Friday, December 25, 2009

Request for my Balsamic Mayo Recipe

Got a couple requests for my Balsamic ya go...

2 egg yolks
1 oz Balsamic Vinegar
1 cup Oil (I used a roasted garlic and rosemary oil that I infused)
Salt, Pepper and Cayenne

Over double boiler whisk egg yolks, until thick and happy, slowly drizzle in oil making sure that it is emulsifying and not oily...add the  balsamic vinegar slowly,being sure to whisk the hell out of each minute addition of both oil and vinegar...finish off with a pinch of salt, white pepper and cayenne....

That is the basic recipe...after that I added a reduced balsamic  that I made with a pinch of brown sugar

Freaking yum....

ChungaChungaBam Baby!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cheffy Runs His Mouth About Gordon Ramsey and Kitchen Ethics

Cheffy Runs His Mouth About Gordon Ramsey and Ethics

I have listened to the pros and cons of what some in the cook’s world is saying about Gordon Ramsey and Hell’s Kitchen for a couple years now, whether in the newspaper, on some of the message boards on the internet I frequent or in some of today’s hospitality magazines.  I am taking the stand that I think Chef Ramsey rocks and I would be honored and humble to work in any of his kitchen’s or under any of his protégé’s.

I have followed Chef Ramsey’s career before the Hell’s Kitchen world hit America, and have followed him since also, not only on American television, but also on the BBC, other international sources of media, am knowledgeable about the great things that he has done both in the culinary world and for international charities.

In my humble opinion as a chef, Mr. Ramsey rocks… hard…

As far as his Americanized persona is concerned all I have to say is that America loves controversy and Chef Ramsey fit into that persona for this reality idea that Fox networking developed years ago. He’s a pussycat compared to some of the Chef’s that I have worked under…

Would I work with him? Bet your Ass!!!

I went into the Marine Corps before I first shaved at seventeen years old, after years of being under the scrutiny of the US Gov’t, I wound up in a kitchen under the tyranny of Chef Roy and at times, I have put myself in less than desirable positions in this culinary world…So again, with my pen and paper I am asking myself once again…Would I work under him? Again, my answer is “You bet your ass…” and I would even do it for room and board.

Following in part is why…

“…the discipline in dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation…”

“…conforming to accepted professional standards of conduct…”
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

Our professional world is way beyond perfect, the ideal kitchens and jobs within those kitchens are few and far between, as is finding that “great chef” that we want to work under.

This is our life, this is who we are and what we do.

Although not dictated as such in our résumé’s, “…this is who we are and this is what we do…”, as well as “ this is who we are and this is what we’ve done” should be taken into serious consideration when discussing who we are in the Culinary World. Chef Ramsey has proven to the world long before “Hell’s Kitchen” that he is an accomplished culinarian, chef, cook, manager, owner and a freaking icon in this industry.

 Chef Gordon Ramsey
The Facts:

Three successful television programs in the EU, the mentor of Hell’s Kitchen and one of his European shows “Kitchen Nightmares” will soon be Americanized and presented by Fox the Fall of 2007.

Currently owns 15 very successful restaurants internationally. Owner of several Michelin Stars, both individually and collectively with such great chefs like Marcus Wareing and Angela Hartnett. In October 1993, Chef Ramsey became chef of the newly opened Aubergine where he won many accolades including two Michelin stars within three years of opening.
(CheffyNote: earning Michelin Stars in such a short amount of time is totally unheard of…)

Chef Ramsey provides a continuing education program for Chefs and other professionals in Europe, and also sponsors a culinary scholarship for students and non-students, with seven recipients annually, one of the contestants of the third season of Hell’s Kitchen being one such honoree with this gift from Chef Ramsey.

Being in a world where we can pursue our craft; maintain our ethics and operate our kitchen and produce our foods in an ethical manner is as close to heaven as we can get.

Gordon Ramsey is one of those chefs’s that has had the opportunity to construct an empire built on the ethics of his craft. To me this is why I became a chef to begin with.

Not necessarily to become an icon in the industry or to design my own empire, but dream of a world, no matter how insane it is, of my food, my ethics and my ethical demands…

The reality of these choices to thousands upon thousands of chefs internationally is a distant truth from the kitchens of the Ferran Brothers, or the Mr. Ramsey’s, Trotter’s or Keller’s in the world, but then again they are choices that we have made as professionals.

I do not live in a world that I produce the kind of food that I feel in my heart, mind and often my dreams, I suppose this is my choice, but in no means is it my demise.

At times we may find ourselves taking shortcuts that don’t sacrifice the expression of quality or following the norms as society has dictated either for the reasons of cost, practicality or urgency. 

If, as a Chef, you do not have an outlet for that inner-beast of creativity, how long are you going to be able to maintain your current position? If you are passionate about food and our business, I guarantee that you won’t stay employed there too long…

 Although there are some of us that find the challenge in marketing, design, crunching numbers or whatever; it’s always about the freaking food, like it or not. I find challenges in these portions of our industry also, but you know what?

It’s all about the freaking food….

It often puzzles me why chef’s (myself very much included) have settled for this type of mediocrity. My avenue/niche is to write and teach the up and coming cooks in our world, this puts me in touch with the fantasy of what I wish my world was all about. It’s not just teaching food, hell, that’s the easy part, but teaching ethics and ethical mannerisms is a whole different story. In retrospect, I suppose this is my niche in our industry today, aside of being an insane Rocking and Rolling schmuck…is to teach, learn and  tantalize taste buds, no matter how much or how little I have to work with.

Like I used to say to my good friend, former associate, student, teacher and confidant Chef Greg…
”…we have the innate ability of pulling a meal out of our ass…”

My choice is not a bad one. I could have made the decision to go to Indonesia and hang out with Chef Martin Chiffers, or pursue Chef’s like Chef Scott or a thousand others that have crossed my path and wound up in one of a hundred different kitchens worldwide, I could still be traveling nationally doing Guest Chef gigs, smoozing with people that are way out of my league,  I could have gone back to school and done something different or complimented the education I have already, then that little voice comes into my brain housing group and says

“What the hell for?”

  I have chosen to be in the rear with the gear, deal with the heat, passion and frustration of our industry, write, teach, listen, learn, bitch…


Because this is who I am and this is what I do!
Just a magician that fucking dresses funny!

That’s why…

Peace, Hugs and Cookies,
Chef Michael Hayes

Pleasing The World One Palate At A Time

A Rebuttal to "Cheffy Runs His Mouth About Gordon Ramsey and Kitchen Ethics"

A Rebuttal to “Cheffy Runs His Mouth about Gordon Ramsey and Ethics”

What Chefs and Culinarians had to say about Chef Mike’s “Gordon Ramsey and Ethics” article…not all of them good…ha ha..

My Cheffy Friends at Culinary Artists Chef It Up had quite a bit to say about this little CheffyRant/Philosophy…

The players are:
Chef Keith Angell- Indiana
Chef David Bulla- Pittsburg
Chef Tom Dinardo-Cleveland
Pastry Chef Heather Williams- NYC
Chef David- Montreal
And of Course,
The CheffyBoy…

Chef Keith, the co-founder of Culinary Artists, chides in first…


So when do I get to work with you? I have been reading your posts like these for years and you always make me wanna put on an apron and just destroy a kitchen with you.

The 3 stages of being a chef:
You perspire, you inspire and then you retire.

I wish I had a "you" 19 years ago... I need a young and hungry kid who is eager to learn the whys and hows of kitchen lore....a sponge.

Love ya Bro!

Chef K

Chef Dave from Canada says:

Well said, I hear people complaining saying if he ever said / done that to me I would let him have it well let them say that when they have a full board and the orders keep coming. And when you are finally done, and every thing has gone out and three hours have gone by and you just have a chance to hit the can grab a quick drink and it starts again. Well let them try. Two days ago I was working with a kid just started on the grill all of a sudden he was swamped and in panic mode I stepped in and helped him I did not let him sink I moved some one else into my station and helped him through it showing him how to run multiple orders and showing him how to let other parts of the team know where he is on his orders to keep everything coming when he was ready for it. At the end we all agreed that he rocked out and done well. At the end he went home all smiles

He is only 19 he has what it takes I just hope that he stays with some one who will help train him not push him aside when it gets hectic

Chef Dave in Canada.


Heather has quite a bit to say about Ramsey and the CheffyRant…

“I have to put my thoughts on this one....

For me, I can respect the fact that Gordon Ramsey is successful, and is a great chef as far as his cooking ability is concerned...but that is where the respect ends for me. Ramsey, in my opinion, doesn’t know what ethics are. he can can a lot of us out there. That doesn’t grant him the right to be verbally abusive towards people, throw childish temper tantrums because he doesn’t get his way, or belittle people so they feel like they aren’t even human. What gives?? I’m sorry...but for his behavior alone I can’t respect him as a chef. I can respect his accomplishments...just not him. I have worked with several tyrannical, maniacal chefs in my time...and I haven’t respected a single one of them. I was raised with manners. I respect people, and keep my cool because I know that throwing a tantrum will get me nowhere. I expect the same when it comes to the people who work with me in my kitchen. I despise chefs, that think that just because they are boss...that it makes them right...even when they know they are wrong. Bosses are people too, and can make mistakes. The minute all of us can realize this fact...we can be better bosses...and lead the way for a better industry. sum it all up...Why on earth should we give a crap about Ramsey...why not pay attention to those in our industry who are doing well and keeping their cool while they climb their way to the top??? You don’t have to be a tyrant to be a good chef.


Lisa Gabelle says:

I agree with you on that one. To a point. For me, I
work with some great bosses and even tho they throw
their tempers and stuff, they try not to take it out
on us employees. I'm really blessed to have great

Cheffy Sez: gonna reply to Heather first...

Shoulda known you were gonna  get worked up...

(Heather and Cheffy have a kind of ‘know each other’ situation and I know of some of the boneheads she has worked for...)

This is going to open up another can of worms, but I can't let it go...

When I walked into a REAL kitchen the first time in the late 70's, you didn't even talk to the chef, if he talked to you, you were honored...even if he was yelling at was an honor...

Things have changed...

I worked under the tyranny of the best Chef I have ever knew for years, if he quit and moved on, I followed him...why? Because Chef Roy may have been a tyrant, but I learned more when I was pissed off at him then I ever have from school, books or any other practical application.

I learned patience...I had to learn to deal with him...He was a mentor that took me under his wings and said that he would teach me "three pages short" of what he knew. I was his Student. He was my Teacher. I had a love/hate relationship. So did he.

When we quit being humble is when we quit learning...

I quit working with Chef in 1983. I call him still...

Now…That's Respect.

Today's Kitchen has so much changed...

