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Archive for the ‘Chef Insights’ Category

Chef Jonn Nishiyama, Cherokee Town and Country Club

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Chef Jonn Nishiyama of Atlanta was recognized as the 2010 Chapter Chef of the Year during the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter’s President’s Gala and Awards Dinner. Chef Nishiyama also received the 2010 Southeast Region Chef of the Year award during the 2010 ACF Southeast Regional Conference held at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, Birmingham AL.

Currently Nishiyama works as garde manger chef at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, under Chef Kevin Walker, CMC. The Chef of the Year award recognizes an outstanding culinarian who works and cooks in a full-service dining facility. This person demonstrates the highest standard of culinary skills, advances the cuisine of America and gives back to the profession through the development of students and apprentices.

Prior to joining the staff at Cherokee Town and Country Club, Nishiyama worked as executive chef at Marietta Country Club, Keenesaw, Ga. and as executive chef at Druid Hills Golf Club, Atlanta, among other restaurants in Georgia and Hawaii. Nishiyama earned an associate degree in foodservice and a certificate in culinary arts from Kapi’olani Community College, Honolulu, in 1986, and an associate degree in culinary arts from The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y., in 1993. He has earned numerous awards throughout his career, including more than 10 gold and silver medals in culinary competitions. He is a member of ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter Inc.


Liz Cipro Named A Legendary Event’s Executive Chef

Monday, June 13th, 2011

A Legendary Event announced the appointment of Liz Cipro as Executive Chef.  As Executive Chef, Cipro will oversee all aspects of A Legendary Event’s culinary department including menu design, daily kitchen operations, food preparation, and purchasing.

Cipro began her career with A Legendary Event in 2001 with experience in both restaurants and catering kitchens and was quickly promoted to Sous Chef.  Eventually, she moved into the position of Catering Sales and was promoted to Director of Catering Sales.

Cipro is a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier International and has been a member of the Atlanta Chapter of NACE since 2004.

Tony Conway, CEO and Founder of A Legendary Event said, “We are extremely honored to name Liz Cipro as Executive Chef of A Legendary Event.   She will oversee our entire culinary team and continues to be an outstanding addition to our company as we strive to provide our clients with a legendary experience.  Liz is extremely well respected in the industry and we’re delighted to have her leadership.”

Formed in 1997, A Legendary Event has grown into a multi-million dollar full-service event enterprise, handling more than 2,500 events a year.


Sustainable Shopping Tips for Chefs

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Contributed by Georgia Organics

Shopping for organically grown foods can be as confusing for chefs and restaurant owners as it is for anybody else. The different legal terms and jargon that companies use to market their foods can make it seem like their products are sustainable and humane, but it takes a detective to really figure out whether the food is what the farms say it is.

Georgia Organics put together this handy list to help you be as educated a shopper as possible. Note: some of these terms are regulated, and some are just plain bull.

“Natural” for non-meat products (FDA): In 1989, the FDA issued a definition for “natural,” stating that it meant “nothing artificial or synthetic has been included in or added to a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food.”

“Natural” for meat products (USDA FSIS)
: Can’t contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, chemical preservative or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient. In addition, the product could only be minimally processed (FSIS, 2006). Under this ruling, the definition of minimally processed includes: a) Traditional processes used to make food edible or to preserve it or make it safe for human consumption, or b) Physical processes that do not fundamentally alter the raw product and/or that only separate a whole, intact food into component parts, e.g., grinding meat, separating eggs into albumen and yolk, and pressing fruits to produce juices.

“Naturally Raised” (USDA AMS): “Naturally raised” on livestock and meat derived from livestock would mean that “(1) no growth promotants (hormones) were administered to the animals; (2) no antibiotics (other than ionophores used to prevent parasitism) were administered to the animal; and (3) no animal by-products were fed to the animals” (Agricultural Marketing Service, 2009).

Free-Range Eggs: There are no legal standards in “free-range” egg production. Typically, free-range hens are uncaged inside barns or warehouses and have some degree of outdoor access, but there are no requirements for the amount, duration or quality of outdoor access. Since they are not caged, they can engage in many natural behaviors such as nesting and foraging. There are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. There is no third-party auditing.

Free-Range Chicken: The USDA allows for any chicken raised with access to the outdoors to be labeled “free-range.” Nowhere does it state that the chickens have to actually go outdoors; “access” is the only legal binding verbiage of that rule. They may still be raised in the same overpopulated poultry house-type production and be labeled “free-range.” Certified organic chickens may also be raised like this.

