What our guests say about their KITCHEN experience

DINNER PARTY 013

I love what I do, and there’s nothing more rewarding than watching people leave KITCHEN with smiles on their faces and their bellies happy and full.

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But admittedly, I also love getting feedback from people after their experience. Gratefully, it’s overwhelmingly positive.

I could write at length about how fabulous I think our parties and cooking classes are, but I thought it would be better if you heard directly from some of the past guests in my KITCHEN. Here’s a few of their testimonials on what it is like to have a party at KITCHEN:

 

Well it’s 3:15 p.m. and we’re still full!  That is the sign of a fantastic meal.  We want to thank you so much for another amazing evening at “Kitchen by Brad”.  We are running out of ways to compliment your food. It would really be ideal if you could somehow be in each of the vehicles on the drive home as everyone describes their favourite dishes and the overall impressions of the evening.  Suffice it to say, the raves continue and we truly cannot believe how inventive, creative and delicious every single offering is year after year. 

I know that you feel so strongly about the importance of food and friendship and the ability of both to lead to that great evening filled with special memories.  All we can say is mission accomplished! Thanks so much Brad for sharing your talent and time with us again!

Kathy and Damien

 

I just wanted to thank you for an exceptional dinner last night.  It’s a great location and I really appreciate all of the work that you did in putting together an absolutely amazing meal.

 Susan

 

Thank you, Brad. It was a terrific experience and our Travel Alberta team were blown away. Honestly, we continue to be blown away each time we visit you. You, sir, are an easy experience to sell!

Brent
Edmonton Tourism

 

As I was describing the meal to my husband (he enjoyed spaghetti with the kids last night while I was at KITCHEN), I found myself repeatedly saying ‘it was so amazing’, and indeed it was. Thank you for a wonderful evening!

Camille

 

Thanks again for the amazing dinner on Saturday. Everyone had a great time and loved your food. It was truly a unique experience. Just wondering if you are able to provide me with the recipes for the dishes you made. I’ve been getting requests from the guests.

Chelsea

 

Thanks again for the wonderful meal, wine and service last night.  The evening is very special. Is it possible for me to obtain the recipe for the Korean duck?  I thought the flavours were outstanding.

Arthur 

 

Thanks again for such a wonderful evening on Saturday. Everyone had such an amazing time and Chelsea said it was the best birthday she ever had!

Amy

 

Brad, just wanted to say thanks again for hosting the event the other night.  You gave me a dessert to go, which was a big hit for my wife later that night!

Larry

 

Wow!  You made me look GOOD to our guests! Thank you so much for the wonderful evening. We have rave reviews all around. 

Cindy

 

I wanted to send you an email to thank you so much for everything last night.  Everyone really enjoyed themselves and everyone thought the food was fantastic!

Kathy 

My new “prep” cook

Rational oven at Kitchen web

Whether you are a home cook or a professional chef, it takes time to prepare a meal or more complicated recipe.

Doing most of my own “prep” work over the past year has led to some pretty long days at KITCHEN. To help carry some of the load, I got a “prep” cook. But I didn’t hire an employee. Instead, I bought a new oven.

My new oven is called a RATIONAL and it is made in Germany. This country has always been known for its automotive engineering, and I believe they should add kitchen equipment to their “famous for” list.

This new oven does so much work for me at KITCHEN it’s like having another set of hands. The oven is about the size of a small front load washing machine, and it’s hooked up to my water line allowing me to program the oven to generate steam for moist cooking applications.

Where I once had to stand over a hot cook top to brown pieces of beef for a beef stew, now I simply toss the beef with seasonings and oil, place in the oven, insert the probe and leave the rest to RATIONAL. The oven tells me how long to cook, when to add liquid, keeps a constant temperature so the meat doesn’t overcook and get tough, and of course, buzzes when everything is done. This is just one of a thousand applications. As a example, I can make bacon on two baking sheets and my RATIONAL cooks it to perfect crispness in 9 minutes with no grease, no mess and no fuss.

And here is the best part – when the oven get dirty, you simple add tablets like you would to a dishwasher, hit a few buttons and the oven washes itself sparkling clean in only 2 hours!

I can use my oven for canning, as a pressure cooker, to slow cook over night, make stock, cook pasta, steam vegetables and grill steaks. Truthfully, it is so much more than an oven. The possibilities are endless.

My family laughs at me when I talk about my new kitchen toy. It’s like the cooking version of an iPhone or iPad because it is that much fun. But my RATIONAL is more than just a nice to have kitchen gadget. As a research and product development chef for food service, I have to create dishes and menus that match what manufacturers or large food service providers would have in their own kitchens. The RATIONAL is an example of the new equipment they are purchasing as the oven maximizes yields, eliminate mistakes, provides consistency and most importantly, helps to make food taste better.

