Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tomato Sorbet

Once again tomatoes were the main ingredient in my latest experiment. Tomatoes are very sweet which make it a great ingredient to put into a sorbet.

For the final plating I had three main items I used. Two of the items contained tomatoes and the other was a baked item. The recipes for all three of the ideas came from Johnny Iuzzini’s cookbook Dessert Fourplay.

The tomato sorbet was an excellent piece to the plate. The only problem I had with it was the sweetness factor. A single scoop of the sorbet was delicious but it’s not something you would sit down and eat a pint of.

The roasted tomatoes were a very interesting item to put on a dessert. At first I was skeptical it would work with the dish, but in the end I was rather pleased. When you first bite down on the roasted tomato is explodes in your mouth. The tomatoes were tossed in honey, olive oil and salt, and then roasted for two hours and fifteen minutes at one hundred and seventy five degrees (convection).

In my opinion the streusel played a major part in the overall dish. The streusel was sweet with a nice almond taste. The sorbet and streusel together were absolutely amazing. The sweetness of the streusel cut through the sorbet, therefore affecting the whole dish.

The recipe calls for almond flour which is rather expensive and hard to find. To make your own almond flour just put some sliced almonds in the food processor. The secret to making almond flour is not heating the almonds up, unless you want almond butter. So hit the pulse button for around five seconds and then let it stand for thirty seconds and repeat until the mixture is a fine powdery consistency.

This experiment uses an ingredient most people wouldn’t associate with dessert but it works rather well.

Sweet Tomato Sorbet, Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Streusel, Basil

Sweet Tomato Sorbet, Cylinder of Streusel, Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Basil

Sweet Tomato Sorbet, Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Streusel, Basil

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tomato Sauce

As with the strawberries, tomatoes are in abundance around my house. So with my next few experiments I decided to use homegrown tomatoes as the base.

Last September I bought Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Cookbook. I made the tomato sauce back then so I decided to do it again. When I made it the first time I didn’t use an immersion blender at the end, causing it to be slightly chunky. So this time I let it cool down, then used the immersion blender to finely purée the sauce.

The recipe itself is rather simple. The only challenge would be if you don’t know what a Bouquet garni is. The process for making one is rather simple; just get your parsley, thyme and basil. Cut a little kitchen twine and tie the twine around the herbs, that’s it.

A lot of magazines and Food Network shows tell you to put sugar in tomato sauce. In my opinion, that’s absolute crap unless your goal is to make Chef Boyardee. Tomatoes are naturally sweet and will take care of the sauce themselves.

The recipe suggested cooking the sauce for thirty to forty five minutes. In reality it took exactly one hour for the sauce to obtain the right flavor. If you would only cook it for thirty minutes the sauce wouldn’t mature and it probably wouldn’t taste very good.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 pounds sweet, ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Bouquet garmi of parsley, thyme and basil springs

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and let it sizzle for half a minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and salt, and add the herb springs, bundled together with kitchen twine.

Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the flame to low. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes; it will thicken as it cooks. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Taste for salt and adjust. For a refined sauce, pass through a food mill or purée in a blender.

Chopped Tomatoes, Bouquet garni, Minced Garlic, Salt

Sunday, August 2, 2009


This time of year many foods we have an abundance of, like strawberries. Strawberries are the perfect treat, sweet and juicy but yet good for you. Cooking seasonally also shows that you can change with whatever ingredients you have.

For my last experiment I decided to do a plate comprised of five components. Three of the items contained strawberries but in the final plating’s strawberries didn’t dominant the dish. The ideas and recipes for the ice cream, leather, shortbread and whipped cream came from Johnny Iuzzini’s recent cookbook Dessert Fourplay. The idea for the strawberry and rhubarb pâte de fruit came from the site Tartelette.

Upon making the pâte de fruit, I had one main problem, I couldn’t find liquid pectin. At first I thought of using Gelatin but then decided that wouldn’t work. So finally I went to the store and bought dry pectin, thinking I could convert it into liquid pectin. I mixed the whole box of dry pectin with ¾ cup water and brought it to a boil over medium heat. This worked and I added two tablespoons of the liquid to the pâte de fruit.

The shortbreads turned out perfectly. In the final plate the shortbreads played a big role, which I was surprised by. In the recipe it said the cooking time would be around four to five minutes but in reality mine took around ten minutes to achieve the golden brown color.

