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Chef Spencer Jason

Take a moment out of your day and really learn about Chef Spencer, he may be young but his take on life comes from a rich well of wisdom.

Spencer Jason 

America’s Test Kitchen Host

“do what nourishes your soul, don’t be afraid to put yourself first!”

Chef Spencer is better known to some as Spency, Steven, Stewart, or Spence because they can’t remember his name and he won’t correct them.  His name might slip your mind, but what won’t is his wisdom and ability to make you think differently when it comes to food and life. Once you get to know this zen Chef you’ll understand why he just goes with the flow and takes life with the punches.  Growing up on Long Island then moving to upstate NY for school might have something to do with his ability to adapt to things so quickly.  He is now one of the top “America’s Test Kitchen Hosts” on Holland America Lines, teaching hands on workshops and performing cooking shows around the world.  This amazing job and ability to eat his way through many different countries didn’t happen overnight though, lots of hard work made him the Chef he is today.  “I went to State University of New York (SUNY) Cobleskill where I earned my Associated of Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts and Bachelor’s in Business Administration.”  Even before getting formal training in the art of cooking something else sparked his interest at an early age.

“My parents told me that from an early age I loved to watch Martin Yan’s ‘Yan Can Cook’ and ‘The Frugal Gourmet’.  So I had always an interest in cooking and food, but it really took off in high school when I was wrestling.  I wanted to control my weight through my diet instead of “sucking weight”. Researching nutrition and holistic health, I made my own meals and that turned into me making meals at home too.”  This early connection with food and nutrition is something that he has carried with him throughout his career so far and it is connected to his opinion of what being a chef means.  “It means Expression to it’s fullest, learning something new everyday. Keeping yourself in a state of growth and being comfortable with uncomfortable and unconformity. Exploring the world and life in a way many do not through taste and curiosity. Being a chef is being the bridge and introducing people with all I just mentioned as you come in contact with them.”  This is why when you meet Spencer you always feel like you walk away with more than you originally had, because he is always giving off the vibe of a genuine life teacher. 

Being such a great giver and that means with advice and energy alike you have to remember to take care of number one too, you.  “I meditate daily, go to the gym, sleep is most important…. Don’t ever underestimate a good nap, massages, and yoga.  Most of all you have to be kind to yourself and stay positive. Do what nourishes your soul, don’t be afraid to put yourself first.  Nobody or thing is worth sacrificing your self care. Time in nature is also very important to me.”  Sometimes we come across people who put our lives on a trajectory that we aren’t even aware of until we look back, for Spencer it was Chef Joe.  “The most influential chef in my life was Joe, he was a friend of my moms who was a chef at this pizzeria/deli near my house.  When I was starting out working at McDonald’s (age 15) Joe took me on as his apprentice and I worked for him ion the weekends to see if I really wanted this life.  I think of him every day and attribute him to letting me know what I wanted to do.”  

This is also why I feel like Spencer gives great advice because he is an avid learner of life himself and continues to grow and learn daily.  His advice to all aspiring chef pretty much sums up his view on life as well, “Follow your heart and trust your gut, do what you love and don’t take no for an answer. Too often in life we are made to believe we have to settle, but if it’s something you want to do then go for it. It takes sacrifice and you will miss holidays, weekends, and special events because most likely work them. But there is nothing more invigorating than living your truth. The power to say ‘no’ is important, but know when to say yes and give it a chance. You’ll be uncomfortable most of the time, but being uncomfortable is where growth happens, so take the leap.”  Spencer is always taking leaps and you see where it’s taken him so far, can’t wait to see what he takes on in the future.

Please Follow Chef Spencer:

Facebook – Spencer Jason

Instagram – theschmerz

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Chef Erin Montgomery

Bringing joy to all those around her, while inspiring more people than she realizes. Learn more about who Chef Erin is below, and follow her journey as she continues to be a trailblazer.

Erin Montgomery 

Sanitation Officer / Chef Instructor

“My passion of culinary come from within, I just always knew!”

The word chef means different things to different people and for some it is more than just a profession.  Chef Erin, better known as Chef  E takes her profession seriously and its not something that she hides from the world.  If you ask her when she wanted the title of chef before her name she would tell you “I wanted to be a chef since I baked my first cookies at 4”.  By the tender age of 10 she was already entering herself into cooking contests and winning none the less, so I think it’s safe to say following her heart worked out well.  Some have a raw talent for cooking like Erin, but she took that a step further and invested in herself by getting her Culinary Arts Degree as well.  Being the go getter that she is she attended Job Corps Culinary Program at 16, later attending CSCA Le Cordon Bleu as well as completing Oxnard College Hotel and Restaurant Program.  Some would ask why should you go so such lengths when you already have the skills, but for Erin it’s because she respects the art of cooking and understood that by having her foundation nothing could stop her.  One thing she didn’t see was that her passion, determination, and willingness to help others with no hesitation would make her one of the best Culinary Arts Instructor in California.  

