Chef Gala

Chef gala was last night. We've never tried to mass produce anything with the antigriddles so we did a few practice runs once we got everything set up.

It actually worked out pretty well, if we only had one antigriddle it would have been a little tight but I could load one and Diana could continue when I would run out and have to start building again.

Here is the bz team.

Michael Gleason came out of retirement to help plate the pig for the event. HCD!!

The suckling pig with Louisiana hot sauce fluid gel, coleslaw. We brined then braised our pigs in the smoked pork stock, picked, reduced the braising liquid and buttered it out. Then we added our house bbq rub, chives, and juice from our pickled okra. It came out nice and smelled awesome when we were searing.

Didn't hurt to have a nice frosty keg of abita turbodog 5 feet away.

We threw in the Wild Turkey American Honey just as an extra but we had people coming up and asking for 6 at a time.

A good event and raised a lot of money for a good charity, only part that suck was that I didn't see one second of the magic\cavs game. I had my head down pretty much the whole time just cranking it out.


Smoked Stock

The chef gala is quickly approaching. We are donating our time and services to the United Way for the evening. 1000 people will be sampling food and drink from all over central Florida. Our theme this year is southern, redneck, cracker, however you want to put it. We will be serving suckling pig, Louisiana hot sauce fluid gel, and white trash coleslaw(french's mustard, white vinegar, sugar, mayo). Also our antigriddle arnold palmer, abita turbodog on tap, wild turkey american honey straight up(should appeal to those who can't handle the real stuff).

The base of our suckling pick is a smoked pork stock. We are using the cook shack smoker to lightly smoke our pig carcasses.

It is an electric smoker, all digital, set the temp, the time, fill up the box with hickory pellets and it will automatically feed them in and keep a constant smoke. Not my idea of a real smoker but since we are not allowed to use real wood according to the fire code so this is what we have to settle for. It works perfectly for this application. It doesn't put out a ton of smoke, just a hint even if you cook over night so our stock won't be bitter but have a nice smokey background to it.

The bones smoked for 3.5 hours, just enough so it doesn't over power. All we are looking for is a layer of flavor to add some depth. The rest of pigs we broke down are getting a nice Orange molasses brine and will be braised in the stock, shredded, stock reduced and buttered then folded back in and pressed so we can get a nice uniform portion. After 5 hours of breaking down pigs I could stand to not look at another one for a while.

Cook shack makes a good smoker but it doesn't beat the beast in my backyard. Have to rag on the cook shack a little, we just opened a pool side smoke shack for the summer on property and there seem to be some regional differences between the chefs here.
If yo want to see a real smoker click here



Gabriel at Honolulu fish company hooked us up with some striped marlin. We were on the phone with him to check the inventory for the day and by the time he finished reading us the list half of everything was no longer available. With the long weekend coming up they were getting hit pretty hard for orders. Took a little opah and uku as well to get us through.
We did a seared and raw combination with marcona almond puree and some toasted microplaned marconas that got a dip in the liquid nitrogen. A little meyer lemon oil, chives and fleur de sel. Nutty and sweet. Still needs a tweak but the concept is there.


Wild mushroom tortellini

Tonight's pasta,
some people wouldn't consider this a pasta course but we use the term in reference to a composed dish where every element should be consumed with the pasta to improve the overall dish.

Pretty nasty weather today so we went a little earthy tonight. I should probably plan a little bit better instead of deciding to change the pasta last minute before service with 250 on the books, a private party, and a 3 hour reception with tons of passed apps that also had to be ready to go. Put my chef de cuisine and I in the weeds a little but if it's going to make for better food then a little pressure won't hurt. We all need that sometimes. I should be used to it by now working for Todd, he is the king of improvising on the spot, last minute menu changes, changes during service, but it keeps you on your toes, pushes you to make better food, and execute under pressure.

Alaskan King salmon, mushroom tortellini, braised beet greens, confit spring onion, roasted garlic puree, morels, shaved romano beans salad, and then the server finishes tableside with smoked bacon broth around the dish.



Some random pictures from today

making 1200 portions of alphabet soup

a little dry ice

Onaga, agnolotti, root veg purees, shaved raw romano bean and baby fennel salad.


al plin....

The famous pinched pasta of Piedmont, made famous in America by TK with the release of TFL cookbook.

Our pasta dough is
28 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
1 kilo ap flour
1 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp extra virgin
1 teas salt

This recipe yields a soft pasta dough that is easily manipulated after being rolled out as thin as possible. With agnolotti the key I learned from former bluezoo exec chef Ed Bilicki, is rolling out your dough twice on the last setting of the pasta machine. This will ensure that the dough doesn't puff up and seem thicker when cooked. Todd is all about thin luscious pasta. When Clay was the corporate chef for Todd I learned that "Pasta is like a woman, It can't be too thin or too rich". Somehow chefs always find a way to relate everything back to..., I won't finish this sentence but if you are a chef you should be able to figure it out.

Our filling was salt roasted celery root puree bound with potato, then a little butter and cream to smooth it out. It was a bout 3 to 1 celery root that we roasted in salt, push through a tamis along with the potatoes, added cream and butter and push through a chinois then cool. We served these tonight with braised baby fennel, tiger eye squash from Hammock Hollow Herb Company, and seared scallops.


Tomato Soup

We have the pleasure of making 1200 portions of alphabet soup and sandwich for a banquet event at the hotel. We start by blending and seasoning tomatoes with herbs and spices. The we load the puree into 5 gallon cambros and freeze. Then we take the giant tomato ice blocks out of the cambro and wrap in 4 layers of cheese cloth. The we let them defrost under refrigeration over a perf pan and wait to collect our clear soup base. Mix with alginate and either microwave in batches to remove the bubbles or if you have time let sit in the walk in overnight. Then we brunoise and blanch root vegetables. The we cook our mini alphabet noodles. Load the molds with the noodles and veg then top off with the alginate mix.

The only way to get them perfectly smooth is to freeze with liquid nitrogen then hold them until service. We submerge them into a hot calcium solution, then into hot water to defrost and heat through. They then get a nice coat of evoo and fleur de sel. Our tomato version pictured here.

The banquet version will be placed on a grilled cheese with Grafton Village white cheddar and brioche. Last night we did some plain tomato soup balls for amuse with waterkist tomato tartare, basil oil, toasted brioche, and micro parsley.

They are about 1.5oz each. Something to think about when making them this big is texture. You need to let the balls sit in the calcium bath a little bit longer so the encapsulation will hold and they won't collapse on themselves. Now that you have a thicker skin you need to have some crunch in there to mask the texture of the skin. They are liquid inside so you get the caviar pop just on a larger scale. We haven't been playing with this application for a while. Even though it seems new to people who aren't in the know about modern food, we've been making these for over 3 years now. I think alginate has jumped the shark a bit in the same way foams have but we still incorporate them here and there.


Bentons Hickory Smoked

Alan Benton makes some of the best ham on the planet. We have had the whole 18 month aged hams, the country bacon, and now we went with the straight up smoked boneless. I didn't even have to open the unmarked box it came in to know what it was. What's the expression, smells through the bag, yeah well it does. We will be slicing it super thin and serving as part of our chef's pasta.
House Tagliatelle...bentons country ham, 3 way english pea, bacon butter