Monday, April 6, 2009

Only The Very Best

How is this chicken stock better?

I started reading the latest issue of Food Arts magazine this morning. It is a magazine devoted to fine dining, but, because it is free for foodservice professionals, it contains advertising that appeals to all segments of the industry. A few pages in, the ad for Knorr’s Ultimate Roasted Chicken Base caught my eye, so I read the smaller print. What I found interesting was the following claim:
“Master Chef Steve Jilleba insists on working with only the very best products. So the fact that he believes Knorr Ultimate® Roasted Chicken Base delivers the ultimate in rich, roasted chicken flavor notes is definitely worth thinking about.”
I wondered, who is this “Master” Chef and what is in this product. Well, it turns out that Steve Jilleba really is a Master Chef. Not a self proclaimed one, or recipient of a title bestowed upon him by a corporate entity, for advertising sake, but an American Culinary Federation Certified Master Chef (CMC), one of only 61, that involves passing a grueling week long exam, a Certified Culinary Educator (CCE), and a member of the American Academy of Chefs (AAC). He was recently the recipient of the Chair’s Medal Award during a formal ceremony and dinner at the 2008 ACF National Convention, presented annually to an AAC Fellow who has demonstrated exemplary dedication and made outstanding contributions to the culinary profession while maintaining the highest standards and ideals and working to ensure excellence among future culinarians. He has competed and won numerous gold medals in the International “culinary Olympics.” Jilleba is the National Culinary Committee Chairman, Team manager for the 2008 ACF Culinary Youth Team USA, graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, ACF Central Region Chef of the Year in 2000, ACF Central Region Chef Professionalism Award in 1999 and he was named his chapter’s Chef of the Year and Member of the Year in 1999. Jilleba was also honored as one of Johnson & Wales University’s Distinguished Visiting Chefs, and the list goes on.

He obviously knows how to cook and what quality food is all about. So then, what is a talented chef, who no doubt, is a stand up guy, that has dedicated his life to the culinary arts, doing flogging processed chicken base on a national platform? It turns out that Chef Jilleba is the Corporate Executive Chef for Unilever, a 50 Billion dollar per year multi-national company that is no stranger to controversy. How could a job such as that, for someone who likes cooking fine food, at the highest level, be satisfying?

I used to be a member of the American Culinary Federation and was a charter member and officer for one of their chapters. When you are a member you get the chance to enter a good number of ACF sanctioned food competitions throughout the course of the year. Think part science fair, part Beauty pageant, part art show, part Iron Chef. For a chef they are exhilarating, highly competitive and an opportunity to show your peers “what you got” Most of the large food companies have corporate chefs. They run the test kitchens and come up with new products. Stan Frankenthaler, once considered one of the best chefs in the Boston Area, left the restaurant business in 2005, to become the corporate executive chef for Dunkin Donuts. There’s the rub, forgoing the thrill of running your own restaurant, serving your own creations, for a better lifestyle with normal hours and a lucrative paycheck. So you get your jollies competing for medals at these various sanctioned competitions.

So just what is Knorr’s Ultimate Roasted Chicken Base? It’s basically boullion cubes in paste form, in a tub. Here are the list of ingredients:


