Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Just Can't Help Myself

Turn on TV...... 

Tune in digital music channel 850.....

If you have Insight Cable you can tune in as you read this blog post if you like.  Beware it may be a little early for you, but for me once Halloween is finished its time from favorite music ever created, Christmas music.  Thats right I am an idiot, and I know I should wait until after Thanksgiving, but for me the holiday season is a special time of the year and I can't wait to get it started.  It reminds me of all the good memories I have of my family.

One of those great memories was how we would sing Christmas songs together which were being played on a record player.  My Mom still has those albums and every year we get them out and play them and I have to admit they get this burly guy choked up every time.  None of us individually could carry a note, but together we sounded like professionals.  I know the idea of the holiday season being magical is one of the most overplayed themes there is, but I think in some way it is true.   Everyone I know has some kind of tradition when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas, whether it be a new tradition or one that has been in the family for over forty years.

Do you have a tradition?  Is there one that you just can't wait to celebrate?  I would love to hear them.  Throughout the next two months I will be sharing some of mine.

Okay you can go back to listening to Justin Bieber. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Changing The World With Food

The lights are off and all I can hear is the snoring dog at my feet.  It is almost midnight and I am wide awake. Why is it that I am such a night owl?  Some people have told me that they find their best inspiration in the shower.  Not this guy, I mean I may sing a little too much, but no bright ideas.  No, I seem to find my best inspiration when most folks are sleeping.  I am not sure why, but it has been that way for a while now.  I think of a lot of things, its like my brain kicks into overdrive or something and I am brainstorming with me , myself, and I.

One of the questions I always seem to wrestle with is what I should write about on this blog.  I know I want to write, but sometimes I have so many ideas its hard to nail down just one.  Sometimes its a topic that jumps up and slaps me in the face and its easy, other times its much harder.  Then it hit me, forget trying to discover some magic idea and just shoot from the hip.  Yeah easier said than done for me, I don't have much hip action, its a scary sight. 

Tonight my shoot from the hip idea or better yet question is if you could change the world with food what would you do?

What a huge undertaking to be asked to change the world, but is it that hard if you really give it some thought?  Changing the world with food doesn't have to be a big idea it just needs to be a good idea that can grow big and become infectious. I would like to see people who would never sit across from each other be able to communicate by using food.  By this I would hope they would be able to express who they are by making food with love that is laced with sincerity.  I am not really talking about world leaders here either, no more like that family member you haven't talked to in months or that friend you gave up on five years ago.  I find that petty differences seem to wedge themselves between us and maybe just a simple jester of food is just what the doctor ordered to at least bring these forgotten friends and family members back to the table.

So is that too big?  Could that be infectious?  Sure I think so, but first one must put aside the ego and stubbornness and stop holding ill willed grudges.  Offering food to another person is a very intimate thing and can be used to not only provide sustenance to  your body but also to your soul.

So what would you do?  Challenge yourself and be inspired to change the world one meal at a time.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Almost Done And It Feels So Delicious

 “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own.And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.”
                                                                                          -Dr Seuss

      So as I head into the last two terms at Culinary school I am met with anxiety and impatience.  The funny thing is I think that is how I felt the first day I walked into Cooking 1 two years ago.  So I suppose nothing has changed, but that would be incorrect, everything has changed. On my first day my anxiety stemmed from the unknown and what it would bring.  Thoughts then ranged from complete horror to embarrassment and the idea that I may be making the biggest mistake of my life.  Through the two years I have spent in my uniform at school I have learned a lot about cooking but it seems I learned even more from myself.  I learned that making mistakes doesn't mean you failed, it means you get another chance to be the best.  I never felt confident enough in anything in my life where I felt like I could challenge the best until I started Culinary school.  The trust I learned from myself was priceless and that trait will be with me everyday I hone my knife to head into battle on dinner service.

As for impatience it is a much easier explanation, I am inpatient and always will be.

So with school coming to an end soon I find a lot of folks asking me what I plan on doing when I am graduated.

"What?" , I thought to myself.  "You mean I have to get a real job and actually do this for a living.  You mean I can't just be a ten year student and live off employee dinners at the restaurant for the rest of my life."

     This is now the first time I have been asked that question when it didn't make me quiver in fear.  Reason being is because I didn't have the skill set or confidence level to imagine working professionally.  But now I do feel a lot more confident in my abilities but do I have the stamina?  Time will tell but one thing is for sure I will be having fun no matter what.

I know I am making all this sound like fun and games but it is not.  Far from it, it's hard work, it's crazy hours, it's scrubbing and cleaning every night.  Although it is empowering, it's exciting and and its a passion, and that is why cooking is so delicious.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Soul Food

So when you wake up in the morning do you feel like your soul is being fed by what you do?

The soul is a forgotten ingredient when making or preparing food for others.  Sure most of us are just happy if we can get something in and out of the oven in time for maybe half the family to the table to eat.  The idea that you could inject some type of love or soulfulness to the food is almost unheard of really.  America just moves at a pace that never really allows itself to slow down enough to even acknowledge any type of soul in food if it did exist.

As a very low totem pole cook in a sea of masters I see a lot of chefs showing off what they know but with no purpose of reaching someone's soul. They get lost in that ego waterfall that is seen on TV.  Ego is the complete opposite of soul, before you can find your soul in cooking you have to lose the ego.  The sad part of that suggestion is that most new tattooed chefs rolling out of culinary school correlate ego with money and celebrity chef status.  Most of those money hungry clones will had already sold their soul to the devil somewhere between their third and four year at culinary school. 

Once in your life you should experience food made with passion and soul.  This doesn't mean you search out for the most expensive restaurant in town.  Actually to the contrary, most places that will sell food with passion and soul is the guy with a ten seat restaurant in a neighborhood you would never go to after dark.  Or the guy off the side of a country road selling barbecue out of a trailer.  Be aware and look for these folks and look into their eyes and discover that passion and soulfulness isn't bred from ego and pretentiousness, but with a heart that refuses to ever stop making food perfect.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Just A Little Patience

Woke up today and I couldn't get the song Patience by Guns N Roses out of my head.  I know what a great way to wake up right?  Tell me about it.  Then as I couldn't shake the song virus I found myself at work and getting my mise en place ready for dinner service and I was whistling the tune.  For the record I love songs that have whistling in them, they just make me happy.  Then a few other of my fellow co-workers picked up on the tune and joined in somewhat.  Somewhere Axel Rose just fist pumped while in a heroin stupor.

