Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Chef Debbie Says: Seems I Touched A Nerve

Yesterday I posted on Facebook about a client who didn’t like my Slow Roasted Rosemary~Garlic Lamb Shanks with garlic mashed potatoes. He only wants his lamb grilled as a chop with lots of mint jelly.

Seems I touched a nerve. Mine.

Most of my chef friends who commented on my FB post told me to shake it off ~ he’s allowed to smother a perfectly cooked baby lamb chop with sickening sweet mint jelly if he wants to. After all, he is the client.

Yes, he is. But it still pissed me off a little. Well, to be truthful, probably more than a little.

He’s a retired physician. He’s traveled the world. He’s eaten in more 5~star restaurants than I could ever even hope to walk by someday. He should have a more refined palate than mint jelly for God’s sake!

And, yet, he picked me as his personal chef.

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about him. He’s pretty much a saint. His wife was sick a couple of years ago and it left her in a wheelchair. He is her primary caregiver. And, he’s a good one. A really, really good one.

Looking back over the initial Food Questionnaire we all went through when I added them into my weekly cook rotation, it seems she doesn’t like lamb. And he does.

She’s not allowed to have sweets. And he loves sweets. They never have sweets in the house.

Face palm!

A good way to eat something sweet in front of her without her feeling left out is to eat lamb chops. Smothered in mint jelly. It was a long drop to the ground off of my high horse.

After an hour awake, I realized that if my dear client wants lamb chops smothered in mint jelly every week, it would be my honor to make them for him.

And then I was able to go back to sleep.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Chef Debbie Says: Blame It On FaceBook

So way back in 2007 I started this blog. I was pretty faithful about writing ~ off and on ~ until 2011. Then I got lazy. Really, really lazy. Why? I found Facebook.

I mean let's face it. It's pretty easy to scroll through all of your FB friends' posts, quickly "liking" or sharing their Mean Cat photos. And, the IM feature is pretty cool if you're planning something you don't want your "other" friends to know about.... Like that surprise party I planned that I didn't want to invite a few "certain people" to. You still don't know who you are.

Then, my friend Sandy Webster Hall started a blog. A really, really good blog. Click here if you want to follow a super talented chef who happens to funny and full of a lot of the same no~nonsense, no holds bared, in~your~face empathy that you've come to love about me.

Seriously, though. Why did I restart my blog after more than a five year hiatus you ask? Simple. I am SICK and TIRED and seriously pissed off from all of the political nonsense, crap, downright bullshit, hate filled rants, women bashing, men bashing and other posts that attempt to pass as "news" or "views" that Facebook is filled with now.

I appreciate your views. I truly do. And, evidently I am one of the very few who can actually disagree with you but still like and respect you. Freaking novel concept!

So instead of my wasting time scrolling through endless political rants, photos of abused dogs that make me cry or asking for prayers because your turtle got loose in the house and you can't find it, I'll once again be blogging my scarcastic, sometimes witty but always truthful point of view. It may happen once a week or it may not happen for several weeks at a time. If you miss me in between blogs, you can always follow me on Facebook.  I'll be the one who posts irreverent, sarcastic, non~political cartoons, mouth watering recipes and just general bullshit about my day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chef Debbie Says: If I Don't Toot My Own Horn...

Last week it was announced that the readers of CityBeat Magazine voted Yummy~issimo! as the 2011 Best Caterer in the Best of Cincinnati 2011 issue.

And that means a party! Not just any 'ole party, but a "CityBeat Best Of" party. And, of course, they needed Yummy! food.

So I agree to have a minimum of 300 bites ~ but from past experience, 300 Yummy! bites would last about 3 seconds so I did almost 600 bites.

I arrive at one of the most breathtaking buildings anywhere... Memorial Hall. Set~up started at noon with the event starting at 5:00p.m. Covered tables and a prep area were supposed to be available after noon. I arrived, found my "covered" table and asked about the prep area. Downstairs, around a labyrinth system of dark narrow hallways into an even darker music practice room, nicknamed "the kitchen prep room."

