Black Chef Series: February 2022 @ New Buffalo, MI

    Pictured is Brunch prepared by Chef Corey.

 On this day in Black History we salute Chef Corey. 

The date was Saturday February 5th 2022.
For our group weekend getaway to New Buffalo Michigan we decided to feature two Black chefs calling it the Black Chef Series. This idea was very fitting due to the fact that it is Black History Month and the fact that we hired two Black chefs. One chef is highly touted hailing from Chicago and one from South Bend Indiana by way of Texas. 

Throughout the course of time many Americans have recognized some Texans as heroes; TD Jakes, The George Bushes (Big Bush and Baby Bush), Bushwick Bill from The Geto Boys, UGK, and the great American choirmaster himself, Kirk Franklin. Today we highlight Chef Corey, Black American kitchen hero from Texas and savior of the Black Chef Series.
Due to the unsavory exploits of Friday night's chef (who shall remain nameless) our Friday evening dinner was very memorable. Let's start with the positive. The greens were good as well as the risotto. The greens were a break from the norm and grandma's traditional recipe. One of the ingredients used was sundried tomatoes thus giving the greens a slightly gourmet appeal. Everyone enjoyed this dish. I thought the risotto was also good and a solid compliment to any delicious entree anywhere. The chicken was barely somewhat decent and the cod wasn't. As someone who cooks leisurely, is a foodie, and was anticipating this chef's cooking, I was pretty disappointed with how the cod and chicken were prepared and tasted. 

The chicken skin was seasoned, but underneath the skin wasn't. With the way Jamaicans are running "tings" here in Chicago with the jerk chicken spots, many folks don't really expect there to be skin on chicken when it's being served. We sure didn't. Our ancestors and elders may have done this, but it's a new day in the kitchen. Once the skin was pulled off, the chicken instantly became bland due to the chef only seasoning the skin but not underneath the skin. It was a very logical discovery. MLK taught us to not judge the skin, but the content of character. Since the chef gave us chicken with the skin we not only would judge the skin, but also that chicken's character or lack thereof. As one would expect underneath the skin tasted like chicken and only chicken with no additional flavors or seasonings. Heck just salt & pepper without mild sauce would've even worked. Fortunately lemon pepper and seasoning salt were found in the cupboard and did provide temporary relief. However, after Friday night and during the remainder of the weekend that chicken would become a distant memory not to be thought of again until it was time to empty the fridge and take out the garbage. 

There was one small victory for the chicken...Later that evening as an almost full pan of chicken sat in the refrigerator desolate and abandoned wondering if it will ever see the 72 degree temperatures outside the fridge or even the 300 plus temperatures of the oven again. Patiently waiting for another chance that chicken was called into action and repurposed for late night nachos producing a victory for the home team. This chicken's effort was in a sense heroic and kept one of our homies who had a few drinks from risking it all on the slippery streets of New Buffalo for a Domino's Pizza carryout order.  

The next memorable entree was the cod. The cod presented itself with a strong and very harsh lime flavor although it was garnished with lemon slices. The herb seasoning was there, but those flavors were nonexistent. Let's just say the cod was odd. It was mentioned in many conversations all weekend that resulted in laughter and cynicism.  

Both of these instances with the chicken and the cod are what I refer to as lazy cooking. I can deal with chefs who are creative and their dish doesn't translate, but I can't stand when chefs who are experienced and know better decide to be lazy.  In today's society most people who aren't at a church function or at a senior citizens events are used to eating chicken without the skin on and likely prefer it this way. Even if they aren't preparing food for those functions, common sense should be exercised more abundantly by some chefs in an effort to maximize the flavor or a dish while enhancing their reputation. As for the cod it could've been better even if it were prepared a similar way, but minus the strong citrus flavors of course. Instead of just the herb seasoning it could've been accompanied with some kind of lemon herb butter sauce or even a simple beurre blanc sauce or cream sauce. Cod is very neutral in flavor and will take on the flavor of whatever the chef decides to use to flavor it. This dish definitely could've been tricked out better, but in this case the chef apparently wanted the lemon flavors to be very pronounced and perhaps may not have been expecting it to overshadow the other flavors of this dish the way they did.  

