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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Eat My Words – Ameerah Watson (Creole Peach)

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

This week we talk with Ameerah Watson, aka ‘Creole Peach’. Chef Ameerah was born in New Orleans where she received the foundation of her flavoring style. Later in life her mother, who was raised vegetarian, moved the family to Atlanta where Ameerah was primarily raised but still spent her summers in New Orleans. Each of these two southern cities are well known for their unique styles of cooking and flavours.

Paired with her Culinary Arts degree, she completed her Naturopathic Medicine certification in 2008 through the Phoenix Rising Institute to support her focus on the true root of food and what it can do for the human body. These two backgrounds, along with her upbringing, have resulted in Chef Ameerah being well versed in meeting every dietary need with flavour and colour.

We contacted Chef Ameerah during a very exciting time. She has been chosen as one of 9 Chefs to take part in a new TV reality competition show called “Restaurant Express” which aired in November.

Ameerah, you fell in love with cooking at an early age and eventually became a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, worked at amazing places such as The Marriott and Ritz Carlton and appearing very soon on The Food Network on TV. What is the main message that you want to give to others through the food that you prepare & make?

I would like people to respect food and love it for its qualities. Cook food in a way that praises its original flavor. Be simple yet creative. Most of all put your soul and heart in every dish.

What is the story around your nickname The Creole Peach?

I was born in New Orleans and the smell and taste of this unique place has always been in my veins. My upbringing has mostly been in Atlanta which is also a place that embodies Southern Hospitality. My flavor style matches this history. It was my sister who began calling me Creole Peach as one on my biggest fans of my food.

You specialise in vegetarian, vegan and raw foods, what was the main driver for you to focus in these particular areas and what is the most memorable comment from a client/customer who has eaten your food?

My mother’s side of the family has always been mostly vegetarian and my father’s side excellent farmers. All though I do cook for all diets, fresh food and health has always been my foundation. Food should feed your mind, body and soul.

Most of my clients are pleasantly surprised by fusion of seasonal ingredients. I pride myself on perfecting the basic and layering colorful jazz on top. The most memorable response from a client was a woman’s expression to me that she was in shock and amazement at my talent for cooking, and then she begged for a picture and my autograph.

You not only have your business as a Personal Chef but you are now commencing a new adventure by appearing on a Nationally televised show called ‘Restaurant Express’ where you and 8 others travel around the country cooking and competing on a large bus to win a chance to be Executive Chef at an exclusive resort. Congratulations on being part of this project! Do you have any game plan that you can share and what is something you’ve learnt so far on this project that is a good piece of advice to other Chefs? 

Always set a standard for each dish you create to be to best that someone has ever tasted. With this you will always be remembered. It was word of mouth that got me noticed and my passion that landed me there. I can’t go too far into the show except to say I am on it. I am also on season 2 of Cutthroat Kitchen.

Who in the industry is your favourite Chef or is there anyone in the industry you would like to cook with?

My favorite Chef is Todd Richardson. He is the chef that invested so much care in to me and still does. He is an excellent man with a lot of talent.

What’s one piece of advice you valued receiving in your career?

Always do your best even when you feel the job is too easy.

What tip/s would you give to those who are looking to be a Private or Personal Chef?

You have to always be looking for opportunities. Do not get caught in a box, listen for the needs and wants of people. The market is changing and you can make it a fun challenge or stressful failure.

What is the strangest request you’ve had from one of your Private clients?

In this field if there is no strange request then something is wrong. So there are too many to call one out.

What are 3 favorite places/dishes you love to prepare?

I love making simple biscuits it brings warm memories and comfort. My favorite place to visit is my grandmother’s farm in Louisiana. Soon as I get there I lose my shoes on purpose and cook up all of her fresh eggs.  The country girl in me gets fed.

If you could prepare a full course menu for anyone in the world, who would it be?

My  Mother, I find her to be the most amazing woman I know. I’m her biggest fan.

Do you have a simple recipe that you would be happy to share with our readers? 

Blackened Shrimp with avocado grapefruit salad and chili powered vinigarette

blackened-shrimp-creole-peach

1/2 lb 16/20 shrimp, butterflied
2 tbs blacking seasoning
2 tbs olive oil

Salad
2 avocados large dice
1 grapefruit segmented
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
Chilli Powder Dressing
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tbs chives
2 tbs honey
2 tbs chili powder
1 1/2 tsp mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Start by making the dressing. In a medium bowl place vinegar, chives, honey, chili powder, and mustard.
Whisk ingredients together then slowly add olive oil until fully incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.
In another bowl gently mix together diced avocado, grapefruit segments and cut cherry tomatoes. Little by little and dressing and gently toss.
Place in refrigerator for holding.
Take shrimp and drizzle with olive oil and then dust with blackening seasoning. Sear in a skillet on medium high until cooking just right, blacken yet juicy!
Dish out chilled avocado grapefruit salad among 4 bowls and serve hot blackened shrimp on top. Let your guests enjoy this full flavoured unknowingly healthy dish.

Many thanks Ameerah, we wish you all the best with your TV projects and good luck! If you want to follow Ameerah’s progress, she is now on Facebook and Twitter @CreolePeachChef.

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Eat My Words – The Critical Couple

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

When it comes to critiquing a restaurant’s food with intimate detail and with mouth watering images of the food you’re about to devour,  you can’t go past The Critical Couple, written by Nicole and David Williams. Their blog of the same name at: The Critical Couple  ranked #5 by Urban Spoon, is definitely worth a visit if you need to gain a complete picture of your dining place of choice. Enjoy this interview where you’ll learn to appreciate Nicole and David’s perspective on being passionate foodies.

