Monday, November 30, 2009

RMU cooks for a cause

Robert Morris University (RMU) Institute of Culinary Arts students belonging to the school's service group Cooks for a Cause will bake 10,000 Christmas cookies on Dec. 4 and 5 to donate to The DuPage County People's Resource Center (PRC)'s Share the Spirit program. The PRC is gathering donations of new toys and gift certificates for more than 750 low-income families in DuPage County, which it will distribute in December. A pack of Christmas cookies from Cooks for a Cause will be included with all the gifts.

Culinary students from the Chicago, Orland Park and DuPage campuses will be baking from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the RMU main campus in downtown Chicago. For more information, visit

Friday, November 27, 2009

HCCC to honor Jersey City superintendent

At the 12th annual Holiday Scholarship Extravaganza at Hudson County Community College (HCCC), HCCC Foundation will give its 2009 Distinguished Service Award to Jersey City Public Schools superintendent Charles T. Epps Jr. The award was created to recognize the efforts of individuals and organizations to improve life for the people of Hudson County.

Epps served as a member and the chairperson of HCCC's board of trustees for 18 years, making him one of the longest serving trustees in the school's history. In addition to founding the Opportunity Knocks Twice program that enables qualifying graduates from Jersey City Public Schools to attend college for free, Epps has served as a trustee on trustee on boards including Hudson County Schools of Technology, the National Conference for Community & Justice and Jersey City Medical Center.

The event will take place Dec. 3 at 6:00 p.m. in HCCC's Culinary Arts Institute/Conference Center.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

California culinary students invited to compete in garlic challenge

In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl XLIV, Christopher Ranch LLC is challenging culinary students at The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles and The Art Institute of California - Orange County to enter its Garlic Gridiron Challenge with an original Super Bowl party recipe incorporating garlic.

Students can submit recipes between Dec. 1 and Jan. 18. They must use at least five cloves of Christopher Ranch heirloom garlic in the recipe, and Christopher Ranch will provide $200 for ingredients. The first, second and third place winners will be announced during halftime of the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 via Christopher Ranch's social media outlets. The first place winner will receive $500, the second place winner will receive $200, and the third place winner will get $100.

For more information, send an e-mail to Angie Hanson at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chicago congressman addresses CHIC graduates

U.S. congressman Danny Davis delivered the commencement address at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago's (CHIC) 2009 fall graduation ceremony. Davis, whose district includes downtown Chicago, addressed the 350 graduates among a total audience of 2,000 on Nov. 15 at the Chicago Marriott Grand Ballroom.
Congressman Danny Davis speaking to CHIC graduates*
In his speech, Davis spoke about the culinary skills each graduate was exposed to during their time at CHIC and their "portability" in today's economy. He quoted an unattributed poem called "Skills."

*Photo courtesy of CHIC chef-instructor Marilyn Santos-McNabb.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ProStart students to intern with Guy Fieri

The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) has selected ProStart students from Simeon Career Academy and Tilden Career Community Academy High School to intern with Food Network star Guy Fieri at the Dec. 3 Rosemont, Ill. stop of "The Guy Fieri Roadshow," a tour celebrating food and rock 'n' roll.

The students will work with Fieri's team to help prep food before the show and be on hand behind the scenes to help during the show. The IRA selected the participating students based on their talent and commitment to the restaurant industry.

"We are thrilled to have two Chicago Public Schools take part in The Guy Fieri Roadshow and represent our state’s ProStart program on such a prominent stage," said Sheila O’Grady, president of the IRA, in a statement. "This is a great opportunity for the CPS students, and we are grateful to Guy Fieri and the Food Network for their support in developing the future stars of Illinois' restaurant industry."

For more information, visit

Monday, November 23, 2009

NRAEF seeks scholarship money donors

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) is seeking general contributions from foodservice industry members to its Scholarship Program. The NRAEF Scholarship Program funds scholarships for high school and college students.

For more information or to donate, visit

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Secchia Institute presents leadership award to APPCA's Wallace

First-year GRCC culinary-arts students flank APPCA's Candy Wallace (holding her Leadership Award) and chef-instructor Audrey Heckwolf, who will teach the new personal/private-chef elective that launches at The Secchia Institute in Grand Rapids in January 2010.

Candy Wallace, founder and executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), was honored by The Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), Grand Rapids, Mich., with the culinary-arts program's 2009 Leadership Award on Nov. 9.

The award, which acknowledges Wallace's pioneering contributions to identifying, building and promoting the emerging career paths of personal and private chef, was founded by GRCC's Hospitality Education Department in 1990 as the Distinguished Fellow Award. Past recipients include television cooking personalities and authors Martin Yan and Graham Kerr as well as foodservice-industry luminaries and celebrity chefs from abroad.

