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.)
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
It was Sunday evening; the sun was going down and the first thing I felt like doing was getting on my website to blog about the great weekend I had in Palisade and Grand Junction area enjoying the The Mountain Winefest.
With an estimated 7000 tickets sold and countless Colorado winemakers, live entertainment (as opposed to dead entertainment) and chef demos all thru the day, what is not to love? I had the pleasure of being the feature celebrity chef and the 12 noon demo guy, flanked by other great chefs and Local Culinary students, (I will provide a link to the school as soon as I get the proper link). Any whooo, It was a smashing success!
For my demo, I was very lucky to have over 100 people in attendance, it must of been my lucky day-I may have only offended 10% of them. Yee Haw!
I prepared an Asian BBQ pork short rib with a Gala apple ‘salad’. So, by request and my promise, here are the recipes for those delicious little niblets.
1 rack of pork ribs, cut in half by your butcher
Some carrots, celery and onions all chopped
TB of whole black peppercorns
A couple bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh ginger
What to do:
Oven: 300 degrees
Heat a grill or large saute’ pan, season ribs with salt and pepper and sear meat side until nice and browned. Place ribs and all the other ingredients in a roasting pan and cover the ribs with with warm water. Cover the pan tightly with foil and place in oven. Cook for 4 to 6 hours or until meat is very tender.
Remove from oven and let cool overnight in broth in the fridge. Save for later.
My Asian BBQ Glaze
1/4 cup sesame oil (any oil is ok)
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped ginger
2 dried ancho chilies (again, any dried chili is fine, just be careful of the heat. Marilyn Monroe knows “Some like it hot”)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups Hoisan sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh cilantro
How to make it:
In a med sized sauce pot, heat oil over med heat. Add ginger and garlic and sweat and stir and sweat and stir until very fragrant.
Add and melt in brown sugar
Add the seeded dried chilies
Pour in the apple cider vinegar and bring just up to a boil
Add the Hoisan sauce, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stir ever so often, DO NOT BURN.
Add the cilantro,and lime juice and turn off the heat.
Blend in a blender or food processor and strain.
Now, the hit of the day – Gala Apple “Salad”
2 Gala or Granny Smith apple, 1/4’d and sliced very thin
2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
1 cup thinly sliced fennel root
1/2 cup each of fresh mint leaves, cilantro, and chopped green onion
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Miran
1/4 fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss. Chill until service – only if service is within 30 minutes. Best to chill all the ingredients separate and combine just before service.
Time to put it all together:
Take ribs and cut into portion size, in a bowl, toss with some of the bbq sauce so they are well coated. place on grill and cook until hot.
Remove and sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with apple salad. Feel free to glaze with more sauce to your liking.
I really had a great time cooking for all the food lovers in the grand valley. I will be posting on Wednesday the Corn soup recipe I did for my chefs dinner at the Doubletree Hotel friday night,
Love ya all! Be sure to subscribe to my blog and comment
“I love the idea….But I don’t get it? How it will make money?”
This is a statement that I have become very accustom to hearing. I as well as many others have ideas come to them and we believe it will be a big thing. Be it a new widget or the next Amazon.com, you believe that it is viable, attainable and EVERYONE will love it. It’s needed, It’s wanted and I haven’t seen it yet.
Sure, until you open the magazine you just bought and your idea is there, smack dab in the middle of the ‘What’s Hot” section staring you right in the face, as your self esteem gets crushed by that dog-eared page that you felt was rightfully yours. Then your ego does the quick scan to see if the person that made this fill in the blank, were sitting at the table next to you somewhere or even worse, you know them!
More than likely, not.
Great ideas are a dime a dozen. New ideas are nothing new.
So what do you do? I am probably the worst person to advise anyone on this but I am going to do it anyway. This advice is coming from the guy who believes that he was ahead of the curve by wanting to franchise coffee shops in 1981, after spending my youth in a coffee house in the dumps of Denver and thinking “hey, college kids would love this!” in short, Starbucks you owe me. The reality is, this idea has been strong since coffee has been born.
What I should of done was just do it or do something. I pitched the idea to some friends and some friends parents (because I didn’t have any money) the same response came up, “Well how does it make money? people just sit there for hours and drink a bottomless cup of coffee for hours…students don’t have any money anyway…what are you thinking?” F–cking analysis got in the way, again.
Why am I even bring all this up anyway? I had a few eye-opening thing happen recently, one being that I have really good ideas, two is, they are really good ideas that I analyze to death and three, Why?
Here is what I have come up with;
What I reason-I don’t know, it sounded like a good idea but…..
The reality- I haven’t even tried it, how do I know?
Reason: It will cost a lot.
Reality: I don’t know that…
Reason: It will fail.
Reality: So what! It might, it might NOT.
Reason: It must not be that good of an ideas, someone else would of done it already?
Reality: So what, they are not you.
I’m not trying to write a self-help book here, but what I am doing is trying to do is foster inspiration. Cooking is a great and safe way to develop your confidence, try to do something that you have never cooked before, Buy something you have never tasted before. This will give you the opportunity to take a risk, experiment and taste your successes. What do you have to lose? A few buck maybe, but you are now wiser and know what you capable of. Bring this experiment to all aspects of your life and WILL BE RICHER for it.
Trust me, Look for the next big thing and I am sure I had something to do with it.
What is the right Knife for you?
Chefs take great pride in their knifes, almost to a cult, better than thou level. I am one of them. I love the beauty of a the perfect knife, the look of the steel, how it feels in my hand. If any of you are a Kill Bill fans and understand, even fictionally, the admiration on “Hatori steel” you will get the feeling an passion of what chef is searching for. We spend lots of money, we travel to far away lands, looking for just the right blade.
