Joseph Barin, corporate chef at Kraft Foodservice, calls himself the accidental chef. He started cooking at a young age, experimenting with the bold, bright Asian flavors of his childhood. In his twenties, he abandoned a slick career track in contract review for a less glamorous and less lucrative entry-level job in foodservice—and he's never looked back. Climbing the kitchen ladder over the last 20 years, Chef Barin has reached heights because of his innate talent, creative drive and admirable work ethic. At the Kraft Culinary Centre, he both supports the culinary team with their recipe development while creating his own menu solutions for Kraft customers.
Home: Chicago, Illinois
Education: BA in English, DePaul University, Chicago
Employment: I'm a corporate chef at Kraft Foodservice. I've been with Kraft Foods since 2000, working on everything from developing new recipes to shooting photographs for foodservice.
1st job in foodservice: When I was in my twenties, I was a dishwasher/delivery driver at a small catering company in Chicago.
Greatest accomplishments: I left a secure job analyzing contracts for an automotive-warranty program. There was nothing bad about the job—it was a great position—but I was dissatisfied. I dropped that really great job to go work an entry-level job at a small Italian catering company. I spent my time washing lettuce and washing dishes, and knew that that's where I wanted to be—in foodservice.
Favorite dish to cook at home: A Filipino version of congee called lugaw or lelot manok. It's like Chinese congee, but with a lot more ginger, chicken and lots of garlic—you get crunchy fried bits of garlic on top with scallions, sriracha and soy sauce. It's my favorite comfort food.
Favorite cookbook: Right now it's Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore (Mortar & Press, 2008). It's got lots of great pictures that the author, Robert Danhi, actually took himself.
Most rewarding part of my job: Making the ordinary extraordinary! The creative process behind our recipe development is also very satisfying.
The two or three people from history (living or dead) with whom I would most like to have dinner: Not sure, but what's on the menu? I think I'd want to be at the table with Elvis and Julia Child—that would be crazy.
Sound byte: Serving people great food has its own rewards—whether it's a finely developed and perfectly executed dish or just a good bagel and cup of coffee—it feels great when that person goes off with a big smile on their face.
Favorite recipe recently developed for Kraft Foodservice:
We had a lot of fun working up mini burgers using A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce. My favorite was the Mini Bao Burgers with Spicy Steak Sauce. I grew up eating steamed buns with meat inside, so this was a natural for me. We got a nice Asian-spiked steak sauce by adding hoisin and TAPATÍO.