Friday, May 29, 2009

The Making of a Chef

For my post today, I thought I'd let you all in on a little secret. As a chef in Paris, it wasn't all wine and les fleurs.

Oh no. In fact, I had some pretty serious disasters.

For this installment, I'll copy some of my writing from my journal I kept while I worked as a personal chef for Mme. Lavigne. I think it'll give some greater insight into where I have been in my career, and even into my thinking on food and work as a whole. Here goes:

"Jardin des Tuileries 25.08.2006

"Apparently all chefs, even me, have off nights. I catered a dinner party for Mme. Lavigne's friend, Michelle, and her cousins from Belgium. What a disaster.

"Well, plates came back clean (except for dessert, which was a CLEAR disaster), so I guess it wasn't all inedible. I really just didn't have enough time, I don't think. Or I just sucked at executing it all, which was likely the case.

- the apricot risotto was fabulous. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life.
- the quail wasn't overdone,

- everything else.

"It wasn't that it was horrible. Everything was just "eh," which, to me, is worse than horrible. It's like how the opposite of love is indifference. It works with food, too. I would much rather have someone absolutely hate something and know WHY, and be absolutley certain WHY they hate it than to feel, "Eh. It's nothing special."

"The Nutella souffle was what really crowned the mediocre meal. If I hadn't whipped in the Nutella, it probably would have turned out better. Just a straight meringue. As soon as I touched the Nutella to the meringue, it fell like a 2-year-old on monkey bars. That was a bad simile, but if I had seen a 2-year-old fall from monkey bars, I would have said, "That 2-year-old just fell like a bad souffle."

"Oh well. I'll make up for it on Saturday when I do another dinner party for Michelle.

"I wish I had business cards. I might have to invest in them. I would hand them out to everyone and anyone here basking in the gorgeous day here around the duck fountain at the Tuileries gardens.

"Holly Kapherr
Chef de Cuisine Personnel"

In retrospect, I wish I'd kept all the recipes for the stuff I made for those dinner parties. That apricot risotto sounds fabulous.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Catch-up...not Ketchup. No, no.

It's about time I got back in the blogosphere, and I have some pretty exciting things to talk about.

First off, I picked up a new freelance gig at MyCityEats and Entertainment magazine here in Orlando. I am very excited to be their new restaurant reviewer, excited to get paid to eat and to share my opinions on the burgeoning food scene here in Orlando, and hope that this is just another stepping stone to the day when I actually get to have a full-time job doing this. Visit their website for coupons and to see my work in the Summer issue (out in June).

MyCityEats - Orlando

Also, I've become newly obsessed with the Asian markets around here, since I no longer have a produce market within walking distance, and because I'm pretty much obsessed with Asian food. At the Dong-A supermarket the other day, picking up some things. It was a gray day, and I was in the mood for a smooth, relaxing green curry with shrimp and chicken. All I needed was some Thai eggplants, some lemon grass, and some sweet Thai Basil. See below:

I got to the check out counter, and the sweet Viet man behind the counter smiled and said, "Oh...someone is making curry tonight!" Yes, Viet man, yes I did. And it was delicious. Green curry and mango margarita nights are my favorite.

Also, I was privileged to meet and interview Chef Norman Van Aken, one of the greatest stars in the culinary world.

He is such a sweet, thoughtful, and interested man, who shares a passion for New World Cuisine. His restaurant in Orlando, Norman's, is highest-rated in Orlando by ZAGAT, and I will be reviewing it for Orlando Style magazine in the near future. What an honor! We had a great time discussing everything from the celebrity chef movement to the relationship between ceviche and sashimi. Look for my review in the July/August issue of Orlando Style.

Other than that, I have made a goal to cook much more this summer and to develop the recipes I'll be including in my thesis. Hold me to it!