Wallace visited The Secchia Institute to deliver an overview on career opportunities for aspiring personal and private chefs to approximately 100 culinary-arts students. The presentation coincided with the institute's unveiling of a new elective focusing on personal and private cooking and business operations for interested students pursuing an associate degree in culinary arts and culinary management.

"It was important to us to recognize Chef Wallace for her life's work in developing comprehensive training materials for those who want to pursue the career paths of personal and private chef," says Randy Sahajdack, director of The Secchia Institute. "We are witnessing tremendous interest among both students who are considering a profession in food as well as established professionals in other fields who desire a life change. I'm amazed at how much meaningful, helpful information has been created by Chef Wallace that we will not have to create, ourselves, to meet growing demand. She is truly the leader in this emerging industry."

The new, seven-week personal/private-chef elective to be offered in the final quarter of the degree program launches with the January 2010 term. The course will be taught by chef-instructor Audrey Heckwolf, who was a private chef for a prominent Grand Rapids family for more than six years before joining GRCC in 2006 as assistant professor for advanced tableservice through the school's public fine-dining restaurant, The Heritage. In her current role, Heckwolf oversees evening service for the award-winning restaurant and teaches service to students enrolled in GRCC's culinary- and hospitality-degree programs offered through The Secchia Institute.

Much of the elective's instruction will come from The Professional Personal Chef: the Business of Doing Business as a Personal Chef (John Wiley & Sons, 2008), the first definitive textbook for prospective personal chefs, written by Wallace and chef-instructor Gregory C. Forte, CEC, CCE, of Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Fla. Secchia Institute graduates who have successfully completed the elective will receive a certificate from APPCA and be eligible for full membership in the organization, affording them access to a wealth of business-building resources that include proprietary Personal Chef Office business-management software and online community forums linking successful personal and private chefs nationwide. Additionally, for graduates who launch personal-chef businesses, APPCA will promote them through its online Find a Personal Chef function.

Wallace founded the American Personal Chef Association in 1996 as the first significant national effort to recognize the impact of personal chefs on Americans' evolving lifestyles and to provide career and management training to those who aspire to become personal chefs with their own businesses. She forged the positioning of personal chefs as culinary professionals, culminating in 2002 with a formal partnership with the American Culinary Federation to award certification to qualified personal chefs. The following year, she was honored with the International Association of Culinary Professionals' Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2006, Wallace earned additional industry accolades by formally acknowledging the contributions of private chefs to American society and addressing their specific professional needs by restructuring her organization to become the American Personal & Private Chef Association.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Collins College Harvest Celebration 2009 to honor hospitality leaders

The Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona, Calif., will host Harvest Celebration 2009 on Nov. 21 to honor three top leaders in the hospitality industry while raising money for Collins College students.

Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, will receive the Hospitality Leader of the Year Award; Steve Slater, vice president and general manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of Southern California, will be honored with the Robert Mondavi Wine & Food Award; and Margaret Bailey, senior vice president of government services for Capital Hotel Management, will receive the college's Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award. Guests at the event will be able to to bid on items that directly impact students such as scholarships and classroom equipment. The event also will feature a live auction with exclusive hospitality packages.

Harvest Celebration 2009 will take place at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa. For more information, visit the Collins College Web site.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 2009 CET digital edition online

The digital edition of the November 2009 issue of Chef Educator Today (CET) is now online through the CET Web site. This digital edition features all the same great content as the print edition, plus it includes online-exclusive articles on fruit-based desserts, spices and herbs and teaching restaurant operations, plus updated FENI Summit information.

To access the November digital edition, click the icon below.

Chef Rainone to 'share the passion' at Monroe College

(l to r) Monroe College chef Ed Moon with chef Rob Rainone

The Sharing the Passion series at Monroe College School of Hospitality and the Culinary Arts continues on Nov. 19 with Rob Rainone, executive chef of Larchmont Yacht Club, Larchmont, N.Y., presenting and cooking for culinary arts students. He will prepare braised veal cheeks served over black truffle and Parmesan polenta. Rainone, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, previously was sous chef at Roundhill Golf Club in Greenwich, Conn.; Coveleigh Club, Rye, N.Y.; and was banquet chef at caterer and event manager Abigail Kirsch, Tarrytown, N.Y.

The event will take place at 12 p.m. in the Culinary Arts Center. Sharing the Passion is a series of culinary demonstrations this fall, where accomplished chefs share their passion for cooking with the students in Monroe College's Culinary Arts Center.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A tutorial on sautéing mushrooms

by William Franklin, corporate executive chef, Nestlé Professional, and the Mushroom Council

Editor's note: This article was mentioned on page 4 of the November 2009 issue of Chef Educator Today.

