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31 minutes | Aug 11, 2022
Rosie’s | A Couple’s Journey to Offering Feel-Good Soul Food
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with the owners Jamila and Akino West of Rosie's, a Southern-American, NY-style café that has progressed from a simple to-go concept to a full-service restaurant, offering feel-good soul food brunch with subtle Italian nuances and classic techniques. The couple has thirty years experience in the food and beverage industry and were nationally celebrated by Vogue Magazine, The New York Times and Travel + Leisure magazine when they opened the Copper Door Bed and Breakfast in 2017. The West's are utilizing the culinary skills at Rosie’s with a chef-driven menu. Chef Akino West’s career spans from working for James Beard award winning Chef Michael Schwartz in Miami and three-Michelin starred NOMA, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Jamila West graduated from The Culinary Institute of America and has worked for James Beard award winning Chef Jose Andres via the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills and South Beach. West transitioned to the front of house management in the Middle East opening multiple locations of Katsuya, a Japanese concept. I talk to the Wests about being married and being business partners, they talk about the challenges but both as individuals had big dreams. Both being workaholics were very driven by food, hospitality and their professional careers. Jamila says, “ I think that there were just synergies while we were dating so we ended up committing in different ways on a very serious level. We bought our first house together before being married, we opened up our business together before being married, so we had that. We had this growing relationship for about six years.” The couple shares that Rosie’s was created out of a pivot when it came to the pandemic. They were operating a twenty-two room bed and breakfast where they were doing fifty covers at a small communal table that turned every thirty minutes out of a residential kitchen. Jamila and Akino always considered themselves restaurant people and have relied on their expertise from a culinary and hospitality perspective. To hear how the Wests went from opening Rosie’s in Miami as a simple to-go concept to a full-service restaurant and their commitment to the community plus get their recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
31 minutes | Jul 21, 2022
A Chef’s Inspiration for Classic Cooking and Community
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Hunter Evans, chef and owner of Elvie's in Jackson Mississippi. Elvie’s which offers a modern take on classic French cuisine through Southern Culinary ingredients and traditions. The restaurant was named after Evans’ grandmother who he spent time with in the kitchen growing up in New Orleans. Chef Evans a native of Jackson, Mississippi worked in kitchens run by acclaimed chef John Currence while getting his bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Evans continued his training at CIA, the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Chef staged at top restaurants in NYC, including Le Bernardin, Cafe Boulud and Daniel. After graduation, Hunter went on to work for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality before returning to Mississippi to fulfill his dream of opening a restaurant in his hometown. I asked Evans about getting into culinary and he said his grandmother was the most influential and early exposure to food and great ingredients definitely came from her. He talks about his family always eating together and being around food, but said he didn’t see cooking as a career possibility until his senior year. When Evans went to Culinary Institute of America he says, “I kind of saw my path and my goals pretty clearly early on which I feel like a lot of people don't so I feel very grateful that I figured out what I wanted to early on and that felt like the next step. I wasn't sure what to expect but you know I've told a lot of people and especially young cooks that are coming through the restaurant, I want to go to school, make sure you want to do it because it costs a lot of money. It's very time consuming. But ultimately you get out of it what you put into it.” To hear about challenges Evans faced and how he was able to help his community, plus get his recipe for Heirloom Tomato Vinaigrette, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
28 minutes | Jun 30, 2022
Executive Chef Talks Mentoring the Next Generation of Cooks | Chef Jair Solis
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Executive Chef Jair Solis Mendoza from The Restaurant at the Norton Museum of Art about his twenty years of experience, influences on his menu and mentoring the next generation of young cooks. Chef Mendoza born in Lima, Peru, was introduced to food early on by his family's pickling business and in the kitchen. As a young boy, Chef spent time over summer break making meals for the staff and began learning the restaurant business. Over his career, Mendoza has held positions at Troquet on South in Boston, NIOS at the Muse Hotel in New York City, Area 31 in Miami and The Breakers in West Palm Beach. Chef infuses a global approach to his culinary point of view. Chef talks about the importance of mentorship and about mentoring young cooks today. He says, “to me cooking is what keeps people together and you can learn from each other and you get to experiment.” Adding, “I try to pass that along to the new newbies too and for them to understand that if you don't make mistakes you will not learn. There's no such thing as a perfect recipe. You know you need to be able to judge less, try more.” Mendoza says focus is important in the kitchen, he says, “I guess it all depends on the individual, I treat every single one of my cooks as individuals and you know everyone deserves the opportunity to get better,” I asked Mendoza about industry challenges he has faced in day-to-day business, he says, “I guess the most obvious one is just staffing, to be able to find people that are willing to work and willing to do the type of work that we do. I mean after a pandemic, we've gotten a lot of people that just never been in the industry before.” To hear about special events at The Restaurant at the Norton Museum, how an exhibition can influence the menu and get the Norton’s Quiche recipe, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
