BLIND at the Buffet

Can you trust that angry, sweaty person in the chef coat? You betcha!


Over the past week I attended a couple of terrific functions involving, you guessed it, FOOD, and for some reason it got me to thinking about trust.

So here I was standing in line with a bunch of total strangers, grabbing multiple little samples of delicacies prepared by unknown individuals from many different kitchens. Because of the dim lighting within the different venues, and also because I didn’t have my glasses on (gotta look sexy) it was very difficult to see exactly what it was that I was snatching up with reckless abandon. This got me to thinking about buffets and how trusting we guests are of the people who produce the products we consume.

What with all of the food safety scares of the past few years caused by meats and vegetables contaminated with various pathogens, you would think people would be a bit more intimidated by the prospect of eating outside of the home. Does anyone remember the recent Chipotle scare? This was a company that built its business model around fresh and sustainable sourcing, and they made how many hundreds of unsuspecting people ill? Yet it’s remained business as usual for the rest of the food service industry.

Fortunately, as a dining public, we have short memories and are incredibly forgiving. Not to mention we are suckers for a good time. Few things in life are as fun as noshing and boozing. Besides, over 90 percent of food-borne illness originates from your own home kitchens! That’s your kitchen, not mine, shoemaker.

Yep, it’s actually very safe to be adventurous when dining at buffets even when you can’t quite see what you are putting in your mouth. Hence, when I did a fun culinary demonstration during the cocktail hour at the Taste of Amelia Island charity event several weeks ago, I had no fear of joining the paying guests in tasting any and everything that was being offered by the various restaurants in the loud and crowded ballroom.  It didn’t matter that I had no idea what many of the dishes were; it was all delicious. See, I am as trusting as the rest of the dining public.

Just in case you were wondering what I made for my demo, it was Muhamara. The main ingredients are roasted red peppers, walnuts, and molasses, very simple yet with a little love and some of my lavosh crackers, it’s truly kinda addictive. TRUST ME. 

CHEF BILL’S Muhammara


  • 2-1/2 lbs. red bell peppers
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1-1/2 cup (6 ounces) walnuts coarsely ground
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. molasses, sometimes more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp. olive oil



  1. Roast the bell peppers and chili peppers, remove the skins and seeds.
  2. In the work bowl of your food processor, combine and process the panko, walnuts, lemon juice, molasses, cumin, and sugar, until smooth. Add the red peppers and process until creamy. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a thin stream.
  3. Add the chili pepper and salt to taste. If it is too thick, thin with a few tablespoons of pomegranate juice. Adjust the seasonings.  

Until we cook again,

Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of The Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!

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