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Everything posted by devinf

  1. I do use isomalt primarily for sugar-free. There are some candies I am experimenting with using xylitol, but that is for a specific type of candy and not for the general product line. But the use of isomalt makes me worry about the higher temperatures as well. I don't want my reds to turn brown or purples into grey (both problems I have had with gel colors - ChefMaster, etc.). Right now my need to find an acceptable high-temp coloring exceeds my need for purely sugar-free. Edit: to answer your question of gummies.... sugar type really doesn't matter IME unless you are talking pectin-based stuff. The gelatin is gonna do it's thing so trust in that. For gummies, the only thing I concern myself with is sweetness levels.
  2. Hi everyone! I've been making gummies, candies, lollipops and the like for a few years now and have always used your everyday food colors and some gels. Easy peasy. I've now been asked to work on creating sugar-free/no gluten/vegan/trendy supplement hard candies. Got that covered, but I have never used plant-based "natural" food colorings. My biggest concern is how do they handle the high heats? Could someone help point me in the right direction on this? Use powders? There are a lot of options these days and I'm trying to minimize how many "test batches" and unnecessary costs I have to run through in finding something that works. I'm usually making 4 or 5L of solution at a time. Any help, info or places I can read up on things would be greatly appreciated. I saw a few posts about the Chef Rubber colors. They don't have info on what the ingredients actually are and that's something I need. Thanks in advance! Devin
  3. I'm trying to tweak a gummy candy formula to meet the flavor expectations of management (aka "The Money"). I wanted to use sodium lactate as a possible solution instead of, or in combo with, adding tartaric or citric acids to achieve our flavor - think watermelon or pineapple with a bit of a sour edge to it. I think we're adding too much acid at this point and it is affecting how the product is setting. I was hoping someone might have some experience in using this as an additive in candies and could give me a rough idea of where to start as far as a ratio or percentage? I've looked around and so far have found soap making information or some seriously heavy food chemistry articles. And as an extension of that any resources or books that would help educate me on creating formulas? I can make the candies, but I'm getting thrown into the deep end trying to duplicate someone else's product. I'm replacing the original chef of this company who bailed with all the formulas and I'm scrambling to get everything back on track (a whole different conversation there! ). Many thanks for any info! Devin
  4. I've always used whatever our dishwashing/cleaning supply guy drops off. Ecolab products, never had to go and actually try and source the stuff, but if simple green/bleach works for you and is cost effective then go for it!
  5. I work in a bay area restaurant where one of our new desserts uses a specific type of leavening - "lievito pane degli angeli" - essentially vanilla infused baking powder/soda. Fortunately, the chef had some at home but we are running out and trying to source it. Our supplier, Ital Foods, does not carry it and the only source I can find (google) is amazon or capri flavors. Does anyone know of a supplier/wholesaler that carries this stuff? Thanks in advance! Devin
  6. Be ready to wait. A friend of mine from school just recently scored the primo gig in Spain. The job was the easy part. It took him nearly two years to line up all the visa/work permit crap. Blanket the world with your resume and introduction letters. Check places that have established stage/intern programs. Hustle, hustle, hustle yourself. Go to conferences and conventions to meet and greet, shake a lot of hands, collect business cards and follow up. Then deal with the paperwork and since you'll have plenty of time - buy the language tapes. Devin
  7. I agree with Begpie. Having had to make manymany souffles during service, easiest way to do it is have your base made (pastry or choux) - and it can usually hold for a day or two - then fold in whites to order. Even with the whites incorporated you could hold it for 30-45 minutes and still get a good looking souffle. Any longer and you'd get more of a mushroom effect rather than straight sides/top.
