Archive for the ‘Culinary News’ Category

November 18, 2012

Retrospective: Interview with Jennifer Stang, Team Member, Pastry Chef
Posted on November 17, 2012

You came onboard as pastry chef eight weeks before this competition, having never competed before in anything like this. What was it like for you?
It was pretty much a blur, quite honestly. I didn’t really even have a chance to stop and think. I just put my head down and did it … until: We’re finished. We’re done. And then wondering: How did we get here?

Chef Jennifer StangBut after we finished the cold competition, I remember very distinctly walking back from the school kitchen where we prepped to the hotel. I hadn’t been to bed for 48 hours, a super long day, I had beer in my coffee mug … time didn’t matter … and I felt such elation, lightness. It was a beautiful morning, around 7:30 — and then I just about got hit by a tram. I remember thinking, “Really? Now??”

Were you nervous or anxious at all?
Not during the competition. For me, all of the stress and the anxiety was in Edmonton before leaving. Once you’re there, there are only two options: sink or swim, and sinking wasn’t an option. I was caught a little off guard initially at the hot competition: my workstation was right in front of the window so I constantly had hundreds of people staring at me. I wasn’t anticipating that many people and all the cameras.

Any surprises at the competition?
We had trouble tracking down rhubarb, one of the components of my Hot Kitchen dessert. And when we found some, it was green not red, so it took some finagling to make it red — a moment of stress for sure! The support members and Team Alberta members who’d eaten all the earlier versions of the dessert at practices, when they tasted this one said that I’d picked the right moment to peak!

Did you get much sleep?
Even before the competition, I had very little sleep! I came into work at 9:00 in the morning and stayed until 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning for the two weeks before we left. I joked that I was preparing for Germany and our no-sleep schedule.

Did you eat properly?
The meals were one of the most memorable things for me. I texted my mom that I was eating three regular meals a day (I was used to Safeway cake on the fly in the weeks before Erfurt). We had breakfast at our hotel — the only reason I went to bed at night was to have owner Thomas’s breakfasts in the morning! — and Team Alberta made lunch and dinner for us every day. And I rediscovered Nutella while I was there … Nutella and butter sandwiches: the best.

Any time for shopping or sightseeing?
Given that I love shoes [Jennifer has150 pairs, mostly high heels], I thought it would be nice to have some Germany shoes to go with my London shoes and Manchester shoes. At first I wondered why they didn’t have all kinds of pretty high-heeled shoes in Germany. Then the first time I walked on the cobblestoned streets, I got it. But I wore all eight pairs of fun shoes that I brought along (in addition to my two pairs of kitchen clogs), and I did bring home a new pair of beautiful 4-inch heels in blue suede with pink soles.

What are you taking away from this experience?
The deepening and creating of friendships. I only moved from Team Alberta to Team Canada in August, so I still consider myself a sort of honorary member of Team Alberta. I became really close with them. I was happy for Team Canada and what we accomplished, but I confess that when Team Alberta won gold, I got weepy for them: the little team that could!

Chef Jennifer StangWhat was the best thing about being part of Team Canada?
You learn so much about yourself. I learned an immense amount about what I was capable of. A few times, when we were prepping at the school kitchen, I felt I was so out of my depth … but then I look at what we did as a team … It still hasn’t totally sunk in. And I don’t credit myself. Without the support members, the coaches, my family — amazing people — I could not have done it.

What will you reminisce about years from now?
The friendships, that walk back to the hotel after it was all over and the surrealness of the whole experience. Even now I look back and think, “Did I really do that?”

Would you do it again?
I might. Especially with more than a couple of months’ lead time. The expectations between the regional and national team competitions are much different — you definitely need to step up your game to compete at the national level.


