The Fooey Network

How can you promote scratch cooking while being sponsored by pre-made sauces, salty boxed rice and 20 plus ingredient frozen cheesecakes?  I have heard of such a network in a far away land that switched a once credible Chef lineup and respectable programing for slots filled with conventionally attractive, cool, funny entertainers (Chefs in their previous lives).  They are called the Fooey network. We have seen this happen in the music industry as well. Are these current  musicians contributing anything to their craft? Song writers, musicians and producers of the past would agree with me when I say don’t let these clowns pimp your passion, hard work, craft and artistry!  Why do we feel the need to suppress talent and promote image? Am I the only Chef out here that sees th parallels between the new American “Pop Star”  and The Fooey Networks  self promoted “Aluminum Chefs”. These Chefs will try to sell you non stick cook ware  and an acronym labeled olive oil for twice the price. What am I paying for, the acronym?! I keep thinking about Garth from Wayne’s world decked out in sponsored gear while saying people only do things to get payed. (This was a super funny scene).  If the video killed the radio star then what is the Fooey Network doing to our culinary artists? If cooking ever becomes less hip, I can assure you that programmers will seek out  the most attractive and marketable tailors and quilt makers.  When teaching my classes, I want to teach people who seek to grow their skill set and increase their culinary IQ. Based on solid techniques and principles. I’ve been told that im a fun guy, so I reckon the classes reflect my personality, but definitely not forced. I want to show how to make PASTA before you make the diavolo sauce. And what about storing your pasta be it frozen or dried? I don’t want you to pay more money for the peeled, deveined shrimp when on average they are two dollars less when purchased skin and tail on. Trust me, it is not hard to clean them… and guess what; you know that yummy risotto you want to learn how to make? You can use the shells to make tasty-no salt added-stock that seriously will rival that of your favorite Italian eatery.  Not to mention it is a much healthier option.  Same goes with whole fish and poultry; cheaper when purchased whole, and you don’t need to buy pre made stocks, broth and bouillon. Your skills will be increased and you will save money.  In my virtually non-existent free time, I am working on putting together a series of lessons that will build upon your current skill set, helping you reach your goal, and produce the foods that you are paying an arm and a leg for in the grocery store.  We will build a quality pantry, producing food that is sustainable, healthy, and of course yummy.  And trust me, you wont be using a low-grade olive oil with a smiling face and an acronym on the label.

Till next time…

Farm Visit: Vermont Shepherd

So after another one of my farm visits to VT Shepherd, I was sold on the wonders of sheep’s milk Cheese. During the production of the cheese you get the necessary separation of curds and whey.  David Major, (producer of my personal favorite sheep cheese), makes two different cheeses out of the curd.  The first cheese is his signature VT Shepherd, which is the cheese I am using on my roasted garlic Caesar salad instead of the classic shaved parmesan.  I had to find an application for this yummy cheese after I tasted it.  I learned through trial and error that this cheese is better utilized uncooked as opposed to cooked because it tends to denature (separate) when heat is applied.   The second cheese which is made out of the curd as well is called Queso De Invierno.  This  cheese is able to withstand heat because it is a mixture of cow and sheep’s milk cheese.  The cow’s milk is from a neighboring farm and this cheese was named because it was created in the winter time, (if you weren’t already clued in by the name).  Alice and I came up with two uses for this super tasty cheese: the first we use in the Yukon potato and parsnip tart (dauphinoise) served with the grass-fed ribeye, onion/pepper demi, and fennel apple slaw. The second use was a an obvious one. I really love biscuits, so I called my brother (who will remain nameless to preserve his ego) and used his recipe as my inspiration. We serve these biscuits with our harrissa spiced lamb and root vegetable stew. The lamb of course is sourced from David’s farm as well and is quite tasty. The Queso De Invierno was my parents favorite when they came to visit during foliage 2010. David also makes a ricotta salata out of the whey. I don’t have an application for this one yet but we are playing around with some things and of course, it’s yummy. As I mentioned last time, you can get these cheeses online @ Try these cheeses with some crusty bread and honey or click the links below download these recipes.