  8. I'll agree with the Redd comments. Great food, but never the dining room, always the bar or patio. The foie dishes and the hamachi are must haves, the rest... just try it out. For Yountville don't miss Bistro Jeanty for classic French or Ad Hoc - particularly on fried chicken night! And never forget Pancha's - the last dive/industry bar in the valley - remember it's cash only - and if you want gossip, show up after 11PM and listen to the cooks blow off steam and talk some serious sh*t about your favorite/most popular restaurant. Zuzu in Napa is great for tapas and sangria. Lunch at the Oxbow Market is fabulous - wine, cheese and charcuterie. I am still of the opinion that Cyrus is overpriced - I'll eat there again when someone else pays for it - same with French Laundry. Ubuntu in Napa is "the" spot to go and number one on my "to eat" list. If you want real food.... La Playita in Napa or La Luna in Rutherford has the best Mexican in the valley. Buster's BBQ in Calistoga is some serious grub. It's a big food valley and Sonoma isn't that far away so there are A LOT of options. Have fun. Drink wine and eat good food!
  9. I'll second the Farmhouse Inn... and for Healdsburg if you want something a bit more casual (and cheaper) than Cyrus, Ravenous and Zin are good spots as are quite a few other restaurants around the square.
  10. Yup. He is on his way out. Not sure if he's gone yet or when.
  11. That site does look cool, I'll have to spend some time on it! At most we do one or two of these a day. It could be for an overnighter or someone there for a week of conferences. Lately it seems we get a lot of "internal" VIPs - management from other properties on a free ride, etc. I agree with the idea of take-away stuff. A box of treats to make the memory of the stay last, that kind of thing. We do send some folks off with a small loaf of quickbread - but that's rare. Our latest turndown was a sugar pineapple as a centerpiece and mignardise (truffle, marshmallow, nougat, etc.)placed around the base. We'll also do a "small plate" kind of dessert i.e. Chinese spoons filled with various flavors of Dessert Type X and appropriate garnish. It seems the flair of the presentation/garnish is more important that the actual item/s. We do some corporate logo work with chocolate and airbrush, but that's usually as a part of a plated dessert for lunch/dinner. At our weekly meeting today the chef actually mentioned getting into silkscreening and even offered to pay for a class - so taking some turndown/presentation specific classes (Ewald Notter maybe?) are not out of the question either in the search for bigger and better treats for the guests. I really would like to see our team start making some next level stuff. I'm really in the 'brainstorm' mode and am looking for as much material I can find while the energy (and latest paycheck) is still with me. Sure, it's for our guests but more importantly for some personal satisfaction in pulling off something that just looks hot, ya? Devin
  12. We've been doing more VIP turndowns and specialty stuff at work lately. We've got a few solid items, but they get repetitive. I'm looking for research/resource material for new stuff. Any books or places I should check for that sort of thing? Like the way you scan through cookbooks for pictures and random ideas - I'd love to find something like that. Ideas? Devin
  13. devinf

    Dinner! 2008

    Forgot to take a picture.... I made a garlicky cilantro almond pesto and marinated whole trout in it, then pan fried them with a light dusting of flour/cornmeal. Served over a bed of brown rice that was cooked with minced shallots and bell peppers. And a few spears of steamed asparagus. A delicious dinner and I'm not much of a fish eater, but am trying to be. I'll remember to take pictures next time. Scallops are up next! Devin
  14. Convection fans are the best, when you can turn the fan off. If you're getting a convection that's great but some baking just needs to be done slowly and without a fan.
  15. I'll back up the red velvet with a super gooey cream cheese frosting. Or, maybe a super-rich chocolate cake with chocolate ganache or frosting/buttercream.
  16. I'll chime in on Starlight. I think the look of the place is great. Was introduced to it by a friend of mine and had the chance to eat some food and meet the one of the chefs. It amazes me they produce such good food out of such a tiny kitchen!
  17. Bouchon is a notorious grindhouse. It goes through people fast. High demand, lowlow pay. The turnover might be catching up with them?
  18. You could just buy the pre-made puree?
  19. sleep.drink.sleep.laundry.smoke.sleep.drink.sleep Somewhere in there I do a bit of gardening and tinkering in the kitchen while nursing the Netflix addiction.
  20. I'll second the idea of taking a few classes at OCC in Costa Mesa. I attended their program in '95-'96 and was introduced to a lot of things and techniques that, at the time, I was totally clueless about. Even today, still working in the industry, I can think of things I come across daily that I learned there - particularly knife skills, basic sauces, etc. Devin
  21. At work, we'll make a few sheet pans at a time. We let the brownies cool, usually overnight in the fridge. Turn them out, cut them, return to a sheetpan and then wrap tightly with plastic, stick in freezer and you're done. Devin
  22. devinf

    Forgotten Foods

    First thing that comes to mind is raw milk products. Everything is pasturized now. It is possible to find these foods, but they are most often sold as pet food or fishbait. The difference in taste is astounding.
