Friday, February 27, 2009

Sola's Wallack wins Idaho potato challenge

Chef Carol Wallack of Chicago's Sola Restaurant,, took first place in the Idaho potato side dish challenge at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival's third annual Burger Bash, hosted by celebrity chef Rachael Ray. Wallack's Idaho Potato Truffle Fries won her a $5,000 donation to Florida International University made by the Idaho Potato Commission in her name. The dishes were judged on a five-point scale based on: use of product, originality, presentation and flavor.

Idaho Potato Truffle Fries

Yield: 45-50 orders

35 lb. fryer oil
30 lb. rendered beef fat
50-lb. box of Idaho russets (60 count)
1 bottle truffle oil (La Truffiere or Urbani white truffle oil preferred) poured into a spray bottle
5 lb. fresh ground Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 lb. chives, chopped
Salt, fine

Method (1) Combine fryer oil and rendered beef fat. Heat the fryer to 275°F. (2) Cut the potatoes on the fry cutter with 3/26” blade and place in water. Remove potatoes from water; shake off excess water, and dry. (3) Blanch the potatoes in oil. Cool blanched potatoes on sheet pans. Potatoes may be refrigerated until service. (4) Raise fryer heat to 350° F. Drop 2 handfuls of fries at a time into 350°F oil. Fry until golden brown. Lift fry basket, and let excess oil drain. (5) Place fries in to a large mixing bowl. Spritz with truffle oil; sprinkle with fine salt, chives and Parmigiano-Reggiano. (6) Remove from mixing bowl, and place on a piece of waxed delicatessen paper, approximately 15" by 10 3/4". Roll up fries in paper and place standing in a pint-sized glass.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Virginia Tech certifies its students in food safety

Contributed by Laura Waite,Virginia Tech department of hospitality & tourism management

According to the Center for Disease Control, 76 million Americans contract a food-borne illness every year. Of those, 325,000 will be hospitalized and 5,000 will die. Incidentally, food-borne illness can cost a restaurant up to $74,000 every time one customer gets sick. A 2006 Michigan State University study revealing American attitudes on food safety found that "84% of those surveyed would add $270 a year to their food bill (5% more) if food-borne disease could be reduced by 50%." Hence, food safety affects the bottom line as much as it affects lives.

To reduce the risk of food-borne illness, a food service operation can implement a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan; however, implementing a HACCP plan, while relatively simple, is not a one-step task. In fact, it is a seven-step process, which is outlined in ServSafe Essentials, a National Restaurant Association (NRA) publication that prepares individuals to take the ServSafe certification exam. The certification lasts for five years and is recognized nationally. ServSafe has certified more than 1.5 million foodservice professionals, but that makes up just 11% of the NRA's estimated 13.1 million foodservice employees.

Of all the employees in a foodservice operation, it is paramount that managers are ServSafe certified because, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, the manager must "make sure that health and safety standards and local liquor regulations are obeyed." The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics also indicates, "managers oversee the training of new employees and explain the establishment's policies and practices." Therefore, managers must understand the basics of food safety in order to communicate those basics to their staff. Also, if a HACCP plan is implemented in a foodservice operation, the managers will be in charge of its implementation.

Many of the foodservice industry's best managers come from hospitality programs at four-year institutions; however, Chef James E. Sexton, a Virginia Tech Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) Department instructor, believes that there are not enough four-year institutions providing food-safety certification courses, while almost all two-year institutions provide them. Virginia Tech, however, offers a ServSafe certification course, thanks to Sexton. Moreover, Virginia Tech requires all of its HTM students to take the course.

Sexton came to Virginia Tech by default. In 1988, while teaching a culinary arts program in Chicago, he was asked to recommend a student for a position at the University of Toledo, in Ohio, which entailed catering functions for the college's president. Instead of recommending a student, he went to the interview himself and got the job. Nine months later, the president of the University of Toledo became president of Virginia Tech and hired Sexton as the coordinator of special activities. He catered all of the special functions for the president while teaching Production, Purchasing and Management (HTM 3414).

Sexton had a twelve-year struggle with Virginia Tech to make his class a certification course. He wanted to give his students the opportunity to become certified to ensure the their future success and to provide the industry with quality managers. Virginia Tech, while having the similar goals, would not let him proceed because most food-safety certification textbooks are written at a tenth-grade reading level. Sexton says that most four-year intuitions do not offer food-safety certification courses for the same reason.

