The Takeaway Secret Recipes

The Takeaway Secret: Donner Kebab Recipe

The Takeaway Secret is a paperback book that took the UK by storm in the lead up to Christmas 2010, when it became number three Bestselling Books on Amazon briefly – and the only reason it didn’t rise higher is they ran out!

The Takeaway Secret shows how to cook your favourite fast food at home.

In the UK, the takeaway culture is strong, but the prices are high – and this brilliant book has been written by Kenny McGovern, a recluse who spent 5 years refining recipes to taste just like takeaways, so he could enjoy a chip shop kebab or takeaway at home whenever he wanted. He then decided to publish and share this amazing collection and it’s like no cookery book you’ve read before because the food really DOES taste like takeaway food.

At roughly £5, The Takeaway Secret is a screaming success, a brilliant masterpiece of fast takeaway food you can make at home, affordably, easily and knowing what’s gone into it. This isn’t a junk food recipe book, you decide on the quality of the ingredients, so you’re feeding yourself and your family exactly what you want, at a fraction of the price and without any guilt.
Take a Look at the Contents Page, and Buy from Amazon UK

Takeaway Secret Recipe Book Index

The Takeaway Secret how to cook your favourite fast food at home recipe book is available from Amazon and it’s so cheap it can pay for itself with just the first takeaway secret recipe you cook, although it is sometimes out of stock, so ebay can be an easier place to find a copy.

It uses common ingredients, without the need for fancy equipment or skills; perfect for home cooks, both novice and professional, to recreate your favourite takeaway and fast-food restaurant dishes in your own kitchen. It makes sense to discover how to cook your favourite fast food at home.

Everybody has a different favourite, but most people are of the opinion that the McMuffins and the Doner Kebab recipes are their favourites, so here is the Doner Kebab Recipe from the Takeaway Secret:
The Takeaway Secret Donner Kebab Recipe Ingredients

Below is the Kenny McGovern Doner Kebab Recipe:

1 teaspoon of plain flour (all purpose if you’re in the US)
1 teasooon of dried oregano
½ teaspoon of dried italian herbs
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of onion powder
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
500grams/1.1 lbs of lamb mince, as fatty or as lean as you like (but fatty works best) – in the US this is called “ground meat”, it’s just meat that’s pushed through a machine to grind it up, or mince it up.

Top Tip: Once you’ve made this kebab once, from the recipe in Takeaway Secret – how to cook your favourite fast food at home, you won’t be able to get enough of it, so next time, why not measure out the ingredients (except the mince) and box or bag them up so that next time you just need to add your pre-mix to the mince! What I do is line up a bunch of paper cake cases and go along adding each of the ingredients, then pour each one into a small resealable bag! Easy.
The Takeaway Secret Donner Kebab Recipe Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mark 4)
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add all the lamb mince to the bowl and mix it thoroughly with the dry ingredients for 2-3 minutes.
Punch and knead the mixture so it’s compressed and no air pockets remain; the kebab meat should be extremely smooth and tightly packed.
Tip the seasoned mince out and shape it into a loaf and place it on a baking tray.
Bake in the centre of your oven for 40 minutes, then turn the loaf over and return it to the oven for another 40 minutes. The loaf should be evenly browned.
Once cooked, remove your donner kebab from the oven and cover it with foil, allowing it to rest for 10-20 minutes.
Slice the donner kebab as thinly as you can, just how you like it from your local takeaway!

Serve with pitta bread stuffed with salad and sauces.
Slicing Donner Kebab Meat

One of the trickiest things with making your own donner kebab meat is slicing it very thinly. Most people struggle with this, using a knife. In a kebab shop they’ll use super-sharp catering knives and will be working on a kebab the size of an elephant’s leg, so it’s easier for them – and I’ve even seen professional kebab shops now using an electric shaving knife, so even they must find it troublesome at times to have gone to such lengths.

The first few times I cut my kebab meat as thin as I could, but it was a bit fiddly to do and didn’t give me the aesthetics of a shop-bought kebab, but then I had a genius idea and reached into my cupboard for my Borner V-Slicer.

I’ve got a Borner V-Slicer that slices and dices vegetables and makes juliennes – and I wondered if this would work on the kebab meat – and it did! My Borner V-Slicer not only sliced my meat, but also produced the rest of my kebab filling, shredding some cabbage and slicing onions, tomatoes and cucumbers in just a few seconds.

Swine Products

Why Worry?

