By the Numbers at Marcel’s by Jill Foucré

Those of you who know me well know I am a numbers person. While there are certainly many places in life where it’s best to follow your heart, in business I think it’s best to follow the numbers. Almost always, when there’s an important decision to be made, a look at the numbers will give great guidance if you listen to what they’re saying.

Since we opened Marcel’s, I have devotedly followed the numbers and a lot of them are really fun to think about!

Let’s start with you. We have had well over 30,000 different people shop at Marcel’s since we opened. And that doesn’t even count Marché. We have been open for a bit less than 3,000 days so that’s more than 10 new people every single day! We are so appreciative of each and every one of you – but thinking about how many of you there are, I don’t feel so bad that I draw a blank on a name here and there!

At the very, very beginning when I was thinking about this little business I could create, what I really wanted was the recreational cooking school. It of course has become so much more than that but the Marcel’s kitchen, led by Chef Kelly Sears and our very talented chef team, is a powerhouse unto itself. 1,807 classes (and more every single day) with 24,742 participants plus 850 private events with another 11,910 participants. Yowza! That’s over 36,000 adults and kids learning, eating, having fun, and meeting us around our table. Exactly what I envisioned. This wouldn’t have happened without the 16 chefs, over 100 Culinary Assistants, and more teenage dishwashers than I can count who have delivered each and every class to you.

And we can’t forget the retail store. We pride ourselves on having something for everyone at every price point and that means an awful lot of merchandise! And if you’ve ever wondered who chooses all of these fabulous things, look no further than Dana Williams, store manager/buyer/visual merchandiser extraordinaire. We have had 22,226 different products in the store for you — and while we are constantly searching for new and different things, we’ve also got many items we’ve carried since day one.

Of course, just like in the kitchen, it’s our staff that makes Marcel’s special — and I know they make you feel special, too. We’ve had 33 different people on the retail staff over 8 years and I think each and every one of them has had more than a tiny bit of fun being a part of the Marcel’s family.

A few last numbers:

Six. Those who have stood by my side since the beginning (and before the beginning!). Kelly Sears, Paul Lindemuth, Dana Williams, Rita Cevaal, Teri Hiben, Lisa Sallwasser – the words “couldn’t have done it without you” are so inadequate.

Eight. Wonderful years.

One. Super grateful owner.

Farm Fresh by Denise Stano

It’s that time of year again…school is back in session, the cicadas are singing loudly, morning and evening temps are cool enough to forego the ac, and it is peak season at our farmer’s markets. The bins are overflowing with sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, peppers, etc. Who can resist a bouquet or two of zinnias, dahlias or gladiolas?

Anyone who has travelled north along the western shore of Michigan knows that much of the produce at our local markets comes from Michigan farms. Beginning with the springtime asparagus to the many varieties of apples in the fall, these farmers also sell their products at their own roadside stands, many still using the honor system. I have a real weakness for these stands and can eat myself silly with the abundant seasonal fruit and goodies I find there. This year’s vacation Up North was no exception.

While you still can, do yourself a favor and make the choice to support our local farmer’s markets. Buy what’s fresh, Google a recipe or check the recipes on the Marcel’s website, and enjoy the flavors of the season.

Strike While The Grill Is Hot by Julie Busteed

Summer and summertime cooking… two things I look forward to. But with a bit of coordination, the two get even better.

The foods of summer… going to the farmer’s market and cooking with in-season fruits and vegetables, all so good…peach pies, grilled corn, and fresh sliced tomatoes. And since it’s often too hot to turn the ovens on inside, it’s a perfect time for grilling outside. This is where the coordination comes in.

We’ve been enjoying many grilled meals this summer. Since the Kamado Joe grill can cook at both high heat (up to 900 degrees) and also smoke something for hours, a little pre-planning can go a long way. Strike while the grill is hot… or something like that.

For example, we’ll have a flank steak marinated and ready to grill at 600 or 700 degrees. Once the steak is done, I adjust the temperature with the daisy wheel on top and bring it down to 400 degrees and grill my chicken, so that we can have grilled chicken Caesar salad the next night. Once the chicken is cooked, I again adjust the temperature to 200 degrees and smoke some salmon, that I save and use later in the week to create a wonderful Salmon and Basil Lasagna (recipe below). And this is where summer gets better – you’re not spending as much time cooking, freeing up time for more enjoying.

