Friday, May 26, 2017

Clean Cuisine ---pop culture mega trend or  lifestyle prescription for long term wellness


When we opened the doors of Beyond the Bull (BTB) at our first location in Central, SC, in 2012, and coined the term smart food,  little did we know that BTB was at the forefront of a dietary renaissance referred to as clean cuisine currently sweeping across the nation.   Although definitions of clean cuisine by restaurateurs may vary depending on whether they are promoting sustainable ingredients, vegan, local, or whatever else is the latest fad, if you ask those who are clean eaters, they will all agree on one thing --- the goal of clean eating is to reduce inflammation and maximize nutrient value.  Beyond the Bull’s menu of eclectic and highly flavorful smart food does just that.

To many people, clean cuisine conjures up plates of vegan chili, tofu and baked kale chips.  But clean is not synonymous with vegan or vegetarian.  On the contrary, some animal protein is a good thing ---some, not a 20 oz center-of-the-plate slab of beef sirloin with a micro green garnish.  It’s all about proportion.  Since the most anti-inflammatory and nutrient dense ingredients are unrefined plant foods, it follows that the higher proportion of whole plant food on the plate, the better. 

From its inception, the mission of Beyond the Bull has been to offer just that.  How do we do it? 

Prepare food from unadulterated whole ingredients as close in form to what Mother Nature intended as possible. All menu items are prepared from scratch using whole ingredients, not heat and serve from bags, boxes, bottles or cans.  Instead of buying cans or jars of tomato salsa, for example, BTB buys whole tomatoes, fresh jalapenos and corn, vinegar, spices and herbs and combines them to make a clean product.  

Braise, steam, poach and roast animal proteins that are grazed, hunted, caught or fed a natural diet.  Which is closer to what Mother Nature intended, wild caught hake or pellet fed Salmon?  Hunted wild boar or corn fed beef?  Rabbit, quail, duck and lamb, lobster, mussels, scallops, octopus, bison, hake and wild boar --- at BTB, we know where it’s from, what it eats and how it’s processed. 


           

  

Create exciting original recipes packed with anti inflammatory ingredients. Herbs, spices, and aromatics are powerful phytonutrient rich foods used in large doses throughout the menu.  Blueberries in dipping sauce, spinach and kale in “smart” greens, turmeric and parsley in warm potato salad, cilantro and lime in sweet potatoes, tomatoes in braising liquid, wraps and sides, cinnamon in house sangria, cucumber in green gazpacho, chili peppers, cumin, olive oil, Brussels sprouts and apple cider vinegar to name a few.  


Occasionally a guest will ask why I do this.  I think what is understood but unspoken is why (at my age) I do this.  Shouldn’t I be leading the life of a retiree, taking it easy, traveling the world, going to the theater or joining a club?  Why, after three previous careers in other industries, why take on the difficult task (again, understood ---at my age) of starting a restaurant.  My answer is that I like it.  I like having a purpose, one that not only makes me eager to get out of bed every morning, but one that I know makes a difference one plate at a time. 

And now, five years from our start, we are either part of a mega trend or clean cuisine is here to stay.  Who’d have thought that?

Eat Smart, Feel Good. Chef AngelaB.

 Chef Bell is the author of the book GOOD FOOD BAD FOOD available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The plant as center of the plate --- a bit pricey?

At least once a week I read the phrase “a bit pricey” in reviews, postings, and tweets in relationship to fine dining entrees served up in some of the finest restaurants as well as some of the worst.  Yes, indeed there are some “pricey” menu items at some “pricey” restaurants, but most often the term is used without any substantive argument behind it, by readers, guests, and customers who have little or no experience with the preparation of fine dining quality food for service.  Most recently I read it from a young woman who after seeing the BTB vegan menu for December 8, commented that the three course vegan (all plant) menu “is a bit pricey for veggies”.