A wise man once said "The road to prosperity starts with a deep fryer, plenty of seasonings, grits, and c.o.d. (catfish on delivery)".
We don't know if this man was Chef Corey, but would not be surprised if it were him. 
Saturday morning I wake up and I'm rising to the Sun (Zhane). Many of us including me woke with lemon cod breath. It's like morning breath, but add the harsh citrus flavors. There are several cures to this. One would be to eat brunch. 

As we are getting dressed and getting ready to go taste wine, whiskey, and gin at various wineries and distilleries, in comes our savior, Chef Corey. After he unloads his portable appliances, food, and seasonings he then begins to set up shop. While kinda trying to stay out of the way I couldn't help eyeballing his seasonings and ingredients. Silently throwing shade when I saw a can of canned biscuits I changed my negative thought pattern and hoped for the best. After all we had that cod the night before. No where to go but up! As he and his assistant began to prepare our meal it definitely wasn't hard to hope for the best and my spirit began to lighten up as I became excited from the aromas foreshadowing what was about to jump off.  The result of his efforts would be a delicious brunch that would include shrimp and grits, fried lobster, turkey bacon, sausage, biscuits & gravy, fried chicken, scrambled eggs, and a few other breakfast staples with hash browns being my favorite. He even made the canned biscuits I was hating on a restaurant quality that many below the Mason Dixon line would find quite acceptable.  Everything was very flavorful and everyone enjoyed it! My biggest regret was having to rush to eat to make our 12noon appointment for a distillery tour at Journeyman Distillery and not to take the time to eat and truly enjoy our feast. 

Upon arriving back to base camp from the distillery Chef Corey is in the kitchen and just finished preparing dinner for Saturday evening. My first question to him was not asking him what's for dinner but, "Do we still have some hash browns left?" His reply was,"it may be in the refrigerator in the garage with some of the other food". Upon taking a look I discovered the golden treasure. Them golden brown hash browns! Mind you we just ate an amazing lunch at Journeyman Distillery's Staymaker Restaurant and brunch 2 hours prior to lunch. Yet I couldn't stop thinking about those hash browns even while eating the Country Fried Potatoes at the restaurant (which were also delicious). I wonder if they felt like I was cheating on them when I kept thinking about the hash browns? 

Anyway, as some of you who may have read reviews and/or have watched my videos via know of my passionate relationship with potatoes. Even though it was possibly the most simple version of hash browns it seemed as though he did something subtle that would have a magnanimous effect. It may have been something as simple as adding a pat of butter and salt (which also would've likely helped that poor old cod). In the words of Whodini, "it's the little things you do that mean so much". Although, I tried to get him to tell his secret he pled the 5th. Regardless of what it was he did, he made hash brown patties taste really really good IMO. During brunch I sampled everything except the sausage patties and sausage gravy due to dietary preference and everything I tasted was Delicious!

Dinner would be a lobster and shrimp boil, garlic butter and herb salmon, fried catfish, asparagus, macaroni & cheese, Texas toast garlic bread, steak, ribs, and salad. Nothing fancy. Just really good food that was super delicious! This was my first personal chef experience and one of the lessons learned was just because you have a personal chef doesn't mean the food preparation and taste has to be complex or gourmet, it just has to be Good! 
Thanks to Chef Corey and his cooking skills our Black Chef Series was saved.

In Chicago Black Restaurant week took place in February, but your support can continue throughout the year. Click the link below for a listing of the restaurants who participated in the 7th Annual. 

Also, Chicago Restaurant Week will be taking place March 25th until April 10th 2022. 
Click this link to find out what your favorite restaurants and restaurants you are curious about are cooking up!

Thanks for reading and thank you for your support!


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