East meets West in our Client’s Kitchens! Pho sure!

 

 

Chef-Alison-Adair

Chef Alison Adair

 

Looking for a healthy, delicious, gluten-free recipe suitable for a cold day in Seattle? You have come to the right place! Welcome to Honest to Goodness Personal Chef Services where East meets West in the life of Chef Alison Adair.

 

 

 

 

 

The Inspiration

The vast geography of Vietnam surprises me every time I visit. In just a few hours, you can travel from a beautiful beach, to rolling hills, through thick jungles to gorgeous mountains and sand dunes. With the help from the EasyRider Tour Company, a Vietnamese local, and a Harley Davidson, I embarked on a four-day tour through Vietnam to learn about local culture and delicious food. Most of all, I fell in love with pho and fresh spring rolls!

 

 

The Menu

I utilized my experiences in Vietnam as inspiration and adapted those meals to fit the dietary needs of my Honest to Goodness personal chef clients. Both of these recipes bring a wealth of flavors and also nutrient-rich foods to your table.

 

 

Spring Rolls

  • First, dip the Brown Rice Wrappers into warm water for about ten seconds to get soft
  • Lay the wrapper flat, and in a row across the center place your filling leaving a little space uncovered on each side
  • Filling options: cooked shrimp cut in half, firm tofu, shredded red cabbage or carrots, avocado, cucumber, fresh Thai basil, cilantro, lettuce
  • Once you have filled the wrapper fold the uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper (basically like rolling a burrito)

Serve the rolls immediately with or without a sauce, or package in the refrigerator for later.  I like to dip my rolls in San-J Organic Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce. Of course, you could add more ingredients to the tamari, but why do that when the rolls are already filled with so much greatness?

 

Pho

What the Pho is Pho (pronounced “fuh”), you may be thinking? Pho is a healthy soup packed with fresh herbs and rice noodles. Traditional Pho is made from Vietnamese ingredients but with a French connection. Since great broth is key, Pho takes a very long time to make. However, I’ll share a short cut with you. You could call this Faux Pho if you like, although the taste is far from Faux!

When I want a quick, delicious, and comforting meal, I enjoy the taste of “HAPPY PHO”, Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Soup. The package contains the noodles and spice mix. I like to mix two of their flavors, zesty ginger and shiitake mushrooms, with Pacific Brand Beef Broth (they also make lovely vegetarian and chicken broths). First, boil the broth (substitute water if you don’t have broth) then add the spices. Next add fresh mushrooms and your choice of sliced beef or tofu. I like to use a filet mignon cut thinly because it is lean and oh-so-tender. Lastly, add the noodles and any fresh herbs you like such as basil, mint, or cilantro.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy a little taste of Southeast Asia in your Northwest kitchen! If you are still unsure of your cooking skills and want some hands-on instruction, contact me to teach a cooking class for you and some friends in the comfort of your own home!

 

IMG_20170110_120124 IMG_20170110_123743 Pho ready to eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you get a chance to enjoy a little taste of Southeast Asia in your Northwest kitchen! If you are still unsure of cooking skills and want some hands-on instruction, contact me to teach a cooking class for you and some friends in the comforts of your own home!

 

Tạm biệt! 

 

 


Posted in Guest Bloggers, Healthy Living, Recipes, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Ignite your Immune System by Firing up your Blender!

Winter Smoothies for your Health

 

Is your Immune System ready for a late-winter pick-me-up? Spring is coming soon, but the grey, drizzly days of February can be a bit daunting in the meantime. We suggest you bust out that blender to brighten your spirits! Try one of these delicious, energizing smoothies or tonics, packed with what our bodies crave this time of year!

 

This Immune Boosting Green Detox smoothie is 100% AIP/Paleo compliant and oh-so refreshing! Citrus Beet Energy Juice comes together in a juicer or your blender with beets and winter fruits for an afternoon boost of energy. The antioxidant mix in the Master Immunity Boosting Smoothie is also a powerful tool for cold and flu prevention. When you need something warm to hit that reset button, this quick Hot Detox Tonic is ready in no time with ingredients from your pantry!

 

Beat the winter blahs from the inside out!

 
winter smoothies

Immune Boosting Green Detox Smoothie

winter smoothies

Citrus Beet Energy Juice

winter smoothies

Master Immunity Boosting Smoothie

detox tonic

Hot Detox Tonic


Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes

Seasonings for the Season!

