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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New blog post. Check it out @ www.chefirie.blogspot.com www.chefiriespice.wordpress.com
I will not be denied!!!
After much heartache with the computer I finally got a chance to log on to finish this blog. Check out part 2 of my Christmas food memories. www.chefirie.blogspot.com www.chefiriespice.wordpress.com Thank you all for the support. Please do leave your comments, they help a lot. And why not, follow the blog for sure.

Feasting on Christmas Memories - Xmas gone mad part 2

I will not be denied.

Hello there, yes it is now boxing day, the day after Christmas (yes, I wrote this two days ago, leave mi alone nuh, cho) and I will now commence the part Deux as promised. Okay, so that is not quite what I wrote the first time before I accidentally deleted my blog but I will recapture what I wrote becuase I liked what I wrote, damn it !! As best I can that is, bloody ass computers. alright, enough of that. Yes it is Boxing day and when I was growing up for me that meant a day at the movies. Oh please, put on new clothes that came in the barrel my sister sent down. Me push gawn a town to see the triple or quad martial arts (kickers) bill at either Carib, Odeon or State theaters. But alas, I can't really expand too much on that because the only food I would talk about it is that putrid tasting popcorn they had back then along with the gas infusing soda water. Mi hear seh dem a style now, all have imported flavored water, cooyah, sclaaatt!!
In my last blog we were looking forward to having Christmas dinner at my house. Well, let's get on with it already.  Now that the table is now cleared, time for some cousin to cousin catch up and maybe get some nibbles from the kitchen, see what mama can let off. Maybe a little fry up chicken neck, gizzard or something. I must try tief off a piece of cake, from the bottom of course silly..pardon me, professional at work here..and of course at sometime during the day I will try and lend a helping hand. My cousins and granny are here but I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the family. Christmas is a family treat for me seeing as it was only me, papa and mama in the house. I'm excited to see my Uncles (R.I.P. gentlemen) because dis boy is getting a little pocket change. Hey, I'm just keeping it real man, always hustling bro. I will also see the rest of my cousins and any other family friend that may stop by. Knowing my mama, even some of the estate workers will be fed today, beats some dry bread and D & G soda. mama used to sell dat pon payday but that is another blog coming soon at an Irie Spice blog page near you.
Dinner time..oh hell yes, we have to fast forward this ting ya man, for the xmas food memories dem wreaking havoc on my craven belly...well former craven belly that is, for you know that as a yute I could put it away. Dinner is almost ready but in the mean time, let me give you a run down on what the feast will be like. Did I mention that it is now 4.30, just four or so hours after breakfast? Mama got skilz - please, pay no never mind to my Ebonics. I now understood though that everything was not all done within that frame time for she knew how to plan and prioritize, both important tools in any kitchen I dare say.  Wicked carrot juice made with lime juice, brown sugar and rum; Sour Sop (Guanabana) juice made with condensed milk, nutmeg and need I dare say it, rum of course. And you wonder where I get my love for my favorite brown liquor. Sorry, that Baccardi white stuff just won't do. Can't have Chrismas without the jewel of Xmas beverages. Yes man there MUST be Ginger Sorrel (refreshing beverage made from the fruity flowers of the Hibiscuss plant) drink on the ready, nice and cold mi seh. Just not the same without it. So those are the libations, now for the really gooood stuff...in no particular order that is.
Rice with coconut milk and Gungo (Gandules) peas, salad with shredded carrot, tomatoes and whatever else mama want to throw in with a quick vinaigrette of lime juice, sugar, vinegar and oil served on the side. One big roast chicken, free range of course - what di hell we did know bout free range back then. We would just ketch di little ras and chop off im head. Dip him in some hot water and pluck off feathers - you better recognize. Nice well done roast beef wid all kind a sinting stuff up in it...yes it was well done. Rare meat at Jamaicam table!! but u musi waan get your cook card revoked and get fling out a kitchen. Curried goat, some oxtails, potato salad with; green peas, onion and eggs. Man, I could eat a whole bowl of that just by itself right now in the wee hours ya right now. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that killer home cured ham that was scored, laced with pineapple and implaled with tiny cloves. I mention the ham because this leg came from the pens in the back of the house. Yes bless you Jerry, weeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!  We had fun times wathcing you grow from a piglet to squirly beast with almost human like personality, but Christmas was coming and I needed new school clothes, did you not see mi big toe a pop out a mi boot?...Sell him, a pound a pork please!!! Lawd gesam pees, Can't wait fo New Year fi Nyam di ham bone Gungo peas soup, you fenne. Boss soup is coming y'all, nutin can't touch this. Yes my Haitian bredrins, I will not infringe on your rights to have Soup Joumou. Rounding out the usual suspects would be some green beans and mac & cheese - don't hate I say. Oh yeah, I can't forget the fry snapper fish, I told you Christmas was the one time of the year we do it up big. Whatever your means were, even if you are knocking two cans of bullybeef with some rice & butter and two piece a slice salad. That would be tomatoes for you wana be yardies or non islanders. Chalk it up to island pride. Well, it sounds like everyting deh pon di table. I guess we need to dig in after Papa say grace. I need to mention that from the chicken, Papa always got the breast, man a house buisness. Mama would take some bony part like the back or wing for herself and everything else for our guests. For me, I had to have a chicken leg. What! but after you never waan see me screw and wrinch up mi face. I remember one Christmas while eating dinner I had my chicken leg hanging over the side of the table and the dog jumped up and snatched it and bolted out the door..Hear mi man, I run him down and grabbed it from his tiefing mouth. I believe that damn dog did lose him mental faculty for a brief moment. Don't worry for I did straighten him out. I shat him a bax and proceeded to just wash off the leg to blousecup. PETA, get the hell off a mi ass.
So dishes are being passed, spoons are serving, forks are clanging on plates, chatter fills the room. I am happy. I am happy because my family is here, my house is filled with familiar genes and DNA. We will dine and later have dessert, for the Christams cake and more sorrel must be unveiled. Lawd gosh, a hope mama nuh look under the bottom a di cake..I guess this would be a good time to mention that I created some new memories this Christmas in 2010. I took a way long overdue trip to go see my Aunt and Uncle on the west coast of Florida in North Port. The fact that it was surprise was fantastic but even more of a blessing for me was that I hadn't seen my aunt in over 20 years and my uncle her husband in over 35years..Wow is right. I won't bother get into the why, let's just say I own that. After hugs and long looks to see what I now looked like, Aunty made me breakfast of fried bacon, eggs, toast, sliced avocado and coffee. Dinner was at friend;s house that evening and my dear peoples was a thowdown. Yes, yu know weh a come, sclaaattt!!! The next morning she made me Ackee and saltfish with fried bacon in it and fried dumplings, toast and sliced avocado with coffee on the side. Yep, I feel a little De Ja Vu tugging on my sleeves. To top off the day there was roast beef with gravy and rice with coconut milk and Gungo peas, steamed broccoli and juice for dinner. At this moment I must take a deep sigh, ahhhhh!!!!