Cage-Free: As the term implies, hens laying eggs labeled as “cage-free” are uncaged inside barns or warehouses, but they generally do not have access to the outdoors. They can engage in many of their natural behaviors such as walking, nesting and spreading their wings. Beak cutting is permitted. There is no third-party auditing.

Knowing these terms will help you navigate through product purchasing and help you decide what’s worth paying extra for, and what’s worth avoiding.

5 Tips for your first trip to the Farmers Market

More and more chefs these days are going straight to the source to get their produce, meats, breads, and herbs. Farmers markets are one of the easiest ways to assess the quality of several farms in one morning. Here’re some tips for first-timers.

1) Get there early. Check the farmers market website to see what time the market opens. Good farmers have very devoted fans and may sell out of food.

2) Ask questions. Get to know your farmer, and don’t hesitate to ask about his or her farming methods, tips for cooking or chemicals they may or may not use.

3) Look for certified organic or certified sustainable farmers. Certification means the farmers use natural methods to avoid chemicals that could harm your health and the environment. Learn more about what organic means here, and why organic foods are better for you here.

4) Bring your own reusable bags. Most farmers markets don’t have grocery bags. Don’t forget the chilled bags for your meats.

5) Check out what’s in season. Consult with a harvest calendar to see what’s in season, and then plan your menu accordingly. (Check out for our version.) But don’t be afraid to try new things. Farmers are helping to keep heirloom varieties around, most of which aren’t sold at a typical grocery store anymore, so they may look weird at first glance. Don’t be scared of purple carrots!


Tabasco Recipe Competition Worth $10,000 Prize

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Chefs across the United States are challenged to rise to a new recipe competition showcasing the popular street food trend sweeping the foodservice industry.  For a chance to win a cash prize, contestants must submit their entries by July 18, 2011 online at or by mail.

The “street foods” themed contest invites professional chefs, sous chefs and lead line cooks at restaurants and non-commercial foodservice establishments, as well as chefs-in-training, to create an original entrée recipe inspired by some of the world’s most popular ethnic cuisines found in street foods today — like Latin American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean.  Qualifying entries must be easy to prepare in a foodservice kitchen, incorporate easily sourced ingredients, and include one or more of the following three flavors from the TABASCO Family of Flavors®:  Original TABASCO® brand Pepper Sauce, TABASCO® brand Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce, and TABASCO® brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce.

The contest awards a $10,000 grand prize to the professional chef with the winning recipe; one culinary student will be awarded $2,500 for the winning recipe in the contest’s student category. In addition to winning cash and merchandise prizes, the professional and student category winners will be featured along with their winning recipes on  Paul McIlhenny, President and CEO of McIlhenny Company, maker of TABASCO® brand Pepper Sauce, and top New Orleans chefs will comprise the judging panel and select the professional and student winners on September 14, 2011.

For more information, contest rules and the contest entry form are available at or by calling 1-888-HOT-DASH.


Chef Doug Turbush’s New Venture: Seed Kitchen & Bar

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Doug Turbush, formerly Executive Chef with Bluepointe restaurant in Atlanta, will be opening a new restaurant in East Cobb named Seed Kitchen & Bar.  Turbush will be the owner/operator and executive chef. The tentative opening is this summer.

Seed Kitchen & Bar will feature a casual dining environment. The menu will reflect the chef’s culinary experience and global travels, highlighting a passion for bold and flavorful foods and a commitment to sustainability.

“I envision Seed as a place where families and friends will meet to enjoy modern comfort food, unpretentious service, a sleek setting and excellent value. Sourcing locally has been core to my approach to food since I began cooking. I want to create a fun neighborhood restaurant with a well-priced menu and a progressive wine program,” says Turbush.

To implement his vision for Seed, Turbush is collaborating with Ai3 of Atlanta, an Atlanta-based architectural firm specializing in retail and restaurant design. With planned seating for 135 patrons, Seed Kitchen & Bar will also have a bar, lounge and additional seating on the adjoining patio.

Chef Turbush’s culinary background includes a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of American (CIA) in New York and a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality & Tourism from the University of Wisconsin. His restaurant career began at age 15 at a steakhouse in Wisconsin, after graduating he moved to Minneapolis based Goodfellow’s restaurant before heading to Bangkok, Thailand to explore the exotic flavors and techniques of Southeast Asia.

In 1999, Turbush joined the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group as chef tournant at Nava under Chef Kevin Rathbun and for the opening of Bluepointe, where he worked under the direction of Chef Ian Winslade. In 2001, Turbush was promoted to Executive Chef at Nava. He went on to take the helm at Bluepointe where he has been Executive Chef for the past six years.


