Are They Worth It?

I’ve managed people for a long time.  As a manager for Dick’s Sporting Goods, and as a chef I’ve had to make a career out of assessing talent and contributions vs. the wanting to keep or fire certain individuals on staff.  The final question we need to ask when deciding to either keep or dismiss an employee is “are they worth the trouble of keeping?”  If so, make sure you’re committed to putting in the work to fix any problems with that worker, if not, then let them go without hesitation.

I was listening to sports talk radio recently and the Odell Beckham Jr. trade to the Cleveland Browns was the focus of the discussion.  He was seen by some, including the Giant’s management, as a distraction because of his antics, his behavior on the sidelines, and his perceived disruptive nature.  One contributor to the talk defended OBJ and criticized the Giants explaining that an organization needs to weight out the pros and cons of an individual before deciding that he needs to be removed from the team.  Since I eat, sleep, and dream about work, I thought about how this rule relates to restaurants.

Having a good attitude, being reliable, and being good at your job is a no-brainer.  These people however seem to becoming less available.

How about the guy who shows up every single day, never requests time off, but despite being pretty good at his job, hardly ever does anything beyond the minimum required to maintain their position?  We need those without ambition to fill jobs in a consistent and daily basis without question.  Keep them and seek out others with ambition to train, develop, and advance.  Have peace of mind that the first guy is going to show up and keep a station covered. One less thing to worry about.

What if your chef is great, but is too hard on the staff, creating a scenario that causes servers to either quit or become poor employees?  If you’re unwilling to correct the reasons, she might be unhappy with the staff, the let her go, the problem will never be fixed and it’s time to move on and find a chef with lower standards. You’ll be happy because you do not have to address the underlying issue with training, the service staff will be happy, and the atmosphere will be more pleasant.

What if we invest in our people and they end up leaving?  What if we don’t and they end up staying?

We really need to take more interest in the people who work for us and attempt to show a reasonable amount of empathy for a situation they may not be able to control.

How about the great server who coworkers and customers like, but refuses to learn anything about the menu?  Depends? Are they required to learn the menu?

The guy who’s 10 minutes late every shift, but does a good job?  How about the one who is 10 minutes late every day and does a mediocre job?

My Siena College cross country coach said, “you’re fair by treating everyone differently.”

How about a server who’s so bad that his work reflects on and affects the work of others?  Incorrectly sending orders to the kitchen can spoil the cook’s ability to do their jobs properly. Failing to finish your side work or set up the night before can leave work for others, not allowing them to do other things. If being bad at your job makes others be bad at their job, then it’s time to find another line of work.

If a cook fails to do the necessary prep work on Tuesday then the cook working that station on Wednesday may have a tough time being ready for service on Wednesday.

If a quarterback is no longer effective, then a receiver may not be able to perform up to his potential and can get frustrated.

Great service can make the food better, bad service will make for a more critical diner.  Bad food and poor kitchen performance can make the server’s job more difficult.  Find out which one is doing a good job and build your restaurant around them.

The Giants have decided that OBJ is not someone to build the next season around.  The ineffective quarterback is their choice, and they’re entitled to that choice.  The empty seats may tell them something in 2019.

Servers, if it takes 10 minutes for the food to go from the pass to the correct table then it’s going to result in cold food.

A server should never tell a customer that their errors are the fault of the kitchen.  Cooks are trained to have good memories.

OBJ may or not be likable, but his so-called antics are worth having his talent on the team, unlike the antics of some players who break the law, have domestic violence issues, and drug problems.  His behavior is mostly born out of passion for the game and a desire to compete, perform well, and win.

If your team members are performing their jobs well, or at worst, adequately and are otherwise good employees then keep them, train them, and invest in them.  Overlook their poor qualities if it does not disrupt the performance of the restaurant.   If they’re typically late, complain, call off often, AND, are not good performers then move on, they’re not worth it.

The Cleveland Browns will find that Odell Beckham is worth it.

 

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Sandwiches, Sombreros, Sacrifice, Snacks, Sales, and Saws

The sandwich density principle is too often violated.  Why on Earth would you put tuna salad on a bagel?  Remember folks, the pressure required to bite through the bread should not exceed the pressure needed to displace the sandwich filling.

If your burger bun cannot hold up to the burger you create, rethink your burger bun.

Is it me, or has PYX 106 playing the same 100 songs for the last 30 years?

