Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Things First

Lately I've been once again getting a lot of support and help from friends some of whom are professionals in building my dessert company. One, my dear friend Jeff, has a stellar background in advertising and marketing and is steering me in the right directions. In the past, I've had to try to do a lot of things myself, technical, marketing, etc. and today all of the facets that go into creating a new business are, in many cases, even more complicated than before. These sidebars I stumbled through were sometimes successful, sometimes less so. I needed help but it was difficult to find the right talent, the right people who I could trust with my company materials. Being a perfectionist chef, and being in charge, made it even more difficult to let go. But so far I've been learning to give someone permission to help me in the infancy stages of this new company. And, perhaps even more importantly, Jeff helps me NOT to do things I'd probably do if he weren't around. Like what? A few months ago I thought a website was the most important thing to create an online dessert company, so I searched and found a talented artist who did web design. I loved her jewelry so why not give her a shot at creating my website? Well, I severely underestimated how much input that poor artist would need from me, as I hadn't thoroughly largely through inexperience, thought through all of the production stages needed even BEFORE we put a dessert business online. She did a beautiful job with what little I gave her, and I appreciated it. But that was completely premature, and as a result, was stopped dead in its tracks. Thanks to Jeff, I now understand the website which I had considered all-important and believed to be the first thing I needed, is in fact one of the last things I should get done as it is the culmination of the entire ordering and fulfillment procedure my clients will go through when they choose one of my desserts.
This series of posts will hopefully help others trying to create an online company avoid some of the costly and counter-productive mistakes I've made, and, more importantly, show the right way to go about creating a new company which will be successful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Boca Goes International

This past weekend we were tooling around and just happened to spot a new Indian food market on Federal Highway at 28th street. Opened a month ago by Mr and Mrs Pandya, this market may very well symbolize the prosperity of modern professional Indians since it carries so many traditional foods done commercially. For many years the average Indian market here in the States carried such traditional foods but they were usually made by an Indian woman in her home's kitchen. And although we always enjoyed these foods, there was a huge variance as to quality, not to mention questions about sanitation rules observed or not by our unseen cooks. All of those fears are now allayed by commercial packagers of a tremendous assortment of foods favored by our sub-continent friends. And many of my chef friends and I agree: it's our favorite cuisine. Once certain biases are overcome ("I don't like curry"), many others find it equally addictive. An entire Indian meal from snacks, appetizers, soups, main courses, breads, even drinks can be put together with the very impressive frozen and fresh offerings at this immaculate, well lighted new store. But if you insist upon making your favorite dishes from scratch you'll find all of your fresh veggies, rices, pulses, legumes, spices in short : most of what you'll need except for fresh meat or fish right here.
They even have several brands of curry powder if you don't feel like grinding your own.

Little India

2800 North Federal Highway

Unit 5

(across from Quality Inn Motel)


(First in a series of blogs about Boca's growing food scene)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fusian Asian in Palm Beach

We don't get up to Palm Beach as often as I'd like, I occasionally visit some clients up there or go to Cafe Boulud. Had read about Joy Noodles and Asian Cuisine, a pan-asian restaurant reviewed in the last New Times "best of"issue. Decided lunch would be a good way to check it out (usually cheaper and less crowded than at dinner time). First impressions are always critical, but never more so than with restaurants (especially the rest rooms). As a chef, I look for cleanliness everywhere as a reflection of the kitchen's attention to sanitation and attention to food quality and everything else-comes from there--.

Joy Noodles smelled nice of fresh food being stir-fried and was decorated stylishly though simply. Somebody cares, I thought. The usual restaurant supply napery and other tabletop used at this level restaurant was replaced by better glasses, silverware, etc. so the overall impact was of a much more expensive restaurant.

The representative menu of Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dishes at moderate prices and appropriate beverages was organized in much the same way that Chinese menus were: of the "one from column A--" variety with the "alternative" this time being a choice of rice or noodles, with an assortment of proteins, veggies and sauces adding dimension and ethnicity.

We tried crispy calamari with dipping sauce which though a bit greasy still managed to be crispy (not an easy thing to do) as app.
Then we chose one rice and one noodle dish. My companion's
rice noodle with spicy Korean-style beef was not too spicy for him and my mango-chili chicken stir fry with fresh basil was light and grease-free. Neither was overly sauced nor too spicy for our tastes. All dishes were served on beautiful plates and platters obviously chosen to showcase the foods.
The one drawback to the food was actually its menu representation: almost every selection after its name listed the identical melange of fresh veggies (red bell peppers. carrots, etc), lending a certain "chain"-store quality to what is in reality made-to-order dishes.