As a chef educator, a chef owner, and a practicing chef with decades of experience in serving up bar food, barbecue, Italian, vegetarian, steak and fish, Asian, breakfast, lunch and dinner, the truth is, while the cost of serving prepared foods has decreased, the cost of serving what we in the industry refer to as “clean” food from scratch has risen.  For example, take the commonly offered side of haricot verts in butter sauce that sells in a local establishment for $ 3 as a side  ---  really, butter sauce?    As a fine dining chef, if I want to offer haricot verts as a side I have two choices:  option one, the boil in bag beans swimming in a sauce of industrialized “fake” butter sauce which I can purchase for pennies per serving or, option two, purchase fresh beans, trim them, steam them and serve them in real butter or ghee, seasoned with kosher salt or drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with fresh parsley leaves.  If you have become accustomed to the $ 3 haricot verts in “butter” sauce, then yes, $ 4 or $ 5 for the second option may seem a “bit pricey”.    And while the price of many of the center of the plate proteins served in restaurants today, such as farmed fish and pork, has decreased over my lifetime, the price of local, unadulterated plant foods, which can be elevated to the center of a vegan plate, has not.  

Veganism prohibits the consumption of the most common and inexpensive ingredients used by culinarians such as meat and fish stocks, eggs, butter, milk, and honey to name a few,  and requires the use of ingredients such as nuts, seeds, more exotic beans, grains, fruits, herbs, spices and vegetables for variety.  As a result, it requires methods that require more highly skilled labor and therefore more expensive labor costs.   No wonder there are no vegan restaurants!

USDA statistics show that the majority of Americans have become used to cheap food and expect it, both at home and in restaurants.  One only has to stand beside a check-out counter in a local grocery store to see it for themselves, baskets full of boxed macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas, jars of spaghetti sauce, bottled condiments, canned this and boxed that to which one only has to add water or heat.  Yes, income level has much to do with it, and yes, you get more for your buck with prepared foods in terms of quantity.  But, if we really are what we eat, then maybe it is time to do what people in other countries do and spend more of our household income on food both at home and eating out.  Yes, clean food costs more.   So, if it’s a “bit pricey”, then maybe it’s because it is just plain better.      

Hats off to those of you who live the vegan lifestyle --- you are creative, ingenious, disciplined and out of necessity, you must be darned good cooks!

Please check out
GOOD FOOD BAD FOOD by Chef Angela Bell on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

Eat smart, feel good! Chef AngelaB
Beyond the Bulll (an "eat smart" kitchen)






Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rocky Horror Halloween at Beyond the Bull

Don’t Dream It, Be it ---

A Rocky Horror Halloween Dinner Party


If it’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show it must be October --- almost!  Just around the corner is the first ever Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) Halloween at Beyond the Bull.  Over the last 40 years, the performances by Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, the brilliant Tim Curry, and the original and entertaining rock opera style of music from Lou Adler, have captured the minds and spirit of generations of participants.  I use the word participants rather than viewers because those of you who know all the words to all the songs, also know that RHPS is an interactive experience.

Next month, on Friday, October 28, Beyond the Bull is hosting it's first Rocky Horror Halloween dinner party in celebration of 41 years of the show.  Food, drinks and the original RHPS will be offered at Seneca’s most original restaurant, Beyond the Bull, located on the old Garrett Nursery grounds at the end of Keowee School Road in Seneca where guests can step outside the ordinary and into the extraordinary venue of dining and cinema at Beyond the Bull.  Chef Angela Bell has created a menu to die for that finishes with a grand finale dessert of Rocky on a Slab, an over the top bread pudding based on familiar rocky road ingredients. 

As is true for all events offered at Beyond the Bull, seating is limited in order to create a more intimate, memorable dining experience and seats must be purchased in advance, before noon, Friday, October 21.  Bell hopes that the experienced RHPS viewers will bring their props and dress in their favorite character, and that those who are new to the RHPS will remember this experience as not only their first, but best.  So, for just a few hours, and in the words of Dr. Frank N. Furter, don’t dream it, be it. 

