May 1, 2024
May 2024: Good Vibes
May 2024: Good Vibes
Good Causes
As a team, we strive to serve our community as passionately as we serve our clients. Recently, we have had the opportunity to participate in two exciting community events, showcasing our commitment to culinary excellence and philanthropy.
First, on April 15th, we partnered with Weekend Backpacks for the Chef’s Challenge. The mission of Weekend Backpacks is to improve the lives of students affected by food insecurity in Baltimore. The organization provides child-friendly, nutritious food directly to children in need over the weekends so they have meals to share with their families. Our executive chef, Jerome, competed in a ‘Chopped’ style event, crafting dishes using ingredients typically found in the kids’ Weekend Backpacks. Guests enjoyed a variety of bites from local restaurants and caterers. Chef Jerome’s Pecorino Oatmeal Crusted Salmon with Peach Glacé served over Tangled Greens was a standout favorite of the evening.
Next up, on May 8th is Santé, an event organized by the National Kidney Foundation, held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. This annual gathering brings together food and beverage vendors from across Baltimore to showcase their delicious offerings. You may have seen a sneak preview; yesterday morning, Chef Jerome was on Fox News sharing a taste of the menu items including Seafood Paella, Pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese buns), and Chocolate Brigadiero, which is a traditional Brazilian dessert similar to a truffle. Best of all, proceeds from the event support the National Kidney Foundation serving Maryland and Delaware’s local patient emergency assistance program and vital kidney disease research. 
Join us at Santé for a memorable culinary experience while supporting a worthy cause. Tickets are available, and we hope to see you there!
Stay tuned for more updates on our community involvement and culinary adventures. Thank you for your continued support!
Good Times

May is a month of gatherings. Graduations, Mother’s Day, weddings and Memorial Day weekend fill our calendars with celebrations. Backyard grills are fired up, sweet local strawberries highlight our menus and cherished traditions are passed on to the next generation. These ruminations nudged my monkey mind and soon I was exploring with our friends in other corners of the world regarding their family gatherings.

In Argentina, it’s Asado and often takes place on a Sunday.  The parrilla (grill) or a spit over a fire, along with the asador (designated grill master) and patience are the key ingredients.  The asador’s skills are passed on from father to son (although for the record, one of my most memorable meals was cooked over the flames by a remarkable female chef).  The asador cares for the fire, preferably made from quebracho wood; he tends to the meat, vegetables and cheese (provelata) that is served in stages as friends and family gather, sharing stories of their week, listening to music and enjoying the rich wines of Argentina.  The fabled history of an asado evokes images of gauchos riding through the pampas and surviving on the cattle that roamed the fertile grasslands.  With imagination, chimichurri, Spotify, Malbec and a spacious Sunday afternoon, an Asado is a welcome addition to our traditional celebrations.

Another spirited flavorful gathering is shared by our Filipino friends.  A boodle fight reunites friends and family around a banana leaf covered table jam-packed with traditional foods of the Philippines.  Kamayan in Tagalog translates to “by hand,” which describes the method of eating with your hands used during a boodle fight. Although there is a history involving the military and the need to eat quickly, hence the “fight”, the tradition has evolved into a leisurely convivial occasion overflowing with favorite family recipes.  Rice, noodles, fish, barbecued chicken and pork skewers, lumpia (egg roll), longganisa (sausage), sauces, fruits, vegetables, all served family-style and eaten with your hands sets the table for a joyous occasion.
  Our friend and pastry chef, Marie Cris, shared the meaning of a boodle fight for her and her family, “Every bite was a celebration of our bond as siblings and as a family.  We created memories that transcended the flavors on the table.  Whether we were stealing each other’s favorite dishes or playfully arguing over who cooked the best adobo, there was a sense of belonging, reminding us that no matter where life took us, we would always have each other.”

Good Stuff: Around the World in 80 Miles  
Our culinary team travels the world in our kitchens and theirs, researching, developing, cooking  and tasting dishes that span the globe.  Whether it is recreating a childhood taste, memory, or responding to a client request, the quest sends us to grocery stores lined with shelves of provisions that intrigue us with new flavor profiles and textures.  To expand your culinary horizons without the purchase of a plane ticket, we invite you to visit a few of the local specialty shops that our team frequents. Bon voyage.

