Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Spotlight on CKCA Graduate Chanie Apfelbaum of Busy in Brooklyn

Chanie with Meredith Vieira of The Meredith Vieira Show on NBC 

Working simultaneously as a food blogger, recipe developer and brand ambassador, Chanie Apfelbaum truly embodies the Busy in Brooklyn spirit for which her popular blog is named. We managed to grab a few minutes out of her busy day to chat about her past, present and future in the world of kosher food.

Number of years working in the (kosher) food business.

What was your first job in the food business?
After starting my blog, my first paid gig was a cooking demonstration.

In one sentence, describe what you do in your current position.
I write about food on my blog and for publications. I give cooking demonstrations and work as a brand ambassador, developing recipes for companies. 

Best way to describe how your CKCA training in culinary has helped to get you to where you are now.
Learning proper techniques and opening my palate to new foods that helped me to expand my culinary horizons. 

Describe the biggest mistake you ever made on the job.
That would have to be when I mispronounced "ghee" on a radio show.

Describe the greatest accomplishment of your career so far.
Being on the cover of The Wall Street Journal was it for me. I never imagined I would make it that far. 

What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?
When people make my recipes at home and enjoy them. 

What do you find most challenging?  
When my recipes/ideas are copied without credit. It's a challenge a lot of bloggers have to face because you can't really copyright a recipe. 

Chanie at The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts

What is the most important lesson you ever learned on the job?
Go with the flow. I recently did a cooking demonstration where the electricity kept shorting so my food wasn't cooking. Instead of getting nervous, I took the time to engage with the audience. It was one of the most successful events I've ever done. 

What is the most bizarre thing that ever happened to you on the job?
I was on vacation in Miami and I posted a photo of something I was eating at a restaurant. Someone commented, "I'm sitting right next to you!" 

What are you passions outside of cooking / baking?
I enjoy crafting, crocheting, scrapbooking and photography.

What do you want to be known for in the culinary world?
Modernizing traditional Jewish foods in a fun and healthy way.

Chanie is part of an ad campaign for Snapple.
Describe the best meal you ever had.
One of the best restaurant meals I've ever had was at Tierra Sur at the Herzog Winery in Oxnard, California. It's a good thing I use Instagram so I can actually tell you what I ate! Organic chicken with English peas and herbed carrot butter risotto, rib eye with sautéed kale and béarnaise sauce, Maltagliata pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, summer truffle and veal sausage, and a medley of chanterelle, shiitake and oyster mushrooms on Challah bread with sous vide eggs and truffle-chive vinaigrette. The Mexican chocolate cake with frozen caramel custard was insane. 

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in becoming a chef? 
Don't allow yourself to get burnt out. The secret ingredient is love. If you're not feeling it, your food will suffer. 

How do you think kosher food will change over the next 5 years? 10 years? Due to modern cooking techniques and molecular gastronomy, I think mixing milk and meat will become less of a challenge. I'm looking forward to some good quality non-dairy cheese products as well as soy-based meat alternatives that will taste like the real thing. 

Complete the following sentences, 
“the best product to ever go kosher was: “bacon (beef/lamb obviously)”
“I wish _____ was kosher:  Fish sauce. It adds depth to lots of Asian dishes”

Favorite food to eat? Sriracha
Favorite food to cook? Anything Middle Eastern
Favorite Cookbook? Aromas of Aleppo, by Michael Joseph Cohen and Poopa Dweck
Favorite Cooking Show / Celeb Chef? Chopped
Favorite kitchen tool? My Julienne peeler

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Hadassah Brook, Pastry Chef at Café Chocolat and a “Cronut®” Queen!

Chef Hadassah Brook, a graduate of our Pastry Arts Program and the Pastry Chef at Café Chocolat in Cedarhurst, NY, took a few minutes to shake the flour off of her apron and share the story of her path in to the world of pastry arts (including how she fed into “Cronut®” madness this past Chanukah!)

Number of years working in the (kosher) food business: 

What was your first job in the food business? 2nd job?
Assistant Pastry Chef at Chocolate Charm followed by Assistant at Marron Bistro.

How did your culinary education help you in moving forward to a job/career in the kosher food business?
My education at CKCA provided exposure to information and techniques and lots of opportunities to practice under the tutelage of experienced chefs. Ultimately, this helped me gain the confidence to pursue new opportunities.

In one sentence, describe what you do in your current position...
As the head pastry chef, I create, develop and produce updated/elevated versions of classically inspired pastry.

What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?
My greatest rewards are providing others with pleasure, educating eaters about their food and the spiritual pleasure that results from any act of creation.

Also of interest is that I take challah with a bracha nearly every single day. I promise you this is not only changing me for the better, it's definitely affecting all of my coworkers. The entire mitzvah is symbolic of the work of every kosher chef. We are elevating our work and giving it meaning simply by keeping it kosher. I'm honored to be a part of elevating the world. 

What do you find the most challenging?
The limitations of the physical body. If I could work every minute without ever needing to rest or address other needs, I probably would! My list of aspirations is currently at infinity, but unfortunately I can't seem to mutate into a culinary robot... yet. 

Tell Us about “Cronut®” Madness
For Chanukah, we decided to debut our own take on the famous croissant-doughnut. Each batch takes several days of lamination to achieve results and I simply couldn't make them as fast as people were eating them! After frying, they were dipped in a warm vanilla infused milk glaze. They were finished either with a milk chocolate ganache or a vanilla cream cheese frosting coupled with a cranberry-blueberry reduction.

Am I allowed to humbly say that they really are quite delicious? The madness was in watching the craze take place! People learned that daily production was limited and there had to be a limit of six per customer. Given their success, we have continued the product and are creating new finishings and toppings every week. Two of my favorites have been milk chocolate salted caramel ganache and the classic cinnamon. I'm dreaming of a taste adventure... Everyone is encouraged to join! 

What is the most important lesson you ever learned on the job? 
1. A chef's talent lies in their ability to make good decisions every single moment. (Colloquially, we would call this "making good calls")
2. Trust your unconscious mind. It knows more than you.
3. If you're going to test the consistency of balsamic reduction with your bare hand, you will always lose. Also, the doctor will probably make fun of you.

What is the most bizarre thing that ever happened to you on the job?
Many years ago my shirt caught on fire. To this day, I still have no idea how. I didn't even remember to stop, drop and roll. I can't remember how the fire went out. I remember being most upset that my clothes were ruined; never mind that I had just been on FIRE.

What are your passions outside of cooking / baking?
Art & music. My personal time is usually spent holed up in my bedroom throwing paint at things. 

What do you want to be known for in the culinary world?

Describe the best meal you ever had…
In Rome at Ba'ghetto, the milchig one. The suppli. The ravioli. The mozzarella. The bottarga. The truffle oil. The gelato at San Crispino. I'm getting emotional just thinking about this. 

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in becoming a chef?
Please be truly passionate about food and please be genuinely open to learning constantly. 

How do you think kosher food will change over the next 5 years? 10 years? 
It's going to radically accelerate in quality. Eventually, people are going to become educated enough to make meaningful food choices. For anyone who is part of the HOOKOS (
Holy Order Of the Knights Of Shabbos) program, think - pulled beef sandwich at your Shabbos table.

Favorite food to eat? I have too many commitment issues to answer this question.
Favorite food to cook? Anything new. I enjoy acts of creation above all else. 
Favorite Cookbook? Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold
Favorite Celebrity Chef? Michel Roux Jr. 
Favorite kitchen tool? Hands.