Culinary Consulting Too

What She Does

As a Culinary Consultant and Personal Chef I provide an expertise in the strengths you’ve developed in your business and some of the weaknesses that have crept in. I work as an advocate for you. My mission is to observe, evaluate and optimize the performance of your organization.  I specialize in institutional cooking settings and as intimate as catering to the individual needs of two clients. 

The objective is to minimize risks and costs. Bringing someone in who is objective to closely monitor where you’re losing costs, time and especially credibility.


Kitchen Roles Are Pivotal

Take a look at your kitchen. Are the roles in your kitchen properly positioned?  Is there an advocate in the kitchen that isn’t being utilized? Will you invest your time or money into a futile situation based on ‘I’ve known them a long time?’

There’s a misconception that there has to be ‘tiers’ in the kitchen…i.e. Executive, Sous, Lead etc. That works, if it works. Not all kitchens are able to function that way. Knowing what works and does not is imperative. How do you minimize the risks of losing time and money?

If I had a facility that catered to 250 people I’d operate it differently than I would a restaurant that seated thirty at a time. A seasoned and experienced Chef knows their role and would assess if the kitchen needed a Sous, Lead, Pastry, Prep…etc. If you have a small kitchen those roles are minimized or obsolete at best. In a facility that has Managers, Dietitians, Aides, Chefs, Leads and so on and so forth… you need to do an assessment to make sure those roles are properly placed.

A Sous Chef for instance bears most if not all the responsibility in the kitchen.  Ranging from disciplining, training, staffing, changes and stepping in when the there’s a gap in the flow of the kitchen.  It’s not just a title it’s one of the most substantial roles in the kitchen.  The question remains, are they needed? Are there enough capable staff equipped with the knowledge as a Sous Chef? If so, the responsibilities can and should be extended to your staff.

A culinary consultant is not the answer to it all. They are however the person who will conduct an audit, assess the situation and call on other expert consultants if needed. A culinary consultant, one who is well versed is essentially the kitchen supervisor. They will improve the organization by collaborating on menu/recipe development, assist in the training the kitchen staff and implement the necessary guidelines to ensure a successful running kitchen.


What’s Up With the Turnovers?

The turnover rate in the hospitality sector topped 70 percent for the second consecutive year. There’s a lot of circumstances that some into play: temporary hires, students and wages.  In an ultra-competitive marketplace, knowing how to manage the potential gaps employee turnover can cause is a game-changer. From food safety to operational policies and procedures, risks lie around every corner.  There are four ways to mitigate employee turnover risks. 

Training, retraining and unlearning are key. When new employees come on board there should be a person or dojo(place of the way, how to)in place for them to learn from. If you have available staff training every new hire are they being trained properly? Has that individual been retrained in the past six weeks? Are you allowing unlearned behavior to carry on to the new employee? These are just a few of the circumstances that come into play when we ask ourselves why the turnover rate is so high.

Seeking the assistance of a Culinary Consultant ensures that you don’t lose focus from your core objectives. Creating a great atmosphere, delivering the best possible food and providing extraordinary customer service. It boosts moral in the kitchen and eventually mitigates turnover.


Great Management = Exceptional Staff

Upon delving into a kitchen, we start at the top. The basis to any well run organization are their leaders. Leaders aren’t always found in management, there are a few hidden gems amongst the staff. ‘The Advocate’ that goes unnoticed, but someone notices.

 

 

“Leadership styles differ, but at the core, good leaders make the people they are leading accomplish more than they otherwise would. The most effective leaders do this not through fear, intimidation or title, but rather by building consensus around a common goal.” – Tom Madine, CEO and president, Worldwide Express

Assurances for your employees, customers and partners should be advocating the philosophy of “Quality First”.  The quality of staff to employees, to food and to customers. The trickle down is effective.

 

Meal Prep Saturday?

It’s #SelfCareSaturday for me today. That entails  a little bit of self realization, self motivation…a little bit of selfishness, which is ok. I’ll get to that at a later time.  Today started out great. I was laying in bed wide awake at 5 a.m. wanting to get out. Before I could do that, I realized it was prep day and I was so excited. I had a great food week and couldn’t wait to put that into prep for the next four days. My meal prep has a four & three days run. I prep on Saturday morning for Saturday to Tuesday. Wednesday prep is for Wednesday to Friday. I do your standards of course the protein, carb and vegetable. I also make soups as a bonus or add on because soup and toast for dinner most times is just enough.


