Articles from chefmannydlm

  1. The Mystery Basket or How a Chef Interviews for a Job

    If you have ever watched a show like chopped, then you have an idea of what a mystery basket is.  It is an assortment of random ingredients that a cook or chef will have to cobble together to make a dish in a limited amount of time.  This lends itself to dramatic television.  The thing is the mystery basket is a pretty standard way to interview potential cooks and chefs in the industry.  I recently had a job interview that involved a mystery basket and it is a harrowing experience.  There...
  2. Garnish: Not Just Gratituous Greenery

    OK, so what is a garnish? What does that mean? Quite simply, a garnish is just something that makes food look better and gives a little pop. Most people think that garnishing food is only reserved for restaurants or the Martha Stewart types out there. I am here to let you in on a little secret. Garnishes don't have to be elaborate or hard. Even the simplest little touches can add a world of eye appeal to a dish or plate.

    The basics of garnishing can be broken down into a few guidelines....
  3. Why I Cook: A Chef's Manifesto

    To start, I think we have to answer a more fundamental question: why do we eat?  The most basic of answers is a simple biological necessity.  If you don't eat, your body starves, shrivels up and dies.  But there is of coarse more to it than that.  If not, then why not just "evolve" food into a nutrient rich paste from which we can all derive our sustenance?  Why then did Homo erectus start using fire to cook food?  The answer lies in our love of food.  I don't think anything else could be...
  4. On Being A Sous Chef

    For those of you not in the know I recently was hired on at the University of Houston as a sous chef.  This is a big deal for me as this is my first job as a sous chef.  I was very excited when I got my first chef coats with my name sowed in.  Well this happened back in mid August and it seems as things have finally settled down.  My schedule has been hammered down into a predictable pattern and I am finally starting to get a handle on all that I need to do as a sous chef.  I just want to...
  5. Pineapple How To

    The pineapple may be a prominent symbol of Hawaii, but this sweet and tangy tropical fruit is popular beyond the Pacific Islands. Pineapples have actually been cultivated in South America and the West Indies since ancient times and were not introduced to Hawaii until 1800.  The Spanish (pina) and English names are derived from the fruit’s resemblance to a pinecone. Although there are numerous varieties of pineapples, only four are of commercial importance.  

    Pineapples, as popular as they...
  6. The Malady That is the Modern Cooking Show

    I recently read an interesting article from the Huffington Post.  In this article, the author explains and espouses her belief that food TV is a terrible way to be a fan of food.  I could not agree more.  Most of the programing that makes up today's food TV takes the focus away from the food and squarely on the people around the food.  When I was in culinary school I remember at the orientation the chefs telling us that if we watched and enjoyed watching the Food Network that chances were we...
  7. Fourth of July: What Would George Eat?

    Tomorrow people around the country will celebrating the anniversary of the USA's birth as a country.  In today's culinary tradition many of these good folks will fire up their grills and cook up the grilling season's standards such as burgers or hot dogs.  For the more "adventurous" types some chicken or even sausages might find their way onto the grill.  I myself will be cooking up some tasty fajitas.  But have you ever stopped to consider what food was consumed during the pre-colonial and...
  8. Inspiration

    Let me start be saying that great cooks, either professional or home, are made not born.  But why?  What gives someone that drive to learn to cook.  What makes someone say, "I could just boil this and eat it, or I could parboil it, then saute it in butter and it will taste amazing!"  The truth is that there is no easy answer to that.  Every person that has ever put on an apron and taken on the mantle of meal maker has different reasons for why he or she does that.  For some it is personal...
  9. Cutting Bell Peppers: The Elegant Solution

    Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers,  are a great and dynamic vegetable giving us multiple ways to use them.  From simply stuffing them, to dicing them as a garnish, to cutting them into slices it all depends on what the intended use for the peppers is.  

    The most common way for people to prepare their peppers is to simply slice them down the middle and scoop out the seep pod, stem and some of the white veins.   While this method is not terrible, it does make making precision cuts a...
  10. The Unsung Heroes of the Kitchen

    They go by many names.  They have many jobs. These jobs are often the lowliest, crappiest, most overlooked and easily forgotten ones in the kitchen.  I would bet that most people outside of the profession have never even given these hard workers even the fleeting thought.  I would be willing to even bet most cooks and others that work in the kitchen don't think about them.  Who am I talking about? Sometimes they are called utility staff or stockers.  More often than not they are simply known...
  11. The Truth About Leftovers!

    Let me preface this post by saying that I am not writing this as a warning or an expose.  I am just writing this as an informative piece on the business that is running a professional kitchen.  I just want to provide a little insight into how things work behind the scenes give everyone a little peek.  So, with that being said, I want to address leftovers.  On more than one occasion, I have been asked by a patron at many of the places I have worked at what exactly happens to all the food that...
  12. Food vs Service

      I decided to write this post because of a conversation I had with my sous chef.  He and I were discussing the merits of a restaurant that had great food, but not so great service.  While he and I both agreed that the food was the important part of the equation and that it can make up for bad service, we had some coworkers who did not agree.  This got my curiosity going so I decided to find out what people thought on the matter.  I did a little research asking professionals in the culinary...
  13. Polenta's Potential Predicated

    Polenta. What is it exactly?  It sounds like something exotic and crazy.  But really, it is such a simple dish that has the potential to be extraordinary!  For those of you who grew up in the south, polenta is no more than Italian grits.  Now I know some will cry out that "Grits and polenta aren't the same thing!"  Well, yes and no.  You see polenta and grits share some very fundamental and basic attributes.  Polenta and grits are both essentially dried ground corn that is slow cooked in hot...
  14. Pan Sauces

    Many people don't know what they are missing when they cook something in the pan then discard what's left.  Those are the most scrumptious bits stuck on the bottom loaded with flavor and are perfect for making pan sauces. In a few simple steps I will give you the keys to making your own pan sauces.

    The fist step is to cook whatever it is your are cooking in a large enough saute pan to hold your liquid for your sauce.  Use enough fat (oil, butter or a combo of both) to cook your protein, but...
  15. Perfect for a cold winter's day: Mexican Hot Chocolate

    With the weather still being cold especially in Houston, I was reminiscing about some of my favorite cold weather foods. One of my favorites when I was growing up was hot chocolate.  However, since I grew up in a Mexican household, we would often drink Mexican hot chocolate.  It is very similar to your everyday variety, except that traditional Mexican hot chocolate includes semi-sweet chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla. In Mexico, hot chocolate remains a popular national drink. Besides...
Loading...