Guidance / tip to the young chef: cheesecake, clientele reaction and why sometimes small changes lead to big difference.

 

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in this short article i would like to share with young chefs (in experience, age,and soul ) with real time experience , an example for a situation we ( the professional chef ) are dealing with often in our daily routine  a situation in which we (the chefs) believe in  serving  a specific dish  and the client  does not respond to it  as we has we  expected.

One thing that always surprises me very much, it’s how clienteles  reacts to the dishes that we create  – sometimes “my believe ”  does not always match what the clientele expectation or liking.

In Figure 1 you will  see how I served a  cheesecake , the creation of my  Pastry Chef Sherry Tziboth, in my  thought and believe this was a  way of serving that was supposed to give the clientele a great   eating experience  (in terms of flavors and textures)  , the idea was that the client will  mix easily the cake and sherbet in the serving plate creating a mix of flavors and textures – the result was that the clientele  did not react enthusiastically to this approach.

What have we done? We changed the plating – and sherry the pastry chef  took charge without my intervention – the results you  will see in  picture 2 and 3 when , the plating in figure 3 was the one that was served in the end on regular bases, and the clientele  reacted in great sales .

note that the changes are minor, and do not always have a rational explanation.

The lesson / conclusion that I want to convey is that  sometimes what looks to us or perceived by us as a good product \ dish will not be seen in the same way by our clientele , but small changes can make a failed product (in terms of sales), a successful product.

With my  experience over the years I have learned to listen to the customers who have chosen to eat at my place,  to  chefs and cooks  on my team , and the waiting staff who sees things from client point of view and that can pass us in the kitchen the reaction 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 to the young chef : relationship between head chef and pastry chef 

The way we manage and run a Relationship can define and affect the results and outcomes in many of of our our life circles, if it’s our home, work , and friendships.

In the following article I will try to provide some tools to improve the relationship between the two types of chef which I found in many circumstances tensed for the wrong reasons.

Introduction:

Few facts / point of views about desserts in restaurants

Now days People enjoy good dessert and many time plan there main course according to the choices and variety of dessert .

Many restaurants function with small kitchens relative to the size of the restaurant, and don’t allow for good technical work on the part of the pastry chef so either they out source dessert or have limited choice / quality product.

Profit from desserts ranges from 18-20%

As someone who worked in different places around the globe and this is said only from my personal experience), I can say that none of the restaurants that I worked in had a declared pastry chef; there was a unit which dealt with desserts in concert with the head chef—even in the Michelin starred restaurants I spent time in. But these era is changing especially in specific level of restaurants .

Still, in most cases the thought process is clearly economic either to make simple deserts that can be made with the tools the restaurant has, or out source .

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.

There is greater awareness today that a good dessert will be sold and that the right dessert (!!!) can multiply sales by 6-7 times and can balance out food cost (the right dessert = everyone should decide for him/herself what is ‘right’) the right dessert for me is the one every ones love , easy to make and has good margins.

Desserts are often used as a smokescreen to fill in holes—that is, to placate an unhappy customer. It leaves a sweet taste, and can be easily and quickly taken out.
Relationship between the head chef and pastry chef 

The pastry chef and restaurant chef are two completely different disciplines, and generally, according to the classical hierarchy in the kitchen, the pastry chef is supposed to be at the level of an operational chef—a chef who runs a unit and above whom is the restaurant chef who lends a guiding hand together with the pastry chef.

Proper work between the two shouldn’t cause any sort of tension. The problem starts when one side invades an area where he shouldn’t be—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, ego, and needless, stupid 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 quieter conditions and the dessert is ready well in advance, whereas a kitchen produces 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 with a smile.

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

In summary, a head chef performing 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 few photos from my personal environment



Thank you for reading

Michael

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Tip / Guidance to the young chef : the best restaurant title- food for thoughts

During the last year the National media had contacted me if I

will be willing as a leading chef to participate in an anonymous survey and share my thought,  who do  I think or  what  are the  are 3 best  restaurants in the country (I currently live in Israel ) .

In all cases (four in number) My answer was that I have no opinion and that i do not have a say in that matter!

my thoughts were that I do not possess  and have the rights (being a professional chef) to give an opinion.and here is why?

Most people have no time to check out all the restaurants especially us chef who work so many hours in the kitchen, there are so many of them scattered all around the country  that I had not seen , visited or tasted their food , concepts, and whatever that goes with it. , so to start with, my list is quite  limited to the few i  like to go when i have a little time on my hand. .

Anyway a restaurant is made up from so ” many ingredients”  and if the question is “what is the best Restaurant? ” than all restaurant must be given the same chance  – I heard about the wonderful restaurants in the south, north and more, some I followed  in the social media but never actually have been there … many of us including members of the media did not reach them for lack of time , distance etc..

on top of that as  there are so many styles today, Categories variations – and so much is based on personal opinion, so… for “one best restaurant” is for another “second best”

the point i am getting to is that I think the that title or theme best restaurant  is Passé and just to make a point in few occasions my places were in  the list of the top 10 etc…

when it comes to the top list i think that other categories can take place and that have much more deep full meanings such as:

  • most influential  Restaurants in the culinary scenes ,
  • restaurants that inspire,
  • restaurant the succeed financially,
  • restaurant with impact on the industry,
  • restaurants that are  lead by an outstanding figure and more …

The era of food blogs and bloggers, Web exposure to so many places, and our ability to move more easily and get to less routine and less known brought the end of an era”the era of the best restaurant” – there are lots and lots of good restaurants in the country and the world some of the most beloved and receive greater exposure and some less, I had the chance and privilege to live in large cities such as London, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and  Brussels where one can find thousands of restaurants so …. How do we decide?

I think the era of the “best restaurant” is behind us, but  a new era of exposure to countless places of styles, people behind the pots came into view, I can give a list of chefs that affect me and colleagues of mine, of restaurants that I always love to return to, restaurants that I dream of going to, restaurants with  vision, inspiration and more … but the best just is not there .

in the flowing photo some of the best known to be the best;

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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