Chef Kelly Sasuga of Fresh Origins: Competition with a Daring Dish

April 29, 2013

During last month’s trade show tour, our R&D Chef Kelly Sasuga represented Fresh Origins in one of the toughest, most prestigious culinary competitions in the United States. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) hosted the 2013 Catersource ACF Culinary Challenge, it brought together the nation’s most talented chefs to compete in a variety of cooking, decorating and carving competitions – awarding medals and certifications.

Spoiler alert!

Kelly won her K1-Duck category impressing the judges with her asian style, Miso Glazed Duck Breast, Chinese Hand-pulled Noodle Stir Fry with Veggies, Smoked Duck Egg Roll, Kumquat Chili Gastrique, and Fresh Origins Micro Shiso. She received the ACF-Silver medal accumulating the highest score in her category!

When it came time to cook, the judges and audience watching were really impressed with how Kelly she moved and conducted herself in the kitchen. The judges especially, were astonished to see someone hand-pull noodles during a hot food competition. It was a risky task and the they knew it.


Chef Kelly Makes Practice Perfect with Noodles

Months prior to the competition, Kelly spent hours on hours practicing twice a week at the San Diego Culinary Institute, who sponsors the competition team. On top of that, she was able to commit extra time every day for two months, perfecting the hand-pulled noodle technique at home.

Requiring a certain level of finesse and applied muscle memory, unbraiding hand-pulled noodles is a very old and difficult technique that requires a lot of patience and practice. In the position of having to teach herself, Kelly mimicked videos of other chefs that were experts in executing the chinese art form. She had done her research. She even went to Martin Yan’s restaurant in SF, MY China to watch them make hand pulled noodles, and met the Master Chef himself! He was very friendly and briefly explained to her how the process worked as she watched Executive Chef Tony Wu masterfully pull these wonderful noodles. It’s really an exciting thing to watch.

Along the way, through timed trial and error, she found out what worked for her. She was able exploit the small details needed on her own, things like using the exact ratio of water to flour when creating the consistency of the dough – it needs to be perfect in order to pull noodles from it.

ACF Rules and Culinary Standards

Unlike most competitions where individuals compete against each other, here chefs compete against a strict culinary standard. Each competitor is judged and awarded points not only the taste of their dish but everything they do in the kitchen from: organization, sanitation, creativity, portion size, cooking skills and techniques, how they utilized their time, ingredients, flavors, textures, and presentation. Their allotted time is 15 minutes to setup, 60 minutes to cook, 10 additional minutes for plating and 15 minutes for clean up.

The Final Results

Since her part was over, cooking phases done, kitchen cleaned, and dishes received, the judges gave her an invaluable review. In fact, one of the judges came to shake her hand afterwards, applauded her on the obvious hard work she displayed and praised on her bold decision to use hand-pulled noodles in her dish. A couple of them also offered her a job! The end result was surreal, all Kelly’s feelings of anxiousness and nervousness subsided, she knew that all her hard work had paid off.

Her first time culinary challenge was finally over and with great success, now all she could do was think of what she could do for the next one!

Her next scheduled challenge is the 2013 ACF Culinary Salon Competition at the Le Cordon Bleu in Seattle, Washington on May 4th. We love showing our support to all chefs competing, so if you’re going to be attending or competing in the event, let us know!

Kelly Sasuga Talks up Our Herb & Flower Crystals on TV!

April 12, 2013

Kelly Sasuga, our research and development Chef, made the news at the Nightclub and Bar Show.  Kelly was interviewed by a new Spanish-language TV show and magazine, Cocktail Aficianado, owned by the well-regarded Cigar Aficianado.

The new venture was seeking the coolest products to feature in its launch. Kelly had the opportunity to talk about the company and our products for cocktails, including mini Herb & Flower Crystals™ glass rimmers, MicroFlowers, Buzz Buttons and our Tiny Veggies.

The show has not aired yet, so stay tuned and we’ll share Kelly’s interview on this blog as soon as the video clip is available.

