Page 1

Issue 1

Spring 2014

Food Map:

Discover delicious delicacies from around the world

Menu Makers:

Find out how restaurant chefs build their menus

Trailer Food: The ins and outs of life in a food truck

Little Kids Making Big Dishes

How Joon-Yee Chuah manages a kitchen full of middle schoolers

The one mixer you can use for practically anything.


Table of Contents Appetizers

5 You have Mail!

A letter from your editors, just for you

6 Around the World in 7 Dishes Showcasing only the most interesting foods from across the globe

12 Fusion!

Find foods that fit with each other with this neat info graphic p. 12

26 Breaking Bento

Learn the ins and outs of building a bento through easy tips and tricks

Entrees Get to the Trailer


Find out what makes cooking in a food trailer so interesting

Masterful Menu Making


Get insight into how chefs choose dishes for their menus

Inside The Kitchen

p. 8


Find out how a middle school teacher’s students learn to run a restaurant Salt & Pepper | 3

Contributors Matthew Barnes loves computers, programming, and gaming with friends. Almost every elective that he takes is math or computer related. He builds computers, programs computers, and even knows how to press a button. Matthew likes being sarcastic and making jokes that aren’t funny and make no sense whatsoever. It is Matthew’s dream in life to become a computer lord and rule the Internet with a fiberglass cable. He likes spending time with friends and competing with them in online games. Matthew’s hobbies include watching anime, organizing and cleaning, and admiring shiny objects.

Gina Chen is a self-proclaimed nerd and willingly goes to math camp every summer. She is obsessed with cats, drawing, watching anime, and reading. In the future, she would like to be able to visit Japan, voice an anime character, publish her own manga, and learn to cook and bake better. Even though her friends say she is “extremely Asian,” she is very lazy and tends to do the minimum amount of work required of her (this is a lie, Daniel says). Gina plays percussion and is almost as obsessed with marimba as Daniel is. She spends most of her lunches in the band hall with other band nerds.

Besides Daniel Gostein’s belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and obsession with eating pasta, he is a crazy marimba player who spends his lunches in the band hall practicing for fun. Other than that, Daniel is a complete foodie, and loves to criticize other people’s food. He has been known to run around rooms screaming for spaghetti, and will stare violently at anyone who has spaghetti until they give it to him, lest their insides be cooked off by his laser-beam gaze. Daniel got lots of sleep the night before writing this, and this is the reason why whi is iwij nlcena;eijclnvnkjndlk...zzzzzzzzz. photo by Ryan Thomas

4 | Spring 2014

Letter from the Editor Jason, 14, was awakened by his alarm at 7:30 a.m. He shuffled into the kitchen, and without thinking about it, wolfed down a bowl of corn flakes. He got ready for school and barely caught the bus. After three long hours of classes, the bell rang for lunch. Jason took out his sandwich, and slowly ate it bite by bite. Three and a half more hours of school later, he went home, did his homework, and played video games. Once his parents were home from work, they went to a restaurant for dinner, as they did every Thursday. The hamburger Jason ordered was actually amazing, but to Jason, it was just a hamburger. Dessert, as always, was chocolate ice cream with as much chocolate syrup as his parents would let him apply. Jason, this magazine is for you. So many Americans live their lives on the same monotonous food patterns. Many people don’t realize that all it takes is one new idea to completely change what we enjoy eating, or our “food life” as I like to call it. In Salt and Pepper, our goal is to inspire people like Jason, as well as anyone else who wants to enhance their food life. We don’t simply provide recipes, we provide the resources to discover and create new things. Ironically, about a month into writing Salt and Pepper, I began a special diet for Crohn’s Disease consisting almost entirely of one product, a special medical nutrition drink. However, I am allowed to eat three meals of regular food per week. While the diet is limiting, and I can’t eat as much as before, it has surprisingly improved my personal food life tremendously. Only eating three meals every week makes me choose what I eat wisely, and ensures that I always get the best out of my food. While I am definitely not suggesting that everyone go on a diet like this, my hope is that everyone who reads this magazine will find something to add to their food life. Whether it be interesting information about restaurants, new foods or flavors to try, or a new idea for a culinary adventure at home, there is something for everyone. So bon voyage, and happy eating! Yours truly,

