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.
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.
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
“Mom…..MOM! I am SOOO hungry! Do you have any pine needles? I’m starving!”, screams the child of the future.
I remember vividly, it was 1979 and the new buzzword of ‘people in the know’ was Sushi. My friends and I all of 16 and 17 years old. went to our very first Sushi restaurant in Denver, Colorado, the mecca of fresh seafood. You can imagine how that experience went… not so good. I think, I mean I know, that we buried our waiter with questions, “What do you mean it’s not cooked, it’s RAW? and so on. We ended up eating something cooked that we could say. This was not a good start.
Then came the Nouveau Cuisine movement. It was [I swear] 1 or 2 peas, a bite size bit of meat and a sprig of something for interest at 38 bucks. What were we thinking? Was it just another way to show excess and wash our arrogance down with a nice white Zin? I’m not sure, I was just 20 but it just seemed odd.
Fast forward to today, the 2012’s, the ‘we know everything about food era’. How it’s grown, who were its parents, what farmer use what soil to grow that heirloom tomato that has had its DNA traced back to the Mayflower. awesome right?
I don’t know…..I enjoy food and cooking as much as anyone out there and probably more than most. But my question is, have we all become so jaded that we can’t enjoy just eating?
First of all, let me make one thing clear, the raw product should be good, as good as you can get and afford. Not a freak science projects, grown on the other side of the earth, picked and shipped 2 weeks ago or meat that is harvested inhumanly- to best of your knowledge. It is very important to put good things in our bodies and our families bodies and friends bodies. But to what end?
I want to pose a few quick questions, would you turn down your grandmothers chocolate cake because it’s not gluten-free? How about that favorite dish you had every year for your birthday and your mom made it special just because she knows you like it? Do you stick to your guns or is there some flexibility in your views?
My view as a cook and chef is to try everything, everything in moderation and practice moderation in moderation.
Some of the best food I have eaten was off a street cart in a market in any other country than the USA. Thailand, France, Italy, anywhere else but here. Is it the best of ingredients? Do I know the farmer? Is it described and greens from _______ farm and ________cheese aged for ______ days? Fill in the blanks.
What I do know is that most of the product did not come from a major distributor, there are no semi-trucks dropping off cases of meat and produce to the side of their 3′ x 4′ cart. They bought what they needed, when they need it. I could not ask for a better way to eat.
Back to the whole chemical cooking thing and is cooking getting too creative. Yes. I thinks is cool and the skill and knowledge to produce that style of cuisine in worth a degree in chemical engineering and organic chemistry. Do I crave it? Does it satisfy my soul? Will it be timeless?
I hope that all this information that we all have gained doesn’t get lost to history as all the other trends of the past.
See all of you in Grand Junction at Mountain Winefest this weekend.
The Grand Junction event is just around the corner. Here is a nice article just posted on the 31st of Aug.
Be sure to comment.