The New York Culinary Experience Interviews Part II: Ms. Eileen Farr

Jacques Torres talking chocolate at last year’s NYCE (Courtesy of Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

The second part of my blog on the New York Culinary Experience (NYCE) focuses on an interview I had with Ms. Eileen Farr of Coconut Grove, Florida.  Ms. Farr has been attending the NYCE regularly for several years.  She is dedicated to this short term cooking school and plans her calendar around this event.  Here is my interview with Ms. Farr.

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The New York Culinary Experience Interviews Part I: Chef Alain Sailhac

The New York Culinary Experience (NYCE) is fast approaching. It begins this Saturday, October 2 at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. This is a great program that allows the attendees to learn hands on skills and cooking techniques from some of the world’s best chefs. That’s right; you get to cook with the masters. And what’s great is that you do not need any prior culinary experience. You truly learn first-hand. By attending the New York Culinary Experience, you also have the opportunity to support The Future Chefs Scholarship Fund. This fund was created to help aspiring chefs to attend The French Culinary Institute by offering financial aid. For more information on the program and how you can purchase tickets, check out

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Jambalaya…My Way

Creole Jambalaya, My Way

I would like to share with my version of a creole or red jambalaya.  I must admit that I have never been to Louisiana (although on plan to go one of these days), so my version is how a Yankee would make a jambalaya. 

I came to thinking about jambalaya, when I recently sampled one that was underwhelming.  The rice was gummy.  The chicken wasn’t seasoned with salt and pepper.  And there was absolutely no flavor to hold the dish together.  I didn’t get any heat from a chili powder, such as cayenne, or a smoky hint from paprika or cumin. This is a big no-no, in general, but a real sin when it comes to cooking in the Cajun or Creole style.

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Interview with Top Chef Kevin Sbraga

Top Chef Kevin Sbraga
(Photo credit: Bravo)

I had the pleasure of recently interviewing New Jersey’s own Chef Kevin Sbraga.  Chef Sbraga was the winner of “Top Chef D.C.”, which aired last Wednesday on Bravo.  I was cheering on Chef Sbraga from the beginning.  He definitely made New Jersey proud.  Chef Sbraga has worked under Chef Joses Garces as his culinary director.  (Note: For those that don’t know who Chef Garces is besides being an Iron Chef, he is the owner and operator of a number of restaurants in Philadelphia.)  Chef Sbraga also took part in the 2008 Bocuse D’Or USA Competition, which took place in Epcot Center in Florida.  His meat dish won the “The Best Meat Dish” of the competition.  Currently, Chef Sbraga is the executive chef at Rat’s Restaurant at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ, although next weekend (September 24-26) is his last.  He is leaving to pursue his culinary dream of opening his own restaurant.  He plans on opening this restaurant in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sometime next year.  Chef Sbraga has a bright future ahead of him and I look forward to cheering him on. Continue reading

Scott Conant & Scarpetta hit another homerun!

This evening, my wife and I went back to Chef Scott Conant‘s restaurant Scarpetta on West 14th Street in NYC.  I have been wishing for his signature dish of house made Spaghetti with Tomato & Basil.  We hit a lot of traffic as we made our way to the Port Imperial Ferry in Weehawken.  We arrived a few minutes after our 6 pm reservation and had just missed Chef Conant. 

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Stay tuned, Ladies & Gents!

My first full week of the Fall Semester is in the books.  My favorite class is definitely Quantity Food Production and Service.  This class focuses on running an on-campus cafeteria that is open to the public.  Throughout the semester, the students take turns being the manager of the cafeteria.  We come up with our own personalized menus that will be prepared and served to the customers.  This is a great class for hands on experience.  My day as manager is Wednesday, October 13.  My menu celebrates Italian-American Heritage Month (October) with a Neapolitan style menu.  For more information on my menu you can check my Facebook page or click here

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Lunch at Greek Island Grill in Hackensack

Greek Island Grill
77 Main Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 489-4733

This afternoon, I posted on my Facebook status that I was looking for a place to go for lunch.  After a matter of minutes, my BlackBerry dinged with a FaceBook message.  It was from a friend of mine who said to check out Greek Island Grill on Main Street in Hackensack.  So I headed there immediately.  I arrived shortly after 2 pm, and found parking on the street.  I put a few quarters in the meter and walked across the street to the restaurant.  (Note: They do have limited parking behind the building, but it’s a tight fit for even the most compact of cars.) 

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