Chefs Speak Out

Dec 18, 2017, 14:32

Chefs Speak Out: Ellie’s Takes the Cake

An award-winning pastry chef and talented baker and cake artist bring their seasonally inspired, artisanal confections to life at this Parisian-style Rhode Island bakery.

As a young teen Melissa Denmark, CC, was constantly reading cookbooks and applying what she learned in the kitchen. An avid baker, she joined a mentorship program at a French restaurant during her final year of high school. That early training led her to the pastry-arts program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., where she graduated summa cum laude.

After working at a Ritz-Carlton property in Florida, Denmark went on to work with a cake decorator in Maryland and for Bobolink Dairy Farm and Bakeyard in New Jersey. It was during her latter stint that she came to appreciate the importance of sustainability and using farm-raised foods.

Chefs Speak Out: From Famous Chicken to Buttered Noodles

Chef John Zehnder’s newest cookbook includes the most-requested recipes from the most-frequented restaurant in the United States.

When John Zehnder, CEC, AAC, reads a recipe book, he is more interested in the story behind the recipe. In his third cookbook, Zehnder, executive chef and food & beverage director of Zehnder’s Restaurant in Frankenmuth, Mich., brings together the most-requested restaurant recipes with Zehnder family stories that include anecdotes about well-known guests including automotive leaders and other celebrities. Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth—A Collection of Zehnder's Most Iconic Recipes offers 30 recipes in a spiral bound, 63-page book.

“Today people who purchase recipe books want more than just a list of ingredients and directions,” Zehnder says. “After a great deal of research, we knew that the story behind the recipe captivates foodies and home cooks. We decided to incorporate little-known family and restaurant stories to set the stage for our iconic menu favorites.”

Chefs Speak Out: Living His Advice

Chef Bill Telepan leads school wellness initiatives while running successful restaurants. He says that if you have a chance to give back, do it.

Bill Telepan, chef/owner of New York City’s Telepan and Telepan Local, advised new graduates of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) about the importance of giving back when delivered the keynote address during commencement ceremonies at the CIA on March 21—the first commencement held in the new Marriott Pavilion on the CIA’s Hyde Park, N.Y., campus.

The 1987 CIA alumnus lives his advice. While running two successful restaurants, earning a Michelin star and being named a semifinalist for the James Beard Award as Best Chef: New York City, he has spent the last six years as executive chef for Wellness in the Schools.

Wellness in the Schools (WITS) inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for kids in public schools. Through meaningful public/private partnerships with school leadership, teachers, chefs, coaches, parents and kids, WITS develops and implements programs that provide healthy foods, healthy environments and opportunities for regular play to help kids learn and grow. Telepan’s work with that organization led to his being asked to serve on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to School task force when that initiative launched in 2009.

Chefs Speak Out: Remember Your Chickpea

Mark Ladner, executive chef of Del Posto in New York, tells CIA grads to always be students and remain curious.

Mark Ladner, executive chef and partner of the Michelin-starred Del Posto and two other Italian restaurants in New York City, delivered the commencement address at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, N.Y., on Feb. 7. He told the 46 graduates that he pursued a career in culinary arts after he “discovered” chickpeas at a restaurant salad bar as a child and thought, “What else is out there that I haven’t tried?”

“As you start your journey, don’t lose sight of what inspired you to start to cook,” Ladner advised recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. “Don’t forget your chickpea. Continue to be curious. Choose to always be a student, because the most wonderful epiphany can be found around any corner.”

Chefs Speak Out: Know the Meaning of What You Do Every Day

A Q&A with Gavin Kaysen, who while young represented the United States in the Bocuse d’Or and today heads the kitchen of Café Boulud in New York City.

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

The restaurant industry in the United States is enormous with 2012 sales in excess of $450 billion. There are, among the 960,000 plus operations, varying degrees of quality and commitment to excellence. There are those that disappoint, many that meet guest expectations and a chosen few that consistently exceed expectations and make those of us who choose a career in cooking, proud to be part of a club that includes those few.

Without exception, those restaurants that exceed expectations are led by a chef who is passionate, extremely confident, creative and talented. One such restaurant is Café Boulud in New York City. As part of the Dinex Group of world-renowned restaurants led by Chef Daniel Boulud, this café holds the unique position of both an extraordinary fine-dining destination and a neighborhood iconic spot to enjoy wonderful food and drink. At the helm of this truly great restaurant is a chef, and friend, Gavin Kaysen.

Chef Gavin agreed to the interview that follows, a brief summary of what makes him tick and how he is able to maintain his passion for cooking.

Sorgule:What or who influenced you to pursue a career in the kitchen?

Kaysen:Many people have influenced my career, but my grandmother was the first person I ever stepped into a kitchen with. She helped me understand what hospitality meant and how easy it can be to make people happy by breaking bread with them.

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