Tag Archives: grocery

Foodie B’Eat: Chefs For Hire

This article was previously featured in my food column in YES! Weekly.  Be sure to check out YES! for the latest happenings around town. 

Sometimes you can take the chef away from restaurant kitchen but you can’t take the kitchen away from the chef.

Chefs for hire are becoming increasingly popular these days. It’s no longer a perk for celebrities or the wealthy. Today, it’s becoming more accessible than ever and for the skilled chef, quite ideal for those who don’t want to be burdened by restaurant hours. For the customer who can afford it, it provides a much-needed convenience, freeing you of all the prep and clean-up.

There’s a difference between a private chef and a personal chef.  A private chef works for a singular client, sometimes full-time and sometimes multiple meals a day. Some private chefs are hired for short spurts of time as well.  A personal chef may cook for several different clients in their homes, providing fully-cooked meals and meals prepped in advance. All work diligently to provide a service that is as budget-friendly as possible.

Lynn Wells, owner of Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef Services in Greensboro, is a personal chef. Wells worked for 21 years in the Nutrition Department at Moses Cone Hospital in various culinary management positions. She has multiple clients and travels to their home to prepare their meals. “Everything is prepared from scratch and cooked in the client’s home. Meals are packaged per my client’s request and stored either in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on their schedule, preference and freshness. I include heating instructions with all meals. I do the grocery shopping the morning of a cook day and often times go to more than one location to shop. I want to get the best and freshest ingredients and always buy local whenever possible.”  Wells says she certainly understands that the expense of hiring a personal chef can be a concern, but… “There is no doubt, this is a luxury service. My first client didn’t cook and she and her husband either ordered take out or ate out every night.  Within two weeks, she noticed a difference in savings. The most important difference was in flavor and how the food was prepared, fresh and made with love.” She adds, “The biggest savings that clients have commented on is they no longer have food going bad in the refrigerator. They would purchase fresh produce, vegetables and meats from the store or farmer’s market with the best intentions, then they get home and not want to cook it.”

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Chef Lynn Wells (photo cred: Todd Turner Photography)

Wells’ schedule now includes weekly clients, some once-a-month clients, biweekly, bimonthly, etc. “Everyone is scheduled in advance for the same day during the initial consultation. That ensures them consistency and it helps me plan my schedule.”  thymewellspentpersonalchef.com 

Darren Atkins of il Centro in Burlington started his private chef/full-service catering in September 2016 and last year opened a store front in Burlington to provide daily provisions like antipasti, salumi, fresh pasta and specialty Italian accoutrements with local North Carolina ingredients. He says, “It’s inspired by the alimentari or food stores/farm grocers all throughout Florence and Tuscany.”  Atkins provides a full-service private chef experience to your home or location.  “We definitely want to cater to the foodie. I am very hands-on with customers and committed to providing them with themes for dynamic experience.”  Budget depends on the client needs and is available to Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Chapel Hill, Durham and possibly beyond.But And since meal prep and meals to go is becoming ever so popular, il Centro provides a Dinner Delivered series where customers can order from a weekly meal plan and have scratch-made dinners for two delivered to their door for $25. The store in Burlington is open Tuesday-Saturday 11:30-6:00.

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Chef Darren Atkins (photo courtesy of Atkins)

ilcentrokitchen.com 

Nikki Miller Ka, of Winston-Salem, has worked in numerous capacities as a chef. She says she started cooking for a family as a private chef in 2011, “It was literally a dream come true. It combined all my favorite things…planning, cooking, shopping and meeting people. I couldn’t believe my reputation preceded me and that these people wanted to pay me for to cook for them on a regular basis.” Miller-Ka says now, as a private chef, she enjoys being hired to chef a class or party per week. “Generally I cater small dinner parties and conduct private cooking classes in people’s homes.” A fee is set based on the number of guests for a cooking class or party. “I send out a menu of options for their event. I meet with the client for kitchen consultation so we can plan logistics and finalize the menu. Day of, I show up with complementary beer and/or wine, an apron, cutting board and knife for each participant during cooking classes.” And best yet, “I clean up. You get leftovers. I go home.” Miller-Ka also provides a grocery shopping service with 10+ recipes that clients can cook at home. niksnacksblog.com 

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Chef Nikki Miller-Ka (photo courtesty of Miller-Ka)

The newest chef-for-hire is popular chef Dion Sprenkle and his new Table ‘0, which offers a personalized in-home dining experience.  “The name comes from our most desired VIP table in the Chef Dion Sprenkle restaurant in Lexington that closed in 2016.”  Sprenkle says from that location, the customer could see him cooking in the kitchen and be close to the staff. “The guest felt like an instant family member and part of the action. The Table would be booked weeks in advance.” Sprenkle says since closing the restaurant, many of his fans missed his cuisine and having access to The Table.

