Help Wanted


*****Do not reference this blog during your application process, our hiring process is unbiased. We will review resumes and make decisions based on experience and if we feel someone is the right fit. You will be required to come here for an interview on your own if you are contacted.******

We have an opening as a cook advanced here at bluezoo. We are looking for someone with talent, speed, energy, and the ability to follow instruction. Of course there is a lot more to it that these few things when looking for an employee. We are a family here, we spend more time with each other than our families. We expect one another to be able to handle their work, go the extra step, and produce solid food. The people who can't live up to that in a high stressed under staffed environment don't last. This is a hard kitchen for anyone to come into since the expectations are high.
As a cook advanced you are expected to know the basics, work clean and never find yourself with your hands in your pockets or standing around not doing anything. If you can't get you station set up in the amount of prep time that you have on the clock then you will be here early or stay late to get your station set on your own time. I don't like to sugar coat things, but if you make the cut, can do what you say you can do, can adapt to our way, our system, then you will become a valuable employee. I haven't had to hire anyone in over a year, turn over is low here as long as you make it past the first month. Most everyone here has been here for 1.5 years or more. There are great benefits, the pay is competitive when it comes to Orlando, there is no negotiation for experience, it is what it is. For the position that is offered we pay the same as the Ritz that down the street. You would be an employee of starwood hotels, of course there is that whole drug test thing too that you have to pass, shave everyday, have clean cut appearance but that is all part of working for the hotel.
I hear all the horror stories of lay offs going on out there so I'm sure everyone knows of a talented person they can refer. This is a cook position for our back line, from here people have moved on to become chefs and sous chefs of other restaurants on our property and other hotels in starwood. There is room for growth and you will be working for one of the largest hotel chains in the World. You would be pushing out some volume but we still have standards that need to be met.
If you still wish to apply, click on the title of this post, the starwood career page will come up, where it says key words enter
Bluezoo Cook Advanced, and hit the search button
You can click on the job description and apply online.

*****Do not reference this blog during your application process, our hiring process is unbiased. We will review resumes and make decisions based on experience and if we feel someone is the right fit. You will be required to come here for an interview on your own if you are contacted.******


Here is the link to our hotel website



Some of our New Menu

Here are some of our new dishes. We have been trying to streamline our prep in the a.m. but that means the guys at night will have to pick it up. I'd tried to keep everything simple and in doing that sometimes it ends up more complex. For the spring and summer months we will be operating with one less sous chef and one less cook at night unless we have some business. It will be a challenge and we will have to come up with some creative solutions. This menu has a little more cross utilization of products to help us out down the road. Hopefully by fall we will have some extra revenue so we can turn it up and make some more intense platings and finishing touches for the expo. This will do for now, there are still another 5 or 6 changes that have been made but we have not photographed yet but here you go.

Above is our new plate up for the chilled maine lobster. We took the avocado and scooped it directly in the cryovac bag, added a touch of lime and salt then compressed. Rolled it out with a rolling pin and then froze it. The fluid gel to the right is a liquid green olive tapenade set with agar then pureed, avocado crema below the lobster in the shell. Behind the lobster is the whipped lime where we used xanthan and versawhip, lime juice, salt, simple syrup and water. There will also be some pistachio powder, not shown here, off one of the corners of the avocado bar. So you will get all green components with different flavor profiles but they all work together. The only thing is we need to make the avo bar a little thinner so it doesn't have to temper as long, we want to be somewhere around 4-5 minutes of tempering so you can build the rest of the plate, have the server pick it up and deliver it defrosted.

Here is our vadouvan crab and melon salad. Diced melons that have been spiced up with some siracha, pickled watermelon rind, and arugula. The vadouvan aioli on the crab balances out the spicy melons. Very simple, light, good spices, and a quick plate up. We had something similar a couple years ago but it had a Vietnamese influence of green curry, fish sauce and coconut that our former chef Ed put on and it was good so here is my version.

This is our low country shrimp, white cheddar hominy, pickled okra, smoked bacon butter. We are getting some really good stone ground organic grits, the shrimp have a house made bbq rub, we make a little salad from pickled okra and cherry tomato and then a butter sauce mounted with a compound bacon butter that we make from Neuske's applewood smoked bacon.