ACF Southeast Regional Conference

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

It was great networking, learning and fun at the ACF Southeast Regional Conference.  Pictures by Leonardo Ruscitto.

Casino Night fun with Michael Deihl, Cheryl Glass, and Tom McAdams

Casino Night fun with Michael Deihl, Cheryl Glass, and Tom McAdams

Kevin Rathbun presents at one of the seminars.

Kevin Rathbun presents at one of the seminars.

Joe Truex presents at ACF SE Regional Conference

Joe Truex presents at ACF SE Regional Conference

In the kitchen

Students at work

Students at work

Rafih Benjelloun stirs it up for the crowd

Chef Tom Naito , owner of Tomo demonstrates, sushi preparation.

Chef Tom Naito , owner of Tomo demonstrates, sushi preparation.

Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene

Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene

Chefs Ron Horgan, Rafih Benjelloun and do you know who?

Chefs Ron Horgan, Rafih Benjelloun and do you know who?

Chris Coan of Gas South, Karen Bremer of the GRA, and Michael Ty of ACF National

Chris Coan of Gas South, Karen Bremer of the GRA, and Michael Ty of ACF National

The Halperns crew at the trade show

The Halperns crew at the trade show


ACF Atlanta and Southeast Awards

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

American Culinary Federation’s Greater Atlanta Chapter hosted two major events recently, the 2011 President’s Gala and the Southeast Regional Conference. (To view pictures from the Southeast Regional Conference, click here).

The President’s Gala was held at the Druid Hills Golf Course in early February and featured an awards presentation.  Listed below are the award winners.

Chef of the Year – Jonn Nishiyama
Pastry Chef of the Year – Natasha Capper, CEPC
Educator of the Year – John Kanadu, CGMC CEC CCE
Student Chef of the Year – Daniel Gorman
Humanitarian of the Year – Rusty Sigmon, CSC
Vendor of the Year – Schwan’s Food Service
Presidential Award of the Year – John Szymanski, CEC CFSP

Later in the month, the Greater Atlanta chapter hosted the Southeast Regional Conference at the Hilton Atlanta. The weekend-long event included educational seminars, cooking demonstrations by several noteworthy Atlanta chefs, a Casino Night and dinner at the Cherokee Town and Country Club.  Award recipients during the event are listed below.

ACF Southeast Region Chef of the Year Award Winner
Keith Armstrong, executive chef, Greenwich Country Club, Greenwich, Conn

ACF Southeast Region Pastry Chef of the Year Award Winner

Kyongran “Alex” Hwang, assistant pastry chef, Cherokee Town and Country Club

ACF Southeast Region Chef Educator of the Year Winner

Michael Carmel, CEC, CCE, department head, Culinary Institute of Charleston, Trident Technical College, Charleston, S.C.

ACF Southeast Region Student Chef of the Year Award Winner
Keith Schwock, line cook, Cherokee Town and Country Club, Atlanta

ACF Southeast Region Chef Professionalism Award Winner
Russell Scott, CMC, WGMC, executive chef, Isleworth Golf & Country Club, Windermere, Fla.

ACF Southeast Region Hermann G. Rusch Chef’s Achievement Award Winner
Costa Magoulas, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC, dean, School of Hospitality and Culinary Management, Daytona State College, Daytona Beach, Fla.

ACF Southeast Region Student Team Regional Championship Winner

ACF Western North Carolina Culinary Association; Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Asheville, N.C.; Charles deVries, CEPC, coach

ACF Southeast Region Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl Winner
Culinary Institute of Savannah at Savannah Technical College, Savannah, Ga.; Jocelyn Brantley, Cassandra M. Gillmore, Claudia C. Harper, Joshua A. Lopez, Angela N. Real and coach Valarie Barnes

ACF Southeast Region Chapter of the Year
ACF Central Florida Chapter, Orlando, Fla.

ACF Southeast Region President’s Medallions
Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CW4) Russell Campbell, CEC, chief for the Advanced Food Service Training Division, U.S. Army, Fort Lee, Va.
Keith Gardiner, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC, chef-instructor, Guilford Technical Community College, Jamestown, N.C.
Patricia Lucardie, chapter administrator, ACF Tampa Bay Culinary Association, Inc., Tampa; ACF Tampa Bay Culinary Association, Inc.
Michael Osborne, CEC, general manager/executive chef, Manchester Coffee County Conference Center, Manchester, Tenn.