Mushrooms are immensely versatile, and every chef should know how to properly sauté them. From a culinary standpoint, one could sauté mushroom varieties every day of the year and create a different dish simply by adding different herb and spice combinations and adjusting the length of the sauté. Sautéed mushrooms can transform and enhance most any dish. They make excellent toppings, garnishes, garnitures or outright protein substitutes. One of my favorite preparations is the classic duxelles. Not only does it really intensify the natural flavors of mushrooms, the finished product has a multitude of great culinary applications. Sautéed mushrooms can be "the center of plate," play a critical support role or simply serve as the background flavor notes that keep customers coming back to the same expertly crafted dish without really knowing why.

Sauté literally means "to jump" in the pan, and keeping this in mind is fundamental to doing it well. Sautéing is typically a quick process using a small amount of fat or oil over relatively high heat. If using sliced mushrooms, one should only sauté small amounts and be careful not to overload the pan. Regardless of the pan size and volume of mushrooms needed, excess steaming or stewing should be your first indication that something isn't quite right. The pan size, amount of available heat, and volume of mushrooms must be balanced if a strong and proper sauté is to be realized. For something different, you may want to try distilling sautéed mushroom and use the resulting intense liqueur in sauces and foams.

Sautéing is my favorite mushroom cooking technique because I believe it best develops their unique, rustic, woodsy notes and highlights their wonderful fifth savory taste, called umami. Basically, umami comes from amino acids, particularly glutamic acid, which is ever present in mushrooms. The reduction of moisture during the sauté highlights these savory properties. Sautéing allows us to bring out that deep, savory, brothy, rich or meaty umami taste sensation. Umami, in some applications, can counterbalance the need for salt, especially where mushrooms are either featured or are simply a minor component.

In the past years, I've noticed a foodservice trend of using mushrooms as a meat alternative. I think this trend is going to stick around because it's easy to do and always proves very satisfying for customers. As Americans become more knowledgeable about food and the number of foodies increases, consumers are also becoming more aware of how mushrooms are used in world and regional cuisines. Capable culinary craftsmen use mushrooms to their advantage. I've noticed consumers are more appreciative of mushroom flavor profiles, and how different cooking techniques can change a mushroom's "mouthfeel." I believe people are also more aware of their nutritional benefits. Mushrooms are the only vegetable or fruit containing vitamin D, and they also have lots of antioxidants.

How to sauté fresh sliced mushrooms

Step 1:
Choose the correct pan for the amount of heat and size of mushroom using and select a fat or oil with a fairly high smoking point, such as clarified butter, canola oil, etc.

Step 2: Heat the pan and oil over medium-high heat, and tilt the pan away from yourself, allowing the excess oil to pool into the pan's distant edge, and then add the sliced mushrooms. This technique has saved my fingers numerous times from being burnt with splashing hot oil.

Step 3: Toss the sliced mushrooms to evenly distribute the oil, then leave it alone to sauté. Patience is key in sautéing mushrooms. You have to allow their moisture to reduce in order to properly caramelize them.

Step 4:
When the mushrooms have caramelized, they will turn brown around their edges. Toss the pan again when they have reached this point.

Step 5:
Add salt, if needed, with your seasonings. It's important to wait until the mushrooms are just finished so you can better judge how much salt or seasonings are needed.

Step 6:
Toss the seasoned mushrooms to evenly distribute flavors. Mushrooms are finished sautéing when they have a nice, browned, caramel color.

Cultivated mushroom varieties
  • Button mushroom: The most popular mushroom. They represent approximately 90 percent of mushrooms consumed in the United States. Flavor: They have a fairly mild taste and blend well with almost anything.

  • Cremini: Also called baby portabellas, these are close cousins to button mushrooms. They have a light tan to rich brown cap and brown gills. Flavor: They have a deeper, earthier flavor than whites with firm flesh.

  • Portabella: A matured cremini mushroom. They have tan or brown caps and measure up to 6 inches in diameter. Flavor: They have a bold, meaty texture and flavor.

  • Enoki: Tiny, button-shaped caps and long, spindly stems, usually eaten raw or as a garnish. Flavor: They have a delicate sweet flavor and slightly crunchy texture.

  • Oyster: Can be gray, brown, pale yellow or blue. Flavor: Oysters have a very delicate flavor and a velvety texture.

  • Maitake: Appear rippling and fan-shaped, without caps. They are also called "Hen of the Woods." Flavor: Maitake have a distinctive aroma, woodsy, roasted-chicken taste and a firm, crunchy texture.

  • Shiitake: Brown umbrella-shaped caps, ivory gills and curved, woody stems that should be removed. Must be cooked. Shiitake have the highest umami content. Flavor: They have an intense, rich and woodsy flavor with a meaty, chewy texture.
Chef William Franklin, CMC, former dean of faculty at the National Cooking Institute, is a member of American Academy of Chefs as well as The Honorable Order of the Golden Toque.

