Hire for the Holidays

janet-chef-coatDoing everything yourself is typically not a good idea. Add in the hectic pace of the holidays and you have a recipe for disaster.

In today’s marketplace, more companies exist than ever before to help busy consumers manage the times, seasons and events in their lives. This time of year in particular can be downright daunting. The triple crown of holidays as I refer to them – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s – while filled with food, drink and merriment, might leave a bitter taste in your mouth when you consider all that has to get done. How then do you stop the madness from wreaking havoc in your life? You hire for the holidays!

Here are three great reasons why outsourcing is one of the best gifts you can give yourself:

Time

Simply put, hiring a service or company saves you time. And who doesn’t want more of that? The older you get you realize just how precious time is; you can’t stop it, you can’t reverse it, it travels at warp speed, and more importantly, no one knows how much of it they have. Free up time to enjoy the things that matter most and hire for the things you can.

Personalized Service

Any way you want it that’s the way you need it! This line is part of the lyrics from a song by the band Journey, but it is also the embodiment of personalized, experiential service. It’s catering to a client’s specific wishes. The date, time and place of your choosing, with all the accompaniments you desire in a special event. It’s like being queen – or king for a day. You can’t top that!

Elevated Experience

When it comes to going hire for the holidays, having a professional do the work takes things to a whole other level. Professionals bring more to the table – it’s what they do. It’s why you hire them. More expertise, more experience, more knowledge. And you get to tap all of that.

Calling on the pros also elevates the quality of the experience for both you and your guests. For attendees, it’s a statement that highlights the superior service that lies ahead. For you, it’s no more missing out on the actual event. Instead or running around like a chicken with your head cutoff, you get the best of both worlds; playing host while partaking in the festivities like any other attendee.

Think of all the experiential services that exist today? From a culinary standpoint, there’s food shopping, meal delivery, meal kits, private chef and so much more. Then think of all the moments you miss tending to things that would be better off in someone else’s hands. Being present, without being present robs you from truly enjoying the occasion.

Of course there are costs involved. But the value far outweighs the price tag. So, this season pay yourself first by paying a professional to serve you. It’s our labor of love.

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From Start to Finish

It’s been said it’s not how you start but how you finish. It was last Sunday, October 9th at about 11:30am when I began loading my truck to head to Short Hills, New Jersey. I was on my way to Williams-Sonoma to teach a cooking demonstration.

The rain fell steadily as my son Robert and I packed up to leave. It wasn’t long before we were on our way. As we entered the New Jersey Turnpike, the rain began to pour. It did so the entire ride. Right up until the moment we exited the highway. What was a continuous shower for over an hour, subsided into a light mist.

The parking lots around the mall were fuller than expected. We entered Williams-Sonoma to tens of busy shoppers.

Cabbage Confetti

Cabbage Confetti

I began staging the countertop near the stove. My theme was Falsetto Cooking Demo: Fall Flavors that Make Your Mouth Sing. The menu featured Cabbage Confetti, a flavorful dish made with green cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, fresh thyme, a few spices, oil and water. Also on the menu was Sesame Chicken, an easy-to-make savory, Asian-style dish. I also brought along a couple dozen of my Rum Cupcakes. I hardly ever leave home without them.

The ingredients were laid out, so too were serving platters, pots and pans, and everything necessary for a successful demo event.

The class got underway with much chopping, slicing, shredding and seasoning. As the flame kicked underneath the frying pans, the fragrant flavor of freshly prepared food found its way out and into the mall. Within a few toss of the cabbage the demo area was littered with onlookers.

I cooked and served cabbage, chicken and cupcakes to an uber-satisfied crowd.

A dreary and damp day had turned sunny side up. We walked out of Williams-Sonoma and into a blindingly bright Sunday afternoon. It was a remarkable day from start to finish.

For recipes, entertaining ideas and more, visit www.jadegrill.com or email flavors@jadegrill.com.

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Alumni Recognized for Work at DNC

It’s nice to be noticed. And when an alumni is recognized by her alma mater it’s that much more special.

In July JADE Jamaican Grill participated in two events at the Democratic National Convention. Our selection and subsequent involvement garnered numerous mentions. The latest – a featured article by SUNY New Paltz News published August 31, 2016 in the alumni newsletter. Read our story here.

Chef Janet at the 2016 DNC Media Party - Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

Chef Janet at the 2016 DNC Media Party – Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

Visit our gallery for more photos of our grand showing at the Media Party at Citizens Bank Park on July 23, 2016 and the Welcome Delegate Reception at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts on July 24th.

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A Good Day to Air Things Out

Whenever you have the opportunity to share major news on air count it a good day. And that’s the day Jade Jamaican Grill enjoyed recently when I stopped by Good Day Philadelphia to dish about my company’s participation at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

This wasn’t my first time on television or at FOX 29 News for that matter. I’d been on with host Mike Jerrick and his colleagues numerous times over the years. But this particular appearance with Jerrick and his co-host Alex Holley took the cake!

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Here I was – one of a select group of small business food vendors chosen to provide tantalizing tastes at this major national event. And not just one event either. JADE was selected for two; the Media Party on Saturday, July 23rd at Citizens Bank Park and the Welcome Delegate Party at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, July 24th.

