Friday, July 30, 2010

Chef Carl and Second Helpings On Television

Check out the August edition of Chef's choice by Citizens Gas, featuring yours truly.

Here's the recipe:
Scampi with Linguine and Vegetables
(Serves 6)

1 pound linguine
2 Tbsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound asparagus, cut into one inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 cups artichoke hearts, sliced
2 cups black olives, sliced
½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 Tbsp grated fresh lemon zest
¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 2 Tbsp Kosher salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper and sauté until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 3 - 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, white wine, asparagus, artichoke hearts, olives, and red bell pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the cooked linguine, parsley, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Toss well to combine, and serve.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Such a Pity to Leave Vegetables Only for Vegetarians"

"We need to have more of a relationship with vegetables," says chef Alain Ducasse, as he serves some delicate slices of beetroot, carrot and celeriac that have been gently poached in a light vegetable stock, and coated with a Montgomery cheddar gratin, during an intimate lunch for eight at the Dorchester hotel in London, where his three Michelin star restaurant is housed. He is showing off a new signature dish -- the Cookpot -- which focuses on seasonal vegetables.

Mr. Ducasse is just one of a number of top chefs who, while still offering meat dishes, is placing vegetables center stage, offering creative vegetable dishes and haute vegetarian tasting menus that start at £95.
"Vegetables are important to me," says Mr. Ducasse. "I grew up at my grandmother's farm in Gascony, always eating seasonal vegetables. It can actually be more challenging preparing vegetables than meat. You have to let them speak for themselves."

Two decades ago in the Louis XV in Monaco, Mr. Ducasse, who holds 19 Michelin stars world-wide, created a vegetable tasting menu where animal stock or jus could be used in the preparation of the dish. "I've been trying to push the trend for 20 years," he says. "And now it is slowly changing." He has just launched a totally vegetarian tasting menu in London and may follow suit with his other restaurants. Typical dishes on his new vegetarian tasting menu include a soft-boiled egg with buttery sautéed wild mushrooms and a creamy broad bean velouté. In the first dish, the boiled egg is placed on a "royale" (a savory egg custard) consisting of cream, egg and chopped mushrooms and finished with cooked and raw mushrooms. Meanwhile, in his broad bean velouté, fresh baby broad beans are slowly cooked with olive oil and vegetable stock, before being thickened with whipped cream and topped with crispy croutons.

In another dish, homemade artisan pasta is cooked in spring onion, green peas and vegetable broth before being covered with mashed peas, shaved black truffles and parmesan.

Another chef drawing from his bucolic upbringing in France is Alexis Gauthier, chef and owner of his eponymous new restaurant in Soho, London. "I come from Avignon, and most of my food intake was vegetables," says Mr. Gauthier. "There was always the expectation of the different seasons and what fruit and vegetables [each] would bring." Like a number of these chefs, Mr. Gauthier isn't offering a purely vegetarian tasting menu (although he will on request), but a menu designed to show off vegetables in the best possible way, even if it means cooking them in meat or chicken stock. This can include salsify cooked in a rich beef jus and delicate Cappelletti pasta made with confit of tomatoes, in which tomatoes are marinated overnight in olive oil and thyme until the tomatoes take on an intense, sweet flavor. A heady, al dente truffle risotto is accompanied by treacly brown butter and shavings of aged parmesan. Mr. Gauthier's velvety, chilled light green pea velouté is poured over a piece of smooth soya-marinated tofu, to create a summer dish bursting with freshness.

"I love vegetables but I am not a vegetarian," says Mr. Gauthier. "I thought it was such a pity to leave vegetables only for vegetarians. I wanted to develop a side that makes vegetables the star. If they have the right texture you can play with vegetables like meat or fish," he says.

Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meat With Antibiotics Off the Menu at Some Hospitals

By Monica Eng, Tribune reporter

The evening's menu featured grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef over pasta, fresh seasonal vegetables and fresh organic peaches — items right at home in the city's finest restaurants.

Instead, the dishes were prepared for visitors, staff and bed-bound patients at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

The Northwest Side hospital is one of 300 across the nation that have pledged to improve the quality and sustainability of the food they serve, not just for the health of their patients but, they say, the health of the environment and the U.S. population.

For many of these institutions, the initiative includes buying antibiotic-free meats. Administrators say they hope increased demand for those products will reduce the use of antibiotics to treat cattle and other animals, which scientists believe helps pathogens become more resistant to drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that antibiotic-resistant infections kill 60,000 Americans a year.

Although the U.S. doesn't keep national records on antibiotic use in animals, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that up to 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are administered to healthy animals to speed growth and compensate for crowded living conditions. Some of these drugs, such as penicillin and tetracycline, are also used to treat sick people.

