Incremental innovation is continuous improvement which results in best-in-class products

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 4
April 2019

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

“For the love of ‘roni cups” was a post from Fortina Restaurant. Then I was on a call with WSJ about an article titled, “The Great Pepperoni Debate…” which was about cupping pepperoni or flat. What is there to debate? Way back when, pepperoni cupped. That’s all I knew growing up in an Italian neighborhood. I’m glad ‘roni cups are BACK.

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Innovation

Innovation is, and has been, THE word for several years now. Innovation is applied to almost every business situation today and it’s demanded from consumers and organization leaders. But what is innovation? I won’t quote the dictionary or Wikipedia, you can easily do that. We’ve all been in strategic planning meetings that try to lay out a road map to innovation. Sometimes we come away with innovation and other times really good/great ideas. What I usually get from these exercises is that leadership (and workers, and consumers) want the next Mac, or iPhone, or Google, or Facebook, or ___________. All of us want to create the next big/best thing! Fame, fortune, success come with creating the next big thing.

History is full of those incredible moments of innovation and it’s worth striving for them. What gets overlooked is incremental innovation. Incremental innovation is continuous improvement which results in best-in-class products. Consider handheld technology. The handhelds we use today are fundamentally the same as when they launched to great fanfare in 2007, but they have improved through continuous innovation. I’m proud to be associated with a great company, Jamix. Their innovation process produced system improvements every month. In 2018 they provided clients with over 70 system innovations!

Francisco Migoya - Innovator

Francisco Migoya – Innovator

Back in the ancient culinary days novelle cuisine was innovation. Since then chefs have innovated on the concept of freshness and plating techniques. Then along the way an El Bulli blasts on the culinary scene and shows us the next “iPhone”. From there chefs continue to innovate on El Bulli-style breakthroughs. Today, plating has become Avant Garde, led by Osteria Francescana and sauce “splashed” on the plate (it really looks great when done properly).

The point is, innovation is all around us. When it is incremental it’s harder to recognize unless we have our antennae tuned. Setting yearly goals that include innovation are crucial to our businesses, however, be sure to include a yearly review to capture and recognize your team’s innovations.

 

Culinary & more…

Small Change Big Impact Food Summit

thefoodimpactsummit.com

Creating a Transparent, Secure, Sustainable Food System for the Future Through Collaboration.

We all have a role to play in creating a better food system. The SMALL CHANGE BIG IMPACT FOOD SUMMIT is a springboard for enacting changes that will have a positive impact for everyone. This invitation-only summit brings together a unique mix of thought-leaders and change agents from academia, food service, food brands and non-profits to foster constructive dialog, explore case study insights, and forge new collaborations toward an improved food future.

The text above is from the food impact summit website. On Thursday, April 4, 2019 at the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center at Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA Hormel Foods along with Harvard University Dining Services will host over 100 foodservice leaders to create an action plan for the future. I am hosting a panel of chefs to talk about the evolution of culinary arts in a changing environment. I’ll report on the summit next month. Very exciting!

 

Sandwich Thoughts


Here are some thoughts on sandwiches. I happen to really like sandwiches. Not every sandwich, and not necessarily the newest, craziest, sandwich either. When I want to know if a sandwich operation can make a great sandwich, I order a BLT. If they can build and deliver a very good to excellent BLT, they generally do a great job with their other sandwich choices. The BLT is simple, but it’s not easy to do well. Consider consommé. It’s simple, but definitely not easy to do…if the flame isn’t just right, or the clarification ratio is wrong, it won’t be clear. That’s how it is with the BLT. The toast has to be right, the bacon can’t be overcooked or undercooked, the lettuce has to be cold and crisp, the tomato sliced the appropriate thickness, and don’t skimp on the mayo, also don’t spread the mayo when the toast is hot because it melts into the toast. And you thought a BLT was easy.

A few years ago, I introduced open-faced sandwiches for Yale Reunions. Let’s face it, open-faced sandwiches present well. You can see exactly what is on the bread, and you don’t have too much bread. I recently had a Yale tour and lunch with a client, and we were served sandwiches from a board….open-faced sandwiches! They were attractive and very tasty. I’m not advocating for only open-faced sandwiches. They work in the right setting and can be presented as an upscale lunch option.

I’ll dive into sandwiches in a future newsletter. For now, find the best BLT and you’ve found a great sandwich shop.

 

Ingredient of the Month

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage is one of the most delicious and versatile cabbages grown. It is very tender and cooks quickly. The flavor is milder and sweeter than green cabbage. Savoy can be sliced thinly then sautéed in 5-8 minutes for a bright green, tender and naturally sweet vegetable. A splash of white balsamic or lemon juice perks up the flavor. It’s also excellent with applewood smoked bacon…but you already knew that.

 

Cooking Tip

Pasta Broth

Pasta and red sauce is how I was raised. For most of my life I believed that was all there was. Of course, there was pesto or al fredo and “a la vodka” (never understood that one), but red sauce is king. At some point I was introduced to the simplest sauce made from pasta broth.

Pasta broth is made every time you cook pasta. Bring salted water to a boil (yes, you have to taste the water to know if there is enough salt), add pasta and before draining save a cup or more of the pasta broth.

Use the pasta broth to moisten pasta with butter or extra virgin olive oil, or quickly fry minced garlic and chopped parsley in the pasta pot, return the pasta to the pot, add copious amount of freshly grated parmigiana Reggiano and splash in enough pasta broth to create an amazing, juicy coating for the pasta. Furthermore, pasta broth is necessary to add juiciness to cacio e pepe.

Always remember, juicy pasta is best.

 

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry.  Ron is one of only 70 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

“Jamix is the most innovative total kitchen system I’ve ever worked with”

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 3
March 2019

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

Burnt ends. Many of you reading know just what that means. And if you know what that means, you’re having happy burnt ends memories.

I was in Queens last week for a quick project. Luckily, I have a very good friend in Queens that did the driving. On the way he said we’re going to pass a BBQ joint with great burnt ends. And while I was executing my project, he was going to get some burnt ends. Oh baby! They were magnificent.

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

2019 NRA Kitchen Innovations Award

Jamix Kitchen Management Systems is the recipient of a 2019 NRA Kitchen Innovations Award. Full disclosure – I’ve been working closely with Jamix CEO Mikko Jaatinen since mid 2017. Jamix has set up business in the US. Boston to be precise and is establishing itself as the industry leader in kitchen management systems.

Jamix is the most innovative total kitchen system I’ve ever worked with. Not only is the functionality completely intuitive, it is also totally cloud-based. I use it for CulinaryNXT and I only need a computer, tablet or handheld to access all my culinary-centered data.

I’m personally very excited to see Jamix as a part of the Kitchen Innovations’ award group.

NAFEM 2019

After a hiatus I attended the 2019 NAFEM show in Orlando. Once there, I remembered why I enjoy NAFEM – I’m an equipment junkie. The show is like being a kid in a toy shop…just with BIG (and expensive) toys.

My key take-aways were: delivery/ bringing outdoors indoors/ robotics.

Delivery

The food delivery boom is on. Several manufacturers offered delivery solutions for food operators. Whether food needs to be kept hot or cold, there are multiple solutions. What delivery solutions don’t do is guide operators to offer delivery menus that eat well off-site. However, the ability to stabilize the service containers and keep food at appropriate service temperature is excellent.

