Are you in? I’m in! Into where you are wondering? Only into the ultimate and most exclusive all white party that has ever taken place…Le Diner en Blanc. I mean all white everything. All white clothes, all white table linens, all white dinnerware, all white decorations, if it isn’t white then it has no place at Diner en Blanc.
Some of you may not know what Diner en Blanc actually is. Well let me give you a little history on it. Le Diner en Blanc is the gathering of friends to enjoy a gourmet meal set at a private location against the backdrop of a beautiful city space. Le Diner en Blanc started in 1988 in Paris, France. Almost 30 years later, it has become an international event celebrated on six continents, in over 3o countries and more than 70 cities. Talk about growth! Atlanta is now celebrating it’s 4th year as a part of this international celebration. It is a glorious sight to see waves of people arrive in all white; to take over a small portion of our city and celebrate life. Then they disappear into the night as if they were never there. Take a look at last year’s event here. Exactly! If last year looked that good, then this year can only be better.
To be able to pull off something so grand requires a team. Atlanta has a new set of hosts: Helen Mitchell, Lisa Fisher, Tina DeRenzis, all key players in event planning. I am sure they are going to make this an unforgettable event for all involved. This is all done with the help of volunteers and sponsors. This year’s local sponsor is Champagne Lanson and the National sponsor is Evian Badoit. With a team like this, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for everyone.
So how can you be in? “Participation to this unique event happens in three stages: Phase 1 is for members who attended the previous year; Phase 2 is for new members who are referred by Phase I attendees; and Phase 3 is for people who signed up on the waiting list.” Unfortunately, the Atlanta edition of Le Diner en Blanc is SOLD OUT! But you can stay in the know of things for 2018 by visiting https://atlanta.dinerenblanc.com/
Diner en Blanc Atlanta takes place this weekend, October 7, 2017. I have everything I’ll need. White dress…check. Stand out pearl neck piece…check. Portable charger…check. Desire to share all that makes Le Diner en Blanc Atlanta the place to be seen on all my social media…CHECK! Make sure you’re following me on all social media @TheChefInPearls so you can stay up to date on all things Chef in Pearls and Diner en Blanc Atlanta.
I plan to make some serious memories this weekend. I hope you plan to do the same. So go forward and make new memories.
Until next time
~The Chef In Pearls
My two best friends of nearly 30 years have both Blazed. They have taken great pleasure in rubbing in the fact that they Blaze and Blaze often. How is it that in my big city living I have yet to Blaze? Easy, there was no Blaze Pizza to be found in Atlanta. That was until a few weeks ago. Yep that’s right, we finally got a Blaze pizza, located in the Downtown Decatur/Emory Village Area. So as any true food blogger would do, I went to get my Blaze on.
When the invitation was posted to my bloggers’ group Facebook page, I wasted no time in RSVP’ing. As always, when I am allowed, it would be myself plus one. My foodie partner for the evening would be Paris, my friend/little sister. She’s always game to try a new eating place with me. So I was ready, an invite and a date, so to speak. Now to see what the fuss was all about. I mean truth be told if I were to tell you how I Blaze I’d have to say with fire but I am a bit of a smartass.
When we get there, I already know that if this pizza is anything like my besties say I won’t Blaze on the weekends. It was built in a plaza that already has a very popular supermarket and few other eateries. Parking will become an issue. I have left frustrated from many a location or not even bother to go if I know parking will be a problem. Thank God that was not an issue for us the evening we traveled to Blaze Pizza.
We are greeted with a lovely building with a great outdoor patio. I go inside and am met by Rachelle, their PR person. She was sweet and very happy to talk all about Blaze and what makes their pizza place different from all other pizza places. After going through the line and creating my very own Blaze experience, these are the things I’d like to share with you.