Possibly the best part of the dish was the strawberry ice cream. Previously in my ice cream making experiments I’d used stabilizers but this one turned out perfectly without any stabilizer. Johnny Iuzzini also uses an immersion blender right before you put the mixture into the ice cream maker which I greatly like. It makes the ice cream slightly lighter and much easier to scoop.

The strawberry leather was very unique. The texture resembled a fruit rollup but had the taste of strawberry jam. The recipe called for lavender, which would’ve added a sweet aroma but I decided to opt out on it. The leather took around six hours at one hundred and twenty five degrees (convection) to complete.

Together all the components of the dish faired nicely with each other. At first glance I thought some might clash but I was wrong.

Leather Strawberry Cylinder, Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream,Strawberry and Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit, Shortbread, Strawberry Ice Cream, Micro Mint

Strawberry Ice Cream, Shortbread,Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream,Strawberry Leather,Slice of Strawberry and Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit, Micro Mint

Leather Strawberry Roll,Shortbread, Strawberry Ice Cream, Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream, Strawberry and Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit, Mint

Thursday, July 30, 2009


This summer has been very chaotic for me, between football and Houlihans it hasn’t left much time for blogging. Now though since I have more time I will return to making my mad creations.

A few weeks ago I took a short trip to Chicago. Chicago has an array of talent from street vendors selling hot dogs to Charlie Trotters famous restaurant. With only a few days in such a big city I had to pick carefully where I wanted to eat.

Upon first arriving in Chicago I drove to the notoriously famous Hot Doug’s. The restaurant is located in the city’s Avondale neighborhood. They serve everything from the traditional Chicago dog, to more exotic items such as the foie gras dog. In 2006 Hot Doug’s appeared in the news due to its use of foie gras. Chicago banned the use of foie gras from 2006 to 2008, saying it was animal cruelty. During this time Hot Doug’s was fined two hundred and fifty dollars and thirty pounds of foie gras was confiscated from the restaurant. The ban was repealed in May of 2008 and the foie gras dog was brought back onto the menu.

When I was driving up, I saw a line that was almost a mile long. At first I didn’t connect it with Hot Doug’s but soon found out it was the line to get in. After seeing it on Anthony Bourdain and having to wait almost a year, I didn’t get to eat a hot dog from Hot Doug’s.

For dinner I decided to go to Café Ba-Ba-Reeba. They specialize in tapas which are small plates. I greatly enjoy eating this way because you experience so many different flavors. Through the course of dinner I ordered around six plates. This is more than a normal amount ordered but that’s the great thing about tapas or small plates, there aren’t any rules.

Although my visit to Chicago was short, I saw many great ideas.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Passion Fruit Granité

Passion Fruit Granite, what is it? Basically it’s a sorbet that was never put in a batch freezer. All you have to do is freeze the mixture and rake often during the freezing process, to produce large pieces of ice.

Most people do not know or have never seen a passion fruit. A passion fruit is primarily comprised of a juice that tastes similar to grapefruit juice and the rest of it is seeds. To properly cut one you cut the fruit in half then run the juice through a fine mesh sieve to retrieve all the seeds.

For the final plate we saved the shell and served the granite on top of it with a mint leaf. The dessert is rather simple to make but it tastes remarkable.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Basil Infused Olive Oil Ice Cream

Olives were the base of recent dessert. The dessert was comprised of basil infused olive oil ice cream, a Mediterranean olive tuile and a variety of fruits. Once again I came up with a variety of plating options for the final product.

The ideas for both recipes came from Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernadin in New York City. While making the items I changed the recipes several times to modify the end product. Usually I follow recipes pretty tight but these two were great base recipes that allowed for personal interpretation.

The olive oil ice cream was good but if I make it again I’ll reduce the amount of fromage Blanc to make the frozen product a little more malleable.

The ice cream had two main flavors, olive oil and basil. The recipe called for two hundred grams of olive oil, which could overpower the basil flavor if the extra virgin olive oil has a strong flavor, which mine did. So I decided to only use sixty five grams of olive oil. This is one reason why it’s always a good idea to taste your recipe before dumping an ingredient completely in.

The olive tuile turned out perfectly in the end. I used kalamata olives in the tuile giving it a darker color. To get the tuile to turn thinner and somewhat transparent, I had to add three times the amount of glucose syrup that it called for in the original recipe.

