BY RICHARD MOOREY
CHEFS are a special breed. We are very often seen as egotistical, hard cases that are difficult to deal with. Well as much as it makes me laugh some of that is very true.
The kitchens I came up in were very hard core with militant chefs who demanded excellence and frequently lost their cool. They yelled, they swore, they threw things and you often had to check your rear end to see how much had actually been chewed off in these hot tempered culinary rants.
Though this sounds like a horrible way to earn a living it was what we came to know and love about the job and let’s be real a job in the kitchen is often a test of endurance and will. The militant life and long hours and low pay for the first few years definitely washed out a lot of would be chefs. I guess you had to be a little left of third base to become a chef.
Personally I pride myself on being a relatively calm and easy going type of Chef by comparison although that hard case and militant hot head is still ingrained in my chef’s DNA.
From time to time even I lost my cool and destroyed a few things, dented a few tables and fridge doors and kicked my share of garbage cans while spewing words that definitely not be mentioned here. I think this comes from that need and drive to cook with perfection and make the customer happy.
But through all the hours, the heat, all the hard work and broken bodies that have pushed the limits of what is possible to make the delicious you get something else . . . a family of fire.
The men and women you work with become your brothers and sisters, the people you spend your days with, learn from and share not only the burden of the job but share the love of what we do. We share our ideas, passion and flavours with each other. We elevate and inspire each other to push harder and do better. We pick each other up when we fall and try to share our philosophies of food as we go.
The best part of all of this is that in the end it all comes out in what we share with you. Chef Denis Baribeault is a hardworking young chef here in Thunder Bay who has earned his stripes but also has a great passion for food and especially sharing.
This week he sent me this amazing chicken recipe to share. It’s a great example of this family of fire sharing ideas and working together to make a great dish and the end result is a delicious chicken that you will want to make over and over.
Chef Baribeault Spiced Pan Chicken with Lime
6 chicken thighs
1 tbsp. garlic powder
3 tbsp. chili powder
3 tbsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lime, juiced
Mix the dry spices together in a bowl. Season the chicken liberally. Add the quarter cup of oil to a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Place the chicken in the skillet skin side down and sauté for 7-10 minutes, turn and continue to cook covered until just before it’s fully cooked. Remove from heat and squeeze lime juice over chicken and allow to rest for 10 minutes covered. Serve with the pink peppercorn cream sauce.
Pink Peppercorn Cream Sauce
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup salt-reduced beef stock
3 tbsp. pink peppercorns
5 tbsp. white wine (Gewurztraminer is a good choice)
2 tsp. brandy
1/4 cup fresh cream
Kosher Salt to taste
3 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. cold water
In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add peppercorns and cook for 30 seconds in butter. Add the brandy and reduce. Add stock, wine and bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes to reduce the sauce. Add cream and cook for a further five minutes for the sauce to thicken slightly. Mix together the cornstarch and two teaspoons chilled water. Whisk the slurry into the sauce and simmer for a further minute for the sauce to thicken.
Serve over chicken.
Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached with email to firstname.lastname@example.org, through his website at www.evot.ca, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.