Let’s start with 1. You can start by ordering one of their specialty pizzas or customize one of your own with any amount of toppings and the price stays the same. You read correctly. If you wanted every topping they have in store there will be no upcharge. Just get it. 2. Once you have created your pizza it takes all of 180 seconds or 3 minutes for your pizza to be baked. Could you want it any faster? 3. If you are watching your carbs, (who goes to a pizza place if that’s what they’re doing but I digress), they have salad options. I don’t mean your typical tossed salads but instead salads like Kale & Quinoa or Arugula & Fresh Fruit plus two others on the menu. 4. They even offer daiya cheese for your vegan options. So far they are racking up points with me and my vegan friends. 5. Then let’s not forget to round out your order with your choice of bottle drinks, their custom lemonades and aqua frescas or other fountain drinks. They also have dessert: s’mores pie, sea salt cookies and olive oil brownies. Could you really want anything more from a pizza place?
So if you want to know how I Blaze check out my video right here and check out the pictures down below.
How would you Blaze? Or have you already Blazed? Let me know all about in the comments. Now go forward and make some new Blazing memories .
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
What’s the first rule of fight club? Yeah, if I hadn’t already shared that I had a birthday in July I would be telling my age with that reference. That question comes from a 1999 movie titled, you guessed it . . . Fight Club. What I’m talking about is different kind of fight club. Dare I share it? In the movie, the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club. Well since I’m all about breaking rules here and there, I think I will tell you all about Culinary Fight Club.
Culinary Fight Club is all about bragging rights. Who gets to say they won? Who gets to say they are the best amongst their peers. Wait . . . hold up: I have a confession to make. I didn’t actually go to Culinary Fight Club. What I attended was Culinary Fight Fest. A gathering that happens when you have 6-8 winners of previous Culinary Fight Club matchups and put them up against each other. In this arena the winners compete to see who will be the best of the best, top dog among champions The talent was strong in the room. There was a little bit of everything to try during the Tasters’ Choice round. Each contestant presented a dish that you were able to vote on. To cast your vote, you dropped one of the 4 tokens you received on entry into their voting box. There was no limit on how you cast your vote. If you liked them a lot you could drop all 4 in. After this initial tasting, the top four were chosen. From there the top 4 go on to compete in the final round. They are given 30 minutes and a mystery box. Brasstown Beef was the sponsor for the mystery boxes. So you guessed it . . . the boxes had beef in them. To keep the chefs on their toes they were unmarked cuts of beef, so you really had to know your stuff to compete.
The chefs came prepared to battle. They were provided with pantry items, kitchen equipment and any necessary tools to cook. However many chose to still bring things to help put them ahead of their competition. Things ranged from an old school pressure cooker all the way to river rocks. The top 4 presented wonderful dishes to be judged. But we all know the rule. There can only be one winner . . . one top dog . . . and that honor went to Josh Reeves of the River Club, located in Suwanee, GA. He walked away with a check, some cool knives and most importantly the right to brag as the winner of Culinary Fight Fest.
As always, I got to meet some pretty cool people, run into some of the usual suspects and of course make memories. Hey would you come out to support if The Chef In Pearls competed? Comment and let me know if you’d be a part of my cheering squad if I decided to join the Culinary Fight Club competition.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
When the Atlanta Food & Lifestyle Bloggers Society offers you the chance to try the latest in edible gifting, of course you sign up for it. Well at least I did. As a group, we were offered the chance to try Tiff’s Treats, a cookie delivery service. What makes Tiff’s Treats special is that you receive the cookies still warm. Yeah, you read that right. Warm, fresh out the oven and delivered to your doorstep, office desk or hospital room; just about anywhere that falls inside their delivery area. And for a small fee they can accommodate some areas slightly outside of it. All you have to do is check the website for locations and deliveries.
I had my cookies delivered to a friend’s place in Midtown so that I could share the experience with someone. My delivery person was really friendly and very courteous. She even let me snap a picture of her before leaving. Tiff’s Treats is my kind of company. They are big on presentation. I received my cookies in a lovely gift bag with the company name on it. Once I got the bag open, I was met with a white box tied with a blue ribbon that held a note addressed to me. How cute!
