david-blessing

In Conversation with Chef David Blessing, LONGWOOD’s Vice President, Culinary Arts & Development

executive chef David BlessingAfter the whirled down summer, between Boston, Newport and Cape Cod,we caught up with Chef David, where else, in one of his kitchens.

Q: Chef, what ingredient are you obsessing about this fall?

Chef David: This fall I am completely obsessed with Gorgonzola Dolce Cheese. It is so creamy, pungent and luscious! I try to eat healthy year round and make a lot of salads in the fall with bitter greens like watercress, frisee and endive. I love pairing it with Gorgonzola Dolce, roasted apples, toasted Hazelnuts and dried cherries. Amazing combination.

Q: What’s in your fridge right now?

Chef David: Hmmm… I prepare lots of food in the beginning of the week and right now I have roasted chicken, sautéed swiss chard and kale mix, roasted poblano peppers, my own fresh Salsa and lots and lots of fruit.

Q: What is your typical breakfast?

Chef David: Like most chefs I don’t eat a big breakfast but certainly try. I’m a big fan of power smoothies, quick and nutritious. Mine has organic yogurt, banana, OJ, blueberries, ice, milk, peanut butter.

Q: What do your kids like for dinner?

Chef David: My kids are a little spoiled having a chef for a Dad. I basically short order cook each night asking what they want. My son is obsessed with pasta, he will eat any type and shape with good butter and salt only. My daughter is a great eater. She will eat pretty much anything I prepare but especially likes chicken and vegetables.

Q: Favorite comfort food?

Chef David: It is definitely pasta with my Grandmother Marys’ meat sauce. She is from Abruzzi, Italy and has made the same sauce for me for over 40 years. Tangy and spicy sauce with mild and spicy sausage, peppery meatballs made with pork and beef and her Braciole; bone in pork cutlets all braised in the sauce for hours. Rigatoni and grated pecorino Romano make this my all time favorite comfort food.

Q: For Longwood, which local farmers’ and artisanal products do you enjoy cooking with right now?

Chef David: I am a huge fan of Wards Berry Farm in Sharon, Wilson Farm in Lexington and Lookout Farmin Natick. This time of year we use lot’s of beautiful root vegetables as well as harvest greens like kale and Swiss Chard. Cheeses from Vermont Butter and Creamery are all over the menu and I cook with them obsessively.

 Q: How do you stay fit and healthy as a chef? Do you always taste all the food you make?

Chef David: I believe I stay healthy in part because I am very active in the kitchen. The physical demands of the job are good for my body and mind. I also go to the gym three days a week and try to eat very healthy always.

Yes, any great chef must taste his/her food. In doing so I rarely ever have a meal during the day. Eating small amounts of food throughout the day keeps my metabolism running high.

Q; What is your favorite holiday? In terms of food.

Chef David: Definitely Easter. Easter to me signifies the true start of spring. The spring vegetables that become available after a long winter are so inspiring. They are vibrant in color and texture. I love cooking with asparagus, spring onions, morels, baby beets and radishes.

Q: What twists do you put on your family’s thanksgiving dinner? Ingredients. Unexpected combinations? Or do you keep it classic?

Chef David: I keep things pretty classic. To me Thanksgiving is a time to do traditional food really well. Great ingredients really shine with classically prepared dishes if handled properly. I do like to lighten a few dishes up to achieve more vibrant colors and flavors.

Q: Is there an ingredient that you particularly dislike and avoid using?

Chef David: Baby Patty Pan squash and baby zucchini. I call these the banquet vegetable mix. To me there is virtually no flavor or substance to these vegetables, especially when there are so many beautiful local seasonal ones available.

Q: How has your personal style involved over years and what influences you?

Chef David: My personal cooking style has changed somewhat over the years but not too drastically. At this point in my career I know what I like, what I do well and what I stand for food wise. Visually my food can look pretty straight forward but there is a lot of complexity of flavor in everything I prepare. As I matured professionally my cooking technique caught up to my creative mind. I truly believe I honor the food I cook by preparing in the best way to highlight beauty and flavor. A lot of things influence me finding inspiration in many places when it comes to food. I am influenced most by pleasing people with my food. This makes cooking a very personal thing for me and I believe one can taste the effort and care you put into a meal.

Q: You have cooked for people like President Obama. Does the celebrity status change anything behind the kitchen door?

Chef David: At the end of the day we are serving guests  food and despite having high profile or celebrity guests dining with us not much changes behind the kitchen door other than the intensity of service overall. You certainly want to impress a VIP crowd and people tend to get a bit nervous. For myself and my chefs we are a really just focused on serving the best food we can at all times. I put as much effort into a small wedding or social event as I would for the President.

Q: Do you have any pet peeves in the kitchen? 