Cutting Edge Awards

Clyde “Jay” Christmas, executive chef, Hope Valley Country Club, Durham, N.C.
Delores “Dee” Lennox, executive chef/owner/vice president, Lennox Catering, Sunrise, Fla.
Garrett Sanborn, CEC, CCE, Ed.D., chef-instructor, Oldham County Board of Education, Bucknor, N.Y.

Joseph Amendola Outstanding Member Award

Bryan Frick, CEC, AAC, corporate executive chef, Nestlé Professional, Orlando, Fla.

Paella, Please!
Christopher McCook, CEC, AAC, executive chef, Athens Country Club, Athens, Ga.


David Sturgis Named Muss & Turner’s Chef de Cuisine

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Muss & Turner’s announced that David Sturgis has taken over the role of Chef de Cuisine for the Smyrna-based restaurant.

Sturgis opened the restaurant as the original Chef de Cuisine. In a statement released February 8, the restaurant’s sixth anniversary, owner Ryan Turner welcomed Sturgis back to his old stomping ground and noted that: “David’s commitment to making people happy with food is unmatched. He will be cultivating relationships with vendors and farmers to bring guests all the highest quality, freshest, authentic and most unique culinary experience possible. He is one of the most gifted cooks we know and if you have not had his food, get excited.”

After culinary school at Art Institute of Atlanta, Sturgis became friends with Todd Mussman and Ryan Turner while working at Fifth Group Restaurants. When Mussman and Turner left that operation to open M&T’s, Sturgis went along with them. In late 2006, he left Atlanta to become Executive Chef at Farm 255 in Athens. Most recently, he spent two months at Local Three helping Chef Chris Hall.

With a background in pastry, having studied under Gary Scarborough (now pastry chef at Local Three), Sturgis admits that he thinks about food and its presentation a little bit differently than other chefs might. “I’m very ingredient focused and I think I look at things backwards sometimes. It’s almost sarcastic from time to time, but I have to say I don’t think anyone really cooks like I do.”

So far, the response to Sturgis’s return to M&Ts has been very positive. Regular patrons remember and welcome him back and are genuinely happy that he has returned. Chef Ryan Hidinger remains in the kitchen in the mornings at M&Ts as a Sous Chef, while Mussman is spending time at both Local Three and M&Ts particularly focusing on his charcuterie program.


2011 ACF Southeast Regional Conference

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

The 2011 Southeast Regional Conference, hosted by ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter, Inc., is taking place at the Hilton Atlanta, February 18–21. Chefs, students and foodservice professionals from around the Southeast will gather for a weekend of education, competitions, networking and entertainment.

Educational sessions will showcase international cuisines of Greece, Japan, Italy, Germany and Morocco. In addition to international cuisine, this year’s educational offerings also highlight the important role of nutrition, with seminars on grains, fiber and gluten intolerance, sodium and balancing protein. There also will be sessions on beer-and-cheese pairing, coffee, pastry arts, composing flavors and plating techniques.

During one of the sessions, Chef Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun’s, Krog bar and Rathbun’s Steak, will discuss menuing techniques for each of his distinct establishments, including small plates, large menu variety, global thinking and meeting mass appeal.

There are evening events planned, as well. The ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter is offering Casino Night on Saturday, February 19.

For a complete list of events during the Southeast Regional Conference and registration information, go to ACF Southeast Regional Conference.


What Restaurateurs Must Know About Food Allergies – Part 1

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

For thousands of people, food allergies are a very real danger. One bite of something containing an allergen – or merely coming in contact with an allergen – could be fatal.

There are many tragic stories of allergy sufferers who died after consuming even a trace of allergen, and it’s not enough to say they should have been more careful. In this age of convenience and rush, allergy sufferers face a uniquely grave problem. Even when allergic individuals carefully read food labels, share allergy concerns with friends and with food service workers, carry epinephrine injections, conscientiously avoid all foods known to contain the allergen, and wear medic alert bracelets, there is still the ominous awareness that every bite of food could be their last.

The food manufacturing industry historically has made little effort to provide reliable and consistent information concerning allergens, and it has taken accounts like that of Christina Desforges, a young teenager with a peanut allergy, who died after kissing her boyfriend who had consumed peanut butter hours earlier to really make the industry take note of the issue.

Thankfully, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) took effect in 2006. This act requires food labels to have clear statements concerning the presence of the eight major food allergens (see sidebar).

While the food manufacturing industry is rising to meet the challenge of removing the risks for allergy sufferers, our food service industry is only slowly waking up to the need for change. Restaurateurs have an equally important responsibility and should design training programs for staff, provide accurate ingredient information to customers, and overall, support the trend toward making the world safer for those who suffer from food allergies.

