A Ministry of Christian Chefs International (CCI)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 2013

The Soul of an Apprentice

"Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.. be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Tim 4:2,5; NKJV).

Mise en Place is a common term in restaurants, which most of us would relate to being both mentally and physically prepared for what we're about to do in the kitchen. Specifically, the term is defined as having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking and is translated from French to "everything in it's place".

Generally that concept usually continues to mean being ready for service, being ready to work with the rest of the team, and thinking ahead with everything else to be prepared for anything, and starts even before you go to work. If everybody focuses on their Mise en Place through the day, the day will generally go very smoothly because everybody is prepared for anything that comes their way, and happy to take on any challenge.

If a person isn't very well prepared with their culinary Mise en Place for the day, oftentimes that person will be struggling all day long. For example, they'll be running to the refrigerator numerous times during service because of things they forgot and just barely (if at all) keep up with the meals that need to go out.

So if the concept of Mise en Place is so important in being prepared to cook, how much more important is it in our spiritual preparedness for the day? Life in the kitchen can go so much smoother if you're spiritually prepared for work. By this I mean that you should be praying for everybody you work with (Christian or not), praying that God be with you in the kitchen, prepared to witness to an unbeliever, prepared if someone comes to you for personal or spiritual advice, prepared to defend your faith, and the list goes on.

I believe that is just as important to your day in the kitchen as it is to be prepared for the day's cooking. If you aren't prepared spiritually for the day, it's an open door for spiritual warfare in your life. Some people may criticize your faith and if you aren't prepared to answer, they can just run all over you. Someone may come up to you asking for spiritual or personal advice and it could cause more harm than good if you weren't prepared to be there for them. Nonbelievers may come up to you asking about being a Christian, and if you aren't prepared for that, you might not have anything to say to them. Then again, you may have a personal problem with someone at work. If you aren't prepared for that spiritual battle, you may snap back at the person and make it an even bigger problem. If you're prepared for that, and if you've been praying for the person, it's much easier to love the person and try solving the problem rather than magnifying it.

Spiritual Mise en Place is just as important in secular kitchens as it is in Christian ones. In a Christian kitchen, there is warfare all over the place, and if you're in leadership, you have yours and everybody else's difficulties whom you supervise to be involved with. As they are brothers and sisters in Christ, you need to be all the more prepared to help them in their times of need. In secular kitchens, there aren't as many people having spiritual warfare, as there are generally very few other Christians, but with all that goes on in those kitchens, you need to be all the more prepared with the personal warfare you go through as well as being ready to give an answer to anything.

God bless and be prepared,

Ira Krizo
Board of Directors, CCI

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 2013

The Soul of an Apprentice

Sometimes we have to wait for a long time before what God has promised comes true. It's not that God delays things on purpose; sometimes the people whom God has invited to join the work just don't show up. 

We might wonder why God does not invite only the people whom God knows will show up? Because God is patient and wants everyone to have a change to join the work, whether they choose to do so, or not. Knowing how many times we have refused ourselves, God's patience is a great source of comfort for all of us.

It is easy to become bitter when things don't work out; when we don't know why we have to wait, when we are ready to do the work but nothing seems to work out. But when we choose not to walk away from the work when we meet unexpected delays, patience becomes our salvation.

Patience - the ability to control ourselves when frustrated - produces endurance in us, endurance produces godliness.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV).

Instead of becoming bitter and frustrated, we should find joy in the other things God has given us while we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled, for there is more to life than work, even when we work for God.  

Susanna Krizo

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 2013

The Soul of an Apprentice

Some of us wait an entire lifetime to do something spectacular for God; others are happy to remain on the sidelines, yet others are born to the role they will play all their lives.

Samuel the prophet was brought to the temple at the age of five, and he remained a prophet all his life. There is no indication that he ever doubted his calling. 

As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right (1 Sam 12:23 NIV).
Mary, the mother of Jesus, on the other hand, was greeted by an angel on a day that showed no indications of being different from any other:
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her (Luke 1:26-38 NIV).
While Mary accepted the words of the angel quickly, Moses needed a bit more persuasion. Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law when a burning bush caught his attention. God wanted him to return to Egypt he had fled forty years earlier after having murdered an Egyptian who had mistreated an Israeli slave.
Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it" (Ex 4:10-17 NIV).
If Aaron was a better speaker, why didn't God ask him instead of Moses? Because Aaron wasn't humble. It was Aaron that led Israel to worship a calf when Moses was talking to God on Mt Sinai, and it was Aaron that questioned Moses' right to lead Israel. Aaron became the high priest, but the role of giving Israel the Law was reserved to Moses because of his humility.
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth (Num 12:3, NIV).
Humility is the key to greatness, for without humility pride convinces us that the greatness comes from us. 
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Cor 4:7 NIV).