For the final plating I formed a few of the tuile’s into miniature “taco shells” and “cannoli’s”. Then I diced up some strawberries and mango to put in the “tacos”. To finish the plate off I put a blueberry leaf on the plate.

With a few minor changes I could see this plate becoming great.

Black Olive “Taco” Tuile

Strawberries, Mango, Basil, Olive Oil Infused Fromage Blanc Ice Cream, Mango Purée

Fromage Blanc Ice Cream Infused with Basil & Olive Oil

Mediterranean Olive “Cannoli”, Strawberries, Mango, Dark Cherries, Julienne of Basil.

Fruit Compote with Mango Coulis

Olive Oil Infused Fromage Blanc Ice Cream, Mediterranean Olive Tuile with Orange Zest, Basil

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates

Christopher Elbow landed his first cooking job in 1992 at the Lincoln Country Club. After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1996 he returned to Kansas City to head Shiraz Restaurant. After moving to Las Vegas shortly, he once again returned to Kansas City. After accepting executive pastry chef at the American Restaurant, he began to perfect his chocolate-making skills. In January 2009 Food & Wine ranked Elbow number one on their top ten chocolates.

While visiting Elbow’s store in Kansas City I decided to buy a few different chocolates. I bought the following five chocolates: Venezuelan Dark, Tanzanie, Strawberry-Balsamic Caramel, Bourbon Pecan and Yuzu. All the chocolates were excellent, each with their own unique flavor.

I think the chocolates would make an excellent dessert with a little port. So I placed the five chocolates on a long plate along a side of ten year Tawny Port. It’s a rather simple idea but I think people would connect with it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake Redefined

Strawberry shortcake, a tradition in many households but today my strawberry shortcake is new and refined.

When I think of tradition strawberry shortcake, I think of a dry heavy dessert. The base or the shortcake of my dessert was a classic French madeleine from my corn sorbet experiment. The madeleine was perfect for this scenario, cakey but still light.

The strawberry flavor really came through nicely on the final dish. After finishing with the strawberry foam, I shot the final bit into a few molds and threw them in the freezer. The final product was very light yet tasty. To finish the plate off I quartered some strawberries and put whipped cream on top.

This is truly the new way to serve “strawberry shortcake.” Not to heavy yet you still get the rich powerful flavors of the dessert.

Strawberry Shortcake

Frozen Strawberry Foam, Madeleine's, Sweetened Whipped Cream, Fresh Strawberries

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Corn sorbet and classic madeleines was my last experiment. While working with these two things I came up with a few different plating options. Each was very different and I ended up with many great ideas for the future.

The idea for the corn sorbet came from Michael Laiskonis and his workbook site but the classic madeleines recipe came out of the famous Larousse Gastronomique. Once the components of a dish are made then I get to come up with the different plating options, which is always interesting.

Both the corn sorbet and the madeleines turned out nicely. The sorbet was slightly lighter than my previous experiment with balsamic vinegar ice cream but that is expected. The sorbet had an interesting flavor to it. The sweetness of the corn came through nicely but I think I lost a lot of the flavor straining it, but it is a necessary process.

The madeleines were perfect, moist and cakey in the interior and somewhat crisp on the exterior. The first madeleines I buttered the molds like stated in the recipe and the edges of the madeleines were golden brown in color, but I only baked them for fifteen minutes instead of the recommended twenty-five minutes.

The first presentation was quite simple, a quenelle scoop of corn sorbet, a madeleine and a single blackberry. After this, I experimented with making an ice cream sandwich of sorts and it turned out better than I had imagined.

During this experiment I got to experience making madeleines and I started to compare the similarities between making sorbets and ice creams. Hopefully throughout the summer I continue to perfect my ice cream and sorbet making skills.


Classic Madeleines

Melt 100g (4 oz, ½ cup) butter without allowing it to become hot. Butter a tray of madeleine moulds with 20g (3/4 oz, 1 ½ tablespoons) butter. Put the juice of half a lemon in a bowl with a pinch of salt, 125g (4 ½ oz, scant 2/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar, 3 eggs, and an extra egg yolk. Mix well together with a wooden spatula and then sprinkle in 125g (4 ½ oz, scant 1 ¼ cups) sifted flour and mix till the mixture is smooth; finally add the melted butter. Spoon the mixture into the moulds but do not fill more than two-thirds full. Bake in the oven at 180 C (350 F, gas 4) for about 15 minutes. Turn out the madeleines and leave to cool on a wire tray. Before serving, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Churning in the ice cream maker

Sweet Corn Sorbet, Madeleines, Fresh Blackberries, Caramel

Sweet Corn Sorbet, Madeleines, Fresh Blackberries

Sweet Corn Sorbet, Madeleines, Fresh Blackberries, Caramel

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Frozen Flavors

Balsamic vinegar ice cream, strawberry foam and a vanilla olive oil parfait. Most people would be turned off by these three things combined but I found it rather intriguing.