Daniel Gostein

Photo by Matthew Barnes

Salt & Pepper | 5

Whale Muktuk - Canada Muktuk is a traditional Inuit and Eskimo dish made of frozen whale skin and blubber, usually from the bowhead whale, but sometimes also the beluga and narwhal. Some who have tried it say it tastes like coconut, while others say it tastes like fried eggs.

Poke - Hawaii

Poke (POH-keh) means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian. It is a dish made of raw fish or some other type of seafood (like octopus or lobster) and is similar to sashimi.

Photo by Chris73 /Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Cvmontuy Photo by Stu Spivack Photo by Sascha Grabow

Escamoles - Mexico

They are ant larvae, and are considered a delicacy by the Aztecs. It has been called “insect caviar,” and their price reflects this mindset. Escamoles have a poppy texture, and taste slightly nutty.

6 | Spring 2014

Hormigas Culonas Columbia

Hormigas Culonas are the queen ants of the species Atta laevigata, their name literally translates to “bigbutt ants” because they have very large abdominals. Toasted with salt, they taste just like nuts.


Cultural Cuisine

f the many different foods from around the world, each area has their own delicacies. This map will take you on a tour of just a few of the local specialties. These foods are the most delicious, strange, and crazy things you’ll ever eat. With many reviews from sites like BBC, CNN, and Epicurious, these foods are guaranteed to be ones you’ll never forget. If you’re travelling anywhere over the summer, be sure to bring this map along for famous Story and art by Gina Chen foods from around the world!

Photo by Bajoelmar

Fugu - Japan

Fried Flower - Thailand

Photo by ComQuat

Photo by ccharmon

Fugu is the meat of an extremely poisonous and expensive pufferfish. Only people that are licensed can serve it, because even one wrong cut could lead to the customer’s death.

Known for their street stalls selling anything from noodles to scorpions, a more exotic option exists at the Rose Garden in Thailand. Fried flowers. Sometimes called “flower tempura,” the flowers retain their shape and color after being fried.

Mopane - Zimbabwe

A type of worm, they are a staple part of people’s diets in rural areas and a delicacy in urban ones. They are very nutritious and can be eaten dry or cooked with sauce.

Salt & Pepper | 7

8 | Spring 2014

Trailer Cooking

Trailer Cooking

Story and pictures by Matthew Barnes

Salt & Pepper | 9


t’s rush hour in the middle of the square. People pack the wooden tables, waiting eagerly for their meal to arrive. But their food isn’t coming from any ordinary restaurant. It’s coming from one of the food

trailers parked in this lot. Today, one table is trying the food from the new Kimchi truck that opened yesterday, while another has been eating at the barbecue truck for months.

These trucks are a new, more mobile version of

restaurant. But mobility isn’t the only difference between food trailers and restaurants. Food trailers have created a whole new kind of restaurant because of their new form. Food trailers limit the chefs and provide new and different challenges, but also new advantages when working in a trailer. any





can work at one time. In one of Utsunomiya’s smaller trailers,


no more than four people are normally at work. More people

chefs must make sure that the ingredients are ready

working at once is hectic and causes problems in the food trailer.

so that they will be ready to serve their customers.

“It was a tiny trailer and so it would be two people working,

Motoyasu Utsunomiya said, “So it’s really dependent on the

and sometimes it would be four people and it would be terrible.”

season, and on the week day, you know, which day of the week.

In such a small space, it can be difficult to regulate


restaurant, food




only 60 square feet on the inside, and only two or three people




East Side King now has 5 open locations, with multiple food trailers and restaurants.


Weekends, we are usually super busy, and weekdays are slower.”