Welcome to Vermont!

Vermont my Foodie Friends may as well be the localvore capital of the United States.  Even the grocery stores here label where your food comes from.  For example they have two types of tomatoes to choose from one will say Mexico and the other will say from so and so farm in Vermont.  And trust me, the Mexican tomatoes might be cheaper but they are rotting on the shelf because most people choose the local ones.  That is if they even shop at the grocery store because the Co-ops and farm stands and farmers markets here are amazing!  It’s like a chefs’ dream come true for fresh produce.  Not to mention the meat selection…and the cheese…oh my god the cheese…I have gained 10 lbs since I moved here and I swear to you it is all the CHEESES fault!   Since my wife stayed in Cleveland for the 6 months of my trial run here in VT I think my diet consisted of cheese, cereal, more cheese, and maybe some yogurt.  I know I am a chef but at the end of the day when you get home late the last thing you want to do is cook.  Plus I am telling you this Vermont cheese is like the next best thing to chocolate, and for me to say that about chocolate…that’s huge. It is hard to say which cheese is my favorite but i am very partial to sheep’s milk cheese and David Major makes an unbeliveable washed rind cheese called Vermont Shepherd. VT Shepherd is also the name of the company. He and his wife (who is super cool) have an unbelievable farm that produces three cheeses The afore-mentioned has won many awards and can be found in fine restaurants and specialty stores across the country. You can also find it online at Funny thing about VT is that David still has dial-up where he lives in the mountains so he doesnt update his site as much as he would like to. I guess he has a reason, I’m just not as committed (…lazy) to blogging the way that I want to be. Be patient. I’ll get there. I might even have some friends join me in my writings. My next posts wont be prefaced with a promise because I have shown you that I am not ready to keep to them. I can say, I am going to talk more about the wonderful cheeses and the great time I had Up on Patch Road at VT Shepherd. thanks David!

Till next time, Peas out.

The Very First One (again) with hopes of many more

Hello Foodie cyberspace…it’s been way too long!  So much has happened I do not know where to begin.  I guess I should apologize for my lack of blog but there is good reason I haven’t written in forever. Well maybe not forever, but it definitely has been a while since my lame submission of two entries over a year ago. But for all of those who commented I appreciate you and offer you my apologies. This time around I am committed to at least an entry a week sharing with you my experiences, recipes and answering any questions you may have regarding food and cooking.

In case you haven’t heard, my baby…my pride and joy…my years of hard work might as well be thrown into a trash can, no better yet a trash compactor.  The Crumb.  The awesome -about to open- new and improved- crumb; crumbled before it could ever open. You know when you get your heart broken how long it takes to heal?  And how thinking about it, or talking about it is just like rubbing salt in the wounds?…  Well that’s what happened to me.  I got my heart broken, stomped on, crushed, pulverized …like it was beaten with a meat mallet and jaccarded for about a year.

It’s a long story and maybe someday I will have the strength to write about what happened, but not today.  Let’s just say it is on what seems like an indefinite hold unless I somehow stumble across some boku bucks…And since I am not a gambling man, a silver spooner or a magician, I do not see that happening in the near future.  I am sorry for getting you all excited about it, but believe me I would not have added logs to the excitement fire if I thought it was going to smolder and go out eventually.

That’s all for now, if you would like more details feel free to post a comment and I will be sure to respond. Or just write me about anything; recipe requests, what you’d like to see on this blog, or a recent restaurant encounter.

Until next time,

Peas Out Yo.

