I have been on a bit of a hiatus for the past few weeks, and with good reason — I took the plunge and submitted myself to a 9-5 (or 6, or 7). You see, post-culinary school I enjoyed my days of piecemealing jobs together, working with a variety of small food businesses- from cookie baker, to Korean taco restaurant consultant, to ice cream sales person. I loved this exposure, but I needed something more consistent to pay for the Le Creuset I’ve been wanting (paying back my culinary school loan and health insurance would be nice too). I was excited to see the posting for a job as an Events Director at StarChefs because the position perfectly combines my background in event management with my culinary training.
I started the position a few weeks ago and, as ideal as the position sounded, it has proven to be a hard transition. I have been taking big gulps of air to stay afloat in a work culture that is filled with chaos and urgency (think The Devil Wears Prada meets Top Chef). It’s a small office of 18 people with an open work space — no walls. I have been tasked with executing a 3,000 person, three day culinary symposium with workshops, demos and culinary competitions. The event will host 90 star chefs, 80 sponsors and a large staff and vendor battalion to keep everyone full and happy. The event is called the International Chefs Congress and will be held in the last week of September.
I am confident in my ability to execute this major production and I even get glimmers of optimism when someone from the office brings a daffodil for everyone or has a staff tasting of homemade beer. Wading through a new workplace environment can be very complex. Trusting myself and staying hydrated has been key.
Through all this, I am definitely learning a ton, which I am grateful for. I consider this to be another great chapter in my culinary adventure book. So, stay tuned for more posts, from workplace triumphs to kitchen adventures, I hope to write now once a month now.
Sushi Party on the Fly
I recently had a couple friends over for dinner and we had an impromptu Sushi Party. With a few simple improvisations to the traditional methods, it’s fun and easy to host your own.
The idea is to do a build-your-own sushi hand roll. Hold the sheet of nori seaweed in your hand (like a diamond), then smear the inside quinoa (not too much) and fill with fresh accompaniments. Fold the tip of the diamond (closest to you) in (like a burrito) and drizzle on different sauces. Every guest will be having fun making their own unique sushi hand roll.
Package of Nori sheets (big sheets of seaweed)
Quinoa sticky rice sushi-style (recipe below)
Optional Accompaniment Ideas
– Sushi grade raw fish such as salmon or tuna
– roasted tofu (recipe below)
– threads of green onion
– pickled carrot (recipe below)
– Sesame seeds (toasted)
– thin slices of jalapeño
– Suracha mayo dip (1/4 cup may plus 1-2 tbs Suracha)
– pickle ginger (click here for how to make)
– wasabi (can reconstitute powdered wasabi)
Quinoa – Sticky Sushi Rice Style
1½ cups quinoa, rinsed
3 cups cold water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown rice vinegar
1. In a medium pot, combine the quinoa and salt with the cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20 mins. Remove lid and stir in rice vinegar with a fork.
Citrus Dipping Sauce
This recipe was inspired by a favorite cookbook author and blogger: Heidi Swanson.
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons agave syrup (or sugar)
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1. In a small pan, combine just the citrus juices and agave. Bring to a boil. Cook for 1-2 mins, add the soy sauce and vinegar. Return to a boil, cook another min or two. It will be slightly thick. Stir in the zests.
Tahini Dipping Sauce
½ cup tahini (ground sesame seeds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 inch ginger minced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1. In a mini food processor, combine all ingredients. That’s it.
1 block firm tofu
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut the tofu block into ¼ thick pieces that are about 1×3 inches.
2. On a rimmed cookie sheet, combine all ingredients. Slather on the tofu. Bake on 350 for 20 mins, flipping half way. Cut to thin threads (about the width of a chop stick).
Quick Pickled Carrots
2 carrots, julienned (cut long and thin)
¼ cup brown rice vinegar
couple drops sesame oil
salt to taste
1. Combine ingredients and let sit for at least 15 mins, up to a few days.