Robotics

Robots will continue to find a place in foodservice. At NAFEM robot arms mixed and served drinks. Although these set ups seemed more inclined to create a wow effect rather than a solution (like the burger flipper at NRA many years ago), they will find their way into daily operations. I was in Boston recently and visited Spyce restaurant. The food is prepared by robots and is VERY good. From the  placing a food order on the kiosk you will have your hot food in 3 minutes. Daniel Boulud and a team of MIT grads  developed the concept. This is a restaurant where robots are in full production mode and the food is very good. NAFEM showed robots in additional settings and that they are going to be a part of our landscape. Incidentally, one of supermarkets in my town has a robot named Marty. It cruises the aisles and if it finds something on the floor at least a large as a quarter it generates a page to clean up in that aisle.

Outdoors Indoors

Very interesting to me was the effort of manufacturers to bring the outdoors indoors. The natural open-flame grills, wood-burning hearth ovens, charcoal-fired ovens, and  plant growing cabinets are now main-stream. Last year one of my predictions for foodservice was – Fire. That meant that the use of natural open-flame cooking will continue to grow. At NAFEM these types of equipment were front row.

The other piece of outdoors indoors looked like a glass-door refrigerator that was designed to grow microgreens or any other plants that could be used for food production. The implication of fresh wholesome food is clearly on display with this piece of equipment.

One other bonus. NAFEM is in Orlando in the dead of winter in New England and is a welcome day to get some warm weather!

Culinary & more…

Blending Meat with Other Ingredients

By now the industry has heard of the blended burger. The inception blended a specific amount of meat (beef) with mushroom duxelles. The result was beef that tasted better! The umami effect of the duxelles boosted the natural flavor of the beef and provided additional moisture. I was leading the culinary efforts at Yale and launched the blended burger as a regular menu item a couple of years ago.

Here’s a fresh blend that has really resonated. I call it a Philly Cheesesteak Burger. In this case it is made with Hungry Planet plant-based beef. In other words, it’s all vegan. I caramelized small diced onions and blended that with the plant-based meat. It was served with a toasted sesame seed bun, secret sauce, thinly sliced spicy dill pickle, vegan cheddar cheese, and fresh tomato. I loved it.

But don’t take my word for it. This was presented to a panel of tasters in NYC recently. Not only was it regarded as delicious, but most were doubtful that it was vegan…it was.

This isn’t about vegan food, directly. It’s about using daily ingredients to build and deliver delicious, and satisfying food. In this case it happens to be vegan, and I’m sure adding the caramelized onions to traditional beef will result in equally delicious results.

Ingredient of the Month

Potatoes

Yes, potatoes. Why? Because potatoes are not created equally. The obvious potatoes are baking potatoes and red skin potatoes. The first for, well, baking and the red for potato salad. The list of potatoes available to the professional chef is getting better. These potatoes are:

Mozart/Norland/Yukon Gold/Colomba/Ivory Russet/Burbank Russet/Sifra to name a few.

Potatoes have flavor characteristics such as: aroma/bitterness/sweetness/dry/solid matter/wateriness/waxy and of course flavor. Each potato’s special characteristics allow chefs to use potatoes that are best suited for the preparation application, and for the best taste to compliment the other ingredients in a recipe or menu.

Finally, fries are, arguably, king when talking about potatoes. Face it, we LOVE fries, but potatoes are extremely versatile and are naturally compatible with so many foods. From parsley buttered potatoes to pommes souffle, potatoes have a place at the table.

Cooking Tip

Using a Home Food Grinder

Freshly ground beef for a burger is almost a thing of the past. I still remember working in the local supermarket and watching the store’s butcher grind beef in a gigantic meat grinder. The look of that freshly ground meat stayed with me.

Fortunately, meat grinders are smaller and suitable for home use. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that a lot of people have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. If that’s true, then get a grinder attachment if you don’t already have one.

To get great ground meat, chicken, fish there are a couple of tips to ensure the meat is ground and not pureed through the grinding plate. Also, part nomenclature is probably worthwhile.

Parts:

  • Grinder housing – this is the part that attaches to the stand mixer.
  • Auger – this is the large “screw”-like part that slides horizontally into the grinder housing.
  • Knife – attaches to the end of the auger and actually cuts the meat before pushing through the grinder plate.
  • Grinder plate – a round heavy metal disk with holes. The plates come with different sized holes.
  • Collar or Retaining Ring – a heavy gauge metal or plastic that screws onto the end of the grinder housing to hold all parts in the housing.
  • Plunger – used to push meat, fish, poultry into the auger.

Tips to a great grind:

  • Have all ingredients and grinder parts chilled.
  • Cut all meat, fish or poultry into 1 ½” cubes.
  • Add cubed meat a few pieces at a time, press gently with plunger.

These tips will ensure the meat grinds evenly and doesn’t smash against the grinder plate. If your grind looks like a puree coming out, turn off, clean it all out and start again but this time only add a few pieces of cubed meat into the auger ensuring it grinds before adding more.

Now enjoy the best ground meat.

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry.  Ron is one of only 70 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

Food production planning becomes the roadmap to getting things done

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 2
February 2019

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

So, the carrots intended for oblique cut carrots are the size of little league baseball bats. Now what!? In that split second of silence the youngest chef in the room says, “tourné?” Now all eyes are on the Chef (me). Everyone is thinking – is he going to freak out???

Nope, just start tourné.

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Production Planning

Food production planning is one of the most important functions of a foodservice operation. This function directly impacts operational costs. With a food production plan, the culinary team knows quantities needed for each day’s operation. Production planning also ensures that staffing is adequate, that food is in-house, early preparation steps are done, foods are thawed properly, and many other functions are completed.

Production Planning success is linked to several key functions of a foodservice operation:

  • Menu development
  • Date of event
  • Number of guests
  • Standard of service
  • Recipe development
  • Ingredient sourcing
  • Food orders
  • Staffing requirements
  • Preparation timeline
  • Plating diagrams
  • Service line set up diagram
  • Posted job/task schedules

A Production Planning Framework will generally focus on the following functions:

  • Food orders
  • Staffing requirements
  • Preparation timeline
  • Plating diagrams
  • Service line set up diagram
  • Posted job/task assignments

At the end of this newsletter is a comprehensive “Production Planning” paper.

Culinary & more…

Flavor & The Menu 2019 Trend Report

The 2019 Flavor & The Menu magazine top 10 trends is available on-line. www.getflavor.com

Flavor & The Menu looks at the food industry through flavor. This is the foundation of why we cook food. I’ve been included in this very talented group of industry professionals. The link about will take you to the website and is a great starting place to explore the world of flavor.

Our Food Journey by Hormel Foods

Old-world Knowledge is a wonderful story and podcast  from Hormel Foods featuring Columbus Craft Meats’ Evan Inada. Evan is “The Salami Guy” and when you start talking about cured meats with him, it becomes obvious why this name suits him. In the podcast Evan shares important information about traditional salami such as “can you eat the white outside of salami?” The answer is, yes. But there’s so much more to learn about salami.

Please click on the link to read and listen.

www.hormelfoods.com

Porturken for Super Bowl 53

If I had a newsletter around this time last year, you would have known about my Super Bowl 52, 52 Ingredient Sandwich for Hormel Foods. That baby was the size of a full sheet pan (18” x 26”) and weighed 52 lbs. It didn’t have a name but could have been 523. The 52 was a hit with the media pit at the Mall of America and got several on-air shout outs.

This year I kept ingredients at a more manageable level. After brainstorming with creative friends and churning through a bunch of different ideas, the one that resonated with the Hormel team was – Porturken.

