Good Morning Chef.
I’ve heard these words for most of my Adult life and while these days I hear it more, I still swallow the stings from the faceless stares that would never address me as such. I have not gone to culinary school. The idea of becoming a gourmet chef and maybe even owning my own restaurant someday was the dirty secret I never shared. As I clicked submit on the email toward Bravo’s casting for their next iteration of Top Chef, I think of how alluring it has become to cook your way through a career. I look at most culinary schools like I do a business, with a bottom line and a dream to sell.
My cup is shared through rose colored glasses and the wine is just as sweet. The drive to get a leg up in the competitive fields like gourmet cooking is only increasing but honestly when I think about the current state of the industry, For Profit culinary schools are downright predatory.
When I made the decision to pursue my undergraduate in Business I thought I was making the best decision I could for myself at the time to be a chef. My 1st job in life outside of working for my father’s company growing up was working for Wayne State’s cafeteria. Some of my 1st experiences of being “put on game” were in the kitchen. Imagine at 17 hearing that if I work 10 years I could maybe get 75 to 80 grand a year with matching hours to boot. Oh and it might be mine. I’ll never forget feeling guilty for being sick and wanting to come in because I felt I’d get in trouble for calling off. The reality of its title is unfair to the constituents of its practice. Last I checked there are about 300 thousand fully employed chefs out of over a million aspiring chefs. Literally one out of 27 culinary graduates are gainfully employed at their desired position...salary not included.
What matters doesn’t matter outside. We are living in a world where truth and popularity are beginning to become synonymous. The title of Chef has such prestige which I respect with everything that I have in the kitchen. There are stripes, there is technique, sleepless nights, and much continued learning. But there is also feeling like a villain nights, I can’t afford to get sick because I can’t not come in days, and the law says I get a lunch break after 6 hours. While I’ve never taken a lunch break I wasn’t forced to, I have be told that I’m not a chef. And while I have been told I’m not a chef, I have not been told why chef and European infrastructure is aligned with my identity to suceed in a kitchen...Especially in a city like Detroit. Detroit’s roots are steeped in the hard earned sweat of history, toiling like the last remnants of Black Bottom to hang on. I say that the acknowledgement of fiscal responsibility should be acknowledged and perfection of the craft accepted. I will never not continue to learn. I will always push my creative inclinations for a chance at the dishes we eat 25 years from today.
That being said I had a dream about making these delightful little treats. I imagine that I’d eat them in secret because I doubt belief in their pleasure from others. What you’ll need:
Ground Cameroonian Black Pepper
Halal Beef (Ground) [Do it yourself if you’re feeling it]
Plantain (Yellow but firm)
Bread Crumbs (Make them yourself for the comfort)
Oil to brown Meat and Oil to fry Plantain
Since this is a one of the good ones you’ll have to engage for amounts. Correct. If you are going to try and make this the way I think it should taste then you are going to have to ask.
Now 1st you are going to want to brown your meats. Simply cook in a skillet until brown. You don’t want it to well done. We just want to get it to right before you’d eat it by about 10 seconds. While doing this, you’re going to combine with diced habanero peppers. As the meat finishes, take it out of the skillet and pour into a food processor. Then add bread crumbs and use the processor to combine the meat, peppers and breadcrumbs. This is done so that the meat can carry its own inside the pasty that we’re making. Set aside.
Cut and peel your plantain. You want the plantain to be yellow but firm. This is that desperate place between about to be ripe and covered with brown. Cut the plantain into 1/5ths. You start from the top and cut diagonally across the length of the plantain. Now take your newly cut plantain and bath them in oil. You’ll probably want to let them sit for 12 to 15 minutes. They will slowly begin to float. Take them from the oil and let them drain in a strainer. After that toss them into a stainless steel mixing bowl. Drizzle with agave. A slow dance with this sweet gem will add a little sweetness to what should be just about ripe pancake sweet plantain. Sprinkle in salt and our ground cameroonian pepper. Give them a push and pull in the bowl. Try to get the plantain slightly airborne. You are then to take them to the food processor and blend until lightly puree. Next take the plantain and spiced meat blend and combine them. Place the mix in the covers and wrap them. Now there is a special wash that I use before baking them. Won’t go into that and I encourage you to research and experiment with your own. It’s more for aesthetic over anything else, I promise. The result is a humble and satisfying combination of iron and protein. What’s more thrilling is that if you want something to hold you over then this would go great as a sandwich between coco bread or a brioche bread or hawaiian bread or challah bread. All are as good of options as is recognizing the alternatives don’t deter the outcome...in fact they diversify them.