Fourth of July Cooking: Let Common Sense Be Your Guide

Categories: Half Baked

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Image via Manolith.com
Don't be this guy.
If you waited for July 4 to fire up the grill for the first time this summer then shame on you. This is South Florida where grilling in December is no big deal. You should be an expert, and it should show on Independence Day.

See also:
- Fourth of July in South Florida: Where to Eat and Drink in Broward and Palm Beach
- Fourth of July Hot Dog and Pie Eating Contests on Fort Lauderdale Beach
- Ten Best Barbecue Spots in South Florida

Whether you're grilling steaks, chicken, fish or vegetables the key is patience. First of all, it's summer and it's hot. That alone is enough to slow you down, but you don't want to be running around and end up with heatstroke. At the same time moving too fast will ruin your barbecue. It'll make your food rubbery, dry, and an embarrassment to both yourself and our great celebration of American independence.


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SweetTooth Soiree: A Bad Sugar High at Gulfstream

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All photos by Zachary Fagenson
Good setting, bad party.
It was a surprise to see Susan Arboleda of SusyPops' cake pops selling her wares at Gulfstream Park's SweetTooth Soiree Friday night. People paid anywhere from $40 and $80 and were promised all the sugary treats they could handle.

However, we couldn't blame her. The amateur confectioner who aspires to greatness has a right to be paid for work. It was the event organizers who dropped the ball here and throughout the event. Delray's Caffe Martier was dishing out Krispy Kreme Donuts. Hopefully they weren't from the North Miami Beach store recently closed for a roach infestation.

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Chef Versus Chef: Five Kitchen Arguments

Categories: Half Baked

Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.

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Photo by Karamellzucker
Chefs can get catty.
Being a chef is like being on the island of Misfit Toys. It's a tiny, dysfunctional circle we roll in. In this tight-knit community, you always seem to be working with the same people. But that doesn't mean we always play nice in the sandbox. What else do you expect when you put a group of creative, ego-driven adrenaline junkies in a tight, hot space? That pot will eventually come to a boil.

Between my personal and professional culinary entourages, I've been party to and witnessed some unique disagreements -- on and off the clock. Hell's Kitchen? Iron Chef? Ha! Whateva! Here are some pretty entertaining Chef Versus Chef bouts.

 

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Half Baked Education

Categories: Half Baked

Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.

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Photo by baking in pearls
​This week a former sous of mine posted an article about a group of students suing their former culinary school. The students sited recruiters misled the value of a culinary education and their job prospects after graduation. Stories of countless students feeling cheated and misled but mainly regretting the tens of thousands of dollars they borrowed--aka buyer's remorse.

I watched this sous go through the two year struggle of school. He finally graduated so he could drown in huge loan payments after only six months in the job market. Chef laughed as I thanked God for dashing my plans to go through with culinary school. Then we debated.

In one corner the protege-- a lifer of HKU (Hard Knocks University). In the other-- a graduate from one of the best culinary schools in New York.  

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Half-Baked: The Farmers' Markets Are Coming!

Categories: Half Baked

Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.

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Photo by Patty Canedo

October is my own personal Christmas. Vendors unfurl their pop-up tents, hang tattered signs that have been hibernating, and rally to the same side streets every weekend -- until March. Every year, I wake up extra early on the weekends to comb through lush local products. From Jupiter to Miami, I spend the season (actually all year long) combing them all.

What can I say? I get a tingle from stacked crates and boxes overflowing with fresh-picked produce. I smirk when there's warm dirt still clinging to the bounty -- it makes things that much more beautiful. With

the reusable bags' seams stretched to capacity, my remarks are always the same, "This place is food nirvana."

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Half-Baked Hatred

Categories: Half Baked

Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.

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Photo by jenny_wong
Overdone and a little annoying!
Since I'm in the industry, I tend to take the three-strike approach to dining out. You have to consider all the components that factor into the process, from the initial orders at the table to plating food. I'm pretty laid-back, so my "not even if you paid me" list is short. Actually, there's only one name on it. I never use the word loathe unless I'm referring to this place. What really drives me crazy about this place is that it's everywhere -- every mall, downtown strip, or airport -- so someone's always trying to drag me there.

