Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

System Makes the Search for Ingredients and Recipes Easier

A system makes it easier for the kitchen to manage the big picture. Fluent search capabilities make it easy to search for information. This is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 10
October 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

“Left Coast Cookery”. That was on the menu of a restaurant I visited in the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego. What that meant to me after reading the menu and trying the excellent food is – creative and playful use of ingredients.

It was obvious that this team of chefs were having fun. The food was creative, expertly prepared, and the setting was vibrant. More on them later.

Great concept – have a good time with food in a comfortable restaurant atmosphere!

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Chef Competencies

Chef competencies are not the same as culinary competencies. The latter is focused on technical ability. Chef competencies include culinary competencies but go further. There are 3 core competency groups in which a chef needs proficiency. These are:

  • Technical Skills
  • Leadership Skills
  • Decision Making Skills

I was reminded of Chef Competencies during a visit to a restaurant on the west coast run and owned by a CIA alum. I remember this chef owner as a motivated student at CIA, and he hasn’t lost that drive. Beside the great food at the restaurant I was really impressed by the “mood” in the restaurant. I choose the word mood, but I could have used “feeling” or “atmosphere”. The mood in the restaurant was energetic and professional. The culinary team was focused on preparing delicious food, but it was more than that. The sense of camaraderie was visible. The mood included music, laughter, tasting food, fair and open critique, willingness to help others on the team. This environment doesn’t happen organically. It happens when the leadership embraces a growth model.

The restaurant and its management team practice exceptional leadership, technical, and decision-making skills that result in a place that is desirable to work in. So, lets dig in.

Technical Skills. For the chef owner, these were honed over several years after graduation. Having sound culinary fundamentals allows the chef to prepare delicious food, and guide/coach/train others to do the same. All beginning cooks must focus on the repetition of all cooking methods. Along the way cooks must learn from their successes and failures in the kitchen. This is how technical competencies are developed. Here is what the technical competencies look like:

o Culinary Fundamentals

  • Food safety and sanitation
  • Knife skills
  • Product identification
  • Consistency in product preparation
  • Ability to produce necessary products within established timeframe
  • Equipment knowledge – including care of equipment
  • Weighing and measuring ingredients
  • Flavor Development
  • Hot food preparation
  • Cold food preparation
  • Baking & Pastry

Leadership Skills. This is a well-studied subject. Much has been written about leadership. Two exemplary authors on the subject are General Stanley McChrystal and General Tom Kolditz. What I’ve learned from their books is that leadership is evolving. Leaders coach and get out of the way. Let the teams do their jobs! What I use to sum up leadership are the following characteristics of this competency:

o Leadership

  • Communication
  • Training the team
  • Inspiring the team
  • Role modeling
  • Setting expectations
  • Independent decision making
  • Flexible leadership, being open-minded
  • Respect team
  • Courtesy
  • Positiveness

To round out Chef Competencies I include Decision Making Skills. Too often chefs reach sous chef and executive chef levels and stall. I believe this happens because the chef industry is too focused on technical and leadership skills.

Here’s the way it plays out all too often: a good dishwasher does some prep. That dishwasher suddenly works in the pantry one night when someone calls out sick. Now the dishwasher is a pantry cook. Now this person is motivated and is trained to be a line cook, then saucier, then banquet chef, and suddenly sous chef. Along the way, technical skills grew. Some leadership skills grew, but these skills were only bits and pieces of observed behavior. And decision-making skills (including planning & organization) were missing. At this point the person stalls. There is nothing good about a person feeling they’re at a dead end in the career.

Decision-making Skills provides that third stool leg of Chef Competencies. They look like this:

o Decision Making

  • Understand the big picture
  • Assessing the project/problem
  • Organizing tasks
  • Planning the work
  • Empathy

Let’s return to where this article started – a west coast CIA alum owns and operates a restaurant. This young guy created a great mood in this operation. I had 3 days there to observe and I was reminded the value of competencies. Here is, in a nutshell, what Greg did – create a restaurant he would like to work at.

Chef Core Competencies

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – Search Capabilities

Jamix just made my kitchen management life a little easier. Instead of having to enter an ingredient in a specific format – Tomato, beefsteak; or Tomato, cherry, red – I can, with Jamix, simply write the name of the ingredient in the same way I would search for the ingredient: Beefsteak tomato, or Red cherry tomato, or Yellow grape tomato.

When it comes time to search for the ingredient, I simply enter the name of the ingredient as I call it. No more “Beef, grass fed, ground, 80/20”, simply “Grass fed beef 80/20”, and all beef, including the one I’m looking for will be on the screen.

The same applies to recipes. No more “Soup broth chicken noodle”, simply Chicken Noodle Soup. The system will find all soups including the one I’m looking for. Technology has to be easy to use so that, in the kitchen, we can focus on great tasting food. No one wants to spend time looking for ingredients or recipes on a computer.

GET IT RIGHT, RON.

That’s not what was said, nor was that implied. I’m having some fun with my friend, Meathead Goldwyn.

Meathead, if you don’t know, is the author of a book titled – “MEATHEAD”. Come on, you had to know that! Meathead is an expert on the science of great barbecue and grilling (that’s on the cover of the book!). He also has a great heart and warm humor. AND he knows meat. One of my favorite features of his book is “Myth Busters”. Here’s an example – “You can tell the doneness of meat by poking it and comparing the bounciness of the meat to the flesh between your thumb and forefinger.” Now you have to get the book to know the busted myth.

