Gift Ideas for a Foodie

This time of the year can be a lot of fun. I absolutely love giving people gifts. I find a lot of joy in trying to find the perfect gift for friends and family. But at the same time it can be so difficult. So I have decided to write up a quick little gift guide for the perfect gift idea’s for any foodies or up and coming chefs in your life. So here we go, these are a few of my favorites

RawSpiceBar

This is a monthly subscription that is a really awesome service. You sign up for their service and they send you out a pack of 3 spices along with recipes on how to use them. All of the spices they use are sourced for quality and ground, mixed and toasted by chefs. It is a great way to try lots of new and exciting flavors. On top of that you don’t have to worry if you’re giving this to someone on a specific diet. They have packages for gluten free, paleo and all sorts of others. You can subscribe in a 1 month, 6 month or 12 month plans. You can sign up for yourself or you can set this up as a gift through them to someone else!

RawSpiceBar: $5 off your first subscription or any 6 or 12 month gift order, code: RAKFLAVOR

RawSpiceBar picture Continue reading

Metal clamps for meat

Continue to Learn

The Never Ending Quest for Knowledge

One of the best parts of teaching classes at Sur La Table, other than getting to teach people and use lot of fun tools, is the fact that I get asked some really great questions and this is why I must continue to learn my craft.

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Every time I teach a class I am always surprised and excited by the questions I get asked. People are so creative with the thoughts they have. They are not always good ideas but to me it is really exciting that people are thinking about different ways of doing things. Then comes the fun part of trying to put those ideas to the test to see if they can work. Not only do they come up with some great ideas but I always have fun showing them things they never knew. Such as during the class I teach on cooking sous vide, showing them that you can make the most amazing creme brulee. It shocks people when you show them how simple it is but at the same time how delicious and amazing it is. Continue reading

Where do you Find Inspiration

A great question that I find myself asking is, where and how do I get inspired by food? I think you can find inspiration from something as simple as just eating. I find myself asking questions about what I am eating and what and how I can re-make that, and in some cases, what would make it better, all the time. To me the best part of eating a meal is thinking about recreating the dish. Mentally breaking down a delicious meal gets the creative juices flowing and that leads to inspiration.

Inspiration

I think my love of cooking comes from my Mom and my Grandpa. Growing up eating great meals cooked by my Mom and her letting me help out in the kitchen when I was growing up. To this day one of my favorite things to do is cook up a big dinner with her. One of my favorite holiday’s is Thanksgiving just because of the fact that I know get to cook a nice meal with her. We always come up with some creative things to try and are always pushing recipes further to see what we can do with some of our favorites. My Grandpa is also a great inspiration for me, he is always tinkering with bread recipes and has one of the best spaghetti sauce recipes I have ever had. The best part is that it is a secret family recipe, but it is still fun to play around with it to see if there is anything you can do to make it a little better. Without these two people in my life I don’t think I would be the cook that I am today! And for that I am forever grateful.

There is something about eating a meal and enjoying it, but still thinking about how else you can use the ingredients and what else that ingredient would be good in.
I have found myself doing this a lot lately when teaching and helping in classes. I love how when working with food that you find yourself not just blindly following a recipe but actually breaking that recipe down and thinking about what the final dish  is going to  taste like in the end. And then when you start doing that the next step is to start thinking about how making some small changes to it make it even better. It could be something as simple as adding some roasted garlic or a splash of Worcestershire sauce. It is amazing when you start playing around with what you’re cooking how much your eye’s will be opened up to being more creative with you are cooking. Most of the chef’s and friends that I have that love to cook, look at a recipe as a starting point to a good dish and add to it to make it an extraordinary dish. But be prepared, it doesn’t always work out. In some cases the original one is already amazing or your first attempt at changing it will be a failure. This is part of the learning process and what makes it fun. Failure is part of the job.

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There are even some unlikely sources to find inspiration such as a movie. How many of you, like me, watched and loved the Disney movie “Ratatouille” and wanted to recreate the ratatouille from it. Then there are some of the amazing dishes that are created in the movie “Chef”. So many of the recipes in that movie look so amazing and flavorful. It is said that we eat with our eyes first and just seeing someone cooking in a movie or a documentary can give you a spark or an idea to try that you never thought of.

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This is why I love cooking! Almost anything or anybody can inspire you to try something a slightly different way that will make your life that much easier or make your dish that much better. It is fascinating to see a mind at work when hit with inspiration or an idea. Even when the results may not work or be what you were expecting. The most important part of this all is to learn from your mistakes and keep trying to reach the point of perfection.

A new direction in my journey.

When I graduated from cooking school I had always thought that it would be a lot of fun to get into teaching people how to cook. I thought about putting an add up on craigslist and do something like going to your house and teaching you how to cook a delicious meal and then tailoring it to the skills of the person or people that I would be working with. Well I have sort of started down the teaching road and am having a blast. I recently was hired on at Sur La Table as a Chef Instructor’s Assistant and will also be working as a Chef Instructor.
It is so amazingly fun to help people to learn new techniques and styles of food. I don’t think that I will ever get tired of pulling a salt block out of the oven and seeing the look of amazement in the eyes of the students. The people I work with are really great and so far all of the students have been a ton of fun. I honestly don’t think that will ever get tired of this job.
If anybody out there is looking for a fun thing to do or wanting to take a class make sure you head to the Sur La Table web site and sign up for a class today!