Before Sexton's class became a certification course, the Food Science department taught food safety; however, the course presented the concept from the perspective of the cattle industry and neglected to address food preparation. "The course was not sufficient," says Sexton. After observing the lack of food safety during lab, Sexton began his pursuit to make his class a certification course. He has now been specifically teaching ServSafe for over five years because it provides an excellent starting point for teaching students how to implement a HACCP plan.
Chef James Sexton (back right, in Virginia Tech cap) with his students from last semester

Virginia Tech describes HTM 3414 as a course in "purchasing, preparation, service, and management of a large quantity food service operation." In addition to a lecture, the course includes a lab, which promotes experiential learning by requiring students to implement a HACCP plan. Students also learn the basics of cooking and food safety by preparing food and designing plates.

For the lecture, Sexton divides the semester into three sections: introduction to food safety and restaurant management, Servsafe Essentials and standardized recipes. Each section is associated with an exam. The introduction to the course covers common food-borne illnesses, the flow of food and the basics of running a safe kitchen. The Servsafe Essentials section follows the lesson plans laid out by the Servsafe Essentials textbook. In this section, Sexton goes over the slides provided by Selvage, which provides more detail on the flow of food and food-borne illness and explains sanitation and pest management. After learning this material, Sexton's students are required to take the Servsafe certification exam. The third section of the course, standardized recipes, teaches students the importance and components of standardized recipes so that students learn how to create their own standardized recipes.

In lab, a small group of students meet once a week. Each week, the lab has a different theme: knife skills, vegetable, starch, soup, poultry, pork, beef, seafood and dessert. Before lab each student must complete a lab assignment, which has a vocabulary section where students must define words such as bivalve shellfish, crepe, reduction and demi-glace. It also has a second section that contains questions like, "What are the five classical lead sauces?" At the beginning of lab Sexton discusses aspects of the lab assignment and does a demo.

The students in lab are divided into three groups. Group one begins the semester as the chef group. The chef group designates a head chef, a sous chef and one or two stewards/HACCP administrators. The head and sous chefs are responsible for making sure the lab is set up and cleaned up properly. The stewards/HACCP administrators pass out aprons to the class, make sure the dishwasher is at the proper temperature, fill the sinks, check the pH of the sanitizing sink and fill cups with ice water so that the class may calibrate all the thermometers. Group two is the clean-up group. This group follows a checklist to ensure that the lab is clean and sanitary both during and after the lab. Group three gets a break and is only responsible for the recipes assigned to them. The students then rotate through all three groups and are evaluated on how well they fulfilled their responsibilities. Their food is also evaluated at the end of the lab. They must prepare and plate recipes written and compiled by Sexton.

Sexton prides himself on the success of his students. In class, he establishes credibility with his new students by sharing the professional experiences of his former students. For example, a former student, who had been ServSafe certified through the class, forgot to pick up his certification after he passed the test. While the student was working at a local restaurant the health inspector approached him. Since his superior was not present and he did not have proof of certification, the student had to successfully demonstrate his knowledge to the health inspector. The student did, and the owner awarded him cash because the alternative, closing the restaurant, would have cost the owner exponentially more money.

According to the NRA, the restaurant industry is the largest employer outside of government, and "the number of foodservice managers is projected to increase 11% from 2008 to 2018." This creates a high demand for qualified managers, and graduates of two-year institutions may actually have a leg up on graduates of four-year institutions if they are certified. Food safety aside, Sexton says in order to succeed in the foodservice industry, "Love what you do."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Newest EI textbook introduces lodging industry

The American Hotel & Lodging (AH&LA) Educational Institute,, has published the seventh edition of its textbook, The Lodging and Food Service Industry, introducing readers to the complex lodging and foodservice industry.

The textbook provides a historical perspective of the lodging and foodservice industry and a department-by-department overview of its organization and structure. New material also includes industry globalization, emphasizing China, India and the Middle East; green hospitality and ecotourism; merger, acquisition and conversion activity in the hospitality industry; and job opportunities in the hospitality field.

To order the newest edition of The Lodging and Food Service Industry, by Gerald W. Lattin, Ph.D., visit the AH&LA Educational Institute's Web site.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First CIA transfer student earns degree

The first transfer student from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), San Antonio, Texas, to the CIA's flagship campus in Hyde Park, N.Y., will receive her associate's degree in culinary arts on Feb. 27. Kaiulani Tellez-Giron is one of nine CIA students who have transferred to Hyde Park in pursuit of a culinary arts degree after studying for seven months and earning a certificate at the college's San Antonio campus.