Here’s the Meathead story. Last month I wrote about beer-can chicken. That’s all that Meathead could take. I got an email with this link: amazingribs.com/ beer can chicken

And the message: “Thought you might find this interesting.” BUSTED by the authority. Please read the science in the link. So why did I write about beer can chicken? It’s a fun way to put good chicken on a grill, get a crispy skin, tasty meat, and drink 2/3 of each can of beer.

Left Coast Cookery

Juniper and Ivy Restaurant

There haven’t been too many restaurant reviews in these newsletters. Here I’m adding one. It won’t be too long.

Let me get this out of the way – I don’t know anyone working there (at least not when I walked in), the food was great, the service very good, the atmosphere was vibrant, it was worth every penny.

What I want to share are the descriptions of the menu items.

CORN CARBONARA

Uni linguine/ smoked pork belly/62° egg/gouda

SHISITO PEPPERS

Kimchi crème fraiche/cilantro/bonito flakes

TUNA LOIN

Black garlic ponzu/green onion relish/cashew crunch

PORK BELLY

Chanterelle succotash/corn/nectarine mustard

MEXICAN STREET SQUASH

Chipotle sour cream/spiced pepitas/ cotija/lime

EGGPLANT

Spicy marinara/goat gouda/lemon gremolata/oregano

CORN DOG

Cheddar & Jalapeno sausage/honey mustard

Fun descriptions, and these are only a few examples. I didn’t go into the meats such as DRY-AGED NEW YORK STRIP with Crispy Alaskan potatoes/bone marrow ranch/confit mushrooms/steak sauce. Nor did I list any cocktails.

If your mouth isn’t watering by now, nothing can help you. Where I’m going with this is this – it’s refreshing to read a menu written by the culinary team at the end of the evening’s service for the next day…and have fun writing, cooking and serving the food.

www.juniperandivy.com

Ingredient of the Month

Eggplant

Eggplants are in peak season right now. They come in different shades and sizes, are easy to prepare and deliver great taste. Choose eggplants that are firm.

Eggplant’s versatility reveals itself when looking at the thousands of recipes devoted to this fruit of the nightshade family.

Growing up, eggplant parmigiana was ALWAYS a favorite. I still have a weakness for this preparation. I recently had an updated version of slices of roasted eggplant, stacked with a light layer of marinara and mozzarella between the roasted slices, topped with crispy crumbs, and surrounded by a ring of pomodoro then a ring of pesto sauce. This was very enjoyable.

Baba ganoush is an amazing preparation. Leave the eggplants whole, poke the skin with a fork, and roast over high heat on the grill until charred and very soft (yes, it is important to poke the eggplant, I was lazy once and found an exploded eggplant under the grill cover). Scoop out the smoky flavored eggplant, blend with tahini, olive oil, garlic, cayenne, and parlsey….so very good.

Or, split the eggplant lengthwise, then score the inside flesh. Drizzle with EVOO, season with salt and za’atar. Put cut-side down on the grill and allow to char. Flip over and cook until completely soft. Top with hand-dipped ricotta cheese or grilled fish, add a little charred tomato sugo and you’re good for dinner.

Cooking Tip

Pasta Sauce

When making a non-red pasta sauce here is an easy tip to create a great simple sauce. Save a little pasta cooking water. Just think, the pasta water is already seasoned, it’s already hot, it’s slightly thickened, it’s ready to go.

Just before draining pasta, scoop some pasta water from the pot. This will be “bouillon” to make a sauce or finish the pasta (keep the pasta juicy). Here’s an example. While the pasta is in the colander, add some butter and EVOO to the pot that boiled the pasta. Then add thinly sliced garlic. Fry the garlic for a minute or two. Add peeled, deveined white Gulf shrimp. Saute for 3 minutes, season with red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, and salt. Splash some reserved pasta water into the pan. Let the shrimp steam for 30 seconds.

Add pasta to pot with shrimp, toss lightly and add just enough pasta water to make a light sauce that will coat the pasta. Sprinkle with rough chopped parsley. Simple enough.

Bon Appétit!

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.


Read more on Recipe Management in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System
sustainability in food service operations

Food Service Operators Can Support Sustainability In Many Ways

By Anna Skyttä

Most people are probably familiar with the concepts of sustainability or controlling the climate change, and the awareness on these subjects increases all the time. So far it seems – at least to me – that the media emphasizes the carbon footprint of traffic or travelling, and to some extent the carbon footprint of habitation. The fact is, however, that the environmental effect of food is approximately as big as of traffic and habitation. The Consumer Association in Finland organizes a Food Waste Week every year with the aim of getting the consumers to pay attention to food waste – as the most of it is generated in households. But the professional kitchens play their own role with regards food waste, as well.

There are around 1 million restaurant locations in the United States preparing roughly 200 million tons of food yearly. One quarter of food is wasted in restaurants and other food service operations. This includes food waste generated when preparing food as well as food waste from the leftovers both by the kitchen and by the customers. This means that around 50 million tons of food is wasted yearly in the restaurant and food service operations. When you take that down to a shorter time span, 150.000 tons of food is wasted each day in the United States.