“I decided to become a Chef for Hire with the help of my boss, my wife Jeanette.  She handles all marketing, decorations, set-up, and serves the meal.  Together we create a one-of-a-kind, personalized dining experience in our client’s home. It was primarily to connect with our friends, family and former restaurant customers. And now we create wonderful intimate menus for families, friends and sometimes for corporate gatherings.”

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Chef Dion Sprenkle  (photo courtesy of Sprenkle)

For most chefs for hire,  it’s the connection with her clients that keeps drives their passion. As Wells told me, “Being in someone’s home is very personal and sacred to me. This profession demands respect and I consider what I do an honor. It’s very humbling to have a family or individual put their trust in me to prepare fresh meals that will make their lives easier, less stressful and most importantly, provide them more time to spend on more important things other than meal planning, shopping, and cooking. There is a connection that happens where I learn about their lives, their habits, and why they’ve sought someone to cook for them.” Wells adds that she hopes the experience for her clients goes beyond the convenience, and hopefully deliciousness, of it all.  “I live, eat, and breathe food. Everything I learn, I try to pass on to my clients in some form or fashion. If anything, it recharges my battery to do what I do. I want meal time to be a pleasant experience for my clients and this career gives me an open canvass for my creativity and enthusiasm with food. This industry is an ever changing revolving door of opportunities and I can’t wait to see what’s next!”

Me neither, chefs! I think it’s so cool that you’ve found a way to do what you love on your own schedule.  Be sure to check one of these chefs out if you ever decide to treat yourself and your family. I’ve found that after I’ve shopped and prepped for a dinner at my house for a large group, I could’ve almost hired someone to do the work for me.

Have you ever hired a chef?

 

Bubbly and Brunch at Vin 205

Back in September when we enjoyed a wonderful Chef’s Table with Chef Oren Feuerberg at Vin 205 Farm to Table Bistro, owner Caleb Flint said he wanted to do it again, but this time to show off Chef’s skills at brunch.

Twist. My. Arm.

We decided to kick off the new year with a Bubbles and Brunch a couple of weeks back.  And man, was it delicious. But I expected it to be. The food at Vin 205 is superb and Caleb Flint really knows how to make his guests feel special. And our Chef’s Tables are just filled with foodies and fellowship and we just have the best time. You should join us for one soon!

You’re met at Vin205 with the Wine Merchants shop. I’m not sure what’s more difficult, trying to refrain yourself from being drawn in by the wonderful aromas of the kitchen because you came to do a little shopping, or not taking a seat immediately because you’re interested in the market. Hopefully you make time for both.

Caleb continues to add more and more to the wine market and now shoppers not only can find wines from boutique vineyards from our local region and all over the globe, but also a plentiful selection of Joyce Farms meats and regional cheeses, chocolates and gourmet items.

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Chef Oren Feuerberg and Owner Caleb Flint, Wine Merchants & Vin 205 Bistro

Vin205 is certainly gaining ground during the week with dinner featuring live music and wine events. But what Executive Chef Oren and Caleb are endeavoring to highlight is their Sunday brunch. The chef-driven menu changes often with special spins on traditional favorites. And Caleb brought in some of his favorite local purveyors to give them special recognition during our four courses. Batistini Farms, Camino Bakery and Magic Beans Coffee were all special guests at the table and on the palate.

Course 1

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Duo of Mini Quiche (Potato & Bacon; Spinach & Mushroom paired with Vin 205 House Salad tossed in Raspberry Vinaigrette with Batistini Farms Vanishing Grape Balsamic, goat cheese

I’d like to think I get out enough but I can’t think of a single quiche I’ve had that has potato AND bacon and to me that just seems like a delicious no-brainer. And I’ve also never had spinach WITH mushroom in a quiche. And of the tasty tasty two, the spinach and mushroom was my favorite. Batistini’s Vanishing Grape is a new favorite of ours and was recently featured in our holiday gift guide. See it here. It’s so worth the purchase as it adds incredible flavor to salads and cheeses. Tom Sephton, imports and bottles the balsamic and oils in Clemmons. “We have basic olive oil and flavored olive oils as well as aged balsamic. All of the oils we bottle are very, very fresh and the harvest date for all oils is right there on the bottle.”

