Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Imagining the Positive

August 10, 2019

WorkReady Philadelphia is a vital program that has piloted students to the threshold of their careers. It is h osted and funded through the Philadelphia Youth Network, who “funds and brokers action with the right partners to collectively address barriers.” Participating local businesses give students a chance to gain valuable work experience through paid internships, while simultaneously attending WorkReady workshops.
This is the third year that Beck’s is participating in the WorkReady program; each year the students have been bright and eager to work. And, one of our current interns, Jaiden Wiggins, is a finalist in the WorkReady Social Consciousness Project. Go Jaiden! Nathalie Cerin, is the Employment Specialist for Episcopal Community Services, which is one of the providers of WorkReady. She has ushered students in and monitored their progress throughout the six week program. We thought it would be great to interview Nathalie and learn more about her and WorkReady.

I read that your grew up in Haiti, what was life like in Haiti?
Yes. I have been in Philadelphia since 2005. I moved here my Senior Year of High School, and moved in with my older sister. Senior year, no parents. I had to be an adult. I guess, I was a boring kid, all I did was study. I attended the Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill and then went onto acquire my undergraduate degree from Immaculata University.

How does life in Philadelphia compare to life in Haiti?
Haiti is a country that is still being developed. When I arrived in Philadelphia, I wasn’t accustom to living in a city where there were trains. There was a little cultural shock, but I had been here before, we made family trips to Philly when I was younger.
In Haiti, there were 250 kids in my school total. My graduating class from High School at Prendergast was as big as my entire school in Haiti.

• What inspired you to work with Philadelphia youth?
I am an educator and I am also a musician. I taught music in the Bronx — commuted four days a week. And, I am accustomed to working with youth and curriculum, so coming to Episcopal Community Services was a natural move.

• Describe a good day / week at WorkReady.

The WorkReady team is here in the Hub. 
 The kids are gathered around this large table working on a project. 
 I oversee the activities. This year we had a special project: Students identified a
 social issue that they care about and made a plan to effectively make change for 
 the better. We have been rehearsing the presentation of the projects all week.
The projects will be submitted on August 9th to judges. The best group will win 
 money — gift cards. 
 We are project oriented all day long. The kids are super fun. This past week we 
 had an impromptu talent show and one of the kids got up and just started
really singing — he was from the High School of Performing Arts and had traveled 
 with The Stylistics.

• What is WorkReady? 

SYS, Seeing Youth Succeed, work-ready.
 We prepare them for the right Mind Set — career development. 
 This is well attended and has a high performance level. We teach and stress that students learn to advocate for themselves. This past week an intern had personal issues and realized that a work place can be supportive if one is experiencing 
personal issues. The participating work-site gave him another chance.

• Can you share your favorite WorkReady success story?
Very cool to see these kids land their first jobs. Some of the kids really rise to the occasion. Some interns are kept on as part-time employees following their internships and then became full-time employees. Some kids come back the following year and request to work at the same place where they had interned the previous summer. They form “adult” relationships.
During the work ready program the kids have met celebrities and big personalities.
One of our youth had the opportunity to read her poem to the Poet Laureate from Birmingham, England in 2018, Roy McFarlane. McFarlane listened to the students work and offered feed back.
On another occasion, a film was screened at the Art Sanctuary and one of the students really connected with the film maker. The film maker was open and they engaged in dialogue — they had a lot in common. Seeing the kids really nail it is so inspiring!

• Your title is Employment Specialist, but do you often find you
are a counselor?

Yes, I am everything. We support the youth in this program for six weeks. What could happen in those six weeks? Are they eating? Can they get to work? We split the kids up and each of us is assigned to monitor. What is going on? I have to be present.

• I read that you are also a musician. Does working with
youth inspire 
 your art?

Yes. The fact that I am an artist allows me to be a better imaginer. The ability to imagine a more just and safe world. Being an Artist, I keep the positive imagination alive. I visualize a hopeful future for anyone
I work with.

• Do you cook?
                                                                                                              Yes, I do like to cook. It’s a Haitian and American mix. This past Friday, I slow cooked Pork shoulder. I purchased the pork at Reading Terminal Market, brought it home, rubbed it down with dry mustard; sautéed on all sides and then slow cooked it for 10 hours in Yuengling beer. I invited my friends over for Nathalie’s creation.

