Please read the Albany Time Union TableHopping Blog entry about our new Bloody Mary mix.

Fit My Video Tag

Watch as AJ takes on the US Foodservice Challenge with cooking a meal under a time limit and using Miss Sydney's products - Indu's Chutney and Original Marinade!

Chef AJ Receives Culinary Award

Culinary Celebrations |
Chef Anand Jayapal’s recipe for a great kitchen is “spontaneous cookery dictated by instinct.” Chef Jayapal, or “A.J.” as everyone calls him, possesses a strong and admirable work ethic that has helped him to develop confidence and professionalism in and out of the kitchen.

Nothing gives him greater pleasure then to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of chefs in the work place and at home. He enjoys sharing helpful tips with high school and college students in culinary programs as well as those with an interest in spicing up their household recipes. He takes pleasure in giving culinary demonstrations and working with charity events such as the NFL Alumni Golf Tournament, March of Dimes, and the Regional Food Bank. Opening new worlds to those who want to learn is “both rewarding and essential” to him.

Chef A.J. has also taken the initiative to create his own marinade company—Miss Sydney’s Secret Family Recipes, LLC. He is working with his family to “create the next new condiment.” The formation of this company as a family-owned-and-operated business is a life long dream for A.J. and the start of a new chapter in his culinary career.

Recently, upon the request of the NYS Pride Program, A.J. journeyed to Cuba to introduce NYS food products to Cuban dignitaries, including Raul Castro. “It was an honor to represent NYS farmers and Pride members on this incredible trip. What bet- ter way to bring people together than though wonderful food!”
A Passage From India

A.J. Jayapal is a chef in a hurry. Just 33, he has already worked with some of the Capital Region’s finest chefs, including Dale Miller at Jack’s Oyster House and Carmine Sprio of Carmine’s Restaurant. He was the executive chef when the Albany Pump Station, the ever-bustling downtown brew pub, first opened nine years ago. He has cooked with international celeb-chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Jacques Pepin, and Emeril Lagasse.

He’s won a toque-full of medals at national and international food competitions, including first place at Heineken La Parade des Chefs at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, American Culinary Federation’s Culinarian of the Year, and numerous gold medals at Albany’s Culinary Cornucopia Awards (just to name a few). Currently the head chef at the Albany Country Club, Jayapal also runs Miss Sydney’s Secret Family Recipes, a burgeoning side business which makes chutney and marinade based on traditional recipes from his native India. Not bad for an electrician.

Jayapal, who came to upstate New York with his family from India at age 11, actually earned a degree in electrical construction and maintenance from Hudson Valley Community College. But when he found himself out of work after a temporary electrical job ended, he changed careers. “For some reason I wanted to cook,” he said. “I loved to cook at home. My mother was always cooking great Indian food.” So he enrolled in Schenectady Community College’s culinary program. “Ten years later, here I am,” he laughs.

Here, there and everywhere, it seems. This spring, Jayapal was invited on a New York State agricultural trade mission to Cuba, where he prepared the Pride of New York dinner for Cuban dignitaries. “This was an open trade,” he explains. “They were very interested in New York products, like maple syrup and apples, so we highlighted those foods. They also wanted me to cook with my own products, which was an accomplishment for us, since our company is so small. The entrée was my product: a beef soaked in Miss Sydney’s Marinade. We made the sauce out of our chutney. We used carrots, parsnips, potatoes. The dessert was an apple cheesecake with Riesling [white wine] ice cream from Mercer’s Dairy.”

Jayapal’s homegrown business began with a desire to work with his native cuisine. In 2000, he started planning a line of products; soon after, his wife, Shannon, gave birth to their daughter, Sydney. And A.J. gave birth to Miss Sydney’s.
Stacks Image 68
His first product, Miss Sydney’s Original Marinade, is his own recipe. “It’s actually a combination of very different soy sauces,” he reveals. “We use palm sugar instead of brown sugar — it’s sweeter with a unique aftertaste. There are a lot of spices and different stuff in there, but once you taste it, you’re hooked.” He recently added Indu’s Chutney, based on the recipe his mother, Indulata, brought with her from India. “It’s made in the traditional style, with dates and raisins, which makes it more savory than American chutney,” he says.

With the help of his mother, wife, and in-laws, Jayapal makes his condiments in an industrial kitchen on a farm near Syracuse. Every three months, he loads up his truck with ingredients and produces about 100 cases each of marinade and chutney. “They are all hand-made, hand-bottled, and hand-labeled,” he says. Most of the cases are also hand-delivered to the specialty markets around the Capital Region that carry them. The rest can be found — and ordered — through his Web site, As for introducing native Indian cuisine to the upstate region, Jayapal admits it’s a lot of work — but definitely fun. “The tastes are unique; people either love it or hate it,” he laughs.