So a few days prior to the start of the convention I took the opportunity to air things out on live television by showcasing the bites JADE would be serving at the DNC. Let’s just say our hosts could not keep their forks or fingers off the food. I mean chunks of spicy Jerk Pork and heaps of savory Rice and Peas disappearing in plain view. You can’t make this stuff up. See for yourself.

JADE Jamaican Grill at the DNC

It really was a good day to air things out!

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DNC Picks Jamaican Foodie for Events

Have you heard? JADE is heading to the DNC!

JADE Jamaican Grill has been selected to participate in the 2016 Democratic National Convention coming to Philadelphia. The DNC will be taking place July 25th through the 28th and our company is among a select group of food vendors chosen to satiate the palates of tens of thousands at this national event.

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We will be serving up some of our signature Full on Flavor fare at the Media Party on Saturday, July 23rd at Citizens Bank Park and at the Welcome Delegate Party on Sunday, July 24th at the Kimmel Center. How lucky are we? By luck I mean preparation, hard work, sacrifice and perseverance coming face to face with opportunity.

I thank the DNC for this tremendous honor and I look forward to taking part in what will be an amazing event.

For the latest news and to learn more about our company visit us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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On the Road Again

Travel isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a food and special events business. But, when you’re based in New Jersey with a region that spans New York to Washington, D.C., the miles add up fast. Trips to the Hamptons are all in a day’s work… a very full day. And you find yourself on the road again and again.

As Memorial Day ushers in the unofficial start of summer, for JADE it signifies the beginning of the summer entertaining season. Just as private dinners and cocktail parties are a lifestyle for many clients, traveling is part and parcel of how JADE operates; a specialized service that brings food and flavor to the comfort of a client’s home, or during this time of year, their home away from home. So, travelling the distance is our normal.

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This photo was captured recently in Water Mill, New York, a hamlet of Southampton. This Memorial Day weekend will find me heating things up on the eastern end of the south shore of Long Island in East Hampton.

There’ll be many more days like this one. A long drive; quiet time to think, plan my next adventure. It’s quite a trip but I think I rather enjoy it.

Happy Memorial Day!

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Having it Your Whey with a Cheese Board

Before saying cheese, ask yourself am I feeling sweet or savory?

There are a few things to consider when putting together a cheese board. Here are some guidelines on achieving an appetizing board whatever your preference.

Cheese Board

Taste

On taste, first decide between savory and sweet. A savory plate such as an Antipasto will include meats like Salami or Prosciutto. You can enhance the flavor profile further by choosing flavored meat as opposed to regular cuts. Olives, roasted vegetables, oil, crusty bread or sliced baguette may also accompany a savory board. Similarly, adding herbs and spices like pepper flakes, basil or oregano to olive oil will give more to savor.

A sweet board on the other hand, incorporates fruits – both fresh and dried, as well as nuts, jams and, or jellies. Here, crackers, not bread is ideal.

Texture

In terms of texture, cheese range from soft to hard. Soft cheeses include Brie, Mascarpone, Cottage and Ricotta. Semisoft include Provolone, Fontina, Mozzarella, Blue and Feta. Cheddar and Gouda constitutes hard cheeses; and Parmesan and Asiago some of the hardest on the block.

When assembling your cheese board, use a variety of textures. For a normal size board or party, three cheeses will do. Use four or even five for larger gatherings.

Nuts & Bolts

Other than cheese, nuts can add an extra bite to a dessert board. Almonds and walnuts offer up a nice crunch and an additional layer of flavor. Complete your board with dried fruits like apricots, cherries, cranberry and raisins to round out a dessert cheese plate.

Fruity & Fresh

While dried fruits have their place on a sweet plate, cheese and fresh fruit alone can be enough. Grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and figs can sweeten the deal here. Fruits not only add layers of flavor but a range of vibrant color that stand in contrast to the more subtle hues of cheese. As previously mentioned, fruity spreads like jams, jellies and even honey, makes for a luscious finish.

More Tips

More than just taste and texture, you can create a themed board with cheeses from a particular region. For example, an Italian inspired board might have Gorgonzola and Mascarpone cheeses, while a French plate might include Brie, Goat, and Camembert. To go all out with your theme, serve wine from each region.

For a really large party, opt for two boards; one savory and one sweet. Your guests will thank you before you can say cheese!

Whether soft, hard, sweet or savory, having it your whey with a cheese board can be a delectable start or sweet end to a party.

What is your go to snack cheese? Whey in here and I’ll respond to your comments.

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Dining In

Will you be dining in? How often do you hear that line? These days it doesn’t quite mean the same thing as it did before. Today dining in encompasses a new way of experiencing food.

There’s a difference between dining in and eating in. Eating in generally refers to eating what you yourself have prepared at home. It also refers to ordering in, or ordering takeout and bringing it home or having it delivered. Dining in is eating in compliments of a personal chef.