Like many other acquired skills in the kitchen, getting the hang of “stoking the Joe” to get the temperatures you need is easy once done a time or two. And unlike conventional grills, the Joes’ ability to get the high temps, and what you can then do with steaks, is amazing.

We have a few left in stock …stop by and take a look.

Salmon and Basil Lasagna
Serves 4
  1. 12 ounce salmon filet
  2. Olive oil
  3. 1 Tablespoon minced basil
  4. 1/2 Teaspoon salt
Lasagna Sauce
  1. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  2. 2 Garlic cloves minced
  3. 1 Tablespoon minced shallot
  4. 1 Cup heavy cream
  5. 1/2 Cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
  6. Sea salt to taste
  7. White Pepper to taste
  1. 4 Lasagna noodles
  2. 1/4 Cup minced basil
  3. 1/3 Cup Parmesan cheese - grated
  1. Coat the salmon with oil. Sprinkle the flesh side of the fish with the basil and salt. Cover the filet and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare your Kamado Joe smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 degrees. Place the salmon on the smoker and smoke until cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. (This can be done ahead of time - even a day in advance.)
  3. While the salmon smokes, make the sauce. Warm the oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and the garlic and saute until soft but not browned. Stir in the rest of the sauce ingredients and adjust the heat to allow the mixture to simmer steadily. Stir frequently - cooking until it’s reduced by one-third/
  4. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package. Drain and cut the strips into thirds (I also think that you could put this in a 9 x9 pan as opposed to making individual servings)
  5. Flake the salmon into bite-sized chunks.
  6. To assemble the lasagna, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the sauce on each plate. Lay a strip of lasagna over the sauce and top with 1 ounce of the salmon. Spoon sauce thinly over the fish and scatter about 1 teaspoon each of the basil and cheese over the sauce. Repeat with a second layer. For the top layer of the lasagna, again layer the pasta strip followed by the salmon. Top with equal portions of the remaining sauce, basil and cheese. Serve hot.
Adapted from Smoke and Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison
Adapted from Smoke and Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Wedding Gifts to Cherish by Jennifer Dorn

Wedding season is year-round at Marcel’s – as we have fun with our customers helping to pick out the perfect gifts for their bridal showers and wedding gifts. A wedding gift is special – it should be a gift that surpasses the ordinary. At Marcel’s, we enjoy helping you select this perfect gift. We want you to find something that celebrates two people starting a new life together, a gift they will cherish forever.

Yes, we have a Bridal Registry! Couples are welcome to set up an appointment and create their wish list. After the wedding, we are committed to helping the couple complete their list by giving them 10% off any remaining items on their registry. It’s easy to view their registry online, then give us a call or come into the shop and we will help you select the perfect gift, have it giftwrapped and shipped anywhere you need!

So let’s talk about those One of a Kind special gifts. One of my favorites is a vase from Simon Pearce that has their invitation engraved on the front – Beautiful! Simon Pearce also has hand blown champagne flutes – toasting with these through the years will be so elegant.

Perhaps you would like to give a gift card. Marcel’s gift cards can be used to register for a cooking class together – so thoughtful and fun!

Think about those memorable gifts you received or inherited from your family. My Grandmother gave me her hand carved wooden salad bowl and I still cherish and use it today! We also have salad bowls and charcuterie boards that are handcrafted, making a unique one of a kind gift. Le Creuset Dutch ovens are popular shower gifts – just add a hand written recipe card with your gift to make it special.

Weddings are joyous and we here at Marcel’s, are always ready to ensure you feel great about your gifting! We look forward to helping you find the perfect cherished gift for you next gift giving occasion.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream by Didi Foth

Summer is finally here!  With all the rain and cold that we had in June, it felt as if it would never arrive.  It is here in its full glory- scorching hot days and warm humid nights.  When I was young, those were the type of days that would send us racing through the streets when we heard the distant music of the ice cream trucks.  The entire neighborhood would go running into the house to beg their parents for money so that we could buy the frozen treats that would cool us off and make us so happy. It was so hard to choose:  a drumstick, ice cream sandwich or Dreamsicle??  It was hard to imagine that anything could ever taste so delicious!

