Guidance / Tip to the Young Chef: Cheesecake, Customer Satisfaction and How Sometimes Small Changes Can Lead to a Big Difference

 

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In this short article I would like to share with some of you young chefs (either in experience, age or soul) an example of a situation we – the professional chef, deal with often in our daily routine. A situation in which we – the chefs, believe in serving a specific dish and the customer does not respond to it as we expected them to.

One thing that always surprises me is how customers react to the dishes that we create  – sometimes my expectation does not always match that of the customer or suit their liking.

In Figure 1 you can see how I served a cheesecake, the creation of my Pastry Chef Sherry Tziboth, which in my opinion was a method of serving whose purpose was to provide the customer with a satisfactory eating experience (in terms of flavors and textures), – the idea behind the dish was that the client will easily mix the cake and sherbet in the serving plate creating a mix of different flavors and textures – the customer however, did not react enthusiastically to this approach.

How did we deal with this? We rearranged the plating. Sherry, the pastry chef, took charge without my intervention – the results of which you can find in Figures 2 and 3, with 3 being our choice of serving since then on a regular basis, which has resulted in greater customer satisfaction.

Note that the changes are minor and do not always have a logical explanation.

The lesson that I want to impart is that sometimes what seems like a good dish to us will not be seen the same by a customer but even the smallest changes can make an unsuccessful dish (in terms of sales) satisfactory.

With my experience over the years I have learned to listen to the customers who choose to eat where I serve, the chefs on my team, and the waiting staff who see things from the customer’s point of view and are able to pass on their reaction to us in the kitchen on the serving floor.

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Thanks for reading,

Michael

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tip /guidance to the young chef: mixing salad leaves for service.

I personally really like salads leaves, the leaves are a wonderful  raw ingredient with a variety of  textures, flavors and colors.

Here are few salad dishes made with a premix salad leaves we made in the restaurant:

Leaves play a very important role in the culinary world – it can be a part of many dishes or play a role on its own , it can serve a s a spice or a  decorative element , it can be eaten raw or in most cases even be cooked in various way.

In this short post i will explain a method to make a premixed leaves for using during service.

This post is short but i find its as a very  important one, and a method i work a out with my young chefs.

in the photo attached to this post and i apologize  for their quality  , you can see in real life what we did to prepare our mixed leaves

The big secret is…. Lots of water.

first step :

Prepare a balanced mixture leaves that you like (or what looks right to you) – a mixture that combines different textures (and strengths of leaves), colors and flavors.

for example- endive, arugula, romaine lettuce , frisee lettuce  – in this mix for example there is  a level of integration between crunchy textures but also between different flavors – spicy arugula, bitter from the endive, sweet from the romaine   lettuce etc …

second step :

Decide what shape of the leaves you would like to be in your mix

Large pieces, torn or cut with a knife etc..? – any such decision changes the final output of your salad And that’s what wonderful about the kitchen its alive and kicking.

third step :

Prepare a water bath with a significant amount of   of water – I use the sink in the kitchen with enough water so all the mix i made can have enough space to move.

Fill the sink with water and place the leaves in water, even if they are already come in washed and treated.

Step four:

Mix well -you will  notice  how much easier it is to mix and combine the leaves in the water  – leaves floating in water allows a  uniform mixing and  a very beautiful mix with out damaging the leaves.

Step Five:

Strain  the water and then dry well in a salad leave  dryer  –  the  dryer the  blend \ mixture is the better it will keep crisp and fresh up to 2 days if well taken care of and treated, we make it daily.

if you are a serious foodie cooking at home you can make a small amount using domestic small salad dryer and keep in a good sealed Tupperware box lined up with absorbing paper or even better a straining base .

I like best to keep the mixture in a service  a drawer  of a refrigerator lined with a kitchen towel.

Of course you can do the same thing with small leaves such micro leaves, parsley, cilantro, tarragon   and many more

So before you run to learn how to scale and filet a fish, or take care of  meat suggest to  begin to dismantle the base and learn to take care of the salad leaves.

here are some photos of the steps

Thank you  for reading

Michael

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Tip / Guidance for the Young Chef : The Relationship Between a Head chef and the Pastry Chef 

The way we manage our relationships may heavily influence the outcomes of many of our social circles, whether at work, home or with the people we choose to spend time with.

In the following article, I will try to provide with some tools that may improve a relationship in the kitchen I have often found strained for the wrong reasons.

Introduction:

Few Facts / Point of Views about Desserts in Restaurants

Nowadays people enjoy a good dessert and oftentimes plan their main course in accordance with their choice of dessert or the variety of desserts offered in the menu.

Many restaurants work with small kitchens relative to the size of the restaurant, therefore not allowing for good technical work on the part of the pastry chef resulting in the menu having to either outsource dessert or have a limited product in quantity and/or quality.

Profit from desserts ranges from 18-20%.

As somebody who has worked in several places around the globe (note that this is based only on what I have personally experienced), I can say that none of the restaurants that I have worked in had an appointed pastry chef; there would be a unit responsible for desserts that corresponded with the head chef—even in the Michelin starred restaurants that I have spent time in. However, this habit is slowly dying out in a certain category of restaurants.

