Monday, February 28, 2011

What to Watch for in your Next Meal Out!

Hello foodies and travelers! This week I’m looking at things from the side of the table, the restaurant owner/operator. There are many liabilities that come along with owning and operating a restaurant so today I will discuss three that come to my attention.
            First, is the product you are serving healthy? In 2009 there was a recall on beef. This affected 5 different major food chains. The meat was mechanically tenderized directly connecting it with E. coli. The Food Safety and Inspection Service named it a class 1 rating. This means there were serious thoughts that this meat could cause health consequences if not treated (meaning death). Man, if that isn’t enough to make you not want to eat red meat I don’t know what is. Scary thought.
            The next issue that comes to mind for me is safety. Just check out this short video clip. Wet floors are the cause of most accidents that occur in the restaurant whether if it’s a customer or an employee! Watch where you are walking people! Pay attention to the signs!
            I’m saving what I believe, the best for last. I grew up eating McDonald’s. Every Friday I was at McDonald’s to collect my Happy Meal toy! I had to collect all of the Barbie’s or the TY beanie babies. Now poor Ronald McDonald is getting sued for putting toys in his Happy Meals. Claims are that this teaches kids poor eating habits and contributes to child obesity. Well, I just don’t know about that. I think I turned out just fine, and I’m running 5ks and half marathons, and every now and then I still order my Happy Meal hamburger meal, but this time not for the toy!
            The public analyzes everything major corporations do. From my understanding, it was the people’s choice to eat what they wanted. Next time you travel to your favorite restaurant consider all of the things the restaurant has to uphold to serve you, your favorite meal! 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Restaurant Review-Antonio’s Ristorante on Sand Lake

Hello Foodies! It’s been awhile since I've been out to eat, but here’s another restaurant review to make your taste buds tingle. I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. I had dinner at Antonio’s Ristorante on Sand Lake Road. For those of you not familiar with Antonio’s it is a chain that has begun to spread though central Florida. On Valentine’s Day Antonio’s was offering a 3 course set menu.
            For the appetizer Jim chose Gamberoni alla Siciliana. This dish is shrimp wrapped in pancetta in a white wine sauce. Of course I had to try one piece! Delicious! I had the caprese-your basic buffalo milk mozzarella severed on tomato with basil, and olive oil. The serving sizes of both were really filling. Before not to fill up to much on your appetizer. If it weren’t a set menu, we probably would have ordered only one appetizer.
            For our main entrĂ©e we both ended up ordering the same dish-grouper. The fish was cooked well and the meat of the fish was laid on top of cheesy rice with a red sauce. The dish was very tasty and is not on their daily menu so keep a look for any specials. I would recommend it for sure because it’s something I wouldn’t make at home.
            I must mention they had a nice selection of wines. Beware their prices are a little above average. There are not many options if you only want to by a glass. (Please be sure to have a designated driver.)
            Finally, dessert, even if I’m full, I always have room for dessert. Jim ordered a strawberry mousse that again is not on the regular menu. I did not taste it, but Jim seemed to enjoy it and he usually doesn’t eat sweets. I had the Valentino al Lamponi. If you like rich chocolate this is the dessert for you. It wasn’t bad, but lots of chocolate with more chocolate with some raspberry sauce.

            Overall, I would defiantly go back to Antonio’s Ristorante. Their menu is filled with more authentic Italian dishes I would love to try. The prices were a bit high, but the location and experience makes it all worth it. If your looking for a place to go on a date or celebrate a special occasion Antonio’s is the place for you. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chef Poon the Wok Star!

July of 2010 I was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my family for a tour called Wok ‘n Walk. This was a tour of Chinatown by Chef Poon. After a tour of the city including stops at a fortune cookie factory, bakery, and Chinese grocery store, Chef Poon then cooked us a meal. Meeting Chef Poon and making contact with him was great. He is well known in the United States as he has been on numerous television shows including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. After meeting Chef Poon I told him I would soon be visiting China and he made sure to give me a ton of information including mailing me information and his phone number. While in China I made sure to write him. Since I have returned I contacted him find out more about his busy schedule as he acts as his own manager.
            On Saturday, February 12th, 2011 I was able to talk with Chef Poon. He is very upbeat and talks very fast as usual. Chef Poon asks me how the weather in Florida is, as he makes stops down here sometimes to visit friends that work for Darden Restaurants. He used to work for Darden as a product manager. We then get down to the questions I have.
1-How did you start cooking?
I was working at the Hong Kong Airport and I wanted to be able to cook like the Chefs I saw there. That’s where my inspiration started. They were able to carve many things out of fruits and vegetables so I went home and tried on potatoes until I finally got it.
2-After arriving in the United States how did you make a name for yourself?
I was determined to make something of myself. At times I was not sure what, but I always surrounded myself with positive people. I had a lot to learn when I came here. Every bit of knowledge I soaked up. I went to school to learn more. Education is very important. I have a lot to share because I’m old and I want to share it. You can never stop learning.
3-What did you study in school?
I went to State University of New York (SUNY) for nutrition. After that I went to the Culinary Institute of America for international cuisine.
4-After your education what was your next move?
I was working several different jobs to save money to open my own restaurant. I moved to Philadelphia and opened my first restaurant in 1979-Sang Kee. It’s still in operation by different owners.
5-What made get involved with some many other ventures? (tours of Philadelphia, taking groups to China, cooking classes, writing books, and much more.)
I like people and want to share my passion, and knowledge. I really like meeting the young people to teach them. They are the future. I like to share my culture and educate people about healthy eating.
6-How do you keep up with your busy schedule?
I do have an assistant Vivian that helps to book the tours and cooking classes. I try to be in control of everything. I want to see everything that I am offered and see if it is something that people can learn and be inspired from. 
7-What is your favorite part of your job?
I love meeting people and teaching. Meeting people like you or other young people is really important to me. When I take people to China they are so excited to be seeing things and experiencing it. To me, it’s all about the learning experience. These people will do this and then tell more people to make a chain reaction.
8-What’s your next plan?
I’m not sure yet. I will continue to cook, travel, and teach until I cannot anymore. I will share my passion with the world. I want you and others to pick my brain, anything I can teach and share.
Be sure to visit Chef Poon's website!