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TCHO Pros - Robyn Lyn Lenzi

TCHO Pros - Robyn Lyn Lenzi

TCHO Pro  Robyn Lyn Lenzi

Kitchen  Smitten Ice Cream

Title  Chef de Brrr™

Awards / Recognitions  Best Ice Cream in the Bay Area, Yahoo! News 2011

Culinary Credo  "Push yourself to try something new every time you’re in the kitchen. And always put taste above appearance."

Favorite TCHO  "Nutty"!

Which TCHO are you?  "Cacao" — I think friends and coworkers would agree.

When you had a little red Radio Flyer wagon, what did you tote around? Perhaps you took your teddy bear for a spin, pulled your best friend around the block, or raced across town with a wagon full of newly found treasures. Robyn Lyn Lenzi and Robyn Sue Fisher had an entirely different role for their Radio Flyer — to transport their liquid nitrogen-enabled Brrr™ machine. That's right. A liquid nitrogen-enabled Brrr™ machine. Also known as the world's fastest and most delicious ice-cream making mechanism. Smitten Ice Cream's Brrr™ machines takes the world's freshest ingredients from scratch to finished ice cream in about a minute. The liquid nitrogen, at -321 degrees Fahrenheit, freezes ice cream in small ice crystals, creating the creamiest ice cream known to man. Ready to be even more Smitten? Read on to learn more about Smitten's Chef de Brrr™ Robyn Lenzi and Founder Robyn Sue Fisher!

Something interesting about yourself?
  Robyn Lyn Lenzi: "My background prior to working in the culinary field is in accounting and litigation consulting. This means I love numbers! I actually enjoy formulating recipes and costing ingredients—tasks most chefs absolutely can’t stand."

How did you hear about TCHO?  
Robyn Lyn Lenzi: "I previously worked with pastry chef Emily Luchetti at her restaurant, Waterbar. She was asked to help with TCHO’s beta testing—which essentially meant endless amounts of chocolate coming our way to play with!"

Favorite TCHO memory?  
Robyn Lyn Lenzi: "During TCHOs initial beta testing several years ago, when my kitchen regularly received pounds upon pounds of brand new chocolate samples. The pastry team would gather around to taste every kind and see what new flavors they were creating."

What drives your approach to cooking / baking?  
Robyn Lyn Lenzi: "It’s absolutely where I live. Working in food in the Bay Area is a luxury and privilege. Not to be cliché, but cooking in the style we know and love here so much—seasonality, using premium quality ingredients—drives my approach to nearly every sweet creation."

Do you still roll Brrr™ around in his little red wagon?
  Robyn Sue Fisher, Founder: "We bring the Radio Flyer and original prototype Brrr™ machine to private catering events, what we call wagoneering."  For more information about wagoneering at your party, email wagoneering@smittenicecream.com.

"The other four Brrr™s are located at our shop in Hayes Valley and churn ice cream seven days a week."

What made you think of creating ice cream by the cup?
  Robyn Sue Fisher, Founder: "The goal of Smitten is to (a) take out all of the extra ingredients (preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers needed for packaged ice cream), therefore showcasing the true purity of the flavor; and to (b) make the smoothest ice cream on earth (thanks to our liquid nitrogen-enabled Brrr™ machine).  The faster (i.e., colder) you freeze ice cream, the smaller the ice crystal. The smaller the ice crystals, the smooth texture. Brrr™ perfects the rapid freezing process.

"By making each scoop to order, we therefore make the freshest, purest, creamiest ice cream on earth."

All-time favorite reaction after seeing your mad-scientist-esque methods of creating ice cream?  
Robyn Sue Fisher: "My favorite response that I have heard is, 'Now, THIS is what ice cream is supposed to taste like!'

"Additionally, it never fails to make me smile when I see the reaction from kids at our shop or on the wagon. Their eyes just light up as they take in the fog and see their ice cream made right before them. The sense of wonder that children possess is incredibly inspiring."

What did we forget that the world must know?
  Robyn Sue Fisher: "It’s important to me to maintain a healthy approach to life and business. At Smitten, healthy is about natural, whole foods and being conscious of our food choices. Since we’re going to eat dessert, we should choose to eat the good stuff! To me, a healthy business also means thinking about ways to stay environmentally and socially sustainable. With high quality ingredients and high quality values, I truly believe that Smitten has the recipe for success."

Smitten Ice Cream now has 9 locations in California, with their 10th coming soon!

TCHO Pros - Nathan Lyon

TCHO Pros - Nathan Lyon

TCHO Pro  Nathan Lyon

Kitchen  Varies

Title  Celebrity Chef and Cook Book Author

Awards / Recognitions  Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Ambassador

Culinary Credo  "Great food starts fresh."

Favorite TCHO  TCHO Pro 66%. It has a rich chocolate flavor with a creamy finish. They’re easy for recipe development. It can be universally embraced.

Which TCHO chocolate are you?  Mokaccino

Nathan Lyon's culinary credo is simple: Great food starts fresh. He spreads this belief via his vivacious personality across many mediums. He captivates his foodie followers and mesmerizes readers with the recipes and photos in his new cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh. He is a Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Ambassador, avid photographer, seriously skilled stained glass artist, and self-proclaimed TCHO addict.

How did you hear about TCHO?
  "I was in San Francisco, visiting the Ferry Plaza farmers market, and, latte in hand, walked a few hundred steps, and there I discovered a mecca of chocolate—TCHO. I think I even heard cherubs. Really."

What do you most wish TCHO had?
  "I would love to see a huge chocolate river and waterfall put in at the TCHO factory (read: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) for people to fully immerse themselves in. Possible?"