Getting back into the habit of: Waste Not Want Not, Be Ready So You Don’t Have To Get Ready or Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance(say that 5x’s fast). You feel me thought, right? Okay so here’s to being resourceful. I bought a couple of turkey breasts last week on sale. I  hadn’t planned on doing anything with them at the moment but I could not pass it up. I thought I could use at least one for sandwiches during the week.  So I just cooked them all.

I made an herbaceous rub and marinated them for  24hrs.


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I Cooked them off. Wrapped them individually, froze 3 and left one in the fridge for meal prep.


You know how you look in the fridge and think, “What else can I use?” That’s me all the time.  Since I do this a few times a month and often it’s too much, I made a mango salsa for citrus salmon over the weekend. Still had some leftover which I’ll use as a chutney for brunch tomorrow. It’s beginning to come together.


Removed the turkey from the fridge. Sliced it into 3 to 4oz portions. I didn’t salt the turkey. I knew the add-ons would provided the needed sweetness and saltiness.  It also allows you to turn your meals into the flavors you want. I opted for an island palate.


Since I went for the islands in this prep I used a rice pilaf I made yesterday that was a hit. It was fragrant and had all the seasonings from my jerk rub. If you’ve all made pilaf before you know there’s enough salt in there to satisfy an entire dish.

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My vegetable kinda fell through, in a good way.  The plan was to saute zucchini, that was the plan. In the process of doing that I loved the smell and taste so much I turned it into a soup(covers eyes). BRILLIANT!!!  Silky yumminess. I’m still eating on this.  I add soup to my meal prep every time. This go around I didn’t have to make one…aaayyyeee


We’re ready to prep. Herb turkey w/spicy mango salsa, Jamaican rice pilaf and steamed vegetables.  These food containers are perfectly portioned and reusable.

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They are easy to snap on and take off even after several wash cycles.

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Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did making it. I’ll be back Wednesday morning with something new and yummier ;/ HA!!

Citrus Roasted Chicken

This is sooo delicious.  I mean it’s really, really good.

I had a young chicken thawing in the fridge for a couple of days.  I told the kids I would make them chicken and waffles pretty much all weekend. I just didn’t quite get to it. Thing is they’d rather have wings with their waffles, so I took the young bird for myself.

Roasted chicken with herbs and citrus sounded pretty good to me. I happen to have made a citrus rub earlier for salmon to marinate overnight. I had all these lemons, limes, oranges and the rub left over.  I was afraid that the chicken wouldn’t have much flavor since I was going to season it and immediately cook it. Ha…who am I kidding this rub was packed with flavor.

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Citrus Herb Rub

I had a mixture of oranges, lemons, limes and mandarins. I used a white onion too. It’s sweet and mild, paired well with the fruit without overwhelming it. It makes a beautiful sauce.


 

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Citrus

I cut the chicken in half and coated it with kosher salt.  Set it to the side. I rolled the fruit to extract as much flavor out of it as possible.  I cut the small fruit in half and squeezed the juice into a bowl. I quartered the oranges and put the juice in the bowl.


 

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This is all you need…oh and a roasting pan

I laid the juiced fruit pieces in the bottom of the glass roasting pan with the onions.  I then put the chicken that was completely dry  on top of the fruit and onions. I poured the juice on the chicken and coated it with the RUB!!!


 

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Over Season…Over Rub…Over Indulge

I roasted it for an hour total…10 min at 450° and 50 min at 350°. The aroma alone was BLAZING!! I covered it with foil after removing it from the oven for 10 more min.


 

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I served it over a jerk rice pilaf.  I will make this a million times over. I used my lemon pepper grind as a base for the rub. You can add all the herbs and spice you want to it. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Let chicken sit out and get close to room temp before putting it in the oven
  • Make sure chicken is dry to touch before putting the juice on
  • Use dry herbs in your rub
  • Use fresh herbs…i.e. lemon thyme to tuck in the chicken while cooking
  • Can marinate in a bag overnight with the citrus and rub(delicious either way)

 

Dairy Free Yogurt

I love yogurt. The taste, consistency and benefits. During the summer I can’t have it as much because my skin doesn’t react very well to it. Instead of buying ‘dairy-free’ I thought I’d try to make make some for a few days and store it.

I didn’t go looking for a recipe. I figured it’s close to a smoothie without the ice. It worked.

You want to get fruit not really high in water content otherwise you end up with a smoothie or chunky juice.

