RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Bicol Express With Chef David and Chef O YouTube Video

Posted on


Chef David Hilo and Chef Omar’s Winning Recipe of Bicol Express

Chef David Hilo, 2011 graduate from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, is moving soon to Cincinnati, Ohio to work in a plush sushi restaurant.   But glad to have him in the CelebrEATy Circle with his chef-buddy Chef “O” and shared their version of the “flaming dish” Bicol Express.   The 2 chefs were fun to watch while doing their prep works in the kitchen and really observed the “mise en place” and cut up veggies and meat the professional way.   Soon they were ready for the camera…and so as not to get embarrassed again for the second time, they made sure they had vegetable oil this time.  The 2 chefs entered a cooking competition with this same recipe few months back.  They admitted they were a bit nervous, like true first timers in food competition, and when it was their turn to do the demo, to their shock and horror, they didn’t have vegetable oil to saute chopped onions and ginger and minced garlic.  But they regained composure and boil coconut milk to extract coconut oil….brilliant, it even made the dish extra-special.  And they were handed the best dish of the nite…what a great story!  To both chefs, my congratulations and more power…I really encouraged them to audition for Food Network Star or Hell’s Kitchen…they both have the drive and passion, and I volunteered to work on their personality.  Here’s the recipe for the Bicol Express:


2 cans Coconut milk
1 can Coconut cream
1 root Ginger, chopped
3-5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Onion, chopped
1 Kalabasa (squash), peeled and chopped
10-15 finger long peppers
10-15 Thai chili pepper
1 red pepper, sliced
1 lb Pork loin, sliced
1 lb Shrimp

Visit Chef Omar’s blog:

and view their you tube demo: (demo on Bicol Express w/ Chef David Hilo)

Thanks to Sarah Lee!!


Tava Fresh Taste of India Restaurant Review

Posted on
7172 Dempster St
(between Shermer Rd & Harlem Ave)
Morton Grove, IL 60053

(847) 966-8282

Went to eat here about 2 weeks ago and it was awesome!! This is a pretty new Indian restaurant and sure is a Fresh Taste!! From the moment we walked through the doors…the service was flawless and the food was seasoned nicely. Greeted at the door, seated right away by the fireplace on a cold winter night, white tablecloths, and the amazing smell of the cuisine. They had $5 martinis that we skipped on, started with Calamari Bhaji and was cooked perfect, our server also brought out homemade flatbread with their homemade chutney that was really tasty! She had the Tava Mix Grill that had a little of everything, Tandoori Chicken and shrimp, boti kebab, and reshmi kebab…very good and highly recommended as it is one of the house specialties. I enjoyed a plate of the Fish TIkka Masala, fresh mahi-mahi fillet marinated in yogurt and spices roasted in tandoor and sautéed with indian seafood masala, that packed some heat, also another Tava specialty. Our server thought we ate there before, but it was our first, she said awesome choices. And finally DESSERT, their homemade MANGO icecream is the best, i mean BEST MANGO ICE CREAM I EVER HAD, it beats out the Filipino brand Magnolia by far! YOU MUST HAVE IT…The only thing I am not used to is that the side dishes like flatbread or rice is a la carte…but I can get used to it…i feel that by ordering a la carte, you appreciate to read exactly what you want to get for your side dish, we ordered the garlic flatbread (garlic naan) yummy!!

TAVA is definitely on the right track and has a great menu selection and friendly wait staff! It is a welcoming and warm environment, even the manager came by our table and the CHEF came out to another table to answer some customers questions. Will be a return customer for sure!

4.5 out of 5 STARS this is a must dine at restaurant for an awesome taste of Indian Cuisine!!