Fresh Origins March Tours: Connecting with the Crowd

March 29, 2013

Our 4-week trade show tour through New York, Anaheim, and Las Vegas was a complete success. At each show, we exhibited our new Microgreens and Edible Flowers in our booth, and demonstrated our newest varieties of Herb Crystals™ and Flower Crystals™ with new Fresh Origins recipes. We connected with our new and current customers, and got to be part of the biggest, most entertaining food conventions we’ve ever seen.

“What’s the latest new Fresh Origin product?” our booth visitors asked. This year our Basil, Fennel, Rose, and Mint Herb Crystals™ & Flower Crystals™ took center stage as our featured items. And we had a brand new flavor to show off: Lime crystals. These were a big hit at the Nightclub and Bar Show especially.

Any drink is better with fresh Microgreens & Edible flowers!

The Nightclub and Bar Show, held in Las Vegas, was designed to feel like a popular nightclub: loud music, club lighting, exotic dancers, and ice sculptures with liquor pouring through. Talk about entertaining!

We received great reactions from­ mixologists and bar owners. Many of them had never seen cocktail glasses rimmed with anything like our fresh Herb and Flower Crystals. We caught everyone’s attention with the bright colors of our rimming crystals and drinks garnished with fresh Flowers and Microgreens. 

Kelly Sasuga with our Booth Display

Mixologists are always looking for new cocktail ideas, and ways to reinvent their old ones. Our booth visitors were immediately drawn to the Herb & Flower Crystal’s crunchy texture, their pure, intense flavors and naturally vibrant colors. We enjoyed demonstrating our lime crystals for the first time. These tangy bright green crystals were a hit with bartenders & mixologists — they’re perfect for margaritas!

We brought extra Herb & Flower Crystals to share with other people demonstrating their own products. It was great to see people adding the crystals to their own drink samples – and it gave more people a taste of our bright flavors.

Microgreens and Edible Flowers are a hit with Natural Food Retailers

We brought our fresh Microgreens and Edible Flowers to the Natural Products Show for the first time. The show was the total opposite of the Nightclub and Bar Show, with its emphasis on health and wellness. It was also amazing to see the huge Anaheim Convention Center jam-packed, inside and out – at least 60,000 people attended the expo.

This year, we’re committed to getting our Microgreens, Edible Flowers and Herb and Flower Crystals to the retail customer, so it was great to meet retail distributors and buyers for specialty food stores. People who already knew us were surprised to see us attending this show, and excited to view and sample our new products. We also introduced our new retail organic line of Microgreens and Edible Flowers!

We’re used to mingling with restaurant owners and chefs, so we were excited to speak to a different crowd. Most of the people walking around were very health-conscious. They’re interested in discovering what the latest new healthy foods are, and luckily they found us in the “New Hot Products” area.

Pulmuone USA Booth using our products

We talked with some sponsored athletes – bodybuilders and triathletes – who asked us questions like, “What are the health benefits and the nutritional advantage microgreens have that regular veggies don’t?” Many people, of course, claim that microgreens contain more vitamins and antioxidants than their mature counterparts – but we personally don’t know for sure. What we do know is that microgreens taste terrific and are very healthy.

Each conversation gave us priceless feedback, and we would like to thank everyone who visited our booth. There’s nothing like making new contacts and friendly connections!

 

Fresh Origins Hits the Road: New York, Anaheim & Las Vegas (2X)!

March 1, 2013

March is finally here! This month, we’ll be attending 4 trade shows, back-to-back. Every event caters to a unique group of food professionals. We’ll be showing our Microgreens, Edible Flowers, Herb & Flower Crystals™ and other specialty items to chefs, restaurant owners, caterers, mixologists, foodservice distributors & retailers.

International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of NY:
Booth: 1456
Microgreens & Edible Flowers on Center Stage

We’re starting off at the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show: http://www.internationalrestaurantny.com/Show-Info/ in New York. This show is exciting and fast-paced, attracting a huge crowd of industry professionals including high-end restaurant chefs and those who supply them.

Every kind of food product and restaurant supply you can imagine will be on display at this show – from tablecloths to point-of-sale systems, from stoves to lighting. The show also features many great cooking demonstrations & sampling, chef competitions, food service education sessions, and other breakout sessions that restaurant people love.

Many of our customers attend this show, and they’re eager to see & taste our new products, such as our signature specialty Herb & Flower Crystals™. We enjoy having the chance to catch up with our friends and customers – and win some new ones too.

