Saturday, January 31, 2009

1645 River Road

Check out Todd Fisher and Steve Pessagno every other Friday night at 1645 River Road. Their website promises a dynamic, seasonal dining experience created by Chef Todd and Winemaker Steve Pessagno. Together they bring you Monterey County's most distinctive “Wine & Dine” experience. Combining award winning, hand crafted wines from Pessagno and a seasonally inspired menu created by Chef Todd, 1645 River Road should make for a spectacular evening. Reservations are required!

Don't Forget To Buy Your Valentine's Passport To The River Road Wineries!

Today is the last day to save $5.00 on your passport!

Valentine's Passport
February 14, 2009

Join the River Road Wineries for The Sweetheart Of All Wine Tastings! The twelve vintners along Monterey’s River Road Wine Trail want to share the love! Make your plans for this special day of rare vintages, fun, food, and celebration all things amour. As a Passport-carrying V.I.P., you’ll receive a souvenir glass, custom chocolates, entry into a grand drawing, and special discounts. The passport “ticket price” of $25 (only $20 if purchased before February 1) includes day-of-event gifts and drawing eligibility. Passports are on sale on this website.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Minestrone Soup Recipe

Every family in Italy makes its own variation of minestrone, which means literally “big soup,” from the word “minestra.”

Summer Minestrone With Basil Pesto

4 cups tightly packed spinach leaves

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium leeks, trimmed, washed and white and light green parts thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

7 cups vegetable stock or water

1 medium potato, cut into small dice

1 medium zucchini, cut into small dice

1 28-ounces can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

1-1½ cups of Basic cannellini beans, cooked with two garlic cloves and salt and drained

¼-½ cup of pesto, made with blended basil leaves, garlic cloves, olive oil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts

parmigiano reggiano or olive oil

Heat the oil in a large soup kettle or stockpot. Add the leeks, carrots, onion and celery and sauté over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the stock or water, potato, zucchini, the chopped spinach and the tomatoes. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for one hour. Stir in the beans and salt to taste. Simmer another ten minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the pesto. Adjust the seasoning.

Hearty Winter Minestrone

1/2 pound (about 1 1/4 cups) dried white beans such as Great Northern, picked over and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound pancetta chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 rib of celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound boiling potatoes
4 cups shredded green cabbage (preferably Savoy)
1/2 pound kale, rinsed, drained, stems discarded, and the leaves chopped (about 6 cups)
a 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped coarse and drained well
4 1/2 cups Veggy broth

In a large bowl let the white beans soak in enough water to cover them by 2 inches overnight or quick-soak them. Drain the white beans, in a saucepan combine them with enough water to cover them by 2 inches, and simmer them, uncovered, adding more water if necessary to keep them barely covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are tender. Add the salt and simmer the white beans for 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and let the white beans stand, uncovered.

In a heavy kettle cook the pancetta in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until it is crisp and pale golden, add the onion, and cook the mixture, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the carrots, the celery, and the garlic and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, the green beans, and the potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the cabbage and the kale and cook the mixture, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted. Add the tomatoes and the broth and simmer the soup, covered, for 1 hour.

Drain the white beans, reserving the liquid, in a blender or food processor purée half of them with 1 cup of the reserved liquid, and stir the purée and the remaining white beans into the soup. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for 15 minutes, thin it if desired with some of the remaining reserve liquid, and season it with salt and pepper. The soup may be made 3 days in advance and kept covered and chilled. Reheat the soup, thinning it with water as desired. Serve the soup with the Parmesan, the bruschetta, and the sausages.

Healthy Alternatives For Your Superbowl Menu

Not, let's take a look at official recipes from the Superbowl Kitchen.

New Business is Booming In Monterey

Our economy is in crisis, but there's still some signs of hope in a Central Coast city.

In Monterey, some new businesses are coming on board and proving successful in the face of this unforgiving economy.

At Croce's Pizza in Monterey, it hasn't even hit twelve o' clock, but the grill is already fired up. Here, business is booming, according to owner Sean Croce.

"We do new york hot dogs, pizzas and speciality over here is cheese steaks, " said Croce.

Croce expanded his pizza place three weeks ago, taking over the building of a sushi restaurant. It was just six months ago when he first opened his business, which was during the onslaught of the economic crisis.

"I've always tried to keep eye forward and I guess I'm not a good listener," said Croce in a Kcba report.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chef Don Rentfrow

Chef Don Rentfrow and the Fuse Lounge at the Carmel Mission in where just reviewed by Mike and Mellisa in the Herald. Make sure and read the entire review, here are the highlights.

Once the hottest trend on the restaurant scene, the popularity of small-plate dining has waned a bit over the past few years.

But Chef Don Rentfrow is not ready to send this Spanish-inspired tradition the way of the Hula Hoop, and has made the concept a huge part of his new gig at the Fuse Lounge Café inside the Carmel Mission Inn.

"We're appealing to people in 'snack mode,'" said Rentrow, a longtime local chef with previous stops at Rio Grill in Carmel and Roy's at the Inn at Spanish Bay. "We have many items in the $4, $5, $6 range. We're a lounge, after all."