Why don’t we hear about how pork is bad for us? And if it was, how come we are allowed to eat it? Here is the answer. When we do not pay attention to what we eat it can have harmful effects on your body if you are not careful. You can be a pure vegetarian with a six pack and pearly white teeth and be dying from these additives. Think about it. Have you ever really done any research into the ingredients on the box? Sure it might be FDA approved, but you still have the right to know what is going in your body and what it can do. After all this is the government that legalizes cigarettes, so I would not trust it too much when it comes to my personal health. Here are some examples of the harmful effects of pork and how we can avoid it.

Swine has tons of artery-clogging cholesterol and saturated fat. This can drastically increase your weight as well as increase your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, trichinosis, or impotence. So just by eating pork, you are increasing your chances of developing life threatening diseases. Compare this to other protein filled foods and they do not compare in the potential side effects. You can justify it by saying pork has protein in it. Protein can also be found in eggs, milk, fish, yogurt, chicken, turkey, and nuts. Protein does not make something good for you. Did you know feces contains protein as well? But you are not going to eat it are you? I sure hope not.
Disgusting Conditions

When given adequate space, pigs can be very clean animals. There is one problem; Pigs do not have sweat glands, so they cannot sweat . That’s why they bathe in water or mud to cool off. But in factory farms, they don’t get to have that. They are forced to live in filth. So this is going into your mouth.

If that is not enough for you, here is how they are killed. Part of preparation includes having their hair removed in hot water tanks. But the methods used to stun them have been becoming improper. That and the fast line does not help. This mean that some of the animals are still alive when they are dumped into scalding-hot hair-removal tanks. I want you to think about the horrid conditions this animal is put through just so you can eat a sandwich. And think about what might be in your mouth when you read about these conditions. Doesn’t sound too good, does it?
DISTURBING CONTENT: Undercover at Smithfield Foods (2012 Webby Award Winner)
What Does a Pig Eat?

Over the years, domesticated pigs have been used as scavengers and will eat anything from garbage to dead animals and human wastes. So when you eat this animal, you are potentially consuming waste, garbage, or another unclean animal. I don’t know about you, but I am not one for eating pork loins with a side of Sprite cans and dead raccoon. This pig could potentially have all of this filth in its system and then it goes into your system.
The Natural Cycle

“What do you do with your garbage? Do you just throw it away or do you recycle it? Recycling helps us make good use of our resources. In nature there are lots of animals responsible for recycling.”

“Some animals eat dead animals or carrion. They are called scavengers. They help break down or reduce organic material into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces are then eaten by decomposers. Decomposers eat dead materials and break them down into chemical parts. Nitrogen, carbon and other nutrients can then be used again by plants and animals. Without decomposers and scavengers, the world would be covered with dead plants and animals!” (Decomposers and Scavengers).

How Do I Avoid It?

Look for the following ingredients when purchasing food products: gelatin, lard, collagen, clyverin, animal fats, monoglycerides, diglycerides, magnesium stearate, calcium stearate, enzymes and rennet. Watch out, because food isn’t the only thing that can contain pork. Things such as medications, cosmetics, detergents, cleansers, soaps and toothpastes often contain hidden pork. Look out for the words collagen, keratin and tallow in these products, as they are all made from swine. If you find any more ingredients that are derived from pork, let me know.

How to Use Popular Culinary Herbs

When they are used wisely herbs can transform a simple or routine meal into so much more, adding depth and flavour as well as seasoning, zest or body. Additionally many herbs have beneficial health properties, for example in adding digestion or helping to fight colds. Herbs can also be used to preserve food or protects it from insects.

A large variety of herbs are available to buy either dried or fresh and many can be easily grown at home even if you only have a small space such as a patio or window box. Even a few simple pots of herbs growing on a kitchen windowsill can add greatly to everyday cooking when used correctly. Home grown herbs can also be preserved for using at a later date by drying or freezing.

If a recipe calls for fresh herbs and you only have dried, 1 tsp (5ml) of dried herbs is roughly equivalent to 1 tbsp (15ml) of fresh. Fresh herbs can be stored successfully in a refrigerator. They can also be preserved for later use by infusing in oil or vinegar or by freezing small amounts in water using ice cube trays. These little frozen herb cubes can then be added directly to foods when needed. Herb infused oils and vinegar can be used to add flavour to salads, roasted vegetables, marinates and any other food where either oil or vinegar is needed as an ingredient. If preserved in decorative bottles the preserved herbs can also make attractive and useful gifts for friends and family who also enjoy cooking. Fresh herbs can also be preserved by drying them in a dehydrator or oven set to a low heat.
Various dried herbs
Various dried herbs | Source
Garden angelica (Angelica archangelica)
Garden angelica (Angelica archangelica) | Source
Suggested Uses for Popular Culinary Herbs

Angelica – This herb has a strong clean flavour. It can be used to make syrup to be used in summer drinks, fruit salads and ice cream. Angelica leaves can be cooked along with acidic fruits to reduce the tartness and lessen the need for sugar to be added. Angelica can also be crystallized and used to decorate cakes.

