1/2 butter

3 1/2 oz fresh breadcrumbs (brioche crumbs if you can get them)

3 1/2 oz Gruyere cheese

1 3/4 oz basil, chopped

1 1/3 oz curley parsley, chopped

1 tbls Worcestershire sauce

Cracked black pepper

For the Steak

2 – 7 3/4 oz sirloin steaks

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tbs olive oil


For the crust

Herb CrustPlace all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and homogenous. Remove from the processor and place on a sheet of greaseproof silicone paper. Cover with a second sheet of paper. Roll flat to about an 1/8th of an inch thick. Chill for 10 minutes before cutting to the desired size, obviously the size of whatever you are serving it on.

For the steak

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 to six minutes each side or, until your desired liking. Remove steaks and let rest for 3 to 4 minutes.

Pre heat a broiler. Top each steak with a piece of the herb crust, cut to the size of the steak. Place under the broiler until crust has lightly browned. Remove from grill and serve immediately alongside a helping of grilled mushrooms or your favorite side dish.

Where’s Randy? 


And last up, but certainly not least, are the ongoing adventures of Chef Randy, who will be appearing with the Ergo/Costco Road Show these next two weeks at the following locations, so mark your calendar and come out and say hello…you never know, you may even see your picture here in one of our next installments!

• April 10th-13th 2014
Costco Special Event – In Store
Staten Island, NY

• April 17th-20th 2014
Costco Special Event – In Store
Bridgewater, NJ

Till next time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibSpring Mix: Steak, Chef Jason Roberts & No Kid Hungry…
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Spring Has Sprung!!!

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Mike, Scott & Randy with Debra Wold, Chicago #IHHS2014

Mike, Scott, Randy & Debra Wold, Chicago 2014

Welcome to the first Chop Talk post of Spring! We had a great time out in Chicago and want to thank all of you that stopped by and supported us at the International Home & Housewares Show. It was great seeing you and hearing how much you love our knives, tongs and other products. In this installment, we’re offering another installment of  “Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips,” a highlight of  Chef Peter Silvano in “Chef’s Spotlight,” a hearty Peruvian Stew recipe and we can’t forget “Where’s Randy?,” the ongoing Costco Road Show adventures of our beloved Chef Randall Smith.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: How to Properly Season Your Food.

One of the most important yet overlooked skills the at home chef needs to master is seasoning! Now, not all foods need to have additional seasonings added, but the intricacies of cooking rely on a well seasoned palate and an ability to know how much or how little to use.

ID-10077877Seasonings can be broken down into a few different categories including herbs, spices and condiments. The most popular seasoning known to the world of cooking is salt. Many professional and home cooks mis-use salt in everyday applications, not knowing how much to really use. In today’s culinary world, there are also so many varieties of salt, each one having many unique characteristics and flavor profiles, that it can get a bit overwhelming for the at home chef. but fear not friends, Chop Talk is here to help.

On this subject, an Exec Chef friend of Ergo told an interesting story about when he was a student at CIA. One day, the chef had students line up in front of a pot of butternut squash soup, everyone taking turns tasting a spoonful of the soup. After each of the students tasted, the chef added a teaspoon of salt and they all tasted again. He explained that it was amazing to see the subtle changes in flavor and viscosity (mouth feel) of the soup. The Chef Instructor lined them up and did it again and again, about 6 or 7 times, comparing the finished product to the original unseasoned soup. The addition of salt had changed the soup so immensely, that it almost tasted like a completely different batch of soup.’ Learning about the ingredients you choose to cook with will make a big impact on how much seasoning you must add during the cooking process.

flavorwheelsmSo how do we find the proper balance of seasoning? The tongue has 5 known tastes; sweet, salty, sour, bitter and Umami. True balance is all about the marriage of those tastes on the plate and ultimately on the palate. When cooking with unfamiliar flavors or ingredients, taste them first! Try using classic flavor combinations that our culinary forefathers successfully paired. Practice makes perfect and as we learn the basics of taste and flavor, our ability to season will be much more successful.

