Restaurant Shopping List - JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System

Restaurant Shopping List is Easy to Create With a Kitchen Management System

Shopping list is a critical tool for a restaurant when ordering supplies. JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System allows chefs to create the shopping list based on the menu with a couple quick clicks. Restaurant shopping list is one of the culinary topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Ron DeSantisFood Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 3 Issue 6
June 2020

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

A couple weeks ago I went to the self-checkout at the supermarket. The card reader is freshly wrapped in plastic. Coincidentally the manager walks by and asks if I need any help. No, I don’t, but what’s with the plastic? Unless it’s changed after every transaction, it’s the same as touching the keypad……

Prost! Cheers! Saluti! Kippis!

Master Chef Insights

Sensory Evaluation

sensory evaluationThe great food equalizer is the blind tasting. During my CIA Consulting days, we conducted many sensory evaluations for food companies and manufacturers across the country. The CIA setting was great because we always had a mix of professional chefs and student chefs. Additionally, we could entice tour groups to participate as well. All this gave us significant data to guide product development.

There were some interesting moments during blind tastings. I recall conducting a barbecue sauce blind tasting. 5 different national brands of barbecue sauce were evaluated. The tasters all had personal favorites and each taster was convinced his or her favorite was the top scoring sauce. The outcome was that the brand no one considered was the top scorer – Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce. There was A LOT of head scratching and bewildered expressions. Another was involved canned tomatoes. This tasting involved 14 different cans of tomatoes. They were imported Italian and domestic Californian tomatoes. The cans were on display but the identify of the tomatoes during tasting was unknown. Here, most evaluators believed the best tasting tomatoes were imported Italian San Marzano. The high scoring canned tomatoes were Californian tomatoes from Stanislaus.

Blind tastings provide the most accurate evaluation of food products. We are all influenced by many factors. In this case, simply removing labels forces us to evaluate the flavor, aroma, texture, and appearance of the product. I still continue this practice. I am convinced that it provides the most accurate and useable feedback regarding food products.

The White House

Ron DeSantis with his teamAlmost two years ago I wrote about a cooking at a location that I couldn’t reveal. Well, it’s time for sharing. I was invited to be the guest chef at the White House Mess. The White House Mess is under the Oval Office and is used by the staffers in the Oval Office, and occasionally by the VPOTUS. I didn’t see the VP at lunch, but I did meet him on the driveway between the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Building. It was short hello, how are you, what are you doing here meet, but I was there to feed people not blabbing with the VP.

The White House Mess is operated by the U.S. Navy and staffed with Navy Culinary Specialists. This tradition goes back to 1880 aboard the Presidential Yacht. Later, President Roosevelt established Camp David at a Naval Retreat and the U.S. Navy continued the tradition of serving the Commander in Chief (incidentally, I served 5 presidential visits at Camp David). Serving at the White House Mess continues the Navy’s tradition of providing professional foodservice to our nation.

My team was made up of the top chefs I worked with at Yale University. Dan Flynn, Cyon Jones, Dave Kuzma, and Chase Sobelman worked with me on the menu, preparation, and serving the guests. The menu (you may remember this from my October 2018 newsletter) was:

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 Meditarranean SaladCrispy 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 PaoVegan 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‘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

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

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – Shopping List

The shopping list gets no respect. However, try ordering supplies for a commercial foodservice operation without one. It will be a disaster. That’s when the value of a shopping list become apparent.

Itemizing the ingredients needed to prepare recipes is the foundation of the shopping list. Additionally, the shopping list will total all like ingredients. The shopping list can be created for a recipe, a dish, a menu and for a selected timeframe.

The Jamix kitchen intelligence system will generate a shopping list with all the information above. It will also consider trim loss of ingredients. Knowing the as-purchased (AP) amount ensures the culinary team will have the correct quantity of ingredients for production. A comprehensive shopping list also helps to manage waste. I’m a firm believer that waste management starts with purchasing the correct amount of food.

The shopping list is also useful in the production kitchen. A cook can use the shopping list to gather the ingredients needed for the recipes he/she is preparing. This saves time going back and forth to the storeroom/walk-in and allows the cook to focus on culinary preparation (that means great food!).

Creating a shopping list manually is a serious undertaking, but Jamix allows chefs to create the shopping list with a couple quick clicks. So…..the shopping list may not be as cool as the menu, but it certainly deserves a lot of respect.

Fresh ThymeIngredient of the Month

Fresh Thyme

Thyme is a perennial so right now it’s HUGE in the garden. This little leaf packs a flavor punch. Add it to fresh vegetables, chicken, and marinated roasted peppers. It’s great with potatoes and any big flavored food. Also, it dries nicely so you have plenty during the winter months.

Cooking Tip

Cast Iron PizzaCast Iron Pizza

You want great pizza at home? Break out the 12” cast iron frying pan. Place the pan in a cold oven and dial it up to 500°F. When the oven is heated, so is the pan. Now slide your pizza into the pan (NO FAT) and bake until done, golden, and crisp (about 6-9 minutes). Slide out of the pan, cut and enjoy. You’re welcome.

Buon appetito.

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 Kitchen Intelligence System is a comprehensive restaurant software providing shopping list based on your menu. The following short video shows how JAMIX makes your work in the restaurant kitchen easier including the shopping list feature.
Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Kitchen system is a valuable tool for managing costs

“As foodservice operators navigate post Covid-19 and the food industry prepares to re-open, managing costs will be more critical than before.” Managing costs with a kitchen system is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 3 Issue 5
May 2020

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

I’m just about Zoom’d out. Camera ready, mic on, background blurred or a select pic, look into the camera… do I smile, try to look neutral?, but I keep looking at me! Help!

Right now, a good old fashioned phone call feels good.

Prost! Cheers! Saluti! Kippis!

Master Chef Insights

Flavor Bursts

Zhoug

Flavor Bursts are highly flavored ingredients or condiments that create those “this is soooo good” food experiences. Flavor Bursts are all around us. Some Flavor Bursts, actually all Flavor Bursts, have been around for a LONG time. The easy examples are: Tabasco, prepared mustard, ketchup, pickles, horseradish, and many others. The reason I say “all Flavor Bursts have been around for a long time is demonstrated with these examples: Zhoug, chermoula, romesco, or gremolata. Other Flavor Bursts are built on a mayonnaise platform: chipotle mayo, aioli, smoked-paprika mayo, buffalo-blue cheese mayo, or wasabi mayo. Still others are vegetable Flavor Bursts: tzatziki, pico de gallo, guacamole, muhammara, or toum.

The key to Flavor Bursts is that they brighten and lift up anything they are served or cooked with.

Comfort Food

A smile comes to me as I read and hear the media gushing about comfort food. You’d think a new star was discovered (a twisted nod to Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin: “The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.”). The reality is that comfort food NEVER goes out of style. Comfort food (or familiar food) is what people eat every day, not just when a crisis happens.

In January I wrote that I literally traveled around the world in 2019. The common food thread I found was that people aren’t looking for the next best thing in food.

People continue to eat familiar food.

  • Singapore: chili crab, hawker stalls
  • Hong Kong: bubble waffles, dim sum, pork!
  • Japan: Yakitori, tempura
  • Finland: Karelian Pie (rye dough filled with cooked rice porridge, brushed with butter and topped with Egg Butter!)
  • Germany: Pork roast with cracklin’s and potato dumplings, bratwurst with sauerkraut
  • US: BBQ, Taco trucks, NY pizza

Familiar food WILL have staying power.

Comfort Food is NEVER out of style.

In the ‘80s, as a fresh CIA graduate, I went to Germany to cook. During that time, we embraced Chef Witzigmann’s Neue Deutsche Küche (New German Cuisine). Chef Witzigmann was serving traditional, regional dishes in a 3 Michelin Star setting. COMFORT FOOD! The food was spectacular. I ate at his restaurant twice and still remember the experiences. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Klare Hühnersuppe mit Gemüsen und Butterknockerln Chicken Consommé with Vegetables and Butter Dumplings
  • Bayerische Ente, mit Zwiebel und Apfel gefüllt Roast Bavarian Duck Filled with Onion and Apple

Escoffier Restaurant, CIA circa 1986

Of course, Chef Witzigmann served the chicken soup with butter dumplings and fresh morels filled with the butter dumpling as well. And the onions and apples that filled the duck were eventually removed and roasted then served with the duck…imagine the taste of those onions and apples with the rich flavor of the duck! Go to “Kulinarische Kreationen” by Eckart Witzigmann for those and more recipes. I took the lessons I learned in Germany with me to the CIA and into the CIAs flagship Escoffier Restaurant. My menus were familiar foods served with French culinary attitude.

Every economic downturn or national crisis results in people reconnecting with comfort foods. But don’t believe comfort foods desirable only in times of need, comfort foods are who we are.

