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This is the first in a series of interviews with prominent NYC chefs and food experts. This week, Jesse Curti spoke with Queens-bred Aditi Malhotra, CEO/Owner/Chocolatier of Tache Artisan Chocolate.
Q: How is dating different for a chef?
A: Each level of working in a kitchen requires a different schedule. When I was working at Morimoto (as a line cook) we were working anywhere from 50-70 hours per week and late into the night so it left little time to date. When you’re out for after-work drinks at 3 AM, it’s not the best time to meet someone.
Q: Any serious requirements for who you’ll go out with?
A: Chefs love to talk about food, so whoever I date needs to love food and needs to love dining out, or at least appreciate it. And they need to be open to adventure and being spontaneous, because I love to try new places.
Q: Is dating someone in the food industry easier or harder?
A: I’ve dated a lot of chefs – the first rule is, you should never date someone that you work with. I know the saying goes for a lot of places, but in a kitchen it should be written in a book somewhere because it’s much smaller and like a family. Granted, a lot of people have the perception that chefs like to party until God knows what time in the morning and do a lot of drugs, which is not true. A lot of us do have very stable lives. We wake up early, we go to the gym, we talk to our families, we go to bed a decent time.
Q: What’s the best food date that you’ve ever been on?
A: I’ve gone on a lot of food dates with chefs where you’re literally eating from morning until night. If the date was four hours, I would love to go on a food tour. I went on a date a couple of weeks ago on the Lower East Side where I went from one restaurant to another restaurant to a cafe to a bakery.
Q: What would you cook for your “Let’s get serious” dinner?
A: I would do a three course meal. I’d start off with a salad with kale, buttered beans, sun-dried tomatoes, maybe some fennel. Then I’d probably make a fish, like a sea bass or an herb-crusted salmon. Maybe pistachio or candied walnut on top, a little glaze served with mixed vegetables sautéed. For dessert I would make a chocolate cake (of course) or a chocolate mousse or passion fruit cheesecake or guava cheesecake.
Q: What’s your take on dating people with dietary restrictions?
A: I’ve dated people with food restrictions, I’ve dated people with allergies. I need someone who’s open to trying new things that has a sophisticated palate. I wouldn’t date a vegetarian. I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Q: What kind of eating habits turn you off?
A: I grew up in the restaurant industry, my family owns many restaurants and bakeries. You really need to have good manners and treat service staff well, and you need to appreciate good service. I like it when a date asks you where you would like to eat and what you are craving. Food sets a mood for many different circumstances. if you’re on a date and the food was horrible and the service was horrible, more than likely you’re going to be in a bad mood and the date is going to go poorly.
Q: Tell me about your worst date ever.
A: The worst date I have ever been on was also probably a first date. Either conversation was lacking, we had different interests, different lifestyles and overall different beliefs. I don’t like guys that are too self-involved and too cocky or arrogant. Also, if my date took me to a bad restaurant or just made a poor choice in dining on a first date, definitely doesn’t give me much hope for enjoying a second date with them.
For a unique chocolate-making class with Aditi, check out our Couples Site.
—Jesse Curti, How About We
Best Meals to Cook on a First Date
Dating can be a challenge sometimes, but it can also be one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do. Part of the challenge is often finding the right thing to do on a first date. If you have been in a rut when it comes to first date ideas, maybe you should try something you&rsquove never done before. Some people are a little nervous when it comes to cooking for someone else, but even if you haven&rsquot done much cooking, there are some delicious meals you can prepare that will impress your date. The best part about cooking for someone else is that it gives you an opportunity to serve the person you are with, and that alone will start things off on a good note. The following are some easy but delicious things you can cook on a date with someone new.
Pasta, Bread, and Salad
There are dozens of pasta dishes that are easy to make but taste really great. You can buy noodles for any kind of pasta at your grocery store for example, you can make fettuccine Alfredo pasta with mostly pre-made ingredients. Buy the pasta and the sauce, and then grill up some chicken to place on top, add a salad, and then you have a nice meal. Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken can be made in thirty minutes.