  23. Been lazy and haven't posted this, but here goes... Had dinner at Cyrus on the 17th. I was supposed to go with my dad who was visiting from SoCal, but he got sick last minute and my aunt happily volunteered to substitute. As a disclaimer, I'm a pastry/baker guy by trade and I have done a single's day stage at Cyrus. Both myself and my aunt are "locals". I live in Napa, she in Windsor. Reservations were at 6:30, but got there early because I wanted to check out the bar. Had a great bourbon with honest-to-god Kentucky spring water as a back. Auntie had a pinot - both drinks ended up following us to the table. Before arriving I knew we were going to do the chef's menu with wine pairings, because I figured we might as well do it all the way and let them take care of us. The champagne and caviar cart arrived and we passed on the caviar, but took a half glass of champagne. Don't recall the info on the champagne, but we toasted each other to the oncoming food and enjoyed every sip. The canapes arrived and were yummy! A goat cheese grugere, some fried ball of something and a bit of smoked fish. Quickly devoured. The amuse was a piece of shrimp ceviche and was juicy and perfect. They served bread and gave us the requisite Strauss organic butter (which was perfectly tempered - cold butter is a pet peeve of mine), along with Hawaiian Sea Salt and Maldon Salt. The Hawaiian salt was excellent. And needless to say the Della Fattoria bread was top notch. Blue Fin Tuna with Cauliflower Cream, Uni and Pickled Ramps Puligny-Montrachet, Paul Pernot, France 2005 This was a delight. Perfectly seared tuna. The cauliflower puree was excellently flavored and seasoned. Was also served with fried scallions. Foie Gras Prepared Three Ways Coteaux de Layon-chaume, Chateau de la Roulerie, Loire Valley, France 1996 and Tokaji Aszu, Royal Tokaji Wine Co. "5 Puttonyos", Hungary 2000 My only special request of the evening was the trio of foie and the risotto dish that was to come (have heard raves about both from friends). My aunt had never had foie before! and considering she's a bit of a foodie that was surprising. The first was a piece of torchon served with an apple curry compote. Nice and tasty. The second was seared foie with a gingerbread pudding (my aunt's favorite). And then the famous PB&J - pomegranante jelly, a peanut "butter" for lack of a better term, the foie pate and toasted brioche. That was my fave! I dreamed of a whole sandwich - drool. As an aside, I was watching other tables and noticed the seared foie. If it was ordered as an individual dish it was spectacular. Your plate was put in front of you and a flaming pot of rum was brought out and poured around the foie. They then took a shaker and sprinkled something into the flame which sparkled a bit like fireworks, the flame was then extinguished with some sort of sauce or broth. Brilliant execution! I asked about it and they said it's something the chef had been thinking about for awhile. Looked beautiful! Chorizo Crusted Shrimp with Chorizo and Clam Consomme Gruner Veltliner, Nigl, Kremstal, Austria 2005 A major, major disappointment. We both sent the dish back. It was a large galapagos shrimp with chorizo on one side and it was coated with some sort of lobster glaze on the plate side. A few manila clams were around the plate and then the broth. It looked absolutely wonderful and I dug in. The shrimp was ridiculously overcooked. After a solid minute of chewing I finally got my inital bite swallowed with a hefty slurp from my water glass. This really changed the mood of the dinner and was something I did not expect - particularly at these prices. If I was working that station I know my chef would have had his foot firmly planted up my ass.... The server was apologetic and the manager came by a few moments later. He offered a slight explanation and offered to replace the course but we passed. It was a let down and we realized just how much food we had left to eat. We decided to shake it off and keep on going. Truffled Red Wine Risotto, Parmesan Broth Barolo, Massolino, Piedmont, Italy 2001 I've got a friend who has eaten here several times and has raved about this dish so I had to have it. Being in the industry I nit-pick everything. Taste each individual component and then try it as a whole. I dug into the risotto and was hit by butter. A lot of butter. I instantly thought "oh crap, another let down dish". I love risotto. I love a bit of acidity. I love the butter and