Allergy Basics
A food allergy is an exaggerated response by the immune system to a specific food or groups of foods. Some reactions are mild, while others are life threatening. The body reacts to the food as if it is a foreign invader and mobilizes antibodies, which causes inflammation and other adverse reactions.

Some people have just one allergy, while others have several. Some have mild to moderate reactions such as dermatitis or inflammation around the mouth while others may experience anaphylaxis after coming into contact with a mere trace of an allergen. For individuals with mild allergies, allergic reactions can occur 4 to 6 hours after ingestion of a specific food, while other reactions may take more than 6 hours for the development of any adverse reaction or condition. However, the amount that may be eaten before symptoms appear is usually very small and varies with each individual.

In fact, in very sensitive individuals, the amount of an allergen that can trigger a reaction can be less than a milligram, which is evidenced by the fact that many individuals have experienced reactions from mere traces of an allergen. Furthermore, of the eight foods that have been identified to be the cause of the vast majority of reactions, peanuts and tree nuts cause the most severe reactions, and, according to one allergist, “most, if not all peanut allergies are considered potentially anaphylactic.” The only treatment for food allergies is avoidance of the problem food(s). Thankfully, many children outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy, but allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish tend to be life-long.

Numbers and Statistics
An estimated 11 million Americans suffer from food allergies, which amounts to 2% of the adult population and 6-8% of children in the United States. (To put that figure in perspective, there are 11.6 million employees in the restaurant industry.)  Eleven million means that 1 in 25 people in America are suffering from food allergies.  While that is a staggering proportion, research provided by the Food and Drug Administration reveals that approximately 90% of food allergies are caused by the big eight. Despite the fact that these eight foods account for the vast majority of food allergies, reactions are widespread and hard to prevent because nuts, milk, eggs, and wheat are so commonly used in food manufacturing and often are labeled in inappropriate or misleading ways.  For patrons of restaurants that use any kind of manufactured item in their production, the risk of facing an allergen is present.  Likewise, restaurateurs should realize that unless every item on the menu is made completely from scratch with pure ingredients, or unless precise information about store-bought ingredients is known, there is the risk that an allergic patron could have a reaction.

When one considers that approximately half of the American food budget is spent on meals away from home, and the average American eats 198 meals out a year, it is clear that the risk of having someone experience a reaction in your establishment is worth considering.

Even though not all anaphylactic reactions are fatal, they almost always result in emergency room visits. According to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, food allergy is the most frequent single cause of emergency room visits for anaphylaxis and accounts for 34 to 52 percent of such emergency room visits. In addition, anaphylactic shock as a result of food allergies kills, by some estimations, 150 to 200 people every year.

Food allergies appear to be on the rise, particularly in children. The most common allergy in children is the peanut allergy, and more than one million Americans are severely allergic to nuts.  What is most alarming to the restaurant industry are those statistics that directly reflect allergic reactions in restaurants.  According to a 2001 fatality survey conducted by the Food and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), 47 percent of food-allergy deaths occurred in restaurants, and one-third of allergic respondents to the 2004 FAAN survey experienced reactions from food provided by restaurants.

Responsibility and Risk
The fast pace of restaurants necessitates efficient communication and quick responses, but a human life is always worth an extra consideration.  Even though the threat of causing someone’s death is enough to make restaurateurs enact new strategies to aid those with food allergies, the threat of litigation certainly gives an added motivation.
It begs the question: what is the responsibility of the food service industry in meeting needs for allergy sufferers? Beyond immediate financial losses, losing in court brings the irreparable loss of reputation. And the loss of reputation will deter non-allergic customers as well as allergic customers because the idea that there was negligence in one area tends to make people think that there is negligence in another. In other words, the overall quality of food safety will be called into question should someone experience a reaction to food served in your restaurant.  For this reason, it is important to have strict procedures in place to prevent such an incidence.

Nancy Caldarola, PhD, RD, a consultant with Concept Associates, is active in the GRA and    the    Women’ s    F oodservice    F orum.    With more than 35 years in the industry she has held senior operations, training, and marketing roles in several international chains. She is a past lecturer at UGA, and was recently named Education Director for NACS CAFÉ at GSU. 678-523-3080

Allison Barfield graduated from the University of GA with a degree in Dietetics. She is currently a graduate student at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studying Occupational Therapy. A licensed pilot, Allison’s future includes mission work in underdeveloped areas where she can share her knowledge and skills.

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