Here is our softshell entree, cherry pepper polenta, corn silk, organic seasonal veg, popcorn shoots. Again simple, just good flavors. The cherry pepper polenta is good, we used some of the juice to finish it.

This one is my baby. Suckling pig head to tail, confit leg, grilled loin, sous vide belly, glass noodles, slaw, reverse egg drop soup. We are breaking down the whole animal so we are going to have tons of extras for charcuterie projects seeing as we only get about 6-8 portions per pig with them being as small as they are but the flavor is much better and texture as well. So we sous vide the belly, press it and sear to get the skin crispy, the leg is confit and warmed with miso broth, grated ginger, and shitakes. The loin has a black garlic and mustard marinade that turned out great. Here is the recipe
Hot Mustard and Black Garlic marinade
1.5c soy
.5c sesame oil
7.5c grapeseed oil
2 tbsp microplaned ginger
2 jars Mr. Mustard, hot
2 heads worth black garlic cloves
1.5c rock candy syrup
I build the whole mix right in the blender and puree until the oil emulsifies. marinade pork for 24 hoursseason well with sal t and pepper then grill.

The glass noodles are below the nappa slaw. Then we arrange the quail egg. We cut the shell and separate the yolk from the white, oil the intact yolk slightly and put back in the cleaned shell. The servers put the plate down in front of you and remove the shell via chop sticks(I love giving them challenging service steps) to a side plate to reveal the yolk. They then pour in miso consomme to cover the bottom of the bowl. The guest breaks the yolk and mixes it into the hot broth.

The last one I have a picture of is our Heritage Half Chicken, it's a carolina poulet rouge that we halve and de-bone, then we cook between blazing cast iron pans. It gets supper crispy skin and stay nice and moist. Their is some english pea puree under the chicken, macaire potato in the middle, the sauteed morels, english peas and mushroom puree to bind it and keep it on top of the macaire. Then we top everything with chicken jus then a parm and pea tendril salad.


Here are the three new desserts Laurent just put on the menu. We do have some staples that do not change due to customer demand so these aren't our only desserts, just the ones we have altered for this menu change.

Pavlova...Vanilla orange ice cream and raspberry filled french meringue, raspberry zinger tea gel, raspberry sauce, fresh raspberry, and orange
A classic dessert named after the russian dancer Anna Pavlova, see Laurent's version. It is light and perfect for this time of year.

Chocolate melange...five ways of chocolate
malted milk chocolate creme brulee...table side flambe
hot coriander chocolate truffle
cinnamon chocolate sorbet
crispy chocolate and absinthe cream
concha 72% chocolate mousse dome and hazelnut crunch

Cool stuff going on with this one. Laurent being who he is gets a lot of samples from different companies wanting him as their spokesperson. In this case he is working with a french food scientist who developed a 98% flavored alcohol. It will flame instantly, no need to warm it up at all. This is being used on the table side malt chocolate creme brulee. First we apply a layer of caramel infused sugar(also not on the market yet) and used a small spray bottle to apply the cocoa flavored alcohol. 4 sprays on top of the sugar, then light it and it will burn and caramelize the sugar on its own. The coriander truffle has a liquid center and screams coriander and bitter chocolate. The absinthe cream is awesome, it's layered between the crispy pieces of chocolate that end up looking like a Chinese temple. The Cinnamon and chocolate sorbet looks like it would be heavy but its super light and refreshing. The concha chocolate mousse dome with hazelnut crunch is awesome. It has little dots of chocolate meringue stuck to it. The chocolate meringue by itself tastes like coco puffs. I can for see some whipped milk and chocolate meringue pre desserts in the near future.

Passion...caramel passion fruit panna cotta, passion fruit granita, coconut streusel, orange almond cigarette, caramel sauce and pearls

This one has everything, warm, cold, salty, sweet, textures all over the place. Awesome.


New Desserts

Laurent Branlard is the executive pastry chef for the hotel. His reputation precedes him. His is the only person to have won the World Pastry Championship twice. His last victory was in 2008 as the captain of the US Pastry Team. He produces all the pastries for the whole hotel but bluezoo is where he gets to play. We had the tasting today, not one bad element on the plates. Perfect textures and precision. We have our differences, but this is an area that I leave totally up to him. Pictures and descriptions on the way. Here is a "pavlova" teaser. If leave here without getting desserts you are truly missing out.


