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Thursday, October 22, 2015

October Meeting of the ACF Naples Chefs

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a professional organization of chefs and cooks. They offer a number of resources to foster the professional growth of it's members. Nationally, there are about 200 chapters and close to 20,000 members.

The, in every practical sense, Collier County, FL chapter of the ACF is the ACF Naples Chefs. Usually around April through November they have a monthly meeting. As most of the member chefs are employed at country clubs, if one of them agrees to host a monthly meeting, this is where they are usually held.

The meeting this day was held at the Clubhouse at Mediterra Country Club.

They were offering free valet parking that evening which I believe was a first for a monthly meeting.

Being October, the meeting was peppered culinarily with bits of an Oktoberfest theme.  On that note, as you walked into the clubhouse there were servers offering you Pumpkin Ale or Oktoberfest Lager

If I haven't been to one of these meeting venues before, I like to get there a little bit early to take a look before the crowds get there.

They had a beautiful bar,

food service area

and dining area for the meeting.

The meetings are usually structured to have a social hour, an educational component and then a dinner with invariably, some incredible food.

As the kitchen staff frenetically put the finishing touches on some of the evening's meal,

The crowd really started to gather for social hour

and were passed a number of really good starters.

Speck ham with Rosti potatoes/sour cream and lingonberry jam,

deviled egg with farmed American Sevruga Caviar

and a white asparagus hors d'Ĺ“uvre, served with hollandaise and Finger Lime Pearls.

Until now, I have never knowingly had food incorporating this type of citrus into it. The cooking and food at these meetings, as it's chefs cooking for chefs, can be very novel, innovative and interesting.

After social hour, everyone gathered in the dining area to hear a few announcements from chapter president Chas Tatigian

and Andrew and Megan Somerville, among others.

The educational portion of the meeting was given by Russell Scott, a Certified Master Chef (CMC).

Chef Scott was an excellent speaker and we were very privileged to have him address us as there are only 66 CMCs in the world. His topic was on the various ACF certification levels. Master Chef certification is the most vigorous. It is an 8 day examination and costs $4000-6,000. There are 8 areas of examination, or exam majors. The first exam is healthy cooking. The examinee is given a specific basket of ingredients and nutritional requirements for the meal and is timed to the meals planning, preparation and service, it's nutritional content verified by a dietitian.
The second area of testing is buffet catering. Cold food storage and preparation are evaluated here.
The candidates knowledge of classical cuisine is then evaluated. The standard here is that they can be asked to do anything out of Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire (Yes, this is the full PDF!).
Freestyle is next, and can be anything. It's four courses, with 4 plated portions prepared as 6 portions.
Global cuisine follows testing knowledge of the cuisines of the Americas, Asia and the Mediterranean.
Baking and pastry, followed by evaluations of the knowledge of cuisines of Continental and Northern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Poland, England, Scotland and Scandinavia) is next.
To finish just about all applicants off, the final evaluation is called market basket. From the applicant's manual. " To evaluate the candidate’s ability to write and prepare a menu within specific time constraints at the highest level by demonstrating the mastery of all culinary foundational skills. All kitchen activities will be thoroughly scrutinized and evaluated, prescribed mastery in mind. It is fully expected that a mastery of cooking methodology, butchery and craftsmanship will be demonstrated during  the cooking period. Furthermore, the end result will be expected to exemplify these standards to the fullest extent of plating, platter construction, taste and finishing skills." Yikes! One thing is certain though, one must have respect for someone who can pass an exam as rigorous as this.

After the presentation attendees were treated to some really good displayed starters, entrees and desserts.

There were a number of displayed starters.

A shrimp and crab Terrine, stuffed with shrimp and crab Mousse and colored with Chlorophyll,

Pearl Couscous with an orange vinaigrette, cherries and almonds,

a carrot ribbon salad, with pearl onions, raisins and vinaigrette,

a shrimp and crab salad, with a cilantro lime cocktail sauce and lump crab meat

and a spinach salad, with goat cheese, strawberries, pistachios, shaved fennel, white balsamic vinaigrette and a bit of speck ham.

The entrees were also really good.

