Thursday, September 30, 2004

It's Not As Good As You Would Make!

This is one of the most annoying parts of our being a Chef. It's people thinking that we are expecting mind blowing, multi course meals when all we want is someone to cook for us. I've always said my favorite meal is the one I don't have to cook. For Christ's sake even my own mother would say"It's not as good as you would make" when it was in fact better because she made it. Nothing I can ever even hope to make will ever match the satisfaction I get from her food. How could it?
People get all nervous when they invite us over for dinner because they think we're going to judge their food. That drives me up a wall. I makes me on edge because(besides the fact other humans are around) no one relaxes. The constant "What would you do?"..or looking to another party goer" Well, it better be good, you're cooking for a Chef!" ..I hate that shit. I'm there as a drug addled guest and it's not a professional housecall. I don't care what you make. It's great. We're not even thinking about it usually. Any chef that would critique the food of a friend's dinner is a total jack-off. A pompous fuckhead.
When I'm off, I'm not a Chef..I'm just a dude. If I'm paying for my meal, you better believe I'm going to judge every single element. I'm going to look at the bottom of the plate when I sit down. I'm going to look at who makes the silverware. I'm going to judge it against every single thing I do in my place. If it's better I'm going to be pissed. If it's worse I'll be content.
If you're cooking for us when we're off, don't worry...relax...we're just happy to have someone else do it. I'll be in charge of spilling drinks and spray painting a skunk stripe on your dog.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Yet More Brunch Highlites

I couldn't sleep after a suprisingly busy Saturday night. For some reason I kept thinking about my health and telling myself I have to quit smoking. Of course, keeping yourself awake for no reason is excellent for not smoking. So I was even more overjoyed at the prospect of another brunch. I forgot to mention my other favorite people who are the ones who show up before you open. Just reverse the 20 minutes until you close rant and you have the polar opposite pain. Most of the customers today were regulars so it was relatively painless. My sous-chef and I amused ourselves by running interference on a friend of ours trying to get laid by using text messages. I love technology. High tech juvenile delinquency. I forgot I had to pay extra for text messages.
Anyway it was busy but oddly we had a good time.I think it was ok because most people ordered the cool, trippy sounding egg dishes and very few boring 2 eggs scrambled with bacon. We had a good time until......the 2 old ladies spawned from the mouth of Hell entered. Early.
"Do we get coffee?!" Yes. If you fucking order it.
Then their food came but it was too hot(thermally, not spiciness) to eat. Then they said it got too cold for them to eat. Right. They actually complained about the food being too hot and then too cold. At this point, I usually give the waiter carte blanche to deal with them as they see fit which is usually handled by ignoring their table. I have a full restaurant of people enjoying themselves and us and honestly, I just don't need or care about these 2 old complaining bitches. They have relegated themselves to being OUR victims. Anyway, they complained about EVERYTHING, not realizing the more one complains the less they'll get. If they were cool old ladies we might have taken the dish off the bill, but they wanted to play hardball with the major leaguers. So they get nothing. After they left, all was well and we all insulted them heartily. Then the phonecalls. FOUR of them!! They called us four fucking times and bitched. They even called the person who gave them a gift certificate and bitched to them. This was a GOOD day at brunch. It can never just be totally painless. Unless of course you're still flying high on Percodans and booze from the night before. Trust me though, they rarely last past 12:30 . Prime brunch time.
That is really all that happened today. I had some friends in and I didn't actually involve myself that much in the whole brunch "experience". Now however, it's on to the dinner shift.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Corporate Brilliance