I didn’t open the cookies right away. I wanted to wait for my friend, Lauren, to arrive from work. I planned for us to enjoy some fresh baked cookies and hot tea. We’d have some quality girlfriend time and catch up on each other’s week. I thought that could be a new area Tiff’s Treats could market to. You know, tea time with friends. When we finally opened the box, to our amazement it was still warm. That’s because the box had an aluminum lining to help keep the heat in. Smart packaging!! To our surprise we had received an assortment of cookies – Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and M&M. Lauren had a hard time deciding which one she’d try first. Not me as I knew it would be Chocolate Chip the moment I saw it smiling back at me from inside the box. We sat trying different cookies and chatting our time away. You can catch the live video of the unboxing of the cookies here.
I think the concept behind Tiff’s Treats is great. Fresh baked and warmed delivered cookies. Genius!! The detailing that goes into a delivery helps to make this an all around good idea when thinking of alternative gift ideas. Especially when gifting something for the foodie in your life. The cookies weren’t super spectacular when I think of other cookies I have had in the past but they were not garbage either. Even with that in mind I would still recommend Tiff’s Treats as a go to place for gifting ideas, especially when you are in need of warm cookies delivered to your door .
I do have great memories from this delivery. I may place an order just to make some more. If you place an order please share your experience with me in the comments. I’d love to hear all about it. So go forward and make new memories.
Until next time….
~The Chef In Pearls
P.S. All opinions in this blog are my own. I have received compensation for sharing my views.
I am blessed to have lived a childhood where I did not have to worry about hunger. That doesn’t mean there were no hard times in my family’s life. It just means my Mom had a nifty way of making sure as kids we never knew about it. I managed to raise 3 kids and none of them experienced hunger. However, that is not the case for so many children, 1 out of 6 kids do not have a decent breakfast before school. WIthout breakfast they are more likely to miss school, less likely to get better grades and less likely to graduate high school. It is said that 13 million children suffer from hunger. This is where No Kid Hungry comes into play. The goal is to raise awareness of this epidemic happening in one of the richest countries in the world. They also help to raise money to help fill the gap in areas where this is happening.
This past weekend I had the honor of serving as media coverage for the Give Me Five . . . No Kid Hungry Fundraiser. 5 featured chefs and 5 sommeliers crafted a 5 course meal all in the name of raising awareness and money. This was the 11th year for the fundraiser. Attending this event was an “extra happy” event for me. It’s was a chance for me to play dress up, eat good food and do my part to share all of the going ons during the event. It was a win-win situation all around for me. The atmosphere was totally different from the event I had gone to earlier that day. You can read about my time at Culinary Fight Club right here.
The event started off with a cocktail reception and passed appetizers, where entertainment was provided by a live harpist. All great events start with bubbly and this one did not disappoint. Within the next hour we were ushered into the ballroom that was so exquisite. There was a Jazz Trio playing wonderful music as we found our seats. The concept of the event had the chefs and the sommeliers to create wonderful pairings for each course. And they definitely achieved that goal. Now I could sit here and write about each course but I honestly feel like the pictures will speak volumes. Believe me when I say the only way you are not drawn in by the pictures would be because you are blind. One of the coolest thing was that they held a live auction during dinner. It was very exciting to hear the auctioneer roll those numbers off his tongue urging and pulling people into outbidding one another, all in the name of a good case.
Give Me Five was a wonderful event but if you are like me and were moved even the slightest by the statics I shared, you may want to make a donation. You have several ways you can help out. You can make a one time donation, make a monthly contribution or find a local restaurant or event that supports the cause and participate through them. Feel free to click here and check out the options yourself. Let’s work together to help make fond morning memories for some needy children.
