What an amazing response to my last post, thanks to all of you. I wanted to bring back a touch of levity, the homeless, hunger and do gooders can be more of a mindful but necessary PSA post, less fun of a cooking tip post.
So, I present to you, my take on how to choose a knife and what to look for. I hope that you find it mildly useful in a ridiculous kind of way.
I’m a guy who has made his life in the food world by unusual means, I don’t always get the opportunity to spend time in traditional kitchens. When you are in a business that requires you to seek consistent, well organized plan of attacks, you are going into a battle, not armed with weapons of force and steel, but with heat and flavors to win over your critical foe.
I had the chance to join up with some peers and was asked to be the photographer and videographer of a fundraising event that took place at the now closed Six89 main restaurant which was a Chef Mark Fischer concept in Carbondale, Colorado.
These events are always a ton of fun to be involved with. If you have never been to a James Beard event or a Slow Food event, you are missing out on something special.Each one of the organizations do amazing things for the food world.
The James Beard Foundation’s mission: ” is to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and future”, from the James Beard Foundation website. In the food world, to receive a James Beard award is like winning an Oscar.
Slow Food’s mission: Slow Food works to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread taste education and connect producers of excellent foods with co-producers through events and initiatives. This is world changing stuff.
As a guest, you get the chance to sample a selection of different dishes prepared by a number of different chefs who took time away from their own restaurant to be involved. 99% of the time, the Chef will be there cooking and not sending his or her minions, which is always a good thing.
As chefs, we get the chance to create something special, unique and inventive at these events. Not only to wow the guest but to throw down some culinary ego just to get favorable response from our peers. Sure, we all go in there with 100% good intentions but no one will show up with that “caesar salad” the restaurant got famous for. That would be just stupid. We have a chance to work with and not just sit and bullshit with, other great chefs and try to WOW them with a cool new idea or a inventive presentation. Yes we are a territorial lot, bitches.
I love these events and have been involved with many of them. I find them inspiring and a chance to get to know other ‘like kinds’ with a purpose.
I made this short video to share the teamwork of a working kitchen during a plating of one of the dishes. Just take note that this is the first time that many of these chefs have ever worked together. Watch the rhythm of how they assemble the plate and the focus and joy everyone of them is experiencing. Enjoy this and please leave your comments. Please be sure to follow this blog and share it with your friends.
(I know I have forgotten to mention a number of people in this video to this list, Please contact me and I will add you and your links to this blog.)
Just like most people in the food world, I am taken in by the car wrecks and the killers of the culinary arts world. I’m speaking of the competition cooking shows. It doesn’t really matter which one specifically, just any of them that contains a screaming british guy or chefs without hair.
It may be a bold statement but I have my reasons. I will be the first to admit that I had a major hard-on when the first Top Chef show was aired way back in the day. It had everything. Hack cooks, great cooks, Padma, challenges, real cooking situations, new ideas and some really bad ones. I remember you could sit and watch the show and actually say “I’ve worked with a dude like that” or, in my case ,”I’ve work with that dude” and claim rightly, “and he sucks!”. I wanted to be a contestant. But now the purity has turned on these shows.
I was watching TV the other night in a hotel and Master Chef or something like that was on and Gordon Ramsey was, as always, involved. The contestants were given the challenge of recreating a dish from another chef restaurant. OK, not a bad test but here is the rub. The dish was described as “this is the dish President Obama ordered ” as if it gave the dish more credibility. WHO GIVES A SHIT?! This is nothing about Obama, it’s about name dropping and creating pointless self promotion for a chef to feel good about himself because someone of importance ate his or her dish.
Call me old school, but isn’t presenting a perfect dish reserved for ALL of your customers? Really, do you change how you cook or put more effort into a dish that you are serving to a celebrity than you would for your tried and true clientele? If you do, you’re a dick and a suck up.
I have never been a big fan of the restaurants that put up pictures of the famous people that they fed. It seems…..cliche’. The ONLY restaurants that can get away with it are 60 years old or older with an owner that looks like he belongs on the Sopranos or Goodfellas and that’s about it. That’s when it’s cool…period.
I was reading our local Alt mag the other day which comes out weekly called The Westword. They cover all of the happenings in music, culture, entertainment and food. I grab it every week to see what’s up and to read the food section. They usually do restaurant reviews, which is pretty much always the same (hated it, loved it, I slept with the chef, would have tasted better if it was free) and then a short Q and A with a local chef. It can be interesting (until the terms ‘fresh’ and ‘local’ get used too much) but it always bugs the hell out of me when they ask ” So…what celebrities have you cooked for?” or something along those lines. Why? What if he said Geets Romo? Would you care? I bet not.
My question is simple. What makes any celebrity endorsement a key to a chef’s ability? Does Brad Pitt have a more sophisticated palette than you? Is VP Joe Biden more educated in how a piece of Ahi should be sliced? Why should they get preferential treatment because they made a good movie or that one hit on the radio? I would love to hear Mr. Ramsey say once, “This dish is the exact dish chef fill in the blank has built his reputation on. Can you duplicate this?”