Porturken is a perfect party dish for a big event like Super Bowl. It’s hearty, very satisfying, and has something for everyone. Here’s the breakdown:

A foundation of Black Label Bacon Grits and Mexican street corn holds a skewered tower of (from the tower foundation):

  • Fire-braised pork shoulder
  • Roasted cauliflower steak
  • Fire-braised turkey breast
  • Grilled vadalia onion steak
  • Fire-braised chicken breast
  • Dill pickle

This is brought together with red-eye gravy and a Tabasco aioli.

This is a Super Bowl crowd pleaser. And great fun with food.

Ingredient of the Month

‘nduja

The world of food never ceases to please me. Food is an on-going learning experience. ‘nduja is just another great ingredient that is a fun experience. It is something like spreadable salami with a spicy kick. I’m discovering that the preparation is flexible and that it’s made from fresh or cured meats. As with most cured meats, it’s packed with flavor and you don’t need a lot to be satisfying.

‘nduja is great spread on bread or used as an ingredient in recipes. I recently spread ‘nduja on halibut, seared it and then served it in a cioppino. The fermented, spicy ‘nduja gave the right amount of flavor boost to the fish.

Cooking Tip

Schnitzel

Yes, schnitzel! Think of the last time you had schnitzel….and it was well prepared. Golden outside, crispy, and tender, juicy pork or chicken cutlet inside. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice. FULL STOP. It works! So how to get to that point?

Start with a 4 oz piece of pork or chicken (choose light or dark meat, whatever you like). Place it between plastic wrap and lightly pound with a meat mallet (smooth edge) until 1/8” thick. Drip some water on the meat side of the plastic wrap to help lubricate the meat while pounding. And don’t use the mallet like you hate the meat. Just be firm enough to get it thin. You’ll be amazed at how large the cutlet becomes. If you don’t have a mallet, the back of a fry pan works or a rolling pin.

Next is the standard breading procedure. Flour, egg, bread crumbs. Season the flour and the egg. I mix panko and regular bread crumbs (I feel that it covers the meat better). Start by dredging the cutlet in the flour, shake excess off. Dip in beaten egg, then into the bread crumb mix to coat completely. This can be made ahead and kept refrigerated until time to fry.

Pan-fry in fresh, clean oil. The temperature is key. The oil should be hot so that the schnitzel fries quickly. The temperature is right when is browns in 2-3 minutes on each side and the coating lightly souffles. The souffle part is desirable but not a deal-breaker. Just keep trying, you’ll get there.

Here’s how to test the oil temperature. Place a slice of bread in the pan. If nothing happens – too cold. Let the oil heat up more. If it gets black in seconds – too hot. Let the oil cool or just add additional oil to cool everything down. Once a piece of bread fries quickly (2-3 minutes) to a gold brown, the oil is ready. Now, fry the schnitzel 2-3 minutes on each side.

Lastly, eat it right away. Schnitzel is one of those “Eat it Now” foods (September 2018 newsletter). The crisp of the crust, with the moist cutlet inside, and fresh lemon is a timeless combination.

Guten appetit.

Keep scrolling!

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

Production Planning

Once a menu has been determined, production planning becomes the roadmap to getting things done. “Plan the work and work the plan” has been said countless times for good reason. Planning provides everyone in the operation with a clear overview of production. Planning also defines how all the parts come together and provides the team with an understanding of their role in the operation.

Successful planning starts with the end in mind. In a foodservice setting the menu is the end. Planning then works in reverse. The creation of a planning timeline starts when foods are served. The chef plans plating times, cooking times, preparation times, food orders, and scheduling based on the service time. Other elements of planning include, plating diagrams, service line set up, and posted job/task schedules.

Production Planning success is linked to several key functions of a foodservice operation:

  • Menu development
  • Date of event
  • Number of guests
  • Standard of service
  • Recipe development
  • Ingredient sourcing
  • Food orders
  • Staffing requirements
  • Preparation timeline
  • Plating diagrams
  • Service line set up diagram
  • Posted job/task schedules

A Production Planning Framework will generally focus on the following functions:

  • Food orders
  • Staffing requirements
  • Preparation timeline
  • Plating diagrams
  • Service line set up diagram
  • Posted job/task assignments

Food Orders

Using kitchen management systems, the production team can scale recipes for the selected menu and review inventory for on-hand supplies needed to produce the menu. Then food orders are placed early to allow production team to trim, marinate, thaw, or other pre-preparation procedures.

Staffing Requirements

Production staffing is based on production needs leading up to the event. Generally, these are more streamlined than event day staffing. Event day staffing will vary according to the standard of service of the event.

Preparation Timeline

The timeline is the core of the production schedule. The timeline is created by starting at the scheduled time of food pick-up by waitstaff or buffet set-up (standard of service) and scheduling preparation and cook-times from that point. Here again, kitchen management systems provide functions to automate the production schedule framework.

The event day timeline is a granular schedule clearly scheduling each time-block of the day. The production team determines the structure of the time-block and then builds the timeline. Event day timelines include information such as:

  • plating time for cold items
  • inventory of china
  • cooking of each menu item
  • service line set up

Production Timelines are always publicly posted so that all team members have access to the information.

Plating Diagrams

Diagrams of photos of the completed plate, platter, or other serviceware are excellent tools for the production and event day team. This tool allows the culinary team to see the finished food.

Service Line Set-up Diagram

Posting the set-up of the service line depicting each menu item to be plated (pick) has multiple functions:

  • Easy service line set-up
  • No picks are forgotten
  • Placement of picks is clearly determined
  • Tools required for plating are identified
  • Picks are placed in proper plating sequence

Posted Job/Task Assignments

Each job assignment pertaining to production and event day preparation is posted for the culinary team. This assigns responsibility and accountability for each menu item.

Success isn’t guaranteed with production planning, but it is a tool that significantly contributes to an operation’s success. Many elements of the process are developed or documented once, then used as a standard operating procedure – SOP – for future production. Best practices include reviewing SOPs periodically for adjustments and/or revisions. Planning is a crucial part of a chef’s responsibilities.


JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT is an intuitive and comprehensive restaurant software that will help you run your kitchen more efficiently. Versatile features include tools for efficient food production planning, as well.
Contact us for more information on JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT software.

Food trend forecasts provide inspiration for menu development

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 1
January 2019

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

We live in a service economy. Does that really mean I should tip the person that just took my sandwich order?

After placing my order at a sandwich shop the screen was turned to me and the question on the screen was how much I wanted to tip the cashier. Honestly, with Danny Meyer in my mind, I thought, just charge me more and give the cashier a better paycheck. Then, how much should one tip the order-taker? I’m really interested in how others handle counter-service tipping.

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

2019 Outlook

We’re already 20 years into the 21st Century! Food changes, or so it seems, but does it really? Here’s looking in the rearview mirror at trends over the past 20 years:

  • Bacon
  • Comfort food
  • Sliders
  • Food trucks
  • Farm-to-Table/local/organic
  • Fried chicken
  • Cupcakes
  • Plant forward
  • Under utilized
  • Pulses/quinoa/hummus
  • Kale
  • Eggs

This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are the trends that consistently showed up during numerous searches. Here’s a low-risk prediction: most of these foods will be around for many years to come. What is interesting to me is that the trends are familiar foods and concepts/movements. They are things that are easily understood and can be, for the most part, embraced. They are all good foods (the definition of “healthy” TBD) and good concepts.

