Tag Archives: chef

Chipotle pulled pork burger with cucumber pickle

hunters kitchen spread

This recipe calls for pork shoulder which is a tougher secondary cut of meat and benefits from a slow, wet cooking method. You can get canned chipotle chilies from the supermarket and can serve the burger with a nice fresh coleslaw. Wild pork is great here, however any pork could be used but stick to a tough cut such as shoulder or belly.

 Pork Burger Fullsize

Chipotle pulled pork burger
Serves 6
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 45 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 45 min
Chipotle pulled pork
1.5kg (or there about) bone in pork shoulder
2 shallots (or 1 small onion)
6 cloves garlic
1Tbs smoked paprika
3Tbs brown sugar
100g can chipotle (use ½ to 1 whole can depending on how hot you want it)
250g can tomato paste
3Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2C water (use 1.5C if using an oven instead of a slow cooker)
1Tbs chopped rosemary (or dried herbs)
1Tbs salt
1/2tspn white pepper
Cucumber pickle
500g (about 2) cucumbers
1 onion
1/4C salt
1.5C white wine vinegar
3/4C sugar
1Tbs wholegrain mustard
1tspn turmeric
For the burger
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor and rub all over the pork. Place the pork along with any left-over marinade in your slow cooker and cook for about 8 hours or place in a roasting tray covered with tin foil and bake at 150 for 4-5hrs until tender and falling off the bone. If there is any liquid left then place in a pot and simmer until it thickens. Once cool enough to touch shred the meat and mix with any remaining cooked marinade and reduced cooking liquid.
For the pickle
Slice the cucumber and onion and toss with the salt in a bowl. Cover the cucumber salt mix with cold water and leave for an hour. Drain the salt water in a colander. Combine the remaining ingredients in pot and bring to boil. Pour the hot vinegar mix over the cucumber and onions then leave to cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Dark chocolate mousse

A chocolate mousse is only as good as the chocolate you use so try to use good quality. I don’t like using too much sugar in my mousse and don’t use cream, to me a chocolate mousse should taste first and foremost of chocolate with a little sugar as seasoning, I feel cream tends to dilute the chocolate taste and too much sugar dominates. Bolton Hotel Artisan Restaurant 21

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Serves 8
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Chocolate Mousse
230g good dark chocolate (such as Monticristi 70%)
4 eggs
1 lemon
30g sugar
15ml brandy (optional, can substitute with a couple of drops of vanilla essence)
For the Mousse
Separate the eggs and lightly break up the whites.
Place the sugar in a pot with a little water and a squeeze of lemon juice; bring to the boil for 1 minute.
Whisk the whites using a mixing machine with the whisk attachment on a high speed setting; continue for five minutes or until stiff peaks are formed.
While the whites are being whisked, gently pour the sugar syrup down near the side of the bowl so that it is incorporated gradually.
Melt the chocolate gently and beat in the yolks and brandy. You may need to add a tablespoon of boiling water if the chocolate seizes at this point.
Fold in the beaten whites in three parts.
Pour into moulds or glasses and chill in the fridge until set.
Serve with your choice of garnish such as wafers, toasted almonds or berries.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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The ebook is out!

Using clear step by step instructions and modern flavor combinations,

Taste and Season shows you how to make restaurant quality food at home.

With vibrant colour photography, Taste and Season has recipes spanning entrees, mains, desserts and basics. Try recipes like “Jerusalem artichoke soup with crispy pulled duck”, “Beef fillet and braised short rib with truffled potato puree and preserved lemon gremolata” and “Pistachio, polenta and olive oil torte with green apple sorbet”.

cover

Available for at:

Amazon for Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPIXUDI

The Kindle app is available for all devices including smart phones, tablets and PC

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

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Working in “Paradise”…

Living and working on a tropical island

DSC_1735The standard remark from people when I tell them where I work is “wow it must be great working in paradise!” Although I think people forget that working somewhere and being on holiday there are two completely different experiences! Working somewhere with a stunning view is great but unless you manage to have a good life/work balance then the inside of the kitchen walls all look the same no matter which part of the world they are in.