23 minutes | May 26, 2022
An Executive Chef Brings Culinary Expertise to The Pérez Art Museum
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, Pepe talks with Executive Chef Jeremy Shelton of Verde, located at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, to discuss his early passion for comfort food, menu innovation, and a new recipe that is a fresh take on an old classic. When Pepe asks Shelton why he decided to cook for a living, he shares that cooking is important to him and it's something that he has always wanted to do. He talks about spending a lot of time as a child in the kitchen, watching the great cooks in his family preparing dishes and enjoying meals together. He says, “I think food has always been something that's been a value to me, that kind of helps to bring people together and I think that's incredibly important and it's just something that I was always drawn to.” Shelton talks about his Southern roots and growing up in Florida. He shares fond memories of comfort foods like Grandpa’s pancakes on Sunday mornings, and a favorite stew, pinto beans and Ham Hocks served with butter and horseradish. He says, “For some reason it's like one of the most comforting things in the world to me. He adds that he still makes the dish from time to time, although not as often as he’d like to. Pepe and Shelton chat about his culinary training and experience. Shelton reveals that he actually started in the industry at 16 years old as a dishwasher and slowly worked his way up to line cook. After turning 18 and completing high school, Shelton tells Pepe that he moved to Miami and attended Johnson & Wales. He talks about the years following culinary school being filled with a wide range of opportunities, and working at several prominent restaurants in the Miami area. He talks about a short stint in DC, which he recalls was, “a nice chance of pace”, before returning to Florida, initially to Palm Beach, where he helped run several high volume operations and partnered in a fast casual concept before landing back in Miami, joining the Constellation Culinary team and running Verde at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. When asked about the menu offerings at Verde, Shelton talks about using seasonal ingredients and working with local farmers and distributors whenever possible. He shares that the restaurant recently decided to do what he calls, “a major overhaul of the menu”, by changing about 75% of the dishes. He says that while the new menu “took a more Mediterranean approach”, he is also quick to point out that the menu features treasured dishes from the previous menus as well. He says, “There are certain things that are on our menu that will never change based on, you know, the history of the restaurant and its relationship with the museum.” He adds, “There's certain things that are ‘the untouchables’ so to speak. But those are all very, very good dishes. So, it's not really something that needs to change.” To hear Shelton talk about the importance of being able to pivot, solving labor shortages, and the positive change happening due to Covid, check out the episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at iTunes Now!
23 minutes | May 5, 2022
The Importance of Sourcing Local and Seasonal Cooking | Chef Kaytlin Dangaran
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, Pepe chats with Chef Kaytlin Dangaran about her unique path to becoming a Chef, her passion for Italian food and her commitment to using the freshest, local ingredients. When asked about her passion for cooking, Dangaran says, “I can't remember a time that I didn't want to cook.” She shares that even when she was very young she loved cooking and actually had the goal of attending culinary school following high school but instead she decided to follow her parent’s advice to attend college where she studied cultural anthropology. She shares that her studies led to her becoming even more passionate about food. She says, “That kind of reinforced my love of food, of how different cultures eat and how food is the central thing that brings people together.” Dangaran talks about her time working with a nonprofit in South America, and shares that she continuously felt another calling, the drive to cook, which led to her moving to New York, enrolling into culinary school and finding a mentor. She says, “I went to the French Culinary Institute in New York, and I found this wonderful Chef who taught me everything there was to know about Italian food which is my passion for sure.” Pepe asks Dangaran how she ended up at Bistro in Sarasota, Florida, and Dangaran shares that after her time in New York she wanted to see different things, and considering she had always been on the East Coast, she decided to check out the West Coast and ended up in San Francisco. She talks about working at a few high end venues and finding an appreciation for fresh produce during her time there. She talks about missing New York and returning there for a short time before moving back home to Florida where she worked at Pérez Art Museum until joining the team at Bistro. Dangaran talks about her experience working predominantly in Italian restaurants, her love for cooking and the importance of using fresh ingredients. She says, “That's what I love about Italian cooking is the honesty of the ingredients.” She adds, “I didn't realize that as much until I moved to San Francisco and I found that love for produce and ingredients and how important those things are in a dish.” When asked about her culinary point of view, Dangaran shares that her focus is on staying hyper local and hyper seasonal. “In Sarasota, specifically at Bistro, I've probably had the most local ingredients that I've ever had at any of my restaurants.” She talks about sourcing ingredients like milk and honey locally and the excitement she feels when getting to use new ingredients as the produce changes seasonally. She adds, “I want to make beautiful dishes but I want the ingredients to be in season because nothing's better than when you're in season.” To hear Dangaran talk more about seasonal ingredients, offering cooking classes and the importance of mentorship, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
28 minutes | Apr 21, 2022
Culinary Insights From One of the Country’s Top Innovative Celebrity Chefs | Chef Dewey LoSasso
