Grand Opera House

Ask Chef Jeff

Chef Jeffrey Igel is the chair of the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Department at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. Here, “Chef Jeff” answers your cooking & cuisine queries and shares his recipes.

Researching ribs {recipe}


Q. I love pork ribs. Can you explain the different types of ribs? — Cal from Calcutta A. I’m sure that there are many people who agree with you, Cal! And yes, there are several styles of ribs that come from a pig carcass. Most people are familiar with baby back ribs. Back ribs come from READ MORE

Getting salty {recipe}


Q. What is all the rage with these different salts on the market? —Slippery from Slippery Rock A. First, a little background on salt. Known chemically as sodium chloride, salt is the most common of all ingredients and its use in cooking dates back to the Stone Age. Salt is an essential nutrient to the human body; READ MORE

Smoke signals {recipe}


Q. “Sometimes there is a pink ring on smoked foods—what is this? —Pete, Potosi A. Well Pete, this phenomenon is known as a “smoke ring.” A smoke ring is a natural pink discoloration of the meat that is formed just under the surface of the meat. A smoke ring is caused during the smoking process READ MORE

Grilling your favorite catch


Q. What are your favorite ways to prepare fish, particularly salmon? — Aria, Menasha A. Aria, I would eat fish every single day if it were available. My favorite way to prepare fish, hands down, is to grill it. The way I usually grill a fatty fish like salmon is to get my grill very hot. READ MORE

Rockin’ while cookin’


Q. What is the best soundtrack when you are in the kitchen? — Spencer, Appleton A. Spencer, thank you for your question. My first response would be to ask “Does ESPN’s Sports Center count?” One of the best things I had done in our home is to put a small flat screen in the kitchen. Particularly READ MORE

Setting the mood


Q. What’s the perfect romantic meal to make for my date night?  — Rebecca, Neenah A. Steph, this is a tough question for me to answer for you, but I know how I would answer it for my date night. As I try to do whenever I entertain, I attempt to make all of my preparations READ MORE

Cooking with convection


Q. What’s a convection oven and why should I have one?  — Rebecca, Neenah A. Rebecca, in my opinion as a professional chef, a convection oven is one of the most important inventions in the history of cooking. A convection oven uses a fan to circulate the hot air in the oven and allows the oven READ MORE

Getting a rise out of dough


A. Whenever I try to make bread, my dough doesn’t rise properly. Do you know why this happens and how I can prevent it?  —Ezra, Menasha Q. Ezra, I like this question because many people have a fear of using yeast. Yeasts are basically plant cells that rest in dormancy until awakened. We activate yeast READ MORE

Must-have spices


Q. What are the must-have spices or seasonings every pantry should have?  — Christine Ristow Wepfer A. Christine, what a great question! Although the answer is definitely open to individual tastes and preferences, there are a few ingredients that everyone should probably have. Let’s call these 20 “the basics.” Salt – The No. 1 spice READ MORE

‘egg’cellent flipping


Q: Chef Jeff, I love to cook for my family! I watch shows like “Top Chef” and more often than I would like to admit I’ve heard them say that the measure of a cook is in the way they prepare an egg. I can cook an OK scrambled egg (who can’t, right?), but am READ MORE