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – Managing Costs

JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System helps in managing costsBy now it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Jamix. This Kitchen Intelligence System will be a very valuable resource as foodservice operators navigate post Covid-19. This system provides operators with a dashboard to see food cost, waste, orders, inventory, customer feedback, and many more operational functions.JAMIX received the Kitchen Innovation Award in 2019

As the food industry prepares to re-open, managing costs will be more critical than before. Having operational functions in a cloud-based system ensures continuous access to data. This allows managers to make real-time decisions and control costs. For example, a vendor calls a chef with a special price for an ingredient. The chef can change the ingredient price, see what the new food cost is, and then make a decision to purchase based on data. Another example is making decisions based on customer feedback. Jamix allows operators to post e-menus which permit guests to provide feedback. This gives operators another datapoint in decision making.

The next several weeks or few months will be critical as operators re-open businesses. Having data-driven information assists management in an shifting business environment.

www.hungryplanetfoods.com

Check it out, I dare you. Just don’t complain to me when 2 hours has flown by and you haven’t experienced everything on the website. This is Hungry Planet’s new website. It appeals to both consumers and foodservice. I’m proud of the assembly of chefs that are demonstrating their skills using a variety of Hungry Planet plant-based meats. Once you’ve checked it out, let me know what you think.

Ingredient of the Month

Potatoes in a can.

YES! In a freaking can!! They’ve been on supermarket shelves all my life, but I never ate them. What changed? I was doing a project and wanted to add some potatoes at the last minute. Why not, I thought? It’s just for me to taste. Once I opened the can and saw the contents, I was impressed. Uniform, perfectly cooked potatoes! And they tasted like uniform, perfectly cooked potatoes! Then I fried them with some bacon, topped with parsley and a sunny egg……..hooked.

The lesson? Stay open minded.

Buon appetito.

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.

Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Environmental eating is an emerging trend

Students are interested in the environmental impact of the food they are served. Having a kitchen intelligence system with CO2 values provides both foodservice operators and their customers information on the environmental impact of food. 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 3 Issue 4
April 2020

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

While considering what to write in this space I decided that I will be your 3-minute getaway from the Covid-19 news. Since that is THE daily topic, you don’t need more from me. So……

How do we get out this tangled mess? It seems that every conference room has a mass of tangled wires for our technology. When will we get rid of this mess? Really, we have wireless earpieces, Bluetooth to the car media, and on and on but we can’t figure out how to clean up a conference room?!

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Food Platform

Thinking of food as a platform is a way to do more with less. What that means in an operation is – what recipes can be prepared using a limited number of ingredients? Oh, and customers want to be amazed with each menu item.

One example that helps me explain a food platform in practice is okonomiyaki. This delicious, simple “cabbage pancake” from Japan is a practical way to explore a food platform.

Fundamentally okonomiyaki is shredded cabbage held together with pancake batter. It is seasoned, fried (ok sautéed, but we’re talking about street food here) and topped with a burst of flavor drizzles. Chef Gerry Ludwig was ahead of his time in 2008 when he wrote and talked about okonomiyaki. Since 2008, restaurants have opened with okonomiyaki as the star menu item.

How this all relates to a food platform is due to the versatility of okonomiyaki. What I’ve discovered is that okonomiyaki is adaptable to all global cuisines. When a chef starts with cabbage and pancake batter, she can flavor it any which way. The platform is cabbage and batter. Seasonings and toppings create the final dish. Add conventional beef or plant-based beef to the available ingredients and the okonomiyaki can become vegan, or a meat-eater’s delight. The possibilities are limited only be the chef’s imagination.

Thinking in terms of food platforms allows chefs to offer many menu choices with a smaller inventory.

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – CO2 Value of Menu Items

On March 6, 2020 Yale Daily News reported that students wanted to know more details about the environmental impact of the food they were served. Almost 1,000 students responded to a survey conducted by 2 seniors. The results showed that 86% of students want ”to see environmental impact ratings” of the food in the dining halls. As interesting is that 62% of students claimed they had made food choices based on posters in the dining halls showing the environmental impact of the food.

This is likely the early phase of environmental eating in college & university (C&U) dining. One of the challenges for C&U operators will be access to detailed environmental information related to the food chain. In the student survey, students were specifically interested in the CO2 footprint of the food served.

Jamix Kitchen Intelligence Systems has a CO2 function built in. The CO2 core ingredients are part of the Jamix system. As a chef builds a recipe the CO2 is calculated for each recipe. This information is carried into the menu design feature of Jamix. This provides managers with clear CO2 footprint information at the recipe and menu levels of the system.

Many C&U operators believe trends begin in C&U. I’m not sure about all trends, but certain trends do start in C&U. Environmental eating is, I believe, one of those trends. Having the right kitchen intelligence systems keeps managers on point with these trends.

Quarantine Pantry

In March I sent out a special newsletter about preparing meals using food from your pantry. I followed up with a video that my daughter did with me, and her friend edited. Then my friends at Hormel Foods tied this into a great service piece with many chefs about cooking from the pantry. Here’s a link.

Ingredient of the Month

Bacon! Looking back on my newsletters I discovered I haven’t put bacon as the ingredient of the month. Well, here it is.

The problem is – what does one say about bacon? Everyone is a bacon expert. Everyone has a favorite bacon. There are even “cult” bacons like Neuske’s. What I’ll share is why I believe bacon is so popular.

Delicious. Yup, bacon is delicious. It has the right balance of meat, fat, smoke, and salt.

Versatile. Bacon can be used in so many ways. It can be the center-of-the-plate, or a flavor enhancer. Chef David Burke made the bacon clothesline a signature menu item in his restaurants. There are desserts with elements of bacon. In other words, bacon is way more than a great accompaniment with eggs in the morning.

In fact, my first cooking assignment as an 18 year old (know it all) Marine at MCRD San Diego was to cook the bacon for breakfast. I figured this was too easy for me, until a pan in the rotating oven tipped, spilling bacon grease in the oven and the oven caught on fire. Needless to say, no bacon that morning, I learned I didn’t know everything, and there were A LOT of ticked off Marines!

Finally, my last comment is – bacon CAN be too crispy. I know I might be one of the few people in the world that might say that, but it’s true. Consider preparing a glace de viande. There is a fine line between perfect flavor and over-reduced. The same goes for bacon. There is a fine line between, just done and too crispy. Fine that perfect point and you’ll be rewarded with the best that this ingredient offers.

Cooking Tip

Sautéing/Pan-frying. First terminology. For me, sauté is the same word as frying. Deep-frying is something else. Panfrying is sautéing/frying in a bit more fat and often with something breaded.

Here’s the information I wish to share – make sure the pan is hot. The amount of fat, to me, is not as important as the pan temperature. Too cool and food sticks. Too hot and it burns. When I start cooking, I put my saute pan on the stove and turn the heat on low. Then I continue my prep. This way the pan is already getting conditioned and it’s a small jump to higher, ready-to-cook temperature.

Once the pan is hotter, add oil. When the oil starts to smoke (lightly, if it’s billowing blue smoke, you’re not going to be happy and it’s become dangerous!), it’s time to add the food. Only add enough food to almost cover the pan surface. And DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. When food is added, the temperature of the pan’s surface has to recover. If it left alone, it seems to recover more quickly. Now fry the food until it’s properly done.

These are my frying tips. Have fun with your culinary experiences!

Buon appetito.

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.

Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Value Based Model Helps in Choosing a Kitchen Technology System

“Knowing what a kitchen operation requires from a system and using this data in choosing a value-based system is part of the intricate matrix that supports an organization’s success.” Choosing a kitchen system is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 3 Issue 3
March 2020

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

This month starts out with a big THANK YOU to my friend and colleague, Amy Myrdal-Miller. Amy and I worked together back in our CIA days and today we find ourselves working together with mutual clients and on meaningful projects.

My recent talk at the NY Produce Show struck a chord and Amy notes the flavor burst sauces from that talk in her most current article. Please take a look on page 7.

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Food Waste and Fermentation

Concern about food waste has been a foodservice topic for several years. Much has been written about how to minimize food waste. The FDA notes that the United States wastes 30-40% of the food supply. In 2010 that equated to 133 billion pounds of food worth $161 billion. Staggering.

That’s not what this article is about. This is about fermentation as a flavoring ingredient and it’s about an emerging technique as a flavoring ingredient.

Fermentation has been a powerful flavor enhancer for centuries. Think of wine, soy sauce, vinegar, pickles, sauerkraut, cheese, and salami for example. All are examples of fermented foods. The powerhouse in fermented foods is umami. This is one of the 5 basic tastes we experience when eating fermented food. And it is a powerful culinary tool.

Fermentation, like many culinary applications, started as a way to preserve food. In this way food was stored until needed. Through fermentation fresh food was transformed into intensely flavored food.

Modern chefs use fermentation to create delicious dishes. I learned about a technique from a CIA graduate, AJ Schaller at last year’s NRA show. AJ had me sample liquids of intense flavor. These were a result of cryoconcentration. Here’s a link for more information www.cuisinesolutions.com

Awareness and understanding of advanced culinary techniques provides foodservice operations with additional tools to combat food waste. Fermentation isn’t the total solution, it’s one of several tools to reduce food waste AND provide exceptional flavor to food.

