Every year, I like to promote my Valentine’s Day “stealth dining” dinner party package. Who doesn’t love to host a fabulous dinner party without all the fuss? The concept behind “stealth dining” is that as a Personal Chef I do all the prep work and my clients take all the credit!
The Holiday Season is here and the warmest gift with the biggest impact has got to be the classic Holiday cookie tin filled with hand made Christmas cookies! The recipes you use may be sentimental favorites, dripping with icing and sprinkles, or more sophisticated, but whatever the cookie, a festive tin of freshly baked treats makes a tasty and thoughtful present, in keeping with the spirit of the season.
If you’re the sane type who dusts a sugar cookie with sprinkles and calls it a day, you can stop reading right now. If, on the other hand, you are a crazy person like me who decides that elaborately decorated cookies are an essential part of the holiday experience – the kind of baker who reserves an entire weekend for baking and decorating into the wee hours of the night with tweezers in hand, placing silver dragees on the snowflake cookie, then read on.
About 6 years ago I started a new tradition with my family. I create festive Christmas cookies to give as gifts because they’re such an artistic personal gesture and folks really admire them, especially my clients. More importantly, the cookies can be hung on the tree as ornaments. How fun is that? Each Christmas Eve after a sumptuous dinner of Beef Wellington and Garbo’s hand made Raviolis (passed down by my Grandfather) my family prepares the dining room table for the annual “Christmas Cookie Decorating Contest”. Because a very strong artistic streak runs through all of the Garbarinos, it’s truly a competitive event. The competition is to see who can create the most beautiful cookies before Santa’s arrival at midnight. My 10 year old niece, Remi, a fierce competitor, usually changes the rules as we go to ensure that she will be the winner. My 3 older brothers Paul, Tim & Thad, my Dad, my husband Karl, my sister Alexa and her husband Tom and I join in the fun too. The clock stops at 11:30 p.m. sharp, and of course, Remi gets to choose the cookies to give to Santa along with her note and off to bed she goes.
The stand-out cookies last year were the “Stained Glass” & “Hand Painted” gluten-free sugar cookies. When I unveiled them, a resounding “Ooooooh look at those… how’d you do that?” was uttered by everyone. I have adapted my recipe from several wheat flour & rice flour based sugar cookie recipes and from numerous tests to create a fool-proof cookie that is tasty, sturdy, gluten-free and doesn’t spread in the baking process.
So the next time you want to bring your family together or wow your clients, whip up some crowd pleasing Stained-Glass Christmas cookies… that is, of course… if you make the time!
Demos, Wolf Ranges and Chefs…Oh My!
Feature Story in Personal Chef Magazine
When my friend and fellow USPCA member Chef Elizabeth Bourget of “Gourmet to Go” asked me to do a Wolf demo I jumped at the opportunity. Elizabeth has been Wolf’s go-to person for 4 years now so I was grateful when she considered me for the job. I’ve never done a cooking demo in my life! But I said, “Yes… I can do that!” Then she said “Oh, by the way, Celebrity Chef Cindy Pawlcyn will be there signing her new appetizer cookbook”. GULP! What have I agreed to? Then I thought, well, many of my clients have Wolf Ranges and I’m a huge fan of Cindy Pawlcyn. To quote Pawlcyn’s Bio on Bravo TV “She is widely recognized as a pioneer of wine country cooking and one of the first proponents of the farm to table philosophy. She has worked alongside the likes of James Beard and Julia Child and is the author of four widely acclaimed cookbooks – The Fog City Diner Cookbook, Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook, Big Small Plates, and her newest, Cindy Pawlcyn’s Appetizers. Cindy is considered as one of the most influential and accomplished women chefs in America and she’s an inductee of the Who’s Who of American Cooking”.
Chef Paul Prudhomme at Fancy Food Show
San Francisco Bay Area
A few members of the USPCA Local Bay Area Personal Chef Chapter attended the 34th Annual Winter Fancy Food Show at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to see what’s happening in the food world. For any self respecting Foodie living in the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly those that work in the food industry, it is a must to attend the Fancy Food Show to see “What’s New” & “What’s Hot”. And that we did!
With 50+ years of history, the NASFT Fancy Food Shows are North America’s premier showcase for specialty foods and are only open to people in the industry (such as producers, retailers and chefs). The show had 1,500 exhibitors representing 50 countries, featuring 80,000 of the world’s finest foods, including natural and organic products, cheese, olive oil, spices, tea, chocolate and ethnic specialties.
We HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE…and it’s full of chocolate, flavored water, lots of tea and a whole slew of gluten-free products coming to the market. In these tough financial times both economist and trend-spotters are saying that budget oriented Americans will continue to indulge on fun things to eat, even while they scratch plans for ski holidays, new automobiles and the like. You can be sure the food purveyors we saw will be competing for your precious dollar in 2009. And if the Winter Fancy Food Show is any indication of how we’ll be eating in the coming year, we’ll be consuming plenty of organic products made with super antioxidant ingredients!
Can Slow Food Be Sustainable in a Fast Food Nation: Personal Chef Magazine: By Personal Chef Garbo
San Francisco Bay Area
On Labor Day Weekend, Personal Chef Garbo based in San Francisco and Dawn Buchholz attended the Slow Food Nation ’08 in San Francisco. The tagline… “Come to the Table” certainly resonated with us and to the tables we came at the Tasting Pavilions at Fort Mason.
Two Chef’s Excellent Adventure at SF Fancy Food Show- Personal Chef Magazine: May/June 2007 — By Personal Chef Garbo
San Francisco Bay Area
Personal Chef Garbo, based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Kara Lee Falcon devoted an entire weekend in January to the 32nd Winter Fancy Food Show at San Francisco’s Moscone Center to keep themselves abreast of the current gourmet food trends. There were over 1,000 exhibiting companies from 35 countries and 80,000 specialty food products represented. Their strategy was to get new ideas and product trends to further expand their recipe repertoire and gift offerings to their client base. Most exhibitors are entrepreneurs who created their recipes themselves and started their own companies. The Fancy Food Show gives attendees the chance to learn about each product first-hand and do business directly with the decision makers onsite. Since 1955, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) has held the Fancy Food Show annually at different cities around the world. They are well-funded, aggressively marketed, and highly regarded by attendees and exhibitors alike. Hundreds of specialty food retailers showcased their products including such items as seasonings, confections, gourmet chocolate, sweet and savory pastries, cured meats, oils, vinegars and much more! The 9th Spring Fancy Food Show will be held in Chicago on May 6-8 2007.