October 23, 2011

Oct. 20, 2011, Victoria, BC – In late-August, April Iverson joined the staff at AURA, the Inn’s on-site waterfront restaurant and patio, as pastry chef. Iverson, an experienced pastry artist and honours graduate from the SAIT baking and pastry program (one of Canada’s leading culinary schools), reports to executive chef Takashi Ito – a world-renowned chef and ice carver who joined the Inn just last spring.April Iverson joined the staff at AURA, the Inn’s on-site waterfront restaurant and patio, as pastry chef.“We’re thrilled to welcome April to the AURA team,” said Ian Powell, managing director of the Inn at Laurel Point. “2011 has cooked up a lot of great things for us here at the Inn and the arrival of April is truly the icing on the cake. I think we are all excited to see some of the delicious creations she’s going to bring to the table.”Previously, Iverson worked at Le Macaron, Crave Kitchen Wine + Bar, the Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan and KOKO Patisserie. Iverson was also one of a culinary team of eight who prepared desserts for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s post-wedding visit to Calgary earlier this summer (the royals requested that the reception food was prepared by SAIT students – and although Iverson had already graduated, her instructors, chef Victoria German and chef Ian Bergoli, asked that she return for this occasion).True to the Inn at Laurel Point motto of “staying different,” having an in-house pastry chef is unusual in these days of trimmed down kitchens and hotel industry outsourcing. The culinary philosophy at AURA is to feature dishes using fresh, local ingredients, as opposed to food from afar. Examples of AURA’s homegrown philosophy include using Vancouver Island-raised beef; river and stream-caught wild salmon; locally-tended produce; and fresh herbs grown in the hotel’s gardens.AURA also sources vintage wines from just around the block and aged ciders and stellar beers from local microbreweries. Adding Iverson’s expertise allows the diners to celebrate Vancouver Island’s local bounty, all the way from appetizers through dessert – completing the Inn at Laurel Point’s dining experience.And when it comes to other sweet delights (and sweet beginnings), the Inn at Laurel Point hand bakes all of their delicious, customized wedding cakes for the many unions that take place on the hotel grounds each year. And from extravagant, five-tied cakes to modest cupcakes, every wedding cake that comes out of the Inn at Laurel Point kitchen is hand decorated to perfection.“Having spent much of my life out on the prairies, mostly in Regina, I’m excited to work with some of the West Coast’s fresh and delicious ingredients,” said Iverson. “It’s an honour to join the top-notch culinary team at AURA – I know we’re going to create some amazing dishes while, at the same time, having a whole lot of fun.”

Ingredients In Cool Whip

July 28, 2011

ingredients in cool whip
It’s the main ingredient. But like any whipped product, Cool Whip contains a high percentage of air. At 41 cents per ounce, you’re buying mostly water and air for just over twice what it would cost to whip real cream yourself.

Natural and Artificial Flavorings
Cool Whip doesn’t really taste like much, but Kraft’s recipe for blandness is a trade secret. That means the company doesn’t have to disclose the specific flavorings.

Corn Syrup and High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Sugar by other names. Corn syrup is mostly glucose. High-fructose corn syrup is corn syrup treated with amylase and other enzymes, which together help convert glucose into fructose. A diet high in fructose is known to make lab mice fatter than other diets, so keep your research animals away from Cool Whip.

Hydrogenated Coconut and Palm Kernel Oil
Cool Whip needs to feel like whipped cream in the mouth without actually being, you know, made with cream. One cheap, reliable way to replicate the texture is by using semi- solidified plant oils. The best method of solidifying plant oils: Bubble high- pressure hydrogen through them. Of course, if not done completely, the result is trans fat. These days, Kraft avoids that.

Polysorbate 60
Polysorbates are made by polymerizing ethylene oxide (a precursor to antifreeze) with a sugar alcohol derivative. The result can be a detergent, an emulsifier, or, in the case of polysorbate 60, a major ingredient in some sexual lubricants.

Sodium Caseinate
Also common in powdered non-dairy creamer, this protein derived from cow milk helps oil and water mix.

Sorbitan Monostearate
Chemists call this stuff synthetic wax, and it’s sometimes used as a hemorrhoid cream. It’s one of the magical substances that keep Cool Whip from turning to liquid over time in the fridge.