On my first attempt of ever making ice cream I was really pleased. The balsamic vinegar came through but wasn’t overpowering, just like I’d hoped. The recipe used nonfat dry milk, glucose powder and ice cream stabilizer. Getting slightly into molecular gastronomy, that many people are completely opposed to.

The strawberry foam was quick and very simple. It was a great component to the dish with a sweet flavor similar to a strawberry smoothie. Later on I can see myself substituting the strawberries with other fruits, creating new foams. Although foam has been used for many applications, I think it gives the plate a new look.

The vanilla olive oil parfait was good but missing something. The parfait resembles a mousse which makes it challenging for the extra virgin olive oil to come through. I think using unfiltered olive oil will give me the flavor I’m looking for. Texture wise, it held up nicely but once it started to heat up the gelatin almost made it rubbery.

As Michael Laiskonis states the vanilla olive oil parfait perfects the combo of balsamic vinegar ice cream and strawberry foam.

A few days ago I visited Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates in Kansas City. While I was there I purchased pate de fruit of raspberry to go on the final dish. The raspberry worked rather well in the final dish giving it another sweet component.

Churning in the ice cream maker

Aged Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream, Vanilla Olive Oil Parfait, Strawberry Foam, Reduced Balsamic Glaze, Mint, Christopher Elbow Raspberry Gelee

Aged Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream, Fresh Strawberries, Mint, Strawberry Foam, Crushed Biscotti’s

Cylinder of Vanilla Olive Oil Parfait, Aged Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream, Fresh Strawberries, Strawberry Foam, Reduced Balsamic Glaze

Vanilla Olive Oil Parfait Embedded With Strawberries, Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream, Strawberry Foam, Mint

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Johnsonville Sausages

Established in 1945 by Ralph F. and Alice B. Stayer, Johnsonville Sausages still holds strong today. From bratwursts to sausage patties their products are always excellent.

Recently Johnsonville Sausages contacted me because they saw my blog. A few weeks later I received a complementary apron, with my blogs name on it, in the mail.

Marketing wise, it is really smart on their behalf because I’m the next generation of consumers. Many people overlook millennial marketing but I think it’s absolutely huge and Johnsonville Sausages does too.

A few nights ago I bought a pack of bratwursts and threw them on the grill. The one in the picture is perfection, juicy and wonderfully caramelized.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


A croque-monsieur is typically hot ham and cheese served on bread. The sandwich originated in France as a fast food snack served in cafés. The first time I ever saw it in a restaurant was at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco.

So as my first experiment during the summer, I made a croque-monsieur with a twist. The sandwich consisted of ganache, peanut caramel and bananas. I got the idea from Michael Laiskonis’s Workbook site recipe.

First I made the peanut caramel which consisted of sugar, glucose syrup, heavy cream, milk couverture and peanuts. This particular recipe taught me how to make caramel from scratch which I’d never done before. Then I made the ganache which consisted of heavy cream, glucose syrup, dark chocolate and butter.

The construction is rather simple. Bread, spread with ganache, layered with bananas and then another layer of peanut caramel. Then quickly sauté in a non-stick pan and if desired put on the grill for grill marks.

The sandwich was absolutely fabulous. At eight centimeters it was the perfect size to accommodate its rich flavors. Upon cutting the sandwich the chocolate ever so slightly oozed out of the sandwich, giving you that cheese feel of a tradition croque-monsieur.

This will be a perfect pair to a dish later on, possibly with a critic sorbet and a banana parfait.


Peanut Caramel

Yield: approximately 1500g

300g granulated sugar
125g glucose syrup
375g heavy cream (35%), warm
200g milk couverture, chopped
600g roasted, salted peanuts, chopped

1. Combine sugar and glucose in a heavy, non-reactive saucepan and cook to a medium dark caramel.
2. Remove from heat and deglaze with a portion of the warm cream. Add remaining cream and cook until caramelized sugar has dissolved and mixture is homogenous. Final amount of caramel should measure approximately 675g.
3. Combine couverture and peanuts in a large bowl. Pour the hot caramel into the bowl. Stirring to combine completely. Ensuring all chocolate is melted and thoroughly incorporated.
4. Pour into Silpat-lined frame or other form; allow to set at room temperature or under refrigeration.


