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Chef Chat is an opportunity each month for the residents to meet with our chef to chat about food. Sometimes we talk about gardening and what is ripe in the fields, and other time we talk about items that perhaps they would like to see featured on our menu. In a recent discussion, we talked about Culinary Schools and how chefs get their training. Soon the conversation turned into the desire to visit the Culinary Institute of America, where our chef Aylmer is a graduate. It was a very interesting topic and one that may in fact turn into a spring visit to the CIA.

July 9, 2019

Chef explained Vietnamese street food with the residents and what it entailed to prep and cook it. It was offered the next morning while having breakfast on the patio

May 14, 2019

December 11, 2018

November 14, 2018

January 14th, 2020 Chef Chat- Knife Sharpening 101

Aylmer explained to the residents the need for having sharp knives in the kitchen.  It all begins with safety being of utmost importance.  A sharp knife does the work with very little effort required from the cook.  A dull knife requires more effort from the cook (more pressure being applied) and this can lead to accidents.  All cuts that occur in the kitchen are the result careless behavior, or safety procedures being ignored.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, when a knife is properly sharpened a superior quality of food is often achieved.

Let’s begin with the steel, a steel is used to keep the knife edge maintained with a sharp edge, technically the steel does not sharpen, but removes small imperfections on the knife’s edge. It is used by the chef throughout the day to hone a fine edge. Two types of steel were introduced, one being the carbon steel and the other being the diamond steel. Old school verses new school. The steel is also magnetic, this is so the small metal filings that come off the knife stay on the steel. 

Then, Aylmer demonstrated the three sided wet (water) stone method, which takes some time to master.  This method begins with a coarse stone of 100 to 500 grit for dull knives, then moves to a medium grit of 500 to 1000 grit, for the next stage after the coarse stone, and finally to the fine grit of 1000 to 20,000 grit.  This method achieves a superior edge on the knife.

The next method was the belt sander, which is a series of belts much like sand paper. The belts also range in grit from coarse grit to fine grit, similar to the three stone method.  Aylmer likes the belt model better because it is a much faster method, although he admits that it does not yield quite as sharp a finished product. The Belt sander also has a leather belt which is used to polish the blade to a very sharp finish.  The leather is the same as the strop that is used by barbers when preparing for a clean shave.

After Aylmer demonstrated the sharpening process, with a very dull knife, and then he did the paper test to show that the knife was indeed sharp after he was finished.  Aylmer also, cut a series of tomatoes and onions to show that the knife was much more efficient after the sharpening. 

Thank You Aylmer

October 9, 2018

January 2018

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This morning we had a wonderful time making a very classic treat: Crepes! Aylmer recently purchased an electric crepe maker and made some sweet and savory crepes. This crepe maker was right out of the box, brand new and ready to use, so Jean Palmer asked if we were going to be the Guinee pigs! Of course, she was happy to do so.

We discussed the history of crepes and the different varieties of crepes that one could expect to find in a crepery. Aylmer made a crepe sandwich with lettuce and Ham & Cheese, as well as making strawberry crepes with balsamic and fresh whipped cream. Delicious!

All had a good time as we also discussed the upcoming Winter Wonderland that Summerhill is planning to have in February.

~Aylmer H. Given III
Director of Culinary Services

August 2017

Chef Chat - Cornucopia ProjectSummerhill has had a great connection to the Cornucopia project over the last few years. Founder Kin Schilling has been a previous guest to the Summerhill Chef Chats.

At this month’s Chef Chat, Hannah Bissex, from the Cornucopia Projects visited. Aylmer introduced her to Summerhill along with an entourage of Farm to Fork fellows who are also ConVal students.

Hannah gave a brief description of the Farm to Fork program, for those who may not be familiar with it. She then explained how important it is to teach our younger generation to become involved in the process of where food comes from and how it gets to the table. This offers so many life lessons along the way for today’s youth. Each of the fellows had a chance to talk about what the project means to them.

The group brought in a variety of beautiful fresh produce that they had just harvested for Summerhill. Each of the items was talked about by the team person who had a part in growing it. They also brought some fresh carrots for the residents to try. It was a wonderful event that I imagine our residents will talk about for a sometime.
Thank you, Hannah, and our friends at Cornucopia.

~Aylmer H. Given III

January 2017

Dear Residents and Respective Families,

Over the summer months as many of you know, we shared chilling and grilling each Thursday evening out on the front lawn. Well this year was very exciting as we upped our game from previous years, with outdoor entertainment by Jarvis along with Chef inspired menus and cooking demonstrations. It seemed that everyone was enjoying it so much and didn't want these special evenings to end.

They were fun for the staff and residents alike. When cold weather hit, Chilling and Grilling was over for the season. Jean Kundert and I put our heads together and came up with a great idea. Thus, the creation of Wine ‘N Dine came about. It’s very much a celebration like Chilling & Grilling but inside for the winter months. We rolled out our plan to the residents with much fanfare.

To give a little history, a few months earlier I was asked by Mary Pat to give a talk to the residents and families at the Memory Café. Many of you know this takes place the first Thursday of each month in our Pub. I chose to talk about the importance of food in the lives of our families and how it ties to our memories. All our senses are engaged when we are sharing a meal together. Without getting to much into the details of this phenomena, those memories can be recalled very quickly when even just 1 of those senses is stimulated. The talk was a hit with the residents.

December 10th, 2019 Chef Chat - Explosion Balls

Les HerbesThis Is a famous French Canadian preparation. In the old country around about harvest time, when all the herbs were being gathered, they would make this dish. In order to have fresh herbs available throughout the winter months. So our chef Aylmer , who has French Canadian roots prepared this dish for the residents of Summerhill during our October chef chat event. It was Aylmers intention, To share one of his mothers favorite preparations. Les Herbes Sallee, is made by layering A mixture of finally chopped fresh herbs, fine diced onions and kosher salt in glass mason jar' one begins by placing salt in the bottom of the glass jar and then it receives a half inch layer of a mixture of fresh herbs followed by a layer of fine diced onion followed by a layer of a quarter inch of kosher salt followed by a layer of fresh herbs followed by a layer of fine dice onion, followed by a layer of kosher salt until the jar is full. The jar is then captain refrigeration until ready for use. It is a wonderful addition to soups, or eggs or sautéed vegetables, or anywhere else that you would like to introduce fresh herbs to your recipe.

Les Herbes SalleeLes Herbes

November 12, 2019 - Cutting techniques with fruit and others

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