Enchiladas and Rice
Most people love Mexican food, and many Mexican dishes are simple to make, for instance enchiladas are as easy to prepare as they are delicious. All you need is to grill chicken with enchilada seasoning, and then wrap the chicken and some cheese in a soft tortilla. You can buy enchilada sauce at the store to pour over the enchiladas, then prepare rice and put it all in a baking container to bake. Add black beans to the mix to have the perfect meal.
Before cooking for anyone, it&rsquos always a good idea to find out if your date is a vegetarian. If not, grilling anything can be an easy thing to do. Go to the store and pick up some chicken, burgers, or fish, and add the appropriate seasoning for the centerpiece of your meal. Simply add a salad, rice, or potatoes, and your meal will be filling and perfect.
If you want to be healthy, you can always create a salad bar in your home. Buy a few heads of lettuce and chop them up nicely, and then buy a wide-selection of vegetables. You can make homemade salad dressing with dressing mixes you can buy at the store. You can also grill up some chicken slices and boil some eggs in order to add protein to the mix of salad bar options. Most people will enjoy a hearty salad, and you could bake some brownies for desert.
Cooking can be a great way to win over a person&rsquos heart. If you have made a meal for a date, that can be a great way to start off the conversation. Your effort to make the evening special for someone you are just getting to know will create a wonderful setting for you both to get to know each other. So, take a chance and cook for your next date.
2 of 5
Pork Tenderloin with Dijon
Pork tenderloin is coated with Dijon mustard, then roasted and served with a simple cream, Marsala wine, and mustard sauce. The delicious sauce is also tasty spooned over grilled or broiled steak and baked chicken breasts. BettysMommy confirms this recipe's date night bona fides: "My husband made this for me when we were dating, and now we make it for every special occasion we have. Absolute favorite meal EVER!" For the side, we've matched it with a super-simple Steamed Broccoli.
Pair this impressive meal with a Pinot Noir (Burgundy) or Chardonnay if you prefer white.
What does a Master Chocolatier do?
“In the U.S. alone, more than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy are sold during Valentine’s week.” And let’s be honest, I consumed a couple of pounds myself, both in chocolate truffles and chocolate brownies! To continue with the chocolate celebrations, we had the chance to interview Ann Czaja, Lindt Master Chocolatier and learn direct front he source how chocolate companies create their new products.
The great thing about Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday means that we can continue to consume massive amounts of chocolate throughout the weekend without any guilt. There are two complete days before Monday hits, so dive into whatever leftover chocolate you have and read on what it takes to be a Lindt Master Chocolatier.
Cooking with Books: When did you realize you wanted to become a chocolatier?
Ann Czaja, Lindt Master Chocolatier: I discovered my love of pastry, baking, and chocolate while traveling in Switzerland. I was very fortunate to learn my craft from the very best. After completing my training, I knew that chocolate was my calling and true passion. Lindt sets itself apart from other chocolate companies in the unparalleled expertise of its Master Chocolatiers, so I was thrilled to begin working as a Master Chocolatier for Lindt USA.
CwB: How’s the R&D process for Lindt products? Do the Master Chocolatiers work directly with the R&D team?
AC: The Lindt Master Chocolatiers serve as the R&D team at Lindt. The Master Chocolatiers go through a lengthy process when developing new products, creating recipes with different inclusions, and tasting samples until we find the perfect flavor profile. A recipe can take anywhere from one to two years from inception until the final product is perfected and available to our consumers – it is a long and thoughtful process.
CwB: Any favorite chocolate childhood memories?
AC: I have always loved chocolate, and as a child, I looked forward to the Easter season and to finding a chocolate bunny in my Easter basket. However, I didn’t know what good, premium chocolate was until I traveled to Switzerland!
CwB: What upcoming trends are you seeing in the chocolate world? Any trends we should look out for in 2014?
AC: The Lindt Master Chocolatiers are continually tracking consumer preferences and researching current trends to create new innovations and premium chocolate offerings.
There are several exciting and delicious flavor combinations and trends right now. Fruit combinations continue to be of interest – Lindt introduced a CLASSIC RECIPE Strawberries & Crème bar, as well as the new LINDOR Coconut truffles, which combine a delicate chocolate shell with an irresistibly smooth melting filling and feature a subtle, tropical essence of coconut. Dark chocolate remains a popular trend, as well as salt, and we are seeing an increasing interest in traditional flavors, such as caramel. This trend helped inform the development of LINDOR Caramel truffles and new CLASSIC RECIPE Caramel with Sea Salt bar. Finally, unique combinations featuring a little heat continue to grow in popularity. Lindt EXCELLENCE Chili has been a favorite flavor for years and we are excited to see continued interest in the spicy flavor experience.