Yield: approximately 235g

100g heavy cream (35% fat)
15g glucose syrup
110g dark chocolate couverture (55-61%), chopped
10g unsalted butter, softened

1. In a saucepan, combine cream and glucose. Bring to a boil.
2. Place couverture in a large bowl and gradually pour hot cream over it, stirring to emulsify.
3. Allow to cool to 35ºC/95ºF before incorporating butter. Further emulsify with immersion blender, if necessary.


Yield: 4 servings

200g peanut caramel
8 slices brioche, or good-quality white bread, crusts removed (8cm square by 1cm thick)
dark chocolate ganache, as needed
2 bananas, peeled and thinly sliced
Maldon sea salt
unsalted butter, softened, as needed
Confectioner’s sugar, as needed

1. Place the peanut caramel between two sheets of plastic film and roll to a thin, uniform thickness. Briefly chill for ten minutes, or until the caramel is firm enough to cut into four 8cm squares. Reserve.
2. Arrange the bread onto a work surface; spread one side of each with room temperature chocolate ganache. Sprinkle with a few grains of the sea salt, if desired.
2. Divide the banana among each of the slices. Place a slab of the peanut caramel onto four of the slices. Close the sandwiches, wrap tightly, and refrigerate (The sandwiches can be assembled to this point up to two hours in advance of serving).
3. Spread the softened butter onto both sides of each sandwich.
4. Place each sandwich on to a clean, hot grill. After about ten seconds, turn each at a 90º angle to create grill marks. After another ten seconds, carefully flip and continue to cook an additional 30 seconds. Alternatively, cook the sandwiches in a non-stick sauté pan until golden brown on each side.
5. To serve, slice the sandwiches in half on the diagonal, and then in half again. Arrange on a plate, dust with confectioner’s sugar, and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


As summer approaches I’m starting to imagine the possibilities it brings. Hopefully I’ll learn something new every day. Whether it’s making ice cream or experimenting with things from our garden. No longer will I be pressured for time, everyday will be the weekend, until August seventeenth.

During the last few months I’ve been reading Workbook daily, operated by Michael Laiskonis. Michael Laiskonis is the Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernadin. He daily experiments with new possibilities such as, trimoline or ice cream stabilizer. His work in Molecular Gastronomy has shown on Le Bernadin’s dessert menu.

Reading through his work majorly influenced me. I thought to myself, “Laiskonis’s ideas are superb, but are in reach of my cooking ability.” Now with five hundred plus pages of ideas, I plan on cooking frequently. Another influential book is Larousse Gastronomique, which is about recipes from all over the world. I look forward to posting this summer.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Chives, related to green onions and scallions are the smallest species in the onion family. Native to Europe, Asia and North America, they have been used many different ways over the years.

The chive is a bulb forming perennial plant, soft in texture prior to the blooming of the flowers. Standing at thirty to fifty centimeters tall, the leaves are completely hollow inside. Once bloomed, the flowers are star shaped with a light purple hue. Chives also have insect repelling properties which can be used to control pests in your garden.

Chives are grown for their leaves, which are used for culinary purposes. They provide a somewhat mild flavor and are found most popularly on fish, potatoes and soups. The flowers can also be used to garnish a dish but are a rare oddity.

The medical purposes of chives are similar to garlic. They are shown to lower blood pressure and are rich in vitamins A and C. As chives are served in small quantities, negative effects are rarely encountered.

Chives thrive in well drained soil and can be grown from seed and mature in summer. Typically, they need to be kept moist and be at a temperature of fifteen to twenty degrees Celsius. Where I live, chives die back to the underground bulbs in winter, with the new leaves appearing in early spring. Usage of chives date back five thousand years ago.

As chives are an abundant herb, they are seen in many dishes. While at Le Bernadin in New York City they served shaved chives with tuna, foie gras, toasted baguette and extra virgin olive oil. While I start to experiment with making ice cream I could see a chive ice cream in the future.

Friday, May 15, 2009

On The Line

On The Line, written by Eric Ripert is by far one of the best books on the market. Anyone in the restaurant business should spend some time and read this book. It explains in details, everything from the history, to the kitchen, to the business.

