Cooking In Chile with Kenny Carpenter
This month American chef Kenny Carpenter, shares how culinary life rolls in the amazing South American country of Chile.
G.C. - Can you give us a brief summary of your professional background?
K.C. - I started cooking professionally at 16, I completed 3 year ACF apprenticeship at Johnson County C.C. at 21 while apprenticing at Ritz Carlton Kansas City MO. Then I moved to Florida, Four Seasons Palm Beach as banquet chef then opened Players Club at Palm Beach Polo Club as exec chef. I have worked for Aramark for the last 9 years as exec chef. A couple of years ago I had a great opportunity working on assignment at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
G.C. - What is your title and who do you currently work for?
K.C. - Culinary Director, Innovations, Retail and Standards Aramark Chile
G.C. - How did you and your knives end up in Chile?
K.C. - I met a nutritionist from Aramark at the Olympics, after the games I decided to visit her in Santiago. I didn't use my return ticket and decided to look for work with Aramark here.
G.C. - How many chefs do you oversee and what is a typical day like?
K.C. - Most of Aramark's accounts in South America are in Industry, Health, school and business accounts. There are over 1,500 chefs. 10,000 cooks working for the company in Chile, Peru, Columbia and Argentina for Aramark. I have contact with our 8 Human Resource chefs and key chefs in each division of the business to launch programs and promotions, I spend the majority of my time planning with purchasing for products and marketing for menus and promotions. A typical day will involve 4 hours of meetings internally, 2 hours with vendors and 3 hours working or testing products.
G.C. - The European and the US food scene is strongly influenced by local seasonal cuisine, what is driving Chilean cooking?
K.C. - Again Local, of course Spain is an influence but also Peru with the influx of many Japanese and Koreans. The basic ingredients such as lamb, mollusks, shellfish are all outstanding. Germany has had a large influence in the south of the country, the charcuterie is outstanding.
G.C. - Chilean wines and agriculture are of the highest quality, does a good amount remain in the country or is the majority exported to produce greater revenues?
K.C. - The majority of berries are exported, of course Avocados as well. There are 180 vineyards within 300 miles of where we live. The quality of climate and competition among the vineyards produces great bargains. $3 buys you a good dinner wine, $12 will buy you a single vineyard reserve wine. My favorite cabernet and syrah comes from Colchagua Valley, look for those. Quail eggs are popular here and quite cheap, you can buy black figs fresh on the streetcorner along with almonds and outstanding stone fruits.
G.C. - Can you tell us a few of the countries hot, talked about chefs and restaurants?
K.C. - Here are a couple links to some interesting chefs, also, a new chain that is coming to Dallas that is quite good called Tanta http://www.sukalde.cl http://www.borago.cl/
G.C. - What has been the greatest learning experience for you since working away from the US?
K.C. - Appreciation for scallop roe and sea urchin and abalone, very prevelant on menus here, appreciation for avocado for breakfast and ave-palta sandwich, poached shredded chicken breast mixed with avocado on toast
G.C. - Is work culture different from that of the States?
K.C. - Everyone is late for everything, you have to have more face to face meetings, conference calls aren't used
G.C. - What did you wish you had known about Chile prior to working there?
K.C. - The lack of equipment in the kitchens, until I had visited some of my business units, I didn't know they didn't have basics like broilers, calibrated ovens, flat top grills or sufficient hoods. Big gas burners is the norm.
G.C. - Can you describe some of the cool things a chefs would discover if they came to cook, or eat in Chile?
K.C. - Pisco Sours, distilled wine, with lemon, sugar, egg whites. chefs would love the quality of the produce and meats. corn cobs are twice the size of the 90 ct case size in the USA. The empanadas and Pastel de Choclo are really good. Chefs will see awesome seafood and new types of mollusks and shellfish at Mercado Central in Santiago.