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

Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

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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

200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405


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.


Master Chef Insights


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

Flatbread recipe

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!

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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.


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