Because even the best cooks and chefs among us can use a little help from time to time.

KITCHEN products sale! Just in time for your Easter dinner

Brads product web shot

We are having another 2-day sale of KITCHEN food products – all of the things you need to make your Easter entertaining easier.

You can buy all of our signature products at KITCHEN on: THURSDAY MARCH 28, from 11am – 6pm, and SATURDAY MARCH 30 10am – 6pm. 

Our KITCHEN food products save you time and effort as they take the work out of some of the dishes on your Easter menu. These tasty items also make great hostess gifts:

  • Bacon Jam – transforms into many quick and easy appetizers, and it is spectacular on grilled cheese. Here are a few more ideas on how Bacon Jam can make your entertaining simple. $9.49 for 125ml jar
  • Saskatoon Compote – braised Saskatoons with honey, lemon & a touch of cinnamon. Great on ice cream or take Easter cakes to another level. $7.50 for 250ml jar
  • Hot Fudge Sauce – some say this is the best hot fudge sauce ever. All I know is that it is good on everything from ice cream to brownies. $7.50 for 250ml jar
  • Pomegranate Dressing – Not only is this great on salads, but it awesome on roasted lamb or as a glaze for your Easter ham. $7.50
  • BBQ Rub – this rub works with pretty much any meat. Chicken, beef, pork, shrimp. Keep your protein moist and juicy while adding just a hint of spice. $7.50 for 250ml jar
  • Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce – this rich, flavourful sauce is great mixed with pasta, or on chicken, fish, potatoes or perogies. $10.00 for 250ml jar

Supplies are limited so get here early!

While shopping for KITCHEN products, you can also stock up on some other great, local products. We will also have for sale: Newget, Bryanne’s Hunny (100% Alberta honey), DeFazio Biscotti, and cookies from The Art of Cake.

KITCHEN is located at: #101, 10130 – 105 Street, Edmonton, Alberta

If you want more details, would like to reserve your order, or need directions, give Brad a call at 780-757-7704.

Happy Easter! See you soon in our KITCHEN.

My thoughts on food trends

read ingredient label

There’s always something new and exciting in food. But is it any of it any good? Are these new products and approaches to food here for awhile, or are they a flash in the pan? And how do you distinguish between something that is built to last, or will be gone by next season?

Food trends are a big part of my business as a chef and particularly as a research chef. Companies hire me to help them develop their next “big” food product. As a result, I spend a lot of time in grocery stores and restaurants, watching people make food choices, and so I can check out different food products and concepts.

A few of the things I have noticed or have learned in my trend watching and travels:

- On average, families have an average of 28 minutes to get dinner on the table for the entire family, which is not a long time. Even though the time crunch is on, expectations are high. Families want well balanced meals that taste great and deliver value. The definition of value can change depending on the day of the week; cheap and cheerful on weekdays, a willingness to “treat” yourself on a Friday, and more savory, time intensive cooking on the weekend. This reality influences the recipes and food products I create for my clients.

- Most people like to cook, but what they don’t like is: the prep work, handling raw chicken, chopping garlic. Everyone just wants to cook like Gordon Ramsey. Make it look and feel easy, with minimal effort.

- For most people, cooking is treated as a hobby more than a life skill. Because of this, it’s important to find ways to make food and cooking fun.

- People are reading labels more, reviewing the ingredients that go into what they eat.

- The big growth in processed food products will be in the premium and discount categories.

- There will be more and new uses for iconic products. For example, crackers are becoming coatings and toppings.

- Heritage chicken is making more of a presence in markets, stores and on dinner tables.

- People are looking for smaller portions so they can try a wider variety of foods in one sitting, instead of filling up on the 12 oz steak.

I spend a lot of time in the grocery store or in restaurants watching how people interact with and experience food. When I was a kid growing up, McDonalds, A&W and Harvey’s were all considered “treats”, not a substitute for a home cooked meal. Whereas today, a fast food meal often fills in for what could have been prepared at home. I don’t say that as a criticism, but as an observation about how we view family meal times.

I also go to four to six food shows/conference a year; from the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, to the annual Research Chefs Conference held in different parts of the US. These are places where I get to see the products that are going to make it on the shelves in the near future. It’s a heads up on what’s next.

I am very fortunate at KITCHEN because my clients and guests let me try new things with the food I cook for them. I like to think outside the box, cooking just beyond the perimeter of where most people think about, prepare and cook food. At all times, I focus on making food approachable while still giving it a funky “Brad” twist. For example, I just came back from the Research Chefs Conference in North Carolina. My travels and dining out there inspired me to play around with different Southern flavors. As a result, I created my own version of a dipping sauce I had at a Carolina restaurant one night. The end result was unveiled last Friday at a KITCHEN Party. I can confidently say my new “Devils Butter” was a hit.