The fiery snack inspired me to order a nine-buck margarita (part of a sinister plan that I gladly fell for), and the bar nailed it; Cazadores tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and housemade simple syrup (the greatest quartet since The Beatles).

The trio of sliders is a trite idea but pulled off to perfection; I loved them. I felt like Wimpy of Popeye fame throwing down whole cheeseburgers without so much as a full chew. Cheddar, Jack and blue cheeses atop a tiny, lump patty. Add a pickle and close the soft minibuns around it all.

Other things I liked: the quiet, leisurely pace of dinner; knowledgeable, efficient servers; a thoughtful, by-the-glass wine selection; and the promise of great things to come from this place.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Creative Marketing: Private Party On The Patio

I wanted to share with you all some things my customers are doing to generate more sales and return guest. I have a customer with a patio area outside normally used for regular seating and special events. They wanted to generate more sales on Thursday Nights. They have a BBQ on the patio and the seating is picnic table style. They are starting with a Mixed grill meal for $ 49 per person.

It Includes:

Appetizer: 4 ea 16-20 white shrimp skewered and BBQ = $ 1.60
Salad: Caeser Salad (chopped romaine, shred parm, croutons, dressing = $ 1.35
Entrée: All you can eat Tri tip, chicken leg qtrs, baby back ribs and fries = $ 6 - $ 12 (1 - 2 lbs of protein and is served by staff and is served about 45 min after cocktails, shrimp and salad served. People that want to pig out and get the best value will have to go back again and again so waste is kept to a minimum.

Total Food Cost: $ 14.95
Food Cost % : 30.5
Profit $ per person: $ 34.05 ( compared to 2 potential table turns with an avg profit per person of $ 8.00)

This event sold out (40 people) in less than a week. They have done this in the past and customers continue to respond even in tighter times.

Total Labor involved: (2) cooks @ $12 an hour x 3 hours = $ 72.00
(1) server for beverage service @ $ 8 an hour x 3 hours = $ 24.00
(1) busser (also helps run beverages) @ $ 8 an hour x 3 hours = $ 24.00

Server will get more than $ 200.00 in tips and will also tip out busser

Total event sales without beverage: 40 x $49 = $ 1,960.00
Total event food cost: 40 x $ 14.95 = $ 598.00
Total event labor: $120.00
Total profit without beverage: $ 1,242.00

Monday, January 26, 2009

Niman Ranch Sold To Natural Food Holdings

Niman Ranch announced it has been purchased by its largest shareholder, Natural Food Holdings LLC, bringing much-needed capital to the cash-strapped company.

Natural Food had previously held a 54 percent share in Niman Ranch, which specializes in branded meat products from naturally-raised, antibiotic-free animals. Natural Food already owns 100 percent of Sioux-Preme Packing, which currently processes all of Niman's pork products.

"Customers will be able to buy with greater confidence from a financially secure supplier," Niman CEO Jeff Swain said in a statement.

Niman already pays producers a premium for special feeding and handling protocols to enable its brand claims that its beef, pork, lamb and chicken products are all-natural from animals raised with no antibiotics or hormones, all vegetarian feeds and with humane and sustainable ranch practices.

Swain said the merger puts Niman Ranch in strongest financial position it has ever been in and will enable it to continue to grow and expand its operations.

National Meat Week

Sunday, Jan. 25 to Sunday, Feb. 1 is national Meat Week.

Each night this week in several cities across the country, organized groups of carnivorous consumers will gather at pre-selected favorite BBQ spots for conversation and their favorite red meat dishes. They "meet up" and organize through the official Meat Week Web site

It's not a celebration cooked up by some big processor's marketing department, or the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. In true grassroots-Internet fashion, it started in 2005 with a couple of individual consumers, Chris Cantey and Erni Walker in Tallahassee, Fla. One semi-organized gathering of friends at a BBQ joint took off as an annual celebration, with "Meat Week" chapters in such cities as L.A., Boston, Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, N.C., New York and Kansas City.

Creative Marketing; The Raffle

Recently Keith Rojas, a territory manager from our Denver Division shared this great idea from one of his customers on our Street Talk blog ...

Here is what one of my customers did for a very profitable "giveaway" promotion. I am sure this would work very well right now in Colorado with a snowboard bought in June.
Hope you enjoy the read.

“I ran one of the most successful marketing campaigns to date for my restaurant. Last year, a few weeks after Labor Day, I was at our local Home Depot. While I was supposed to be buying a toilet plunger, I found myself negotiating one incredible deal. I found a bbq, not just any bbq…but a big bad boy… yep, every man’s dream toy…the outdoor kitchen!

It was not only the grill, but side burners, granite counter tops, drawers down the front, area for refrigerator all encased in this beautiful stone layout… this stainless steel wonder had me mesmerized! As I was standing there, the number of people that said, “wow, I wish I had that” sent that idea bulb right above my head. Realizing that they had made room for the newly placed snow blowers, I searched out the Home Depot orange vested manager and began to negotiate.
That’s right, I negotiated. Here it was nearly October and they still had a couple dozen grills…I looked at the original price of $799, marked down to $699….but after some brief negotiations and a good solid handshake, I found myself a proud owner of the MAN GRILL… well, okay, I guess you could say, I met the “grill of my dreams” (sorry, couldn’t help myself). Oh, one thing I forgot to mention…I only paid $389!!