Oh my. No tables. No refrigeration. Very little lighting. Not sure about the creepy crawlers in the corners, either.

Good thing I arrived at noon! My stress level jumped up a few notches.

So I ask, beg and nag until tables are rolled into the prep area. And, my anticipated arrival time with food of around 3:00 just got blown to hell. Lots of nit~picky details are required to assemble two of my appetizers. Time for Plan B.

The menu:
Shrimp marinated with lots of lemon, garlic, dill, spices and a touch of garlic olive oil with spicy cocktail sauce
Sesame chicken nibbles with spicy peanut dipping sauce
Pork tenderloin with goat cheese, fig and pecan on herbed brushcetta toasts

The menu was pretty flexible so instead of lots of pretty one~bite morsels, it was more of a buffet style set~up, but from the amount of people grouped around our table, the number of repeat visitors and the minor detail that our food was gone before anyone else, I think it was a success!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chef Debbie Says: WTH?

You probably believe that the life of a personal chef is a glamorous, fun~filled whirlwind of gourmet food, high profile clients and parties filled with beautiful people and even more beautiful food.

I used to believe that too.

Let me tell you about a couple of phone calls I received this week...

Monday morning:
Me: Hi, this is Debbie.

Him: Hey Deb, it's name withheld to protect the "fill in the blank".... I just wanted to ask if you'd call your very rich, very very famous client and ask him if he'd speak at one of our lunch meetings. It would only take about 30 minutes of his time and he'd get a free lunch out of it.

Me: (thank Bacchus this didn't come out of my mouth... WTH) Uh... no! (I can't believe you're really asking this.)

Him: Well, do you at least know his agent's name so I can call and ask him?

Me: (Again, WTH) No, but perhaps you can Google it?

Monday afternoon ~ I'm driving down the interstate when the cell phone rings:
Me: Hi, this is Debbie.

Him: Hi, this is name withheld yada, yada, yada. I just passed your truck and I'm going to pull off at the next exit. If you could pull off, I'd like to give you a bunch of my business cards that maybe you could give to your clients?

Me: WTH (this one did come out of my mouth!). Uh, I'm sorry but I don't know you, I've never heard of your company and I'm not going to pull off the highway to meet you.

Him: Well, OK I get that. Maybe I can send you an email and we can talk and then we can meet?

Me: Yeah, sure, you do that.

Early Tuesday morning:
Me: Hi, this is Debbie.

Her: Are you a chef?

Me: Uh, yes, I'm a personal chef. Can I help you?

Her: Oh, I hope so! I have a brand new Taco Truck and the "chef" just quit. I need a new taco chef since tomorrow is our grand opening. Can you help me?

Me: (WTH Really?) Gosh, a Taco Truck Chef. I'm sorry but here's you can call and they may be able to help you.... (yeah, I know! I really owe the chef I passed her to an apology and a nice bottle of wine).

This person called me three other times in the space of 60 minutes because it seems she saved my phone number but not the number of the person I sent her to.

WTH... April Fool's Day isn't for three more days!

Now knowing how exciting my life is, don't you wish you could spend just one day in my scuffed~up Danskos?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chef Debbie Says: You Really Expect "ME" to Eat at a Gas Station?

Last weekend I went down to Maggie Valley to visit my dearest friend Beth Brown, her darling husband Kenny and some of my favorite doggies in the world: Heidi, Oscar and Charlie Brown.

I arrive in Maggie with a full cooler with enough delectable treats to feed half of the state: center cut filets, two big slabs of meaty baby back ribs and lots of juicy Amish chicken breasts. Oh, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Parmesan, Sicilian Jack, Danish Blue and Honey Goat. All this for just 3 people for just 3 days!

Beth says she wants to take me to a new favorite restaurant for lunch. I'm game. She's a foodie, Kenny is a foodie and if they say it's good, then it must be.

Oh, one minor detail... this restaurant is in the back of a gas station. And it's in a tiny town 45 minutes away.

