Short Stories

A few snippets first to warm you up, then some stories.

Just because it has garlic, doesn’t mean it’s Italian food. Just because it’s Italian food doesn’t mean it has garlic.

It’s maddening to spend some time on a dessert only to see a server wreck it trying to jam a candle into it.

I need a day at the spa.

I’ve never had a day at the spa.

I once won a beauty pageant at the age of 5.

Apparently Ethan Hawke was in Saratoga yesterday. My life hasn’t changed as a result.

Perry Mason is pissed off tonight.

I once had a 78 year-old server that could carry 5 plates. I now have some servers that can carry 2 plates.

Now the stories:

A funny thing happened to me yesterday. I was making garlic cream, something I have not made in at least 5 years.  I was explaining the process I learned from Jim Rua to Joan Dembinski as my phone made a notification tone. It was a message from Jim Rua.

Years ago I was in need of a job so I interviewed at a place on the Mohawk River, I don’t remember the name but it was basically a big clam shack. After some small-talk and a few easy questions I was hit with “what are the five mother sauces?” At that point I realized I didn’t want the job and things turned sour.  I returned with “well, at a place like this it’s ketsup, mustard, cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, and perhaps malt vinegar.”  He said “you don’t want this job, do you?”  “No, absolutely not.”

I interviewed at an inn outside Rutland, VT about 6 years ago. The deal was that I would cook four courses for ten people, no restrictions. Jennifer and I drove up that day and did the food shopping on the way. I had my menu set and after a bit of chit-chat with the owner I was in the kitchen getting underway. Said owner came in and told me that he forgot to tell me that his wife does not eat meat, but fish was ok. Since I was welcome to use what was in the cooler I was fine but annoyed.  It was obvious that he was simply testing me. A little while later he came into the kitchen to tell me one of the guests had an allergy to one of the ingredients he knew I was using. Now he was becoming an asshole, but I said that was fine, I could work around that.  About 20 minutes later he came back to tell me that there would be 15 for dinner rather than the expected 10. Well, I was 80% through my prep for this 4 course menu and this guy was just being a douche bag, so I allowed him to worry about feeding the 15 coming for dinner.

In 1999 I was working at The Shipyard on Everett Rd in Albany. A good customer wanted to do an upscale burgers and fries function for a birthday for 50 people. We hand-made burgers, hand cut fries. The burgers were started on the grill then transferred to sheet pans to be finished in the ovens in my garde manger station. Well, we never used those ovens and as it turns out one was terribly out of calibration, something I was unaware of.  I checked the burgers from one oven and they were medium as requested. I assumed the tray from the other oven was at the same level of doneness since the ovens were set at the same temperature so we started plating the burgers and sending them out to the party.  A few minutes later as we were still plating and sending burgers out the plates starting coming back. Rare!  Well, servers being servers, they started putting plates in the kitchen in random places with no way of knowing whose plate was whose. We had to start over. I learned a bunch that day.

One more before bed.

I went on a working interview years ago at a place called The Purple Pepper. They had a purple theme, and mashed purple potatoes were on every plate. If you cook purple potatoes and mash them they turn grey. I was not working at a place that served grey potatoes. It was a quick night.

7 thoughts on “Short Stories

  1. the candle thing irks me quite a bit. im also not a big fan of writing on plates with chocolate. at sperrys we used to get servers asking me to put candles in things like creme brulee. ugh. have a good weekend, dominic!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And while you’re talking about Italian cuisine, Parmigiano (Reggiano), Prosciutto (di Parma) end in an “-o”; mozzarella, ricotta, and sopressata end in “-a”; and capicola/capicolo/capicollo can end in either “-a” or “-o” respectively depending on regional dialect. Italian nouns often ends in vowels and they are always pronounced. The second to last syllable is accented. Let’s not confuse “Sopranos’ Italian” with Italian.


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