From reading your blog you review food & drink with equisite detail including the beautiful photos you take. Each foodie or critic has their own style and spin for the reviews they do. What is your focus and style?

Our style seeks to take us out of the equation as odd as that perhaps sounds. While clearly a restaurant write up is a personal experience, including how you feel about the service, nevertheless, we believe people want to read about the restaurant, not about how our day was going or which friends we were meeting for lunch that day. Accordingly, it is the restaurant’s story not our own that we try to tell. With the photos, we try our hardest to get over to the reader the best representation of how the dish was. We want readers to share the experience, not simply be wowed about how clever the words are.

As the ‘critical couple’ have you always reviewed food and drink? What lead you to do this?

The blog was born of our passion for going out, eating, drinking, going places and all things related to that. When we started the blog however, we did so almost as a diary, a friends and family thing and didn’t ever think about it becoming something. At the beginning then we were freeform, and that included even things like book reviews. The blog now has a form and an identity centred around restaurant reviews but we still like to throw in unconventional posts from time to time also reflecting the fact that this remains a personal endeavour.
 
How do you choose a restaurant to review?

Very simply, do we want to eat there? If we wake up one day and feel like eating Italian, or seafood or whatever, we’ll think about where we haven’t been but think that we might enjoy. We pay our own way and if we are going to spend our own money, we want to enjoy it. Even if a bad restaurant makes good copy, we don’t make money from the blog so it’s bad economics. 

Who is your current favourite chef?

Without doubt, Simon Rogan.

How has blogging in general changed your outlook on food/restaurants?

Even when we first started the blog, we would return time and again to our favourite restaurants. The success of the blog has driven us to keep visiting new places. In doing so we have discovered two things. First, just how much great food there is in the UK right now, and we would especially note, it’s not always in London. Second, it’s not just about food, it’s as much about people. The majority of chefs we have met are massively hard working, super talented and genuinely nice people. We’re proud that some of them have become our friends.

What are 3 favourite places/dishes you just need to go back to regularly? (We’re thinking one of those may be Casamia? ;-))

Can we have four? L’enclume in Cumbria is in our opinion the best restaurant in the UK currently and we try to get there as much as we can. Brett Graham’s The Ledbury is in our view the best restaurant in London. We do love Casamia in Bristol run by two super talented super humble brothers (Jonray and Peter Sanchez-Iglesias) and we have even before the blog started been returning to eat the food of Alyn Williams (now Alyn Williams at The Westbury) time and time again.

What’s the biggest mistake a restaurant can make in your opinion?

Neglecting the importance of the front of house.

What do you think the London food scene is missing?

As odd as this may sound, genuine innovation. There is without doubt great food in London but it lacks ground breaking food. Where’s London’s El Bulli or Can Roca? London only has two 3 star restaurants and both have classical French orientation. New openings last year focussed on burgers, brasseries and steak houses. Even Bray’s The Fat Duck now seems somewhat dated while ‘new Scandi’ is now old Scandi. Awaiting then the next big original London thing.

What is your favourite food event?

We’ll be cheeky here, we’re organising a charity food, cabaret and music event called EatPlayLove2013 in September of this year. We would have to say that’s it.

What has been your all-time favourite restaurant experience to date?

Another relatively easy and without doubt answer: 41 courses at El Bulli. It redefines the food experience.

What is one challenge you face when reviewing food and/or drink?

Getting the ‘ordinary’ experience. It’s a small industry in many respects and several times this year with new openings, we have been recognised by FOH who had looked after us at their previous employer. That in turn can lead to extras from the kitchen and more attentive service. We have a disclosure box on our blog to alert readers as to when that happens but our value to readers is greatest when we experience it like they experience it.

Thanks to Nicole and David for an insight into their foodie experiences and style. You can also follow their delectable insights and fundraising adventures 140 characters at a time via Twitter: @criticalcouple

 

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Eat My Words – Kelvin Woo

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

What do you do when you are an expatriate settling in London and you need to find out good places to eat, exciting places to visit and learn out everything in between re setting life up in the big city? We recommend you drop by Kelvin Woo’s blog www.singaporeaninlondon.com While this blog is primarily about advice such as regarding living costs and or visiting London and its sights, it soon expanded to a second blog called  www.londonchow.com This is because Kelvin and his wife were also particular about food and interested in checking out a lot of eating spots. Enjoy our interview with Kelvin below where you’ll learn about his foodie passion!

What were the key reasons you decided to review food/restaurants?

When we (Wife and I) first arrived in London, I thought that it was a good idea to document down our experiences on a blog. It didn’t take me long to come up with the title for SingaporeanInLondon.com. Being Singaporeans, we are rather particular about food and seek to check out the eating spots in the immediate vicinity. It wasn’t long before I did short write ups on those on the website. Since we have to eat, I might as well write about it, right?

After awhile, a reader commented that we actually eat out quite a bit so it occurred to me that I should really host the reviews on a seperate website and LondonChow.com was born.

How do you choose a restaurant to review?

In the initial years, it’s really about where we happen to be at mealtimes. The Wife began reading restaurant reviews on Times and that became our defacto guide on where to check out next. It still is.

Others are recommended by friends and acquaintances. Those are trickier; the person who recommends it would look forward to my post about it on LondonChow. It does get a tad awkward if it turns out not to be a good one.

Since 2010, I have received quite a number of invitations from PR firms engaged by restaurants. I go for those that sounds interesting and doesn’t just involve cocktails (I can’t really hold my liquor). To be honest, such meals aren’t the most comfortable. Some have staff hovering over us, explaining every single ingredient going into the dish. I tend to be more conscious about taking notes and photographing the dishes for meals that I have been invited to. It does take the joy out of eating.

