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cutting through acid in sauces?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a way to change the PH of sauces to cut the acidity, as opposed to just dropping in some sugar.  For instance, even a "sweet" tomato sauce angers my stomach at times.  Sadly, I love tomato sauces. 

 

"Sauces" by James Peterson suggests using a sweet wine to cut the acidity and then adding vinegar to mask the sweetness.  I was hoping for something that would actually modify the PH rather than just the taste.

 

Any thoughts?

post #2 of 32

thick cream or butter? maybe a bit more EVOO? Just thinking that if your trying to cut acidity encapsulating it in a bit of fat may help protect your stomach. Are you specifically talking tomato sauces? it's the most acidic I can think of off the top of my head. I can only guess that's what all the garlic bread or bread and butter is for, to help cut the acidity of a red sauce. Cheese would probably help in that aspect as well, it's full of fats and milk proteins.

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post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 

I try to avoid adding oil to tomato sauce, as the tomato has its own oil.  I'd rather play jr high chemist and toss baking soda on acid, but I have a feeling that it'll end up tasting like baking soda.  I've tried parm and oil to a degree.  However, there's no such thing as too much parm.

post #4 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

I've tried parm and oil to a degree.  However, there's no such thing as too much parm.


If your goal is to lower the pH of the sauce, adding parmesan would be counter-productive since it is a fairly low pH item.
 

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post #5 of 32

I think there is a difference between sour and acid.  You change the sourness with something sweet, you change acidity with an alkali (soda).  In the case of food, unless you need to decrease the actual acidity for some reason, the main concern is taste, so forget the acidity, and add something sweet.

 

First of all, check your tomatoes.  You don;t say where you live, but i think this is not good tomato season anywhere (maybe the equator?).  So if you're using fresh tomatoes, use canned.  Then experiment around and get good canned tomatoes.  You might try a very tiny amount of tomato paste or a couple of sun dried tomatoes soaked in water, added to the sauce then blend the sauce.  They tend to be sweeter, because picked ripe and the drying process sweetens them (like dried prunes).

 

Since most sauces begin with a sautee (soffritto) of garlic, onion, both, or more, I would add more onion, which is sweet, and more carrot, also sweet, to the soffritto.  If you don;t like all the pieces in the sauce you can blend it after. 

 

Hot pepper is also alkali, i believe, though I'm not sure if it would diminish the sourness.  I leave that to the chemists to determine.

 

In some regions of Italy they add a bit (pinch) of sugar too.  No reason not to. 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 32

GG, many people have a higher sensibility toward acidity in their food, this time of the year, the changing of seasons. I have it too and it includes a very high sensibility toward drinks like white wines and champagnes. However, there's a simple trick our grandmothers already used, and I even see you use the product too, but maybe not in the right way. You call it baking powder, but many call it bicarbonate (of soda). Grandmothers trick was to put 1/4 of a teaspoon of that stuff in a small glass of water, stir and drink it. It just tastes a little salty. I do it too and I can guarantee you the burning feel in your stomach stops immediately. There are some natural sparkling waters that contain the stuff too. I guess Apollinaris is one of them. Very salty taste that one!

 

BTW, try cutting too much acidity by adding a little more salt!

 

I wouldn't try to change your good recipes by putting in bicarbonate. Over here in Europe, good chefs have always checked for p&s in their dishes, but more recently they put an emphasis on a nice acidity balance, which takes a dish to a higher level. Many times they will add lemonjuice, vinegar, verjus  etc. to correct the balance.

The same goes for wines, since ages. Any wine without the right amount of nice acids is just boring.


Edited by ChrisBelgium - 11/1/10 at 5:18am
post #7 of 32

Chris,

What you are refering to is not baking powder but it is baking soda or sodium bicarbonate. Sometimes in baking baking powder and baking soda are used in same formulas. Baking powder is normally not put in a glass of water to drink, baking soda is, in fact it is the base of both Alka Seltzer and Bromo Seltzer.

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      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #8 of 32

Chris, one slight correction.

 

Bicarb, in the U.S. is known as baking soda. Baking powder is a mixture of several ingredients, and is used as a leavening agent in things like quick breads.