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DAIRY-FREE YOGURT

  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 8oz strawberries
  • 1 pint of blackberries
  • 1 mango(consistency)

Put the fruit in a blender and pulse/blend until the fruit holds the form of yogurt. There’s no need for fillers or ice. This was quick, easy and quite frankly my answer to cutting out dairy.

**Option of adding Benefiber powder or Chia Seeds. I didn’t use it in this one, but the option is there. **

**Wash your fruit…really well**

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Lemon & Pepper Grind

I was putting some rubs together for my proteins and dressings. There’s a particular jerk, not so jerky rub I make that I’m kinda obsessed with. I have been implementing it in everything.  It goes over really well with the skwad(my fam) but I wanted to try something different.

We love, love, love a lemon pepper anything. I’ve never bought lemon pepper seasoning from a store because we mostly order it when we’re out. There were a few times we made lemon pepper on the fly for Superbowl or a barbecue. We’d use fresh lemons and McCormick Pepper, it worked.  I wanted to make something that would last a little longer and have several uses.

I enjoy a grilled seafood salad with a nice creamy vinaigrette. This is the perfect opportunity for me to make a lemon pepper dressing.

 I go to my spice bowl and I grab the spice box also to see if I had any dry lemon peel I’m sure I picked up at some point from Winco.

spice

 

I came across some lemon peel and some peppercorn, a good start.  There are different kind of peppercorns, I used black and pink. Pink is still peppery with a mild sweetness to it. I will grind all this together to see what happens….

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…and what happened was I had a pepper, pepper slight lemon blend. Okay, okay so I underestimated the power of the peppercorn. I’ll just have more lemon pepper than originally planned, not a bad thing.  The factor I hadn’t anticipated was(you know you gotta zest 10x’s more lemon now)I ended up zesting lemons like never before. I used 10 total, you won’t have to, I think.  I had to quiet the pepper down. And it is delicious.  I made a meat platter seasoned with this yumminess and dusted it over it afterwards too. YUM!!


Lemon Pepper Grind

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  • 1/3c peppercorn(I used black and pink)
  • 1/3c dried lemon zest
  • 1/4c sea salt or Himalayan
  • Zest of 3 lemon.

I ground the first three ingredients in a blender. Put them in a bowl and add the lemon zest. The longer you grind it the ‘dustier’ it becomes. That makes for a good rub and smoother vinaigrettes

I buy my spices in bulk at places like Winco, Rainbow or any co-op you have in your town. It’s a time saver to create your spice box, cabinet or bowl. Saves time and money.



Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette

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  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 small lemon squeezed
  • 1T Dijon Mustard
  • 2t Raw Honey
  • 1c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Pepper Grind

Use the same blender from the grind and put all the ingredients in.  Season to taste with the lemon pepper grind.

Jicama & Cucumber Salad

I love a papaya salad as much as the next person. I decided to make one but didn’t come across any papayas in my search. I did find a nice sized jicama and thought that was just as sufficient. I honestly just wanted a reason to use my new vegetable mandoline chopper so I would’ve made a slaw too.  

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Mandoline Chopper 

I used what I had available for a fresh salad to conquer the papaya craving.

Jicama Cucumber SaladIMG_20170811_183754_273

 

  • 1 large jicama
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 mangos
  • 2 avocados

Dressing

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4c white wine vinegar
  • 1t grated ginger
  • 1t grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • pinch of sugar in the strawberries
  • salt & pepper

I Crave Pico…Sometimes

They say cravings come from some nutrients your body is missing. Maybe that’s true. I hear people say they crave pie, bread and pasta. Are those missing nutrients? I’m not sure but craving, the STRONG DESIRE TO HAVE, that’s textbook and  there are certain cravings I have to satisfy; chocolate, peanut butter, onions, mushrooms and parmesan. Some would say I have a very savory palate. I would agree.

Today wasn’t any different. I had an intense craving for onions, crunchy and lemony juiciness like you’d find in ceviche. All the makings of a good buljol…yummerz. I’m home already so I have none of the ingredients for either. I do have a bit of leftover crab meat from quiche I made earlier in the week and a small container of pico(HAPPY DANCE).

Instantly I recalled being at Cala in San Francisco and having kampachi ceviche and the crab tostadas and the trout tostadas….yes please. The flavors, smells, tastes and the freshness. I just wanted to relive that moment, or as close as possible.

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Yumminess from Cala San Francisco

 

I used every spice and herb I could to make sure it satisfied my craving.