The Kitchen

Everything starts here in our refrigerated "fish room". All the fish is broken down and prepped for service here. Today is Saturday so we will process around 1200 pieces of protien for service tonight from 4 different kinds of fish we rotate every night to the staples like swordfish, scallops, shrimp, grouper, lamb, shortribs, and wagyu caps to name a few.

We have a front show kitchen where we produce all our raw bars items, flatbreads, garde manger and hot apps.

The expo station in the front is all about communication. The front line cooks work off calls from the expo with the exception of raw that does recieve its own tickets to keep all their oyster orders in line. Six kinds of oysters a night can get confusing when everyone is mixing and matching. You are constantly talking to the cooks, this is what you need, 4 minutes on that, where the fuck are my sweetbreads, how long do you need, go on everything!!!!!!

Then behind the front expo is the door to the back kitchen where things get crazy. This is where we put out parties, entrees, and pastries.

Here is what the line looks like when we are all arriving and setting up.

Here is the line set for service from the expo side.

The pass. The expo window here is no easy task. I usually take the back window and a sous chef take s the front. We are essentially managing two kitchens at once and coordinating between them if there are apps as entree or order fires so all the food comes up together. Not to mention all the garnishes that get done last second on the back expo, you are working just as hard as the cooks on the other side to get runners, to pull all the food, garnish and wipe every plate, make sure everyone knows what we are coming up on, constant cleaning, and talking the cooks up when we need to push into that next gear. It is a challenge and every night brings something new.

Vadouvan Crab

The temperature is rising around here so are new menu will reflect that. Here was a sample of a crab salad with vadouvan that we used for amuse. We get the vadouvan from Terra spice, it's coming in as a whole spice blend and we toast and grind it. Not as much turmeric in this blend as I have seen in others so there is no yellowing effect and the flavor is awesome.

This one has mixed melons, vadouvan crab salad, and a honeydew foam. The dish that is going on the menu will have an arugula component, nix the honeydew foam for pickled watermelon rind, meyer lemon oil. Light and fresh.



It's no secret that times are tough all over. I've talked to friends, families, ex-employees, current employees, local chefs, and chefs from L.A. to N.Y., in the business or out of the business and it is the same everywhere. We are lucky to be where we are, at a resort that can attract transient guests. We aren't seeing as many of those corporate credit cards, big groups, weekend company retreats, or even the occasional royal family with 2 floors of rooms booked that require one of the chefs on property to be assigned to them and live at the hotel to be available 24\7 during their stay. All that is gone, is about feeding our transients, our families that spend their hard earned cash to be here. They expect speed and efficiency of service, value for price paid, servers and chefs that are willing to accommodate their needs and wants, and in return we want them walking away wanting to come back for more. In most cases if we provide the level of service that is our standard then we will see those people that are staying with us for a couple of days more than once.
We have to keep all these factors in mind for our new menu. We are taking a somewhat simplified approach. We are going to tailor it to quality, quick, tasty, and approachable. If you work in the hotel setting then you know the complications that come with change. It is going to be a long 8 days of testing, costing, plating, wording, training, communicating, sourcing, and creating before our official tasting. Just because the approach seems simple that doesn't mean that's what it will be.


Bluezoo, the tour

Here is a look into the place where I spend more time than I do at home. There have been some changes since these picture were taken. Now when you enter the restaurant there is a mirrored water wall with 2 way glass that has a flat screen set behind the water that shows a promo dvd with Todd, servers, and us in the kitchen.

You walk through the bar to get to the dining room. As you walk past the bar you pass our open front line. From here we do all the hot apps, flatbreads, raw bar, and garde manger items. The back line takes care of all the entrees, sides, desserts, parties, and daytime prep. Kitchen pictures to come.

The lounge, or upper deck as we call it, has also been re-done. We removed the 2 top booths and replaced them with tables. We also sell this area out for passed app receptions for up to 100pp and semi-private dining for up to 55pp.

Our private dining room can hold up to 55 as well and sections off into 3 rooms with a wine wall that changes shades of blue as the partition between the dining room and the pdr. One of our main sources for revenue when we have groups in house.

