Friday Update: Where In The Blogosphere is PhillyFoodie85 (or When The Chips Are Down)?

It’s been sixteen days since my last post, which, yes, goes against my promise for more frequent posts, but I don’t like to rush my work.

It’s been a pretty interesting week for me. After being put off for a week, I started my city’s COOK Master’s program (, which is now catering to food writers looking for work along with chefs and cooks doing the same. I met more food bloggers looking to hit the big time than actual cooks, so, for the first time since my creative writing class in high school, I felt at ease at where I was.

The food writing lesson was good, in that it inspired me to always look for new ways to approach my food essays so it doesn’t feel like I’m in a grind (and not a good one, like for coffee and pepper) and to always edit, revise, build vocabulary, never stop learning, and even go out on a limb and make the news as well as report it (meaning that, if I stage at a restaurant or work at a farmer’s market, then I can report on it here). The speakers (Rick Nichols and Drew Lazor of Foobooz) didn’t exactly touch on where I can submit my work, but, hey, that’s why the Internet was made.

Tuesday the 21st’s Health and Nutrition class was canceled and rescheduled for February 25th after a heavy snowstorm plowed through the East Coast, a lesson learned when I arrived in Center City and was buffeted with snow for at least an hour until the program managers told me that there was no need for me to be here since the class was canceled. And it’s not like I was notified earlier about it and went blindly into the winter white. The program managers don’t get in until 11:15 am and, despite claims that they called me to inform me of this on my cell phone number, I didn’t get the message (it did, however, go to my home number). It was all a case of crossed wires and I can’t really blame anyone (except for myself, who should have taken the hint that there would be no class when the snow started to get heavy). This coming Monday and Tuesday, I have Butchery and Wine 101, and the weather isn’t going to be too bad, so I’m pumped and studying all I can.

The rest of the week was pretty much drafting and devising new ideas for this blog, as well as aimless Internet surfing, which brought me to this contest:!/

Lays Potato Chips started this two years ago, where lucky contestants get to enter in what new potato chip flavor they want to see. The finalists last time were Sriracha (a spicy, Asian, ketchup-like sauce that seems to be all the rage with hipsters, geeks, and white kids who want to be Asian. I didn’t taste this nor did I see it at any of the markets where I live), Chicken and Waffles (I did see this, and taste it. The combination of maple syrup and potatoes made up for the fact that I couldn’t taste the chicken), and Cheesy Garlic Bread (I saw this one too and tasted it. I was disappointed that I couldn’t identify the garlic nor the cheese taste. And this one won, which was more disappointing, given how good the chicken and waffles chips were and the potential of sriracha-flavored chips).

Now, you’re probably wondering, “PhillyFoodie [or Canais], why didn’t you enter the contest? You must have a lot of flavor ideas and combos whirling in your head from your two years as a Job Corps culinary student and your time in California, where you pretty much ate from organic gardens, professional kitchens, community kitchens, and farmers’ markets, and one could net you $1 million and some minor fame.” I did think about entering when the contest was fresh and new, but I was too busy. Now that I’m not, I’ve been pouring through The Flavor Bible and devising ideas.

My best ones so far include: Caprese (Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella), Philly Cheesesteak, Chili Cheese Fries, Parmesan and Walnut, Apple Cheddar (with and without bacon), Mac and Cheese (as a promise to my sister), and, my original idea, General Tso’s Chicken. I’m sure I have more, but I forgot.

Next time, I’ll touch on how to reinvent your kitchen into something more professional.

Good night, and happy eating!

Happy Holidays To All My Readers

I think the title says it all. The next blog post won’t come until next week, since it’s going to be New Years’ and what better way to start the new year than with a new blog post?

I also got an early Christmas present on Monday when I got an acceptance email to Philadelphia’s COOK Masters program for cooks (and now food writers) who have the drive and culinary skills, but need more experience and professional connections. Here’s a look at what the program is like:

I start the program on January 13th.

In the mean time, enjoy these photos of the food I made when I was at Job Corps:

Breast Cancer Remission Celebration Cake with Coffee Frosting Foreclosed Gingerbread House 1 Foreclosed Gingerbread House 2 Shrimp and Lime Pate en Croute Sopa and Fried Plantain Platter Stuffed Mussels and Polenta

Happy holidays and happy 2014!

The First Post

My two years spent outside of Pennsylvania learning culinary arts at two Job Corps centers (and getting my driver’s license, strengthening my communication skills with people, and trying to be a more well-rounded person with a wider circle of friends, but mostly it was learning culinary arts and everything it entails — sanitation, teamwork, knife skills, etc) has left me wanting homemade meals and “from scratch” versions of foods that I could easily get at any restaurant, supermarket, or convenience store. While most will argue it’s because of health reasons and how pre-made stuff comes loaded with artificial ingredients and high fructose corn syrup and other things that are contributing to the obesity epidemic in this country, my reason for wanting to cook things from scratch is simply because it tastes better. Sure, I’ll enjoy the occasional take-out or freezer appetizer, but these days, it’s more out of obligation to my family rather than laziness. I don’t want to live that way anymore — and neither should you.

That’s why I named this blog, Take Back the Kitchen. Because you — my reading audience — and I — the writer — want to rebel against the iron grip that fast and frozen convenience foods have had on our shelves, pantries, and refrigerators. You want to know what you’re eating, whether you want to eat healthy for life or turn your home menu around and give yourself and/or your roommates/family something good to eat that doesn’t require you uttering the words, “Hello, do you deliver?” or “Yes, I would like fries with that.”

Now, I don’t expect you to change your eating habits overnight. Don’t firebomb a ShopRite just because I spent time in San Francisco with the granola crowd at the bayside farmer’s market and am telling you that organic, grass-fed beef beats the cornfed, hormone-pumped stuff any day of the week. I don’t want to hear that I inspired a jihad against people who prefer McDonalds over Trader Joe’s. This blog isn’t about that. It’s more about being more mindful about what you put in your body. As someone who has worked in a kitchen setting both on and off the Job Corps Center campuses, I’ll be there to not only give you good recipes, but also helpful tips and tricks of the kitchen so, with a little practice and ingenuity, you won’t have to use convenience food as a last resort (unless you really, really screw up — and, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us).