I am happy. I am happy I took the trip for this was indeed a merry Christmas. My Christmas food memories have certainly gone mad. Interesting to see what a Chef Irie Christmas menu would look like...ummmm!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Yes folks, the first part of the blog is up. Do take a look see, drop a comment or two, definitely appreciate it for sure. www.chefirie.blogspot.com www.chefiriespice.wordpress.com
From myself and the staff of Irie Spice Personal Chef Catering Services I want to wish all my FaceBook and Twit family a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Happy Holidays everybody.

Feasting on Christmas memories - Xmas gone mad, part 1

Ackee & Saltfish with fried Plantains
Breadfruits roasting on an open fire
So, here we are again  the eve of the great day of the birth of Christ. The time I hear also for "Santa" to start checking the gear for his sled and the harnesses for the reindeers for world wide gift deliveries. If he passes by Jamaica let's hope his rotundus rear doesn't fall into another mango tree to bawl out, "Lawd wat a Chrismus tree".  Alas, enough about homie in the big red suit. Invariably it seems that most of us are here from somewhere else or we know someone from another country.  We've all invited them ourselves or been invited to partake in Xmas culinary delights, be it a figgy pudding, curried goat, black cake, sage pumpkin sausage stuffing, powda bone oxtail, tamarind glazed roast beef, bad bwoy herbed roasted goose, succulent glazed clove studded ham, truffled chestnut puree, potato salad with; eggs, sweet peas, onions, thyme, creamy mayonnaise. Oh hell, orange Fois Gras terrine with dehydrated raspberries sounds good too, let's throw that in as well.  Breakfast usually got the ball rolling and this wasn't until my grandmother and my two cousins, (Paulette and Maureen) that went to church with her, had arrived. I now find it incredulous that there was so much food around this time of year.  When granny arrived mama released the belly pleasers, but only after we set the table. Unless of course you're from an island paradise like myself,  indulging on the likes of the following could prove to detrimental to your health; boiled green bananas, sauteed kidneys and liver, ackee and saltfish, fried and boiled dumplings, steamed callaloo, scrambled eggs with tomato and sometimes saltfish, roast & fried breadfruit, hard dough bread wid some nice soft butter, chocolate (choklit) tea, blue mountain coffee....sclaaaaat!! and this was only 11:30, let the feast begin. I did say this was breakfast right because dinner still lef fi come. Not from Jamaica, you better recognize, mek somebady adopt you please. Yes sir, my Christmas food memories are in full effect.

Jamaican Christmas Black Cake
Ok, let me back up a second cause I man nuh waan you miss nutin zeen... Si, Xmas prep started about three weeks or so before when there was the annual pig string up -sounds a little more humane heh- where one of the pork shoulders was going to be cured for ham. That's right, mama made it all from scratch and I never saw a recipe book. When that shoulder was seasoned for curing with appropriate spices and wads of salt petre, wrapped in newspaper and burlap and refrigerated it was now time to ready the wine soaked fruits for cake baking. This meant if there wasn't enough in the jars from last year they had to be topped off, more fruits, more wine, more rum needed to be added. Raisins and prunes soaking in wine and rum with spices, marashino cherries and dried candied fruit cut up in another...shet yuh mout bwoy, what you kno bout, you is blaspheming I say. I mention this because it's my preamble to enjoying what I can now call my Holy Grail of kitchen confidential. And what is that you ask?  If I were to close my eyes and let myself drift away, even as a sit here in Marcia's Cafe on State Road 7 in Ft. Lauderdale finishing up some saltfish salsa wid crackers - don't hate, I know I can see that three stone fire place outside, embers popping off into the night, the criss-crossed metal rods outside my kitchen with hell a top, fire a bottom and halle-looooooo-jah in di middle..corn or sweet potato (pitata) pone anyone?