Problems and solutions

Living on an island can feel a little bit like Alcatraz sometimes and the boarding school mentality can sometimes set it. The saying “don’t shit where you sleep” is not applicable in these circumstances! It is important to stay away from the gossip and the politics for once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny. Make sure you get your own space so you can separate yourself from work. Working and living on site can be great because you’re nice and close to work and can be at work quickly if something goes tits up, but it can also be difficult because you’re nice and close to work and are often back at work quickly when things go tits up. Whether you go for a swim, go to the gym, play some Xbox or go on a day trip, it is a really good idea to get a break from the scenery, the people and the work to mentally recharge your batteries.

Different cultures

People in different parts of the world work and live in different ways. A multi-national kitchen brigade is no different. Often some nationalities will naturally have difficulties working together due to cultural differences. There are often language barriers also. It can also be a struggle sometimes trying to manage a diverse group of people. For example in one person’s culture it may be disrespectful to give someone a “no” answer, so one needs to take this into consideration when asking questions such as “is all the prep done?”  Or “did you follow the recipe?” As a manager it is up to you to learn the right approach to get the best out of your staff and understand and embrace these cultural differences.

Logistics

Working in a remote location or a semi-remote location poses a number of issues that one takes for granted when working in a city. When working in the CBD of a modern city you expect to be able to place your order at the end of the night, for the delivery to arrive by a set time in the morning and for the quantity and product to be correct and for the item to be of good quality. In remote locations, despite all your morals pointing away from it, sometimes you have no choice but to work out of the freezer. Perhaps you can only get a seafood or meat delivery one time a week or maybe even longer. You need to make a choice; do we buy in chilled and either run the risk of running out or serving old product? Not serve meats at all, or serve pre-frozen meats and defrost them carefully in the chiller overnight? Because of your location you sometimes have to make these difficult decisions. Often it is best to look at what’s available and work with that rather than trying to do something that is often unavailable or bad quality and end up pulling your hair out. All that you can do is do your best with what you’ve got.

Pros

IMG_1113Working on an island (third time for me now) can be a very rewarding and challenging experience. If you go back to civilization then things do seem a hell of a lot easier! Make sure you try to make the most of what you have and enjoy it while you can. Don’t focus on the negatives and how you would like things, go with the flow and embrace that which you do have, not stress over what you don’t.

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Moet and Magret

General Manager vs Chef, Centara Ras Fushi

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GM back in the whites: slipping on the chef’s jacket like slipping into a warm bath

It seemed like a great idea at the time, although 13 hours in with sore legs and sweating like a fat kid in a candy store I was wondering the soundness of my decision. Having recently come to the Maldives I had last worked with my General Manager 8 years ago when he was my Executive Chef and I was a CDP with considerably fresher legs and lower cholesterol. Considering how much effort it now takes me to get to the bottom of the service fridge and how painful a once normal split shift has become, I was looking forward to seeing my old chef don his whites and sweat it out in the kitchen one more time. We took over the Italian restaurant and show kitchen and created a 5 course menu for the night. Avoiding cooking for a full restaurant alone Hell’s Kitchen styles we sensibly took 2 courses each: myself scallops and duck, Ulrich prawns and dessert; the winner decided by popular vote. With pride on the line and the promise of some champagne we sharpened the knives and started cooking. 

And so it begins…

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Sautéed king prawns, mussel salad and roast capsicum gazpacho w fennel seed wafer

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Moet & Chandon & passion fruit palette cleanser

Pork and scallops w pea puree and salted caramel

Szechuan pork belly and scallops w pancetta, pea puree and salted caramel

Confit duck plate up

Confit duck w porcini risotto, sugar cured breast, star anise foam and coffee hazelnut praline

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Make sure you don’t forget to drizzle…

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Ulrich’s dessert: Flambe peach w strawberry Swiss roll and vanilla bean ice cream

 And the winner is…..        

With a ballot system reminiscent of the Florida election 2000 the GM wins. Until next time… But now it’s time for a drink!

