Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Christian Chefs International Conference

** A special THANKS to my wife for taking care of "business" so I could go!

Christian Chefs International Conference is held once a year, this being its fifth year and also the first time I was able to attend. This year was exceptionally special because: (in no particular order)
  • I was supported by my employers, Valley Fellowship Christian Academy
  • Gary, long-time friend, co-worker (Mercy Ships), and Boss (Exclusively Yours Catering, Mercy Ships) was coming for the first time also...great time to share memories, stories, and catch up with family, work, and life...
  • Getting to personally meet many fellow Chefs and food-service people that I only knew through social media.
  • And catching up with Ira Krizo (Board of Directors President & Founder of Christian Chefs International and Director/President/Dean of Education/Chef-Instructor overseeing the Christian Culinary Academy)
  • It was on the beach! (Cannon Beach Conference Center Oregon)
  • Another Mercy Ships Alumni born in Thailand, raised in Australia, but residing in Portland Oregon with his wife (Thanks Tim and Karin) picked me up at 12:30am on a Monday morning, let me get some zzz's on the couch, then gave me a ride from Portland to Cannon Beach later that same morning so I could be on time! Its great having friends all over the world!
The hands-on baking/pastry seminar was a great way to teach this 'old dog' a few new tricks and brush the dust off some I haven't used in awhile. The speakers and session line-up was excellent! And how could you not like being directly on the beach?

The conference was opened by Chef Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet), and the list goes on...Ice Carving, Sustainable Seafood, Sushi Demo & Tasting, Hog Breakdown Demo, Cooking In The Deep South, multiple breakfast and lunches hosted by chefs, devotionals w/worship woven in between...

One of the things that really stood out to me was Chef Felix who traveled from Indonesia to be with us...the lunch he hosted was extraordinary! And of course I loved the lunch by Chef Bob (from Alabama) Shrimp & Grits (w/andouille sausage) and then, Buttermilk Chess Pie!

After the conference a ServSafe testing was available for Food Protection Manager Certification which was right on time since my certification expired this month. Passed! Good for another 5 years...and since I took the instructors test I am now able to teach and proctor the test if I want. (well, after I complete some paperwork and a few more tutorials, ha!) Alabama and Texas are alike in the fact that you have to have one person on-sight with a current Food Safety/Protection Manager Certificate or the State Health Department can shut your establishment down.

To much to really cover in a single blog post, but it was an excellent time! Gary and I really got to hang out during the whole conference and that was a blessing...its been a long time, we work well together in the kitchen, catering, life...

If this is your background cook, chef, kitchen *title*...or even an interest, you should think about making it next year!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thinking Outside the (Tool) BOX!

Back in the early years with Mercy Ships (Caribbean Mercy now retired) we had a 'unit' in the galley that held a lot of our kitchen utensils/tools that was nothing more than a cheap plastic drawer/file system from walmart. When we sailed it would be strapped to a pole for stability. I wanted something more than this, something sturdy with locking wheels and that we could lock the whole unit at night because things tended to disappear or get 'borrowed' never to return. (you know, like can openers, peelers, and your best knife?)

[You can see our plastic drawers right behind Reuben's elbow in the picture below.]

Before I could act on my idea the crew was told the Caribbean Mercy was going to be retired so no further budget was allowed.

Fast forward 12 or more years to today. My current kitchen could use some kitchen tool reassignment and since every inch of space is valuable this idea came to me once again. Why not use a roll-away locking tool box (with locking wheels) for storing our kitchen TOOLS in? With a limited budget and a few sale items at Home Depot I bought a Husky tool box and a couple rolls of what people call 'shelf liner' and...I am very happy! The tool box has been working out well!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GACHP?! What is that?

I recently received an invite luncheon to a local chapter of GACHP, what? I honestly wasn't familiar with the group and had to Google it! GACHP stands for Global Association of Christian Hospitality Professionals.

I met the President Marcus White, Vice President Paul Sofka, and Dennis Seastrom of Navigator Group Purchasing Inc. along with a number of local and out-of-state hospitality professionals.