I can smell the fragrant aroma of varying spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, I can smell burnt sugar, melted butter and raw eggs.  For now I can smell the assembly of my favorite cake in the whole world, black Christmas cake. My lips and mouth tremble now because in as much as I loved and still love eating this cake, the prize for me was the ceremonial licking of that damn bowl..lawd jesam pees..nutin nuh sweeta dan dat yuh hear mi. If you have ever been around people that bake, the left over dough and batter is priceless for a kid or some unsuspecting adult. Yep I would lick it now if I could.  God bless you Mama, R.I.P.  Of course, how much I licked was dependent on the skill and dexterity of the index finger of the my mama the baker, and also how tired she may have been at 1 AM. So mama is up shaking and baking and after licking the bowl just like any hungry belly lad that just got a snack my eyes now have started to get dark, heavy and my body is now filled with lethargy. I am sleepy, I can't hang anymore, I am a late night early Xmas morning wuss. I must crawl into bed.  Lawd, is a wonder mi never get belly hot... Soon the morn arrives for then it will be time to give my mother that blue Xandu powder set and my papa that tie I bought earlier the day before. Of course papa is asleep for he will rise early to ride the company issued Honda 50 to go to sunrise service at church. Before he leaves though he will concoct his contribution to Christmas day.  He will make his famous Christmas guiness punch. He would warm that up when he came back and we would all have a sip..of course before granny came. Extras for me..

Ok, so I was talking about breakfast earlier because my granny and cousins are now at the house. Now hear this, Christmas is no joke because all the fine wares are out. Di good china pon di table, new curtains bought or made pon the window frame dem, new slip covers for the settees and hassocks and di nice chenille spread dem for the bedrooms are adorning the just pledge polished mahogany beds. After we have eaten and got caught up with stories and how everyone was doing - no we didn't have no damn telephone, email or fassbook - the dreaded aftermath looms in the air. With belly full the table must be cleared and reset for later. We the rented free labor related slaves must now wash dishes. Well my cousins will for I inevitably must find an excuse to rid myself of this task that I have done so many a night before. The ritis or the i'm your favorite cousin line gets digged out of the back pocket around this time.. Dirty rotten scoundrel I am. Hee hee he heh heh heeeeee!! 
I have thought many times about our Christmas food escapades since I became a chef but I never thought that the connection of Christmas and food was so important to me until now.  This was one of the few times if not the only time of the year I knew I would see most of my family. The day is not done yet for big tings lef fi come for in a few hours Christmas dinner will be served at the Sinclair's residence on Farm 2 in Caymanas Estates. Stay tuned for you must come back for the rest...You must I say..

Monday, December 20, 2010

My blog about My Christmas food memories coming to a page near you soon!!! look out for it..may even throw in a recipe or two..fiyah!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

- If you can't see it does that mean it is not there
- How big can nothing become
- Everything big started from a small thing, sometimes almost nothing at all
- Make it small and it will become the biggest thing you ever created
My thoughts Tuesday night after listening to Willard Wiggan, the micro sculptor showing at Art Basel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

keeping it simple for the clients this thanksgiving. Brined & herbed roasted turkey w/ some sage mash, candied yams/marshmallows, 4 cheese mac, spiced glazed hormone free ham etc..all organic this year. even doing gluten free pumkin pie and dressing. Makes you think about what you have to do. Happy Thanksgiving Y'all, be well be safe..

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Alright teamSagitarius, where all my sags with upbeat and gregarious personalities and big hearts. What y'all doing for the birthdays..rock di birthdays as they come..big ups to all sags..

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

new blog post from Chef Irie on Sunday's jerk festival @ www.chefirie.blogspot.com check it out, get a read, subscribe and follow. laters..
Check out the New blog post by Chef Irie on the Grace Jamaicam Jerk Festival @ www.chefirie.blogspot.com leave your comments. Hope you decide to follow the blog. Peace..

Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival

Kerry Glenn, Chef Irie, DJ Irie
So yesterday at Markham Park in Ft. Lauderdale the 9th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival took place. Very close to near perfect conditions peoples galore came out to celebrate what most of us Jamaicans consider a love affiar. They came out to celebrate JERK. The air wafted with smells that were fiercely intoxicating, widly tantalizing and more than enough ammunition for the stomach, the brain, the pallete to all spring leaks, salivating to the max... can you imagine, your brain salivating? Now that's some serious stimulus. So, did you miss it?  Well damn!!  Whose fault was that now?  I guess you will just have to wait until next year to come and have a great time, for this event has grown in leaps and bounds and with the looks of it there is ample room for future growth. It is sometimes hard to get a good feel for what was happening at the festival when you are actively participating in some of the festivities, but neither my eyes nor my ears failed me. There were droves of people, families, groups, single people, babies being pushed in strollers, babies on shoulders, people on crutches, in wheel chairs...yes they were all there. They were all there to eat and/or participate in the planned activities such as kite flying, cricket, dominoes, jungle gym, bounce houses, performances at the cultural center, vying for prizes at the various sponsor booths... you getting the picture yet?  Yes, if you were not there you missed all of that and of course all the jerk pork, chicken, lobster, beef, fish, crab, crab legs, ice cream and then some. I started the day eating jerk pork and yes you guessed it, ended the day eating more jerk pork. Lawd mi mout did deh pon fiyah...
 
