Tales from Cheffing Around

Hang Up the Foam (Featuring Peach and Ginger Crisp)

I sat in front of my computer screen reading aloud “Chef Cynthia will dazzle you with her Smoked Rosemary-infused Baby Lamb Chops with Red Onion, Blood Orange-Dill Yogurt.  Really Chef Cynthia?  Don’t you think that’s a little overwhelming for the ol’ palate?”   “Chef Tomas will blow your mind with his deconstructed chicken wings.  Deconstructed Chicken Wings… isn’t that just chicken and sauce?  Not much to deconstruct really.”  “You will become unhinged when you taste Chef Stephanie’s award winning Artisanal Hay Flavored Ice Cream.

Hay Flavored Ice Cream?

Are you serious???”

I laughed out loud- a little too loud actually.

And then it hit me like a train at full speed.

This isn’t anything like my food.  If this is the sort of thing that people are looking for, I’m doomed to failure.  I’m never going to be good enough.

I had been trolling chef pimping websites – sites which hook hungry clients up with outstanding chefs in their area.  It’s a relatively new source for work and one that has been very successful for me over the past couple of years.   A new crop of these websites have just popped up so I thought I’d spend one of my lazy summer days seeing how I can expand my network.  Chefs write blurbs about themselves, highlighting the finest qualities of their work and include menus and pictures.  On a good day, I can find inspiration and respect for others in my field.  On a bad day, the comparison monster tosses me down a rabbit hole too dark for me to see anything except my failures.  This pretty summer day turned bleak quickly.

But then I remembered this game we used to play in one of the kitchens I worked in in Los Angeles.  During the busy seasons, we could be cooking for 18-20 hours straight and needed a little distraction therapy to break up the day.  We would invent new “foodie” ways of talking about dishes we might cook – each trying to out-do each other.


“Jamie’s Poison Sumac Chicken will leave your guests itching for the recipe!”

“Judy’s Deconstructed Chorizo Tubes with Pomegranate Agrodolce and Corriander Dust will leave your tongue dazzled and exhausted!” 

“Joanna’s Shadegrown Purselane Custard sitting atop Barbecued Corn Risotto Stools will have you begging to know why!”

“Alison’s Vegan Mint Chocolate Truffle Whitening Foam leaves your tummy happy and your teeth whiter- the perfect finish for the multi-tasker meal!”

It’s so easy to forget to have a good time when you’re trying to promote yourself.

The business of cooking is very different from the pleasure I find in the kitchen.  I’m also more interested in surprising my clients by not giving away all the secrets in the title of my dishes.  Sometimes by over-explaining, I think you take a little of the magic away.  But maybe I’m undervaluing my own talents…

Peach and Ginger Crisp with Ginger Ice Cream
Peach and Ginger Crisp with Ginger Ice Cream

 Peach and Ginger Crisp

 (Also known as : A Triumph of Organic Peaches Swimming in a Vanilla Infused Pool of Their Own Juices, Delicately Crowned by a Surprisingly Snappy Sweet Ginger Blaze of Crunchy Goodness.)

The Filling:

  • 8 peaches (about 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices (8 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 The Topping:

  • 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room  temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup pecans or whole almonds, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the Topping: Place flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, candied ginger, salt into large bowl.  Smash the butter together with the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture looks like crumbly pebbles. Stir in nuts and then refrigerate mixture while preparing the peaches.
  3. For the Filling:  Toss peach slices with sugar, flour, vanilla and salt.  Transfer into a 2 quart baking dish.
  4. Scatter the topping evenly over the peaches and then bake for 40-50 minutes until the topping is brown and the edges are bubbling.
  5. Serve with Vanilla or Ginger Ice Cream.

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