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Friday, September 25, 2015

The September Meeting of the Southwest Florida Chefs of the American Culinary Federation

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a professional organization of chefs, cooks, food industry professionals, food enthusiasts and a food blogger or two.  They have about 200 chapters and almost 20,000 members. They offer training, accreditation, scholarship and certification to foster professional growth in the culinary arts.

The Southwest Florida Chefs of the ACF is the Lee County, FL chapter and hold monthly meetings most months.

This month, the meeting was held at Crown Colony Golf and Country Club in Fort Myers, FL.

This chapter monthly meetings always start with a dinner and then have an educational component. The educational component that day was fruit carving and plate garnishes.

Attendees were served appetizers which were a selection of meats

 and cheeses

 and lined up

for an Asian-themed meal of Asian style short ribs,

seasoned with soy, ginger, cinnamon, anise, 5 spice powder and topped with noodles and peppers,

sesame/soy pork tenderloin

which was soy-marinated pork tenderloin with sesame oil and pineapple salsa,

pacific rim shrimp,

prepared with fried wanton skins, jicama slaw, green onion and pepper jelly,

stir fried vegetables,

and ginger and lemon grass jasmine rice Croquettes.

As attendees sat to enjoy all this good food

the president of the chapter, Scott Boyd, gave a few announcements to the group and acknowledged Crown Colony Executive Chef Jeff Caponi for hosting the meeting.

The educational component of the meeting began, and was on fruit carving and plate garnishing.

Executive Chef Robert Saalfeld and Sous Chef Matt Thivierge from Naples Lakes Country Club brought their culinary carving tools

and demonstrated a number of displays. These ranged from the simple, such as a beet decorated pineapple top

or a simply carved melon rind

to things more ornate,

which really seemed to get everyone's attention.

Practically, this was explained as a way to put fruit to good use that may not be able to be served while bringing a dining experience to another level.

Chef Dave Rashty from the Pink Shell Resort (sorry about the photo quality)

gave a demo on Tomato Water gelatin, which can then be cut into all kinds of shapes to use as plate garnishes. We were also given a handout with recipes for garnishes and references sources such as Le Repertoire De La Cuisine. Very cool.

Executive Chef Scott Boyd of Magnolia Landing Country Club and Chapter President demonstrated a couple of very simple garnishes one could use.

The first was partially peeling back the husk of a Tomatillo, sticking a fork into the fruit and immersing this briefly in a fryer.

The second was getting thin slices of plantin

and making parallel, longitudinal slices through them not quite end to end and putting them in a fryer with this end result.

Only a chef could think of this! Simple but with the right dish, very effective.

Chef James Frazier from Florida Gulf Coast University Resort And Hospitality Management Program brought a spiral vegetable slicer and Mandolin to demonstrate a few garnishes.

 Some ribbons of carrots and daikon were made

and used as a very simple garnish to elevate (literally) your dish to a new level.

Prepared with the mandolin; herbed potato window panes were on the left, which are thin slices of potato pancaked together with herbs in the middle and fried, fried shoestring potatoes, Gaufrette, or waffle cut potatoes in addition to deep fried basil leaves,

 which all make great garnishes,

 even for these simple potato Quenelles.

Chef Jack Elias from the Commercial Foods And Culinary Arts Program at Cape Coral Technical College gave a demo primarily on garnishing with sauces. 

He got his demonstration started off though showing us how to make a pastry bag out of a piece of parchment paper.

First the square piece of paper must be cut into triangles,

rolled into a funnel

and folded as to stay together.

He made it look so easy but i knew it wasn't!

The sauce portion was pretty amazing. A little bit of this,

and that,

a bit of blending,

and voila!

Some different initial patterns and a little more blending,

and there you go.

Another example,

how much fun is that!

At the end of the meeting some of the members were recognized for their contributions to the evening's meeting.

This was a very fun, interesting and informative meeting of the Southwest Florida Chefs of the ACF and I look forward to attending more.

The Southwest Florida Chapter of the ACF
Chef Scott Boyd, President

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