Pureed butternut squash was dragged onto a plate with a combination of braised red cabbage and hot German potato salad

and served with a Roulade of pork tenderloin with herbs, mustard, shallot and garlic.

 I think you'll agree this is very nice looking food.

The other entree was a plated horseradish cream sauce, bacon wrapped Brussels sprouts, herb Spatzle and Meyer Ranch prime strip loin.

What a beautiful piece of meat and a beautiful presentation when plated.

The desserts were also great with apple raisin Strudel served with vanilla ice cream,

caramel pecan tarts,

chocolate and peanut butter bar,

triple Chocolate Bark Bar with pretzel meringue

and an Opera Cake with hazelnut Florentines.

On the way out there were even wrapped Stollen, a sort of fruit bread, for guests to take home. In the spirit of the word, I took two!

This was one of the better meetings of the year with wonderful food, a very dynamic educational presentation and a great venue. Hats off to Chef Tyler Field and his crew for another outstanding ACF Naples Chefs general meeting. I think some people that are not chefs do not realize how much work goes into planning and executing these meals. Being one of the those who is not a chef, their efforts were much appreciated.

This meeting would not have been possible without generous donations from the food purveyors Cheney Brothers, Grand Western and Sunset Spices and Specialties.

Another great ACF Naples Chefs monthly meeting and another post on Forks.
ACF Caxambas Chapter of Naples and Marco Island
President Chas Tatigian, CEC
PO Box 855
Naples, FL 34106

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sushi Class at Origami Restaurant

is a restaurant in Fort Myers, FL that serves Korean and Japanese cuisine. I did a blog Post on Origami last year. When I heard SWFL Foodies was organizing a sushi class here I jumped at a spot in the class. It sounded like a lot of fun.

Origami has a very nice cocktail

and sushi bar as you enter the restaurant.

Our class was held near the sushi bar.

Rosa, the owner, taught the class.

She was the first person serving sushi in the Fort Myers area over 20 years ago. As she was telling us a little bit about herself and her business, we were served a choice of a very good miso soup,

or a salad, this one had a delicious sweetened sesame dressing.

We were making two rolls that evening, a Mexican and Spicy Tuna roll. We would also be making eel, salmon, tuna and shrimp Nigiri.

We were supplied with everything we needed to do this, including Sushi Rice, Wasabi and Gari,

sesame seeds,

Masago and everything else to make our rolls and nigiri.

We started on the Mexican roll, which is tempura shrimp, avocado and masago,

After taking about a baseball sized portion of rice,

the rice is placed onto the sushi wrapper (Nori)

and spread out to completely cover the wrapper. You can add your masago to the rice now if
you wish.

The nori is then flipped rice side down, and  an indentation made about 1/3 of the way up the wrapper horizontally and avocado,

and tempura shrimp (placed head to head) put into it.

The nori is then rolled with the bamboo mat,

and comes out looking like this.

You want to give it a second pressing for good measure,

and then it's ready to cut.

We were told to dip our knife tips in water and then hold the knife upward vertically to let the water coat the knife so it won't stick to the roll. When cutting, it was suggested we gently saw through the first 1/3 of the roll before giving the knife a firm push the rest of the way through. This helps not to mangle the roll as you cut it.

The class attendees were really having fun with this.

We then moved onto the spicy tuna roll,

and Rosa makes her's spicy with Sriracha sauce and sesame oil. For a good compromise on quality and economy, she told the group she uses Bigeye tuna. Bluefin tuna, the most prized, can run upwards of $30-40 for 2 pieces of sushi.

The group had a lot of fun with this,

and we ended up with a lot of really good looking rolls.

Soon we might be side by side with the chefs at the sushi bar!

We were them shown how to shape the rice and hold,

and fold the sashimi over it

to make our nigiri.

Everyone had fun with this as well,

and there were some very nice nigiri made that evening.

After all this food and fun there was more than one happy sushi cook that evening.

This was a really good class. It was a whole lot of fun and highly recommended. Hats off to Rosa, our instructor for teaching and Louis and Wanda at SWFL Foodies for organizing this great event.

It's a wrap (literally) for another post on Forks.

8911 Daniels Parkway
Fort Myers, FL 33912