Best of the Forum: Ramen, Food TV, Two Pretty Plates

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Salmon wrapped in prosciutto, with lentils—a beautiful dish from ChefSteps member Davo.

Welcome to Best of the Forum (BotF), a series in which we highlight fascinating bits from the ongoing conversation happening among our awesome community of cooks. Let’s get to it.

Painting with food

Wow, behold this work of art from user Stevie Provencio! In lieu of paints, Stevie worked with ChefSteps-inspired creations like Beet Fluid Gel and Reconstructed Roast (using Teres Major steak). Inspiring, right? Check out those recipes to start creating your own masterpiece tonight.

Good taste in TV

Hungry for Netflix fodder? Our forum has plenty of advice on food shows with which to fill up your queue. Heston Blumenthal proved a favorite—if you need a snack while you watch, whip up Heston-inspired Thick-Cut French Fries or Sous Vide Pork Belly.

Rad-looking ramen

David Henley presented us with a pretty killer photo of his Caramelized Pork Ramen with Roasted Curry Acorn Squash. Doesn’t look like the work of a newbie ramen-maker, but we’ll take him at his word.

Join the ChefSteps forum today to meet our entire community of super-cool cooks.

Best of the Forum: Risotto, Foie Gras, and Fried Rice

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Inspiring dishes, like Hot Curry Shrimp Fried Rice from ChefSteps member Henry Wicker, abound on the forum.

Welcome to Best of the Forum (BotF), a new series in which we highlight fascinating bits from the ongoing conversation happening among our awesome community of cooks. Let’s get to it.

A Strong Start

Forum newbie Evan describes himself as a “young cook” just starting to prepare food for dinner parties. Dang, though, those dishes look pretty killer to us. Among Evan’s offerings? A foolproof Crème Brûlée, part of our Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics class. 

Foie for All!

The award for snarkiest subject line of the week goes to the ever-clever Brendan Lee, who celebrates happy news in California. Care to throw your own foie gras celebration? This pretty parfait is the best argument against the ban that we know of.

Pressure Points

How do you like your risotto? Community member Matthew Wilson has been experimenting with rice textures in his pressure cooker. Yup, you can make risotto in a pressure cooker, and a lot of other delicious things too. Want to learn more? Right this way.

Join the conversation. Head to our forum to get chatty with other enthusiastic cooks!

Meet ChefSteps’ new Ingredient Wiki – And Enter to Win A Free Class

The web is full of information about ingredients. All you have to do is search for smoked paprika or maitake mushrooms and you’ll find sheafs of information. So why did we decide to launch our own ingredient wiki at ChefSteps?

Well, as enthusiastic cooks we run into the same problems over and over again: the information we find on the web isn’t necessarily food-centric, it isn’t well structured, it is too commercial, and it isn’t always reliable. Even Wikipedia, as great as it is, often bogs down into botanical or pharmaceutical details that don’t help much in the kitchen.

Ingredient Wiki Gallery

Our ingredient wiki is designed by cooks, for cooks. Each entry connects to recipes that use it, and to other ingredients that are frequently used with it. Text sections describe relevant culinary information, such as alternative names, purchasing tips, and seasonality.

The best part? This is an opportunity for you to contribute your time, knowledge or skills. You don’t have to be an expert to help! Of course we are delighted if you are an asparagus-savant and want to write a complete article about it. But we are just as happy if you will take a moment to:

  • add just a sentence or two,
  • copyedit what someone else has written,
  • add a photograph,
  • add a weight to the Volume Conversion section,
  • or simply tag the article as “vegetable” and “Spring”

If everyone contributes just a little, this could quickly become a comprehensive, dynamic ingredient resource that benefits cooks around the world.

To get involved, simply sign in (or sign up) with your free ChefSteps account, and visit the ingredient gallery. You can browse, search the gallery by name, or sort it to find recently added or edited ingredients that you might want to work on.  You can also click through from the ingredient list in any recipe on the site. Don’t see the ingredient you want to write about? Just click on “Add Ingredient” at the top of the gallery and get to work!

Here are some examples of articles that already have quite a bit of content, so you can see what the possibilities are: chickpeas, xanthan gum, garlic.

If you have suggestions about how we can make our new tool better, we’d love to hear from you at info@chefsteps.com.

Oh, and about that contest! Anyone who edits any ingredient entry between now and January 15th, 2014 (11:59 PM, Pacific time) is automatically entered to win. We’ll pull names out of a hat and give away free enrollment into a paid ChefSteps class to three lucky winners. (Winners can choose from our French Macarons or Whipping Siphons classes, or wait for the next one we publish.) The contest is over now; congratulations to our winners Marco, Marc, and Diana and thanks to everyone who contributed. Keep those ingredient wiki entries coming!

Movember

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It’s Movember and we’ll be growing a moustache to raise funds and awareness for men’s health. It’s going to be a hairy journey and we want you to be part of it.

Fight for your right to change the face of men’s health, enlist for Movember and JOIN our TEAM now.

