Tips and Tools

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

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*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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Moms, Chefs & Barbecue? It must be May!

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Hello Everyone.

Alberini and Canzonetta

Welcome to May! Looks like the weather has finally broken and we’re enjoying some great spring temperatures that makes us want to get out and barbecue! We have a great Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips for you in this installment to get all you outdoor cooks in the mood for some grilling just in time for memorial Day with The Difference Between Barbecue and Grilling!  In our Chef’s Spotlight this week we have a tag team with Michael Alberini & Chef Mark Canzonetta of Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop. This week’s recipe is a great barbecue recipe from Chef Canzonetta and we are introducing Chef Tom Anderson, who will be joining the Costco/Ergo Road Show.

Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: The Difference Between Grilling and Barbecue

This is a question that is asked by many, but not widely known or understood. A lot of the confusion lies in the fact that people often use a grill for grilling and barbecue. Where a smoker is concerned, barbecue is the correct definition.



Grilling is a high heat cooking method. Food is cooked directly over coals (either wood or charcoal briquets) and cooking time is usually a matter of minutes. Grilling temperatures are usually in excess of 500 degrees Fahrenheit and food is cooked close to the heat source. The high heat chars the surface of the food, seals in the juices and creates a smoky caramelized crust. Grilling is the oldest, most widespread and most forgiving method of cooking. Rich and poor alike practice it on six continents in restaurants, street stalls, and backyards.


pigroast2-041307 (1)Barbecuing, by contrast, lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from grilling. It is a long, slow, indirect, low-heat method that uses smoldering logs or charcoal and wood chunks to smoke-cook the food. Barbecue temperatures are usually between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This low heat generates smoke, and this smoke gives barbecue its characteristic flavor. The heat source often completely separate from the cooking chamber, which contains the actual food. This method of cooking is ideally suited to large pieces of meat such as whole pigs. It is also perfect for cuts with lots of tough connective tissue, such as brisket or spareribs.

smoker-woodMore recently a hybrid method of cooking, Indirect Grilling, has become very popular. This method bridges the gap between barbecue and grilling. As with barbecuing, food is not cooked directly over coals. But the actual cooking takes place in the same chamber as the heat source, and temperatures usually range between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wood chips or chunks are often placed on the heat source to generate smoke for flavor. Indirect grilling effectively transforms your barbecue grill into and outdoor oven, which is perfect for cooking larger cuts of meat such as prime rib and turkey. We have used this method myself and it consist of lighting (in the case of gas grills) one side of the grill for the heat source and the placement of the meat on the unlit side of the cooking surface. Indirect grilling gives you the best of both worlds, grilling and barbecuing. The charcoal flavor from grilling and the tenderness and smoky flavor from barbecue. Whereas the flavor of true barbecue is hard to beat, the trade-off is that it takes a lot longer than grilling or indirect grilling.

Chef’s Spotlight 

This  week’s Chef Spotlight is about two lifelong friends who are also culinary partners,  Michael Alberini & Chef Mark Canzonetta.

936183_648019891879660_2057270614_nMichael Alberini

Growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, Michael Alberini remembers visiting his Uncle Richard Alberini’s restaurant in Niles, which operated for 56 years. To Michael, Alberini’s was “an oasis,” providing him with an education as he worked beside the chefs of one of the landmark restaurants of ‘The Strip.’

It was during these years that Michael defined his knowledge of fine dining and developed his palette for the marriage of food to Old and New World wines. At 15 years old, he started working at Alberini’s prepping food, washing dishes and bussing tables, and continued to work there through high school. He developed a passion for food and got an in-depth education on wine from his uncle, who was a pioneer in introducing West Coast wines to Ohio. It was common to see winemakers from California, like Earnest and Julio Gallo and Jack Cakebread among others, having dinner with Richard Alberini and talking about wine. “I got to sit and listen to these people talk about wine and learn about wine, and even at that young age I got to taste these wines,” he says. “That’s where I developed a great affinity for wine, and that transitioned into being a wine educator myself.” After high school, Michael attended The Ohio State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in business and communications, then returned to his uncle’s restaurant as a cook and floor manager. Watching his uncle welcome everyone into his restaurant as if it were his home was Michael’s moment of clarity. In October 2009, he opened Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop to set a new standard for upper scale casual dining and cuisine in Youngstown. “I grew up around a table engaging great conversation with family,” he says. “So, I’m trying to bring dinner table discussion amongst family and friends with good food and good wine.”