Marcus and Paul both come from large churches that see many events each month(First Baptist Orlando also has a school). Marcus is at First Baptist in Orlando where he is the Food Service Ministry Director and Paul at Houston's First Baptist Church where he is the Culinary Service Director. Marcus says they call it Baptist World because its close to Disney World and you may recognize Paul's church as Beth Moore's place of teaching for 29 years! They did an excellent job hosting with Mary Lou who is the Food Service Director in the kitchen here locally at Whitesburg Baptist where the luncheon was held. Sounds like a "baptist only" gathering doesn't it? Nah, its not.

Although several other churches/organizations were represented basically this is a group that would be good for any Christian in food service. They are here to help with ideas, resources, materials, conferences, classes, certifications...anything to help further your ministry/career in hospitality.

Dennis GPO, Navigator, represents retirement homes and faith based organizations with over a billion dollars buying power, yes, BILLION! Whats a GPO? ANSWER HERE!

It was a good time to meet new people and make connections.

* I am a long standing member of CCI (Christian Chefs International) and will be attending their annual conference this year(more on that later). But sometimes people are members of several groups. GACHP is one of those groups where their passion and ministry overlap with CCI.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tytus Birthday Cake!

 Last Sunday my oldest son Tytus turned four years old. The theme of his party was Jake and The Neverland Pirates. Pictured here is Bucky the pirate ship that sails around Jake, Izzy, Cubby, and Skully. Made of chocolate cake, various candies, a peanut butter cup crows nest, and a few unedible parts like poster board sails and a dowel rod mast. Yeah, he was super excited about it!
[no, I don't do this every year will probably be store bought, or my wife will make it! LOL - then again, who knows? Kids can be very persuasive.] 

Below is the Dinosaur Train cake I made for Tytus 2nd Birthday. This one is unique in that I made my own fondant out of a marshmallow recipe.  This wasn't the first Train cake I made though, the first was on a ship in Liberia, West Africa for some Brazilian friends of mine at this link: Train Birthday Cake (Estevam turns ONE!)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chicken Chalet! (For the urban chicken!)

[It's been awhile since I posted so I wanted to kick it off with something intriguing I found today!]

That's right folks! Chicken Chalet! Available at participating SAMs clubs. $300!!! Holds 4-6 hens, fresh eggs daily, easy access door, pull out tray for easy cleaning...

I am not sure whether to laugh, be amazed, or both! Which leads me to ask, which of you within city limits raise 'urban' chickens? And/or what is the law for keeping them inside city limits and your neighborhood?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The SEASON is here!

Ahhhh, all the things that keep me busy during this season are here: Men's Retreat, boys getting sick, Thanksgiving Fundraiser, Pancake Breakfast, Teachers Christmas Banquet, Church Christmas Banquet.... You get the picture.

Its hard to find the time to post during this Fall/Winter season, so I don't. No reason to feel guilty, real life is happening!

Have any of you thought about deactivating your Facebook account? I have. Recently I have been seriously contemplating shutting it down till the beginning of the new year. For several reasons: one less distraction, no need to update, waste less time keeping up with others lives, less commenting and/or ranting on things I (8 years ago) would have never paid attention to...and to see how it might change my life.

Don't get me wrong, I like to stay connected but not at the expense of my time and my families time. And then maybe in January I can re-evaluate and activate it again and discipline myself to use a set amount of time on it. I will make my mind up by end of week.

Anyone who really needs to contact me I am still available by twitter or thru comments on this website. Most of you who stay in contact with me on a regular basis already have my information.

Who knows, I may have more time for posting on my website!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm PACKIN' and it's LOADED!

I pack my boys lunches for several reasons but mainly because they eat a lot! And they love a variety of things. This topic comes up a lot with other friends of mine both parent and non parent when chatting socially on twitter or Facebook.

[ You can catch me on twitter @tyronebcookin or Instagram @tyronebcookn. Without the "i".]