In my lust for knifes, I offer some advice…There are some factors that you must take into account when you hunting and are being ‘fit’ with the right knife;
When you are shopping at knives, DO NOT LOOK AT BRAND NAMES! Have a bunch of different kinds and lengths all put down on the counter top and start handling them. Don’t worry quite yet about the cost or kind. Pay attention to which one you keep on grabbing or going back to, set them aside.
1. Is it the correct size?
Bigger is not always better. It’s not bad, but make sure it is something you can handle, will use often and want to touch. [Insert joke anywhere]
2. The Handle.
Also, an important feature. Some are made of plastic, some wood, some metal, bone… Well, here are my thoughts, Get the one that feels best in your hand, the one that has a bit of girth, the one that won’t get slimy, the much over looked feature-the one that wont get Hot.
Also think about cleaning, Solid handles are best for that, high end knives are made without gaps or seams around the tang, I like that.
3. The blade.
I like steel, I like Japanese knives. Thin kerf, great looking but take extra care and a really good knife sharpener to keep an edge. I had a guy I didn’t know take mine and attempted to sharpen it and turned my $180 Shun knife into something I open paint cans with now, Still pissed!
Some like the ceramic blades. They are shape but I worry every time it falls off the table of gets chipped. I guess they are good.
I do not like a thick kerf of a thick blade. Some people do because it is easier on your fingers and hands, Toughen up, thin is in.
This is the biggest issue. Buy what you can afford, but remember, if it’s the right fit, you will use it. A knife will last a life time, (I have had some knifes for over 30 years, and I still use them).
Spend more than you should. You do it for your coffee and the photography equipment that you barely use or that carbon fiber mountain bike that you absolutely needed to keep up with your buddies. If you think about it, an expensive knife might be the cheapest good thing you bought that you might actually use. Don’t cheap out.
I made a fun little video explaining my thoughts on knife choices, Click the link and enjoy
He said boner (a video on chefs knives)
Food critics make me want to scream for YELP!
I am not a fan of food critics nor a fan of any critics for that matter, I find them counter-productive. I have always questioned the motive of a critic, what exactly is their master plan and what are they hoping to achieve? Truth be told, they all rub the wrong way, like a Glenn Beck or a Bill O’Reilly – quick to judge, strongly opinionated and can say anything they want because they can, not at all caring about the longterm ramifications of their words. They have nothing to lose.
Case in point, Yelp has become a major hub for the food industry and a must for any restaurant to compete in this 10 restaurants on every block world. Say you have a hankering for a Northern Thai food because you happened to have a memorable time in the Golden Triangle and want to relive that by a big plate of Chang Mai noodles and a thai coffee. Fair enough, Yelp can help here, a couple clicks, hit send and baby your living that college trip all over again. Awesome.
Problem is, some other uninformed customer decided that despite the near authentic style of cooking, his meal doesn’t taste like any “Chinese” he had before, he gets on Yelp and writes a scathing critique about his expectations that were not met, all his food smelled like fish and he believed that the other contributors got it wrong! Now he is going back to P.F Chang’s where “I know what I’m get’n”. He gives the Thai place 1 star, “just because I thought the server was cute and exotic looking”. It knocks their overall rating down to a 1.5 and good customers looking for exactly what they are offering make their judgement based on an lengthy poorly written revue, if the inquiring diner even makes it past the star rating or whatever the site uses.
This is exactly why I take exception to critics.
I have been cooking a very long time, I have had my give and take with newspaper, magazine and TV food critics. I felt at the time that I needed to go above and beyond with them to get their approval for good ink. It was good for business. How else do you drum up business, filter through bad restaurants and avoid spending your hard earned money on a horrible dining experience? Also, why should I bend backwards and offer more to the critic then what I would give my guest on any other day of the week? Sure, professional critics like to be unidentifiable and undercover, but any restauranteur knows what they look like or astute servers picks up on what they order or how they are eating it.
I think if critics pride themselves on being honest and transparant, they should:
A: Announce proudly who they are.
B: State what they do for a living.
C: For whom they are writing the article for?
D: Submit a resume to prove they have an ounce of credibility.
Then maybe I would feel like I should care about their opinion.
I remember watching Top Chef and listening to the judges slam a chef for making a curry for a family meal. They said he missed the mark, it was not family friendly. The winner made chicken. The losing chef by the way was a Kiwi guy and in NZ, curry is a very common meal. That is when I stopped watching that show completely. Bullshit for not taking heritage into account and only what some arrogant judge/critic thinks is a family meal.
I just have to ask you this; When you had that most memorable meal, was it discovered because someone wrote a revue of that experience? I bet not, I bet it was when you were walking down some side street, saw a door and a menu, something appealed to you. You went in and had the experience of a lifetime. This was not because of a 1 paragraph synopsis on any food site, I promise you that.
We all have opinions and are guilty of critiquing things that we have no training in or expertise. I have a voice, I know what’s good, it’s America, we can comment on anything. My only wish is that we use our power of the words carefully and thoughtfully, knowing that there will be someone that will take your opinion seriously.
I felt compelled to pen this because I was thinking about how entitled we have become and how easy it is to be dickish for no real reason. I have been doing my best to be much more excepting of everything, a little less critical and realizing that, all in all, I am really very lucky. So if your penne pasta has a bit too much sauce, think about the your response. I’m sure if you let the chef know, he’ll fix it, and if he doesn’t, don’t go back. It’s that easy