There is no respect anymore...nobody thinks to walk into the Chef's
Office when he is on the phone and talking...I used to knock and wait until (and if) I was invited in...

And I am not even talking about the food...

It was just a respect we used to have for the Chef that I have now become....

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing...

OK...lost my mind for a moment, am back now...done with that tangent...

The point that I was trying to make was for us professionals, whether an Exec, a Pastry Chef, an Exec-Sous or whatever, a freaking prep/steward for all I am concerned...we make sacrifices for education. It’s pretty simple math…the more you know the more you’re worth…

If in your education you do not attain ethics or ethical standards then all you have is lost. If you have passion about your craft, regardless of the profession and you do not maintain an ethical standard and abide by your ethics for your craft then you lose...

Bottom Line...

In my day, putting up with shit and disrespect made me a better dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, chef and now a mentor...

Am I that way? No, not always, but I have my moments... I am a kinder, more gentle chef than my teachers, I am still effective, but I wouldn't change a day...

I didn't become a good chef by being a crappy dishwasher...

Cheffy gets Sentimental Page One....

Raspil gets into the conversation with some very good insights:

I used to think the same way about Ramsey, that he was just out of control and didn't care how he was talking to his crew (all I know is what I've seen on HK).  But if what was represented on Hell's Kitchen was true, that NONE of those cooks (ever) have been able to work the line to his specifications, then he has the right to bitch them out when they screw up.  It's his name out there.  Of course, because it's a reality show, they don't cast actual talent (it's obvious they aren't if they think a nanny or pastry chef can run a kitchen night after night), they don't even cast people who have worked on the line -- this makes for "good" tv, I guess, but bottom line is if HK wasn't on television and was a real place where people dine on a nightly basis and weren't getting appetizers or entrees after an hour, I think he would have the absolute RIGHT to fire his crew and find one who won't F him over during the rush.

They did cast "donkeys".  I don't believe for a second they have ever cast an actual line cook who knows what it's like.  Not anywhere on this planet will a sane chef hire any of those people who were on that show.  I sure as hell know I never would if that was the best they could do.

I worked for a chef earlier this year -- his kitchen was like boot
camp.  Did he bitch and moan?  Yes.  He also told me he wouldn't
have kept me around if he didn't think I had talent.  My goal was to
get three hours worth of work done in 1-1/2 hours and I eventually
got it.  He was hard but fair.  I think Ramsay is the same way.  He
can sense who might have something in there, a brain, talent, common
sense, speed, what have you -- only the strong survive.  Chefs need
strong people on their crews, not crybabies who can't work under
pressure.  if a person can't STFU and get their job done without
drama, then they don't belong in the kitchen.  It's the Chef's
kitchen.  They can and will run it as they see fit.  Don't like it?
Then quit.  But don't complain or criticize until you've been in
their shoes.  The last thing I want to do again is work with a bunch
of dumbasses who don't give a damn about what they're doing or are
so ignorant of how to work in a kitchen.  I was there in June and I
got a taste of how annoying it is when people don't do what they're

whatevs -- i've run off at the mouth again.  maybe I said something
worth a crap.


Bulla pops in with some “I Love You Man, BullaBabbles”


You know I love you, man...

I respect your background... and all the things you have gone through
to get to where you are now.

Yet, in my years of learning and doing, I have to disagree with you on
this point.  There is no room in the kitchen today for a tyrant.  You
may be able to put up with it and learn from it, but it NEVER makes
for a better kitchen, in my humble opinion.

Assholes are assholes.  Leadership is something more profound.  You
were in the Marines.  You know what it takes to have leadership
qualities.  Leadership is not equated with abuse.  A leader can find a
way to motivate and be firm without being abusive.

I am convinced that Ramsey has two personalities.  One on camera, and
one in the kitchen.  The Ramsey on camera is a dick, because he knows
he needs controversy to get TV ratings.  The Ramsey that runs
restaurants is probably a good leader, and knows how to motivate a
kitchen staff.  That is probably the key to his success.

So...  I don't like the camera version of Ramsey.

I am sure if I met him in person, he would be someone I would like.

Chef Bulla

Heather’s Back…and she ain’t done yet…

“…Ok...I think I lost my point somewhere in my last post....

I agree w/raspil....I don’t blame him for being irritated with the crew he had on that show...they were clearly not kitchen people. But at the same token, for those of us who get screamed at even when we know what we are doing, isn’t cool. Good chefs’ don’t lose their cool under pressure...ESPECIALLY good execs...PERIOD.

The dinner rush isn’t the time to lose your only makes things worse. When I was working under this complete ass of a chef, I would be sweating that line...deep into a rush...pushing order after order....something would happen...lets say for example we had to re-fire a steak because the grill got swamped and left a steak on too long...he would scream...which would throw the entire kitchen out of the loop and get us backed up. If he would have kept his cool...and held the steak on the cold side of the grill..until a order for that temp came in...then proceeded cooly with another steak while the rest of us held the prob right? It shouldnt have been...most places I have worked for wouldnt have issues for something like that. But rather...he chose to throw a tantrum...throw loudly guest could hear...which always screwed up the timing. That kind of crap is completely unnecessary. How many times my chef would come at me just to pick a fight...( I was the only I was "weak" to him, so he thought he could get away with it), and I would be deep in prep to set up my line...which meant I didnt have time to deal with his rants. When Im deep in prep to set up for service...I dont have time to babysit my boss because he wants to throw a tantrum about someone in foh or about how he thought it was my fault if we sold out of something...(I never did the ordering because Im a girl, therefore not smart enough for such tasks) but regardless...I had to take the blame. It was petty to me...and shouldnt be coming from the exec. I had one chef instructor when I was in school...who was tough...everyone feared him. He rarely gave good marks. He was German, came from a military background, and pretty much ran class like boot camp. I was one of the few who passed his class...with an A at that...but anyhow, I respected him...because even though he was tough, and rarely yielded for compliments or praise, and he was quite demanding, he NEVER yelled or lost his cool. I fully respected him, and learned so much from him, and was able to perform under the pressure he issued. Its the jerks that act like children I cant stand working for...especially since they have no reason to act that way...they dont have any amazing accomplishments or anything. Even if they did, it would still never justify that kind of behavior.

Oh and Cheffy...I wasnt hyperventilating...Im just not as good at writing as you are ;)

LMAO Mike! We totally agree 100% here. WHY IN THE HELL ARE PEOPLE


Chef Tom Dinardo had some valid points:

Mike I am going to agree with you on this post. I do believe Gordon
Ramsey is a fine chef and his record has proved it with all of what
he has done with his restaurants, etc. His television persona is for
the ratings. Has anyone who has sounded off about how much of a jerk
he is worked in his kitchens? Has anyone known or spoken with anyone
who has worked for him? How do we know that the way he is on a TV
show...a "reality" TV show, is the way he really is? I'm not saying
he is a peach to work for, because I don't know. I just know what he
has accomplished in this industry, and it's pretty good.

Hell's Kitchen is not directed whatsoever on the food. Yeah we see
the "chefs" make food, but is that what the focus is for the people
who watch it? No, they want to see someone dropping F-bombs during a
scream session...they want to see someone's reaction to his rants.
How will they handle it? Will they yell back...will they pass out,
cry, walk out, etc.
How many would watch the show if it was an ex-Sunday school teacher
telling the contestant that they over-cooked twenty prawns...and it's
OK, but you're not paying attention sweety. It's TV...that's all.

The new show, which is the same as his BBC broadcast, is the same
thing. Let's take this guy who has made the same network millions of
dollars in advertising revenue and send him around the country to
yell at some more people. Is he being a chef(?) Is he performing
what he does best on TV(?)...yes.
In a nutshell...if he was really like that 100% of the
would he be able to do what he has done globally by himself...why
would employees want to stick around and work for the guy if he was
really like that? He's probably tough, but very a very good chef and

I was trained under European chefs, they are a very different sort.
They do not care about offending anyone...they will fire you for the
simplist mistake and they don't care who you are or why you are
there. It's all about them and their food when it goes into the
dining room. I watched a chef I worked under smash 10 plated salads
on the floor, one by one, because he didn't like the organization of
the vegetables. Was is the right way to go about showing the person
who built them that he didn't like them? No...but the guy never made
them wrong again.

I learned more from him than anyone about food and running a
kitchen...including how never to act in a kitchen...and how never to
treat a fellow employee or my staff.


Tom, I agree with Mike too.

Some people just dont get it, and these are usually the younger
generation of chefs.

They have never been subjected to the atmosphere that you and I have.
They dont have the hellbent sense of urgency experiences or it was
your ass type of past that we have on our resumes.

They will never know what it feels like to "survive" an accomplished
asshole chef like you and I have. The graduation effect that we feel
so proud about. Like if we survived that bootcamp then we can do
ANYTHING feeling.

And we are better chefs for it.

I , for one, would NEVER trade getting yelled at and berated by the
best chef I have ever worked for anything! We learned SO much from
those chefs-I still talk to them til this day. Our
mentors....assholes as they were... ROCKED! Nobody could outcook them
and they knew it....and so did we. Thats why we stayed and endured.
Thats why we tolerated the verbal made us TOUGH!

Those were the good ol days my brother....

I see these kids nowadays bitch and complain because its hot in the
kitchen and I laugh.

They have no idea Tom....but we do.

I know I will undoubtedly piss some people off by this post. And Im
sure somewhere down the line so and so worked for a rockin chef who
was always cordial and mannerly. Thats great. I'm sure many cooks
learn just fine from politically correct chefs. I dont care who would
walk out if ever talked to like that-to me, you just cant take it.
Thats part of the "heat" in kitchens....and if you cant take the heat-
hit tha road Jack! But give me the Bobby Knight of chefs any day.

I dont wanna hear about who has the "right" to do anything to anyone.

Dont get this post wrong..I'm not being pompous or arrogant-I am just
very proud that I have seen in first person, chefs who make Gordon
Ramsey look like a purring kitten. Nobody can ever take that away
from us.

Chef K

I think times have changed and the chefs we trained under have
started to fade away. The chefs like us who had to survive these guys
are better now for having to be part of that era. And I know there
are "a$$hole" chefs out there today, but why do they have to be like
that? Do they have to act that way because they need to fill the void
of some things they don't know. There is more to being a chef than
booksmarts, cooking skills, etc. It's being a mentor, a coach, a chef
who gains respect from his/her employees because they are becoming a
part of their lives to launch them into the future chef they would
soon become.
I have and always will believe that respect is earned...not given.
Someone should never expect to be respected just because of the
position that they hold, it takes years to gain that. I hate it when
one of my current or former employees whine about the dishwasher or
prep cook not respecting them. I don't do what I do to demand
anyone's respect, but if I am able to gain the respect of my team
through coaching, training, and mentoring, then it's a win-win
situation. I win because it makes me feel wonderful to assist someone
in becoming what they want to be. When they become a chef and hit
their ultimate goal , they win. I just want to be a part of their
past when they look back on this in 10 years and realize I held an
important part in helping them get where they are.