Cha Ching!!! Rivers Casino Here I Come…

Posted on

I have applied to Rivers Casino when I was on my Externship in Spain, hoping when I came back, I would be lined up with a job. Unfortunately, there were no calls or messages back in May/June. Sunrise Senior Living Church Creek gave me a great opportunity in the meantime. I developed great friendships and awesome people doing great things for the elderly. The experience I received at Sunrise will never be forgotten…

Just recently, I reapplied at Rivers Casino and this was the last straw before making my big move to San Diego. Yup, I was west coast bound and ready to make the big risk…but for some reason my phone rang 2 days after reapplying at the casino. “Good morning is Omar Soriano available?” says the HR representative…”Speaking” I said…”I am calling in regards to the application you submitted and have a few questions if you have a moment?” “But of course!” I said. Oh was my heart beating with excitement…HR rep asks “What are 3 ways of thickening up a liquid?” I respond quickly…”Roux, Slurry, and Natural Reduction” “Correct” says the HR rep…and last quick question “What are the 2 numbers between the Temperature Danger Zone?” I took a moment to make sure it wasnt a trick question…”Ahh…yes, between 40 and 140″  “Correct!” Says the HR Rep..Next, we set up a date for an interview and of course I bring my famous Lincoln Bread.  Surprisingly, I interviewed with the pastry chef since the Executive Chef was not in that day. Brought my portfolio and my catering menu and I felt confident enough that this one was in the bag.

After my interview, I was told that I would receive a call the next day to set up interview #2 and was invited for a tasting. I was thinking in my head…ahhh the Chef is inviting me for a menu tasting?? Nice!!! NOT!!! I was my cooking test…hehehe. Just last week I went in on my off day and showed up for my 8am tasting dressed in my whites and my knife kit bag. One of the Chefs brought me in and gave me the grand tour and showed me where I would be cooking and handed me a full sheet tray consisting of shrimp, chicken breast, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, carrots,leeks, lemon, cucumber, red and green peppers and the use of pantry and produce in the coolers. Chef said, “You  must make an appetizer and an entree, 2 plates each with 2 hours to complete using most or all the ingredients.” Oh yea…I felt like I was on the Food Network show, Chopped. I will admit that my nerves were running through my body, but after 20 mins I got myself focused and in the zone. I knew right away,what the entree was going to be…Stuffed Chicken Breast with Vegetables 2 ways and Herb Roasted Potatoes…I start off with a pot of water to get the potatoes going, butterfly my chicken breast…cut up all my vegetable and mirepoix. I run to the pantry and grab breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. Come back and start sauteing my mirepoix in butter with mushrooms and breadcrumbs for stuffing the chicken breasts. I start to blanche my asparagus and oil up the eggplant that will be grilled. Prepare the zucchini and squash that will be herb roasted with the potatoes. Once my traditional bread stuffing was done I stuffed those chicken breasts and seared them off and got em in the oven. I would say about an hour past.

Next was the appetizer, I was thinking tempura at first..nah…how about some heat? Went back to the kitchen and made a dry rub for the shrimp, curry, ginger, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Let that get all happy and start roasting the peppers…went to the cooler and grabbed a mango…oh yes! A warm mango salsa and roasted peppers to pair up with that fiery shrimp.  Sliced some cucumbers for the base of my plate in a nice uniform spiral, used my cookie cutter to place the mango salsa neatly and cleanly, and finally sauteed those bad boys up in brown butter and plated them. With 10 minutes to spare I started plating Chicken with the vegetables 2 ways with the potatoes and a simple chicken gravy…use the same water i blanched my veggies and potatoes so nothing went to waste and had flavor. And also boiled the shrimp shells and used it to flambeau the shrimp 😉 I think i covered most of the culinary techniques in these 2 plates and made it come together as best I can.

Finally, judging time. 3 of the Chefs and a Sous Chef were seated and I had to explain each plate. I got through it and had to write down my menu as the Chefs discussed my plates. They were talking for a while…and then they told me that I did a great job, go clean up and meet me in my office. As I, was cleaning up, one of the Chefs said, “I know the news!” he gave me the thumbs up while I waited to be called by the Big Boss…He congratulated me and walked me to HR to get the paperwork started. WOOT WOOT!!!

Official start date January 13, 2012….