We don't have to see burning bushes or angels to do great things. Jesus lived in obscurity most of his life. He ministered for a brief time before dying on a cross. Most people didn't consider him to be anything other than another rabbi whom they could safely ignore. Yet, his disciples knew that there was so much more to his life than people could see. 

Although we must be ready to step into any role God has prepared for us, why wait for greatness that you already have? True greatness is to know Jesus, for without Jesus nothing else matters.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil 3:7-11 NIV)

Susanna Krizo

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 2013

The Soul of an Apprentice

Something that has always puzzled me is why Christians must be reminded to be kind. It seems odd that Bible school students must be reminded to be kind and tip well when they go to local restaurants; as if it wasn't something Christians do naturally. Now, why is that? I think the answer lies in how we do modern theology: we focus so much on the grammar that we have forgotten to read the message.

One thing we decided when we started the Christian Culinary Academy (CCA) was to focus on character building instead of theology building. Instead of talking about systems and dispensations, we decided to talk about what God wants us to be. It is of course important to know how to read the Bible, but if all we ever do is talk about Greek syntax, we could read Plato, or Homer, and be just as well off. Words mean something and they are meant to do something. Either they change us, or we change them. 

Kindness (chrestos in Greek) is one of the characteristics of love (1 Corinthians 13:4). If love is greater than faith - and it is (1 Corinthians 13:13) - kindness must be more enduring than faith. One day we will no longer need faith as we will see God face-to-face, but kindness will still remain, for love never ends. There will never be a day when we no longer need to be kind. Kindness is something that will always remain with us, which leads us to this question: why do we think kindness is something we can ignore while we still walk by faith?

Some people think kindness is saying what everyone wants to hear, but that is as far from the truth as can be. It isn't kind to pretend. Kindness requires honesty, and honesty requires authenticity. There is no need to go around insulting people, and not every truth has to be said out loud, but neither do we need to become phony in order to be kind.

Kindness has to do with being useful to others, to act benevolently, to furnish what is needed.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:35-36, NIV).

Kindness is something every Christian should excel at, and if it seems difficult, practice makes perfect. The day Bible schools no longer need to ask their students to be kind when they go to to the local coffee shops is the day when we can once again focus on Greek syntax (sentences) instead of vocabulary (words). Let's make it happen.

Susanna Krizo

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 2013


Brining is a technique that adds moisture to meats before they are cooked.
Bringing relies on DIFFUSION and OSMOSIS

DIFFUSION: A brine consists of water and salt. Soaking the meat in a brine, allows salt molecules to diffuse into the muscle cells, for diffusion seeks to balance the salt content inside and outside the muscle cells.

OSMOSIS: Water moves across cell membranes into the muscle cells, increasing the amount of water inside the muscle cells.

Salt reshapes the protein molecules in the meat, which allows the protein to hold on to the added water, even after the meat is cooked. Without water, the salt could not enter into the cells, wherefore a simple salt rub adds flavor, but not moisture.

If the concentration of salt in a brine is too HIGH, water will be drawn out of the meat instead of adding more water into the muscle cells. If it is too LOW, the movement of water will be very slow, and very little water will enter the cells.

When brining make sure the salt is fully dissolved into the water (or you will end up with a brine that has a low salt concentration), and that you have a big enough container to soak the meat in the brine.
The optional sugar found in many brining recipes adds flavor and aids in the browning of the meat.

How does it work?

Salt is made out of two ions, sodium and chloride, which are oppositely charged. Proteins, such as those in meat, are large molecules that contain a mosaic of charges, negative and positive. When proteins are placed in a solution containing salt, they readjust their shape to accommodate the opposing charges. This rearrangement of the protein molecules creates gaps that fill up with water. The salt dissolves some of the proteins, forming a gel capable of holding on to even more water. It reduces overall toughness, as the protein molecules are changed.


Salt does more than add flavor to foods. As with brining meats, adding the right amount of salt at the right time can make a big difference when scrambling eggs.

Salt your scrambled eggs before cooking, as salt added after scrambling can make them rubbery and firm, but added before makes them tender and moist.

Why is that?

Salt affects the electrical charge on the protein molecules in the eggs, reducing the tendency to bond. A weaker protein network means eggs are less likely to overcoagulate and will cook up tender, instead of tough.

There are many ways to use salt in cooking. What's your favorite?