Reese Scholarship to honor former IDDBA exec

The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association has created the W.T. Reese Memorial Scholarship in honor of Willard T. (Bill) Reese, former executive director of the International Cheese & Deli Association, which was an earlier incarnation of the IDDBA. Two $5,000 scholarships will be awarded each year to students in a food-related major.

Reese helped grow IDDBA from a small Wisconsin-based cheese group to a multi-national association representing cheese, dairy, deli and bakery companies. For more information about the scholarship or the IDDBA, visit

Monday, November 16, 2009

HCCC, WomenRising to hold open houses for hospitality training initiative

Hudson County Community College (HCCC) and WomenRising Inc. will hold two open houses to inform prospective participants with the Community Partnerships in Hotel Employment (CPHE) program. CPHE is a free, 16-week job training and placement initiative that is operated by HCCC and WomenRising with funding help from the Jersey City Urban Enterprise Zone program.

The program provides participants with training and placement to entry-level positions in the hospitality industry. The program has classes in introduction to hospitality, basics of customer service, front office, housekeeping, basic computers, life skills training and culinary for hospitality. Participants who successfully complete the 16-week training period will earn 10 credit hours that may be applied towards an associate degree, three industry certifications from the American Hotel and Lodging Association and hands-on experience gained through internships at area hotels. CPHE is open to women and men 18 years of age and older who hold a high school diploma or GED, are willing to work flexible hours and meet the income guidelines for low- or moderate-income households.

The open houses are scheduled for Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 4 p.m., at WomenRising’s headquarters in Jersey City, N.J. Attendees should bring identification, proof of residence, birth certificate, social security card and proof of income. For more information, visit

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ming Tsai addresses CIA graduates

Chef Ming Tsai, award-winning chef, restaurateur and television host and owner of Blue Ginger restaurant in Wellesley, Mass., delivered the commencement address at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Hyde Park, N.Y., on Nov. 6. The James Beard Foundation Best Chef in the Northeast talked to the 62 associate degree recipients about the value of cooking, hospitality and community service over celebrity status.
Chef Ming Tsai addresses CIA graduates

"Emeril [Lagasse], Mario [Batali] and Bobby [Flay] tell me I can have 10 restaurants," he told CIA students. "At the end of the day it is not about how much stuff you can collect. It's about enjoying the ride. We make people happy through food."

Tsai has hosted two television shows, authored three cookbooks and developed a line of eco-friendly bamboo kitchen products. He also is active with groups such as The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, Chefs for Humanity, the Harvard School of Public Health's Nutrition Roundtable, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Cam Neely Foundation and The Denis Leary Firefighters Foundation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hospitality professor named honorary MSU alumnus

Michael L. Kasavana, National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) endowed professor in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University (MSU) received the MSU Alumni Association's Honorary Alumni Award at last month's Grand Award Ceremony. The award is granted to individuals who have provided volunteer service to MSU on a local, state, national or international level.

Kasavana, NAMA endowed professor at MSU since 1999, is a member of the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals International Technology Hall of Fame. He has written several books about the hospitality industry, including Managing Front Office Operations (eighth edition), Menu Engineering (third edition), and Managing Technology in the Hospitality Industry (fifth edition). He also serves as the MSU faculty athletic representative to the Big Ten Conference, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and also serves as chair of the MSU Athletic Council. The Kasavana family also contributed funding for the Kasavana/Schmidgall Faculty Research Endowment in The School of Hospitality Business.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Teaching students the farm-to-table-to-craft beer connection

by Lacey Griebeler, Chef Educator Today

Editor's note: This article was mentioned on page 6 of the November 2009 issue of Chef Educator Today.

Back in September, I had the chance to attend Denver's Great American Beer Festival (GABF), which included the Farm to Table Pavilion. This inaugural event was organized by the Culinary School of the Rockies (CSR) of Boulder, Colo. The students worked in association with independent craft brewers and local chefs, farmers and ranchers to create beer and food pairings for two groups of 250 select GABF attendees. The students impressed me with their professionalism and their dedication to creating amicable pairings using local ingredients and craft beer.

CSR chef-instructor Adam Duyle was there to oversee the event. Duyle took a few minutes to talk with me on the philosophy behind teaching students about craft beer and local food pairings.