Whatever the trend or product, I encourage you to experiment and see how new ideas, ingredients, flavours or approaches to food can inspire you to cook more and taste new things. At the very least, it will create great conversations points around your dinner table.

 

Host your breakfast or lunch meeting at KITCHEN

KITCHEN boardroom table

Meetings have a bad reputation. But we’re giving them an image make-over now that you can host your business meeting in our KITCHEN.

I know from experience that it can be hard to find a convenient, central location to hold a breakfast or lunch meeting. Add in that you require privacy, and it becomes even more difficult. That’s why it made sense to have KITCHEN play host to breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings. We have a private, boardroom-style table (as you can see in the photo above) that’s perfect for meetings, retreats and planning sessions for up to 12 people.

Plan your meeting, invite your colleagues or guests, and we take care of the rest!

If it’s an early morning meeting, we can prepare a breakfast of waffles, sausages and maple syrup. Or we can go European and lay out an assortment of cold meats, cheese and fresh baking.

If it’s a midday meeting, we can prepare a lunch of chicken pot pie with our famous KITCHEN sink salad and olive oil bread. Or perhaps our take on beef bourguignon might be more your style.

We also create mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks to fuel smart thinking all day long.

All of our food is made from scratch, on site, using local ingredients wherever possible.

The best part about holding your meeting at KITCHEN is that we throw in all the little extras. Every time you book a meeting it includes complimentary coffee, tea, sparkling water, wifi, a large screen TV, and flip chart and markers.

Pricing depends on your menu and of course, the number of people participating in your meeting. Contact us to discuss your needs and we can provide you with menu options and more details.

 

 

 

I’d rather be a “cook”

Kitchen_By_Brad_Smoliak_dinner_party

It is true. I’d rather be called a cook than a chef.

I had the honour of recently being profiled in NAIT‘s Techlife magazine. One of my good friends and favourite authors, Jennifer Cockrall-King, wrote the article and I thought the photo from Blaise van Malsen turned out pretty good too. Read the article and let me know what you think.

But what I liked most about this feature story is that it highlighted my philosophy on food and cooking. I believe food should be tasty to eat AND fun to prepare. I enjoy spending the time creating new dishes and coming up with recipes. The article mentions how I commented that many chefs get caught up in the business of running their restaurant, managing staff and minding the bottom line. These are all important responsibilities, but they take away from being able to love and create food.

No matter where KITCHEN and my career takes me, I always want to have the the time and freedom to love food. If that makes me a cook, so be it!

Holiday gift giving & entertaining made simple

Brads product web shot

Many of KITCHEN’s signature products are perfect for your holiday entertaining or gift giving:

  • Bacon Jam – a perfect stocking stuffer for the men on your Christmas list. And, it transforms into many quick and easy appetizers for that upcoming holiday party. Here are a few more ideas on how Bacon Jam can make your holiday entertaining and cooking simple. $9.49 for a 125ml jar
  • Espresso Caramel – a buttery caramel sauce with a subtle coffee flavour that takes ice cream or cake to another level. $7.50 for a 250ml jar
  • Hot Fudge Sauce – some say this is the best hot fudge sauce ever. All I know is that it is damn good on everything from ice cream to brownies, and when paired with the espresso caramel it makes for a perfect gift for the dessert lovers on your naughty and nice lists. $7.50 for a 250ml jar
  • BBQ Rub – this rub works with pretty much any meat. Chicken, beef, pork, shrimp. Keep your protein moist and juicy while adding just a hint of spice. $7.50 for a 250ml jar
  • Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce – this rich, flavourful sauce is great mixed with pasta, or on chicken, fish, potatoes or perogies. $7.50 for a 250ml jar

Buy these products at KITCHEN for three days from Wednesday, December 19 to Friday, December 21 from 11am to 7pm. Drop by for a sample, purchase your gifts from KITCHEN (stock is limited!), and check off tasks on your holiday entertaining list and gifts from your shopping list.

You can also stock up on two other great, local products while you are here – Newget and Mojo’s Pickles are also available for purchase.

KITCHEN is located at: #101, 10130 – 105 Street, Edmonton, Alberta

If you want more details, or need directions, give me a call at 780-757-7704.

Happy Holidays! See you soon in the KITCHEN.

Bacon Jam!

BACON BY BRAD web

Imagine. Sweet and salty with just a touch of smoky heat, married between two pieces of fresh bread with gooey, melted gouda cheese nestled in between.