Basil – Often found in Mediterranean recipes, fresh basil has a sweet almost clove like taste and goes very well with tomatoes in hot and cold dishes. Basil also pairs well with courgettes, marrows, mushrooms, garlic and beans and is often used to make pesto.

Bay – Use bay alongside parsley and thyme to make a bouquet garni. This can then be used to flavour a wide range of dishes such as soups and stews. Bay leaves can be added to marinates, stock, stuffing and curries. Remove whole leaves from food before serving.
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh basil leaves | Source
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) | Source
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) | Source

Chervil – This herb is common in French cooking and has a delicate flavour. It can be used in place of parsley and should be added towards the end of cooking as the subtle flavour is easily lost. Chop the fresh leaf and add to omelettes, salads, dressings and chicken dishes.

Chives – Chopped chives are delicious sprinkled on soups, salads, chicken, potatoes, cooked vegetables and egg dishes. They can be used instead of onions in hamburgers for a milder flavour and can be mixed with yoghurt for dips or used to flavour soft cheeses.

Coriander – These leaves are commonly used in curries and Indian chutneys especially when tomatoes are being used. Coriander has an earthy and pungent flavour that works well in salads, vegetable and poultry dishes.

Knowing What To Expect From A Culinary Arts School

Classes offered in culinary arts school cover a wide range of topics, from conditions for sanitary food preparation to the basics of diet and nutrition. Module options don’t end there however. Students may find themselves in a wine appreciation course, or even in a class that can help them acquire the necessary skills for being a hospitality ambassador.

Graduates of culinary arts school are in demand just about everywhere. The reason is that there are a growing number and variety of restaurants worldwide, particularly in developing countries where more and more people can now afford to dine out. Hence, the demands for culinary experts are almost endless, ranging from restaurants to schools to hospitals to all places in between that offer some kind of food service. All these places need experts to ensure that they can serve a balanced diet to the many people they have to feed.

Culinary arts school can appeal to a wide range of demographics. From those who want to have a change of career to high school graduates seeking to enter the food service industry. Not only are these classes offered in many places, they are also available in the evenings and on weekends in order to accommodate a person’s current job or lifestyle.

Before applying to a culinary school, students should consider several factors to make sure that their school can help them move toward a successful career in this field.

Accreditation is among the most important considerations. Like many other schools, a school in culinary arts must undergo examination of their teacher qualifications, student-teacher ratios, curriculum, and facilities prior to receiving an accreditation from the government or any recognized body or association. The process of accreditation involves a series of examinations to determine whether or not a culinary school is qualified to train students to work in this industry.

For many schools, this may be a rather long process and achieving it can be considered a major accomplishment. So when searching for a great school to attend, it is important for students to ensure that their prospective school has been duly accredited prior to applying for admission.

Cost is another important factor to consider when choosing a culinary school. Unfortunately, studying in many schools (especially specialty trade schools) can be somewhat costly. However, with a little research, students can also find some that are not as expensive, and some that offer scholarships to deserving students for attending their school. Loans are also available for most schools, but students should bear in mind that they must be paid back later on, and not burden themselves with more debt than they can handle when they enter the work force.

The type of school should also be carefully considered before applying for admission. Most culinary schools are designed towards a particular end goal. For example, students who plan to manage a restaurant or a hotel in the future must take this into consideration when choosing their school. Those who want to be a professional chef in their own business must also look at the focus of the school. Some schools specialize in pastries, others in baking, and still others in international cuisines. Knowing what an individual wants to do with their degree prior to applying to any college will likely be a big help.

School facilities should be another concern when it comes to choosing a culinary school. Before deciding to attend in any school, a student must first find some time to visit. One important thing to check is to see if the school is using up-to-date equipment. Cooking equipment is always changing. This is why it is important for many students to acquire the skills they are seeking using the most modern equipment.

