Food in restaurants is often times just medeocer. Modern American cuisine is an old tired concept that needs to be revitalized. It takes a lot of extra work and planning, but it can be done. Making more product from scratch is a big point a lot of restaurants need to get. It takes more labor, but the revenue should increase with a product your restaurant can put its name on.
High quality product is the main lacking quality of many restaurants. Using a higher quality product is more expensive, but better and you can charge more for it. Most often the product isn’t good, because its out of season or has to come from a long way to get there. A rotating menu allows you to use only product thats in season and in turn create higher quality food.Product that comes from a long way is generally picked far before its ready to eat and ripened after the fact on the way to its destination.
High quality food comes from high quality product and a chef or establishment who finds new ways to use it. Almost every restaurant I go to has a very similar menu to the next. A lot of the time its pretty good food, but its medeocre. For it to be a truley high quality product it needs to stand out from the rest.
Living in Portland I am close to one of the best cheese producers in the united states. Tillamook cheese factory makes some of the best American cheese in the country. They have a 2 year aged extra sharp cheddar that’s perfect for cheese lovers.
Good cheese is produced all over the world, Italy makes amazing Parmesan cheese. Its a hard cheese and its used in a lot of dishes in Italy. Although its not sprinkled over everything like Olive Garden would have you believe. Cheeses are classified by the texture for the most part. Soft, semi firm, firm, hard and blue cheese.
I’ve tried many cheeses and my favorite is a long aged sharp cheddar. It makes for a really good food or drink pairing. Pairing cheese and fruits or cheeses and wines is fun and taste delicious. From what I’ve noticed cheeses are on the upswing, people are getting more and more adventurous with what cheeses they try. Even the commonly dreaded blue cheese. It’s a very intense flavor and has an odd aroma that tuns a lot of people off.
Living in Oregon fresh fruit is a common place that I love. Cooking with some of the best apples I’ve ever had. We have a fantastic variety of orchards. The fruit loop is a group of orchards by Mt. Hood. Pears, apples and more in many different varieties. It makes me really culinarily excited. Its worth the trip to try such amazing fruits.
Apples from apricot size to ones over a pound and hundreds of kinds of flavors it’s that time of year for amazing fruits.
Clam chowder is often either thought of as boring and monotone or highly competitive with just minor differences from one place to another. The trick with a good clam chowder is just focusing on flavors and how to balance them.
The flavors usually found in a good clam chowder are smokey from the bacon or salt pork. The smokey flavor really enriches the chowder and elevates it to the next level. I suggest using salt pork or a thick cut bacon. Bacon with a good amount of fat on it, but not too much, Bacon that is too fatty will give an unpleasant mouth feel to your chowder.
The second common error people make in clam is overcooking to potatoes to the point where they fall apart. The key to a successful potato component is cooked through, but not mush. What I use to obtain this is Yukon Gold Potatoes. They hold together well when cooking and can be cooked longer without disintegrating.
The component that is often not the main highlight of the chowder is the clams themselves. A lot of places, even on the Oregon coast, don’t use fresh clams. Canned clams go to rubber so much faster than fresh clams. Oregon has some great clams that are available almost all the time. Use fresh clams it helps add additional flavor and helps with texture problems.
The combination of winning textures and well balanced flavors makes for a good clam chowder. Its not that complicated to make a winning clam chowder.
Game meats not long ago we’re thought of as a novelty item. Not many people cared to try new things like squirrel or alligator. It’s understandable as to why that would be. Even some of the most adventurous eaters stray away from some game proteins. Now though, many game meats are becoming far more popular.
In America game meats have long been eaten in regions of the country. In the southeast alligator is a common place item, but not that much outside of that region. Here in Oregon not many people venture to try alligator.
Game meats have the advantage of usually being easily accessible. Alligators in Louisiana for example aren’t exactly in short supply. Squirrel isn’t a rare animal almost anywhere I’ve ever been. The demand is low so they’re very high in population for the most part.
I think for the most part game meats aren’t popular is due to the fact they’re generally animals people wouldn’t think of to be appetizing. An alligator doesn’t sound like a tasty protein, but I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve tried it.
Another reason game isn’t very popular is the fact that it’s not farmed commercially nearly as much as cows or chickens. It’s harder to obtain at the grocery store. The price of game meats can also be pretty high.
I used to go hunting and get game myself, but that’s not so easy for a lot of people. Not everyone is a hunter. It’s a lot easier to go to the market and get pork than to go hunting for wild pigs. I do encourage consumers to try game meats The flavors are different than farmed animals, but they can be extremly good.
I have worked in restaurants my entire working career and I love it. It’s the thrill and satisfaction of a busy service. I adore it. The only problem that I run into is the fact that its so repetitive. Its different from night to night, but it does get boring every once and a while.
This is where doing catering events come in. It’s exciting and no two events are the same in nature. For example, when I first started school I catered a wedding for 200 people out of their home kitchen. It was not set up to serve 200 by any means, but me and my crew got it done and it was a big success. Catering weddings is my favorite event. It’s extremely rewarding and stressful. It’s their big day so everything has to go off without a hitch and if something does go wrong you fix it or find a solution. My take on catering, especially weddings, is you have to execute everything. Things will always go wrong, but no matter what you need to make it work.