I took this grill back to the restaurant and saved it for the spring. Once spring rolled around, I pulled out the grill and placed it near the front entrance….

HELLO excitement!!! I ran an email special announcing one entry every time you dine with us and then ran double entries on Sunday.

We had over 7,000 entries in a matter of a few weeks, I doubled my dining numbers, I nearly doubled my database and before you knew it, the contest was the talk of the town.

I set up a night in the banquet room to give away the bbq and invited people to ‘come watch the live drawing.’ and they did! No specials! I ended up handing out gift certificates to those who attended… and the excitement churned. My numbers for this promotion were absolutely incredible. That bbq paid for itself 20 times over!”

So, my advice to you is to do what I did…go out and find that season end grill for more than half off and save it for the spring where you too can run the “Grill of My Dreams Dine-In to Win!"

Thanks Keith for that great idea. It’s a perfect example of how new ideas and opportunities can come at any moment - literally from anywhere.

The Daiquiri

The Frothy strawberry smoothie that was popularized in the 80's and called a strawberry daiquiri only vaguely resembles the original drink that came from a Cuban minining town by the same name.

Smoothie With Booze Circa 1985

From: Field Guide to Cocktails , by Rob Chirico

The original daiquiri was a mixture of rum, lime, and sugar, served over ice. Yet another product of late-19th-century imperialism, the daiquiri was first recorded in a Cuban mining town of the same name. Although the locals had probably been knocking back rum and lime for years, in 1886 an American engineer, James Cox, and a Cuban engineer named Pagliuchi refined the rum and lime drink by adding cane sugar. When Admiral Lucius Johnson introduced the recipe to the Army Navy Club in DC, in 1909, the daiquiri was becoming one of the world’s most popular drinks. Many years later, John F. Kennedy may have tried his first daiquiri there. We will never know, but quite ironically, JFK, who also had a penchant for Cuban cigars, designated the daiquiri as his drink of choice.

The Real Deal

Constantino Ribalagua, the famed bartender at Havana’s La Floridita—nicknamed La Catedral del Daiquiri—blended the drink with shaved ice, thereby creating the frozen daiquiri. Chief among the frozen daiquiri’s adherents was Ernest Hemingway. Ribalagua specifically created a sugarless Papa Dobles for Papa Hemingway, who apparently could wade through a dozen of these at one sitting. Standing is not an option after a dozen frozen daiquiris.

Bars are continually experimenting with this versatile cocktail. Fruit may be used, and the drink may be mixed with ice in a blender, but it should always be made fresh. This essential cocktail should be in the repertoire of every home bartender.

A classic, shaken daiquiri served while you watch the tall ships come in is a thing of beauty. A machine-produced frozen daiquiri at all-you-can-drink night at the local chain cocktail lounge is a travesty. Odious daiquiris are everywhere, so watch where you step.

Supposedly Ribalagua gently squeezed the lime with his fingers to avoid getting any bitter oil from the peel in the drink. After shaking the icy cocktail, he strained it through a fine sieve.

Following this exact procedure for every drink would have been incredibly time-consuming after Hemingway popularized it, but it does demonstrate that a proper daiquiri is a studied balance in harmony. An excess of lime will make the drink bitter, while too much rum is overpowering. It should also be shaken to the point of frothiness.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What To Expect In 2009

U.S. sales of organic food and beverages in 1990 were $1 billion. In 2007, they were estimated at $20 billion. In 2008, the final number should be around $23.6 billion. Organics and sustainables should continue their growth in 2009.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Meatpaper Issue Six Launch In Napa

A group of meat-centric artists and writers come together as part of a new culinary theme at the Nest in Napa. Meat and Potato, curated by Ashley Teplin and Ann Trinca opens on Saturday, January 24 from 4:00-6:00 pm in conjunction with the official Napa release party for Meatpaper Issue Six. Join us for a creative exploration of meat culture plus incredible French fries from the Scratch N’ Sniff TV guys, charcuterie by Fatted Calf, and surprises from the Secret Eating Society (shhhhh).
Saturday, January 24th
4pm to 6pm
the Nest
1019 Atlas Peak Road
Napa, CA 94558
Scratch N'Sniff TV
Fatted Calf
Secret Eating Society

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What To Expect In 2009

The restaurant industry consumes almost 2.5 times more energy per square foot than any other commercial type of building. Although we expect capital spending on improvements this year to decline, those with long-term interests are installing energy-efficient equipment, closely monitoring water usage, implementing sustainable systems, and integrating efficient waste management practices. The net result is a lower cost of operating the facility which allows operators to make up for reduced profit margins elsewhere. If you are interested in building a new building in 2009, you’d be wise to take a hard look at what going green can mean to your bottom line.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Consumers Shopping For "Value" -Sell The Sizzle

Consumers are trading down in the price of their entrees, opting for chicken rather than beef. When they do order a beef dish — especially steak — they want a better product and a choice of seasonings in exchange for the higher price, says Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano, in a news release.