You can reserve your seat by calling 864 508 1254 or messaging via facebook, before October 21 for the October 28 halloween celebration of RHPS.    

Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef AngelaB
Beyond the Bulll (an "eat smart" kitchen)

Monday, September 5, 2016

We know what our food eats --- do you?

It is no longer enough to say that you are what you eat, but now rather, you are what your food eats.   

The industrialization of our food supply has led to a dangerous practice when it comes to producing what we in the restaurant business refer to as “center of the plate” protein --- that is, fish and meat that is posed in the center of the plate around which a few pieces of plant based garnish are scattered, paired with potatoes and a swirl or smear of colorful, sugary sauce. 

The popular trend to use local ingredients (mostly produce) is a positive step in the right direction if the goal is to feed our bodies with clean food.  But it is just a drop in the bucket since the normal American diet is high in protein and low in produce.  Take for example the popularity of the 20 oz ribeye topped with deep fried onion rings, a staple on the menu of a nearby successful fine dining establishment. 

If Americans stick to a diet where more protein is consumed than any other food, then locally sourced produce, promoted by restaurants as the basis of a healthy menu, is just not enough.  Is it healthy when a plateful of locally grown kale is nestled under a piece of farmed salmon, skinned, cut and frozen with chemicals to ensure the look of freshness, or a dyed tuna steak or shrimp farmed outside the U.S. in water of unknown sources and without safe food handling practices?  Not only must we be vigilant in sourcing plant food and dairy ingredients without hormones, additives and antibiotics, but now we must turn our attention to the industrialized feeding of chickens, turkey, lamb, beef, pork, fish and game. 

What was once called wild fish and game, is less likely now to be wild.  Fin fish, shellfish, rabbit, and venison are more likely to be farmed in today’s market --- many fed with manufactured pellets.  Soy, corn and chicken by-products are the top three ingredients in pellet food and the predominant ingredients in fish food given to salmon, tilapia, carp, sturgeon,  and catfish.  If they eat soy, corn and chicken by-products, then doesn’t it follow that we are eating soy, corn and chicken by-products?  

That is why at Beyond the Bull, we took the time, almost two years, to source our proteins.  We took the time to find North Atlantic lobster and sea scallops, tuna, hake and baby octopus that is wild caught, bison, antelope and venison that is free range, wild boar that is hunted and field dressed, clams and mussels that are raised in their natural habitat, rabbit that is fed a natural diet and processed here in South Carolina, Bandera quail that is raised on a natural diet without antibiotics and Dorper lamb that is grazed on a Texas plateau. 

We are proud of our menu and our commitment to serving plant based ingredients that are clean and locally sourced.  But even more so, we are proud of our commitment to serve clean and wild sourced "center of the plate" proteins as well.  After all, what they eat, is what we eat! 

Eat smart, feel good! Chef AngelaB
Beyond the Bulll (an "eat smart" kitchen)


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Wild boar sausage and Muller Two-Goats --- What do they have in common?

Beyond the Bull's eclectic food and City Scape's bold flavored wines together at one seating --- that’s what they have in common. 

Sausage cucumber stack accompanied by Muller Two-Goats (Muller-thurgau), tuna tartare, green gazpacho alongside Pineapple Riesling and a decadent bitter chocolate peanut butter bread pudding filled with Thomas Creek stout sauce paired with port style Coffee Delight, three of the six course pairings being offered at the first collaboration between two of the newest food and wine venues in the Golden Corner --- Beyond the Bull Tableside, Keowee and CityScape Winery and Vineyard, Pelzer   

Please join hosts Chef Angela and David of Beyond the Bull and Josh and Debra of City Scape, Sunday, August 7.  Seatings will begin at 4 PM at the restaurant located at 8095 Keowee School Road, Seneca.  Come join us for a Sunday respite and linger a while ---  



Eat smart, feel good! Chef AngelaB
Beyond the Bull (an "eat smart" kitchen)


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Unchain yourself from boxes, bags, bottles and cans ---  learn how to cook!