“But so far, everyone has loved it. They’ve gone nuts over it.”
Miss Sydney’s Soaked Pork Tenderloin Beet Juice & Red Wine Couscous and Apple Fennel Slaw

Serves 2 1 pork tenderloin, cut into 8 medallions and marinated in Miss Sydney’s Original Marinade for at least 1 hour
1 cup beet juice (use either 2 large red beets processed in a juicer, or the juice from 2 cans of red beets)
2 green apples
2 fennel stalks
1½ cup mayonnaise
2 cups uncooked couscous
1 cup red wine

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sear the pork tenderloin on both sides in a hot pan and finish in the oven for about 10 minutes (you can also grill it).
3. While pork is cooking, combine beet juice and red wine in a pot and bring to a boil.
4. Pour beet juice and red wine over the uncooked couscous; steep, covered, for 2-3 minutes; set aside.
5. As couscous steeps, thinly slice the apple and fennel and combine with the mayonnaise to create coleslaw. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
6. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

7. To plate, scoop out couscous, followed by the apple/fennel slaw. Then add the pork.
Mes Amis!

Among the hundreds of hardworking chefs in the Capital Region, there are three that stand out: DaleMiller of Jack’s Oyster House in Albany; Widjiono (Yono) Purnomo of Yono’s Restaurant at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Albany; and Anand Jayapal (A.J.) of The Edison Club in Rexford. Well known to one another, these men share a passion for food, a flair for presentation and a fondness for camaraderie. They also love to compete, be it as a team or individually.

In fact, it was Certified Executive Chef Purnomo, a native of Jakarta, Indonesia, who brought culinary competition to Albany 15 years ago with his Culinary Cornucopia, an American Culinary Federation certified competition that benefits after school programs at Living Resources. And although Purnomo has since entrusted control of the competition to Certified Master Chef Miller, he has not lost his eye for spotting aspiring chefs eager to learn their craft.

“I like to train young people to be competitive worldwide,” said Purnomo. For him, knowledge should not be kept a secret. “What good amI if I’m not sharing my knowledge?”

Purnomo trained at Academy Perhotelan Negara (APN) in Indonesia. Among his many awards and achievements, he serves as a judge in local competitions and has been featured on the Today Show and Food Network. He has also presented his cuisine to sold-out audiences at Manhattan’s famed James Beard House.

Friends and mentors

The three men met through the American Culinary Federation when Chef Jayapal was a student enrolled in culinary classes at Schenectady County Community College.

Upon returning from an internship at the Kentucky Derby, Purnomo asked Jayapal to join the seven-member “New York State Culinary Team, Albany!” to compete in the 1998 Hotelympia “Le Parade des Chefs” competition in London.

“I saw a kid with potential,” said Purnomo. The Hotelympia event attracts talented chefs from all the over world. Under the direction of Purnomo, the Albany team had to put out 100 five-course meals in one hour. Their hard work was rewarded with a bronze medal. In 2002, they added another bronze.

With enough confidence under his belt, Jayapal competed in Hotelympia again in 2006, this time on his own. He competed in three categories—seafood, duck and pasta—which required him to create two dishes per hour in each category. Despite the “unbelievable pressure,” Jayapal came home with three merits. Not bad for an electrician who went to culinary school on a whim.

“I figured I’d learn how to make Thanksgiving dinner,” said Jayapal, whomoved to the US from India when he was 13. He credits Miller and Purnomo for their encouragement over the years, calling them his mentors.

Throughout his career, he has worked for both men, and was even encouraged by Miller to leave Jack’s when he was recruited by the Albany Pump Station to design their kitchen and work as a chef. Since then, he’s moved onto The Edison Club and started marketing his own barbecue sauce four years ago— Miss Sydney’s Family Recipe. “I got very lucky that Dale and Yono took me under their wings,” he said.

A taste of competition

Like Purnomo,Miller is not only a generousmentor, but an incredible chef in his own right A 1979 Culinary Institute of America graduate, he has been wowing patrons at Jack’s for nine years. Prior to that, he owned and operated Stone End’s Restaurant in Glenmont for 12 years.

He is one of 60 Certified Master Chefs in the country and the only one in Upstate New York. In addition, he is the only area chef to compete in the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany in 2004, where he took home a Silver Medal. “It’s a humbling experience to be among such incredible talent,” saidMiller, who was one of six chefs on the New York Culinary Team.

