Tag: chefs

DinnerTime! From Soup to Nuts, Local Website Does All the Planning for Busy Home Cooks

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DinnerTime2

So, I’m guessing that I’m not alone when I say that dinners at my house are rarely Instagram-ready. You know your friends who post drool-inducing photos of every evening meal—each one more complicated, seasonally appropriate, and perfectly plated than the last? That’s not me. In fact, I’m lucky if a week’s meals feature more than two (or, on special occasions, three) recipes. After all, if you know what you like and don’t have loads of time to spend shopping and cooking, it’s hard to find the motivation to mix it up. But after a few weeks of the same butternut squash recipe, your beta-carotene levels may be through the roof, but you’re probably not getting a nutritionally balanced diet. And dinner can easily go from being enjoyable family time to a daily source of stress. Local entrepreneurs Laura and Charlie Moore know what it’s like. That’s why they spent the past three years developing the revolutionary new website, DinnerTime. It’s an unprecedented tool that does your meal planning (and budgeting, and shopping list-writing) for you. And it’s so customizable that your head will spin.

The DinnerTime team
The DinnerTime team

DinnerTime seems like such a common sense idea, and yet,  Laura and Charlie and their team of Baltimoreans
are the first people to really put something like this into action. The way
 it works is that when you first sign up, you input tons of information (though it
 only takes a few minutes). You get to note your likes and dislikes, dietary 
restrictions, whether you’re concerned about health issues, how capable you 
are as a cook, and how much time you want to devote to cooking. The system then asks you to choose the local grocery store you want to shop and which day you want to shop and then DinnerTime immediately spins up
 a week’s worth of dinner recipes for you, based on the 
information you’ve given. You can spin other suggestions, modify that day’s requirements, pull from a recipe box, and more. You can even send them your own recipes and they’ll add them to your recipe box. The shopping list is organized by department of the store to make it super easy to get through the store quickly and works on a smartphone. After you make each meal, you can rate
 it, so the system can learn more about what you like and
 create meals even more tailored to your tastes. Think Pandora for food!

When asked what inspired them to create the service, Laura relates a similar experience to my own: “As a busy working mom, I felt the dull, daily burden of having to figure out ‘what’s for dinner’. I wanted to prepare something fast, delicious, and healthy, and I didn’t want to spend money unnecessarily. I also wanted variety, and to feel competent as a cook. Resorting to takeout, except on rare occasion, didn’t seem like a good option. It made me feel guilty. It’s expensive, and typically not very healthy. Most of all, I wanted a pleasant dinnertime experience for the whole family, including less stress for me.”

Co-Founder Sharon Lacy brought a background in the health insurance industry, says Sharon, “I knew that 75% of healthcare costs are due to behavior: what we do (exercise and smoking) and what we eat. I knew that wellness programs were doing a good job in improving exercise levels and reducing smoking, but had no good solutions in the area of nutrition! So, I was confident that large, self-insured employers would be enthusiastic about their employees having access to a program that enabled real behavioral change around nutrition. And that they would strongly encourage their employees to join DinnerTime and then reward them financially for using the system actively.  I was confident that they would recognize that their employees would be saving time and money, having a better work life balance, and also be healthier. Healthcare costs would go down and productivity would improve. And the benefits would be for the whole family!”DinnerTime3

Indeed, since the site launched last June, DinnerTime has been rapidly becoming the most popular benefit offered by employers who are creating a culture of good health amongst their employees. User testimonials abound, but Charlie’s was our favorite. Sure, DinnerTime was founded to meet a need for others, but using his own service has paid off even more than he anticipated. “My personal experience is that I’ve lost 25 pounds in the past 6 months due to eating healthier on DinnerTime. I don’t feel like I’m on a diet, I’m just eating more of what’s good for me and less of what’s not so good,” he says. “We did dial the low carb option for our everyday meals. Low carb was recommended to us by the system because we have diabetes in the family. For $3 a serving we’re having salmon and pork chops and steak, and lots of fresh vegetables, because the system automatically takes advantage of what’s on sale this week.”