Patience is very important in food, and from what i see anymore has been forgotten.  Everyone is reaching for boxes of processed garbage to sustain them.  Or speeding through the drive-thru for a .99 cent heart attack.  With the increased pace of life cookbooks have been replaced with iPads and Kindles.  Now I need to make sure I give full disclosure here, I am as guilty as the next guy of this when I am home.  At work its all about recipes but I have to admit that quick and easy at home normally wins out.  I am not proud of this by any stretch of the imagination.  Now i am only home two nights a week and normally my old decrepit body just wants to relax.  So quick works for me... as far as food I mean.

Now I have talked about the slow food movement on this blog before and it is a great idea but only if you are super organized or a person who is very proactive.  For which I am neither so how do I or we get life to slow down enough to start respecting real food and get away from the processed food armageddon?  I would have to say first you need to pick out things you love like fresh fruit for example. Find some interesting ways that you can incorporate fruit into your life.  Or maybe its picking a day when you set aside time to just slow everything down and really be conscience about eating "real" food.  This doesn't mean you upgrade from Golden Corral to Applebee's, no I mean pick a wholesome recipe and make it with honest respectful ingredients.  At least for that day you can have a great conversation  with a new vegetable you have never met before or shot the breeze with a new fruit.  You would be amazed what you can learn from some real food, they like to gossip.

So I hope first of all that you have the song, Patience, in your head all day like I did today.  I know this may sound mean but maybe it will help you remember to slow down the life that has a stranglehold on you and take a chance on some real respectful food.  And you never know, you might just find that taking some time for yourself is just what you need..

"Just a little patience ... yeeeeh yeeeah.."  (Swaying back and forth like you have to pee)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's Talk About It

Lets talk about food baby...that phrase reminds me of a classic 90's song from Salt and Pepa called, "Let's talk about sex baby," Yeah I know I came out of left field with that one but when you think about food and sex isn't it kind of the same thing?  Talking about food, when its great, is kind of like sex right?  I love talking about food, I love talking about crazy combinations of ingredients and how they would taste.  I think about crazy places I can eat my food at and how many times I would like to eat there.  As you can see there a lot of similarties when talking about food and sex.  Why all the sex talk? I don't know I just find it facinating that you can find so much in common in both.  Although as George Kazana found out in Seinfeld you can not combine both at the same time.

Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes and making sure that no one is reading this over your shoulder.  One thing about food and sex that I believe is that you should never be embarrassed about either.  I find as a cook that there are so many people that apolgize about eating certain things or they act embarrassed about consuming such things as cake or whatever.  Don't be this way, if you like it do it.  If you like cake eat it with no shame, you will find it taste better and you will feel better afterwards.  Now I know you are saying if I do that then I will be 800 lbs in a month.  This is true and too much of a good thing is not good so you should understand that for every action there is a reaction.  This means if you eat cake then you need to keep yourself fit so you can keep eating cake and enjoy it.  I think this holds true for sex, you would never want to consume in moderation you would want to keep yourself fit so you could enjoy it as many times as you want.

I know with all the sex on the internet if may seem that I have jumped the shark with this post but oh well.  I think I will end it here at let you ponder this for the day.  If you have questions comment or concerns please let me know....

Friday, June 3, 2011

In Celebration Of 300

In celebration of this blogs 300 post I figured I share of my favorite food related songs of all time.  As a child of the 80's I can recall watching Dana Carvey perform this on Saturday Night Live and laughing so hard I was crying.  I present to you comedy awesomeness!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lost On A Road I Knew By Heart

So where and hell have I been?  Well its a really really long story and if you know you know, if you don't sorry but your on a need to know basis and you guessed it, you don't need to know.  All i can say is that it has been rough and I am not in the clear yet but I am working on it currently.  So with that said, I have not been in the mood to write about food, so I am sorry for my absence but I will be trying to blog more regularly soon enough.

In the last month I fell into a pretty dark place and I lost my passion for food and creating food.   You wanna talk about feeling broken, it wasn't pretty and it made being in a kitchen like being in solitary confinement.  I became moody and it was just a struggle to make a simple salad to order.  I know your asking yourself how did I fall so deep?   Again its still hard to talk about right now, but I felt so lost that I didn't even want to make dinner at home. 

So what is the silver lining or lesson for all this?  I am not sure because I am still pretty much digging myself out.  What I can say is that I have learned a lot about the friends I have, and how big their hearts are and for that I am very grateful for everyday.  Without each one of you I am not sure where I would be, seriously.

Its going to take time, but I promise I haven't forgot about you and your need for my little blog.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

O Basket, Where Art Thou?

This is a re-post but I just love this Easter.story so I hope you enjoy.....

Happy Easter

So it is the Easter Weekend and I figured I would share a funny Easter Day story from the old childhood. To tell you this story I have to preface it with telling you that my Dad was a huge practical jokester and the funniest person I have ever known. He was the kind of guy you didn't know if he was playing a joke or being serious, which made things always more funnier in the end.

So for the story, I believe I was about 8 years old, and at that age I had already realized there was no such thing as the Easter Bunny, but still loved the candy! I also had a sister five years younger than me so I was able to take advantage of it longer than I probably should had, bonus. So it was Easter morning and I awoke with such anticipation of mountains of cadbury eggs and jelly beans that would occupy my diet for days. Now my Dad always was a little sneaky on hiding the baskets. Sometimes he would put them in the garage or in closets but I was nosey enough to sniff them out pretty quickly. I think my Dad was wise to this so he took it upon himself to set me up for a little challenge when it came to locating the basket of goodness. I would love to go back into time and watch his reaction when I looked through the normal spots with no luck. What? Come on, I should be tearing through bags of jelly beans by now. I should be chomping down on my one pound Easter bunny. But no, I was denied and I was a little upset. I looked everywhere and soon realized that this was more than just finding an Easter basket, no it was a battle of wits. Kind of like the drinking of wine in Princess Bride, inconceivable!