I had a dishwasher while working at the country club back in the
early '90's who I trained to become one of my line cooks. It was easy
because he had no bad habits to prior training from anyone
else. He worked for me for the last three years I was at the club. I
ran into him while I was doing an event several years ago...A Taste
of Cleveland. I'm sautéeing scallops at our station and I feel
something hit me in the head...fluffed it off...I was busy. Again
something landed in my toque from above...a mushroom stem...I look up
and on the second floor of the place where the event was, were four
guys laughing. One of them was my former cook I hadn't seen in 10
years. He came downstairs, wraps his arms around me and wouldn't stop
thanking me for doing what I had done. He ended up being the sous at
a restaurant on the second floor of the mall where we were working.
He had to introduce me to his staff and his lead informed me that
everytime he had something to teach or show him, he always mentioned
me being the one who taught him this and helped him get where he was.
That's worth more than money sometimes.
OK...enough dribble...


Bulla’s Back…

Mike, Tom, Keith, and anyone else who thinks and environment like
Hell's Kitchen is a stomping ground for paying your dues...

I feel bad for you guys.

Your mentors beat you down and took time off your life, for what?

My mentor was a Chef that always had a smile on his face, always kept
the line calm, and always made it happen no matter what.  Could lead
by example and cook circles around anyone.  He was the guy who forced
you to work harder to keep up with his pace.  He was the guy who
inspired you to do something better because he could.  That is who I
want to be.  That is who I model myself after.  I only saw him get
really pissed off once..  That is when I told a front of the house
moron to "F*** Off!" after he screwed up an order.

There are not enough Chef's in this dysfunctional business that meet
this criteria.   The criteria is called "Professionalism."  WE are
professionals, aren't we?  The Chef's in this world need to start
acting like it.  Learn how to lead, instead of abuse to get results.

It was a far cry from the Chef that I had worked for before that
experience.  That guy would throw pots, yell, scream, push and shove,
and all the bullshit that nobody in their right mind would put up
with.  I put up with it.  Looking back, I should have moved on.

I don't think being proud of being abused is part of the job.  It's
part of the problem with this industry.  I have been through boot
camp, and that probably allowed me to stand up to assholes like this.
  But I don't need that kind of abuse from anyone, and I won't put up
with it.  I also will not dish it out.

Leaders are what is needed in this world, not tyrants.

I am not picking on anyone here.  You are all my friends.  I just feel
passionate about this issue.


Chef Tom replies to Bulla’s Thoughts:

I understand what you are saying, don't get me wrong, the chef I
worked for was in no way a hero in my life whatsoever. I would never
say that someone should work for, or if they haven't worked for
someone like this, that they missed out on anything special. I did
not respect this chef in any way, except for his culinary skills. All
I can say is that he gave me knowledge and the skills to do what I
needed to get the job done. He also, as I said, taught me to never be
like him. I'm not proud of him, but the fact that I survived him
which made me better.

I was glad that I worked for the chefs that followed him. They were
the "let's get down to business" chefs, pleasant to work for, they
were able to see in me the ablity to become what I have become and
they were the ones who knew my strengths and weaknesses and were able
to focus on those abilities that I needed to learn. I can say though,
that working for the arrogant European chefs gave me the ability to
see that I am in no way like them, I have self respect as a chef, I
understand people's feelings more.

As far as calling it would go as far as standing next to
you and telling you (loudly) that "you're not working fast
enough"...or "I've shown you this before...why are you doing it this
way". Yeah, he wasn't nice about it, but it never got to the point of
calling anyone names or degrading anyone by telling them they were
a "fat stupid cow" or "a f-ing idiot", like Gordon does for the TV
audience. Yeah, he smashed a bunch of salad plates because they
weren't right, but the guy that made them really did wrong and he
should have known after being trained for 2 months in that position.

Some chefs have different ways of managing, some by fear and
intimidation, some by support and reinforcement. The latter being the
best and most positive way to get what you want out of an employee.
Positive reinforcement is better than negative in many aspects, but
you still can learn from both methods. Negative reinforcment is not
the chosen path by most. They can still be a good chef, but it
doesn't make them a great one.
Keep the passion...

PS....Good thread Mike. This is what keeps the conversation going. Like
Dave said in his last post about being makes us look at
ourselves and draws out our feelings about important issues like this

Chef Keith reflects on Disney Kitchen Nirvana…

"My mentor was a Chef that always had a smile on his face.."

Dave I'm sorry but this sounds like a perfect, Disney "G" rated
kitchen Nirvana with positive Zen Chi energy just radiating calmness
and peace for the cooks would bust out a song and
dance like the Oompa Loompas do in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate

What would Anthony Bourdain say about this?

Testosterone free kitchens are what we have today. I dont know of too
many tyrants anymore. The kitchen dictator is a thing of the past.

Basketball changed and Bobby Knight is outdated.

Same thing happened to professional kitchens. The Chef is no more
judged by his abilities, notoriety or his accolades. It is merely how
he reacts to pressure, his attitude and candor in sticky situations.

Lets get one thing straight-I dont abuse anyone, in fact I am
probably too laid back. A chef has to be an asshole sometimes

You said you were passionate about this subject. Me too. I am not
saying that Nazi Chefs are the right way to manage a kitchen-but damn
were they fun to work with while they could get away with it.... and
like I said I learned so much from these guys. So were they a bad
chef after all? They merely said to people what all the other cooks
were thinking but didnt have the balls to say.

This entire country has changed. 25 years ago you could say anything
to anybody about whatever you liked and people just had to get over
it. Not anymore. Nowadays you cant fart without somebody getting
their feelings hurt and trying to file a lawsuit.

But what does it matter now? Those days are over and we all know it.
Dave, like it or not I am a product of that crazy environment. Just
because my one or two of my mentors were that crazy doesnt mean that
I have to be.... but my experiences are priceless.

Chef Keith

> Dave I'm sorry but this sounds like a perfect, Disney "G" rated
> kitchen Nirvana with positive Zen Chi energy just radiating calmness
> and peace for the cooks would bust out a song and
> dance like the Oompa Loompas do in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate
> Factory.

LMAO!  Well, it wasn't quite that rosy.  But seriously, Dorothy called
the guy "The Muppet Chef."  I was the one being the asshole, spewing
forth the years of bad influence I got from a tyrant.  If I acted in a
way that was particularly embarrassing I would sit down and ask the
Muppet Chef what I could do about it.  Everyone in the front was
afraid of me.  He would say "That can be a good thing."  So, it wasn't
like the place was not without it's dysfunction.  As much as cooking
ability, leadership is a skill that I have tried to develop over the
years.  In my opinion, it is a skill that is sorely needed in every
part of society today.

> Lets get one thing straight-I dont abuse anyone, in fact I am
> probably too laid back. A chef has to be an asshole sometimes

Yes, but it's the way a Chef handles the situation where he has to be
an asshole that makes a difference.  If you have to chew someone out,
you don't want to belittle them on the line in the middle of service
in front of their peers.  You don't want to use abusive language.
That just creates resentments, and lowers morale.

I am sure you are a good Chef, Keith.  I never meant to imply that you
are abusive.  I hope it didn't come across that way.

> This entire country has changed. 25 years ago you could say anything
> to anybody about whatever you liked and people just had to get over
> it. Not anymore. Nowadays you cant fart without somebody getting
> their feelings hurt and trying to file a lawsuit.
> But what does it matter now? Those days are over and we all know it.
> Dave, like it or not I am a product of that crazy environment. Just
> because my one or two of my mentors were that crazy doesnt mean that
> I have to be.... but my experiences are priceless.

I am glad you have fond memories of those experiences.  Yes the world
is a little to PC these days, but think of how far the profession has
come in 25 years in this country.  There was no food network, or
reality shows about Chef's 25 years ago.  There were no news segments
featuring chef's.  There were very few culinary schools.  Fine dining
wasn't typically affordable to the masses 25 years ago.  Things have
changed so much.  Most for the better, some for the worse.

I have fond memories of my 1969 lime green Volkswaggon Baja Bug from
when I was a kid, but I wouldn't want to drive that thing today.

I understand where you guys are coming from on this issue.  I would
agree that most kids these days don't know what work really is, and
most have no desire to work.  That's the biggest change for the worse,
especially for our industry.

I think what set me off is that I feel Ramsey is causing damage to
this profession by misrepresenting it on TV.

I admit that I can laugh and be entertained by the show at times.
It's like a guilty pleasure.

That's my bottom line on Ramsey.


Dave...I think you are correct. I am always asked by non-foodies if
that's the way I run my kitchen. People that watch that show are
thinking that's the way chefs are treating their employees. That would
be my beef with that show.

I enjoy watching Top Chef. Although sometimes it's the judges that are
making me crazy. I enjoy some of the guest judges and I like Tom
Collichio (sp?), but some of his comments I question. A few weeks back
he made a comment about truffles not being from Italy. What? Rocco
DiSpirito was questioning that one too.

If Padma wasn't on the show, I probably wouldn't watch it. hahaha


Dave we definitely agree here.

Sure Ramsey is a brilliant chef in his own rights.

I just don’t like what he is doing to our industry. He makes the chef
position look bad by being such a jerk....unfortunately the ratings are

I would still love to work with the guy, but as far as projecting that
professional chef image I still look to Emeril Lagasse for that.

The Chef's Office-To Glove or Not To Glove

The Chef’s Office
May 2006
To Glove or not to Glove

To Glove or Not to Glove that is the question:

Man…how deep is that????????

This is going to be a pretty deep newsletter because there are so many issues to address that I am pretty adamant about, not to mention quite a few views of some of my chef friends.

I want to touch base on a little info before I get into the almighty glove debate. Although some of the information is basic knowledge to some of us, I wanted to start off the conversation by laying a foundation for this and upcoming articles pertaining to sanitation and our livelihoods.

I know that I have offered this little article before, but one of our CheffyBuddies, Ray Inhot, wrote this article a couple years ago and I really love it, so I thought I would share it with you again. “Letter from a Microbiological Contaminant” go check it out, it is pretty interesting.

Clean versus Sanitized

What is the difference between being clean and being sanitized??

Being clean is a state, just as being sanitized is...I can clean a counter, I can clean a cast iron skillet, I can clean my stove top, but does my cleaning these things stop bacteria from growing???

Absolutely not!!!

Being sanitized can only occur by using a chemical that is going to stop bacterial growth. Bacteria and germs in general are not happy unless they are multiplying, and when you take the time to sanitize your areas and your body, you are making these germs unhappy individuals (and that is exactly what they are-individuals) until the handler (meaning us) gives the bacteria and other germs room and a reason to migrate and multiply.