Susanna Krizo 

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 2013

Last month we looked at heat in general and what happens at the molecular level when we use heat to cook. This month we will be looking at low heat and high heat, and why low heat is sometimes the better option.


Although low heat keeps the moisture in foods, as water molecules won't evaporate as quickly from the surface as with high heat, but it doesn't produce as much flavor as high heat.

The Maillard Reaction (named after Loius-Camille Maillard) explains why high heat produces a dark surface with a unique flavor profile.
When we heat sugars, such as glucose and sucrose, they react with amino acids and create new distinct flavor compounds. These compounds, called dicarbonyls, in turn react with more amino acids to form even more compounds, multiplying rapidly on both the surface of the cooking food and in the cooking vessel. Ultimately, very large molecules called melanoidin pigments are formed, which create the deep brown hue.


The final flavor depends on the amino acids present and their ratio, and how they react with the reducing sugars. Different products have different kinds of amino acids, which result in a different flavor profile. For example, if the amino acid has sulfur in it, you get “roasted meat” flavor etc.

Maillard reaction begins when the surface temperature exceeds 300 degrees. Because of conductive heat  (the temperature on the surface rises as the heat makes it way to the interior), by the time a steak reaches an internal temperature of 80 degrees, the surface may already be 300.
Boiled foods do not turn brown, because water boils at 212 degrees.
Significant heat is requires to jump-start the chemical reaction that causes food to brown. Even with dry-heat cooking methods like sautéing and grilling, the surface moisture of food will steam, lowering the temperature and slowing the speed of the reaction. When grilling, remove excess moisture from the meat, so the Maillard reaction can begin instantaneously.


Meat consists of four components


When meat is cooked, the muscle fiber strands begin to shrink, first in diameter (104-145 degrees F), then in length (above 145 degrees F), expelling moisture as they contract. The rate of moisture loss becomes high around 140 degrees, but at this point, the connective tissue begins to tighten as well, squeezing the fibers even more firmly, creating a potentially tough, dry meat - if it wasn't for collagen.

Collagen is the predominant protein found in everything from a cow’s muscle tendons to its hooves. Collagen is composed of three protein chains tightly wound together in a triple-stranded helix and therefore is almost unchewable when raw. Temperatures under 140 degrees do not affect this protein, but after 140 degrees, collage begins to relax, unwinding into individual strands. When held at a temperature above 140 (about 160-180), for an extended period of time, the triple helix of collagen unwinds and forms a gelatin, a single stranded protein able to retain up to 10 times its weight in moisture, which tenderizes meat, and adds a thickness to sauces and braised dishes.

The conversion of collagen into gelatin requires both TEMPERATURE and TIME: the longer the food is held in the ideal temperature (160-180), the more collagen breaks down.
This is why extended cooking destroys lean cuts with little collage (such as tenderloin), because as the muscle fibers contract, they steadily give up their juices and become drier and tougher with time. The final cooking temperature should not be any higher than 130 degrees for beef, and 150 degrees for pork.

Collagen-rich cuts are too tough to eat, when cooked to rare or medium-rare. Extended cooking tenderizes tough cuts with lots of sinuous collagen (like beef brisket), because it lets the abundant collage to transform into gelatin, keeping significantly more moisture inside the meat as the tightening muscle fibers relax a bit, drawing moisture back inside the meat.


Fish and seafood, other than salmon, have very little fat. Their internal temperature is lower than meats (140), which creates the danger of overcooking. Cooking with high heat would result in a dry and tough product, but although cooking in a lower temperature retains more moisture, high heat produces flavor. Because the Maillard reaction doesn’t occur until 300 degrees F, the browning process must be aided. Sugar and butter can aid in the browning process.

Sugar (sucrose, disaccharide) added to the wet surface of the fish that is exposed to the heat of the pan quickly breaks down into glucose and fructose (monosaccharide). Fructose begins to caramelize at around 200 degrees, a temperature the exterior of the fish reaches within a minute or so after being placed on the pan, which gives it a good crust before the fish dries out. 

With fish, you don’t want any carryover cooking. You want to halt the cooking as soon as possible, for fish does not contain any fat, wherefore it dries quickly. Slicing the fish as soon as it is cooked, arrests the carryover cooking.  

So there you have it, the science behind a perfectly cooked meat and fish. Summer is here, so bring out the barbeque, and enjoy!

Susanna Krizo 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 2013

I loved chemistry in High School. It was the one subject that I excelled in without any effort; it made perfect sense to me from the beginning - until in college they added calculus to it, and I was lost (because my brain likes concepts, not numbers).