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Restaurant Jekyll and Hyde

photo(1)The restaurant industry is a strange and fickle beast. A reputation can take years upon years of hard slog, blood, sweat and possibly tears (literally) to create and only seconds to destroy. Ever heard of the saying “you’re only as good as your last dish”? This is usually followed by “and right now, you’re a c**t”… In order to run a successful restaurant or kitchen to a consistently high standard you need to be like the gestapo; eyes and ears everywhere and know EVERYTHING that goes on with EVERYONE. There’s two things the X-Files and kitchens have in common. They’re both full of strange interesting characters living in the fringes of society and they both have the same tagline: Trust NO-ONE. Or as one of my first chef’s eloquently put: “don’t trust any fu**er”… (chef’s are well known for their colourful language; it’s one of the things that makes us so interesting right?). If for one second you decide to turn your back, think “yeah nothing’s happening now until our late bookings, I can nip out for a cigarette”, that’s when your commis chef will accidentally send out the medium rare chicken and fuck everything up for you. You need to be anal in the extreme. Nothing should go out unless it’s up to your standard. This will not make you friends. But this will give you happy customers. Hopefully. If you are really lucky you will have some allies in the kitchen who will be your eyes and ears. People who “get you”, understand what your standard is and how you work. Know your pet hates. Hang onto these people and look after them because they are more valuable than their weight in gold. They will certainly make your life a hell of a lot easier and hopefully mean you can do less than 70hrs per week.

What does it take to piss off a customer? Sometimes a lot and sometimes nothing. I find it very interesting how people behave in restaurants and bars. I’m sure it would make a very good psychology paper for someone. It seems to me that hospitality is the only industry in which people feel like they can turn into pricks the second they walk through the door. Seemingly normal and respectable people, people with families and jobs; they have the ability to turn into monsters inside the doors where alcohol and food are served. Maybe it’s something to do with wanting to wind down and relax that somehow the rules of the outside world don’t apply. I have narrowed it down to a few cliche customer types that seem to appear no matter where you go:

Sir grab-a-lot – These are the guys that try and slap the waitresses arses and use such stunning lines as “so whats the cream sauce like? How would you like to try my cream sauce sweet heart?”. A restaurant is not a strip bar. And everybody knows that the golden rule in a strip bar is no touching. Unless you are VIP…

Aggressive drunk – “What do you mean you can only serve me a glass of water?! I’ll tell YOU when I’ve had enough!” (falls over taking a bar stool with him). This is where you hope you work in a dodgy enough place so as to have a bouncer.

Chronic complainer – The food’s too hot, the wine’s too cold, I don’t like my table, the people over there are laughing too much, I don’t like anything on the menu, this costs too much etc…I remember once have a dish sent back because it wasn’t hot enough, it was pretty hot so we heated it again, and back it came, so we nuked the shit out of it and it still came back. I’m sorry but on this planet with this atmosphere the hottest I can get a liquid before it turns to steam so unless you are on another planet (which you quite possibly are) then I can’t do much more for you.

Cheater – This is the person who tries tricks like orders a drink from one person, hides the glass and then complains to another person that they never got it. Or order the steak, eat 90% of it and then complain it’s under cooked.

Menu changers – “Can I have the fish but without the spice crust, the sauce from the beef and do you do paella? Can I have some paella with it too? I’m allergic to onion, garlic, salt, chilli and herbs.” I would suggest eating at home…

Vegans (et al) – Now not to say anything against vegans, I actually respect proper vegans or anyone who has decided that something is morally wrong and stick to their guns. I think a hell of a lot of animals are treated badly on their journey ending on our tables, that’s why I try my best to make sure that I know where my ingredients come from, how they’re produced and whether or not they’re sustainable without a negative affect on the environment. However if you are a vegan do not come to a steak house and then complain.

Cheap skates and hagglers – If you buy petrol and then drive off without paying you would expect to get arrested. ‘Doing a runner’ is what other people would call ‘stealing from a restaurant’. And unless you are on Khao San Road in Bangkok or in another acceptable place such as Saigon or Mumbai then don’t haggle. You don’t go to the dentist and haggle and the prices they charge are mental so why haggle over a sandwich?!

Money flashers – “I will have the Wagyu well done and your most expensive MerloTT,make sure it’s well chilled and hurry up about it” = Plonker.

Bill splitters – Is there anything more dreadful to hear to a cashier than “can we split the bill 12 ways?” Paying up should be a quick and painless experience, not a torturous ordeal with detailed investigations and discussions. If you must split the bill evenly and if you are a large group consider cash. Having to individually itemise a large party’s dishes and then have to split the fries or a bottle of wine by 3/7th’s because someone only had “half of one glass” and someone else had “2 and 1/3 glasses” it a total nightmare.

