Do-It-Yourself Seasonings

Despite a plethora of spice blends and seasonings on the market, chefs do like to make their own.

In an age where convenience is king, many chefs prefer to “do it old school.” They understand the benefits of, and are not shy about using, commercially prepared spice blends, sauces and seasonings. But they also understand that you can’t really call a recipe your own unless you’ve brought something unique to it.

We asked three chefs to share with us examples of their special flavoring techniques and mixes.

Chef Cameron's Turkey Brine
Cameron Clegg
Executive Chef (Parkhurst Dining Services), Highmark, Pittsburgh

“My arrival at Highmark coincided with preparations for a Thanksgiving dinner. I came up with this brine that we used with the turkey, and it was a big hit. I used it because it helps break down the turkey, adds flavor and keeps it moist.

Brines are very forgiving and can be adjusted in many ways. The aromatics such as the herbs and garlic can be changed out with anything you prefer. You can also change the sugar to honey, molasses, agave nectar or any other sweetener. I love to add citrus. Any of those flavors—orange, lemon, lime—match up with poultry and pork products wonderfully.

Brines are especially popular for smoked items, and smoked turkey can be a great way to change up your normal holiday dinners. I use mine also for duck and pork, and you can even use it with beef on special occasions.”

See full recipe

Omar & Craig’s Guajillo Rub and Barbecue Seasoning
Craig Mombert
Executive Chef, Vail Commons, Davidson College, Davidson, N.C.

“The reason I like to make my own seasonings is because I have most of the base ingredients in house. I can control the flavor and heat profile, it is cost-effective for my bottom line and I am able to market on my menus that the rubs are housemade. Omar Rodriguez, who is one of my chefs, assisted me with these two blends: Barbecue Seasoning and a Guajillo Rub.

The Barbecue Seasoning has the right amount of sweet with heat. We played with this for a bit to come up with a flavor that complements the meat. I added ground espresso beans to the rub to give it some color and to balance the sweet with a touch of bitter. We use this for our barbecued chicken and ribs.

The Guajillo Rub was created when we started making beef barbacoa. Omar experimented with the rub to replicate the flavors his family has enjoyed. He wanted it authentic, using only guajillo and ancho chilies and Mexican oregano.”

See Omar & Craig’s Guajillo Rub full recipe
See Omar & Craig’s Barbecue Seasoning full recipe

Herb-Seasoned Roasted Potato Wedges
Laura Catala
Chef/Manager (Flik Independent Dining Services), Horace Mann Lower School, Riverdale, N.Y.

“The right blend of seasoning can transform a seemingly average dish into one full of flavor. Herbs and spices are also a great way to add flavor without unwanted fat and calories. In this simple recipe, the potatoes are roasted for crunch without frying in oil and the dry herb mix adds delicious flavor.”

See full recipe

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources