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

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.

Nutrient database information is not a simple subject

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 nutritive information in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System

System Makes the Search for Ingredients and Recipes Easier

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

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

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

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

by Ron DeSantis

Volume 2 Issue 8
August 2019

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

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

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

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

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

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

MANKAI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – Recipe Photos

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

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

Flatbread with Pear and Walnuts 4 portions

Pear Blue Cheese Crema 4 portions

Pear Mostarda 4 portions


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

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

Ingredient of the Month

Sambal Shrimp

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

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

Cooking Tip

Cooking Fresh Pasta

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

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

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

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

Bon Appétit!

Keep Scrolling!

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

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


Read more on Recipe Management in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System

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.


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

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.


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

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

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=c91ePNq5mFA

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.


Read more on Nutritional Information in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System

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.