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Worlds of Flavor!

7 Nov

Last week school was shut down for the annual Worlds of Flavor conference.  You can learn more about that here.  Basically, every year our school invites 60 badass chefs from around the world to show off their skills to other leading chefs, foodservice industry pros, experts, writers and foodies.  Being around hundreds of the hospitality elite for a week is definitely one of the perks of going to such a great school. 🙂

So, this year’s theme was World Causal.  I was on team Mediterranean, working on the hot side for the popular London TV personality/cookbook author and exec chef of Quince restaurant in London, Chef Silvena Rowe.  I’m not going to lie, it was hard work.  There were many stressful moments (like, “holy ish what do anise flowers even look like” as I’m searching the schools garden… or realizing that I hadn’t eaten in 48 hours), but in the end it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I worked almost 60 hours in five days, drank way too much coffee, made beautiful and delish food on the hotside (who knew!), and learned important lessons from inspiring and well established chefs.  You know that song, “I am woman, hear me raaawwwrrr”? Well, I sang that to myself many, many times.

I didn’t get any pictures with the chef I was under or all the food we made, which makes me really sad.  Her recipes are amazing.  Straightforward, modern Turkish food for posh Londoners, she truly keeps the integrity of her ingredients.  Although I’ve seen TV chefs around campus, this was the first time I’ve actually worked under one.  Her passion was infectious.  I’ve always found it difficult to talk about my own food.  Mostly because I get nervous, or embarrassed and always have that worry that they’re not going to like my food as much as I may. But this woman, sheeessshhh.  She can sell it and talk to a crowd!   In her demos she would take a bite of food (that I made, btw 🙂 ) and say, “I really wish you could try this because my recipe makes the best lamb you will ever have”.  And it’s true, it was delish.

Oh yeah, I have an open invite to London when I graduate too.  Which is pretty awesome and made the whole experience 100 times more worth it.  Obviously.

Here’s some photos of the conference…

“Surf and Turf”, made for the first seminar, “…Flavors from Turkey and Greece to Lebanon and Syria”.

Chef had me go up on stage with her to plate/cook the dishes while she talked about them.  She only had 8 min, so I did most of the cooking/prep ahead of time.  There were over 100 people in the audience.  100 very, very important people.  Dear Jesus, my hand was shaking!

Minced veal, veal spare rib and king prawn kabobs (we didn’t skewer them), served with oregano za’atar and a fennel, pink radish, red onion, pomegranate and flower salad.

“Orange and Orange Blossom Baklava” served with Greek yogurt and passion fruit puree.

250 portions for  Friday’s lunch dessert.

Hands down the most amazing baklava I have ever tasted.  This was surreal.

“Ottoman Spice Lamb Cutlets with Grapefruit Za’atar and Tahini and Lemon Sauce”

Made for the Mediterranean Spice Seminar

I’ve prepared meat at home, but doing it professionally is a completely different thing.  My chef gave me a lot of freedom (all responsibility for the recipes) so I manned up and grilled/cooked every single dish!  It was quite empowering.

“Spiced Lamb Rillette with Courgettes and Chile Pesto”

Also for the Mediterranean Spice Seminar.

I marinated the lamb shanks in suzme (Greek yogurt), orange zest, cardamom, baharat and other spices, braised it for seven hours, shredded it, made a terrine and let it sit overnight.  We served it on toasted sourdough and a slightly spicy courgette and chile pest, topped with Chef’s grapefruit za’atar. Amazing.

I didn’t make these, but they were also for the Mediterranean Spice Seminar.

The left and middle are from Chef Ana Sortun, from Oleana.  The right is from Australian Lamb, who sponsored the seminar.

My amiga was on restauranteur/Iron Chef Jose Garces’ team.

They made a “Foie Torchon with a Tomato and Jalapeno Jam” for Saturday’s Marketplace.  The photo doesn’t do the orgasm in my mouth justice.

Oooh la la, my school got cultural… and scandalous!

My friend and I were walking around the Marketplace, tasting everything in sight, when we heard music and saw at least twenty male chefs in awe.

200 apples for apple tart tatin.  7am-1130pm day! AYE!

Anything for my favorite chef instructor!