What is your favorite memory about food?                                                
Haiti—on the way to the beach, there were street vendors who sold fried pork, grilled conch and plantains — there was so much. We would stop and buy a lot of food. While we were sitting on the beach, men would stroll up and down the beach selling buckets of ice cold oysters and cups of conch that were in a hot sauce made with lime, and very hot peppers. We would EAT!

• What is your favorite restaurant in Philadelphia?                                        
I would love to try the Fried Shrimp Po’ boy from Beck’s Cajun Cafe!            But, I do love 
El Rey for Nachos and I am always a fan of a good burger        and a beer!

Unbridled Spirit


July 16, 2019

Dave Marrs
Beck’s New Chef

New to Philly and just off the Turnpike from Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby, Dave Marrs made his debut as Beck’s Cajun Cafe’s new Chef this past spring. And yes, Chef Marrs has been the Chef of large —1100 guests— glamours, celebrity filled Kentucky Derby parties. While sipping their Mint Juleps, guests at his favorite Derby party, savored Salmon Corn Pudding and Chicken Wellington — southern culinary delights. “It was a total hoot!” he said. So if you are wondering why your Shrimp Po’ boys and Gator Gumbo taste so awesome its because Chef Marrs understands southern comfort food.

Chef Marrs confessed that he started cooking as a young man because he was less than thrilled about what Mom was serving for dinner. Decades later, he still enjoys being the maestro of a party for your taste buds. When asked what his favorite Beck’s menu item is he quipped, “Blackened Chicken Po’ boy.” Delish!

Chef Marrs shares his favorite recipe for Sweet-Potato Pecan Pie
from Paul Prudhomme’s, Louisiana Kitchen

Ingredients:
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp table salt
• 6 tbsp unsalted butter very cold, cut into small cubes
• 1 cup blueberries
• 3 tbsp lemon zest
• 3/4 cup heavy cream very cold
• 1 egg large
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tbsp heavy cream very cold
• 2 tbsp sanding sugar optional

Instructions:
• Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and
set aside.
• In a large bowl, whisk together flour sugar, baking powder and salt.
Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until only a handful of small, pea-sized pieces of butter remain.
• Add blueberries and lemon zest and stir to combine, just until blueberries are coated with flour mixture.
• In a separate bowl, whisk together the cream, egg, and vanilla extract.
• Pour cream mixture into flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined.
• Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a disc about 6 inches across.
• Use a large knife or bench scraper to cut into 6 wedges. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
• Brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.
• Bake for 16 to 19 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, rotating baking sheet halfway through.
• Serve warm or room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container. Best enjoyed the day they are baked.

Pinch and Pull!

July 1, 2019


Chef Bill Beck’s
Recipe for a Crawboil!

It is time for a lip smackin’ tasty 4th of July celebration! And what better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to share a Crawfish boil and ice cold brewskis with friends?

Crawfish, are also called crayfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs, or yabbies. This step by step recipe takes a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes to prep to serv. When this vibrant boil is spread before you remember to dine like a proper Cajun: Grab the head firmly with one hand, the tail with the other hand; twist and pull the tail from the head. If you are looking for a burst of extra flavor (excuse me) suck the head.
GET MESSY!

Include Walt Wit! This ice Cold American Pale Wheat Ale is a Belgian Witbier style beer brewed by Philadelphia Brewing Company. It is dense, cloudy, lots of wheat sediment floating in the brew. And/or, ABITA Cirrusly Wheat—a hazy wheat ale brewed with Centennial hops and pale, wheat & oat malts to produce a refreshing, full-bodied ale with notes of citrus and tropical fruits.

Have a fun, safe and happy 4th of July! •  Happy Birthday to the USA.