Who is your current favourite chef?

No one comes to mind at the moment. I was quite taken with Rick Stein when he did his South Asian tour some time back. It did bring back some memories of the food back home but I was sorely disappointed when he decided to skip Singapore in that segment. Nigel Slator maybe. He’s not exactly a chef but We adore his series on BBC where he prepares simple meals using leftover ingredients. I heard that he writes beautifully as well though I have yet to purchase his receipe books. Heston Blumenthal comes a close second. His menu at Fat Duck is a treat and I’d recommend it without hesitation. It’s just one of those things that you have to try at least once.   

Most underrated Local Restaurant?

This is a tough one. The ones that I frequent have their fair share of regular customers. I used to go to an Italian delicatessen by the name of Saponara at Prebend Street in Islington. Brothers Marco and Vincenzo run the little setup and are always friendly when we drop by. While it is not a gourmet destination, it is an easy place to eat in. They have also introduced a pizza menu some time back and is proving to be rather popular. 

How has blogging in general changed your outlook on food/restaurants?

I have come to realise that the ingredients’ freshness is the key to any good dish. Also, the entire dining experience is much more than the food on the table. It’s really the people you dine with, the service and whether you got off the correct side of the bed that day. Oh, and your expectations as well.

What are 3 favourite places/dishes you just need to go back to regularly?

1. Corn fritters @ Salvation Jane

This brunch item is a crowdpleaser. With a bit of everything, it fills you up and actually is healthy. A welcomed change to the grease that comes with Sunday roasts.

2. Char kuay teow @ Sedap

Sedap manages to replicate the sought after ‘smokey’ taste in the stirfry flat noodles – one of my favourite childhood dishes. The portion has shrunken quite a bit over the years though.  

3. Meze @ Hazev’s cafe

While I like the set lunches at Canary Wharf’s Hazev, its adjoining cafe’s meze selection is the real deal. It offers a fair bit of variety and the place is quiet enough for a chat over lunch as well. 

What’s the biggest mistake a restaurant can make in your opinion?

Trying to do too many things at the same time. Just concentrate on a couple of dishes that the kitchen is good at and every single time I think of having those, the restaurant will come to mind. 

One more if I may would be thinking that location is secondary. Morgan M is a prime example. We checked out the Michelin starred resturant when it first opened at the north end of Liverpool Road near to Highbury & Islington station. While it wasn’t mind blowing, it was decent. If you are familiar with the area, you would be asking what a full service restaurant (Michelin starred or not) is doing there. It did survive for some time before relocating to the City though.   

What do you think the London food scene is missing?

I like to tell anyone who cares to listen that London has the best of everything in the culinary world. That is the chief benefit of being a melting cultural pot. Regardless of where you come from, the first thing you do is to seek out the food that you grow up eating. If you can’t find it, you would try to recreate it. That’s everyone’s basic instinct. As a result, London isn’t lacking when it comes to the variety of food. 

There are some things that you don’t realise until you have a kid. Getting a babysitter for a meal out can be rather prohibitive. If I have to pick, I would say that London can have more toddler friendly eating places. Having some highchairs stacked in a corner just doesn’t cut it these days. I am talking about decent food as well. We got rather bored with Giraffe after some time. Blue Legume comes close but if only there are more independent restaurants like that.  

Who’s your favourite food writer/critic?

Ironically, food critics (I’m talking about those who are actually paid to do that) and food bloggers don’t really see eye to eye most of the times.

But without a doubt, Giles Coren over at the Times stands at the top of my list. I cannot stand critics who goes on and on about the food. True, they should ultimately be writing about the food but you can only say so much about a slab of steak. Coren, on the other hand, writes about the most mandune stuff. Then right at the end of the piece, he sort of mention the food. The thing is, despite that, you do get a gist of how the restaurant is like, and which to avoid. I would recommend his How to Eat Out. I love the part that he wrote about his father’s penchant for Chinese dimsum. There is even a short piece of advice from Coren on where to bring a girl out on the first date. Very pragmatic. 

What has been your all-time favourite restaurant experience to date?

One of the best meals that I have is at Hawksmoor at Seven Dials. It was out first proper restaurant meal after we had the kid. The staff were marvellous when she threw a tantrum and we were able to have our burgers in peace. It helped that Hawksmoor’s burgers aren’t too bad either. Ditto for its triple cooked chips.

Thanks Kelvin some great recommendations and thoughts about eating and dining in London. If you enjoyed Kelvin’s interview you can also follow him via Twitter @london_chow or Facebook

Posted by Mise En Place Private Chef Recruitment

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Preparing for an Interview Part 5 of 5 – Notes, Achievements & Follow Up

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

This is the last post of our 5-part series, ‘Preparing for an Interview’. As we mentioned in Parts 1-4, we’re covering all the aspects of applying for and attending a job interview in the hospitality industry. This post will cover some more tips to give you the edge when going for the job of your dreams.

The suggested stages of preparation are:

  1. Pre-Application – part 1
  2. Curriculum Vitae – part 2
  3. Research – part 3
  4. Presentation – part 3
  5. Interview – part 4
  6. Notes/Achievements – part 5
  7. Follow up – part 5

Feel free to review the Pre-Application, CV, Research & Presentation & Interview  posts before reading on.

This post covers 3 tips that applicants should be diligent with and to ensure that the cycle of the interview process is not only complete but that all parties involved are left with a positive impression.