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – Value Based Systems

Choosing a kitchen technology system is not easy. It is critical to conduct thorough research of all systems because you will likely be joined to the system for many years. In my 40 years in the foodservice business I’ve been a part of system adoption four separate times. And I’ve learned to use 6 different choosing a kitchen systemsystems. For those that have learned systems or launched new systems, you know the challenges associated with these projects and training requirements. That’s why thorough research is critical.

One approach to researching systems uses a value-based model. In a value-based model you assess what your critical needs are, then develop a matrix that overlays your needs to the capabilities of the new system. At this point, don’t evaluate base system costs. That will come later. The value-based model focuses on quality of systems.

A quality system will provide you and your team with a user-friendly interface, easy to use/learn configuration, a dashboard with key information, customizable features that you can do in-house, cloud-based accessibility, and continuous system innovation. These would be basic needs. Your operational needs may add to this starting list of requirements.

The goal of the system is to streamline the manager’s time working in the system. This can arguably be valuable to an operation because is frees up the manager(s) to be with the production and service teams, and not behind a computer screen. It is at this point that system cost is considered in the system assessment.

Knowing what an operation requires from a system and using this data to select a value-based system is part of the intricate matrix that supports an organization’s success.

Team Sport

Foodservice is a team sport. Success is achieved through the effort of the entire foodservice operation.

“Don’t pass to the rim.” A couple of years ago while I was Director of Culinary Excellence at Yale, the Yale Basketball coach James Jones spoke to the culinary employees. His basketball analogy resonated with me and I’ll never forget Coach Jones’ words.

Coach Jones was extolling us to include everyone in the game. If a team member is open, pass the ball. Ensure that everyone on the team touches the ball. In this way everyone feels a part of the team and all share in the team’s success.

As a leader, include all team members in the operational “game”. Ensure everyone is a part of the play and don’t pass to the rim.

Food Impact Summit

On Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday March 19 food industry leaders will gather at Harvard for two days of insights, action and culinary experiences related to this theme: Small Change Big Impact. The Summit is co-presented by Harvard University Dining Services and Hormel Foods.

The Food Impact Summit is a springboard for enacting changes that will have a positive impact for everyone. This summit brings together a unique mix of leaders and change agents from academia, food service, food producers and nonprofits to foster constructive dialog, explore case study insights, and forge new collaborations toward an improved food future. Last year’s summit received great press coverage from the Boston Globe and Forbes.

The summit features speakers and sessions covering food for health, regenerative agriculture, food insecurity, food waste and packaging, and the future of farming. The opening Keynote will be delivered by US Gold Medal Olympic champion, Jackie Joyner-Kersee! Other participants include Cambridge Public Schools, Greater Boston Food Bank, Applegate Farms, Boston College, University of Michigan, Marriott International, Pew Charitable Trust, Harvard Business School, Project Bread, Savory Institute, NRDC, Fidelity, MIT Media Lab, Reebok, and more! For additional information, please see the attached 1-sheet or visit the summit website.

The summit will take place at Lowell Lecture Hall, with lunches and a Wednesday evening reception at Annenberg. Please accept this invitation to join us, for any or all of the events, please email me or RSVP HERE.

Ingredient of the Month

Cinnamon Cookie Crumble Profiteroles. It’s not an ingredient, but it was incredible. On a recent trip to NYC and after long hours creating a Super Bowl 54 Topping Pizza for Hormel I grabbed dessert at Aureole. Chef Charlie Palmer’s flagship restaurant ALWAYS delivers. I really like profiteroles and this variation took the profiterole to a new experience. That’s all I’ve got.

Cooking Tip

Al dente. This is a term for pasta. It means fully cooked pasta that isn’t mushy. At least that’s how I learned the term and still use it. Al dente pasta is fully cooked, succulent and without a raw flour center.

Determining al dente can only be done by tasting. Period. Al dente pasta will have rehydrated and still have a resistant texture, but it will not be raw uncooked flour or pasta. This applies to fresh pasta and dried pasta. In other words, the pasta is fully cooked.

For an inexplicable reason, at several restaurants in the recent past I’ve been served undercooked (“al dente”) pasta. Once I sent the pasta back twice! And it still was undercooked. So I went to an authority on Italian Cuisine, Tony May. His 1990 book, Italian Cuisine, Basic Cooking Techniques is an incredible resource. In Tony’s book al dente is described as having “a somewhat chewy texture and should not break or become mushy when mixed…”, but no mention of undercooked unless it will be reheated later in sauce.

One last note. In my experience, high quality pasta is difficult to overcook. The quality of the flour results in complete rehydration and a “somewhat chewy texture”. At the end of the day, perfect al dente is what makes you happy.

Buon appetito.

KEEP READING BELOW!

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.

kitchen system tasks

Kitchen system is like a multi-tasking employee

Kitchen system takes care of many tasks in a restaurant kitchen. Understanding what technology does helps us to maximize its capabilities. Tasks of the kitchen system is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 3 Issue 2
February 2020

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

Flavor & The Menu publication is available…..get a copy!

Why you ask? Because the panel of experts assembled for the current issue is incredible. Yes, I’m on the panel, BUT that’s not the only reason to read it. The editorial team does great work to provide a deep dive into 2020’s Top 10 Trends. And, honestly, I’m humbled to be a part of a diverse panel that provides insights for the trends issue.

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

School Lunch

“There ain’t no such thing as free lunch.” Oh, but there is! And it’s a great service to the children in Finland. Last month I noted that I visited Finland with my friend, and the CEO of Jamix, Mikko Jaatinen. Mikko arranged for a visit to an elementary school in his hometown of Jyväskylä.

Like all elementary schools, it was buzzing! We stepped inside to meet the principal and saw that kids only wore socks, and most teachers wore slippers. The floors had radiant heat, so it’s very comfortable on the feet, and the dirt stays outside. Another interesting fact is that kids play outside everyday of the year. What that means, is in addition to walking to school, kids get more fresh air during the day to help their brains stay engaged.

All this is leading up to the free lunch. Finland has been providing its children with free lunch for over 70 years. The benefit is that all kids receive a nourishing meal while in school. While I watched kids, of all elementary school ages, go through the lunch line it was great to see that they all took every option offered. The food was self-serve. They can take all they want but need to eat all they take. I saw no kid throw any food away, everything on the plate was eaten.

The menu that day consisted of mashed potatoes with shredded chicken (casserole), a variety of whole grain bread and näkkileipä (crispbread), shredded carrots, green peas, lettuce, and pasta salad. Kids had a choice of dressings and beverages. I naively asked what kind of lunch do kids bring from home? The answer was, ”why would they do that? Lunch is free.”

There is a central commissary in Jyväskylä where the meals are prepared. Food is delivered to schools and is handled by the foodservice staff at each school. Ovens are in the cafeteria should some food items need reheating.

This was a great visit and, as a chef, it was a pleasure to see kids enjoy the food in the cafeteria (yes, the potato-chicken casserole was tasty).

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – What Does Technology Do?

We believe we need technology, but have you ever asked – what does it do? Why do I need it? If you have, you are not alone. Understanding what technology does helps us to embrace its use and maximize its capabilities.

To understand what technology does, Jamix gives an example of technology as an employee. Here’s your AI employee:

Collects Information

Jamix will bring all information together in an organized manner and share it with all the users. All users are updated with possible changes in real-time.

Organizes

Jamix groups all information categorically and clearly. It maintains order in multisite operations, as well.

Connects Information

Information is linked in the system. This minimizes the risk for faulty or incomplete information. Work more efficient, quicker and easier.

Files

All essential information is saved for reviewing.

Guards

Information is kept safe behind passwords and firewalls. User rights limits information and functionalities available to authorized users.

Calculates

  • Sales/wastage
  • Shopping lists
  • Key figures related to inventory
  • Costs
  • Margins
  • Nutritive values
  • Recipe ingredient amounts

Routine Functions

Communicates information both within the organization and to external parties.

Updates product information from your suppliers.

Searches

Searches the information you are looking for in an instant with versatile search functions and groupings.

Guides

Ingredients needed;

Amounts needed;

Preparation instructions;

Schedule for preparation and production

Remembers

Standard orders and Traceability

Stays Up to Date

Continuing improve ensures Jamix is always up-to-date with your kitchen management demands – both internal and external.

Always Available

Thanks to cloud service always available regardless of place or time – all you need is an internet connection!

The above illustrations are courtesy of Jamix. It demonstrates the many jobs of technology in the workplace.

Fresh Ideas Food Management

Fresh Ideas Food Management invited me to participate in their annual company conference in early January. While there I judged their chef culinary competition, held a keynote talk about the US CulinaryScape, offered a tasting of Mankai, and interacted with almost everyone in the company.

Fresh Ideas is a company that is willing to break new ground, be the first, try something new, challenge their team to innovate, and many other great qualities. Matt Clervi and Dennis Owens lead the company with an entrepreneurial spirit, openness, and open arms. Throughout the conference I watched employees engage with Matt and Dennis to talk about ideas and how to continuously improve.