In most cases though, the decision not to hire a pastry chef is clearly economic since simple desserts may be created with the tools and ingredients the restaurant already has, and outsourcing is also an easy option.

There is a clear trend of improvement and change of attitude restaurant group’s owners / managers have a great awareness of the subject of desserts.

Today, chefs are more aware of the fact that the right dessert can multiply sales by 6-7 times and balance out the food cost – what is the “right” dessert? In my opinion, it is simply one that many people enjoy, is easy to make and has good margins.

Desserts are often used as a smokescreen to fill in holes—that is, to satisfy an unhappy customer. It leaves a sweet taste and may be easily and quickly taken out.

The Relationship Between the Head Chef and Pastry Chef 

The pastry chef and the restaurant chef have a completely different status, and generally, according to the classical hierarchy of the kitchen, the pastry chef is supposed to be at the same level as an operational chef—a chef who runs a unit, above whom is the restaurant chef who lends a guiding hand.

Proper work between the two shouldn’t cause any sort of tension. The problem starts when one side invades an area outside his or her jurisdiction—for example, a pastry chef who doesn’t understand the restaurant’s needs and exceeds requests and the line laid out for him, or a head chef who gets involved in technical matters that he doesn’t understand—basically, silly ego and power struggles.

A good pastry unit can only be an asset to a restaurant, and as I wrote previously, a smart chef understands that a good pastry unit fills in many important gaps. I return again to the idea of the “smokescreen,” and that’s because a pastry unit produces under easier conditions and the dessert is ready well in advance, whereas a kitchen works under pressure and so it is likely that a good dessert unit has, as part of its arsenal, a good product that will complete the meal properly and end it with a smile.

In the nature of this type of work exists pressure between the two units—the kitchen staff generally sees itself as the fighting unit that is under the constant pressure of “deadlines”, whereas the pastry unit has its own pace, it generally starts and finishes early, and doesn’t deal as much with service. That way, naturally, unnecessary tension arises. But it is forbidden for each unit, rather than dealing with the issues it faces in its own area, to get involved and try to fix mistakes made by the other side—that also leads to unnecessary tension.

To summarize, a head chef doing his or her job properly should lead to flourishing results for the confectionary unit, without either side feeling any sort of threat, but rather complimentary activity. Not every restaurant needs a confectionary unit; it’s a subject that requires localized considerations. A pastry chef in a restaurant is generally an operational chef, and he/she needs to internalize that in order to carry out his/her work properly and preserve shalom bayit (peace in the house).

Here are a few photos from my personal environment:



Thank you for reading,

Michael

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Tip / Guidance for the Young Chef: Best Restaurants, Do They Exist? – Food for Thought

Sometime last year, a national media channel contacted me, asking if I, as a well-known chef in Israel, would be willing to participate in an anonymous survey and share my opinion on what the top three best restaurants are in the country.

Every time I was contacted regarding this matter (four times in all) my reply was that I had no opinion and no say in the matter!

I believe that I do not possess the right (being a professional chef) to provide an opinion and here is why:

Most people have no time to check out every restaurant, especially us chefs who work so many hours doing what we do. There are so many restaurants scattered about the country that I have not visited, whose food I have no tasted and whose concept I have not had the pleasure of experiencing.

So the list of restaurants I enjoy going to when I do have some time on my hands is quite short.

Furthermore, a restaurant is comprised of so many “ingredients” that the question “What is the best restaurant?” begs all restaurants to be given the same chance. I have heard of incredible restaurants all over Israel, some of which I follow on social media but have never actually seen myself for the same reason many other social media followers didn’t visit the restaurant yet – even good restaurants aren’t always situated in the most convenient locations and not everyone is able to find the time to visit restaurants, no matter how many good reviews they receive.

In addition to that, today, there exist so many different culinary styles and categories – and so much is based simply on personal preference and taste, so what is somebody’s favorite restaurant could be someone else’s second choice.

The point I am getting to is that I think that the title or theme of “best restaurants” is passé and to make that point I might as well mention that my own personal favorite restaurants were included in a top ten list on very few occasions.

When it comes to building a list of top restaurants several other categories come to mind for me that have much more relevance and importance, such as:

  • most influential restaurants in the culinary world (or restaurants that have impacted the industry)
  • restaurants that inspire
  • restaurants with great financial success
  • restaurants that are lead by an outstanding figure

The era of food bloggers, web exposure, social media, and our ability to travel easily and have to conform less to specific routines brought the end of another era – that of the “best restaurant”. There are lots of good restaurants around the country and all over the world, with no regard to how much they are recognized and well-known. I have had the privilege to live in large cities such as London, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Brussels where one may find thousands of amazing restaurants – so how do we decide?

Since the era of the “best restaurant” is behind us, the new era of exposure is the answer in my opinion. With social media focused on different places, the people behind the pots came into view. I can give a list of chefs that have greatly influenced and inspired both myself and colleagues of mine, whose restaurants I always gladly return to, dream of visiting – restaurants with vision, inspiration and more… but the best is just not there.

