If it bleeds, it bleeds

Posted on February 14, 2018


By 2050 the world’s population is going to be around nine billion people. There is nowhere near enough meat to compensate for that huge number. One company is trying to revolutionize the world of plant-based meat. Chefs can agree that creating the most balanced and beautifully made burger is a goal they all strive for. Whether it’s using chicken, beef, beans or tofu, creating the perfect patty is all about flavor. Deep in the heart of Silicon Valley a little startup called Impossible Foods is starting to gain some serious steam. Backed by $250 million dollars in investment money from Singapore-based venture fund Temasek, Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, and others, Impossible Foods is creating something that we haven’t seen before. The veggie burger market is about to change forever.

The Impossible Foods group has found what they believe to be the essence of what makes meat taste and smell the way it does. Heme is a compound that gives meat its color and metallic taste. Heme is found in the protein called hemoglobin. Impossible Foods has found a way to use hemoglobin from soy plants as a substitute. To begin, beef is heated up to release its aromas. The machine isolates the aroma compounds and gives a fingerprint of how to recreate the smell. A lot of research goes into creating a meat alternative that rivals beef itself. Impossible Foods has proven they can do just that.

With the $250 million dollars raised, Impossible Foods is looking to expand its facility to allow for higher production rates. They are looking to supply over 1000 restaurants with their groundbreaking veggie meat over the next few years. Impossible Foods has made it known that they want to keep the meat in restaurants with professional chefs. The special veggie meat can be found all around the United States. Locally there are 8 restaurants here in Portland that serve the veggie meat that bleeds including Superbite, Jackrabbit and Imperial.

Impossible Foods has created a meat alternative that even the hungriest of meat eaters will eat. I think that what makes a burger so good is its meaty and salty flavor. I’ve tried the bean, tofu and various meat alternatives and been left unsatisfied. The thought of being able to have that salty and meaty flavor and still be conscious of animals is one that intrigues me. As this product becomes more main stream I think there will be a huge decrease in meat consumption. Many people like myself want to be conscious but also want the beef. If this product lives up to its hype, I can assure you that I will be switching to the Impossible Burger meat.

By Jonathon Byers, OCI Culinary Arts Graduate

That Cake is Naked!

Posted on February 14, 2018

When I tell a friend or family member, “I saw the cutest naked cake on Pinterest,” I’m usually met with quizzical looks.

“What’s a naked cake?” they ask.  My reply is usually the description of a multi layered cake with either a minimal to no coat of icing on it, typically decorated with fruit and or flowers and some kind of filling.

Still I’m met with dumbfounded looks of them trying to picture what I am talking about.  Pulling out my phone, I show them a picture.


[Image Sourcewww.hitched.co.uk]

Their eyes get big and and their mouths open wide. “Ooohhh… yeah,” they say, “I’ve seen those.  I didn’t know it was called a naked cake.”

Yes, it’s a naked cake.  No signs of fondant or buttercream covering up the entire cake.  We get to see the cake in its natural state.  A yummy, fluffy, and airy cake with sweet and smooth filling.

There are two kinds of naked cakes, naked and semi-naked.

The simplistic naked naked cake showcases just the cake, generally white or yellow but can be any other color and flavoring.  It is layered and filled commonly with buttercream and decorated with fresh fruit; berries are the fan favorite because they don’t need to be cut and they look gorgeous whole.  Flowers and herbs also adorn many of these exposed cakes; edible flowers are ideal but not always the choice.  To finish off, each cake is lightly dusted with powdered sugar.


[Image Sourcebite.co.nz]

Now let’s talk about the semi-naked cake.  This kind of cake receives a minimal coat of frosting, usually described by cake bakers as a “crumb coat.” That usually goes on before fondant or more buttercream is added to hold in any crumbs that could potentially come off while trying to decorate it.

Through the crumb coat the cake and filling are slightly in view, resembling the affect of swiping a paint brush on a canvas with only one stroke where the lines are not defined but blurred.

A naked cake doesn’t always need to be simply decorated with fruit and flowers.  Bakers have started glazing the tops, letting the glaze run down the sides in long soft drips adding effect and texture.  Another texture technique done is piping buttercream in intricate scroll work over the cake.  This adds beauty and detail to the already-bare cake.

One of the benefits of making or buying a naked cake is that they can be cheaper than buying a cake that is completely covered in buttercream or fondant.

Buttercream also tends to melt quicker.  Purchasing a naked cake will ensure the cake will stay intact longer in the warmer months.

Naked cakes aren’t necessarily a new idea but they have become widely popular. Going naked on a bride’s wedding day isn’t always a good idea but when it comes to cake, it might not be a bad idea.