The previously mentioned wastage figures are prone to give you goosebumps, and not only because a tremendous amount of food is wasted, but also in that sense, that the wasted food costs a tremendous amount of money. And at the end of the day, the consumer pays the bill as all the costs are included in the menu prices.

Reducing the amount of food and ingredients wasted is one significant way to reduce the environmental effects of food. In addition, the CO₂ values of the ingredients used have their own effect on the carbon footprint. When producing or preparing food, production planning and the right kind of efficiency support sustainability, as well.

Food Waste In The Food Service Operations Comes Just Partly From The Leftovers On The Plates

You could easily think that the leftovers on the customers’ plates is what generates food waste in restaurants. In reality a lot of food waste is generated in the kitchen. For example extra food prepared which cannot be utilized again. So, in the professional kitchen, you should consider your operational policies and how they effect on the amount of food waste. And maybe the leftovers on the plates could be reduced with smaller portions…

Recipes And Ingredients Generate One Part Of The Kitchen’s Carbon Footprint

In general we know, that animal based foods have higher carbon footprint than vegetable based foods. However, the role of CO₂ values for individual ingredients is not defined before you build a recipe of several ingredients with the chosen measures. The carbon footprint of a recipe can be at a reasonable level even if it included ingredients with higher CO₂ values: If the amount of them is not too big and the recipe includes more of ingredients with lower CO₂ values. In addition to this, you need to consider the impact of the portion size. Furthermore, the role of the CO₂ values for individual recipes most often are not defined before the recipe is part of a meal. So, at the end of the day you end up with menu planning.

Food CO2 Calculator in Jamix Kitchen Intelligence SystemA system is an essential tool when calculating CO₂ values for recipes and menus. The CO₂ values for all food ingredients are available in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System. The system automatically calculates the CO₂ values for recipes and meals. It also includes comparative values based on the average emissions for different types of meals (snacks, main courses, desserts). This makes it easier to interpret the figures. Not only does the JAMIX system help the kitchen manage their carbon footprint. It also provides the option to publish the CO₂ values of the menu online to the end customers. This enables the customers to make their own choice and influence the carbon footprint of the food they consume.

Menu Planning Is A Tool For Reducing Waste Of Both Prepared Food And Ingredients

Menu content and how it corresponds to the customers’ needs is obviously one significant starting point in menu planning. Keeping the amount of different meal options at a reasonable level makes the work in the kitchen easier. In addition, it helps in controlling food waste. When planning your menu, in addition to appropriate portion sizes you should consider adapting the amount of portions to the amount of diners expected.

A system is a great tool for menu planning, as well. You can easily update your menu options, if needed. You can easily change portion sizes and the amounts of portions. And the system will automatically take care of all the essential calculations. You can register information on the sales in the system, and utilize that information when planning future menus.

The unique Food Bank functionality in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System enables you to manage food that is prepared in advance in the system. The system takes the quantity registered in the Food Bank into consideration, and calculates automatically how much food needs to be prepared in addition to the food that is in store. All these functionalities help you in optimizing the amount of food to be prepared, and further control the wastage of prepared food.

The system calculates a shopping list based on the menu. Together with the inventory management functionalities it helps in optimizing the amount of ingredients to be ordered. You can register traceability information in the system and monitor, for example, the use by dates for the items in the inventory. This helps in preventing food waste caused by outdated items.

Support Sustainability With Production Efficiency

Running production efficiently saves time and money, but efficiency is related to environmental friendliness, as well. In addition to time and personnel, unefficient operations can use too much ingredients or energy.

Jamix Kitchen Intelligence SystemA system makes the work in a professional kitchen easier and more efficient. The unique Mobile Recipe in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System enables the handling of recipes in production, for example, on a tablet instead of a traditional printout on paper. You can print all the recipes including instructions with the chosen amount of portions with the production sheet functionality. And here printing means also printing on the screen, so it is possible to work without any paper. When the instructions are clear and the quantities accurately calculated, you can prepare the food efficiently and you will have the right quantity of it.

State of Restaurant Sustainability

Read more on restaurant sustainability in the United States on a report by the National Restaurant Association.

Sources used in this post:

National Restaurant Association

The Guardian

Statista

Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Updating information in real-time allows restaurant operations to act quickly

Restaurant inventory management is easy and efficient with a kitchen management system and a mobile device including a scanner. This is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 9
September 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

One would think choosing orange juice in the supermarket would be a simple task. Think again.

One brand has 11! varieties. Original, Homestyle, Grovestand, Calcium + Vitamin D (No Pulp), Calcium + Vitamin D (Grovestand), Low Acid, Heart Healthy, Healthy Kids, Antioxidant Advantage, Vitamin C + Zinc (No Pulp), Vitamin C + Zinc (Some Pulp), and this list doesn’t include the orange juice blended with other juices!

I wonder, is nature’s original orange juice not up to the task any more?

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Temperature & Time

Cooking is all about temperature and time.

I’ve been cooking food for many years and this statement becomes clearer each time I prepare something. Generally speaking, low temperature will require more cooking time, and conversely high temperature will shorten the cooking time.

The next factor to consider is the food. Now the simple statement, “temperature & time”, becomes intricate. Understanding the structure of what is being cooked allows the cook to apply temperature and time. A whole “beer can chicken” will cook at a moderately high temperature for a longer time than marinated zucchini planks. Both foods will use moderately high temperature, but time varies. I am convinced that once the properties of raw ingredients are understood, temperature & time can be accurately dialed in.