Adding Jameson whiskey or Bailey’s Irish Cream to a recipe does not make it Irish food, nor does cooking it in or with Guinness.  We seem to have a cultural insensitivity when it comes to food and cooking.  There’s no such thing as Irish nachos or Italian tacos, Buddha is not a brand name, chopsticks are not hair accessories, and pretending to celebrate someone else’s culture or holiday by getting drunk and wearing stupid looking shamrock hats or sombreros is not cool, you look like an idiot.

Using ingredients from other cuisines and learning to cook the dishes from other cultures is ok. Adapting recipes to suit your needs based on the products available to you or altered to the tastes of your personal taste is fine. Being inspired by cuisines of the world is a great idea, and can be enlightening, but too often companies, restaurants, or individuals make a mockery or misrepresent the foods that are an important part of an ethnic group’s culture or a religious group’s belief system.

Cook from the world respectfully, joyfully, and playfully.

Authentic is overrated.

Is a man who takes action because he wants his children to have a better life to be commended?  He does something that isn’t overly harmful to anyone, but it may take a spot at a major university deserved by another applicant who will likely go on to another college and do well in life.  Writing a big check is a sacrifice, and apparently common in the wealthy community where such sacrifice is necessary in order to give your offspring a better chance in life.

Some mothers walk 1000 miles with their children through harsh conditions in order to give them a better life.  Our nation, based on Christian principles would like to make sure that these people of zero means get in legally, like those Christian folks that founded the US did.

My college roommate, his father, and two of his brothers walked for 52 days out of Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge took over

I’m at the Honda dealership as I write most of this.  There’s a mother and a chubby kid waiting, she has allowed him to have a complemtary can of Coke, a bag of Cheez-Its, a hot chocolate, a bag of Goldfish, a pack of Lorna Doone cookies, and for health reasons a pack of fruit snacks.  None of my business.  The furious crinkling of bags, the chewing and the slurping has become my business.  His mother should also turn her cellphone ringer down so everyone in the place does not need to be made aware of everyone of her many text messages.  She complains every time she gets one, but texts back every time, and of course she has her setting just so that each key press is audible to all. I do not belong in public.

Still off booze, I’ve been feeling good for the past few days.  I’m think I’m over that first hump.  Now to convince myself every day that I’m better off.

I really wanted a beer, or six with my corned beef dinner on Sunday.

While I’ve been sitting here at Saratoga Honda, I have seen almost everyone else waiting be visited by a “service consultant” who explains that they need something more than what they came on for.  My consultant, when explaining to me that there is a nail in the tire (I knew there was), expressed his uneasiness with only replacing the one tire vs. all of them since they prefer the tires match in wear level.  My question was “do you prefer for any safety reason or do you prefer $600 to $150?”  He said the one tire change would be fine.

So far, this is Chef’s day.

The car is ready.

I’m off on Wednesdays so I’m going to buy a new table saw and hang out in my garage/workshop with no one but my thoughts and Piper the dog that lives at our house.

 

 

Sober Snippets

Some stuff I wrote down over the past week.

People believe it, just not enough to live it. They want the reward, not the sacrifice.

When you post on social media, you get to choose how you’re presented. Present well.

As a restaurant server, keep in mind that 99% of the customers did not come in to see you, visit with you, hear you, or smell you.  They may have come in because of you and the job you do, but still not to see you.

People can over-think things, but I find that most people under-think things.

The no drinking thing is going well except for some side effects.  Alcohol withdrawal makes you feel like shit, but I know it will pass and I’ll be better off for it.  Also, now that I’m not consuming a few quarts of beer and a couple Bourbons nightly my Lexapro is having more of an effect on my brain.  Good? No, my dose of 20mg considered that I drank every night and now is the only drug in my head, so it’s having quite the effect.

You can’t imagine the excuses young folks make when they let you know they cannot work on Saturday.

I slept in today is not a valid excuse for missing your 2 pm work time.

Headaches, nausea, body aches, and feeling dopey and tired due to too much anti-depressant are not fun, but I do get to work every day and do my job.  I also get two elementary children off to school every morning, and my handicapped daughter ready for the day and off to her day program.  No, I’m not Superman, or am I greater than anyone else.  I simply know that what you do in life is get up and do what is required of you.

At some point it’s time to throw your 20-something couch potato out.  Potatoes smell when they rot.

“I couldn’t get to work today because I didn’t have money for gas until my mom got home.”  Funny, you had enough money to buy a bag of weed.

10 mg is the new dose, Doc said it was ok.  So, follow my advice, 10 mg and a glass of water, makes you feel the same as 20 mg and a 40 oz Olde English Ale.  Keep in mind that I’m not a doctor and have no license to dispense medical advice.

A picture really can paint 1000 words, a shitty picture on your Instagram tells me a lot.  A great picture also tells me a lot.  What do you want to tell people?

