Chef Kerner's award-winning menu consisted of Halibut with Marianas Island Pesto, Mushroom Kelaguen Steam-baked in Banana Leaf, Wild Mushroom Mousse, and Ragout with Sweet Potato. He served a dessert of Coconut Latiya Torched Italian Meringue with Mango, Passion Fruit, and Raspberries.
The international competition takes place every two years, in order to highlight the skills and talents of catering chefs from all continents. The competition took place in the Hotel School Gregoire Ferrandi in Paris.
The list of competitors was as follows:
Costa Rica (School and universities sector) - Carlos Jimenz Chavarria
Peru (Health care sector) - Maria Lorena Cerdena Leon
South Africa (Administrations and executives clubs) - Name not available
New Zealand (Armed forces) - Naadia Pou
Guam (School and universities sector) - Paul Kerner
Malaysia (Health care sector) - Name not available
Spain (Armed Forces): Francisco Javier Bronchales Garcia
France (Gendarmerie officers school) - Gilbert Gracia
Congratulations to Chef Paul for representing Guam so well! Our culinary students at GCC are fortunate to have such a strong instructor.
I knew that Spring Kitchen on Farenholt (across from Tove's Flowers) had changed owners earlier this year, but had no idea that veteran chef Jackie Li, (the original owner of Fast Wok) was performing in the kitchen. Jackie's reputation precedes him and, as you'll soon discover, where Jackie's cooking, you'll find a roomful of happy diners, most of them Chinese!
Spring Kitchen does have lunch specials starting at $5 ranging up to $7 (for 1/4 Roast Duck), however, we recommend going this route only if you are eating alone or are in a hurry. We stopped by for dinner one night and ordered the Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings ($6.95), Sauteed Garlic Chinese Broccoli ($8.50), Combination Fried Rice ($8.50), and the Beef Stew Hot Pot ($12.95).
The wings were perfectly fried along with peppers and green onions, then garnished with white onion slivers.
The savory broccoli stalks came out still steaming from the wok, with the garlic-rich aroma leaving a flavor trail. They were crisp with a freshness that exploded in your mouth.
The combination fried rice seemed to have a green tint which apparently came from the profusion of green onions. The portion was dinner entree sized so that four or five people could easily share this while the two of us had some and plenty of left over. The rice was very good and filled with shrimp, pieces of chicken and pork. It had a pleasing texture and flavor that emanated freshness - this chef knows what he's doing!
Our final dish, the Beef Stew Hot Pot, was delivered on a wooden plank in a pot still boiling with heat! The big chunks of beef were joined by green onion sticks. This popular dish is seasoned with Chinese Five Spice (think of it as the Chinese equivalent of a curry spice blend redolent with star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, etc.) and the beef has been braised until quite tender. I highly recommend this if you like beef since you'll get plenty in this cauldron of joy. We watched the other guests at the surrounding tables as their dishes were speedily brought out to their delight. If you need proof that food delivers great pleasure, you should spend some time at Spring Kitchen!
Chowon Korean Cuisine
Monticello Plaza (next to Cost-U-Less)
We are happy to have this cozy little Korean eatery within walking distance of where we live. When owner Song learned that we like specialty Korean dishes, particularly Gamjatang, she featured it as an off-menu special on the night we visited for dinner. Of course we had eat this, knowing full well how much effort goes into preparing it and that a portion of this can serve up to 4 people. Gamjatang (Pork Bone & Potato Soup, $30) uses pork neck bones, and this is where the action and fun begin, since pig neck bones are larger than chicken or turkey neck bones which most people are familiar with and used to eating. The preparation of this dish takes a long time, with many cleansings of the pork neck bones through continuous boiling and rinsing. The other key ingredient are wild sesame leaves (perilla), which impart a very fragrant aroma and spice to the broth, replacing any off-putting porcine odor.
Needless to say, we had our hands full since eating this soup is a truly interactive hands-on experience! This is a very spicy dish, and can be made hotter by adding more peppers to the broth. We had to drink two bottles of Hite (I love Korean beer when I eat this cuisine - the flavor profile just works with Korean food so well) to keep the heat at bay. At the end we had completely filled a large bowl with bones that were sucked clean and so massive it looked rather like an elephant graveyard! We took home a large container of the stimulating red broth that was filled with vegetables, straw mushrooms, peppers, and strands of pork for creating a memorable home dinner with fresh noodles added.