CwB: Any advice for aspiring chocolatiers?
AC: My biggest piece of advice for any aspiring chocolatiers would be to find opportunities to work with a local chocolatier or take a class in chocolate making to get that hands-on experience. The passion for gourmet chocolate coupled with the finest quality ingredients and innovative recipes are just some of the reasons why being a Lindt Master Chocolatier is a great job. It does require a lot of hard work and lot of long hours, so it’s important to learn and make sure the true passion for chocolate is there!
CwB: Fan favorite question: HOW do you achieve that CREAMY center in the truffles that make Lindt chocolate SO addictive?
AC: The iconic LINDOR truffle is a secret recipe that was created by the Lindt Master Chocolatiers in the 1940s and has remained unchanged for more than 60 years. I can’t tell you how we do it because that would take the magic out of it! Just enjoy the experience and indulge in the luscious, smooth melting LINDOR truffles.
Author Notes: It was a pleasure to interview Ann and learn about her passion for chocolate making – it’s truly an inspiration! This post is in no way sponsored by Lindt, they just offered the opportunity to interview one of their master chocolatiers and I wanted to share this fun interview with you, my chocolate loving readers! I did receive samples of new Lindt products and if I recommend you buying one thing, it’s their Classic Chocolate Brownie Mix – it’s hands down, THE best brownie mix in the market. At $12/box, it’s an indulgence I could only afford once in a while, but it’s so worth it. Thanks again to Lindt for the samples and interview opportunity.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and although I don’t have a valentine this year, I am still in a festive mood. Maple garlic salmon steaks is a sophisticated, delicious yet simple dish. It will definitely impress your significant other and you won’t have to spend more than 30 minutes in the kitchen. It is also a fun and easy meal to whip up together!
What Will I Learn?
- Develop a shopping list of chocolate-making suppliers for all your ingredients and supplies.
- Research chocolate crystallization and practice tempering techniques &ndash the building blocks of chocolate work.
- Understand the issues around cocoa sustainability and social justice in order to make chocolate sourcing choices that align with your values.
Physiology of taste
- Understand the chemistry of chocolate to create delicious chocolate recipes.
- Learn all about the ingredients in the chocolates you love.
- Set up a chocolate tasting for your friends and be prepared to be amazed.
Technique and production
- Learn modern decorating techniques in preparation for recipe development.
- Learn and practice working with chocolate (including chocolate tempering, dipping, decorating and molding)
- Make chocolate recipes including chocolate truffles and other bonbons (filled chocolates).
- Learn all this while you are with us for three months so we can get all your questions answered.
Our Learning Experience
How do we teach chocolate making online?
Students will be assessed by completion of assignments throughout the program.
Students completing the program with a score of 70% or more will receive an Ecole Chocolat Certificate of Achievement in Chocolate Technique.
Six tips for cooking your date a better dinner
So you’ve got it in your head that you’re going to cook for your next date. You’re imagining yourself relaxed and confident, smiling, taking care of everything with ease and grace, maybe wearing a smart apron to give you an air of professionalism, or a crisp tea towel thrown over your shoulder. Your date will sit nearby, drink in hand, smiling and chatting and obviously very impressed by your culinary prowess (among other things). Their face will look like the heart eyes emoji brought to life.
But if you’re not careful, it might look like this instead: You, panicked and running around a hot kitchen your date, ignored and drinking on an empty stomach as dinner preparations spiral out of control. You, doing a mountain of dishes while your now-drunk date passes out on the couch. Not exactly sexy.
Don’t let things get out of hand. Let’s set some ground rules for date night cooking that will keep you in scenario one, shall we?
Keep the Recipe Simple
The biggest mistake you can make when cooking for a date is trying too hard. If you make something too complicated or elaborate, you’ll spend more time swearing over your pots and pans than flirting. So keep it relatively chill: make something you’ve made before. A pasta. Steak. Your famous tacos. Something you can cook blindfolded (do not cook blindfolded, save the blindfolds for later).
