In The Kitchen With Kara: Mastering Macarons

Urban Farmer, Cleveland’s Steakhouse, Cleveland, OH

In The Kitchen With Kara: Mastering Macarons

As we have recently hosted Macaron Masterclass at Urban Farmer, we thought it would be a good time to get to know the Master behind our macarons, and all things pastry – Chef Kara Swortchek.

 

In case you missed hearing about it, or attending, Macaron Masterclass provided attendees the opportunity to join Chef Kara, at Urban Farmer, to learn the art of making French macaron shells and buttercream filling. The hands-on experience included assembling macarons, enjoying samples prepared by Chef Kara, and macarons to take home, as well. The first class was held February 24th and, due to popular demand, a second class was scheduled for March 3rd.   It seems that everyone loves macarons! And on that note, we asked Pastry Chef Kara for her insight on the delicate treats and a bit about herself in a recent “interview.”

Why are macarons so popular?

Chef Kara: They’re an appealing treat from multiple aspects for a multitude of people. They’re pretty to look at, are adaptable to many flavor combinations, and in their original form, one of the only desserts to be naturally gluten-free

 

How does macaron-making compare to say cookie, pie or cake baking?

Chef Kara:  Macarons require patience and can be intimidating because they are susceptible to mistakes in time and handling. Once you know the pitfalls and how to set yourself up for success, they can be a lot of fun to make.

 

What makes a good macaron?

Chef Kara:  A great macaron is crisp on the outside, with a smooth shell, and chewy on the inside, with a flavorful filling.

 

What flavors are popular now?

Chef Kara:  The classic flavors are always in style, like Pistachio, Lemon, and Salted Caramel. And, there are more adventurous flavors like Hot pepper, Honey lavender, and Lychee.

What can attendees look forward to in your macaron classes?

Chef Kara:  Guests will learn what not to do when making a batch of French macarons, where they could be going wrong, and how to fix their mistakes when possible.

 

How did you become a pastry chef?

Chef Kara:  When I was little, I always told my Mom that I was going to be a “Cooker” when I grew up. I started out in the industry as a short-order cook, working in mom & pop places (I can sling eggs with the best of them).  I attended the local vocational school (Lorain County JVS) learning Culinary Arts and chose to pursue a degree in Baking in Pastry Arts when I left for college. I attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI on a FCCLA (Family, Career, Community Leaders of America) Scholarship and attained a Bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, with a concentration in Leadership. I’ve worked in multiple applications of the industry – from a truck stop, to a hospital, to a luxury resort. I’ve lived in five states and worked my way from an intern, to a pastry cook until I finally got my first Pastry Chef position, a few years out of college.

What is your favorite dessert to eat?

Chef Kara:  Ice cream sandwiches. I could eat them every day.

 

What is your day to day like?

Chef Kara:  I spend my days strategizing and organizing with my team, handing out prep work, and keeping up with costing, ordering and inventory. I also come up with ideas to incorporate new techniques, attend necessary meetings, and help my staff with any issues that may arise.

What led you to Urban Farmer?

Chef Kara:  I started at Urban Farmer as a pastry cook.   I had only been looking for a part time position and I really liked the concept, specifically working with locally sourced products. It’s rare to find places that make their own breads and desserts anymore, let alone a place that believes in sustainability. It turned into a great match for me, and I was promoted to pastry chef within the first year.

To learn more about Urban Farmer classes and the team, please follow us on Facebook.

For those who attended Macaron Masterclass, we hope you are practicing the skills you learned at home! Please share photos of your macaron creations on Instagram by tagging #ufmacaron so we can see your progre

        

BBQ – Urban Farmer Style

 

BBQ – Urban Farmer Style

Did you know that Urban Farmer Cleveland hosts classes? Well now you do!

From baking to butchery, our experts periodically host classes to help others explore their culinary passions and develop their skills. Our most recent class, Carolina vs Texas BBQ, enabled attendees to learn a bit about the different styles of BBQ, try their hand at making a few related items, and explore our in-house butcher program.

Each class is led by the experienced in-house experts who focus on the topic featured. This class was led by Executive Chef, Vishu Nath, and Chef de Cuisine, Anthony Bernal. These Urban Farmer Chefs have experience in a variety of cuisines, including BBQ, and bring unique geographic and cultural influences to share. Chef Vishu’s South Asian culture tends to lead to spicy blends and use of ingredients that are typically not part of stateside BBQ. Chef Anthony’s time in the Southwest lends to sweeter styles of sauce and BBQ cooking techniques not often found in Ohio.