Course 2

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Truffled Scrambled Eggs with Camino Brioche Toast

Here we are, days later, and I’m still thinking about those light and fluffy eggs that had been scrambled in truffle oil and topped with truffle shavings…and that bread which Chef and his team griddled so perfectly.

Emily Masters, of Camino Bakery, told the group that the brioche is one of the most popular offerings at Camino. “It’s baked fresh every day, like all our other baked goods. It’s fluffy, buttery with flour from King Arthur Flour, milled in Graham, and milk from Homeland Creamery in Julian.” 

Course 3

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Brown Butter Poached Shrimp & Pimento Cheese Grits

A twist on a traditional brunch favorite and charmingly served in a glass jar. The grits were cheesy perfection.  Our guest, Chris Roth, then praised the chef as the best shrimp and grits he’d ever had.

Course 4

House made Raspberry & Blueberry Muffins with Coffee Service by Magic Beans Coffee

The muffins were lightly sweet and fluffy with whole berries throughout and a great little sweet ending to our brunch. Our “dessert” was paired with Magic Beans air-roasted coffee served two ways. The first tasting was with Magic Beans Essence, a concentrated coffee extract that is added to hot water or other liquids. The second tasting was Wine Merchants and Vin 205’s exclusive Magic Beans blend in the French press. Owners Neal and Mary Pruett served each guest . Neal Pruett told us, “Air roasted coffee is so smooth. One of our mottos is that you can ‘drink ours black’.”

Caleb told the group, “Folks who know me know I’m a rather enthusiastic coffee drinker and we just love how unique and special Magic Beans is.” Not only does Wine Merchants serve the blend, but the beans are sold in bulk as well as the Essence.

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Mary and Neal Pruett, Magic Beans LLC

Though guests at Chef’s Table are usually responsible for purchasing their own beverages, which makes it unlike a wine dinner, what we love about Caleb Flint is that he takes advantage of owning a wine shop and offers everyone a taste of what the shop has to offer. Each of the 27 guests were allowed to share bottles of bubbly rose on the tables. And each setting was made even more charming by the varying coffee mugs at each place. Those attention to details is what keeps me coming back to Vin 205 and what will bring us back there again, possibly in the summer, for another Chef’s Table to let Chef Oren surprise us, yet again.

Wanna go? Vin 205 is located at 205 S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem. Open for dinner Tuesday  through Thursday 4-9:30pm; Friday Lunch and Dinner 11:30am to 9:30pm, Saturday Brunch 10am-3pm; Saturday Dinner 5-9:30pm, Sunday Brunch 10:00-3:00. Wine Merchants is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday 10am-3pm. vin205.com

PS: Foodies, our next Chef’s Table at B. Christopher’s sold out in 24 hours. We are so thrilled you are supporting our local chefs. We’ll announce a new Chef’s Table soon!  Where would you like to see us?

Carolina Poutine with Pulled Pork

Did you say poutine? Yes, yes! This is your all local poutine inspired by the abundance that North Carolina offers. I am receiving compensation from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to raise awareness about purchasing pork at NC farmer’s markets. All opinions and content are my own.

IMG_7515Every once in a while a great opportunity comes along and you get a little more bang for your buck when it comes to being a cheerleader for all things local–you get a whole TEAM of cheerleaders. I’ve partnered with the NC Department of Agriculture’s Got to be NC program along with bloggers across the state, to highlight some of our local farmers. Bloggers like me, who love local goodness (I’ll call them my SQUAD), are shopping at their local NC farmer’s market, buying the ingredients for a meal and sharing the recipe with folks like you. We’ve got chicken and pork coming at you. I’ll share links to those at the end of this post.

My farm is Mill River Farm in Mount Airy. I’m actually familiar with farmers, Kim and Steve, as I subscribed to a CSA with them a few years back. Such quality meat and produce!  I looked forward to what would be in my box every Saturday when I picked it up from the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market.  market - booth2

Kim and Steve have an abundant farm and they sell pork products such as bacon, pork belly, pork butt and loin, chicken, grass-fed beef, eggs, produce of all varieties like lettuce, kale, peas, beets, sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and I could go on and on. You can visit them at the farm (details here) or at the Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market, where you can speak to them directly and find out more about how they raise their animals and grow produce that you can feel so great about.  They’re both super knowledgeable and enjoy sharing what they do. Kim even has a cookbook called Cook Like a Farmer .  It’s full of great recipes. The thing that we don’t want you to forget is: When you visit your North Carolina farmer’s market, don’t forget the meat!