Following these guidelines can help students move toward building a successful career in culinary arts. Before entering, it is good to realize that there’s more to this career than just cooking. It is a broad discipline that ranges from creating and designing practical menus to offering the best hospitality both to loved ones and customers. Enrolling in a culinary arts school can help individuals attain the career they are seeking in the food service industry.

Deliciously Healthy Typical Guatemalan Foods

I recently wrote an article on Guatemalan enchiladas and how they are not at all like the Mexican enchiladas we know in the US. While a Guatemalan enchilada may be served on a fried tortilla, it is also piled high with wonderful vegetables, meat and egg. The use of vegetables like beets and cabbage, along with green beans and carrots give them a variety of vitamins. The tomato sauce used in the enchilada is homemade from tomatoes, tomatillos, onion and garlic. The meat is cooked and fried and offers protein, along with a slice of egg. The enchilada is served with a sprinkling of cheese and parsley. It is a delicious, nutritious salad on a plate.

Enchiladas are not the only typical Guatemalan food to be high in nutrition. Black beans are a staple food, eaten one to three times a day, offering lots of protein and fiber. The addition of rice and corn tortillas to that meal makes a complete protein. Plantains are also eaten at any meal, and used as a vegetable if green. When green, plantains are not very sweet or soft, so cooking them in water gives a slight sweetness, making an excellent side dish to any main course. A serving of plantain is higher in fiber, vitamin C and potassium than a serving of bananas. They are also used as a dessert, simply cooked when very ripe, or made into various dessert dishes.

One dessert made with plantains is frying slices and serving them in a mole sauce. Guatemalan mole sauce is made from tomatoes, tomatillos, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and cinnamon, with the addition of chocolate at the end. Using all the vegetables and seeds give a great addition of fiber to the diet, along with vitamins and minerals.
A common Guatemalan salad of minced radishes mixed with some chopped tomato, mint, onion and lime juice makes an extremely high flavor and low calorie dish, rich in fiber and vitamin C. Corn tortillas made from cooked field corn with the germ left in are high in fiber and vitamins and these are eaten up to three times a day.

Most any soup or thickened dish made in Guatemala is thickened with the use of shredded tortillas, bread, ground nuts or seeds, instead of flour. The various kinds of tamale eaten in Guatemala have their basis in either hominy or rice or a combination. As stated, the hominy, or cooked whole field corn, contains the whole kernel, with more nutritional value than a can of hominy without the germ. Any sauces added to the tamales are made by grinding together tomatoes, tomatillos, bell peppers, dried chiles, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon and sometimes chocolate. These particular flavors are a common theme throughout Guatemalan foods.

Another type of tamale that is used as a treat for breakfast, dessert or any time of day is called tamalitos de helote. We all understand a tamale is usually corn, ground and wrapped into a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed. Helote is young corn not the sweet corn we know here in the US for corn on the cob, but field corn that has not matured to complete dryness. The kernels are removed from the cobs and ground, with sugar and cinnamon added for flavor. The green corn husks are used to wrap these little tamales, imparting a particular flavor and goodness. The use of the whole corn kernels in this dish is a healthier way of eating that a milled corn flour with the germ removed. My husband questioned, why not just slice the kernels from the cob and make the whole process easier? My answer is that the flavor and look would be different, and most of the nutrition would be left behind.

Guatemalan typical dishes may take time to prepare properly, but the end result with all the nutrition packed in is invaluable. I value highly all the complex and flavorful typical recipes I learned there over 30 years ago, and I use them to this day.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey. You will find many more recipes and helpful tips on my web site. I am on Facebook at A Harmony of Flavors and share a recipe or tip each day to the fans that have liked my site. I hope to see you there soon.

Delicious Slovak And Serbian Traditional Easter Foods

Both my grandmothers have been gone from my life for over 40 years, but the impact their foods made on my life was strong. My grandparents from both the Serbian and Slovak sides of the family came from Europe in the early 1900s, bringing their knowledge of the foods and traditions along with them. Easter, along with Christmas, are the two holidays I associate with the most traditional foods.

Both sides of the family made traditional baskets of foods to take to their respective churches to be blessed. Though Slovakia and Serbia are not close to each other, the traditions of the area are very widespread. As the last Easter I may have spent with one of my grandparents was about 44 years ago, my personal memories are sketchy in some areas, and vivid in others. Lately, it has felt important to reach out to my siblings and learn what memories they might still have that are gone from my recollections.