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next-generation consumer. In this podcast, we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, Pepe talks with Corporate Executive Chef Dewey LoSasso of Bill Hansen Catering & Event Production, to discuss his early start in the industry, why it’s important to be a lifelong learner, and the latest innovations in catering menus. LoSasso talks about growing up in New Jersey, along the Jersey Shore, and his early start in the restaurant industry. He shares that his first job was as a dishwasher at the age of 13, and how he immediately fell in love with the business. By the age of 14, he had decided that he wanted to become a Chef. LoSasso talks about how his very supportive father, a master plumber, would bring home used restaurant equipment in order to create a kitchen in the family's basement for the young chef to practice with. He talks about cooking with his mother and father, their discussions about food and ingredients, making memorable holiday meals together, and how that shaped him during his childhood. He says, “I think it was something that definitely influenced me as I got older.” When asked about his education, LoSasso shares that he continued to work in restaurants throughout high school, then right after graduation, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America. He talks about working his way through culinary school and traveling from New York to Miami while sampling a variety of dishes, and learning along the way. He says “It was always about hospitality and culinary, and just the whole business whether it's construction, wine lists, dining room elements, the whole thing for me has been a case study in life. In a way and still to this day, I mean, I'm always learning.” Pepe and LoSasso chat about a few of his career highlights. He talks about being hired at The Forge, one of the oldest restaurants in Miami, then relaunching the brand around 2009, and both the challenges and joys that came along with recreating a menu that paid homage to the dishes of the past while embracing new concepts as well. LoSasso reflects on his time working with Micki Wolfson and the Wolfsonian Museum which enabled him to travel every summer to places like Switzerland, France and Australia. He recalls that timeframe was like an experimental kitchen that was a big influence on him. He talks about his journey leading up to opening his first restaurant and working with ‘farm to table’ decades before it was trending. In addition to launching several other restaurant concepts, LoSasso was a private chef for numerous celebrities, before deciding to join the team at Bill Hansen Catering & Event Production in 2016. LoSasso talks about working with Bill Hansen Catering & Event Production over the past five years and how they have been expanding the brand and bringing a restaurant sensibility to a catering environment. He says, “Bill Hansen, who's been around for over 42 years, is an iconic man, he actually wrote the book on catering.” LoSasso shares some key insights regarding catering menu development and why incorporating new options, such as vegan dishes are important because plant-based foods are becoming more and more relevant. He adds, “We feel that if you're reactive to what's in the marketplace, we can do a great vegan menu without using a lot of processed plant-based food. And I think the trends are showing, for us, plant-based food is here to stay.” Tune in to the podcast to learn more from LoSasso about plant-based catering, future predictions, and his thoughts regarding Covid takeaways, on Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen on iTunes Now!
35 minutes | Apr 14, 2022
A James Beard Award Winner's Goal to Help Emerging Chefs | Chef Jose Garces
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, Pepe chats with Chef Jose Garces about growing up around fantastic Ecuadorian cuisine, why he started developing plant-based foods and launching his latest concept. When asked about becoming a chef, Garces talks about growing up and watching fantastic cooks, his Mother and Grandmother, preparing foods revolving around the cuisine of Ecuador. Garces talks about attending cooking school in Chicago at Kendall, moving to Spain and working at the local eateries and hotels. He talks about moving to New York, where he worked under mentors at the Four Seasons and the Rainbow Room. He says, “I'd say that part of my career is where I really learned how to cook, how to become a Chef. I would say it was my heaviest training there.” Garces moved from New York to Philadelphia in 2000. He shares that the next part of his career involved leaning into ownership and entrepreneurial opportunities. He opened his first restaurant, Amada, named after his Grandmother, in 2005. He talks about competing on ‘The Next Iron Chef’, becoming an ‘Iron Chef’, and appearing on 5 seasons of the show. He says, “I have quite a few battles under my belt.” Pepe and Garces discuss why he started developing plant-based foods. He shares that there were a few factors in the decision. He tells Pepe that a colleague had reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in collaborating on a project to create Latin inspired plant-based meals. Garces says that around the same time-frame, his daughter was having gluten allergies as well as lactose intolerance, and they found that a plant-based diet worked better for her. Garces says, “I was challenged to create these plant-based foods and I took it on wholeheartedly.” He says the result was the launch of Casa Verde. Pepe asks Garces about his most recent endeavor, a Mexican fast casual concept. Garces is excited to talk about the opening of Buena Onda, which means ‘Good Vibes’. The restaurant, a Baja Taqueria, was inspired by the spirit of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Garces talks about how the restaurant is scaling in both units and with new franchising opportunities. He adds, “This should be a national brand within this year.” To hear Garces talk more about plant-based foods, virtual brands, and the Garces Foundation, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify! Produced by Lisa Pepe
11 minutes | Apr 4, 2022
How to Lower Operating Costs With High Efficiency Equipment | California Instant Rebates Program