Until next time
~The Chef In Pearls
Well, did you? I mean that logo over there ===>; to your right. No look a little higher. Yeah, that one. Do you know what that means? Of course you don’t. I’m so silly. That logo means that I am of Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers’Society. I know you’re wondering what that has to do with you guys, the readers? Well a lot. a member gain access to events and opportunities that I can share with you. It also mearound likeminded people who offer support and share their knowledge. All of which helps to make better Chef In Pearls. So it’s a win-win situation for us all. They have me on the team helping to share about the group and events, I get to do and see new things and you get to read all about the new memories .
It has only been a few days and the opportunities have already began to roll in. I get to be apart of the media team for Atlanta’s inaugural Black Restaurant Week. This will give me the chance to meet other Black chefs here in Atlanta, see some creativity and just enjoy myself. I mean it’s all done for the sake of the blog and you as my readers. Do you think I would do these things if it weren’t for you all? EXACTLY! I mean do you think Culinary Fight Club is something I want to go see simply because I plan to compete in 2018? Right, again. See I knew you’d understand.
The only thing I ask is for you guys to keep up with me on social media. You’ll be able to take in different events through my live streaming, tweeting, instagraming (is that an actual word, instagramming?), Facebooking and so much more. And there will be giveaways!!!! Tune in and follow me everywhere @TheChefInPearls.
So until next time
~The Chef In Pearls
Forty-five years ago, in a hospital in Brooklyn, NY my mother gave birth to who you have all come to know as The Chef In Pearls. I’ve shared that I am a born and bred New Yorker, who transplanted to Atlanta, Georgia. Here is a new factoid for you the readers: you need to know is that I LOVE a good birthday. They are a big deal to me as I look forward to them the way a shopaholic looks forward to a good sale. I mean, I just turned 45 and I’m already planning for my 50th birthday. As if I don’t have other birthdays between now and then. Don’t get me wrong I do plan on celebrating each and everyone until my 50th but I am extra excited about reaching that milestone age.
With that being said I had wonderful plans for my birthday. I wanted to celebrate for a week straight, something to do everyday. I thought about going to a local spa with several salt pools, doing a movie night, or even doing a 5k for charity. Yet as my birthday grew closer, I realized I really didn’t want to do those things anymore. I just wanted to have good vibes for my birthday. I wanted to be around people who would not only celebrate with me but would celebrate me. I knew my best friends of nearly 30 years wouldn’t be able to make it. We had already made plans to celebrate together later in the month. So I pulled out my trusty phone and crafted a text message that I sent out to a handful of friends. The response was want I wanted…yes I’ll be there.
What happened next brought me pure joy and happiness. Let’s start with the fact that my sous chef and friend, Linda Adamswithe, drove in from South Carolina to make me queen for the day. She said with that crown I could have anything my heart desired. What I desired was a menu of appetizing food. She helped me to craft and create a wonderful menu for what would become my birthday gathering. We made crackers from scratch, my recipe for marinated feta cheese crumbles, hummus, and marinated tortellinis — all in the name of a wonderful appetizer board. It was also filled with fruits, nuts, cheeses, dips, veggie and assorted sausages …it was just a beautiful site to see. Then Linda pulled out her bartender’s cap and created a Sangria that left everyone wanting more. But the piece de resistance were the grilled oysters that she pulled off so lovely. Not over cooked and served on a platter of kosher salt with lemon wedges and sriracha for those that needed a bit of spice in their life. Yeah I’d have to say…we did that!
Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the food we created I enjoyed having friends and family around even more. Turning 45 to some may be a thing they want to avoid. Not me, every chance I get to live a little more life I embrace it. I want to grow old and be able to look back through my memory files and smile a big smile. Birthdays are blessings from God and as long as She gives me breath I will continue to celebrate them.
What are somethings you like about celebrating birthdays? Do you have a tradition? Or do you wing it every year? Tell me your fondest birthday memories.