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When I saw Kim and Steve, they weren’t in their traditional digs inside the farmer’s market since the fair was in town. But they had enough yumminess on hand for me to purchase the main ingredients for my #GotToBeNCPork Carolina Poutine.  Poutine? Yeah, baby! Poutine is typically french fries and cheese curds with a rich brown gravy.  If you’ve had it, you know it’s like the guiltiest pleasure ever. Mine is a riff on that.

Let’s take a look at my truly local…

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Carolina Poutine with GotToBeNCPork
Serves 2-4

2-4 Sweet Potatoes (count on about one per person), preferably #gottobeNC
Pulled pork (from a 2-3 pound #GotToBeNCPork butt or shoulder)
Ashe County Cheese Curds
BBQ Sauce of your choice (I used a blend of chipotle sauce with some Eastern NC sauce I had on hand)

To prepare the pork: Give the pork a good liberal rub of your choice of seasoning plus plenty of salt and pepper. If you’re able, grill the pork on all sides. I don’t have a smoker, so I let my grill and my slow cooker do the work for me. Get it good and browned on all sides, then place in the slow cooker with about 1 1/2 cups of water or broth (beer or a mixture of bbq sauce and water is fine too–you just want a flavorful liquid). Allow to cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Once tender and falling apart, remove from cooker and shred it, baby.

Cut your NC Sweet Taters into fry-sized sticks. Coat with oil (I used avocado oil, but you can use whatever you have on hand) and sprinkle with smoked paprika (optional), salt and pepper. Bake at 400-degrees until lightly browned and crispy, about 30 minutes.

Just before you remove the fries from the oven, heat up the sauce. I simply used my favorite Sam Jones Eastern NC style sauce and added some smoky chipotles to it.  You will want that sauce to be PIPING hot so that it can melt the cheese curds as it hits them.

On a platter or pan, place the crispy sweet potato fries in heaping pile. Top with shredded pork, cheese curds and drizzle the sauce over the top. The sauce should be hot enough to start melting the cheese curds. If not, it’s okay to blast it under the broiler until they appear to be just melting.

Garnish with chopped green onions and enjoy!

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I want you to know that this delicious and fun recipe is simply a guide. If you can slow cook your meat on a smoker, so much the better. As I said before, I don’t have a smoker but I do have the grill and a slow cooker. I get a really good crust by grilling on high, though I keep an eye on it as the fat and any sugar on the outside can cause it to light up. You can also bypass the slow cooker and modify by cooking on a low heat in the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours. The sauce is also up to you. A mole would be amazing with those sweet potatoes. Play around with your flavors and have fun!

So… what makes it poutine? To a purist, is it still poutine if it doesn’t have real gravy but rather a sauce?

I’m not here to debate that. I just do know this poutine delicious party, nosh, use-up-leftovers kind of fare that tastes great with a NC craft beer. Support your local farmers at your local market. I’ve got links below to plenty of convenient locations and some of the best pork in North Carolina.

PS: You are going to have plenty of pork leftover for another poutine, tacos, breakfast…or a good ol’ BBQ plate.

Here’s a list of the pork and chicken from my squad:

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Got To Be NC Pork at Your Local NC Farmers Market

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Watch Heidi’s video!

Got to Be NC Chicken at your NC Farmers Market

 

Vin 205 Farm to Table Bistro

Foooooodies.

OMG. Please eat here. ‘Nuf said if you ask me  but I’ll go a touch further.

I’ve enjoyed a few great meals with mr. foodie at Vin 205 recently. One was a Wine and Swine Dinner that blew us away and blew our wine budget too, lol…because we bought some great new wine.

So good, in fact, that we decided to bring Chef Oren Feuerberg in on one of our Chef’s Tables. Four courses, family-style, with a great group of foodies and friends.

Read about it here in my latest food column in YES! Weekly! 

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Vin 205 has a little wine market with all kinds of lovely wine,  plus local meats, boutique cheese, chocolates and wine accessories and they have plans to add even more. Vin 205 also has a great-looking brunch. Check them out!
Our next Triadfoodies Chef’s Table will be announced later this week. We’ll be doing a special kick-off of our High Country Events in October with Vidalia (date announced soon) and our November Chef’s Table returns to the Triad at Sophie’s Cork & Ale in Lexington on November 13. You’ll see that update in a future email.

