executive chef

HOSPITALITY21’S TOP 10 CHEF BLOGS

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Dear Friends,
It is with pride and happiness that I can announce another inclusion of “ChefsOpinion” into a ” Best Of ” list by a prestigious hospitality publication, “Hospitality 21
To read the article and to find out more about the other inductees, click the link below:
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HOSPITALITY21’S TOP 10 CHEF BLOGS
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Thank you Hospitality 21 and all friends, readers and subscribers of ChefsOpinion .
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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Chef Hans Susser

Chef Hans Susser

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Mafaldine Alla Riccione

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I dedicate  this dish to the city of  Riccione, where I had my first moment of culinary ecstasy.
When I was 16 years old and an cook-apprentice in the  Black Forest  of Germany, I thought life, and particular working life, was too hard for me to handle, so I decided to run away from it.
I hitchhiked through southern Germany to Austria and from there over the  Brenner Pass  in the Dolomiti Alps down to Riccione in Northern Italy in the hopes of finding happiness and love in a life of leisure on the beach (well, I was 16 years of age in an area before the internet – ignorance and naïveté prevailed in 16 year old’s at that time :-).
When I left  Baden Baden  for my adventure I had 26.00 German Marks to my name, most of which I spend the first night on  steins of beer  in the “Englisher Garten”  in Munich. I remember I crossed the border from Austria into Italy with 6.00 DM in my pocket. After breakfast that day, it was four weeks of sleeping under the stars and asking (begging actually) shop owners and restaurant owners for donations to support, in the form of food and drink, my escape from a working life to the bohemian life of my dreams. These were different times altogether. I was a skinny kid without a home, and most people I met had pity and gave me a good meal, most often a sandwich and/or some fruit and soft drinks. Also, everyone offered a free smoke of the good stuff, which made a penny less life on the road so much brighter 🙂
However, I remember when I got to Riccione, on the first day I spend there, the chef in a seaside restaurant handed me a simple plate of pasta with shrimp. This was the first time I saw shrimp of that size and had a dish that was so exotic and wonderful, both in its taste and its looks. To this day I remember the awesomeness I felt by smelling this food, feasting on its looks with my eyes and then devouring it all in a happy flash.
After one month of some happy, some frightening but never boring moments, even skinnier than before I left, but maybe just a bit wiser, I crawled back to my apprenticeship at the Hotel Wiedenfelsen, finished it and became a professional cook, never again to regret my earlier decision to follow this lifelong, tough, underpaid, but in so many other  way’s  rewarding career path of a cook and chef.
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Bon Appetit !  See you in Riccione 🙂
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>riccione, 

Mafaldine Alla Riccione

Mafaldine Alla Riccione

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Mafaldine Alla Riccione

Mafaldine Alla Riccione

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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From Cook To Chef. A Long, Tough & Very Rewarding Journey

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” Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. “

Dear Friends of ChefsOpinion,

When I started this blog in April of 2012, my circle of readers was very small and consisted mostly of friends and colleagues I knew already from other parts of life.
Now, one year later, the situation has changed tremendously, with daily clicks averaging between 400/500, on someday’s far exceeding the 1000 click mark 🙂
Lot’s of folks stumble across ChefsOpinion by accident and have no idea about my professional background , where and what I’ve been and what the philosophy of  ChefsOpinion is all about .
So, since I had so many inquiries lately about my professional past, I thought I should re-publish the following article of mine which I wrote mainly to address my students at le cordon bleu . It was first published at  ChefCook.us  about three years ago and was re-published here on ChefsOpinion about a year ago. It will give newcomers to ChefsOpinion a bit of information who they are dealing with when they visit my blog and might even enlighten some others about the possibilities and opportunities  which present them self in our line of work.

Should you just start out as a cook and need a bit of encouragement,  I wish you the best of luck!
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From Cook To Chef. A Long, Tough, Rewarding Journey.
An Open Letter To All Young Cooks.