I was not going to be out witted nor was I going to ask to for any help. So as soon as I realized I haven't found the basket I just acted like it wasn't a big deal. That lasted about 30 seconds. I was growing frustrated and I went back through the places I just checked twice already. I can still hear my Dad say, "Ken, you haven't found your basket yet?" He was trying to sound concerned but really he was saying, "This year you are going to work for it and I am going to enjoy watching you storm around in a tizzy."

With the power of the sugar controlling my brain I finally conceded and asked for a clue. My Dad just said you may want to expand your search to the outside. Outside? You have to be kidding? So I walked out the front door and searched through the bushes, no basket. Then I searched through the two cars in the driveway, no basket. Then I proceeded to walk to the back yard, and yet no basket. At this point I was beyond frustrated because my sister was laughing hysterically. I looked all over the yard and no basket, I was defeated. I couldn't stand being kept from the sugar goodness any longer. I said, "Where is the basket Dad?" He was sitting on the deck by now and asked me to come up there and he would help me out. So I ran up the steps to the deck and sat down at the table. With a grin a mile wide he said, "Look up." I looked up and discovered my basket was sitting on the roof. The freaking roof, are you kidding? I think my Dad laughed for years about that and I did too. Thank you Dad for making memories for me that I will never forget. You are missed but never forgotten.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When The Kitchen Calls

Don't try this at home.

Sometimes I sit back right before a busy dinner service and think what the hell am I doing?  I am 38 not 28 and this is a young guys deal right?  One would think so considering I am almost as old as the Executive Chef who has been in the business for years.  So with all these questions racing through my head I am drawn back to the things that keep it fresh and exciting, because lets face it, that is the key to a long lasting relationship, right?

So here are some of the reasons I love working in a kitchen.


At The Summit we are lucky in the sense that with Chef Kagy at the helm we get to see and play with some the best ingredients in the world. We don't just cook and prepare these ingredients but we get to learn about them and how to properly handle them and most of all we get to make them sexy.  Yes, when you spend more time in front of pork belly than your wife, umm well the pork belly becomes sexy... it happens what can I say.


I love the language of the kitchen.  The yelling of temperatures of grilled meats to the almost symphonic echos of "heard" after Chef reads an open ticket out.  Also the constant banter between us cooks that consists of riding each other when someone burns themselves or the occasional word of encouragement if needed.   And I would be remiss if I didn't talk about all the cursing, oh the glorious cursing for me it is one of the spoils of the job.  I think a lot of folks would love to yell out the occasional curse word at work without being worried about getting written up.  In the kitchen my friend you will hear the most creative uses of curse words in the world.


Its what brings the kitchen to life, its what heats your face to blazing temperatures and makes you sweat two gallons every night during dinner service.  Fire adds the element of danger and urgentecy to the kitchen and the old saying holds true because if you thinks its too hot for you, then you may want to try front of the house.  Another reason I love fire is because you will burn  yourself and probably several times in one night.  For me its a rush that I can sustain a nasty burn and just laugh and continue with my night.  Then at the end of the night when us cooks get together we can exchange cuts and burns and show them off like tattoos.  For me its proof that I am doing something real and I am alive.


I debated on listing this as one my reasons I love the kitchen considering the recent butchery of my thumbs.  I would say presently it is a love/hate relationship between me and my knife bag.  I will say though it is certainly cool to walk into a kitchen and watch about eight cooks hacking away so vigorously with their knives getting ready for dinner service.  I don't think you are in a sufficient kitchen until you start hearing a knife slam down onto a cutting board.  That is a sound that I enjoy very much.

When you work in the kitchen you have to have thick skin and be able to be in a little of pain all the time.  Be able to memorize things instantly and always be moving forward and swimming against the current.  The back of the house is about respecting and trusting each other enough to knock out a dinner service like a tool bag frat boy with a big mouth at the bar.  Its not for everyone, but if you get it and you are able to put up with the craziness, it can be a rush and high that you can't  get enough of night in and night out.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Exaggeration Aggravation

With food I think there is a lot of exaggeratoin going on, and most of it is unneeded. Not sure why people feel like they have to talk in extremes when it comes to food.  Maybe they feel they want to gain others attention when making their petty assumptions about food they know little about.  I have no problem with someone telling me something I made them is the best thing they have ever ate.  But unfortunaley that same person with tell that to the drive-thu lady at Burger King the next time they go for a double Whopper.

Most of the time when its good its ok and and when its ok its good.  But to say its the best ever is so final to me in my opinion.  Its like sex for example, when sex is good its awesome but when its bad you wished you had just went to sleep first.  I always hope the next bite is better than the last.  That no matter how much I love the food on my plate I am always hoping there is some splendoned awesomeness waiting for me that I have yet to discover.

Just a thought for you to chew on, don't settle for the fried Twinkie, hold out for the double dipped fried Snickers.  You know its being made, you just have to find it, and hope its everything you thought it would be.  Food is about discovery, savor great food, but don't harp on the fact that its the greatest ever because that is so narrow.  i don't ever want you to tell me my food is the best ever.  I want  you to tell me that its good.  This will tell me that its adequate and satisfying but that you challenge me to do better.

Fried Snickers....  I think saying you would eat a fried Snickers is the equivalent  as saying you are going to jump for a bridge with the intentions of certain death.  Now that is making me hungry.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rounding Third And Heading To My Tummy

A beer vendor yelling ... cold beer

The beautiful green grass of the ball field cut so perfect.

The smell of hot dogs roasting as they spin.

You guessed it, today was opening day for the Cincinnati Reds.  When I say opening day I mean to say its a area holiday.  No one goes to work, they either go to the game or watch it at home or at a bar.  For me I was at a catering event so I was only able to hear it on the radio, which I feel is the best way to experience the game if your not at the ballpark. 

I have so many memories from opening day, and I guess that is what makes me look forward to it so much.  Years as a child I can remember it was one of the days my Dad and I would listen to the game together if I was home from school in time.  A very special day because Marty and Joe on the radio always got me out of doing my homework for at least until the game was done.  As I got older I went to a few opening days with friends which was always an event, beer beer... hot dog... beer beer... well you have to forgive me but that is mostly what I remember from those years.  Sad thing about it is that I haven't gone to an opening day since I got stung by a bee in 2002 and had to go to the hospital because I am allergic. Completely lame I know.