Cheers!

 

You Need This Dough In Your Life: Wewalka Sweet Pastry Dough

It’s giveaway time, foodies! Just in time for the holidays.

The folks at Wewalka USA are hooking us up with a giveaway of the new, sweet Danish dough. Perfect for croissants, tarts, turnovers and just about anything you can conjure up.

You may have seen me share some dishes I’ve done with Wewalka dough in the past. They have a bistro and family style pizza dough and croissant dough and puff pastry. It’s all super easy to work with. Open the package, roll it out and fill or top to your liking. Bake on the provided parchment until done and you’ve got European style deliciousness in just minutes.

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I received a giant box of this prepared dough to work with and we’re going to give a few away to a YOU. Plus coupons and recipe cards.

Want to see what I did with my dough? Because I had to try it first, you know…

Introducing my Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tart with Caramel and Ice Cream

Inspired by a dessert that I had at Graze in Winston-Salem last year, this tart is all the things you love about pumpkin pie with the beautiful fall spices but also the best of the Thanksgiving table’s sweet potato casserole. You know it, right? The orange-y, clove-y beauty topped with marshmallows? This tart is the best of both worlds.

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tart

2 servings

1 sheet Wewalka European Style Danish Sweet Pastry dough, halved up the middle
1 cup sweet potatoes (canned or freshly roasted and removed from skins)
1 cup pure pumpkin (I used the can)
1 egg
3/4 cup brown or dark brown sugar
1  1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp clove *
1/2 tsp allspice*
1/4 tsp ground ginger*
1 tsp-1 tbs vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (I use this paste from Savory Spice Shop)
1/4 cup orange juice
orange zest or candied orange zest to taste (optional)

* You may use Pumpkin pie spice. The flavors will be altered slightly but still wonderful.

Instruction:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Take your sheet of dough and cut it down the middle to make two halves.

With a mixer, blend sweet potatoes until smooth. Add pumpkin and continue to mix until blended well. Add brown sugar, egg and orange zest.

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Now here’s where it becomes more about you. These spice measurements were me just playing around. You may want more cinnamon or less. More or less orange. I didn’t have zest so I had to use just juice. Play around until it truly tastes like a pumpkin pie but with that citrus laced sweet potato that (hopefully) you’ve had at least once in your life. Add the egg last if you are funny about tasting it with raw egg. I am not funny about that.

You can refrigerate the filling or assemble right away. When ready to fill your two pieces of dough, scoop about a 1/4-1/2 cup of filing and place it in the center of each one .

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Then fold up the pastry dough corner to corner until it’s like a little purse, making sure all the seams are sealed and the filling is nicely inside. Now you have two tarts. Brush with a little egg wash (egg mixed with water or milk). Slide the parchment and tarts onto a baking sheet.

The instructions say bake on the parchment for 14-18 minutes. My tart took 20 minutes in my oven but that’s because there’s more to a tart than a small danish or croissant. I just kept my eye on it. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with warm caramel (a praline topping would be good) and then…

….top with your choice of ice cream then another drizzle of caramel. I’ve had my inspiration with cinnamon brown sugar ice cream (hard to find), vanilla, as well as butter pecan. The butter pecan or praline ice cream would be awesome because you get the tanginess of the base ice cream and crunch from the pecans. But you do you! Pick your favorite. Heck, pumpkin ice cream would be good too. Salted caramel? Yes!  Also, wouldn’t it be yummy with marshmallow flavored ice cream if you could find it? Or top with marshmallows and give it a little browning on top!

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My mr. and I split the tart you see above. It was plenty.
My microfoodie decided she wanted to make a little one so she halved her half then made croissants and you can tell just how easy it is to work with because she had no trouble at all making her own. She drizzled her croissants with chocolate sauce. I teach them well.

You can find Wewalka Dough in Lowe’s Foods and Ingles. And I’ve seen Wewalka at Harris Teeter too but don’t hold me to the sweet pastry dough just yet as this is a brand new item.

Want to get your hands on this Wewalka Danish Dough? Simply comment below what you’d be making with this dough. You’ll be entered to win. If you’re in the Triad area of NC, it’ll be easy to get it to you. But we can ship if necessary. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

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