Archive for December, 2012

Jules provides ingredients for corporate kids’ CookieFest and holiday family fun

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Jules’ ‘Cookie Maestro’ enjoys a day off

When, a few days ago, we crossed paths with Jules Catering’s Assistant Pastry Chef¬†Wilmar Aristizabal¬†outside Jules’ fragrant kitchen, a flurry of questions rushed to mind:

  • Where is your chef’s jacket?
  • Why aren’t you rolling out cookie dough?¬†
  • Why don’t we hear the beep-beep-beep of your oven timer?
  • What in the name of Ebenezer Scrooge are you doing out here?!

We were baffled by this encounter because we knew that during the month of December, alone, Wilmar is charged with preparing thousands of holiday cookies, many requiring elaborate decoration.

“Yes,” Wilmar smiled. “This time of year I’m at least as dedicated to my work as Santa’s most diligent elf.¬†But this morning, I get to take it easy.¬†Sure, I did the baking. But that was yesterday. Today, I’m relieved of my usual decoration-duties, because…

Jules provides the basics: cookies, easy-to-use icing dispensers, M&Ms, and multifarious sprinkles and jimmies

“…the kids are in charge!”¬†

“Cookies without borders” may set a trend!

“Food should be fun”

So declared chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer¬†Thomas Keller, and Jules couldn’t agree more. Another true believer in ‘the fun factor’ is Joyce¬†Georgakopoulos, Director of HR¬†at Murphy&King, PC,¬†Counsellors at Law, who explained that children’s parties at the firm are a holiday tradition for at least 30 years–and that for the past 10+ years, Jules Catering has provided both the ready-to-eat and decorate-your-own holiday fare.

Fresh-baked cookies from Jules

 

 Jules provides the edible tools, kids create cookie art

Jules’ longtime party chef Alex Restrepo knows a thing or two about the fine art of cookies, so–given that it was Wilmar’s day off–we asked Alex to weigh in on the creative swirl around us.

What follows is a small sample of Alex’s commentary….

While awaiting Santa’s hi-rise arrival, Party Chef Alex Restrepo weighed in on cookie art

 

“I applaud this young artist’s¬†careful approach to the composition of ‘the cookie canvas,’ and how she hearkens back to the Pointillist¬†tradition.”

“Her use of strong diagonals is superb!”

 

¬†“Here we see a work in progress…a wonderfully lush evergreen…perhaps part of a larger landscape. And my guess is that before the ‘paint’ dries, she may work in some sparkly texture.”

 

“Talk about texture! When I admire this masterpiece,¬†Pollock’s¬†early drip paintings¬†come to mind.”

 

“It’s hard to tear myself away, but I’ve got to get back to the kitchen. But before I go I must say that¬†this particular cookie (the artist’s self-portrait), like all of today’s cookie creations,…

¬†“…makes me smile.”

It’s not just about kids

Family fun is of course about parents, too, and Jules likes nothing better than to cater family parties, not only in the workplace, but beyond. Jules’ wide-ranging events involving children include family reunions, anniversary parties, birthdays, and–when warm weather returns–barbecues and picnics.

Photo Credits: Liz Muir

 

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“Bet you can’t eat just one!”

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Jules has a thing about potato chips

“That old girl is a girl after our own heart” was the word from Jules Catering, after we screened this one-minute vintage television commercial for Scudder’s Potato Chips:

“We have a lot in common with¬†Laura Scudder. She’s particular about her potato chips,¬†we’re¬†particular about our potato chips. We’re like¬†Goldilocks. We want our chips to sound and taste and look¬†just right.”

"Just right" homemade potato chips from Jules

Of course Jules and Laura Scudder aren’t alone in being particular about fried potatoes.¬†

Do you know how potato chips were inadvertently invented in Saratoga Springs, New York?¬†Have you heard about¬†“Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt¬†mixing it up with¬†Chef George Crum?

Cantankerous chef “wreaks culinary vengeance” on persnickety diner

Cornelius Vanderbilt insisted on 'crisp'!

Potato chip historians credit George Crum with inventing the potato chip at the Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1853. This is a point of fact.

Rumor has it¬†that Crum was¬†provoked¬†into this innovation, when multi-millionaire shipping and railroad magnate¬†Cornelius Vanderbilt, who summered in Saratoga Springs, rejected a plate of fried potatoes prepared by Crum because they were “too thick and soggy” and “not salty enough.”

Vanderbilt sent Crum’s potatoes back to the kitchen, not once, but twice!¬†

Then, according to one report, Crum’s response was to “wreak culinary vengeance” on the Commodore by slicing the potatoes paper thin, frying them to a crisp, and then salting “the living daylights out of them.”

George Crum answered with 'crisp'!

When, for the second time, Crum slammed down the plate before Vanderbilt, this tough-to-please customer “tried one, smiled, then helped himself to the rest.”

In this way Crum inadvertently invented what he called Saratoga Chips.

George Crum’s potato chips were an instant hit.

Potato chip variables

“George Crum was lucky,” Jules observed, “because simple as it may seem, consistently making a light and crispy potato chip isn’t so easy. We’re longtime pros, but even for us it required a good deal of experimentation.”

“For one thing, not all potatoes fry equally well. But it’s not just about the type of potato. Other variables include: skin on or off…sliced thick or thin….”

“The type and temperature of the oil must also be factored in.”

Potatoes, oil, and salt

“So,” we asked. “What’s Jules’ recipe? How do you get from here…

Boise Valley potato harvest

…to here?”

Freshly made potato chips from Jules are salted while hot

“TOP SECRET!” Jules replied. “Like we said, unlike George Crum, we didn’t just luck into creating the crispy-light potato chips our clients love today. We worked at this over a period of time. There was a lot of trial and error.¬†But, if you’d like to see¬†how it’s done, our good friend and master potato-chip maker, Fernando Medina, is making a fresh batch right now.”

Fernando slices potatoes with a mandoline

Potatoes bubble in a clear, clean oil

Without a doubt, these chips are homemade

¬†“Try one,” Fernando offered.

Mmm-mmm-mmmmm! We were very nearly speechless.

“Have another,” he prompted.

We couldn’t resist.¬†

Americans have a thing for potato chips

According the Snack Food Association, potato chips are the number one salty snacks in the U.S., and potato chip sales reached $3.6 billion in 2010.

This, of course, would come as no surprise to Bert Lahr, the onetime Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, who went on to become spokesperson for Lay’s Potato Chips¬†in the l960s.¬†“Bet you can’t eat just one” was Lahr’s and Lay’s signature slogan. (Below is a variation on this theme.)

Bert Lahr, the one-time Cowardly Lion, sold a lot of chips

If you haven’t had the good fortune to try Jules’ freshly made potato chips, then Jules puts forth the familiar and friendly challenge:¬†Bet you can’t eat just one!

Photo Credits:
Laura Scudder’s Potato Chip YouTube: MiscVideos78rpm
Jules Catering’s Homemade Potato Chips: Liz Muir
Cornelius Vanderbilt Daguerrotype: Matthew Brady Workshop, Library of Congress
George Crumb: Public Domain
Boise Valley Potato Harvest Circa 1929: ID-0070, WaterArchives.org
Bert Lahr, Lay’s Potato Chip Ad: Frito-Lay
All other images of Jules Catering’s potato chips and chip-making process: Liz Muir¬†

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