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post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 

My sauce is just canned tomatoes (with as few ingredients on the label as possible), granulated garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  The sauce starts by opening the can and pouring in, no sweating or saute'. 

 

I'm not trying to impact the taste, just the PH.  It seems that all of the usual suspects for modifying sauces are acidic, such as wine, vinegar, fruit juices, etc. 

 

The sweet flavor is cut with acid and the acid flavor is cut with sweet.  But again, I'm looking at the underlying PH, which is what my stomach cares about.  My father-in-law also has an issue with tomato sauces for this reason. 

 

In my experience, sugar seems to feed a fermentation process in tomato sauces.  That's the only way I can explain the increase in volume due to bubbles, but there may be something else causing that.  It only seems to happen with sugar, at least that's the only ingredient I've used that causes it. 

post #10 of 32

Ed & KY, you're right, I was referring to baking soda instead of baking powder. Sorry for that.

Still, GG, believe me, it's the most effective way to get rid of those acid attacs.

post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

I'm looking for a way to change the PH of sauces to cut the acidity, as opposed to just dropping in some sugar.  For instance, even a "sweet" tomato sauce angers my stomach at times.  Sadly, I love tomato sauces. 

 

"Sauces" by James Peterson suggests using a sweet wine to cut the acidity and then adding vinegar to mask the sweetness.  I was hoping for something that would actually modify the PH rather than just the taste.

 

Any thoughts?

 

 

     Have you tried changing your tomatoes?  I'm not sure what canned tomatoes you're using, but San Marzano's are lower than some of the other types of canned tomatoes you find.  How are you adding the garlic?  Have you tried blanching the garlic before it's added?  

 

  dan
 

post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

I'm looking for a way to change the PH of sauces to cut the acidity, as opposed to just dropping in some sugar.  For instance, even a "sweet" tomato sauce angers my stomach at times.  Sadly, I love tomato sauces...

Prilosec, Pepcid-A/C, Tums, Bi-carb, the "Purple pill"
 

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post #13 of 32

A little baking soda wont hurt the flavour of your sauce. I'm talking a pinch to a pint. Its a wee bit salty so you'd want to alter the seasoning.

 

Gunnars idea of adding dairy is the most obvious choice, as the calcium in cream etc will neutralise the acid. It's altering your sauce dramatically, but then perhaps some compromise is called for here

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post #14 of 32

 

Curious to know how long you cook your sauce as that can contribute to it being more acidic.

 

Have you considered not just the tomato, but the source? Are they canned tomatoes or in glass jars? The BPA and phtalates in the lining of canned products and especially canned tomatoes can cause some health problems.

 

Do you buy organic non gmo? 

 

Just a couple ideas off of the top of my head. When I searched google for a an answer, the typical response I saw was to put small amounts of bicarbonate in the sauce up until the point you could taste it.

 

 

post #15 of 32

I thought it was for the sour taste, instead i see you meant for your stomach.  My question is, does the acidity of the food influence the acidity of the stomach???

I think, for instance, for some people dairy would increase stomach acidity.  I'm not sure the acid of the tomato increases it.  Maybe i'm wrong.  But that;s another thing to consider. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 

I'm adding granulated garlic (to avoid having to blanch the raw garlic to kill the enzyme that causes gelling).  This is your basic open a can, toss in some spices, heat to 200 degrees or so and toss on some pasta.  It's nothing fancy at all, not cooked long, etc.  It's half a step above opening a can that says "spaghetti sauce".  But yes, they are canned.  From the shape, I expect they're roma tomatoes -- which is the standard for pasta sauces (unless you spring for san marzano).

 

Tomatoes seem to come in at the 4.2-4.6 ph level, so they're fairly acidic.

post #17 of 32

If you check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastric_acid, you will see that stomach acid is between pH 2->3, so the acid from tomatoes is actually going to lessen the pH of your stomach!

 

There MUST be something else besides the acid which is affecting you.