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~My Quick Crab PicMeUp~

  • 8oz lump crab
  • 10oz container of pico de gallo(onion, tomato, jalapeno)
  •  avocado
  • cilantro(not a fan I seasoned with coriander instead)

    Boss Jumbo Lump
    I prefer this brand or Phillips
  • parsley
  • lime juice
  • salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin

Key is to let it chill overnight. You can add a little cream(mayo/sour cream) to change the body a bit.

  • Enjoy on top of a tostada or stuff in an avocado half
  • You can make your own pico. Make sure your ingredients are fresh.
  • The use of fresh parsley along with coriander in place of cilantro
  • If you decided to use cream in this pico, season it before adding…i.e. coriander, cumin and chili powder
  • Add some mango to lift the sweetness and add to the juiciness.

 

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I Thought It Was A Tiffany’s Box

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I attended a concert Wednesday night in San Francisco.  Raekwon The Chef was headlining at Slims nightclub. We were riding around looking for parking and I saw a door on the left side of Market.

 

The Hazel door is Hazel…Jamie, YES!!

I am very familiar with this part of San Francisco as it houses my favorite little chocolate shop, Littlejohn’s Candies. This door looked like a Tiffany’s Box in the middle of the street. I’d never noticed it before and I know I would have. Thinking about it now maybe the color of the door is Hazel…hmmm.

I was intrigued. I googled ‘Hazel San Francisco Market Street’ and Hazel Southern Bar & Kitchen popped up.  You had me at Southern Kitchen, let’s see what you’re working with. I researched a little more…it was a new spot.  Some of my favorite things were on this crisp and beautiful menu. The skeptic in me arose, collard greens on Market Street?! What’s the set-up like?  Who’s cooking? Who runs this joint? Instagram…YES!! The owner Jamie and Chef Casey Hatwig seems to have it on lock. Ok..ok so when will I make my reservation? What will I eat? How many to-go boxes will I need? These are all important and thought out queries. I decided on the eve of my birthday to partake on a date night in the city with moi.

 

Date Night…Treat Yo Self

June 24, 2017 a little overdressed compared to the patrons at Hazel, I arrive. I was met by the doorman who welcomed me and told me to enjoy the evening as I walked in with huge smile on my face. I was asked if I had a reservation and I replied, ‘Nope, table for one please.’ I got seated at a community table and it was great. I looked side to side and across from me to see what the plates looked like. I wanted to see what they were enjoying, devouring and craving.

 

The menu wasn’t overwhelming at all. Besides by the time I made the decision to go I had an idea of what I wanted.  I started with a blackberry lemonade and the collard green dumplings. The were crisp bites filled with creamy greens on top of a spicy peach chutney…yummerz.

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Pocket Yumminess
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Velvety Grits

The slight obsession I have with all variations of shrimp and grits I couldn’t wait to try theirs. The shrimp and grits arrived as I inhaled my second dumpling. I paused, smiled and dug into this velvety seasoned small plate of deliciousness. The shrimp had a perfect amount of spice.

Mentally I was prepared to get the oxtail w/gravy.  Honestly it didn’t look as aesthetically pleasing on the plate as I imagined.  I instead went for the blackened catfish. It was served on a bed of cabbage w/collard greens and green beans w/caramelized onions. The green beans were served al dente, perfect. Everything was seasoned to perfection.  So the collard greens on Market Street were a HIT!!

Blackened Catfish w/ Collard Greens.

I can’t wait to go back with the whole squad in tow. In a few weeks as a matter of fact. Oh and the bill…well let’s say I was pleasantly surprised that a phenomenal dinner, as it was, for one in San Francisco with cocktails costing less than $60.00.  Southern comfort at its best.

Well done Hazel…well done.

 

CHEFS Gala 2017

 

I attended Episcopal Community Services annual CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Services) Gala which directly helps support the culinary program in San Francisco. A culinary program that I myself graduated from last year. I attended the Gala last year as a student and it was an instant manifestation on my culinary path….and it was EPIC!!!

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CHEFS Gala 2016

The restaurants and mentors that lend their time, resources and essentially their livelihoods to the CHEFS program are unmatched. Whether they are coming in as guest Chefs or providing the students with certain skill sets that are beneficial far past the kitchen. There’s also in-kitchen, hands-on training and an internship at a local restaurant or institutional kitchen settings. It extends to helping with housing, life skills, that go beyond just classroom instruction.FB_IMG_1496952229268

supports programming beyond CHEFS and gives a platform to the disparities plaguing the city and abroad.  This years gala raised over $400,000 in their efforts, which surpass putting people to work in the culinary field.  It has given people who would have otherwise checked out a meaningful opportunity to give back to society. For some of us, it was an opportunity to acknowledge our gifts and to expand on them.