CET: How did this program get started?
Duyle: The program got started basically to recognize the need for a farm to table program, to teach people how to work with a farmer. It's easy to pick up the phone and call a purveyor and have product delivered to you. But what's it like to actually go to a farmer and say, "Hey, what are you growing? What are you doing? What's in season?" There's a difference between ordering a tomato and knowing when to use a tomato. That's what we try and do in the program. You work with that. Colorado is all too often known for its ranchers--we do [produce] here year-round, and that's something we highlight as well. In Colorado, we go a little bigger; we kind of call "local" within the four walls of our state. Technically, the definition is within 100 miles--that's what people have been known to use it as. But we're a little more spread out here in the mountains, so we work with that. It's not beyond the farmer down in Paonia to make the four-hour drive up here [to Boulder]. So we learn to work with them, and we teach [the students] what the flavors are. And in all honestly, through the food you taste here tonight, we're the middle man. We take a delicate cooking process to it. We lightly season it. We don't add 17 seasonings. We don't do multiple cooking processes. We don't have seven different garnishes. Most of these plates will have three flavors; that's it. Highlight what came out of the ground. If you start there, it's hard to mess it up.

CET: What role do local beverages such as craft beer play into this philosophy that you're teaching the students?
Duyle: It's huge because you look at what people are referring to and what's become popular: the carbon footprint. So if you've got the 99 craft breweries that we've got in the state of Colorado here, why are you buying a beer made in Europe and having it shipped over here when you can go right our your back door, talk to your brewer and say, "Hey man, what do you have on tap? What are you making this week? What are you doing?" Perfect story for you: Two weeks ago down in Paonia-Hotchkiss, I was with one of my friends who's a brewer there, and we did a dinner down there. The day after, we went and met a farmer on his farm: Next year, we're growing hops. That's what happens.

CET: How are you teaching the students to taste beer and use that as a catalyst for creating their dishes?
Duyle: Focus on the classic three C's. Either cut it, contrast it or compare it on the palate, to learn what to do with it and where it goes. The big thing for them is I don't want them to learn how to cook a dish; I want them to learn how to present a menu and have it flow through. So what they need to learn is to have it work the whole way through. You don't want to start with a high alcohol [beer] and then go to a low alcohol. You don't want to start with something that's just going to annihilate your palate because you won't taste the rest of the menu. A lot of times in school, you get so focused on one plate, and that's not reality. Reality is you're creating a menu. You're creating an experience. If you can find someone who instead of coming into your restaurant to have dinner, they have an experience, they'll come back.

CET: Do you feel this concept for the Culinary School of the Rockies would work in other parts of the country?
Duyle: Definitely would. It would work anywhere because everywhere you go, you can grow your own food. You can brew your own beer or make your own wine. All it is is learning how to build a relationship instead of picking up a phone.

Culinary School of the Rockies students and chef participants at the 2009 Farm to Table Pavilion at the Great American Beer Festival (photo courtesy of the CSR blog)

GABF Farm to Table Menu (courtesy of CSR's blog):
  • Roasted cherry tomato and burrata bruschetta, paired with Steamworks Third Eye Pale Ale
  • Terrine of rabbit with pheasant and sour cherry, paired with Boulevard Two Jokers Double Wit
  • Chilled corn soup with pepper relish and chile oil, paired with Boulevard Long Strange Tripel
  • Cassoulet of rabbit, paired with Deschutes Hop Trip
  • Confit of pork with sage and Mmacerated peaches, paired with Deschutes The Dissident
  • Duo of bison: roasted rib-eye and braised shortrib with carmelized brussel sprouts, paired with Great Divide Fresh Hop and Yeti Stout
  • Confit of lamb with polenta and fig jam, paired with Clipper City Uber Pils and Oxford Organic Amber
  • Smoked and braised pork cheek with grits and guacamole, paired with Left Hand Sawtooth Ale and Porter
  • Corn cupcake with brown butter honey buttercream, paired with Steamworks Conductor
  • Spiced biscuit with peaches, paired with Steamworks Ale Diablo
  • Mascarpone cheesecake with peach reduction, paired with Steamworks Ale Diablo

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AH&L Educational Institute honors hospitality industry leaders

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) honored the 2009 recipients of the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) Emeritus and Master Hotel Supplier (MHS) Emeritus designations at its annual Celebration of Excellence Breakfast during the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show, which took place Nov. 7 to 10 in New York.

This year's CHA Emeritus honorees are:
This year's MHS Emeritus honorees are:
  • Kerry Hirschy, MHS, senior vice president, Kaba Lodging Systems
  • Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC, hotel and franchise consultant
The CHA Emeritus and MHS Emeritus are awarded in recognition of the recipients' careers in the hospitality industry. The career of an Emeritus is marked by commitment to the past, present and future of the hospitality environment.