As an adult, there is still nothing better than ice cream on a hot summer day or on the patio at night, although my tastes have evolved a bit from the ice cream truck days.  I now know that ice cream can be made from fresh ingredients and with flavors that are only limited by your imagination – cookie dough, chocolate marshmallow, coffee, mint chocolate chip, etc.  And homemade ice cream- whether it be from a favorite little shop, a restaurant, or made at home-is the ultimate treat.

The flavors are fresh and make you think of berry fields, campfires with s’mores and chocolate shops. I have also discovered that ice cream, with an adult beverage, can be a fun dessert.  A Berry Prosecco ice cream float is as simple as adding fresh berries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a glass and topping it off with Prosecco.  How fun is that?

Making ice cream at home has definitely become much easier than the days churning for hours.  There are a variety of new ice cream makers on the market that allow you to eat a fresh, frozen treat within an hour of thinking of your favorite flavor, which is even quicker than hearing that first sound from the ice cream truck!   Marcel’s carries many of the items that you need to help you make these treats at home.

On Saturday, July 27, Marcel’s will have Guest Chef, Alissa Wallers of the French Pastry School, churning ice cream and making all handmade toppings in the hands-on cooking class, The Ice Cream Bar.  Think Bourbon Vanilla and Coffee ice cream with salted caramel sauce or blueberry compote.  How about a chocolate wafer ice cream sandwich cookie?  What a fabulous way to beat the summer heat and experiment with recipes and flavors.  Kids 12 and older are welcome to join this class so you can start some new family traditions – much better than chasing the ice cream truck!

Marcel’s will also be having a Neighborhood Happy Hour and Grown Up Ice Cream Social on Sunday, July 28 from 2-4 pm.  Come join us for some fun, adult ice cream drinks and a snack to beat the heat.  There is no cost for this event, but please pre-register.

Happy summer and here’s to a big scream for ice cream! 

Fire Up The Grill, Outdoor Entertaining Made Easy by Teri Hiben

It’s time to kick off the outdoor entertaining season! Put up the umbrella, heat up the coals, set out the plates and ice the drinks. Invite someone over and you’ve got a party. There doesn’t have to be a special reason to gather. It can be simply because you’re my neighbor, because we’re friends or family, because we’ve been meaning to have you over…

At our place this summer, meals will center around our new Kamado Joe Ceramic Grill. We’re dreaming up the many ways to enjoy it’s high heat searing and the low temperature smoking capabilities. We have visions of perfectly seared steaks and burgers, but also grilled pizzas, smoked ribs and pulled pork (already requested for Memorial Day weekend). I’m even envisioning the Kamado Joe as my outdoor oven to bake some sourdough loaves one day. And how about some smoked snapper tacos? (Be sure to check on my progress as the summer moves forward).

Just remember, summertime meals needn’t be tricky, complicated or take hours to prepare. Nor do you need to fall into a grilling rut. Try sprinkling a new rub on that chicken or brush a marinade over those veggies. One of our family favorite rubs is the TOSA blend by Lemaster Family Kitchen in Logan’s Square. TOSA stands for Taste of Southeast Asia. Just this past Sunday, we enjoyed the chicken and vegetable kebabs with saffron rice that I’m sharing here. The meal is simple, fast, healthy and tasty.

So, call your family and friends and share a simple meal in your own backyard. Slow down, linger at the table, enjoy one another.