creamy and richness. I didn't love this. BUT. Then I tried the dish as a whole with the parm broth and - WOW! Friggin' great. Striploin of Waygu Beef and Glazed Beef Cheek with Rosti Potatoes, Hedgehog Mushrooms and Persillade, Bordelaise Sauce Cabernet Sauvignon, Laurel Glen, Sonoma Mountain 2000 This was by far our favorite wine of the night. The beef was excellent. The cheek was just fall apart tender and eaten along with the potatoes and mushrooms? yum! The striploin was striploin. Good but not memorable. Personally, I think all this Waygu/Kobe stuff is waaaay overrated. Then the cheese cart came by. Both my aunt and I are big cheese freaks, and having been a pastry chef, cheese is definitely in my domain. It also didn't hurt that for nearly two years I worked next to Dean & Deluca and had the chance to try most every cheese I could get my hands on. The cheese was served with pan forte, some spiced nuts and dried fruits. If I can remember correctly we had: Keane's Cheddar, Tomme Brebis, Cowgirl Sir Francis Drake (a new one to me), a Roquefort, a blue that was wrapped in chestnut leaves and soaked in pear brandy, and some other sheep's milk I can't remember. All of them quite tasty. Blood Orange, Lime and Kumquat Napoleon, Pink Grapefruit and Rosemary Sorbet Moscato d'Asti, La Spinetta "Bricco Quaglia", Piedmont, Italy 2005 This was my dessert. A total letdown. Basically it was two components - the napoleon and sorbet. The sorbet was good and served over a few segments of blood orange. The napoleon was disappointing. It was layers of phyllo that had thin slices of kumquat baked into them. The bottom layer was a blood orange semi freddo. Simply sucked. I could tell by the chalky taste that they used the exact same puree product I use at my work and that is simply unacceptable at an establishment of this caliber/price. The lime mousse was good. But after my initial few bites, my dessert was left uneaten. Caramel Soup with Kettle Corn Sorbet and Chocolate Filigree 1991 Colheita Port, Niepoort This was served to my aunt. They melt the filigree with the caramel soup and it all falls into the bowl. The sorbet was tasty and it was a good dessert. Then mignardises. A tootsie roll kind of chocolate, a tasty bonbon and can't remember the rest. All said and done with the drink at the bar, champagne, tasting menu with wine, foie supplement and tip our tab came to $610. It was an amazing experience, but not because of the food. The service was impeccable. Every little aspect was amazing and perfectly handled. And every person we dealt with - and there were a few - were charming and personable. Whomever handles the front of the house should give themselves a huge pat on the back. They really do set the standard for service. The wine was excellently matched and we enjoyed every single one - in particular the Sonoma Cab that kept getting better as we let it sit between sips. I was mildly surprised that most of our paired wines were either whites or sweet wines. Only 2 reds in the 8 poured. The food? My aunt is perfectly happy to eat at Ravenous before she comes back to Cyrus. As for myself, with the one exception of the shrimp and the lackluster dessert it was executed perfectly - but uninspired. There weren't any components of any of the dishes that seemed uniquely original or something I couldn't find at any handful of any other "wine country" restaurants and at a considerably lesser price. I'm very glad we did the chef's menu. It was an education. I look forward to the next time I can eat at Cyrus, but would never do the tasting menu again. Now that I have an idea I know that my next experience will be much more informed. I'd happily stick to the 3 or 5 course and probably come out with a much better perception of this restaurant's abilities. Was it a grand and wonderful meal? Absolutely. We left feeling flush and fat and enjoyed our little walk down to and around the square. A great evening. But I won't gush over the place - just not yet.
  24. devinf


    Take a break if you need to. I went to the cubicle farms for a few years before that mind-numbing experience sent me running back into the first kitchen I could find. Devin
  25. I'll agree with Food Arts and Art Culinaire. Food Arts is great for industry updates, profiles, etc. - and it's free! Art Culinaire is just beautiful. Some amazing food photography and really more into the food rather than industry. Devin
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