By Chef Hans Susser

So, now that you have established that you want to become a Chef, let’s see how you can get there.
Many established chefs will try to warn you not to join our ranks. This probably comes from chefs who are tired of the position they are in at the moment or who never really made it to the top of our profession or are simply burned out after many years of hard work under less then pretty circumstances.
Keep in mind that for those chefs , in order to get to where they are now, at one point they had to be as enthusiastic, positive and full of dreams as you are at this moment.
The first question that pops up is usually: ” Should I go to culinary school?”
Until a few years ago I would have told everybody that this is a waste of time and money. Unfortunately these day’s, without a piece of paper which proves that you attended school for a certain amount of time, your life/professional expertise is useless in this country and many others. These day’s it is nearly impossible to get to a management position without proof of a degree or at least a diploma from a prestigious school, no matter how much actual experience and skills you possess.
On the other hand, one has to realize that to be a very good cook will only be the minimum requirement once you reach the Executive Chefs position. You must also be very knowledgeable in human resource matters, food cost, labor cost, design, union rules, cleaning, public relations and a myriad of other such things. Most places will hire you to fix those things, not to teach them to you. There is a reason the other chef is not there anymore. A wealth of knowledge and skills, patience and diplomacy is expected from you when you walk in the door. Most of this you cannot learn in a school. It will take years off acquired skills and knowledge to become the Chef that you aspire to be. So here it is : You first need to get your papers (diploma) THEN  (maybe) you will be given the chance to actually learn, experience and practice what you already are “licensed” to do. “Catch 22″,  really.
Don’t be discouraged if things seem to go slow and tedious at the beginning. Think of your culinary career as a kind of snowball:
Lay a small snowball (your Career) on a snowy hill and see what happens: Nothing! But push, push, push and it starts to slowly roll down the hill and after a short time it will start to gain momentum all by itself and off it goes to become a giant snowball ( your Career).

Here now, in a few words, is how the snowball of my career rolled for me:

I started as an apprentice when I was thirteen and a half years old, in a small hotel in the black forest in Germany  (Hotel Wiedenfelsen in Buehlertal). Tough times. Hard work. Long hours, sometimes no day off for many weeks. At that time there were no “shifts”  you were assigned to. It was normal for everybody to work breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eight hour workdays ?! Go work at a bank! During my first year I earned room and board and approximately $20 cash a month. Second year about $60 a month and during the third year probably around $100. From the second year on, an apprentice was expected to run his or her own station. (VERY few girls in the kitchen at that time, 1967). My secret dream at that time was to become a disc jockey as soon as I’d finish my apprenticeship. Thanks God my dad found out and gave me a few fresh ones to set my head straight. The next stations on my journey, as much as I remember now, were as follows:

One winter season as a Commis de Cuisine during winter season in Austria. (Hotel Alpenhof, Jungholz, Tyrol)

One summer season as a Commis de cuisine at the German seaboard. (Hotel See Schloesschen, Timmendorfer Strand).

One summer and winter (1972 summer olympics) as the lone cook with two helpers in a small restaurant and banquet facility in Munich (Gaststaette Zunfthaus).

One year during which I was promoted from Chef Tournant to Executive Chef at a Congress Center in Germany (Congresshalle Boeblingen)  The Chef got sick and I had to take over – there it was, my first big chance.

After that I took a year off to live in Hollywood, California. (A whole different story)
Then, 5 years as a Chef de Partie with Royal Viking Line, traveling around the world. Working hard, partying harder. Making tons of money . Spending tons of money.

After that, back to Germany for some time, working in a five-star restaurant as Chef de Partie (Ratskeller Ludwigsburg) and then going back as Executive Chef to the Congress Center in Boeblingen.

At around 1980 I took a position as Sous Chef at the Manila Midtown Hotel in  Manila, Philippines. I stayed there for a few years and was promoted to my first international position as Executive Chef.

From Manila I moved to Singapore (Excelsior Hotel) and Thailand (VERY extended vacation 🙂  ) and eventually to Miami where I joined Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. During my time there as Senior Executive Chef I met my lovely wife Maria who also worked for RCCL.

