Tech needs to streamline, minimize, and automate data entry.

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 7
July 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

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

Words and pictures about the trip are below!

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Los Angeles Unified School District

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

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

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

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

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

 

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cancer Nutrition Consortium

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

 

Asian Trip Highlights

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

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

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

 

Ingredient of the Month

Petite Diced Tomatoes

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

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

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

 

Cooking Tip

Searing for Flavor

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

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

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

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

Bon Appétit!

Seafood in Tokyo

Wet Market in Hong Kong

Sushi Chef

Tempura Master

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

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

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

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 6
June 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

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

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

NRA

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

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

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

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

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

These are a handful of interesting foods to watch.

Culinary & more…

Dynamic System

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small Change Big Impact Food Summit

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

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

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

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

Ingredient of the Month

Colatura di Alici

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

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

Cooking Tip

Crispy Skin Fish

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

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

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

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

Serve immediately and enjoy crispy skin fish.

Bon Appétit!

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

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

Nutritional information creates a menu balance

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 5
May 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

When is it too cold? I’m talking about planes, restaurants, offices…public spaces. On a recent trip every where seemed to have a/c on at really low temps, and it’s not summer yet! Maybe it’s the years I spent in hot kitchens, but I’d rather be warm than cold. All I’m asking is, turn up the heat a little!

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Podium Opportunities

April was an incredible month for attending and participating in conferences. April started with Small Change Big Impact Food Summit at Harvard sponsored by Hormel Foods, followed by my keynote address to the Sunrise Produce Company annual expo, then to Yale Law to hear Chef Dan Giusti of Brigaid talk about the challenges of serving delicious meals in the K-12 sector, and finally at the Produce for Better Healthy conference in Scottsdale, AZ with Amy Myrdal Miller to present a talk/demo about flavor bridges.

The Small Change Big Impact Food Summit is a Hormel Foods initiative to recognize the challenges for the future of the food industry and to find ways to shape things for a better future. The focus of the summit was to create a transparent, secure, sustainable food system through collaboration. Assembled at the summit were leaders from manufacturing, farming, production, culinary, business, procurement, and nonprofits that fight food insecurity.

Hormel Foods, Harvard University Dining Services, Attention Span Media, and CulinaryNXT worked collaboratively to plan, organize and execute the summit.

This was a great team that delivered a meaningful summit. Over the next few newsletters I’ll share more specific information from the summit. Until then, here are a couple links to get you started:

Hormel Foods: Inaugural Small Change Big Impact Food Summit To Bring Together Industry Leaders At Harvard University April 3-4, 2019

Forbes: Hormel, Harvard Team Up To Change Minds About ‘Big Food’

www.attentionspan.com

The Sunrise Produce Company in Fullerton, CA invited me to provide a keynote talk to the 100+ attendees of their annual Expo. The audience was K-12, healthcare, and others. The title of my talk/demo was “Produce – Taking Center Stage”. The first part of my presentation focused on the innovation process for incorporating more produce in menus:

  • Farming for Flavor
  • Foraging
  • 85% Plantcentric menus
  • Center of Plate Transformation
  • Plant Product Recovery

The second part was a couple of plant-based demos to reinforce plant’s co-starring role in recipes.

sunriseproduce.com

My next conference was at Yale Law School in New Haven, CT. Chef Dan Giusti of Brigaid has, since ending his position as head chef of Noma in Copenhagen, been transforming the way kids in K-12 eat. Dan has been transforming schools in New London, CT since 2016 and is now taking his knowledge to the country’s largest public-school system – NYC. Dan shared his experiences in working with the school systems and the successes of which foods kids like to eat. What worked? BBQ bone-in chicken with cornbread and potato salad.