So many catering events I’ve worked and they’re never boring. Something goes wrong and you have to fix it on the fly. The thrill is tremendous. The crowd at the events always highlights the food and makes the kitchen crew feel great. Getting paid is awesome, but honestly the satisfaction of pleasing every customer is worth so much more. It’s a perfect culinary release when things start to get old. Its thrilling and always fast paced.
A lot of people have written off wine. They don’t like something about it, but they haven’t usually tried a wide array of wines. Hundreds of varietys of grapes are used to make thousands of different wines.
Every country regulates wine diffrently. For example for champenge to be real it must be grown in that region of France under strict guidlines on how the grapes can be grown and processes. A few Americsn brands say that they make champenge, but by the worlds standpoint it’s just sparkling white wine. In America wines are almost always labeled by what grape is mostly used in the making of the wine. In Europe wines are labeled by where they’re from. Labeled by the region of origin and almost never labeled with a vintage date.
For the most part wines are categorized as dry or sweet. A lot of peoples preference is sweet wines. It’s usually less hash and can have a more full bodied flavor. I prefer dry wines. The subtle flavor with a kick is what I like. My favorite wins I’ve tried so far is a wine from the chianti region of Italy. I’m a firm believer that there’s a wine for everyone’s pallet.
Curry is one of my favorite things to make. Thousands of different flavor combinations can be achieved with curries. Blends of spices in powders or pastes make for explosive flavors. Almost any protein can be made into a good curry. Chicken is my favorite as long as you use the dark meat. It cooks better in wet cooking methods and is packed with more flavor.
Almost any curry you try will be a fusion of a few different cultures. The Caribbean has a different style than Britain and different than India. American curries generally are a combination of Caribbean and Indian curry. The spices of India and the herbs and coconut milk of the Caribbean. I would suggest getting curry powder or paste already made. Making a good curry powder or paste takes a long time to perfect. Below I’ll post a good recipe I usually use when cooking a curry. I suggest serving with basmati rice or jasmine. I suggest serving rice and curry in different dishes. The cooks in India used to put curry on the rice for beggars at the back door so it’s traditional to serve separate.
4 chicken thighs bone in
1 onion julienned
1 red bell pepper med dice
1 green bell pepper medium dice
2 small stocks lemon grass
32 oz coconut milk
Salt/Pepper as needed
Curry powder/paste as needed
Season and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove and set aside. Sweat the onion, lemon grass and bell peppers until tender. Add the chicken back in the pan. Combine curry paste/powder to coconut milk and incorporate. Add coconut milk to pan and let summer on low heat. Season as needed. Serve with rice.
A lot of people love the tongue tingling feeling that hot peppers give you. We don’t love the throat burning feeling that lasts for the following 15 minutes. I know from experience you need to be careful in the preparation of spicy chili’s. Prepping jalapenos and then touching your eyes after without thinking about it isn’t fun.
I love spicy food. My dad and I used to make hot wings out of ghost chili’s. They were tasty, but there is a time where the heat is just too much to be practical. Why would you want to eat something that you cant taste, because its burning your mouth so badly? Most often when I see spicy menu items its a challenge to see how hot you can handle.
Food with a kick is fine, but its the flavor that really matters. It doesn’t make sense to cook a really nice dish and destroy it with too much heat. The point of adding heat is to a dish is to add another dimension and bring out more flavor. The point of adding heat is not to kill the taste buds. If the dish has to be taste bud killing hot to be popular its probably not a good dish.
If you ask most people what the spiciest part of the pepper is they’ll often say its the seeds. Its actually not. The hottest part of the pepper is the white membrane. It often times gets thrown away. The seeds are usually spicy as well, because its touching the membrane the entire time.
Chili’s should be used in a nice balance with other flavors. The food shouldn’t be too hot, it will ruin the dish. I use chili’s like salt. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out. Add it like a seasoning until you get to the desired taste and level of heat. Peppers often times have a great flavor, but you can’t taste it, because there’s so much of it in the dish.
My all time favorite baked good is a nice, warm loaf of sourdough bread. It’s simple enough to go to the store and buy it pre made, but it’s not nearly as grand as a fresh baked loaf.
When I was in my culinary patisserie class I enjoyed learning about desserts, but my favorite section was breads. Years ago I used to bake and sell fresh bread with my dadat farmers markets. Selling well over 300 loaves over the course of just a few hours. People love fresh bread.
Baking is an exact science, but baking breads isn’t as difficult as many people would think. This is another example of learning the teqniques to get good at it. You don’t have to remember recipes and how they go if you know the teqnique. There’s not many bread making teqniues so if you learn them you can make any bread you want to.
For example making French bread is extremly easy. It only consists of 5 ingredients. It’s made with the straight dough method. Mix wet ingredients and dry seperately. Add dry to wet and form, but don’t kneed. Let rest and then need. Form the dough, proof it and bake it. It’s not as difficult as many people think and it’s an amazing crowd pleaser. My all time favorite bread is a simple sourdough loaf, but the Austrian Sundlower bread I make from time to time is right up there at the top. So I challenge you to make a few loafs of bread.