Accurate temperature & time will result in better tasting food that is more nutritious. Another quality characteristic is consistently delicious food. Consistently delicious food is the goal in professional kitchens. It doesn’t matter if the operation is a restaurant that changes the menu daily, or the military on a cycle menu, consistency makes happy guests.

How to implement temperature & time starts with accurate recipes. If you are an operator, take the time to document temperature & time when preparing foods. Record that best results and the worst. Then repeat the process. YES, it’s hard work! I never said temperature & time was easy, I said it was best. If you use recipes, look for reliable sources AND test once again. To support the temperature & time process have a calibrated thermometer to check the food’s internal temperature, and record that. If the food is slow cooked, have kitchen fork on hand to test for tenderness. Always capture the information and update the recipe.

The process will provide your operation with consistently high quality, delicious food.

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – Kitchen Proof Scanner

Believe it or not, this scanner can withstand chef handling.

And it is a very useful inventory management tool. This handheld computer is very robust, and scans supplies for efficient inventory control. It then uploads to the Jamix Kitchen Intelligence System for accurate inventory management. Chefs and managers who in the past have spent hours with a clipboard and inventory sheets can now speed things up. This scanner can take the impact of hitting the floor, it has a gorilla glass front (sounds cool), has a 2D bar code scanner, Bluetooth connectivity, and operates on Android platform. The beauty of this tool is, point the scanner at the bar code and you’re in business. Here is useful technology designed for a rough environment with easy-to-use connectivity to the kitchen intelligence system.

Updating information in real-time allows restaurant operations to act quickly. The restaurant management team has current and accurate information to make decisions. Look for this type of technology to streamline kitchen operations and allow the team to focus on guests.

Links

Here are a couple links. One has my insights to using naan as an ingredient.

The other highlights recent awards garnered by Attention Span Media. The Team at Attention Span Media “analyze problems, identify opportunities, create scenarios, and build solutions.” And they are a great group of pros to work with.

Naan is a superior bread for small bites (www.nrn.com)

25th annual communicator awards (www.attentionspan.com)

Ingredient of the Month

Roasted Peppers

Something so simple and abundant is so incredibly good! Roasted peppers are last summer’s gift to the flavor of summer all winter long.

Peppers are in peak season right now. They are CHEAP. So, what are you waiting for? Buy a basket full of peppers, fire up your grill, lay the peppers on until black, let them cool and slide off the black char. The result is deliciousness.

Make a lot of roasted peppers and put extra in ziplock bags, then freeze for a flavor burst later in the year.

Cooking Tip

Deep-Frying

Summer is a great time to deep-fry….outside.

Deep-frying creates that craveable crispy texture to foods. I love frying a few pounds of potatoes into chips seasoned with salt and smoked paprika. These are the “bet you can’t eat just one” kind of chips. Fresh fish with a fried to a crispy golden panko coating is very satisfying!

When done properly, fried foods have a crispy coating and a tender moist internal. Furthermore, properly fried foods are not greasy. Non-greasy fried food is a result of clean cooking oil, proper temperature, and the right amount of food added to the fryer. The right amount of food is one of the critical steps to great fried food. Too much food and the oil cools. When the oil cools, extra oil is soaked up by the food’s coating. This results in greasy food.

Having a table-top deep fryer is the easiest way to fry food. The next method is to use a pot of oil with a thermometer that will read up to at least 425°F. Once the temperature is set/achieved for the type of food being fried, get cooking.

One last note: fried food is best eaten immediately – crispy and hot!

Bon Appétit!

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.


Read more on Restaurant Inventory Management in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System
Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Providing step-by-step photos in recipes has many benefits in the professional kitchen

Recipe photos can reduce errors in preparation and they promote consistency. You can easily add photos for recipes that are managed in a kitchen system. This is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 8
August 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

Standing in line for a milk shake at Yankee Stadium with my grandson recently. It was his first MLB game and he was loving it….or he was loving the thought of a chocolate milk shake.

Two young guys ahead of us with a voucher for a hot dog and beer. They tell the server they don’t eat meat, could they have some fries instead? Answer – No.

Too bad. That would have been easy to create a good experience and a happy customer.

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

MANKAI

If you haven’t heard of mankai, it’s because it’s just now hitting the market. And for right now, only in college & university operations.

Mankai is the smallest plant on the planet. It measures ½ millimeter! It is harvested every 72 hours, and it is a complete protein with all essential amino acids. It also has B12 and iron.

Martin Breslin, Culinary Director of Harvard University Dining Services and I are the first 2 professional chefs to work with mankai in the world. Pretty cool. And Martin is good company.

I just completed 2 weeks of R&D and presentations of mankai to select universities and food manufacturers in the Northeast. The takeaway? Mankai is easy to use, adaptable to every culinary application, looks good in food, and allows the dominant flavors of a dish stand out – in other words, it tastes good.