An egg dish the TA’s made for breakfast on Saturday.  I was huuunnngrryyy and didn’t know when I would have time to eat, so after making a pancake and citrus butter sandwich (and scarfing it down in 3min) I stuffed one of these in my mouth. Sooo gooooood.

 “Raw Beetroot with Goat Cheese, Orange Fillet, Garlic Chips, and Mustard Cress”.

From Chef Doxis Bekris.  My teammate was his assistant… everything he made was so beautiful, but this was the only thing I got a picture of.

Those are all my pictures from the conference! I’m so bummed I didn’t get the pictures of the other things I made. I also made “Rib eye teak with oregano za’atar salt”, 250 “jumbo prawns with Grapefruit and Aleppo chile vinaigrette and grapefruit za’atar”, 250 “roasted king prawns in pomegranate butter and anise flowers”, “watermelon and cherry tomato salad with feta, almond and za’atar crumble”, and “Shawarma Poussin”.  I’m sure you can get any of the recipes in one of her cookbooks.

Also, I’d be happy girl if I never, ever, EVER have to de-shell and de-veign another prawn again.  It wasn’t gross, just annoying.  I’d rather go home smelling like sweetness rather than fish and onions and garlic.  I don’t know how the hot side does it.

♥ Heather


My last two weeks in a nutshell.

21 Sep

Well now, I feel like these last two weeks have been go go go!  I’m finally sitting down on my couch (in my absolutely adorable new house, btw… we’ll talk about that later) with no homework, studying, work, or appointments to worry about. Now that I can finally breathe, let’s do a little recap…

So, exactly two weeks ago I drove my car aaaaall the way from Orange County back to Napa for school. I left at midnight, which, looking back probably wasn’t the smartest choice I’ve made in my life. Not only was it super dark, but the roads had more trucks than I have ever seen.  Every time I sped past one I prayed it wouldn’t tip over on my little space rocket car! Also, my great gma made me drink two pots… yes, pots, of coffee before I went on the road. It kept me up for the 8 hour drive, but also made me have to stop in almost every gas station along the 5. Not so safe. Sorry mom.

Besides that, the drive was wonderful. I sang at the top of my lungs (it was dark so no one could judge) and had a lot of time to think about the past year and things I want for the next year. We’ll go into depth later.

I passed SF just as the sun was rising (amazing) then drove way too fast for the last hour stretch. Driving into my little town in Napa was such a relief. I was a bit unsure about how I would feel moving back for another year after living in the city for 5 months, but one look at the vineyards, the hot air balloons getting filled, and our single bar made me sooooo psyched for my last year at school!

Okay, so my friend and I sorta rented a place we saw on the internet without ever actually seeing it. SCARY, right? Well, luck was definitely on our side because our house is like a gift from heaven! It’s small, but perfect for the two of us. Totally furnished in the cutest way possible aaaannd has fig, pear, lemon, walnut and plum trees, plus a little grape-vine. I’m going to post pics of my beautiful fruit later!

Let’s see… So, after the eight-hour drive I basically just fell asleep. I got up the next day, unpacked, polished my résumé, went on an interview, drove to SF for Beach Blanket Babylon (that’s a whooole different post), got OFFERED THE JOB!!!! and then went out with some friends as celebration. Theeeennn I got up the next morning, drove to the airport, unpacked my storage unit, drove BACK to Napa, unpacked the car again, took a 15 min nap, got dressed and drove aaaalll the way back to San Fran for a concert, met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in 5 months, went to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, got up just in time for the Giants game, saw them kick some major Dodger booty, drove my friend back to the airport, drove aaaalll the way back to Napa and then started school at 7am the next day. Everyday since that weekend my life has been school, work, sleep, repeat.

Ah! I’m exhausted! My body is finally getting used to the schedule (I had three weeks of pure vacation glory, so it took longer than usual) and I’m happy not only to be blogging, but also catching up on my favorite blogs. Plus, I’m stalking Pinterest again. Because that website is just too addicting and I haven’t posted to my boards in way too long.

Here’s a few pictures, but more are definitely on their way!

My friend and I went to the Giants game on 9/11.

Well, if this isn’t proof that I’m a curse to the Dodgers, I don’t know what is. I’ve never been prouder to be a little ball of bad luck:)

It was also the first time I’ve sat on the bay side. So fun!