Last week, as a congressional panel debated the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., presented a petition organized by the nonprofit coalition Health Care Without Harm and signed by more than 1,000 health care professionals supporting the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. Introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., it would phase out the nontherapeutic use in animals of seven types of medically important antibiotics.

Last month the Food and Drug Administration also released draft guidelines for the "judicious use" of antibiotics for growth promotion in animals. The CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture support the FDA's guidance, which states that "using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production or growth enhancing purposes … in food-producing animals is not in the interest of protecting and promoting the public health."

Meat producers respond that there is not enough evidence to definitively link human antibacterial-resistant infection to animal use.

"The CDC, FDA and USDA all say that they believe there is a link, but we don't know," said Dave Warner, spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council. "They believe it, so they are going to ban these products because of a belief and not a scientific fact?"

Hospital administrators who have signed on to buy antibiotic-free meat say they hope to use their purchasing power to discourage the use of antibiotics in agriculture. According to the Association for Healthcare Foodservice, the institutions spend about $9.6 billion on food and drink a year.

Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Congratulations to Class 59!

Congratulations to Class 59 of the Second Helpings Culinary Job Training Program who graduated on Friday, July 16, 2010.
Pictured above (front row, left to right):  Juan Gerardo (Jerry) Sifuentes Vélez, Diane N. Harrison, Nakita R. Davis, and Brian P. Bassett (back row, left to right):  Rick L. Manning, Brian K. Richards, Chef Carl Conway, Jeremy L. McMullen, and Christopher Dewayne McGraw

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At the Stadium, Hot Dogs Still Rule

Forget the Spicy Tuna Rolls; Most Fans Still Just Want a Dog

By Ken Belson

BOSTON — The Fenway Frank. The Dodger Dog. The Cincinnati Cheese Coney. They are, for better or worse, the gastronomic benchmarks at baseball stadiums across the country, and as much a gustatory ritual as beer, peanuts and Cracker Jack.
The humble hot dog and its culinary cousin the sausage have also managed to withstand the onslaught from food courts, luxury suites and expanded, health-conscious menus that fill the nearly two dozen ballparks built since 1990.
“It seems like no matter what they add, the No. 1-selling item remains the hot dog,” said Chris Bigelow, a consultant to stadium concessionaires. “It must be a Pavlovian response: you come to a ballpark, you have to have a hot dog. It’s true in the suites, too, despite all that catering.”
Fans are expected to gobble 26.3 million hot dogs and sausages at major league parks this season, according to estimates by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. In many parks, hot dogs make up roughly 10 percent of food and beverage sales, and they are also a fan favorite in Japan and other baseball-loving countries.
Hot dog and sausage consumption around the majors has remained remarkably steady during the last decade or so, even as teams have turned their stadiums into designer dining destinations, with steakhouses, themed restaurants, brew pubs and waiter service. They have also withstood a public health campaign in New York that requires that calorie counts be posted on menus, including many of those at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, where hot dogs remain top sellers.
Given the more elaborate dining options at these and other new ballparks, hot dogs may even end up being a default for diet-conscious fans.
“From a calorie perspective, a hot dog and a light beer might be one of the better options,” said Brian Elbel, an assistant professor of medicine and health policy at New York University, who conducted a study that showed that posting calorie counts in restaurants did little to change consumer eating habits. The introduction of veggie dogs, with one-third the calories and almost no fat, have failed to unseat the all-beef or beef-pork frank.
There is no shortage of theories on why the hot dog remains the top-selling food item at ballparks, and books and scholarly articles have even been written on the topic. Hot dogs can be boiled, steamed, grilled or barbecued, and filled with beef, pork, turkey and a variety of spices. They can be tailored to suit one’s taste with mustard, relish, onions, sauerkraut and any number of other toppings.
The all-American hot dog is also relatively cheap, can be eaten while watching the game and requires only one hand (leaving the other one free to hold a beer or a cellphone, or to catch a foul ball). For most fans, they are also often the only prepared food served at their seats.
Hot dogs are also among the most profitable foods served at ballparks. They are precooked and need only to be steamed or caramelized, keeping the preparation time brief and the turnover high. They take up half as much space as a hamburger on a grill and require less ventilation when cooking. Fans apply their own condiments, reducing labor costs.
“We believe in hot dogs, they’re our bread and butter,” said Rick Abramson, the president of sport service at the Delaware North Companies, which handles the concessions at nine major league ballparks.
Hot dogs and baseball have a long history, though the details of their relationship are as murky as the hot water that dirty dogs are cooked in. Harry M. Stevens, a vendor at the old Polo Grounds in New York, is widely credited with marrying the dog, the bun and baseball when, in 1901, he started serving “dachshund sausages” on rolls.
Thomas Aloysius Dorgan, a cartoonist, was supposedly at the game and could not spell dachshund, so instead wrote “hot dog.” Researchers later found that Dorgan was not at the Polo Grounds in 1901, and discovered references in The Yale Record from 1895 to students who “contentedly munched on hot dogs.”
 Babe Ruth's hot-dog-eating binges were so extreme, they sidelined him from games.
“The traditional American hot dog has not taken a back seat to designer food,” said Becky Mercuri, who wrote “The Great American Hot Dog Book.” “They’ve introduced everything from salad to sushi, but frankly speaking, the hot dog is still king.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Who Wants Prosciutto Ice Cream?


