Ex- Chef(and still part time Line Cook) AMA

Hey Gang!

I'm an Ex- Chef (use to Chef-Manage two wine bars) and a current part-time line cook at one of the top restaurants in Central, Ohio I have had opportunities to work for Iron Chef Michael Symon at his flagship Restaurant Lola as well as with Jonathan Sawyer of The Greenhouse Tavern and Trentina, but have since stepped back to focus on my tech-career aspirations -- currently run a Computer/Tech Consultancy company, in its early stages.

All that to say, I'm willing to take questions you might have on food, kitchen, or the wine side of things.


Do you know how to make chocolate chip sriracha cookies?

I'm still waiting on a video from Qain. :(

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I was interested to see what @DeusQain would come up with!

I would say that if you take your typical preferred Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, and add a dash or two of cayenne pepper and about a tablespoon or two of Sriracha and up your flour amount by an 1/8 of a cup to compensate in your recipe for the extra "wet," you should be off.

I've done spicy chocolate cake and double chocolate, spicy cookies before. Delish.

GL/HF/Letsseetherecipe Qain.

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I want to know how to make amazing meals that would be priced a lot for less.

What food have you been put off eating from being a chef, if anything.

If you give me a specific protein, or food group you enjoy, we can work on that.

chicken or beef or even fish.


Put off from being a chef? I'm not sure there's anything in particular, though I stay very far away from any and all chain restaurants. Really, my wife and I try to steer clear of any chain restaurants when we go out with friends, and I stick to the local brewery for my drinks. Chain restaurants drive the market for poor quality, poor treated, poor cooked product.

I would also emphasize fresh food. I had Coho Salmon caught fresh on Tuesday, Tuesday AM from a great farmer... It was to die for, and I'm not even a huge salmon fan. Freshness really does impact quality.

I also check to make sure whatever fish I am eating is responsibly acquired... over-fishing is frustrating on a whole host of levels.

CT (this or Tacos? You choose!),

For Chicken,
Either go for the dark meat, or whole chicken. Learning to butcher a chicken is a great life skill, and also produces several meals, out of an oven-roasted or braised chicken. A lot of times those meats are priced drastically lower. My wife isn't a fan of quarters because they're too gamey and even legs can be gamey, but she never has a problem with thigh meat. Consider some simple marinades to elevate the flavor or fight the dark meat flavor, if you're not a fan. We made meals for 3 days on 5 dollars, with chicken thigh meat, today.

For Beef,
Look for the cheap cuts, and slow cook them. You can make some great fajitas, stews, or BBQ beef sandwiches with some of the cheapest cuts of beef. The cheaper meats are usually tough, but some marination and a good slow cook will do them a world of good. Some of my best stews and soups are made with cheap off-cuts.

For Fish,
The more processed the fish is, the more expensive it is. A lot of times local markets will sell skin-on or even whole fish, at a lower price per pound. If you've got a nice light fish like a trout or something, you can (and should) totally cook it skin on. If you don't want to pick bones out, or take scales off, then you're going to want to look at the seasonality of the various types of fish and start shopping after the first big hauls come in - it's supply and demand. If you're not against freezing some fish, they make for great stews later.

As always, beans, rice,pasta and vegetables help make things last and can bring a lot to a dish.
In a popular lunch dish, a butternut pasta with smoke sausage, we use a 20/80 rule, and it's never once been an issue - 20% protein, 80% veg and pasta. learning to think of meat as an accent rather than the full coarse helps save money, without sacrificing flavors and variety.

There's some general principles.

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As someone who just got out of the foodservice industry, one of my favorite perks was trying new foods that I otherwise wouldn't have tried or even known about.

Anything in particular that you're glad you got to try because of your work?
For me, it's these spicy shrimp empanadas we used to make.

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:/ your just telling me what I could do with my meats, not really explaining the steps in cooking such as; what ingredients to use, how long to leave it cooking, how to anything. I thought you would explain how to cook, like a cook book. I guess I'll just go grab fast food then.


Greetings Food Service vet!
Frankly my pallet was awful when I started and I had thought I hated most things. However, over time, I realized I just hated processed, mass produced, frozen leftovers. That being said, some of the best things I've tried, that I may not have otherwise gotten to try include:

Veal Sweetbreads.
Bone Marrow.
Calves Heart.
Foraged Mushrooms of All Kinds.

Those are things I may have otherwise tried, but I doubt it, had I not had to cook them and nail them hundreds of times over a week.

If you liked Spicy Empanadas, make your way to TJ, Mexico sometime and just surf the taco-joints. Mariscos is absolutely amazing and I don't know how they'll ever go out of business. It's my top seafood-mexican recommendation in the whole city.


I didn't know you wanted specifics. My beer is about gone and I have an early AM wake up. I can shoot you a message with a few of my favored recipes with an estimated price point, tomorrow if you'd like.
(At least get Chipotle, if you're going fast food.)

@CounterfeitTacos Have you seen Budget Bytes? A whole slew of different types of recipes with cost estimations to boot.

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^ Great resource, though the recipes may not always be bang-o-rang... We spend about a dollar or two per meal in our house and it's never poor quality. /Shrug

It's on my list, all my footage is in 4K and the laptop can't handle editing it.

When I move, I'll have a full video of the whole thing.


Is it okay to improvise with recipes? Example when I make mac and cheese: I use 1/2 cup milk, sharp cheddar, two eggs, and a tablespoon of ghost pepper hot sauce. The milk, two eggs, and ghost pepper hot sauce were not called for in the recipe but I thought one day, what if I improved this? It turned out great. However, I've been wondering if it's okay to do this.

Well, when you're cooking you're building flavors, and as long as the things which you bring together taste good together and don't have odd texture, you're good to go.

However, when you're baking, this is not the case. Baking is a measured science, so changing things willy-nilly can have horrible effects and even ruin a recipe. So when you're doing your sweet things, follow the recipe or learn what function each ingredient is playing in the recipe, so that IF you decide to tweek it you know how to counter balance the tweeks you make.

If you want to try another good rendition of mac n cheese, sub your liquid (post noodle boiling) with heavy cream. melt your cheese and mix in your hot sauce in the the heavy cream, bring it up to a boil and then let it simmer to reduce.

We use to do a big spicy mac and cheese family meal similar to what you're describing (but with fresh ingredients.)

also, bacon. bacon makes everything better... unless for whatever reason (moral/religious) you abstain, in that case, forget I said anything.

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I work 6 Days a week 8 Hours a Day.
Eating out is boring, annoying and expensive. Not to mention not healthy.
Do you have any recipe suggestions for take to work meals.

I may start a 3rd shift job and packing lunch is crucial to that or you are stuck with McDonald's dollar menu.

Do you have access to a microwave or oven to heat the food, or are we talking cold stable meals?