Keep an eye on this dynamic food-focused team.

The Big Game Pizza

For this year’s Big Game on Feb 2nd, the Hormel Team and I put our heads together to craft a 54 Topping Big Game Pizza. This gargantuan pizza topped out at 54 ingredients on a 9 foot pizza field. Each of the 5 flavor zones represented a region of the US and “20 yards”. The end zones were pure dessert indulgences.

The zones:

Northeast – Pork & Beans: Hormel Fire-braised pork shoulder on 3 bean salad with crispy fried onions.

South – Southern Fried Hormel Fire-braised Chicken with hot slaw, creamed corn, Hormel Black Label Bacon and pimento cheese.

Midwest – Hormel St. Louis Ribs served boneless on Hormel Mashed Potatoes, mozzarella and BBQ drizzle.

Southwest – Hormel Austin Blues Brisket, Wholly avocado, Herdez Salsa Verde, and pepper jack cheese.

Northwest – Hormel’s Happy Little Plants plant-based beef sliders with tomato sauce, grilled veggies, and romesco.

The pizza had its debut at Fox & Friends in NYC on Tuesday, Jan 21st. If you missed it, here’s a link.

Ingredient of the Month

Mejillones en Escabeche from Ramón Franco®

This can of mussels was delicious. Each one perfectly cooked, plump, and carefully packed. These mussels are great to eat on their own or as a warm garnish on a salad, fish, spread, etc.

Here’s where I found them: trovatoschrageselections.com

Cooking Tip

It’s definitely citrus season. My Mom recently sent a box of Indian River citrus. I have to be honest, I don’t like peeling each piece of grapefruit or orange, so I segmented the entire box. That leaves me

with a beautiful bowl of pure eating pleasure.

To segment – cut the two poles off the fruit. Then, using downward cuts, slice the skin away from the fruit. Only cut in enough to remove the outer peel and pith. Now cut between the internal membranes.

Bon Appetit.

World Food Programme

www.wfp.org

The following article was in CulinaryNXT’s November newsletter. My report about Finnish school lunches above is why Mikko’s letter is here again.

Jamix (www.jamix.com) founder and CEO, Mikko Jaatinen was invited to participate on a panel at the WFP meeting in Rome on October 17th. At the conclusion of the program, Mikko wrote this report.

WFP – World Food Programme, is an organization under UN – United Nations.

It is present in any major human crisis you can read on global media at any given time, such as Syria right now, feeding people in despair – providing emergency food assistance.

Another main focus for WFP is National School Feeding programs.

WFP is working in 80 countries and feeds 80 million school children. These countries are poor or for other reasons not capable of doing it themselves.

Challenges in producing food in big scale

The challenges in the operations are familiar to anyone trying to provide food on daily basis to hundreds or thousands of people.

How to plan a versatile menu that is nutritious but simultaneously cost-efficient and sustainable. That is challenging and a hard task. Ingredient costs fluctuate and calculating recipe and menu costs is time consuming if not even practically impossible without a digital system. But it gets even more complex with allergens and different diets just to name few.

Food waste happens in many phases of the food production process, all creating huge environmental effects and obviously losing money every time food is thrown away or lost unnecessarily. Is the number of meals correct? Can I scale the recipe according to the right portion size? Do I know how much of each ingredient should be ordered from the suppliers? Do I know the inventory at the moment? Do we have standardized recipes so the cooks can follow planned menu and recipes?

Finland has been offering free school lunch for over 70 years

In Finland every schoolchild has been offered a free and nutritious school meal for over 70 years. When the school lunch system started, Finland was a poor country. The offering was more porridges and soups, but still, every child got a meal at school.

School lunch has huge benefits from many aspects. Obviously a hungry child gets fed and is healthier and happier. Better learning results is a major return of this investment. It is quite obvious that Finland’s rise to the very top of the world in many different categories such as education and quality of life, is based on free nutritious school lunches for everyone. Finland is now a rich country.

Working for digitalization for 30 years

For already 30 years I have been tackling those challenges, in big scale food production, by digitalization.

Significant results can be achieved quickly and the opportunities to improve these processes are endless with the help of IT.

Kitchen Intelligence System can answer “Yes” to all of the above questions, and do even much more.

CFS side event in Rome

Finland was presenting its school lunch achievements in Rome Italy at the side event of CFS – Committee on World Food Security on October 17th, 2019.

I was privileged to be invited by Finnish government to Rome and be a member of the panel in the event.

I was simultaneously proud to present my experience and knowledge in a field where I have worked for such a long time – Solving problems and thinking of ever better solutions for feeding people.

I had great separate talks with stakeholders such as Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, Carmen Burbano de Lara as well as Sandra Westlake and Maria Jose Rojas of WFP, and Marjaana Manninen of Finnish Government.

Small change, big impact

I am sure that digitalization will help the world feed better even the poorest ones.

Even small steps in digitalization will have big impacts. Just having recipes in a digital system allows them to be scaled, to have accurate amounts for production, to follow nutrition and costs. Great digital systems do much more. But there are obviously huge opportunities to take digitalization even further, building eco-systems, presenting AI and giving ever more vital and useful information for daily processes and decision making.

Partnerships and co-operations with different stakeholders – governments, UN, WFP, businesses and individuals – are vital.

But especially important is will to do it.

I have that will!

Mikko Jaatinen

Founder, CEO of Jamix

 

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.

Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Predictions push us to innovate

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 3 Issue 1
January 2020

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

2020 is already here. We are 2 decades into the 21st century. I remember watching the original Star Trek TV show and thinking how far away, and futuristic the 21st century sounded. AND, how old I would be then! To digress – old is a state of mind. Yet, here we are living the 21st century. To me, this is an exciting time. The food industry continues to grow, innovate, and provide meaningful experiences for billions of people. In the words of Jackson Maine, “take it in”.

Wishing you a New Year of Health, Happiness and Peace!

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

This newsletter is a little different than last January. One article will be the last year in review, and another article talking about predictions. Next month, back to the regular features.

2019 Year in Review

The interesting thing about reviewing 2019 is how much was packed into a single year. Recipes, menus, travel, presentations, client meetings, conferences, you get the idea. Below the year is laid out monthly….somewhat. First, some overall stats:

  • 35 presentations on behalf of CulinaryNXT clients.
  • 13 conferences – presenter at 11 of these 13 conferences.
  • 139 new recipes developed for clients in 2019.
  • 26 distinct menus for events throughout the year (Jamix Kitchen Intelligence Systems made it easy to mine this data).
  • 12 unique newsletters sent out to select readers.

Vegan Lamb Satay

January 2019

Austin, MN, wind chill temperature -52°F. CulinaryNXT designed, planned, and executed Hormel’s annual shareholder’s dinner. What made this dinner interesting was an all vegan hors d’oeuvres menu. Several months later Hormel launched Happy Little Plants meat analog products.

February 2019

Attended North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers conference. Great opportunity to see what manufacturers are up to.

Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Burger

March 2019

At the start of the month, I was at New York City School Systems providing at tasting of Hungry Planet Philly Cheesesteak vegan burger.

From there, up to Boston for the New England Food Show, then to Yale with Fresh Ideas Food Management for a tour of the Ivy League dining facilities.

The month ended at a private home near Boston to hold a cooking class for Find The Cause Breast Cancer Foundation findthecausebcf.org I was auctioned off for this cooking class. It’s a lot of fun and a worthy cause.

April 2019

Things heat up this month. The start of the month was the Small Change Big Impact Food Summit at Harvard University sponsored by Hormel Foods. CulinaryNXT worked with Hormel Foods and Attention Span Media, and Harvard University Dining

Services to plan and deliver this conference. What made this conference different were the topics and the conference’s intent. This was conference that not only provided information, it also provided solutions.

Here’s a link for your review thefoodimpactsummit.com

The following week was in Los Angeles to conduct a cooking demo for the Sunrise Produce conference attendees. This came about when the president of Sunrise Produce, David Sapia, won the cooking demo at an auction for Rett Syndrome in Los Angeles, I was the auction item. Instead of a private cooking demo, David asked that I conduct a cooking demo for Sunrise Produce customers. This demo/presentation was plant-forward and healthy eating.

On April 24th I was in Scottsdale, AZ at the Produce For Better Health Conference. Amy Myrdal-Miller and I conducted a joint presentation/demo for the attendees. We created recipes for the demo, and the accomplished culinary team at the resort recreated the recipes at lunch for the attendees. Win-win situation.

May 2019

Early May I teamed up with US Foods VP Brand Activation, Mark Eggerding, at Ohio State. This was a presentation/demo about trends with food demos to illustrate the trends.

Later in the week, it was off to Chicago for the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. This year’s show had significant impact for Jamix. Receiving the NRA KI Award provided Jamix with national recognition for innovative kitchen intelligence systems. The team in Finland was as excited as we in the US were.