The heavily tattooed woman walking the Shih Tzu ordered Secret Breakfast, the most popular ice cream flavor at Humphry Slocombe. The proprietor, Jake Godby — a man so shy and socially awkward that it never occurred to him when he opened an ice cream parlor that such an establishment might attract children — makes the ice cream with bourbon and toasted cornflakes, including so much Jim Beam that the scoops always run soft. The day was a sunny Friday, ice cream weather. Just before noon customers started lining up near the corner of Harrison and 24th Streets, an unrehabilitated crossroads in San Francisco’s Mission district: first, a gold-chained Latino laborer who ordered Chocolate Smoked Sea Salt; then three 20-something guys — each part hipster, part geek — who stared anxiously at the flavor board, as if they had come in on a dare.

Godby’s intention when he opened Humphry Slocombe in December 2008 was to create a challenging ice cream store. He has succeeded. The physical plant is straight-up soda-fountain retro: black-and-white tile floor, chrome-and-red-leather stools, simple Formica bar. Then there is the art, which tends toward food punk. Across from the front door hang four knockoff Warhol paintings, Campbell’s soup cans labeled Secret Breakfast, Salt & Pepper, Hibiscus Beet and Fetal Kitten. (The first three are Humphry Slocombe ice cream flavors; the fourth is Godby’s stock response to the question “What crazy new flavor are you making next?”) A mount of a taxidermied two-headed calf protrudes above the bar.

The three hipster-geeks started squirming and making frat-house jokes. “Dude, you need to eat that!” one said to another, picking a lard caramel off the counter. Godby’s palate favors salt, booze and meat. Each day he scoops 10 to 12 of his hundred-plus ice cream flavors, favorites including Jesus Juice (red wine and Coke) and Boccalone Prosciutto. Godby also produces novelties in the what might be called the nose-to-tail dessert paradigm: duck-fat pecan pies, foie-gras ginger-snap ice cream sandwiches, treats that incorporate odd animal parts. On occasion, next to the register (cash only), he sets out a glass-covered cake stand filled with brownies. Nobody buys them. As Godby, in his uniform of long green shorts, blue apron and white Chuck Taylors, explains, “I can’t sell cupcakes to save my life.”

Before starting Humphry Slocombe, Godby, who is 41, worked his way up through San Francisco’s fine-dining restaurant ranks: Boulevard, Zuni, Fifth Floor and Coi. Then, in 2006, his father died, leaving him a little money. By that point Godby had some experience making incendiary desserts. As the pastry chef at Coi, recently short-listed by Thomas Keller, the acknowledged master of American cooking, as one of the world’s best restaurants, Godby served a chocolate tart with smoked yogurt that, says Coi’s head chef, Daniel Patterson, made some diners so upset they wanted “to firebomb the place.” With Humphry Slocombe, Godby continued pressing food buttons, beginning with the name, which is aggressively obtuse. (Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocombe were characters on the bawdy old British sitcom “Are You Being Served?” Godby insists that if Alice Waters could name her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, after a highbrow French film, he could name his ice cream store after a lowbrow British farce.)

Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Second Helpings' Culinary Job Training Program Earns ACF Recognition

Second Helpings is pleased to announce that our Culinary Job Training program has been recognized by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation as a "Program of Excellence," earning "Quality Program" status.  Quality Program status is given to programs that require less than the 1000 training hours official accredited programs require, but whose mission, curriculum, teaching methods and outcomes match the quality and standards required by the American Culinary Federation.

"This verifies what we've always believed," says Chef Carl Conway, Second Helpings' Director of Training.  "We offer a top-notch program education-wise, and this endorsement allows our graduates to go out into the culinary workforce with another stamp of approval on their education.  Let's hope it opens more doors for our graduates."

None of this would be possible without the tireless support we get from our partners at Ivy Tech Community College, The Chef's Academy, and our local chapter of the American Culinary Federation, who supported us every step of the way!