Sprucing up your Spice Collection in Preparation for Holiday Cooking 

 

Honest to Goodness Personal Chef Seattle Marie Tejidor

Greetings! Is your spice collection ready for Holiday Cooking this season?  I’m Chef Marie, and as the calendar transitions to fall and winter, I have some tips on starting your own indoor herb garden and the staple spices you need to have on-hand for upcoming holiday cooking. I used to grow all sorts of plants, vegetables, herbs and spices when I lived in San Diego, CA. My dog didn’t seem to care for them and left them alone. However, I have cats now and they love to eat everything alive in my house! Flowers in vases, my lucky miniature bamboo and yes, even my little containers of herbs. So, barring any greenery-munching pets, I hope these ideas inspire you to start your own fresh indoor herb garden.

 

indoor herbs spice collection

 

Start your own herbs plants from the roots of herbs you’ve used from previous cooking!
  • When using fresh chives, save the white part of the chives with its roots, place it in a container with 2 inches of water. In a few days they will be ready to plant in soil, starting your next crop.
  • Plant Parsley and Mint tops directly into the soil and will root pretty soon.
  • Have an abandoned garlic bulb showing a sprout of green on the top? Tuck it into some fresh soil!
  • Some herbs can be grown just in water instead of planting in soil – what a simple idea! A few examples of herbs to try are Mint, Oregano, Sage, Basil, Lemon Balm, Thyme, Tarragon and Rosemary. Take cuttings from these herbs and place them in fresh water. Some may take longer to root but just be patient!

Just remember to not over-water. Feel the soil before each watering, making sure the top 1 ½ to 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch. Make sure to fertilize your herbs every 6-8 weeks, for nice, lush plants, that will provide plenty of fresh leaves for your Holiday Meals, and beyond! If you don’t have a bright, sunny window for your indoor herb garden, you may need to substitute fluorescent lighting during our Seattle winter months.

 

spice collection

 

Fall is a great time to refresh your spice collection

 

I love to cook Asian and Latin Cuisines so I have lots of those spices in my pantry. Your spice collection will reflect the preferred flavors of your household. For your Holiday Cooking basics, start with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and cinnamon, making sure each is of the freshest and highest quality.

  • In culinary school, salt and pepper were the first seasonings we were presented. Not iodized salt or ground pepper, but kosher salt and peppercorns that we ground into our own fresh black pepper. As I continue to grow as a chef, I now use fine sea salt as it is more naturally processed than the kosher salt. I still grind my own black pepper as I find the taste is better when its freshly ground. Invest in a good pepper mill, and leave behind the pre-ground stuff! I just like to have the feel of the spice in my fingers to have better control of the level of seasonings in the food.
  • Oregano is a very versatile spice, found in Latin, Mediterranean and New American cooking and a cornerstone to every cook’s spice cupboard.
  • Don’t overlook the aromatics, Garlic and Onion powder. Their flavor uplifts your cooking both with taste and smells.
  • Cinnamon can be used for both savory and sweet cooking.

You can buy most spices either ground or dried. Ground spices lose their potency after 2-3 years, where dried spices last longer in your pantry, about 3-4 years. Despite these shelf-life times, we personally recommend cooking through your herbs and spices on a more frequent basis to maintain their optimal freshness. Keep them in a dry, non humid area, and go through them from time to time, discarding older jars to replace with new.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this guest post. What are your favorite herbs and spices to cook with?

 

 


Posted in Holidays, Kitchen Organization and tagged , , ,

Choco-Chia-Berry Protein Smoothie

 

Whether you want a breakfast on-the-go, midday meal replacement, or post-workout snack, blending up a protein smoothie is a great way to keep energized, well-nourished and happy! If you are in a bit of a flavor rut, give this one a try. You’ll get a protein and fiber boost to help keep you fuller longer. The extra boost of anti-oxidants and Omega-3s combined with the flavorful sugar-free preserves is a tasty way to support your overall health goals.

 

This quick and tasty smoothie is the last of a 3 part series of recipes created using delicious, gourmet products from Nature’s Hollow. These jams and sauces are made with Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is ideal for diabetics or anyone concerned about their sugar intake. Let us know what you think!

choc smoothie

 

Choco-Chia-Berry Protein Smoothie
*low-sugar, low-carb, low-sodium, gluten-free, dairy-free option, soy-free option
Yields: 2 servings

 

Ingredients
2 cups unsweetened milk of choice (cow, almond, soy)
2 scoops low-sugar chocolate protein powder of choice (we used Vega Protein & Greens Chocolate Flavor)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
4 Tbsp Nature’s Hollow Mountain Berry Sugar-Free Jam Preserves

 

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes.