There are three major factors to consider in sanitation.
1) Food- its safe condition, preparation, and storage
2) People- The sanitation of the people preparing and serving food as well as those consuming it.
3) Facilities- Is the food prepared in a safe environment? Is it served in a safe manner?

Without going into details about certain foodborne anomalies such as salmonella and botulism (because that would be another story altogether), I want to explain a little bit about bacteria growth, which effects both salmonella and botulism.

A bacterium grows between certain temperatures rapidly. There are many foods that fit into this category, but the basic rule of thumb is any protein...meat, poultry, wild game, boiled or baked potatoes, soy-based products; any dairy...shelled eggs, milks, cheeses, curds, butter...the list could go on and on....

The general gist of what I am trying to say is this. Bacteria survives and grows between 45 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Between 60 and 120 degrees, bacteria goes crazy...sometimes multiplying 6 or 7 times its normal growth and right around 99-101 degrees it goes ballistic...

These are just a few of the things to consider as far as food sanitation is concerned and I will address a bunch of these in this succession of newsletters.

To Glove or not to Glove…

One thing that we all must consider is that all of us are guilty of violations, myself very much included. The key is to be aware of all the sanitation violations that occur in our worlds and to be able to teach/re-direct our staff in the proper techniques.

I am an advocate of gloves, but gloves, as well as bare hands are carriers if the operator is not aware of proper food handling techniques.

This was best explained by my buddy Executive Chef Tom Dinardo:

”…All bacteria can stick to gloves. Gloves are meant to be disposed of after you use them. They can still cross contaminate, they can still pick up and spread bacteria just like your hands can. That's the false sense of security some people have when they put gloves on.

I used to follow a guy around the kitchen that worked in a cafe at a healthcare account I was at, and he would touch doorknobs, move a garbage can and then think he could go and make a sandwich for someone.

Because he was wearing gloves it would be okay...wrong.

Gloves are not meant to protect your hands, they are meant to protect your customers. People need to be trained how to use them...if you are making 20 ham and cheese can wear the same pair of gloves as long as you don't touch anything a cooler door, etc. When you are done, toss 'em.

I use gloves when I handle raw chicken, raw pork, some raw seafood, etc. I don't when I'm using a knife to cut the raw meats sometimes because I find them clumsy.

I hate them too, but again, it's customer perception. 9 times out of 10, if one of your guests sees someone making their food and touching all of it with their hands, they are going to wonder if they have clean hands and why is the cook handling the food without gloves. I see that our comment cards say that from our hotel if a guest observes one of my cooks not wearing gloves through our open kitchen line from the dining area. ..Chef Tom…”

This hits the thought process on the head. As handlers we always need to be aware of sanitation issues, and my friend Chef Keith and by Chef Tom both made a valid point. Chef Keith said that he wears gloves to protect himself from the food, not to protect a client from him…it is the difference between being aware versus unaware of sanitation.

Although I am not one that demands the use of gloves, I do kind of insist, especially when handling hazardous foods or a food that is leaving the kitchen directly to a customer. At first, I really hated using those darned things, but now that I have become accustomed to it, it is almost like second nature.

But there are things that go on in this industry that some just let pass as a norm and I have quite a few pet peeves as far as that goes.

Everytime you leave the kitchen and then return, the first thing you are to do is wash your hands…don’t care, that’s the bottom line…I once had a cook that got ticked at me when he came in the kitchen and then proceeded to go back to work. I told him to wash his hands, he said “Chef, I just went to the bathroom and washed my hands there…” And then I asked him how he opened the door….needless to say, he immediately went to wash his hands….Instances like this are things that people really don’t think about, but like I said it is the difference between being aware and unaware.

Never and I mean never stick your finger in food….My solution to this problem is that I keep a water pitcher full of spoons all around the kitchen. We affectionately refer to them as “CheffySpoons”…and when the example is led, it does not take too long for everyone to follow suit without having to be confrontational.

Food is a sensual medium, always has been and always will.

Chef Keith and I got into this conversation and here are a few of his insights…

“…OK Mike...

I gotta chime in here.....

I was trained by some classic old school chefs who actually encouraged me to touch food when I was learning how to cook. Rightalong with touching the food they taught me to ALWAYS have clean hands as well-stressing the importance of sanitation.

I love touching food with my hands and here is why: Cooking is very much a sensual thing for me. I use my 5 senses so much. When I hear the sizzle I know my pan is hot, when I see the outside of my pot pie turning brown I know its close to being done, when I smell the bread coming from inside the oven I know its close, when I taste for various flavors of any dish I know which ones to accentuate-and yes, when I feel the doneness of the filet mignon with my fingers I know how much longer to cook it to the right temperature. I can tell so much about food when I touch it...I can touch for temperature hot/cold, I can touch for dryness moist/wet, I can touch for viscosity of a sauce thick/thin, I can touch for textures-smooth/coarse, I can touch for doneness-firm/pliable, etc.

I am actually a much worsened and handicapped cook when I put on a pair of gloves. It takes all of these senses that I have learned away from me, strips away my culinary "oneness" with the food and makes me feel like an idiot in the kitchen. In the past I have only worn gloves to protect MYSELF from the food-not to protect anyone else from me. Times are changing and companies have their rules, but it’s hard for a chef like me to conform. Just being honest......

I know I’m not alone in this "touching of food" sensation I have going on here. I had a chef instructor at JWU who never used flatware when he ate food. (unless the situation demanded it of course) but he liked to eat everything with his bare hands..yes... salads, entrees and desserts all with his fingers. He said that’s the only way to really know food was to get close and personal with it. It made for a more ritualistic approach to eating and it was more personal and sensual for him.
In my case, that’s the way I cook....I am a nut about my sanitation and hygiene-clean sanitized counters, areas, cutting boards and aprons & uniforms. Only a few soiled hand towels in a solution bucket to change a few times a day. I love touching food-
There, I said it. Spank me…”
Executive Chef Keith Angell

OK, that’s it for today’s issue of the Chef’s Office, we will be back in another week or so to carry on this conversation and bring up some pet peeves of Chef’s as far as food and sanitation are concerned. So stay tuned.

Here is hoping that Peace and Serenity find its way into your day today and everyday…

Chef Michael Hayes
“Pleasing the World, One Palate At A Time”

A little cheese history

A little history on cheese

Most authorities consider that cheese was first made
in the Middle East. The earliest type was a form of
sour milk which came into being when it was discovered
that domesticated animals could be milked. A legendary
story has it that cheese was 'discovered' by an
unknown Arab nomad. He is said to have filled a
saddlebag with milk to sustain him on a journey across
the desert by horse. After several hours riding he
stopped to quench his thirst, only to find that the
milk had separated into a pale watery liquid and solid
white lumps. Because the saddlebag, which was made
from the stomach of a young animal, contained a
coagulating enzyme known as rennin, the milk had been
effectively separated into curds and whey by the
combination of the rennin, the hot sun and the
galloping motions of the horse. The nomad, unconcerned
with technical details, found the whey drinkable and
the curds edible.

Cheese was known to the ancient Sumerians four
thousand years before the birth of Christ. The ancient
Greeks credited Aristaeus, a son of Apollo and Cyrene,
with its discovery; it is mentioned in the Old

In the Roman era cheese really came into its own.
Cheesemaking was done with skill and knowledge and
reached a high standard. By this time the ripening
process had been developed and it was known that
various treatments and conditions under storage
resulted in different flavours and characteristics.

The larger Roman houses had a separate cheese kitchen,
the caseale, and also special areas where cheese could
be matured. In large towns home-made cheese could be
taken to a special centre to be smoked. Cheese was
served on the tables of the nobility and travelled to
the far corners of the Roman Empire as a regular part
of the rations of the legions.

During the Middle Ages, monks became innovators and
developers and it is to them we owe many of the
classic varieties of cheese marketed today. During the
Renaissance period cheese suffered a drop in
popularity, being considered unhealthy, but it
regained favour by the nineteenth century, the period
that saw the start of the move from farm to factory
production. How's that for a little bit of useless but
interesting info...

Cheese dishes

Here is a little bit of chefmike fusion. Mixing my
love for Mexican staples with that of traditional

Fettucini alla Carbonara

This is not the traditional dish, although similiar,
like all else it has that little chefmike twist to it.
The traditional recipe calls for pancetta bacon and I
substitute chorizo for the pancetta, cause that's the
kind of guy I am...I love chorizo. If you would prefer
to use bacon or pancetta, feel free, it's your world

3/4# Fettucini or spaghetti
4-6 ounces of chorizo, pancetta or lean bacon
3 cloves of garlic, halved
1/3 cup of white wine
1/3 cup of heavy or whipping cream**
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Cook your chorizo and garlic, roughly 4-5 minutes, or
until it is done. Drain, reserve 3T of your sausage
fat, discard your garlic.
Prepare your pasta, drain and rinse, return to dry
When your sausage is done and you have drained it and
returned it to the hot pan with the 3T of drippings
add the wine. Allow the  wine to simmer for 3-5
minutes, add your cream.

In a double boiler, whisk in the egg and the egg yolk,
whisk in 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese and cook until
the sauce thickens slightly.

Pour the chorizo-cream mixture over your fettucini and
toss well. Re-heat. When reheated toss with the egg
cheese mixture. Toss to coat.

Fix the kidz a peanut butter sandwich, sit on the
floor of the kitchen and eat it all...some things are
just not meant to be shared...mmmmmmm....ha ha

**chefmike notes
You can thicken low fat or skim milk to replace the
heavy cream.

One other thing I like to do is omit the sausage, keep
the garlic when I am making the cream sauce and add
asparagus tips and artichokes...mmmmm, not to mention
a helluva lot healthier...haha

Cheddar Cheese Dumplings
This one was sent in by some friends of mine that
operate a message board on the internet for the
purpose of sharing recipes, talking about wine,
ettiquette and much more. Please stop by and say hi to
Meredith, Laura, Mandy and Danile...they have a really
cool site that is just going to grow and be one of the
most awesome recipe sites on the internet.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

16 oz Cheddar; Md, Shredded
2 ea Eggs; Lg
1 c Unbleached Flour
1 ts Salt
1/2 c Butter
1/2 pt Sour Cream
GARNISHES------- 1 x Paprika  1 x Parsley


Mash the cheddar cheese and add the eggs mixing well.
Stir in the
flour and salt. Drop by TBLS into the rapidly boiling
water then
cover and boil for 15 minutes. Drain and serve with
melted butter and
sour cream. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or paprika,
if desired.