These were two of the findings in Technomic's new Center of the Plate series of reports. Other findings were that three out of five consumers think that turkey (64 percent) and chicken (61 percent) are healthier than beef or pork, and that consumers want more ethnic and regional chicken dishes on menus than restaurants are providing to them.


Scrapple is a dish whose origins go back to the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers of the 1600s and 1700s. Consisting of pork and cornmeal moistened with broth, the scrapple is seasoned with various spices, formed into loaves, and allowed to cool and set in the refrigerator. Before serving, the scrapple is unmolded, cut into ½-inch (1.25 cm) slices, and panfried in butter, bacon drippings, or oil.

Scrapple, as its name suggests, was originally created to make use of whatever parts of the pig remained after the larger, more desirable parts were cut from the carcass. Offal, skin, and small shreds of meat scraped from the skull and bones would find their way into the scrapple pot. Modern cooks — or those without a pig carcass at hand — may use various other cuts of pork, including pork shoulder, pork butt, or even lean ground pork, to make their scrapple.

Cornmeal is almost always used for the base of scrapple, but individual cooks occasionally replace it with oatmeal or even barley. Onions, salt, pepper, sage, mace, thyme, marjoram, savory, and cayenne pepper are typically added in some combination to season the mush.

Scrapple’s long shelf life was much valued by the colonial-era Pennsylvania Dutch settlers, who had no means of keeping their foodstuffs cold other than sinking them into streams or half-buried ice houses. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were both said to have been fans of scrapple’s charms, the latter having developed a taste for the dish during his visits to Philadelphia.

Jones Dairy Farm Product Cutting

On Wednesday Bill Cox of Lad Foodservice and Bryan Coleman of Jones Dairy Farm were on the Central Coast with samples.

The Jones Dairy Farm in Fort Atkinson, WI has been in business 130 years and still uses their 170 year old family recipes for sausage making. 6 generations on the Jones Family have run the family Farm, including current company president Philip Jones, who incidently is a Certified Executive Chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

Jones sausages are made with only natural ingredients, no binders, artificial fillers, or added nitrates.

For their bacon they only use fresh 9-11 count green bellies. The bellies are smoked in cherrywood grown locally near their plant, and then instead of tossing them into a liquid brine to cool rapidly and process within hours as many producers do, they hang their bellies to cool slowly for up to several weeks. Think of dry-aging in beef where the meat slowly ages and develops more flavor and character.

The newest and hottest item this trip was the pit ham. More reminescent of a Dubuque style ham, this leg of pork was hand trimmed of most of the interior fat cured, flattened, and smoked in the same cherrywood as the bacon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monterey Bay Underground Dining

Time and Place Date: Thursday, January 22, 2009
Time: 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Location: Pelican Tavern
Street: 125 Ocean View Blvd. Suite 126
City/Town: Pacific Grove, CA

Featuring: Estevan “EJ” Jimenez

EJ attended the Culinary School of Culinary Arts (C.S.C.A.) in Pasadena, California, graduating with honors in 2004.

In February of 2005, EJ moved to the Monterey Bay Peninsula to begin work as the Restaurant Chef for Bon Appetit Management Company the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Portola Restaurant. Over the past 4 years he has progressed through the ranks of the kitchen, first in the position of Banquet Chef and currently as Chef de Cuisine.

Small Plates

Crispy Ricotta Dumplings
Charred Tomato Compote, Artichoke Pesto,
Garlic Herb Crème Fraîche

Shaved Endive and Pear Salad
Roasted Squash, Shafts Blue Cheese
Poached Cranberries, Spiced Walnuts
Cider Vinaigrette

Truffle Scented Crispy Chicken Breast
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Creamed Spinach

Char Broiled Arctic Char
Baby Beets, Braised Arugula
Horseradish Vinaigrette, Chive Oil

Natural Beef Short Rib Raviolis
Cracked Pepper Pasta, Wilted Swiss Chard
Onion Beer Sauce, Buttermilk Fried Shallots

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder
Barley Risotto, Braised Red Cabbage, Quince Conserve
Sage Pan Jus

Panna Cotta
Rose Hip Jam, Shaved Pistachio, Honey

Chocolate Ganache Tart
Cointreau Chantilly, Naval Orange Cardamom

$7 Each

R.S.V.P. needed
Alice Waters, one of America's most famous chefs, expects the new administration in the White House to promote healthy eating and renew efforts to support locally grown foods.

The 64-year-old chef said she has been heartened by signs from Michelle Obama, who has relayed her husband's concerns about childhood obesity and sustainable farming.
"I've spoken to him through his wife. I'm encouraged," said Waters, who founded the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in California which resulted from her passion for fresh, local ingredients.

Read the full story here.

What To Expect In 2009

Menu Costing
Across the board, we see that cattle production will be down, and the prices up. As more than seven in 10 eating and drinking places are single-unit/independent operations, the commitment to rework a menu may be daunting, but it’s incredibly important to get this project accomplished as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the middle of 2009 to start, as it will be too late. You should cost out your menu items one-by-one, and evaluate your overall purchasing strategy accordingly. Repositioning key and signature items based on profit contribution will be critical to protecting the bottom line

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Meatpaper Issue 6 Launch Party at Acme Chophouse

Food is a necessity for survival, but our choices of foods create debate and sometimes controversy. No other aspect of our food system brings about as much emotion as that in the meat category.

