Chef George Duran

Chef Dad Knows Best

By Chef George Duran

If you know me well, you know that I’m not the most spiritual person in the world. That said, I believe God (or any higher being you choose to believe in) has an awesome sense of humor. Not the “knock knock” type of humor, but more of an ironic and unexpected one. After all, we can’t let our expectations in life lead us to disappointment without a good laugh.

George&SonWhen my son was born over two years ago I was always excited at the idea of cooking for him. I had to patiently wait the obligatory 6-month  breast feeding phase before I could start processing some ingredients for him. At first everything felt fine. His first mashed food was avocados and he seemed to devour it. At least for the first couple of days. I began purchasing baby food cookbooks (haven’t we all?) and started spending more hours processing his “gourmet” mashes than my own foods. Little did I know the battle was about to begin.

It didn’t take him long to understand that he had choices and what he didn’t choose was daddy’s food. Fruits, cereal and milk were his favorite. Period. “It’s just a phase” is what I was hearing from other parents, but I was looking at how their own infants were enjoying a simple bowl of spaghetti and meatballs in one sitting while mine stuck his tongue out.  I was expecting to find the headlines of a newspaper the next day screaming “ TV Chef’s Son Hates Food!”.

One evening, as my son was barely touching his bowl of fruit, my friend’s same-aged son sat down and began vaporizing an entire watermelon. This kid wasn’t eating little diced pieces of the stuff, he was holding adult-slices of the melon and pounding through it. He was a real-life Very Hungry Caterpillar and I was seething with envy. All things food is who I am and I felt a cruel joke being played on me.

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The real meaning of Thanksgiving… or not

By Chef George Duran

Where did October go? Heck! Where did Summer go? And why do I keep asking this to myself year after year? And why does everyone keep asking me what the meaning of Thanksgiving is when we all know what we’re all looking forward to: food.

PumpkinPieTamales_019I could expand here a bit about the history of Thanksgiving. The pilgrims. The natives. That there was lobster but no turkey on the first Thanksgiving…bla bla bla.  Feel free to click here if you need to get a refresher on your history because I’m here to talk about on thing only: food.

Yes, you probably look forward to the classic turkey-stuffing-yam-cranberry-potato gorging…but people, it’s 2013 and I think we need a refreshing recipe on this year’s table. I’m not talking about just adding chorizo to the stuffing…I’m talking about a whole new look for the center piece. Something I’ve been concocting for a few years and have perfected so that it’s fool proof. It’s called pumpkin pie tamales and I’m gonna teach you how to make it! (I know your brain just went “ooooooooooooh”)

I decided that your average tamales tend to be on the bland side and decided to introduce pumpkin puree to the mix. It’s paired with bold pumpkin spices and yeah, butter (it’s Thanksgiving man…get over it!). But to make it more than just a side-dish I wanted to stuff it with shredded turkey (or chicken). Just imagine sitting on your classic Thanksgiving table and seeing the stuffed corn husks in a massive platter! Finally, nuts and raisins bring it all together for the perfect twisted Mexican treat.

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End of Summer BBQ

By Chef George Duran

It’s almost the end of the summer and that means you have a few more days for one last BBQ! Chef George Duran teaches us how to make Grilled Shrimp and Chorizo with Lime Chimichurri, Buffalo Style Grilled Corn and a Stovetop Apple Crisp with Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Drizzle!

Grilled Shrimp and Chorizo with Lime Chimichurri
bbq-chorizoIngredients:

  • 12 large shrimp
  • 2 Spanish chorizo sausages
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 bamboo skewers, soaked in water
  • Lime Chimichurri:
  • 2 cups fresh parsley and/or cilantro, firmly packed
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon lime juice (optional)
  • Kosher salt and red pepper flakes to taste

We’re All Hispanic

By Chef George Duran

I was at a deli in NYC a few weeks ago with a friend and we were ordering some sandwiches for lunch when something hispanic heritageinteresting happened. The guy behind the counter was Latino, so as usual I put in my order in Spanish. I often prefer to speak to my “compadres” in my native language to make sure the message gets across properly, and to make sure that my sandwich is made exactly how I want it (BLT on whole wheat with sliced avocado). What happened instead was the gentleman behind the counter answered me in broken English.  My friend immediately turns to me and asks “why did he refuse to speak Spanish with you if he’s Latino?” The answer was complicated, but made sense to me.

You see, being Hispanic doesn’t put you in a category. It’s just a feeling of pride that can be shared from one Latino to a non-Latino easily.  In fact, since I moved from Venezuela to the United States, I’ve always felt that I had a connection to South America right here in the USA…even amongst my American friends. The Hispanic culture is so engrained in our society that quite often we can’t (and shouldn’t) differentiate between the two. Americans have embraced the culture through music, arts, language and of course, food. Speaking Spanish is not a prerequisite to being Hispanic.  I believe this is true of many cultures in the US, but Latinos most (thanks to the physical proximity).

Summer Is Almost Gone

 

By Chef George Duran

As much as I love the fall season (yeah, it’s my favorite season), I hate to see summer go. It’s that moment in 09_21_ImusaTomatoes_034August when you get this one odd cooler day to remind you that the Earth is still spinning around the sun (at least here in NYC) and the more colorful fruits and vegetables will begin to dwindle. What will I do without my bi-color corn? What will happen when I am in need of perfectly ripened tomatoes (I’m covered with the canned variety)? How will I grill summer squash with no summer squash?

Luckily, we’ve developed an amazing transportation system to import these goodies from all over the world that allows us to taste most produce all year long. But alas, it’s just not the same. When you frequent the farmer’s market like I do, you notice when produce is at its peak. Eating locally helps sustain the environment and it incentivizes smaller farmers to grow without pesticides and GMOs. As early humans, our bellies were always full in the warmer months, and hungry in the winter. It’s certainly not the direction I want to go, but it just makes sense. Imported pale tomatoes in the winter are flavorless compared to peak season bright heirlooms. So that’s where my summer gorging begins.

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