Xanthan and Guar Gums
These are natural thickeners, and together they provide more viscosity than either does alone. Guar also helps retard the formation of ice crystals, another key to preserving fluffiness.

lol real whipped cream is ALWAYS A BETTER SUBSTITUTE…
In general, whipped cream is a foam created by beating cream and is made up of gas surrounded by liquid with protein and butterfat serving to stabilize it.

The butterfat content percent of cream makes a difference when making whipped cream; the higher the percent, the better the cream will whip and be stable. Cream with a fat content of 30 to 36% works best and is found in “whipping cream” or “heavy cream”. “Light cream” (with only 20% butterfat) will whip, but it won’t trap as much air or hold it very well, making it a bad choice. In addition look for cream that is NOT ultra-pasteurized (although that may be difficult to find) because it whips better, fluffier and holds its shape longer.

To create whipped cream, whipping cream is usually sweetened with sugar during beating. Table sugar is typically used, but I much prefer to use powdered or superfine. Both dissolve faster, eliminating the problem of sometimes getting gritty whipped cream. Substitute regular sugar one for one with either sugar. Add up to 3 tablespoons of sugar for each cup of cream or to taste.

Whipped cream makes a perfect background to show off a multitude of different flavors. Flavorings can range from extracts, chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, orange or lemon zest or spices. You can also add in a teaspoon of vanilla extract, rum, brandy, or liqueur or more for each cup of cream or to taste.

June 22, 2011

Thomas Haas ( L ) and chocolatier Steve Hodge put the finishing touches on their handmade chocolate Stanley Cup, in North Vancouver on Tuesday, June 14, 2011.

Rest assured, Canucks fans, there is indeed a Stanley Cup that bears the names of the home team.

Craftsman are dusting the silver coating and plans are being made to share it with the team’s adoring fans.

Okay, before you start fist-pumping and honking your car horn madly, this Holy Grail of hockey is made of chocolate — 62-pounds of dark chocolate covered in edible silver dust.

It’s not exactly a substitute for the real deal but Thomas Haas, the master chocolatier behind the 35-inch tall cocoa creation (just a few inches taller than the real trophy) thinks the city will be granted the real one Wednesday night anyway.

Haas, the man behind two Lower Mainland Thomas Haas Patisserie-Chocolate Cafes, and his assistant Steve Hodge have spent a combined 25-hours handmaking the replica. It contains $1,200 of chocolate and the silver dust is worth $400. The names of the team are printed on rice paper with cocoa butter.

Haas, a giant Canucks fan, said he decided to make the Stanley Cup because he’s become restless watching the hockey final and making cool things out of chocolate is what he does.

“If we do win we will do an all nighter and we will redo it to the perfect, exact same size as the original,” he said.

The cup’s chocolate rings were cut and bent by hand.

“You only have about 10-seconds between when you can bend it and when it starts crystallizing,” he said.

He used bowls from his kitchen to mould the layers and the top bowl is made using a balloon.

“We take a balloon, blow it up to the right size, dip it three times in dark chocolate, pop the balloon and we have the cup they drink out of,” he said.

Haas is calling for a score of 3-1 tonight for the Canucks with their third goal being an empty netter in the final seconds of the battle.

“We’re going to win. It’s going to be a nail biter but there’s no question we are going to win here,” he said.

With a victory, Haas is thinking of selling off chunks of his art with the proceeds helping Canuck Place hospice and if they don’t win, perhaps he’ll store it for a year and change the date on it to 2012.

By then the chocolate won’t taste as fresh and as delicious as it does now, but the trophy, even though it’s one you can chew up and swallow, will be just as precious.

“We should not lose the appreciation for how close the Canucks have come and it’s probably the hardest sports trophy to get,” said Haas. “They had an unbelievable year and I think we should not forget that.”