The ability of students to begin their education in San Antonio and complete it in Hyde Park is one benefit of the college's El Sueño initiative, which aims to elevate the global status of Latin American cuisines through research and education. In 2007, philanthropist Kit Goldsbury made a pledge of nearly $35 million for scholarships and facilities to support El Sueño.

Tellez-Giron will remain at the CIA's Hyde Park campus to earn her bachelor's degree in culinary arts management. She plans to then earn her master's in food science at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Monday, February 23, 2009

L’Academie de Cuisine students tour White House kitchen with the first lady

As reported by The New York Times, this past Sunday, while the White House kitchen staff prepared for the Obama's first official dinner (honoring the nation's governors), Michelle Obama gave a select group of students from L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md., a tour of the kitchen and a sneak peek at some the evening's menu items.

The special invitation, offered to L’Academie de Cuisine's top six students, was part of the first lady's ongoing community outreach efforts. Ms. Obama also reportedly used the opportunity to vocally support local and sustainable food--and to praise White House kitchen staffers, who, she admits, know how to make a "mean batch of french fries."

Click here for the complete article.
(Photo credit: Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press, from The New York Times)

Kendall instructor joins board of Bread Bakers Guild of America

Melina Kelson-Podolsky, a baking and pastry instructor at Kendall College in Chicago, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Bread Bakers Guild of America. A Certified Master Baker, a Certified Executive Pastry Chef and a Certified Sous Chef, Kelson-Podolsky has been teaching for eight years and a member of the Guild since 2003.

"I’m excited to be able to give back to The Guild," Kelson-Podolsky said in a press statement. "If it weren't for what they have offered to people like me, I'd be worlds behind where I am today. The Guild helps you to reinvent yourself."

The Bread Bakers Guild of America is a non-profit organization made up of professional bakers, farmers, millers, suppliers, educators, students, home bakers, technical experts and bakery owners and managers who work together to support the principle and the practice of producing high-quality baked goods. For more information, visit the Bread Bakers Guild of America's Web site.

Friday, February 20, 2009

College of DuPage to host 12th annual 'Traditions in Excellence' event

On April 21 College of DuPage will hold its 12th annual "Traditions in Excellence" food and wine dinner to raise money to improve the school's Hospitality Administration program.

This year's event, which will run from 5:30 to 9 p.m., features a champagne reception followed by a four-course sit-down dinner prepared by the school's culinary students. The College of DuPage also will recognize Gus Vonderheide, vice president of Hyatt Corp. and a College of DuPage graduate. Dessert and a live auction will take place at about 8:30 p.m. to close the evening. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on items such as a trip to Napa, California, including airfare; dinner for eight at home with chefs from the College's Hospitality Administration; and a Jade commercial grade in-home stainless steel oven/stove.

All the proceeds from the event will go directly to the College of DuPage's Hospitality Program and expansion. Expansion plans include a new hotel lab with a hotel front desk, hotel room and reception area; two kitchens; two bake shops; a chocolate room; a bistro; and a new culinary market.

Tickets are $75 each. For more information, visit

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Winston's Restaurant at Sullivan University raises $3000 for Salvation Army culinary program

On February 10, Winston's Restaurant at Sullivan University hosted a fund-raising dinner for the Salvation Army Culinary Training program (SACT), which trains homeless and low-income citizens to enter the workforce in the restaurant and hospitality industries. The event, which was emceed by SACT graduate Valuen Cooper and featured live music by Pete and Pete, raised $3000 for SACT.

The event's five-course dinner, presented by Sullivan graduate chef Timothy Tucker, was prepared by SACT program participants and featured fresh dishes like the "Tower of Hope"--herbed grilled vegetables stack with dried tomatoes, goat cheese and basil oil--and "Braised Salvation Short Rib"--slow-cooked pork served with Caribbean slaw, truffled fingerling potatoes and roasted red pepper sauce.

Chef Tucker conducts classes at the Center of Hope, where he is also responsible for feeding 400 people daily, developing relationships with local farmers and program supporters, and catering and tending to the center's on-site gardens, which supply much of the programs herbs and produce.