Tanya Oliver & Kerry Glenn

Chef Ron Duprat

So what else did you miss? Well yours truly was there doing all manner of tasks... why of course I'm going to plug Chef Irie, it is afterall MYYYYY blog. Yes, I hosted the Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge and for me that has been the highlight of the day since I was asked to host it a few years ago. This year was kick ass for we had three returning champs ready to do battle - DJ Irie from the Miami Heat, Sharon Lawson of NBC6 News and Kerry Glenn former defensive back for the Miami Dolphins. Tanya Oliver our newest warrior represented TeleAmerica and held her own for sure. We started our throwdowns with last year's co-defending champion Kerry Glen competing against Tanya Oliver. Yes, it was on after they both faced off like culinary pugilists, ding ding ding ding!!! game on suckas!!  Though Spirited and seemingly evenly matched, this was not going to be the year for the athlete. Although Kerry brought the energy and cooking chops he was ultimately dethroned by Tanya as our judges Chef Ron Duprat, former Top Chef Contestant and selected audience member Ms kayla, a budding culinary student made their decisions final. Then alas it was time for what I dubbed the heavy weight match of the day, the throw down between DJ Irie and Sharon Lawson. See, what you don't know is that this was a grudge match. DJ took Sharon out two years ago and she vowed to beat the snot out of him if they ever met again.  There was even a public challenge issued to DJ right from Sharon's perch on NBC6 news on Friday night, but hark the crickets were a chirping. There was no response. Well, after the weigh in and the clanging of knives it was on like Donkey Kong. Both bouncing, cracking knuckles, stretching necks, back, hammys and other various body parts giving one the impression that we were about to witness an aerobic assault on helpless pots and pans.  The various peanut galleries inside kitchen stadium and supporting fans that were amassing in and around the tent were pumping them up as all were now anxious to get the battle started. They were now riled up as shouts of DJ DJ DJ DJ...Sharon Sharon Sharon filled the Publix (one of the main sponsors for the festival) culinary tent. As fans and onlookers gathered around, nerves had no buisness here..they attacked kitchen stadium set up with gusto and verve, secret ingredient and all. Being the culprit that planned it all I wanted to see if the secret ingredient of roasted eggplant would throw them for a loop. It would seem that their culinary wizardry was put to good use for they came through like the champs they were. Need I dare say though, someone was about to get their ass kicked!!!

Sharon Lawson & DJ Irie
squaring & jiving each other before the battle

DJ Irie named his dish the "Pacqui" for quite obviously he had seen the championship fight in Dallas the night before and Sharon without blinking an eye called hers the "winner".  Ummm, seems as if she too had seen the fight as well. Their focus was unaffected by wandering microphones in their faces, pesky host asking questions, swooping camera lenses, camera flashes and opposing fans trying to upset the balance. Look here man, alls I gots to say man (in my fake Trini voice), you should have been there for not only were they jabbing, hooking and counter punching but talking trash at the same time..Seems as if DJ is an ingredient thief and Sharon is one to use her womanly wiles for distraction. As the rounds neared closing the intensity ramped up as they started the plate presentations. Let me tell you, they were serious about this as any Top Chef contestants for attention was being paid to details... the stakes were high. Afterall bragging rights were up for grabs. Then it came down to the decision after the final bell, the judges were ready to taste and confer to render their verdicts. Who you think won, was it DJ or Sharon? Who do you think took it? By a unanimous decison and still champion clad in all black like Vlad the executioner (yes, di tory cum to bump, it was a sign) Sharon rendered the "Pacqui" defeated with her dish the "Winner". In true sportsmanship though the two heavy weight contenders hugged in the middle of kitchen stadium. Sniff sniff sniff sniff!!! It was beautiful I tell ya, beautiful.
"The Winner" winning dish by Sharon Lawson
 
Sharon Lawson, 2010 Celebrity
Quick Fire Challenge Champ
Well, besides me hosting the celebrity cook off, I also did a demo that featured pan seared fingerling potato, sauteed calalloo w/ mango and jerk ribeye steak and I also helped to judge the Jerk Cook off competiton where Robert Wong took home the trophy once again not to mention the $1,500 booty with his deliverance of jerk prime rib, jerked whole steam snapper, jerked king crab legs with accompanying sauce and soft pillowy Johnny cakes. Congrats man and to the other winners and contestants. After all that hard work it was now time to enjoy some of the Musical entertainment. The stage this night was graced by the beautiful Nadine "action" Sutherland, Richie Stephens and John "sweety come brush me" Holt all backed up by the versatile band Code Red. I am almost ashamed to say that in my existence as a yardie, I have never seen any of these artists perform before. Hey there's always a first time fi every ting, nuh true.  Finishing off the night with live vocal scratch effects, ballards, oldies, ska, calypso, dancehall, and many other hip shaking and waistline gyrating renditions was world renowned Fab 5.  Lawd mi a tell yuh peoples, it was a great day. Mek wi si yuh out deh next year nuh.