In January 1986 Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze opened Le Bernadin at its present location. By April of that year they had four stars in the New York Times, a restaurant first. During January 1994 Gilbert unexpectedly died leaving Maguy leaning on the young executive chef, Eric Ripert, who had worked there for three years.

The restaurant today is very different then it was fifteen years ago. Few people after the first course remember that they are in a fifty story building.

Every minute from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. is precise in the kitchen. Every dish that goes out is inspected by the sous-chef or the chef at the pass. Every plate is tasted and the temperature is checked with a metal skewer.

The one true star at Le Bernadin is the fish. Justo Thomas the fish butcher transforms eight hundred to a thousand pounds of fresh fish into perfect filets daily. Alone it takes him six hours but whenever he goes on vacation it takes two guys twice as long.

The porter Fernando Uruchima spends eleven hours a day making sure all the deliveries have been received and counted. Once done he puts everything away, from locking up the truffles to checking every light bulb in the dining room. Without this special thirty-four year old man the restaurant could not and would not operate properly.

Le Bernadin wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for Michael Laiskonis. He is the executive pastry chef and works in a ten by fourteen foot patch in the bustling kitchen. Everything in his pastry kitchen is precisely organized, even the squeeze bottles of sauces and syrups. Laiskonis is constantly trying to push the boundaries of his predecessors. Everyday around three o’clock, he begins experimenting with new ingredients and techniques.

If you have been a recipient of the “egg” than consider yourself special. After creation, it quickly became Laiskonis’s special. Only making around ninety a day, the “egg” is comprised of: milk chocolate crème brûlée, liquid caramel, caramel foam, two drops of maple syrup and a few flakes of Maldon sea salt.

The maître d’ Ben Chekroun has welcomed diners since 1993. He is responsible for the front of the house, as well as for who staffs it. A meal at Le Bernadin is usually so relaxed and gracious; it’s hard to imagine the military precision with which the dining room is run. With one hundred and thirty eight people they are promoting that experience.

Many don’t know, but Le Bernadin has a second location, Les Salons. Les Salons is directly above Le Bernadin. Everything is exactly the same from the uniforms to the kitchen, just downsized. It’s used mainly for business-get-togethers but not always.

On The Line without a doubt shows what it takes to run a restaurant of this caliber. The book highlights all positions because everyone is equally vital in their operation.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Every year I get excited when we start to plant food in the garden. Recently we choose to plant blueberries. Blueberries are very sweet when properly ripened and grow abundantly in North America. I think it’s amazing to grow organic products right in your own backyard. It just goes to show you don’t have to use chemicals to get something to turn out great.

Blueberries are flowering plants with a flared crown at the end. Blueberries are one of the few things native to North America. Native Americans used the berries, leaves and roots for medical purposes. The fruit was also commonly used for fabric dyes in clothing.

During the growing process they are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple and finally indigo upon ripening. The bushes typically bear fruit from May through June but peaks in July, which is National Blueberry Month. Blueberries used to be picked by hand until the invention of the blueberry rake by Abijah Tabbutt of Maine in 1822. The blueberry is Maine’s state berry, where twenty five percent of blueberries come from every year.

I can’t wait till they’re ready for picking, then I can experiment with them.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Devil in the Kitchen

Finally, I’ve finished yet another great book. The Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White was such a learning opportunity. You don’t realize how much one has accomplished in a lifetime until you’ve read their biography.

White didn’t have formal training of any kind; he just started working in kitchens as a teenager. His first kitchen adventure was Hotel St. George under Stephan Wilkinson. At first he had no interest in food but just saw it as a job. Next he would work for Albert Roux, Raymond Blanc and Pierre Koffman all culinary giants of the time. Here he would gain the experience and confidence, to one day open his own restaurants.

After opening famous Harvey’s and winning two Michelin stars he turned to Restaurant Marco Pierre White at the Hyde Park Hotel. After much hard work he would come to win three Michelin stars in Restaurant Marco Pierre White. After winning three Michelin stars he decided his race was not yet finished. He became obsessed to win Michelin couverts or “knives and forks.” They are awarded for pleasantness, luxury, aesthetics and ambience. Finally The Oak Room in London’s Meridien Hotel would take him there.