RECIPE:
5 heads garlic, unpeeled
5 bay leaves
2 (3 ounce) packages dry crab boil
1 tablespoon Zatarain’s liquid shrimp
and crab boil seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
3 large oranges, halved
3 large lemons, halved
2 large whole artichokes
15 red potatoes, washed
5 ears of corn cut into 3” lengths
2 large onions, sliced
White Onion, Large
2 (16 ounce) packages mushrooms, cleaned

2 (16 ounce) packages Andouille Sausage, cut into
1/2 inch slices
80 live large crawfish, rinsed
Add all ingredients to list
Prep 30 m • Cook 1 h 15 m •
Ready In 1 h 45 m
• Fill a large 12 qt pot about 1/3 full with water. Add the garlic, bay leaves, dry and liquid crab boil(?) seasonings, salt, pepper, oranges, lemons, artichokes, and potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
• Stir in the corn, onions, cook 15 minutes more. Stir in the Andouille sausage; cook 5 minutes more.
• Add the crawfish, return mixture to boil, then simmer until the crawfish shells turn bright red and the tails pull out easily, about 5 minutes.
• Test for doneness by peeling a crawfish. Be sure not to overcook, or crawfish will become tough.
• Drain well. Serve crawfish hot, Louisiana-style, spread over a picnic table covered with newspapers.
• Taste for Salt and Pepper — add as needed!

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 12, 2019

It is time to spoil your Mom! She, who stirred the love into your comfort food, will be treated to breakfast in bed, brunch, surprise bling, a picnic in the park and maybe a few moments of peace, a thoughtful card or a phone call today. Many of us associate comfort food with “Mom’s cooking”. Some great Chefs say they were inspired to cook by their Mother’s cooking because she was either a great cook or not a cook at all — either way, love was in the pot.

Paul Prudomme said, “… Food was probably our greatest entertainment—the most fun thing that we could do was food.” Chef Bill Beck shared, “My Mom was influenced by Julia Child and Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet. She would make Coq au Vin, Quiche, Potatoes au Gratin. And, usually, but not always, on Mother’s Day we would go out to dinner, which was a real treat. The first time I had Lobster Newburg at the Milltown Inn on Long Island — it was like a bowl of heaven!”

But, how did Mother’s Day start? Mother’s Day started as an anti-war movement in 1870 by Mother’s who had lost their sons in the Civil War. Julia Ward Howe, author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, organized the Boston gathering and wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation. (https://www.plough.com/en/topics/culture/holidays/mothers-day/the-original-mother-s-day-proclamation)

From 1870 onward Mother’s Day evolved:

In 1907, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, fought to have the day recognized as a National Holiday.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, in 1914.

Anna Jarvis fought for the integrity of the Mother’s Day Celebration to honor our Mother’s and not to be the Holiday for fund raising or commercial profit.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday in 1934.

• The white Carnation was recognized as the official flower
of Mother’s Day in honor of Anna Jarvis’ mother. It was noted
that when the Carnation fades, its petals do not drop, they fold
into the center.

Most Memorable Event!

April 25, 2019

Meet Lisa Weissbord, Director of Catering, Beck’s Cajun Cafe

Lisa Weissbord, arrived in Philadelphia in the 90’s as an undergraduate at the 
University of Pennsylvania. She first started organizing events for Chef Bill Beck in 
2005; in 2015 she came on board as the full time Director of Catering. Since arriving 
and taking the helm of the Catering Division of Beck’s Cajun Cafe, Lisa has 
planned and produced hundreds of events, highlighting and spearheading the culinary talent of Chef Bill Beck. Party season is upon us and what better person to interview than Lisa Weissbord?

• How long have you been with Beck’s Cajun Cafe?

I’m entering my fourth year as Director of Catering, although I began coordinating catered events with 
Chef Beck in 2005.

• How long have you been in Philadelphia?
I’ve lived in Philadelphia for over several decades, moving here while studying at the 
University of Pennsylvania.

• How long have you been in Catering?

For Fourteen years I’ve had the opportunity to work within and coordinate a team in this demanding, creative industry. It’s challenging and has afforded me the opportunity to coordinate events for and meet many distinguished guests, including Barak Obama, Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. 
It hasn’t been boring!

• What inspired your love of cooking and events?

I spent many weekends at the Perth Amboy home of my Czech grandmother, Souzka.
 Sunday mornings she’d let me help her in the kitchen, making everything from scratch– breads, cheese, 
Eastern European pastries– including a few dishes I wouldn’t try, such as pickled pigs feet.

• What is your favorite Beck’s menu item?