The great thing about being a chef is that good food never changes. You know good food as soon as you see it. The trend forecasts that are published every year are great ways to rediscover ingredients and find inspiration for menu development. Trend forecasts help chefs and managers gauge how on-trend their menus are and make adjustments where necessary.

What’s my 2019 outlook? First, good food will always win over the “hot trend”. Second, inspired by the selfless work of Chef Jose Andres (Nobel Peace Prize nominee!), the culinary community will become engaged in global topics and how food plays a role in solving them (9 billion people by 2050!). And lastly, there will be plant-forward backlash. People understand they need to eat more fruits and veggies (and they will), but they’re getting tired of constantly being told about it.

 

2018 Vintage

CulinaryNXT’s 2018 highlights –

The GOAT of sandwiches (declared by Good Morning NFL hosts on national TV) created for Super Bowl 52 made from 52 unique ingredients. Minnesota Vikings Tight End Adam Thielen confirmed its tastiness.

Host of a podcast series with chefs, charcuterie maker, food scientist, and more chefs.

Guest chef at a location I’m not permitted to talk about and had a short conversation with VP Mike Pence.

Held a culinary demo and tasting at Hope Lodge in New Orleans for cancer patients.

I was sold at auctions this year totaling $50,000 to charities.

Innovations TV with Ed Begley Jr interview for expertise on technology in foodservice.

2019 Food Trends insights provided for Menu & The Flavor magazine.

Lunch at 11,000-foot hike in Colorado Rockies.

Visited the PEZ factory!

 

Culinary & more…

Culinary Tip

Roasting Vegetables. Some of the most delicious things on a plate are roasted vegetables. How to get that natural sweet, charred flavor? Start by putting the roasting pan in the oven and preheat it. Use high temperature (400-425F), veggies have lots of water. Cut or select vegetables so they are consistent in size. SEASON them! Salt and pepper of course, but try seeds – fennel, cumin, caraway, mustard – experiment. Once the veggies hit the pan, put it back in the oven and leave it alone! At least for 15 minutes, let the heat recover and start the browning. Stir infrequently. Test the veggies for doneness by eating some. If they are how you like them, serve immediately, they will cool down fast.

 

Ingredient of the Month

Oysters. I thought I’d start with oysters because I just had some of the freshest, plumpest oysters during the holidays from Copps Island Oysters

www.coppsislandoysters.com

Oysters are one of nature’s great foods that needs no or very little enhancing. My friend Chef Franco Camacho www.shellandbones.com just served oysters with brunoise apples, yuzu sorbet, and caviar….just enough to make you want more. And I have to add fried oysters as a favorite. Just get them fresh.

 

Cancer Nutrition Consortium

In a recent email from CNC was a link to a recent study completed by cancer and nutrition experts. The study addresses “…how cancer treatment influences the dietary behaviors and food preferences of older adult cancer patients and explore associations between these dietary changes and common cancer symptoms.” Here is the link www.cancernutrition.org The work of the amazing people in CNC and the world-class cancer researchers is life-changing. I’m honored to be part of CNC. If you’d like more information about CNC, check the website or let me know.

 

Happy New Year

Please accept my sincerest wishes for a happy, healthy, and successful 2019.

 

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

Kitchen management system enables scalability of recipes

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 7
December 2018

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

“Our chef isn’t going to enter recipes into a data base.” WHAT!? was the look on my face. The owners are building a new kitchen and are looking at software for the operation. They stopped by the booth at the NY Hotel Show I was working, looked at kitchen management software, liked the system, and as they were leaving said their chef would never add recipes. And these owners seemed ok with their situation.

Come on, already. Who’s driving the boat? To all chefs, culinarians, cooks, food preparers, and anyone in the food business – if you aren’t engaging technology, you’re being left behind. The technology available today is easy to use and will help your operation.

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Tool of the Trade – Recipe

The first topic of my newsletter in June was recipes. In that article I wrote, “Recipes drive ingredient selection, equipment selection, china selection, production schedules, and labor schedules, to name a few operational topics.” The purpose of writing about recipes was to reinforce their value to good operational processes. In a foodservice operation a recipe is a valuable tool, especially when the recipe is dynamic. A dynamic recipe is cool. When a recipe is part of a functional kitchen management system it is scalable, cost aware, ingredient driven, menu accessible, nutritionally defined, photographically represented, and a handful of other useable topics. All important tools to effectively run a successful operation.

Take scalable for example. Chefs know, mostly from trial and error, that all ingredients cannot be calculated equally when scaling a recipe. Scaling meats, vegetables, and liquids generally work using a recipe conversion factor – desired yield /original yield=recipe conversion factor. What doesn’t scale this way are the spices, salt, dried herbs. To accurately scale spices (and, actually, all ingredients) each ingredient must be calculated as a percent of the whole.

A dynamic kitchen management system has this function built in. This is a complex computation done in the background and is easy for the operator to use. Scaling ingredients using percentages provides chefs with accurate ingredient quantities, which results in consistently delicious food.

 

Culinary & more…

LA Feast & Fundraiser benefitting Rett Syndrome

“Rett syndrome is a neurological disorder which causes problems in brain function that are responsible for cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor and autonomic function. These can include learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function, and even chewing, swallowing, and digestion.”

A fundraiser was held November 3rd at the Petersen Automobile Museum in LA in November to support the efforts of www.rettsyndrome.org It was a privilege to be a part of the group of chefs that served up food to the attendees. A group of local culinary students teamed up with the chefs in attendance to get hands-on experience in a live culinary event.

The most memorable part of the evening was learning about and meeting the afflicted girls and also meeting their amazing family members.

 

US Air Force Go4Green

In September I joined the CIA Consulting team of chefs in Dayton, OH for the training and implementation of the US Air Force Go4Green food initiative. This program refocuses the dining experience on air force bases globally. One of the main focuses is to offer flavor-forward plant-based recipes for airmen and airwomen. The CIA Consulting team worked with Air Force chefs and operations managers from several air bases in the country.

The CIA Consulting team worked with the group to not only maximize the taste of food, but also presentation of food on a hot and cold service line. We also dove into the importance of planning and organization in food production. This was the first of several global implementation locations.

Here’s a link to an article about Go4Green: Go for green helps airmen stay fit to fight

 

Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, CT Staff Member of Year

The following is personal story.

I share with great pleasure that my wife, Sylvia, has been recognized as the 2018 Staff Member of the Year by the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, CT.

First awards celebration

Sylvia works for the Shoreline Village CT and has been with the Shoreline Village CT for over 5 years and is currently the Director of Services. Shoreline Village CT is a “community of seniors on the Connecticut Shoreline committed to helping each other live independently at home.”

Sylvia works with the many volunteers who are crucial to the organization. Here’s a link to their website:

Shoreline Village CT

I’m overjoyed that Sylvia is recognized for the wonderful and valuable contribution she makes to over 100 seniors living in our community. Congratulations, Sylvia!

 

Stuff

Fried Chicken

This topic never gets old for me. While reading through some older links I found this one in Flavor & The Menu – “For the Love of Fried Chicken” Enjoy www.getflavor.com

 

Lebkuchen

My niece arrived from Germany 2 weeks ago and had a very special treat – lebkuchen. Not any old lebkuchen, Nürnberger lebkuchen!

Lebkuchen dates back to the 13th century and is made from nuts, spices and honey. It is reportedly from the Franconian region of Germany (northern Bavaria). These cookies are baked on a wafer and are soft to the bite. Most are glazed….dark chocolate, please! I look forward to lebkuchen this time of year, and once again, I wasn’t disappointed.