Look under the hood and you’ll learn that mankai is a powerhouse of nutrition. MANKAI contains bioavailable and bioactive protein, iron, and vitamin B12. Research also shows it promotes favorable glycemic responses. An 85-gram portion (3 cubes) of 12% dry matter frozen Mankai provides the following:

  • A good source of protein, including all essential amino acids
  • High quality protein with a PDCAAS of 0.89
  • A good source of dietary fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin B12
  • An excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and folic acid
  • Rich in iron, potassium, copper, and zinc
  • Low sodium
  • Provides 390 mg omega-3s (ALA)
  • Rich variety of potentially beneficial polyphenols

If that’s not enough, how about this: “Mankai is a super-sustainable EARTH FRIENDLY crop, it grows in water basins and multiplies every 72 hours, creating the most nutrients-per-gallon of water. It is energy-efficient, minimally processed and harnesses innovative technology for the longevity of life-on-earth.”

Mankai was introduced at CIA Menus of Change this June. I developed a variety of recipes for the conference that incorporated Mankai, then I worked with the CIA chefs to prepare the recipes for the conference attendees. Below is more information about Mankai along with recipes.

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – Recipe Photos

Some cookbooks provide step-by-step photos that help when preparing recipes. This format can be very valuable if you are preparing a new recipe or if it’s a recipe that you don’t prepare too often. Additionally, step-by-step photos are valuable tools for new cooks and chefs joining the culinary team.

Creating recipes with step-by-step photos is a standard feature in Jamix Kitchen Intelligence Systems. Attached is a flatbread recipe I created for the Produce for Better Health conference this past April. It is an example of Jamix’s step-by-step recipe. Feel free to try the recipe too!

Flatbread with Pear and Walnuts 4 portions

Pear Blue Cheese Crema 4 portions

Pear Mostarda 4 portions


Providing step-by-step photos in recipes has many benefits in the professional kitchen. The photo is a visual guide that can reduce errors in preparation. Error reduction saves costs. The ability to call up recipes in the Jamix system is easy because it’s accessible on smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Another benefit is consistency. Guests are the beneficiaries when the food looks and tastes as expected.

Being a culinarian in today’s modern kitchens that adopt and use technology makes cooking fun. Technology is a great tool for new and experienced culinarians.

Ingredient of the Month

Sambal Shrimp

Somehow, thankfully, a jar of this ended up in my suitcase when I was leaving Singapore last month. I was handed a bowl of sambal shrimp at Swatow Seafood Restaurant in Singapore. The taste was complex heat. Sambal is spicy, I was prepared for that, but the flavor of the sambal was astounding. What I learned was that the sambal is made with dried shrimp which gives the sambal a very complex umami component.

Sambal works in pasta, rice, soups, bean dishes including salads, the list could go on. The only challenge is to get more when this runs out…….

Cooking Tip

Cooking Fresh Pasta

Fresh pasta is apparently not easy to cook. My assumption is that cooks believe fresh pasta is done in seconds because it is already soft. That is not correct because I am, too often, served fresh pasta that tastes like raw flour.

I was recently at a very nice restaurant in Boston. Great recommendation from a very good friend. The flavor of the pasta dish was delicious, all ingredients were delicious….EXCEPT the fresh pasta.

Fresh pasta needs to be fully cooked. Other than fresh angel hair, fresh pasta needs a few to several minutes to fully cook the flour and soften the pasta.

How do you cook fresh pasta? Add pasta to boiling salted water (taste the water!), return to a boil, stir occasionally. Cook according to the recipe directions, BUT, taste the pasta before draining! If it tastes like raw flour, keep cooking! In addition to taste, look at the pasta. It should be soft but not mushy, and it should easily wrap around the other strands/pieces of pasta. Then scoop out some cooking water and reserve. Drain pasta, prepare sauce and use the cooking water to keep everything juicy (remember juicy food is the best!).

Bon Appétit!

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.


Read more on Recipe Management in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System
Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Tech needs to streamline, minimize, and automate data entry

Kitchen tech that is a dynamic kitchen intelligence system will manage all the functions thereby minimizing the number of systems required. This is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 7
July 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

Just arrived home from an incredible visit to Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. So many food memories, visited old friends, and also made some new friends. Trips like this remind me that being a part of the food world opens so many doors and opportunities.

Words and pictures about the trip are below!

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Los Angeles Unified School District

LAUSD spans more than 700 square miles, includes 1,100+ schools and serves nearly 700,000 students. At the end of May I visited LAUSD with Hormel Foods and Jennie-O. The school officials we met shared heartwarming stories of the successes the students in the district have and are making. We also learned of challenges thousands of kids face every day, but still manage to attend class and strive toward a brighter future.

LAUSD’s Linked Learning program is a curriculum which combines teaching with real world learning. It exposes kids to a variety of disciplines…from business to healthcare to culinary arts. In all, students have access to over 400 career pathways. Teachers combine traditional pedagogy with experiential learning opportunities.

We visited the Santee Education Complex in LA which offered a culinary arts curriculum. Santee opened in 2005, has 1853 students enrolled, and boasts a 77% graduation rate. There I met the chef instructor who is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. He is using what he learned at CIA and as a chef in the industry to provide a culinary lab experience for the students at Santee. The class was in session during our visit and I had an opportunity to speak with the students. They were learning how to make crepes. The crepe became the vehicle to teach planning, organization, scaling, math, and teamwork. All critical skills in foodservice and beyond.

We also visited the kitchen staff while they were finalizing lunch service. The kitchen managers were great organizers and kept the production flow running smoothly. Like any other kitchen operation, lunch has several hundred kids arriving and they want to sprint through the meal line. The kitchen team had everything ready and service was remarkable.