Interesting cookware article

September 8, 2010

Common materials of pots, pans

Choosing the right cookware is often driven by the food products cooked in an establishment, type of heat source used, funds available for purchase and personal preference. Here are the most common materials used in cookware and how they stack up to each other.


Aluminum cookware is a porous metal that is very responsive to changes in temperature, heating up as quickly as it cools down. Pans can be used on both gas and electric surfaces. They can be cleaned using low alkaline detergents.Aluminum cookware is manufactured using either 1100 series or 3000 series aluminum alloys.The 1100 series is nearly a pure aluminum. This soft alloy is more likely to warp and dent. Warping causes a pan to be unlevel on the stove and dents may cause hot spots where food can burn or scorch. In the 3000 series, two common alloys are used, the most widespread being 3003, which contains aluminum, copper, iron and manganese. The less common but more durable alloy is 3004, which also contains magnesium. The additional magnesium hardens the aluminum and adds strength to the pan.

Stainless Steel:

Stainless steel is a non-porous metal that heats and cools slower and more unevenly than aluminum.This material provides flavour neutrality. Also, with a nonporous cookware surface like stainless steel, many chefs feel they can release more of the caramelized fat on the bottom of a pan (known as the fond) back into the sauce they are preparing, which makes the sauce more flavourful. While light coloured sauces may become discoloured in aluminum pans because of its porosity; this will not occur with non-porous stainless steel. Cookware made of this material is also non-corrosive; it will not pit from the use of heavily acidic foods. Additionally, stainless steel is dent- resistant and maintains its appearance. To preserve its beauty, wash cookware by hand in hot, soapy water.

Cast iron:

A ferrous metal, cast iron conducts heat more slowly than stainless steel but will maintain heat well. For this reason, it is a favourite for brazing or stewing meats.However, cast iron is heavy to handle, must be hand washed and thoroughly dried to protect it from rust. It also requires constant seasoning to create a non-stick surface for cooking and prevent food from interacting with the iron on the pan. This process involves cleaning the cookware to expose the bare metal, applying a layer of animal fat or vegetable oil and then heating the cookware to bond the fat to the metal.

Carbon Steel:

Carbon steel cookware is thinner and lighter than cast iron, transmits heat quickly and is a favourite for high heat cooking, which is why its commonly used in woks. Like cast iron, carbon steel is a ferrous metal, so it works well with induction cooking, and requires seasoning.

Clad Cookware:

Clad cookware is typically non-ferrous stainless steel inside, providing the advantages of stainless steel cookware, and ferrous stainless steel outside, providing induction capabilities. Sandwiched between the layers is aluminum, copper or carbon steel, the most common being aluminum. The sandwich material reduces the heating reaction time.
There are two types of clad cookware: fully clad and clad bottom. Fully clad cookware spreads the heat evenly at the bottom and up the side walls. Clad bottom heats primarily at the base of the pan. For each, wash by hand in hot, soapy water to maintain beauty.

Wendy Boys

April 13, 2010

Wendy Boys is an award winning, chocolate-loving pastry chef.
Life for Wendy began in the small prairie town where she grew up. After combining her fine arts education with a passion for sweets, Wendy gained media acclaim as a pastry chef for renowned Calgary restaurants; The Belvedere and Catch.
After moving to Vancouver in 2003, Wendy served as Executive Pastry Chef at Lumiere Relais Gourmand in Vancouver. Here, she worked with Executive Chef/Owner Rob Feenie and for five years, oversaw the pastry departments for both the Mobil 5 diamond dining room and their sister bistro, Feenie’s.
In 2008, with twelve years of pastry expertise, Wendy created her own pastry consulting company working with restaurants like Cactus Club, where she is currently making their dessert menus even more delicious.
Today, Wendy continues consulting while focusing on realizing her dream of opening her own chocolate shop here, in Vancouver. While the perfect location is yet to be discovered, Wendy is still able to provide her friends and fans with her signature chocolates and delicious dessert sauces.

Jeff 2007

February 11, 2010

Aura chef

January 24, 2010