 Guests who appreciate the fact that Beyond the Bull serves “clean” or what is referred to as “smart” food,  often remark that they wished they had the time to cook like that at home.  What is Chef Bell’s response?   “You do and you can”.

Chef Bell, who is the executive chef and owner of Beyond the Bull , located on Keowee School Road near Lake Keowee, assures her guests that cooking from scratch does not have to take any more time than it takes to open and heat up a can of beans or place a “boil in a bag” into a pot of water.  Roasting, sautéing, blanching, steaming, with the right ingredients, can yield a well balanced, delicious meal in less than 30 minutes.  According to her, you just need to know how to cook.

Chef Angela Bell has been teaching young and old just that for years.  Unlike other cooking schools, Chef Bell’s approach is hands on and results in students who not only know the basic cooking methods, but are free from having to depend on a recipe in order to put a meal on the table.  “Recipes are for those who do not know how to cook and have no imagination.  Why do you need someone to tell you to add dried basil or a pinch of salt?  You don’t!”, according to Bell.  "And besides, cooking from scratch is a lot cheaper and who doesn't want to stretch a dollar?"

Beginning this summer, Beyond the Bull will be hosting Chop Chop culinary camps for young adults who would like to learn how to cook.  Chef refers to these lessons as lessons in survival skills or cooking skills for life.  “We all need to be more respectful of the importance of choosing to feed our bodies food that nourishes us for long term life.  And to do that, one needs to know what real food is and how to prepare it.” 

Summer culinary camps will begin in July and are limited to four students per camp in order for them to participate to the fullest.  For more information call 864 508 1254 or go to www.facebook.com/beyondthebull.

Eat smart, feel good! Chef AngelaB
Beyond the Bulll (an "eat smart" kitchen)




Friday, June 24, 2016

Ante up the smart food --- from Central to Seneca


Our guests often ask, where did we come from and how did we get here?  

For those of you who didn’t have the opportunity to experience Beyond the Bull before we settled into our present location at the site of the abandoned Garrett Nursery and café,  and for our loyal fans who feared we had disappeared from the restaurant scene, clink on the link


Four years later it is still the same smart food, but with real dishes, glassware, tableside service and an HVAC system that works! 

Eat smart, feel good!  Chef AngelaB
Beyond the Bulll (an "eat smart" kitchen)


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mother's Day Lunch
Sunday, May 8 10:30 AM to 2 PM


Mother's Day Special --- the classic Maine Lobster Roll 





Thursday, April 7, 2016

Don’t Dream It --- Be it

If it’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show it must be October --- NOT!  The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) is not just for Halloween anymore.  Over the last 70 years, the performances by Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, the brilliant Tim Curry, and the original and entertaining rock opera style of music from Lou Adler, have captured the minds and spirit of generations of participants.  I use the word participants rather than viewers because those of you who know all the words to all the songs, also know that RHPS is an interactive experience.

This month, on April 19, in celebration of Tim Curry’s 70th birthday, the original RHPS will be shown at Seneca’s newest and most original bistro, Beyond the Bull, located on the old Garrett Nursery grounds at the end of Keowee School Road in Seneca where guests can step outside the ordinary and into the extraordinary venue of deck dining and cinema at Beyond the Bull.  Chef Angela Bell has created a menu to die for that finishes with a grand finale dessert of Rocky on a Slab, an over the top bread pudding based on the familiar rocky road ingredients. 

As is true for all events offered at Beyond the Bull, seating is limited in order to create a more intimate, memorable dining experience and seats must be purchased in advance, before the end of Friday, April 15.  Bell hopes that the experienced RHPS viewers will bring their props and dress in their favorite character, and that those who are new to the RHPS will remember this experience as not only their first, but best.  So, for just a few hours, and in the words of Dr. Frank N. Furter, don’t dream it, be it. 

You can reserve your seat by call 864 508 1254 before April 15 for the April 19 showing.   


Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef AngelaB
Beyond the Bulll (an "eat smart" kitchen)