Two bay area residents created a "neutral" publication with no other agenda then to gnaw on the ideas, artistic excursions and bone-deep emotions the subject inspires. Probably in the way you gnaw on a really good rib bone when you pick it clean.

Sasha Wizansky is a visual artist and graphic designer. Meatpaper is the culmination of several years she’s been considering and documenting the meat zeitgeist.

Amy Standen is a reporter for Quest, KQED public radio's local science and environment show.

Bill Cox and Thresher Rolle Investigate The Bloddy Con Carne

I stumbled across their website by accident and learned they were having a "launch party" celebrating their 6th issue release. The party was held on a Sunday night at the Acme Chophouse, at ATT park, home of the other Bay Area baseball team that isn't the A's.


Acme is about environmental responsibility and healthful produce: naturally, locally raised meats and poultry, locally caught fish and just-picked produce from small organic farms. All the meat on the menu is naturally raised without hormones or antibiotics. Every night Acme offers meat that is grass fed and healthier for people and the planet. “Acme references the old San Francisco and the grilled and roasted meats from my childhood,” says managing chef, Traci des Jardins.

Tickets were only $25. for an all inclusive evening of food and beverage at this event.

Bill Cox, Thresher Rolle, and I met in line about 30 minutes before the event, and the anticipation built for the next half an hour as the crowd grew from a pack of about 8 to over 100, stretching from the door to the crosswalk. With only a few minutes left before the doors were supposed to open, someone from Acme walked out and hollered "if you haven't pre-ordered we have no tickets for you!" I didn't have a heart to look back at those who were going to be left out.

Chef Thom Fox (Acme Chophouse)
Chef Staffan Terje (Perbacco)
Chef Leif Hedendal
Chef Ryan Farr (Ivy Elegance and CHEFS Program)
Sam White and Chris Kronner (OPENrestaurant)
Prather Ranch Meat Co.
Devil's Gulch Ranch
Meyer Family Cellars
Fontanella Family Winery
Bluecoat Gin
Trumer Pils
Vignette Wine Country Soda
Verge Syrah

Chef Ryan Farr breaks down a whole pig

As we entered the restaurant, there was Chef Ryan Farr breaking down a half pig on a cutting board. Starting with the pork tenderloin, slicing it into medallions that were then prepared on induction burners behind his station. As the evening progressed he prepared fresh pork belly and pork cracklins.

Preparing "Fresh" Pork Tenderloin

We preceded over to the open kitchen where a buffet was set up for us to snack our way through a nose-to-tail beef cooking presentation from Sam White and Chris Kronner of OPENrestaurant

And to sweeten the deal, Staffan Terje was serving his famous charcuterie and now infamous meat desserts (bacon marshmallows!)

Executive Chef Thom Fox of Acme was dishing up rotisserie meats and there were seasonal vegetarian dishes from Leif Hedendal for the non-carnivores in attendance.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chef Brandon Miller Done At The Adobe

Changes at Stokes Restaurant, after 13 years Chef Brandon Miller has moved on. Kurt Probasco will remain to run the restaurant.

Brandon is fishing in Belize, and taking some time off. Look for him back in the states at the end of January when he will be doing a cooking event at the Awahanee Hotel in Yosemite.

Opilio Snow Crab 5-8 oz Clusters

USPN 8194227-Chionoecetes, or the Opilio Crab is a genus of crab that lives in the colder waters of the northern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans it is very spider like in appearance and has four pairs of legs that are quite spindly looking. The Opilio is one of the four species of what are called “Snow” crabs. It's body looks very small in comparison to the long thin legs, and it will usually weigh about two pounds. Opilio Crabs are covered wtih an oval shaped back, or carapace, which is a deep reddish orange. The legs are usually orange on top and a creamy tan or white on the bottom. Typically the Opilio season is open for one month in January. The generic name Chionoecetes means "snow inhabitant". Fishing for Opilio Crab has been the focus of several documentaries, as well as part of each season on Discovery Channels hit series, “Deadliest Catch”.

You may use it in Cioppino, or can roast it with garlic butter and white wine, or even pair a cluster with product # 5634985 the 8 oz shoulder tender steak on special as a surf and turf.