While each Urban Farmer class is unique, they all incorporate some classroom style learning. During the Carolina vs Texas BBQ Class, attendees learned the different types of meat, sauces and slaws associated with each region. Most were surprised by the variety of slaws and hadn’t tried the vinegar and mustard styles typically found in the south. The Chefs also shared some of their smoking tips and techniques, and ways to make BBQ rubs.

After the classroom portion of the day, attendees got to take a tour of the on premise butcher room and dry aging cooler. Here, they got to see how Urban Farmer utilizes full animals and minimal waste in their butcher program, and some of the aged meats that would soon be found on the Bucher’s Card Specials that evening.

Post tour, class moved out to the patio where attendees got to utilize the knowledge gained inside to make their own BBQ sauce and rub to take home. Chef Vishu and Anthony also guided students in preparing their own meats, to grill and enjoy with attendees, and answered questions that arose in the live setting.

Everyone then sat to enjoy the “meats of their labor”, including a few prepared by the Urban Farmer culinary team, and the amazing weather that day. Students left, full of knowledge and food, carrying a swag bag including the restaurants very own BBQ sauce recipes!

 

We are planning our next class schedule so be sure to keep your eye out for future offerings. And, feel free to drop us a line with suggested class topics!

Urban Farmer takes a trip to Kentucky!

 

Urban Farmer takes a trip to Kentucky!

Our General Manager Andy and our Executive Chef Vishu, took a road trip to Kentucky this week to find our very own signature bourbon. They spent time at Barton Distillery, located in; Bardstown, KY, receiving a tour of how bourbon is made in their facility. Based on our pictures below, we can tell they really enjoyed themselves! But what does that mean for Urban Farmer’s beverage program? While Andy and Vishu were down there, they hand selected bourbons that will be featured at our bar, or table side. Although we do enjoy finding places as close to home as possible, we think it will be fun for our guests to enjoy some Kentucky Bourbon too!

Curious how Bourbon came to be in Kentucky? It began in the 1700s with the first settlers of Kentucky. Like most farmers and frontiersmen, they found that getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task. They soon learned that converting corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them some welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier. Since then, generations of Kentuckians have continued the heritage and time-honored tradition of making fine Bourbon, unchanged from the process used by their ancestor’s centuries before. So how did it get the name Bourbon? Well, one of Kentucky’s original counties was Bourbon County, established in 1785 when Kentucky was still part of Virginia. Farmers shipped their whiskey in oak barrels — stamped from Bourbon County — down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. The long trip aged the whiskey, with the oak wood giving it the distinct mellow flavor and amber color. Pretty soon, whiskey from Bourbon County grew in popularity and became known as Bourbon whiskey. In 1964, Congress officially recognized Bourbon’s place in our history — and our future — by declaring it a distinctive product of the United States. (kybourbontrail.com)

You can check out the distillery Andy and Vishu visited here

http://www.1792bourbon.com/distillery

 

We’re very excited to be offering a hand selected bourbon exclusively for Urban Farmer in our restaurant and please feel free to share your experiences on our social media accounts.

Our New General Manager: Andy Hata

 

Please join us in welcoming our new General Manager: Andy Hata

Andy Hata comes to us from within our Sage Restaurant family, from our Departure restaurant in Portland, Oregon.  Andy has had a passion for hospitality and restaurants his whole life. He explains “we take such a basic human necessity in food and sustenance and create an environment where it takes the form of art, theatre, entertainment, socializing, and so much more. Restaurants today also play a great role in defining how people eat and more importantly, how we source our food in society. I consider it a great part of my responsibility to ensure that our products are sourced sustainably and support the locals.”  It is that attitude that makes us so proud to have Andy with us at Urban Farmer Cleveland, Ohio. We can certainly appreciate the move, as Portland is such a fantastic city and Andy can help Cleveland become just as special as cities like Portland.

Q & A with Andy Hata, our new General Manager!

Urban Farmer Cleveland: Did you go to school for hospitality?

Andy: I attended Syracuse University with a double major in Hospitality Management and Entrepreneurship & Emerging Enterprises. I also graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Paris with a culinary diploma and am a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. My greatest personal achievement however has been taking my passion for food and drinks and managing to find a way to travel around the world while satisfying my palette.

Urban Farmer Cleveland: Where have your favorite places to work been?

Andy:  I’ve worked in Japan, Hawaii, Seattle, Portland (OR), London (ENG), Paris (FR), Melbourne (AUS), and Queenstown (NZ). My favorite place is a huge toss up; my time in Paris played a major part in shaping how I view the dining experience, but my time in New Zealand taught me the value of knowing where my food comes from and the importance of “real” food.

Urban Farmer Cleveland: What are some of your Hobbies?