In my experience with the illegal population, albeit a small sample size, they’re too afraid to seek medical attention, free or otherwise. No, they’re not here for the free medical care either.

Go to conservative and right-wing patriotic sites on Facebook and read what people are writing.

I hate kayaks.

No, God did not send Trump to save America and stop thanking Jesus.

I love those quotes of inspiration and motivation people post on social media thinking somehow it will change lives.  Some of my favorites:

“Forget to turn the dish machine off again and you can’t work here anymore.”   “If you’re bored, I’ll find you something to do, but It may not be pleasant.”  “Great, enjoy the concert, I hope your new employer is more understanding.”  “You’re right, eight hours is a long shift, I’ll be sure to cut your hours, so you don’t have to complain so much.”

Not everyone can use Google Docs, and similar apps that allow people to work on documents together but from different locations and at different times. The fact that people refuse to learn something new make my life more difficult.

I’m trying to go paperless in my work, and I get it, having a paper in your hand can be more comforting, but my mimeograph machine is broken, so read your emails, and print the document out if you like, it’s 2019, I don’t take I’m not good at computers as an excuse anymore.  Besides, you’re all on your phones all the time anyway, make actual use of them.

Keep up or move aside.

Corned beef on Sunday or something Irish?

St Patrick’s Day, as I understand it is the #1 day (weekend) for beer sales for Saratoga bars.  Gonna be a shit show once again.  Can’t you people drink alone in your own homes like a respectful drunks?

At least when I drink and act like an asshole I’m around people who will forgive me.  Smart, right?

Thank you to all of you that emailed me and sent messages of encouragement and gave me direction to finding a good therapist.  Your caring means a lot to me and I won’t forget you in my will when I’m dividing up my extensive holdings.

I lied about the will and extensive holdings, but you have my gratitude.

Gotta Dance

This is part of the post I deleted yesterday, I wasn’t happy with the overall negative tone, so I reworked it and present it again.

I read recently on Table Hopping about the death of local chef John O’Leary.  I didn’t know John, but I understand he was a very nice man and ran a solid and well-maintained kitchen.  The fact that he was a fellow chef who died at such a young age is sad, and it affects me.

I’m finding that too many young cooks are not prepared for the life of a chef.  I recently texted an employee ten minutes after his 2:00 shift was supposed to begin and was met with “I slept in today, I’ll be there by 3:00.”  My response was “don’t bother, If I have to do your prep, I might as well cover the station tonight.”

I find myself wanting to teach less and less as I age.  I never really had a teacher and see myself a self-taught chef.  I consider myself to be very observant and able to pick up techniques by watching other cooks whether it’s a coworker or on the youtubes.  I find that I explain what I’m doing less and less lately and have adopted a “why don’t you just pay attention to my work and perhaps you’ll learn something.”  I’m not sure it’s a great quality in a chef, but it’s certainly where I am right now.  I suppose a retirement gig as a culinary instructor is out.  At least I’m self-aware.

While I never had a teacher, I find myself channeling various chefs that I’ve watched over the years including Thomas Keller for his devotion to high standards, Daniel Humm for his declaring “make it nice,” and Jim Rua for his passion for making food taste good, and Mario Batali for his ability to crush a bottle of wine or two.

I really need to stop drinking, I don’t want the comment section of the report of my death on Table Hopping to read “well, he drank too fucking much.”

I know I’ve been saying that for months, oh wait, it’s been years.  Time for professional help.

Yes, you heard it here first, I think I could use some help with the booze. Today is day two, time to make some calls, wish me luck.

It’s been said that the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Hit my FB inbox or email if you’ve got any suggestions on who I should call.  Therapists (I currently don’t have one), outpatient programs, etc.….  dominiccolose@gmail.com Thanks in advance.  Oh, nothing religion based please.

I guess all I want to do at this point is spend my time cooking for people who enjoy what I do without having to show people who can’t get out of bed how to follow a recipe.

My wife just told me that you can’t dance with the devil on your back.

I know I’m a grouchy old man sometimes standing on my porch yelling at the kids in the neighborhood to stop riding their bikes on the sidewalk, but I do appreciate you allowing me to vent here, and let it be known that it helps.

When poor service spoils the food and the server blames the kitchen.

You went to culinary school and cannot make a simple vinaigrette?  Who’s to blame here?

When a kid graduates high school and cannot read who do we blame?

Schools, teach them the fundamentals of cooking, we’ll teach them the rest.