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs
For Kebabs
  1. ½ cup olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoon Lemaster Family Kitchen TOSA seasoning mix
  3. 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  4. 1 medium onion
  5. 1 zucchini
  6. 1 red pepper
For Saffron Rice
  1. 2 pinches saffron, crumbled
  2. ¼ cup boiling water
  3. 1 cup basmati rice
  4. 1¾ cup water
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Whisk together oil and seasoning mix. Add chicken cut into chunks. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Heat grill to medium high heat.
  3. Cut vegetables into chunks and toss with some more olive oil and TOSA mix to coat.
  4. Thread chicken and vegetables on skewers. Grill until chicken is cooked and vegetables are crisp tender.
For Saffron Rice
  1. In a small bowl, combine boiling water and saffron. Let this steep for 5 min. Rinse the rice under cold water. Combine the rice, water and saffron mixture in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid in absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

BIG, Bold and Beautiful by Jenny Lorish

Springtime: a season to renew, refresh and hit the restart button. Nothing brings a smile to my face like a beautiful springtime day. The birds are chirping, plants are popping out of the ground, the smell of the air is crisp and clean, the sun feels warmer and everyone seems happy.
After a long, cold winter, I’m always ready for a celebration. Getting together with friends and family for some of the seasons fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, and libations
is the best way I can think to do a toast and welcome all that is new.
Recently, my family went to Newport Beach, CA for Spring Break. Everything was green and lush. The sun was shining everyday and it felt, as my son Thomas says, “like a blanket on my skin”.
We had many adventures and saw some beautiful sights. We also ate most of our meals at restaurants. There are many wonderful places to eat in SoCal. Before we left for our trip, we planned out the places we really wanted to hit. Many were recommended by family who live there.
What surprised me most was that every restaurant was super healthy and had many vegetarian and vegan choices. Being pescatarians, my husband and I had no problems at all. Fresh fish, fresh veggies, fresh everything.
One of my favorite things to do when I return home, is to recreate some of the recipes of the food we ate. Ceviche, salads, grilled fish tacos, etc.
At one restaurant we ordered the crudité bowl. When it came to the table I laughed out loud. It was a huge bowl stuffed full of beautiful vegetables with an olive tapenade sauce and a tzatziki sauce for dipping. We devoured it. It was so fresh and crunchy, and with the sauces it had the perfect umami. If you want to get your children to eat their vegetables, this presentation will do it!
Now that we are back, I’m ready to start my re-creations and celebrate Spring with my friends and family. First on the menu is sure to be the crudité bowl. Next, will surely be many of the delicious and amazing food and drink we enjoyed. But I really want to share this, oh so easy, but oh so BIG Crudité Bowl recipe with you.
It’s not really a recipe per se, as it is an arrangement, customized how you like. I will be sure to make this ahead of time in one of the biggest and prettiest bowls I own.
My version will include long leafs of romaine lettuce stacked vertically in the bowl to start. Then, whole peeled smaller carrots, and radishes with some of the tops left on. I will also add spears of cucumber, vertically sliced red and yellow peppers, and one minute blanched green beans. (Recipes for the dips, below) So, I’m going to go ahead, invite my favorite friends and family, set glorious table and go BIG!
At Marcel’s, we celebrate Spring with fresh new merchandise for decorating and outfitting your kitchen with style. We have all the kitchen tools and gadgets to help get you started, BIG beautiful bowls included. We also host many cooking classes to help you be the best cook and entertainer amongst your family and friends. Stop in and let us help you with your Springtime entertaining!
Tapenade & Tzatziki Dip
  1. Tapenade Dip
  2. 1/2 cup black olive, puréed
  3. 3 big bunch basil, puréed
  4. Juice of 1 lemon
  5. 1/2 cup avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
  6. Tzatziki Dip
  7. Two 7-ounce containers Greek yogurt (like Fage Total)
  8. 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  9. Juice of 1 lemon
  10. 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  11. 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  12. 1 clove minced garlic
  13. Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tapenade Dip
  1. Mix all ingredients well. Can be made up to a week ahead of time.
  2. Tzatziki Dip
  3. Mix all ingredients well. Can be made 1 or 2 days ahead of time.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Our Chefs’ Favorite Things

Ever wonder what a chef can’t live without in his kitchen? Or the tool, pan, knife that she reaches for every single time? Well, wonder no more. We have polled each of our chefs to share with us the kitchen items they simply must have! From Monday3/25 through Sunday 3/31  we’re offering any of our CHEF FAVORITES at 20% OFF. How’s that for a spring break deal you simply can’t resist! 