Brand New concert in SF.

Have loved them for forever, but realized I’m no longer an emo kid at heart. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and dance and be merry! Plus, they played new songs I didn’t really know and not enough old ones. There was a random girl in front of us giving her BF a lap dance, which was hilariously not cute. I mean, Brand New isn’t really mood music, ya know?

(Oh, and I can’t really take Jesse Lacey seriously after he had that video chat sesh early this summer.)

Pears from our tree!

Okay! Going to get some much needed sleep. Goodnight!


Bruxies, Gyros and Loukoumades at the Orange Street Fair!

4 Sep

It’s Labor Day! And that means the Orange International Street Fair is here. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Orange County during the long weekend. If you’ve never been to the Orange Circle, imagine a plaza in the center, surrounded by antique shops, art galleries, restaurants, bars, old-fashioned homes and pretty gardens. Basically one of the cutest downtown “Main Streets”.

Well, every Labor Day weekend the circle gets transformed. The streets radiating out of the circle become filled with vendors and food from all over the world. The past few years I have stuck mostly to, ahem, trying all the different beer offered and dancing to Irish music. But, this year we decided to try the food too! 

First stop!

Irish sausages, teriyaki skewers, and gyros!

I’m not really a fried food kinda girl. It just doesn’t feel… clean? Tempura? No thanks. Fries? I’d rather have them baked. Chips? Donuts? Mmm I can do without. There’s just something about food cooked in hot oil that makes my stomach turn. Oh, and what it does to my energy and mood!

That being said, we passed by this booth on Greek Street. After seeing the enormous line, we had to see what all the fuss was. I was kinda hesitant at first, but the crowd was enthusiastic. “These aren’t donuts! They’re bursts of delicious!” one man corrected me.

Well? Sweet Heaven, I love you. They’re basically a sweet fried dough that is rolled in honey and cinnamon, then dusted with powdered sugar. When you bite into one, it literally feels like honey is bursting in your mouth. Amazing. So amazing that my friend yelled, “Five second rule!” and stuffed one in his mouth after he had dropped it on the ground. THE GROUND. They are definitely on my to-do list!

On the way to the car, we stopped by Bruxie. It was my first time, but our friend is a veteran.

They make sweet and savory waffle sandwiches… perfect for the Chapman College students across the street, or an after hours snack. Everything from prosciutto and Gruyère, to bacon, egg and cheddar. They even serve vegetarian and gluten-free options. I had to eeny-meeny-miny-moe the S’more and Nutella and banana sandwiches!

I’m not a soda drinker. My mom told us it was poison and never bought it, so now it makes my tummy hurt. But, they make their own with cane sugar! The boys say it tastes great! P.S. look at the powdered sugar on my friend’s nose.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle Bruxie. Served with chili honey and coleslaw

Belgium chocolate, graham cracker & toasted marshmallow

We left with very satisfied tummies!

♥ Heather

Two week hiatus is over!

28 Jun

Okay, so I haven’t blogged in more than a week. Actually, more like two, going on three weeks. Bad blogger! Heres a quick recap…

I’ve been doing things like:

Baking/Filling orders… yessss!

Nutella with white chocolate

English Toffee Cake Bites

S'more Cake Bites

Spinning is a drug and I am addicted! I started a couple of weeks ago and really dislike going more than a day without it. I’ve actually broken plans just so I can make a class. Eeeks!

Concerts at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa. Now all you stalkers know I’m from Orange County. Great. Anyways, I went twice this month! Once with work friends to see our friend’s amaaazing band, The Steelwells. Click on the link and listen. Now. Click on the picture for more info!

I went a second time and reconnected with an old friend. The band kinda creeped me out, so I’m not going to even mention their name, but the convo was good and the old friend was cute. Like, really cute. Will discuss at another time.

Hung out with cute, old friend the next night. Btw, I am still thinking of a name for this friend. Will decide tomorrow! Can you really think of anything more romantic than having a boy cook for you? Especially when they cook well? Yummm.

Saw Toy Story 3 in Disney 3D. Loved it! Especially the Barbie and Ken scenes!

Museum with same cute boy. Hmmm… Learned about the Silk Road and my favorite, the art of the Pacific Islands. Also realized that every culture is really inspired by/enjoyed creating ummm, phallic symbols.