The items traditionally placed in the basket of foods to be blessed are ham, sausage, egg cheese, bread, beets with horseradish, salt, butter, Easter eggs and a candle. There may be other things that were added. I recall the baskets being taken to church, but not too much more.

Traditional Foods

Some of the traditional foods that are less common here in the US are the beets with horseradish and the egg cheese. It seems lately that beets with horseradish recipes have been popping up all over. Not like the traditional one my grandma made, of course, but that combination suddenly has become apparent.

Beets with Horseradish

The recipe that my Serbian grandmother passed down was from grated cooked or canned beets, mixed with bottled horseradish to taste. The recipe amounts are fluid, depending on the size of family and how much horseradish one can tolerate. For two jars of beets, well drained and shredded, about 1 tablespoon of horseradish may be added. This amount may be increased or decreased as needed. A little sugar is added, from 1 to 3 teaspoons. All ingredients are mixed well, and then can be spooned into jars until needed.

This beet dish is used as a condiment, to go with the ham and other Easter foods. It can be used as a side dish on the plate, or it can be used on a sandwich of the traditional Easter Paska Bread with ham or sausage. The Serbian name of the beets and horseradish dish is not one I can recall. I have read that depending on the area it is from, this may be called Ren, Hren, Chrin and many other variations.

Egg Cheese

This particular dish is one that I firmly recall only being called by its Serbian name, Sirets. The pronunciation of this word is SEE rets, with the letter R trilled. It is one of the traditional foods I have never cared for, but my Dad just loved. Since my Mom never made it, I asked Grandma for her recipe so I could carry on the tradition.

She told me to take one quart of whole milk and a dozen eggs in a pan and mix them together really well, adding in a little bit of salt and sugar. Over time I have found that about 2 teaspoons each of the salt and sugar work well. The mixture is cooked slowly on the stove, stirring constantly, until the eggs begin to cook and separate. Once the mixture has completely separated, it is poured into a cheesecloth lined colander to drain. Once drained, the ends of the cheesecloth are brought together and tied, and the ball is hung to continue draining. Grandma hung the cheesecloth ball from her kitchen faucet. Once the egg cheese ball has cooled it is placed in the refrigerator to continue to firm and chill. When ready to eat, it is unwrapped from the cheesecloth and sliced.

Paska Bread

This rich butter and egg bread was made mainly for Christmas or Easter. My Slovak mom also made it for Thanksgiving. The bread is delightful, and I have made this recipe as our daily bread since the 1970s. It may have started as a traditional bread used only for these special feasts, but it is far too delicious to limit its use. I have now created a version that is easy to make in my heavy duty stand mixer. For Easter, the bread is braided, either in a ring shape, or a round loaf with a small braid on top or in a braided loaf.

Keeping traditions alive for your children is a worthwhile endeavor, giving them a sense of place in the world. It is not meant to divide or separate cultures, but to keep the foods in their purest state so they maintain their ability to stand out from the crowd in these days of fusion cooking.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey. You will find many more recipes and helpful tips on my web site. I am on Facebook at A Harmony of Flavors and share a recipe or tip each day to the fans that have liked my site. I hope to see you there soon.

Discovering The Joys Of Food and Travel

One of the best things about visiting new places the chance to combine sampling the local food and travel. One single country can offer an enormous variety of dishes. Indian cuisine is very sophisticated, though often we don’t know its diversity because the food in most Indian restaurants comes from the Punjabi region of northern India. The other great Indian styles of southern, eastern and western cookery are largely vegetarian, though some include lamb, chicken, fish and even goat.

French cooking represents one of the greatest cuisines on the planet. Many of the dishes are rich with their use of cream and alcohol. ‘Escargots’ (snails) cooked in garlic butter might, along with ‘frogs’ legs, ‘ put you off your dinner. France also specialises in exquisite pastries (‘patisseries’). Liqueurs, spirits and a marvellous choice of wines also greet you when you visit France.

Most of the Mediterranean countries have a cuisine worth trying and Spain is no exception. Well-known for its tasty snacks or starters called ‘tapas, ‘ Spanish seafood dishes can also be very tasty. As well as many excellent wines, you might like to sample one of the most famous national drinks – sherry, traditionally made in Jerez from wine fortified with brandy. ‘Sangria’ is a bit like punch, made from inexpensive red wine with added spices, spirits and fruit.

In Mexico, Aztec cookery blended with Spanish ideas to create characteristic dishes wrapped in tacos or tortillas made from flour-based flat breads. Guacamole, a creamy dip made from avocado mashed with oil and garlic, is a favourite Mexican dish.