Interesting sight at Health Living recently.  As I tried to enter with one of those little “I’m not going to buy that much” carts, a woman in front of me happened to be blocking the entrance while she was detailing her cart with one of those sani wipes provided for people who think there are germs only on grocery cart handles, but nowhere else.  Within five steps into the store she was digging into a bowl of sample chips that everyone who passes has put their potentially filthy and germ laden paws into.  Please don’t delay my entrance into the vegan scented grocery store with your pretend cleanliness again.

Where’s the intensity?

Thanks for the therapy session, I’ll send you a check.

 

 

Snippets in Waiting

As I wait during auto service I’ll share some thoughts.

I was working happily in the kitchen when I was informed that two gentlemen from Sysco were in to see me.  I knew that their day was about to take a turn for the worse, and mine was about to be interrupted needlessly.  I went out to say hello, and cordially explained that I was not a fan of Sysco and had no intention of ever using them.  The guy who did the talking was the District Manager, and he explained that Sysco was on a mission to right their ship, correct the mistakes of the past, and create a new partnership with chefs.  I commended him on the well-rehearsed corporate speech, and that he had delivered it as well as any of them that I’ve been hearing for the past twenty years.  Same speech, different delivery system.  Sysco is Sysco, and they’re not going to change their level of service.

See kids doing something they’re not supposed to be doing, you ask them to stop and they deny doing it even though you just saw them doing it.  Kind of like Robert Kraft.

When they’re fighting with each other, told to stop then both turn on you.

Servers eating and using their cell phones in view of patrons

About 10% of American adults have a food allergy, almost 20% claim to have one. That’s not a problem for the people who do have an allergy?

About 50 million Americans receive government assistance, a little over 20 percent of the citizen population.  Non-citizens do not qualify for public assistance.

In my experience with the illegal population, albeit a small sample size, they’re too afraid to seek medical attention, free or otherwise. No, they’re not here for the free medical care either.

The Mormon Church is worth about 40 billion and collects about 8 billion in tithing annually. The Church of Jesus Christ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 35 Billion.  The Catholic Church in the US alone, about 30 Billion.  These tax-exempt organizations based on a mythical figure, not immigrants, are the free-loaders.

An awful lot of our elected officials are free-loaders.  I do agree with Trump on one point, we need term limits to get the career criminals politicians out of what they have been calling public service.

Kenneth Copeland is worth 760 Million.

I think is the same tactic used by the Third Reich to rally the uninformed working class to support Hitler and the eventual war against the Allies is being used now.  Just as the Jews were not the root of Germany’s problems in the 1930’s neither are the US’s problems caused by illegal immigrants.

Call it bruschetta, it will sell just ok.  Call it toast and you can build a business on it. Europe has been serving stuff on toast for a lotta years.

Now I’m waiting to meet a friend for a liquid lunch, more thoughts…………

Remember when the grocery bags were at the end of the checkout lane?  Some years ago, they were moved behind the cashier when scanning was in full swing so the cashier could scan and bag at the same time. Why then do they scan all the items then bag all the items? I’d love t bag but there generally aren’t bags where I can access them.

Many of them don’t even think they’re criminals, they somehow justify getting wealthy while in office.

The Spring menu is coming along nicely.

Two people walk into a bar, take seats 2 and 3, leaving the first seat against the wall practically useless.

I was just reminded not to judge a book by it’s cover.

Someone recently said they’re sick of eggs on everything.  Bullshit, eggs are delicious on things and should be on everything.

Apparently, Cat Cora is some sort of entitled brat.

Two more people walk into a bar and take seats 5 and 6.  Now you have four people using six seats.

During service I intentionally ask very specific yes or no questions to the waitstaff since all the information I need is contained in either the yes or the no.  Why then over my years of service do I generally get a long-winded answer filled with irrelevant information and defensive lingo?  Other times I’ll say, “what specifically do you need?”  Unfortunately, the answer rarely tells me what they need.

Overheard as I’m writing:  “What do you do?”  “I’m a chef at 99.”

Pay the Man

I love Amazon.  I know I shouldn’t for so many reasons, but it makes my life so much easier.  When I need new work pants, I click on buy again, select my quantity and color and wait two days for my new Dickies Original Fit™ work pants.  It saves me from having to visit the store.  I know my size from when I purchased a few pairs at a retail store.  I’ve done the same with the Dr. Martins I wear in the kitchen but made my original purchase at a brick and mortar location.  Why not just try them on at the store and then just buy them cheaper on-line?  Because it’s kind of a jerk thing to do.