 

Gratitude

I end this newsletter and 2018 with my sincerest gratitude to so many people. It has been my good fortune to work with dozens of creative, professional, inspiring, and caring people.

To everyone reading this, please accept my best wishes for a Happy Holiday and healthy wishes for a wonderful New Year.

Ron

 

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 6
November 2018

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

October was jam packed. I started the month with on a CIA Consulting Team project of chefs implementing a fantastic food program for the US Air Force. During that project, my colleague Victor Gielisse, CMC shared this with me:

Four Kinds of People.

  1. Those who make things happen.
  2. Those who watch things happen.
  3. Those who wonder what happened.
  4. Those who don’t know that anything happened.

This statement is attributed to Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay is known to have said that she wanted to be first on that list. Mary Kay certainly knew what it takes to make things happen!

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Customer Feedback

Dr. Tim Ryan, CMC, President, The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) would say, “feedback is the breakfast of champions.” He believes the journey toward excellence is supported by accepting specific feedback and then taking action to improve. The culture of excellence at the CIA was enhanced by leadership role modeling and through training programs for faculty, staff, and management.

Listening to feedback isn’t always easy. Our first inclination is defensive. Criticism is hard to hear. Feedback isn’t always clear and specific, and it can be interpreted as personal. The key is to listen attentively or read thoroughly and find the reason for the feedback. Once you know the cause, you can do something about it.

Technology is a great tool to allow customers to provide instant feedback. Yale Dining has an app for student dining that allows students to provide feedback instantly. That app, called Fast Track, captures the feedback so that managers can take corrective action or improvement steps in real time. Harvard Dining Services provides students with a number to text feedback, once again providing instant feedback. Uber Eats sends a request for feedback as soon as food is delivered, airlines send a survey after each flight, and there are countless other examples of requests for feedback. The best organizations accept the feedback and develop processes and training to improve. Additionally, kitchen management software (see Jamix below) allows customers to use integrated technology to give immediate feedback.

 

Culinary & more…

Scratch Cooking

Chefs are hardworking people. One of the things I witness in the culinary field is the insistence to make everything from scratch. I’ve been there and in many fine dining eateries chefs cook from scratch daily. There are thousands of other operations that would benefit from sourcing ingredients ready to use.

Ready-to-Use ingredients come from manufacturing kitchens that prepare foods under the watchful eyes of highly skilled chefs. In the past I had the opportunity to work with the innovation team at Hormel Foods during the development of Fire-braised meats. The quality and flavor of fire-braised meats will meet the exacting standards of chefs. The benefits of RTU ingredients are consistent quality and flavor, labor saving, cost control, and just-in-time inventory. The variety of prepared foods is not limited to meats. Sauces, salsas, vegetables, soups, pastas, beans (think cans) are available in RTU format.

Other companies with professionally prepared foods for foodservice use are, Bonewerks Culinarte, and Cuisine Solutions. I’m familiar with quality and flavor of foods from these companies and believe they would be of benefit to many operations.

www.hormelfoodservice.com

www.bonewerksculinarte.com

www.cuisinesolutions.com

 

Vegan Meats

Plant-based meats are delicious. The quality of plant-based meats is at the highest level ever. The flavor and texture are satisfying, and they are easy to prepare. Practically everyday another article is written about plant-based meat options. Full disclosure is that I work with a plant-based meat company called Hungry Planet. The taste of Hungry Planet plant-based meats and the range of their portfolio convinced me that Hungry Planet is truly committed to high quality food.

They are not just for vegans or vegetarians. Plant-based meats are a delicious option, and they deliver taste and texture. Now for the biggest culinary tip regarding cooking plantbased meats – don’t overcook! Just like traditional meats, plant-based meats are not good when overcooked. This is the most important aspect when working with plant-based (and traditional) meats.

Here’s a link worth looking at: www.menusofchange.org

The CIA’s Menus of Change (3rd CIA reference in this newsletter….!) has colleges & universities engaged in the “Protein Flip”. This initiative is a menu develop process that replaces an animal protein with plant-based ingredients.

Here are some delicious foods prepared with plant-based meats:

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Hungry Planet Italian Sausage™ patty topped with vegan egg, melted vegan gouda, red-eye coffee sauce and scallions on English muffin

Philly Beef & Egg Breakfast Sandwich

Hungry Planet Beef™ with caramelized onions, scrambled vegan egg, vegan cheddar on English muffin

Pesto Chicken Panino

Hungry Planet Chicken™ patty with vegan lemon-mayo, roasted peppers, basil-pecan pesto on ciabatta

Pork Banh Mi

Spicy Hungry Planet Pork™ with pickled vegetables, cilantro, and sweet garlic drizzle on soft baguette

Chipotle Chicken and Portobello “Bacon” Panino

Hungry Planet Chicken™ patty with chipotle mayo, portobello “bacon”, cheddar, tomato, and arugula on sourdough

Hungry Planet Chicken™ ALT (avocado, lettuce, tomato)

Hungry Planet Chicken™ patty with vegan lemon-mayo, fresh avocado, lettuce, tomato, on toasted Italian bread

Spanish Chorizo & Potato Torta

Layered potato and Hungry Planet Chorizo™ with caramelized onions and smoked paprika slowly baked, topped with gazpacho vinaigrette

Colombian Bocadillo with Hungry Planet Chorizo™ & Egg

Scrambled Hungry Planet Chorizo™ and vegan egg with cheddar on toasted baguette

Shawarma & Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower in Pita

Hungry Planet Chicken™ shawarma with za’atar cauliflower, cucumber, tomato, and tahini in pita

Chicken Tikka Masala Bowl with Basmati Rice and Pickled Vegetables

Hungry Planet Chicken™ tikka masala over fluffy basmati rice in a bowl with house-made pickles and cilantro

 

Books & Links

Jamix on Innovations with Ed Begley, Jr.

Jamix Kitchen Management Systems is a state-of-the-art comprehensive management software from Finland. Jamix has been providing solutions to thousands of foodservice operations world-wide and is now offered in the US. On Saturday, October 27th Jamix was a featured segment on Innovations with Ed Begley, Jr on Fox Business channel.

It was an opportunity to demonstrate the impact that Jamix has on foodservice operations. Hit the link below to see the October 27, 2018.

Innovations is an award-winning television series hosted by actor, director and environmentalist, Ed Begley Jr., and is dedicated to bringing viewers the most up-to-date, cutting edge information across a vast array of industries. From health and wellness to global business, renewable energy, and more, Innovations features practical solutions and important issues facing consumers and professionals alike.

innovationstelevision.com

www.jamix.com

 

The Truth About Food

“The Truth About Food” is the title of a new book by David Katz, MD. The title alone says, “read me”. The fact that I know David and have had the privilege of hearing him talk about food (publicly and privately) makes me recommend reading his new book. I just got the Kindle app, downloaded a “sample” copy, started reading as far as the sample permitted, but can’t figure out how to buy the eversion. In any regard, the writing is classic David and it is immediately engaging, witty, and factual.

Here are a handful of testimonials:

“You’ve got a terrific book in front of you, written by a doctor who is woke, devoted, caring, and deeply concerned not only about what and how we eat but the impact it has on ourselves, our environment, other living beings, and the planet in general.

– Mark Bittman

Dr. David L. Katz helps insulate us from the next food fad by making sure we are armed with the truth, and nothing but the truth. Facts do matter, and The Truth About Food is full of them. The Truth about Food should have a home in everyone’s kitchen.”