Before going into teaching Chef E once again built up a strong foundation, but this time it came in the form of real world experience and cooking.  “I started working in my first restaurant at 15, as soon as I could get a work permit”.  She later went on to work at several different restaurants and did catering for many years as well.  Always the go getter and thinking ahead of her peers she started opening businesses and also became a personal chef in Hollywood and Redlands.  “I opened Maids Quarters Tea House & Patisserie, and my own culinary program The Cooking Corner, where I taught ages 3 to adults”.  All of this trailblazing wasn’t met without resistance though, as a woman in a predominately male industry she had to fight, but of course it just made her stronger.  “This chef was very inspiring to me, we did an 8 course French meal, in The Ojai Valley of CA.  Took about 1 to 1 1/2 years in advance to eat at The Coolibah. He was a mean French chef that loved to yell and would always tell me that I would never work in a kitchen because that was a man’s job! Hahaha proved him wrong!”  Did she ever, turning this negative into a positive as she does her next step was conquering restaurants until the scheduling caught up with her.  

The schedule of a full time chef is hard already, now add being a mother of 5 and you are juggling a lot more that most can handle.  First and foremost you have to have self care so you take care of everyone else Erin has a regimen, “wear great shoes, remember to eat, lots of stress relieving walking and always get a pedicure”. The next step was to normalize her life so she could be the best mom and chef combo so that mean normal hours.  Teaching full time from 2004 – 2017 at International Culinary Academy at AI, Job Corp Advanced Culinary Program San Francisco, and Cooking Corner to name a few she left all of that in 2017 to teach on a bigger scale.  Becoming one of the first America’s Test Kitchen Chef Instructors on Holland America Cruise line she performs full production shows teaching hundreds daily.  At an age that I don’t disclose for my personal safety, most would slow down but its a huge bet that Chef E is just getting started!  

Follow Chef Erin

Instagram – erin5montgomery

Facebook – Erin Montgomery

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Buffalo Frog Legs

Taking this classic French dish and turning into a southern staple is easy to do, you just deep fry it. Frog legs are amazing because they don’t dry out as fast as chicken which most people say they taste like. Also by soaking them in buttermilk before hand you eliminate any gaminess that might come from this delicious protein. You can also use this same recipe and cook alligator with lots of flavor and plenty of crispness. Hopefully after trying these, frog legs can hop into your kitchen more often.

Image result for frog legs

Frog legs can be a little scary to try, much less cook if you aren’t familiar with them.  The best thing to do when you run across something unfamiliar is to make it feel familiar.  These frog legs are crispy, flavorful, and pair well with a small salad.  I like frog legs because they give you texture of chicken thighs and crisp up like chicken wings.  With the best of both worlds you might just swap out frog for your favorite new protein. 

  1. Heat 3 cups of oil (vegetable, or any high temp oil) in dutch oven or deep fryer to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour buttermilk into one container or bowl & put flour, cornstarch, and baking powder into a second container.
  3. Mince garlic gloves and add to buttermilk as well as zest from a lemon.
  4. In a medium saucepan add butter, hot sauce, and honey and reduce down to evaporate the water and thicken the sauce.  Keep an eye and stir as needed, after reduction reaches 2/3 turn off heat.
  5. Divide cinnamon, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, kosher salt,  and black pepper evenly in buttermilk mixture and flour mixture.  Mix each to the the mixtures very well to evenly distribute the seasonings.  
  6. Cut frog into single legs and add all 8 into the buttermilk mixture. Let sit at least 30 mins, but could be done up to 24 hours ahead.  Using a thermometer check to make sure your oil is at 350 degrees before proceeding.  
  7. In  two batches, take 4 frog legs at a time move from buttermilk mixture and toss in flour mixture making sure to knock off any excess flour mixture to keep oil clean while frying.  Fry the frog legs until golden brown and the legs begin to float, if using a thermometer check and make sure it reaches at least 120 degrees.    
  8. When done place frog legs on cooling rack which will keep them crisp while you plate the salad.  Use bed of romaine lettuce, red onions and blue cheese crumbles in a bowl. 
  9. Place frog legs in bowl holding each other up and pour hot sauce over frog legs and salad for final touch.