Say whaaaat? You want to take me to a gas station restaurant? I'm secretly thinking they might have been away from city life a little too long...

Being the good sport that I am, I "graciously" agree to try the gas station restaurant with the slightly pretentious name of Caffé REL.

Well, Caffé REL put this snotty city girl in her place!

It was nothing like I expected. A charming little restaurant that would fit anywhere on the Champs~Élysées, the extensive menu featured delicacies such as:

  • Lamb Lollies ~ Rosemary rubbed lamb lollipops finished with shallot scallion Madera sauce

  • Snails & Tails ~ Helix snails and crawfish tail meat sautéed in butter with portabella mushrooms, Glace De Viande, fresh herbs, shallots, garlic, sherry and fresh cream... and then it's finished with a homemade puff pastry braid

  • French Blue Bâtard ~ Blue crab claw meat sautéed in butter with shallots, garlic, scallions and capers served on French bread, topped with Parmesan cheese and then baked hot and bubbly.

    Not only was lunch simply amazing but when the server inquired about dessert, I ~ of course ~ suggested we "share" one. I naively asked which of the desserts on the extensive list was made in house... too many for me to keep track of.

    After much discussion and debate, we decided on the Lemon & Strawberry Cake ~ delicate yellow cake with homemade strawberry jam in between the layers and then iced with an amazing lemon curd icing. Oh, and served with a fabulous whipped cream and vanilla bean ice cream.

    I didn't want to leave the table and "laughingly" suggested we just order wine and keep the table until dinner.

    So next time a foodie friend suggests lunch at the gas station, hope and pray they're talking about a road trip to Franklin, NC.

  • Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Chef Debbie Says: And I'm Not Going To Use My Turn Signal!

    So I was in the Yummy~mobile today minding my own business. Not on the phone. Not yelling at the idiots all around me. Not driving too fast (well, no more than 20mph over the speed limit).

    And then my cell phone rings.

    Hi, this is Debbie
    I'm following you on the Interstate and I just wanted you to know that you didn't use your turn signal when you changed lanes.

    WTF? For once, I'm speechless.

    Wait a minute. You mean to tell me you had to pick up your cell phone, get close enough to read and remember my phone number and then take your eyes off the road to actually dial your phone just to tell me I DIDN'T USE MY TURN SIGNAL? What are you, the turn signal police?
    You don't need to be a bitch about it. I thought you needed a reminder that turn signals actually signal when you're going to turn.

    I'm going to hang up now because if you think that was "bitch" you're really going to be surprised when I actually turn into one. And, by the way, I'm not going to use my turn signal!

    He hung up on me!

    Damn, that was a good one! I usually come up with those witty~issimo come~backs about 2 days later.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Chef Debbie Says: Uh Oh!

    Who the hell is in charge of their marketing department?

    And don't even start me on the childish package design...

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Chef Debbie Says: I Love Birthdays When They're Not Mine!

    Last Saturday was sweet husband Tim's birthday. Number 54 (in case you were wondering).

    In Yummy! world, a birthday means a party. And a party means friends. And drinks. And food.

    Lots and lots and lots of food. (Well, actually lots and lots of drinks too, but you knew that already didn't you?)

    After several days in the kitchen, here's what the masses nibbled on:

    Beef tenderloin, rubbed with bourbon barrel smoked sea salt, roasted rare and sliced paper thin

    Marinated jumbo shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce

    Honey Dijon marinated pork tenderloin, sliced paper thin and served with spicy mango and papaya salsa

    Salmon 3~ways with Yummy~ized blinis: salmon roasted with maple and dill; roasted with Dijon and sesame; and, sweet and spicy. Blinis were served on toasted sourdough, topped with dilled deviled egg salad, creme fraiche and Tobiko caviar

    An entire tray of 50 blinis ~ which were gone in about 15 seconds...