But everything, not only preparation, is limited in

Utsunomiya said that his food trailers can get pretty heated

a food trailer. According to Utsunomiya, water is the

during the summer, causing problems for his employees.

most limiting resource in food trailers because of how

“It’s so limited in a food trailer.”








hot air rises up to the top… you burn your fingers.” This







during the middle of the day, and causing problems when

essential it is to their operation. Water is necessary when

they could have a line of customers. Many food trailers do

cooking food, and is needed for cooking almost any dish.

not have enough space to carry an air conditioner to help

“It’s so limited in a food trailer. I mean, in your house, or your

keep the trailer and its employees cool and comfortable.

kitchen, you’ve got a faucet. You turn [it on] and you’ve got water.”

While summers can be too hot to work in, winters can

Food trailers do not have running water, so trailers need

cause other problems as well. In winter, heaters use up a large

to keep their water in tanks before and after use. Food trailers

portion of electricity, which causes electrical problems in the

cannot simply throw away used water; they have to find a way

trailers. Trailers do not have to get electricity to use from

to get rid of their used water. Food trailers rely on water to be

a nearby source, and do not have permanent power lines.

able to cook their food, but need a safe and responsible way to

“Winter time is really cold, so you have to have heaters. But

get rid of it once they have used their water up. Food trailers

all the heating elements that you use use electricity. You have to

have to hire people or find another way to get rid of water.

power the electric heating elements so it sucks up a lot of power.”

“Water is heavy, you can’t dump it on the street.

A food trailer needs to be conservative about its energy

So you have to take the gray water tank somewhere to

use, to avoid flipping the breakers and shutting down.

dump it... or somebody [has] to come get the gray water

Because food trailers are more exposed, the weather can

to pump it. They’re a service, and it’s expensive too.”

cause them to shut down while other businesses can stay

However, water isn’t the only resource that is limited

open. When temperatures get below freezing, Utsunomiya

in a food trailer. The size of food trailers creates new

said that there is little point in keeping the trailers open. “And those days, we were totally dead. [I think]

challenges and restricts how many resources you can have at one time. Many food trailers are not even 1,000 square


feet large on the inside, and not much can be fit in, when

come] and I don’t want a employee just standing there.”

counting the space needed for the chefs to move around in.

However, busy days can require lots of workers to be in a

“Everything is so limited in a trailer [because of] size,”

food trailer. Some days in one of Utsunomiya’s larger trailers,

Utsunomiya said that the size of food trailers can limit how

up to six people may be needed in a food trailer if the day is

many employees can work at one time. The smallest trailers are

predicted to be busy. This can be very cramped for the employees.

10 | Spring 2014









Because of a food trailer’s limited size, many dishes come in compact forms like these.

“Last week we were so busy we tried to put five people

more risks. Unlike with a regular restaurant, when starting

in there… yesterday we had 6 people but it wasn’t necessary

a food trailer business you need to choose a location. The

because we weren’t that busy. It’s so [unpredictable].”

location you choose depends mostly on who you work with.

Having more people can be necessary on busy days,

“Any kind of business, it’s the same. You deal with people.

when the chefs need to be able to cook their food quickly

You have your landlord, you have your employees, so if you

to fill orders, and workers are needed to take orders.

can’t get along with the people, you can’t be successful, you

However, trailers do not only offer downsides to potential


owners. Food trailers have a much lower price point than a restaurant, which can let someone start their business with a food trailer much more easily than with a restaurant. “I guess [the cost] to open the [trailer] is much cheaper. So that’s what some people really need, right? So if you wanna open a couple, a restaurant costs, I don’t know, $200,000, $300,000. For that you can open three or four food trailers.” However, a lower price point isn’t always an advantage. Utsunomiya believes that this can make it easier to start a business when the owner is not prepared to own a trailer.