Until next time
~The Chef In Pearls
It’s Summer time. Besides the warmer weather it means, at least to me, fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the major summer harvest items is zucchini. You can find them in so many varieties. The most common variety seen in the markets are the green zucchini. Those are the ones I used for this recipe but you can mix and match them if you want. Please be aware that zucchini is one of the top 10 Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) produce in the U.S. It’s important that you #KnowYourSource, so please support your local farmers and farmers’ markets.
In my last blog post I said i would share the zucchini fritters recipe I did at The Monroe Farmers Market. And as a woman of my word here we go. There are some very important things to note. It is CRUCIAL that you squeeze out as much liquid from the shredded zucchini as possible. If you don’t your fritters won’t come together properly as there is too much liquid in ratio to the amount of flour. Also don’t be afraid to add other things to your mixture. Some ideas are grated carrots or bacon bits, fresh herbs or try a different cheese. The options are limited to your imagination.
I don’t know if I have ever told you guys this but recipes are just guidelines. You can take away or add whatever you like to make the dish work the best for you.The only recipes that you have to follow a bit more exact are baking recipes. There is a science involved with baking recipes so those shouldn’t be fudged with much. Other than that have fun making changes and trying new things in a recipe
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large bowl, combine zucchini, flour, Parmesan, garlic and egg; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Scoop tablespoons of batter for each fritter, flattening with a spatula, and cook until the underside is nicely golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side, about 1-2 minutes longer.
I have had one busy week. The best thing about it was that it was all about the food. I got to not only experience food but also share my passions about it. I guess any week that I can do what I love, no matter how busy it is, is a good week. I got to cook at High Hog Farms, teach children about diversity, faith, food and fasting and I did a demo at the Monroe Farmers Market. Yeah I know a lot of work and hecka busy but I love what I do…now.
Once a month I cook for my friends’ , Warren & Keisha Cameron, at their High Hog Farm. Twice a month they host what is known as a farm day, where people can come help out on the farm and learn a few things about farming. If you didn’t know let me tell you now I am a city girl. I grew up in New York. Even though my Dad grew a lovely garden in our backyard that I helped out with,nowadays I really would rather cook the stuff that they raise, than help with the actual plants and animals.
It just so happened that my Saturday at the farm was just before Juneteenth, the celebration of African-American slaves learning of the Emancipation Proclamation, that had been signed nearly 2 and a half years earlier. Keisha asked if I could make something that would have traditional done for the celebration. In researching I learned so many things and came to appreciate some of the things I have come to take for granted in my kitchen. The simplicity of cooking. With that came our menu, Senegalese Chicken Peanut Soup with Roasted Corn and Green Chili Cornbread. I found 2 recipes that I was drawn to only choosing one over the other because of time restraints but including some items from the second to help build depth of flavor. To say the least it was well received. The plus was being able to use fresh ingredients from the farm like onions and chicken they killed & cleansed the day before. It was such a memorable meal. You can find the recipe here . Please note that I included unsweetened coconut milk, the kind you find in the can. I also used the entire chcken and not just legs and thighs.
That Monday following my time at the farm I created my take on hoecakes in honor of Juneteenth. It was a simple cornbread recipe that I cooked on a griddle . It was to replicate how they were to have been made during slavery times. Stories have it that they were to have been made to cook on the metal part of a hoe, which isn’t factual. In actuality they were cooked on a griddle, also known as a hoe. Thus the name hoecakes.
A hoecake is cornbread made minimalist- a thin, unleavened round made from the simplest batter (cornmeal, water and salt), crisp at the edges, glistening on both sides from the fat it was fried in, golden in patches. Inside, it’s dense but creamy, a foil for its best partners- creamed corn, silky braised greens, honey. A hoecake should be sturdy enough to work as a shovel for whatever is on the plate, but delicate enough to be appealing on it’s own.
By that definition my hoecakes were a bit of a fraud but I plan to tackle making some more authentic ones on another day.