Although with anything I do it always has to do with food, and usually it means eating a lot and always too much.  At the ballpark is no exception, from hot dogs to funnel fries and everything in between you can gorge yourself with almost anything fried.  Unfortunately to do this you may need to be paid up on the credit card because unlike when I was a child, the prices are steep.  But in the grad scheme of things food at a baseball game is a necessity so go ahead and list one of your kidneys on Craigslist. 

When I was scrolling through some recipes I came across this one that you may want to try the next time you have friends over the game.

 Ballpark Pretzels

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 quart water
1 egg, beaten with
2 teaspoons water
  Sea salt, to taste


Combine water, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl; set in a warm spot. After 15 minutes, it should begin to foam and bubble. Add the salt and half the flour; mix well with a wooden spoon.

Turn dough onto a floured surface; gradually knead in the remaining flour to form a smooth dough. Knead for 5 minutes; transfer to an oiled bowl and coat evenly with oil. Cover bowl with a towel; set in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F. Punch dough down and roll into a log. Divide evenly into 12 pieces; roll each into a 16- to 18-inch rope. Shape pretzels into a traditional pretzel by tying dough into a knot and pinching ends across loops.

Combine baking soda and water in a saucepan and boil. Lower each pretzel in boiling water until it floats, about 30 seconds. Drain; transfer to a greased baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture; sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Cover pretzels with a cloth and let rise again for 5 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes.

Serve hot with cold beer and mustard. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Love To %$#!ing Curse

I noticed today at work that I curse like a sailor.   And not just a normal sailor, more like one who perpetually is stubbing his toe on stuff on the ship.  Not sure when I ramped up my cursing at work, but I certainly have, and I am not sure if it is good.  I know people don't like it but I would normally not worry about that as much but I do have to work with these folks so this may be a problem.  Now to my defense while working in a kitchen there is a certain level of acceptable cursing involved and almost expected.  Like when you are doing salads and use the wrong salad dressing on a salad and have to re-due it... Shit!

When I was a teenager I remember my folks cursing at me and each other effortlessly and with such great elegance.  I can remember just sitting in awe when my Dad would curse the TV while watching the Bengals game.  I am sure if he  was still around today he would be doing the same thing, and I am sure he would be telling Mike Brown where he could go and what to do when he got there.  But I can't solely lay blame on my folks for my potty mouth.  No, I can remember in high school is when I became friends with John, John made cursing not only a sport but a ballet of words that would even make my parents want to call him son.  John was able to just roll off multiple curse words off in  a way that I still envy when I have one of my kitchen cursing triads.   Haven't talked to him in a while but I am sure he is still cursing and making his momma proud.

So where does this leave me?  Should I try to cut back on the cursing or should I start writing the new Rosetta Stone program for other folks who want to take up cursing as a second language?  Well either way I am sure it is not good overall, because i am sure there are fellow co-workers who don't like it, and well I would have to agree.  Also  if I curse all time then I am taking away from all of the times I really do need to curse and make a point.  So I think I will be confident in my cursing abilities and only curse when it is called for and when I deem it necessary.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

All Thumbs

So I have finally spent enough time in a working kitchen to be given a nickname.  Well it is not a cool nickname, its Joey thumbs, or Thumbs for short.  Now I will telll you it is not for any cool reason.  The reason for this nickname is because I keep cutting the shit out of my thumbs.  Two weeks ago I was cutting endive and I sliced my left thumb pretty bad, bad enough to make a stop at the ER for 5 stitches.  I think it would've felt better to slice my thumb completely off because the stitches hurt.

So tonight just as the left thumb was beginning to show signs of healing I sliced my right thumb showing my friend Bill one of my knives I had.  Epic fail right.  So as blood was streaming down my right thumb I was taking crap from my fellow cooks and rightfully so and they decided on the nickname "Thumbs."  You know in the alphabet of nicknames you can be given in a kitchen I would say thumbs is ok.

What I have learned is that knives are sharp.  I know, who knew right?  It seems they cut into flesh very easily.  I have had a ongoing issue with cutting myself up.  In my first two cooking labs for school I cut myself pretty bad and well that wasn't anything compared to the self mutilation I have committed lately. I suppose I should slow down and a bit and pay attention when a sharp object is anywhere near me.  You would think I would already know this, but just like most things in my life I have to learn the hard way.

The hard way may not be the easiest path but you tend to learn most from taking it.

Last night we lost two valuable cooks from the kitchen.  Bill and Stephanie will be missed.  Without you two there will be a certain void that will not soon be replaced.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Once You Go Green


Slow-cooking the beef in the traditional Irish drink helps the pie
develop a sweet deep roasted flavor of stout. You can cook the beef
In advance to allow the flavor to permeate. For this pie I use a
traditional shortcrust pastry, but you could use a puff pastry as an


750g/ 1.6# lean braising/ stewing steak
4 tbsp plain – all purpose flour
Freshly ground salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato purée
500ml/ 2 cups Guinness
350g/ 12oz shallots peeled
Few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup beef broth
500g/ 1 block short crust pastry
1 free-range egg yolk mixed with
1 tbsp water


Dice the beef into 2.5cm/ 1 inch cubes. Place the flour in a medium-
sized bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Roll the beef in the
flour to coat. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the beef until golden
brown in colour. Add the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute, stirring
well. Then pour in the Guinness and add the shallot, thyme, bay leaf
and garlic.  If you beef is not fully submerged, top up with beef
broth/stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1½ -2
hours, until the beef is tender and falls apart with a fork.  When the
beef is at this point, remove the bay leaf and discard.
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/ 390F. Transfer the meat to a 20cm/ 8
inch pie dish 5-7cm/ 2-3 inches deep. Roll out the pastry and cover the
pie. Scrunch the pastry to the edge of the dish and trim around the
edge, leaving 1-2cm/ 0.5 inch overhanging. Brush the top with the egg
and season. Transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven. Bake for
15-20 minutes and serve immediately, along side some vegetables and
mash potato.