He credits his mother for his love of cooking, which he discovered at age five. By age 11, he was already running his own wedding cake business in his hometown of Tribes Hill, NY. But inspiration also came from humbler sources, like watching his aunt’s vegetables go from seedling to garden to dinner plate.
Stacks Image 90
Miss Sydney’s Soaked Pork tenderloin, Beet Juice & Red Wine Couscous and Apple Fennel Slaw


1 pork tenderloin, cut into 8 medallions & Marinated in Miss Sydney’s Original Marinade for at least 1 hour
1 cup beet juice (Either two large red beets in a juicer or use juice from two cans of red beets)
2 green apples
2 fennel, sliced thin
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cup uncooked couscous
1 cup red wine
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
2. Sear the pork tenderloin in a hot pan on
both sides and finish in the oven for about 10 minutes. 3. While pork is cooking, combine beet juice & red win in a pot & bring to a boil.
4. Pour beet juice & red wine over the uncooked couscous & steep (cover it) for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
5. As couscous steeps, julienne (slice thinly) the apple & fennel combine with mayo to create coleslaw. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
6. Fluff the couscous with a fork & season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
7. To plate, scoop out couscous, followed by the apple fennel slaw. Then add the pork.
Yields 2 servings.
It's a Family Affair


everyone gets involved when chef anand jayapal cooks

by william m. dowd | photos by suzanne kawola
As a licensed electrician, Anand “A.J.” Jayapal was scrupulously precise about his measurements and connections. As a chef with an ever-growing reputation, he prefers cook- ing by instinct and inspiration, seldom writing down or reading recipes.

“When he gives someone a recipe verbally,’ says wife Shannon, “he’ll tell them the main ingredients. Then I have to say, ‘And salt and pepper.’ And, he’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, salt and pep- per.’ And, I’ll say, “And balsamic vinegar.’ And, he’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, and balsamic vinegar.’ It keeps on going like that.”

Which shows the interesting partnership of these two people for whom food wasn’t such an overweening interest in the early days of their relationship, a relationship that led to marriage 11 years ago and the birth of daugh- ter Sydney, 7. Shannon concedes she doesn’t cook, and A.J. didn’t enroll in Schenectady County Community College’s well-regarded culinary program until he was laid off from his electrician job at Albany Medical Center and some friends suggested he give cooking a try. “I thought they were crazy at fi rst,” he recalls. “I liked to cook, but doing it for a living? That sounded like a lot of work.”

But along the way, Jayapal completely im- mersed himself in the modern culinary world. The Albany High School grad began winning medals in American Culinary Federation-sanc- tioned competitions early in his career, and currently serves as executive chef at the Albany Country Club. He’s been there since 2006 after fi ve years in the same capacity at the smaller Edison Club in Schenectady. That followed a long learning curve at the elbow of some of the Capital Region’s best and best-known chefs: certified master chef Dale Miller, then at Jack’s Oyster House in Albany and now at The Inn at Erlowest in Lake George; Yono Purnomo of Yono’s in downtown Albany, and Carmine Sprio of Carmine’s in Albany. Serving as the founding chef at the Albany Pump Station also gave Jayapal his baptism of fire in opening a restaurant.

Stacks Image 103
“I was so fortunate to be able to learn from Dale and Yono in particular when I was starting out,” Jayapal says. “At that time there weren’t as many top-level chefs as there are now, and they were wonderful in training me – how to be precise and imaginative at the same time, how to work with all kinds of ingredients and seasonings. And Carmine was just getting into his TV shows then and he showed me how to plate dishes beautifully … And Dale encouraged me when I had the chance to open the kitchen at the Albany Pump Station. That was a wild experience. We had all the big things but when the staff came to me on opening night and said, ‘Chef, where is the ketchup and the salt?’ we had to run out to Price Chopper to get some.”

The switch from public to private dining services was something that allowed Jayapal to not only prepare menus in a diff erent way, but to have more family time, something that is central to his life. In fact, when he and Shannon built their home on land that had been owned by her grandfather near Lawson Lake and the sprawling Alcove Reservoir several miles from the village of Feura Bush, they became neighbors of her parents, Bob and Linda Whipple. “It’s so peaceful out here,” Jayapal says, gesturing from the front porch of his contemporary home to the heavily wooded property surrounding it. “Driving home through the countryside gives you a chance to unwind after a hectic day at work. And then, when you get here it’s idyllic.”

The house was a major reason for moving from the Edison Club job to the Albany Country Club. The former required an hour’s commute one way; the latter is located in Voorheesville, an easy eight-mile drive. “I liked the Edison Club,” Jayapal says. “In five years there I got to really know the members and their families and saw some of their kids growing up. It’s getting to be that way at the Albany club now that I’m in my second season there. Plus, the members are usually people who have traveled a lot and have very sophisticated tastes. They’re not afraid to tell you what they like and don’t like, and it makes you a better chef. In a public restaurant, except for a few regulars you really don’t know who you’re cooking for. At a private club, you quickly get to know everyone and they get to know you.”

