Have you ever experienced dining so well that the only way it could have pleased your palate was by pure precision? Whether you have or haven’t, either way then you’ll want to meet Chef O.J. Knight.
Chef OJ is an effective & critical thinker, who constantly pushes food to the next level. Here we’re discussing the flavor profile of Shrimp & Grits.
While pursuing his college degree(s) he began a phenomenal interest with cooking, while preparing meals for himself. There a passion began. He then started at the then Washington Redskins Training Camp as a line cook, to working his way up to Marriott Hotels (2019).
I met him and his wife Crystal just prior to their wedding last August; shortly after he did a spectacular event for our family after returning from his honeymoon. And just this past year he took on another role.
This is for me, a heartfelt “thank you”, that is also long overdue, for overseeing my ending culinary session with an incredible externship at Bertha’s Apple.
Leading with great sincerity, fully engaged with the detailed planning of Escoffier Culinary School and my assignment objectives. I could not have asked for a better supervisor to assist in completing my studies in Culinary Arts & Operations, and am ever grateful that he accepted the challenge.
During the process, week after week the dining room was filled with discussion and planning for the next dish. Breaking down each recipe – analyzing the key ingredients, methods, cooking time and temperatures until the why of each taste and texture was intact.
Sometimes it was a chocolate sauce, a puff pastry or denseness of cake, like baking each step was in exact precision.
For the six weeks the temporary test kitchen posed as a sign to the future, that whatever is next on the board, that patience will be there as well.
Additionally, it will be reflective in the consistency and intention of what I had in mind when building the recipe. You know the feeling, when you have a preconceived idea about a dish, like an awe moment of taste or how magnificently perfect it will look on the platter?
Most can relate that there’s joy when you bite into a dish and it hits every note of expectancy. Any cook, profession or home would agree.
Well, in the journey of finishing a year and a half program, Chef OJ was instrumental in the menu planning down the week’s agenda to my final menu.
Just like in other art forms there is a reason why we connect to particular artists. What resonated with me was his creation in conjoining nature’s ingredients and transforming them into incredible combinations. Chef OJ takes the culinary profession as serious as coaches do their game and it shows in his attention to detail; from ingredient selection to final presentation.
Him taking courage to adopt this project, allowed me the creative space to identify and develop a culinary personality in creating signature dishes that tells a story that’s yet to be told. There’s a saying “When you take time in cooking, you have the ability to go back in time” and is incredibly true.
In the heart and spirit of Bertha’s Apple the past and present and future of me connected.
Thank you Chef!
A board is a life saver, as you can see it’s used well. In the test kitchen the final week’s agenda is charted, I mark any modifications or unexpected calculations.
The scope of the externship was largely focused on delivering a successful execution of each menu item (for Bertha’s Apple). Specifically: recipe, taste and presentation. It was a delicate and daunting task that spring boarded by having previously formulated guest experience.
I would suggest to any business owner to design a guest experience that is unique to your company & measure your delivery to what is on paper.
Precisely, in order to convey that through taste, it required knowing precisely what I want my guest to experience. Because of Chef OJ’s philosophy, supervising this project helped me in elevating all necessary parts of what I was capable.
Here’s the test kitchen in full workhorse mode.