Impress With Ingredients
You still want to add a touch of luxury to the meal, though—you are trying to wow someone with this dinner, after all. So make up for the relative simplicity of the food with a few deluxe flourishes: splurge on the good aged steak, or buy a tiny truffle to shave over pasta. Kick things off with a nice cheese, or end them with a couple insanely rich chocolates. Bonus points for things you know your date is into: maybe get a bottle of wine from the region of Italy where she studied abroad, or pick up some charcuterie from the restaurant he mentioned he loves.
Be Smart About the Menu
This should go without saying, but keep the food somewhat inconsequential. This is not the time to break out your infamous so-spicy-it-hurts recipes, or anything that is super greasy. If you’re hoping for some, uh, after-dinner festivities, you want to make sure everyone is feeling up for it. It’s also a good idea to check on allergies or food preferences if you haven’t been dating for that long. Trying to serve pork shoulder to a vegetarian will not get you that prized fourth date.
Prep Like a Fiend
Every single thing that can be chopped, washed, or measured should be chopped, washed, or measured before your date shows up. And when you’re done with all of it, clean the kitchen. Not only does this buy you time, it also keeps after-dinner cleaning to a minimum—and gives you a little bit of that cooking show flair.
Let Them Bring Something
This is a personal call. You might be tempted to say no when your date asks if they can bring anything, but there are a lot of people in this world who will feel like jerks showing up empty-handed. Do these people a favor and suggest something specific: obviously a bottle of wine works, or something to eat for dessert. Ask them to make a playlist themed to the menu you’re preparing. Or be cheeky and suggest they bring their favorite coffee—for the next morning. Wink!
Dress The Part
The apron thing wasn’t a joke. Get a crisp, clean, professional-style cooking apron from just about any kitchen supply store. It’ll look supremely legit when you answer the door, and it’ll keep your nice shirt from getting stained while you cook. Now go get ‘em, tiger.
Fame and Fortune
Throughout his career at Le Cirque, Torres released a 52-episode public television series called Dessert Circus with Jacques Torres. He also released three cookbooks, one of which earned a 1999 James Beard Award nomination, and hosted a three-year Food Network series called Chocolate with Jacques Torres.
In 2000, Torres left Le Cirque and opened his own chocolate factory and retail shop in Brooklyn. Eventually, he went on to open seven shops, including two chocolate factories and an ice cream shop. In 2007, he married chocolatier and former employee Hasty Khoei, who owns a chocolate shop called Madame Chocolat in Beverly Hills, California.
Now a famous and world-recognized figure, Torres regularly participates in culinary events, including guest appearances on television shows. In 2010, Torres was among several FCI members who prepared a $30,000-per-couple dinner for U.S. President Barack Obama&aposs Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser, which was held at Manhattan&aposs St. Regis Hotel.
A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate Recipe Book
In love with our chocolates? Why not have a go at making them yourself? A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate is our very own cookbook. A flip through reveals our top tips, a selection of our most coveted recipes, and a unique glimpse into the world of Hotel Chocolat.
If asked to describe it in one sentence, we&rsquod probably say something like &lsquoit&rsquos the cocoa lover&rsquos bible&rsquo. And really, this sums it up. These pages hold 100 of our greatest (never before revealed) recipes. You&rsquoll learn how we make our chocolate and how to make your own. We even discuss how you can make cocoa a healthy and joyful part of your everyday diet.
Our talented chocolatiers are the brains behind this cookbook and have poured years of knowledge into every page. Discover irresistible chocolate desserts, spreads, and smoothies. Plus, venture into the savoury world of using chocolate in your starters, mains and (though you never would have guessed it) salads.
We&rsquove worked out how to ensure all our recipes are easy to understand and beautifully illustrated throughout. So, whether you&rsquore a cocoa rookie or an experienced chocolatier, we hope you&rsquoll find a world of inspiration in this book.