There are many basic guidelines you may follow with regard to using herbs and spices, but remember, there are NO RULES to cooking savory dishes. You can change the flavor profile to what best suits your tastes. Some seasonings are much stronger than others, so begin using small amounts, and then add more as you feel fit. Heartier dishes such as stews and braises can be seasoned well with woody herbs like rosemary or thyme. Lighter dishes like sliced heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella cheese may only need a little parsley or basil to bring the palate to absolute harmony.

grillingsteaks4Other popular seasonings include vinegars, soy sauce, wines, spices such as; pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, saffron and turmeric, even anchovies, chilies, and garlic. Using herbs can really make a huge difference as well, so try and find a reputable supermarket for your herb selection, or even better, grow your own. Some favorites include basil, tarragon, parsley, chives, dill, mint, oregano, lavender, thyme, and rosemary.

A great way to incorporate flavors into foods like chicken, steak and seafood, is to combine some spices and or herbs, then add them to an olive oil, creating a marinade. Submerge the protein in the flavorful marinade and let all those seasonings permeate through the food. Be sure to brush most of the marinade off before cooking, as it may burn. Other ways to use spices include ID-10045736making dry rubs, which can enhance flavor, color, and texture. This is an important step when preparing BBQ ribs as without the rub, most ribs may seem lackluster.

Armed with some knowledge, support and practice, you’ll be making some pretty tasty food in no time! Try some of these ideas out at home, and don’t be disheartened if your first attempts, or two, are unsuccessful. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Don’t give up too easily; persistence pays off in the end.”

Chefs Spotlight

petersilvanoChef Pete Silvano grew up in two industries. Food & apparel. Growing up, his father was either involved in a food concept or slinging thousands of shirts, hats, and anything else you could print something on. One thing is for certain he always ate good and had the newest and coolest clothes in the neighborhood. Once the cooking bug bit him there was no turning back. Technically he has been in the food industry all his life, but professionally, for 26 years. He has worked up and down the East Coast as well as out west in Arizona. He has worked under high caliber chefs from 6 different nationalities. With their training and guidance he has learned to cook several different cuisines and has excelled at them all.

Chef Pete has won numerous awards such as Rising Star Chef in 1994, and in 2010 he was rated as one of the top 25 Chef’s in the city in Jacksonville Magazine. He has done local radio and TV appearances in the past as well in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. In 2012 he decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps and start an apparel company specializing in what he knows best: Being a Chef and having a passion for food and everything culinary. His company is called Chefs Life Apparel. The site has been viewed in over 800 cities worldwide to date. Chefs from all over the world have been ordering his one of a kind designs and comical slogan type shirts. Chef’s Life Apparel is now striving to be involved with foundations to give back and other culinary type companies for cross promotions. As of this year CLA has connected with Ergo Chef Knives and Chefs Roll, as well as doing a campaign this April for Cruz’s Crusade, to help a little boy with a bone marrow transplant. Check them out at and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Recipe courtesy of Chef  Pete Silvano 

Machu Piccu Peruvian Stew (Seco)


2# Stew beef tips or tri tip (cut into bite size pieces)

3 cloves of garlic (chopped)

3 bunches of cilantro

2 red onions (sliced half moons)

1 bag frozen peas

 3 tbsp Aji Amarillo paste ( or 1 de-seeded jalapeno

1 cup water

3 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

Salt and pepper to taste

machu-picchu-peruvianIn a deep sauce pan add olive oil and heat over high heat. When oil is very hot add your beef tips and sear til brown on all sides. Take the beef out and reserve. Next add the red onions and garlic. Saute til translucent and caramelized slightly. While that cooks take the cilantro, Aji Amarillo paste(jalapeno) and water and add to a blender or food processor and puree till liquefied. Now add that to your pot with the onions and garlic. Turn the heat down to medium low. Add your beef to the pot and simmer for 1-2 hours or until beef in fork tender. Add peas at the end and warm through. Season with salt and pepper and lime juice. Serve over steamed white rice. Classically it is served with Peruvian Canary beans and Criolla (red onion salad).

Where’s Randy? 

10722_102660343078702_7921471_nAnd last up, but certainly not least, are the ongoing adventures of Chef Randy, who will be appearing with the Ergo/Costco Road Show these next two weeks at the following locations, so mark your calendar and come out and say hello…you never know, you may even see your picture here in one of our next installments!

March 27th-30th 2014
Costco Special Event – In Store
Milford, CT

April 3rd-6th 2014
Costco Special Event – In Store
Norwalk, CT


Till Next Time,

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibSpring Has Sprung!!!
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