After almost two years of staying clear of this dining room, I was forced back in the other night because the in-law "just had a craving." Well, to be fair, she knows my opinion, but since I wasn't going to eat, I suggested going there. Two years since I walked into the overdone cluster of a lobby, and I was anxious to see if my revulsion had subsided any. Sadly, this visit just exacerbated my contempt.

With doggy bags in hand, my blasphemous protest was challenged. So with no intention on making conversions, I articulated a well-constructed argument in the manner of the times -- Top Ten Reasons Why I Über-Loathe This Place.    

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Half Baked: Dirty Things Chefs Say

Categories: Half Baked

Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.

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Photo by Tom Schierlitz

After an extremely busy shift my sous and an arrogant line cook deemed my work worthy enough to finally invite me to take out the trash with them, i.e. take a smoke break. Normally I was the one left to clean the line during these times so I was elated at the jesture.

In the overly ripe trash room Javier, line cook, "do you know how to make the duck butter?" arm out offering me a smoke.

"Duck butter?" I grunted tossing the (heaviest) trash bag into dumpster. "Uh, no," I took the offering. He looked over at Paul, my sous, searching for approval to continue. Paul occupied readying his cig barely shrugged his shoulders. Javier smiled and found a clean corner of the room to sit on; we gathered around for story time.

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Half Baked: Restaurant Quality?

Categories: Half Baked

Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.

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Photo by urbaninvestigations
I wish food shopping was always this pretty.
Earlier this week, I advised a sick friend the only real remedy to any illness is chicken noodle soup. Not having the energy or capacity to make soup, she curled her lip up at the thought of picking some up from a near by counter service cafe.

"Eh, all those soups are so loaded with sodium. I don't really need that right now," I nodded sadly, agreeing with her. "Plus it probably all comes from a can anyway; that's why I never eat soup."

"Actually most places get it frozen in a bag. It's actually not bad stuff," that didn't ease her mind. But it did make me think about people's perception on the industry. Not to mention all the interesting products that food vendors have to make our jobs as chefs "easier". Throw in owners' favorite buzz words like quality and cost control and you'd be surprised what ends up on a plate. 

The chef equivalent to clothes or house catalogs, I surfed through a very large and widely used food vendors catalog. Here are some of the highlights.

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Half Baked: Avoiding the Snowbirds

Categories: Half Baked

Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.

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Photo by Anthony Citrano
Damn you snowbirds!

"We can finally go out to eat again", it's not officially summer until my father, a South Floridian of almost 40 years, sings these words.

I'm sure most of you share his sentiment, probably aren't as anxious as we in the kitchen are for the arrival of our northen patrons. I'm sure you all didn't throw any confitte at your bar-b-ques last weekend. But ask any of your acquaintances on the line--the new season is finally here!

The official surge won't hit until around holiday time but as we change menus, tweak recipes, stock up inventory, the ticket machine will steadily get a little more action over the next couple weeks. Though this is great for us on the line, the hardship now is on the locals who've been able to grab a table fairly easily these last couple months. Don't think we in the industry don't know you locals are our life line. You keep our doors open all summer long so for you here are some ways to Avoid The Flock of Snowbirds. 

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Half Baked: Savory vs. Sweet

Categories: Half Baked

Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.

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Photos by ulterior epicure & Jamesjyu

Black Truffles (top) Chocolate Truffles (bottom)

Even in our post work getup a stranger still attempted to approach us,

"Hi, I'm Sarah. I'm a real chef," her majesty, the grill cook, took a victory sip of her cocktail after her jab at me.

"Hi, I'm Patty. I'm a skilled chef," the sip nearly came out her nose. She toasted my witty retort regarding my (then) pastry chef status-- a position that still remains the most challenging and intense that I've ever held in any kitchen

Ask either a pastry or savory chef if they could do the other's job and their ego will respond the same--a smirk and a quick "but it's been forever since I've done it". The reality is that neither one would work a shift in the other's clogs. Why?

Based on the most challenging and rewarding elements, here's my list of Savory Vs. Sweet from a woman with an affinity for both.

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