After working in kitchens for twenty one year’s, Marco Pierre White hung up the apron. Several factors contributed to his retirement but the primary one was to spend more time with his wife Mati and at the time his two kids, Luciano and Marco. After learning so much from Albert Roux they finally ended their relationship in the late nineties. Albert had intentionally not given Chef of the Year to Marco Pierre White saying it would be bad for the industry.

Only if there were more chefs like Marco Pierre White in the business. The man sacrificed every moment of his life for twenty one years. Most cooks will be lucky if they’re half as good as him but we can all try.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Light Tent

I believe photography is a major key to website success. Photographs are the key to triggering viewer’s attention, thus keeping them on your site. Once a site has great photographs and great writing they are set for success. The tools that help are light tents and great photographic equipment.

A light tent is basically a huge diffuser for light. Have you ever wondered how people get that floating effect? I’ve had so much fun with mine I decided to put a tutorial up on how to make it.


- A Large Square Box
- White Muslin Fabric
- Masking Tape
- Glue Stick
- Four Sheets White Bristol Board
- Ruler
- Tape Ruler
- Knife
- Scissors
- Sharpe
- Two Halogen Lights

The Process

1. Grab the box, tape ruler and Sharpe marker. Measure two inches from the side of the box marking multiple points. Once you’re finished connect the points with your ruler, creating a square two inches for the actual edge. Do this to all four sides leaving the top and bottom intact.
2. With your knife cut out the four inner squares you just made in step one. Once you’ve completed this cut off the top of the box but keep the bottom intact.
3. Now grab the Bristol board and make lines every two inches eight times. After completing this you should have eight rows length wise on the Bristol board. Proceed to cutting out the eight strips of board, depending on the size of your box you make have to repeat this.
4. Grab the glue stick and glue the strips of paper inside the box. Make sure the entire interior is covered, with no brown box exposed.
5. Get another piece of Bristol board and cut so the width is the same as the inside of the box.
6. Place the Bristol board inside of the box to where it curves at the bottom. Avoid creasing as it can show up in photos. If it’s not long enough you may have to glue two pieces of Bristol board together. Cut off any excess paper that is sticking out the top.
7. Cut the Muslin fabric where it will cover the sides, back and top of the box. If you make four separate cuts it will work out better.
8. Pull the fabric tight over the cut out holes and tape it down using the masking tape. Make sure the fabric is very tight avoiding unwanted shadows. Make sure you don’t cover the hole that is facing the background.

The light tent is now complete. If you don’t already own Halogen lights then you can purchase them at the hardware store. Once you have the two lights ready plug them in, be cautious because the lights get extremely warm. Position the box in the middle of the two with the two lights on the side pointing towards the background.

Camera Settings

Once the light box is complete, you’re far from getting fantastic photographs. So much of photography is the settings you choose. If you ever want constant results you should learn how to shoot in Manual mode, this takes a lot of practice though. Shooting on a tripod is highly recommended since shutter times may be long, so consider using the timer or a wireless remote. Another thing to think about is purchasing a speed flash.


1/10 sec., F8, Exp. +1.7, Iso 100, WB Incandescent, RAW

Class Ring

1/10 sec., F8, Exp. +1.7, Iso 100, WB Incandescent, RAW

Adobe Light Room 2

Editing Software

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grand Central Market

While walking through Grand Central Terminal in New York City, I stumbled upon Grand Central Market. The whole place is lively with crowds of vibrant people.

Grand Central Terminal officially opened on Sunday, February 2, 1913. One hundred and fifty thousand people showed up although construction was not yet entirely complete. The one hundred foot wide by six hundred and fifty foot long structure, rivaled the Eiffel Tower for the most dramatic engineering achievement of the nineteenth century. The most prominent feature was undoubtedly its enormous train shed. The terminal began restoration in 1996 and was finished on October 1, 1998.

The market is full of different vendors offering anything from truffle honey to Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. The venders include:

- Ceriello Fine Foods
- Corrado Bread & Pastry
- Dishes at Home
- Greenwich Produce
- Koglin German Hams
- Li-Lac Chocolates
- Murray’s Cheese
- Murray’s Real Salami
- Oren’s Daily Roast
- Penzey’s Spices
- Pescatore Seafood Company
- Wild Edibles
- Zaro’s Bread Basket

Although there were many things to buy, I only bought the truffle honey from Murray’s Cheese. As I mentioned before the honey was very fragrant and was a great match with prosciutto and blue Montagnolo. The atmosphere is laid back and prices are very reasonable.