 

Enjoy!

 

 


Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes and tagged , , , , , ,

 

Raspberry Coconut Cake Donut Holes or Muffins

 

Satisfying a sweet-tooth while staying within dietary restrictions is an important hurdle to overcome in order to make life-long healthy food choices. For this blog post, I would like to share part 2 of a 3 part series of recipes created using delicious, gourmet products from Nature’s Hollow. These jams and sauces are made with Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is ideal for diabetics or any one concerned about their sugar intake. I have incorporated ingredients that are supportive of almost any dietary guideline. For those of you with a gluten-free lifestyle, these coconut cake donut holes are thoughtfully designed just for you!

 

 

Raspberry Coconut Cake Donut Holes or Muffins
*low-sugar, low-carb, low-sodium, gluten-free, dairy-free option, soy-free
Yields: 24 servings

 

Ingredients
¼ cup butter of choice, melted
¼ cup sunflower, grapeseed, or softened coconut oil
½ cup coconut sugar (or ¼ cup coconut sugar + 2 Tbsp Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Honey )
2 whole eggs (or chia/flax eggs made with 2 Tbsp chia seeds/golden flaxmeal + 6 Tbsp water)
2 tsp baking powder
raspberry preserves coconut cake donut hole½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla or coconut extract
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cups coconut flour
2-2 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk (coconut flour absorbs more liquid than wheat flour)
1 jar Nature’s Hollow Raspberry Sugar-Free Jam Preserves (or other jam of choice)

 

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a donut hole pan or mini muffin pan.

 

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla/coconut extract.

 

Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the almond milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

 

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. If using a donut hole pan, make small rounded balls of dough to place in each hole cup.

 

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center holes/muffins comes out clean.

 

Remove from the oven and set pan on a rack to cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove donuts from pan to cooling rack.

 

Once donut holes/muffins have completely cooled, use a turkey baster to squirt in a small dollop of raspberry preserves for a filled cake donut treat!

 

Healthy living — how sweet it is!

 

 


Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes and tagged , , , ,

Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce

 

Sweet, sticky, slightly Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce brushed over grilled-to-perfection chicken pieces or falling-off-the-bone ribs is a cornerstone of the summertime meal plan. For this blog post, I would like to share part 1 of a 3 part series of recipes created using delicious, gourmet products from Nature’s Hollow.  These jams and sauces are made with Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is ideal for diabetics or any one concerned about their sugar intake.  Enjoy your end of summer grilling without compromising your health goals!

 

chicken_barbecue_sauce

Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce
*sugar-free, low-carb, low-sodium, gluten-free option, dairy-free, soy-free option
Yields: 6-8 servings

 

Ingredients
½ cup Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Ketchup
1 jar Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Apricot Jam Preserves
1 cup V8® Low-Sodium Vegetable Juice or V8® V-Fusion Light Peach-Mango
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Coconut Aminos, Gluten-Free Tamari, or Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Nature’s Hollow Maple Sugar-Free Syrup
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (add more based on spice preference)
1 Tbsp smoked paprika, dulce or picante
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp celery seed
1 pinch ground cloves

 
Directions
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-60 minutes (go with the longer timeframe if you want a thicker sauce versus a marinade).

 

Cool and store in refrigerator up to 1 month.

 

 


Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , ,

Recipe of the Month

by: Laura Taylor, CPC

 

I love summer in Seattle, don’t you? Even if you don’t live in Seattle, you might still love a refreshing drink to boost your energy during the midday heat.

 

After a fun session yesterday cleaning out one of my client’s pantries to make it more Paleo-friendly, I felt inspired to concoct a creamy Paleo smoothie with a protein boost to restore my energy.  If you are not a huge fan of avocados, don’t worry. This coconut avocado smoothie hides the avocado among other delicious flavors. You could even add a touch of kale or spinach to woo your inner Shrek! My afternoon refreshment was a satisfying way to refuel and tide me over until dinnertime. I just felt better with each sip, like my insides were being nourished. The leftovers became a great Paleo breakfast the next morning too! This smoothie recipe is very simple, quick, and easy to make.