Mark CanzonettiExecutive Chef Mark Canzonetta

Chef Mark Canzonetta credits his passion for food and wine with being raised by an Old World family…and with being stuck inside on a rainy day when he was 11 years old. While watching television, he turned to The French Chef with Julia Child. He was determined to make the lively chef’s recipe of the day, bombe au chocolat, and wrote down Child’s recipe and methodology.“I sent my mom to the grocery store for the ingredients, and we had a very rudimentary version of Julia’s chocolate bombe cake for dessert that night,” he recalls. “From that day forward, my mom said I never let her in the kitchen again.”

Canzonetta entered the restaurant business working for friends who owned local eateries and was encouraged to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. In 1988, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Institute and one year later, opened Pesto’s Café in Warren, Ohio. He continued to define his culinary repertoire, incorporating what he learned into the restaurant’s menu, as well as techniques he picked up while traveling to the southwest United States, Italy, Spain, Mexico and the Caribbean. For several years, he worked as culinary director for Gia Russa Foods in Boardman, Ohio. While there, he helped to open The Culinary Arts Center, where he had the honor of designing foods for such celebrity chefs as Mario Batali, Guy Fieri and the Gia Russa brand itself. He continues to consult for some of these national culinary icons regularly, and has done more than 150 cooking demonstrations over the last three years. Canzonetta had been close friends with Michael Alberini for 25 years before joining him at Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop. As Executive Chef, he creates dishes inspired by global influences and local ingredients with a finesse that reflects the many culinary disciplines he’s developed over the years.

steaksgrillinRecipe Courtesy of chef Mark Canzonetta

All Purpose Meat Rub for  BBQ

 2 C Paprika

2/3 C smoked Paprika

2/3 C Ground Cumin

2/3 C granulated onion

2/3 C granulated garlic

2/3 T white pepper

1/4 C ground black pepper

2/3 T cayenne pepper

1/2 C dry mustard

1/3 t ground sage

1 – 1/3 c sugar

1/4 C celery salt

1/2 c salt

Combine all together well and store NGO a plastic air free container

 Kansas City BBQ Ribs

 3 ea. St. Louis Racks of Ribs ( 2.25 lbs ea. trimmed and silver skin off bak of ribs removed )

2 C of Rib Rub

1 – 12 oz beer

1 C water

2 C BBQ Sauce ( Guy Fieri Kansas City )


Take ribs allow to come to room temperature.Rub the ribs generously with the Rib Rub. Place the ribs on a roasted wire rack inside a 6 inch deep full hotel pan.  Pour the beer into the bottom alone with the water. Wrap the top of the hotel pan 2X with plastic wrap, then with heavy foil, roast in a preheated 325 oven on low fan for 1 hour and 45 minutes. 

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately remove the foil and plastic, allow the ribs to cool down. Place ribs in your smoker with some cherry wood , smoke for 2 hours at 200 F , basting every 1/2 with BBQ sauce. Remove ribs, check to see if they still have a little tug or pull, you don’t want these call off the bone. Take ribs and place on your charcoal grill just to give a little char crust and serve at your leisure 

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. 

Chef Randy

May 8th-11th 2014
Costco Special Event – In Store
Nanuet, NY

Chef Tom

May 8th-11th 2014
Costco Special Event – In Store
Avon, MA

Lastly we want to wish all you Moms out there a very Happy Mothers Day!

Till next time.

Ergo Chef

Mike StaibMoms, Chefs & Barbecue? It must be May!
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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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Soups, Stocks & Family Traditions…

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Hello and welcome to a cold, snowy February. The Super Bowl is over and we send out congratulations to the Seahawks on their dominating win.

We thought we would warm you up with some soups and stocks talk, spotlight one of our favorite chefs, and give you a great recipe to make for your Valentine, a delicious Blood Orange Chocolate Mouse.

Family tradition is one of the most beautiful aspects of cooking. Sharing recipes and methods of preparation down through generations, has become one of the most creative ways for home cooks to create a niche for themselves in the kitchen. Talk to most chefs, both acclaimed and not, and they will readily admit somewhere in their r’epertoire is most likely a recipe or number of recipes, derived or adapted from childhood memory or recipes handed down through the family over the years. Some chefs have even made TV careers & businesses from these love filled, time tested recipes. More often than not, one of the staple recipes handed down in most families are soups and stocks.