Hasta la Toodles

Well, the conclusion of another episode of chefmike
versus the world...feel free to drop me a line or send
me a recipe. If you have any ideas for future issues
of the newsletters feel free to post them at my site
or send me an email. Please remember to stop by and
see my friends at Entertaining with a Twist and tell
em cheffy sent ya...

Quips and Quotes from People in the Food Industry

The Chef’s Office
March 2007
Quips, Quotes, and Quacky’s

raspil420 started this whole thing by asking about advice about the field and quite a few people chimed in with different psychobabbles shared with us by mentors, co-workers, chef friends, etc. but the funny thing is that most of them are about someone we worked under at one point in our life…I thought that was kinda cool, it’s nice that in an indirect way we are still paying homage to our teachers, even if that quip, quote or quacky comment makes us re-live moments when we wanted to choke that SOB…

This kinda struck me now because in my professional life, I am mentoring to quite a few people between three establishments and this made me think about what they have picked up philosophically from me, because I am one for the liners that I am sure that some cooks, chefs, dishwashers will remember for a long time,  especially since I try to mix so many of my Eastern Beliefs into my philosophical way of being a psycho nut that dresses funny and puts out kick ass food…

Funny thought but anyway.

Raspil420 started it by provoking the idea that share those philosophies, one-liners, blah, blah, blah…

“My first chef told me to taste everything. the head waiter at the
same restaurant told me to stop f***ing up…” Raspil420

“Tonight a woman who has been in the restaurant business for 17 years told me that I should not watch Food Network. I must have given her a look because she amended that advice by saying, well at least if you are going to watch it don't tell a chef that you are working for know that you do. I laughed and told her that I would follow that advice.”

“If it's easy on you, it's hard on the customer. Don't take short cuts…”
George Weideman, Exec. Chef Hyatt Corp 1986
Chef KatCo

“…Hmm...good one. A chef I worked with years back told me one simple lil line, but if taken to heart, it helps you strive for perfection. He told me, "Make it nice, or make it twice." A good policy to live by I think…”

CheffyBabble #101

Trashed Sauté Pan Etymology-
After work tonight I went over to my new Café and washed dishes and cleaned floors and all that happy stuff…and loved it…After work I explained to my lead cook what I was getting off on, especially since we fed 3000 today, 2000 of them within a two hour period at my real job and here I am at ten o’clock (my eighteenth hour since I put on my Chef Coat this morning) scrubbing floors and pots and pans…what’s wrong with this boy????

It all started with a Saute pan that Tim had trashed….I had to scrape, scour, steel wool, and basically scrub the hell out of this thing for a couple minutes to get it clean enough to run through the dishwasher…Here is the point that I made to Timothy, it wasn’t just that the pan was trashed it was about the thought process that whatever was in the pan, was at one point a part of our environment and that it is all about how much you really love food can one really have these visions…man I love food…., and besides that “Good Chefs didn’t start out by being Shitty Dishwashers…”
OK, I’m done….

A chef I worked with years back told me one simple lil line, but if taken to heart, it helps you strive for perfection. He told me, "Make it nice, or make it twice." A good policy to live by I think.

Two sayings that have always stuck very clearly in my mind are....
1)"some days its just a big sh*t sandwhich and everyones got to take a big bite "
2) "excuses are the nails that build a house of failure"

Excuses are the nails that built the house of failure!!!!!!!!!!!!! That Rocks…

As a young aspiring chef I worked with an old school German Chef
named Fritz and Fritz was full of them...

"...Mr. Bonesarelli...da best tool you have in your kitchen is
attached to your wrist..."

(My nickname used to be Bones back in my wilder Biker days)

I worked for a Chef at the Golden Mushroom in Detroit once upon a
life and once while making a huge fruit and cheese display on a
spread table I was finishing off the table with carambola here, there
and everywhere, so in finishing up the table I was putting starfruit
here and there, Chef Andrew came and took the half pan of starfruit
from me and started throwing them in handfuls at my display and told
me that the display was beautiful but "'re thinking too f***ing

A couple months ago I gave a commencement speech for a culinary
program that I taught at as a guest chef. During the commencement I
had a line that I thought was awesome and I wish that we could convey
this thought process to all culinary graduates...

" now possess enough knowledge to go out in the real world and
get your ass kicked!!!..."

I gotta million of them, but those are the few that stick in my

One more...

Had a chef from Hungary that used to work for me now and then on an
on call basis when we had huge VIP functions...After one event for a
few thousand I took Chef Jorge out for beer, while talking Chef asked
me how many cigarettes the waitress should allow in an ashtray. My
answer was two, he said "" I asked Chef why he thought
that and he told me that "...when you take care of the little things
big things don't happen..." I really liked that one...

Making Vinaigrettes

Preparing for the good harvest we are planning on this year, I thought I would talk about the making of salad dressings...

I have a few favorites and I am sure that those of you that have been following my teachings for a little while will have no problem in guessing what they are. The truth of the matter is that you can make salad dressings out of whatever your little heart desires. I am going to give a few basics to remember in the making of salad dressings, and in future posts will give you several different salad dressings, if you have a favorite, drop me a line and I will post a recipe for you...

The best way to season a salad is basically with the addition of a little oil and vinegar or citrus juice directly into your greens and seasoned with a little salt and fresh ground pepper. With seasoning salads I have found that usually the simpler it is dressed, the better it is.

It is easy to use an uneven proportion of oil and acid on a salad when dressing in this manner. which is why I prefer to make a vinaigrette. I prefer this method for two main reasons. The first being that I can allow whatever flavors I choose to marry with each other. The second, is that I can add ingredients to my acid so that when adding my oil as an emulification, that I wind up with a more stable product.

In order to make sure that you have an even distribution you must emulsify the acid with the oil. The traditional rule of thumb is three or four to one ratio of oil versus vinegar/acid. The use of additional fruits, vegetables, pastes and cream, allow us to vary this traditional rule.

Even though vinaigrettes are by far the most popular types of salad dressings , there are other fashions for making salad dressings such as adding together such things as mayonaisse, mustards, yogurt, buttermilk to name a few, combining products that allow for a thicks dressing.

The best way to make a vinaigrette that will hold up the best is to take your acidic liquid, combining your seasons and mustard, whisk the hell out of it to combine all the flavors and then slowly drizzle in your oil drop by drop and then in a slow steady stream while whisking briskly to incorporate your emulsion. Vinaigrettes can be stored covered in your fridge for up to two weeks. Always whisk briskly or shake like hell before adding to your greens.

Althought the basic vinaigrette is the incorporation of oil and acid, thanks to the ever growing market of different vinegars and oils on the market, the possibilities of making different types of vinaigrettes are endless.

By far, the best oil to use in salad dressings is extra-virgin olive oil. The grades of this variety of oil vary according to the place of orgin. Some may argue that a high grade olive oil should not be infused with vinegars or with other ingredients because they mask the true nutty flavor of the oil. I somewhat agree with this sentiment. If I am going to infuse olive oil with other flavors, sometimes I prefer to use an inferior oil, because the infusion masks the flavor of the oil and a good olive oil is not truly necessary.

Vinegars vary greatly in acidic content and flavor, each having its own characteristics. This is all a point of preference. Wine vinegar, the most popular of vinegars, can be found anywhere and the use of these or other vinegars lies in the preference of the individual. Use your own palate to discover what vinegars you like the best.

Subjectively, I like balsamic and sherry vinegars, and they make the best vinaigrettes in my opinion. I enjoy the Spanish vinegars for the making of salad dressings because of its high acidic content, they possess a strong, robust flavor, are more complex and nuttier than most wine vinegars.

If you are fortunate enough to come across "aceto balsamico tradizionale" and you use it for a salad dressing, please send me your address so I can send for the culinary police to put a boot in your butt!!! These balsamics are sold in bottles of a few ounces and can cost several hundreds of dollars. There will be a whole post on balsamic in the near future, I am still writing the article.

Citrus juice makes a great alternative to vinegar in vinaigrettes. Because the acidic content in citrus juices is much lower than that of vinegars, a ratio of two to one, oil versus vinegar is recommended. If serving wine with a meal, it is offensive to serve a vinegar based sauce. The two should not be served at the same table. See the quote of the week for Feb. 12...

Before I go any further, I can not stress enough that as far as vinaigrettes are concerned, when adding seasonings and enhancers, more is not necessarily better. As I said, the simplest vinaigrettes are usually the best ones. I generally choose a path for making salad dressings, deciding on what I desire out of my final product and choose a theme or method for me to achieve the desired sauce.

Other ingredients-

Freshly Ground Black Pepper- a great flavor enhancer, subjectively speaking, a salad isn't a salad without a few good twists from the pepper mill.

Herbs- any strong herb is always a favorite in making vinaigrettes, chopped fine or ground in a spice mill. Allow the herbed vinaigrette to sit before serving giving the herbs time to infuse with the dressing. Some of my favorite herbs to use are basil, thyme, tarragon, dill, and rosemary.

Savory flavors- Stocks, marinades, worchestire, soy sauce are always good additions. The use of a good chicken stock can make for a lowered fat salad dressing, eliminating some of the oil. Generally speaking, substitute 75% of the oil with chicken stock.

Assertive flavors- Garlic, garlic, garlic,garlic, garlic....can ya' take a hint...I do not make any vinaigrette without garlic, I have not one vinaigrette in my forte that does not possess garlic in some way or another. Other assertive flavors that are also very good are shallots, onions or any member of that family, capers, tapenade or olivado. One hint though when using any paste, vegetable or fruit that is sold in a brine, you need to cut back on your salt and vinegar.

Cheese- Any soft crumbly cheese can be added to a salad dressing in your acidic stage prior to the addition of oil. I personally love a feta based vinaigrette. Hard cheeses may be used but I recommend grating the hard cheeses fine before adding to the vinegar.

OK. I suppose I have rambled enough, I think that you got the message...

Mailbag-Making Homemade Infused Vinegars

Making Homemade Vinegars

Chef Mike,

I am looking for some different vinegars to spice up our foods, I really like balsamic and raspberry vinegar. After reading through your newsletters and visiting your club, I noticed that we had similiar tastes. Could you recommend some different products we can buy or make to spice up our "dishes of repetition".

Peace, hugs and puckery vinegar,
Sam and Diane

Before I go into answering the question, I find it pretty comical that people are adding their own ending to my “Peace, Hugs and Cookies” phrase. Thanks for the letters and emails and as always am looking forward to more questions from our readers.

I am writing this without knowing anything about Sam and Diane's diet or exactly what they are talking about. So I am going to give y'all a couple different vinegars that I really enjoy, being I have no idea where the question is coming from, nor where the CheffyBabbles are going to lead us, typical chefmike story...