 

Here's a link to the facts about gastric upset you might be interested in: http://www.ehow.com/about_5039184_ph-stomach-acid.html

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post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

I'm adding granulated garlic (to avoid having to blanch the raw garlic to kill the enzyme that causes gelling).  This is your basic open a can, toss in some spices, heat to 200 degrees or so and toss on some pasta.  It's nothing fancy at all, not cooked long, etc.  It's half a step above opening a can that says "spaghetti sauce".  But yes, they are canned.  From the shape, I expect they're roma tomatoes -- which is the standard for pasta sauces (unless you spring for san marzano).

 

Tomatoes seem to come in at the 4.2-4.6 ph level, so they're fairly acidic.


what is gelling? 

I';ve never blanched garlic; i can;t imagine why that would be necessary.  Dried garlic has a different taste, and is not too appealing.  Try smashing real garlic and just putting it in a little olive oil for a minute or two, till it gets soft, then throw in the tomatoes.  Leave off all those herbs, which may be stimulating the gastric juices, and which are covering the flavor of the tomatoes and garlic.

 

I find that if you don't cook canned tomatoes very well, they won't taste good and will be more sour.  The cooking makes them taste smoother.  I would find a sauce with stuff right out of the can, just heated, to be indigestible.  I don't mean the hours of cooking you may read about, but just ten minutes simmering will make a big difference. 

 

Pete, that's what i suspected. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #19 of 32

You could try using yellow tomato. I haven't seen any in cans, but they have a lower acid level.  Maybe by blending some of them with the red could result in a good sauce. 

post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 

Raw garlic will react with the pectin in tomatoes and form a gelatin.  You won't see this in warm sauces, but if you put it in the fridge overnight, sometimes there will be a gelatin formed.  It's easy to break up, but visually unappealing.  It reminds me of the consistency of canned cranberrry "sauce", though not quite as thick.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Postwhat is gelling?
post #21 of 32

thanks, gobblygook, but even if it jells, won't it melt when it's heated again?  You don;t use cold sauce, no?  anyway, i wouldn't use raw garlic, but would cook it in the oil a couple of minutes. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 

Yes, it breaks up pretty easily.  Cold sauce is used on pizzas. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

thanks, gobblygook, but even if it jells, won't it melt when it's heated again?  You don;t use cold sauce, no?  anyway, i wouldn't use raw garlic, but would cook it in the oil a couple of minutes. 

post #23 of 32

   Siduri,

 

     I've known a couple of people who had a sensitivity to garlic that would blanch it, then use it in their dishes.  I haven't got a sensitivity to garlic (thankfully) so I don't know if this really works or not.  I just thought there may be another avenue to explore for causing the stomach problems, instead of the acidity of the tomatoes.  

 

   I don't know...if it's that simple of a sauce I would think it would be fairly easy to find the cause.  Make it without the herbs and see if it still effects you, then try without the spices.  I would also think trying a different type or brand of tomato would be worth a try too...along with trying some jarred tomatoes.  But I get the idea gobblygook doesn't want to change the sauce, tomatoes or narrow down what the cause may be.  You can add baking soda, but that has its problems too.

 

  canned tomatoes can range from 3.5-4.7.  Under 3.6 is considered very acidic and will cause heartburn.  3.6-4.5 mildly acidic, may cause heartburn.  4.5 and higher is not considered acidic for foods.

 

   Some other foods that are in this range (or below) are...

 

    an apple baked with sugar 3.2 - 3.55

         apple, McIntosh  3.44

         apple, Golden Delicious 3.6

        blueberries 3.12 - 3.33

         Cream Cheese 4.1 - 4.79

        cranberry juice, canned 2.3 - 2.52

        ketchup 3.89- 3.92

         peaches 3.3 - 4.05

        peaches, canned 3.7 - 4.2

         strawberries - 3.0 - 3.9

      

  dan

post #24 of 32

When tomatoes are processed they use a special  commercial cooking machine. There is 2 ways to process .Hot Break or Cold break. One is tomatoes are chilled and cooked quick to 210 degrees F quickly this being the way to preserve the pectin cell and thickness. The other way cooked to 150 F this way is more concerned with saving color of tomatoes and not so much thickness or pectin levels.. Both are acceptable and used for different preperations.

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Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #25 of 32

You could try using yellow tomato. I haven't seen any in cans, but they have a lower acid level.