For the next 15 years Maria and I traveled the world, living and working in a variety of Countries.

During my career in the hospitality industry I have held the positions of:
Apprentice, Commis de Cuisine, Chef de Partie, Sous Chef, Executive Sous Chef, Executive Chef, Senior Executive Chef, Area Executive Chef, F&B Manager, Owner, Chef Instructor, Program Chair for the English Program at a Culinary College, Program Chair for the Spanish Program at a Culinary College.

I have worked in restaurants, hotels and cruise ships.

I worked in places where I was the only cook, in places where I was leading a staff of a few hundred and in places of any size in between.

I have lived and worked in such places as: Germany, United States, Jamaica, Grenada, US Virgin Islands, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, France, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and probably a few more which I cannot remember right now. According to my wife Maria who keeps track of those things, I have lived, worked and/or visited 128 countries in total.

Not bad for a kid who left school before he was 14 years old and, after apprenticeship,  had no further formal education.

During the past 25 years in the hospitality industry my specialty for which companies hired me was to open new ventures or to bring back the former glory that many places had lost. This made for some very hectic and stressful but nevertheless beautiful and exciting years, which I would not want to miss for anything. (The money was great too). I lived mostly in five-star hotels or other high-class accommodations, provided by the companies I worked for. If one works at this level, most companies provide a high-class expatriate package, which can include great amenities for the whole family such as free travel, maid service, company car and chauffeur, free food, drinks, laundry, medical service, etc, etc.

During the past seven years I have worked as a chef instructor at a local culinary college (Le Cordon Bleu, Miami). Life is good, even without the stress and hectic. Sometimes I miss the crazy action, most times I don’t.

Well folks, there you have it. It is all out there, just waiting for you !
All you have to do is work hard, never give up and understand that all beginnings are tough.

Good Luck !  Life is Good !
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Link to pictures of some of the places I worked at over the years.
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Link to more professional background of chef Susser

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hans susser..... 

hans susser 

hans susser five star diamond award 

hans susser, ca 1987 

hans susser, ca 1988 

hans susser, singapore, ca 1984 

hans susser. 1985 

hans susser. buenos aires 

hans susser. ca 1986 

hans susser. rare vacation. at home in cologne. ca 1987 

hans susser. rio de janeiro 

 
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See All ChefsOpinion Post’s On One Page

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Life is Good !
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The ( culinary) world is a big, beautiful, interesting, evolving place, and it’s center is not necessarily in our own backyard :-)

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Hans Susser  wrote on LinkedIn
about the vanishing need of butchery knowledge by chef‘s :

Dear fellow professionals,
It always amazes me how many americans think we are in the center of the world and only our practices make sense and are up to date. The fact is that in most countries around the world there is a paralel world of  meat utilisation. While there are comercial  slaughterhouses everywhere, the majority of meat and  seafood is processed on a much smaller scale. Those  chef’s who travel the world practicing their trade will be faced with the fact of seeing whole  animals being delivered to their hotels and restaurants and then broken down on the property. Dishes are being cooked from every part of the animal,including the blood, feet, snout, heads, etc, etc. A chef would look pretty silly and useless not to be able to teach his staff to work more time effective, cost effective and cleaner while doing these tasks. Then you have the areas where game is a big attraction during the seasons and again, many hunters just take out the digestive tract and deliver the animal whole, pelt, head, innards, EVERYTHING 🙂
Imagine the waste which would occur (and it does) when the animals are not handled by knowledgeable folks.
Unnecessary craft and skills ? Not in my opinion, unless you plan to work in a environment without creativity. I am aware that sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to be creative to a certain point, after all, we need enough customers who are willing to pay for dishes they have never heard of or are not currently on the “in”list. However, if given the chance, we should embrace the opportunity to be well rounded chef’s who can carry on the traditional skills which will always be needed in one place or another, during one time or another.
While I have embraced the convenience and cost effectiveness of buying pre-cut meat and fish on many occasions and places, being able to break down the whole animal was a far more common requirement during my career. I have also worked with a professionally trained american butcher who was amazed by how much he could learn from me in all aspects of  butchery, from the traditional cuts as they are done around the world, down to sausage making and breaking down seafood. So in conclusion, it is my opinion that if you work in an environment where certain skills are not required, please don’t dismiss them as being unnecessary and antiquated.
The ( culinary) world is a big, beautiful, interesting, evolving place, and it’s center is not necessarily in our own backyard 🙂