What To Expect In 2009

Cheese plate accompaniments: As Americans begin to discover the joys of the cheese plate, they're also discovering that man cannot live by cheese alone. So, companies are using that as an opportunity to promote fruit pastes, nuts and other logical accompaniments.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Serving Safe Food

Seminar and Testing
February 19, 2009
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Total Cost Only $150

Space is limited Please RSVP
Contact Chef Bill Taylor
(831) 883-5718
249 Tenth Street
Marina, Ca
Presented By Shoreline
Workforce Development Services

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Monterey Isaeff's Wheat Pizza Crusts

1\4 Cup Luke warm water
1 envelope dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar 4 cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cup cold water
1 Tblsp Olive Oil
Cornmeal for sprinkling on baking sheet

In a bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar stir until it dissolves.
In a food processor combine flour and salt and pulse a few times to mix.
Add yeast, cold water, and oil. Pulse (on and off) until the liquid is incorporated but not all mixed in.
Plop dough onto floured surface and knead for several minutes until it becomes smooth. (not cracking or separating as you work the dough).
Let dough rest for a few minutes. Roll dough into a ball and rub lightly with oil. Put dough ball in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (like a shower cap), toss a kitchen towel over the top and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
Roll onto a lightly floured cutting board and punch the dough down, then divide into 4 even balls.
Cover and let rise again 30 minutes. Heat oven to 500 degrees –If you are using a pizza stone, you can put that in the oven to preheat.
Form balls into skins, sprinkle cornmeal onto stone, then place one skin on pizza stone, add toppings and bake about 10 minutes.
Repeat until done.

We usually do two plain cheese and two strange variety pizzas for fun. I have two metal pizza pans that I turn over to cook on and I rotate them, as one comes out I put the next one on that pan.

Pizza Sauce
2 Tblsp Olive Oil
2 -Cloves garlic crushed
1- 28 oz can tomato puree
1-tsp Marjoram
1-tsp Basil
1-tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in sauce pan until hot.
Add garlic until it’s fragrant but don’t let it brown.
Add tomato puree and remaining ingredients and bring slowly up to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or so.

Should be the perfect amount for the pizza crust recipe above.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Uno Chicago Grill Offers Gluten-Free

Uno Chicago Grill on Tuesday said they would speed up the national rollout of new gluten-free pizzas after strong consumer demand during market tests of the products.
Uno officials said the gluten-free option has received a particularly positive reaction from guests who suffer from celiac disease, which causes an intolerance to gluten, as well as others who have an allergy or need to avoid eating wheat. The new pizzas, available with cheese or pepperoni toppings, have been tested at locations in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

“Consumer reaction was so positive, and the chatter so strong on gluten-free blogs and websites, that our restaurants began receiving requests to carry the new pizza,” said Richard Hendrie, senior vice president of marketing for Boston-based Uno. “Because the demand was so strong, we decided to pull out all the stops to get the gluten-free pizza into our 200-plus stores as quickly as possible.”, said Nation’s Restaurant News.

For us consumers Bob’s Red Mill has an easy gluten-free pizza crustin a package that makes 2-12” pizza crusts. In addition they offer a starter pack of six items, all gluten-free, available on their website.

Locally Mike Hackett owner of Casa Sorrento Pizza in Salinas has added a wheat crust pizza, while Pat Ottone, owner of Lallapalooza, Elli's Great American, and the Lallagrill has been experimenting with a gluten-free pizza crust on the menu.

Congress Don't Replace Food For Fuel


This week the American Meat Institute and the Renewable Fuels Association both suggested the same thing: that Congress increase funding in economic stimulus legislation for loan guarantees that help advance second generation biofuels.

AMI, along with 11 other food lobbies including the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council and the National Turkey Federation, signed a letter Monday asking Congress to fund grants, loan guarantees and other tools "that will help advance second generation biofuels that do not displace food." The full story is at

The political and economic incentives that mandated using corn for ethanol biofuels created a tortilla crisis in Mexico beginning around 2006 and only ending when new president Felipe Calderón set caps on tortilla pricing.

Farmer’s pulled up crops like soybeans, and hops in favor of heavily subsidized corn which created shortages in the other crops and contributed to record high prices.

What To Expect In 2009

“If you have salmon on your menu, why not make salmon rillette from the scraps?” says Robert Graham, Executive Chef at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix. “This would make a great appetizer and cost next to nothing.” Kevin McCarthy, chef at Lake Placid Lodge in Lake Placid, New York, expects the waste-not trend to grow as a result of both economic and environmental concerns. “When working with meat, chefs are taught to use as much of the animal as possible,” he says, going one step further and extending the concept to fruits and vegetables, too. “For example, when a chef blanches a tomato and peels the skin, the skin can be fried to produce a tomato chip that can garnish another dish. This practice can also provide common flavor notes throughout the courses of a meal: using a vegetable as a sauce for one course, a garnish for another, and a main ingredient for yet another.”

Monday, January 12, 2009

White House Chef Cristeta Comerford Remains

Michelle Obama, the wife of President-elect Barack Obama, said she plans to retain Cristeta Comerford as White House chef.

Comerford, who has held the post since 2005, is the first woman to wear the top toque of the White House kitchen. A naturalized citizen who came to this country from the Philippines, Comerford holds a bachelor's degree in food technology from the University of the Philippines.

Prior to joining the White House as an assistant chef in 1995, she worked in Austria and as chef at two Washington, D.C., hotels.