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, Pepe talks with Josh Chanin, Energy Efficiency Consultant for California Instant Rebates to discuss how the California Instant Rebates Program works, why it is beneficial to commercial foodservice customers and their business, and who can qualify for these rebates. Chanin talks about working with utilities across the nation to help them run energy efficiency programs. He explains that utilities actually want their customers to save energy because it also saves the utility companies money in the long run since they don't have to build as much infrastructure to serve a growing customer base. Chanin shares that a lot of utilities are mandated by their public utilities commission to save energy. He says, “We help them do that by running things like rebate programs”. Chanin shares that the California foodservice instant rebates program is a California statewide program targeted specifically at commercial foodservice customers by allowing them to get rebates when purchasing any high efficiency, commercial foodservice equipment such as high efficiency fryers, convection ovens and steamers. Chanin talks about how the program works. Chanin shares that when commercial foodservice customers buy high efficiency, commercial foodservice equipment from their local or national food service equipment dealer or supplier, they are able to get pretty impactful rebates. Chanin shares that the rebates are offered at the time of purchase, making it an instant rebate as opposed to other standard rebate programs that arrive via mail and can take months to reach the customer. He says, “The instant rebates program is great because it allows you to get those rebates as a discount, and have a lower upfront cost when purchasing high efficiency equipment.” Chanin talks about how commercial customers can easily learn what products qualify for rebates and which California residents are eligible for rebates based on their zip code. Chanin says, “We cover almost all of the State of California.” Chanin shares that customers can visit the company’s website, featuring a user-friendly search tab to look for equipment by name, manufacturer, model number or they can work directly with their equipment dealer to find the right products for them and check eligibility. Chanin talks about the benefits of high efficiency equipment. He says, “High efficiency equipment has a lot of benefits, especially for the small and medium sized businesses, not only do you get these great rebates, and you're able to save money on the purchase and save energy, which means saving money on your utility bills over the lifetime of your products.” Chanin talks about additional benefits of high efficiency equipment. Chanin shares that often those models have lower recovery times, which means that they can recover faster, such as when frozen food goes in the fryer, or when refrigerator doors are opened and closed again, they're able to get back to temperature faster than other models. Chanin adds, “High efficiency equipment is often name brand products that are higher quality and longer lasting.” Tune into the podcast to learn more from Chanin about the California Instant Rebates Program, on Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at iTunes Now! Produced by Lisa Pepe
32 minutes | Mar 24, 2022
A Chef's Perspective on Culinary Innovation | Fazoli's
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, Pepe talks with Rick Petralia, Culinary Director at Fazoli’s to discuss his jumpstart to becoming a Chef, his Culinary point of view and why he’s passionate about approachable, authentic Italian food. Petralia talks about his unique journey towards becoming a Chef. He shares that while attending college to become a math major, he was working at a local restaurant as a server. During his shift one evening the cook called out and the manager asked him if he would be interested in learning how to cook. Petralia replied, “Sure I'll try it.” He adds, “I really enjoyed that and I transitioned from serving to cooking at the restaurant.” Petralia shares that this opportunity led to him changing course from being a math major to going to Culinary school. Petralia talks about the 15 years following Culinary school and how he held a variety of positions in the industry, none of which had him utilizing his culinary experience. He talks about a position becoming available at Fazoli’s that would allow to get back into the culinary side of things. He says, “I thought, hey that'd be great to get back into a culinary more creative type of role.” He adds, “Italian is my background and you know it just really seemed like an exciting opportunity.” Petralia shares his culinary point of view and how he approaches recipe development particularly when it comes to QSR and Fast Casual. He talks about having over 200 locations that serve over 700000 meals per week and how being able to replicate every recipe with consistency is key. He says, “First and foremost, that's in the back of my mind every time I develop a recipe, is how is this going to happen 700000 times a week in the same way.” Tune into the podcast to learn more on how Petralia feels about developing recipes including Fazoli’s Breadstick Panzanella (Bread Salad), what he has to say about upcoming culinary trends, and his thoughts on supply chain issues on this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify! Produced by Lisa Pepe
34 minutes | Mar 17, 2022
An Executive Chef That Takes "Comfort" in his Culinary Point Of View