Andy: Cooking, wine, gardening, photography, scuba diving, and mud-racing

Urban Farmer Cleveland: What do you like about Cleveland so far?

Andy:  I love the community of Cleveland; how supportive everyone is of each other and the pride we take in our city. There are some amazing food and drink sources here with farmers, creameries, wineries, breweries, and distilleries that are all helping to make our restaurant scene so vibrant. It is honestly a great time to be here.

Urban Farmer Cleveland: Do you have any future visions for Urban Farmer Cleveland?

Andy: With a restaurant name like “Urban Farmer” I think the next step for us is to not only support the local food sources, but to be a part of the local food source. We are in the process of developing a rooftop garden to start growing our own vegetables, fruits, and herbs to incorporate directly into our cuisine. The garden will also feature some beehives to support the endangered honeybee population so that we can source our own honey. Hydroponic gardening is also a movement that supports our ethos and it is something I’d like to incorporate into our business one day. Last but not least, I think an Urban Farmer Food Truck is a dream the entire team would like to see come to life.

Daily Menu Additions & Butcher’s Cuts

Daily Menu Additions & Butcher’s Cuts

Guests of Urban Farmer can never complain about a boring menu! Not only does our menu change seasonally to feature fresh, local products but we also feature daily menu additions and butcher’s cuts. The menu additions and butcher’s cuts allow the kitchen to utilize the whole animal to result in less waste. It also allows for our chefs to showcase their creativity on a daily basis! If you stopped in over during the Christmas week, you may have seen a PB&J Duck on the menu additions card; which was inspired by the classic childhood peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! This seared duck features fermented chestnut pesto (the “peanut butter”), drunken cherry gastrique (the “jelly”), finished with a sage crumble (the “bread”), and garnished with micro greens. Be sure to check the daily card each time you stop in for lunch or dinner to see what creative dishes our chefs have developed!

An Urban Farmer

An Urban Farmer

Spring is coming and we’re getting ready for it here at Urban Farmer Cleveland. You can feel the energy in the air as the earth comes out of hibernation. As all farmers do, the farmers that we work with are starting their spring seedlings and plowing the land. We actually have one of our farmers working in-house! Clinton Bates, our lead morning cook, is one of our suppliers of local tomatoes. He knows more about tomatoes than most and is willing to help educate anyone who asks. At his two-acre farm he grew 40 different varieties last year and has 70 different varieties started for this year. That’s over 4,000 plants! All of his tomatoes are non GMO, heirloom tomatoes and he uses a homemade fertilizer of the fruit and vegetable compost from the restaurant.  When asked, he said his favorite varieties are the Hillbilly Potato Leaf and Berkeley Tie Die tomatoes. What’s his secret to growing the best tomatoes around? Clinton’s mother actually plays the radio for the plants, to help them grow! As a farm to table restaurant, we have a great deal of respect for the food grown locally and those who grow it. This is what makes us unique in the urban Cleveland setting, where we are trying to leave behind a positive footprint.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays

It’s been an amazing year here at Urban Farmer! With our new location in Cleveland we’ve seen a lot of our staff grow their careers and not just take on new roles but excel at them. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve built! Next year looks to be just as exciting, not that we’re quite ready to share any of that news yet… But 2014 isn’t quite over and we’ve still got a wonderful Christmas feast to share with you and your loved ones. Chef Matt has prepared a menu of classics and new favorites. We hope to see you before the New Year!

The Butcher Shop

 

The Butcher Shop

Aside from the standard dinner menu, Urban Farmer also offers a menu addition card that features daily butcher cuts from our in-house butcher shop. Urban Farmer receives about four pigs and one cow per month. The breakdown of these animals is an all-day process. To ensure less waste, every part of the animal is used – from tail to snout! Since one animal produces a limited number of meat cuts, these items will appear on our daily butcher cuts menu card and is offered based on availability. These animals also contribute to our in-house charcuterie program. While some meats take just over a month to age properly, some meats take six months to a year. The process is very dependent on the size and water content of the meat. Join us for dinner to see the end products for yourself!

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Urban Farmer Was Awarded “Best In Show”

 

 

Last month, we were looking forward to attending the Rock Hall’s annual Chef Jam. This month, we are proud to report that the Urban Farmer Cleveland Chefs came home as winners! Urban Farmer was awarded ‘Best in Show,’ among some of Cleveland’s top restaurants. It seems Clevelanders loved the ‘heart of rock and roll’ theme with braised beef popovers topped with mirepoix and shaved beef heart. Additionally, our pastry chef sweetened the deal by making her Devil’s food whoopie pies. Our team had a great time at this event and look forward to attending more Cleveland events very soon!

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