Monday, March 14, 2011

No Go For Brio

Before I step up on my soapbox I want to say that I don't normally like to bash restaurants.  I am not  a critic and I not really interested in being one just yet.  If you want restaurant reviews there are plenty of local blogs who do a great job with that.  Although this week indulge me if you will, its time for me to get my soapbox, I will be right back.

Ok as I am firmly planted on my soapbox I want to share with you one of the worst dining experiences I have ever had in my life.  Yes my life, ok well that may be a little dramatic but as you will see this was truly a horrible dining experience in my opinion.

What is your expectations when you plan on spending between 70 to 100 dollars for dinner?  Well depending on how fancy you are maybe that is like going to McDonalds, but for me it is a pretty big chunk of change for dinner out.  Especially when I know I can spend half and cook the same meal at home.  When I go out to dinner I expect a certain level of attentiveness and individuality.  What I mean is that I would think that the server for my table would treat me like a guest at their home.  This was not the case tonight.

brio /ˈbrio/sostantivo maschile
  1. liveliness, verve;
    essere pieno di ~
    to be full of bounce o go  
 So we decided to head down to the Newport on the Levee to have a nice relaxing dinner at Brio.  It wasn't my choice but I have always heard good things about this place so I said ok.  I have been there once before but I believe that was some years ago.  When I walked in we were seated very promptly which I expected being it was after 7pm on a Sunday night.  The first thing I noticed was that the menu was way to big physically.  I didn't know whether to read it or fan myself with it like a large palm leaf.   I noticed also that the place was very loud and that wait staff seemed to have trouble holding on to plates and glasses because they dropped quite a few of them while I was there.  So at this point I pretty much felt like I was at an Olive Garden not fancy dancy Brio.

Introducing are buddy Ron entering stage left, the guy who would single handily ruin our dining experience for night.  From the start he didn't even introduce himself to us or even make us feel welcomed.  He really made us feel like cattle that he wanted to feed and send us on our way.  His posture and body language didn't indicate that he really cared about our dinner at all..  Which stinks because with being the in the business I love to reward great service with a good tip and normally a mention to the manager on my way out.  By the way I know his name was Ron because it was listed on the check..wink wink.

So we ordered some wine and that was brought to the table along with some water.  Then we ordered our first and second courses which was  two salads and two main courses.  Now I am not going to break down the food piece by piece because it was average but not horrible and it is not the reason for this rant.  Chain restaurant food is well... "it is what it is."

So as we waited for our salads I looked around the dining room an noticed that the staff really didn't move to much vigor or "liveliness" as the name Brio would indicate although I was hungry and I could see Ron with my salad in his right hand but there was a problem.  The problem was that Ron's left hand didn't have the other salad we ordered.  He dropped off the first salad and walked away.  Well maybe Ron couldn't carry two salads at a time so we waited and waited ...... yeah the other salad didn't make its way to the table.  So as I looked at my Fazoli's style Caesar salad I noticed someone was heading our way and it wasn't Ron.  Only after a few bites of my wanna be Caesar salad there is another server running out our dinners.  In aggravation I explained to this innocent server that we were short one salad and that I wasn't ready for my dinner yet.  The poor guy I know felt ambushed but he gave us the option to have the dinners taken back and kept warm but I just told him to take the Caesar salad.  He apologized and that was nice to hear, but unfortunately the damage had been done.  As for Ron yeah no where to be found and again not showing that liveliness in which the name Brio would indicate.  Actually according to the Brio website this is what they have to say when it comes to service and quality:

Our goal is to be the "Best Italian" restaurant company in America. We are a quality driven company, not a quantity one. Our number one focus is the Guest Experience. Consistently high quality food, superior service, good value and a unique atmosphere all contribute to our Guests' satisfaction. We differentiate ourselves by offering classically prepared food items from original regional recipes using the highest quality, freshest ingredients.
So back to the situation at hand, after letting the innocent server know about our predicament  I saw him tell the manager.  After a few minutes she came to the table.  She offered her apologizes and took our salads off of our bill and offered us the free dessert.  I hate the free dessert, the free dessert doesn't fix anything and never will, so stop offering it please as a way to fix your lack of trained employees.  Be creative or at least have the waiter apologize to us for the lack aptitude and attention to detail.  Which after all that we never got from our buddy Ron.  Not only that but when Ron came to the table to offer us dessert he never offered it to me.  Finally we did order one Creme Brulee for dessert and wouldn't you know they didn't have anymore left.  At this point I couldn't get to the door quick enough so I could bid farewell and good riddance.

I would say if you have to have chain Italian food just go to the Olive Garden.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Off Night

Tonight was just an off night for me at work.  Not sure what it was, but I just seemed off and not on my game.  I liked the food that went out but it wasn't my favorite and I wasn't very proud of it to be honest.  I am not sure if I am always totally happy with all the food I send out, I am always thinking it could be better.

Its nights like this when I have to calm myself down and just sit quietly and be thankful for the life I have and the great folks I get to work with daily.  First of all I have a job, sure it doesn't pay much but its a job with food and I can curse some... ok a lot.  Most of folks I work with are very helpful and have a good attitude which I am very thankful for .  I have worked some jobs were the people can make you hate to sit down at your desk or even wake up in the morning.  I never want to feel that way again, its horrible.

So I think tonight's reflections is less about the food and more about the team.  Tomorrow we will all unpack our knives and go at it again.   Because making wonderful food is what we want to do and if we work together we will. 

Good food only happens when good honest folks make it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Please Hold The Ego

I hate when I see food and ego get in the way of making a good meal.  I find the more and more I walk through this culture of food I see where people are just making it too complicated.  Now don't get me wrong there is always going to be a market for wacky uber fancy food.  There will always be people that think their fiftey dollar bottle of wine is better than your ten dollar bottle.  Those folks are in another timezone of reality and I hope they enjoy every minute of their egoasm of life.

For me its a trick and a challenge to find satisfaction in taking fresh local ingredients and making them fun and interesting.  I love going to the market with a list and painstakingly finding the best lemon the ripest avacado.  Then heading home and unwrapping your goodies and then deciding what to work on first and what to put in the fridge.  I love to start with cutting something just so I can hone my knife.  I normally walk out on my back deck to do this, it helps me keep my neighbors on their toes.