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, Pepe talks with Alex Sadowsky, Executive Chef at Twin Peaks to discuss his humble beginning in an industry that he quickly fell in love with while working his way up in a variety of kitchens, his passion for comfort food and how a childhood sandwich would become a signature recipe. Sadowsky talks about entering the industry as a dishwasher out of necessity and quickly learned that he’d found his calling. He talks about admiring other Chefs, reading their books and consuming as much knowledge as possible as he worked his way up in the kitchen, and into The Culinary Institute of America where he immersed himself in his culinary education. Sadowsky shares that following graduation he returned home to Minnesota and decided he wanted to gain even more experience. He says, “I worked my way through all these kitchens and tried to get a little bit of experience with everything you know, from Diners to Fine Dining, Seafood, Steakhouse, Country Clubs.” At one point he even owned two bars and grills where he really started to lean into cooking and serving comfort food. Sadowsky talks about growing tired of the cold weather in Minnesota and being ready to relocate to someplace warmer when a chance call with his best friend from culinary school, encouraged him to relocate to Texas. Once there Sadowsky joined a great company emerging in the Gastro Pub trend. It was during this time that Sadowsky says he was able to work directly with little farmers, create farm to table dishes and open up a lot of new concepts for the company. Sadowsky talks about becoming the Executive Chef at Twin Peaks and how it opened up the opportunity to take his love for comfort food to the next level first Nationally, and then scaling it Internationally with the company. Sadowsky shares details on a new comfort recipe that was inspired by his favorite food as a child. He says, “I love to talk about this! Okay I was addicted when I was a little kid to eating fried baloney sandwiches and I would put the potato chips right on the sandwich and I don't think I'm the only one. And, right now it seems like Bologna is having a big comeback.” So much so that he has created a special dish in honor of it! Chef shares with us his recipe for [Potato Chip Crusted Bologna], an inexpensive dish that he developed with hopes that it will bring back fond memories and make a bunch of people happy. Tune into the podcast to learn more about Chef Sadowsky’s thoughts on virtual brands, comfort foods and labor shortages in the restaurant, on Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at iTunes Now! Produced by Lisa Pepe
32 minutes | Mar 7, 2022
Chef Dawn Burrell | From Olympian to Top Chef Finalist
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Chef Dawn Burrell about her incredible journey as an Olympian to finding her passion for a career in culinary, becoming a finalist on Top Chef Portland and her James Beard Award Nomination. Burrell who traveled the world with the USA’s Track and Field team says it was a great way to spend her early twenties, she was traveling and there was airport and hotel time sprinkled with culture and great food. Her traveling played a role in her love of food and she says, “You know when you eat the food of the people, you are learning about their history and their culture without even knowing if you're in tune in that way.” Burrell says that her love for food came from her grandmother and aunts. I ask Burrell about culinary becoming a full-time career for her and she shares that during a difficult time in her life when she was facing retirement from track and field, she needed to find something else that she loved to do. She says, athletes have blinders on and you can lose sight of other interests and things you can do in life. She says, “So I had to quickly figure out for myself in my adult life and I landed in culinary, I really remember I had the fondest childhood memories of food and I always wanted to know more.” Burell has been extremely busy as a chef since culinary school. She was the sous chef at Uchiko, the executive chef at Kulture, she had a James Beard nomination, and became part of Lucille’s Hospitality Group opening the restaurant Late August, a culinary collaboration with Chef Chris Williams. Burrell also talks about two industry non-profit organizations she supports, I’ll Have What She’s Having, a women-led non-profit, raising community awareness and funds in support of better health and healthcare in the food and beverage industry and Lucille 1913, a conscious community collective that is building a vertically integrated ecosystem to combat food insecurity and waste; creating training and employment opportunities in traditionally under-resourced neighborhoods; and empowering communities to discover a self-sustainable livelihood through food. To hear Chef Burrell talk about being an all star guest judge on Top Chef Season 19 and her recipe for Salmon with Buttermilk Broth & Gai Lan, plus find out why she decided on culinary school, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
31 minutes | Feb 24, 2022
A Chefs Impact on Culinary Innovation | SPB Hospitality
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Tim Griffin, director of culinary at SPB Hospitality about his path to becoming a chef, finding his inspiration, and driving menu innovation for several brands. Since October 2020 Griffin has been leading SPB Hospitality Brands culinary team with over twenty years experience in fine dining, catering and hospitality. Prior to joining the SPB team he has worked for Kona Grill, Ignite Restaurant Group’s Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern & Tap. Griffin also served as a founding Board Member of the Global Culinary Innovators Association. He attended Texas Tech University and earned a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and management finishing his education at The Culinary Institute of America. Griffin says, while at CIA in Napa Valley, he would speak to chefs that would come through, and would have great conversations about being a multi-unit corporate chef. Ultimately those discussions helped him identify what he wanted to do with his culinary education. He was drawn to the scope and scale of managing multiple things and entities across cities, states, and the world. I ask Griffin if he has been feeling the challenges of supply chain shortages. He says, “Yes, there's been a lot of react and adapt to current menu items as well as products, it changes daily, weekly but we have a great supply chain and I work very closely with them.” Adding, “it's a tighter relationship now than it has been in the past.” Some of the SPB brands include Logan’s Roadhouse, Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, Old Chicago, and more. Griffin also shares the different virtual brands that are in development with SPB. Griffin talks about food trends and says he is seeing a lot more from Korea. But he looks for up and coming food trends by taking advantage when he travels, by visiting small restaurants and seeing what ingredients and presentations they are doing. To hear more about the creative process in the test kitchen, get Griffin’s take on developing menus, and the story behind the Roasted Cauliflower Recipe, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen on Spotify!
