Meet Mark, a former bouncer turned Executive Chef.
He is the proud Executive Chef for FLIK, a food service company servicing Independent Schools. We met many moons ago when I was a student at Western Reserve Academy. Anyone who knows me knows that I loooove to eat, so it should come as no surprise that the kitchen crew at my Alma mater were some of my favorite folks. In fact, they were so awesome that as soon as they would see me in the breakfast line-up they would automatically begin frying my eggs hard… just the way I like them. It would be many years before I would appreciate the art of over-easy eggs.
My previous post spoke about the woes of Facebook and how it can be a vehicle for spreading misinformation, but today I’m reveling in the joy of Facebook because I can marvel at Mark’s chefdom!
For the last few months my Facebook news-feed has been punctuated with his stunning food photos and mouth-watering descriptions like Mac and cheese with Amish butter cheese, smoked Gouda and Panko crumbs; Tomato bisque made with Polish Linguisa heirloom tomatoes and Devonshire cream, and lets not forget dessert… Banana cake, filled with white chocolate custard, buttercream frosting with a banana liqueur and topped with a sugared banana and toasted graham cracker! Even the word “YUM-TASTIC” is an understatement!
But surprisingly this awesome chef, with amazing descriptive language skills, didn’t envision himself in a crisp white apron in years past. In fact, he wanted to be an Elementary School Teacher and then an artist, but later discovered that “[He] also wanted to eat and live somewhere .”
It’s true…life always has trade-offs, but Mark figured out how to have the best of both worlds. His introduction to the food industry began with a culinary apprenticeship which ultimately jump-started his cooking career which serves as “a good outlet for [his] artistic side.”
But despite his success in the culinary industry, Mark didn’t realize his full potential until he taught a World Cuisine class which highlighted his talent as a chef. Now cooking is no longer a job, but a career. He’s inspired by everything around him “even if it’s just an idea for flavor or a specific ingredient. That kernel of an idea can turn into a completed dish.”
And when asked about the controversial question of purchasing organic versus conventional meat and produce, Mark’s response was that seasonal and sale items are always a consideration, but that he tries to “be focal and buy local,” a mantra that his wife has encouraged him to adhere to. Mark went on to state “[he’s] not really a huge fan of organic products. [He’s] always loved fresh from the farm the most because [he’s] always worried that it’s just a sticker saying organic and it might not mean that much. [He] would rather trust the farmer.”
Frankly, I couldn’t have said it any better, Mark.
Now that you’ve had a chance to meet the man behind the apron, check out his awesome pork belly recipe:
1 3-4 lb. pork belly
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3 shallots chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp Chinese five spice
3-4 tbsp Grapeseed oil
1 cup carrot, medium diced
1 cup onion, medium diced
2 cups diced fresh fennel
1 cup chicken stock
6 cups Southern comfort
Salt and pepper
Step 1: Preheat oven 350°F. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of pork belly.
Step 2: In a roasting pan add carrots, garlic , shallots, Rosemary , Chinese five spice, onions, fennel, then the pork belly.
Step 3: Brown in oven.
Step 4: Once browned reduce heat to 275F. Add chicken stock and Southern comfort.
Step 5: Cover the pan and place back into oven. Allow to cook for 3-1/2 hours or until tender to the touch.
Step 6: Remove pork belly from roasting pan. Put on sheet tray refrigerate covered for three hours.
Step 7: Make glaze by straining and reduce cooking liquid by two-thirds. Refrigerate.
Step 8: Cut pork belly into small serving sizes. Then brown off all sides of the pork belly. Serve with butternut squash purée and micro greens tossed with an apple cider vinaigrette. Finish by drizzling sauce over finished plate.
I think I’ve got my Sunday dinner meal plan…what about you?
“Besides my wife and children, I think my creativity was a great gift from God… and I’m just trying my best to use it.”
~Mark Kime, Executive Chef and Professor
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