The director of foodservice, Manish Singh, has implemented enticing programs to keep food interesting and to manage waste. For example, he implemented a Flavor Bar. The Flavor Bar has a variety of dried herbs and spices for students to add to their food. This allows students to add familiar flavors, or they can boost flavors to their liking. Manish also has a Share Table. Students can place food items they don’t want to eat – whole fruit, packaged vegetables, etc – on the Share Table so that other students can take the food to eat then or later. Small change, big impact.

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech

Last month I wrote about a dynamic kitchen system. What I continue to discover is how similar kitchen operations are regardless of the foodservice sector. The core of operations are recipes. Since my early days as a student at CIA we were taught that recipes/menu drive the restaurant planning. Recipes determine the menu, kitchen layout, equipment selection, staffing, storage requirements, etc.

All foodservice operations – restaurants, supermarkets, catering, college & university, cruise ships, etc. – start with recipes at the center. From this starting point many functions thrive:

  • Menu
  • Production sheet
  • POs to suppliers
  • Inventory
  • Costing
  • Nutrition
  • Allergens
  • Publishing data to end-customer via labels or eMenus
  • Sales data to forecast production

The list is large. What is challenging to operators is finding one dynamic system to handle these various functions. When operators have multiple systems, they require manual data entry of the same information. This defeats the purpose of technology. Tech needs to streamline, minimize, and automate data entry. Kitchen tech that is a dynamic kitchen intelligence system will manage all the functions thereby minimizing the number of systems required.

Through my work as an advisor I’ve seen examples of cost savings gained through kitchen intelligence systems.

Cancer Nutrition Consortium

Please take a look at what’s new by clicking this link www.cancernutrition.org

Asian Trip Highlights

Where to begin!? A 12-day visit to Asia that included Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong in was fast and action-packed. My wife, Sylvia, and I landed in Singapore 14 hours late. I had to hit the ground running. After changing into cooking gear, I was at HRVST restaurant with Chef Addis prepping for an event the next day for 75 guests. Bleary eyed and constant mental reminders to watch my fingers we accomplished day 1’s prep and headed out to eat with the locals. I told the taxi driver Swatow Seafood Restaurant and he said it was well known locally.

That was the start of the food journey. In Singapore we had traditional Chinese food and hawker stall experiences, in Tokyo, yakitori, sushi, and tempura, and in Hong Kong, street food with born and raised Hong Kongers. Each city gave us a very special and unique experience.

Common to each location was the palpable culture of food, hospitality and friendship. Scroll down for some pictures:

Ingredient of the Month

Petite Diced Tomatoes

Who’s isn’t insanely busy these days? With that in mind this month’s ingredient is canned petite diced tomatoes. A master chef friend introduced this ingredient to me many years ago. His approach – consider petite diced tomatoes the same as tomato concasse, only these are ready to use.

Consider this. Tomatoes aren’t really available from the vine in New England for a few more weeks. Petite diced tomatoes are processed when tomatoes are in peak season. This is an excellent ingredient to use in countless recipes. Don’t misunderstand, for certain recipes nothing replaces in season, hand crafted tomato concasse. But when there is a time crunch, these are great.

For example, open the can and add chopped cilantro, chipotle, and diced onion and a delicious salsa is ready in minutes. Or simmer for 10 minutes with sautéed onions, garlic, fennel seed, oregano and fresh basil and a delicious tomato sauce is ready quickly. Use your imagination and keep a few cans in the pantry!

Cooking Tip

Searing for Flavor

Searing was the term that I learned. Today we know that pushing the boundaries of searing pushes flavor UP. Chefs and cooks are charring foods with great results. Charring pushes the boundary of burned and seared. With the right amount of char, there is a heightened sense of flavor. The slight bitterness compliments the other flavors of the food. It makes you want for more.

Some tips to get great char start with the heat. Become comfortable heating a pan or grill or oven. That means don’t rush the preheating. When I cook on a stovetop, I put a pan on at low heat and then start my prep. As I get closer to cooking (charring) I increase the temperature. Having the pan properly heated ensures that my food will get the right sear or char.

If you are cooking in a pan and it’s heated as you put oil in the pan the oil will smoke. That’s a good indication that the pan temperature is ready for food. If you are using a grill, be sure to preheat the grill for at least 10 minutes at high temperature. When you oil the grates on the grill, the oil should smoke. With an oven, preheat the oven with the roasting pan in the oven. That way the food will sear as soon as it’s added to the pan.

A couple of other important tips – dry food as much as possible before adding to the pan. This prevents steaming and spattering. Lastly, don’t overcrowd the pan. Only add enough to almost cover the bottom of the pan. And when the food is added to the pan, don’t move it for a few minutes. This permits the pan or grill’s heat to recover and create the desired char.

Bon Appétit!

Seafood in Tokyo

Wet Market in Hong Kong

Sushi Chef

Tempura Master

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.


Read more on JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System covering several sides of restaurant operations

Dynamic ensures that all data within the kitchen system is working in harmony

The dynamic kitchen intelligence system permits the end-user to customize the look of recipes, menus, and other details. This is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 6
June 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

This “Come On, Already!” changed in the course of 24 hours. On May 29th I visited the Los Angeles Unified School District with Hormel Foods. The staff, faculty and administrators were inspiring. The incredible work they do everyday to positively impact the students of the school district is heroic. This is the kind of news I wish everyone knew about. More about LAUSD next month.