May wrapped up at the Los Angeles Unified School District. At Hormel Foods invitation I joined their team to explore how to provide resources for LAUSD. This is a project in the works and will have significant impact on thousands of school children.

June 2019

Oh, what a month! June starts out with a culinary competition at UMass Amherst Dining program. The level of competition was exceptional, and it was a pleasure to interact with dozens of fantastic chefs attending the conference at UMass. Ken Toong and his team operate a conference that is truly focused on culinary.

Now for a crazy week. On Sunday June 16th I arrive in Nashville, TN to meet my Hungry Planet colleague, Freddie Holland. We represented Hungry Planet at a vegan/vegetarian product cutting for a Group Purchasing Organization. There I reconnected with a CIA grad and celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan. Chef Chauhan was kind enough to provide us with prep space before the cutting. Incidentally, Hungry Planet was awarded a contract.

2 days later, I’m at CIA in Hyde Park with Hinoman to introduce Mankai to the greater foodservice industry. I rolled out Breakfast Mankai Bings, Sweet Potato Hash with Mankai, and several other new food items with mankai as the star ingredient.

And on Friday the same week, I’m on a plane to Singapore to help launch Hungry Planet premium plant-based meats in Asia. Working with a local Singapore chef we held a tasting for over 100 guests (suppliers/chefs/media/and others) in the Asian market who are interested in plant-based meats. The food was a mix of western cuisine and Asian cuisine. The local chef, Addis Tan, is the chef/owner of HRVST in Singapore. Chef Addis and his team work with me to deliver delicious Asian influenced foods for our guests. Including a vegan Singapore Chili Crab!

My wife was able to join me on this trip to Asia and from Singapore we visited Tokyo and then Hong Kong. This was an incredible food journey!

July 2019

National Association of College and University Food Service (NACUFS) conference was in Denver, CO this year. I was there with the Jamix Team.

July was a month to introduce Mankai to MIT, Northwestern, and Yale. Through presentations and tastings we were able to introduce this incredible plant to these 3 institutions.

August 2019

Chef Christian Petroni

August was fun. The stars aligned and I reconnected with a long time friend, Chef Christian Petroni. I met Christian many years ago when he was the chef at a tapas restaurant in White Plains, NY. Since then, Christian has opened 5 restaurants – Fortina in the NY, CT area. He is on Food Network ALL THE TIME. And his love of food and the chef life is energizing. He wanted to know more about plant-based meats. So I visited his team at Fortina in Stamford, and we cooked. Great food, great chefs exploring a new food item and loving the experience. fortinapizza.com

September 2019

3 Certified Master Chefs joined up to innovate for Hormel Food’s management meeting early in September. Chef Tony Seta, CMC, Chef Tom Griffiths, CMC, and Chef Dan Coudreaut, CEC, joined me in Austin, MN to deliver global mash-ups to Hormel senior leaders.

Ron DeSantis 2nd from left with hat

During the management meeting at Hormel, I joined a chef panel to share industry insights with Hormel’s senior leaders. The panel consisted of – Chef Grace Ramierz @chefgraceramirez Chef Christina Machamer @chef.cmac Chef Kenneth Temple @kennethtemple Chef Tony Finnestad, and me @therealculinarynxt

From Austin, back to MIT in Boston to introduce MIT students to mankai.

October 2019

Energetic and fun visit to NYC Schools to conduct a student tasting of Hungry Planet plant-based burgers. Students were engaging, inquisitive, and not shy about their thoughts. Students gave a thumbs up 89% approval rating…..very cool.

November 2019

First day of November had me in Vernon, NY to help a dear friend, Garrett Law, host a community dinner in an old church he bought earlier in the year. With the help of Chef Larry Watkins, over 100 guests enjoyed a late Harvest Dinner at thisoldchurch.com

The next day I was on a plane to Helsinki, Finland. After a day tour of Helsinki, I gave a talk to Finnish foodservice managers about the US Culinaryscape. After that, it was a 3 hour drive north to Jamix Oy headquarters in Jyväskylä, Finland. Jamix founder & CEO Mikko Jaatinen offered me an opportunity to address the company employees. This is how I found out how excited and proud the Jamix team was to have received the NRA KI Award for the work they do. This group of professionals love what they do!

December 2019

My career at CIA rewards me often as I travel. This month I was visiting a food manufacturer in New Jersey and met the company’s Director of R&D. This chef explained that he worked on a project with me while he was a CIA student. Now, many years later, he’s leading R&D at a quality food manufacturer. A tour of the production facility, and tasting the food, confirms that this chef is making a difference.

December wraps up with me holding a demo at the NY Produce Show. The demo had 2 parts – okonomiyaki as a global food platform, and global sauces as flavor bursts for vegetable dishes. A recent CIA grad, Rebecca Moran @moransmunchies assisted me (thank goodness, because the cooking stage had a power shut down for about 10 minutes, and Rebecca came to the rescue!) at the demo.

There you have CulinaryNXT’s highlights for 2019. Thanks to everyone for their interest and support.

Culinary & more…

Predictions

Each year numerous organizations, the media, and people make predictions for the coming year. Why? Just think about it, if I predict that 2020 will be THE year for Havarti grilled cheese sandwich with pickled salsify, what happens? Maybe someone will ask me my prediction for 2021, Havarti producers will sell more Havarti, and salsify will be in demand. I know I’m oversimplifying, but food predictions are odd. At the end of this newsletter is my predictions which I wrote in 2010. So, what did I know back then? Here’s some of what I wrote back then – “flavorful, bolder, fresher, natural, organic, local and sustainably sourced fare is impacting menu design”, and “3 Themes will impact 2010: Global Impact, Ingredient Impact, and Emerging Impact”. Here’s the thing – so what?

When I think of predictions, I look for things that will have impact. Here are examples of what I mean:

  • Henry Ford predicting people will want cars if the car is affordable.
  • Steve Jobs predicting people will want a computer that fits in your pocket, takes pictures, and functions as a phone.
  • Ray Kroc predicting that people will want an affordable meal fast.
  • Walt Disney predicting that, deep down, we are all kids and want wholesome entertainment.

These predictions, and others like them, have had a resounding impact on the world.

Does that mean we shouldn’t predict? No. It’s fun to see what predictions happened and which don’t. Predictions can help planning and forecasting. And predictions help us to stay in tune with the industry and push us to innovate. Who knows, the innovation might have the impact of a Henry, Steve, Ray, or Walt.

Last year I flew 102,199 miles. My journeys took me across the US several times, to Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Helsinki, Bavaria, and other places. Food was always a significant part of all traveling. In light of my global travel, here’s my trend prediction for the future – good food will be the differentiator. Why? My experiences taught me that only good food will have staying power, good food doesn’t need to be the newest “foam” or “cryoconcentration” (although this is VERY cool), good food has to taste so good that you are satisfied. Perhaps it is an experience. Who knows? Suffice it to be so good that you remember it and talk about it.

Reflecting back, I couldn’t tell you the “best” meal experience of last year. Perhaps it was with my wife at a Michelin started restaurant in NYC, or it might have been at a friend’s home in Jyväskylä eating Karelian pie, then again it could have been tempura in Tokyo with my life-long Japanese friend, being served personally by the chef who has been preparing tempura in his restaurant for 40 years, or it might have been paella at our neighborhood beach with the entire neighborhood. The common thread? Good food.

Bon 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 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.

Reprint from 2010

2010 Food Industry Outlook

2010 will continue to create challenges for food service operators. High unemployment, weak consumer confidence, the on-going war on terror, fierce competition, and other economic uncertainties will slow recovery in the food service industry. The good news is that there are a number of interesting and innovative broad themes emerging as the food industry enters the 2nd decade of the 21st century. The last decade provided a wealth of new ingredients for the chefs and food operators. We ate superfruits, macro and micro-nutrients, pre and pro-biotics, organic and sustainable meats, poultry, and vegetables, and indulged in some of the finest single-source chocolate on the planet.

Social networked foodies found a new voice and operators delivered food to the Millennials from trucks, wherever they wanted fresh fast food. The Wall Street Journal called these trucks, “aggressively gourmet, tech-savvy, and politically correct”. Restaurateurs like Danny Meyer served upscale Indian food from a cart outside Tabla in NYC, and the former Le Cirque pastry chef operates Dessert Truck in Manhattan.

Restaurants “reinvented” pizza as flatbreads. Flatbreads are broadly defined as simple breads, lightly leavened and topped with savory ingredients. Diners made out with the likes of – Caprese Flatbread, Truffle Flatbread, Grilled Potato Flatbread, Tapenade Flatbread, and Sea Salt & Parmesan Flatbread. This category is well received and served at bar menus, as appetizers for sharing, and as main dishes. The ease of preparation and the ability to change quickly will keep these on menus for a while longer.