A moustache is the mark of a man, and today it is a symbol to spark conversations about important health issues. So guys, pledge to grow a Mo today, or ladies, join the team to support the Mo.

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Find out more about why you should join us by taking a look at THE CAUSES WE ARE FIGHTING FOR.

Thanks for supporting and helping us change the face of men’s health.

United We Mo!

Happy One Year Anniversary!

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ChefSteps’ first anniversary has come and gone, and, like any good startup, we were too busy working on the next great thing (our online French macaron class) to stop and celebrate.

I asked some fellow team members to weigh in on what it’s been like to work at ChefSteps for the past year, and they had plenty to be grateful for.

Michael Natkin, our CTO, described his favorite part of the job: “I get to combine two of my favorite things: food & code.”

Lorraine Esterling, our social media director, on the work environment at ChefSteps: “It looks a little like the show Breaking Bad, with the mysterious lab and maker builds scattered about; plus an influx of irresistible aromas from the kitchen; Ben’s and Grant’s playlists; Chris’s ongoing dissertations; lots of laughter; amazing food; and coffee, endless coffee. In other words, heaven on earth.”

Software engineer, Huy Nguyen, on the best parts of working at ChefSteps: “Being able to work with so many talented people on a subject I’m passionate about. Getting to talk to people of different disciplines and backgrounds. I enjoy chatting with the chefs in the kitchen, with Hans about music, you and Ryan about video, Lorraine about social media. We have such a diverse and multi-talented team. Not to mention, getting to taste all the food.”

Our product designer, Tim Salazar, told me about his favorite parts: “The people. The freedom to work on a million things. The space, culture, and of course, the food. Lots of things to think about, challenges everywhere, and big things on the horizon.”

I agree with all of it—especially the part about the talented people I get to work with.

We’ve spent the past year developing recipes and techniques, building a clean, easy-to-use platform to feature your recipes, establishing an awesome online culinary community, and listening to input from that community.

I’d like to raise my apple gin gimlet to salute our amazing ChefSteps community, our founders Chris Young, Grant Crilly, and Ryan Matthew Smith, and the rest of the ChefSteps team, which continues to grow.

Many thanks to all of you ChefSteppers for your continued support. If there is anything you’d like to see us improving on in the next year, leave a comment or email me at kristina@chefsteps.com with the subject line: “One Year and Counting.”

Changes Coming To ChefSteps

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ChefSteps has always been a collaboration between our team and a community of curious cooks who share our interest in the hows and whys of cooking. Feedback from the ChefSteps community is what drives us to keep improving. We’ve learned that many people enjoy ChefSteps because our videos are entertaining, the recipes and techniques are inspiring, and the explanations are helpful. And when we don’t get something quite right, your questions help us fix it.

Some people have indicated that they would like to learn new kitchen skills or master challenging recipes through a more structured class, with guidance from our team. So we’re going to try that. Beginning in late October, we will offer a paid class on preparing French macarons. Daily releases of recipes and techniques will continue to be free-to-learn.

Charging for premium in-depth classes, which are chosen by community voting, allows us to focus on creating content that benefits you, rather than sponsors and advertisers. It also helps us prioritize support for members who prefer more guidance.

Thanks to our community members for their participation and engagement. We’re so grateful you continue to seek culinary inspiration and guidance through ChefSteps.

If you’d like to be notified when the French macaron class becomes available, you can sign up here:
http://chefsteps.com/courses/french-macarons

Sincerely,
The ChefSteps Team

ChefSteps Is Hiring: Software Developer

ChefSteps is an incredible place to work. I don’t believe there is any place else in the world that brings together this level of culinary, food science, videography, design and technological talent under one roof. We are a small, entrepreneurial startup where the right person has the opportunity to shape the direction of the company, and ultimately, the future of food on the Internet.

If you are the person we are looking for, you are a true software unicorn, the rare creature that is able to design and implement large projects in a self-directed fashion, assimilating whatever technologies are most appropriate, and striking the right balance between writing beautiful code and shipping it rapidly and iteratively. When pointed at a target, you eliminate obstacles  and just make it happen – usually in a way that is more awesome than originally envisioned.

If you have the track record to show that you can learn new languages and libraries fast, you don’t need to have used everything we are built on now. But it is certainly a positive if you know some or all of Ruby on Rails, HAML, CoffeeScript, JQuery, Angular.js and Heroku. It also helps if you are passionate about food.

Our team is based in Seattle, in 4000 square feet of amazingly cool space below historic Pike Place Market. We are open to a remote developer as long as you can spend an initial chunk of time on site and visit here frequently.

Want to apply? Please drop a note to jobs@chefsteps.com and include the following:

  • Links to places on the web where we can see awesomeness that you’ve built (including any github repos you’ve made major contributions to)
  • What you’d change about the current chefsteps.com
  • If you have a current resume, let’s see it

Want more info?