Stacks Image 106
The Jayapals designed their new home with the kitchen as the heart. It’s a modern, utilitarian space with a six-burner stove, plenty of counter space, cabinetry and hanging rows of cookware. Plus, it has a built-in sous chef: daughter Sydney. As Jayapal works on a lunch for a trio of visitors, Sydney gets into her kitchen outfit — a child-sized apron and a chef’s toque complete with pink ears on the sides. “It’s from Ratatouille,” she explains, referring to the animated fi lm about a French rat that became a gourmet chef. “It’s one of my favorite movies.”

Then she climbs on a step-stool to help put the toppings on a fl atbread pizza. The major ingredient? Indu’s Chutney, one of two products in a line of foods called Miss Sydney’s Secret Family Recipes LLC. After she puts a light coating on the warm flatbread just as one would put tomato sauce on a basic pizza, she sprinkles shredded asiago cheese, shredded prosciutto and diced red onions on top. Then Dad takes over, adding a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and a light topping of micro-greens – mache, watercress and the like – before popping the pizzas in the oven for a few minutes. By then, Sydney is checking the progress of little sausage patties that have been prepped in Miss Sydney’s Marinade as the main ingredient in a platter of sliders made from Dad’s earlier prep work: tiny buns, sausage, chili garlic mayo and apple/fennel cole slaw.

This activity at such a tender age may be merely a precursor to a career. “Someday we’d like to have our own place, a restau- rant called Miss Sydney’s,” Jayapal says as Shannon vigorously nods in agreement. “Maybe she’ll wind up working there.”

That family thing again. And it comes through in the creation of the Miss Sydney’s products (they’re working on a salad dressing to add to the off erings). They were developed in the home kitchen, with lots of guidance from the food studies programs at Cornell University teaching them to modify recipes to keep them additive free yet shelf stable.

The chutney recipe came from A.J.’s mother, Indulata, or Indu for short. The marinade was A.J.’s. The brand name’s origin is obvious, and the company logo is a computer-designed profi le of Sydney created by Shannon. As for what’s inside the jars, Shannon had to curb her husband’s penchant for recipe-free cooking to jot down every ingredient and amount to promote the consistency a commercial product requires. Her passion for order and detail also shows when she updates their Web site (

The original marinade was sold by several small retailers, but quickly took off enough to move the manufacturing operation from the rented kitchen of the Masonic Hall in Delmar to Nelson Farms at Morrisville State College in Madison County, which rents its kitchen facilities for such businesses. The Jayapals and the Whipples make the trek to create new batches of products on a monthly basis. Until he passed away a year ago, Shan- non’s grandfather, Ed McCombe, also helped. “We have pictures of Sydney when she was really little, sleeping in a crate while we worked in the first commercial kitchen we rented,” A.J. recalls.

Stacks Image 109
The ingredients’ sources — dates, raisins, vinegars, sugars — have morphed a bit over the years, and all now are U.S. products. “The marinade is soy based, and we had been buying Indonesian soy sauce,” Shannon says. “But, after the tsunami that hit there, the supply was wiped out and we had to fi nd another supply.”

It’s been a long journey from the early 1980s when A.J., his sister and mother moved to Albany from India with, as he tells it, “little more than $60 to their name.” But they also brought along a love of food, knowl- edge of spices not generally known to U.S. palates then, and a desire to succeed. That background, energy and family eff ort has led to their Miss Sydney’s products being carried by about 30 outlets around the state, as well as being brought to the atten- tion of some of the most serious pal- ates in the American food world. For example, earlier this year the Jaya- pals were invited to showcase their products at the prestigious South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami Beach, FL. “That was a mind-boggling experience,” A.J. says. “We’re just a little mom- and-pop operation going in there with these major names in the culinary world. But they couldn’t have been nicer to us. And seeing all these famous chefs right there … .”

A.J., who despite owning a string of culinary medals won in stiff com- petition here and in Europe, tends to become starry-eyed when he talks about the luminaries of the culinary world — the Thomas Kellers, the Rick Baylesses, the Marcus Samuelssons. But that eagerness means he never stops learning.

He has taken various kitchen staff ers on fi eld trips to Maine and Pennsylvania and around New York to farms dealing with sustainable agriculture, mushroom produc- ing facilities and competitions to get their hands — and sometimes their feet — dirty while they learned more about unprocessed, healthier ingredients to use in their art. “The more I learn, the more I want to teach my staff,” he says. “It’s such a fascinating, changing field, it’s hard not to be curious about what you don’t know yet.”

Copyright 2006 - 2020 Miss Sydney's Secret Family Recipes, LLC All Rights Reserved
PO Box 123 - Feura Bush - NY - 12067

Email Us