  1. Notes

Many people make the assumption that when you go to an interview, it is like a real exam and that you can’t take notes with you. This is incorrect! You don’t have to remember everything. If you have worked with a few different employers where you have gained valuable experiences, ensure that you write down the particular achievements, learnings and situations that are worth sharing with your interviewers. The main ones would definitely be those that you may have referred to in your job application letter/selection criteria. In saying that, it will always present better if you can recall your major events & achievements or example situations quickly however have your notes handy if you need to refer to more detail about those situations.

Your notes should not only list your achievements but also the challenging situations where you can demonstrate the actions you took to ensure the desired outcome. Although many may be hesitant to list failures, it is good to refer to if you can show that you learnt from that experience and/or show that you achieved a positive result the 2nd time around. This highlights your maturity, professionalism and adaptability in challenging circumstances.

By all means, practise answering questions about particular situations or achievements beforehand but to help ease your mind leading up to the interview, write/type them down and bring them with you, which will help as a handy reference in case you need a moment to compose your answer. Have your notes open in front of you so that you present as an interested and engaged interviewee. It is important however to use them in moderation; don’t rely on them for every question but use only as a reference a couple of times throughout the interview.
As part of your notes, think about the relevance of achievement for you but also the result and/or impact on the business/organisation. There must be a balance there as the interviewers will look for your understanding and consideration of business needs in conjunction with your skills and ability to cope confidently. You should also be able to talk about your team and how you brought the team together, considered quality and costs as well as producing a creative outcome. Bring any proof that you can without divulging confidential information of your current or past employers.

2. Achievements

Many people find it hard to promote themselves as they may think they are showing off or bragging about themselves too much. In the case of an interview this is the time and place where you can share your achievements with pride.

A good tip is to not just say for example that you ‘achieved a dinner of 100 each night’ but take the interviewers through the logical steps you took in order to achieve that result. In this way you are showcasing not only that you can achieve the desired result for the customers but you also considered the business needs (and whether you kept it within budget) and, that you managed it accordingly. Also remember to share any challenges you faced within that example and what you did to rectify it.

3. Follow Up

Once the Interview is over it is a relief however there is another step in the process that must be managed professionally.

If you feel that after the interview you did not want to pursue the job further, we recommend you call us immediately to discuss (or the potential employer if you went direct) to let them know as soon as possible. Explain your reasons in a polite and respectful way and thank them for the opportunity to apply.

If it is a job you wish to pursue, ask them before you leave the interview when you should expect to hear if you’re successful. They will usually give you an indication of timeframe. We will always keep you updated once we hear back if we are acting on your behalf. If you are going direct with an employer, if you don’t hear back from them within the time-frame they have stated, it is ok for you to call them, but only call once.

If you don’t get the job it is a hard piece of news for many, however how you handle this is also important. Know that although you may feel that you should have got the job, the employer felt someone else may have been a better fit for whatever reason.  Understand what it may have been that may have contributed towards their decision such as how you presented, if you were nervous or whether your experience was sufficient.

We will always give you feedback so that you can use it to improve for your next interview. It is disappointing to receive this news but remember, we all have received this type of news and try not to take it too personally.

Most of all we’re here to help you through the process so feel free to meet with us for an appointment. You can contact us via email at info@miseenplace.co.uk or phone: in UK 020 7430 9811 or outside UK 0044 20 7430 9811.

Good luck in the search for your dream job!

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Eat My Words – Luiz Hara

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

This week we interview Luiz Hara the blogger behind The London Foodie. Luiz was a former banker turned food writer and trained Cordon Bleu Chef! Read below about Luiz’s transition into the world of gastronomic delights! You can also follow Luiz on Twitter: @thelondonfoodie  Instagram: thelondonfoodie, Facebook: thelondonfoodie and Pinterest: thelondonfoodie

From reading your blog you moved from a corporate banking career to food. Can you explain to our readers what were the key reasons you decided to take a bold step and change careers completely?

I have always been interested in working the food industry, but I didn’t have the confidence in my early adult years to take that interest to a professional level.  After years in finance and investment banking, and facing a big birthday, I decided it was time to take the plunge and pursue this interest professionally.  I had been planning the move for around 5 years before leaving the City.  Given that work takes up over half anyone’s waking life, I decided it was time to devote myself to a career I felt passionate about. When the time came in 2011, it was difficult to leave the security of a stable job I had long trained for, with a good income, but I am now very glad to have made that decision. 

You have not only taken on the task of being a serious foodie and writing about it but you also trained to be a Cordon Bleu trained Chef! So if there was a title of you, combining the two into their own special ‘recipe’ what would the name be? Or what would be your most prominent title?

Writing as The London Foodie, I would say I am a food writer who can cook. One complements the other – as a trained chef, my understanding of food and cookery, and therefore my ability to write knowledgeably about food has improved.  Equally, as a writer, I get to visit restaurants all over London, which in turn has helped me to raise my game as a supperclub host and chef.   

How do you choose a restaurant to review?

I am not particularly interested in newly opened or expensive restaurants, but am equally happy reviewing a good Italian pizzeria, a dim sum venue or a Michelin-starred restaurant.  I want to find good examples of whatever restaurant style or cuisine I will be featuring, where the chef himself or herself actually cooks the food served rather than spends their time on TV shows.  

Who is your current favourite chef?

Nuno Mendes of Viajante.  I have known Nuno for years, since I first went to his Loft Project supperclub in Hackney.  I have been lucky enough to dine at Viajante on a number of occasions since then. I find his food innovative, creative and very sophisticated.

Most underrated Local Restaurant?

I love Saponara, a local Italian delicatessen and pizzeria in Prebend Street, Islington, serving up what I think is the best pizza in London, with a fine Italian wine selection. It has been serving its local clientèle for years, and I go there often.

How has blogging in general changed your outlook on food/restaurants?