“That’s why a lot open I guess. Why a lot of trailers close too.” This can quickly lead to the business closing within weeks. “So









Even the outside of the East Side King building is covered in their art.

why a lot open I guess. Why a lot of trailers close too.” The lower price point makes opening a food trailer less reliable than opening a full restaurant, and can create

Salt & Pepper | 11

Fabulous Flavor Combos W

hen a chef is trying to invent a dish, it is helpful to know which flavors work together and which don’t. In the world renowned cookbook “Culinary Artistry,” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, the authors have compiled an index of flavor combinations. This section of the book, which they named “Food Matches Made in Heaven,” contains just about any imaginable basic food and a list of everything it goes well with. On the couple’s website,, they describe “Culinary Artistry” as being “the first known reference book of compatible flavors.” This diagram shows just a few of the seemingly infinite matches found in “Culinary Artistry.” And while some of the combos are well known and obvious, there are a couple that you’d never think of, but are actually quite tasty. So give it a try. Open up the fridge, and dive into the divine world Story and art by Daniel Gostein of food pairing!

These flavors work well together


These combos are interesting/exotic. You can decide for yourself The “classics,” or very well known combos that taste delicious

12 | Spring 2014

Salt & Pepper | 13

Food pictures from

What’s on the


story and photos by Gina Chen

14 | Spring 2014

Cover art courtesy of, William Warby at, and Stephane8888 at

Salt & Pepper | 15


he kitchen can be easily seen through a window at the back of the dimly lit room, and several chefs move about quickly, receiving and completing orders. Music plays softly in the background, and a few customers

sit at tables, chatting enthusiastically while reviewing the menu. The single-page menu at Botticelli’s lists several Italian-sounding dishes, boasting their homemade pastas and fresh Italian style. Waiters and waitresses rattle off the daily specials, explaining and selling their favorite dishes. New menu options appear every few weeks or months, and most people don’t give much thought to them, but chefs and restaurants have to get new ideas and dishes from somewhere. The journey from being an idea in a chef’s head to an actual option on a menu can start from anywhere - an old cookbook, experimentation or even from other restaurants. If an idea starts from a traditional recipe, it may lead to a completely new dish, but with traditional elements in it. Unlike Botticelli’s, not all restaurants stay on the traditional path, and instead choose to mix different traditions and

Botticelli’s menu advertises traditional cooking styles and dishes.

ingredients. Some customers prefer this cultural mixing, while

“traditional” or “authentic.” For example, in Italy, there are many

other customers appreciate a restaurant staying traditional.

different regions of both people and cuisines.

“I feel appreciative if I eat food that’s more authentic

“Some are northern Italian, you have southern Italian,

because it gives people a more accurate taste of the culture. If

central Italian, some are rice driven, some are bean driven, some

something isn’t as traditional, it loses some of its cultural value,”

are pasta driven, some are tomato sauces, some are olive oil,”

15-year-old Tiffany Ngo said.

Botticelli explained.

Other customers believe that a cultural mixing is inevitable,

Italy isn’t the only country with many different food

with restaurants taking ingredients and inspiration from

cultures. Other countries, such as India, also have many different

other cultures or changing their dishes from very traditional

regions. Fifteen-year-old Avani Sastry’s parents were born and

to a mixture of different cultures to meet the demands of the

raised in India, and Sastry herself has travelled to the country

customers. Many restaurants have even become very successful

several times to visit family members.

by “Americanizing” popular Chinese, Italian and Indian dishes. Because of the many different cultural regions inside each country, there are many different cuisines that can be considered The menu at Botticelli’s features hand-made pastas and home-made pizzas.

“The thing about Indian food is that it’s very regional, so it’s hard to say what food is more authentic than others,” Sastry commented. Food is very regional, so there may be many different cultural cuisines within a single country, but there is still a lot

“It’s a culinary explosion all over America.”

of obvious cultural mixing. For example, Asian-American or Italian-American cuisines mix two completely different cultures’ and countries’ cuisines. These dishes don’t really belong in either category alone; they are a mixture of both. The stereotypical alfredo or “red-sauce” dishes that most people in America associate with “Italian” are actually a mixture of Italian and American cuisines. “Chicken alfredos, and all these kinds of things, these are really not even...Italian dishes, these are Italian-American dishes,” said Botticelli. Many restaurants don’t purposely mix different cultures or

