Culinary Quip: Technology, Trends and Traditions as Chef Lawrence sees them.
Chefs find their way to the culinary world by way of other avenues. For Chef Lawrence Parks it was a combination of finance and engineering with a little culinary arts thrown in for good "measure." Food was always his passion, although his family encouraged him to have a "backup plan," hence the finance degree and working towards his Mechanical Engineering degree. Chef Lawrence knows that his auxiliary/non-culinary degrees are also a way for him to provide his clients and colleagues with a unique understanding of how the right equipment can provide opportunities for their operation, including decreased cook times, increased speed of service, and new menu opportunities all while keeping in mind the bottom line.
"Over the last 20 years I have worked in a variety of roles in the kitchen to understand all the aspects of a foodservice operation. This includes everything from how the food is ordered and prepared to different cooking techniques, both traditional and non-traditional and of course the financial implications for the operator and the operation when things are managed correctly or incorrectly. I'm now able to use that knowledge to help guide me when assisting clients in operational problem solving and equipment choice"
According to Chef Parks, it's also about having a little humanity and fun outside of the office. He competes in BBQ competitions, where his culinary skill come in handy, but it's mainly about the time with the guys and consuming large quantities of beef and pork. "There is something primal about taking a piece of beef or pork and cooking it outside, in the elements and having it turn with perfect texture and a beautiful smoke ring."
Chef Lawrence is also a long time supporter of Share Our Strength, which is making an effort to end childhood hunger in the United States (http://www.nokidhungry.org/about-us) "I wanted to give back, and this was something that some of the places I have worked have been involved with Share our Strength. I found having a volunteer organization I am passionate about, ensures I stay engaged. Share our Strength is that organization for me"
Q: Describe your favorite dessert? A: I am not a dessert guy. I will choose a cheese course over a dessert every time. Especially with a nice ripe Taleggio, Epoisses or Chimay and some bits of fruits. Throw in a nice Port to wrap up the meal and its bliss.
My Secret: If left alone, I could eat a whole box of Nilla Wafers in a sitting.
Q: What is your signature dish to prepare? A: We all have our own comfort foods, depending on where we grew up and our heritage. My signature dish is one from my ancestry, Acadian (Which are French colonists who settled in Canada in the 175h century) called râpure in Canada or Rappie Pie. It's a simple potato dish with salt pork and chicken that brings me back to my youth, reminds me of family and just good for the soul.