Italy is famous for pasta and pizza. Pizza is equivalent to our word ‘pie’ and was the traditional lunchtime food for labourers in the fields. Every village used to have its open brickwork pizza oven and you could see women returning from the woods with baskets laden with a variety of mushrooms, to make the delicious ‘pizza ai funghi.’ Italian cooking is one of most ancient cuisines in the world, with over 300 varieties of sausage to choose from and 400 cheeses, any traveller is spoilt for choice.

Middle Eastern cookery reflects something of the Mediterranean combined with more eastern accents, with its emphasis on warming spices, like cinnamon. As in Greece, ‘mezzes’ or appetizers, dips, pickles, are eaten with delicious breads. This cookery style uses a lot of pulses, like lentils and chick peas, with plenty of fresh and interesting salads, and maybe a little less meat.

Thai cooking uses lime juice and lemon grass, to create delicate and subtle flavours. Recipes blend bitter, sweet, hot and sour flavours. Well-known for its fish sauce, Thai cooking also uses a lot of noodles. ‘Sushi’ rice and fish dishes may come to mind when you think of Japanese cooking. Developed over many historical periods, Japanese cookery includes a variety of sweets as well as rice-based dishes and many soya bean products and recipes. Chinese food has carved out a worldwide niche because of its adaptability. China also produces a dazzling array of green, black, white and scented teas.

In modern folk legend, the English would be the cooks in hell. Despite England’s terrible culinary reputation, their classic dish of ‘fish and chips, ‘ shouldn’t be missed. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (which is not a dessert, but a savoury accompaniment) can’t be bettered on a cold day.

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Food and Wine Tours – 7 Ways for Adding Culinary Depth to Your Travels

Food and wine had been the basis of their courtship. Marriage brought an end to these quiet and yet exciting times. She has said little through the years as he went off with golfing pals and corporate jaunts while she stayed at home. His conscious always treated her to spa visits and club memberships to make up for it. Now, he wanted something for just the two of them. Twenty five years together deserved a celebration.

He was looking for a place near enough to allow them more time for each other and less time for travel. They needed to find a way of enjoying what they both loved and yet rediscovering their mutual passions for life and each other. One loved the outdoors and gardening. The other looked for a more urban relaxation. Their mutual love was preparing and eating great food. Thus a great culinary adventure is born.

Culinary tours allow visitors to really experience the cultural roots of a region. It’s a little bit history, a little bit entertainment and a little bit educational. Yet it can also be an assault on the senses. What better way to involve all five senses?

7 Delightful Ways to Design Your Culinary Adventure

1. Celebrity/Master Chefs

Dining out has long been one of society’s favorite activities. Master chefs have left culinary schools for world-class restaurants, honed their skills and are returning in droves to their home communities to be a part of regional tourism and hospitality. The James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating and preserving America’s cultural diversity and traditions. These master chefs are usually members of this foundation.

Many are indeed, recipients of James Beard honors. You can usually get some great insights of where to dine by looking for press releases from this organization. Even better, there are categories for joining as a food and wine enthusiast. Of course, some of these master chefs do merit celebrity status. Be sure to make reservations in advance to get the most out of your visit.

Cleveland’s Entertainment District hosts some of the city’s most popular restaurants, bars and clubs. Master chefs and celebrity chef, Michael Symon, all have their flagship restaurants here. This is a microcosm of Cleveland, and indeed America’s diverse cuisine. It is a great way to step into the culinary scene and branch out into the neighborhood that centers around your favorite taste. The ethnic neighborhoods of Cleveland are known for superb dining choices.

2. Schools – Wine and Culinary/ Master Classes

We have come a long way from Julia Child to the Food Network and beyond. What is important today is that food is recognized as essential to healthy living. Perhaps more important is that preparing healthy food can be at the core of reducing stress for busy professionals and providing touch points for family and friends to rally around.

Luxury resorts and hotels have provided culinary excursions and master classes for generations. These are again gaining in popularity. Cleveland boasts both cooking schools and a wine school. These schools provide busy locals with the skills to take their culinary appreciation to the next level. They can also provide a great added value to a culinary tour of the region. Additionally, the nearby Culinary Vegetable Institute brings master chefs from throughout America as artists in residence for classes and private dinners on their campus.

