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  • The Ease of Holiday Party Food

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    One of the great ways to provide memorable food AND spend time with your guests should you host a holiday party is to keep it simple while preparing ahead of time.

    This article from the Seattle Times covers a great list of ideas from various talented chefs nationwide.

    It'll both inspire your menu, and surely get your guests talking about the wonderful flavor combinations.

    There's no better way to celebrate the holidays than watching friends, family and even co-workers scarf down a bunch of delicious items made by you in very little time.

  • APPlying a New Way to Learn to Cook

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    There are a number of different ways to learn how to cook. Or more specifically, how to cook better.

    You could take a cooking class one time, you could take a cooking class that lasts 12 months (like I did), or you could just do it the old fashioned way by starting at a restaurant kitchen.

    There are plenty of cookbooks to buy, get handed down from family member to family member, and even by watching cooking shows on TV.

    But now there's plenty of apps for that.

    Thanks to smart phones and the talents of professional bakers and chefs, you can download apps that will give you step-by-step instructions, video and recipes so that you can sharpen your skills.

    This story from the Los Angeles Times has a review of several apps.

    It's a great way to learn in a fast-paced but fun way. That I find is the best way to learn.

    Besides, for chefs, food enthusiasts and home cooks, you can and should never stop learning.

  • How Do You Order a Steak

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    It's a question that may be on the minds of some people who head out for that big juicy slice of cow for the holidays.

    This story gives some tips from the chef at BLT Steak, BLT Prime and the Arlington Club in New York City.

    Chef Laurent Tourondel gives some good advice if you're a steakhouse novice.

    I personally navigate towards Porterhouses and Rib Eyes. The bigger the cut, the better. 

    It's true, I eat a BIG steak. That is when I go out for steak, which isn't all that often. So my doctor can stop worrying.

  • Interview Flight with Chef Todd Bowman

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    One part of this blog is the ability to hear from local and regional chefs about how they view not only their work, but food in general. 

    This Interview Flight, which is 5 questions, is with Syrah Restaurant and Wine Bar Executive Chef Todd Bowman.

    Q:  Describe Syrah Restaurant's style and what a customer can expect when going there?

    A:  We have an interesting and unique take on dinner service here at Syrah. We offer upscale dining in a relaxed and casual atmosphere.

    We offer a "core" menu (as found at syrahgb.com) plus 5-8 "specials" every night. This allows me to have a dynamic, seasonally appropriate menu while allowing a diverse and ever-changing experience for the repeat diner.

    Customers can expect an experience Dennis and I have put all our combined passion into. The menu can rely on a different influence every week and I can easily adapt dishes for special requests or dietary restrictions.  

    I put a lot of effort into offering a modern menu that still offers the comfort Midwest diners are always looking for.

    Q:  What's your favorite meal to prepare?

    A:  We will go with two answers for my favorite food to prepare. At Syrah, it would be the bacon seared scallops. I cut my teeth in this business sauté those golden beauties at The Carlton Inn East, an iconic Green Bay restaurant through the 80's and 90's. I've refined the art of the sear through the years and now it is a Syrah favorite!

    At home, we love a fresh a stir fry! Rice or noodles, any kind of meat or eggs, and a slew of fresh vegetables with a good amount of curry, ginger, and heat!

    Q:  Where do you like to eat, or whose food do you enjoy?

    A:  The most amazing meal I have had recently was at Chef Dan Brown's Blue Hill in NYC. As a diner, you can tell the attention that has gone into every plate. Most of his ingredients come from his own farm. Such amazing detail is put into every move at an establishment like that. It's shows us that food is about more than taste and appearance, but also texture, aroma, the surrounding environment, etc.  

    Locally, I'm a fan of sushi and bistro concepts, Little Tokyo and Plae being among my favorites. 

    Q:  In your mind, what's one ingredient that's under-utilized that people can find at their local store, farmer's market, etc?

    A:  My first reaction is acids. It will blow your mind as you play with flavored vinegars, fruit juices, and some liquors and see firsthand how they add depth and complexity to even the simplest dishes.  

    The thing that puts our signature mushroom and roasted garlic soup over the top is that addition of champagne vinegar at the end. Don't be afraid of the food, add a little and taste and repeat as needed!

    Q:  Do you have a guilty pleasure?

    A:  I am such a Wisconsin boy for saying it, but sausages! Brats, andouille, Italian, polish, any of them, sautéed with veggies and topped with egg and Siracha! Now that is comfort food, if you ask me! 

    Syrah Restaurant and Wine Bar is located at 3597 Bay Settlement Road in Green Bay. You can follow Syrah and Chef Bowman on Facebook (SyrahGB) and on Twitter (@SyrahGB).

