Game Seven and Other Stuff

As I sat and watched game seven of the World Series I typed whatever random thoughts hopped into my dysfunctional mind.

I really do try to be nice to everyone until they prove to me that they don’t deserve it.  Some people present early evidence.

Just the sight of Joe Buck irritates me.

I really need to update the about section of this blog.  That then me isn’t the now me.

Too often chefs and restaurants in Saratoga are limited by the shallow labor pool as a result of too many restaurants, and too many mediocre restaurants that produce poorly trained cooks.

We all have issues, I clearly have issues, and our industry has issues which gives many of us issues.

Video has finally been charged with murder in the death of the radio star

Every year people seem shocked that Christmas is coming so soon.

John Besh

Sexual harassment is huge in the restaurant industry, from the top down to the bottom up.

Do we really have 50 essential restaurants in the Capital Region? Not really, I’m thinking 20 at very most. Perhaps we have 50 individuals important to the local restaurant/food scene. Off the top of my head while watching baseball: Steve Barnes, Eric Paul, Dominick Purnomo, Bob Lee, Paul Mccullough, Rob Handel, Angelo Mazzone, Joe Armstrong, Vic Christopher, Daniel Berman, David Gardell, Dimitrios Menagias, Yono, Eric Guenther, Jim Rua, Greg Kern, SCCC, Jonathan Stewart, Michael Mastrantouno, Donna Purnomo.  There are more, and I know I’ve overlooked many and there are those that I’m just not aware of.  Help me out, who’s on your list that I’ve not included?

We need more cooks and fewer Executive chefs.

We need more owners that understand the difference between a Chef and an Executive chef.

Truth be told, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually been an Executive chef.

I recently read an ad for an Executive Chef’s position (for a local independent brand) that oversees 4 units.  The pay was listed at 45K.

Low pay is a big issue in our business, from top to bottom.

When the last restaurant you worked in still uses photos of your work for new posts on Facebook

I look forward to hanging out by the sauna at Crossgates Mall in my bathrobe while eating BBQ flatbread

Filling large take-out orders is not what I’d consider catering.  Apparently Chipotle does catering.

Jenn and I need to get to 15 Church sooner than later.

Joe Buck certainly can beat a topic to death.

Stop bastardizing carbonara.  If what you’ve made is not carbonara, call it something else.

English is many people’s 2nd language, even when it’s their only language.

I’m going to start on two new projects next week.  One is outlining a mentoring program where us old experienced chefs can help out young cooks on their way up.  I really think we need this.  Message me on Facebook if you think it’s something you’d like to be a part of.  Sometimes people just need someone to talk to with all the things we deal with in the industry.

Saying penne pasta is like saying apple fruit.

Putting the ball in play is also important in baseball.  Kind of important in life too.

I don’t need the shit that goes along with all the shit.  I have no intention of being over-dependent on the labor pool in my future endeavors.

Congratulations to the Houston Colt .45’s.

Welcome back to Boston, Alex Cora.

I generally dislike running specials out of my kitchen unless I’m gauging a dish for a new menu.

There are typically three kinds of specials: “we’ve got some surplus product” or “use this up before it goes bad.”  That’s the reason I don’t order specials, I don’t want your “about to turn product.”  There’s the owner that simply likes specials, they want one app, one entrée, and one dessert every day. I hate that, it breeds poorly thought out dishes.  Finally, there’s the “trying a dish for an upcoming menu to get some feedback and test the execution in the kitchen.”  I don’t mind that one as much since it’s likely something the chef has been putting some thought into rather than simply cleaning out the cooler.

I once saw cream of cheese soup on a specials board.  That’s what happens when you force it.

Very recently a special called NY Strip Parmesan:  NY strip grilled to order, finished with marinara and melted cheddar cheese served over penne pasta.

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Roasted, Sautéed, Broiled, Fried, and Poached

While preparing for the job search I’m thinking about my strengths and weaknesses.  I think one of my biggest assets is that I’m a stickler for proper cooking technique.  If you’re going through the cooking process, then doesn’t it make sense that you do it properly?  I’ve worked with some really good cooks in the past, but I’ve also seen a lot of bad ones over the years.  Yes, I have weaknesses and faults too, but it’s always been tremendously important to me that the food be done to the best of my ability.  Doing something to the best of your ability means learning how to do that thing you’re doing the right way.

While a chef can be a great technician, it does him or her little good without the support of other management or ownership.  That includes the ability to source good product, hire good cooks, and work with a well-trained service staff.  Tom Burke and Paul McCullough at 15 Church are good examples of providing what is necessary for a successful kitchen.

There’s nothing like an extremely hot grill.

I dig properly poached high quality salmon.

Too often a restaurateur must ask themselves “do I want a great restaurant or do I want to make money?” Few can do both.

Is it poaching in olive oil, or is it a variation on confit?

Franco Rua of Cafe Capriccio recently cooked beans in a flask. That’s not only old school, but it’s also cool. He does a lot of old school cooking, therefore, he’s cool.

I’ve seen too many examples of cooks confusing boiling with poaching.

I once worked with a guy that called it ploaching, and I couldn’t tell him otherwise.