I see ego at school all the time and I find it to be the one indgrediet that you can buy for free but can't sell for all the money in the world.  Its what can turn any good dish to garbage in a heartbeat.  I never carry a chip on my shoulder when it comes to my food.  The way I see it if you don't like what I make it just means I need to work harder next time so you do.  But if you cook with love you will never fall short to capture someones heart.  Food is not about awards or medals you can hang in your office and its not about fancy chef coats with so much crap on it you look like a nascar driver. No, food is about taking what you have and offering it to another.  Whether that is a fine steak or a ritz cracker.

Be honest with food and you will never tell a lie on the plate. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Real Foodie

Sometimes I am overwelmed with all the TV choices available to you if your a foodie.  Yeah a foodie, I know that term gets thrown around a lot, and frankly it makes me a little queezy.  Queezy in the sense that with the advent of cable channels such as the Food Network and the Cooking Channel now everyone is a foodie or food expert.  Now I have said repeatably that I don't ever claim to be a food expert.  The only expertise I have when it comes to food is knowing when it sucks, unfortunely it sucks a lot.

Growing up in a house that worpished Hamburger Helper, and when I say worshiped I mean I was having tuna helper nightmares  almost every week.  So as a child it was never explained to me that food didn't come out of a box or that you could grow your own food and with some creativity you could create meals.  Also there was no sense of a foodie culture that I was able to see anyway.  There was no internet or food network, your kitchen was all about what was handed down through the years.  Thank goodness for me I had one of the coolest Grandmas in the world who knew how to cook, and cook well.  She showed me how to take raw ingredients and bust out some of the tastest food ever.  Come to find out later that the amount of butter she used would be considered criminal in most states.  I consider her the first foodie I knew, she didn't spend countless hours watching a food channel to learn food.  Everything she learned was in her own kitchen and made with her own two hands.  She knew what was good and baby it was super good all the time.

 I talk to people all the time who are keeping the old ways of cooking alive in their kitchen.  Sharing what they learned from their family and passing it down to their children.  This is important because real cooking comes from the heart.  It starts with a sizzle in a pan and the sound of a knife hitting a cutting board.  A smile across the table from someone who consider you their hero. 

Now that makes you a foodie.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Express Yourself

Sorry for not posting on Valentine's Day but I don't consider myself a lovey dovey guy so I didn't see the sense on faking it.  Although I am always amused by people who feel like they have to go out to dinner for Valentine's Day. Now I can surely appreciate not wanting to destroy the kitchen, and letting someone else do the cooking for one night.  Although by cooking at home you can express how you feel so intimately, a plate of food that says more than you could ever say in a card or roses.  

Expressing love with food seems to have been demonized lately because of the growing obesity epidemic that is cribbling America.  But love can be expressed on plate without stacking it a mile high.  For instance if you know your partner like scallops then don't just take them to Red Lobster.  But what if you went to the store or market and selected the best scallops available.  Then went home and delicately cooked them, maybe basted with brown butter, to the point where they stop just being food but an expression of how you feel and love that other person.  

Food is personal, food is life, and food can say a lot about how you see yourself.  I know people who starve themselves without food, and those drowned themselves with food.  To understand food you don't have to spend a million dollars each week at whole foods.  Understanding how ingredients affect others is the key to developing flavors and building those layers to the point of ecstasy.  This is not hard and trust me it can be done with little knowledge.  Here are some PDF files that can help you become a ninja in no time:

Non Meat/Pantry Essentials

I believe expressing your love towards someone with food is one the most intimate experiences you can share with the one you love.  Of course some wine can always help things along, or at least get you the nightcap.  When it gets to that point you are on your own.

Here is a recipe that is easy, but I think has that sexy factor built in:

Filet Mignon with Mushroom-Wine Sauce


2 tbsp. butter, divided
3 tbsp. shallots, minced
1/4 C. fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
3/4 C. dry red wine, divided (Cabernet is nice)
5 fl. oz. beef consomme
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 (4 ounce) filet mignon steaks
1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. dried thyme
fresh thyme (garnish)

Filet Mignon with Mushroom Sauce

In a nonstick frying pan, saute shallots and mushrooms in 1 tbsp butter for about 4 mins, til tender.

Add 1/2 cup of red wine and 3 fl. oz consomme. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the mushrooms from sauce, set aside.

Boil wine mixture over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup.

Combine sauce with mushrooms in bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, combine combine soy sauce with cornstarch. Set aside.

Sprinkle filets with pepper to taste. Saute steaks in remaining 1 tbsp butter over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side for a 1-inch thick steak.

Reduce fire to medium-low heat; cook steaks until desired level of doneness. Remove from pan, keep warm.

Add the rest of the red wine and beef consommé to the skillet, scraping to deglaze pan and incorporate tasty steak bits into the sauce. Bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Add mushroom/sauce mixture, cornstarch/soy sauce mixture, and the thyme. Boil one minute, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Place steaks on plate and pour sauce over. Garnish with fresh thyme.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Whining About Wine

So today i want to talk about wine, well really I want to try to understand wine?  No, No, I got it, you drink it with or without food and it makes you happy and drunk.  What I don't understand is this whole complex world that surrounds wine.  Like how you are supposed to look at it, the way you are supposed to smell and taste it.  On the surface it appears to me to be a little snobbish and too fancy for me, or is it?

Lets face it I am a pretty simple guy who can smell BS from a mile a way and I don't like to be handed a pile of crap and be told its roses.  With that said, when we got to tasting the wine today in Mixology class I felt a little left out.  Left out because I wasn't buying into the whole pomp and circumstances that is the five minute dance of tasting wine.  I guess I felt like a snob doing it and I hate feeling that way, its not me.  So when people were sniffing the wine to identify it automatics I wasn't smelling a thing.  I guess I wouldn't let myself just make up something that wasn't true.  While fellow classmates were smelling bananas and currents I was confused because for me it was still just grapes and rubbing alcohol.

Maybe the wine culture is too complicated for me, maybe I don't fit in to this lifestyle.  Wait, maybe there was a way to make wine simple.  A way to make it more accessible to people who don't want to be uber geeks about it, instead they just wants to sit down and enjoy some wine without feeling they need to be wearing ascot and a fur coat.  The only problem with this idea is that I think the complexity of wine is why all the fancy people like it, the idea of it being so complicated that they are the only people that could possibly explain it to you is what makes them feel special. Its like the IT guy at work who comes down to your cubical to fix your computer, and then decides to spend an hour telling you everything he knows about computers and how he would father Steve Jobs baby if they could.  So how do I learn more about wine without getting caught up in the crazy world of tannins and terroir?