Chef Irie's Demo Dish
Pan seared fingerling potato
sauteed calalloo w/ mango
Jerk ribeye





 







Thursday, November 11, 2010

So the jerk festival is upon us once again. Fabulous jerk chicken, pork, lobster, icecream, cookies, pastries, you name it it will be there. Yours truly will be there doing a myriad of tasks for the day. Myself and former Top Chef Contestant Chef Ron Duprat will be doing cooking demos. I will be hosting the Celebrity cook off where last years winner former Miami Dolphin Kerry Glenn will pit his jerk mastery against past Winner DJ Irie and also current co winner Sharon Lawson News Anchor from our Local NBC6 Station. Don't miss the jerk cookoff as well, as jerk masters compete for various cash prizes and bragging rights to be the best jerk boss. So, come check us out why don't ya..

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/cleanplatecharlie/2010/11/jerk_festival_this_weekend_at.php

Friday, November 5, 2010

So, missed any of Chef Irie's demos..well you can redeem yourself..demo this Saturday, November 6th..in Ft. Lauderdale..@ Broward Meat & fish on Mcnabb and University..12-3pm
Heading to the Jerk festival next Sunday Nov. 14th @ Markham Park..yep, i'll be there too in the culinary tent doing demo, hosting the celebrity cookoff, judging..all kina nyamings fi yuh..come on out peoples..

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sofia 'Fifi' Calvin says: I must thank @ChefIrie for the most AMAZING 4 course, 3 dessert dinner party in celebration of my Birthday! The food was just divine!! Only empty plates all around!!! He will be happy to cater your gathering as well. Contact him on this FB page. http://ping.fm/zEeqO

Friday, October 15, 2010

Told you to stay tuned for more..doing it one more time this Saturday, Oct. 16th. Demo at:
Publix of River Run Shopping Center (Store 00368)
9951 Miramar PkwyMiramar, FL 33025-2397
Between 12-3pm, come out join Chef Irie with Publix and Grace Jamaiaca as we promote the Grace Jamaica Jerk festival..Fiyah!!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Told you to stay tuned for more..doing it one more time this Saturday, Oct. 16th. Demo at:
Publix of River Run Shopping Center (Store 00368)
9951 Miramar PkwyMiramar, FL 33025-2397
Between 12-3pm, come out join Chef Irie with Publix and Grace Jamaiaca as we promote the Grace Jamaica Jerk festival..Fiyah!!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Another great demo in the books today. Sorry you missed it if you couldn't make it. Hopefully next time heh..on to the next..client drop off in tha AM and the Boca Raton Wine & food Festival in the evening. More to come stay tuned!!..

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

@Chefirie says check out the new blog posts on www.chefirie.blogspot.com - as I saw @star_chefs Intn'l Chefs Congress in NY, mangoes for U!!

Star Chefs International Chefs Congess - NY, Park Avenue Armory. Leave comments please. Thanks.


Antoinette Bruno, Will Blunt - of StarChefs.com & Keenan Gerhard - Food Network w/
Finalists in Pastry Competition on Main Stage 
So have you ever been to a conference and wished it was over by the time you had already sat down? That seriously blows beacuse you're there thinking about all this money you've spent on airfare, hotel room, food for later, drinks at the bar whilst you're there bored and hamming it up with your boss or coworkers and newly net acquaintances you really can't stand. No, really..you mean i'm the only one? Well damn, so why are you reading this then, go back to what you were doing for this may not interest you in the least. Why, beacause I was in New York recently, about a week ago and my experience was so far removed from any of that crap. I wished it lasted just one more day..Well, that's what I say now because after three days, I was surely exhausted. Of course not from boredom, from having too much fun. From time to time in whatever industry you are affiliated with, there comes a season when you must recconect with other "lost" souls to bridge the knowledge gap or to just acquire continuing education points. Well for me the the first was true but none of my fellow chefs that I met appeared to be lost and we certainly were not seeking continuing education points. What we sought was a collective inkling for knowledge and inspiration. We were hoping to be dazzled, to be educated, to be one with Culinary zen masters being innovative as chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists or ground breaking technology gurus. We all descended on the Park Avenue Amory in New York for the 5th Interrnational Chef Congress hosted by StarChefs.com. I can't really speak for anyone else but I wasn't disappointed.

We are a crazy bunch us chefs and any time away from seemingly mundane and repetitive duties can be a holiday, a time to recharge, a time to reflect and go back feeling renewed to be creative and play once again with our burners, salamanders, ovens, immersion circulators and need I say in some cases test tubes and liquid nitrogen canisters. The art of being a chef transcends what most cannot comprehend but for three days we were here to understand "The Art vs. Craft", are chefs artists or are they Craftsmen? This was the prevailing theme of the congress, a question that fueled discussions on varying levels. Was it answered?  Well it depends on what your point of view was coming into the congress and were you easily swayed by opinions. The barefaced truth though is, one cannot become a true artist if you are a bad craftsman, lipstick on a pig and it is still a pig.

