Crowd Pleaser

Q&A with Adam Walker

YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER WITH MCCORMICK. HOW HAS THAT INFLUENCED HOW YOU VIEW SPICES?

Some chefs see spice as an accent, but undersells it. Spices are the little things that make everything come together. When placing orders we tend to focus on the basics first: meat, vegetables, carbs. That’s what fills up the plate, but the magic comes from a store room well-stocked with spices, sauces, and bases. You can do so much with the basics with a little pinch of this, or a few dashes of that. They’re completely transformative.

SO YOU BELIEVE SPICES ARE SOMETIMES UNDERAPPRECIATED?

They can be. It’s so easy to look at spices as just another ingredient that is on your list, to underestimate how important things like freshness or quality of spices are. I know from personal experience if you use an old or lower quality cinnamon versus like a nice, fresh, high quality cinnamon, the differences are huge. I mean, huge-huge. All spices are not created equal. Ordering supplies can be hard for a chef. You can be ordering a hundreds of things in a week. And we are conditioned to prioritize center of the plate. We think, meat’s the most important, then vegetables, then sides and down the chain. So when you get to spices you may think, check dry storage and see what we need to stock up on. We may not hold the entire list to the same quality standards, but we should.

ANY CHALLENGES WHEN SCALING-UP RECIPES FOR LARGER GROUPS?

You always have to be at the steering wheel of the recipe. You can’t just multiply it times-twenty, and say “it’s done.” You have to taste it, you have to check it, because things like salt and spice can gain on you. It’s weird how it works, but a teaspoon of cayenne can season a gallon of chili or three gallons of chili.

Also, it’s so easy to underestimate how long it takes to make like 500 corn cakes. You think like, “oh, okay, these are just corn cakes and they’re simple. They only take minute to make one.” But 500 minutes is a long time. I’ve caught myself thinking I’m going to get a lot of stuff done in a day, and then it’s like “wow, I got one thing done today.”

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CULINARY TIPS & TECHNIQUES

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Pro Tip: Secrets of Scaling

The Secrets of Scaling

Sizing up a recipe for a large party takes a lot more than multiplication. Chef Adam Walker’s years of experience as a premiere caterer has led to an arsenal of tip, tricks and hacks that help deliver a memorable dining experience without sacrificing an iota of quality.

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Cinnamon Takes Center Stage

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UNIQUELY CHESAPEAKE: OYSTERS & OLD BAY

While famous for blue crabs, clams and some of the finest oysters to be found in North America, the Chesapeake Bay region gives us more than just superlative seafood - it's also home to its ideal companion, OLD BAY Seasoning. Inspired by both the region's bounty and its legendary local seasoning, Chef Gary Patterson of McCormick shares variations on a few classic dishes that are All-American, yet uniquely Chesapeake.

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