Natural Products Expo West:
Booth: 5758
A New Market for our Microgreens

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After New York, we’ll be traveling back to the West Coast for Natural Products Expo West: http://www.expowest.com/ew13/public/enter.aspx in Anaheim, California. It’s our first time exhibiting at this trade show, where buyers for retail stores attend to see the latest natural, and health-oriented products.

So why is Fresh Origins going to be there? We’ve seen microgreens for sale in a few retail grocery stores recently – and frankly, the quality is poor. We believe there are two reasons for this: first, we think retail store buyers are unfamiliar with quality standards for microgreens, so they don’t know what to expect – or demand. We have always sold to the nation’s top Chefs who demand great quality. Second, the quality of the microgreens is poor due to growing methods and less than ideal growing climates.

We see Natural Products Expo West as a huge opportunity for us to show retail buyers that we offer the very best, microgreens available, and demonstrate that Fresh Origins microgreens would be a great addition to their produce department.

Catersource:
Booth 2536
Microgreens, Edible Flowers & Herb Crystals™: the perfect finishing touch to Wedding Hors d’ oeuvres

Micro Mix2 copy2

During the second half of March, we’ll be attending not one, but two shows in Las Vegas. We’re old hands at Catersource [http://www.catersource.com/conference-tradeshow/attend], a fantastic show that pulls in at least 7,000 catering professionals from across the country.

Caterers have been especially aware of the benefits of using our Microgreens and Edible Flowers – for them, food has to look as good as it tastes, and taste as good as it looks. Our Microgreens and Edible Flowers are a big draw at Catersource because they are unique and attractive, perfect for special events, especially weddings. Speaking of weddings…our gorgeous Crystallized Flowers are an amazing, all natural addition for cakes & cupcakes.

We also enjoy this show because we see so many of our customers here. It’s very social for us – lively and lots of fun. We also like the fact that we really stand out at Catersource, since we’re offering such unique and beautiful products there.

Nightclub & Bar Convention:
Booth 628
Herb & Flower Crystals™ for Mixologists

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Another first-time event for us, the Nightclub & Bar Trade Show http://www.ncbshow.com/why-attend-0 is where we will introduce a new product line: our Mini Herb Crystals™ & Mini Flower Crystals™. This is a finer-grained version of our popular Fennel, Rose, Basil and Mint Crystals that chefs and caterers use as an exciting & versatile ingredient in all kinds of dishes.

We’ve met several mixologists who love the garden-fresh tastes, new textures and beautiful colors they can introduce into their drinks with our new Mini Herb & Flower Crystals™, fresh Edible Flowers and even our fresh Microgreens.

We designed our new Mini Crystals for rimming cocktail glasses. The smaller granules adhere to the glass rim better than our larger Flower and Herb Crystals™, offering mixologists a way to accent drinks with color while injecting a blast of amazing flavor and exciting crunch.

mini crystals

We’ve researched other sugared products out there, and none compare to our crystals, with their naturally pure vibrant colors, our intense flavors and crunchy texture. That’s right – we add nothing artificial to our crystals. All the color and flavor comes directly from the fresh herb or flower.

If you’re planning to be at any of these shows, we’d love to see you! Please stop by our booth, sample some of our Edible Flowers, Microgreens and our Herb and Flower Crystals. Tell us what you think! We want your feedback, and we love kicking ideas around with our Chef & foodie friends.

Recipe: Citrus Ceviche with Flower Crystals™ Fennel

February 7, 2013

 

Citrus, Seafood & Fennel! A perfect Ménage à Trois. 

Citrus Ceviche with Flower Crystals_ Fennel

Yield: 10 standard portions (10 cups –  1 cup per serving)

Ingredients: 

  • Shrimp .5 lb
  • Scallops .5 lb
  • Red Snapper .25 lb
  • Tomatoes, Heirlooms Mixed Colors 3 ea.
  • Tomatoes, Cherry 1 package
  • Onion Red Large .5 ea.
  • Cilantro .5 bunch
  • Jalapenos 1 or 2 ea. (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • Avocados 1 ea.
  • Tangerines 4 ea.
  • Lime Juice 16 oz
  • Lemon Juice 16 oz
  • Orange Juice 8 oz
  • White Wine .5 cup
  • Tobasco 1 tsp
  • Salt, Pepper, Paprika TT

 

Directions:
Chop up seafood, onions, tomatoes, & avocados into small dice. Mince cilantro. Peel tangerines and chop into small dice. Add citrus liquids to a large bin/bowl, add all other ingredients and make sure they are covered in citrus liquid. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Serve cold. Top with 1 tbsp of Fresh Origins Flower Crystals™ Fennel per serving.