Unilever claims that the product contains “No added MSG” so let’s analyze the ingredients.
We know what these are. But, do we really need sugar in chicken stock?
Hydrolyzed protein is protein that has been hydrolyzed or broken down into its component amino acids. While there are many means of achieving this, two of the most common are prolonged boiling in a strong acid or strong base or using an enzyme such as the pancreatic protease enzyme to stimulate the naturally-occurring hydrolytic process. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, hydrolyzed protein is used to enhance flavor and contains monosodium glutamate (MSG). When added this way, the labels are not required to list MSG as an ingredient.
Hard to avoid when making chicken stock.
Autolyzed yeast extract consists of concentrations of yeast cells that are allowed to die and break up, so that the yeasts' digestive enzymes break their proteins down into simpler compounds.Yeast autolysates are used in Vegemite (Australia), Marmite, Promite, Oxo (New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, and Republic of Ireland), and Cenovis (Switzerland). Bovril (The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland) switched from beef extract to yeast extract for 2005 and most of 2006, but later switched back. Autolyzed yeast extract is also the primary source of monosodium glutamate for the food industry.
The chemical compound potassium chloride (KCl) is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state it is odorless. It has a white or colorless vitreous crystal, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions. Potassium chloride crystals are face-centered cubic. Potassium chloride is occasionally known as "muriate of potash," particularly when used as a fertilizer. Potash varies in color from pink or red to white depending on the mining and recovery process used. White potash, sometimes referred to as soluble potash, is usually higher in analysis and is used primarily for making liquid starter fertilizers. KCl is used in medicine, scientific applications, food processing and in judicial execution through lethal injection. It occurs naturally as the mineral sylvite and in combination with sodium chloride as sylvinite.
Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide that is used as a food additive. It is produced from starch and is usually found as a creamy-white hygroscopic powder. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose, and might either be moderately sweet or might have hardly any flavor at all. There have been recent reports of coeliac reaction to maltodextrin in the United States. This might be a consequence of the shift of corn to ethanol production and its replacement with wheat in the formulation. Wendy's, the fast food chain footnotes maltodextrin in its list of gluten-free foods, which may be a sign of their receiving reports of these.
Maltodextrin may contain monosodium glutamate or create MSG during processing.
The exact definition of natural flavorings & flavors from Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations is as follows:
"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."
In other words, natural flavors can be pretty much anything approved for use in food.
This comes from the boiling of chicken necks and parts, from questionably reared chickens, on a massive scale and concentrating the liquid via a vacuum evaporator.
Disodium 5'-ribonucleotides, E number E635, are flavor enhancers which are synergistic with glutamates in creating the taste of umami. It is a mixture of disodium inosinate (IMP) and disodium guanylate (GMP) and is often used where a food already contains natural glutamates (as in meat extract) or added monosodium glutamate. It is primarily used in flavored noodles, snack foods, chips, crackers, sauces and fast foods. It is produced by combining the sodium salts of guanylic acid (E626) and inosinic acid
A mixture of 98% monosodium glutamate and 2% E635 has four times the flavor enhancing power of monosodium glutamate alone. ingestion of disodium ribonucleotides has been linked with skin rash (ranging from mild to severe) up to 30 hours after ingestion.[citation needed] It is recommended that no food containing disodium ribonucleotides should be consumed by gout and asthma sufferers or people with an allergic reaction to aspirin.
A spice used for coloring the broth. It’s about the healthiest ingredient here.

Here’s what goes into homemade roasted chicken stock:
2 Roasted chicken carcasses (skin, bones, fond, meat scraps, etc.)
4 carrots, cut into 2" pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into 2" pieces, including the leaves
3 medium onion, quartered
1 medium leek, cut into 2" pieces, then sliced lengthwise and cleaned thoroughly
About 10-15 whole peppercorns
A couple of stems each of Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Enough water to cover the ingredients in the pot

Better eating through chemistry? In this case, I think not.
Share This Post


Ryan said...

Great post. I've been trying to email you, but your mailbox is full. (must be a popular guy). I'd love to schedule some classes for the summer. I'll try emailing you again soon. Thanks for keeping such a great blog.

John said...

Everything looks so beautiful and delicious.
Thank for sharing

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the wonderfully YUMMY,informative blogsite-Love the pictures-Betty

vincent said...


We bumped into your blog and we really liked it - great recipes YUM YUM.
We would like to add it to the

We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
enjoy your recipes.

Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members
and benefit from their exposure on

To add your site to the Petitchef family you can use or just go to and click on "Add your site"

Best regards,


Caroline@BudgetMEals said...

great stuff... I want to eat it all!

showmeyourcookies said...

I'm so happy to find you have a blog! I just posted on my own blog about my experience at your class tonight. You can follow the link from my name to read the entry. Thanks for a great class!

Kruzon said...

Making your own chicken stock is simple and avoids the use of mechanically seperated animal parts and allows you the choice of how the chickens are raised that you would use in the stock.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I’m looking to make some changes in my own eating habits, so I appreciate your insight a lot! Thank you. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I did yours and I thought your readers may appreciate it:

I’ve started to look for their stuff more regularly and I think I’m going to add your blog to my list as well. Thanks for the post!


Sean Grey Hanson said...

The placement of the food and its design is very impressive. I wish I could be creative as them.

arvin said...

This looks amazing. Definitely saving this into my pasta recipe folder :)..
oh! I forgot , gonna try this online cooking you never know how good it is,,Online Cooking Schools

raja said...

Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

Used Kitchen Equipment

Cooking School said...

Thanks for Sharing such a wonderful information on Cooking. Everything looks so perfect in this Post!

cooking classes said...

Incredible! Thank you for sharing this - it is a reminder that we should cook from scratch whenever possible.