Whatcha Gonna Do

As many of you are aware, I am in the planning stages my own project in Saratoga.

Here are a few thoughts just to give you a glimpse of what I’m working on and what I hope to be doing soon.

I’ll be serving well-crafted Mediterranean plates in a contemporary and creative style using the flavors of Morocco, Spain, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Tunisia, France, Algeria, Syria, and Israel.  Each dish will not necessarily be from one country, but will express the ingredients, techniques, and tastes of the region.

Yes, I know there are a few more countries on the Mediterranean Sea, but you get the picture.

We’re having a garage sale on May 18th, maybe I should sell tacos at the same time.

My lamb Bolognese has its roots in Italy, but the use of lamb, mint, feta, pine nuts, and raisins collects the flavors of other nearby cuisines.  Perhaps it’s no longer Bolognese, but it’s a good way to communicate to people what the dish started out as before it was kidnapped by my brain and made into something unique, and expressly mine.

The cuisines of the Mediterranean are connected in so many ways that it’s impossible to separate them by borders, political ideologies, religions, or even continents.  There are too many historical reasons why Spanish food is closer to Sicilian food than Sicilian food is to Milanese food.

I will not serve chicken breast ever again.

It will be chef-driven cuisine served in a unique, comfortable and convivial format.

Seating will be very limited.

I look forward to making my rabbit pâté again.

When people are two-faced, the only thing you’ll know for sure is that you can’t trust either of them.

There will be plenty of fresh pasta, as in Yawning Duck kind of fresh pasta.

I will not allow employees to use cell phones in view of customers.

I’ve been doing a lot of character development for the short story I’m working on.

I’d like to keep Wednesdays open for special events, like fundraisers, cooking classes, and private functions.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will be open for dinner.

Social media will be important, and you’ll need to follow along on Facebook and Instagram to know what’s on the menu each week, and what Wednesday’s are about.  The website is being worked on. That too will be kept up-to-date weekly, an easy task, but all too often ignored.

I did a lot of planting in the garden yesterday. I’ll have some nice produce to work with.

I will cook everything the way I believe is best, I cannot cook properly if I’m anticipating a possible allergy (claim) or dietary/lifestyle choice.  Pasta has gluten, risotto has dairy (never in the form of cream), I use rich chicken stock often, and there are onions in a lot of things.  I must cook along unrestricted guidelines in order to make each dish what it should be.

I will cook a lot of food that has no gluten, meat or dairy since the cooking will be Mediterranean based.

Don’t however ask for gluten-free pasta, there’s no such thing. Get the gist?

Things will be made and presented as designed, as tested, and as described on the menu.

Try your best not to work for less than you’re worth.

Make sure you know your worth.

I will express who I am as a person and as a chef.  I will be accessible to everyone due to the open kitchen.  I plan on being available to everyone, answering questions, telling stories, and talking about food and wine. Blah, blah, blah….

The wine list will be simple but well-thought out, approachable, and most of all, fun. No bargains for us, but there may be bargains for you.  I’m not going to serve cheap wine.  Inexpensive perhaps, but not cheap.

I will not do happy hour; this place will not be about specials, and mark-downs.  The people who decide to dine early will be treated and charged the same as those who decide to dine late.  No specials, it will be a short menu changed weekly.  There might be room for a special night, perhaps on those open Wednesdays.

Wine will be served in simple glassware without theater.

The golfer is John Daly.

I love a good Arnold Palmer on a hot day.

I will not sell gift cards.

There are two kinds of owners, those who get in the dish pit, and those who do not.  The difference between the two does not necessarily indicate success or failure, but it certainly says a lot about the chances for success or failure.  It also says a lot about one’s motivation for being in the business.

I plan some time in the dish pit.

As things become finalized and the picture and timeline become clearer I’ll pass along a more comprehensive report.

4 thoughts on “Whatcha Gonna Do

  1. As a fan of your food and blog, I hope that this is not how you plan to have you or yourself speak to customers. Just seems like a hard way to keep a following during the off season. It’s your restaurant and plan, so I hope it is successful .

    John piccolo could Ben seen in the dish pit, taking out trash, cooking, cleaning setting up table or schmoozing customers. I still respect him very much, even though I haven’t seen him in 20 years

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    • Thank you for appreciating both my food and my blog. Keep in mind that my work in the kitchen and my blog are two different things. The blog is often based on things I observe from customers and coworkers, and also based on thoughts developed from those observations. With that said, I have decided that if I’m going to make the investment in a restaurant then I will have the right to do things as I see fit and will not dumb down what I want to do, nor will I cater mostly self-imposed dietary restrictions before being presented with such restrictions. I will cook the best way I can and offer menus that represent my best work. Those who choose to enjoy my work will be thrilled, those who do not will miss out. Again, menus will be based on Mediterranean cooking so there will be a variety of offerings to suit most desires.

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