Chef Jamie Bordoshuk loves reaching for the Shun 8″ Chef Knife whenever he’s creating something delicious in the kitchen. Super sharp, lightweight, easy to hold for lots of chopping, slicing and dicing, this knife makes prep work a breeze! 8″ Chef’s Knives of any brand will be on promo this week.

Chef Kelly has several favorites in her arsenal, but she always begins with her Epicurean Cutting Board. They come in a range of sizes, are durable, eco-friendly, non-porous and are knife friendly! After she’s chopped, sliced or julienned her ingredients, she reaches for her Duralex Prep Bowls. With more than 10 different sizes at her fingertips, these bowls help her keep track of all her ingredients, making planning and executing a breeze. But when she needs to scrape a jar or stir a pot, Chef Kelly reaches for her Le Creuset Spatulas. Readily available in a crock on her counter, these come in all shapes and sizes to match whatever job necessary. And no need to worry about it melting if ever left in a pan because these silicone spatulas can handle high heat up to 482 degrees. When she’s adding salt to her cooking, she turns to her Le Creuset Salt Pig because the opening perfectly fits her hand and is parked right next to her cooktop. 

When Chef Robin is whipping up delicious meals in her kitchen, she always reaches for her tried and true Tri Ply All Clad Stainless Cookware. And when she’s in the mood to bake, Chef Robin makes sure she has her Silpat Baking Mat right by her side. Fabulous for complete nonstick baking, roasting or candy making, this mat makes rolling pastry an easy task, allowing you to lift your pastry right onto a sheet pan. Plus they last for years! And Chef Robin’s go to peeler is the Rosle Swivel Peeler.  In both vertical and horizontal formats, it makes peeling even the toughest fruits and vegetables a breeze.

Chef Lynn’s favorite item in her kitchen is her Le Creuset French Oven. It evenly distributes heat for uniform cooking, is designed for “stove to oven” presentation and is super easy to clean. For busy cooks, this is a staple for one-pot meals. And for Chef Lynn, this enameled cast-iron cookware is worth every penny! All Le Creuset ovens will be on promo – in stock only; no special orders.

Chef Paul’s favorites include the Oxo Angled Measuring Cups which makes measuring liquids easier since you don’t need to hold the cup at eye level. And he loves his Rosle Instant-Read Thermometer for the digital read-out on the top, making it easier to read than the dial versions on traditional thermometers. Chef Paul would never dream of making soup or sauces without his Cuisinart Hand Blender. It’s the best time-saver, allowing you to liquify your ingredients right in the pot vs. transferring from the pot to a standard blender. And he wouldn’t ever roast fish or seafood without Marcel’s Cedar Roasting Planks. He loves how they impart an even, gentle heat and smoky flavor to the food. 

The things in Chef Brandy’s kitchen that make life simpler and more efficient, are her Potato Ricer which makes the lightest and fluffiest gnocchi or croquettes, allowing for even strands of boiled, mashed vegetables with a smooth uniform texture. And she would never dare scoop up vegetables or small pastas from boiling water or deep-fried food from hot oil without her Spider/StrainerThe long handle keeps your hands safely away from the heat. To zest citrus, grate hard cheese or spices Chef Brandy always grabs a Microplane Zester

The tools that Chef Kiley reaches for when she’s whipping up delicious meals in her kitchen and those tools include a Flat Whisk and Flexible Fish Spatula. The flat whisk because it deglazes your pots and pans to ensure a beautiful sauce (or roux) with its rounded edge, ensuring it fits inside the corners of your saute or sauce pan. And the fish spatula because its versatility makes it perfect for pancakes, cookies, vegetable fritters and so much more. It allows for delicate and precise turning, flipping and rotating on a hot work surface. Chef Kiley loves to use the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet (preferably a 13.25″ or 15″ skillet) whenever she can. These skillets sear any protein or vegetable like no other and can go straight to the oven or grill.

Food Demos, Who Me? by Tania Pasterz

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” – Ruth Reichl

I am the newest member of the Marcel’s retail team: a group of women that love all things culinary and are passionate about cooking. Shortly after learning the retail ropes and just when I started to feel comfortable; I was informed I was scheduled to do a Food Demonstration. A reallife food demo with a TV monitor, surrounded by customers watching and listening to my every word.