16 | Spring 2014

try to make dishes more American. The cultural mixing happens because of the ingredients available to the chefs and the influence of the people and cuisines that are now available throughout the world. “[At our restaurant] we definitely don’t try to make our dishes more American. We use an Italian style of cooking, to make our dishes, with a creative kind of twist on them,” said Botticelli. “We cook in an Italian tradition, using local, fresh

“Chefs play with food like writers play with words.” ingredients.” However, there are also chefs that do purposely infuse different cultures together. They have the freedom and imagination to combine completely different cuisines and make dishes that have never been seen before. “You have your Asian and your French, your Italian and French, and Moroccan and Mediterranean, Ethiopian and everyone’s infusing the best of all of it,” said Botticelli.

Italy has a long history of shepherding, making lamb a very traditional Italian dish.

Sastry. So how do a chef’s new ideas actually become part of the menu? Botticelli said that at his restaurant, “[the chef will]

Chefs everywhere are experimenting with the many

introduce that dish to us, and we’ll say, oh that’s good, or that

ingredients and cultures that have been made available to them.

could use some tweaking, or holy cow, let’s try this out on the

These cultural mixtures can create interesting and delicious


products, like Indian-Chinese, Tex-Mex, and Italian-American cuisines. “IndoChinese food, it’s big in India and it’s actually the best,” said Sastry. Indian-Chinese cuisine includes popular dishes like Chow Mein, sweet and sour chicken, and Manchurian chicken. Although

However, there are still a few challenges the dish must face before it becomes a menu addition. After all, a restaurant will want to know how the customers will receive the dish before it gets put on the menu. “Before it reaches the menu, we’ll run it as a special and let the public kinda decide,” said Botticelli.

the many combinations of different cultures are interesting and

If the dish is met with positive results, it will get put onto the

can be delicious, many people have begun gravitating towards

menu. But if it’s not, it may go back to the kitchen to be changed,

the more authentic versions of dishes as well.

tweaked and experimented with. When a potential menu option

“I think the whole American cuisine is moving in more individualistic and creative paths,” Botticelli commented. The culinary industry is growing and spreading, with every chef mixing together different cultures, or updating old recipes. “It’s a culinary explosion all over America,” Botticelli said excitedly. Chefs are continuously exploring different ways to combine ingredients, flavors, and cultures.

is put on as a special, or even when it becomes part of the menu, some customers still prefer to stick to what they know and enjoy those. “I like repetition and consistency, particularly in my food,” comments Sastry. While this method may work for customers like Sastry, others prefer to branch out and try new things. Laurie Macqueen, a freshman at LASA, said, “I am really

“Chefs play with food like writers play with words,” Botticelli

likely to try [new dishes], because I hate that downward spiral

said, “These ingredients sound like they’ll go very interesting

where you only ever get one thing off of a menu. I like to get out

together, and they’ll try it out.”

there and try something new.”

As chefs become more experienced, and try more combinations, they learn which flavors work well together, and what kinds of things people are looking for. “As people become better at an activity, they get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. And that’s what empowers

Just as each customer is different, the inspiration for different chefs can be just as varied. As Botticelli said, “As far as where people get their dishes from...everywhere. Other restaurants, old cookbooks, and just imagination.”

them to come up with better ideas and make better things,” said

Salt & Pepper | 17

Italy is closer than it ’s ever been .

For any rice, world wide.


Inside the

Chuah slices some green onions for making sushi during his food class.

20 | Spring 2014


Taking you into the life of Joon-Yee Chuah, a middle school teacher who teaches kids to make great food. He explains what it’s like to run a kitchen, and to work in one.

Story by Daniel Gostein, photos by Daniel Gostein and Joon-Yee Chuah.

Salt & Pepper | 21

“Food can be something you play with and enjoy, but you don’t get to call yourself serious about it until you’ve learned to do work and don’t just have it as a hobby.”