Nation's Restaurant News

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What To Expect In 2009

Tea is hot, says Jeff Kaplan, sous chef at the Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. “Consumers can’t get enough. It’s a switch from the conventional cup of coffee and offers some healthy benefits.” He includes tea-infused foods in the trend, from green tea mints and truffles, to green tea-infused jasmine rice, even green tea crème brulee.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What To Expect In 2009

Robert Graham thinks that chefs and kitchen staff will start to rely on cuts of meat that are not premium but are a lot less expensive like short ribs. Chef Rocky Rocha of the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, believes that flat iron and hanger steaks will continue their popularity because of their relatively low cost. “This piece of beef is considered to be one of the most tender cuts on the market today,” says Rocha. “It cuts like a filet but tastes like a New York strip.” Cheaper cuts do require different cooking techniques like braising, but also neatly fit into the comfort food trend mentioned above.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On the Rumor Mill

There have been some changes announced at Sysco Sacramento.

King Jenks has been relieved of his Vice President of Marketing & Merchandising title yesterday.

Brett Kirby has assumed the duties of running the Merchandising Department, without a VP title.

King’s title is Director of Category Development, which in brief means that he will still be involved in supplier negotiations and reviews and will handle the duties previously done by just released Martha Benebese, Marketing Coordinator.

Released from Sysco Sacramento was Mike D’Angelo, Center of the Plate Specialist and Mike Elges, CARES Specialist for seafood, Poultry & Meat.

Also approximately 10 – 14 Marketing Associates have been terminated.
It's a Peninsula Foodnews Field trip, this Sunday for the Meatpaper Meating at Acme Chophouse in San Francisco at AT&T park.

Meatpaper is a print magazine of art and ideas about meat. We like metaphors more than marinating tips. We are your journal of meat culture.

Meatpaper invites you to our San Francisco Issue 6 launch party at Acme Chophouse! Scope out our first butchery demonstration as Chef Ryan Farr breaks down a whole pig. Snack through a nose-to-tail beef cooking presentation from Sam White and Chris Kronner. And to sweeten the deal, Staffan Terje will serve his famous charcuterie and now infamous meat desserts (bacon marshmallows!) Executive Chef Thom Fox of Acme will be dishing up rotisserie meats and there will be seasonal vegetarian dishes from Leif Hedendal. Cocktails, wine and beer will be flowing.

Meatpaper Meat & Greet for Issue Six, with demonstrations

Sunday, January 11th
6pm to 9pm

Acme Chophouse
24 Willie Mays Plaza
(at the corner of 3rd and King Streets,
adjacent to AT&T Park)

$25 per person. Purchase advance tickets here.

Chef Thom Fox (Acme Chophouse)
Chef Staffan Terje (Perbacco)
Chef Leif Hedendal
Chef Ryan Farr (Ivy Elegance and CHEFS Program)
Sam White & Chris Kronner (OPENrestaurant)
Prather Ranch Meat Co.
Devil's Gulch Ranch
Meyer Family Cellars
Fontanella Family Winery
Verge Syrah
Bluecoat Gin
Trumer Pils
and more, to be announced.

Acme is about environmental responsibility and healthful produce: naturally, locally raised meats and poultry, locally caught fish and just-picked produce from small organic farms. All the meat on the menu is naturally raised without hormones or antibiotics. Every night Acme offers meat that is grass fed and healthier for people and the planet. “Acme references the old San Francisco and the grilled and roasted meats from my childhood,” says managing chef, Traci des Jardins.

What To Expect In 2009

Lawrence McFadden, hotel manager and food and beverage director at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, says he’s seeing more dishes created with a sweet/savory combination. “Sweet spices are being introduced more into savory dishes while savory spices are being added to sweet dishes such as desserts,” he says. The Beverly Hills Hotel’s Chef Robert Allen agrees, and believes that the trend towards savory flavors in unexpected places will continue. “The next savory trend will be in cocktails and beverages,” he says, citing examples like a Chili Serrano Martini and Kefir Lime Martini.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lamb Brochettes with Mint Pesto

Yield: 30 pieces

2 lb 8 oz leg of lamb, boned and trimmed of connective tissue
1 fl oz lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 oz extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped mint
30 bamboo skewers
8 oz pancetta or bacon, thinly sliced (about 15 slices)
16 fl oz Mint Pesto Sauce

Cut the lamb into I-in / 2-cm cubes. Combine the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper, whisk until blended, and add the oil and mint.
Toss the lamb in the mixture to coat well, then cover and refrigerate, tossing occasionally, for a minimum of 4 hours.

If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent burning.

Thread 2 pieces of lamb and H slice of pancetta on each skewer and arrange on a sheet pan.

Roast in a 450°F / 232°C oven until the lamb is nicely browned outside yet still pink and juicy inside, 8 to 12 minutes.

Serve with mint pesto sauce for dipping.

Chef's note: If using bacon, blanch in a large saucepan of slowly simmering water for 5 minutes. The bacon will become opaque and firm. Drain and pat dry before using.

Mint Pesto Sauce

Yield: 32 fl oz

2 1/2 oz mint leaves, loosely packed
1 3/4 oz chopped parsley, loosely packed
3 oz grated Parmesan
3 3/4 oz extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/4 oz pine nuts or walnuts
1 fl oz lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp salt, and as needed
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 1/4 fl oz sour cream
In a food processor or blender, combine mint, parsley, Parmesan, olive oil, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Process unit la course paste forms. Add sour cream and mix until blended.
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Seasonal Specialty Beans Now Available At US Foodservice SF

Dragon Beans are beautiful,tender, flatter light yellow bean with purple random short specs of color. Cook ever so gently to retain the beautiful color, or marinate them. They are easier to prepare because they don't have a string and need less prep time. Can be served as a warm side or cold in a salad. Considered by many to be one of the best tasting beans. They are grown in Mexico and packed in 10-pound cartons.

