Monday, November 23, 2009

Chili and beignets, are you kidding me ?

Nope ! I did not have a class today but I had a lot of fun. There was the annual chili cook off/Pepperama sponsored by The Texas Chef's Association but I did not do chili, I leave that to the self proclaimed experts, not that I can’t cook chili but I was not into it. I did however join my Chef colleagues for this occasion and instead I did cook some beignets. Yes , you heard it right, beignets !
Some people asked me why I was doing beignets in a chili cook off. Now that is an easy question to answer: because I can ! Please don’t take this the wrong way, it seemed like the right answer at the time. Would I change it looking back ? Absolutely not ! I had a ton of fun as I cooked about 250 beignets. I was just thrilled to see people lined up and fun, fun, fun, it was !

I know what you’re thinking, another CafĂ© du Monde version. No, no this was the real thing. For those of you who have been to New Orleans and Cajun country, the beignets they do are basically a cross between sopapillas and donuts. If you serve those in France, chances are that they will throw them back at you, literally .
The French version is basically a pate a choux that has been flavored with vanilla, citrus zest or other flavors. It is that simple and the result is a light, airy, delicious beignets after it has been rolled into a vanilla flavored granulated sugar.
Go ahead and get the vanilla beans, split them and squeeze them within that sugar. It is the best and so simple. That was my contribution and I only charged one dollar for two of them. A good deal right ? It gets better. I decided to give the proceeds to a good cause, in this case it was the Family Gateway Place which is a shelter for people who happen to find themselves homeless for one reason or another and where they can find a temporary and safe home while getting introduced to the food business should they decide to pursue a career in that field.
I did not raised a fortune but it felt good just to do it and I think next time I will think even bigger as I ran out of product and had a line for the longest time.
For those of you who might think that every act of kindness deserve recognition, please chew on this for a minute : Trophies are for bragging rights but the memories are forever and so very special !
It was not a large amount of money that I raised but the cause made sense to me as we really can make a difference one deed at the time.

So next year I might do "cafe au lait and beignets " which would be great for the late risers and also the afternoon snackers.

Next blog is from Paris CDG where I have a 3 hours layover. Can't wait for a real cafe/croissants !

Chef Andre

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