Squash Blossoms

It has definitely been a while (four months to be exact) since my last post, but i have been unbelievably busy. I guess that is not too hard to imagine seeing as though the crumb is opening very soon and I have been running like crazy trying to get things just right. And just right is just not possible! I promised I would talk about the restaurants progress, but here is something  i wanted to share with you first that I found pretty intersting this summer. Chefs typically get excited throughout the year for certain ingredients highly coveted in the industry.  For me, its all about the summer treasures, fiddle-heads in early summer, green tomatoes and zucchini blossoms ( theres plenty more but to keep this post short so I can talk about more pressing issues, i narrow it to these three).  It actually never dawned on me until my wife and I started growing acorn squash, that i could probably eat these blossoms as well. You may be say to yourself HELLO!….. The truth of the matter is, unless the Chef that you work for brings cool ingredients in, or you have the time and the mony to spend on all of the countless ingredints that are out there, it is quite natural for Chefs like myself to not have worked with many of these items. So, I had never eaten them, never seen them at the farmers market, never even heard of them. As I am standing there, I strated to ask myself, ” do i sacrifice a 3 pound acorn squash for one dainty little flower”? I mean there are tons of flowers. Are they all going to turn to squash? If you have any experience in gardening, then you probably should stop reading now because what I recently found out is very new to me, but pretty basic, even for the so called bio-chef I might add. What threw me for a loop was that  early in the summer I witnessed all of my tomato flowers turn into well… tomatoes. The same went for my peas and  peppers as well. (you get the pattern)  So naturally, i was thinking “man im gonna have a bunch a squash to either cook. but what i didnt know is that all of the blossoms turn into the very versitile gourd… it wasnt until a recent early morning watering session i noticed the difference in the flowers some (the females i later found out) had the little babies at the base of the flower and the males looked like regular flower buds, Squash blossoms. you can eat them both but you definately want to let some get to full maturity.  So if you are wondering what to do wih them, They are good a number of ways. My research tells me they are good a number of ways. I guess it depends on your preference. I am going to try them stuffed with a nice soft goat cheese with fresh herbs, tomatoes flashed in a little butter and i might drizzle with a little honey. I have seen recipes calling for them to be stuffed, breaded and fried as well. In my opinion this may be a little heavy and i dont se you getting the full flavor of flower oils. But remember I have never tried them in any way so this is just an educated guess. It is always fun learning new things, testing them and adding them to your mental Rolodex of recipes. I encourage you to try these, as well as other ingredients you are not familiar with in a number of ways until it is prepared just the way you imagine it to taste. And as for the restaurant………. all I can say is I promise it wont be 4 months before I post another blog. I will see you this fall!

The Very First One!

I know! I know!

For those of you who know me, know I was a serious hater on social media.  I hated on myspace, facebook, twitter, blogging, etc.   But what do they always say?… People change Izzy, people change.  So, I changed.  I left my job, my restaurant, my home, my wife to be.   I moved to New York to work for free under a Chef I have always admired.  I couch surfed there for 3 months, completely broke and only eating cereal, oreos, and family meal on the days I worked.  After the 3 months I was offered a position, and I reached a crossroad. I had always wanted to work at a top restaurant in the country and here was my chance. At the same time my own restaurant back in Cleveland was in a stage of metamorphosis, and there was a fat chance that my fiance (the Vermonter that she is) would move to an even bigger city. So my friend paid for my one way ticket home and even when I got there, I still did not know what my plan was. I asked God for guidance.

Lo and behold in a matter of months I got married, and employed at a sweet new Japanese restaurant, gaining experience culinarily and in life. I used to tease my wife about being on facebook, and here I am, blogging….. Blogging!? Are you serious?…. So I might as well talk about some interesting things going on in food and cooking (I will even talk about that great book by Harold McGee). As the title states this is the (First One).  So give me some time to gather my thoughts, tell you a little about me, my career, my cooking style, my companies. I also want to fill you in on the restaurants and chefs I’ve loved working for and those I…Well you know, those ones I wasted my time energy and talent on. Keep posted to find out what’s in store for Ismail the Chef, and while you’re at it please post your comments, or send me a message/questions.   Give me some of your ideas on topics you would like to discuss and tell a friend about my blog.