For more information, visit l to r): Timothy Tucker, a graduate of Sullivan University and a chef-instructor for the Salvation Army Culinary Training program, with John Richards, director of the university's Food and Beverage Operations

- Photo credit: Estes Public Relations

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The French Laundry through the eyes
of a kitchen veteran

by Evan Noetzel

Chef Robert Corey--owner/founder of Denver-based 12 Seasons Personal Chef & Sommelier Services (formerly The French Manner) and a chef-instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Colorado--has amassed many an accolade during his more than three and a half decades working in both foodservice and culinary education. And now that he's paid his dues? He's taking a well-deserved break ... Well, not so much a break as a research-intensive culinary sabbatical.

As it turns out, Corey is almost half way through a two-month-long stagiaire (a glorified industry term that's French for, roughly, unpaid apprenticeship), working under the Thomas Keller at his world-famous eatery, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, Calif.

Corey, 50, started his French Laundry journey on January 19 of this year and has documented his every thought and experience along the way--from the honor of doning "the blue apron" to his new-found appreciation for "Micro-Hyacinths and sheer-sliced Toyko Turnips"--on his blog: "The Need to Feed--My Sabbatical Journey."

"I think that chef Corey's journey is a refreshing and encouraging story," 12 Seasons executive sous chef Mary Reish tells CET, "about a chef, who, quite late in life, is willing to place ego and familiarity aside in order to learn from the best, with the ultimate goal of sharing his knowledge and experiences with his students, his clients and his staff. This is a story of a successful, inspiring, yet patient chef who has thrown caution to the wind in order to bring the best to Denver."

To follow Corey's progress, view his great photos and read his daily musings--for instance, today a sleep-deprived Corey blogged about fighting fatigue and looking for inspiration for an upcoming "Burgundian Winter Dinner"--visit Robert Corey at The French Laundry holding "fresh black truffles from Provence, France."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nantucket High School wins Massachusetts' ProStart Student Invitational

On January 16, Massachusetts Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (MRAEF) held its second annual ProStart Student Invitational at Le Cordon Bleu, Boston Campus.

Seven teams from high schools across the state competed in the culinary competition, each demonstrating creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes. Their performance during the practical session was observed and rated by judges from leading post-secondary colleges and universities and from the restaurant and foodservice industry. A portion of the competition involved a case study event, in which students tested their communication skills and their knowledge in practical situations.

The winning team was Nantucket High School, whose team members included: Carl Johnsen, Brittany Watson, Edward Moreau Jr., Haley Cabre. The team prepared pan-seared bay scallops for the appetizer, swordfish steak with sautéed vegetables for the entrée, and a steamed pear with crème caramel for dessert. Winning the case study portion of the event was Pittsfield High School. The winning teams received more than $33,000 in scholarship money.

"Although there could only be three winners, all the teams were winners in my eyes," MRA education coordinator Heather Carneiro said in a press release. "These students gave up their afternoons, vacation days and weekends to be prepared for this event. It is also important to note that the generous use of the incredible campus at Le Cordon Bleu made the event even more special to all who participated."

For more on the MRAEF or the ProStart Student Invitational, visit, l to r): Bob Wong, president of the MRAEF Committee; Heather Carneiro, MRA education coordinator; Peter Christie, MRA president and CEO; and Steve King, president of Le Cordon Bleu.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quebec maple syrup—the flow is on!

Maple syrup production occurs just once a year for 6 to 8 weeks in mid-February through April. Maple syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple tree, and that sap will run when the daily temperatures move above and below freezing.

Maple syrup production requires optimal temperatures and sugar maple trees, and thus, can only be made is a small geographic area of northeastern North America. Quebec produces more than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup, equal to 93 percent of Canadian production.

"On average, Quebec maple producers will make about 70 million pounds of maple syrup each year,” says Joan Kimball of the Quebec maple syrup producers' "Do More with Maple” campaign. “We celebrate the maple season and recognize that real maple syrup is one of nature’s gifts.”To collect the sap to make the syrup, producers insert a tap into the tree (as pictured). Commercial maple syrup producers use gravity-fed plastic tubing and pipelines and vacuum pumps to collect the sap. The maple sap is boiled and evaporated to make maple syrup. Maple syrup is made when the sugar density reaches 66 percent. It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup. Finished maple syrup is filtered and then graded based on color and flavor. In general, lighter colored maple syrups have a milder flavor while darker maple syrups have a stronger flavor.

In addition to maple syrup, Quebec maple suppliers produce maple butters, maple concentrates, maple flake and sugars, and maple vinegar. “In Quebec, maple syrup is not limited to pancakes,” notes Kimball. “Quebec producers have developed products that showcase maple’s diverse applications—from baked goods to candies to salad dressings.”