True Blood. Pure hotness.

Beaching. Tanning. Burning.

Almost finished reading Eat, Pray, Love. I loved this book at first, got kinda bored when she went to India, and wasn’t too excited about the Bali part. But now, LOVE again.

♥ Heather


It’s the end of an era…

28 May

I turned in my official letter of resignation to the School Job on Wednesday. Ah, how I almost wanted to cry! The day before was the very last field trip I would ever attend with the kiddos. We went to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles (totally fun and waaay better than the Nature Walk we did a few months ago. Me+hiking+wild animals+bugs+trees+dirt= not a very happy teacher. Basically, that field trip was my worst nightmare.) Aaaanyways, the Natural History Museum was probably the most awesome last field trip. The kiddos were so cute and full of wonder and excitement. I loved their questions and how big my groups eyes got when they saw the huuuge blue whale. We were also able to go to the butterfly garden- totally cool. I actually saw a butterfly stick its tongue into a flower to take a drink. I also saw, in horror btw, a butterfly get stuck in a spider web. Girls were screaming, boys were stunned, kids were pointing… the spider did its spider job and had a nice afternoon snack right in front of us. The best was the end, when our very sleepy kids took a nice nap on the long bus ride home. I’m going to miss them sooo much!

Who else is going to tell me how pretty I am twenty times a day? Who else is going to want to hug me and hold my hand 100 times a day? Who else will draw me pictures and write me notes, tell me I am a Princess, laugh at my jokes, sing for me, compliment my shoes, tell me I should be a professional hair braider, ask me for permission to go to the bathroom every fifteen minutes and ask me how long till recess/lunch/the end of the day every five minutes?  Who else will I play basketball and jump rope with? Will I ever hear “Cinderella dressed in yella, went upstairs…” again?

It seems like just yesterday they were learning their ABC’s in kinder and learning to count to 100 in first grade. And now, as big 2nd graders, they can do multiplication and division! They speak and express themselves so much better than they did just a few years ago. I’m going to miss reading their creative writing, listening to their funny stories, hearing about what they want to be when they grow up and fun things they are doing at home. I’m going to miss Pajama Day, field trips, birthdays, Halloween, the stories on the day back from Christmas break and their sweet voices at the Christmas concerts. I’m going to miss reading to them after lunch and having the (super strong and brave and gorgeous) firemen read to the class on Dr. Seuss’ birthay. I’m going to miss their total innocent way of putting life into perspective…

Some of my favorite quotes of all time were said by these little guys!

One of my students: “When I get older, I’m going to marry a Chinese girl.”

Me: “Really? Why do you say that?”

Student: “Because I loooove Chinese food!”

Me: “Hmmm what about going to a restaurant?”

Student: “Nope, the restaurant could close down! Im going to marry her for sure!”

“When I get older I am definitely going to marry Miss Heather”

“I don’t want to work when I get older. Why can’t I just have fun?”

“Miss Heather, you know how I have liked ____ since kindergarden? Well, he bought me a Valentines and his sister said that he finally has a crush on me!”

Me: “Reeaally? You must be excited!”

2nd grader: “Yeah, except now that he likes me, I don’t think I like him anymore.”

While reading a story for Grandparent’s Day:

Me: “Grandparent’s take you fishing, take you on walks…”

Student: “All my grandpa does is sit on the couch and watch TV!”

Me: “Mmmm you smell so good sweetie! Are you wearing your dad’s cologne?”

Student: “Nope, it’s mine. It’s Axe.”

Me: “Oh, ohhh. It smells so good!”

Student: “Yeah, I saw what happens on the commercials and told my mom I had to have it!”

Well, I’ll be working summer school with a different class, but I wont see MY kiddos ever ever again. I can’t believe I’ve been with them for three years and have been at the district for five years. Where did the time go? How did I get so lucky to have such a rewarding job at such a young age? I wonder what they will be like in September and even in the next few years. How much will they grow? How many years till they are taller than me? Probably like, 2…

I can honestly say that  without them, I’d be a little more selfish, a little less childlike, a bit more irresponsible, and a lot less compassionate. If you ever get the chance, work with kids. At times when my life is crazy and drama filled (like, all the time), they make you see what matters most.