Blogging has broadened my horizons considerably.  Whereas I used to have a few favourite food haunts I would visit regularly, now I need to visit a variety of venues. Blogging has also made me much more observant than I used to be of skills in restaurant design, cooking, value, atmosphere and front of house service.

What are 3 favourite places/dishes you love to prepare and or love at another restaurant?

Japanese and French cooking are close to my heart.  For my recent series of Japanese supperclubs, I created a summer dish of cold green tea noodles served in an ultra-chilled dashi broth topped with deep-fried aubergines and chillies. A perfect dish for a hot summer’s day.

I love unusual sushi combinations. My latest creation, Seabass Sushi Gangnam Style, combines sushi rice and seabass sashimi with elements of Korean cooking including white radish and carrot sweet pickles, wilted spinach in sesame oil, and a garlic and soy sauce jus.

Another favourite is a French classic I love to prepare whenever I can – Pomme Dauphine.  This is a mixture of mashed potatoes and choux pastry, eggs and butter. These are made into dumplings and deep-fried.  Like profiteroles, the dumplings puff up, with a crispy choux exterior, and a light, deliciously fluffy potato centre. They’re great to accompany a main dish with a rich creamy sauce, to soak up all the goodness!

What’s the biggest mistake a restaurant can make in your opinion?

Stop trying to improve.

What do you think the London food scene is missing?

A more continental approach to drinking or in other words partnering small affordable appetizers with drinks. Much as I love pork scratchings with my pint, I also love going to Spain, Portugal or Italy, where I will routinely be served a flavoursome local snack with a glass of wine or beer.

Who’s your favourite food writer/critic?

Jay Rayner.  He’s an entertaining writer, equally at home celebrating a hot chilli dish in a neighbourhood Asian restaurant as critiquing the most stellar chefs.

What has been your all-time favourite restaurant experience to date?

Three Michelin starred Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain. I was lucky enough to go there for lunch a couple of months ago, and have his tasting menu with accompanying Spanish wine flight.   This was an epic feast, with astonishing culinary skill and exquisite presentation.

Do you have a simple recipe that you would be happy to share with our readers?

I have just made some Avocado Ice Cream, it couldn’t be simpler to prepare. Add 340g avocado flesh, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 340ml whole milk, 120g sugar and 240ml double cream in a food prcessor and blend until smooth. Process the mixture in an ice cream maker for 45 mins. For a firmer texture, you can freeze it for a couple of hours before serving, and voila!

Thanks for the interview and receipe Luiz!

Posted By Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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What does Food and Data have in common?

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

This week we look at Menu Spring, who provides an amazing service to Restaurateurs and the public alike by providing a comprehensive list of thousands of restaurants where you can explore their menus, as well as rate their food. As Ali Meruani of Menu Spring explains, they have created a wonderful match of food and data.

What was your main motivation for starting up Menu Spring

MenuSpring was started with the idea of bringing restaurants, consumers and publishers together. When I moved to London I felt the current website did not do restaurants in London justice. There are far more restaurants in London than those covered by these websites and I wanted to make it easier for these amazing small restaurants to be discovered and get the word out.

You say on your website that you are not a Social Media site or a menu aggregator, what would be the best description of your services?

At our core we are data Company that is passionate about food, it is what we do with that data, that’s what makes us amazing. MenuSpring helps restaurants get the word out, while helping users find the perfect meal every time.

You give reviews on practically any food location or restaurant from the humble hole in the wall to lavish top tier restaurants, what has been the most memorable review and why?

We cover all restaurants in London but the site itself site does not do any reviews. We actually do not allow any of our users to write reviews. As a user you can rate a restaurant and like a dish, our focus through and through has been on food.

Is there a particular menu that seems to hit all the right spots with your subscribers?

With such a huge database, we have over half a million dishes in our system, it is hard to pick out one menu that we say hits the spot.

What would be a common theme amongst your subscribers with regards to the positive attributes of your services?

Our subscriber look at us to provide them with the most amount of information about the restaurant in the shortest amount of time possible. We want to be able to tell you more about a restaurant in 1 min that will take you 30 mins on any other site.

What’s the most bizarre restaurant/food location to visit?

In terms of the experience I would have to say Khyber Pass. It is a tiny little restaurant with only 9 dishes on the menu, you sit on the floor and have your food. It is a hike to get to, so the overall experience is worth it. It reminds me of being at a dhaba (roadside restaurant) in Pakistan.

In terms of bizarre locations I would have to pick places from my travels, sadly I have not been to any bizarre food location in London yet. But if someone is willing to share a secret location I will be more than willing to check it out.

Thanks to  Ali for sharing information about their services which provides a great benefit to all foodies! If you want to check out their site go to www.menuspring.com or follow them via Twitter @MenuSpring

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Eat my Words – Selin Kiazim

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

We are very excited to introduce to you Selin Kiazim. Remember this name as Selin is considered one of London’s leading young chefs. With several finalist positions in Young Chef of the year and National Chef of the Year, her year to be at the top of her game is coming… along with her dream to have her own restaurant. Find out more about Selin via her website www.selinkiazim.com or follow and tweet her on Twitter at: @Trinkets86

Selin, a big congratulations to you! You are enjoying a rising career with a bronze in the Culinary Olympics in 2008, finalist in BBCs Young Chef of the year in 2009, finalist in Spanish Chef of the year and finalist/semifinalist in National Chef of the Year 2010,2011 & 2012. You say you like competitive cooking. Will being a part of regular industry cooking competitions be something you plan to do throughout your career and if so why?

No, not all through my career. The only competition I’m interested in winning at the moment is National chef of the year. It has been a goal of mine ever since catering college so I would love to finally do it, this will be my 4th year of entering so who knows!