ChefSteps Forum | The Salad Days of Summer

Culinary Challenge 12 — The Art of the Composed Salad

Chris Young issued our 12th culinary challenge with the directive to take inspiration from the Salade Pastorale aux Herbes by Joël Robuchon and Michel Bras’ Gargouillou de Jeunes Légumes and elevate the composed salad to its rightful place.

Our forum members stepped up to the challenge and wow, did they deliver! The entries were fantastic—varied, innovative, creative, well-plated, delicious looking and with such great participation, made picking favorites very difficult. Suffice it to say, we were thrilled with everyone’s effort.

Here are the picks:
Chris Young chose Corey’s Baby Squash and Cherry Tomato Salad noting its nice composition, great combination of summer flavors, good use of technique, and that he shared the building of the dish step-by-step.

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Grant Crilly picked Chris Cordeiro’s very pretty Textures of Winter Citrus Salad (on the left) due to its nice detail, color, and arrangement. It’s hard to make something look this good with so much going on. Ryan Matthew Smith liked the beautiful colors in Derrick Teh’s Beet Carpaccio with Red Quinoa and Ricotta Salad (on the right).

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A special shout out goes to Brendan Lee for his take on Michel Bras’ gargouillou. The prickly pear juice was a big hit and we really appreciated the use of your photos on our facebook page and in our email.

Photos of the favorite dishes have been pinned on our Pinterest board.

Thank you to everyone on the ChefSteps forum for your participation and support. Spread the word and keep us growing.

Cheers,
Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

ChefSteps Forum | Cook Something Liquid from Something Solid

Grant Crilly’s Culinary Challenge 8 on the ChefSteps forum last week instructed participants to create a savory or sweet liquid dish (soups, shooters, cocktails, desserts, etc.) from one that is normally solid. Forum members were encouraged to use sous vide infusions, blenders, strainers, centrifuges, or any other clarification techniques that they could think of. We had some great posts describing the process behind developing some of the dishes, which is one of our favorite aspects of sharing information on our forum.

Grant, Chris and Ryan each picked their favorite dishes to feature on our Pinterest board.

Grant Crilly: My favorite entry this week was Johan Edstrom’s Asparagus Soup. I loved the agar filtration technique and the subtle marketing message that he included in the photo. Nice!

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Chris Young: I chose new forum member Maria’s Har Gao/Xiao Long Baos. I am passionate about XLB and hope that Maria will continue experimenting with additional versions of the dish. I also want to give an honorable mention to Tim Sutherland for his great backstory on the Curdled Chunky Warm Fish Head Milkshake.

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Ryan Matthew Smith: I picked Brian Douglas’ Scotch Eggs as my favorite this week. The vibrant color of the Sriracha really pops against the egg yolk.

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We are retooling the Culinary Challenge within the next few days and will make an announcement with the new format and schedule on the forum as soon as possible.

As always, we’re thrilled to have new members joining the forum and participating in the challenges. Please share with your interested friends, as we extend our culinary community.

Cheers,
Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team

ChefSteps Forum | Cooking with Coffee

Grant Crilly issued Culinary Challenge 7 last week on the ChefSteps forum. The objective was to prepare a dish—savory or sweet—utilizing sous vide techniques and coffee.

Grant, Chris and Ryan each picked their favorite dish to feature on our Pinterest board.

Grant Crilly: My favorite entry this week was Brian Douglas’ Sous Vide Coffee Panna Cotta. It was a great use of 4 simple components.I also appreciated that he originally tackled a blown sugar technique. Way to go, Brian!

 

Chris Young: New forum members Tim Sutherland and Andrew E both did really great work this week. I voted for Tim’s Coffee and Cigarette because of the extensive sharing he did of his entire development process. We’d love to see more of this kind of open source collaboration. Nicely done, Tim!

 

Ryan Matthew Smith: My pick this week is Andrew E’s Coffee Butter Poached Sous Vide Scallop Salad. Excellent arrangement on the plate and a great perspective on the the shot, plus it looks delicious!

We’re thrilled to have new members joining the forum and participating in the challenge—looking forward to seeing new creations and processes as are your fellow forum members!

I have posted Grant Crilly’s Culinary Challenge 8 on the ChefSteps forum. This week’s challenge is to make a savory or sweet liquid dish (soups, shooters, cocktails, desserts, etc.) that is normally solid. Use sous vide infusions, blenders, strainers, centrifuges (we are using ours for sure) or any other clarification techniques that you can think of. Consider using essential oils to create clear and interesting drinks and soups. You can have multiple layers based on densities, solids as garnishes and whatever else you can dream of.

Take the challenge in your own kitchen, then share your results via the ChefSteps forum. Describe the dish you have chosen and techniques used to make it. Describe where your idea or inspiration came from and what your plan of attack was, and finally, post your pictures.

The top 3 picks (sometimes we have a tie) will have the photos of their dishes posted on the ChefSteps Pinterest board. Please have your entry posted by Sunday. Good luck!

Cheers,
Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team