– Sanjay Gupta MD

“Sometimes, even I have nutrition questions; and when I do, I take them to Dr. David L. Katz. Read this book- and you will see why!”

– Joy Bauer, MS, RDN

 

And if that’s not enough, take a look at this recommended recipe:

Chocolate Lava Cake Cuisinicity.com

 

podcast – REPOST

In case you missed this last month……..

I’ve been waiting weeks to be able to share this information. Over the past several months I’ve been interviewing people that love everything about food for a new podcast series from Hormel Foods. Here is a link for Hormel Foods Our Food Journey™ Podcast www.hormelfoods.com

I’m honored to launch the series with a great colleague, Ethan Watters, conducting my conversation. The range of interviews includes, Evan Inada from Columbus Craft Meats talking about everything salumi; Chef Christina Machamer winner Hell’s Kitchen; CIA Certified Master Chef Adam Busby; Chopped finalist Chef Kenneth Temple; and a compelling discussion with Nom Wah Tea Parlor owner Wilson Tang. Please join the journey.

 

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

Concept development in foodservice operations

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 5
October 2018

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

One of the most frustrating experiences when eating out is being held for check ransom. We’ve all been there. We’re done eating and want to pay the check, but……there is no one around to give you the check. OR, once you hand over your credit card or cash……no one returns with the card or the change, for a long time. It’s like being held ransom. All you want to do is pay for your food, drink, and service and leave. Instead you’re stuck waiting.

Thankfully it doesn’t happen often.

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Concept Development

Concept Development is a critical task for managers and executive chefs. This part of foodservice operations is the foundation for recipe development, equipment needs, service needs, and the operation’s labor model.

To begin concept development, the operation’s team must develop a concept statement. The concept statement guides the planning and keeps the development team on course. Without a concept statement it’s easy to get sidetracked and end up with a menu that is a combination of “stuff” instead of a menu that has complimentary foods.

Concept Development has 3 Stages: Conceptualization/ Crystallization/ Realization. The conceptualization stage is generally the most demanding. This is where the team develops the concept statement, and it is where the passions fly. This is critical to the process so that everyone is heard, and the outcome is embraced by the entire team. During crystallization the team determines the concept value and how to market the concept. The final stage of realization is where the team is ready to launch.

Operators that engage a structured development process end up with an interesting, exciting, and viable concept. Give me a call for detailed information.

 

Culinary & more…

Menu & Recipe Creation

Photo – Tracey Scheer

Working with a great group of chefs is always fun and rewarding. The results are great food, lots of laughs, happy guests, and strong friendships. This group of chefs – Dan Flynn, Cyon Jones, Dave Kuzma, and Chase Sobelman– worked with me on a project that produced the following delicious dishes.

Green Goddess and Grilled Chicken Salad – little gem romaine with late season corn, grilled chicken breast with smoked salt, and Black Label Bacon.

Crispy Sicilian Stuffed Turkey Paillard with Mediterranean Salad – Sicilian sausage on a turkey scaloppini, breaded and pan-fried with a Mediterranean-style chickpea, cucumber salad.

Vegan Crab & Noodle Kung Pao – Hungry Planet vegan crab, lo mein noodles and kung pao sauce with a vegan crab spring roll.

‘nduja Seared Halibut in Summer Cioppino – spicy New England Charcuterie ‘nduja seared on halibut filet in cioppino-style broth with summer squash.

Red Velvet Panna Cotta – vanilla- buttermilk laced panna cotta with red velvet crumbles.

 

Hormel Foods Spam Haute Cuisine

The first impression at Noreetuh in NYC is hospitality. Immediately. The next impression is an immaculately clean and organized kitchen run by Chef Chung Chow.

Chef Chow’s resume includes, Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, CA, Per Se in NYC, and Lincoln Restaurant with Jonathan Beno also in NYC. On the day of my visit, Chef Chow used his experience growing up with Hormel Foods’ Spam and created exquisite dishes complete with hand-made pasta, truffles, and musubi. It was great meeting Chung and we had time to become acquainted (a link to our podcast is below).

 

 

Menu items that Chef Chow created included:

  • Spam and truffle musubi
  • Chicory salad, papaya, crispy Spam, onion vinaigrette
  • Grilled Hawaiian opah with Spam hollandaise
  • Spam agnolotti, truffle cream, pickled celery, and shaved summer truffles

The lunch was a great experience.

Noreetuh is a modern Hawaiian restaurant located at 128 First Avenue in the East Village of New York City by Chef/Co-Owner Chung Chow and General Manager/Co-Owner Jin Ahn. For more information:

http://www.noreetuh.com/

 

podcast

I’ve been waiting weeks to be able to share this information. Over the past several months I’ve been interviewing people that love everything about food for a new podcast series from Hormel Foods. Here is a link for Hormel Foods Our Food Journey™ Podcast https://www.hormelfoods.com/podcast/

I’m honored to launch the series with a great colleague, Ethan Watters, conducting my conversation. The range of interviews includes, Evan Inada from Columbus Craft Meats talking about everything salumi; Chef Christina Machamer winner Hell’s Kitchen; CIA Certified Master Chef Adam Busby; Chopped finalist Chef Kenneth Temple; and a compelling discussion with Nom Wah Tea Parlor owner Wilson Tang. Please join the journey.

 

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

Recipe and ingredient databases establish the foundation for effective kitchen management

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 4
September 2018

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

Here’s a culinary challenge to everyone cooking food – cook the vegetables! Somewhere in the last 15 years diners seem to have accepted partially raw vegetables on a plate, and cooks are delivering partially raw vegetables. The art of vegetable cookery has all but disappeared. That nuance between perfectly cooked and slightly raw has been overtaken by mostly raw vegetables served hot. Describing perfectly cooked vegetables is hard, but you know them when you eat them. An expertly cooked vegetable – cooked to the point JUST past raw – is a memorable dining experience.

So, come on, already chefs, take up my challenge and rediscover cooked vegetables. Give diners that element of their dining experience.

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Recipe Compliance

A food operation’s recipe database along with the ingredient database establish the foundation for effective kitchen management. Recipes are built using the ingredients in the database. Ingredients provide data for costing, nutritional analysis, allergen information, and ingredient availability.Well written and accurate recipes help cooks, and cooks appreciate recipes that can help them in a production setting. Recipes help chef and cooks with production planning. Through clearly written, accurate recipes chefs can make production assignments for the entire culinary team according to skill and ability. Written recipes also become a training tool. When recipes are accurate and clearly written, managers and chefs have a strong tool which leads to recipe compliance.

When used properly, recipe compliance is not a top-down management tool. As used here, recipe compliance is cooks performing to an established set of standards. Part of those standards will include a mechanism to modify, and/or improve the parts that don’t work.

Recipe compliance impacts the operation in these ways.

  1. Consistency. Food prepared according to a recipe is consistent in taste, doneness, quantity, cost, and appearance among other things.
  2. Costs. Compliance to the recipe ensures that the operator knows the cost of each menu item.
  3. Nutritional accuracy. Recipe compliance ensures the accuracy of the nutritional value of each menu item.
  4. Allergen transparency. Recipe compliance confirms the trust bond between

All types of food operations benefit from developing and documenting recipes. The benefits reinforce the need for a kitchen management system. The cost benefits help operators to be successful, and the benefits from consistent taste and trustworthy information create brand loyalty.

 

Culinary & more…

Eat it NOW!