You were Head Chef at award winning Kopapa Restaurant and seen as one of London’s leading young chefs. You have really rocked the professional kitchen by excelling in what is usually seen as a male dominated industry. Where there any times that you had to ‘prove’ yourself in any way because of being a woman?

I think when I took the job as Sous Chef at Kopapa I felt intimidated at times working with quite a few boys, being 25 and female I felt as though I had to prove myself to them with my knowledge and cooking ability. But, it was mainly a case of just growing in confidence. Once I establish that in myself, everything became a lot easier. Previous to Kopapa I worked at The Providores which was a female dominated kitchen at times so I think I expected the same at Kopapa.

 Do you have any dreams or plans about mentoring more women in the industry?

I wouldn’t say dreams or plans but I certainly prefer working with young female chefs, so the chances are it will happen at some point. There are a couple of young female chefs I left at Kopapa who I would love to work with again but we will just have to wait and see where everyone ends up.

What high profile chefs have you worked with and who gave you the best tip and what was it?

Peter Gordon is the only chef I have worked for and he must have given me a million tips in the time I worked for him but I would say that having fun in the kitchen is the biggest he has given me, everyone cooks/creates better when they are happy.

After your TV debut at an early age on BBCs Young Chef of the Year – would you consider having your own cooking show?

I guess if the right offer came up maybe but my priority is to have my own restaurant first so its not really something I am thinking about.

Where was the last place you ate out and what did you have?

At Fino last weekend. I had turbot, crisp pork belly, oxtail empanada & the most delicious baby gem salad!

What is your favourite Local Restaurant?

Can’t say I really have one. But, my favourite places to dine out are Fino & Barrafina.

Which dish do you enjoy making?

Bulgur wheat koftes. It is a bugur wheat casing with a spiced mince filling rolled into a lemon type shaped and then deep fried. They are rather time consuming but incredibly delicious!

Which chefs do you most admire and who would you like to work with in the future?

Probably Miles Kirby, Chef owner of Caravan Exmouth & Kings cross. He was my old chef at The Providores. I have nothing but admiration for him and his partners for building up their business through pure determination and brilliant creative skills. He is a real example for me.

Without giving away any trade secrets, is there a simple recipe that you would like to share with our readers?

Here is a quick recipe for an aubergine and lentil salad: Aubergine_lentil_salad_recipe_by_Chef_Selin_Kiazim.

You’re now in transition to take your next dream step in your career… your own Restaurant in 2014. Will it be in London and what culinary style and atmosphere will your diners be delighted with?

Well without giving too much away I’m actually going to have my name above the door of a brand new restaurant opening in East London this year. It is not entirely my creation but it is a great opportunity for me to learn everything before I completely go it alone someday.

Watch out for Selin who is currently cooking at her Trinkets Restaurant Pop-Up series touring around London. Details on her locations are on her website. Thank you Selin and we wish you the best in your new ventures!

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Eat My Words – Mark Morris

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Mark Morris is here chatting this week. As a celebrated chef he travelled around the world. He is owner of The Staff Canteen, the much talked about social networking site that every chef or wannabe chef should know about. There’s an app that goes with that too. We were interested in what words Mark had for us to eat…you can follow him on Twitter too @CanteenTweets

The Staff Canteen community is huge and growing daily. Everyone’s downloading Chef Plus. We love it! Please tell us a bit more about how things are cooking and what you have planned for the future?

Our focus at The Staff Canteen now is very much about trying to improve the content we put out. We’ve always invested heavily in terms of video and we see that as a major factor in our success. If you look at our YouTube channel, you’ll see that it’s just passed 60,000 views in the last 30 days which just shows the audience our videos are getting. Chefs are time poor and while it’s important to have good editorial written content, the reality is that video is so easy to consume.

The opportunity is there now for a chef to watch another world-class chef creating a dish – like this month we have three star Michelin chef Jonnie Boer from Holland cooking two dishes for us. It’s one of the closest things you can get toactually being there with him in the kitchen.

So the main focus is to reach more chefs, to widen what we do, to reach into Europe and America – my biggest goal is to get into America – and overall to improve the quality of the content we put out.

It must be hard to pick favourites but who have you really enjoyed interviewing at The Staff Canteen and why?

I think I’ve enjoyed every single chef and I genuinely mean that. It’s impossible not to enjoy Raymond Blanc. The man is infectious; he’s just so passionate and genuine. It’s difficult to capture that passion and enthusiasm on a video but I hope we did it. The fact that such an incredibly busy man gave us his time was a complete honour. And it was the same with ReneRedzepi at Noma. He has the world’s media knocking on his door yet he invited The Staff Canteen in to do an interview. He doesn’t need our PR. He’s in the New York Times and all over the place but he did it because he knew that we are a website that chefs go to. El Celler de can Roca as well; all of these places have been a huge privilege to do and I’m grateful to all the chefs for their time. But I enjoy all of them. I’m like a kid in a sweet shop when I’m in there; it’s fantastic.

What is the best bit of advice you’d give someone wanting to become a Chef? And what was the best chef advice you ever received and from who?

I can’t remember who, but the best piece of advice I was ever given was: you’ve got two ears and one mouth, so listen before you speak.

I would say to anyone aspiring to be a chef: it’s a very hard industry but it’s a very rewarding industry. It can’t just be a job because the hours are too long and I think that’s why the industry has such a high drop out rate. It has to become a way of life and if you can’t make it a way of life, you’re not going to make it work.