The internet food expert – It is amazing how the anonymity of the internet allows people with no qualifications in restaurant reviewing the opportunity to express their expertise. Yet these same people will not complain in person when given the chance to actually address their issue and maybe enjoy their night. “How is your meal?” “Fine thank you…” and then the next day you read on the internet a post headed: “Disgusting food and rubbish service, never again”. I remember one table of two ordered lamb cutlets so we roast a whole rack and then carved it for both. One of the two said it was perfect and his wife said it was undercooked. Our offer of cooking it some more was declined. The next day I read on the internet how I told them to “just shut up and eat it”… At least it made for a more interesting story than the truth!

Other hospos – Believe it or not we are actually our own worse enemies. People in the restaurant industry work hard and usually “play hard”. The group of people with tattoo’s who are obviously intoxicated, breaking furniture, stealing alcohol and shagging in the toilets? They probably work at the restaurant down the road…

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How to make it as a chef…

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Being a chef is one of those jobs that many people think would be cool but don’t understand the reality of the industry. With the recent explosion in the last few years of cooking shows, reality TV and the rise of the celebrity chef, it is a career path that has become glorified by the few who make a living totally unlike the other 99% of people who do this “noble toil”. I think back to when I did my chef training and the motley crew of (mostly) rejects of society who for a plethora of reasons (if any) decided to start down the path of culinary glory. Or perhaps they just didn’t have the grades to get into uni.

So without further ado here is my list for:

How to make it as a chef

(or how to not get yelled at and possibly fired when working in a kitchen).

Look the part

The first step in being a chef is looking like a chef. How you present yourself reflects on how you will work. If you turn up looking like you have slept in your uniform and don’t care enough to have had a shower or shaved then chances are you also don’t care too much about your work.

Work clean

Nobody wants to work with a messy chef, how you look and work is an insight into your present state of mind. If you look a mess and your work station is a mess then your thoughts are probably a mess. In which case you probably won’t be able to work in a logical and organised manner and then you are a liability to yourself and those around you.

Do as you are told

When working in a kitchen one needs to understand it is a high pressure environment with very real and serious time constraints. There is nothing more annoying than someone with an opinion you didn’t ask for. Opinions are like arseholes; everybody’s got one. Assume your head chef/sous chef didn’t get where they were by being an idiot so if they tell you a specific way of doing something then it’s best to do it. When you’ve spend years learning your craft and are in a position to do things your way then you can tell people how you want things (and hope they do as they’re told…)

Keep it to yourself

(or don’t trust any fucker)

When working a busy service there is nothing more annoying than someone telling you their life story when asked a quick simple question. The longest response generally accepted in a very busy service is of two words in length; yes chef, no chef or 2 minutes are the safest answers. This goes for when prepping as well, if someone is pissing you off then the best bet is to assume whatever you tell someone it will get back to them. The safest topics are girls, sports and taking the piss out of the junior staff/waiters.

Be reliable

If your chef asks you to do something and you do it when and how you said you would then you will be a real asset. I mentioned already not to trust anyone, if you become the person that the chef can trust then you will go places. Be reliable with your time and attendance. The work in the kitchen is very time sensitive and isn’t like any other job where if you leave on Friday then the work will still be there on your desk on Monday. If you do a dreaded ‘no show’ at work or turn up late then other people will have to pick up your slack and do your work and possibly even get the feared phone call on your day off. Do this enough times and your team will start to resent you, stop helping you when you are ‘in the weeds’, be apathetic if they see somethings of yours in the oven about to burn or even be pro active in stitching you up. Moral of the story is: turn up to work!

Don’t chase the money

The work might suck, the money is rubbish, your head chef may be a prick, but if you’re learning something and progressing your career then stick it out. Think about the long term. If you work in respected places learning from good chefs then you can go far. The wider your base the further you can reach. Think about what you want to do and where you want to go and make a plan on how you’re going to get there then execute it. If you get fed up and throw in the towel early in your career when the work is the toughest then that is as far as you will go. Stick it out and have a plan and who knows, you might even make it to the top.

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