To begin, let’s take the simple definition. Most soups start with some type of broth or stock which is defined as; a liquid (usually water) that is fortified with a definite flavor. Different types of stocks include, vegetable, chicken, beef, duck, fish, lobster, corn, asparagus, etc The list is endless depending on what flavor you are looking for and, of course the ingredients that you are going to use it in. The final flavor you are trying to achieve determines how you are going to treat the ingredients going in. As an example were you to be making corn stock, your flavors would take on a completely different profile if you were using raw corn vs. roasted corn. Developing a base flavor is an important part, if not the most important part, of a successful soup and that can be achieved in many ways. If the home cook wants to make a meaty and rich soup for instance, it is important to caramelize the meat and vegetables first, then deglaze the pan with a liquid (sometimes red or white wine) to remove the flavorful pieces from the bottom of the pan (called fond) and add those flavors to the soup resulting in a richness of flavor called Umami.

A French term called ‘Mirepoix,’ is the foundation of most soups and stocks. This is a mixture of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, and 1 part celery. Make sure you have a good sharp Chef knife to break them down. Make sure your  Aromatics are flavor enhancers that are added to your stock to bloom or boost flavors. Aromatics include: peppercorns, bay leaves, juniper berries, any herbs, any onions, or garlic. Most importantly, we need to determine what type of stock we want to create, and then decide what the future of our beautiful stock will be. After you have added all your ingredients, you are now ready to let your stock simmer. A simmer is a temperature between 190-200 degrees and different stocks have different simmering times in order to reach their fullness of flavor:

Vegetable stocks~45 minutes Fish stocks~1 hour 30 minutes, Chicken (Poultry) stocks~2 hours, Beef stocks~6 hours ( pre-roast the bones)

Once your stock is completely simmered to it’s full richness, the final step is straining it properly. What we are looking for is a pure, smooth and beautiful liquid so at this point we need to pass it through a strainer or “cheesecloth” to remove all impurities and vegetables, or large ingredients. Your stock can now be used immediately, or can be frozen in smaller batches to be thawed and used the next time you decide to make a soup or sauce.


fallsoupSoup is a food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables in stock or hot/boiling water, until the flavor is extracted, forming a broth. Traditionally, soups are classified into two broad groups: clear soups and thick soups. The established French classifications of clear soups are bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used: purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish thickened with cream; cream soups are thickened with béchamel sauce; veloutes are thickened with eggs, butter and cream.

Other ingredients commonly used to thicken soups and broths include rice, flour, and grains and beans. The word soup originates from “sop,” a dish originally consisting of a soup or thick stew which was soaked up with pieces of bread. The modern meaning of sop has been limited to just the bread intended to be dipped.

Cooking with the seasons can be a lot of fun, so when thinking soups and stocks, consider ingredients available at that time of year and enjoy gathering ingredients that are at their peek of freshness. Winter is a great season for soups, so be creative and enjoy!


Chef’s Spotlight

Michael McDearmanIn this addition of Chef’s spotlight we’d like to introduce you to Chef & Grillmaster Michael McDearman. Michael is a World Champion GrillMaster and “Live Fire” cooking specialist with numerous publications, TV appearances and host of a new TV show for PBS.

Eager and an entrepreneur since an early age, Michael wanted a motorcycle.  Asking his parents for one proved to be a lesson in being goal oriented.  They taught him to earn the money to pay for his own desires.  So Michael became the youngest paperboy in his hometown.  Why is this important?  It’s the beginning of his “smoke ring or his BBQ beginning.”

While on his route, Michael found himself consistently slowing down and breathing deeper at one particular house.  Being a curious kid, he approached the neighbor and asked “Whatcha doin’?” The man took the time to share with Michael what he was doing:  he was a competition BBQ cook.  And so it began.  By the time Michael was eight years old, he was finishing meals for his parents when they came home from work.

After 35 years of cooking experience and pre-Internet mentoring under his Grandmother (who has been published more times in Southern Living than she has fingers or toes), as well as many other influences (USA and International), Michael has received rave reviews and bold testimonials about his cooking from the salt of the earth red, white and blue Americans to Blue-Blood British Lords.  He has performed his live fire cooking on some of the largest cooking stages in BBQ and Grilling: The World Food Championships in Las Vegas, The “Jack” Jack Daniels Invitational BBQ Championships, The Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour, and the Academy of Country Music Awards BBQ Throwdown.   Michael represents many companies in BBQ, such as “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.,” Heinz, McCormick Spices, Coke, Bull Outdoor Products, E-Z Hook,, and  MojoBricks to spread the word about the benefits of  using their products while cooking over a live fire.