Oh yeah. As we mentioned before, the website asks which grocery stores you most frequently shop and builds menus around items that are on sale and in season. Concerned about my own grocery bill, I was blown away to see that the cost-per-serving of many of DinnerTime’s recommended meals for me was between $1 and $2. Pretty remarkable. And since DinnerTime is on a mission to help all of us, adults and kids alike, live healthier, happier lives, for the whole month of December, they’ll be making a donation to the Maryland Food Bank for every new DinnerTime member. I know that, thanks to the web, DinnerTime is available to dinner makers and eaters everywhere, but I’ve got to say—I’m pretty glad they’re based right here.  

The DinnerTime team is offering all of us in the Baltimore Fishbowl a  chance to win an iPad Air or $100 shopping spree at Macy’s! Provide referral code FISHBOWL when you create an account.

 

A Tale of Two Chefs

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David Newman and Ray Kumm, former and current executive chefs at The Brewer’s Art. Photo by Steve Ruark.

Courtesy Bmore Media – Chef shuffles and personnel shake-ups are a normal, everyday part of the frenetic restaurant world. But it’s a phenomenon worth noting when the executive chef of a well-respected, popular local establishment leaves his post and his replacement decides to take things in a totally new culinary direction.

Food Academy? Local Events Combine Food Movement Learning with Eating. Yum!

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The visit of Alice Waters to the New Era Academy got our foodies juices going, so when we got word of these cool cuisine-inspired events scheduled next Monday at the AVAM and next Tuesday at the Aquarium, we had to share…

Farm to Chef Maryland – Farm to Chef Maryland is a local culinary competition to benefit the The American Institute of Wine & Food’s Days of Taste program. Days of Taste encourages elementary school students to appreciate the taste and benefits of fresh food by teaching them about food’s journey from farm to table and the basic elements of taste. The program brings together chefs, farmers and volunteers with kids for hands-on activities both in the classroom and at local farms. Baltimore chefs come together to participate in Farm to Chef Maryland on Monday, Sept. 24 at the American Visionary Art Museum. Chef Therese Harding of  The Classic Catering People is one of the chef’s participating and she will be partnered with Baltimore County-based farmer, Albright Farms. Her menu: seared rockfish with smoked Maryland crab, sweet corn mostarda and roasted caramelized beet jam and Swiss chard gratin. Getting hungry? There’s still time to sign up.

A Sweet Reward: Baltimore

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You’ve been meaning to go to Wit & Wisdom for months now but something else kept popping up. Now that word is out — officially — that good things are happening there, particularly the desserts, you might have larger crowds to contend with at this popular tavern.

Chris Ford, Wit & Wisdom’s pastry chef, was voted Food & Wine’s “People’s Best New Pastry Chef 2012.” As part of the perks for his win, Food & Wine will publish a profile of Ford in its May issue and he has been invited to the 30th anniversary of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this June.

Diners across the country voted for their favorite pastry chef, a new category for this year, via an online poll sponsored by Godiva. Ford had been earning a name for himself that caught Wit & Wisdom’s Chef Michael Mina’s attention — first at Trummer’s on Main in Virginia and then at Rogue 24 in DC. His win shows that great palettes think alike.

When Ford isn’t busy winning awards and delighting diners with sweet decadence, he posts about dessert on his blog. Ford, as generous as he is talented, garnishes his foodie forethought and afterthoughts with recipes and eye candy. Did I mention Ford is also a photography enthusiast and takes mouth-watering photos?

Before another something else interrupts my plans, I’d head on down to Wit & Wisdom where life’s tastier matters, like Ford’s choux and brioche, are popping up.

Ford isn’t the only Baltimore chef to receive honors this week.  Three other Baltimore chefs were nominated for James Beard awards

 

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