It was clear that Dan is not only a passionate chef, but truly cares about the future of our kid’s food health.

www.chefsbrigaid.com

Produce For Better Health is a conference focused on…produce! No surprise there. This conference’s purpose is to create demand, and drive consumption of produce. To that end, a talented friend and colleague Amy Myrdal Miller MS, RDN, FAND asked me to collaborate on a presentation to the conference. The result was “Powerful Produce Pairings: Using Flavor Synergy to Create Deliciousness”. Amy and I created 5 recipes to share with the attendees. She started our 75 minutes with flavor insights then helped me prepare 5 recipes to a packed room. We prepared:

  • Steak pizzaiola – flash-seared beef scallopini topped with pizzaiola sauce and fried capers
  • Peanut Butter Mousse and Crispy Apples – creamy peanut butter mousse with crispy lemon-scented apple wedges for dipping
  • Avocado Hash with Sunnyside Egg – avocado & sweet potato hash with fried egg, crispy radish, and micro greens
  • Lobster Potato Casserole with Vermont Cheddar – tender, creamy potato and cheddar casserole with New England Lobster
  • Flatbread with Pear-Blue Cheese Crema, Seared Pear & Walnuts – blended pear and blue cheese crema on flatbread topped with seared pears and toasted walnuts. Finished with watercress and pear mostarda.

At the end of the demo, these items were served for lunch. The conference’s culinary team successfully recreated these recipes.

www.pbhfoundation.org

Produce for Better Health Foundation Demonstrates a Way to Boost Sales and Excitement Around the Power of Produce Pairings During Consumer Connection Conference

What an amazing month for keeping up with the industry!

 

Culinary & more…

Nutritional Data

The value and importance of nutritional data cannot be overstated. The information is critical to dieticians in all foodservice settings. Having easy access to nutritional data allows dieticians to properly guide diners through the many menu options. In clinical settings this information can impact patient’s care. In all foodservice settings this information creates a menu balance, meaning choices for the dining public.

Chefs also have a responsibility to offer menu choices that allow people to select items based on taste, indulgence, allergens, nutritional make-up, seasonality, etc. Technology is available today to make the development of recipes fit within an organization’s established dietary guidelines. Chefs should be the starting point for recipes designed within these guidelines. The dietician can then guide the chef to fine tune the recipes.

The best nutritional systems allow dieticians and chefs to make changes to a recipe and instantly see the nutritional impact. The Jamix Kitchen Intelligence System provides real-time nutritional information to dieticians and chefs. This feature can assist in speeding up the reformulation of recipes while also providing cost per portion of the recipe, all valuable tools in today’s foodservice operations.

 

Ingredient of the Month

Asparagus

It’s that time of year! Asparagus is one of those foods that says Spring is here. From pencil thin to jumbo there are sizes that appeal to everyone. I just had a great asparagus dish at FnB restaurant in Scottsdale. The chef served grilled asparagus on crispy polenta with fried egg and pea shoots. My favorite asparagus is either roasted or grilled. Don’t do too much to the asparagus, I want its flavor to stand out.

www.fnbrestaurant.com

 

Cooking Tip

Knife Skills

The ability to uniformly cut food is a skill worth learning. This doesn’t mean a ruler is needed to make sure the brunoise are all 1/8” squared, but just that things are cut as uniformly as possible. The value is that food cooks evenly. The secondary value is that the food looks great. There are countless videos on line that can help with knife skills. After watching them, the most important thing to do is grab a sharp knife and PRACTICE!

Wikipedia: List of culinary knife cuts

Cheers!

 

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.

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

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 4
April 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

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

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Innovation

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

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

Francisco Migoya - Innovator

Francisco Migoya – Innovator

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

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

 

Culinary & more…

Small Change Big Impact Food Summit

thefoodimpactsummit.com

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

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

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

 

Sandwich Thoughts


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

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

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

 

Ingredient of the Month

Savoy Cabbage

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

 

Cooking Tip

Pasta Broth

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

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

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

Always remember, juicy pasta is best.