Watch his audition tape for BBQ Pitmasters & learn more interesting facts about Grillmaster Michael McDearman.

Here he is using his Ergo Chef Chef’s Knife

You can find Michael on twitter at @GetFiredUpFoods and visit his website here:


If you love to grill check out these Ergo Chef must have 15″ DUO Tongs that grip anything and can pick up to 20lbs of product without bending. See coupon code below to save.

Valentines Recipe

mousseLast but not least, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we have a great recipe for you to make for your sweetie. Decadent Chocolate Mousse infused with Blood Orange and a touch of orange liquor, designed to tantalize your taste buds and get you and your Valentine in the mood for some romance.

Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Mousse


Ergo Chef

Special Deal: SAVE 15% on your next Purchase from with Coupon Code: Feb15

Mike StaibSoups, Stocks & Family Traditions…
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Mise en Place & Knife Sharpening with Chef Randy Smith

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We hope you like the new direction here at Chop Talk where we will be covering all things cooking from knife care to simple kitchen tips tricks and techniques that will help make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. We hope you enjoy the posts.

Today we’re going to talk about kitchen prep, or Mise en Place, plus we have a great video from Chef Randy showing how to keep your Ergo Chef Knives sharp and cutting like new.

Mise en Placecooking-clipart2-294x300

If you are a chef, foodie or just someone who knows their way around a kitchen, you have probably heard the term ‘Mise en place’. For the novice or at home cook, this may be a term that is foreign to you, well…’s foreign because its French…but….you know what we mean. It is also however, one of the first lessons learned by culinary students, it is that important a concept. Many home cooks who struggle with complicated recipes, more often than not, simply have these difficulties because they do not apply this simple method. So today, let’s look at its importance, both as it applies to cooking, and, how that translates to life.

First, let’s define the term;  Mise en place, pronounced miz on plas, is a French phrase that literally means “putting in place.” It is also defined by the Culinary Institute of America as “everything in place,” referring to ‘set up’ in commercial kitchens. It refers to organizing and arranging the ingredients. You will find and be amazed to learn that once you apply this technique to your own cooking, rather than the lack of culinary acumen you once attributed to yourself, in most cases, it is simply the lack of this critical first step that is to blame. We promise, your whole world and opinion of yourself as a cook or chef will rise to new heights once you start employing ‘Mise en place’ to every recipe you attempt to tackle. (yes, even the simple ones)

Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows you to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is most desirable in recipes with time constraints, but should be applied to any and all your cooking endeavours. If you are a new cook, or aspire to be competent in the kitchen, you can relate to getting flustered. You get food on the book, yourself, run back and forth from the recipe to the stove top or cutting board, etc. etc. etc Employing ‘Mise en place’  will elimate your frustration, ease any difficulty in interpreting a recipe, and allow you the true joy of creating a culinary masterpiece just like the ‘big time’ chefs. Having the right utensils, your Ergo Knives and a good set of pots and pans, can make all the difference to your cooking experience in the kitchen.

Mise en place in practice.
Recipes should be read through completely, before you ever start actually cooking, for necessary ingredients and equipment. Ingredients are then measured out, washed, chopped, and placed in individual bowls. Equipment, such as spatulas, knives and blenders are prepared for use and ovens (or pans) are preheated.

It is one of the simple ‘secrets’ that allows all of our favorite restaurant or TV chefs to make it look so stress free and easy, even when they are preparing art on a plate. Well, that and a line of cooks, alongside. Of course proper technique is also, if not just as, important to your success with complicated recipes, but this is step one in bringing your cooking experience to the next level. You will appreciate the ingredients, the process and the results with a newfound delight, while your family and friends will think you are secretly attending culinary school on the sly.  All it takes is a little Mise en place.

How to Sharpen your Ergo Knives with Chef Randy Smith

If you’re not familiar with using a Diamond Sharpening Rod or it makes you nervous,
not to worry!  You can take the guess work out of sharpening by using a
Pro-Series FastEdge® 2 stage manual knife sharpener that puts a great 18 degree
edge on your knives for perfect slices. You can find them here: Sharpeners

Until next time,
Ergo Chef
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