My Other Projects

In China, sunflowers are symbols of longevity and good luck, which are two important things that I needed when I started my culinary hobby almost fifteen years ago. This hobby resembles a plant in many way. I initially started with a focus on Italian cuisine, working my ways through the various regions of Italy. One of my best friends said to me that I needed to branch out. And, I did. I began pursuing other cuisines, not just in Europe (such as Spanish or French cuisines), but around the world, including Persian and Indian cuisines. Over time, my blog posts began to reflect this expanded focus, especially with my Around the World in 80 Dishes personal culinary challenge. 

As I work my way through this challenge, I have still branched out with other culinary projects. One of these projects is Beyond Borders, which is an effort to learn about the culture, cuisine, and history of ethnic groups that I would not necessarily be able to include in my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge. 

I have a lot of other culinary projects that I have done over the years.  I have created this page to provide links to some of these endeavors. Brief descriptions of some of my more long-lasting or ongoing projects are set forth below, as well as links where you can find the related blog posts: 

 One of my favorite shows is the original Iron Chef. I loved watching the Iron Chefs (like Chen Kenichi, Hiroyuki Sakai and Morimoto) express their creativity through food.  The Iron Chefs and many of their challengers take the secret ingredients - ranging from cilantro to wagyu beef -- and create amazing dishes. Every once in a while, I pick an ingredient and try to come up with three dishes that feature that ingredient.  While I may consult with recipes for some basic guidance in developing the dish, I try not to use them when I prepare the dish. I avoid recipes during the cooking process so that I can truly pressure myself into making dishes that, for better or worse, I can call my own. The page with the links to each culinary battle can be found here

 If there is one form of food that I love the most, it is the kebab. That form of food also is perhaps one of the most ubiquitous meals, as it can be found across the world, whether in fancy restaurants, street stalls or home kitchens. Many different cultures have their own takes upon the mighty kebab. This blog series explores how this one food item unites people around the world, yet also enables people to celebrate their differences together through food. Each Kebab-apalooza event begins with a large amount of an ingredient (such as a protein), followed by an effort to learn different recipes, along with the backstories of the cultures who produce them.  The page with the links to each of the kebab recipes can be found here.

 There are regional and state barbecue styles across the United States.  Texas has beef brisket and sausage. Kansas City  has ribs with thick, tangy sauces, while Memphis has ribs with complex dry rubs. The Carolinas have either whole hog or pulled pork, with different sauces depending upon where you happen to be in those States.  What if the State of Maryland had its own barbecue style? This is a project that explores what barbecue may look like in the Old Line State or Free State. The First series focuses on the fundamental elements of what comprises a barbecue style, namely, the protein, the sauce, and the variations.  All four blog posts from the first series can be found here.

And, there are some projects in the works, including the following: 

ANOTHER CHEF BOLEK: As it turns out, I am not the only "Chef Bolek" out there. In the autobiographical book, To Run for Life from Swastika and Red Star, Aaron Reisfeld recounts his fleeing from the Nazis and the Soviets during the 1939 invasion of Poland.  They joined up with other refugees, including a coachman named Bolek Krzepicki.  One of the sub-chapters of Reisfeld's book is entitled entitled "Bolek Becomes our Chef" and it recounts how "Chef Bolek" prepared meals with the few ingredients available to them. This series will seek to recreate some of the dishes, as well as other recipes based upon the book.

IN SEARCH OF ORANGE GOLD: This upcoming blog series delves into Maryland's iconic spice mix known as Old Bay.  This also happens to be my favorite spice mix. (That statement says a lot, given my love for the seemingly endless multitudes of masalas out there, as well as my special interest in Berbere from the Horn of Africa). This series will delve into the history of spice mixes used in Maryland cuisine, as well as the history of Old Bay itself.  The series will also focus on the specific ingredients used to make the mix, as well as how the mix itself can be used in different dishes.  The series finale will involve my own attempt to recreate the Old Bay spice mixture.

MY CHEF'S TABLE: This project is not so much about what is to come, but, in some sense, what has already passed. It is inspired by the Netflix show, Chef's Table, which introduces the world to chefs, their philosophies and their cooking. I am not a chef, and perhaps I am barely a cook. Nevertheless, My Chef's Table will be a collection of the recipes that I have made and that reflect my own culinary philosophy. Bear in mind, this philosophy does not come from one with Michelin stars, but it does come from someone who loves to cook. 


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