 

Laura’s Coco-cado Paleo Smoothie

Yields: (3-4) 8 ounce portions

 

paleo smoothie coconut avocadoIngredients

1 large ripe California avocado

1 can Trader Joe’s reduced-fat coconut milk

1 cup cold unsweetened almond milk (use more for a thinner drink consistency)

1 scoop protein powder (i.e. PaleoPro)

2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice

1 cup green grapes*

2 Tbsp vanilla extract

15 drops liquid Stevia

 

 

 

Directions

Slice open the avocado and scoop flesh out into your blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Add additional vanilla extract and liquid Stevia to taste.

 

Drink what you want and save the remainder for the upcoming days.

 

Cheers to your health!

 

*Due to the high natural sugar content in grapes, you may choose to eliminate the grapes in lieu of more liquid stevia. Fresh ripe pears and apricots are lower-sugar fruit alternatives that will taste just as great.

 


Posted in Healthy Living and tagged , , , ,

In this blog post, I aim to share with you a little bit about my creative process for a recent dessert inspiration. My partner and I were out to dinner last weekend at an Indian restaurant in Seattle that we hadn’t tried before. The food and atmosphere were great! Too bad I walked away without my leftovers in hand that I intended to savor for lunch the following day.

But that’s beside the point. At the end of the meal, the server attempted to satisfy our sweet tooth with the dessert menu. My partner has been craving tiramisu a lot lately, which happens to be one of my signature desserts. The odds of finding this classic Italian dessert in an Indian restaurant were slim to none. Sure, we could have left the restaurant and sought dessert in an Italian restaurant nearby. I often feel disappointed with restaurant tiramisu, so that creative lightbulb went off in my mind. Wouldn’t it be interesting to make an Italian-Indian fusion version of tiramisu?

Quick! What are classic Indian flavors for sweets and desserts? My mind ran through a selection of ginger, cinnamon, mango, rosewater (wait, that’s leaning more toward Persian cuisine), almonds, saffron, coconut, pistachio, cardamom, and raisins. I envisioned the pack of ladyfingers already in my pantry, the lady in waiting to be transformed into an elegant, exotic dessert. There was also a box of Tazo Chai Latte that would be a perfect substitute for the espresso or coffee in which ladyfingers are typically soaked. All that remained were a couple other key ingredients to pull off this dessert inspiration.

After we left the dinner table, I told my partner I had a plan. We walked to the Safeway around the corner where I purchased mascarpone cheese and fresh, ripe mangoes. The booze aisle proved a little perplexing as I wanted something clever to blend with the coffee for soaking the ladyfingers. Lo and behold, and luckily on the clearance rack, there was a bottle of caramel whiskey marked at 50% off. Perfect!!

Mango Tiramisu The Dinner Whisperer

We got home, where I set right away to peeling and pureeing the cut mangoes in my blender. I wanted a super-smooth consistency. Once the mangoes were sufficiently smooth, I added in the mascarpone cheese along with a dose of powdered ginger, a good splash of Madagascar vanilla, and raw agave syrup to taste. This I continued to blend until achieving a silken creaminess with a sweet tang. Since the color of the mango was diffused by the creamy mascarpone, I made a quick infusion of saffron with a splash of warm water and let that rest for a few minutes. This greatly enhanced the dessert filling’s color in a natural way using ingredients still true to Indian cuisine.

In a separate bowl, I poured an equal mix of chai and caramel whiskey in which I dunked the ladyfingers to absorb. The process for making tiramisu is a relatively simple one. In the bottom of a casserole dish, I placed a single layer of boozy-chai ladyfingers. Top that with a heaping scoop of the mango-mascarpone then smooth the cream out into a full layer. Next comes a sifting of high-quality cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti) over the entire dessert. Repeat the process for another two or three complete layers of ladyfingers, mascarpone, and cocoa powder, with the cocoa powder serving as the final layer/garnish of your completed dessert.

Voila! I now present to you The Dinner (and Dessert) Whisperer’s MANGO-MISU!!

Mango Tiramisu dessert The Dinner Whisperer Chef Laura Taylor

 

 


Posted in Recipes and tagged , , ,

Trinidad and Tobago (aka T&T) proved to be another kind of T&T, trials and tribulations, when it came to eating out. I vacationed there with my boyfriend in January 2015 for 10 days. We endured a lot of challenges from the start of the trip until nearly the end of the trip. All of these challenges chalked up to an interesting vacation experience overall that has given us laughs and certainly a lot of unique memories to share.