I would also say: work at the highest possible level you can because once you’ve been to Manchester United or Man City you can play anywhere, whereas if you start at a lower league club, you might be lucky and go up, but it’s much more likely if you start at the top. Also just work very, very hard at what you do. It isn’t going to happen overnight. Raymond Blanc didn’t become successful overnight. It took him many, many years.

You have a huge membership already but who would be your dream member and what would you like them to do on the site?

I don’t really know. We have a lot of great chefs already who look at the site without being members. I like it when things happen like the other day when I saw Tom Kerridge. He said:“That was a fantastic chicken dish on your website, Mark.” And I realised he meant the recent Featured Chef video and I said: “Did you watch it?” And he said: “I watch all your videos.” I thought that was amazing.

Of course we’d like all these great chefs to post recipes and comment on our site but the reality is that they’re extremely busy. And I get as much satisfaction from a young student coming onto The Staff Canteen saying “this is a great site” as I do from Tom Kerridge watching my videos. I think it’s important you don’t become an elite club. You have to be accessible to all chefs and you don’t want people to be intimidated. I want everyone to use it and share their knowledge and collectively raise everyone up.

Which Chefs inspired you as you were growing up?

Loads. Raymond Blanc was hugely inspirational. Paul Gaylerwas a huge influence. At a time, in the eighties, when to be a top chef you either worked in London or in hotels, PaulGayler was one of the first British chefs who came out of a hotel and became a restaurant chef and he is one of the greatest British chefs, in my opinion, of a generation. AntonMosimann, who I worked for, was a phenomenal influence on me – a really traditional chef with a massive brigade at The Dorchester. Alan Hill at Gleneagles was a massive influenceas well.

And of course you can’t be of my era and not mention Marco Pierre White. I remember when his book, White Heat, came out. It was one of those jaw-dropping moments. The photos became iconic and Marco became iconic. Suddenly there was this bad boy with long hair chasing food critics out of his restaurant and almost seeming to not give a damn, and yet at the same time he was doing the most amazing food. He was like a rock and roll bad boy turned chef and suddenly all chefs wanted to be like him. So you can’t be from my generation and not be influenced by Marco.

Which chefs do you think we should keep an eye out for in 2013?

I think we’re really fortunate at the moment with some phenomenal chefs out there with great backgrounds. JamesKnappett is one, doing his own thing at Bubble Dogs; Paul Foster at Tuddenham Mill – again a brilliant chef;  MarkPoynton at Alimentum; Russell Bateman at The Grove; MattGillan at South Lodge; there’s a huge buzz around Tom Seller’s new opening. We’re at a really great time with some really great chefs coming through and I think it’s very exciting for the whole scene, I mean I could have listed 20 or 30 names in answer to that question.

Where was your last dining out experience? How was it?

Geranium in Copenhagen – we went over to film RasmusKofoed and he very nicely cooked us dinner. Although I must say that I’m very much against going to places to interview chefs and expecting them to cook you something. In fact I get very embarrassed and humbled when they do and I never want people to think: “Oh God, The Staff Canteen are here; we’ve got to cook them dinner.” These are immensely busy people and to give us their time is more than enough.

Anyway, the food at Geranium was absolutely fantastic. One of the things that really impressed me was there was very little cooking – lots of preparation but very little meat-in-a-pan style cooking. We had eight or nine courses and it was just a wonderful selection of Nordic cuisine. And you didn’t walk out feeling like you’d eaten half a cow. It was a lovely dining experience.

What’s your favourite local restaurant and favourite meal?

I don’t know; I like really simple things when I go out. I sometimes think that pubs try too hard. Why not just do a really good lasagne or a really good cottage pie or shepherd’s pie instead of trying to do pork belly or something like that and maybe not doing it right? So if I go out I like really simple things and really informal dining. I have children so it has to be accessible to kids. And I never mind paying for something. I would rather go and spend £15 on roast beef than £5.95 and wonder where the meat has come from. I don’t have a particular restaurant where I think, I must go there. I just like very simple, well-cooked food.

What is your favourite food related website? Favourite Foodie Tweeter?

Loads. I like The Critical Couple website. I like The British Larder blog. I like Elizabeth on Food; I’d love to have her lifestyle and I like her writing style, which is very objective.

In terms of tweeters, again Elizabeth on Food; I think her tweets are fantastic and her blogs are fantastic. She’s not there to create an audience with sensationalism. She writes what she honestly believes. There are loads of blogs and websites out there that are just vanity projects. For me to like it, I have to know it’s objective and like the writing style. The moment the writer becomes bigger than the blog I just forget about it.

Thanks Mark!

Posted By Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment


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Eat My Words – Dan Catford

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

We have been joined this week by highly creative and passionate Head Chef at  The Lamb at Angmering Dan Catford. You can follow what Dan gets up to on his blog that includes many scrumptious treats for your eyes and mouth.  Keep a look out for him being featured over at Visionary Dining in the coming weeks. You can find  him on Twitter

What made you want to be a chef and what’s your favourite thing about what you are doing now ?

I always had a love for food. My earliest memory would be standing on a stool helping my nan peel roasted peppers for a party my family where having. My passion for food then grew and thought the most natural path for my career would be to become a chef.
My favourite part about the job, especially at The Lamb at Angmering, is being able to have a free reign of the kitchen. Being able to put dishes on that I like and that I can tweak and play with to get a great menu. I love the buzz of a Saturday night service when your full and that first check comes on , it’s like going into battle !

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far and what do you have in the pipeline?

My biggest achievement so far would be getting this head chef job so early into my career at the lamb ! I have a few things in the pipeline that I hope to achieve though one being getting a rosette for the lamb and second hoping to start up my own venture one day starting off with my pop up restaurants around Sussex and surrounding areas cooking modern British food in a relaxed atmosphere. I also have a photo and video shoot with visionary dining.com which I am very much looking forward too.