While many table syrups claim maple flavor, Kimball says there is no substitute for the real thing. “Real maple syrup comes from the annual sap flow of the sugar maple trees, not from a laboratory. Real maple syrup is a healthy, natural product and the flavor is distinct and pleasing.”

For more information, visit

Friday, February 13, 2009

ICE brings award-winning culinary program
to Istanbul

The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) recently announced the start of an alliance with the Istanbul Culinary Institute (IstCI) in Turkey. This collaboration brings ICE instruction, methodology and teaching resources to this newly formed culinary school in Istanbul. The alliance marks a first foreign venture for ICE, further establishing its position as one of the leaders in America's culinary-education sector.

ICE has licensed IstCI to use and teach a large portion of its Culinary Arts curriculum starting with the January semester in Turkey. Additionally, an ICE chef-instructor is now in Istanbul to assist in the roll-out of the curriculum. The program also will include material from IstCI curriculum, including Turkish cuisine and an externship to be completed in either an outside restaurant or the school's on-premise restaurant. After the 28-week, 760-hour program, which will be conducted in English and Turkish, graduates will receive a Certificate Program of Culinary Arts. The third institute involved in this venture, Istanbul-based Bilgi University is providing registrar, admissions and housing services for the program.

"By offering ICE curriculum in other parts of the world and specifically, in a growing food and restaurant culture like Turkey's Istanbul, we're further participating in what has become a global culinary melting pot," says Rick Smilow, ICE president.

Located in the historic and trendy Pera section of Istanbul, IstCI is based in a new eight-story building that was completed in late 2007. The founder of the program is Turkish businesswoman/chef Hande Bozdogan, who has a diverse business background, including a stint as CEO of a major foodservice company, and an educational background that spans three U.S. programs at New York University, the Culinary Institute of America and the French Culinary Institute, respectively. In 2004, Bozdogan's book Flavours of the Street: Turkey won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award. Turkish ICE alum Lizet Gediciyan made the initial introduction between the two schools.

Going forward, ICE plans to expand their collaboration with IstCI by facilitating student and alumni trips to Istanbul and through the development of guest-chef programs that would allow ICE chef-Instructors to visit the school in Istanbul. Also in development is a 'study abroad' program that will allow students to begin their culinary training in Istanbul and complete it at ICE's New York City campus.

The connection between ICE and Turkey is not entirely new. Students from 44 countries have attended ICE in recent years and several have been from Turkey. The most notable example is graduate Nilufer Goodson. After a series of jobs in America, she went back home to become Turkey's first female executive chef at the Divan Bebek Brasserie in Istanbul.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Budding chefs wow judges at Carolina's
ProStart Student Invitational

High school student teams from Daniel Morgan Technology Center in Spartanburg, S.C., Thunderbolt Career and Technology Center in Walterboro, S.C., and Donaldson Career Center in Greenville, S.C., each took top honors at the 7th Annual Carolina's ProStart Student Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C..

In the state culinary arts contest, sponsored by the The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute of Charleston, Daniel Morgan Technology Center's team won first place. For the event, Culinary Cup teams of up to four students had 60 minutes to prepare two identical gourmet meals using only two butane burners. They had no electricity, no running water and could use no pre-prepared ingredients.

In the TBonz Restaurant Management Group-sponsored Restaurant Management Competition—in which teams present case study solutions to a panel of industry judges and compete in a Quiz Bowl game—students from Thunderbolt came out victorious.

For for Coach's Low Country Brands Recipe Challenge presented by BI-LO, teams developed unique and creative recipes using Coach's Low Country Seasonings. In addition to creativity, their recipes were judged on taste, cost and ease of preparation. The winning entry was Donaldson Career Center's "Layer It and Forget It Casserole." Plans are underway to feature the team and their winning recipe on BI-LO posters and on a BI-LO TV spot at participating BI-LO food stores. The team also won a $500 BI-LO gift card to be used to help their ProStart program.

In total, 46 teams from 24 high schools in North and South Carolina participated in the event at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel, and the winning teams took home medals, trophies and more than a half million dollars in scholarships. The Thunderbolt and Daniel Morgan high school teams will represent South Carolina at the 2009 National ProStart Invitational in San Diego April 24–26.

