It’s Over, Johnny

Pharoatoga, over.

Track season, unofficially over (not too many people go after Travers weekend).

Travers night, always a letdown.

Two! Yes two ten-top reservations cancelled late. Typical.

Referring to the veal chop, according to a server, a customer said “oh, I couldn’t eat a baby cow. I’ll have the lamb.”

Yes, I’m drinking bourbon as I write.

Washington County Fair tomorrow. Tractors and animals for Tate, Rides for Stella. No corn dogs, they’re nasty.

Got through the season, now I can get this hernia attended to.

I was a manager at Dick’s Sporting Goods at Crossgates Mall many years ago. One day a guy brings in a pair of hiking boots to return that were well-worn with a sole that had detached from the upper. I took them back without question. The next day he returned and asked for me. He explained he was sending some winter gear to Kosovo and had $5000 to spend, and since I was so fair with him the day before, he wanted to spend it in my department. Moral of the story: Treat people well today, they may treat you well tomorrow. Or something like that. This has nothing to do with the theme of this post.

An awful lot of people jumped on the America Pharoah  bandwagon. This is Saratoga, the premier thoroughbred track in America.    We have acted like we expected to host this now former champion. Instead we acted like we’ve never seen a champion before. When you reach the end zone, act like you’ve been there before. It was hokey.

I don’t like Big Bird.

I once showed up to work at one of the first restaurants I worked at, and there was an Auction sign on the front lawn. the owner told me not to worry about it.

All words prior were written on Saturday night, I’m resuming now, on Monday morning. I’m not drinking bourbon, I’m drinking coffee.

The Washington County Fair was depressing in many ways.  How is it that so many people who clearly don’t have any desire to wear a clean shirt, don’t have teeth, and can barely utter the English language yet have the means to buy thousands of dollars worth of tattoos?

The longest line was for Bloomin’ Onions.

9-year-old girls should not weigh 180 lbs. I’m guessing she was about 9, but her face was obscured by the hub cap sized fried dough.

I saw at least 6 (young) people on motorized scooters such as Hoverounds carrying 64 oz. Mountain Dew drink cups. I also saw one guy maneuvering one while balancing 4 chili dogs and a Bucket-O-Fries. Yes, there was cheese on the fries.

Te kids had a great time, plenty of rides, plenty of sunshine, and plenty of walking.  They are too young to see what I see and realize we’re in trouble.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

We are now well into the final weeks of the thoroughbred racing season here in Saratoga and it’s busier than I have seen in recent years. The numbers are up all-over and for most that’s a good thing, if more money is your goal.

While I’m very tired, have sore feet, and a hernia, things are going quite well. My staff is performing at a great level with what we have to work with. It’s an undersized and well aged kitchen, yet we pump out excellent food at an impressive rate.

I’m not well-schooled when it comes to horse racing despite living in Saratoga for over 10 years, and I have no evidence to support my claim that the horses would rather be doing something else.

I’ve read that the horses are treated very well, even better than the illegal workers that take care of them. They have air-conditioned barns, are fed the best food, and are groomed as if they were at a spa. If I paid 2 million for an animal I’d take good care of it too, ya know, to protect my investment.

I’m pretty indifferent about horse racing, but like any of the things that entertain us, there’s a side of it that the general public doesn’t want to know about, and is better off turning a blind-eye to.

Skidmore College contributes more to the local economy than horse racing does.

When the season is over, I’ve got the Saratoga Food and Wine Festival at SPAC, a wedding for 80 to cook for at The Casino in Congress Park, and a private dinner for 5 in one of the penthouse suites  at The Grand Pavilion Hotel, and the launch of the Fall menu.  Just keepin’ busy.

Thinking about some venison loin with savory bread pudding made with acorn flour.  The acorn flour is my sous chef’s idea. Good idea, Patrick.

I can tell when track season kicks in for real when the percentage of diners requesting bread with olive oil and balsamic increases greatly.

