Thursday, January 21, 2016

Nacho Tacos Man!!

Is there a better thing to eat right now than a warmed soft tortilla stuffed with roasted chicken, some sort of salsa and the subtle heat from some sort of spicy sauce?  No... I didn't think so!  It's not just the chipotle age that has brought us to tacos, burritos, and all things Tex Mex; it's also the heritage of the Hispanic and south of the border community that has helped train our palates that there is more to food than just grilled chicken and meatloaf.  My son is a Sriracha sauce convert, yes, he's even got the t-shirt to prove it!  Spicy, bold flavors have found common place in the kitchens of nearly every American coast to coast.

This is a recipe that was simply produced out of necessity for an upcoming event.  it took 45 minutes to produce it to full completion for 40 people.  Your times for 6-8 will be dramatically reduced.


Ancho rubbed chicken mini tacos with peach jalapeno salsa

1 pkg boneless chicken thighs
2 t. ancho chili powder
1/2 t. chopped garlic
1 c. apple juice
2 T. vegetable oil
12 ea. 4 1/2 to 6" flour tortilla shells
2 fresh peaches, diced
1/4 ea. fresh jalapeno, diced fine
2 ea. green onions, chopped
1/2 c. cream cheese
1/4 c. apple juice
1/2 ea. fresh red pepper, diced
1 T. fresh tarragon, chopped
1/4 c. dried cherries
Romano cheese, grated

Method for chicken:

1.In bowl, mix apple juice, garlic, oil and chili powder well.
2.add thighs and marinate 15 minutes.
3.saute in pan on medium high heat until browned on both sides.
4.transfer to oven and re glaze with additional marinade.
5.heat until cooked through 8-10 minutes on 325 degrees. slightly and chop with knife.

Method for Salsa: small saute, heat jalapenos and green onions with a touch of olive oil.
2.add cream cheese and apple juice mixing thoroughly. bowl, combine peaches, red peppers, tarragon and dried cherries.
4.add warm mixture to peach mixture and mix well.

place tacos on tray and spoon chicken onto middle with a little excess liquid.
top with peach salsa and finish with some shaved Romano cheese.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Everyone has a Purpose, find yours!!!

There is a day in the life of a chef where you just plain "understand". You go from being a 22 year old, full of himself braggart who is consumed with all things you believe are necessary & what you think are the most creative ideas on the planet have "never been done" or are "trendsetting" to realize  that you can actually do "real good" in the community and 20 years later, you get to!  Whatever your job is, I hope you Love It! It takes all kinds of people to get each one of us to where we are. Mentors, teachers, friends & yes, enemies too.

My journey started at a ice cream shop owned by my sister & brother in law. They wanted to open up a Johnny Mac's Pizza in our town of 900 & serve what we thought was a high quality product. So, I worked... cleaned on slow days & ate lots of ice cream. Time for college came, and, as I thought, a career change. to what, who knows but, something. I got to college the first time, then the second, the third & finally, the fourth... KENT STATE. For sure right? You see, sometimes, college just isn't for everyone. College may not be but, a college town; well, that's a different story.

Kent was a lazy college town that came alive on Monday through Thursday with bars, some restaurants & other nightlife. In exploring Kent, I found that it bordered some cool spots with a little more to offer in the dining scene. One of these towns was Hudson, Ohio. Hip, cool little town with some cash & a up and coming culinary scene.  As it, happens, my best friend's brother owned a 54 seat pizza shop/Italian bistro called The Red Tomato that had just opened & he needed some server help. No interview was necessary as my bestie had already vouched for me. I had a job.... in, guess what, the restaurant business. I knew how to make pizzas but, not really a whole lot other than that. I worked my shifts as a server/busboy/host or general dining room contractor but, found myself spending probably too much time watching Ricardo in the kitchen & asking about how to make crab stuffed mushrooms or, what's a picatta & most importantly, how do you break down a leg of veal? See, Ricardo saw it.  He saw it before I did.  He told me that I had the "it" but, couldn't describe exactly what "it" meant.  So, I made a natural progression from facing customers & making lots of cash, to relegating myself to creating the meal for a common hourly rate. I must admit, the taste of keystone light & old Milwaukee got old fast! I was working more hours for less money but, had never been happier!  In the kitchen, I had some freedom to create a little, make something of myself, learn a trade... Enter reality check here.