 

Back to the GALA…I had a blast

Supporting CHEFS

I arrived this year as a fan, a foodie, a proud alumni of such an amazing program and so many phenomenal CHEFS, restaurants and philanthropists in one room for one reason…to ensure resources are available to help in the fight against homelessness.

Bespoke San Francisco hosted this years event and it was emceed by Leslie Sbrocco for the fourth year in a row. some of thee best restaurants that San Francisco has to offer were in attendance. YUMMERZ👅  I look forward to what the Chefs come up with and they did not disappoint. The food was beyond amazing. The students themselves participated and hands down had two of the best cuisines served that evening. I kept going back for the Thai bite with the candied ginger…SOOO GOOD. Chef Corina and Chef Harold led an amazing team for this year event. The presentations were inspiring and inventive. In particular for me Commonwealth served Smoked Mussels w/Squid Ink Cracker, Fermented Garlic Aioli and Wild Fennel. AMAZING!!!  They were hidden amongst mussel shells…so creative…and delicious 

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Smoked Mussels on Ink Cracker from Commonwealth San Francisco

 

 

supports programming beyond CHEFS through auctions and the support of San Francisco. 

 

 

Tea and Mee

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Ginger, lemon, nectar, cacao, toast, woods… ahhhh TEAS!!! I travel everywhere(locally speaking of course)for a great cup of tea and atmosphere. There is often a story behind every first cup in a new place. When I’m taking a meeting, want some down time, hanging with friends or blogging I always have a cup of tea. Tonight I’m enjoying hibiscus tea w/fresh cinnamon. I selected this tea because I’m catering a Trinidadian party this weekend so it deemed appropriate. The floral notes from the hibiscus and aromatics from the cinnamon give an almost holiday like feel… Much like food and music, tea has a certain nostalgic effect on me.
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When I was fairly new to this region(still new)I was introduced to this tea house in San Francisco called the Center SF. Most of their teas are imported from mountains in China, that info was new to me. The Center is an underground spot, that has live music, yoga, vinyl records on deck…I mean it is perfection.  For a while they had a WuTang Wednesday night that I just fell in love with. The DJ would play a little WuTang…but he’d throw in some GAP Band, Rakim, Switch and Prince, PRINCE!! We’d dance, write, soar and dream. I had found my forever tea house. I was enamored with the atmosphere of this particular ‘pub’.  So much so that I began going on Monday nights to talk to the carpenter who ran it and on Fridays to hang with the French Chef to pick his brain on food. Every time I went I would try something different, but I’d end the night with the same tea, Toasted Rice Green Tea or Popcorn Tea…GENMAICHA. It was and still is a favorite of mine.   It’s been almost one year since I first stepped into that magical place that looks like it was made just for me.
They’re having their one year anniversary coming up and I plan to be there. I consider myself a sommelier of tea, not certified but a mini expert nonetheless.
Tea…our relationship has gotten more intimate and purposeful. Tea, like food is medicinal. Upon restoring my inner peace taking care of my mind, body & soul its calming effects, the refreshers, the instant gratification…the soothing effectiveness of the smells, the tastes and how the leaves of Africa, Japan and India steeping~~ it’s therapy in an infuser. I guess this is how wine connoisseurs feel without the hangover.

Mee Chewy Ginger Babies

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2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup candied ginger(grated ginger cooked in simple syrup)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup light molasses
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
sugar(to roll the cookies in)
cookies
3 bowls
Spatula
Wooden spoon
Wax paper
Cookie sheet
Cooling rack
Tablespoon
Line cookie sheet with wax paper. Preheat oven to 350. Put the first four ingredients in one bowl-Put the next 3 in another bowl mix it well. Add the next 6 to butter/sugar bowl. Add the mixture to the flour.  Put sugar into 3rd bowl and set aside. Use a tablespoon to scoop out cookie mix. Roll into a ball and toss it into the sugar bowl. Remove it and press it gently onto the cookie sheet. Keep doing this until the mixture is gone. Put into the oven 8-10 minutes or until  center of cookie begins to crack. Remove from the oven place cookies on cooling racks. If you want a not so chewy cookie keep in oven until the rim of the cookie cracks, an extra 2-4 minutes. Really simple, really fast…really good, with tea.