AI culinary student wins Tabasco Hottest Chef Contest

At the 2009 Tabasco Hottest Chef Contest, which took place last month at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, two winners were selected for submitting entrée recipes for any daypart of the menu that incorporated Tabasco products and did not exceed a menu price of $15. Jared Cushman, a chef-in-training at International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., took the competition's student category prize of $2,500 for his chipotle duck breast risotto entrée (pictured, below).
The student category winning entrée, chipotle duck breast risotto, featuring Tabasco brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce, took the $2,500 prize.*

The professional and student category winners were awarded cash prizes and will be featured along with their winning recipes on

*Photo courtesy of McIllhenny Co./Tabasco Brand Products

Monday, November 9, 2009

WCR Women Who Inspire Awards winners announced

Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) honored the recipients of its 10th annual Women Who Inspire Awards at a gala in conjunction with its National Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. The awards honor women culinary professionals who the kitchen, dining room, beverage profession, baking and pastry arts, community affairs, farming and food production and for a lifetime of culinary excellence.

WCR named Peggy Ryan, culinary instructor at Kendall College in Chicago, its 2009 Educator of the Year. The annual Educator of the Year Award honors a woman whose dedication to teaching is making a difference to the culinary community. Ryan was honored during the 2009 National Conference President's Brunch in Washington, D.C.
(l to r) Kendall chef-instructor and Educator of the Year recipient Peggy Ryan, Chef Magazine publisher Daniel von Rabenau and Kendall College School of Culinary Arts dean Christopher Koetke (Photo credit: Eric Futran)

The other winners are:

WCR Barbara Tropp President’s Award
, sponsored by Johnson & Wales University
• Judy Wicks, president, White Dog Enterprises Inc., Philadelphia

WCR Community Service Award, sponsored by ProChile
• Linda Vogler, culinary arts coordinator, D.C. Central Kitchen
(l to r) Linda Vogler, culinary arts director of D.C. Central Kitchen; and Alejandro Buvinic, trade commissioner of ProChile, Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Reflections Photography Inc.)

WCR Golden Bowl Award
• Kate Jansen, pastry chef/owner, Willow restaurant, Arlington, Va.

WCR Golden Fork Award
, sponsored by The Culinary Institute of America
• Ellen Gray, general manager/owner, Equinox restaurant, Washington, D.C.

WCR Golden Goblet Service Award
• Shelley Lindgren, wine director/co-owner, A16 and SPQR restaurants, San Francisco

WCR Golden Plow Award, sponsored by Bon Appétit Management Co.
• Moie Crawford, farmer/co-owner, New Morning Farm, Hustontown, Pa.

WCR Golden Whisk Award, sponsored by The Institute of Culinary Education
• Ris Lacoste, chef/owner, Restaurant Ris, Washington, D.C.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Building Scholarships for Service benefit dinner at Lexington College honors McDonald's Fields

The Lexington College scholarship event and benefit dinner was held Nov. 2 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown. In honoring Jan Fields, executive vice president and chief operating officer of McDonald's USA, Lexington acknowledged her exemplary leadership in the foodservice and hospitality industry as well as her continued support of the college. During her acceptance speech, Fields said, "I am honored to receive this award and to help provide students with opportunities I did not have. It is a wonderful thing to have us help them."

The honoree at this annual event, established over a decade ago, is chosen from among professionals who are committed to furthering the mission of the college. Fields is a consistent supporter of Lexington's growth and is a strong role model for students.

The event raised nearly half a million dollars in scholarship funds for a diverse group of women studying to earn a degree in hospitality management, the largest amount in the history of the college.

Mai Martinez, co-anchor and reporter of CBS Channel 2 joined as master of ceremonies for the evening, and Rita Cuddihy, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the central region of Marriott International, served as co-chair.

The event premiered a video created by Sheffield Institute, featuring a day in the life of successful alum in her career and a current student, both on campus and in her place of work. The video highlighted student testimonials on receiving a Lexington education, as well as featuring Ms. Fields' visit to Lexington this fall (previously posted about here). It exemplified her role as an advocate for people development as well as her strong involvement with the college.

Forty Lexington students served as volunteers at the event and helped raise additional funds through the sale of raffle tickets for donated gifts. They also facilitated the running of the silent auction before dinner.

More than 700 guests including board members, industry leaders, friends and benefactors of the college enjoyed the evening surrounded by familiar faces and colleagues.