34 minutes | Feb 8, 2022
Growing A Restaurant Collection with Chef-Driven Concepts
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Mohamed “Mo” Alkassar, founding partner of Alpareno Restaurant Group about his extensive background in hospitality, his partnership with three-time James Beard award nominee, Chef Niven Patel, and the importance of mentorship. Alkassar, while in Madrid waiting for his visa to go to the United States, stumbled on the hospitality industry working in fine dining at Maison Blanche. He further developed his skills by working for some of the most well-recognized hospitality groups in the Middle East. Alkassar met his mentor during this time, Michael Bonadies, partner, Myriad Restaurant Group. The group that created Nobu and many other iconic restaurants. Alkassar moved to Miami and took a step back in his career to get experience in American style service before joining NRI, Nolan Reynolds International as chief operating officer. In addition to being the COO of NRI, Alkassar partnered with Chef Niven Patel, Charles Nolan and Brent Reynolds to form Alpareno Restaurant Group. Alpareno’s culinary portfolio of chef-driven restaurants include Patel’s Ghee Indian Kitchen, Mamey and Orno. Alkassar says, “Chef Niven is the embodiment of farm to table because he lives on this farm, it is his home in South Florida in Homestead, which he refers to as Rancho Patel, is actually his farm so he pretty much lives the food and beverage cycle right. He wakes up in the morning, he goes up on the farm, he picks the produce himself, he comes in every morning to all our restaurants with boxes.” I asked Alkassar about his philosophy that food has the power to bring people together. He talks about opening Mamey during the pandemic and being able to be there for the community and their staff, connecting everyone through food. Having a mentor or being a mentor in hospitality is common. Alkassar says, “we say we want to enhance the lives of all our stakeholders equally and put as much effort into doing so and you can only do so if you really mentor your team. I learned that I think I've always had it inherently since I was a kid, really to take care of people, mentor people and teach them what I know.” To hear more about creating dishes with fresh ingredients including grilled okra, and how Alkassar’s team worked through the challenges during the pandemic, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
27 minutes | Jan 5, 2022
A Plant-Based Pioneer’s Journey to Become an Entrepreneur
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Sheryn Delgado-Abalos about choosing to be vegan at an early age, why she taught herself to cook and becoming an entrepreneur. When I asked her about becoming a chef, Delgado-Abalos says, “I ended up having to basically teach myself how to cook and prepare meals that were also healthy and that could sustain my new lifestyle even though I was so young and I just started experimenting in the kitchen.” She adds, “It was really myself teaching myself and when I was fifteen I had this notion, oh wouldn't it be great to have a restaurant.” Delgado-Abalos moved to Miami from Canada at twenty-one and while working at a hotel she met an investor that funded her first project. She says about opening her first vegan concept, “It was in Miami Beach in the nineties when the fashion world was just beginning here. It was a really good learning experience. It was basically my university for how to open up a business in Miami Beach because they don't make it so easy here. There's a lot of red tape and administration, a lot of licensing fees. So I spent a lot of my time at city hall trying to figure out how to do things correctly. I had to keep going back and I pretty much lived at city hall until we finally opened our doors.” As far as Delgado-Abalos’ education she received formal education training from Food Future Institute, Food For Health Foundation, International School of Detoxification, SunFired Foods Academy and Ecornell Plant Based Nutrition as well as other programs. In 2010 Delgado-Abalos opened Thrive Juice Bar and in 2015, Plant Theory Creative Cuisine, a combination of her world travels and healthy, organic, gluten-free artisan-crafted food. Chef shares her recipe, Where’s The Beet!, made with roasted portobello, sunflower seeds and more. To hear Delgado-Abalos talk about plant-based and the shift in the industry and how wellness and health will have a role in the future of food, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
41 minutes | Dec 22, 2021
How to Build One of the Largest Food Communities on Friendship
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Chef Ben Ebbrell, co-founder and director at SORTEDfood, about his background as a trained chef and how a conversation at a pub with friends sparked the idea and the sentiment that got Sortedfood started. SORTEDfood began over ten years ago and their mission is to get people SORTED by empowering them with passion, knowledge, skills and tools so they can confidently cook with whatever they have available. SORTEDfood’s youtube channel has over two million subscribers. Ebbrell says that their youtube channel started in 2010 and has changed over the years. He says, “it's changed and now it's more sort of entertainment and inspiration. First we promise that if you watch a video on youtube you'll always learn something. There's always some factual takeout but it's more about just hanging out and having fun together and there's lots of challenges and a bit of Jeopardy and some competition elements and we invite