Friday, January 30, 2009

Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

These little guys just came in today from our purveyor and I can't wait to start playing with them. Heirloom plants have become extremely popular in the last decade allowing chefs to serve up some pretty unpredictable vegetables to patrons. Heirloom plants by definition must be natural and grown with open pollination instead of hand controlled pollination utilizing seeds handed down through the generations. This natural process allows for the plants to vary in their genetic traits since the pollen source (male parent) is usually unknown. There are many different types of heirloom seeds available now such as pepino melon, strawberry husk tomatoes, baby red peppers, purple carrots, and lemon squash. These tomatoes are extremely ripe and taking a bite into the firm flesh creates an explosion of summer tomato on your taste buds. I'm thinking about using these in a micro salad with crisp pancetta bacon and gorgonzola and a piece of toasted polenta. They would also be great sliced in half with some good olive oil, fresh basil, and sea salt. I'm really happy about using these up in the kitchen and sharing their beauty with our guests.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Latest News Article...

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be featured on the front page of the local food section in the newspaper. The story was on 2009 industry trends and I offered some of my opinions about what I think will be popular. The dish I prepared was a dessert called "The Pomegranate Tasting" focusing on the health benefits of power fruits. It was a trio of a chilled pink peppercorn and pomegranate soup, frozen white chocolate and pomegranate parfait, and chocolate pomegranate brownie. The story has some really good input from some of my fellow colleagues here in Colorado Springs. You can view the entire story at the following link:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Honey Fig Bread with Ham and Melon

This is going to be one of the dishes on our new menu as a starter. It's a honey fig bread, with serrano ham, manchego cheese, fresh melons, and shaved jalapenos. The fig bread was made just like banana bread but we re hydrated some figs and pureed them to replace the banana. The melon and mint works really well with the sweet bread and salty ham. The cheese brings it all together and the small bites of jalapeno give it a little kick at the end. I can already see the guests ordering this as an appetizer while sitting on the patio enjoying a true Colorado view. I can't wait for the spring to arrive, it was 3 degrees outside and snow is everywhere. I've attached a picture of what the view is like from the resort patio during spring/summer.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spring Menu Dishes

Achiote Marinated Chicken
Roasted Corn, Manchego Raviolis, Cilantro Cream

Heirloom Tomato Salad, Fava Bean Puree, Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Buffalo Short Ribs
Ancho Chile Coffee Rub, Mushroom Salsa, Grilled Plantains

Beef Filet
Maytag Bleu Cream, Whipped Yukon Potatoes, Port Syrup

Pork Shanks
Pomegranate Citrus Relish, Glazed Sweet Potato, Charred Scallions

Stuffed Poblano Chile
Potato Corn Hash, Ancho Chile Sauce, Black Bean Cake

Surf and Turf
Beef Filet with Maytag Bleu Cream and Cumin Dusted Sea Scallops


So we are working on a new menu for the restaurant and feel that the restaurant needed some type of concept. Since we are in the rocky mountains and still considered southwest, we are going to focus on those flavors. A lot of my cooking background is southwestern and I really appreciate the local ingredients of the region. I'm really excited about the spring menu and will be posting a rough draft shortly. One of the dishes we are working on is a Churro with Chipotle Chocolate and Grilled Bananas. I learned to make churros in Arizona and felt that pairing them with dark chocolate ganache infused with smoky chipotle was perfect. The grilled banana is the perfect medium for the two components. I think that I will make the churros a little bigger next time, but the staff enjoyed eating my first results...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

VIP Party

So we have booked this event for next month called the "Heart Ball' that is going to be a really big deal. It's purpose is to raise money for future research and education in dealing with heart disease and strokes. The event's theme is "Cirque Du Soleil" which will be incorporated throughout the entire night. We are having actual "Cirque Du Soleil" performers (there is a school in town where they train for Vegas) doing different types of acrobats throughout the night. The food is very important to this group and they had us go through a rigorous tasting as a deciding factor on choosing our property as the host. This will be the first year that they are not going to have this event at the "Broadmoor Hotel" and are expecting to be blown away. The menu I put together focused on the colors of "Cirque Du Soleil" and also capable of serving the 430 guests that will be attending the dinner. It's easy to come up with a creative dish, but extremely challenging to execute a creative dish for so many people at once. The first course will be a Red Wine Poached Pear Salad with Bleu Cheese Crumbled and Sherry Walnut Vinaigrette. When I was working on an entree for this event I decided that it had to be something that wouldn't dry out while plating and still had vibrant colors after transporting to the banquet room. The entree is going to a Brie Stuffed Chicken on Grilled Filet Mignon with Raspberry Syrup, Marbled Potato Puree, and Baby Vegetables. The dessert is called a "Three Ring Circus" and it's a tasting of three different types of desserts. Mocha Cheesecake, White Chocolate/Macadamia Cake, and Red Velvet Hearts. Each one of these items are creative in presentation and flavor but also simple enough to serve a large banquet. I've attached some pictures of the food from their tasting which included 9 different dish to choose from. We did a Deconstructed Caesar, Saffron Shrimp and Fig Glazed Beef, and Strawberry Chocolate Parfait with Mango.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Taste of Pomegranates