Ceviche

The intense fennel flavor pairs great with seafood, while the sweetness is a nice contrast to the sourness of the ceviche. The bright yellow all natural color of these crystals really stands out! 
Recipe by Kelly Sasuga

Edible Flowers to Embellish Your Valentine’s Day Menu!

January 31, 2013

Valentine’s Day is for lovers – and it’s also for restaurateurs who love seeing their reservations fully booked!

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You’ll want to make your diners’ Valentine’s Day meals truly memorable. So why not try something new this year? Garnish your plates with fresh or crystallized edible flowers! Floral additions create great visual appeal, and if you’re really clever, you can help your diners convey a nuanced message of love to their loved ones.

Edible flowers can tell a love story!

Roses are, of course, the classic flower of love. We offer both fresh and crystallized roses at Fresh Origins. They look terrific on chocolate desserts of course, but don’t stop there. You can float roses on gazpacho, dress up drinks, or use rose petals to create a bed for seafood or other classic entrees.

ImageRed roses indicate passionate, romantic love, and the deep red petals are a great contrast to many foods.

Light pink roses convey youthful passion and the joy of life.
ImageOur Crystallized Roses last for 6 months without refrigeration!
Want to convey both love and excitement? Mix red and yellow roses for contrast and another layer of meaning.

Perhaps you’ve already gone the Roses route for Valentine’s Day, and you’re looking for something new and different. Did you know pansies are also a traditional love flower? Pansies appear throughout literature and art as an expression of grace, delicacy and tenderness, as indicated by some of their alternate names: “Jump Up and Kiss Me” or “Pink of my John.”

Beautify salads, fruit plates and cocktails with colorful, Edible Pansies for whimsical and unique floral touch. Available Fresh or Crystallized in blues, yellows, reds, pinks, & purples!

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 ImageCrystallized Pansy

ImageFresh Pansy

Want to be even more innovative for Valentine’s Day 2013? Try accenting your cheese platters & desserts with Snapdragons, symbols of gracious womanhood. Available Fresh or Crystallized.

ImageOr go for bright & colorful amaranth blossoms: our signature Firestix™ or Sparklers™ which symbolize immortal love. These flowers add a blaze of color and incredible height to any plate.  Incredibly long lasting & durable! ImageBright majenta Sparklers™ really dress up chocolate desserts.

ImageWe’re not sure what the meaning of our micro star flowers is, but they sure are a glamorous finishing touch to petite desserts, such as macaroons. Hues of pinks & reds make them to perfect addition for this holiday!

Flower Crystals™ for sweetness, texture & color

Here’s one more idea to liven up your Valentine’s Day plates: Flower Crystals™ Rose. ImageOur signature Herb & Flower Crystals are sweet and powerfully flavored. You can use them to kick up the flavor profile of your desserts and appetizers, while adding an exciting crunch, and a splash of color. Sprinkle them on oysters or other aphrodisiacs like chocolate!

These are just a few ideas for adding visual interest and complex flavor to your Valentine’s Day menu. Have any ideas you’d like to share? Tell us about them in the comments below! If you send us a photo to: Kelly@freshorigins.com, we’ll post your idea on our Facebook page!

good1

Asian style Herbs & Greens

January 11, 2013

Fresh Origins has a wide variety of Asian style herbs & greens. Great flavor additions for noodles & rice! Float some Petite Thai Basil on Pho to add an intense herb essence. Micro Red & Green Shisos are wonderful when paired with fresh sushi. Seared rare ahi loves to be topped with our Micro Wasabi. Add some Gold Edamame Shoots™ to your stir-fry to add color, crunch and a yummy legume taste. Red Kaiware Shoots™ & Micro Benitade add a stunning color and spicy flavor to Kalbi short ribs or sesame chicken.

