What You Don't Know About Dining Hall Chefs

March/April 2005

Reading time min

What You Don't Know About Dining Hall Chefs

Photo: Glenn Matsumura

On November 17, campus chefs converged on Tresidder Union for the second annual Cardinal Toque, Stanford’s version of the Iron Chef competition. When all was diced and sautéed, Jeff Rosen, chef/production manager for The Marketplace at Wilbur, emerged victorious. The former chef-owner of San Francisco’s Avenue 9, Rosen won a trip to Hawaii and a chance to compete in the Pacific region culinary challenge of the National Association of College and University Food Services. But life isn’t all foie gras-stuffed lamb when there are undergrads to feed.

What’s up with the hat?
The toque blanche has many rumored origins. Among the most likely: it appeared in the 16th century, when artisans were often imprisoned or executed for their freethinking. Some chefs sought refuge in the Greek Orthodox Church, hiding among the priests and donning a clergy-like uniform—including a tall hat. Over time the gray hat changed to white to connote cleanliness in the kitchen. The pleats are said to indicate the more than 100 ways to cook an egg. Today, all kinds of hats are worn. “The health department only cares that the head is covered,” Rosen says.

My, what a large grocery list you have.
Rosen and some 60 staff serve 300 breakfasts, 600 lunches and 900 dinners on an average day, with 12 to 15 dinner options each night. And students are savvy eaters. “Just like their education, they expect everything here to be the best,” Rosen says. Still, though you may see an occasional look of consternation on his face, “I’m really having fun.”

He wants you to have your cake and eat it, too.
Rosen remembers his own freshman dining experience as one long stomachache—literally. Today, especially at Stanford, chefs cook with more ethnic and contemporary styles, taking advantage of California’s produce and the home cuisines of the University’s diverse student population. Wilbur features seven “platforms” (food stations) and a salad bar. On one recent evening, residents feasted on fresh Dungeness crab cakes served with homemade steak fries and Carolina coleslaw. Plates are made to order and served to the customer. “It’s not like a big trough of food out for them,” Rosen says.

Move over, Col. Sanders.
With hundreds of opinions on what tastes good, Rosen hears it all as he chats with students—his favorite part of the job. He tries to walk a middle path, creating flavorful food while allowing students to adjust seasoning. Wilbur’s biannual survey digs even deeper. Students like variety—Mexican and Indian are favorites—but they also want comfort. The big winner? “Fried chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken. They want it all the time, every day.” Keeping nutrition and variety in mind, Rosen manages to serve it up about twice per week. “We give them what they want.”

Need to impress a date? Go with what you know.
For students sharing a meal outside the dining hall nest, “save the culinary adventures for later dates,” Rosen says. He suggests they pick a good hamburger joint, enjoy a milkshake at the Peninsula Fountain Grill, or perhaps go with a nice French or Italian restaurant. The more adventurous might try Indian, Thai or sushi. “Find out if she or he likes raw fish first,” Rosen warns. To really make an impact, Rosen suggests calling ahead and asking a manager to set fresh flowers on the table or preordering an appetizer for two and having it sent to the table upon arrival. As Rosen puts it, “that should get you on your way to a successful love connection!”

His kids prefer Mom’s cooking.
This chef plays guitar in his free time and says the other reason he moved to California was to be closer to the Grateful Dead. He’s also a sports fan—if he won the lottery, Rosen says, he’d spend his days working on his jump shot and golf short game. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, even if the kids might pick mac ’n’ cheese over his favorite: a slow, tender braise. They say he’s always cooking restaurant food. “They just want to give me guff,” Rosen says.

He’s a cool competitor.
At press time Rosen was awaiting the March 1 NACUFS competition. The winner moves on to the national competition in New Orleans this summer. Despite big shoes to fill—the last Cardinal Toque winner, Schwab executive services chef Raul Lacara, went on to win it all in 2004—Rosen says competition is secondary to his day job. It affords him some rarities in the restaurant business, like two days off each week and a schedule that meshes well with those of his wife and kids. “For me and my family, this is the best possible world for me to be in.”


Chef Rosen's Chicago Style Braised Brisket

Serves: 100

Beef brisket, lean/fat, raw -- 25 lb.
Oil, Canola, Salad -- 1 c.
Carrots, diced 3/4 in. -- 4 c.
Potatoes, Yukon Gold -- 3 lb.
Onions, fresh, whole, peeled, chopped -- 4 c.
Thyme, fresh, bunch -- 1 bunch
Spice, garlic, granulated -- 1/4 c.
Spice, liquid smoke, bulk -- 2 tbsp.
Spice, onion, granulated -- 1/4 c.
Spice, paprika, spanish, fancy -- 1/4 c.
Salt, Kosher, coarse -- 1/2 c.
Spice, pepper, black, coarse, ground -- 3 tbs.
Sauce, barbecue, original -- 3 c.
Broth, beef, from beef base -- 2 gal.