It’s a tie between the Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo (when I’m in the mood for savory) and Beck’s Famous 
Bread Pudding (something sweet to savor with a cup of Café du Monde.)

• What is the most frequently ordered item on the Catering Menu?

One is our Bread Pudding (many people don’t realize it has a pear compote baked into the bottom layer.)
On Friday, a gentleman from New Orleans told me this was better than his grandmothers…good thing 
she wasn’t with him!

• Do you have a favorite event/holiday?
Graduations are great fun.
 We help many families plan parties for their sons and daughters that are leaving Philadelphia and many of which are heading to Tulane.

• Do you have any special tips for setting and serving a catered meal
at home?

Let us handle your menu and preparations so that you can relax and enjoy precious time with family and 
friends! If you’re a committed “do it yourselfer” plan a menu of dishes with components that can be 
prepared ahead of time, assembled quickly, and served buffet style. It’s far too easy to underestimate the 
amount of time and labor involved in entertaining.

 

Light the Fire!

April 10, 2019

Meet Laura, Assistant Manager Beck’s Cajun Cafe

Laura, known as Lur when she is working at Beck’s, moved to Philadelphia in 2012 and started working at Beck’s Cajun Cafe in 2016. She is the Assistant Manager and is clearly one of the reasons why people love coming to Beck’s for their Cajun comfort food!

Originally from Barto, Pennsylvania, Laura enjoys living in the city of Philadelphia because, “It’s not overwhelming. It’s manageable and it’s pedestrian friendly. When my friend and I were in Las Vegas, we had to drive to get to the other side of the freeway! No sidewalks!” On that same trip, Laura and her friend visited Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, the California Redwoods and the Crater Lakes in Oregon. They camped or stayed in hotels for two and a half weeks. When sleeping under the Milky Way, Laura was the one who built the fire and heated up the Dinty Moore’s Beef Stew for her fellow trekker in the wild. But, after two and a half weeks of canned soup and stew she was glad to return home to her Beck’s favorites, saying “the Shrimp Po’boy and the Mac-n-Cheese balls with Bacon. That’s the stuff!”

She manages to find time for Yoga, biking and concerts, all while studying for a second degree in psychology at Philadelphia Community College — her first degree is in Photography. Laura’s interest in criminal psychology began while she was still in High School; Jack the Ripper was the subject of her Senior Thesis project. Clearly still pondering the mysteries of the infamous psychopath she said, “It is fascinating, how a predator can appear as a perfectly balanced person to their peers and then go out at night and commit unthinkable atrocities.”

In the Palm of Your Hand 
 Meet Jonathan Zell, Sou Chef

March 22, 2019

Jon joined the staff of Beck’s Cajun Cafe, 30th Street Station, as the 
Sou Chef in October of 2018. Born and raised in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, Jon calls Philly home, “I left and went to college in Vermont and came back, I left and went to work at a restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine and came back, It’s home; I always return,”
he said.

Friends and family have always been central to Jon’s life. While growing up, Wednesday Spaghetti Night was a family tradition — the whole family came to dinner. And, it was during this time that his Grandfather taught him how to make homemade meatballs. “The meatball should be the size of the palm of your hand,” his grandfather said. “Grandpa, your hand is bigger than mine, the meatballs will not be the same size,” he responded. “The palm of your hand,” his Grandfather said.

Now a professional cook, who trained at Philadelphia Culinary Arts Institute, the family leaves the holiday cooking to him. When asked if his mother was okay with him taking over the kitchen for family events, he nodded, smiled and said, “Yes, she got used to it. She was never a really big cook, she did other things.”

“My Mom was a surfer, she is from Hawaii, ” he said. “One of my first memories is sitting under this exotic, ornamental tree, that my sister had climbed, and I was watching my Mom hang ten on the waves of Waikiki,” he shared with a smile. He has not returned for many years and although Hawaii will always be a desirable place to go, other adventures beckon him. “Europe is on the agenda and of course, New Orleans. I love cajun food. I have to go.” he said. When asked what his favorite Beck’s food is he responded unequivocally, “Gumbo.”

Welcome Jon!