Why did you choose Trinidad and Tobago? you might be asking. For starts, anyone who has wintered in Seattle understands why residents want to escape to a warm, sunny destination between the months of November through March. I had been to several islands in the Caribbean already and sought a new experience instead of repeating a former destination. When I was research vacation options, a Hotwire travel package for our airfare and hotel nights proved a cost-effective incentive to check out the southern-most island of the Lesser Antilles.

We arrived in the capitol city of Port-of-Spain on the island of Trinidad on New Year’s Eve, just in time to enjoy a night of celebration and ring in the New Year 2015 in a country other than the United States. Trinidad & Tobago are not heavily touristed islands in general, so we enjoyed the fact that we would not have to deal with crowds much and could also get as local an experience as possible. Did we ever!

Due to the holiday season for both Christmas and New Year’s, most everything on the island was shut-down in the way of restaurants, retail stores, and other local businesses for pretty much the first half of our vacation. Breakfast was included at our hotel but we struggled to find local food for lunch and dinner the first several days. I recall a depressing night in a sad Asian cafe with very lackluster Beef and Broccoli. Asking the hotel staff for recommendations yielded their suggestions for a steakhouse and an Italian restaurant. We get that food in America, we want local! We’ve read about roti and doubles and curries and callaloo and pelau. Where is it?

 

Trinidad Doubles Chef Laura The Dinner WhispererThe first full work-week starting January 5th arrived along with business doors re-opening. Local villages around the island regained their hustle and bustle as a flurry of residents chatted with friends and queued up at street food vendors. One of our taxi drivers, Prince, took us through the town of Arima where we were christened with our first doubles. We didn’t quite know what to expect, other than the smells wafting from the canopied vendor guaranteed Trinidad Mitch Doubles Chef Laura The Dinner Whispererdeliciousness. Doubles consists of sandwiches (more taco-like) made of fried flat bread filled with a creamy, curried channa (chickpea) mixture to which you can add mango, coconut, chadon beni (like a cilantro sauce), or a pepper sauce. Of course there were varying levels of pepper sauce. One order of doubles includes 2 sandwiches, hence the name. You might think one is for yourself and one is for sharing, but your first bite will make you want to eat both sandwiches yourself! I think we ate doubles on at least 4 total occasions that week, including as a late-night snack when we saw a local guy set up an impromptu doubles cart on a side street corner downtown. Even a passing rain shower didn’t stop anyone! Mitch popped open an umbrella over his cart to protect his food, we huddled under a tree, and waited a couple minutes to resume the line for Trinidad comfort food.

Bake and Shark Chef Laura The Dinner WhispererOther street food highlights during that last week of our stay included “Bake and Shark” at the popular-with-locals Maracas Beach. Bake and Shark is a fried piece of bread (the Bake) with fried shark (the Shark) as your sandwich filling. Before frying, the shark is marinated in lemon, onion, garlic, and pepper. You have the option to enhance your sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onions, and various pepper sauces from the nearby communal condiment counter. As pictured, to my meal I added sliced cucumbers on the side as well as marinated tamarind pods. Pop open a Stag Lager, listen to the crashing waves nearby, and life is good!

Speaking of crashing waves, I’ll never forget the first time I was truly sea-sick. I consider myself to have good sea legs and not be prone to nausea since I’ve cruised on so many occasions over the years. Cruising on a major ocean-liner vessel and sailing on a local ferry across open waters from island-to-island are very different situations though. The waters between Trinidad and Tobago were especially choppy on the particular day that we chose to sail for an overnight getaway. We knew it was bad when the ferry workers, accustomed to making this trip regularly, were sitting down and held plastic bags nearby. The typical 3-hour crossing north took nearly 5 hours that day, complete with heaving and side-to-side lurches of the boat that made many lose their lunch.

Our time in Tobago was spent circumnavigating the island, chasing one beautiful beach after another. Tobago is definitely the better location for beaches than the neighboring Trinidad. At one of the most famous beaches, Englishman’s Bay, we enjoyed our first “Buss Up Shut.” This is a particular type of roti meal (paratha roti) that came with a freshly-grill piece of swordfish, curried chickpeas and poatoes, creamed spinach, and shredded dough-y bread. The shredded bread is what gives this meal its “slang name” of Buss Up Shut. That’s basically pigeon-speak referencing a torn, busted-up shirt.