Culinary Cup standings:
1. Daniel Morgan Technology Center; Teacher: Tim Page; Students: Michelle Sawyer, Kayla Scruggs, Sarah Anthony, Christina Munoz, Tiffany Brown, Bella Anthony
2. Thunderbolt Career and Technology Center; Teacher: Allison Bailey
3. Blythewood High School; Teacher: William Turner

Restaurant Management Cup standings:
1. Thunderbolt Career and Technology Center; Teacher: Allison Bailey; Students: Lauren Barrett, Victoria Fisher, Briana Jenkins, Lauren Standiford, Floyd Mulligan
2. The Academy for Technology and Academics; Teacher: Sallie Loveland
3. J. Harley Bonds Career Center; Teacher: Jim Miller

Coach's Low Country Recipe Challenge standings:
1. Donaldson Career Center; Teacher: Debbie Taylor; Students: Audrey Corbett, Temperance Sartor, Kim Wilbanks, Briar Thibault, Dusti Smith, Miahia Mansell-Green
2. Marion County Technology Education Center; Teacher: Patricia Owens
3. Dillon Technology Center; Teacher: Bonnie Barfield

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

World Pastry Cup results

Twenty-two nations came together to compete in the 11th Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, or the World Pastry Cup. This prestigious pastry competition took place Jan. 25 and 26 in Lyon, France.

Each country's team was composed of a pastry chef, a chocolate specialist and an ice cream specialist. Teams had 10 hours to prepare three chocolate desserts, three frozen fruit desserts, an ice sculpture, a chocolate sculpture and drawn-sugar sculpture.

First place went to Team France, second place to Team Italy and third place to Team Belgium.

While an unfortunate toppling over of Team USA's 3-foot-tall chocolate showpiece put them out of contention for the big win, team members beautifully executed other aspects of the competition. The team theme was "Native American," as pictured here in the Kokopelli design prominently featured on a uniquely marbled chocolate dessert.

Team USA captain David Ramirez (pictured below, second from left), executive pastry chef, Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando, Fla., told CET, "The marble look came from a coffee-infused glaze. Ninety-five percent of the glaze mixture was combined with white chocolate, and 5 percent we added [Valrhona] Pure Caraibe. When we actually glazed the cake, we would start with mostly the white chocolate coffee-infused glaze and only add a bit of the dark glaze at the end for the marble effect."

In addition to Ramirez, Team USA's members were: Roy Pell (second from right), executive pastry chef, The Phoenician, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Remy Funfrock (far right), executive restaurant pastry chef, The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colo.; and alternate Jim Mullaney (not pictured), Artisans Group, Atlanta. The team president was En-Ming Hsu (far left), the former captain of the 2001 gold medal-winning Team USA and currently a pastry chef-instructor at the French Pastry School in Chicago.

Chez Boucher expands and opens
Culinary Arts Training Center

Chez Boucher Cooking School recently announced the opening of the New Hampshire Seacoast’s first Culinary Arts Training Center as a significant expansion of its regionally acclaimed French cooking school. Established for budding professionals and novices alike, the Center is complete with a company store, a film production studio kitchen and an authentic bistro in the heart of downtown Hampton, N.H.

One-third larger than its prior Hampton location, Chez Boucher now occupies a 3,200-square-foot, custom-equipped facility decorated in the warm, welcoming tones characteristic of the Old World. Executive chef-owner Ron Boucher’s master plan for a cooking school-turned-culinary-training center features several exciting enhancements.

The new, larger teaching kitchen doubles as a film production studio and is outfitted with cameras and monitors for taping and viewing of cooking techniques and demonstrations. Later this year, Boucher plans to launch a professional, online training program.

Chez Boucher also will have an on-site company store to sell items preferred by the school’s chef-instructors: customized chefs’ clothing, cookware, specialized cooking tools, electronics, bakeware, table top items and other supplies. A variety of spices, seasonings, homemade sauces, prepared meals and a selection of wine will also be available.

Also integrated into the practical element of the Professional Training Certificate Program is a 36–40 seat dining room featuring authentic bistro cuisine. Students will experience food preparation in real time, and the bistro will offer a four-course menu to the public every other Thursday and Friday evening. Chez Boucher will host small functions and dinner parties in this dining room as well. On- and off-site catering is available and will soon become part of the professional program.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Save the date: Robert Morris College
2009 culinary symposium

Some of Chicago’s most highly regarded chefs and food professionals will participate in the second annual culinary symposium conducted by the Institute of Culinary Arts at Robert Morris College (RMC). This year’s event, Culinary I.D.E.A.S.: Innovation, Diversity, Exploration, Arts, Sustainability—Finding our Past, Preparing for Our Future, will be held Friday, March 27, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the RMC Chicago Campus, 401 S. State Street, eighth floor.