Chocolate is always a great treat &mdash not many people would deny! But there's something even more satisfying about finding new and inventive ways to use it in your cooking. A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate is exactly what it says on the tin.
|Description||Sugar is a sweetener which is essential to chocolates of any kind.||Cacao beans are the stuff make up the chocolate goodness.||Rich and creamy milk solids that make chocolate silky.||Caramel adds a pure and sweet texture to chocolates.||Mint leaves add a refreshing aftertaste to chocolates.||Roasted almonds have a nice crunch and add good flavor.|
|Price Range||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA|
|Level Unlocked At||0 (Newbie)||0 (Newbie)||0 (Newbie)||1 (Novice)||1 (Novice)||1 (Novice)|
|Description||Hazelnuts that make a warm, tasty chocolate flavor.||Fresh lemons provide an intense burst of tangy, sweet flavor.||Zesty oranges that leave a tart and sweet aftertaste.||Peanuts that are versatile and made in a huge variety of chocolates.||Raspberries that are perfect to give off a summery feel.||Silky honey is kissed by nature and the bees that make it.|
|Price Range||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA||$TBA - $TBA|
|Level Unlocked At||TBA||TBA||TBA||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Basic Chocolate Bars||Dark Chocolate Bars||Milk Chocolate Bars||Chocolate Bars w/ Caramel|
|Description||Straightforward, simple, timeless bars of pure cacao and sugar.||With 66% cacao, these bars are pure and delicious.||A rich and creamy blend of fine milk, cacao and sugar.||Fresh caramel combined with pure dark chocolate.|
|Sugar • Cacao||Sugar • Cacao • Cacao||Sugar • Cacao • Milk||Sugar • Cacao • Caramel|
|Chocolate Bars w/ Almonds||Chocolate Bars w/ Hazelnut||Chocolate Bars w/ Lemon||Chocolate Bars w/ Orange|
|Description||A Baumeister Confections classic offering, chocolate surrounding fresh roasted almonds.||Hazelnuts offer a new twist to a classic chocolate bar.||Tart and sweet, chocolate with the essence of fresh lemons.||Subtle orange-infused bars perfect anytime.|
|Sugar • Cacao • Almonds||Sugar • Cacao • Hazelnuts||Sugar • Cacao • Lemons||Sugar • Cacao • Orange|
|Bar(s)||File:Chocolatier 4 - Colombian Cacao Chocolate Bars.png||File:Chocolatier 4 - Madagascan Cacao Chocolate Bars.png|
|Chocolate Bars w/ Honey||Chocolate Bars w/ Mint||Colombian Cacao Chocolate Bars||Madagascan Cacao Chocolate Bars|
|Description||Kissed by nature's sweetener, these bars are truly one of a kind.||Refreshing and delicious, the sharp mint gives these bars a wonderful aftertaste.||The finest Colombian cacao lends these bars a unique taste that lingers on the palate.||Only the finest cacao harvested in Madagascar is used to craft these dark, delectable bars.|
|Sugar • Cacao • Honey||Sugar • Cacao • Mint||Sugar • Colombian Cacao • Colombian Cacao||Sugar • Madagascan Cacao • Madagascan Cacao|
|Bar(s)||File:Chocolatier 4 - Vietnamese Cacao Chocolate Bars.png||File:Chocolatier 4 - Indonesian Cacao Chocolate Bars.png||File:Chocolatier 4 - Extra Dark Chocolate Bars.png|
|Vietnamese Cacao Chocolate Bars||Indonesian Cacao Chocolate Bars||White Chocolate Bars||Extra Dark Chocolate Bars|
|Description||Cacao beans imported from Hanoi in Vietnam give these bars their distinct, incomparable temper and taste.||Indonesian cacao beans give these bars a wonderful aroma and remarkable finish.||Blending milk solids, sugar and cacao, these untraditional bars have become popular the world over.||These Extra Dark Chocolate Bars are made with 75% pure cacao.|
|Sugar • Vietnamese Cacao • Vietnamese Cacao||Sugar • Indonesian Cacao • Indonesian Cacao||Sugar • Sugar • Cacao • Milk||Sugar • Cacao • Cacao • Cacao|
There are 16 slots left in the recipe book, tailored towards the player creating his/her own recipes in the Secret Test Kitchen in Reykjavik. Players can select their own ingredient combinations, appearance, name and description. Unlike the previous game, creations can be edited, but NOT deleted in Story Mode. Creations can be deleted in Free Play Mode, though.