The children are loving the new house.


Lamb with cardoon

Deez Nutz.

Some of what’s been happening this summer:

2015-06-12 22.12.38

Eggplant, pecorino Toscano,


Pastured Veal, roasted heirloom potatoes, grilled artichokes, caramelized garlic, veal pan jus.

We bought a new house and a new car.

I like watching kangaroos fight.

The sound of rain on a metal roof is soothing.

People do one of two things in Saratoga this time of year. Work, or play.


Berries, pineapple curd, whipped coconut milk, fresh mint.

You’d think I would have more to report during this very busy time, but I’m just too tired to think about much aside from the task at hand. I’m still working on a bit about what I think makes a successful chef, and I’ll do a post soon outlining my process involved in developing a Fall menu.

Thanks all who read my blog, and for being patient during this busy time when I’m not posting too much.

How’s it Going?

For those of you that have not worked in the food service industry that has a season like Saratoga’s track season, I assure you that it is very difficult but manageable if you’re prepared, and ready to accept it for what it is.

The opening week starts on Thursday, the day before opening day at “da track.”  I say da track because most of the people who ask directions to the race track have a New Jersey or downstate accent which includes the inability to fully pronounce the common words in their native language.  It’s common to have someone pull their lo-end Mercedes-Benz over as you’re walking down the street and ask “yo buddy, you know da way to da track?”  My desired replies are “smart phone,” “yes, I do” (and keep walking). but I just simply give them directions to the harness track

Plaza is an Italian word for “contains Chinese takeout.”

I really do not care if American Pharaoh comes to Saratoga.

Children sitting at a bar. Really?

The new house is coming together nicely, and I don’t mind the drive home.

If you’ve made a reservation for a large party then the respectful thing to do is show up on time.

I’ll be doing Doner Kebab at The Saratoga Food and Wine Festival.

If friends make life more difficult for you and the people around you, then perhaps they’re not your friends.

When you give someone a job to do, you need to provide the resources for them to do that job to the best of their ability, otherwise you’re setting them up for either complete or partial failure. No one wants to fail.

You put a few under-fed roosters in a pen then you’re surprised when they fight.

What should an atheist say when someone sneezes?

I have some very good friends that don’t work in the restaurant business.  I don’t go to work to make friends, I go to fulfill the requirements of my position as best I can. If you hang out with your subordinates it gives them the opportunity to not be very good at their job if they so choose.

Track season is progressing as I thought it would, and will finish as I think it will. I’m sure of it.

I was recently asked by a server how old our 4 year aged (printed on the menu) Grafton cheddar is.

There are people who will support you when you have something to offer them, and disappear when you don’t.

Good chefs with high standards will keep those standards when its busy night after night. Bad chefs just want to “get through it” by having minimal standards of quality.  I ain’t the latter.  If demanding the same standards makes me an asshole, so be it. I have a job to do, and I want to do it well  for myself, for my employer, and ultimately for the customers.

I found that the first “More or Less” post wasn’t understood by everyone.  Some things listed I would like to see more of,  some I’d like to see less of. You decide what I may be thinking.

Traffic. People during track season who need to order things not on the menu. Air conditioning. Information. Time off. Attention to detail.  Cars in crosswalks.  Self indulgence.  Caring. Understanding of what I do. Red Sox wins. Respect for others. People showing up for reservations. Planning. Foresight.  Follow through. American Pharaoh pleads. Looking needy. Celebrity. Amazing. New stuff. Smart people. Focus. Facebook. Mediocrity. Ass kissing. Tradition. Good use of Facebook. Accountability. Self awareness. Taking advantage of things that are free, and easy to do. Ability, and desire to carry more than two plates. Pretenders. Tractor pulls. Reality shows. Selfies in the bathroom mirror. Selfies period.

Final thoughts:  The restaurant business is very difficult.  Most people reading this blog have some understanding of that and I don’t really need to explain what we go through.