 

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

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

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

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 3
March 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

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

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

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

2019 NRA Kitchen Innovations Award

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

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

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

NAFEM 2019

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

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

Delivery

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

Robotics

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

Outdoors Indoors

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

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

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

Culinary & more…

Blending Meat with Other Ingredients

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

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

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

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

Ingredient of the Month

Potatoes

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

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

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

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

Cooking Tip

Using a Home Food Grinder

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

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

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

Parts:

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

Tips to a great grind:

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

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

Now enjoy the best ground meat.

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

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

Food production planning becomes the roadmap to getting things done

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 2
February 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

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

Nope, just start tourné.

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Production Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culinary & more…

Flavor & The Menu 2019 Trend Report

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

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

Our Food Journey by Hormel Foods

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

Please click on the link to read and listen.

www.hormelfoods.com

Porturken for Super Bowl 53

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredient of the Month

‘nduja

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

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

Cooking Tip

Schnitzel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guten appetit.

Keep scrolling!

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

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

Production Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food Orders

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

Staffing Requirements

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

Preparation Timeline

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

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

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

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

Plating Diagrams

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

Service Line Set-up Diagram

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

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

Posted Job/Task Assignments

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

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


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

Food trend forecasts provide inspiration for menu development

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 1
January 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

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

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

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

2019 Outlook

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

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

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

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

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

 

2018 Vintage

CulinaryNXT’s 2018 highlights –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visited the PEZ factory!

 

Culinary & more…

Culinary Tip

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

 

Ingredient of the Month

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

www.coppsislandoysters.com

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

 

Cancer Nutrition Consortium

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

 

Happy New Year

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

 

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

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

Kitchen management system enables scalability of recipes

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 7
December 2018

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

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

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

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

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Tool of the Trade – Recipe

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

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

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

 

Culinary & more…

LA Feast & Fundraiser benefitting Rett Syndrome

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

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

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

 

US Air Force Go4Green

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

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

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

 

Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, CT Staff Member of Year

The following is personal story.

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

First awards celebration

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

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

Shoreline Village CT

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

 

Stuff

Fried Chicken

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

 

Lebkuchen

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

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

 

Gratitude

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

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

Ron

 

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

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

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 6
November 2018

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

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

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

Four Kinds of People.

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

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

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Customer Feedback

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

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

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

 

Culinary & more…

Scratch Cooking

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

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

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

www.hormelfoodservice.com

www.bonewerksculinarte.com

www.cuisinesolutions.com

 

Vegan Meats

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

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

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

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

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

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

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

Philly Beef & Egg Breakfast Sandwich

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

Pesto Chicken Panino

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

Pork Banh Mi

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

Chipotle Chicken and Portobello “Bacon” Panino

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

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

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

Spanish Chorizo & Potato Torta

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

Colombian Bocadillo with Hungry Planet Chorizo™ & Egg

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

Shawarma & Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower in Pita

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

Chicken Tikka Masala Bowl with Basmati Rice and Pickled Vegetables

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

 

Books & Links

Jamix on Innovations with Ed Begley, Jr.

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

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

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

innovationstelevision.com

www.jamix.com

 

The Truth About Food

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

Here are a handful of testimonials:

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

– Mark Bittman

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

– Sanjay Gupta MD

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

– Joy Bauer, MS, RDN

 

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

Chocolate Lava Cake Cuisinicity.com

 

podcast – REPOST

In case you missed this last month……..

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

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

 

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

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

Concept development in foodservice operations

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 1 Issue 5
October 2018

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

www.culinarynxt.com

 

Come On, Already!

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

Thankfully it doesn’t happen often.

Cheers!

 

Master Chef Insights

Concept Development

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

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

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

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

 

Culinary & more…

Menu & Recipe Creation

Photo – Tracey Scheer

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hormel Foods Spam Haute Cuisine

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

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

 

 

Menu items that Chef Chow created included:

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

The lunch was a great experience.

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

//www.noreetuh.com/

 

podcast

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

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

 

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

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