I must confess, being a lover of all things food and entertaining, it is something I’ve dreamt about. Standing alone at my kitchen counter pretending to be some variation of the Barefoot Contessa. That said, just the thought of it gave me anxiety. Pretending alone in my own kitchen was one thing – but real customers, an audience other than my family? What if my food tasted horrible? What if I didn’t have enough? What if I couldn’t talk and cook at the same time? Despite some serious trepidation, I came up with a recipe that I thought would be good and began planning.

The day finally arrived. My food was prepped, my recipe tested and it was time for my own little cooking show to begin (still scared to death mind you). The customers showed up, they asked interesting questions, and liked my dish (Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Eggs)! In fact, one tiny patron (age 4) said, “excuse me but can I say something, this is very artistic.” Literally out of the mouths of babes. My fear melted away and I knew I was hooked.

Almost every Tuesday a member of the retail staff at Marcel’s does a food demonstration. We prepare simple, fast and delicious food designed for busy people. The team member’s name and dish appears on our quarterly calendars for you to pick and choose which demonstration best fits your schedule. There is no charge and no sign up. And you get to leave with a new recipe!

All you need to do is show up, sit down, maybe learn a tidbit or two and taste. 

Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Eggs
  1. 4 carrots, diced
  2. 4 parsnips, diced
  3. 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  4. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  5. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  6. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. 6 slices bacon, diced
  8. 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  9. 1 5-ounce package baby arugula or mixed greens (about 8 cups)
  10. 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  11. 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
  12. 4 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the carrots, parsnips, red onion, garlic and two tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet; season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast, stirring half way through, until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon; discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings from the skillet.
  3. Whisk the remains 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the vinegar in a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables, bacon, arugula, parsley and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and toss.
  4. Heat the reserved bacon drippings in the skillet over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs and fry until just set, about 4 minutes. Serve over salad and top with more parmesan.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Mandoo Mania by Jenny Chang

My fondest memory of food always centered around making mandoo (aka. Korean dumplings or potstickers). Perhaps that’s the reason I love to eat them so much.  However making them always seemed like such a chore. I didn’t appreciate the labor of love that my mother always put into the vat of filling she made every holiday season, particular for New Year’s Eve.   

Our entire family would gather around lunchtime every New Year’s Eve and devour a big bowl of rice cake soup (made with pure bone broth, of course) to satiate us before beginning the process of filling hundreds of dumplings. My mother made the dough early in the morning and portioned it out into big round dough balls. My father and uncles would each take turns rolling out each rested dough ball into the largest round sheet of dough that covered our entire kitchen table. Then, using an upside down stainless steel rice bowl, cut out each individual dumpling wrapper from the gigantic sheet of dough. With a pile of dumpling wrappers ready to go, my aunts and all of us kids would gather around the huge bowl of mandoo filling and begin the process of filling each wrapper to make the prettiest dumplings around. We would have contests to see who could fold the prettiest dumplings. My older brother always won. To this day, he’s still the best dumpling maker.

Because our extended family was so big, we often needed to make several hundred mandoo to enjoy in our dumpling rice cake soup, a Korean tradition always consumed on New Year’s Day. Plus a bag of frozen mandoo for each family to take home and enjoy at a later time. It was the highlight of my entire year, more so than Christmas or Thanksgiving. You see, New Year’s Eve was the one time a year that our entire family gathered together to laugh, tell stories, and make dumplings for hours on end, much like the scene in the movie… Crazy Rich Asians.

Dumpling making was always a family tradition and one that involved all of the children. That is why, though I don’t like to have other people cook with me in my kitchen because truthfully, I can’t stand to have the mess, I try to include my three children in the mandoo making process and see who folds the prettiest dumplings. Although, these days we don’t roll out our own dumpling wrappers anymore – store bought ones suffice just great, I still take the time to make mandoo for those special occasions. Though one thing does remain. When we make mandoo, we still make at least a hundred or more.