This will never happen so I now placate my TV addiction with The Walking Dead…at least it’s realistic.
It has been a very interesting couple months in my world. In short I had a job drop into my lap perfect and not perfect all rolled into one. I’ve been cooking my ass off. I have been attempting Stand Up comedy in Denver with moderate success, but I made my charity, LOVE HOPE STRENGTH some money, I’m happy about that. I have been collecting more than my share of speeding/parking tickets. My cars been hit. I am in the best shape I have been in….let’s see what else?
It’s been a pretty good end of the year, everything and skill I have, I did!
So here is my big plans. 2013 is the year of getting out of all of my comfort zones. I am going to do ANYTHING, all pride aside, all ego aside and live this midlife crisis to the max, as we used to say way back in the day.
Here is my list of 2013 tasks;
a) Start a design firm
b) Restore at least 2 vintage motorcycles
c) Get my foot in the door of a custom furniture maker
d) Get to know Brooklyn better
e) Get even more fit
f) Help somebody and do good
g) See one Deepak lecture
h) Learn one song on the piano
I) Get a one man monologue show written
j) Continue to prove to my lovely bride to be how much I love her
k) Get my niche in the food world (I can assure you oddly enough, that it won’t involve working a line anywhere)
l) Get off Facebook
This is just a small starting list for the next 365 days ahead. All I can hope for is that the Mayan weren’t correct in their prediction. I’m looking forward to next year.
Dear diary, 10/16/12 morning
It was a beautiful sunny day, kinda warm but not hot but kinda chilly but not bad really and then I got up and had granola and yogurt for breakfast and the dogs sure enjoyed the leftover steak I gave them and I hope it agrees with them, that might be a problem, but thats ok, I am sure that it was worth it to them..and
BTW, New and very exciting things have made their way to life Completely unexpectedly and out of the blue. The stars aligned and opportunity was presented in a major way.
Dear Diary 10/18/12
Denver, I am looking forward to becoming part of your amazing culinary scene. The dogs are ok
Check out this article on Eater.com today
The pancakes above is not in the plan anymore.
Yes it has finely happened, I have let my Crossfit habit mingle with my professional life and it is about time. I have never been one of those guys that was or ever thought would become a gym rat, I’m not a rat more like a crack habit. But over the last two years I have been doing Crossfit- first at Roaring Fork Crossfit under the suggestion of my good friends Mark Fisher and Lari Goode and now at Broadway Crossfit and South Denver X-Fit. Why this is relevant is that Mark and Lari are food people, Mark is a Chef and Lari runs the world. Their restaurants are six89 Main, Phat Thai and The Pullman, which I helped designed and built.
Both of them are and always have been very fit, truth be told, most people in the food industry are really not in good shape. It’s the food, booze and hours that get us. So when you find people that are so dedicated to healthy living and the food they prepare is neccessaruly not. This meaning, calories, butter, oil, sugar, etc. even portion size. I take notice.
I bring Crossfit into this for a reason. It is really hard work, work that I don’t take lightly. I have been involve in Xfit for 2 years and have had remarkable success. I am not the strongest guy in the gym/box but I am not the worse. I have thing that I am really good at and others I just SUCK at, I’m talking to you squat snatch! But the point being is that I am really trying my hardest to get good at this, become stronger and look good, yes, vanity. I think it’s working.
I bust my ass, I am in pain and I don’t want to throw all of my efforts away just because I WANT pancakes or dessert. That, in the nature of evolution, is making me WANT to eat better, eat healthier and think about if I really want to drink my hard work away. I pretty much have given up drinking all together. I love beer and I love great scotch but the toll it takes aren’t worth it to me. I thought I would never say that, but I did and I mean it.
I will not become one of those people that act holier than thou about this, but for me, it have made all the difference in the world. I still cook with butter, bacon, cream, whatever, but it is now done with a softer hand.
If you haven’t noticed the recipes I been posting are 1 bowl 2 pot recipes. I found that if I make it easier with a few really good ingredients and flavor, every meal is a success! So keep on following this blog and I promise I won’t cult like on ya!
Have a good week and I will talk with you this weekend
Here is a quick recipe for the dinner I just made, Super easy and delicious:
Cannellini bean and roasted chicken
1 Roasted chicken, either your own or a store bought one, 1/2 shredded other half saved for an other time.
1 can Organic Cannellini Beans, drained
1/2 Red onion diced
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped smoked bacon
1 broccoli florets sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon oregano
salt and pepper
In a med saute pan on med heat. when pan is warm add bacon, stir and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is almost cooked
Add red onion to bacon and cook until onions are tender.
Add chicken and garlic, saute for 3 minutes.
Add broccoli and toss and sauté with bacon and chicken and stuff.
Add beans, stock and oregano, turn heat down a touch and cook until beans are hot. (if needed, add more stock to keep moisture)
Taste and season to your taste, remember that there is bacon in there so be light handed with the salt, unless you love lots of salt.
Serve in bowls and top with parmesan
Serve with french bread if you like.
Great food can be simple and quick, just remember, texture, flavor and balance.