3. Luxury Hotel Culinary Packages

Essential to any great vacation is the need to replenish and revitalize ourselves. Some may choose a Bed and Breakfast but for those who see this basic need as a time to treat oneself to more than the ordinary choose a luxury hotel or resort. These hotels and resorts have in place a highly skilled, 5 star staff just looking for ways to delight the guests. Culinary tours are as varied as the hotels but can provide a great foundation for any regional food and wine tour.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel of Cleveland boasts a culinary tour that includes face time with the Executive chefs, special dinners, tours of the West Side Market and the city. The concierge staff is poised to provide directions and reservations to other restaurants and attractions that add to the culinary experience.

4. Farmers Markets

America’s cities are known for the public markets that support the cities and restaurants. Seattle has its Public Market, San Francisco has its Fisherman’s Wharf, and Cleveland has its West Side Market. These are popular tourist destinations. There are ample chances to talk with local suppliers, sample the many treats and enjoy a pleasurable time people watching.

Cleveland’s venerable West Side Market has been supplying the tables of families and restaurants since 1912. As one of America’s oldest enclosed markets, it sets the standard for the many farmer’s markets set up in both urban town squares and the rural areas surrounding Cleveland. This market supplies fruits, vegetables and a diverse array of the regional meats that make Cleveland so popular with gastronomers.

A drive through any area in Northeast Ohio on a Saturday will supply a family with locally grown, healthy fruits and vegetables for a week. Concessions provide ample opportunity to taste the best of the regions. You can also check out the Farmers Union markets in town squares and shopping centers throughout Northeast Ohio on weekdays during summer months.

5. Wineries/Microbreweries

America’s interest in locally produced wines and brews is growing. Wine regions are gaining in popularity as destinations. The Sonoma and Napa Valley regions of California, Oregon’s Columbia Valley, New York’s Finger Lakes and the Niagara region readily come to mind. Microbreweries are the next craze to attract regional visitors. Microbrew tastings as well as wine tasting are easily found in the wine regions. You can actually find wineries that are developing companion microbreweries on their properties.

Northeast Ohio is home to Vintage Ohio, an event attracting thousands to sample the growing wine industry in the state. Home to several wineries and vineyards along Lake Erie, northeast Ohio provides ample ways to enjoy the ambiance of relaxing in a scenic vineyard with friends with a glass in hand. You can enjoy a picnic lunch or opt for a more formal dinner in the elegance of the winery.

6. Farm Tours

Heritage farm tours along the Ohio and Erie Canal are committed to capturing the farming techniques of the regional founders for posterity. Many Amish farms welcome visitors to tour their farms by request. Indeed you will find produce stands along the country roads leading to their farms selling whatever vegetables and fruits are currently being harvested in their fields and baked goods, cheeses and cured meats processed on their farms.

The Culinary Vegetable Institute in nearby Milan, Ohio provides organic and heritage vegetables and micro-greens to the kitchens of some of the country’s top chefs and restaurants. Farmer Lee Jones, the spokesman for the family business, is gaining national acclaim as a celebrity guest at many culinary events.

7. Community Gardens

Urban gardens are becoming vital parts of neighborhoods as families realize the advantages of homegrown produce. However they are not new in many communities. When a visitor is fortunate to find an urban garden gem that has been established for quite a while, that visitor is treated to a glimpse of the heritage of the neighborhood and lovely afternoons spent talking with the gardeners who share the space.

The Brooklyn Heights Community Garden in Cleveland celebrates is now 100 years old. Its grounds are well-maintained by the coop members and classes for all ages are held in the greenhouse and garden center on the campus.

Remember that anniversary couple? They spent a relaxing week in an area not too far from their home but a world away in new experiences. They cruised the back roads with the car top down, picnicked under the stars in a lakeside vineyard, joined other couples for an elegant and exclusive private wine dinner and shared an evening at the theater. There was even time for a tour of the Botanical Gardens, a little shopping and just the two of them for a few holes of golf. Of course that led to the couples massage in the luxury hotel where they stayed. The rest of the time is private.

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Pioneer Foods: Still plenty left to chew on

Since taking the helm at Pioneer Foods in 2013, Phil Roux has made great strides at the company. Under his watch the former food sector also-ran’s operating profit margin has risen from a sorry 4% to over 11%, its headline EPS have gone up 125% and its dividend has jumped over 150%.
Picture: Financial Mail
Roux is far from satisfied, however.

“We have just completed our corporate strategy review,” says Roux. “We asked the question: is our business portfolio fully optimised? The answer is a definite no.”