When I prepared the food science class for our students at the Christian Culinary Academy, I found that the old cliche is still true: cooking is chemistry! Suddenly all those recipes made perfect sense. Why heavy cream becomes fluffy was a no-brainer when I found that amino acids are unraveled in the whipping process and the air-loving part attaches to O2, and voila! the liquid becomes a fluffy, velvety substance that makes cakes possible.

When I realized how easy it is too cook when all the molecules line up, I thought that food science would be a subject that even the most seasoned chef would be interested in, wherefore I decided to write a series of articles on what happens when we heat, freeze, cut and roast our food, in order to give you a glimpse into what really happens in that kitchen of yours.


"Heat" describes the speed of molecules in a substance such as air, or water. The higher the temperature, the faster the molecules are moving and the more energy (or heat) the molecules contain. The fast-moving molecules bump into the slowly-moving molecules and cause them to pick up speed. 

The gaseous molecules in a fire, metal atoms on a skillet, air-molecules in the oven, they all bump into the slow-moving molecules in food, and cause them to pick up, and this creates different chemical reactions in food. As a result, the food can change color, it can lose moisture, or cell-walls can break down (making food more tender).

The important thing is to choose the right kind of heat.

CONDUCTION – heat transferred from molecule to molecule within the food (on the stove).
CONVECTION – heat transferred by the hot air in the oven to the pan, and then from the pan to the food.
RADIANT – The heat emitted by the heating element in the oven and absorbed by the food.

The method decides how the food is cooked, for how the heat makes the molecules move, will decide the end product.

Conduction signifies the transfer of heat from a hotter to a colder region within a food, i.e. the movement of molecules inside a single substance. The exterior begins to cook first, and the heat is conducted into the middle by the movement of molecules (This is why the middle cooks last). Water molecules are much smaller than fat and protein molecules, wherefore they are capable of moving faster and conduct much of the heat. 

Convection is the transfer of heat from a hot liquid (like boiling water or frying oil), or a hot gas (like the air in the oven), to a food. In each case, heat is generated by an external source, such as a stovetop burner, or heating element in an oven.

Radiant heat comes from sun’s rays, grilling, broiling, and even microwaving. Waves of energy interact directly with the molecules in food, causing them to accelerate in speed, and therefore become hotter.

The outside always cooks faster than the inside. If the temperature is too high, the outer layer may become overcooked by the time conduction moves the heat toward the center of the food. This happens because the external moisture will evaporate (water molecules move faster), leaving the surface area vulnerable to becoming very dry.

For example: if you put a steak on a hot pan, it will quickly sear the outside, but the inside will remain raw. If you keep on cooking the steak on the hot pan, you risk burning the outside before the inside has a chance to turn pink (because all the water molecules will have evaporated from the surface before the inside has had a chance to cook). If you, on the other hand, put the steak in the oven, you won't get the flavor on the outside that comes from high heat, but the steak will cook uniformly.

So what to do? Sear the steak on the pan, and finish it off in the oven. That way you will get both the flavor from high heat (via conduction), and the uniform cooking of both the inside and outside of the steak (via convection).

Now that you've produced the perfect steak, let it rest for a moment before sending it to the customer, or eating it yourself. If you cut the steak the moment it comes from the oven, you'll end up with a steak swimming in its own juice, that will taste dry.

Now what is that? 

Meat is mostly water; raw beef is about 75 % water (which is true of humans too), the rest is protein and fat. The proteins in the meat trap the water molecules, wherefore a piece of raw meet will not shed liquid when you cut it. But when you cut meat that has just been cooked, a flood of juices (liquid) will cover the cutting board, because cooking has caused the proteins to release the water molecules. By letting the meat rest for a few minutes (but not too long or it'll turn cold), the water will make it's way back to the spaces the proteins once occupied.

Here's why.

The protein that makes up muscle tissue in raw meat is similar to many bundles of wire. Each wire that represents a single muscle cell is called a muscle fiber. When red meat and poultry are heated, protein molecules begin to chemically bond with each other, causing them to compress and contract, first in diameter, then in length. A single muscle fiber can shrink to as little as half of its original volume during the cooking process, and other proteins dissolve. When the proteins contract and shrink, the liquid trapped is squeezed out, but when the meat rests, the liquid returns to the space once occupied by the now dissolved protein. The dissolved protein holds on to the liquid, and you get a steak that is tender, juicy, and cooked to perfection.

I'd say Bon Appetite to that!

Susanna Krizo 
Board of Directors, CCI