What would you do with our Asian products??

Asian Products

Happy New Year! Cheers to healthy eating!

January 4, 2013

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Season your Holiday Meals with Healthy Fresh Herbs!

December 20, 2012

Holiday Herbs, Microgreens, Petitegreens, Fresh Origins

Fresh Origins Microgreens: A Family Matter

December 17, 2012

Fresh Origins Microgreens: A Family Matter – Kelly Sasuga

Going to culinary school was the best thing I’ve done for my family’s business.

I started working Fresh Origins, my family’s business, more than six years ago. I did a lot of different jobs, starting with customer service, and moving on to doing graphic design, photography, sales and marketing. I’d been studying these subjects at the University of San Francisco, and it was good to use my skills to help Fresh Origins grow.

I spent some time in the kitchens of chefs using our products, taking photos of the dishes they created and observing how they combined flavors when they used our microgreens. A chef would use our Micro Shiso in Asian dishes, and Micro Basil in an Italian dish.

Of course, I couldn’t use the chefs’ recipes for our business – these belonged to them. I felt I needed to develop my own recipes to showcase our Microgreens, Shoots, Edible Flowers, Tiny Veggies™ and Herb Crystals™.

So I signed up for the San Diego Culinary Institute to get my Commis de Cuisine Diploma http://www.sdci-inc.com/ I devoted nine months to classes and two months to an “externship” at the Red Light District restaurant, where I worked with Chef Jason Maitland.

Jason is a family friend who has been using Fresh Origins microgreens and other products for a long time. Now I could see up close the flavor pairings and combinations he came up with. I was also learning about combining flavor elements at the Culinary Institute  – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami.

I also learned how to plate food attractively – after all, people eat with their eyes first. I saw how to combine colors and textures, how people’s eyes travel on the plate, where you should add height. Now I look at photos of plates I did before culinary school, and I think, “Well, I thought it looked okay at the time…”

My culinary training taught me not just how to prepare recipes, but how to invent new ones.  I gained an understanding of the science behind the food, and an appreciation for experimentation and recipe development.

Now I am Fresh Origins’ research and development Chef. I develop new recipes to showcase our products at the foods shows we attend. I’ll prepare a dish, and then pass out small samples and show attendees how to use our products.

At the last couple of shows, we made citrus ceviche and topped it off with our Flower Crystals™  Fennel. [link to http://www.freshorigins.com/our-products/basil-crystals] Licorice flavored Fennel pairs well with seafood, so I thought it would be great to combine them with shrimp and scallop ceviche. The sweetness of the fennel crystals are a great contrast to the tartness of the ceviche, and they add a nice crunch. People think because the crystals are sweet, they can be used only on desserts and pastries, but they can be paired with savory items, too.

I actually did do a mint chocolate dessert for the food shows: a chocolate ganache pop with a coating of the mint crystals. The crunchy mint is a fantastic flavor combination with the smooth rich chocolate. [link to http://www.freshorigins.com/our-products/basil-crystals].

Most people wouldn’t think of pairing microgreens with a dessert, just like they wouldn’t think of the sweet herb crystals with savory food. But the freshness of the green is great with a rich dessert. I recently created a recipe for a maple, cinnamon and persimmon pana cotta with candied pecans. [link to https://fomicrogreens.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/cinnamon-maple-persimmon-panna-cotta-candied-pecans-with-micro-basil-cinnamon/] It’s garnished with micro cinnamon basil, a basil that really does taste like cinnamon. The fresh microgreen is a great color contrast for the eyes, and it’s a nice fresh texture with the smooth panna cotta.

This is something I teach other chefs when I’m marketing our microgreens. Many chefs use microgreens as a garnish, but we try to teach them to use microgreens as a flavor addition, not just as a garnish to look pretty.

My culinary training opened up an array of new techniques that have helped me contribute to Fresh Origins more creatively. After culinary school, I’ll never look at a plate of food the same way again.

Microgreens, Edible Flowers
David & Kelly: PMA Foodservice in Monterey – July 2012

Microgreens, Edible Flowers, Herb Crystals
Chef Kelly with food samples: International StarChefs Congress in NY – Sept 2012