Roux is setting demanding goals for the R20bn annual revenue company, which includes what he terms its “power brands” Weet-Bix, Bokomo, Liqui-Fruit , Sasko, Spekko, Ceres, White Star and Safari.

“I want the group operating margin to be at least 13.5% by the end of 2018,” Roux says. “There is still a lot more to do to drive cost efficiencies.”

Also a priority is reducing the relative importance of maize and wheat-based essential foods such as maize meal and bread, which account for about 60% of group revenue and operating profit. It could spell a big acquisition ahead.

“Margins and cash flow on essential foods are high but the market perceives them to be commodities,” says Roux. “We invest heavily in our essential foods brands but the moment you have any exposure to raw material price volatility the market can hammer you.”

Despite facing inevitably tougher competition from Tiger Brands, now led by the highly experienced Lawrence MacDougall, Roux believes Pioneer can grab market share.

“We must build our brands,” says Roux. “We have an overall 32% share of the 18 categories we are in. Every percentage point rise equals an extra R1bn of sales at the retail level.”

Roux is confident Pioneer has the right people in place to meet the challenge. “I have a highly capable leadership team,” says Roux, who shrugs off doubts that may be aroused by the recent resignation of Cindy Hess, CFO since March 2015.

Indeed, it seems Hess will not be missed. “A CEO and CFO must be a perfect fit,” says Roux. He does not spell it out, but that perfect fit between Hess and him does not appear to have been there.

Whatever the case, it is not affecting strategy. “We are busy on the corporate activity front,” says Roux. He is armed with up to R4bn in debt capacity on Pioneer’s almost ungeared balance sheet.

Acquisitions may not all be in SA. “We are looking closely at East Africa,” says Roux. “I also like Eastern Europe.”

Pioneer is making solid headway in the UK as well, where it has two Bokomo factories producing private-label wheat breakfast biscuits, muesli and granolas for a number of leading grocery chains. Already a sizeable operation, it is generating about R1bn in annual revenue.

However, Roux’s goal is to reduce the importance of private-label manufacture. “I want our own branded products to represent 50% of revenue,” he says.

The first step came in August, with the £7.5m acquisition of Stream Foods, producer of a range of fruit snacks under the Fruit Bowl brand. “It will add sales of R250m,” says Roux.

“We will be doing more bolt-on acquisitions.”

Pioneer has a sound growth strategy, which holds great promise. But for now investors in the food group will need to be patient.

“It has been a year out of hell,” says Roux, referring to the slump in domestic maize production caused by the crippling drought. To hedge against an expected 1.2Mt maize production fall, Pioneer had no option but to buy maize forward.

Though maize prices are now going down in the hope of early rain, Pioneer will have to wait for the futures contracts bought at higher prices to unwind. “It will make the next six months a little rough for us,” says Roux.

It could spell a period of weakness ahead for Pioneer’s share price. If this comes, it will be weakness that can be used as a buying opportunity.

Abattoirs rewarded for excellence

Abattoirs from across the Eastern Cape were rewarded last night for their commitment to public health and safety through their compliance with laws regulating the industry. The Eastern Cape Abattoir Rating Scheme Awards ceremony was held at Mentorskraal in Jeffreys Bay and hosted by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform.
Abattoirs rewarded for excellence
©Deborah Benbrook via 123RF
“Since the inception of these awards and consistent auditing of abattoirs using the national Hygiene Assessment System document, there has been a significant improvement in compliance with the Meat Safety Act,” MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said.

A total of 36 abattoirs were audited for the awards – 25 red meat and 11 poultry abattoirs. They were recognised in four main categories; High Throughput Red Meat, High Throughput Poultry, Low Throughput Red Meat and Low Throughput Poultry abattoirs.

“Abattoirs are important in the food production chain and processes,” Qoboshiyane said. “Those that comply with the set rules and regulations make it easy for our economy to grow.

“These awards must help us close any gap in the market.

“We must comply with the laws so that no one will reject our livestock and our meat in the markets.”

Winners in the High Throughput Red Meat category were Lentaba Meats, Andrews Abattoir, Glen Victor Meats, Austin Evans Abattoir and Kei Livestock Abattoir.

High Throughput Poultry Abattoirs Sovereign Foods and Anca Poultry abattoirs were top.

Low Throughput Red Meat Abattoir winners were the Hillcrest, Drakensburg, Graaff-Reinet, Middledrift and J le Roux abattoirs.

The Low Throughput Poultry Abattoirs winners were the Noorsveld, Tyndall, and Bokmakierie abattoirs.