The Caribbean Cuisine

Last week I was listening to an NPR episode about the “hottest new trends” in the Chicago food scene at the moment, and to my surprise Caribbean food is currently at the top of this list. According to this broadcast, there are a number of new Caribbean restaurants opening up in the near future across the city of Chicago and the journalists were debating if Caribbean food would be the next trend, like “Brazilian” food was in 2005, or if it would be a lasting phenomena. Regardless of that debate (I mean, who knows right?), the broadcast did get me thinking about “Caribbean” cuisine; what is it, really?

The Caribbean, as an area of the world, has such a complex history marked by European colonialism, which obviously affects its current state of food. The Caribbean cuisine is influenced by the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, and British, which all conquered various parts of it. And if this is the case, food wise – Caribbean cuisine is awesome because here we eaters have the best of both worlds – traditional French sauces with a sugary, tropical twist on top of fresh seafood directly sourced from the nearby ocean, and rice, traditionally from Spain, but made with tantalizing spices and fresh herbs from the Caribbean. Delicious.

Being the trendsetter that I am (ha-ha), I recently went to the Dominican Republic on a week-long adventure with my better half. We went on an all-inclusive vacation and although the beaches and natural beauty were amazing, the food was, well, very blah. Being the foodies that we are, we convinced a staff member of the resort, Tito, to be our tour guide into nearest town of Baihybe (pronounced buy-e-bay) and take us out to lunch. After a stroll through this very stereotypical “other world” town, we ended up eating lunch at a place with no name, but it was the best meal we had the entire trip.

We were greeted and served by Esperanza, a native Costa Rican who studied the culinary arts in both France and Italy, with what she ensured us was a “classic Dominican Dish.” We chowed on a deliciously braised Dominican chicken dish with habichuelas, which means white beans in Spanish, over rice, and pescado con coco (fish with coconut), which were extremely fresh and served whole. To top off the meal, we had ice-cold Dominican beers…it was amazing. We had such a great meal that I came in the next day and worked with her in kitchen to see how she prepared each dish and upon returning home I made it for TableXi.

Hopefully, we will see some more Caribbean food popping up in the city, but until then I can just make it for you. Bon Appetite.

Cookin’ Meals and Bookin’ Deals…

Greetings Fellow Chefs, Foodies, Family, Friends, and Bloggers!

My sincerest apologies for not writing a post earlier, but this year has been an epic rollercoaster of work and I have been busy makin’ deals and cookin’ meals. I figured the best way to get this blog rolling was to give a re-cap of the last year, so here goes…

Last August I tried out for a TV called The Taste on ABC and made it to final rounds. I went out to LA, got eliminated, but had the good fortunate to meet a lot of interesting and compelling people in the Culinary industry from all across the country. After the show finished, one of the contestants, Mia, helped launched Kitchit.com in Chicago and I got to be one of the fist chefs on this endeavor. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kitchit, it’s a Personal and Private Chef search service that allows clients to find private chefs near them for their events and catering services. Through Kitchit, I have been able serve up some amazing dinner parties for a wide range of clientele. I got to travel to Wisconsin for en event at client’s beautiful lake house, cook a 7-course meal for Bill Curtis & Casey Urlacher, Wilco, and served meals in the Trump Tower & other beautiful homes across the city of Chicago.  If you are interested in learning more about Kitchit and myself, check out my reviews and profile on Kitchit.com. You won’t be disappointed.

In addition to Kitchit, I have continued working at everyone’s favorite Tech firm in Chicago, TableXI. Due to TXI’s cutting edge ideas and business philosophy, the firm has grown rapidly this past year and it’s been exciting to cook for a ton of new faces in the office. TXI also started an event called “Table Talks,” which is a monthly forum to share new ideas in 2-6 minute presentations. I gave a talk on Innovation and my transition from the suit to the chef coat, which was praised with great enthusiasm by the Peckakucha community. Please check it out at http://www.pechakucha.org/users/aram-reed.

Similar to Kitchit, I am also part of the Kitchensurfing community in Chicago. Kitchensurfing is basically the same thing as Kitchit and was launched last week in Chicago, which is pretty exciting. As 2013 continues to get busier, we will keep you posted on the dishes I am doing in the office, at dinner parties, and other special events in Chicago!

New Website and Blog Are Up!

The New ChefAramReed.com

The New ChefAramReed.com

After a few seasons of working in Chicago, I realized my site was in need of updating and my presence (here in Chicago) needed expanding. So, I reached out to local designer (and long-time friend) Will Hobbs to help me develop some new material. My new site, chefaramreed.com, rolled-out in early August, and this blog will continue to update with news and other noteworthy entries to keep you up-to-date. Keep an eye out for upcoming events and classes, too… there should be some really interesting developments over the next couple of months!