Under the direction of associate dean Jennifer Bucko Lamplough and director of purchasing Amy Keck, workshops and sessions specifically designed for culinary students, industry professionals and culinary educators will address such timely issues as leadership challenges for women chefs, sustaining a business in today’s economy, building a successful professional kitchen and preserving a wide variety of foods.

Keynote speaker, Jeff Stratton, McDonald’s corporate executive vice president and Chief Restaurant Officer, will kick off the day’s activities at 8:30 a.m. Other distinguished culinary professionals conducting sessions throughout the day are: chef Gale Gand, Tru Restaurant; chef Carrie Nahabedian, Naha Restaurant; chef Michelle Garcia, The Bleeding Heart Bakery; chef Shelley Young, The Chopping Block; Peter Testa, Testa Produce; Robert C. Marshall, vice president operation, McDonald’s; chefs Allison and Rob Levitt, Mado Restaurant; chefs Ryan Hutmacher and Jill Houk, Centered Chef Food Studios; Lara Field, University of Chicago; chef Myk Banas, Chicago Marriott; Ralph Aylward, Boelter; chef Gail Huesmann, Assaggia Cafe and Trattoria; Camille Stagg, food author and journalist; chef Dan McGee, Dan McGee Restaurant and Catering; Randy Vickery, Wyncroft Wines; and chef Nathan Chappell, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.

In addition to the workshops there will be a student cake decorating competition, culinary expo and job fair. Chefs Gale Gand and Michelle Garcia will judge the cake competition and announce the winners at an afternoon reception.

Admission to the Symposium is free to students with a valid student ID. The admission fee for culinary educators is $35.00 and $50.00 for industry professionals. All participants will receive a complimentary continental breakfast, coffee and snack, lunch and a cake reception. To register online visit or call Maria Garcia at (312) 935-6918.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

USA Rice recognizes Hendrix College's Mike Flory

The USA Rice Federation, national advocate for all segments of the U.S. rice industry, recently launched a new “Foodservice Recognition Program” to acknowledge the efforts of innovative chefs, operators, distributors and industry professionals who menu, market or teach with U.S.-grown rice. The program commenced in December 2008 in Arkansas, the number-one rice-producing state, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the U.S. rice crop.

Mike Flory, executive director of dining services at Hendrix College, Conway, Ark., was among the four Arkansas-based chefs recently recognized by the USA Rice Federation. Honored for menuing U.S. rice daily during all meal/day parts, Flory heads Hendrix College's award-winning foodservice operation, which serves over 1,000 students three meals a day, seven days a week. Flory says the foodservice staff and students recognize the significance of the U.S. rice industry, and enjoy rice dishes every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Other honors were:
  • Chef Capi Peck, owner of Trio's and Capi's Restaurants, Little Rock; honored for supporting the U.S. rice industry and local products for over 20 years.
  • Chef Mark Abernathy, owner of Loca Luna and Bene Vita Restaurants, Little Rock; honored for innovative applications using U.S. rice.
  • Chef Kathy Webb, owner of Lilly's Dim Sum, Little Rock; honored for supporting local foods, including U.S. organic brown rice and U.S. jasmine rice.
Flory and his fellow honorees were presented with a Certificate of Recognition and will be: announced in USA Rice Federation's “Rice Daily” newsletter disseminated to rice industry members, media and industry influencers; featured on USA Rice’s foodservice Web site (, visited by 15,000 foodservice chefs and culinary professionals each month; and promoted as innovators and leaders in foodservice.

Recipients are invited to use the new "Grown in the USA" rice logo on menus or other marketing materials to showcase their ongoing dedication and support by serving U.S.-grown products in their operations.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

CIA alumnus Roy Yamaguchi ('76) returns to address 2009 graduates

Roy Yamaguchi, founder of the Honolulu-based Roy's restaurants, spoke to graduates at commencement ceremonies at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

"One would think that you are free at last, but not for long; this is only the beginning. The CIA gave you a strong foundation. Now it is up to you to build on that foundation," Chef Yamaguchi told 42 recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts.

Roy's has 37 locations worldwide—28 in the continental U.S., seven in Hawaii, and one each in Japan and Guam. Chef Yamaguchi is considered the developer of Hawaiian fusion cuisine, which features fresh local ingredients influenced by Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Italian, French and Thai flavors. The New York Times has called him "the Wolfgang Puck of the Pacific."