Really good roasting of fruits and vegetables requires knowing why you’re roasting them, and what the desired end result should be. Too many cooks think it’s just to cook them.

Fried food in a mini shopping cart or fryer basket is not cool, especially if the fried food is of poor quality. It’s not kitschy either. I was recently served stale, over-seasoned potato chips in a mini fryer basket.  Good thing the beer was good

I’ve been poached.

Sometimes a wannabe should be, sometimes not.

I’m not against new things, but I do find a lot of modern cooking methods and ingredients to be too antiseptic for my liking.  With that said, a lot of these new techniques require a lot of skill and knowledge.

I love a clean and neat kitchen. I was in a kitchen last week that was dirty, and that was before the kitchen staff was in.  If you cannot take pride in your workspace, how can you have pride in your food?

Learn proper technique above all else, if you have a good palate then good food will follow.

Most cooks who “work sauté” do not know how to sauté properly.  They use too much heat, do not get proper color on proteins, and add liquid too soon.  Despite what bad menus say, it is impossible to sauté in white wine or cream sauce. In fact, you cannot sauté in any kind of liquid or sauce.

When someone who knows next to nothing about cooking and food tirelessly argues with you about cooking food.

Putting a bunch of stuff in a blender generally does not result in pesto, so lets stop calling a bunch of stuff whirled in a blender pesto.

Worst braise I’ve ever witnessed:  Barely browned, unseasoned chicken placed in a deep hotel pan with miripoix, and mushrooms, covered with red wine and placed in an oven for an undetermined period of time and called coq au vin.  It was done by someone who thought they had learned everything about professional cooking and I could not teach them otherwise.  Good, satisfying braises are long affairs that result in deeply satisfying flavors.  I now have the urge to make my chicken alla cacciatora.

This is unrelated, but it bares repeating: When you take a picture off the internet from another restaurant and represent it as your work without giving credit, and without making the potential customer aware that it’s someone else’s creative work, that’s deceptive and wrong.

The maillard reaction is important to understand.

Please cook your pasta in a very large pot of rapidly boiling and well salted water.

Blanching requires ice.

I never cook lobsters whole. The claws and tail cook at very different rates.  I also like to keep the bodies seperate for stock so some of the parts can be taken out, like the gills which can add bitterness to the finished product.

 

Help me, help you.

I can no longer help those who will not help themselves. If you are not willing make an effort, then I will no longer be able to pick up the slack, I just have too much to do.  I run a professional kitchen, have a marriage to participate in, a 2 and a 4-year-old to help raise,  a daughter elsewhere who deserves my attention, and am in the process of buying a house.  Also, I have this blog that I would like to spend more time on, and some outside projects that I would like to be more dedicated to.  I, like many other people have a full life, with many responsibilities, and I cannot take on any more. Pull your own weight in this world, I’m done helping others who choose not to do their part.

“It can be made into a monster if we all pull together as a team.”   Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar.”

“My second piece of evidence is the picture of the gentleman setting the table, who happens to be Paul McCullough. Everybody pulls their weight there and everybody supports everyone else; if a table needs to be prepped and Paul is nearby, why wouldn’t he help out?” Otis Maxwell on  http://burntmyfingers.com/

A deep-rooted culture is what it is, and for better or worse, what we have.  No matter how much it tries to limit you, don’t let it.

For me, the traditional neighborhood French Bistro is the most important style of restaurant.

What’s up with this Go Fund Me lately?  If you want me to chip in, show me a solid, well developed idea in detail, a comprehensive business plan, and let me know how much of your hard-earned cash you’re putting up.

“You’ve gotta have a system.”  Dr. Joe McFerran, 1998

Crystal, a server, broke down boxes today. She saw something that needed doing, and did it.

No, it’s not ok to have someone’s dinner wandering around the building while the rest of the party has been served.

All the information you need is printed (or should be) on the ticket.

Standards are the life jacket of any business.

At The French Laundry they, like most restaurants, they use masking tape to label food containers. At The French Laundry they cut the tape, not tear it like other restaurants.  When asked why, Thomas Keller said “because that’s the standard.”

We sold far more specials this weekend than ever before. Interesting.

Hey, guy with the guitar, I’ll give you couple of bucks if you ever actually play that guitar. I suspect you’re just a guy panhandling that happens to own a guitar.

All words are made-up.

Jordan was given good players who wanted to rise up to the necessary level to become part of a great team. Otherwise, he would simply have been Iverson.

Don’t ask me at 8:00 on a Saturday night to explain  something on a  menu after its been out for two weeks. The time to ask me was when you first read it.

As part of one of my outside projects, I recently did a tasting for a sweet young couple getting married later this year. They were so happy with the food that they inquired about having their rehearsal dinner at The Wine Bar.  It’s simple: Do a great job, exceed expectations, and business grows.

If Dole and Bailey continues to send the wrong products, they’ll no longer be hearing from me.  Every f’n week.

Y’ever hear of that Google thing they have out now?

As my Grandpa always said, “You got time to text, you got time to Google.”

Y’ever feel like a race horse with a 200 lb jockey?

Y’ever want to do this?    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3Dz6FOE_Gk

It’s going to be a busy season for all of us here in Saratoga. Time to get ready. Not just staffed, but ready.