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

NRA

The 2019 National Restaurant Association show is over. This was a very different show for me because I participated as an exhibitor with the Jamix Team. Being an exhibitor required showing up at McCormick Place 90 minutes before the show opened so that I could walk the floor to see what was happening. Being an exhibitor also allowed me to talk with hundreds of interested attendees about Jamix Kitchen Intelligence Systems. Incidentally, Jamix was a 2019 Kitchen Innovations Award recipient at the show. More about Jamix later.

On the food side of things, the FABI Awards showcased 32 food products. What struck me was that 26 of the 32 items were plant-based. Black Truffle Pâté was easy to fall in love with. This is a ready to use black truffle spread! Amazing! Another food, a result of molecular gastronomy, are Caviaroli Drops by Albert Adria (the brother of legendary  chef Ferran Adria) were popularized at the former #1 restaurant in the world, el Bulli. Each drop is the essence of 5 olives encapsulated in a light gelatin coating that measures 20mm. Here is haute cuisine available for everyone.

Two foods that are equally remarkable are FabaButter and Skhug Sauce. First skhug sauce.

Pronouncing skhug (shoog) will probably be one of the biggest challenges as it moves into mainstream. Also, there are numerous ways to spell it. Go ahead and google it, you’ll end up without anything definitive. What you will learn is that skhug is HOT. Fiery hot and addictive. The bright heat adds intensity to the food it’s mixed with. Chilies, cilantro, and spices are all that’s needed to blend skhug. Now it’s available ready to use. Go ahead and try it.

FabaButter is dairy-free “butter”. This spread uses coconut oil but, and this is the game-changer, uses aquafaba as well. For the uninitiated, aquafaba is the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas. It is flavor neutral and whips up to a meringue-like foam. FabaButter reportedly performs like butter in baked goods, and it also has a clean label.

These are a handful of interesting foods to watch.

Culinary & more…

Dynamic System

In the article above I said I’d get back to Jamix Kitchen Intelligence Systems, so here it is. Jamix was a recipient of a 2019 Kitchen Innovations Award because it is intuitive, easy to use, and dynamic. The dynamic term most interests me.

In the world of Jamix, dynamic ensures that all data within the system is working in harmony. Furthermore, the data can be used to drive e-menus outside Jamix, interface with other external systems, view Jamix information on tablets and smartphones, and upload Jamix recipes to kitchen equipment such as high-tech ovens.

The dynamic system permits the end-user to customize the look of recipes, menus, and other details. Jamix enables the user to effortlessly upload photos to the recipes, including step-by-step photos displayed at each step of the recipe methods. The user is also able to immediately access nutritional information, allergen information, ingredient/recipe/menu cost, and print labels. All of this is a function of a truly dynamic system.

In the past, I’ve written about recipes and here it’s worth writing about them again. My conversations with dozens of people at NRA revealed the need to reinforce the value of the recipe. The recipe is the foundation of a successful operation. Fundamentally it provides a real-time view of ingredient, recipe, plate, menu costs. It is the basis of production schedules and ensures a consistent product when it is followed.

Recipes in a dynamic system become sub recipes. The sub recipe becomes part of the ingredient list and, best part, the system scales the sub recipe accurately. The dynamic system allows the user to tag a unlimited number of preparation functions – thawing, marinating, chopping, etc. And each function can be assigned to be done the day of preparation or day(s) earlier.

This won’t be the last word on recipes or the value of a dynamic system.

Small Change Big Impact Food Summit

Last month I provided a link to the Hormel-Harvard Small Change Big Impact Future of Food Summit that was conducted with Harvard University Dining Services. Here’s that link again:

Inaugural Small Change Big Impact Food Summit to Bring Together Industry Leaders at Harvard University April 3-4 2019

The keynote at the Summit was Hormel Foods’ CEO Jim Snee. Jim delivered an opening talk that set the tone for the Summit – Be Bold! Jim told the conference that the recipe for success is to think differently, act boldly, do not do business as usual, embrace leadership, and change the world. These are some of the things which lead to “Inspired People. Inspired FoodTM” at Hormel. Jim also reminded everyone that “there is no finish line in our food journey”. It was a great talk to start the Summit and reminded me that big food can be good food.

The rest of the day was consisted of panels with experts from various part of the foodservice industry. More on them in upcoming newsletters.

Ingredient of the Month

Colatura di Alici

Anchovy essence. Yup, you read right. Or, anchovy drippings. I digress, it doesn’t sound appetizing, BUT this stuff is a recipe dated back to the Romans. Whether you like anchovies or not, this clear amber liquid is a flavor BOMB! A small amount provides a satisfying, delicious umami impact to food.

One of the oldest uses is garlic fried in olive oil, toss with spaghetti and lightly drizzled with colatura di alici. Once you taste it, you’ll understand why this is still around after a couple thousand years.

Cooking Tip

Crispy Skin Fish

How do you get the skin on fish crispy? I’ve been asked that A LOT. It’s easy but the most important thing is – be patient.

The fish must be scaled. Then, heat a skillet (cast iron works great, but so do other pans). Heating the skillet is also one of the critical steps. Don’t rush the process. Put the skillet on a heat source, turn it on medium low and let it heat for a few minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and allow skillet to get hot.