other expert guests and chefs in so that we can learn from them as well. It's kind of just one big happy family of food, drink and cooking an open invitation.” “We've realized as with many subjects once you open that treasure chest and you start to explore and the more you learn the more you realize you don't know and I think food is one of those things that can just keep going and people's perceptions and habits and behavior around food is changing and evolving. The kind of food that we were cooking ten years ago and to be honest with the kind of food we were avoiding ten years ago are now very very commonplace and absolutely important and topical and timely. We would be stupid if we didn't kind of feature that and celebrate that now,” Ebbrell says when I asked if the possibilities are endless for SORTEDfood. To hear how SORTEDfood was able to shine light on restaurants by highlighting their meal kits when creating video content during the pandemic, the gourmet beans on toast recipe, Ebbrell’s thoughts on sustainability and more, check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
25 minutes | Dec 8, 2021
Building Relationships and Mentorship | Hai Hospitality
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Chef Jack Yoss, Vice President of Culinary at Hai Hospitality about his early inspiration, hands-on training, the importance of having mentors, and working overseas. Yoss shares that his foundation for cooking came from Las Vegas and working for Wolfgang Puck restaurants for nearly eight years. He says he truly learned about people and how to work with different cultures while overseas. Yoss adds, he was in Bali, Thailand, and other countries and when working in a foreign land, managing five hundred people that all have different customs, you learn to adapt very quickly. I asked Yoss about the culture having an impact on his culinary style, he says, “I will never say that I fully understand the fundamentals of Indonesian Cuisine. You know there's hundreds of dialects, there's hundreds of regional cuisines, there's thousands of islands right, you're never going to fully understand that as a foreigner.” He adds, “but what I did get was a good base knowledge and that's definitely inflected the way that I cook these days.” Yoss spent time working with Hai Hospitality before going overseas, and on his return he joined the group again. Hai Hospitality is a restaurant group from Texas, their restaurants include, Uchi, Uchiko, Uchiba, and Loro an Asian smokehouse and bar by James Beard award winners Chef Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. Yoss is known for his in the trenches work style, he says, “you can't lead through email and you can't lead through text, first of all the very first and foremost is you have to get to know and build relationships with your teams and your team doesn't only mean your chef de cuisine or your sous chefs. You need to get to know the line cooks, you need to get to know the prep cooks and you need to be visible.” Adding, “getting out, getting on the road, and getting in the restaurants.” To hear Yoss talk about the importance of mentors, his story behind the recipe for pork shoulder satay, his thoughts on the labor shortage, and what the future holds check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
31 minutes | Nov 23, 2021
A Classically Trained Chef’s Journey to Making Burgers | BurgerFi
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Chef Paul Griffin, chief culinary officer at BurgerFi about his training, his experience of over twenty years, and his road to BurgerFi. Griffin, born and raised in New Zealand, talks about being classically trained and how it gave him a foundation in French European cuisine with a foundation of sauce technique. When Griffin finished school, he took the traditional path and went gourmet, working for some of the best restaurants in the country and the world, he says. Griffin says he spent many years honing his culinary skills at the top hotels in the world and small restaurants, including The Breakers in Palm Beach. He came to South Florida and that’s when Griffin began to build BurgerFi. I asked Griffin how he became a founding member of BurgerFi and he says, “being a chef in south florida we made some acquaintances in the industry that worked front of house, that were entrepreneurs and you know over the years we had crossed paths and and back in 2006 we kind of joined together.” He adds, “We were running high-end full-service Italian restaurants here and in Delray Beach. Delray Beach is a very young and vibrant little town right on the beach here and we had several restaurants that were doing lunch and dinner at super high volume.” Griffin had found a niche item on the menu, it was an antibiotic free beef burger. He says, “The burgers really became the star and then it took a few years of that and we realized that we hadn't played in the QSR field ever.” Griffin adds, they took a product that they were already selling and it became the burger brand BurgerFi. I chat with Griffin about the size of the BurgerFi opening team and he says, “we've been consistent with the plan, again coming with operational strength. We have a five-person team based on the 5 positions that they train. We have a grilled person, we have the front of the house, we have you know the assembly person. Well, it's not an overly complicated system. So the training team today is leaps and bounds over what I started back then, I mean we've introduced amazing technology.” Griffin says when asked about the industry, “I would love to see hospitality bounce back.” He adds, “It's more important than the food I agree with you, it's all about going out talking to someone and you know being treated pleasantly. It's becoming a lost art.” To hear Chef Griffin talk about supply chain disruptions, his recipe for the BurgerFi Spicy Wagyu Burger better known as the SWAG Burger, technology, and more check out this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