Written by Angel Hugs, OCI Baking & Pastry Graduate

OCI Alumni Showcase: Rachel Ciula of Délice Confections

Posted on December 07, 2016

OCI Alumni Showcase- Rachel Ciula of Délice Confections - Oregon Culinary Institute

Rachel Ciula is a notable alumnus of Oregon Culinary Institute and pastry chef owner of Délice Confections. Read more about her story here.

Could You Tell Us About Yourself Before Becoming a Chef?

As a child I always struggled with what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was actually really into science in high school and started working towards a degree in Anthropology at Portland State University after I graduated. Nothing really inspired me though and I was more interested in competing in hunter/jumpers with my horse at the time. I ended up dropping out of college and getting a full time office job to support my riding hobby.

What Inspired You to Become a Chef?

Growing up, my dad was an amazing cook, my mom baked everything from scratch and I loved being in the kitchen with both of them. They turned my older brother and I into foodies for sure. 

When I was living alone in my early 20’s, I started baking more to entertain myself. I would share it with everyone I knew and it felt really great to see them so surprised and delighted. I realized that everyone was getting so used to mass-produced, store-bought, bland baked goods, so it was easy to blow their minds with some scratch cookies. 

After a couple years I began to get a little restless with my job sitting in a cubicle so I got a crazy idea to enroll myself in culinary school. I had no idea where it was going to take me or what to expect, which was both exciting and terrifying.

How Did Délice Confections Come to Be?

After a few years of culinary school and working as a pastry chef at a couple different restaurants I felt like I was kind of stuck in a rut. I never really got to do or make exactly what I wanted.

I discovered I loved making chocolates and dessert buffets and wasn’t as fond of plated desserts. I always toyed with the idea of starting my own dessert catering business and after being encouraged by a few fellow entrepreneurs, I decided to go ahead and make the leap and start Délice Confections.

It has been a pretty bumpy start with a lot of learning along the way. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great small business owners in Oregon City who have helped me grow slowly but surely. My little bakery keeps morphing and adapting as I discover more about myself and the wants and needs of my community around me. There’s still a long road ahead, but I know I am on the right path.

We Are Coming to Your Place Tonight, What Do You Make Us?

I would definitely serve up a slice of my salted caramel cheesecake. You can find it at Ranee’s on Main in Oregon City year-round.

The recipe was actually created for me by a dear friend of mine when Délice first started and I have been sworn to secrecy. I combine her cheesecake with salted caramel that I make from scratch and it’s magical. I’d like to say it has become pretty famous with the locals!

Any Advice to Aspiring OCI Ninjas?

I would say that Oregon Culinary Institute taught me a lot to get me started in the big pastry world, but it pales in comparison to what you learn when you finally get out there.

Try not to get too set on something specific you want to do or make and be open to opportunities as they come your way. You might stumble onto something you’re really good at that you hadn’t considered doing before.

Be flexible in the kitchen because things rarely turn out precisely like you planned. Also, improvisation is key.

Keep in mind that there is perfection in imperfection. And any negativity in the kitchen will show through your food, so stay positive and remind yourself that you’re doing what you love!

About Rachel Ciula

Rachel Ciula is the pastry chef owner of Délice Confections, a dessert catering business based in Oregon City. Her macarons, cakes, cheesecakes, and caramel sauce are made from scratch with whole ingredients and no preservatives or artificial ingredients.

For more information about Rachel or her delicious catering services, visit her website.

Creating the Culinary Vision In & Out of the Kitchen

Posted on November 28, 2016

When you usually think of traditional Culinary Schools, many form the idea of students in a kitchen surrounded by ovens, stoves, knifes, and ingredients of all sorts. Although not quite the contrary at Oregon Culinary Institute, faculty throw in a few more ingredients to polish the perfect experience for their students.

It was a brisk and sunny Friday morning in Oregon’s Tillamook Forest as OCI (Oregon Culinary Institute) students prepared to do some fall mushroom hunting instead of their typical in-class instruction.  Leading the pack were OCI Culinary Artistry instructors, Chef Brophy and Chef Cronwell.

It’s an OCI tradition that started years ago, and an experience both Chefs and students look forward to each term. Taking students out to a local farm, beach, or forest to gain an in-depth feel for where some of the proteins, vegetables, and herbs used in every day kitchens, naturally come from. In this case, the focus and hunt were for wild mushrooms, which according to Chef Brophy, grow well in conifer forests like the Tillamook.