I was in a retail store in Saratoga recently waiting for the owner to finish with a customer who was shopping for some high-end knives to use at home.  He was educated about the difference between German, American, and Japanese steel, blade types, sharpening angles, and all relevant information needed to make an informed purchase.  At the end of the lesson the customer declared that now “has a lot to think about.”  And left without as much as a thank you.  Just before I could say to the proprietor that he was probably sitting in his car ordering a set of knives on Amazon, he said to me that “he won’t be back, he’s going to order them on line.”  “I just gave him a free twenty-minute education on knives.”

I used to see this years ago when I owned the pro shop in the Finger Lakes Tennis Club.  People would try a racquet or two on the court during their league play, then show up the following week with one of the same models.  The same story when I was the footwear manager for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

I’m ok with catalogue shopping or ordering on-line, it saves me a great deal of time and effort, and I’m a busy person, so the time-saving is valuable to me.  What I won’t do, and you shouldn’t either is spend a lot of a retailer’s time to be educated, and to be sized for something you have no intention of buying from them.  It’s rotten, and a real asshole thing to do.  Their knowledge and time are worth something, and you need to pay for that.  So, the next time you need something that is cheaper on the interwebs and you take up a store owners time and make use of his or her knowledge then save yourself a few bucks by ordering it from Amazon, I hope you get a cheap knock-off from China.

I’m suggesting a $25 non-refundable deposit when a store worker will spend more than five minutes to educate you on a product that you intend to buy on-line.  The money goes towards your purchase if you end up buying at the retail level.

This behavior is akin to the folks who book three restaurants for tables of eight in the same area during Parent’s Weekend, at graduation, or on Traver’s Day then deciding where to go when their group gets together, failing to cancel the other two reservations leaving a restaurant with unused, or under-utilized space that they must pay for.

The next time you ask why things are more expensive at certain locations, ask yourself if it has anything to do with your behavior. Perhaps there’s a nice balance between supporting local businesses and using on-line purchasing and reservations for your benefit.

The bottom line is, if you use someone’s service, take advantage of their education and acquired expertise, or ask them to reserve time or space for you, then you should pay for it.

The next time you ask a chef for their recipe, think about that.  Try calling an attorney for free legal advice or going to your doctor for a free consult.

Pay the man what he’s due (her too, for all you NPR listeners).

 

I’m Opening a Restaurant

“I’m opening a restaurant!”  People with the dream of opening their own place love to say that, but too often do not have the right space, the right concept, enough money, or get sucked into a bad lease or partnership which leads to e failure.  Even if the above isn’t true, mismanagement, opening for the sport of it, or a change in the business climate without adjustment will lead to an eventual demise.

When you want to have your own restaurant it’s very easy to make poor decisions when faced with the opportunity to have one or move into what is believed to be a better space.  I’ve made plenty of rash decisions, especially when it was in reference to something I wanted so badly that my judgement was clouded by desire and dreams.  Wanting to oversee your own kitchen or dining room is no different.

I recently read a story about a new restaurant opening in Saratoga and it got me thinking about this topic.  It’s something I have thought about many times over the years as well as taking the leap myself.  These questions are based on my personal experience, my victories, and my mistakes.

Is the lease favorable and manageable?  This is one of the things you need an attorney for.  Reading it carefully, and “my buddy is in real estate” doesn’t cut it.  Pay someone who can give you solid advice and negotiation points.  I once looked at a spot for a sublease and asked the potential sublessor what would happen if she went out of business before her three years remaining were up.  No answer.  I once was presented with a lease where the landlord wanted me to be responsible for structural repairs and equipment maintenance.  I asked if he was willing to have an inspection of the building and appliances and he refused.  Bye said I.

Are your partners trustworthy?  I don’t mean that you trust them against theft or other wrongdoing (if you’re not already convinced of that, get new partners), but can you trust that they are in it for the same reasons, are they an asset to the business?  Are they fully committed to the project?  Again, see a lawyer for an agreement. It’s easier to do it before the project than after.

What makes you atypical and does it make sense?  How will you stand out from the crowd?  “I want to have the best wings in town” does not set you apart, but believe it or not, I’ve heard that more than once when opening restaurants for people.  The clown that opened It’s Confidential on Caroline St. thought the best wings in town would be enough of a draw.  No experience, no clue.  Be serious and honest with yourself, how will you be different or better than what’s available?  Being different is good to a point, but you need to be sure that people get your concept and are willing to support it.