Eulas Englishmans Bay Tobago The Dinner Whisperer Travel Chef

Trinis know how to “lime” (relax) with refreshing beverages. In fact, Angostura Bitters is from Trinidad! I had heard of and used Angostura Bitters Chef Laura The Dinner Whispererbitters before, but didn’t know the House of Angostura factory was located in Laventille, just east of the capitol city. We signed up for the factory tour, which took the better part of a half-day and concluded, not surprisingly, in a tasting room with dozens of rums to sample. Oh happy day on a tropical island! For a non-alcoholic option, we kicked back on our hotel patio with a LLB Lime Like a Boss Chef Laura The Dinner Whisperercold, refreshing LLB. “Lime Like a Boss!” This drink is made with lemonade (or a sparkling lemonade), lime cordial, and bitters. Of course, it doesn’t take too long before you enhance your drink with the primo rum you just purchased.

 

The restaurant-scene in Port-of-Spain redeemed itself when we were able to get into Chaud Cafe and the delightful Veni Mangé on the final nights before our vacation ended. Veni Mangé’s owner, Rosemary, was a gem! She welcomed us warmly and, upon hearing of my personal chef business in Seattle, fed us like family with a selection of classic West Indian dishes enhanced with Caribbean flair.

Veni Mange Trinidad The Dinner Whisperer Travel ChefJust like the restaurant’s name, the island nation Trinidad & Tobago encourages travelers to “come and eat”. A vibrant culinary culture will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

Luckily, in Seattle, we have since scouted out Pam’s Kitchen, the one and only Trini restaurant in our city that satisfies our appetite for an exotic taste of the tropics.


Posted in Travel and tagged , , , , ,

The Dinner Whisperer Chef Bus Experience Park Tours

Little did I know that my first adventure as The Dinner Whisperer would entail months of planning and preparation for a 7-day luxury motorcoach tour through Yellowstone National Park and The Grand Tetons. Both are destinations where I had been before, but only for one too-rushed day while on a roadtrip from Chicago to Seattle back in 2013. I felt competent and confident in my abilities to produce food successfully for our tour guests given a glamping experience in June 2015 on top of all my other event planning opportunities. My personal chef team in Seattle had proven their abilities to maintain their workload and handle incoming business without my constant supervision, so I agreed to take on the venture as the Hospitality Chef for a luxury tourism company.

Cooking on a moving bus has its ups and downs. And side to sides. I quickly learned and managed to control that queasy feeling in my stomach as I worked in a galley kitchen on a touring bus that navigated the twists and turns of the wild west. Each day’s menu included a variety of breakfast items, morning and afternoon snacks, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Thank goodness there were opportunities for guests to enjoy dining in a local restaurant along the way for lunch or dinner. That gave me a brief break to focus on plans for the next mealtime. Most of the day’s meals were thoughtfully-designed to incorporate local and seasonal ingredients. Being a wordsmith, I also had fun making specialty items like “Buffalo Bill Coyo-tea” and “Gin and Te-tonics”.

I planned menu items that could be served cold or room temperature and saved the hot meals for grilling outside or cooking on the bus using electric appliances like a crockpot, waffle irons, and an electric skillet. (For the record, I don’t recommend cooking bacon in enclosed spaces while you feel motion sickness). Storage space on the bus was at a premium, meaning we took only what we needed for ingredients and supplies, and shopped along the way for fresh meats and produce items. Luckily we had 2 small refrigerators in the main bus cabin, however we chose not to run the generators at night (noise ordinances) which meant the perishable food needed to be transferred to our hotel room fridges each night and reloaded in the morning. All of these are important logistics to be mindful of should any of you have the opportunity to cook in a moving vehicle.

Somehow I managed not to chop a finger off as I wielded a sharp chef’s knife en route. My body was not spared bruising, however, as I bounced from front of the bus to back of the bus like a pingpong ball at times while serving our guests. It’s all part of the adventure to gain your “sea legs” quickly enough and place that checkmark next to another accomplishment.

The guests on our tour were absolutely fabulous. They arrived as 5 couples from 4 different states and departed as 10 best friends sharing hugs, email addresses, and promises to travel together again soon. As for me, I’m already looking ahead to a 10-day tour through the Canadian Rockies in July 2016 with some ideas for how to improve my “cooking on a bus” skills.


Posted in Travel and tagged , ,