Not all food gets better with age. Cheese does, wine can, salumi definitely, braised meats the next day – sure. But this is about food that should be eaten NOW. Think fries. Fries never get better with age, never. That first batch of fries from clean fat, crispy on the outside, tender and steamy on the inside, just a light coat of fat and seasoned with the perfect amount of salt, and almost too hot to eat …is one of the perfect foods.

How come, then, did we get to the point where it’s ok to let food get “old”? Pizza is perfect immediately out of the oven. I know, we all ate refrigerator pizza for breakfast and said we love it. But it still wasn’t as good as when it was fresh out of the oven. Pizza is an Eat it NOW food, so are fried eggs/ spring rolls/ crabcakes/ grilled cheese/ ramen/ angel hair pasta/ risotto/ waffles. And then there’s toast. Something as simple as toast can be one of the best parts of breakfast if it’s toasted properly, then eaten while warm, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. There are so many other foods that are best when eaten as soon as they are done, because that is when they are perfect.

Somewhere, somehow, we started to lose sight that some food is best eaten immediately. We wanted food delivered or we want take-out. That’s fine, but not all food is suited for take-out.

 

SoCal Visit

Visiting southern California allowed for some delicious restaurant visits and the enjoyment of an ice cube.

Who gets impressed with an ice cube? Me. At the Sunset Tower Hotel patio bar I ordered a Campari on ice. The ice was a perfectly clear square which fit exactly in a rocks glass. The ice was so clear, one could read through it. The slow melt ensured that the drink wasn’t quickly diluted with water…..simple pleasures.

The surprise dinner experience was at Craig’s in West Hollywood. My daughter was interested in eating there and Craig’s serves Hungry Planet premium-plant based meats (disclosure – one of CulinaryNXT’s clients) so we made reservations. Craig’s is an exciting restaurant to walk into. Great hospitality and busy! The waitstaff is professional, knowledgeable, and know how to deliver hospitality. Chef Krizer’s kitchen delivered expertly prepared, delicious food. For more information craigs.la

Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads always delivers. Food, service, atmosphere, hospitality are all hallmarks of Crossroads. The food is innovative, expertly prepared, and delicious. Incidentally, it’s also vegan. I’ve eaten at Crossroads a half dozen times and it’s a great experience each time. For more information crossroadskitchen.com

In San Diego we met up with a fun chef friend, Jim Phillips and his wife at Trust Restaurant. Brad Wise is the Chef/Owner and clearly loves what he’s doing. The food was big flavor, fresh and satisfying. The kitchen is in the dining room and we sat at the chef’s table with a clear view into the hot zone. One of the surprises that night was a chicken liver toast with mostarda, grilled levain, radish, evoo! That was at the start of the meal and things continued to get tastier. For more information trustrestaurantsd.com

 

Dim Sum

Nom Wah

On a recent visit to NYC Chinatown I was introduced to Wilson Tang. Wilson is the owner of NYC’s oldest dim sum restaurant, Nom Wah Team Parlor. Not only did I get to experience Wilson’s dim sum, but I got to go on a walking tour of Chinatown with him including a stop at Aqua Best, Inc. In addition to the original Nom Wah Team Parlor, I visited Nom Wah Nolita which serves a new take on Chinese food.

For more information nomwah.com

And aquabestnyc.com

 

Ingredient of the Month

Parsley

Parsley doesn’t get the respect it deserves (neither does celery). This herb is undervalued in regard to flavor. In today’s kitchens parsley is thought of as a color. The full flavor impact of parsley jumps to life when it is freshly picked and included as a flavor ingredient in many foods.

The classic herb condiment, gremolata, puts parsley in the spotlight. Gremolata can be a flavor powerhouse for grilled or sautéed foods. Freshly picked and chopped parsley will ensure that your gremolata has the bright flavor expected of this condiment.

Take a fresh look at parsley and if you can use it freshly picked, you’ll rediscover a delicious ingredient.

 

Web Links of the Month

Cancer Nutrition Consortium

cancernutrition.org

Ongoing research to help patients undergoing cancer treatment has been published by the following authors:

Dr. Kisha Coa

Dr. Joel Epstein

Dr. Bruce Moskowitz

Kathy McManus, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

I am privileged to serve on the Cancer Nutrition Consortium board with this distinguished group of medical professionals. Please join me in congratulating this team. Here is a link to their work:

foodandnutritionjournal.org

 

Veterans and Hormel Foods

Hormel Foods recently invited me to cook and share one of my go-to foods with other Hormel veterans.

hormelfoods.com

 

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

Kitchen management systems provide the tools to get critical allergen and nutrition information to customers

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 3
August 2018

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On Already!

During my first hand writing a newsletter a couple of years ago, I called the newsletter, “Come On Already!” This is something you’d hear me say for a variety of occasions – something amazing, something ridiculous, something unbelievable (to me anyway), and….you get the idea. I hadn’t realized I used this phrase until a trip to Spain some years ago and my host wondered why I said that, well because, it doesn’t make sense when translated. But, everyone gets the gist.

Here’s this month’s Come On Already!…give me feedback.

 

Are Small Plates Too Small?

Small plates are a fun way to eat. A group of friends get together and order a variety of small plates to share and experience flavor & textures. However, at some point the small plates are just too small. How do 4 people share 3 shrimp? The answer is, you have to order a second small plate of shrimp. Now I have 2 more shrimp, but that’s not too bad because I can cut them in half and each gets ½ shrimp. But, wait, who gets the tail and who gets the fat juicy end? But, you say, why not split the last 2 shrimp lengthwise?….why not indeed. When did dining become so complicated????

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Allergen & Nutrition Information

Providing customers with information allows them to make decisions when eating in our establishments. The obvious customer information is menu prices, but many customers want nutrition and allergen information that is easily available. My recent years in College & University foodservice underscored the importance of nutrition and allergen information. The customer population with food allergies must know what is in food.

Kitchen management systems provide managers with the tools to get critical allergen information to customers. Menu cards can be printed or digitally displayed at the point of access to provide diners with allergen information. This information is displayed as a list of ingredient and, in many cases, as icons. The icons are a great visual graphic that allows the diner to quickly scan the known allergens that might be in the food.

Nutritional information is the other piece of information diners use to make meal choices. Kitchen management systems can upload this information to mobile device apps so that the customer can see the information at any time.

Jamix Kitchen Management Systems is a comprehensive technology solution that provides allergen & nutritional information for customers. For more information visit www.jamix.com

 

Culinary & more

Lentils

I finally realized that I’m a geek…..a food geek. My recent collaboration with CIA Consulting and lentils.org made me realize I’m a geek, otherwise why get excited over lentils!? And I was/am excited over lentils. Together with certified master chef Tony Seta, we lead a group of top chefs through a series of talks, tastes, and team hacks to come up with delicious lentil-forward menu items.

The project yielded some interesting outcomes. The biggest surprise for me was that lentils blend well with ground beef. I went in thinking the lentil flavor would be dominant but in a 66:33 ratio the beef was the star and the lentil helped to make the burgers delicious. Green lentils (which look brown) also blended well with turkey, and pork, and red lentils were delicious with salmon.

Our process was to cook the green lentils, then puree them and use the puree to mix with ground meat. Red lentils were only soaked, then pureed and mixed with salmon.

