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Ask the experts on StarChefs.com

Cooking tips, food info, and shopping advice
from America’s top chefs.

Ask your favorite celebrity chefs and food experts anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about food and we’ll get the answer for you!

StarChefs will do its best to make sure every question asked is answered. However, due to the high volume of questions asked, some questions will not be able to be answered.

 

 

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Q:Could I use heavy cream instead of double cream

Terry Rouse,
A:Terry,

Double cream is actually heavy cream that is slowly reduced by half. The texture and flavor is quite different. However, if you simply cannot reduce your cream to double cream you may simply need to add the cream during cooking and let it reduce in the pan. This won't work for certain things, like caramel sauces, or other delicate sauces that can't withstand long reductions. Best of luck in your cooking endeavors.

Greatest regards,
The StarChefs.com Team Extraordinaires

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:I have a career question. I am currently a line cook who is aspiring to be a chef one day.i live in NYC and have recently become engaged. We a planning to move to another state. I have begun taking on trails at some restaurants that look promising. There is one I have cited is the one that is better than the rest. I did a lunch trail and am going back for a dinner trail tomorrow. I have a few concerns.I was not completely honest with the chef interviewing me about my current job. I left the kitchen for the summer to make more money before I move away, I told him I was still there for fear of a misunderstanding. also my resume is jumpy. I've worked in some great restaurants but no more than 6months at each. Is there a way to impress him tomorrow at my dinner trail or something that will show my dedication and get me the job?

Carly,
A:Carly,

The real answer to your question depends on a lot of different factors: What's your experience, age, background, cuisine, and more.

But chefs almost completely across the board agree that characteristics they look for in employees are a hard work ethic, cleanliness, and devotion to the industry.

Keep your head down, keep your hands moving, keep your mouth closed, and keep your ears open. Show that you don't just love food, but you love cooking in a professional environment with long hours and hot heat. Good luck on your trail.

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:What is a vegetable satay?

Lyra Drachenberg,
A:Lyra,

Traditionally, satay is marinated meat that is skewered, grilled and served with a sauce, either below or on the side for dipping. Vegetable satay simply follows the same format.

--by StarChefs Editors
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Q:Making rigatoni past for approx 150 people. Can you advise me on how much uncooked pasta to purchase and how many gallons of sauce I will need? The pasta will not be the only food, also serving chicken, ham, potatoes, different salads, breads, relish and veg trays. So many quite different opinions on the internet when I tried to research it myself, Any info you may provide me would be greatly appreciated!

Bobbi Bird,
A:Bobbi,

The easiest way to determine how much you need is to weigh the ingredients for one portion and then multiply by the number of portions you need.

For instance, if a 6oz portion of cooked pasta with 2oz of sauce is sufficient:

You would need approximately 2-3oz dried pasta x 150 portions, or between 18 and 28 pounds of dried pasta.

2oz of sauce x 150 portions gives you approximately 300 ounces, or 2.3 gallons of sauce.

Some pasta will absorb more water than others so weigh the pasta dry and then start with a fully cooked portion and work backwards. Simply adjust for which serving size you feel is appropriate and take it from there.

Hope this sets you on the right path.
Good Luck!
D

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:Can i install stainless shelving for (plates- skillets) above my grill, 6 burner stove or fryers

Charles,
A:It would be appropriate to check the local fire regulations first. Stainless shelving is commonly installed above flat-tops, grills and planchas here in New York City. The shelves are usually easily removed for proper cleaning and de-greasing.

Just be careful when installing shelves above any heat source-with special care near deep fryers. The heat will obviously make pans and plates very hot during service and if a careless kitchen staff accidentally drops something into a fryer from a shelf, well...

Start with the fire regulations and talk to a local distributor to see your options.

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:how do you desensitize Garlic ?

mikebone,
A:The very few companies that produce desensitized garlic use a proprietary method for producing it. The best recommendation we can make is to peel garlic and place it in a sauce pan. Cover the garlic with milk and bring to a simmer. Strain the mixture, rinse and repeat until the desired mild flavor is reached. You can also try this with water, since it's a cheaper alternative, and see if you end up with the results you're looking for.