We can seat around 250 with a full pdr and upper deck. We are working on our new menu and we have to take into account the volume and madness that can result when we go from completely empty to packed in 30 minutes. Some items need to be tailored for efficiency and speed. We will take risks on some plate ups, making them more complex and time consuming. We have such a variety of guests from family to convention goers so we have to have a little of everything. A menu change here is no easy task. I know what I want to cook and what I will eat but that may not necessarily sell. It's all about balance. We do plays on familiar flavor combinations and throw in some new techniques, forms and textures where and whenever possible.


Suckling Pig Proscuitto

We've been working on the menu and had some suckling pig in house. We used the method right out of the Ruhlman\Polcyn book "Charcuterie". The legs were cured and pressed in kosher salt. The rule is 1 day in the cure per pound of meat. We let them go for 3 days but they were still a little soft to the touch so we changed the salt and went another 2 days. They were firm and nicely pressed.

Next we rinsed, patted dry, and spread lard over them.

Then hit them with peppercorns.

Wrapped in cheese cloth and tied. We're ready to hang.

Hopefully we will have them done just in time to go with end of the season melons in August. We'll see.


Torchon 102

After all that work, here is the finished product.

Remove the "torchon", or towel. Warm your slicing knife in hot water then wipe dry and slice through the cheese cloth. Use a ring cutter, same hot water method, and cut the foie. From this point we brush with extra virgin, season with fleur de sel, and pipe on the verjus.

The finished amuse is
foie torchon...strawberry, verjus, brioche
We cut the verjus slightly with water then make a fluid gel with agar. Then we brunoise the outside of the strawberry and season. The inside of the strawberry is cooked down in simple syrup and salt, pureed, strained, mixed with 1% xanthan and 2% versawhip. Then whip until light. The regret here is that I wish we would have added some beet juice to keep a nice dark red color, the flavors would have played.

The acid from the verjus cuts through the fat of the foie, the sweet and salty notes of the two textures of strawberry provide balance. The crisp brioche, well, what is foie without brioche. The crispy, buttery note of the brioche "rounds" out the dish. There are always tweaks, would I do it the same again, no. That is how it works, evolution of our dishes is key. When you come up with something for the first time you always have the initial feeling that this is going to be great. Then hindsight sets in, you produced a good dish, but how can we improve upon it?


Torchon 101

We have a party tomorrow night for 45pp. It's our six course menu starting with a foie amuse and seasonal garnish. We use many different techniques for foie from foam, to antigriddle, liquid nitrogen, sous vide, seared, sauce, ect...but we find ourselves coming back to the torchon.

Side Note
I had the pleasure of traveling to Israel with Michael Ginor of Hudson River Valley Foie Gras about 3 months ago, luckily we left the day before Gaza was invaded. He knows everything there is to know about the subject of foie, and put out a pretty tight book to boot. It was an interesting experience to pick his brain a bit. There are so many things that can be done with this versatile ingredient, and it is a shame that it has such a bad wrap. Gotta love PETA, thanks.

So here is the process
Saturday...soak in whole milk to help remove the blood, the tcm will highlight the blood spots in your torchon
Sunday...remove from milk and let come to room temp, separate the lobes,start with the large lobe using a spoon, scrape the foie to reveal the veins, remove the veins.
Typically in a torchon you only use the large lobe and utilize the small lobe in another application. In this case we de-veined both and sandwhiched them together. Before putting the two lobes together we seasoned them with our cure. A mix of salt, tcm, white pepper, and sugar. We apply a 2.3% ratio to the foie. Then put the lobes together, wrap in parchment, then in plastic and let cure overnight.

Monday...shape, wrap, poach, tie, hang
We start by tempering the foie again and shaping the foie into cylinders with the parchment.

Then we wrap it as tight as possible in cheese cloth then squeeze the ends to push all the foie together.

Then tie the center of the shaped torchon, then tie the end with some excess string on one end to help when poaching.

Next, poach for 90 seconds using the excess string to help remove from the poaching liquid.

Strait into ice from the poaching liquid. Let them firm slightly in the ice bath(10minutes) and remove and squeeze excess poaching liquid from the torchon, pat dry.