  • Beer for My Reindeer

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    Goose Island Christmas Ale

    As Christmas approaches (for the record Christmas Day is exactly two weeks from today), I thought it'd be proper to begin looking at some ideas to make that family gathering, or classic movie watching experience more enjoyable.

    With beer!

    This story from the Wisconsin State Journal unveils some new ideas for the craft beer fan on your gift list. Or if you've bought all the gifts on your list, and you have some cash left over, these would make some fine purchases.

    It even has a Christmas movie theme to it.

    Featured are selections likely to be available at fine craft beer retailers across northeast Wisconsin. And if you don't see one you like, just ask about having Santa deliver it before Christmas Eve. I say before, because I doubt these retailers will want to open up on Christmas Day. Just saying.

     

  • Would You Open a Restaurant??

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

     

    I would do it again...if the circumstances were right. But that's a small window into which I would crawl.

    Having gone through and witnessed the process myself, opening a restaurant is extremely hard work. It takes a lot of money (more than I'm willing to part with) and 100% belief in your vision.

    I'm much savvier having gone through the process, because I can look back in hindsight and see all the things that were done wrong. 

    The Seattle Times has a lengthy story asking why on earth would anyone want to, especially given these rough economic times.

    It's a great read, and gives a glimpse into what happens to chefs and restauranteurs driven to succeed. Debt, barriers and long hours are what your life is transformed into during the run-up to opening night. And that's just by yourself. If you have partners, or a team of folks working on this project, it complicated matters.

    I much prefer the consultation area. Since my experience involves one restaurant which closed just under six months after opening, I can consult with you about what NOT to do.

    • Do NOT open without a liquor license (assuming your establishment will have beer, wine, liquor as a part).
    • Make sure you get all your inspections done right the FIRST time.
    • Spell check MATTERS when it comes to your menus
    • Understand the lease agreement you sign when you sign it (especially the fine print)

    These are just a few things to keep in mind when you open the restaurant of your dreams. That's if you have the guts, cash and desire to work really, really hard.
     

     

  • From Toilet Water to Pizza Dough

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    There's a whole world out there I have yet to explore, apparently. That world, unlike the one in which I live, believes a perfume by Pizza Hut is a good idea.

    This story from the New York Daily News explains the pizza chain's Canadian arm developed the idea that began as a joke. It's probably where that odor should've stayed.

    Most of the time, I don't understand women. Sounds cliché, but for the most part men agree with that sentiment. But the many I've known or been around have never uttered the words, "I want a man that smells like pizza dough."

    Normally if you work at a pizza place, then say had a hot date afterward, you'd want to put on different cologne. Not dab a little of the just-risen dough ball behind your ear.

    It does make me think though if there's a market for scents of foodstuffs. There are SOME foods that lend itself to pleasant thoughts and behavior. For example, cinnamon rolls. If someone made a fragrance that smelled like freshly-baked cinnamon rolls, then you might convince me it's a good idea.

    I'm not totally sure about roasted or grilled meats. Would a woman find a man more attractive if that man smelled like ribs?  Or brisket? According to the article, a Chicago company is producing a bacon-scented cologne. I like bacon, just not THAT much.

    Desserts could work. Chocolate may be good, as work toasted marshmallow.

    Freshly ground and brewed coffee would work also. Some wines smell good, but then you'd likely just smell like a drunk.

    Anyone who can convince me otherwise, feel free to make your case. I just don't see the big future for the "eau de pizza" line of cologne.

  • Interview Flight with Chef Al MacIntyre

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    One part of this blog is the ability to hear from local and regional chefs about how they view not only their work, but food in general. 

    This Interview Flight, which is 5 questions, is with Regatta 220 Executive Chef Al MacIntyre.

    Q:  Describe Regatta 220's style and what a customer can expect when going there? 

    A:  It can be described as "New American", which has just about everything. We have one menu that covers lunch and dinner, anywhere from pizzas and sandwiches to fresh seafood, pastas and steaks. A customer can expect is great food, great service, and a fun atmosphere.

    Q:  What's your favorite meal to prepare? 

    A:  My own! I love chicken breasts with vegetables, cooked in a sauté pan. I eat that about 10 times a week. It means I am done for the day and I will enjoy it.

    Q:  Where do you like to eat, or whose food do you enjoy? 

    A:  Longhorn Steakhouse near the Fox River Mall, Koko Sushi in Downtown Green Bay and Bangkok Garden on North Broadway in Downtown Green Bay.

    Q:  In your mind, what's one ingredient that's under-utilized that people can find at their local store, farmer's market, etc?