Lotte, (Asian), Ellicott City & Catonsville

Jalapenos, (Latin American), Dundalk

Tessa & Sons Philippine Market, Glen Burnie

Divina Providencia 3, (Spanish), Owings Mills

The Turkish Family Market, Ellicott City

DiPasquale’s (Italian), Harborview, Canton

Global Gourmet (Russian), Reisterstown
From Our Library, Harriet’s Book Picks: Good Taste, A Life of Food and Passion byAlain Ducasse
Alain Ducasse’s new book, Good Taste, A Life of Food and Passion is quite compact for a life so vast and storied.  Described as part memoir and part manifesto, it is a chronicle of his achievements, punctuated with powerful, concise ideas on how to live a productive, creative and impactful life.  Like many fine chefs, his refined sense of taste was awakened as a child on the family farm in Southwest France, harvesting vegetables from the garden and foraging for mushrooms in the nearby forest. 
By the age of 12, his calling as a chef manifested. He embarked on a perpetual adventure to learn everything he could about food and other subjects that piqued his interest, to investigate what makes food taste good and to challenge the status quo.  He sought to interpret nature on the plate and valued terroir, the unique quality of each ingredient chosen.  His cooking style highlighted and elevated plants years before this was common place thinking.  In fact, one of his most memorable meals in his travels abroad was Kyoto based chef Toshio Tanahashi’s plant-based Buddhist temple cuisine.
Ducasse describes his book as “a different way of sharing the emotion conjured by a meal, a dish, a taste; of defining something ineffable; of telling a story; of evoking fleeting pleasures and engraving them within us.”  His unbounded curiosity propels his quest for continual growth and his excitement of discovering new flavors and techniques in his travels informs his ever-evolving taste.  But his interests and style transcend food.  He brought a choreographer to one of his restaurants to better instruct his service staff how to move through the dining rooms, and the love of wood he inherited from his grandfather influenced his restaurant design. 
Ducasse’s memoir outlines the opening of his many restaurants, schools and factories around the world, his gaining of over 20 Michelin stars, his failures and his breakthroughs and his philosophy of cooking.  But most interesting to me was the development of his personal manifesto to “never stop creating, understanding and trying new things” along with his unwavering commitment to sharing and teaching the next generation.

From our Kitchen: Bibingka (Coconut Rice Cake)
Chef Marie Cris Garay
Growing up in the Philippines, certain foods and traditions hold a special place in my heart, especially during festive seasons like fiesta, Christmas night mass (Simbang Gabi), and Holy Week. Among these cherished memories, bibingka stands out as a symbol of warmth, togetherness, and tradition. What is bibingka? Bibingka is a traditional Filipino rice cake that is typically made with ground rice, coconut milk, sugar, and eggs. It is often cooked in a special clay pot lined with banana leaves and placed over hot coals or charcoal. The cake is usually topped with butter, grated coconut, and salted egg slices.Fiesta season is a time of joy and celebration in our community. The air would be filled with the aroma of delicious food, but nothing quite compared to the scent of freshly baked bibingka. As a child, I would eagerly await the arrival of the bibingka vendor, who would set up shop near the church, ready to serve up this beloved delicacy.During Holy Week, bibingka took on a deeper significance. As we observed traditions of fasting and reflection, the indulgence of bibingka became even more meaningful. It was a reminder of the joys of community and the importance of coming together to celebrate our faith, even in the midst of solemnity.Beyond its delicious taste, bibingka served as a catalyst for cherished memories with family and friends. Whether gathered around the table after Mass or sharing stories with neighbors during fiesta celebrations, the presence of bibingka always seemed to bring us closer together.As I look back on these childhood memories, I realize that bibingka represented more than just a food, it was a symbol of tradition, community, and love. Even as time passes and traditions evolve, the sweet aroma of bibingka continues to evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminding me of the joy and warmth of those special moments shared with loved ones.  Ingredients:Banana leaves (enough to line the tart molds)1/8 lb unsalted butter, melted328 g white granulated sugar368 g coconut milk120 g whole milk340 g rice flour10g baking powder2 g saltTOPPINGS (OPTIONAL)salted duck egg sliced into quartersunsweetened coconut, shreddedcheddar cheese, shreddedUbe jam (purple yam)

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. 
Carefully clean the banana leaves under running water, making sure not to rip them. If your banana leaves are tough, carefully warm them over a warm stove making sure not to have the fire or electric burners touch the banana leaves (or they will burn).
Once the leaves are soft and moldable, line the molds with banana leaves. You can use scissors to cut off the excess banana leaves around the edge.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the melted butter and sugar until combined.
Add the coconut milk and whole milk and whisk until combined.
Sift the rice flour, baking powder, and salt into the wet ingredients. Whisk the ingredients together until there are no more lumps.
Pour the batter into the molds about 80% of the way up.
Put the molds on a sheet pan to help stabilize the bibingka.
Put the molds and sheet pan into the oven. 
After 9 minutes, add the salted egg topping to the bibingka and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.
**NOTE: for coconut shreds, wait until 11 minutes to prevent burning the coconut.
For cheese topping, wait until 19 minutes before adding to prevent burning the cheese. After 19 total minutes bake time, rotate the bibingka molds 180° to promote even baking since the back of the oven is usually hotter.
Cook for an additional 5 minutes. 
Test the bibingka by pushing a cake tester or toothpicks into the middle of the bibingka. If it comes out clean, the bibingka should be done.
If it’s wet, continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes and then check again. The bibingka should be firm in the middle and slightly golden on the top, but not burned. Let them cool for fifteen minutes and serve.

Enjoy! Click here to print the recipe.