While hunting and directing students where to search, Chef Brophy explains how the components they search for, end up in certain areas in the first place. He explains how there is always a time and place to collect certain ingredients whether it be clams, berries, or in this case... mushrooms. And although all “edible once”, Chef Brophy advised which wild mushrooms students should take home and cook, versus ones that probably wouldn’t be in their best interest.

Within a couple hours of mushroom hunting, many students met their “mushroom quota” for the day. But foraging for fresh wild ingredients worked up an appetite. Chef Brophy and Cronwell led a student run cookout with corn-on-the-cob, hot dogs, chili, brownies, and of course… the iconic chanterelle mushrooms found that very day. The learning didn’t stop there either. Students were taught how to use a huge propane torch (a.k.a. “The Dragon”) to toast up the corn.

At the end of the day students not only walk away with leftovers, but memories and new bonds created between fellow peers and their chef instructors.

OCI Alumni Showcase: Alaina Sargent of Sargent’s Sinful Sweets

Posted on October 12, 2016


Alaina Sargent is a notable alumnus of Oregon Culinary Institute and pastry chef owner of Sargent’s Sinful Sweets. Read more about her story here.

What Inspired You to Become a Chef?

My name is Alaina Sargent, and I am the owner and baker of Sargent’s Sinful Sweets.

I grew up in the small town of Scappoose, west of Portland. I had a pretty average suburban life growing up. After graduating high school, I was pretty lost on what I wanted to do for a career. I thought I wanted to be a photographer, then an artist, then a tattoo artist, but nothing seemed to stick. I had two years of not doing any schooling before culinary school clicked.

How Did Sargent’s Sinful Sweets Come to Be?

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a baker. Growing up, my mom was a cake decorator and was always making amazing and fondant-free cakes. If I was lucky, I would get some of the scraps. I would watch her for hours.

It was in high school where I started to love to bake, just as a hobby. My friends and family loved it, too. After my mom got an office job and quit making cakes, my family started to ask me to do the birthday cakes. Then during my two-year break in between schools, people close to me suggested that I should attend a culinary school. The problem was that I always thought I was never good enough.

After some serious pep talks, I went in to apply for the Oregon Culinary Institute. To this day, it is still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

After just trying on that first chef jacket for school, something sparked and it’s then that I knew I never wanted to take that jacket off. That first week of school is when I took pride in everything I made and knew I had what it took to make this my career for the rest of my life.

I was very fortunate in my journey to open my business. For five years I volunteered at my aunt’s booth down at the Portland Saturday Market, along with working in a few kitchens in the Portland area during the week.

After being down there for a while, people would always ask where to buy cookies and at the time there were no vendors that did so. There wasn’t a coffee stand on our side of the street either. So after running the idea past my aunt, I filed the forum and talked with directors about opening up a small coffee and bakery stand, and they loved the idea! I immediately set out to work on getting it up and running, and it’s been such a long and crazy journey with it.

The first weekend down there was the hardest. I sold out of everything within two hours. It took a lot of time, and a few tears before I finally found my stride. Then I noticed, I needed to stand out from all the other bakeries. That’s why when you go down to my stand, there’s always a new item because the menu changes monthly and by the season. I also have some unique flavors, and items you’re not going to find at a bakery in that area.

We Are Coming to Your Place Tonight, What Do You Make Us?

What I’ve grown most famous for (so far) are my macarons. Having learned the macaron art and craft from OCI’s baking and pastry program, I chose to create unique and outstanding flavors that you won’t find anywhere else is Portland. But have no fear, Salted Caramel is always on the menu as a good solid choice for the less adventurous.

Some of my favorite ones I do are my Raspberry Rosemary, Blackberry Black Pepper, and Strawberry Ginger macarons during the berry seasons, with the berries picked from Sauvie’s Island. During the fall the most popular, we have our Whisky Peach Brûlée and Pumpkin Spiced Latte.

Any Advice to Aspiring OCI Ninjas?

My advice for aspiring cooking ninjas would be to work hard. This is no cake walk (pun intended).

I had a few peers in my class thinking this field would be fun and easy because they would bake at home for fun. Most people don’t know how hard this field is. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but one of the most rewarding.

I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in, but it was amazing. The staff is amazing, and you can tell how much they care about their students and the culinary field. I had such a great experience that I didn’t want my classes to end. My love of baking is what got me into OCI, but it was their teaching and constant mentoring that turned me into the baker and businessperson that I now am.

About Alaina Sargent

Alaina Sargent is the pastry chef-owner of Sargent’s Sinful Sweets, home to the sinfully baked cakes and pastries in Portland, Oregon.

For more information about Alaina or to satisfy all of your sweet craving and catering needs, visit her website.