This is a dessert that I just put together today for our upcoming spring menu. I think superfruits are going to be utilized throughout 2009 and I thought we should create a dessert that focused strictly on them. Pomegranates are one of the most well rounded superfruits available throughout the winter that are easy to eat and actually taste good on their own. I was researching the fruit and found out that the juice contains almost three times the total antioxidant ability of the same quantity of green tea or red wine. It also provides substantial amounts of potassium, Vitamin C, and niacin. The dessert is a tasting with three different components; pink peppercorn and pomegranate soup, chocolate pomegranate brownie, and white chocolate pomagranate parfait. Each taste is something completely different to give guest a variety while only spending one fixed price.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ice Carving

One of the skills that used to always blow me away when I started out in this business was ice carving. When I was in high school, I pleaded with our chef instructor to bring in someone to do an ice carving demo. I was very fortunate to attend a high level culinary program at a vocational school in Phoenix. Eventually he conceded and brought in the ice carver from a major resort in Scottsdale, AZ. I was hooked after I watched him carve a swan with a chainsaw in less than an hour. My curiosity followed me to work where I would ask my boss to show me some basics since he could carve ice as well. Week after week I would carve something for the Sunday brunch and take pictures. I learned to do lots of simple things like swans, eagles, or a cactus. Now much further into my career I still love the skill and occasionally get to do something for a special event. My last couple of carvings were a basket, a Kodiak bear, and an Easter rabbit. I'm really thinking about trying to hone my skill by continuing the tradition of carving one for Sunday brunch. There is probably someone on my staff that is as curious as I was and wanting to learn like I did.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2009 New Trends???

What are the trends going to be in 2009??? This is always the question in January each year for chefs. So who is capable of making such a decision and what will be the new trends for 2009? Who knows what they're going to be with all the "Jetsons" food in restaurants today and space age equipment that can freeze batter to -95 degrees in 2 seconds flat. Based on my experiences and research here are my predictions for 2009. Hopefully the economy will come out of it's hole and not run from it's shadow because we could all use the break.

  • Beer and food pairings – Beer Sommeliers are becoming extremely popular

  • Shared menu items – Appetizer platters are going to be a big seller with the tight economy, people would rather split appetizers than buy individuals

  • Local and organic produce – People are more aware of supporting local farms and eating natural

  • Super fruits like wolfberry and mangosteen – The health craze isn’t going to stop and I think these super fruits will start to appear in soups, sauces and desserts

  • Smaller portions – Petite desserts have already started show up on menus but I think the trend will spread to trio of appetizers or entrees

  • Chef Classes – Since guests have been introduced to the food network, they are hungry for information and want to learn (Chef classes are a great way to make money without spending too much)

  • Cheaper Cuts of Meats – With the economy suffering, who can afford to buy beef tenderloin? I think chef’s will become innovative with cheap cuts like brisket or pork butt

  • Gluten Free Restaurants - There has been a major increase in the amount of gluten free products I've had to prepare over the last year. It's only time before someone starts opening up these restaurants

Friday, January 2, 2009

Eggs Benedict Ravioli

I just started to write the Valentines Day menus and decided that we should play around a little with some of the courses. I was reading the "Alinea" cookbook and became intrigued by his "Truffle Explosion" dish. I started thinking about the explosion of the egg yolk when you take that first bite into a poached egg. Now I started thinking about how to incorporate ravioli into the dish. I ended up making a pasta dough and filling the raviolis with a whole egg yolk. The "eggs benedict" ravioli is served with a toasted baguette, charred tomato, shaved proscuitto, olive powder, and truffle oil. The dish truly has the components of "Eggs Benedict" but looks nothing like what you see for brunch every Sunday. I'm thinking this would be a great starter that will start the dinner off with a smile.