A number of companies offer this specialized food service. Each brings their own unique spin that differentiates them from the competition of course. But the premise is the same; a skilled chef, willing to travel to your location, to prepare a restaurant-style meal, complete with five-star service, then cleaning and leaving the space spotless as if they were never there to begin with. All this, so you can fully experience the occasion and your guests.

dinner-party

Consumers choose from fine dining, formal dinners with three or more courses, dinner buffet, family-style service or even a backyard barbecue. The date and time are determined, party style is finalized based on the client’s preferences, and the chef and host curate a personalized menu – taking into consideration dietary restrictions and allergies. Remaining details of the dinner party are hashed out. And a flawless evening of food, flavor and fun is on tap.

More and more people are opting for dining in to celebrate the many events in their lives; anniversaries, birthdays, bachelor and bachelorette parties, other wedding-related events and much more. These personal chef services are especially prominent in major cities like New York and San Francisco, as well as vacation destinations like the Hamptons.

I’ve been part of this personal chef service for a couple of years. Having done dozens of them, I speak for many when I say dining in on the right occasion is dinner done right.

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The MVP of the Super Bowl

Who will nab the top spot at Super Bowl 50? With so many candidates vying for MVP, it is anyone’s guess. Will it be a runaway quarterback, the halftime show, a blow-out team performance or will a commercial steal the show? Perhaps it will be something else altogether? Let’s run the plays.

In years past, super bowl commercials have made the game worth watching, especially when the game itself was a letdown. When the only saving grace is a bag of Doritos or a heart-warming doggie adventure, commercials can have just as big an impact on game night. In fact, the ad themselves have a way of picking up the slack after an epic fumble. With host city San Francisco predicting bright skies and warm temps, there’s a chance Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” could ride in and save the day.

Perhaps it will be the halftime show. It is expected to be an extraordinary performance as Coldplay will be joined by Beyonce on stage. We can look forward to a lot of rocking and popping at Levi’s Stadium. Here’s hoping everyone’s jeans stay up and there are no wardrobe malfunctions.

Noteworthy is the fact that 2016 marks a special super bowl celebrating the 50th anniversary of American football. Will the moment create a thrilling game for the record books or will one man stand and deliver? All eyes have been on star QB Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, which is the team favored to win. But the chatter has left fans wondering if there is just way too much pressure. We’ll find out soon enough when the game gets underway this Sunday.

But for those not sitting in the stands at kickoff, there is always that fifth option: the food!

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Much like the super bowl, party hosts are relying on the pros to deliver the goods, hiring personal chefs and private caterers to feed big game appetites. But game day has gone gourmet, dishing up more than just pizza and wings. I for one will be leaving it all on the field with a spread that includes Mini Crab Cakes & Mango Sauce, Pan-seared Salmon with Fresh Lemon Drizzle, and fall-off-the-bone Pineapple Teriyaki Short Ribs. And that’s just some of the highlights.

No one knows how this will all shake out. And of course there’s bound to be the usual monday morning quarterback post game. But what’s not up for debate? Sitting down to a feast and not lifting a finger except to reach for a scrumptious bite. Touchdown! When it’s all said and done the MVP of your Super Bowl may very well be the food!

 

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Working with Williams-Sonoma

As I sat at my desk outlining my fall calendar a few weeks ago it occurred to me how fortunate I am to be working with Williams-Sonoma. With two upcoming food events at the gourmet retailer, I began to reflect on how our collaboration began. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share how it all came to be.

Our relationship is no accident. I had taught cooking classes at another chain store. After about three years, I decided to fold it into my own product offering as Pantry Parties – private, hands-on instruction in the comfort of the client’s home. So, I’d been there, done that so to speak.

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Seeking to establish my brand as a flavorful food venture- not merely a Jamaican one, I set my sights on a company whose name is synonymous with taste, quality, style and functionality.

If you’re a food connoisseur,           Williams-Sonoma’s high quality cookware, specialty products, gourmet foods, in-store culinary events and stylish home furnishings are familiar. And it’s not just passionate foodies; professional chefs are hot for the brand.

Not long after I formed my namesake JADE in the fall of 2013, I contacted the Princeton, New Jersey store to see whether they offered cooking classes and how I would go about getting on the roster. During our conversation I fired off my list of accomplishments – numerous television appearances on NBC and FOX, a cooking series on PBS, mentions in the local print press, having taught culinary demonstrations previously, and so on. They were impressed and we scheduled a meeting and site tour. I followed-up with an email, included the standard accompaniments – my resume, bio, head shot and media clippings.

We met, all went well and we booked my first cooking class. Thrilled about my score I wasted no time. I telephoned the flagship store at Columbus Circle in New York City. A similar scenario transpired. After a site tour the assistant manager and I discussed how we would incorporate my brand of flavor into the mix. Long story short, we settled on a date for demo number two.

My first demonstration was a success. So much so that by the time I reached out to the King of Prussia store the following Monday they were well aware of who I was and equally as excited about me doing a demo there.

Since then I’ve taught almost ten classes, in five cities and three states in under two years. I’ve loved every minute of it! And from the fact that they’ve invited me back numerous times – I think it’s safe to say they relish having me there too.

And that’s how the story goes!

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