My boys lunches have a lot of small portions and they are based off things we know they will eat. In the pictures/diagrams listed in this post it doesn't say but the apple sauce is no sugar added, the peanut butter granola bar and mini pumpkin muffins are home made(made by my wife, she also is an excellent cook). The fruit snacks are all natural with no corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. Sometimes we even make the apple sauce when we get a good price on some tasty apples. 

Most of our food is purchased through Aldi's which is the parent company for Trader Joes (which is not in our area yet) and we recognize a lot of the food as the same products and quality. 

We interchange the food components as stuff goes on sale or is available. On the weekends I usually make big batches of waffles and pancakes that we eat then freeze for use all during the week. Lunch meat can be changed, restaurant take home and supper leftovers can be used...sometimes we just throw a couple of pieces of pepperoni pizza in there!

Tytus' Lunch - 3 1/2 years old:

Ezra's Lunch - 15 months old:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Soaking wood chips for smoker

Quick tip: A long time ago I figured out it was easier to soak all your wood chips, pieces, and/or small blocks of wood all at one time. Then you strain them with a colander and freeze them in a ziplock bag for the future. Why? Because most instructions on smoking with these size wood pieces tell you to pre-soak them up to an hour or more! And who wants to suddenly be slowed down by this last minute realization? No one ever!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Thoughts on Wine

Not everyone has a taste for wine and even if they did, not everyone partakes in drinking. Nor should they just for the sake of appearing "cultured". But as a person steeped in the personal and professional development of a culinary education I have been called on to pick wines and/or pair them with food.

In the past I have been asked about my favorite wines for drinking, pairing, cooking, and how to tell the best! Repeatedly I would say "the wines YOU like the most!" because taste is subjective with wine as well as food and the pairing of both. 
Do you remember Two Buck Chuck? Sold only at Trader Joes? Those cheap wines that a lot of people just loved and raved about? According to The House of Mondavi it was surplus wine bought by the barrels at a discount from the Mondavi winery back in the day! The funny part is Robert Mondavi made fun of the guy but didn't realize the wine came from the over abundant harvest of his own grapes!
On a wine tasting tour in Napa Valley I partook in a class that was part of the tour experience at the Mondavi wineries. There is a technique, science, and steps to really "taste" a wine BUT the outcome of that experience is purely yours and not a "review" that everyone has to accept just because someone published it.
Robert Hodgson, a winemaker from California, conducted an eight year experiment at the California State Fair’s wine competition. Hodgson had this to say about the results..."The results are disturbing. Only about 10% of judges are consistent and those judges who were consistent one year were ordinary the next year. Chance has a great deal to do with the awards that wines win." ~ Wine-tasting: its junk science  

If your just looking to cook with wine, take the advice of your friends favorites or the flavor notes on the back of the bottle. Please don't use or buy "cooking wine" because they have salt in them and it will make it hard for you to balance the taste when you can't control the salt in the wine.

Leave wine snobbery to the "experts" if your just looking for a "take home" bottle suite your own tastes! If you want to wine taste and/or food pair wine, do what the experts do, "SPIT!". Wine tasting and/or judging was not developed for you to swallow every sample...but to narrow it down to the best! And then maybe enjoy a glass with dinner or special occasion.

Wine Pairing Chart

by madelinep.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Grilling with Cooling Racks

Here's a quick tip about grilling vegetables, small pieces of meat, fish, and anything you are afraid will fall thru the grill 'grates' or cracks. Use a cooling rack.

I like to grill thick slices of red onion rubbed with garlic, salted, and coated with olive oil. But if you ever have problem flipping them...they fall thru the cracks easily. Small pieces of marinated salmon is another grilled item I like, because not everyone wants a whole filet or they want 'just a taste'. And of course another great grill item is hot-dogs.

You can buy some fancy special made high price 'gadgets' to use on your grill for these things or maybe you just need to order a cooling rack for $8 to $10? (and sometimes you can find a 2 pack of nonstick cooling racks for around $10 at Walmart or Target)

My hot-dogs always come out great and they don't run away or get burnt! Unless of course you leave them unattended for a long time as with anything over fire.