Does the area need another restaurant of that type?  Mexican, Italian, steak house?  Look around and ask yourself if the area you’re looking to open needs another Mexican restaurant, Pub, or Deli.  Can the population support your style of restaurant?  If there are already 4 other restaurants close buy in a city of 30,000 people doing what you propose, then you may want to rethink your concept.  “We’ll be different.” May not be the answer.  Italian is the exception.  With the success of Cantina on in the middle of Broadway in Saratoga I would be unwilling to open a Mexican restaurant, (no matter how different you think it would be) in location with a poor history and no visibility.

Do you have proven success in restaurant management?   No experience is likely to be a sure path to failure. There are exceptions, but I have seen very few people with limited experience be successful.

Can you really cook? Is your food good?  Make sure. Cooking Christmas dinner and receiving rave reviews from your family doesn’t add up to success. The restaurant business is not the same as a dinner party for eight.  It can be eight at 6:00, and a couple of fours and three deuces at 6:30 followed by a more tables of two, three and four.  If you’re going to run the kitchen, make sure you can cook well on a professional level. If not expect to add a chef who will be the highest paid employee on your payroll

Can the labor market support another restaurant?  How hard it to hire and retain employees at your current job (assuming you’re working in the restaurant business)?  If it’s difficult, what makes you think it’ll be easier when you’re the boss?  It likely won’t.  The most successful restaurants I’ve ever worked in had more than one long-term employee and limited turnover.   It’s not uncommon to have turnover, but I have seen first-hand what rapid employee turnover can cause a business to be either unsuccessful or less successful than it should be.

Does the space have a positive history?  What has preceded you?  If it was a run of failures, then rethink the location.  It just may not be the spot for another restaurant.  I’m really referring to the upstairs at 17 Maple in Saratoga where I recently learned that it will become a Mexican restaurant in April.  While the run of failed restaurants that have used that address is not a guarantee that the new entity will fail, one must wonder if this is the place to open yet another place.

Who will design and maintain your website and social media outlets?  Today’s business climate demands strong online presence.  Spend the money on a professionally designed website and have someone very qualified to handle social media.  It’s very important to be ahead of the curve on social media and it takes someone with both the time and experience to make it work for you.  Don’t leave it to a staff member who will simply post stuff without knowledge of the product, or a good understanding of how social media works, how to create quality photos, how to communicate flawlessly and clearly, and how to present captivating video.  Amateur work shows.

Do you have enough capital?  The best way to make a small fortune in the restaurant business is to start with a big fortune.  Be realistic about expenses, expect the unexpected, and don’t think your projections for income are accurate.  Also, don’t expect all the people who say that if you ever opened your own place they’d be there.  They won’t. Expect to have zero income for at least six months while still being responsible for paying all the bills. Can you do that?  If not, reconsider opening or raise more money.

Are people willing to support your kind of restaurant?  I worked at the now closed Chez Nous in Schenectady for eight months, and my efforts to convince the owners that a high-end French restaurant will fail in Schenectady went by the wayside.  I contended that a bistro model would allow them to keep the French theme while allowing me to hit a style and price point more appealing to the fine folks of Schenectady, the city I grew up in.  Give the people what they want, and if you don’t have what they want, or are unwilling to do be flexible, then don’t open

Does your family support your decision, and will they help support your business?  Probably not, and not likely.

Here are some snippets, I’m drinking Bourbon, so I may wander.

Owning a restaurant is more than a full-time job.  If you’re unwilling or unable to work long hours almost every day then it’s not for you.

Be wary about hiring family and friends.  They may be ok, but too often they will think they have a pass when it comes to being a solid and committed worker.

Hire professionals

Have a clear theme, a clear picture of what you want to be, and carry that theme all through everything you do.

Make it clear what you are and carry yourself and your new restaurant with a consistent theme.  The decor, the music, the food, the service, the stationary, the uniforms, everything must be consistent

Don’t make your restaurant a party for you and your friends.

Respect an animal’s death.

A host or hostess, either one. Essential. Sometimes it’s the owner, sometimes it’s a warm inviting person.  The host, from open to close is so important.

Red wine inspires cooking.

Food cost is overrated.

Don’t take wine too seriously.

Wine is fun.

Find your place

Servers should not have cell phones during service.

Work is not a picnic.

Eat before you come, eat when you get home.

Work.  Do whatever needs doing.

Be relevant, as a restaurant and as a chef.

I hope to be a happy old man.

I love cooking for people, people who appreciate cooking.

I would love to have a small restaurant, and I’ll leave it at that.

Stuff in My Head

When you cook the foods from a culture, and I’m not talking about simply using the ingredients from that culture’s cuisine, but claiming to be representing that culture, then do it with respect, and not as a gimmick or a marketing stunt.

Brady won’t be around much longer.

Mahomes will.