You've heard the saying, "All good things come to those who wait", right? Well, the wait's finally over and something pretty darned good has come to isla Guahan all the way from New Orleans ! Yes, Cajun Delight is finally open for business and the buzz is out from "delighted diners" who have filled up on authentic Louisiana favorites including Gumbo, Jambalaya, Fried Catfish, Crawfish Etouffe, and New Orleans Beignets (French Donuts), made famous by the Cafe de Monde.
Cajun Delight is a labor of immense love and tireless dedication by founders Pearl and Ernest Turner. The food is home-made and served with gracious hospitality. It just doesn't get more real or sincere than this - this is the heart and soul of two people with an unwavering faith, so when you are getting "soul food" here at Cajun Delight, you're getting the real deal that nourishes you physically and spiritually.
Still brand new with a Grand Opening event pending, this restaurant is a work in progress. The dining room is spacious with a view of the runway at Tiyan (you can see jets flying in while you munch on your cornbread and collard greens). The walls are decorated with wall murals depicting the New Orleans city scape, jazz musicians, and the window shades show a lighted bridge over the Mississippi River. Definitely atmospheric!
Cajun Delight serves a $12.95 breakfast buffet Tuesday-Thursday from 6:30-9:00am and Saturday from 8:30-11:00am. This hearty Cajun breakfast includes grits, biscuits, Cajun scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, pancakes, and Jambalaya rice. You can even get Community Coffee here! Sunday, though, is their show-off day, with a brunch buffet serving 12 different entrees, from 11am-3pm, priced at $24.95 ($12.95 children, 4 & under are free). There is a $12.95 lunch plate special Tuesday-Friday from 11am-1:30pm, that features an entree of the day. Dinner is served Thursday-Saturday from 6-9:30pm.
We first visited Cajun Delight on a Sunday and were overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of foods that you'd normally only get at special occasions. The buffet featured Dirty Rice, Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, Barbecued Chicken, Fried Catfish, Collard Greens, Barbecue Pork Chops, Sweet Corn Bread, Corn on the Cob, Spaghetti (for the kids), Fried Chicken, Barbecued Potatoes, and Black-eyed Peas with Ham Hocks.
There are delicious a la carte entrees such as BBQ Chicken served with Red Beans, White Rice, and Sweet Corn Bread ($17.95), or Teriyaki Shrimp served with Jambalaya Rice, Sweet Corn Bread, and Steamed Broccoli ($19.95). The Smothered BBQ Pork Chops served with White Rice, Sweet Corn Bread & Collard Greens ($19.95) have been pressure-cooked to a fall-off-the bone tenderness.
The house specialty is the Crawfish Etouffe ($24.95). The crawfish is imported from Louisiana, as is the catfish, beans, coffee, and seasonings to assure quality and authenticity. This also justifies the prices, which are mid-tier.
There is no alcohol served here but you can have Pepsi products or get one of Mamma Peaches Lemonades for $2. The Oooo Lala Brownies with Walnuts are $5.95 and the Beignets are $4.95. You can expect more menu additions and changes as Cajun Delight grows and evolves.
I am sure you will finds something that will delight your palate at Cajun Delight - I sure did!
Hagatna (across from Citibank)
When friend and fellow Thai food lover Richard Clark emailed me about Eddy and Toy (Toy's Tavern) taking over Sesomjai recently, he raved about the "arroy mak mak" eats! He was pretty spot on about the good taste of the Thai food here. We started off with the Beef Jerky ($10), which is a great appetizer to munch on with a cold Singha. We spiced it up with some homemade vinegar finadene Zee made, which actually went better with the Pad Si Eao with Chicken ($8.50). This is a wide, flat noodle dish with lots of veggies (broccoli, carrots, onions) and egg with chicken. We ordered the Penang with Shrimp ($10). This was full-flavored and intense Penang, with coconut milk and chilis that brought a bit of heat to the tongue.
I had one of my favorite Thai dishes, Pad Ka Pao ($8.50) that had minced chicken, basil, and a fried egg on top which is the traditional Thai-style. It was also delicious and spiced medium hot as I'd requested. We were pleased with our Thai dinner and were glad to meet Eddy and Toy. We wish them well on this new venture. They are still using Somjai's menu during this transition time until they create their own. We also wish the best for Somjai's husband who is having some health challenges, which was one of the reasons for Somjai handing over the business to Eddy and Toy.
Michelle's Coffee Shop
We had occasion to stop by Michelle's for dinner this week and I was so impressed by the dinner specials that I just had to share (the info, not the food!)