Which chefs inspired you growing up?

My biggest influence in my career would probably be my executive chef from bailiffs court hotel, Martin Hadden. Martin taught me everything and suppose could say made me the chef I am today. But other chefs that inspire me now are Tom Kerridge, Tom Aikens, Paul Ainsworth, Heston Blumenthal, Simon Rogan and Ernst Van Zyl

Where was your last dining out experience? How was it?

My last dining experience was at a local Tex Mex restaurant called limings which was not great at all to be honest ! Starters were good but mains where poor and not value for money

What’s your favourite local restaurant and favourite meal?

My favourite local restaurant for everyday meal would be a little Thai restaurant called Lemongrass who make a damn good massaman curry ! For a special occasion I love the pass at South Lodge Hotel. The food I had there last time I went was easily best meal I’ve had. Matt Gillan is a great chef and rightly deserves his star and four rosettes.
My favourite meal, although I spend my time cooking fine dining food with the best ingredients, would have to be chicken enchiladas, nachos and guacamole.

Who inspires you now and who would you really like to work with?

Everything inspires me from my wife to be, to my great sous chef Richard Cook, to seasonal produce, the great chefs I’ve already mentioned and the world around me. I’d really like to work with Tom Kerridge as he is an amazing chef, to have two Michelin stars for a pub is outstanding and would love to learn from someone that skilled, plus he looks like a good guy to work with.

Best piece of advice to someone wanting to be a chef?

Be passionate, listen to everything you hear in a kitchen whether it’s the head chef telling you, or a kitchen porter, you can learn from everyone. Be patient too, you do not leave college and instantly walk into a kitchen as a sous chef on good money. It’s a bloody hard job but if your passionate and dedicated it all pays off eventually !

Favourite thing to cook? Favourite thing to eat if someone else cooks and who would you want to cook it?

My favourite thing to cook is probably a really nice fresh piece of fish. Nothing better than crispy skin and flaky juicy flesh. My favourite thing to eat is either;- my fiancée  Shelley’s spaghetti bolognaise or my mum’s roast dinner. It’s heard everywhere around the world but you can not beat your mums cooking

Thanks Dan!

Posted By Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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Eat My Words – Sam Harrison

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Sam’s has been open for about 7 years now, I am sure that time has flown! What has been your greatest achievement in that time?

I was so proud of when we opened the doors initially and was able to welcome people in to my own place. It makes you very proud when you receive good reviews from the likes of AA Gill and Fay Maschler. We were very chuffed to win Time Out Best Local Restaurant and The Evening Standard Best Value in London. I think one of the greatest achievements for any small business has been to try and ride out the recession and just survive- makes me very proud that I am able to employ 65 staff across my two restaurants.

We think it’s great that you have such a dedicated ethic towards sustainability and are transparent about your suppliers. Is this something that you are continually working towards and if so how?

I think that this is very much an ongoing process. It is something I work on with both my Head Chefs every time we are looking at new dishes for the menus. I think it is very important to work very closely with suppliers and see what you can achieve together.

What was the last restaurant you ate at? And what did you think?

Last week I had dinner at Electric Diner in Notting Hill. I thought the design, buzz and atmosphere were spot on. It just felt like somewhere you wanted to hang out. I also had a great Bloody Mary and cheeseburger.

What is the best advice you have ever been given, and by whom?

I am very lucky to have three very supportive business partners. Rebecca Mascarenhas (Sonny’s Kitchen & KitchenW8) is the most involved and has been invaluable with advice. Rebecca has taught me to not get swayed by your vision- it is very important to listen to other peoples opinions and feedback, but sometimes you have to go with your gut and know what you are trying to achieve is right for you. Restaurants are as simple as warm food, cold beer, the right price and a great smile- all the rest is cosmetics

Rick Stein is involved in Sam’s and you worked for him for years. How has he helped shape your own career?

I love working for Rick and Jill Stein down in Padstow and they both taught me so much. They are both so passionate about their business and hospitality in general. They so focused on the customer experience and always looking for ways to enhance this. I think I probably was a workaholic anyway (hard not to be in this business) but Rick and Jill’s work ethic rubbed off on me!

What is your favourite local restaurant?

I love Franco Manca for a great pizza. The pizza is damn good, its very affordable and very quick. Boys Thai is my local Thai and do great food. I love the spice and heat and sometimes they really crank up the chills!

What is the favourite thing on your menu at the moment?

I am trying to eat as much fish as possible and so a big fan of Head Chef Mark’s- Chargrilled Whole Sea Bream, Curly Kale, Lemon Creme Fraiche. Also I think Mark has done a great stater of Lambs’ Belly Fritters, Pumpkin Puree and Salsa Verde.

Did you enjoy your time in Australia? There are some amazing restaurants in Sydney, did you have any favourites?

I loved Sydney- what a lifestyle. I lived ten mins walk from the beach and could go for a swim before heading in to work. At one of my jobs we would go surfing in the afternoon, between lunch and dinner service. So many great restaurants in Sydney- many had an influence on my own places- here are three of my favourites.

http://www.batherspavilion.com.au/

http://www.buzo.com.au/

http://longrain.com/sydney_intro.htm

What annoys you most in the hospitality industry at the moment?

I think a lot people have forgotten the importance of hard work and biding your time- careers don’t need to happen over night :) Because of the number of restaurants opening, a lot of people seem to get promoted too quickly and often don’t have the skills to match the level of employment they are seeking. Experience is so important and I am always pleased to see CVs where people have stuck at jobs and not moved around every six months.

Thanks so much,

Posted By Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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