Chuah comes prepared every day with an

imagine training a class of



interesting lesson, and when they make

take them into the kitchen.” While he is grateful for his time at

sixth graders to cook a meal

food, he lets the students do the work,

Sonic, Chuah does admit that he wasn’t so

for 150 people, but Kealing Middle School

while making sure they understand the

excited by it at the time.

teacher Joon-Yee Chuah has been at it for

reasons and science behind every step.

“I would come home every night


He said that he wanted kids to take two

covered in gravy, smelling like the deep

lessons away from Great Eats.

fryer, and it was terrible, that scent never

Joon-Yee Chuah’s Class, Culinary Science and Anthropology, better known

“I wanted kids to have hands on

leaves you. But what I appreciated about

as “Great Eats,” is not your regular middle

experiences. “A big component is having

it is the fact that I did it, and learned to

school cooking class. The students don’t

Restaurant Day, where kids learn what it’s

work,” he said.

just come in, read a recipe, and take turns

like to actually work, and the mysticism in

mixing a bowl of cookie batter. When the

creation of food goes away.”

And what Chuah didn’t learn from fast food, he taught himself. His massive

class learns how to something, the lesson

And boy, do the kids work! Chuah

arsenal of food facts and techniques were

includes all the details, from the chemistry

makes sure that the tasks are challenging

either acquired from friends, the Internet,

of what is happening in the food, to exactly

and no-one is idle, no matter what kind of

or from trying things out.

what temperatures everything must be

food they are making.

“A lot of people look at education as

cooked at, to the perfect technique to use

“Food can be something that you

something they consume like a product,

for the various steps. Great Eats is not just

play with and enjoy, and that’s fine, but

and that’s really the wrong way of looking

a cooking class, it’s practically a restaurant

you don’t get to call yourself serious about

at it. You kind of have to learn on your

employee training program.

it until you’ve learned to do work and

own; you have to create your own learning

don’t just have it as a hobby,” he said.

experiences, so that’s what I did.”

Chuah grew up in Houston and went to college at the University of Texas, majoring in computer science. He






production should be done slowly either.

Chuah has also picked up other side jobs and hobbies. He coaches fencing

didn’t really get into food until he started

“You might have food that was

students at the University of Texas, and is

teaching, and picked up cooking as more

cooked slowly, but I guarantee you that

in his own band called Fosskit No. 5. He

of a side hobby.

nobody that did it was working slowly.”

is even designing his own board game.

“I had a few good friends that were

So what experience does Chuah

Chuah views these things as well as his

actually chefs at nice restaurants, so I

have working in the culinary industry?

Great Eats class as fun. And fun doesn’t

learned a lot from them, but it’s really a

The answer, while it may sound silly, is

necessarily just mean goofing off.

matter of practice,” he said.

working at a Sonic before he became a

Five years ago, Kealing Middle


“Work is not a workplace for me,” he said. “People think of jobs as this thing

School was proposing new courses, and

“Everyone laughs when I say that’s

that begins and ends and has a contract,

Chuah decided to found Great Eats. But

like my formal experience, but working in

and, pays you a specific salary, and you

why would a computer science and math

fast food is a really important experience,”

were there for a certain amount of time

teacher put so much time and energy into

he said.

and you put it on your resume. And that’s

a cooking class?






not necessarily true, you kind of have to

“I was kind of doing it for the sake

“high class food,” working there teaches

create work for yourself, so, you take on

of doing it,” he said. “I am a big believer

important things like how to move quickly

extra things.”

somebody needs to do things rather than

and be organized.

just talk about them. I’m an implementer, not a dreamer,”

Chuah is serious about everything,

“Having that experience is actually

and this is most evident in his Great Eats

something that chefs look for, if they look

class. All class tasks have a specific way to

Sitting through a class of Great Eats,

at a chef that’s been to culinary school

be done, and Chuah makes sure that it’s

you could hardly tell it was a side class.

[who has] no line experience, they won’t

all exactly correct. He explained his belief

22 | Spring 2014

Chuah slices some green onions for making sushi during his food class.

