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Sunday, July 13, 2014

What is a Chef?

Over the past few years, I have had people call me ‘Chef’… and I have mixed feelings about that!

Yes, I am a culinary school graduate (with honors), yes, I run a food business and have survived (and grown) even with the supposedly receding recession, yes, I do try to push some boundaries, especially with our cheesecakes  and our ‘En Fuego’ cooking, but I do not consider myself a chef. When people ask, I call myself a ‘Cook from Jersey’!

I have hired culinary students, both here and in Virginia that know way more about ‘fancy’ cooking that I do. I know many chefs and cooks around town (Josh from Bin707, Theo from 626 on Rood, Diana Tarasiewicz, from DMT Catering and now District 51, Jonathan from Craving,  Chef’s Jon, Wayne and Dan Kirby from Colorado Mesa University’s Culinary Program, are just a few that come to mind, who have forgotten more than I will ever know!

While I have always loved cooking, I came into this industry late in life (after the age of 50!) and wonder, how much more would I know (and have learned) if I realized that this should be my profession years ago?

So, am I a chef?  No… a Cheesecake Savant.. maybe? (Come on, Ghost Peppers in a cheesecake?) And you gotta try our Colorado-Style Southern Chow-Chow, which will be unveiled at the Downtown Farmer’s Market in August. (Think Southern Relish meets En Fuego!)

To me, a chef is more than just a great cook. A chef knows how to hire the right people, train them the right way, in the right procedures (miz en place anyone?) and also knows how to give them a little room (not too much, at first!) and then can work with them and is able to get the most out of them, sometimes even more than they know they had in them.

A chef puts out food that makes people think, that makes people go ‘Whoa!’ and one who can do so again, again and again!!

Scary thing, well maybe not so much…. There are many great home ‘chef cooks’ out there! How many of us in the industry learned from their mom (or dad)? How many of their recipes have we adapted over the years and even have brought them into our professional lives?

Ya gotta love cooking and food and what it brings into our lives.. so go out, check out what our area chefs and cooks can do and then go home, and as we say a lot.. Play with your Food!

The ‘Website of the Week’ is This is a great site about the industry and also has some tasty recipes. Our ‘Recipe of the Week’, Hawaiian Chocolate Brownies, is also from that site.

You can now also follow the adventures of Decadence on Facebook at ,on Twitter ( and on Pinterest (

Recipe of the Week...

Hawaiian Chocolate Brownies Recipe

Servings: 16 large or 24 small brownies
The addition of coconut and macadamias makes these rich brownies even more decadent and delicious.
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Butter a 9x13 baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper.
  3. Place butter and chocolate in a bowl and place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water.
  4. Cool slightly.
  5. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, sugars, and vanilla.
  6. Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture.
  7. Fold in flour just until combined.
  8. Stir in coconut and macadamias and pour batter into prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top.
  10. Cool completely in pan on rack before cutting.

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