Add a small amount of oil to the skillet or spray it with oil. If the oil is smoking, that’s good and time to add the fish – skin down. Use a spatula to gently press the fish against the pan bottom. It will have a tendency to buckle, so hold it or use a bacon press….if you have one.

At this point, don’t move the fish or turn it. Allow the pan to do its magic. After 2-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, lift slightly and look at the color. If it’s not dark and crisp, leave the fish alone for another 1-2 minutes. Then turn over, lower the heat and finish cooking for 2-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. It is also possible that the fish will not have to be turned over. The least amount of time the fish is in the pan, the moister the fish.

Serve immediately and enjoy crispy skin fish.

Bon Appétit!

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.


Read more on JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System covering several sides of restaurant operations

NACUFS 2019 National Conference in Denver, Colorado July 10-13

JAMIX will be exhibiting at the NACUFS 2019 National Conference in Denver, Colorado July 10-13. Come and visit us at Showcase at booth 115 to learn more about comprehensive JAMIX software managing several sides of restaurant operations.

Cloud Based, Intuitive Kitchen Intelligence System

JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT is a cutting edge restaurant software for managing any size and type of restaurant, catering business or other establishment within the food service industry. Comprehensive JAMIX software manages several sides of restaurant operations including recipe management and costing, menu planning and nutritional analysis, inventory management and procurement. All this in one system and with all information seamlessly linked together.

Yale Hospitality will be the first college or university (C&U) in the United States to implement Jamix

Beginning in summer 2019, Yale Hospitality will lead the college and university foodservice sector in the US with the most cutting-edge kitchen intelligence system available. The partnership with Jamix is consistent with Yale Hospitality’s commitment to provide exceptional food and beverage solutions. Both have a mutual desire to actively develop the C&U environment: incorporating AI, machine learning and meaningful predictive analytics. Read more

Jamix’s innovative approach was recently recognized with 2019 Kitchen Innovations (KI) Award – recipients reflect the trends and topics most important to hospitality today and showcase the future of the industry. Read more

Read more on JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT features:

Recipe Management and Costing

Menu Planning, Management and Costing

Restaurant Inventory Management and Procurement

Restaurant Chain Management

Food Production and Production Requisitions

Contact us for more information on JAMIX software

Trending Today featuring JAMIX on Fox Business

Trending Today is a television series that features front line industry advancements, innovative technologies, product solutions and trends from all over the globe and provides an in-depth look at how they affect our daily lives. The host, Karen LeBlanc, leads this fast paced journey showcasing organizations from Main Street to Wall Street.

The episode of Trending Today aired on Saturday, June 15th at 12 pm (EST) on Fox Business featuring Research Chefs Association, Global Shirts and Bravo Shoes, Jamix Kitchen Management, Smokin’ Mary.

Watch the episode in Youtube

JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT is a cutting edge restaurant software for managing any size and type of restaurant, catering business or other establishment within the food service industry. Comprehensive JAMIX software manages several sides of restaurant operations including recipe management and costing, menu management and nutritional analysis, inventory management and procurement. All this in one system and with all information seamlessly linked together.

JAMIX was recently exhibiting at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, where the company also accepted the 2019 Kitchen Innovation Award. Some scenes for the next episode of Trending Today were filmed at the show. Check out some of the behind the scenes footage in Trending Today’s Facebook profile:

JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System is one of the KI Award Recipients

2019 Kitchen Innovations Award presented to JAMIX

Mikko Jaatinen, CEO of Jamix, accepts the 2019 Kitchen Innovation Award

The National Restaurant Association Show announced the 2019 Kitchen Innovations Award Recipients  earlier this year, JAMIX being one of the recipients.

The official awards presentation took place on Saturday, May 18th in the Kitchen Innovations Showroom at the National Restaurant Association Show 2019.

Mikko Jaatinen, the founder and CEO of JAMIX accepted the award while the rest of the JAMIX Team at the show – Ron DeSantis, Seth Schrage and Timo Lehto – celebrated along.

JAMIX Team at the National Restaurant Association Show 2019 celebrating the Kitchen Innovations Award

JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System is one of the KI Award Recipients

National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago May 18-21, 2019

JAMIX will be exhibiting at National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago May 18-21, 2019. Come and visit us at the Kitchen Innovation Showroom or our booth 7075 to learn more about comprehensive JAMIX software managing several sides of restaurant operations.

JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT is a cutting edge restaurant software for managing any size and type of restaurant, catering business or other establishment within the food service industry. Comprehensive JAMIX software manages several sides of restaurant operations including recipe management and costing, menu planning and nutritional analysis, inventory management and procurement. All this in one system and with all information seamlessly linked together.

JAMIX is one of the 2019 Kitchen Innovations Award recipients

Jamix Kitchen Management System
Choosing KMS software can be challenging, but Jamix sets itself apart on several points. Whereas many offer recipe and menu management and costing, Jamix also ties in inventory management and procurement. Plus, it’s true cloud-based, and can be accessed with any browser, any operating system, any mobile device. Perhaps best of all, it’s extremely intuitive.

Read more on JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT software

Read more on JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT features:

Recipe Management and Costing

Menu Planning, Management and Costing

Restaurant Inventory Management and Procurement

Restaurant Chain Management

Food Production and Production Requisitions

Contact us for more information on JAMIX software