Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Day in the Life of an Executive Chef

This afternoon I had the chance to speak with NIM's Executive Chef, Domar Francis. It was a joy to chat with him about his food, what his days are like and what he likes to eat. Here is a glimpse of what it takes to organize and run a busy kitchen while staying upbeat and energetic.

NIM: What is your busiest day of the week?
DF: Probably Tuesdays.

NIM: OK, what does a typical Tuesday look like for you, from the moment you wake up until you head home after work.
DF: I wake up around 6am, shower and brush my teeth. While I'm getting dressed and ready for work, I catch up with the latest sports highlights and news from around the world and I leave the house at 7:15. I get to work by around 7:50, open up and look at the objective and recipes for production for the day. Fresh produce arrives at around 8:15 and I check every single item by hand for perfection to ensure that it meets my standards. After that, I put it all away and check my emails and customer feedback on my computer.

By around 9am, my staff and I have a morning meeting where I inform and direct them on the day's goals and objectives. Later on, I work on creating new recipes, cooking meals and then I go over everything with our Nutritionist to make sure that all of my recipes are nutritionally sound and comply with NIM's standards and philosophy of healthy meals within a specific calorie range.

By 3pm I do an inventory of the kitchen and put in the food orders for the next day. After that, I work on my weekly reports, meet with the bosses, clean up and head home around 5pm.

NIM: What are the 3 skills you require most to do your job well?
DF: Definitely food knowledge and understanding of food science, time management and meticulous attention to detail

NIM: What do you love the most about your career?
DF: Always working and being challenged. I'm always busy, always on the go and I never get bored.

NIM: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in a typical day?
DF: Ensuring that the quality of the food is consistent every time, whether it's a simple snack or a dinner consisting of many components. Also, creating new recipes or recreating classic recipes that people love and everyone can recognize, like panna cotta, while keeping the calories low enough to fit in our meal plan.

NIM: Where do you look for creative menu inspiration?
DF: Life experience - I do my own research based our fresh ingredients and the things I like to eat. Seeing meals and foods on TV and in the media in general is very inspiring but in every case, I add my own twist to my recipes to add my own signature to them.

NIM: What are some of your favourite recipes?
DF: Butternut squash soup, Bacon potato chowder, Pan seared tilapia with bundle of vegetables, Basmati rice with sauteed vegetables and spiced coconut cream, Egg white scramble with turkey pepperoni and tomato salsa and definitely Cinnamon Rolls.

NIM: What foods could you not live without?
DF: This is a tough one...Butter, garlic, thyme, red snapper, rice & peas and chicken!