(l to r) Mai Martinez, co-anchor and reporter of CBS Channel 2 and the evening's master of ceremonies; Javier C. Goizueta, president, McDonald's Division and vice president, The Coca-Cola Co.; Jan Fields, executive vice president and chief operating officer of McDonald's USA, and honoree, Lexington Award for Excellence; Rita Cuddihy, senior vice president, chief operating officer, Central Region of Marriot International; and Lexington president Dr. Susan Mangels

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ACF announces 2010 event series

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) has announced the locations for its 2010 regional and national event series. ACF events offer chefs, culinary students and foodservice representatives a chance to advance their professional development and enhance their culinary skills through networking, cooking competitions, awards, business seminars, cooking demonstrations and a national trade show. Next year's events and their locations are:
  • ACF Western Regional Conference, Feb. 6 to 8, Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, Albuquerque, N.M., hosted by ACF Rio Grande Valley Chapter;
  • ACF Northeast Regional Conference, March 13 to 15, Hershey Lodge, Hershey, Pa., hosted by ACF Harrisburg Chapter;
  • ACF Central Regional Conference, March 26 to 28, Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, Indianapolis, Ind., hosted by ACF Greater Indianapolis Chapter;
  • ACF Southeast Regional Conference, April 24 to 26, Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, Birmingham, Ala., hosted by ACF Birmingham Alabama Chapter; and
  • ACF 2010 National Convention, Aug. 2 to 5, Anaheim Marriott, Anaheim, Calif.
For more information on the events, visit

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Culinary Nutrition News examines calories

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Chef & Child Foundation and Clemson University have released the November issue of "Culinary Nutrition News: Downsizing Calories and Portions." In this month's article, experts examine how chefs and cooks can reduce calories without decreasing portion sizes by increasing ingredients like nuts and beans and decreasing meats and ingredients heavy with carbohydrates, for example. The article also touches on healthful foods for kids. Free copies are available at

The final issue of the year, to be released Dec. 7, will cover "Diabetic Menu Makeover." ACF's Chef & Child Foundation and Clemson University partnered to offer this monthly series of articles, which are posted on ACF's Web site the first Monday of each month.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Extended Q&A with Matthew Kenney of 105Degrees Academy

Editor's note: A portion of the following Q&A was featured in the "A lifestyle in living cuisine" article (page 22) that appeared in the Spotlight department of the November 2009 issue of Chef Educator Today.

The highly anticipated 105degrees Academy opened its doors for the first time this September to welcome 10 students into the kitchens. But there won’t be aromas of braised meats, roasting vegetables or bubbling sauces drifting through the hallways. Instead, the students will learn the importance of seasonal produce at the peak of freshness and how to mimic textures of cooked food through techniques like dehydration, marinating, fermentation and puréeing. At the helm of this cutting-edge academy and adjacent café are partners Dara Prentice and Matthew Kenney. Kenney spent a few minutes talking to CET about 105degrees and the philosophy of its founders.

(bottom row, l to r) students Greg Loonie, Whitney Kear, Blake Schrick
(top row, l to r) student Jenifer Kuntz, student Hillary Coppock, student Sonja Bannon, academy director Ladan Raissi, student Michelle Corso, student Gina Harney and student Megan Massoth

CET: What are some of the foundations of raw food, and how are they different from or similar to the fundamental techniques of traditional cooking?
Kenney: Well, there aren't a lot of similarities between raw food and traditional cooking. But both share one requirement for excellence: the need for top-quality, seasonal ingredients at their peak--as ripe and local as possible, and organic where possible. That's something that they share. Techniques are entirely different because with a lot of cooking, you're transforming food--changing its texture through heat or charring or searing. You are also eliminating water through high temperatures. With raw food, you have to do that in a much more delicate way. We do that through the use of dehydrating or using various methods for creating crust or texture. We sometimes use raw ingredients for texture as opposed to cooking things until they're crispy; we'll use raw things that are already crispy. We use dehydrating, blending, marinating, something called thermal immersion cooking, which is low-temperature, underwater cooking in a sealed vacuum pack. We use something called an Anti-griddle, which is instant freezing. We use a lot of really cool techniques that aren't a part of traditional cooking. So it's a highly different set of skills resulting in a lot of similar flavors. But textures are a little different, temperatures are different and obviously enzymes in the flavor are different.

Students working in the 105Degrees Academy kitchen

CET: Why did you select Oklahoma City as the location for the school?
Kenney: My partner [Dara Prentice] selected it. She's from here and knows the community well. She felt that there was a need not only for a restaurant here but also an educational facility. The demographics just made a lot of sense. Oklahoma City is a large city with a lot of interest in health, yoga and vegetarianism without really very many upscale options. It's also centrally located in the center of the country, so for educational purposes, that's very helpful. Like our first class, for example, we have students from both coasts. It's about being central. And we are in new development, and we love the architecture that would be very hard to find in a city like New York.

CET: How many students are enrolled?
Kenney: The classes only go up to 14 or 16 students total. The Level Two class can only hold eight, and the Level One class, which started in September, can only hold 14 to 16. And we already have about 10 for September, which is a couple more than we estimated, so we're pretty happy about that.