I’m strongly considering getting another tattoo.  I want something that makes sense, something that represents who and what I am, not who and what I think I am or want to be.

Mariano Rivera was an unsuccessful starting pitcher.  He entered the Hall of Fame by the first ever unanimous vote as arguably the best relief pitcher ever.  Find your niche.

When carrying three plates requires the server to hold one of them like a football and alter your plate presentation.

I once worked with a server who at 76 years old could manage to carry five plates.  The problem was that when she hit the dining room she forgot where she was going.

Wouldn’t it be cool if phone chargers were all the same?  I think we all know why they’re not.

An underage drinking sweep by the SLA on the day of Chowderfest could raise some funds and perhaps help return to an event about chowder.

I heard from a beer distributor that Chowderfest is the number two-day for beer sales in Saratoga behind St. Patrick’s Day.

People who cannot bother to clear the snow off their rear window before they drive.

If you think inspirational quotes, motivational sayings, and posters designed to stimulate your desire to excel are going to bring you success, then you’re nuts. They’re not, only you can stimulate your desire to excel.

I’ve started writing the spring menu.  I will stray from my norm. It’ll be good, I assure you.

Clarity and conciseness.

There are about 5000 gods worshiped by humans, yours is the right one, I’m sure.

I love when people come to work 15 minutes late, then stand there complaining about not being able to find parking while holding a cup of hot Dunkin Donuts coffee.

A shift starts at 5, you arrive at 5:01, clock in, get dressed, make your greetings, settle in and are ready to start working at 5:15 or so.

Either they’re too lazy to work or they’re stealing our jobs.  Make up your minds, which is it?

About 50 million Americans receive government assistance, a little over 20 percent of the citizen population.  Non-citizens do not qualify for public assistance.

Mussels with Pernod and cream go to the table, couple eats half the mussels, send mussels back requesting more broth, chef does his best to add more being careful not to overcook the existing mussels.  Couple not happy with the refill, while asking for a third helping of bread. Chef explains to server that the broth is made by cooking the order of mussels with butter, Pernod, and cream.  Couple doesn’t understand and isn’t satisfied, asks bartender. Chef drinks Pernod.

Tate had surgery today for umbilical hernia.  Yesterday the hospital called me to update their demographic information.  After the usual name, address, and employer, ethnicity comes up.  I said, “that question is irrelevant”, but the woman says, “we like to ask it.”  I said you like to ask irrelevant questions?  “No, I don’t,” she claims.  “Would your wife consider herself Hispanic” comes next.  I said, “I thought you didn’t like asking irrelevant questions.”   I added “I’m not answering questions that have nothing to do with Tate’s health, or billing and insurance.”  She moved on.  My wife, who is a medical administrator calls me “non-compliant.”  I find that title complementary.

Tate’s fine. Surgery was this morning, he was running around this afternoon.  I had the same procedure in 1964, but I was sliced open and certainly not an outpatient.  Who says America isn’t already great?

Today the Chocolate Lab named Piper who lives with us was trying to tell me something.  I asked her if Timmy had fallen into a well.  She asked me who Timmy is.  She’s too young to get that joke.

Sometimes it’s best to doing nothing about something.

Some of in this business have the opportunity to work for some of the few great restaurant owners.  Here’s a great testimonial to one of the good ones, on of the families that make a difference.

I’m lucky, I work for people who care, and make my life in this business easier.

I knew a Mexican

I’ve known a lot of Mexicans in the restaurant business, which used to be a thing in Saratoga before ICE started getting rid of the good dishwashers, prep cooks, and line cooks.

Saratoga in general wants good restaurants, luxury hotels, and a well-groomed city.  What they don’t want (in general) is Mexicans, low-income housing, and it’s less fortunate showcased on Broadway.  Saratoga has gotten rid of most of the Mexicans, (but still loves to celebrate and profit from Cinco de Mayo to its fullest).

Americans love Mexican food, especially tacos.

Americans love products made with cheap labor.

Too many Americans use the drugs run by the cartels who can make life difficult for people trying to live a decent and simple life which in part causes the influx of people coming across the southern border to escape the violence and to improve their lot in life by doing the jobs Americans are unwilling to do or do well.

One issue with running a kitchen in Saratoga is that Saratogians don’t raise a lot of dishwashers and line cooks. Too many of the white young folks in Saratoga have no sense of responsibility, no sense of urgency, and no work ethic.  Concerts, family trips, birthday parties, and hanging with friends seems more important than learning the value of employment. Of course, if you don’t need the employment, that employment has zero to little value.  The reality is that I prefer people who need a job and are committed to it.  I’ll even take that over young people who tell me they want a culinary career but can’t seem to be able to be committed for whatever reason.  Nope, give me an energetic young person who needs the job, and can learn, that’s who I want working for me.