“You might have food that was cooked slowly, but I guarantee you that nobody that did it was working slowly.” on how food should be done.

But Chuah is adamant in his belief. On the

served over the course of an hour and a

“People don’t understand that the

other hand, he likes In-And-Out Burger.

half to two hours. And by the end of the

quality of food is not subjective,” he said.

He thinks they make their burgers really

day, Chuah said, everyone is ready to go

Food is either right, or wrong, it’s not

well. He implements all of his food beliefs

home and crash.

‘that’s just your opinion.’”

like this one into the class’ culminating

It’s a marathon, but it’s a marathon


where you don’t get to pace yourself. You

when he thinks food is objectively correct,

day is a night at the end of the semester

have to work as fast as you can for about

or incorrect.

where both sections of the Great Eats

12 hours straight.

He goes on to explain an example of




“I hate P-Terry’s by the way. From a

class come together to serve dinner to

They use a kitchen on the bottom

qualitative standpoint, I can tell you right

parents or anyone else who comes. They

floor of Kealing, which has ovens, stove

now that their flat-iron burger is cooked at

charge about $15 for the meal. The idea of

tops, sinks, and plenty of counter space.

the wrong temperature, does not achieve

Restaurant Day is to create an experience

However, Restaurant Day is anything but

the level of char necessary to have a flat-

that is as close as possible to a real-life

a one-day project.

iron burger, and that’s why they throw

restaurant, with food that looks and tastes

tons of seasoning on it, to account for the

excellent, and quality service.

lack of flavor.” How he knows this, no-one knows.

Long before the big day, Chuah spends weeks agonizing over exactly what

The students spend the entire day

to make. Every year includes four courses,

preparing the four-course meal, which is

one of which is a dessert. Customers have

Salt & Pepper | 23

Chuah takes the rice out of a pot and gets it ready for the class to roll into delicious sushi.

“Food is either right or wrong, it’s not ‘That’s just your opinion.’” the choice of a meat entree or a vegetarian option, but besides that everyone eats the same thing. The menu is completely different every year, and Chuah tries to make food that you wouldn’t eat every day, with interesting flavor combos and unusual recipes. To get an idea, take a look at the menu from the spring 2014 Restaurant Day on the right. After creating the recipe, Chuah goes home and actually makes each of the dishes himself. The reason for this is to measure all of the ingredients, and see exactly how much of everything he uses. He then makes a spreadsheet of all the ingredients, as well as their costs. The spreadsheet scales the recipes so that he knows the exact ingredient amounts, as well as cost per person. “You actually have to go fraction of

24 | Spring 2014

Cold Penne Salad

an ounce by fraction of an ounce, each

Hainanese poached chicken OR soy infused wood ears Cilantro, chili sauces

individual ingredient. You track it all the

Corn Ginger Soup

ingredients in bulk at Restaurant Depot,

way from the raw ingredient until it lands on the plate,” he said. Once everything is planned, he buys

Braised pork belly OR smoked tofu nori, sesame bean sprouts, mayu

and then, finally, the big day arrives.

Curry Braised Short Rib OR Tempura Vegetables with fried rice, sauteed pea

simple tasks to all of the students, so there

Restaurant Day starts at 8 a.m. Chuah and the first shift of students comes in to start making the food. Chuah assigns isn’t much confusion and everything can get done more quickly. The complicated


assembly of each dish is broken down into

Cannoli Napoleon

any one student who does it over and over

fried wonton skins, vanilla ricotta strawberry, chocolate

each of its parts, so each step is easy for again. “I don’t make high-skill food, but I make low-skill food look good,” Chuah said.

“I don’t make highskill food, I make lowskill food look good.

Chuah makes sure every dish looks good when he makes it at home before serving it at restaurant day.