Chili Vinegar

I like this vinegar by itself, in vinegarette for salads or marinade, on potato chips when made with malt vinegar, as a base for beurre blanc (butter sauces), heck,  it has peppers in it, I like it with a lot of stuff. I like to use this with the 'cheaper' vinegars, I do not necessarily like 'spoiling' the flavor of a good vinegar with infusions. Infuse your flavors when you make your sauce, not as a vinegar. When I say 'cheaper' vinegars, I mean any white, red, apple cider or malt vinegar. Regardless of the quality of these vinegars, I still consider them the 'cheaper' vinegars.

10 dried chiles *
2 cups vinegar

Steep the chiles for 2-14 days, depending on how hot you want it. Strain through a sieve, reserve 2 chiles.

Pour the vinegar into two half-pint jars with 1 chile in each, seal and keep in cool, dark place.

*chefmike note-I do not recommend chile anchos for this recipe, I tried it once and the flavor of the chile anchos was too strong for the vinegar. anyone that has used chile anchos can basically understand what I mean. I like tepins, cayennes, and of course, chiles chipotle.

Rosemary Garlic Red Wine Vinegar

This is chungachungabam out of this world for marinating lamb in a vinegarette. One time I used this vinegar and emulsified it with roasted garlic oil for a rack of lamb marinade, and then used the vinegar as a base for the was to kill for...

1 cup of rosemary leaves
8 garlic cloves
2 cups of red wine vinegar

Steep all the ingredients in a quart jar, let it set for 4-14 days.

4 cloves of garlic (reserved from your infusion)
2 sprigs of rosemary

In two jars, put 2 cloves of garlic and 1 sprig of rosemary
Drain, split the vinegar between the two jars, seal and keep in cool, dark place.

Tarragon- Green Peppercorn Vinegar

1 cup packed Tarragon
1 tablespoon green peppercorn (coarsely crushed if in brine)
2 cups of white vinegar

Put tarragon in a quart jar and bruise the leaves with a wooden spoon.
Add peppercorns and vinegar, steep for 4-14 days
Strain and add 1 T whole green peppercorns and a couple leaves of Tarragon.

chefmike note-

If you have ever worked for or with me, and you read these recipes...HUSH!!!  (ha-ha)
The reason I say that is that in my kitchens, white vinegar is not allowed anywhere near my philosophy is that the only thing it is good for is cleaning mirrors, windows and greasy messes. I never use it ( to never anyway...) nor would I permit my staff to use it. Pretty silly, I know, but I cannot stand white vinegar...

Peace, Hugs and Puckery Vinegar,

Is puckery a word?

Turkey Tips/Re-print from Advance News

It’s Turkey Day
By Chef Michael Hayes

The autumn colors have shown, the cold weather is slowly creeping in, Halloween is gone and we are all getting geared up towards the greatest eating holiday in America…sauces, desserts, soups, turkeys, hams and roast beefs…mashed taters, sweet taters, yam pie, cranberry relish to name a few only to be followed by the and the inevitable power nap…

There is often a ton of questions for a chef when it comes to be this time of year, so I thought that this would be a good way to shed some culinary cheer to my old stomping grounds.

Turkey Tips

Purchasing Turkeys

When buying whole turkeys under 12 lbs., allow 3/4-1lb. per serving.
When buying turkeys 12 lbs. and over, allow 1/2 to 3/4 lb. per serving

If you are buying just Turkey Breasts for let’s say a large event (because not too many people eat dark turkey meat) then decide on around 6-7 oz. per person.

Always stuff turkey just before roasting
 Not ahead of time!!!!!
Nothing like foul fowl!! Ha-Ha

After cooking, allow the turkey to rest 15-20 minutes for easiest carving. This allows the juices to soak back into the meat; this process is called resting, it allows the tissues and cells to relax so that the juice subsides within the meat and not extracted when the meat gets sliced.

Cooking times at 325 degrees
6-8 lbs ------- 3 to 3 1/2 hrs
8-12 lbs.------ 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hrs.
12-16 lbs ----- 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hrs.
16-20 lbs. -----5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hrs.
20-24 lbs.----- 6 1/2 to 7 hrs.

This guideline is for cold or completely thawed turkeys, for best results check temperature to read 180 degrees at the thigh quarter.

If you do not have a thermometer, about 30 minutes prior to the end of your cooking time shake the drumstick up and down; the joint should give easily or break.

These times will vary for un-stuffed turkeys.


To cook immediately- Remove wrap, place in 325 degree
oven in a shallow pan. Cook for 1 hour. Remove neck,
and giblets from body cavity and wishbone. Immediately
stuff and return to oven.

To cook tomorrow- Leave in the plastic wrap. Wrap
turkey in 3-4 layers of newspaper; place on tray. Thaw
at room temperature, 1 hour per pound. Refrigerate or
cook immediately.

Other- Thaw wrapped turkey in refrigerator. Turkeys
over 12 pounds may take 3-4 days.

Water Brining

By taking your fowl and brining it in a mixture of ½ cup of coarse salt to every gallon of water for 10 mins per pound, this will make your turkey juicier; through brining the cell walls are broken down and absorb the water. The salt in the brine also aids in extracting the blood from the meat and the bones. I prefer this method when cooking any type of whole fowl, especially if I am going to smoke
the meat.

Deep-fried Turkey

Within the past ten years or so, deep frying turkey has become more popular, especially in the south. Here are a few important things to remember when deep frying turkey.

Do not stuff turkey.

Internal temperature should be at least 180-185

Your oil should be between 325 and 350 degrees.

If you brine or marinate the turkey it is important to
pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

I like to rub the entire turkey, including the cavity with seasoning salt hours before I am going to fry the turkey. This is a dry brine method.

Allow 4 minutes per pound when deep frying your turkey

There are a variety of methods of injecting the turkey with flavor, and it is not as complicated as one would think. You can find meat injectors in almost any food/gourmet shop. The basic principle is that you inject flavor into the breast before deep-frying. You can use teriyaki, any of your favorite dressings or the meat marinades that invade the grocery store shelves, soy sauce, curry sauce…anything your little heart desires, the effects are phenomenal…

Happy Turkey Day!!!!

Chef Mike

Chef Michael Hayes is the co-founder of and a 1979 Graduate of Manchester Twp. High School. Google “Chef Michael Hayes” to read some more of his often quirky explanations of his love and passion for food.

Understanding Cast Iron

Understanding Cast Iron -The Pots and Pans that last lifetimes

When iron ore has been smelted in a furnace, the initial product is called pig iron. It can be further refined for wrought iron or steel, or it can be cast to make cast iron dutch ovens, skillets, vats, so on and so forth.

I took a tour of a cast iron factory in Tennessee quite a few years ago. The raw iron is melted in a furnace at a temperature ranging from 2800-3000 degrees. The iron glows a yellowish orange when it is hot, the pig iron then flows from the furnace into vats made of steel and then cast in molds made of sand. When the cast iron has cooled, they chip away the sand and recycle it for use in future molds. During this process a lot of sand fuses together with the casted iron. It is sent to a blasting machine, which blasts the casted iron with a steel blast.

The sand molds explain why cast iron has the rough feel to it. The pots are then sent to be inspected then grinded by a worker to insure that there are no sharp edges to the product and if so, he grinds them off. Then it goes into some kind of bath (I don't recall what chemical composition was in the bath) that takes away the sandpapery roughness and leaves a smooth grain. In the final step they take the cast iron tool and it is dipped in wax to prevent rusting and then "you're outta here!!!!!" chungachungabam!!! Cast iron cookery.

Being that cast iron is a relatively porous metal, unlike that of steel, it is difficult to forge, has no real strength, and is the reason why they are so brittle and so damn heavy. For example a 12 inch skillet weighs 7 lbs. while an 8 quart dutch oven with lid weighs 16!!!! Some heavy stuff. Definitely nothing you want to carry in your backpack.

Some disadvantages to cast iron are:
* They are really heavy!!!
* They are brittle. If heated too fast the vessel can crack or split. Usually this is caused by heating the cast iron too rapidly. I recommend that if using a dutch oven or a larger piece of cast iron to fill it with a some water, lard or some kind of fat when you first put it on your fire.
* Cracking is not usually a problem with the smaller vessels, but safe is better than sorry.
* If properly cared for, cast iron will outlast us and perhaps our namesake.

Stimulation & Inspiration


Although I attempt to be a somewhat spiritual person, sometimes the introspective I have when away from the kitchen for a week or so really are abundant.

OK…here’s the story…

So lately my thought process has been thinking about the use of hands in our profession. If you positively have sanitized hands, the touch of food is an enjoyable experience once you learn to stop and smell the roses every now and then.

A few weeks ago I did a cooking class, the premise of the class was to do a party for 15, and we had a great time. During this class, one of my friends, Harry, who was attending the class was looking around the kitchen for a whisk so that he could mix a cornstarch slurry he had in his hand…”Harry? Your hands clean? Then wash ‘em and use your damn hand, it’s the best tool you have in your kitchen!!”

“So…What came first? The Fork or the Spoon?  Its funny how both of them come from the shape of our hand isn’t it? And Hands are a whole bunch older!!! Use your damn hands when you’re cookin’ Harry…”

We did a four course meal that night, and I ate with my dinner with my hands; it was awesome; I was able to explain this little spiritual food trip I was on with my hands. Man did that feel good…primitive but awesome.
The CheffyBabble also made for a good tableside story-time.

I love it when my own culinary wit/wisdom or whatever in hell you wanna call it triggers the spiritual thingymabobby in my own brain housing group and really motivates me.

This was a good inspiration for me personally and spiritually, since then I am more aware of using my hands when I cook and especially when I eat, when I have time to sit down and really enjoy what I am putting myself through at that moment.

A week or so ago there was a praying mantis on the wall in my bathroom…ah…that rocked me. He stayed there for like 3 days. Don’t ever know what happened to him, but it was pretty awesome finding beauty in a life so simple.

Sometimes I scare myself with this introspective of how much life rocks…. But isn’t that what it’s supposed to be like? Simple, beautiful and awesome…? No Passion, No Love….

So, anyway outside of the battleground of my kitchen, I’ve been on this “everything is freaking beautiful” kick, especially when I am eating.

Last night I went out for midnight sushi, at a friend of mine’s restaurant, they had a DJ that also was a friend of mine just serving sushi and jamming out to Mike.

Needless to say, the ideology of being off to eat as much as possible in a short period of time and jam out with Mike was on…Although not intentional I was back on this freaking “everything is beautiful” kick again.

Big bowl of rice, a dozen pieces of various sashimi, two crunchy rolls…ah….the CheffyBoy is set.

I have grown to love eating with my hands more than I ever have. I mean, I’m a boy, of course I like eating with my hands, but now it has taken different meanings.

Mike started spinning some eastern type chants that was really good and put me back into the “everything is beautiful” thingy, me becoming one with my tuna sashimi.

