Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis
Volume 2 Issue 12
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
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!
Master Chef Insights
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 –
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ingredient of the Month
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.
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.
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.