CET: Can you tell us a little more about how the curriculum was set up?
Kenney: Level One is a 20-day, four-week course. And that covers the fundamentals of raw cuisine. We want to teach basic fundamentals behind our philosophy--what we believe about raw food and certain terms on which things should be started and what to focus on in terms of ingredients. We're really going to focus on seasonality, taste, texture, presentation. And we're going to teach that through the more easy-to-understand dishes of our menu. The academy will always coincide with the menu in the café, meaning the curriculum will change every three months. So with Level One, students should have a really good fundamental understanding of raw food and how to prepare it, how to use all the equipment, how to understand ingredients and taste. And they'll learn a number of dishes as well. Level Two is a more advanced, professional course where we're going above and beyond. They'll learn how to actually work in a raw food kitchen, how to set up a station, design a kitchen. There's a lot more incorporated about wine, tabletop, the financial aspects behind running a raw food business, so it's a far more advanced level that takes three months.

CET: What are some of the greatest challenges you've faced as a raw food chef and one of the founders of the first living cuisine academy?
Kenney: Well, to be honest with you, I haven't felt that this project has been that challenging. It's challenging on a creative level because we want to be innovative and original in everything we do. In terms of it all coming together, everything has really flowed nicely since the beginning. We haven't really had any hiccups or any war stories. On the other hand, we are pushing ourselves to be highly unique. And every time you do that instead of falling into your comfort zone, there's a lot of experimenting required. So I'll try something that I think is going to be great, and it just doesn't work, so I go back to it three, four, five, six or even seven times. So you have to be very persistent.

CET: What would you say are the essential kitchen tools for the living cuisine chef?
Kenney: A sharp knife would be number-one. A really good blender is also important. We advocate using Vita-Mix, which I think is the only blender to use. A small dehydrator is helpful if you want to make crackers and pastries. And a good food processor, but it could even be one of those little Cuisinart Mini-preps. But a sharp knife, cutting board and blender or food processor are what you really need. It's not so equipment-intense as some people think.

CET: It seems that you make a lot of purées with this type of cuisine.
Kenney: The reason there seem to be a lot of purées is that anytime something in traditional cooking would call for cheese or eggs or dairy or even flours--when you're baking, you're using flour, milk, eggs, butter--all things that have already been churned and pasteurized. So we're creating those ourselves. We make almond milk, we make milk from hemp seeds, from Brazil nuts and cashews. We make cheeses by fermenting nut purées. So in actuality, I think raw food has a lot more texture than cooked food. It definitely does. It just appears that there's a lot of puréeing going on because we're creating by hand these ingredients that everybody buys off the shelf. So people think it's a blender cuisine, but they couldn't be more wrong about it.

CET: Since raw food is heavily reliant on high-quality, seasonal ingredients, what is your strategy for securing the best ingredients year-round? Doesn't that get quite expensive?
Kenney: It is expensive to use the best ingredients. We work with as many local suppliers as we can that grow outside the city or travel to Texas a couple times a week to pick things up. We work with a local mushroom forager, and try to get micro-greens that are grown locally. So the closer you buy to home, the less expensive things typically are. That is actually part of the reason for buying seasonally as well--I mean, food is better and it's healthier if it's bought in season, but it's also more reasonably priced. If you buy raspberries in the middle of the winter, for example, they're very expensive. So actually, seasonality is part of our strategy to be able to afford those things.

CET: How did you get into a career in raw food?
Kenney: I was at a transitional point in my career. I had a number of restaurants in New York in the 1990s and early 2000s. After 2001, my companies really suffered. The economy was really poor, and I essentially lost everything--my company had to be dismantled and sold. I was in the process of figuring out how I wanted to start all over again, since I had been doing that for 15 years. And somebody introduced me to raw food. And I thought initially that it was a crazy idea, but when I tried it, it wasn't that the food I tried was great, it was that the way it made me feel was great. And the potential I saw was great. I thought, there's a much more interesting face in the marketplace for chefs to do something creative with healthy cuisine than for me to do another modernized American concept. It was also my personal passion. I loved the idea of being able to do something with healthier food and work around people who were more focused on that than indulging.

(photos courtesy of Meredith Baird)

Monday, November 2, 2009

The French Pastry School adds instructor

Pastry chef Joshua Johnson

The French Pastry School of Chicago added pastry chef Joshua Johnson to its faculty as a chef-instructor, where he will teach in the school's 24-week certificate program, L'Art de la Pâtisserie, starting in January 2010. He will teach the chocolate theory, technique and confectionery part of the program and will teach in the Continuing Education program.

Before joining The French Pastry School, Johnson co-founded and co-owned Cocoa Bean Fine Desserts in Geneva, Ill., for several years. He worked for several years at the Ritz-Carlton Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago with French Pastry School co-founder Sébastien Canonne, MOF, In 2003, he helped Canonne prepare for the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France) competition. Canonne was awarded the title in 2004. He also has worked at François Payard's patisserie, Payard in New York City.