As my kitchen skills grew, so did my EGO.  I went from a cook who did what was asked to being a strong minded asshole, full of himself  & could do no wrong...  At least, when Ricardo was not around. I was gong to open a franchise of restaurants & work 30 hours & watch the $$$ roll in! I had the world by the nuts. I was 21. A year later, with the EGO still strong as ever, Ricardo offered me a opportunity to be a managing partner in another restaurant he wanted to open in Akron's prestigious Merrimen Valley called La Cucina. The restaurant offered mostly the same basic fare as the Red Tomato but, the atmosphere was more striking; no more pictures of Mona Lisa holding a tomato. Now, we had real art, real wine racks & a real kitchen! I really don't know exactly how I could get my head into & out of the door of the restaurant each day. Reviews were strong & things started getting thrown around about the restaurant & questions about the chef creating the great fare. That's all I need right? Accolades aside, I knew it was hard work & I had a mentor who was willing to let me succeed... or fail to an extent.

5 years passed & La Cucina had made it's run but, it was time to move on. We sold the restaurant to a couple of Italian brothers with a prominent name in the greater Cleveland area. They had something that none of us had... Money!! They had grand plans for the restaurant & combined with my EGO, the need was just too great to pass up. See, they bought part of the concept including recipes when they bought the restaurant. They had a chef in mind, he just didn't know it yet. I guess it was how he broke down a leg of veal that sealed the deal for them. Pucci's in the Valley opened to fanfare & rave reviews and, for the first time, Executive Chef, Chris Quinn! Although, I had no idea what that meant, I got business cards & I handed them out like candy! Although, I learned more from Ricardo than I could ever imagine, I learned a different side of this crazy business from these new owners. For the first time, I am doing it truly for someone else's benefit & not partially for my own. Sure, I was getting accolades & new opportunities because of it but, something was missing...

Connor James Quinn entered my life on March 6, 2002. What a moment in time! Celebration time. At least for a week. I soon was back inside the same four walls I had been inside of for the last 7 years & struggled to stay focused as my love, my heart, was not there... It was at home with my new family. Every day, all I could imagine was being home and holding him.  He consumed my life (no offense Sheri!)

Actual reality check enters. Sales, well, it's sales. Good can be really good & bad... well, can be terrible. But, I was still in food SERVICE. I started to enjoy life in a different way. Home at night. working mostly during the day. Pay increase. Expendable...

It took a few tries to get it right and figure out my “technique” but, you see, in my case, it always came back to Food and the Passion for it.  I can’t say that I ever really followed a recipe and that’s why it took a few tries to get the right ingredients.

ABC- Always Be Closing. That's what we're told. Everything you do is an experience that gets you to the next stone. Agreed. So, nearly nine years ago, I had an opportunity to jump onto the next stone in my river of life. It was strange, unexpected but, obvious.  A sales route runner, I was not. A sales professional I had become! I took a job from a company that needed a COP specialist (center of the plate)"the meat & fish guy". Within 2 months, clearly, all the life lessons I had learned up to that point positioned me into a natural Culinary guy role. I accepted it for what it was, a job that kept me out of the kitchen at night & gave me an opportunity for growth. I started consulting with customers, interacting day to day. Reading reviews on them, answering their calls & HELPING!

You see, THIS is my moment!  I have truly went from being "the guy" to being "the consultant" & go to guy for a sales team of over 50 and a customer base of over 500.

Although my name is not on any one menu... My influence reaches menus all over half of the Great State of Ohio and beyond.  I can proudly say that these customers are colleagues, friends, mentors & family... just like me. Being Un-noticed never felt so good.

Oh, and that little guy who consumed my life so long ago, starts high school next fall. And, his brothers are almost 12 and 6 J  In a flash, it happens…Enjoy the ride!

Faith, Family, Father & Food Fanatic
THIS … IS … WHO … I … AM!!!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Anglaise .... Don't mind if I do

45 Days.... but, who's counting?  I want to go on record and say that yesterday was spent in the sun, in the yard, having fun and... wait for it.... Putting up Christmas lights!!!!  YES, I said it!  I like to hang the look of the season when it is still warm out and I have time to test things and make sure that they are in working order while it's sunny and warm out.

Here's a dessert sauce that can be used also as a great french toast batter.  It's easy, creamy and delicious!



Citrus Creme Anglaise

1 quart heavy cream
2 c. + 2 T. sugar
1 t.  pure vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
1/4 c. orange juice with pulp
1 t. lime juice


in sauce pot, heat cream, 2 c. sugar and vanilla extract just to a quick boil. (as soon as it boils, turn off heat!!!)
in large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks with 2 T. sugar to blend sugar evenly.
slowly, while whisking, add hot cream mixture (small ladle full at a time)(prevents scrambled egg look).
add citrus juices and whisk all together well.
transfer to glass pan and chill in fridge for about 30-40 minutes.
remove from fridge and transfer to container with lid.  use as needed as dessert sauce or to batter french toast.