After about ten hours of hard work,

anyone into the kitchen. Before Restaurant

in [to the kitchen] that just can’t hack it

the first course goes out. After that, it’s

Day, he has a series of tests to determine

because they freeze up on that day.”

a race against time; how fast can the

whether a student should be allowed to be

Chuah has been doing Restaurant

students do the final assembly of all the

a cook. These tests include a knife skills

Day for five years. This year, he announced

other courses and get them served?

assessment in which a student has to use

that Spring 2014 would be his last

“You’re constantly in the weeds,

proper knife technique to chop an onion

Great Eats class, and therefore his final

all the time,” he said. “If we can push

or other vegetable. They are assessed on

Restaurant Day. He said that he didn’t

out dessert at 7:30, it’s been a wildly

speed, as well as quality and safety.

think it was the right class for him to

successful night. There have been times

The servers have tests as well. Chuah

teach anymore. But the real reason could

I’ve pushed out the dessert at 8:30 and

pretends to be a customer, and asks them

go back to something he told me earlier.

we’ve been here ‘till 9:30.”

difficult questions about the menu, as well

Chuah’s favorite food is anything he didn’t make himself.


as seeing how they react in challenging

occurrence at Restaurant Day, because





situations such as when an adult thinks

“Anybody else’s food, I don’t care

things don’t always go exactly according

it’s cute to ask for a beer. He teaches his

what it is,” he said laughing. “You can

to plan. There are so many parts that have

students how to deal with unexpected

make me canned green beans, and like

to come together perfectly in order to keep

events like these, and hopes that they all

spaghetti sauce out of a jar, as long as I

on schedule. The cook, the servers and the

remember the menu on the day of.

didn’t have to make it myself, I will love

front-of-house all have to be quick. If that doesn’t happen, there can be problems. To make sure everything runs smoothly, Chuah tries to avoid letting just

Despite Chuah’s best efforts, he said,


he can never seem to get everyone in the right place come Restaurant Day. “There’s always some kid that I bring

Salt & Pepper | 25

Bento Basics G

reat for picnics or lunches, Japanese bento are a simple and healthy way to make a fun midday meal in a compact space. Bento are a certain type of box lunch. They can be made by anyone, but there are a few rules everyone must follow. Here are a few tips and tricks for making an easy, tasty bento lunch. Story and art by Matthew Barnes


Bento boxes are made with a ratio of the amounts of different foods. The traditional ratio is 4 parts rice to 2 parts protein to 1 part other, says JustBento blogger Maki. Many nutritionists believe that the most healthy ratio is 3:2:1, but some believe that the ratio should be 2:1:1. There are different ratios for those that are vegetarian, or simply do not want meat in their bento every day.

Photos By Earth100, Quadell, Ken Hammond, Robin

to Pho





K aitr


Bento boxes are made to look appealing to the eye. This can range from cutting vegetables into simple shapes to making bunnies out of rice and nori, or seaweed paper. Bento boxes should be colorful while not losing nutritional value or unbalancing the meal.


Unlike a more simple lunch, the ingredients to be put into a bento should be made in advance, to be arranged in the bento later. This saves time later for foods that do not need to be heated up, which could be made before and reheated in the morning, or made in the morning.

26 | Spring 2014


a n Gov

nova By Do o t o Ph


When preparing food, one should always prepare enough food to make multiple bento. This is another way to save time and avoid being repetitive and cooking the same dish every night, says LittleJapanMama. Food can be saved for times when there is not time to cook, or when not enough food was cooked the night before.

Photo By Downtowngal


Traditional bento boxes are based on ingredients that are readily available in Japan. However, it can be difficult to find such ingredients outside of Japan. So bento boxes are not usually made the traditional way, and use different ingredients. Even basics like sticky rice can be replaced with long-grain rice or noodles.

Photo By Amy Nakazawa


Bento boxes are not only meant to be eaten as quick and simple meals. There are many different kinds of bento boxes that are made to be formal, for picnics, convenient, or even artistic and appealing to the eye. The most common type of bento box is homemade or convenient, while artistic bento boxes are a hobby, and sometimes judged in contests.

Photo By Kunchan

Salt & Pepper | 27

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