 

Hate to burst your bubble, TastyTart, but this is one of the great myths of the produce world. Actually, two related myths

 

All tomatoes have the same acid levels, averaging 4.2-4.6 pH. Doesn't matter what color group (there are 7 with tomatoes) they fall into.

 

Many times the brix number (an index of sweetness) is higher with certain varieties. So, it's not that there's less acid. It's merely that there ismore sugar masking it.

 

The second myth is that yellow tomatoes, per se, are sweeter than, say, red ones. While you could make a case that this is generally true with supermarket tomatoes it actually depends on the variety. I know of some yellows that will knock you socks off, they taste so vinegary.

 

but San Marzano's are lower than some of the other types of canned tomatoes you find.  

 

Same response, Dan. Don't know where you got that info, but it's incorrect.

 

The whole San Marzano thing is kind of a shuck, anyway. There are at least six varieties bearing that name. What makes them different is the volcanic soil they were grown in, and the semi-arid conditions of the region. Growing the same varieties in California will not provide the same flavor. It's the process as Vidalia onions. Grow them outside that 7-county area of Georgia and they will not taste the same.

 

According to our own Siduri, who has traveled in the region, the original San Mazano variety, the one that created the legend, is now extinct anyway.

 

And I'd be willing to bet, despite the snobbery of Mario Batali and other celebrity chefs, that most people who have bought into the San Marzano thing can't tell them from regular "plum" tomatoes in the first place. They're merely reacting to the label, and the hoopla that's been created.

 

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post #26 of 32

Gobblygook, there are all sorts of things in tomato makeup that you could be reacting to. But I seriously doubt it's the acid. While we think of them as being an acidic vegetable, they're barely halfway down the pH scale.

 

Whatever it is that's upsetting your tum-tum, changing the pH of the sauce isn't likely to cure it.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #27 of 32

It worked for my grandmother to solve her negative reaction to the red ones. So, I'm gonna take a guess that if it worked for her to solve a a similar problem, it might work here. 

post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

 

but San Marzano's are lower than some of the other types of canned tomatoes you find.  

 

Same response, Dan. Don't know where you got that info, but it's incorrect.

 

The whole San Marzano thing is kind of a shuck, anyway. There are at least six varieties bearing that name. What makes them different is the volcanic soil they were grown in, and the semi-arid conditions of the region. Growing the same varieties in California will not provide the same flavor. It's the process as Vidalia onions. Grow them outside that 7-county area of Georgia and they will not taste the same.

 

According to our own Siduri, who has traveled in the region, the original San Mazano variety, the one that created the legend, is now extinct anyway.

 

And I'd be willing to bet, despite the snobbery of Mario Batali and other celebrity chefs, that most people who have bought into the San Marzano thing can't tell them from regular "plum" tomatoes in the first place. They're merely reacting to the label, and the hoopla that's been created.

 

 

   Hi ya KYH,

 

   I was under the impression that San Marzano tomatoes had a ph around 4.6.  I haven't tested them myself, is this wrong?  You mention that tomatoes have a range of 4.2 - 4.6, is this an average that every variety ranges?  or does the ph differ slightly from one variety to another?  I have read that canned tomatoes have a lower ph than their fresh counterparts.  Again, I don't know if this is true or not, any truth to that?  What's the best way to test the ph level in canned tomatoes?  Is there an @ home method that would be acceptable? Now I'm curious how much variation there actually is between cans and brands.

 

   I can't disagree that San Marzano tomatoes aren't hyped up.  A couple of years back I grew some "San Marzano" tomatoes from seed.  I wasn't that impressed.  I do have reason to think that they weren't even San Marzano's, but I'm not sure.  To begin with the skin was very thick...when I  have been under the impression San Marzano's had a thin delicate skin.  Even if they were proven to be one of the accepted cultivars (is that right) that was accepted as having all the traits of the old San Marzano tomatoes I would still know that my tomatoes weren't going to be the same because of soil and climate. 

 

    I wouldn't doubt that there may be some blatant outright scandals with San Marzano tomatoes like we have seen in the olive oil scandals just a few years back.  But DOP San Marzano tomatoes are supposed to be from one of three (of the five) provinces in Campania which would suggest climate and soil is fairly similar in the products.  But still, they are over hyped.