Chef David: I would say my major pet peeve in the kitchen is working messy and not working smart. A chefs life in the kitchen is about not wasting energy, no extra steps or creating more work for yourself. Staying organized and clean is a must to be effective. By working smart tasks become easier, take less time and allow for a clear head which is helpful in dealing with the sometimes unpredictable nature of our world inside the kitchen. It’s a simple philosophy for me; work smart, stay clean, be organized.

Q: Do you have a favorite knife or set? What brand do you use? How do you take care of them?

Chef David: When I first started my career I was like a lot of young chefs and had to have the big name brand knives, Henkel’s, Wustoff, Global. I spent a lot of money on these as well any many other tools. Over the years  I have accumulated quite a few knives but have come to appreciate each type and brand of knife for different reasons. I choose knives that work well for a particular task. For example; If I am doing a lot of prep dicing, chopping etc. I prefer a 10 inch chefs knife but with a thin blade. Wustoff and Henkels are rather thick and cumbersome so I use an F.Dick which is sturdy with a thinner blade making this task much easier, ergonomically speaking. For small tasks I use a Global 8 inch knife that is very versatile.

Q: Do you play music when cooking? 

Chef David: Yes, I do. In fact many of my kitchen staff might say I want to be a singer because I am constantly singing. I’ll stick with my day job though! I especially enjoy having background music on when I am cooking at home. I find it relaxing to cook and have music playing.

Thank you Chef!

To see photos of Chef David’s beautiful food and follow his culinary blog, click here.

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For Your INDIAN Wedding in Boston: A New Menu

Longwood has long been the go-to destination for couples planning their traditional Indian Weddings on the East Coast. Known for their rich traditions and vibrant hues, these fêtes can be held for 3 to 4 days. These events are truly a feast for the eyes (as well as the stomach). That’s why we want to make it easy for brides & grooms to plan them. In honor of these gorgeous ceremonies, our Chef has created a brand new menu that presents Longwood’s take on Indian Cuisine. Introducing the new Indian Fusion Menu.

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“We’re seeing an increase in demand for Indian Weddings,” says Culinary Arts Director, David Blessing, “and we don’t limit ourselves or our menus.” The Indian Fusion Menu draws on the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine, while incorporating New England’s best. The results are dishes that surprise and delight, including: Grilled Tandoori Baby Lamb Chops and Crispy Curry Basmati Rice Balls.

“Indian food is intensely flavorful, so they’re great as small bites,” says Chef Blessing of the passed hors d’oeuvres he’s created for the menu. The spicy paneer kabob for example, is marinated in ginger and chili and paired with mint chutney, packing a tasty punch. Or why not try the Palaak Chat Spoon (pictured below), which is a single intense bite of rich yogurt, topped with crisp spinach, cilantro, tomato and Tamarind Chutney? These innovative dishes are sure to be guest favorites.

Palaak Chat Spoon

For entrées, we offer a wonderfully complex layering of flavors in the vegetable korma. Originally, an old family recipe, it was adapted and enhanced by our Chef for an all vegetarian wedding.

Vegetable Korma - Longwood Indian Fusion

 

Whether you are planning a multi-day extravaganza with all the traditional customs or an Indian wedding with modern elements, we’re happy to accommodate. Want to learn more about the Indian Fusion Menu? Contact us here.

 

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Working to Feed Our Neighbors

We can help you to plan a memorable & delicious menu for your event, no problem – but we can’t plan for everything. The unexpected happens. A surprise snowstorm can arrive overnight and cover the city, making it impossible to travel. Sometimes our clients have to cancel the day of, and we understand that. The only thing is, what to do with all the food that has already been purchased and prepared by our world class chef & kitchen staff?

That’s why we’re partnering with Boston Rescue Mission and the Feeding Our Neighbors program started by National Association of Catering Executives. In the event that a host cancels or there are fewer guests than expected, the leftover food will be picked up and delivered to the Boston Rescue Mission, where over 125,000 meals are served annually.

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At Longwood, we’re committed to reducing waste and believe in doing good for the community. When you plan your event’s menu, plan with confidence knowing that the extra food will go to those who might not only want it, but need it.

“Donations of food from clients of Longwood go a long way toward preventing homelessness for our hungry neighbors,” says Eric Grenfell-Muir of Boston Rescue Mission. “When hungry families eat a meal in our kitchen that can free up scarce resources for rent, utilities, medical costs, and other critical needs. Those who are already homeless have a chance to eat a hot meal and connect with resources that may help them end their episode of homelessness. Our guests are always grateful for the chance to have a quality meal in a safe space.”

The partnership is already off to a great start! This season, we’ve made several meal deliveries from our kitchen to the Mission. We are grateful to the Boston Rescue Mission team for making it easy for us to participate, and to our guests who have embraced this important endeavor with enthusiasm.

Our Latest Offering

Now at Longwood, Delight your Guests with Fixx Chocolates!

We always seek out and support local producers and artisans. It is our pleasure to share these high-quality products that are guaranteed to be a hit at your next party. This holiday season, we’d love to introduce you to our latest find – a truly unique, exciting and delicious product: Fixx Chocolates.