41 minutes | Nov 10, 2021
A Creative Drive to Recipe Development | Caster Azucar
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I talk with Greg Pryor, known to his instagram followers as Caster Azucar, a cook with no formal training about social media, his cooking that comes from his love of creating and why he sees food as an adventure. Pryor talks about the amazing feeling of trying something sensational in a restaurant and says he has had those experiences in New Zealand. He chats about eating at Michael Meredith’s restaurant saying it was incredible and couldn’t believe what he had done with a potato and cabbage dish. Pryor adds, “there’s something that is my drive to try and get people to experiment more at home and appreciate food more when they go out, but also appreciate the adventure that is food.” Pryor shares with us his recipe Burnt Butter, Pistachio, and Potato Soup, which he says came from looking for something that was hearty, warm and fall-like. This recipe comes with an option to add grilled salmon. Pryor talks about creating echoes of the foundational flavors, saying that the dish is about bringing layers of flavor and texture to something as simple as a soup. Tune into the podcast to learn more on how Pryor feels about following recipes, what he has to say about cooking with sous vide, and his thoughts about the industry on this episode of Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
53 minutes | Oct 28, 2021
No Such Thing As An Overnight Success | Niche Food Group
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I chat with Gerard Craft, executive chef and owner of Niche Food Group about his snowboard photography days, his introduction to the kitchen and being named Food & Wine Best New Chef. Craft talks about how he started out washing dishes, doing some basic cooking and how he loved the camaraderie of the kitchen. He says about cooking at that time, “being able to come in everyday, produce something, make people happy. Clean up at night and you’re done. I think it was kind of just what I needed and I really enjoyed.” Adding, “restaurant people are just different and I gravitate towards restaurant people.” Craft through a recommendation of a career counselor talks about opting for culinary school. Craft shares his experiences from working in Bistro Toujours in Park City, heading to Los Angeles for a run at Chateau Marmont with trips to farmers markets, and a stop at Ryland Inn in New Jersey. Now Craft’s Niche Food Group has several restaurants. Chef Craft takes us on his journey through opening Niche, his first restaurant in Saint Louis, he talks about the growing pains of opening a business, and how a visit from Kate Krader and being named Food & Wine Best New Chef was a game changer. We talk about feijoada, this incredibly delicious recipe that has a sentimental connection to Craft, it’s Brazilian origin, and making farofa to top off this stew. To hear Craft speak openly on mental health, the importance of changing the culture in restaurant management and becoming an employee first restaurant group, tune in to this episode of Chef AF on iTunes now.
41 minutes | Oct 8, 2021
A Homegrown, Hand-Made Success Story, Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop
The next generation of culinary artisans are changing up the industry. These artisans have a whole new approach to reaching and satisfying the next generation consumer. In this podcast we will explore chefs and artisans from around the world diving into their story and passion. In this episode of Chef AF, I talk with Derek Kaplan from Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop. Kaplan, a former football player and City of Miami fireman, shares how his love for baking came about, getting started with a key lime pie recipe, and how Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop came to fruition. Kaplan talks about being exposed to an extensive array of foods at an early age and its impact on how he saw food. When asked about selling pies in the beginning, Kaplan said, “I used to think I was going to change the world, selling pies in a cup.” He adds, “I had this idea I was going to revolutionize the way people ate pies.” I asked Kaplan about a little space in Wynwood between the dance club Electric Pickle and a barbershop, he said it was his first Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop. He also shares how he had a food truck and utilized a commissary kitchen to get his business started. We talk about how Kaplan built his name, brand, and customer base before opening this location. He goes on to say “I always looked at the store as access points.” Kaplan offers up the recipe for White Chocolate Guava Cookies and how he invented this deliciously decadent cookie that you can find at his Bake Shop. You can get Kaplan’s cookie recipe here. Tune into the podcast to learn more about Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop’s plan for the future, Kaplan’s advice for aspiring food entrepreneurs, and the importance of caring about your brand on Chef AF “It’s All Food” or you can listen at Spotify!
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