Mini-indulgences resonated with guests. Sliders quickly became the “must have” menu item, and customers indulged in decadent samplers like – mini chocolate pot pies, or mini cupcakes. Small foods on a stick allowed diners to experiment with various skewers – anticuchos, satay, and yakitori. One size doesn’t always fit all. Small is now smaller. Restaurants respond in numerous ways

  • Entrees available in full or half sizes
  • Miniature menu items
  • Pre-appetizer small bites meant for sharing

As the new decade launches the food industry is beholden to the less than inspiring global economic situation. What is good for the restaurant goer is that tough times bring out another side of culinary innovation. Value will continue to be important to diners, and restaurateurs will return to the basics with good food and drink. Familiar foods will resonate with customers, albeit with a twist. “Post-recession, we don’t expect manufacturers to reinvent the wheel”, states Lynn Dornblaser, of Mintel. Diners will expect good flavors; good ingredients and where they come from; and of course, good pricing.

Menus will need to be fresh, both from ingredients and with interesting twists on familiar foods. Chefs will incorporate high quality ingredients, classical preparations twisted for today’s diner, and authenticity will be expected in traditional preparations. Key will be to evoke customer’s emotions and drive repeat business. Menu design will be important to restaurants and updated menus will reflect customer demands and build excitement about the offerings. Today, demands for more flavorful, bolder, fresher, natural, organic, local and sustainably sourced fare is impacting menu design. The past 2 decades has produced a more sophisticated, and well-traveled consumers. In addition, aging Baby Boomers are continuing to look for new and exciting food offers. This demographic will continue to impact important segments of the food industry. Restaurant operators looking for on-trend flavors, foods and beverages, will incorporate new flavor and ingredient trends. Among these are:

  • Bacon – bacon showed up on menus this year in cocktails (at NYC bar, Please Don’t Tell), to dessert (cupcakes from More in Chicago). Expect to see bacon and its cousins, pancetta or speck, continue to be explored on menus.
  • Salt – premium salts such as fleur de sel, Hawaiian red salt, or smoked salt will be highlighted on menus. Sweet-savory combinations are likely to continue using salt (Haagen-Dazs fleur de sel ice cream, or the CIA’s Apple Pie Bakery Café sea salt caramel).
  • Fruit – fruits will play a significant role in savory applications. Roasted Black Jonathan apples compliment Pork at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega in Napa Valley. Look for balsamic strawberries, oven-roasted figs, and pickled peaches on this year’s menus.
  • Smoking – smoking provides layers of flavor from the various woods available to chefs. Expect smoked cheese, vegetables, and herbs to provide complex layers of flavor.
  • Sauces – customers will be the winners when it comes to sauces. Chefs will “re-discover” classical French sauces, and embrace Global sauces at the same time. Fond de veau, veloute, and béchamel will find new uses along side mayonnaise, mojo, and romesco.

Three main themes will define 2010 –

Global Impact

  • Familiar with a Twist
  • Europe Revisited
  • Fusion Grows Up

Ingredient Impact

  • Freshness
  • Source

Emerging Impact

  • Mobile to You

Familiar with a Twist

Comfort foods resonate particularly strongly with consumers. People crave foods that are soothing or just bring a smile to their faces. Comfort foods are favorites from childhood – foods such as macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, meatloaf and stew. But these old favorites are getting new twists on today’s restaurant menus. American food will continue to be defined by the incorporation of our heritage – the American Melting Pot. Macaroni and cheese is being made with penne pasta in white truffle-infused cream sauce, served with grilled shrimp, asparagus and scallions. Mimi’s Café introduced a seasonal “Comfort Foods with a Twist” menu, offering Banana Chocolate Chip Pancake Breakfast, Tender Pork Shank and Mimi’s S’mores. The presentation of food, the flavor, and the experimentation will continue to excite in 2010.

Traditional favorites using lesser cuts of meat are the foundation for comfort- and value-minded diners – and chefs. Entrées such as braised-brisket ropa vieja at Justin’s in Albany, N.Y.; and beef daube at Nel Centro in Portland, Ore., capture the trend. Operators are looking to buy cuts of meats that are less costly; for example, buying chicken thighs instead of breasts or using whole chuck roll to make slow-braised beef. Nel Centro Chef-owner David Machado, daube recipe calls for beef chuck roll braised in red wine with pancetta, a pig’s trotter, crushed tomatoes and pork stock. His other restaurants,

Vindalho and Lauro Kitchen, also feature cost-effective comfort fare such as braised pork shoulder and lamb shanks.

Burgers have advertised the use of fresh Angus beef, premium ingredients or a signature sauce. Operators are going beyond standard burger toppings – lettuce, tomatoes and ketchup – and are offering interesting twists. The “better burger” trend is evident across the foodservice industry, in segments from fine dining and casual dining to fast casual and quick service.

  • McDonald’s has unveiled Angus Third Pounder burgers with 100% Angus beef on premium buns in deluxe, bacon and cheese, and mushroom and Swiss varieties.
  • Burger King has new mini-BK Burger Shots.
  • Red Robin has introduced burgers with spicy ancho-chipotle or satisfying bleu cheese toppings.
  • Atlanta’s new FLIP Burger Boutique is serving “upscale yet affordable burgers,” ranging from a $6.50 basic burger to the ultimate in decadence, a Kobe burger served with foie gras, shaved truffles, bread and butter, pickles and red wine syrup for $45.
  • 5 Guys Burgers has created an east coast cult following of their retro-burger joint made with fresh beef and fries.
  • BLT Burger in Las Vegas offers an American Kobe Wagyu burger for $17.

Sandwiches, like burgers, have also been going upscale. Sandwiches are appealing because it can simultaneously offer consumers something familiar and something unexpected. Upscaling is often achieved through the use of high-quality cuts of meat, artisan breads, specialty toppings and distinctive condiments. Sandwiches will emphasize global influence by offering Scandinavian open faced, Indian Kati rolls, PLTs with pancetta or pork belly, international grilled cheeses and redefined Mexican tortas. The trend toward hand-crafted gourmet sandwiches is especially apparent in the fast casual segment. Panera Bread Company offers a Smokehouse Turkey Sandwich, featuring smoked turkey breast, smoked bacon, smoked Cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and ale mustard on grilled three-cheese artisan bread. Meanwhile, Au Bon Pain offers the Prosciutto & Mozzarella Sandwich, combining prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, romaine, tomatoes, mayonnaise and Mediterranean relish on a farmhouse roll. At Char No. 4 in Brooklyn they serve Char’s tender, smoky lamb pastrami – tissue-thin slices on seeded rye with coriander-spiked aioli. Tom Collichio’s ‘wichcraft serves a meatloaf sandwich with cheddar, bacon, and tomato relish.

Continue to expect deep-fried everything. Thomas Keller’s ad hoc restaurant in Napa Valley has a southern fried chicken night, NYC’s Back Forty is offering deep-fried pork jowl nuggets, and Fried Apple Pie is served at Sou’Wester in Washington, D.C. Fried food is craveable and diners continue to order fried foods. House-made potato chips, tortilla chips fries, and croquettes are turning up on menus. Most consumers do not deep-fry at home, so expect them to look for fried food away from home.

Europe Revisited

The recent release of Julie & Julia is inspiring restaurateurs to explore French recipes that bring back memories of Continental Cuisine. Nostalgic Julia Child fare, such as lobster Thermidor, quiche Lorraine and salmon mousse, are reminding diners there is comfort in familiar. At the same time, these foods become new for a younger dining crowd. During the last decade diners were introduced to a global flavor palate. Exciting foods from Mexico, Central and South America, the Mediterranean, and Asia dominated menus. American diners were so intoxicated with the excitement of new flavors, they quietly set aside the traditions and classics of “the Continent”. 2010 will see operators and diners remembering the best from Europe. Chefs will reintroduce Continental Cuisine to diners.

Fusion Grows Up

Los Angeles’ Kogi truck and its signature Korean tacos and Vermilion’s Indian-Latin blends gets at least some of the credit for this latest fusion craze, which will only get bigger in 2010. Of course a few operators were ahead of the curve— Asia de Cuba has offered diners blends of Asian and Latin cuisines since 1997; Jose Garces debuted Peruvian-Cantonese hybrid Chifa in Philadelphia in early 2009; and Richard Sandoval continues on the fusion path he established in Washington, D.C. Their menus offer previews of flavor couplings to come:

  • Chaufa Rice: stir-fried rice with chorizo, mango, edamame and soy-glazed scallops
  • Cuban BBQ Chicken with Thai coconut sticky rice, avocado-cilantro fruit salsa and tamarind sauce
  • Pulled-beef tostadas with cilantro, peanuts, bean sprouts, cotija cheese and guacamole
  • Short rib sliders with Sriracha aioli at E&O Trading Co.
  • Sourdough bread and lavash with feta walnut spread and Caspian tapenade at Zare at Fly Trap

Global influences are here to stay. Sriracha (rooster sauce) is the new salsa. Vietnamese Banh Mi is the new Ham & Swiss; and Middle Eastern spices and spreads go mainstream. When consumers dine away from home, they want food with unique flavors and profiles they cannot easily recreate in their kitchens. These distinctive flavors are based on ethnic ingredients and cooking techniques. Asian, Mexican and Italian influences have migrated to mainstream restaurants. To differentiate their menus from those of competitors, operators of ethnic restaurants are introducing more focused regional ethnic cuisine, such as Italian entrées from specific regions, Jalisco-style Mexican fare, or Korean or Vietnamese items instead of just “Asian.”

