From Tech to Stage: How Chris Kuester Took A Break From The Valley To Pursue His Culinary Dreams

A lot of us say we wish we did this and wish we had this career - and really how many of us actually go out and do what they WISH they could do? 

Now, let's be honest.  A lot of this type of convo is lip service and very few people follow through with taking risks and pursuing their dreams and goals.  

Well, I met someone who actually followed through with pursuing his dreams of taking a hiatus  from his 9-5 tech job to become a cook at a prestigious restaurant in San Francisco, Trou Normand.

CHRIS KUESTER'S STORY

His name is Chris Kuester.  He and I actually met through his fiancée Katrina, who is a good friend of mine who I met at work.   (Check out their adorable photoshoot with Brit + Co for their engagement & wedding website here)


According to Chris, his passion for cooking started from an early age and continued into adulthood: 

I learned my techniques through trial and error. Refined these techniques and learned butchery as a line chef at Trou Normand. The recipes are my own, brought on by inspiration from Trou Normand, bar tartine and California farm to table cuisine. 

You can check out his full story in the video above.  

When we were trying to figure out what he would teach me to make, we decided that he would show me how to butcher a chicken, make a broth, dressing from scratch, baste a chicken and make a salad - WHEW!

Ambitious right? Well, I thought it was but Chris made it so simple for me to learn.  This is probably because he learned from one of the best, Chef Sal from Trou Normand (Hi Chef Sal!)

Lucky for all of you, the TBE team and documented all the steps for you to learn and do on your own!

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INGREDIENTS

COCONUT CHICKEN
1 whole chicken
coconut oil
salt
pepper

SALAD
Chickories
fennel
green onion
butterleaf lettuce
radishes
turnips
dill
lemons

DRESSING
Milk
dill
marjoram
whipping cream
salt
pepper
onion powder
garlic powder

HOW TO BUTCHER A CHICKEN

Butchering a chicken is easy (once you practice a couple of times) and an economical way to buy chicken.  I was skeptical that I could do this myself, but now I'm a pro and buy whole chickens all the time.  

HOW TO DEBONE A CHICKEN BREAST & MAKE BROTH

My cooking experience with Chris reminded me of the time I cooked with my friend Kim (Check out her episode here! ) because Chris used every part of the chicken. Yes we saved the kidneys and liver stuff too but didn't cook with them...this time.

I never made my own broth, but when I realized how easy it was to make it, I am now hooked and do it every time I buy a whole chicken.

Making your own broth also provides you with a good excuse to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy some storage containers for your liquid gold.  (And yes, this can be found in the Beyond section of the store - obvis.  Also don't forget your 20% coupon! It never expires!)

HOW TO MAKE BUTTERMILK DRESSING

Making your own dressing is an art form.  You know what I mean right?

It can be one of the following:  1) super watery (meh) or 2) oily (double meh) or 3) a weird chunkiness where you're not sure you want to eat the salad anymore (yes you should have followed the instructions and not put a whole bucket of cheese into the recipe when it only called for 1/8 cup of it) - don't lie and say you never had that issue.  We've all been there!

So, when Chris said we were making a buttermilk ranch style dressing, I got a little nervous bc of reason 3 (see above).  But if you've watched the other videos so far, I obviously was freaking out over nothing  - he's a pro.  

HOW TO BASTE THE CHICKEN & MAKE THE SALAD

Final step before you eat - baste the chicken!  It's a great alternative to just frying the crap out of your chicken breast.  Seriously, you lose very little moisture and volume bc you're not constantly flipping the chicken to cook it, trust me!  

Bon Apetit! 

Special thank you to Chris Kuester & Katrina Cho for being a part of this experience!