Describe the moment when you knew you were meant to be in the culinary world.  
“When I made a flaming Banana’s Foster for my grandparents (I was 7 years old). I remember them smiling and clapping and enjoying themselves through my food creation. It was then that I realized the power that food has to bring people together and bring happiness to people’s lives.”

What drives your approach to cooking and baking?
  “Mother nature, seasonal cooking, and using the freshest of ingredients.”

You’ve devoted an entire chapter (really—an entire chapter!) in your new cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, to chocolate. Why?  
“My cookbook is broken down into the 5 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Chocolate. Chocolate is a universal season, beloved by all, and can be enjoyed all year long!”

You teach about healthy eating habits; how do you teach people that chocolate can be part of healthy eating habits (and that healthy eating habits doesn’t mean having to eat just carrot sticks and celery)?
  “If you have to choose between a triple-decker chocolate caramel-crusted cheesecake or a high quality piece of chocolate, quality wins! It’s a very satiating experience to eat high quality foods, therefore you don’t need to eat a lot to fully experience the rich, wonderful flavors that chocolate has to offer.”

Lots of studies have been going around lately about chocolate: the miracle food that can increase your work-out up to 40%, has loads of antioxidants, the theobromine’s great for energy…and the list goes on. So, is chocolate really a health food?  
“Chocolate has wonderful attributes, and, like all foods, should be enjoyed in moderation. Of course, that is, unless you have some chocolate ganache and real vanilla bean ice cream and a spoon. In which case, hand it over, bub.”

Favorite thing you’ve made with TCHO?
  “My Chocolate Pot de Crème with a nice drizzle of my Vanilla Caramel Sauce! Whoa. It’s sweet chocolate creamy deliciousness.”

TCHO Pros - Russell Jackson

TCHO Pros - Russell Jackson

TCHO Pro  Russell Jackson

Kitchen  Sub Culture Dining (SCD)

Title  The Dissident Chef

Awards / Recognitions  Contestant, The Next Food Network Star

Culinary Credo  "Reject Dystopian Ways. Embrace Culinary Revolution."

Favorite TCHO  TCHOPro 99%. People don't understand or work with this chocolate enough, it’s amazing!

What TCHO are you?  If I'm going to eat one TCHO for the rest of my life, it’s "Classic."

Russel Jackson

From beginning his culinary career flipping burgers at McDonald's, to commandeering the SubCulture Dining (SCD) experience, to battling on Iron Chef and, most recently, landing a spot on the acclaimed The Next Food Network Star — Chef Russell Jackson is anything but your traditional chef. This TCHOPro is shaking up the food world, producing outrageous flavor combinations with insanely delectable dishes. Don’t be deceived by his proclamations of culinary dissidence, larger than life personality, and mohawk ‘do — at the center of his inspiration is an unwavering respect for the craft: "[Through cooking] I've learned one must first be able to really understand yourself, your thoughts and your emotions, in order to express them through food."

  "I was first introduced to TCHO by a friend and started playing around with the founding 4 PureNotes™ dark chocolates. The single origin, flavor-focused profiles were appealing, but it was the fanatical approach TCHO takes to each of their chocolates … you can’t help but have that rub off on you."

You’ve had quite the culinary journey so far — can you briefly fill us in on the more monumental moments?  
My first job in the food industry was at McDonald’s; I was 15 years old. Although not the most glamorous, there was something special there — I was good at handling the pressures of a kitchen, and wanted more.
I moved onto throwing 3-course dinner parties for friends and it just made sense for me to continue down this path that I enjoyed so much. I continued on to open a San Francisco-based restaurant, LaFitte, while simultaneously working on an underground “beast” phenomenon, SubCulture Dining. Then one day, the phone rang and it was Iron Chef. And then soon came the offer from The Next Food Network Star. It's been a whirlwind!

Really … McDonald’s?!  
At 15 years old, school wasn’t always the easiest for me. But for the first time, I felt good at something. As soon as I was put behind that grill at McDonald’s, something clicked. I became a burger-flipping demon! For real, I held the burger flipping record while there.

You’re currently a contestant on The Next Food Network Star! What’s that like?  
I’m a reality TV junkie, but The Next Food Network Star is more than just a reality show. This is one of those experiences where they’re really building a star. It’s been such a unique experience, I can talk and talk about it, but I can’t really describe it — words just won’t do it justice. It’s forced me to acknowledge that these people [the judges] see something in me, it’s affirmed that I am here for a reason. I don’t feel like I’m competing against other people, but rather I’m competing against myself.

You seem to embody an entirely different approach to the culinary art, have you always been such a philosophical chef?
  It’s taken me a long time to get where I am, professionally, personally and philosophically.  Truly getting to a place where I can be open, emotional, and raw in my work — this has taken me a long time to realize. I’ve always had a wide breadth for what I’m open to working and experimenting with, but as I mature professionally (and personally), I’ve learned that it really is about great tasting food that nourishes the body, heart and soul.

What’s next for Chef Russell Jackson?  More Next Food Network Star, an anything-but-average SCD adventure in NYC, and plenty of TCHO! The Dissident Chef will live up to his title by brushing TCHO Pro on a smoked corncob, baking SeriousMilk™ chocolate chip cookies with bacon, and perhaps even use TCHO Pro 99% in a poultry dish. Always the culinary revolutionist and ever the kitchen philosopher, his ultimate goal with TCHO is "To pay homage to and do justice to the chocolate you’ve worked so hard to create."

Photo Credit: Brandon B. Jones