Freshness

Emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients will continue to grow. Operators will be challenged to provide interesting and flavorful food within the constraints of seasonality. Fresh frozen local strawberries will be used in the winter, and will deliver a clean, just-picked tasted. Buying vine-ripened tomatoes in August, then freezing them whole will provide operators with salsas and tomato toppings that taste just-picked in the dead of winter. Innovation in acquiring and handling seasonal food will challenger kitchens to re-learn canning. Expect to see house-pickled summer vegetables to appear on menus. Just because people don’t have time to cook doesn’t mean they don’t crave homemade food. In 2010, watch chefs add an artisan touch where they can: artisan breads and cheeses, house-infused spirits, locally sourced produce and meats. “Rustic” will describe naturally-shaped pizza crusts and mashed potatoes. Restaurant-grown items are also a great way for restaurants to differentiate themselves.

With a vegetable garden at the White House and the First Lady now tending it, look for more chefs to follow suit with herb and vegetable gardens. Emphasis will be on local and seasonal ingredients. Demand for heirloom farm products—from tomatoes to lettuce, to livestock—will continue.

Sourcing

A distinct trend is the consumer preference for locally sourced and sustainable food–both produce and proteins. Michael Pollan made readers aware that sustainable food is achievable in his book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. Today’s consumers are aware and concerned about their carbon footprints, and, when they purchase food, they want to know their purchase does not have a larger impact on the environment. This emphasis on local fare has implications for restaurants that are challenged to find reliable, adequate supplies of locally sourced and sustainably produced ingredients at a cost that allows them to make a profit. Given that the issue is now firmly on the minds of consumers, smart restaurant operators are responding appropriately. A case in point is Corner Bakery Café informing customers it planned on “staying local” over the summer growing season with its BBLT Sandwich LTO, which featured a double portion of locally grown tomatoes. America is just now learning how to be sustainable, and Americans are holding themselves responsible. In 2010 we’ll see people and companies becoming sustainable for authentic reasons; they are doing it to make a difference. After all, that’s what comes with understanding.

Pristine local organic produce is no longer enough, chefs and guests are casting their nets beyond small, local, sustainable and organic farming to demand sustainable seafood certified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch and other eco-conscious organizations.

Mobile to You

It’s the food truck social gathering of focused food purveyors creating the new block party. These trucks are serving grass-fed beef burgers, free-range chicken, heritage pork, local lamb, crème brulee, and fusion tacos. Professional chefs are leaving hotel jobs as chefs to open and operate a food truck. One challenge is to convince consumers that they are not the standard hot dog wagon. Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ serves Korean beef short rib tacos and kimchi quesadillas in LA. Kogi BBQ gets Tweets from customers about great locations to park. When Kogi BBQ shows up, people are waiting in line for the food.

This dining style is in line with Millenninal’s preference for fresh, sustainable, interesting food with big flavor served where and when they want it.

Sources: Various media outlets.

Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

“Jamix is the perfect example of a sophisticated kitchen system easy to use for the end-user”

Kitchen technology and systems have to be easy to use for the end-users. Usability is especially important for users who are not so technology driven. 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 12
December 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

This is my last newsletter for 2019. It’s hard to believe that another year is over. As we head into early winter (and it’s snowing today in New England), I wish you a Happy and Healthy Holiday season. Take time to smell the cookies or carve out some time to bake them yourself! The little joys of baking or laughing with family and friends during the holiday season are the kinds of things that bring happiness.

Wishing you a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Finland Visit

Finland in November is cold. What made it a fabulous visit are the people. Everyone I met was kind, welcoming, open, and warm hearted.

Jamix CEO, Mikko Jaatinen invited me to Jamix’s yearly conference in Helsinki to talk about the US CulinaryScape. My talk consisted of 4 main parts –

  • Trends
  • Emerging CulinaryScape
  • College & University Insight
  • Jamix as an Industry Disruptor

Helsinki is a port city and easy to navigate.

One of the highlights of a Helsinki tour was of the Temppeliaukio Church. This is a Lutheran Church built into a rock. The walls of the church are the rock cliff it’s built in to, and the ceiling is coiled copper. It’s a breathtaking place of worship with a special peace within.

The food scene is what one would expect in a capital city, diverse and vibrant. I did dine at Muru Ravintola. This was a warm, medium size restaurant. The waitstaff was knowledgeable and competent. The chef is very good at his craft. Jerusalem Artichokes, Yogurt with Fresh Black Truffles, and Bucarones was the first course. The second course, Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese, was my favorite. The rest of the meal was expertly prepared and served. We also ate Sea Buckthorn Sorbet. This tasted mango-pineapple-like. The sea buckthorn berry apparently has many nutritional benefits and is a part of Finnish cuisine.

One last observation of Finland – there are 190,000 lakes! 5.5 million people and 2.5 million saunas…..Finns love their sauna ?. Just don’t ask which is the best way to enjoy a sauna, there are 5.5 million ways!

Culinary & more…

End-user Tech

Technology has always fascinated me. When I returned to the US in 1986 after cooking for 5 years in Germany my first computer was a Macintosh 512K. I got it while taking Computer 101 at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. The class was being taught on IBM MS-DOS computers, and I was barely able to comprehend how to use the MS-DOS computer. Nor did I really care, I was hooked on a Mac and as far as I was concerned, learning MS-DOS was a waste of time.

Thankfully, the personal computer industry and Bill Gates thought that learning MS-DOS was a waste of time and computers all became as easy to use as a Mac. Professional software systems have evolved over the years as well. Jamix is the perfect example of a sophisticated system easy to use for the end-user.

Easy to use for the end-user, in Jamix’s case, means a very powerful system capable of complex operations. This is how I describe it – when you pick up your smartphone or tablet, you launch apps based on what you want to do. This is the same way to use Jamix. Launch Jamix Kitchen Intelligence Systems and decide what you want to do, then click on that app. The heart of Jamix’s approach is to provide a powerful portable tool, that’s easy to use.

Plant-based Meat vs Cattle Ranchers

This weekend, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled – America’s Cattle Ranchers Are Fighting Back Against Fake Meat. Here’s the link: www.wsj.com

When did plant-based meat become “fake”? There’s nothing fake about plant-based meat. This food is a high-quality source of protein, that satisfies.

Hungry Planet vegan Yakitori

The interest in plant-based meats continues to grow. This month I conducted tastings in Chicago with a food manufacturer; in Austin, TX with the University of Texas Dining; and with an airline caterer at LAX. There were skeptics among the tasters, but delicious food is delicious food. And in the end, everyone enjoyed what they ate. Fake was never a word used regarding the food. Great, delicious, tasty, wonderful, were words used, but never fake.

After sending out my last newsletter I received an email from a close friend. He believes if a description says meat, it has to be “REAL” meat. And if you want to eat bacon, then eat bacon. Several years ago I had a similar conversation with an excellent chef in West Hollywood, Tal Ronnen. Tal is a vegan chef and runs a fantastic vegan restaurant in West Hollywood. When I asked him why “vegan chicken” he explained that this was one way to give people a point of reference. I understood that explanation. It might not work for everyone, but it worked for me. I recently served plant-based lamb to a man who has never eaten meat. I asked him how he would describe the plant-based lamb. He thought for a split-second and said, delicious. Where I’m going with this is that plant-based meat isn’t fake anything. In the right hands it’s delicious.

Links

Here are a couple links to Attention Span Media. One is how they created the CulinaryNXT logo and the next is to Attention FWD which looks at future topics, including the food industry.

www.attentionspan.com

attentionfwd.com

Karelian Pie is a traditional pastry that I discovered in Finland. They were on every hotel’s breakfast buffet, in supermarkets, and in homes. The best were at a friend’s house – hot out of the oven, brushed with melted butter, and served with egg-butter. AH! You are wondering what egg-butter is. Take softened butter and stir-in chopped hard boiled eggs, salt and white pepper. It makes me think of a deconstructed hollandaise, and it’s rich, creamy, craveable and goes perfect with Karelian Pie.

//www.saimaalife.com/recipe-finnish-karelian-pies/

Ingredient of the Month

Canned Tuna

All canned/jarred tuna is not made the same. Canned/jarred tuna is an excellent pantry staple and is ready when you are for a tuna salad sandwich or to top a Caesar Salad. I like placing large chunks of jarred tuna on charcuterie/cheese board to change things up, or add the tuna to a classic niçoise salad.

I look for canned tuna that has large, whole muscle packed in olive oil. Same for jarred tuna. This way I can served the piece on a salad, or I can break it down when mixing tuna salad for a sandwich. Buying whole muscle allows me flexibility.