Mix dry seasonings together.
Chop thyme, add to oil.
Dice potatoes 3/4 in.
Toss vegetables in 1/2 of the oil. Set aside.
Cut beef into four equal pieces. Toss beef in other half of oil.
Rub dry spices into beef all around. Reserve 1/4 c. of spice mix.
Place beef in roasting pan surrounded by vegetables.
Roast meat at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Add hot stock.
Cover with aluminum foil.
Lower temperature to 275 degrees and braise for 4-5 hours.
Remove from oven.
Let meat cool in the liquid for two hours.
Remove meat and vegetables.
Cut meat and vegetables into bit size pieces and mix together with remaining dry spices and the BBQ sauce. Or, carve as a whole roast.

Chef Rosen's Corn Chowder Soup

Serves: 200

Leeks, fresh, diced 1/4 in. -- 9 each
Onions, fresh, whole, peeled, minced -- 2 qt.
Green bell peppers, fresh, medium, chopped fine -- 1/4 gal.
Celery, fresh, bunch, chopped -- 1 gal.
Potatoes, fresh, red bliss, diced -- 5 lb.
Butter, unsalted, AA -- 3 lb.
Flour, All Purpose -- 3 lb.
Thyme, fresh, chopped -- 1/4 c.
Corn, on the cob, white, fresh -- 24 each
Broth, vegetable, from vegetable base -- 1 1/2 gal.
Cream, manufacturing, 40% -- 2 gal.
Milk, reduced fat, 2%, half gallon -- 2 gal.
Salt and pepper to taste -- 2 tbs.

1. Trim and dice leeks, then place in cold water to remove sand.
2. Dice potatoes, celery and onions—reserve. Shuck corn, remove strings. Remove kernels from cob by standing ear up in a bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut along ear removing kernels. Reserve.
3. Saute leeks and onions in butter. Sweat for 8-10 minutes until done. Stir in flour. Continue cooking flour mixture for 10 minutes while stirring.
4. Add broth, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1/2 of corn and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Combine cream and milk. Add the remaining 1/2 of the corn kernels. Scald cream mix. Coarse puree cream/corn mix. Add cream/corn mix to broth.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Chef Rosen's Winning Seared Saddle of Lamb Filled with Chanterelles and Foie Gras, Crepinette of Lamb, Confit of Potato and a Six Onion Salad

Saddle of Lamb
1 lamb saddle
4 oz. of diced foie gras
2 c. cleaned, chopped chanterelle mushrooms
2 tbs. chopped garlic
1/2 c. chopped onions
1 tbs. chopped, stemmed fresh thyme
3 tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. golden raisins
1 oz. capers, chopped
1 tbs. sage, chopped
4 oz. caul fat
8 oz. basic reduced lamb stock

Prep mushrooms, onions, herbs and foie gras as noted. Keep foie gras chilled.
Trim and remove lamb loin and tenderloin from bone. Set aside.
Heat remaining 2 1/2 tbs. oil in pan over medium heat.
Saute mushrooms, onions, garlic and thyme unitl soft (approx. 5 min.). Set aside until cool.
Heat 1/2 tbs. of oil in pan over high heat. Sear foie gras, coarse chop. Reserve foie and released drippings.
Add foie gras, reserved drippings and mushroom mix and combine well.
Adjust seasoning.
Pipe mushroom-foie mix into loin.
Season lamb with salt and pepper.
Sear in medium hot pan and turn until all sides are browned and internal temperature is 130 degrees.
Remove lamb from pan. Deglaze pan with lamb stock, reduce.
Let meat rest for 10-15 minutes.
Place tenderloin and reserved lamb fat (80%-20%) into robot coupe with raisins, capers and sage. Adjust seasoning, form into crepinettes, wrap with caul fat.
Sear crepinettes in pan, set aside.

 Confit of Potato

12 each Yukon Gold "B"
4 c. heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme
12 cloves garlic
2 tbs. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
8 leaves of sage

Turn potatoes with a paring knife.
Combine remaining ingredients in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.
Submerge potatoes in cream mixture.
Cook over low-medium heat for 25 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.
Let cool in cream mixture.

Warm Six Onion Salad
1 each julienne and rinsed leek
2 each julienne shallot
3 each Cippolini onion
1 c. julienne torpdedo onion
1/2 c. julienne chives
1/2 c. julienne green onions
1/4 c. julienne carrots
3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs. whole grain mustard
1/2 bunch washed trimmed arugula
1 head of frisee
2 oz. micro greens

Prep onions and carrots as noted
Combine 3 tbs. of the oil and all of the vinegar with the thyme and mustard. Set aside. 
Saute carrots and onions, except green onions and chives, in the reserved oil until tender and slightly caramelized.
Stir 3-4 times (approx. 10 minutes)
Toss onion salad with chives, green onions, aragula and dressing. Reserve a few chives for garnish.
Adjust seasoning.


All sub recipes except the Onion Salad should be cooked ahead and held hot.

The Onion Salad should be finished just about service time.

Remove potatoes from cream 5 minutes prior to serving.

Toss frisee lightly in dressing. Place leaves of frisee in center of plate.

Place crepinette in middle of plate on frisee.

Place drained potatoes behind crepinette at 12 o'clock position.

Slice loin in middle on bias. Trim end to allow loin to stand. Place next to crepinette at 4 o'clock position.

Mold onion salad on top of crepinette.

Garnish with reserved chives, sage leaves and micro greens.

You May Also Like

© Stanford University. Stanford, California 94305.