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.