Or how about the best ever meatloaf, made simply by adding in a little bacony goodness.

Or, amp’ing up that left over tomato sauce and cheese ravioli or gnocchi. Yummm…..are you getting the idea?

The key to these food dreams is my new Bacon Jam.  Anywhere you use bacon, you can use bacon jam instead. It is easy to spread and goes with pretty much anything. As mentioned, it is perfect in grilled cheese sandwiches, stuffed little potatoes, pasta sauces, on a BBQ’d burger, with meatloaf, as a pizza topping and more. It also makes for a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer.

Now, technically I am not allowed to call it as jam as according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), jam must contain at least 52% fruit. And thankfully in this case, there’s no fruit. Bacon, bacon and more bacon.

You can pick up your Bacon Jam at Metro Edmonton Save-On-Foods stores in the deli section. We will be gathering customer feedback and watching how it sells over the holiday season.

This was a great opportunity for me because I love bacon, as many of you know, and it was the chance to show friends and clients what I do as a research chef. This was a product that I developed and featured in many of my menus over the last couple of years and I always got great response. So, I finally decided to take it to the next level. I’ve partnered with Save-On-Foods as they are a grocery retailers dedicated to featuring more local products.  Bacon by Brad can be found in the deli section and is only in Edmonton and area stores for a limited time.

Get your Bacon Jam, whip up that grilled cheese and let me know what you think.

2012 London Summer Olympics: Here I come!

In a few days time, I’m off to the 2012 London Summer Olympics. I am representing our great province, not as an athlete, but as Alberta’s head culinary representative at many of the events our province is hosting during the Games.

I had the good fortune to have a similar role at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. I remember saying the Vancouver Olympics were a once in a lifetime experience. And now here I am, about to relive that experience again. I always love the opportunity to promote and work with Alberta-based ingredients, but to be able to do that again at the Summer Olympics makes me feel pretty damn lucky.

I will be preparing menus, managing the kitchens and presenting Alberta food products at our province’s turn at Canada House, as well as at large receptions at the Alberta High Commissioner’s Residence and at the Charring Crossing Hotel. It’s going to be a whirlwind experience and I can’t wait to bring Alberta’s food to the Olympic stage.

I will be tweeting from London, so if you aren’t already following me on Twitter, you can find me at @bradsmoliak. I’ll be taking behind the scenes photos and keeping notes, so stay tuned after the Games for a few blog posts about the experience.

What’s it like to have a KITCHEN Party?

Guest post by Jennifer Fisk

In one word…fantastic. In more detail…well, I could go on and on.

We recently booked a KITCHEN Party for 9 friends and family for my mom’s birthday. No one really knew what to expect, other than we knew we would eat well having tasted Brad’s cooking before.

What we experienced was honestly one of the best Edmonton food experiences we’ve had in a long time. My mom worked with Brad in the days preceding the party to develop the menu. She settled on a Pan-Asian theme, since no one in our family is very good at making Asian food and we’d all have something to learn. She told Brad she would love to know how to make Butter Chicken and Lemongrass Beef, but left the rest of the menu up to him.

After we arrived at KITCHEN and enjoyed a fabulous glass of prosecco, we spent the next 3 hours sitting around Brad’s cooking bar, watching him prepare everything from Cast Iron Scallops with Thai Basil Sauce to Braised Korean Boneless Short Ribs (which were to die for). He prepared each dish right before our eyes and always explained the ingredients he was adding and what he was doing. What was most helpful was that he explained the WHY, so that we could understand the reason behind different cooking techniques, ingredients and choices. Even the most experienced cooks in our group walked away with cooking and ingredient tips we have since used in our own kitchens. Tips like:

  • Cooking your raw chicken in the curry sauce, rather than cooking the chicken separately and then adding it to the sauce (the chicken takes on more flavour when you cook it in the sauce).
  • How to look for the butter or oil to bleed through to the top of your butter chicken sauce (or any tomato sauce, for that matter) as a sign that the flavours are well blended.
  • The always important reminder to use kosher salt in your cooking, leaving regular old table salt only for taking out red wine stains in carpets or clothes.

In addition to eating everything Brad made, which we shared family-style after he prepared each dish, we got to take the recipes home, which were printed and waiting for us when arrived, allowing us to make notes as we went along.

The entire evening was like an episode on the Food Network, produced just for us.

KITCHEN is an inviting, intimate location for a party and gathering of close family and friends. Brad is so easy going and fit in just like he was a member of the family. In fact, the entire night felt like a party in my own kitchen. Except this party didn’t require me to clean the house or do any dishes.

We will be back for another KITCHEN Party with Brad soon.

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