School Principal by Day (Dr. Dan) / Chef by Night
Dr. Dan Murray is a unique culinary personality in the Rochester area… school administrator by day and private chef by night. Dan has been a school teacher and administrator for over 20 years while continuing to grow his talents and passions as a chef. He has worked in many different aspects of food service since his first job washing dishes at age 14!
At a national level, Dan appeared on Food Network’s “Cooks vs. Cons” in Season 2 (2016) on the “Pie Fight” episode. Locally, Dan was featured as part of the “Democrat and Chronicle Food and Wine Experience” (with headliner Duff Goldman) in September of 2017. Chef Dan has twice headlined The Summit Federal Credit Union’s “Wine and Chocolate Festival” in Rochester in January and October of 2016. Dan also appeared on WHAM/FOX TV’s “Good Day Rochester” for a special Labor Day segment in September 2016 and shared his top tips for better burgers. Dan has been interviewed twice for WHAM-1180’s “Food and Wine Show” and competed in the Great American Backyard Burger Competition in 2015.
Here is a link to an article about Chef Dan that appeared in the Mendon, Honeoye-Falls, Lima Sentinel in January of 2018: https://mhflsentinel.com/meet-dan-murray-educator-in-chef/
Dr. Chef Dan was also profiled by WXXI-TV in April of 2018 on the show Need to Know for their series about people with “double lives.” Here is a link to that video: http://wxxinews.org/post/watch-gop-monroe-co-family-court-judge-candidates-debut-our-double-lives-series (the part about Chef Dan starts 14 minutes in).
Chef Dan specializes in private dinner events, small-scale catering, and cooking demonstrations. As an educator, he has always had a passion for helping others achieve their greatest potential.You can contact Dan through his website drchefdan.com <http://drchefdan.com> to hire him for your next event. He would love to work with you to create a unique experience for you and your guests.
Here’s my back story…
I’m tired of hearing how busy everyone is these days. You are the master of your own schedule! My goal is to satisfy people’s taste buds while fueling them up. I want everyone to “unplug” and take the time to relax with a home cooked meal. I get inspiration from chefs, restaurants, and recipes and make them my own. Soups and sauces are my forte. I’m cooking dinner almost every night for my wife and kids and we enjoy entertaining friends and family. I do private dinners and other small events. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. It is very straightforward with lots of great recipes.
Hopefully I am also inspiring my kids to appreciate and understand the value of a home-cooked meal. As an educator, I can’t help but teach others while I cook. Knowing how to cook is a key element to being a great husband/partner and parent.
(This is my youngest daughter, Ella)
Here’s a great picture of my earliest inspiration, my Grandma Davies
The smells in her kitchen for Sunday dinner or for a holiday are memories of a life time. Pot roast, ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, glazed carrots, her famous “fluff” (pistachio pudding, pineapple, and Cool Whip), and the most amazing chocolate cake from scratch. She was a master in the kitchen. I learned from her the joy that food can bring to people in so many different ways.
Another memory I have of wanting to learn how to cook is a TV show called “Wok with Yan.” This is from the early 1980s starring Steven Yan. Chef Yan would wear aprons with funny sayings lettered on them, like “Wok and Roll” and “Wok the Heck.” My mom bought me a wok and I started making dinner for my family as a teenager. That gave me the bug to want to keep cooking, keep learning, and keep improving.
My Kitchen / My Tools
The modest size of my kitchen works well for efficient cooking. The most critical tools are my knives. You’ll usually find me with just one chef’s knife and a cutting board. I’m not set on German, American, or Japanese… I love any really good knife. I have Global, Mercer, Shun, and Henckles. I have a water stone and a honing steel. I also have serrated knifes for tomatoes and breads.
For pots and pans, I also keep it pretty simple. A ceramic coated cast iron pot (“Dutch Oven“) is my favorite. I also like a good saute pans. Baking sheets with wire racks, medium and large stock pots, and small saute or cast-iron pans are what I reach for.
For small utensils/appliances, the food processor and microplaner are my tools of choice. Shaving parmesan, citrus, nutmeg, or chocolate on top of a dish just before serving can make all the difference in the world.
No chef’s kitchen would be complete with our seasonings, flavorings, and fresh herbs. Fresh thyme is my number one herb because it imparts a lot of flavor without being too harsh. I also have fresh basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage, and mint on hand. My herbs get washed, air dried, then rolled in a damp paper towel and placed in a baggie with a few holes poked into it. Place this baggie in the crisper drawer of your fridge and your herbs will last at least a week.
Sea salt is my number one seasoning. I have both coarse and fine ground for different applications. Freshly cracked pepper is used, but always as second fiddle (that doesn’t show up to every party like salt does). Cumin and corriander are two of my favorite dried spices for the strong, earthy flavor it imparts. I also reach for granulated garlic, white pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
Critical liquids always at the reach are extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and Frank’s red hot sauce (Hey, I’m from Rochester). Red and white wine and chicken stock are up there with salt and a sharp knife in my top 5 must-haves.
Last, but certainly not least, are my cookbooks (and pile of recipe sheets!). I’ve got old-school and new-school books. I’ve got binders where I tried to organize my pile of sheets. Heck, one reason I started this blog was to have a good place to document recipes. I see recipes as a way to remember all the ingredients and steps involved. I also see recipes as inspiration. You take the general idea in the recipe and then tweak it and refine it to make it better each and every time.
I love learning and trying different foods. I am a graduate of the International Culinary Academy’s Escoffier culinary arts program. I have taken several courses at our local NY Wine and Culinary Center and attended the 5-day Boot Camp at the Culinary Institute of America.
My biggest accomplishment so far is appearing on Season 2, Episode 7 of the Food Network’s Cooks vs. Cons. It was awesome!