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These are not your average candy bar. What we love most about Fixx is that each piece is individually handcrafted by Boston based chocolatier, Nicole Coady. Inspired by unexpected and intoxicating flavors like peanut nougat and candied jalapeños, she has transformed the classic candy bar into an upscale experience. Fixx bars are about half the size of your regular candy bar, about two inches long and an inch across. The caramel or nougat fillings are decadent and rich. A few sprinkles of sea salt or a pretzel stick, are some of the finishing touches that garnish each bar.

We couldn’t be more fond of these gourmet treats, and are proud to offer them to our guests. They are the perfect addition to the dessert buffet or as a late night snack. Whether your next event is a wedding, corporate, or holiday party – these chocolates are sure to surprise and delight your partygoers.

After all, who could resist a caramel bar with pretzels, coconut and sea salt? Or peanut butter nougat with apple wood smoked bacon and maple caramel?

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Fixx is a rare find. To learn more about Fixx Chocolates, visit fixxchocolates.com.

Give Back to Boston

The State Room: the First Boston Feedie!

Over 65% of Americans eat out once a week.  While in South Africa, over 65% of children live in poverty.

Feedie, a philanthropic foodie app is committed to raising awareness and funds for this issue. The innovative app transforms the act of snapping and sharing food photos into sharing actual food. If you’re a foodie who loves to share, what are you waiting for? Feedie allows you take mind-blowing pictures of your tastiest meals (thanks to expert filters), add commentary, and share effortlessly across social networks.

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Here’s the rub: each photo shared from a participating Feedie restaurant = an actual meal provided to a child in South Africa. How? For each photo that hits your Facebook feed, the participating restaurant donates 25 cents (the estimated cost of a meal) to the Lunchbox Fund, an organization that works to provide 250,000 meals a year to children in need.

As a leader in the industry, we are proud to announce that the State Room has joined the ranks of Feedies all over the world. Longwood loves being on the cutting edge, so it’s no surprise we are the first to bring Feedie to Boston. Host your next event with Longwood, and let all your guests know about this worthy cause. Not only with your holiday party or wedding be the toast of the town, you just might be able to share your meal with someone who really needs it.

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Didn’t get a coveted invitation to the State Room this holiday season? We’re offering a rare opportunity to taste our food at the 11th Annual Celebration for Kids on December 7th. It’s a night you won’t want to miss!

Get more information on the Feedie App here.

This Holiday: Give & Get

A Rare Opportunity to Get a Taste of Longwood.

‘Tis the season for giving and giving back. On December 7th at 6pm, we’ll be doing just that at the 11th Annual Celebration for Kids hosted by the Rodman Ride for Kids Foundation.

Want the chance to taste our food? Join us at the Seaport World Trade Center, where we’ll be serving signature dishes from the Longwood Menu. We’re thrilled to be featured alongside 60 of Boston’s top chefs, with a hosted wine & beer bar all night, and music from the World Premier Band. Don’t miss this unique opportunity!

And the best part? All proceeds go toward supporting programs for at-risk kids in the Boston Area, including: the Boys & Girls Club, Crossroads for Kids, Need to Lead, and the YMCA.

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Tickets available here.

Our Peas and Carrots Logo

Our Culinary logo has special meaning to me. My connection to these two vegetables goes back to my childhood in Maine. As a boy I spent summers on our familys’ lake in North Whitefield. A small Downeast town full of locals, summer folks and nature.

I spent my days swimming, exploring and fishing but remember most gardening with my Great Grandmother Mildred Dow and my Grandmother Roberta. You see, everyone in my family has a garden, always have. I’d say its a Maine tradition and certainly a tradition of ours. This garden was incredible! Every fruit and vegetable you could think of was growing wildly. I spent hours there each day while my Grandmother explained why each thing was planted here or there and how to cultivate, prune and nurture it to yield the best quality. Of all the vegetables planted peas and carrots were my favorite. I was so enamored with how a carrot could be plucked out of this black soil, be bright orange and taste so sweet. To this day I swear I have excellent eyesight because I ate so many as a child. The peas were so good! Bright green orbs hidden inside of this little pod were like a deliciously sweet treasure. My Grandmother showed me how to pick them carefully so not to damage the vine. Grammy and I would shuck them while sitting on a huge tree stump, dish towel draped over our laps, watching them roll around into the cloth. Of course eating them was the best reward for our hard work. There is simply nothing like the taste of just picked garden vegetables. In fact many nights our dinner was just peas and carrots, a perfect summertime meal!

 

Our logo was designed by Diane Sayers who is our Director of Sales at the State Room, Boston. I told Diane this story of my childhood and how I wanted to incorporate peas and carrots into a logo. She put the pencil to paper and created this perfect illustration that captures the essence of my childhood food memories. Thank you Diane!

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