I am still working on that last question, this is going to be a journey that will probably result in me spending too much on wine and embracing the nasty morning wine headache.  So I will keep you up to date.  For now I guess I need to find a good place to buy good wine.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Taking Time Back

Time flies by and before you know it you have more hair coming out of your nose and ears than you do on the top of your head.  Always wondered how you could get time to slow down enough to enjoy it.  Is it money or success?  Not sure about that, because money and success is something you'll never feel you have enough of for yourself or enough to impress others to gain their acceptance.   So when does time slow down for you?  For me its when I can just stand and listen to the wind blow or listen to a song that makes me feel something real.

Time is important, and most people who have none would give their right arm to have an extra hour a day.  An extra hour to spend with their child.  An extra hour to take that nice relaxing bath with fancy candles lit.  An extra hour to just sit and let life slow down.

When life tells you your moving to fast, its too late.  Someone passes away and on the way home from the funeral you hear,

" I am going to spend more time doing the important things in life."

A week later your back to killing yourself in your job or trying to be everything to everyone.  Unfortunately, you have become nothing to yourself, and you have failed to impress those people who don't care about you at all.

With the Super Bowl today it would be a great opportunity to take some time back.  Stop worrying about work or all those folks in your life that drive you crazy.  It should be a day that you kick your feet up and just enjoy a good time with the people that mean the most to you.  And by enjoying it I don't mean consuming enough beer and wings to kill a large grizzly bear. Grizzly bears are our friends even though they want to eat your arm.

Looking for something to make for the big game try this:


Chicken wings1 Lb

Garlic cloves, crushed5 each

Rice wine vinegar1 1/2 C

Soy sauce1 C

Water1 C

Bay leaves 3 each

Black peppercorns1 TBS

Canola oil2 TBS

Coconut milk1 TBS

Scallions, choppedas needed

1. Combine chicken wings, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, water, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a saucepot, making sure there is enough liquid to cover chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook 35 to 45 minutes. 
2. Remove chicken from pot. Reserve chicken and braising liquid separately.
3. Pan-fry wings in canola oil until browned on both sides.
4. Add braising liquid to pan and simmer until chicken is heated through.
5. Add coconut milk to pan and stir to combine. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Middle Finger To Winter

Hi there today, so are you enjoying the worst time of the year?  The bitter cold, relentless snow, and the morons who can't drive in it?  Its what I like to call old man winter's revenge.  The revenge part was put in to make it sound more dramatic and scary, did it work?  So do you curl up with some pork grinds and pack it in until April?  I know a lot of questions so early in the week huh, oh well I will give you time to compile your answers.

Winter is a season I think that has two personalities.  The one side its what kicks off the holiday season which to me is still magical no matter how old I become.  On the other hand Winter has it's dark side, it is the guest at the party who won't leave no matter how hard you want them to.   As an impulsive eater Winter is like the evil devil on my right shoulder who is telling me, that it is ok, go ahead with the take out pizza you still have jeans that fit and don't forget about the sweat pants with the elastic.

So how do you combat the relentless pounding of old man winter?  I think you first walk outside in shorts and a t-shirt and give it the finger or whatever you deem appropriate.  Be creative, but mindful of your neighbors and the local laws of indecency.  Then what I think you do is plan a picnic, yes a picnic that revolves around everything that isn't winter.  To hell with braising and soups, do something rebellious again be creative. Close your eyes and think summertime barbecue and all the food that accompanies it, imagine you have a perfect tan and everyone hates your sexiness.  

I would say for starters wipe the snow off the grill and fire it up.  Your neighbors will think you are crazy and think you forgot to pay your gas bill.  It will certainly get you a double take and maybe they will return all those "borrowed" tools they have just out of shear paranoia.  Then get the grill white hot and throw some Flintstones style steaks on there and let them sear and cook to perfection.  Then a nice cold pasta salad and some homemade baked beans.  You know the ones where you really bake them instead of just reliying on the talking dog brand.  Then clear some space on the floor in the living room and throw a blanket down and have a Winter picnic.  Make some fruity drinks and close your eyes and pretend its 75 degrees with a slight breeze and all is super awesome.

Now a word to Winter:

Winter you may be a necessary evil, but it doesn't mean I like you or care to enjoy you.  To me you are the frienemy of the all the seasons. I will fight you with every fiber I have and you will not get the best of me.  Go ahead and snow and make my 20 minute commute a two hour one you will not conquer me.  Because I have warm food and friends to get me through.  So take yourself back north where people enjoy you, you are not welcomed here no more.

Now that felt good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bringing Sexy Back With Short Ribs


Braised Short Ribs


  • 8 whole Beef Short Ribs
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • ¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 6 pieces Pancetta, Diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Diced
  • 2 whole Shallots, Peeled And Finely Minced
  • 2 cups Red Or White Wine
  • 2 cups Beef Or Chicken Broth (enough To Almost Cover Ribs)
  • 2 sprigs Thyme
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary

Preparation Instructions

Salt and pepper ribs, then dredge in flour. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered.

Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease.

Add olive oil to pan with the pancetta grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the flavorful bits of glory. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.

Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid.

(Can also refrigerate mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.)
Serve 2 ribs on bed of creamy polenta, spooning a little juice over the top.

Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta 


  • 1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 ounces, weight Goat Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil.

Add cornmeal to the water in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.

Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, adding salt and extra tablespoons of water as needed.

When polenta is done, stir in butter and goat cheese. Check seasonings, and add salt to taste.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Supper Status Update

I must warn you that I have been curbing sugar out of my life, and normally when I do this it affects my brain in ways I can't explain.  Normally it makes me depressed which is always good for a blog post but not for my sanity.