As chefs, I do believe we all strive for one commonn goal, to be the best chefs we can be, to always be better than our last dish. We strive not be perfect, but to execute perfectly!! Our talents are honed using skills deeply rooted in classical and modern techniques and the chefs represented at the congress surely impressed. Today, food as we know it rides on a mass transit expressway that allows ideas, thoughts and techniques to be shared all over the world each time we make a pit stop invariably in someone's restaurant, cafe, kitchen or commissary or social networking events. Hydrocoloids, Cvap, Sous Vide, Maltose Dextrose, agar, zantham gum, stabilizers, liquid nitrogen are words that now describe how vogue the culinary frontier has become, for thus to remove yourself from the discussion renders you to a perilous state of becoming a fosilated culinarian.

Torching Sea Bream

I sampled treats that allowed my pallete and eyes to enjoy new textures, new flavors, new ideas. I met new chefs, new purveyors, new friends and got reaquainted with some old ones. I even tried something I hadn't eaten since I was a child - tongue. For one, the thought of eating an organ that could lick me in real life was bizare not to mention the texture at the time. Thank you Chef Boloud for having Veal tongue on your menu at DBGB, it was indeed stellar and that bloody piggie burger with pork belly..WHAT!! the warrant is on the way. Thanks to green mussels and Pastrami smoked King "melt in ya mouth like butta" Salmon from New Zealand, frigging awesome I tell ya.

New Zealand Abalone

Thanks to True Wold Foods for such delish treats as Blue Fin Tuna Sashimi and torched sea bream, outstanding. Your care to harvesting is to be commended so the same goes to Abalone from New Zealand, another first for me. A taste and texture so unexpected, soft but not chewy..seared quickly, no salt needed.  I will be experimenting in the future. I reallly can't forget my lamb belly with green mango and artichoke chutney, Thai vinaigrette crumbles and basil balm.  As I write this post, my tongue is bathing in watery goodness, yep emotions evoked from the memories. Yes there are others that titilated me.. I just have to say..Pork Rules man, but before I go on I am indebted to the barkeeps from Stellar Artois. Leffe beer is a new favorite and the mixologists shaking the Ron Zacapa cocktails - Adriana from Harlem - you guys rocked. I was never in fear of becoming parched, y'all kept me hydrated to the max.

Lamb Belly w/
Green Mango & Artichoke Chutney

Just in case you missed it, I am indeed having a great time. In the midst of renowned chefs:Thomas Keller, Charlie Palmer, Ken Oringer, Rick Moonen, Elizabeth Falkner, Albert Adria, Suzanne Goin, Martin Berasategui, Marcus Samuelson, Johnny Iuzzini and even "The Man That Ate Everything" Jeffery Steingarten to name a few, I couldn't help but wonder if I should be star struck or spanking my ass for missing last year's congress (sorry I missed you last year Anthony Bourdain.) This cookpot is ginormous. I'm soaking it all in. whether you were hear for one, two or all three days depending on your crazy work schedule, there was something here for everyone that came. And if you couldn't help keeping your mouths closed after sitting captivated during Jordan Khan's and Albert Adria's presentation, alas for three words come to mind; profound, surreal and wild.  Maybe you were out imbibing on a beer or snacking on some great tasting Wisconsin cheese. OMG that yellow bleu cheese, it was creamy, sweet, salty smooth enough for a sandwich between two piece of crackers...damn!!. 

The mind is the tool you can invest in, it costs you nothing.  Paraphrased from Michael Voltaggio that presented alongside his brother Brian - duelling wagyu, beef tongue and beef cheeks. I smile. Sly devils they are. There is none that can stop the creative force when it's at work. Sorry that I am not sharing recipes with you now but congress I believe was about putting ourselves in the recipes so we can employ new as well as tried and true techniques to formulate culinary innovations, hence good food. Good food from farm to table, good food from the rooter to the tooter and good food from pots to palletes.
I am truly glad that I came this year to congress, if you are a chef out there and you missed it..Next year, same time, place to be revealed soon.

Chef Irie  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Chef Irie w/
Claire & Keenan Gerhard - Food Network


New & old Friends @ Congress

                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                    
                  
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Mangoes, Mangoes and more Mangoes..Mangoes anyone!!!


Maagoes galore
 So recently (yeah, this past summer) I attended the mango conference at Fairchild Tropical Gardens boasting the theme "Mangoes from India". Albeit it was the first time I believe they were hosting this event I was more than intrigued to be attending. Of course I was going to see and hear two of our premier chefs in South Florida, Chef Allen and Chef Van Aken and the likes of Madjur Jaffery and Andrea Curto- Randazzo. Don't confuse this mango festival with the errant showing in deerfield recently..mango festival that has nothing really to do with mangoes. Why would you want to cater and pander to such fraud, trust me, I would have been disappointed too to say the least. poppyshow!!!! No, here at the Gardens for this one weekend mangoes are king, mangoes rule. I thought that I had some fanatical lock on what i believe to be a magical fruit because I often tend to include this fruit in quite a few of my recipes - Mango gazpacho, mango guava punch, tamarind mango glazed salmon, etc. etc. etc. you get ehe picture. Boy, was i made to feel small here at this conference. Individuals here have such reverence for mango it is something to be desired. Represented were growers, importers, chefs, and people that just love to eat mangoes. You have one mango tree in your yard, please. Try 10, 12 or 15 trees and coming to the festival to get a few more. This conference taught me a lot and now have me doing a little more reseach. Tate a mango next time and ask yourself what you are tasting: vanilla, citrus, sweet, sour, tart, soft, firm. Do you know what type of mangoe you are eating? Kettit, Kent, Ford, Kuini, Tommy Atkins....Do you really care? wow!!! Do you know where they are from? Haiti, India, Dominica, Asia, Java, Sumatra, Mayanmar...Do you love indian Cusine? Mangoes play such a huge roll in the cuisne not to mention the culture. I am of the opionion that mango is a religion in India. It's a good thing they won't have to waste time converting me, I'm already there. Mangoes are big in India because the bloody things just grow well there, plain and simple. As big as mangoes are in India the rest of the world shares in this love affair. For us from the Caribbean we know bout and I am quite sure you have memories and that make a mango shine for you.
Plantain crusted scallops