    Sesame chicken with sweet garlic chili dipping sauce

    Truffle paté and black peppercorn paté

    Creamy caviar dip

    New Orleans spicy crab dip

    Tim's favorite spicy deviled eggs with crab ~ 48 whole eggs were gone almost before I could put the platter down

    Brie with balsamic caramelized onion chutney and spicy pecans

    Cheese, cheese and more cheese

    Parmesan cubes with 2 dipping sauces: black truffle honey and red chili apricots

    Chunky Danish bleu dip

    Roasted 3~onion dip

    And desserts. And fruit. And chocolate truffles. And sweet and crunchy pecans...

    Judging from the amount of food left over ~ which was a crumb here and there ~ I'm thinking none of the guests had seen a scrap of food since about Tuesday...

    If I'd followed a traditional caterer's calculations of:
    # of Hours x # of People = Total # of Bites
    I would have been about 20 pounds short just on the protein!

    So even though it's a lot of work, I thank Bacchus that sweet husband is in good health, that we have amazing and wonderful friends and that I had Sunday off to clean up!

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Chef Debbie is Nominated for a "Best of Cincinnati" Award!


    Yummy~issimo! is nominated for a prestigious "Best of Cincinnati" Award in the Catering Category!

    So, I'm going to grovel and ask that you all vote for me!

    So here's what you do:

    Click here

    Scroll down in the EATS Section to CATERER (New) and there's a drop down menu of names.

    Click on Chef Debbie Spangler which is the next to the last name in the column.

    That's all there is to it!

    You can only vote once for each email address so if you'd be so kind as to forward this to anyone and everyone you think would fill it out, I'd greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks so much! You, my darling friends, are AWESOME!

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Chef Debbie Gets Her Buttons Pushed

    I try to be a nice person. Really, I do.

    I put $5 in every Salvation Army Red Kettle I pass; I buy something from every neighborhood kid who comes to the door; I always let people with just a few items get in front of me in the grocery store checkout line.

    But. When I have to travel into the abyss that is Costco, all bets are off.

    So today I get to Costco around 12:30 ~ late enough that the young mothers with toddlers who meet and let the kids have play dates in the middle of the aisles are all home drinking lunch. And after the 11:00 a.m. rush of the food moochers ~ the people who have no intention of buying anything, but stroll 3 or 4 abreast sampling every food item at the end of every aisle.

    You know who I'm talking about. You've seen them. And had to push your full cart around them while they have a coffee klatch in the middle of everything.

    So today I'd gotten through all the freeloaders with just a minimal amount of pushing and shoving and the self~checkout lines are in sight.

    And then she happens.

    The old lady had just one item in her shopping cart. She was dressed in her finest fur coat, talking on a cell phone, hair and makeup done just so. She pushes her cart right in front of me and makes a dead stop. I try to go around her and she backs up.

    I'm thinking this could get ugly...

    Juggling her cell phone and grocery bag~sized purse, she pulls the one item out of her cart ~ a bottle of two zillion multi~vitamins and is trying to hand it to me.

    "I need you to purchase this for me. They want me to spend $50 on a card just so I can purchase this giggasize bottle of vitamins." She's flabbergasted that Costco would actually expect her to purchase a membership in order to buy something!

    And you know me... I said the first thing that popped into my head. "If you don't have a membership card, how did you get in here?"

    "They have to let anyone in who says they're going to the pharmacy. Then I just wander around until I find someone to pay for what I want." She's very, very proud of herself!

    Once again, mouth is much faster than the brain... "Absolutely not! If you're too cheap to buy a membership, then..."

    She walked away from me. She freaking walked away from me! And approached another person.

    So I shake my head, make a detour to the fresh flowers and spend a few minutes picking over the gorgeous bouquets.

    I get to the self~checkout and a woman with only a few items is in line behind me. Of course, I let her go in front of me.

    As I head toward the exit and line to show the checker my receipt, the woman I let in front of me is there.

    With the vitamin lady ~ who turns to me, smirks and sticks her tongue out at me.

    Is it wrong to want to run her over with my cart?