” Rose Petal Ice Cream “

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 by  on July 5 2012 in DessertsFeaturedRecipe

While not a prevalent flavor in the United States, rose is fairly common elsewhere. Across the Middle East, particularly Iran, it is used to flavor all manner of sweets. Ice cream is the only use of rose in food that I have found palatable. Rose candy tastes like grandma’s perfume to me, and rose scones just taste wrong. But the ice cream gives a nice rounded sweetness that is just right for such a delicate flavor. The rose petals themselves are not really potent enough to stand up to the amount of sugar and cream that ice cream requires, so it’s fleshed out with rose water.

Rose water can be found at most Middle Eastern grocery stores and at specialty stores. The potency of the rose water will vary from brand to brand, so you may want to start of by whisking in one teaspoon at a time until you are satisfied with the flavor. I used Nielson-Massey, which is pretty strong.

Rose petals should be unsprayed, or organic. The best would be from a friend or neighbor, as they would be the freshest. Otherwise try natural foods stores or a florist/nursery specializing in organic flowers.

Rose Petal Ice Cream

Using the method found in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams 

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed  petals from organic or unsprayed roses (30g)
  • 2 cups milk (475ml)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (150g/5.5oz)
  • 4 tsp corn or tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp beet powder (optional—this will give it a nice light pink color)
  • 3 tbs cream cheese, room temperature (1.5 oz/45g)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbs corn or tapioca syrup (30ml)
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream (300 ml)
  • 2-4 tsp rose water (10-20ml)

Method

  1. First, get your bowls ready. In a small bowl, whisk the corn or tapioca starch (and the beet powder if using) with 2 tablespoons of the milk until a smooth slurry is formed. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and a small amount of cold water. Place a mesh sieve over an empty medium bowl.
  2. Coarsely chop the rose petals. In large saucepan, toss in the petals, the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn or tapioca syrup. On medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Set a timer for 4 minutes (timing is very important). After the four minutes, remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through the sieve and press against the rose petals to extract as much milk as possible. Discard the petals.
  3. Ladle a bit of the hot milk into the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the rest of the hot milk. Whisk in the rose water one teaspoon at a time, adjusting to taste.
  4. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon freezer Ziplock bag and seal. Plunge this into the ice water bowl and knead gently until the mixture is well chilled. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Spread into a shallow container, cover with plastic wrap, and seal with an air-tight lid. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours. This will keep in the freezer for up to two weeks.

” Braised Beef Ribs, Vegetables & Potatoes “

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Yesterday’s dinner. 
After that, I probably should not eat at all today ?     😦
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Bon Appetit !   Life is Good !
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” Sauteed Cod Filet, Cheese & Chili Grits “

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Yesterday’s lunch. 
First time in my life I cooked grits for myself. Love it ! 
Life is Good !
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” Summer Getaway Guide: 50 Food Attractions by State “

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Summer Getaway Guide: 50 Food Attractions By State

 

By Lauren Bloomberg  on “Zagat”

The summer road trip – whether it’s an hour in the car to catch a couple waves and or a cross-country jaunt packed into an RV with family, a few things are a must: you should have good food, visit silly attractions and create memories. To help you out with planning, we’ve come up with a few good options, 50 to be exact. For each state in this great country of ours we’ve picked a food-focused attraction. Some restaurants, a few museums, food factory tours, festivals, monuments and activities. What’s on your list? Any must-sees that we missed? Please let us know in the comments.
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Read all HERE
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” Stir Fried Vegetables & Longevity Noodles “

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Light, tasty, healthy, delicious.

Life is Good !
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