I can't write about this succulent fruit without talking about some of my childhood memories. Summertime for me when I was a child meant mangoes, well maybe a bit more but you just had to be there to expereince the flava..that meant I was going to Nyam some mango til mi fool, till mi belly hot mi, till mi comatose and buss a sleep in a mango walk. Can we say a hint of mango colic. Listen me folks, you just have to be there to understand unless u grew up on an island like myself. See, I am not talking about eating an occasional mango and call it a day. First off, you couldn;t just eat one because there were so many varieties to choose from, of course we all had our favourites but who da hell was going to turn down free mangoes. Of course for most the king of mangoes was the East Indian, now known to me as a hybrid of the Alphonso mango from India. Then there was Julie, Bombay, heiden, number 11, blackie, stringy..goodness the list goes on. So picture this, it is summer, no school, ur hanging with friends or cousins if the parents sent you off to country to be rid of you for a few weeks and you're just liming in the trees. Breeze blowing and you and everybody else in the trees, sometimes tresspassing, eating mango after mango dropping skins and smoothly sucked seeds on the ground below. If you were one that was challenged by heights I guess this meant that you were at the mercy of your friends in the trees and you were relying on aim and skill from the throwing of stones, branch or whatever you could get you hands on. This was a skill that you developed and honed over the years whether for the mangoes or for some errant buss head for waring factions. But I digress for i know nothing about such evil doings, skullduggery and young bwoy madness:-)
See, sometimes that one lonely ripe and golden was just haging there where monkey treachery was off limits. As kids we were not concerend about any culinary samplings from the kitchen that offered up mango as the secret ingredient, for us straight off the vine a quick rub on your shirt or tear up pants and you were ready to make quick work of the jewel in hand. 

Chef Irie's Mangotini - Sexxy!

Tresspass you wondered. well when you passing by groves of trees that were not manned at the pass, the lonely ripe and goldens became fair game, but you had to snatch and grab with a quickness. so that meant stoning the fruits or have the best tree climber scurry up the trunk, align themselves with the most laden branches and shake furioulsy to separate the lonley ripe and goldens from their caretaker, the sappy heathenous vines. The bounty was thus stuffed into pockets or make shift pouches of twisted shirts. Now we have half naked scalliwags eating, chatting and laughing needing a bellyfull.
For the unfortunate souls who didn't have trees to raid or to pick them timely from the back yard, there was always the market. Lawd jesas, di baskit dem full a nutin but mango from all walks. The colors were dazling: green, yellow, gold, brownish red, purple, red, spotty it was all there. Then there was that intoxicating smell. Snnnnnnnnffffffff!!!! hot damn, man I could bax off two right ya now...Sclaaaaaaat!!!! Mango sale a gwaaan in ya to fenne....
Man, such memories..Now in my adult years and coursing my passion as a chef, I find myself engaging in those memories and wanting to bax off a dozen or two of any mangoes i can get my hands on, but my reality now says that I must watch my sugar intake because of dietary DNA constraints and the dreaded ring around the center so maybe two or three :-(. Yeah, and they have to be sweet too. I an I nah defend no fluxxy mango at all..dash weh dem deh!!!
My passion these days for cooking has allowed me enjoy the flavours of mangoes from a different perspective. It has allowed me to dream in 3D, layers and textural graphics, smooth sauces, napoleons, chunky soups, breadpuddings oh hell a mangotini, mango gazpacho and such the like. It is summertime afterall so for goodness sake make some delish mango tasties, make some delish something. Have you ever made a green mango chutney, a mango smoothie, mango anything? Try some of these out, a refreshing respit from the heat it will bring. It's Summertime!!!!

Plantain crusted pan seared scallops w/
 Jicama, Mango, Watermelon salad &
Mango soup

Chef Irie

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last day at Star Chefs International Chef Congress here in NY. Dinner with neice and good friend at Saphire Indian restaurant on Broadway by Columbus Circle. Know of it? It was Great. Now to soak it all in. Sensory overload :-). Back to Ft. laudy later today. will review some @ www.chefirie.blogspot.com ..Who's going to Chef Congress Next year? Start planning from now. it's usually the same time of year. I am extremely happy that I came.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ok folks, go check out the new blog post @ www.chefirie.blogspot.com it's all about the bully beef. Libbyscornedbeef anyone?

Bully beef - love this stuff so much!!! - Leave comment, thanks.