Again squeeze the ends to push the foie together and wrap tightly in your "torchon", in this case a bar towel. Again tie the center of the torchon and one end. The center knot helps prevent blow out but does not need to be over tightened, the end knot does on the other hand need to be as tight as possible.

Now to finish make an extremely tight knot at the opposite end again leaving some excess string to hang. This excess also has another purpose, the "tornado" tie. hold the torchon and swing the string around the torchon keeping the string taught and sliding the butchers twine under each previous pass of the twine. This compresses the foie. Once finished you should see some foie squeezing out, if not then you are loose and will have air pockets in your torchon. This is a good exercise to see how tight you can pull on piece of twine. When you get to the point where you feel you are about to break the skin and you have stopped the flow blood to your hand, that's when you are doing it right.

Finally hang it for at least a day. The foie will set and be ready to go. I will snap a shot tomorrow night so you may see the end result. Ideally you want to remove the towel, slice through the cheese cloth then ring cut the outside off as it will oxidize slightly. You may cut 1 hour before serving,brush it with extra virgin to prevent further oxidation, but keep refrigerated.

As you see, only a couple of steps but one of my favorite ways to enjoy foie.


Green and Grey Courses, hotel life

Every so often we will have a big function at the hotel where the outlet chefs, banquet chefs, exec chef, and exec sous chefs get together and knock out a collaborative menu. Our exec chef usually comes up with the theme and we all brainstorm ideas. We used the same theme for our James Beard dinner which was color. The idea is that all the components of the plate, if it is the green course, are green in color or green may be in the name, or at some stage in the life of the product it is green, this could also refer to sustainable. It's a broad spectrum and to make it work you have to bend the rules a bit. Keep in mind this was a fall\winter menu otherwise the components would have been a little different if we were serving it today for a spring menu. Here in the green course we came up with we made a picholine olive fluid gel, Sicilian pistachio powder, quince cylinder wrapped in broccoli stem, and some mini cukes from chef's garden.

To finish the dish we had two table side touches, we added pear infused green tea bubbles using the powdered egg white, xanthan, and fish pump method. Then, not shown here, the servers poured a warm fennel and apple soup over the components. The soup was a sweet, spicy green apple puree made with a little jalapeno and then blended in a super green a fennel top puree just before it went out.

The grey course was oyster, sel gris, and grey goose. The base of the glass has a grey goose gel, we used malpeque oysters from PEI, and then made a sel gris soda in the soda siphon.

The idea behind it is to bring all the chefs from the property together, we write down all the colors that are possibilities, then think of all the components for each course that apply to those colors. We divide up the courses and then usually serve everything out of our banquet kitchen or we do a "chef's table" set up and build mobile kitchens and make everything in front of the guests. We usually won't do something like this for less than 100 people. Here is picture of some of the banquet room set ups that we sometimes do for events like this. We will also do an outside version by the pool with a mobile kitchen set up.

Where all the heat lamps are is where we line up and plate everything in front of the guests and the servers pick up right from the line and serve. All the chefs are mic'd up so the guests can hear everything we say to add to the effect. For the most part we watch what we say but it's more of a show when we let loose and the guests get to see how it really is in the kitchen. Of course we will feel out the clients before hand to determine which way we are going to go so we do not offend anyone.

This set up by the pool had an organic theme.

The menus were printed on the sunflower boxes.

It's good to work for a monster hotel. I'm the last person who wants to conform to "corporate status" but if you want to do events like these in Orlando you have to play ball, accept the politics, pick your battles, and compromise. I came from independent restaurants and it has been a challenge to change the way I look at things in a hotel setting but ultimately for us to continue what we do, we have to do it. I'm just here to make good food and run a business.


Final WD-50

The last installment of WD-50 pictures.

Sweetbreads...pickled sweet potatoes, beet-pomegranate gel, mint puree

foie gras...financier, Chinese celery

Deconstructed corned duck...rye crisp, purple must
I like this version better than the original which is still on the menu. A guest requested a deconstructed version and this is what they got.

Another duck dish
Duck breast...Worcestershire spaetzle, parsley root, mustard greens

bass...artichokes, bamboo rice, chicory

Hopefully I will get the chance to go back during the chef's congress and see the progression of the menu. Thanks to Jason for giving us all a look into what's going on in the kitchen of WD-50.