Purple Beans- Are a glorious glossy purple snap bean, once cooked they will turn dark green. They are grown in Mexico and packed in 10-pound cartons.

Romano Beans-Though related to string beans, the pods are wider, stringless, and longer. They can be between 6 to 8 inches long. They are from Mexico and packed in 10-pound cartons.

What To Expect In 2009

Executive Chef John Cox at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa in Taos, New Mexico, believes that consumer confidence will continue to flag through at least the middle of 2009, which will prompt diners to search out familiar and comforting dining experiences. “Expect classic dishes like tomato caprese, Caesar salad, a simple steak presentation with vegetables and mashed potatoes, and shrimp cocktail and other familiar classics to be popular, though with a sophisticated yet subtle touch from the chef,” he says. That extra touch might include the addition of an exotic salt and basil espuma – Spanish for foam – to the caprese salad or freshly grated horseradish for the shrimp cocktail. “Another catalyst for this newfound menu simplicity will be the need to offset ever higher food costs with lowered labor costs,” he continues. “Restaurants that have historically depended on large numbers of cooks to produce a relatively low number of covers will be re-evaluating their approach, searching for ways to streamline their operations.”

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What To Expect In 2009

Robert Graham, Executive Chef at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix, says, “I think most of the trends for the first half of 2009 will be geared toward getting more bang for your buck, for both consumers and chefs.”

Why Select A Prime Vendor For Your Business

The Easiest Way to Cut Your Food Cost 10%
by Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor

While there are few absolutes in this business this is one - "Engaging in ongoing competitive bidding practices to get the lowest prices actually leads to higher food costs, not lower."

That's right. Contrary to what most of us, who have grown up in this business have been taught, having an ongoing purchasing process that revolves around using lots of vendors, comparing bids, price shopping and buying from the lowest bidder NOT only doesn't save you any money but ends up costing you in several ways.

To prove my point, how many professionally managed, large chain operators employ ongoing competitive bidding practices? ZERO, NONE, NADA! Every large chain uses one primary purveyor to supply 80% - 100% of it's food products. How many independent operators do this? Probably less than 10%, easily less than 20%.

And who makes more money at the restaurant level, the typical chain or independent restaurant? According to industry averages published by NRA the average independent nets about a nickel or 5% of sales before federal and state income taxes. Having worked with several chain operators and from perusing the annual reports and 10-Ks of many publicly held chains, the average restaurant level net income before corporate overhead and income taxes is around 12% - 15% of net sales.

The fact that chain restaurants are 2 to 3 times more profitable than independent operations may not be entirely due to purchasing practices but I'm sure it's a factor, possibly a big one.

Distraction from High-Return Activities
Another factor to consider is the amount of time it takes to constantly evaluate bids, deal with lots of vendors and put away lots of deliveries, lots of small deliveries, that is. Using a prime vendor frees up management time that can be better spent on high return activities like taking better care of your customers and developing your people. In my mind, trying to save 25 cents on a case of green beans is hardly a high return activity worthy of much owner or management time.

A Case In Point
When I took over as the Food & Beverage Director of the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs they were using lots of suppliers. As many as 15 to 20 vendors a week.

Sensing the need to do something different, I invited the major vendors in the area to submit a proposal if they were interested in being considered as a prime vendor. In short, the program would be a year-long, non-contractual agreement whereby the OTC would agree to purchase a major portion of its total food purchases (50% to 70%) from one supplier in exchange for a fixed "mark-up" (not price) on their products.

In a notice to the prime vendor candidates, I included a quote sheet (called the Prime Vendor Quote Sheet below) outlining the products and specification of the OTC's principle products and the quantities purchased in a typical week. Each vendor was asked to quote their current prices on those products and how they would determine their mark-up on each product (cost plus a percentage or cost plus a fixed amount per unit) over the term of the prime vendor program, which in this case was 1 year.

We noticed these benefits as a result of going on the prime vendor program:
1. Reduction in food cost: Immediately after implementing the prime vendor program, the OTC's food cost per meal dropped 10% while maintaining the same menu using the same ingredients.
2. Fewer vendors and invoices to deal with. Instead of dealing with nearly 20 vendors and lots of deliveries and invoices, the number of vendors dropped to 5 or 6. Fewer people and paperwork to deal with.
3. Less purchasing activities: Prior to the prime vendor program, the OTC had a full time purchasing clerk. That position was no longer needed and was phased out.
4. Better vendor service. The prime vendor became much more responsive to special requests and to situations that required immediate action.
5. Improved product consistency. Food was now coming from one source, not the low-bidder of the week. This meant better food quality and consistency.
6. Closer vendor relationship. There was now the incentive for the sales rep to provide more attention, and to maintain a good working relationship.

Bill Marvin, The Restaurant DoctorTM is an advisor to service-oriented organizations around the world. For more information, visit Bill's website at or email him at