Chef Roy Yamaguchi, pictured here addressing CIA graduates in January, was born in Japan and moved to Hawaii as a teenager. He is a 1976 CIA graduate and was named to the college's Board of Trustees in 2006. (Photo Credit: CIA/Keith Ferris)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

City Tech professor Roger Dagorn
named Sake Samurai

Master Sommelier Roger Dagorn, an adjunct assistant professor of wine education at New York City College of Technology (City Tech) and the sommelier at Chanterelle restaurant, was awarded the prestigious title of Sake Samurai in an elaborate ceremony held recently in Japan.

Dagorn, who teaches City Tech’s Wine and Beverage Management, Wines of Italy, Wines of France and Wines of the New World courses, traveled to Kyoto to accept this honor from the Japan Sake Brewers Association. The title is bestowed on only a handful of specialists outside of Japan. Dagorn is also one of only 167 individuals worldwide to be designated a Master Sommelier, the ultimate professional wine service credential. 

The Japan Sake Brewers Association Junior Council created the Sake Samurai distinction to inspire and restore pride in the 2,000-year-old Japanese tradition, and to spread sake culture not only within Japan but throughout the world.

Dagorn has pioneered the introduction of fine, artisanal sakes in the West, and acts as an ambassador and educator of sake subtleties, seeking out and championing the high quality selections now available in the U.S. market. He also introduces sake to City Tech students in his wine courses. (Photo credit: Lorie Rhodes)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Johnson & Wales dean wins second place at Idaho Potato Happy Hour Recipe Contest

Editors' note: The recipe in this news item was mentioned in Tool Kit (page 7) of the March 2009 edition of Chef Educator Today.

The judges of Idaho Potato Commission's (IPC) first Idaho Potato Happy Hour Recipe Contest had their work cut out for them, testing and tasting recipes submitted by chefs from upscale restaurants, culinary schools, local watering holes and everywhere in between. The Happy Hour Recipe Contest, which ran from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2008, challenged professional chefs and cooks at restaurants and noncommercial foodservice establishments as well as culinary students and instructors to put pen to paper and share their Idaho potato happy hour recipe secrets. In total, $35,000 was awarded in cash and prizes to the top recipe submissions in three categories: Appetizers, Side Dishes and Late-Night Snacks.

In the Late-Night Snacks category, the IPC awarded second-place honors to Jorge de la Torre, dean of Culinary Education at Johnson & Wales University, Denver Campus, for his Fully Loaded Idaho Potato Gnocchi Fritti (recipe follows).

To view the other winning recipes, visit the Idaho Potato Web site's foodservice page.

Fully Loaded Idaho Potato Gnocchi Fritti
Jorge de la Torre, dean of Culinary Education, Johnson & Wales University

Yield: 12 servings

3 lbs. Idaho russet potatoes
Water, as directed
6 c. ice
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 extra large egg
1 pinch salt
1 lbs. bacon, cooked and finely crumbled
1 bunch chives, minced
1 c. olive oil
2 T. butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bleu Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)

Method (1) Boil whole potatoes until soft, about 45 minutes. While still warm, peel, and pass through vegetable mill onto clean pasta board. (2) Boil 6 quarts of water in large spaghetti pot. Near boiling water, set up ice bath with ice and 6 cups water. (3) Make well in center of potatoes; sprinkle all over with flour. Place egg and salt in center of well; using fork, stir into flour and potatoes. Once egg is mixed in, fold in bacon and chives; bring dough together, kneading gently until ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch. (4) Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels; cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Drop pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float, about 1 minute. Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and dropping off of fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath; drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup olive oil; store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve. (5) Heat remaining olive oil and butter in large sauté pan until butter starts to turn brown. Toss in gnocchi and sauté until gnocchi start to brown. Remove from pan onto plate, season with salt and pepper. (6) Serve gnocchi on toothpicks with Bleu Cheese Sauce in bowl or fondue pot for dipping.

Bleu Cheese Sauce
3 T. butter
3 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/8 t. ground black pepper
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. crumbled bleu cheese (gorgonzola, cabrales, etc.)

Method (1) Melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in flour and seasonings. (2) Gradually add milk, stirring until well mixed. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. (3) Cook for 5 minutes longer; add cheese. (4) Stir until smooth and well blended; set aside.