    A: Fresh thyme and honey. I like to combine the two into sauces. For example, a honey thyme vinaigrette. You would add a little olive oil and vinegar, which would make a great dressing. Thyme, in general, you can use fresh thyme with potatoes and chicken. I really enjoy the flavor of both.

    Q:  Do you have a guilty pleasure?

    A:  Chocolate, anything chocolate. I didn't used to eat chocolate before a couple years ago, but now I eat it like crazy.

    You can keep up with Chef MacIntyre and see what Regatta 220 has to offer by checking them out at www.regatta220.com. You can also find them on Facebook (Regatta220) and Twitter (@Regatta220).

  • Smell THIS...Is it Still Good??

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    Sometimes there's a debate at my house whether or not something is still good. It's probably a universal issue, and usually centers around produce, milk and my desire to use food before I deem it to be bad.

    I have this drive to ensure that stuff gets eaten when we purchase it. And if there's any doubt in my mind, it gets tossed. My wife has the same rule. With an infant in the home, there's no room to take chances.

    Some foodstuffs are easy to know how or where to store it, others may confuse you. 

    This article from the Orange County Register goes over some points when it comes to food expiration.

    Milk is one that's debatable. According to the article, the date stamped on a carton of milk is voluntary. In my experience it's generally pretty accurate. I'll notice the smell change after the "use-by" date, but the taste hasn't caught up just yet.

    I personally wouldn't take the chance much beyond the stamped date on a carton of milk, or other dairy products. Same goes for mayonnaise.

    For produce, specifically potatoes, I'll look at the spud to see for any rotten areas, mold, etc. If it's small enough, then I'll cut it away and use the rest of the potato for mashing or frying potatoes.

    The only part of the storage area I don't do is olive oil. Mine is kept out of the fridge, and has never (to this point) gone rancid or spoiled sitting on the counter next to the range. Not to say that it won't, but it hasn't happened to me.

    Hopefully these helpful reminders will keep your kitchen in the safe zone when it comes to food.

  • Christmas Party Snack Recipes

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    'Tis the season for...Christmas parties. Sure you could say it's about the gift giving...but truly the number one gift is being with family. Then coming in a close second...the food!

    As a wipe the schmaltz from my eye, I've found a collection of party snacks and ideas that would be great for bringing to any number of holiday gatherings where a dish is best served passed from someone else.

    The Boston Globe put these fine selections together, complete with photos and some even have substitution ideas.

    It's always good to branch out and take a chance with snack-type appetizer food. These are some fine examples that don't take too much time, but you may be able to convince your friends and family that it took you all day to put it together.

    Pile on the schmaltz.

  • Food Critics Get Just Desserts

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    Critics of any sort, whether they are movie or food or just plain haters, are either liked or despised. There's generally no in-between.

    Lately there appears to be an explosion in incidents of critic-on-chef violence and vice versa.

    There's this, which involved Food Network personality Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant that was blown up in print by the New York Times' Pete Wells.

    Followed by this, which involved a Facebook encounter between a negative review and a Dubai chef who apparently snapped.

    But who do chefs believe is the best food critic in the U.S.? Or at least their favorites?? Find out here.

    The winner is Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times. The aforementioned Pete Wells from the NYT...finished 3rd overall. Although I'm not sure what Guy Fieri would say about him given this article's criteria.

    Between Yelp, Urbanspoon, Trip Advisor and other online sites, not to mention social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., everyone has turned into their own "critic".

    Chefs and restaurant owners need to do what should've been ingrained in their minds from day one...and that's provide great food and reasonable prices through excellent service for every, single customer. That way, you can mitigate any potential negative reviews given to your business and food.

  • Latke: A Love Story

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    Potato pancakes or latkes are a wonderful thing. As the Hanukkah season kicks off this coming weekend, latkes are a classic Hanukkah dish.

    For those of us who aren't Jewish, potato pancakes can and should be eaten 12 months a year. There should NOT be an off-season for these wonderfully fried starch discs.

    The Diner's Journal at the New York Times has a demonstration and recipe for the classic potato latke.

     

     This will enable you to make great potato pancakes at home. If you're lazy and just want to enjoy them, I highly recommend Mohnen's Family Restaurant in Darboy.

    You can order their "World Famous" potato pancakes as a main dish, or added to any other breakfast item as a substitute for regular pancakes.

    It's definitely worth the drive if you are jonesing for latkes. 

    As also remember that latkes or pancakes can be made in a similar fashion using different ingredients. Carrots, onions, parsnips, sweet potatoes and rutabagas are just some ideas to expand your latke repertoire.