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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

@Chefirie says check out the new blog posts on - 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 & 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, 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 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




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 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 @ ..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 @ 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!!

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.. stay tuned..

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hot DAMN...I'm a blogger now!!! see me at

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...


Chef Irie