Flower Power and the State Flower of Louisiana

March 4, 2019

Magnolia on Gold Cloth; Oil on canvas, Martin Heade

The annual Philadelphia Flower Show is here! And, Flower Power prompted us to share a little about Louisiana horticulture. The State Flower of Louisiana is the Magnolia and the State Wild Flower is the Louisiana Iris. Louisiana is a magical place all of the time, but especially in the spring and summer when the air is filled with the intoxicatingly sweet smell of Magnolias. The landscape is lyrical — unless you are in the bayou and there the tempo changes a bit as vampires and alligators abound.

Magnolias symbolize dignity and nobility. In ancient China, magnolias were thought to be the perfect symbols of beauty and gentleness. And, then there is Sugar Magnolia, the Grateful Dead’s ode to a woman who “…could make happy any man alive” and Dolly Parton’s song, Beneath the Sweet Magnolia Tree — both songs celebrate a passionate roll in the grass under the Magnolia tree. Clearly, those composers had their own mythology about the Magnolia tree in mind when they wrote their lyrics.

The Irises mythology dates back to Ancient Greece, when the Goddess Iris, who personified the rainbow, acted as the link between heaven and earth. Legend has it that purple Irises were planted over the graves of women to summon the goddess Iris to guide them in their journey to heaven. Iris became linked to the French monarchy during the Middle Ages, eventually being recognized as their national symbol, the fleur-de-lis.

Thousands of Magnolia trees bloom throughout Louisiana during the summer. The Magnolia can grow up to 80 – 90 feet tall and span 30 – 50 feet wide. Its rich, sweet fragrance is seductive. The Magnolia was named as the State Flower of Louisiana in 1900. It is named after the French botanist, Pierre Magnol (1638-1715). The Louisiana Iris was named the State Wild Flower in 1990; the first attempt to make the wild Iris the state flower occurred under great debate in 1950.

Don’t Bore Me With a Burger!

March 1, 2019

 

Meet Deborah!

As a foodie, a globe trotter, and one who possesses a guilt free cravefactor barometer for culinary delights in the City of Brotherly Love, Deborah has become a charmer and leader during her seven years at Beck’s Cajun Cafe. She started at Beck’s in 2012 and has worked at both the Reading Terminal Market location and the 30th Street Station, where she is now the manager.

“Don’t bore me with a Burger,” she quipped. “I love blackened food — seafood and chicken. And, here at Beck’s, I enjoy the Blackened Catfish with Cole Slaw, Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo and Beet Salad — all incredibly delicious. I run over to Earth, Bread and Brewery, in Mount Airy — for their Vietnam Veggie — when I have off. It is so incredible!” Deborah’s travels through India and Nepal served to deepen her love of food and culture. “I love dining out, I love atmosphere. When you sit down and have a great meal the day melts away.”

Self motivated, her first job was raising money for the Arthritis Foundation. The entrepreneurial bug bit Deborah when she was just 16 years old, and she launched with her own housekeeping business. She went onto study Marketing and Communications at Temple University — with her secret love being Economics and International Politics. “Micro, macro — I loved figuring out the average,” she said. “I love learning about different cultures. It all goes together. And here at 30th Street Station there are many people from all over the world, on their way to work, or on their way to vacation, or returning home — It is all coming and going here. And, a lot of Amtrak travelers that come to Beck’s are fun, they have been to New Orleans, they already love the food and they love Beck’s.”

Meet the Staff: Chef Jake

January 17, 2018

jake

Do you have any nicknames: The Hermanator, Sugar Beaver

How long have you been working at Beck’s? Since November, but I’ve always enjoyed Beck’s food and have been eating here a long time.

What’s your favorite Beck’s food? The Oyster Po Boy. I love Bill’s recipe.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do? I practice jiu jitsu. Jiu jitsu is a grappling art used for self defense. Everybody should have some basic training in self defense. A lot of chefs do jiu jitsu. That’s how I got into it—when I was working in fine dining.

Are you dangerous? No. And nobody who says they’re dangerous is dangerous and everybody’s dangerous in the right circumstances.

What belt are you? White belt. Red belt is the highest belt. It takes 30 to 40 years to get a red belt. I met a red belt once.

What’s your super hero power and why? That’s easy. Control metal like Magneto because then you can control the magnetic pull of the earth.