When you take great risks to cross the border however you can for work, you are clearly 100% in need of a job, and chances are you’re going to be thankful for your employment, show up on time, and not ask for every other weekend off.

Many years ago, one such young man was presented to me at the kitchen door.  He spoke no English, he was anxious, and tremendously out of his comfortable, yet uncomfortable environment.  I gave him a job despite what I may have known to be true about this young man. His paperwork checked out with the payroll company, so I had done my due diligence.

The young Mexican quickly learned English, his 4th language, got his own apartment, and as it turns out was a great trumpet player.  He was also a committed employee.  This is more than I can say about too many of the young people I have hired in Saratoga restaurants.

I’ve sat and shared meals with a good number of Mexicans, all of them a pleasure to break bread with.  Tortillas actually.  I’ve learned about Mexican cooking and culture, and I’ve learned that building more tables and fewer fences (or walls) is the best way to make our small world a better place.

Guess Who’s Back?

Back again.

It’s me, Mr. Wishy Washy.  When I stopped writing several months ago, I thought I had nothing left to say on this blog, in fact, I thought blogging was getting tiresome.  The fact of the matter is that I was spreading myself too thin and it was easiest to give up writing.  I often make rash decisions, and I sometimes don’t consider all the possibilities before I make decisions.

Well, I’ve cut my work schedule down to four days and have turned down several outside catering gigs lately to have more time at home for family and fun projects like writing.

I’ve also met with a social media/web specialist so I can get my website, my blogs, and Facebook pages under one umbrella.  One of the issues I faced and led to the decision in part to quit chefsday was that my work was too scattered.  Being more organized in my web presence may help. We’ll see.

I think almost everybody makes decisions like I do, or at least has a similar thought process like I do.  I just happen to do my thinking out loud and in public, so perhaps I seem like I can’t make up my mind.  I don’t know, it’s hard to determine.  I guess I cannot commit to a reason why I appear to be all over the road.

 

 

 

To get back into the swing of things, let’s do some snippets.

Her self-serving style, her “look at me” kind of prose has no place in our culinary panorama.  I think she’s of little to no value to the local restaurant scene and writes and reviews with a vindictive tone that should preclude her from judging the work of others. I know without question that her food and restaurant knowledge is lacking.

Once you accept you are being judged by people who have less knowledge than yourself, then what’s it worth?  Marco Pierre White

She may be nice otherwise, but having a hack review our work just isn’t fair play. The TU should be better than that.

Chowderfest was a wreck again this year.  Someone argued with me about my criticism.  He said people could go earlier and stick to quiet venues like the City Center and places on the outskirts.  Why? Is it fair that because places start serving alcohol at 8:30 am (Farmer’s Hardware had a pre-party with drink specials) and idiots don’t know how to act in public when they get a couple of drinks into their feeble brains that families cannot enjoy all the venues offering chowder? Why should they be the ones to have to be selective?  Let’s load the drunks into one venue and let those interested in a community event have the run of the city.

St Patrick’s day will be here soon enough.

Most of the Mexican workers have been chased out of Saratoga, leaving a serious lack of decent line cooks, prep cooks, and dishwashers.

Saratoga has 4 Mexican restaurants, and celebrates Cinco de Mayo (not a real holiday) with full gusto.

My former employers, the owners of Chez Nous in Schenectady have decided to close their doors.  What I like about their closing announcement was their honesty.  They flatly said we simply aren’t doing enough business and the place is losing money. They gave it a shot, on their own, with their own funds, and that’s worth something.  It’s also far more than most people accomplish.

Most place who decide to call it quits make up a story rather than admit a failed business.

The Braeburn Tavern on Broadway in Saratoga is for sale after a short stint.  I recall a lackluster meal there while being the only table.  Apparently, they’re leaving the location to “focus on another project.”

My son no longer likes baloney. He forgot to tell me after I put it in his lunch.

Did you see this in the Times Union?

I’ve been using CBD oil for about a month now, I’m feeling a little less anxious, and my focus and thoughts are clearer.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of cooking a large meal for the staff at Yono’s/dp for their annual staff party.  What a great gesture and show of appreciation for their staff, and what a great time I had working in their kitchen.  Thank you.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Wednesday.

A lot of people have no understanding what happens in a restaurant before the door is open for service, nor do they understand the number of moving parts involved.

I get road rage in the grocery store.

Good to be back.