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:I made shrimp shooters with shrimp olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, lemon rind, salt,pepper, cilantro, and hot sauce. After marinating them in the refrigerator the shrimp was chewy. Why did that happened?

Jan Short,
A:Hi Jan,

Shrimp is a very delicate protein that easily becomes chewy when overlooked. This can happen if you are boiling, grilling, saut?ing etcetera. In this case I would guess that the acid in the white balsamic actually overlooked the shrimp. When acid is in contact with protein it cooks it in a similar way to applying heat, so the longer it sits and the higher the acidity of the marinade the chewier it can get. I suggest you look for a ceviche recipe on StarChefs.com and give it another show.

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:What cocktail pairs up with ribeye steak?

schu,
A:Something dark and brooding would be best, like a well-made Manhattan (such as Dave Wondrich's http://www.starchefs.com/cook/recipe/manhattan-cocktail). Of course, wine is the best pairing, so you can also try a New York Sour (http://www.starchefs.com/features/classic-cocktail-recipes-reimagined/recipe-new-york-sour-kenneth-mccoy.shtml), which features a splash or red.

--by StarChefs Editors
--


Q:Why do professional chefs rarely place stuffing inside poultry?

Shennon Richards,
A:Shennon,

The most probable reason is because it affects how the bird cooks (an empty cavity or one stuffed just with lemons and spices will cook more evenly). Further, there's a greater risk of contaminating the stuffing if the bird isn't cooked enough.

That said, some chefs prefer to cook poultry with the stuffing inside, feeling it imparts additional flavor to the stuffing.

--by StarChefs Editors
--

[ Click here for more questions & answers ]

EMERIL LAGASSE’S
FAVORITE FARE
Knowing that you have a Portuguese background, I am wondering what your favorite Portuguese dish is. – Dale Brown, Springfield MO

Kale soup, I use lots of fresh kale, chorizo or andouille sausage, potatoes and chicken stock. My mom (who is Portuguese) used to make it. Mom ran the house so we grew up eating Portuguese food. – Emeril

TACO ADVICE
FROM BOBBY FLAY
I have a basic question: I cannot seem to get the right taste for my beef taco filling. I like a really spicy flavor, but nothing overpowering. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance! – Charlotte Stevens, Santa Barbara CA

Start with onions and garlic. Then add ground cumin, ground coriander, ancho chile powder, jalapeno or Serrano peppers, and chopped tomatoes. At the very end, add some chopped fresh cilantro. You can also experiment with some other dried chile powders such as pasilla, cascabel or chipotle. – Bobby

NORMAN VAN AKEN’S FLAVOR COMBINATIONS
What are your favorite food combinations?

Peanut butter and Jelly still works for me! Especially on a Ritz cracker… I’m only kidding – a little. Plantains and pork is another great one. It is in the contrast of combinations that I am most consistently drawn to. I love limejuice, sugar and fish sauce. I love passion fruit, honey and sesame oil. I love roasted beef and lamb with caramelized onions and root vegetables. My dessert interests are chocolate and mandarin orange, as well as curry and pineapple – Norman

A PAINT BRUSH FOR
MARCUS SAMUELSSON
What are staple ingredients in your kitchen?

It’s not ingredients, it’s a brush. It’s something I’ve had forever, since I was a kid. I paint on plates, for example. Anything is a vehicle for me to serve food on. I use tiles or glass bricks. I don’t buy the most expensive china, I design my own and use stuff [that exists] in everyday culture and I put it in my restaurant. –Marcus

SHOPPING
WITH ALICE WATERS
What tips can you give on the best way to shop in farmer’s markets for someone who’s only shopped in supermarkets. – Harry Gaulke, Pensacola FL

Most vendors at farmer’s markets will let you taste their produce. Tasting the food is a great part of the market. Also buy small amounts of lots of different things. This way you can see how to cook with them and work with a variety of foods, instead of getting a lot of one thing. I would go to the market without any expectations about what I want to eat and cook that day. See what is ripe and best and buy that. Then go back and look in cookbooks to see what you can do with it. - Alice

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