Sunday night, sitting in my hotel room here in Brooklyn doing some editing to this blog before I post it in a few.  Thoughts of this blog run through my mind, but I am also thinking of the upcoming start of the Star Chefs Conference here in New York at the Armory on Park Avenuve. There's  a certain level of excitement that I feel unlike the first time I was here for this conference two years ago. My thoughts are consumed with food, chefs, taking notes..and of course eating food in various New York eateries. Damn, so much and so little time. Oh hell, let's get it on!!!
So on to the buisness at hand. I am from the Caribbean, Jamaica, the land of my birth. I have been here in the States 25yrs now and have managed to continue a culinary tradition introduced to me when I was growing up from my mother. Yep, corned beef in a can or bully beef as I knew it to be. Corned beef in a can you ask chef? Well..yeah, why not?  We'll get back to that in a sec though. I was asked recently what was corned beef and my response I think was something like it is beef that was brined with spices and cooked. Well to be exact it is beef (brisket cut or top round for leaner eats) that is brined for a few days in a solution of sugar, nitrate - salt pitre and spices then cooked for a few hours untll nice and tender often served in the Irish American corned beef and cabbage dish on St. Patricks Day or sliced in many a delis across the country.
After responding to the querry, my interest peaked though not for the usual St. Patrick's Day fare, even though I am resigned to having a corn beef sandwich at Carnegie Deli this week whilst I'm here in the big apple for I have never been there before.  For years I have eaten what I have often described to many as my favorite comfort food, corned beef and rice..FYI: eaten in a bowl with a spoon preferably sitting on a wooden bench, languishing in the afternoon breeze with the kitt...oh, sorry, I got lost there for a second in my corned memories. I am quite sure that my friendly islanders can relate with this. You see I'm more of a purist, I don't want any bloody cabbage, I want it straight cooked up with a nice hint of scotch bonnet, thyme, onions and maybe some tomatoes. No time wasting allowed here, I say bump a thirty minutes meal because if you were hungry enough you could have this done in fifteen minutes. Or if "white squall" a bite you just bust open the can, fork it out, mash it up wid some pick-a-pepper sauce and find any available crackers and go to town. Trust me man, nutin nuh nicer..!!!

Corned beef & cabbage w/ brown rice

Bully beef and rice, often getting the upturned nose by public turncoats even though it provided many a quick meals in many a households growing up, maybe even theirs. I say turncoats because some would never admit to eating bully beef in public, must have been too common for them. Let me tell you this though, even being the red headed step child of pantry staples or is that sardines - hey, I like them too - you got to have the best. Well yeah, Libbys damn it. At the price it fetches now at the supermarket, other brands find their way into shopping carts for quick easy meals.

Libbys Corned beef
So all these years I have eaten this delectable canned goody and never once did I stop to ask, well what is corned "bully" beef in the can. Well, there's no mystical revelation here, it's simply minced corned beef with a little gelatin added to hold it's shape in the can. Right, well I'm not surprised to hear that amidst strangling rumors about what exactly was in those cans of tasty, salty, yumminess. whether it was made in Brazil, Argentina, UK or here in the US. Now that I'm here in the states I have experienced The Irish American fare of corned beef and cabbage and of course corned beef hash. Somehow though, boiled vegetables and bolied beef doesn't quite float my boat, but I have cooked a mess of it . Nonetheless, I have made up some corned beef tasties, a little corned beef and cabbage with a little brown rice, got to eat a little healthier these days and some of what I will call chef Irie's H.H.S.H - Heavenly Hot Shit Hash..lol!!


The H.H.S.H w/over medium fried egg and coconut pumpkin smear

Okay I must admit I didn't come up with that name but I'm rolling with it. I just like the way it sounds but I will employ some credit here to MLN, you know who you are, thanks.  So corned beef in the can might not be your thing, but it's a part of me, a part of me that I wanted to share with you.  So if you were yearning for some sexxy food porn and wanted to go frolicking about with some sensous coconut guava foam on the lips, lickable sauces, an orgasmic dessert or erotic libations, I say come back soon, join me on the walk where we can discover from the mind of Chef Irie why food truly deh pon Fiyah Iyah!!!
Eat local, think global..


Chef Irie

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

corned beef and sustainable foods coming to the next blog posts near you.. www.chefirie.blogspot.com stay tuned..

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hot DAMN...I'm a blogger now!!! see me at www.chefirie.blogspot.com

culinary fingers

Nothing happens before it's time. Well here I am dishing out my first blog. For many months I agonized over what I would write about when I started blogging. Well my fingers are ready to talk. Tell you what, stay tuned and let's enjoy together the culinary samplings and then some. We have all benefited  from eating foods in all forms, tasting culinary delights and cuisines prepared by chefs from the many countries of the world. We have savoured delicacies which often times have made us salivate when we reminisce, licked our fingers clean, shrieked in ecstasy when there is no other way to convey our joy as the tantalizing morsels dance on our palettes. Dance I say separating themselves one by one into sweet, sour, savory, bitter, salty, bland just before they disappear down the gullet to full bellies only to be rubbed later by the satisfied gourmand.
So yes, stay tuned and come join me on the journey, may even throw in a political appetizer or two, or a rant and rave about silly things dumb people do..wait a minute, they might be both one in the same...

Ciao,

Chef Irie