I got around to thinking about the history and etymology of sushi, from way back when BCE to what the new chefs are fusionizing and representing as sushi today and the millions upon millions of hands that have touched it since the salted fish of the Tsou Dynasty

Sushi is perhaps one of the only traditional foods there is left, although like I said; the fusionaries have taken the tradition to the next level, it still is one of the only professions left where there are still purists. I love both worlds, the visions of the fusion and the traditional spirit of a sushi chef.

Romanticizing The Kitchen

Romanticizing The Kitchen

Here is a letter I received from an old “I’m cooking to get out of college” protégé of the CheffyBoy and the instigator of the next thought out of the Chef’s Office…Thanks Chef…

”Chef Mike,

First, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoy the Chef’s Office newsletters; I use them as a motivation for some of my more serious cooks and post them on the bulletin board at work. I take it even more personally because I have worked along side of your crazy butt for longer than either one of us care to remember. Ha ha.

I do have one comment though, although your articles are definitely thought provoking and sometimes downright heehaaaa motivating, I also feel that sometimes the articles romanticize the kitchen. Knowing you and the passion that you possess has been one of my coolest experiences as a cook and chef, but let’s think about this for a moment.

1.    Sometimes the culinary battlefield is anything but pretty.
2.    Tempers flare, no matter how much Zen you are bringing to light.
3.    The list of dream kitchens and the perfect culinary experience are few and far between.

As professionals, we are always seeking ways of making our worlds better by creating systems and analyzing everything that we and our staff do.  Of course, those of us that are serious would love to work in a world of Thomas Keller’s, Adrian Ferran’s and Gordon Ramsey’s but unfortunately this is the difference between fantasy and reality. Me? I got stuck with you and Chef Roy…ha ha

Although you have given me things to think about, have had me constantly second guessing and always re-thinking my preparations and executions, our world may have been a lot of fun, educational and motivating, but it was anything but pretty.

I could analyze this whole synopsis but it comes down to quite a few issues and we can break down any of these issues and come up with a thousand reasons why our world is less than perfect. Not only in the kitchen we first met, but in almost every kitchen since the beginning of time.

Key notes to figure are organization, communication, dedication and loyalty to all phases of who we are as chefs, cooks and managers. I could not tell you how many times I use your JJ DID TIE BUCKLE acronym; it is an effective management tool that when I analyze an event or mishap, I always find myself reflecting on the acronym. I laugh with my staff and tell them that you are “haunting me” ha-ha

Well, that is my two cents. Hope my words find you well and bouncing off the walls.

Miss and Love you,
Chef Ellen Young”

First, to explain the JJDIDTIEBUCKLE acronym, (an acronym from my Marine Corps days)

Justice, Judgment, Decisiveness, Integrity, Dependability, Tact, Intuition, Earnest, Bearing, Understanding, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty and Endurance

Man, JJ had one heck of a tie to buckle…

I used to say that if as a successful manager, of this or any other profession, you possess all of these traits; you will become a successful student, teacher, mentor, friend… I am moved that “CheffyBoy” lesson was well learned and is still being applied twenty years after the fact. That’s freaking awesome.

Now back to this Romanticism stuff…

Romanticism: To treat in an idealized or heroic manner. (Merriam-Webster 2004)

I read an article the other day in Sante Magazine (I think) that made a cool point. The general idea of the article was that there are three types of chefs. Those of us that do it for food, those of us that do it for money and those of us that do it for the food and the money…I thought that was an interesting thought, because I think that we sometimes desire, crave or imagine ourselves to be in one of the other two categories instead of the one that we are actually in.

“Idealized or heroic manner…”

If our real passion is in our food, granted this is a culinary world, and often it becomes a battlefield of wits, tempers, haves and have-nots, can and can not’s  success is all that matters. Although we may have the opportunity to “share that love”, and at times “lose the love”  in midst of getting my butt kicked on Saturday evening cleaning salmon on sauté  because enough wasn’t prepped instead of expediting like I should be…yeah, then it’s not pretty. But these things I understand. Do I condone them or wear a happy face? Probably not. Failure is not an option, and near failure is a stressful situation no matter what color you paint it. Our passion should insure that failure is never a question, and it is never an option. If we figure out the systems and abide by them in order to ascertain our success then little else matters. Focus on your art by mastering your craft!!!!

Do I romanticize my craft?


I may not love jobs that I may find myself in, (although there have been quite a few that I actually loved), I will always love food and love the fact that I am somewhat good at expressing my craft.

Webster’s had a good definition of romanticism. “…in art and literature, imaginative and free from classic rule…” Welcome to the world of the CheffyBoy…

Why not romanticize something or someone you love?

Cooking With Ash/Making Masa

Cooking with Ash

I do not know where the origination of cooking with ash stems from. When I initially researched it, I found that adding ash in your cooking water with corn adds to the nutritional value of the product. It was prominently used by Indians throughout North, Central and northern South America. The logic behind their reasoning was that it made it easier for the skins to seperate from the hulls in corn, and made a stronger flavored product. Unquestionably, the Indians had no idea about the nutritional value of foods, but studies today reason that the use of the ash undoubtedly, made the Indians healthier people.

Ash water infuses the kernels of corn with calcium and trace minerals, makes niacin more available, protein more digestible and alters the amino acid balance of the protein to increase its quality and nutritional power. The Indians didn't need science; they had what I refer to as "nutritional wisdom"

Dr. Doris Calloway did a report on the practice in the Hopi and Papago tribes in Arizona in the mid-70's. Dr. Calloway found that the Indian varieties of corn make a flour that was richer in calcium and protein than todays commercial products. Her tests through the UCLA's nutritional department showed remarkable increases in vital food elements when cooked with ash.

Calcium and phosphorus are essential to a healthy diet. Our body needs a good amount of calcium each day but the intake of most staples, like meat, grains and beans are quite low in this essential mineral but can be quite high in phosphorus. Too much phosphorus can lead into being not such a good thing tho', because the phosphorus can tie up the calcium and prevent it from being utilized.

Unfortunately, the "American Diet" consumes twice as much phosphorus as calcium. These two essential minerals should be somewhat equally proportioned.. If you are eating a high phosphorus meal I would recommend the eating of greens, dairy products or some other foods that are rich in calcium, if you do not, the blocking of the calcium will keep going on, leaving the person with a calcium deficiency...what did the Indians know that we don't? Again, who needed the science and who possessed the 'nutritional wisdom'?

Corn is very high in the phosphorus versus calcium ratio and the adding of the ash process makes it more reasonable as far as the calcium deficiency is concerned.

Dr. Calloway's research found that the Indian tribes of Arizona burned saltbush, juniper tip, dried bean plants and even corncobs. Other studies have found that the different tribes throughout the Americas used a variety of different ashes for the processing of their corn. One tribe in northern South America was even reported as using snail shells for their ash. I thought that was pretty interesting.

No matter what kind of ash was used the process of making the corn into hominy was basically all the same. Ash into hot water, water strained. Whole dried corn was placed in this alkaline solution and boiled up to one hour. Then the corn was washed away of the alkaline and the hulls. While moist the hominy was mashed and made into flour used to make tortillas or other breads.

Nutritionalist Anita Hirsh came up with the idea to experiment with adding ash water into corn flour recipes to see if it altered the nutritional value of her breads. It most absolutely did. In one blue corn bread recipe that Ms. Hirsh experimented with the nutritional value of the calcium raised substantially in one 100 gram serving, rising from 3.5 mg to 154 mg, in another one of her experiments the calcium went from 2.5 mg to 254 mg... Wow!! In her report Ms. Hirsh also stated that when she made her blue corn bread with and without the ash, that the blue corn color faded with the use of plain water, but the bread made with the ash kept the bread a brilliant blue...hmmmmm....points to ponder....

Traditional Masa

As stated earlier about my trip to Mexico, this came from a friend of mine, Evelina Consuelo, a native to La Paz, Baja California. I have done a fair amount of experimenting with this recipe attempting to understand the science and theories behind the method. But all of what I learned about the tradition and method of this recipe I owe to Mrs. Consuelo.

The traditional way to make tortillas is to make the masa directly from dried corn. Masa is a pasty pastry dough made by mashing hominy (dehulled, boiled corn) while it is still fresh and moist from the alkaline cooking solution. Traditionally, the Indians/Spaniards used wood ashes for the alkaline to remove the seed coat from the dried corn and at the same time increased the nutritional value of the 'masa'.

Using an alkaline solution is as easy as cooking a pot of beans...when the skins burst, the corn is done. You rub off the hulls then rinse them and the alkaline water away.

As with everything else, there is a little trick in there somewhere...I have not found it (not to satisfy my thirst of knowledge anyway...) In making hominy, I have gathered that it is all in your alkaline level. I have tried to boil the mixture longer, to no avail. I have added ground limestone, only to come up with the same effect. I increased the amount of wood ashes and this was my only breakthrough. When I increased the alkaline, the removal of the hulls became easier. In my experimentation, I have discovered that leaving the skins on the hulls did not matter much unless I was going to leave the hulls on and try to make a taco shell or some other fried corn tortilla that needed shape. I saw very little difference in the quality of the tortilla, aside of the ones with the skins were a little bit chewier.

2 T plus of wood ash
1 quart of water
2 cupsof dried white corn

Soak corn overnight. The next day heat one quart of water. Add the wood ash,
stir it in then strain out the undissolved wood particles.

Add corn in a stainless steel pot with the alkaline solution.  Cook until the hulls break and loosen. 30-60 minutes.  Add more water if necessary, keep the corn covered.

Remove from the heat and drain off the alkaline water. Rinse immediately under cold water several times until the water runs clear and the kernels lose their slippery feel.

Rinse the gookiness (if that's a word) off your hands as well, you are going to handle the corn with your hands....

Rub the hulls off with your hands. Rinse again.
Put the hominy through a meat grinder with a fine blade. Once is enough, but to make a fine masa, run through twice.

Knead the masa and make into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll out with a rolling pin or flatten in a tortilla press.*

This recipe will make from 12-16 tortillas. Brown the tortillas in a cast iron skillet with little or no oil.

•    Chef Mike note: This can be made without the ash, but the alkaline water makes the hulls break easily and enhances the flavor of the corn and makes a richer corn flavor.
•    If the masa dries out, you can add a little more water to help the hominy bind together better.
•    Before adding your hominy to the meat grinder, you can add spices and herbs of your choice. I like to add toasted cumin seed, and of course, the inevitable roasted garlic. I also tried it one time with dried cayenne peppers ground in a spice mill...Whew...boy howdy...awesome for enchiladas...
•    You can purchase a tortilla press from any Spanish Market, but making the tortillas can easily be done with the use of a rolling pin.