"Update your status with me face to face, I promise I will shower first. "

Sunday is here and that means one thing, Sunday supper.  Yeah Sunday supper, for those unfamiliar, this is where you spend the majority of the day making a dinner or supper and then you and your family sit down and enjoy the food slowly and relish in the idea of being unplugged for the evening.  As a kid we didn't always eat the most gormuet food but we did enjoy our hamburger helper together.  It would be a time where issues would be resolved and stories would be told.  Laughter would be at a constant and I would have to say this time spent are some of my most cherished moments as a kid.  When I remember my Dad's laugh, I remember it from countless times we had Sunday supper.

In order for this to work today I think you would agree  you will need to go unplugged.  Collect the cell phones and other tethered devices and put them in a basket and turn them off.  I know this will be difficult because some folks just have to check their phone every 4 seconds to see if anyone has updated their status on Facebook.  My opinion I find that Facebook has gobbled up the time in people's lives that was reserved for wanting to really know how someone is, instead we just read a typed status update.  But that is a rant for another day when I crankier.  With the slow food movement growing in popularity in this country I think its important to take time to unplug from what is dragging you down and plug into what can make you alive again.

I think food can be a catalyst to bring people together in ways that most have forgotten.  Flavors can arouse a memory that can be shared with people face to face, instead of a dumb status update on Facebook.  The idea that food is more than just nourishment for our body, but a way to refuel your soul I think has been lost by the cattle troughs we tend to go to when we are hungry.  You know the place, its where you can sit down and get a chicken fingers basket that your digestive system will eradicate instantly, yeah not pretty.  So why not just spend Sunday cooking and reuniting with your friends and family.  Reconnect with stories and laughter that will fill your soul instead of blank space on the internet.

If you have a Sunday supper tradition I would love to hear it.  If you don't, I challenge you to start one and let me know how it goes. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Celery Root: Ugly On The Outside, But Tasty On The Inside

Yield: 4 servings

Butter2 TBS

Celery root, 1 Lb, trimmed, 1 inch dice2 each

Potato, large dice1 each

Onions, medium, chopped2 each

Celery, chopped1 C

Leek, chopped, white part only1 each

Salt and freshly ground black pepperas needed

Garlic cloves, minced2 each

Thyme, fresh1 tsp

Dry vermouth or dry white wine1/2 C

Bay leaf1 each

Chicken or vegetable stock5 C

Extra virgin olive oil1/4 C

Celery leaves, freshas needed

Lemon juiceas needed

Olive oilas needed

Umbrian truffles, black, shavedas needed


1. Melt butter in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery root, potato, onions, celery and leek. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

2. Add garlic and thyme to pot and stir 1 minute. Add vermouth and bay leaf to pot, then increase heat to boil until most of the liquid evaporates, about 8 minutes.

3. Add stock to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and let soup cool somewhat, then puree soup in a blender in batches until smooth.

4. Return soup to saucepan. Blend in olive oil and reheat upon service. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with extra virgin olive oil, celery leaves tossed in lemon juice and olive oil and thinly shaved truffles.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wine and Conspiracies

I think if it wasn't for the grocery store I don't think I would have any idea what holiday I am supposed to celebrate next.  I consider myself pretty slick in a grocery store, I know what I need before hand, and that is normally what I get, unless there is a sale on bear claws then all bets are off.  I noticed on a recent trip to the grocery store that the next holiday that I will be having to celebrate is Valentine's Day.  Or I like to call the granddaddy of all Hallmark Holidays.  I consider this holiday a grand conspiracy between Hallmark cards and all the jewelry stores in the world.  Every year I say I am not going to celebrate this holiday but then I am reminded that I am married, and if I want to remain that way I better make a tasty sexy dinner accompanied by some sort of present normally in a long stem variety.

The dinner part of Valentine's day is something I don't mind to prepare.  I normally have a bottle of wine opened and ready before I even start cooking.  Also I have some music streaming through the stereo and I am singing at the top of my lungs.  And yes I am by myself so to not burn the ears of anyone not even the dog.  But what should be on the menu for Valentine's Day?  Normally I would say something that isn't too crazy and when I say crazy I mean you can make it while drinking a bottle of wine.  This means keep it simple stupid.  This should be something with fresh ingredients and in one plate and shouldn't be too heavy.  This is because you want to make sure you consume twice as much wine as food.  Come on, it's Valentine's day and it falls on a Monday this year, not normally a day where there is a "night cap" if you know what I mean.

So what have we learned today?  First Valentine's day is conspiracy between Hallmark and every jewelery store in the world.  Secondly, when preparing Valentine's day dinner you should consume a 2:1 ratio of wine to food.  And finally, I may have a slight drinking problem considering how much I just talked about wine and its just after 9am.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To Serve And Be Served

Here is an easy question, what is the worst service you ever received in a restaurant?  Since I live in the land of box format eateries i.e.(Applebee's, O'Charleys, etc)  I have a million different stories of bad service.  Most involve a waiter or waitress not simply listening and having about the attention span of an ant.  They are more interested in getting back to their phone so they can OMG to their boyfriend about how much they hate their job.  Meanwhile I am wondering if my drink will ever be refilled.  To get bad service usually means that either you got a bad server or the kitchen is a train wreck. Either way your probably not going back to that restaurant for a long time if ever.

Since I have been at Culinary school I have seen all ends of this endless circle of excellence and disaster.  I have worked in the school kitchen and I have served in the dining room class.  If your not in the industry then you just expect to get great service and great food every time, right?  Before the doors open this is the wish of everyone working, trust me.  To have a perfect service is an expectation that you will dream about, but will never happen.  What separates a good restaurants from bad one is how they can work together to overcome the train wreck and make it seamless to the customer.

Yeah so the cook is hungover, too bad cook and make it taste good.  Yeah so the waitress just had her boyfriend break with her, so what you better have a smile on your face and treat each table like its your grandma or Sister Ann from St. freaking Mary's.  Is this harsh?  Heck yeah it is, and that is what makes this industry one of the hardest to work in on a daily basis.  Because the customers coming into your restaurant don't care about any of your sob stories, they just want their drink refilled and their food correct and hot and served with a smile.

So if you are in the industry and you thought this post was uncalled for then I would say, the world need ditch diggers too.  As for you Mr. or Mrs customer I would tell you to not pay for crap.  If you feel your food sucked don't pay for it, because your food and your dining experience shouldn't be like a slap from a clown.