Cooking Tip

Heat the Pan

Heat the sauté, or roasting pan before adding food to it. This helps to ensure searing and sizzling which lead to great color and taste. When I start cooking at home, I put the fry pan on the range top and set the temperature to low. That way I’m ready to punch the heat up and cook. Same for the roasting pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and turn it on, by the time prep is done, the pan is ready to roast the cauliflower or any other food you’d like to roast.

In the professional kitchen, pans are kept in a hot oven or stacked in a hot area of the cooking battery, so the pans are always ready.

This is a simple tip that helps.

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.

Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Nutrient database information is not a simple subject

Nutrient database included in a kitchen management system helps chefs and dieticians in creating menus with nutritional balance. Nutrient database 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 11
November 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

I had a wonderful experience with high school students from Queens, NY a week ago. While at NYC schools’ administration offices to conduct a tasting of a plant-based burger I was asked to introduce the product. The students wanted to know if I knew any celebrity chefs. After I told them a couple of stories about some chef friends, one student asked, “why do you want our opinions, you know the best chefs?”

“Because it’s your opinion that matters”, is what I told them. I explained that their opinions are as valuable as Bobby Flay’s. Their faces beamed with pride!

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

World Food Programme

www.wfp.org

The following article is reprinted by permission.

Jamix (www.jamix.com) founder and CEO, Mikko Jaatinen was invited to participate on a panel at the WFP meeting in Rome on October 17th. At the conclusion of the program, Mikko wrote this report.

WFP – World Food Programme, is an organization under UN – United Nations.

It is present in any major human crisis you can read on global media at any given time, such as Syria right now, feeding people in despair – providing emergency food assistance.

Another main focus for WFP is National School Feeding programs.

WFP is working in 80 countries and feeds 80 million school children. These countries are poor or for other reasons not capable of doing it themselves.

Challenges in producing food in big scale

The challenges in the operations are familiar to anyone trying to provide food on daily basis to hundreds or thousands of people.

How to plan a versatile menu that is nutritious but simultaneously cost-efficient and sustainable. That is challenging and a hard task. Ingredient costs fluctuate and calculating recipe and menu costs is time consuming if not even practically impossible without a digital system. But it gets even more complex with allergens and different diets just to name few.

Food waste happens in many phases of the food production process, all creating huge environmental effects and obviously losing money every time food is thrown away or lost unnecessarily. Is the number of meals correct? Can I scale the recipe according to the right portion size? Do I know how much of each ingredient should be ordered from the suppliers? Do I know the inventory at the moment? Do we have standardized recipes so the cooks can follow planned menu and recipes?

Finland has been offering free school lunch for over 70 years

In Finland every schoolchild has been offered a free and nutritious school meal for over 70 years. When the school lunch system started, Finland was a poor country. The offering was more porridges and soups, but still, every child got a meal at school.

School lunch has huge benefits from many aspects. Obviously a hungry child gets fed and is healthier and happier. Better learning results is a major return of this investment. It is quite obvious that Finland’s rise to the very top of the world in many different categories such as education and quality of life, is based on free nutritious school lunches for everyone. Finland is now a rich country.

Working for digitalization for 30 years

For already 30 years I have been tackling those challenges, in big scale food production, by digitalization.

Significant results can be achieved quickly and the opportunities to improve these processes are endless with the help of IT.

Kitchen Intelligence System can answer “Yes” to all of the above questions, and do even much more.

CFS side event in Rome

Finland was presenting its school lunch achievements in Rome Italy at the side event of CFS – Committee on World Food Security on October 17th, 2019.

I was privileged to be invited by Finnish government to Rome and be a member of the panel in the event.

I was simultaneously proud to present my experience and knowledge in a field where I have worked for such a long time – Solving problems and thinking of ever better solutions for feeding people.

I had great separate talks with stakeholders such as Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, Carmen Burbano de Lara as well as Sandra Westlake and Maria Jose Rojas of WFP, and Marjaana Manninen of Finnish Government.

Small change, big impact

I am sure that digitalization will help the world feed better even the poorest ones.

Even small steps in digitalization will have big impacts. Just having recipes in a digital system allows them to be scaled, to have accurate amounts for production, to follow nutrition and costs. Great digital systems do much more. But there are obviously huge opportunities to take digitalization even further, building eco-systems, presenting AI and giving ever more vital and useful information for daily processes and decision making.

Partnerships and co-operations with different stakeholders – governments, UN, WFP, businesses and individuals – are vital.

But especially important is will to do it.

I have that will!

Mikko Jaatinen

Founder, CEO of Jamix

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – Nutrient Database

Through my work with Jamix Kitchen Intelligence Systems I’m asked which nutrient database is used by Jamix. That question comes up, presumably, because nutrient database information is not a simple subject.

There are nutrient databases existing which claim to have tens of thousands of nutrients. This may be true, but the quality of the data is the question. While researching various databases available, the most cited nutrient database in the United States is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. There are commercial databases that claim more foods, but these foods are primarily finished goods. The baseline nutrient information for produce, meats, dairy, beverages, etc all come from the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR). The USDA also publishes a database that is used to convert food and beverages consumed into a document called: What We Eat In America. This database expands the information provide by USDA SR.

The University of Minnesota offers a nutrient database with twice as many foods as the USDA database, but the University of Minnesota database is built on the USDA’s. All the information above is a long way of making a point – the USDA nutrient database is considered a gold standard. In fact, when the Nutrition Society of the UK conducted a comparison of nutrient databases, it used the USDA nutrient database for the comparison.

Which database to use depends on how it will be used. If an operator uses branded, finished products then a commercial database might work well. Whereas an operation using more scratch-style preparation will be satisfied with fewer finished products. What is good to know, is that in both situations the base information comes from one reputable source.

Vegan Fast Food

During a west coast trip to San Diego, I visited a vegan fast food chain called – Plant Power Fast Food

www.plantpowerfastfood.com

This location was, coincidentally, 3 blocks from the Ocean Beach apartment I rented in 1976. Crazy! And the food was crazy good. I had the “Big Zac”, and it delivered. Full disclosure, they use Hungry Planet plant-based meats and I’ve been working with Hungry Planet for over 2 years.

The “Big Zac” was really good, vegan fast food. The restaurant was clean, bright and the counter server knew about the product line. I know one thing, if I’m back in San Diego, near Ocean Beach, and in the mood for a “Zac attack”, I’m heading to Plant Power.

 

B. Good Restaurant – Boston

Two colleagues said to meet at B. Good, Washington St. Boston, so I did. I had NO idea what to expect in this restaurant, but I wanted lunch. The menu board had a lot of great options and I ordered the SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS – zucchini noodles, eggplant meatballs, kale, parmesan, tomato, marinara. This dish was delicious! Everything well prepared, food was hot, wait time was short. The finishing kitchen is open to view and is in the restaurant. What I saw was fresh ingredients being prepared and immediately served. Everything right about that.

The take-out business was busy. Clearly, they have an app allowing customers to order and pay ahead, then just walk in and pick up the order. Back to what I ate…..the star of the dish was the eggplant meatballs. There wasn’t any animal meat, but who cares? I understood what they were saying. These things are GOOD. I now know the eggplant meatballs are available as a side.

www.bgood.com

Mankai at MIT

Yes, that MIT. In Cambridge. It turns out the Resident District Manager of Bon Appetit at MIT is a very dear colleague. Chef Gary Arthur leads the culinary team and launched menu items using mankai. www.eatmankai.com

You may recall I introduced Mankai in my August 2019 newsletter. It is the smallest plant on the planet and is harvested every 72 hours. Mankai grows in fresh water and is a complete protein (all essential amino acids), it has B12 and iron. One of the culinary benefits of Mankai is its neutral taste. This allows it to be incorporated with many foods.

At MIT, the culinary team used Mankai for smoothies, an Asian-style soup, and in the hand-stretched pizza dough. The student body was very interested, and many came back to try it a second time. More information on Mankai in 2020.

Ingredient of the Month

Truff Hot Sauce

If you haven’t tried this stuff – TRY IT! My dear friend, Chef Christian Petroni, set a bottle of this on the table at his restaurant, Fortina and I was hooked at the first taste. This stuff is GOOD. The heat level is balanced, and the sauce has great taste. Additionally, the sauce has a rich texture which provides a very satisfactory mouthfeel.

truffhotsauce.com

Who knew?

Cooking Tip

Chopped Parsley

This is a short cooking tip. In professional kitchens, chefs chop enough parsley for use during the meal period. That way we’re not chopping every time we need some of the herb. So, do the same in your kitchen. Chop the entire bunch(es) of parsley and put it in the fridge to use for the rest of the week. This is, in classical French cooking, mise en place. Today it’s called “place” or “mise”. It simply means having things ready to make the magic happen.

Incidentally, put the chopped parsley between a couple sheets of paper towels and squeeze the moisture out. This will keep it fresh smelling and tasting for a few days in the fridge.

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 nutrition information in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System

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
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