The participants were set up into teams and given a market basket of ingredients to use. Teams created signature burgers, inspirational bowls, and craveable street food. For more information visit www.lentils.org

 

Brava

Cooking with light is at the core of the Brava cooking system. The light comes from powerful light bulbs inside the Brava. The power of the light can professionally caramelize meats and vegetables in a short time. The result is seared food cooked to a perfect predetermined doneness. And the food is delicious.

I was able to experience the Brava in action recently in Manhattan. The CEO, CTO, and Chef were in NY to demonstrate the technology. I got there as a 4 portion beef strip was being served with roasted potatoes and seared mushrooms. Here’s the coolest part – all 3 ingredients were cooked AT THE SAME TIME, and each was perfectly done. As if that wasn’t enough, the chef then cooked 2 portions of salmon filet with roasted tomatoes and asparagus. The salmon skin was cracker-crisp and the center of the fish was medium (as requested).

The process includes 3 cooking zones inside the Brava and technology that knows how much light intensity and time is needed for each ingredient. And the Brava has a video feed of the food cooking. I’m going to keep an eye on Brava. For more information www.brava.com

Thanks Darcy!

 

Chris Cheung

Chef Owner of East Wind Snack Shop NYC & Tansuo in Nashville.

Chris Cheung – cool guy, excellent chef, and mafioso! He’s all that and more. I first saw Chris on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations in a Chinese restaurant in NYC’s China Town. THAT’S how cool Chris is. I got to spend time with Chris while taping cooking videos for Hormel Foods. Then I interviewed Chris for a Cooking Journey podcast also for Hormel Foods. Talking with Chris is like talking with a good friend. The conversation flows, the talk of food is always in the center and you find out quickly that Chris knows food.

Chris has SERIOUS culinary chops – Jean George Vongerichten, Morimoto, Wylie Dufresne – are notable chefs he as cooked with. He has traveled China to learn about Chinese cuisine, and he worked alongside a Master Chinese dim sum chef to fully understand the craft of creating dim sum.

If you really want to know about Chris’ food, visit him at East Wind Snack Shop eastwindsnackshop.com

 

Web Link of the Month

Food from India – 2018

The flavor forecast from Flavor and The Menu magazine has great insight into what’s going on right now.

Here’s more information from experts: getflavor.com

Another use for beer from the Czechs…. npr.org

 

Special Feature

Chef Humberto Espinal

Yale 3rd Cook, Chef Humberto Espinal took top honors at the 2018 NACUFS National Culinary Championship. This is especially meaningful to me for several reasons. Foremost is because Humberto is one of those joyful success stories. 6 years ago while I was Director of Culinary Excellence at Yale Hospitality, I had to inform Humberto that I couldn’t hire him without a high school diploma or GED. It was one of the most difficult messages I had to deliver. It was difficult because Humberto was, and is, a craftsman and I knew he would give everything to our craft. I told him to call me when he has his diploma.

2 ½ years after that meeting, Humberto called me to say he got his GED! His timing was right because we had a cook’s position open and Humberto was now on the Yale culinary team. Over the next couple of years, Humberto continued to hone his craft and this year he wanted to compete to represent Yale Hospitality at NACUFS.

The rest, they say, is history! Congratulations Humberto to your Championship!

 

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.

 

Technology can provide leadership teams with analytic tools to fine tune production forecasting

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 2
July 2018

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

 

CulinaryNXT Food Forecast

“The culinary horizon is coming into focus as chefs step up foraging, fermentation and fire. Foraging is bringing sloe berries, yarrow, olive capers and gooseberries to the modern table. Much of the ongoing flavor explosion is rooted in fermentation, pickling, curing and brining. And the fascination with live-fire cooking will burn brightly as fire delivers intensely flavored food.”

As quoted by Ron DeSantis to Flavor & The Menu in January 2018.

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Production Forecasting

The culinary team thrives on forecasts. “How many orders?” is the language of a la carte restaurant chefs. These culinarians are asking “what’s on the books?”, or how many reservations for the evening. They will then know, from experience how many portions of each dish to prepare. This process continues in countless foodservice operations worldwide. Knowing how much to prepare determines purchasing quantities, station MEP, and staffing, to name a few.

Technology can provide leadership teams with analytic tools to fine tune production forecasting. Kitchen management systems use historical data to provide management with accurate production forecasts. This information is distributed to culinary teams to allow them to prepare the proper number of portions.

Accurate production forecasts require operational teams to capture raw data. Basic data needed by management systems are – quantities prepared by the kitchen staff, number of transactions, and shortages/outages. This information will be used by the software to forecast future production quantities needed by the operation. The benefits to an operation are numerous: purchases can be accurate which controls purchasing costs; production of food is more accurate which assists staffing (labor costs), and results in fewer leftovers; less discarded food means less trash waste; energy consumption is reduced when overproduction is managed; and there are many other benefits.

Establishing a production forecasting system has numerous benefits to operational success.

 

Culinary & more…

Oyster Farmer

Early in June I had the opportunity to visit Copps Island Oyster farm. I had met the owner, Norm Bloom last December and he invited me to go out on one of his boats. It was December, seriously cold, and I had “office shoes” on, so I declined and took a rain check. So early in June on a beautiful day I visited Norm’s farm and went out with his son Jimmy to harvest oysters. What a great experience.

6am I was heading out into the Long Island Sound on an oyster boat built in 1932. After about 20 minutes into the Sound, Jimmy dropped cages off each side of the boat. When he hauled them in, they were full to the top with shells. Then 2 deck hands maneuver the cages over top of one of 11 bushels that will eventually hold 550 bushels, and by pulling a lever, opened the cage bottom. Everything in the cage dropped into the bushel, and the process was repeated for about 75 minutes. When the bushels were full, we headed in.

During that trip, (and Jimmy makes 3 trips a day, 6 days a week, all year) I learned that during this time of year the bushel on the deck yields 8 bushels of half-shells, 20 bushels of throwback, and the rest the material, all shells, is recovered and used to prepare fresh oyster beds in other parts of the sound. Norm’s family has been farming the waters for over 100 years. They are committed stewards of the seas.

Once back in dock, the bushels are unloaded and moved into refrigerated sorting rooms. Oysters that are selected for market are picked and put into bins. These bins are eventually emptied onto a conveyor, rinsed, sorted one last time and then bagged for distribution.

 

Find the Cause

Find the Cause is an organization in Boston that raises money to….find the cause. Of breast cancer. Their mission is “to fund scientific research on the environmental causes of breast cancer and educate the public on prevention”. My wife, Sylvia, and I were guests recently at their gala. Part of the reason I was going is because I was an auction item. I offered to cook dinner for up to 20 guests at the home of the auction winner. The auction started and ended up netting $13,000 for me to cook dinner. The proceeds go to Find the Cause.

 

Ingredient of the Month

Smoked Paprika

It is just a coincidence that this month’s ingredient is another smoked ingredient. Smoked paprika is one of those tastes that gets your attention. I remember developing a recipe at Yale which included smoked paprika, so it was now part of the inventory. I was visiting a kitchen and noticed smoked paprika being used in a recipe and said to the cook, this isn’t in the recipe. He smiled, and with joy said, “I know, but I LIKE it!”

Smoked paprika is one of those satisfying ingredients. One of my favorite dishes is made by a dear friend. She sautés peeled shrimp in olive oil, slivered garlic, and smoked paprika. It is a combination meant to be.

 

Web Link of the Month

Mediterranean Meats

The flavor forecast from Flavor and The Menu magazine has great insight into what’s going on right now.

Here’s more information from experts:

Eastern Mediterranean Meats

 

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 68 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.