The two dinner specials we ordered were Braised Pork Cabbage ($7.99) which was fabulous in both taste and portion. The pork is braised for hours and seasoned with Chinese Five Spice blend. I've always liked cabbage and it's the perfect companion for this meal. Plus, at $7.99 it's a steal!
The other special I ordered was the Combo Yakisoba ($8.75). This is another winner and one of her most popular dishes. It is full of shrimp, chicken, and beef, along with onions and carrot slivers.
We also ordered an a la carte dish, Stir Fried Fish Filet with Baby Bok Choy ($9.95), which had a lot of basa filet (a very versatile fish), but they were out of bok choy so substituted other veggies. It seemed a bit on the salty side, but I still enjoyed the flavors of the fish and veggies.
Though the food is quite good and the menu is extensive with something for almost everyone, the best thing about Michelle's is the owner, Michelle, who is one of the most positive and hard-working people I know. She has a fan club of loyal customers. She knows how to take care of her customers and that's a huge factor to success in this business!
Islander Terrace's Super Foods Lunch Buffet ($19)
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
It's always a special treat to eat a healthy, nutritious lunch that tastes as good as it looks, especially if it looks really good. This is the precise dynamic of the culinary innovation taking place at the Hilton's Islander Terrace. While I've previously extolled the virtues of sating oneself on a glorious feast of heavy meats, starches, and a ton of other foods served at buffets, I found myself getting heavier and feeling sluggish. I would then make a far too infrequent pit stop at Simply Food for some "guilt free" dining where I'd eat palatable vegetarian dishes and not feel any discomfort afterwards. I am happy to report that I can now go to the Hilton's Islander Terrace and eat a meal that will not only meet my gustatory expectations, but will also energize and revitalize me with the nourishment one can only receive by eating "super foods".
Hilton's new executive chef, Christopher House, has introduced a spectacular line-up of appealing entrees joined by a powerhouse of a salad buffet bar that would excite even a die-hard vegetarian. And while I've got nothing against vegetarians, I'm probably just a bit jealous since they are all thinner than me and leaner, too! The wonderful thing about using the so-called "Super Foods" as ingredients and buffet elements is that you get far more nutritional value per portion that you will from ordinary foods. The use of nuts, grains, peppers, fresh greens, and dark chocolate in dishes is significant since they all are rich in antioxidants. These are foods that "does your body good". You know how wonderful a relaxing spa massage is for nurturing your body on the outside? Well think about doing the same for your body on the inside by eating these powerful foods.
Before I go further, I don't want to scare meat lovers away...you can still get your meat here, and it will probably even taste better than it has in the past. At the salad buffet bar, I bypassed the cold cut meats, the sushi and sashimi to load up on the green stuff and other healthy items like couscous, walnuts, local eggplant, black beans, baby beets, and almond slivers.
Regular readers will recall my mention of our locally grown hydroponic greens in a previous newsletter and the Hilton uses these greens. One in particular is a well-known "Super Food" - frisee lettuce, which is a curly endive packed with nutrients, and low in calories. It is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C, with about one third the daily recommended amount of each, in just a single serving. It's also a good source of vitamin K, and manganese.
Another exceptional items in this "Super Foods" extravaganza is the brown rice, which is positively awesome and will no doubt convert all white rice lovers to this far more nutritious (and much tastier) alternative. The brown rice is infused with sauteed mushroom, red onions, carrots, celery, parsley, and thyme.
I have to say that by making everything look and taste better through using natural and not artificial ingredients, the entire dining experience is elevated to a gourmet dining level. Another important factor is Chef Christopher's skill at artfully embellishing sauteed vegetables like plain baby bok choy with carrots, red bell peppers, garlic and mirin to create a memorably delightful vegetarian main dish. One could be happy with just this and the brown rice.
From the seafood side of "Super Foods" I did have some smoked salmon with my salad, and tried a magnificent Seared Wild Salmon with White Ratatouille in which each bite of the zucchini was sensational.
I also tried some spareribs, baked chicken, and some lamb. It was good, yet for some reason, I didn't feel like eating them. So, I ended my meal with some fresh papaya and pineapple for dessert as well as cultured live yogurt with blueberry, orange, and shaved dark chocolate.
It seems a truism that eating something alive imparts life. I can't say why one waxes philosophical after having a healthy meal. But I can say thank you to Chef Chris and his team at the Hilton for trailblazing this popular mainland culinary trend on Guam. Keep up the impressive work!