Peace, Hugs and traditional Masa,
Chef Michael Hayes

Cheffy Speaks Out On Carbs and Our Diets

Chef Michael Hayes Speaks Out About Carbs and our Diets

I decided that this was one issue that I really had to discuss. I am not going to take an official stance on low carb diets, but I just want to add some personal insight and some miscellaneous information about carbohydrates and our diets.

Before I get into particulars about our diets there are a couple important points that I need to stress.

First, and most importantly, if you are going to make any drastic changes to your diet, PLEASE CONSULT A PHYSICIAN!!!! A drastic change in your diet can prove to be more harmful than helpful. I am not a physician, dietician, nutritionist or food scientist, but I know about food and I care about people, bottom line.

Secondly-and if you are dieting, it is just as important-we must understand that a diet is just that. A diet. It takes time and dedication to make any sound dieting program successful, sometimes it is not what you eat it is how smart you eat.

One thing that I am glad to see with the Low Carb (and other diet) crazes is that more and more people are reading labels and are generally more inquisitive about the foods that they are ingesting. More people are finally becoming aware as to what the commercial companies are doing to the natural foods with the additions of the chemicals, additives and preservatives to preserve and enhance the flavors and shelf life of their products. Although it has been my experience that a lot of these people are being misguided, it does my culinary heart some good when I realize that at least they are reading labels and getting a better understanding of what they are putting into their bodies.

I read an article some time ago, by Dr. Sears, whom developed a theory based on his recovery from colon cancer and the diet that pursued based on a principle that I recommend to all, the acronym for his philosophy is LEAN.

Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, Nutrition

L Lifestyle- Why modify your diet if you cannot modify your life?

E Exercise- I cannot stress this enough, most of the problems that occur with Westerners is the lack of exercise, it really takes little effort to exercise. By exercising I am not saying spend an hour on the treadmill, , I mean simply by circulating your blood and burning calories, for some a daily walk in some cases is sufficient.

A Attitude-This is a very important part to any program, having a positive attitude not only about your goal, but about your life and the LEAN philosophy as well.

N Nutrition-Understanding nutrition in general and the entire program that you are about to participate in is very important, the how’s and why’s of why you are taking this or avoiding that, and how the program is going to satisfy all of your nutritional needs. If you are paying for the program, be able to ask the staff the what’s, how’s and why’s. If they cannot satisfy your questions I suggest you find someone that is capable of addressing your issues.

Find out more about the LEAN Philosophy

OK, with all of that said, let us get into some information:

By Definition:

Carbohydrates - An important source of energy provided by food and drink. There are three major categories for carbs; sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose etc.), starches, and cellulose. Starch and sugar are easily digested and an important source of energy. Cellulose, although providing important dietary fibers is not converted by dietary juices. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Sugar is a simple carb; rice, potatoes, pasta, breads, fruits, and vegetables provide complex carbs.

When someone suggests eating more carbs, they mean the complex ones, specifically those that are high in fiber -- such as whole grains, leafy greens, and fruits. It doesn’t mean to go out and have a couple pieces of Cheffy’s White Chocolate-Blueberry Fantasy Cheesecake or a 5 pound bag of sugar.

While sugar is a simple carb, it is not evil and has never been proven to be the underlying cause of disease (although it's an important consideration for circumstances such as diabetes). It's not so much the type of carbohydrate you eat as the company it keeps. The simple carbs found in cakes, ice cream, candy, cookies, muffins, and doughnuts generally cavort with fat. On the other hand, complex carbs are generally accompanied by fiber, phyto-chemicals, vitamins, and minerals. Carbohydrates really aren't that bad as long as you choose them wisely.

In my opinion, (and we all know Cheffy has quite a few of them), one of the problems that I have with the high protein-low carb diet is the same problem that I have had over the years with genetic engineering of grains, vegetables, feed etc. affecting everything from humans to livestock to our ecosystem; the problems I have been disputing for years with aspartame, and countless other products that were needlessly and haphazardly approved by the Dept of Agriculture and the FDA due to political or corporate pressures. THE TESTING IS INCONCLUSIVE!!!! There were no long term studies prior to the approval by not only the government but by the American people. The Atkins Diet is a case in point.

The aversion to fat has been replaced by an aversion to carbohydrates. So this puts bacon and eggs back on the breakfast plate and a nice juicy beef tenderloin on a plate with no baked potato. This is, of course, driven by the popularity of the high-protein diets.

The media will tell you about Johnny losing seventy pounds or Susie going from a size 29 to a size ten, but they don’t tell you of the possible harm that can very well be done by calcium loss, ketosis, the chances of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, the lack of biotin and other important vitamins that these diets tend to ignore. This is not because the dieters themselves are ignorant, it is because they have been misled, and they haven’t done their homework before attempting to play around with their nutrition and metabolism, thanks to the hype that diets such as these have received.

I am not intending to bash the Atkins Diet or any of the Low Carb diets for that matter, it is of little significance if I support them or not, I am just instigating thought and offering insight.

My point simply is this, an extreme diet of any kind—say, one high in meats and whole-milk dairy products—may be harmful because high-fat diets have been associated with a number of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Also, when a whole class of foods is restricted and/or limited, critical nutrients may be lacking from the diet. Although the potential negative effects that I previously mentioned may take some time to become apparent, it is important to understand that the long-term safety of these fad diets has not been established.

Consuming high-protein or high-fat diets may initially induce weight loss in some people, but what has to be understood is that weight loss is based on calorie restriction—not on what is being consumed!

Fad diets prohibit a lot of foods—in the case of high-protein diets, carbohydrate intake is severely restricted. And guess what? People lose weight not because of the altered food balance, but simply because they are restricting calories. Of course they will lose weight!, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out!

Now, if you are going to restrict calories, which is vital to losing weight, isn't it better to restrict them in a way that is consistent with a healthy diet? Nobody needs excess protein and fat in their diets for the many health-related reasons we have already discussed and this is not something that had just been "discovered" in the past few years—it has been understood for decades. Sometimes the market will bring something to light and before you know it, it is “nouveau”, when in actuality it has been around longer than the journalist or marketing guru that brought it to light to begin with, such is the case of the low carb diets, it was first documented in the early 1860’s and suffered just as much, if not more criticism then as the Atkins and South Beach diets are suffering now.

A few Cheffy Tips:

Read Labels
My basic rule of thumb is I do not open a can for any purpose. Food is simple and should be loved and enjoyed. If you want the time to enjoy your life, how about putting some time into your life? Reading labels if you buy packaged and canned foods is very important, if you have any troubles deciphering what is put into your foods, try doing a little home work into finding out what is in your products. I cannot stress this enough. I know that it is hard to decipher what the labels say, but as a general guideline, like my friend Bruce Rose from Rosewood Farms Soy Plant in Ann Arbor, Michigan once said;  "…if you have trouble pronouncing it, it probably isn't good for you…"

Visit The History of Labeling Guidelines to get a better insight into reading and deciphering labels, things to look for and to avoid, and the general legislative information on US labeling requirements.

Don't Panic-Eat Organic

This is how food was meant to be to begin with. And some call it progress…I tend to disagree.

To avoid going into the genetic engineering debate, let me kindly ask you to eat organic foods. They are healthier not only because they provide more minerals, vitamins and phyto-chemicals than commercially grown foods but they are not allowing toxins; such as pesticides and herbicides and other unhealthy man-made gunk into our bodies. As far as eating organic meats and poultry, it is the same case scenario. The free range varieties of meat, game and poultry that are on the market are not only better for you, they taste better and are not filled with growth hormones.

Use Fresh Herbs
Happy Herbs-By cooking with herbs we add our own special zing to dishes, and we also add benefits to our health because many herbs possess anti-oxidants among other happy properties. I am a favorite of herbs; I always use them when I prepare a meal, soup, sauce or whatever. For those that have followed my teachings know, I favor basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary. Rosemary and fenugreek are two herbs that possess the greatest values as anti-oxidants, some of the other Happy Herbs include: Allspice, bay leaf, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, ginger, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, sage, thyme and turmeric to name some of the most popular ones.

Steamed instead of boiled
Don't boil your darned vegetables!! Not only do you lose a good part of the flavor, you are also losing important vitamins, minerals, enzymes and happy, disease fighting properties that Mother Earth provides for us.

Cheffy’s Closing Thoughts or Nutrition 102

One of the most difficult things about understanding nutrition is taking it from text to practical use in our everyday lives, sometimes this is a lot easier said than done. If nutrition were a perfect science, perhaps we could come up with the perfect diet, but nutrition is a lot of things, and being an exact science is not one of them. Even if it were an exact science and there was such a thing as a perfect diet it would exclude majority of the American population because of the lists of likes and dislikes every individual has, and that is not even considering those that have anomalies to their diets such as diabetics, gluten and lactose intolerances and the list goes on and on.

Food and health are indisputably related. The problems many of us have are deciphering what is “good” and what is “bad”, some of these in each list may be right or may be wrong, depending on which nutritional study we may have been reading at the time we have made our decisions. I have used this line before, and although I cannot find the exact quote, my favorite food scientist, Shirley O. Corriher had said that all scientific studies coming out on food and nutrition should all be prefaced with “As of what we know now…”. I love this statement, there is nothing closer to the truth.

Most people will say that they have altered their diet to “become healthier”.

Now I read this as becoming healthier as in aiding in not becoming ill or stricken by disease by bad eating habits. Being healthy is a lot more than not being sick or hindering illness. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”…Now, not even my hypothetical “perfect diet” could attain this. However, proper nutrition combined with sleep, exercise and harmony in our lives can!!!

One of the most important overbalances that happens in our diets, Americans especially, is the happy little balance that exists between the energy our foods consumed provides and the energy our bodies will use. What I mean by this is that sometimes we consume an amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that our body cannot use up thus turning them into fat. Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it?

Now going with this thought…Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins are very important to our everyday diets, they provide energy to our heart, lungs and other vital organs. Fats and proteins supply nutritional value to our bodies that carbohydrates alone cannot, but an equal balance of all three of these are very important. To eat an excessive amount of protein is useless because the additional amount of protein, that our body is not going to absorb is just going to turn into fat, one gram of protein contains the same amount of calories as one gram of carbohydrates (four), but it is easier for our body to burn off carbohydrate calories than those attained by fats or proteins.

So live, eat, drink happily, merrily and healthy. Stay in tune with your body, mind and spirit and remember that when we take care of life’s simplest pleasures, when we devote our energies into the little things in our life, the world, our communities, our families and our hearts will live in harmony with the larger things that evolve around them.

References for this article:
Jill Melton-Cooking Light, March 2004

Various Issues of Your Craving Is My Command Newsletter, “Cancer and Nutrition", "Nutrition 102", "Soy and Nutrition", Michael Hayes, 2002, 2003,