Wait staff was unobtrusive yet attentive.
Prices: moderate
decor: nice/casual

JOY Noodles & Asian cuisine
2200 S. Dixie Hwy
W. Palm Beach 33401

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Hi Everybody: are you as shocked as I am at the rise in food costs? Can you believe the price of staples like bread, milk, etc. On a recent trip to the super market I noticed a huge (percentage-wise) increase in baked goods prices, and other essentials. I can only imagine the struggle it presents for entire families to budget for decent nutritious foods. Now more than ever one has to use sales, BOGOS, coupons, etc. to stretch our food budget and still eat well. Somehow we manage, especially those of us used to "home ec", making do with what we have. Be sure to buy seasonally, too and in addition to having variety, you'll automatically get food that's better priced. And here's my answer to food prices I object to: DON'T BUY THEM! Seriously, find another alternative. I have a suspicion that some of these prices have been passed along to us simply because they could be; unfortunately, the basics are just that: things we don't feel we can live without. Try to think outside of the box: do you really need that loaf of white bread for $5 or can you use pita or rye krisp bread this time (which mysteriously have retained much lower prices though they too contain wheat)? Or be really radical, and don't buy any bread at all. Bring out that bread machine and start using that again. A friend and I recently figured out that simply using a machine, even if he has to buy one, he'd make up that money in one month. But start baking quickly as the cost of flours is also rising. Keep the flours and yeast in your fridge or freezer, too, they'll last longer. Another friend divides women into two categories: princesses and pioneers. I assume I know which one you'd WANT to be , but realistically today, which one SHOULD you be (we can go back to being royals after the recession!)

Write me with any baking questions/problems you have
Chef D

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Making Soup from a Stone

This past weekend my husband got sick with a cold. When he's sick, all he wants to do is veg out. So naturally, my thoughts turned to veggies too -- vegetable soup. Within ten minutes we had a pot of split pea soup bubbling away on the stove and in an hour we were enjoying a nice hearty bowl of soup together. Steve between sips said "nobody makes soup anymore" and I found this hard to believe since soup's one of the first things a chef learns to make and that was my job when I worked banquet service at the Westin Hotel. From my Chinese studies I learned to make soup from (literally) nothing, or more honestly, from just about anything you have on hand. You just need to know some basics, and have on hand some pantry items, and soup's really very simple to make. Not to mention the obvious health benefits, it just feels good to eat home made soup. So the question now is: does anybody make soup anymore? Do you want to learn how? Stone or otherwise.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Spreading the Joy

If you like a food item, I can think of almost nothing more enjoyable than sharing it. A longtime friend and neighbor going through some hard times was telling me her woes (they're very real) and looked sad while recounting them, but her face completely lit up when she again thanked me for some walnut/raisin bread I recently gave her. Just for a moment, she seemed happy, smiled broadly and little did she realize in doing so she made my day -- and all it took was the alchemy of some wheat flour, raisins, walnuts, yeast, etc. and the most precious ingredients love and time. Share what you love.
And write me your comments! (I'll give you the bread recipe if you want it; you don't need a bread machine).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Making Life Easier while Saving Money

Hi everyone: from time to time I'll post (and hope you do too) ways we can improve our food lives and save money, something we're all about today. Today's tip is a product by Reynolds-- a food sealer. Yes, I know, the late-night infomercials-- BUT WAIT! this one's actually useful and available in your local Publix. The sealer looks a bit like a one-hand can opener, but with the suction cup and battery operation it sits on a handy shelf in my kitchen, lightweight and ready to use in a second. Plus, the bags come in different sizes (also available in Publix) and are reasonably priced. If you've ever owned a sealer, you know buying additional bags was expensive and inconvenient. Reynolds' bags can also be re-sealed, not an option with other types of sealers. For those of you who don't think you need this: I bought lemons about three weeks ago and sealed them: opened a bag last night and they were pristine. Vacuum-sealing (sous-vide in French) is a no-brainer for stockpiling fresh or cooked foods in freezer or fridge during upcoming hurricane season. Sealer costs under $10, bags between $3-$4.