From Monday to Wednesday I worked on menus for potential clients, creating visions through food. Then Thursday was another big day for me. I was asked to discuss diversity and similarity through faith and food with a group of young people. Fasting unites us all. How? You see every night we fast until our next meal, breakfast. Or the breaking of the fast. With that thought we explored the similarities between faiths in regards to fasting and feasting at it’s end. Christians have Lent ending with Easter Dinner, Muslims have Ramadan ending with Eid al-Fitr and Jews have Passover and the Seder supper. We could have gone on with more but they started to see how alike we are even in our differences. And of course we had to end with breaking bread, literally every child broke a piece of naan with me to show our camaraderie.
My week ended with me doing a food demo at the Monroe Farmers Market. Yes I was back to teaching the masses again. This time in the midst of fresh fruits and veggies and under a lovely white tent. It was all good until the rain decided to stop by. Know this, rain can’t stop me from cooking. even with the rain thinning out the crowd and vendors starting to pack up I still managed a good group and continued on with what I do best…cook. I know the next question is where’s the recipe? Well next blog post will have all the details on how to make zucchini fritters.
Busy weeks are the best for making memories. With the week I had you know I have plenty of memories. Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your busy week and what memories you’ve made.
Until next time.
~The Chef In Pearls
You just got home from work. It’s been a long day and a longer day in traffic. No energy to hit the supermarket yet you know that you still have to eat. You open the fridge only to realize there isn’t very much there. White rice leftover from the Chinese food you ordered earlier in the week. There are a few eggs, half of an onion, carrot matchsticks for the salads you never made for lunch, a partially used head of broccoli and the doggy bag of shrimp from the blind date you went on last night( we won’t even talk about the disaster that was). Back to the problem at hand–you are tired, hungry and over your eating out budget (remember you never made those salads for lunch this week). You pull all your ingredients out and place them on the counter. You start to wonder what it is you can make with all these bits and pieces. And then you have an AHA moment…Fried Rice.
It’s an easy fix to your problem. It’s a matter of prep work and using a hot pan. Below is an easy Fried Rice recipe that you can tweak to include anything you want or can find in your fridge. If you want more vegetables, add more vegetables. Maybe you want chicken and shrimp, bok choy and water chestnuts. Remember that recipes are just guidelines. Use it to create your very own special fried rice.
2 TBSP canola oil
1 egg beaten
½ small onion diced
¼ cup carrots cut up
¼ cup broccoli cut up and blanched*
¼ -½ cup of your chosen protein
½ cup leftover cooked rice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
½ – 1 TBSP soy sauce
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp sesame oil
Heat 1 TBSP oil in nonstick frying pan. Add pinch of salt and sesame oil to beaten egg. Add egg mixture to hot pan. Allow to cook without disturbing, 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and cut into strips. Add 1 TBSP oil to pan. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add carrots, broccoli and your protein and cook for 1-2 minutes. Gently move the vegetables and protein to the edge of pan. Add the rice to the center of pan followed by the ginger, soy sauce (this well give the rice that nice brown color you are used to seeing as well as sodium for taste). Combine all the ingredients in the pan, adding the egg strips in. Finish the rice off with a drizzle of sesame oil for more flavor. Remove from heat and plate.
Viola! Dinner is done in less than 30 minutes and you didn’t have to leave the house or further damage your food budget. This calls for a celebration. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get cozy in the sofa and enjoy your fried rice. This is definitely an #ExclusivePartyOfOne.
*The word blanch refers to a cooking technique in which food is briefly immersed in boiling water or fat.
Blanching vegetables softens them just enough so that they can then be quickly cooked over high heat, such as in a stir fry, where a short time in the pan wouldn’t be enough to soften them, but cooking them longer would tend to overcook the other items in the pan.
Definition from http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/glossary/g/blanch.htm
Here’s a tip for you. The best way to store ginger is to freeze it. It lasts longer and is easier to grate on your microplane.