In the following photos are some of the best known to be the est:

best

Thank you for reading,

Michael

 

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Tip / Guidance to the young chef , “chartreuse ” by Carem explained.

We don’t always pay attention or give the time to seek into the history and evaluation of dishes and great chefs whom layed out the foundation for cooking as we know today .

one particular chef is Antonin Carmen,whom was know for is extravagant way of work and presentation, here is a very famous dish of his I would like to share with you.

Introduction: first of all a little about the way Antonin Carem saw things, Antonin was a man of great interest , mainly architecture , which influence a lot of his work from designing is dishes, to designing his table setting , a great example for this influence is a dish named “Chartreuse” one of Antonin Carem signature dishes, notice the photos either the one from 1970 from the time life book or either one made by my self you can see that the outside envelope of the dish is constructed like a a wall or a great wood floor etc…. Carem influence and way of life can be seen in many chefs of our Era who many time explain there dishes by influence of object, nature etc….

The basic idea is a dish made of vegetable envelope that holds inside different textures , and flavors all photos in this album including are almost the same recipe the main difference is in their envelope .

The Envelope: is made of blanched vegetables of choice, they are “glued”  and held in place by a chicken moussline- a classic paste made of chicken meat, cream egg white, salt and caayan pepper.

The stuffing: classically braised cabbage with bacon, sausages and back fat. Roasted pigeon meat.

Once the dish is constructed it goes into the oven in a “Bain mary” mainly to cook the chicken mousslline thats holds the vegetables envelope. The dish was served to he center f the table either cold or hot.

A little about the photos in the album photos 1 and 2 from the “Haute cuisine de France ” Time life series 1970 edition.

photos 3 and 4 dishes I have made during demos at the LCB London in front of students , the photos were given to me by my student.

photos 5 to 12 – these photos were taken during the superior level practical basically each student had to make is owen dish but we have decided to do a team work and make a large one ,when you think of it 8 people working for 3 hours that makes 24 hours work of man this is good to have perspective how many people have worked with Anonin Carem to make is amazing banquette . Thanks for reading Michael

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tip / guidance to the young chef:Few words about the woman in the kitchen- personal view

581532_288647404574127_1129659666_nNot long a go in a close discussion group a colleague in my profession as stated / asked if there is a difference between female chef to male chef and that there are more men in the kitchen , here was my answer:

One of the reasons that there are more men chefs in the kitchen lies the the fact that the first (,and I will not go into much detailed history) guilds of chefs and kitchen brigade general idea originated in the military.

Just for curiosity’s the classic chef’s jacket with two rows of buttons based on the model of Turkish military shirt.

Usually when women have appropriated careers that were defined by men they have usually proven to succeed just as the men or even better (of course we can not make generalizations ) we saw that with woman surgeon,woman pilots,woman lawyers and many other professions – By nature I really highly appreciate girls who chose to go for careers that are related for man, the women many times has to deal with stupid egos of men – (its not by coincidence when i decided to take flying lesson I chose a school ran by a woman pilot – with out offending anyone).

As one who had , has and gets the chance employ women in my kitchens, teach a lot of both men and women, and eat in the kitchens ran by women – I must say that usually those who do chose and stay in the profession do not fall by anything ,not even the excuse of fatigue and long hours,a woman that have chosen the profession – in general knows she is entering the world with high ego of male cooks so there for she is already in the state of mind to defend her status and prove her way up the ladder so woman that have decided to stay in the harsh kitchen world are usually just as good or sorry guys better!

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Tip/ Guidance to the young chef : cooking potatoes for salad

I have been asked while brining a potato salad to friends, what is the secret to achieving the texture and look that “my” potato had:

  1. Crispy  outer layer ( wall /sides)
  2. Soft texture
  3. Smooth outer layer

Here is a photo to emphasize


So what have I done us no secret just a simple process to follow.

  1. I have peeled the potato
  2. Cut it into approx 1.5 cm cubes ( size can vary according to your preferences.)
  3. Placed it in a pot containing cold water.
  4. Added approx 5% of the water volume white vinegar ( apple, white wine, or any other white vinegar to your choice / red vinegar will work but will also stain the potato .)
  5. Brought to the boil and directly  lowered to simmering point.
  6. Cooked till I liked the texture of the cubes .

Why did it work

  1. First of all, I chose a waxy potato in my case a “desire” type , they are more densed and tend to break less in cooking because of there higher starch content.
  2. The cooking was done in a simmering ” temperature ” which prevented the cuts bouncing in the pot damaging each others side .
  3. The vinegar : acid tends to have an effect on the structure of starch, in our case it makes it more “solid” and that helps to maintain a crisp smooth sides.

You can add salt , sugar or other spices or condiments to the  water that the potato are been cooked , but what is written above is the basics.

This cooking method can serve not only salad but also any other dish that a specific desired texture is wanted.

Here are links two more articles that refer to the use of potatoes .

Potato soufflé explained

Variations on Vichyssoise soup 

Hope it helps and thank you for reading

Michael

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