 

   I have done a side by side test of canned tomatoes which included a couple different brands of DOP San Marzano tomatoes with two domestic brands.  No two of the canned San Marzano tomatoes tasted identical to one another.  While none of the choices were inedible I did have a preference for one of all the brands I tasted.  It had a sort of mellower flavor...a few of the others were too "bright" tasting for me.  I do, however, doubt that I would be able to identify any of these products once cooked in a sauce.  But I still have to cook with the brand that I found a preference for when tasting uncooked.

 

    I'm also lucky to have a decent number of ethnic grocery stores near me.  One of which is an Italian grocery store that carries a lot of import items...and their prices are cheap!  I can get a 28oz can of (DOP) San Marzano tomatoes for the same price as Hunt's bought at a large name grocery store.  I sometimes buy them in large numbers when they're on sale...which is a little cheaper than regular domestic brands.  

 

 

  San Marzano tomatoes aside...

 

   I still don't think it would be unwise to try a different brand or method of packaging if a person has a sensitivity to something.  Is it that product (tomatoes)?  or is it particular to that brand or method of packaging.  If a person has stomach problems regularly perhaps they need some advice from a doctor...possible reflux problems???

 

   take care,

  dan

 

 

    
 

post #29 of 32

You opened quite a can, Dan.

 

Let's see if we can chop it down to manageable portions.

 

is this an average that every variety ranges?  or does the ph differ slightly from one variety to another?

 

All it is is a range. All tomatoes will fit within that range, but even specimens of the same variety may vary within the range, based on growing or handling conditions. But consider that range: 4 tenths of a pH number. Less that a 14th more acid separating the higher from the lower number.

 

I have read that canned tomatoes have a lower ph than their fresh counterparts.

 

I don't know one way or the other, but my gut tells me the idea of canned tomatoes being less acidic to be faulty. I mean what is there about the processing that would remove or neutralize the acid?

 

That aside, if the pH were lower then it would mean the contents were more acidic. I'm pretty sure that's not what you meant to say.

 

Is there an @ home method that would be acceptable?

 

Not that I'm aware of. Litmus paper doesn't work with tomatoes because it's difficult to judge the color shifts. There are relatively inexpensive pH meters. But not inexpensive enough that you could cost-justify them on a one- or two-use basis.

 

Even if they were proven to be one of the accepted cultivars (is that right)

 

Technically, yes. But in the common parlance, "cultivar" is used for ornamentals, and "variety" is used for vegetables. Don't ask, cuz I don't know why. But, hey, I don't make the rules.

 

   I have done a side by side test of canned tomatoes which included a couple different brands of DOP San Marzano tomatoes with two domestic brands.  No two of the canned San Marzano tomatoes tasted identical to one another.

 

Which leads to the only meaningful questions re: San Marzanos and your mouth:

 

1. Did you particularly like any of those brands? And, if so, did you like them better than a comparable domestic brand?

2. Assumeing one of the brands was prefereable, is it consistent. Does every can taste like all the others?

3. Is the flavor of the one you like worth any cost difference.

 

Obviously, #3 doesn't apply in this case. Just as obvious, it doesn't matter what it says on the can. What you're doing is trying to find the canned tomato you like best. If it happens to say San Marzano, ok. And if it says Hunts, or Heinze, or even Safeway's Best, that's ok too.

 

I still don't think it would be unwise to try a different brand or method of packaging if a person has a sensitivity to something.

 

Well sure, so long as the sensitivity isn't life threatening.

 

All I was suggesting was that whatever the OP is reacting to, it's not the acid. The way she describes it, tomatoes are the only thing that upsets her system. Which means she's eating things that are a lot more acidic, such as lemon juice (and possibly even apples, but I haven't checked on that one). And, unless she's reacting to skin pigmentation, changing to a yellow tomato won't solve her problem.

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #30 of 32

A little trick I used to see the old -time chefs do was open all he canned tomatoes they needed and put them in a stainless steel vessel then add some baking soda and swish them around . They would foam a bit and when foam went down so did acid content and they tasted sweeter. Only problem was it slightly darkened the sauce when cooked, but final taste was fine.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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