Here's something else that's been driving me crazy for a while. I'm fucking sick of corporate think tanks putting their collective heads together to come up with "concepts" and naming them something dumb.Maybe their idea of "kooky funny" with lots of appeal to the average dolt. . P.W Skidoos, R.J. O'Malleys, C.W. McGirk's, Munchies, Hooter's, Bubba Gump's, get the picture. These are the same geniuses who have spent millions on research to find out what we want is an retiree welcoming us to a store. No, what we want is someone to ring us up faster. Maybe I'm in the minority, but when I go somewhere, generally I know where I am. They train waitstaffs to be your buddy (telling you their name is fine, but let's not get chummy friend) instead of teaching them about service an instilling in them to maybe learn about the product they're selling. A good example is Bob Brown. Doesn't he look approachable? Looks like great fun at parties too! I'll bet he's just a regular guy like us too. Fucking neatnick. This ridiculous asswipe has made a career of teaching waitstaff silly sales"techniques". One of his techniques is called " The Columbo Move"'s where you walk away and suddenly turn ( as if to remember something important) and mention it..."Oh, I just remembered our Extreme Fajitas, anybody interested?". It is EXACTLY like the scene in Office Space about flair. Another favorite technique of his is to nod yes while going over the menu. Like an intelligent diner is susceptible to this. Maybe if they would stop trying to cater to puppets, they might realize most people are intelligent enough to make choices based on their wants. Ok, maybe not MOST people, just the ones I want to comprise our society. Here's what intelligent people want. Informed, professional unobtrusive service. I hate when some cookie cutter moony, parroting a scripted greeting can't even tell you how the soup is made. Or mispronounces things . Or doesn't even have the slightest interest in what their occupation consists of. In any field, the reason you do it should be interest. If it isn't, you're flat out going to suck at it. Granted, most people don't want to be waitpeople, but the one's who succeed the most are the ones who become an expert on demand. They've chosen the interest of making money and our willing to use all the tools at their disposal. Their brain. Not annoying schmarm. Or ditzy cuteness. Pride and professionalism will reward more in the long run and is far less degrading.
Why our we dumbing down our society? I know, I know...a dumb and docile group is easier to exploit. Do you think corporations and the like want a populace of free thinkers? To much trouble to separate them from their money.
Next time someone approaches your table, beat them to the punch with " Hi (insert name of whatever's-buddy), I'm Norman and this is my wife Carolyn. We'll be your diners tonight!"It usually lets them know you want service and not a pal.
At the very least it might get you labeled an asshole which is always good.

Dickhead Chefs

I was reading my weekly pile of trade mags today( I've always felt they should produce a trade mag called Shitter Magazine as this is where 97% of what's written in them belong). All of these mags are produced for the corporate "bottom line" and have nothing to do with integrity in ANY area. There are some useful bits of info, but for the most part they are about how to mollify the masses and keep the corporate higher ups in tacky suits and they're wives in too much makeup. Anyway, what always amazes me is how most of these shoemakers don't have the slightest realization that they have a responsibility to cuisine. What got me started thinking about this is when I saw a recipe for "Morrocan Rice Pudding". I was expecting, Morrocan spices, maybe a little honey, saffron or raisins SOMETHING that would denote the culture. Nope. It was just a name added to make it seem "ethnic". Perfect. It would make the sheep feel "adventuresome", and have absolutely no association with a culinarily brilliant culture or any of those pesky unfamiliar tastes. I hate this approach to cooking and menu nomenclature. The using and abusing of cultures to sell something without giving even the slightest props to them. You've all probably seen it. Cajun Eggrolls. KungPao Quesadillas. Sante Fe Pasta Primavera. To cook any type of ethnic food, you have to put yourself in the frame of mind of the particular culture. Would this ingredient be used in a particular cuisine? What are the similarities between the different cultures that are being combined? Do they share technique? Is is a sensible blending?Very few are. Nine times out of ten they don't even understand the culinary history of the cultures they're playing with. This is why I hate fusion. "Look, I have black beans! And I have egg roll skins!" "I've got an idea!!!" Yeah me too. I'll get the 12 gauge, you get the apple! Foods put together by ungrounded and unprincipled idiots who don't realize we also have a role as teachers. It is us who open the world to people through food and not mislead . These guys are the guys who wouldn't hesitate to put on a silly hat and perform virtually any undignified stunt to call attention to themselves. The ones in the chile pepper coats. The whacky colored headbands. Who dress their kids up in those wretched baby sized chef's clothes. You can travel the entire world through food and they don't even want to pull out of the driveway. Just because you CAN do something with ingredients, doesn't mean you should. These clowns are far more devastating to the palate than virtually anything else. Not teaching people the greatness of cultures and cuisine, but dumbing it down. making it approachable for the "guy next door". Fuck him. If he is too timid, so weak-kneed that he is afraid of a plate of food, he doesn't deserve to eat. Anything.
It's like saying Brittany Spears is a singer(sure, I'm sure she has skills, but singing isn't one of them!). Or Barbara Cartland is a novelist. By default I guess they are what they are labeled. But true artists/craftspeople will still vomit in their graves!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

One In Every Crowd

This is the reverse of what you probably think I'm going to say. No, there's not an asshole in every crowd, crowds are composed of assholes. There's one stellar diner or incident that makes it all worth it. We Chefs know the "common" palate, but it's not just relegated to chefs. In virtually every field, the passionate ones are the ones who watch the cattle going to their shutes and scream WHY!!!! Why are you leading yourself to slaughter? Passion is so unrewarded it makes it almost seem pointless. Pointless that is until you change a person's idea of food and dining. I had a vegetarian deuce the other night and I was kind of bored so I offered them a vegetarian tasting menu. One of them seemed enthused but he other was rather blase about it. I think he was a vegetarian by virtue of trying to get pussy and going along with the whole situation.I can't blame him. You gotta do what you gotta do. They both went for it. I can't remember how many courses, 7-8 if I recall( each course 2 distinctly different plays on the same items) and I like to get feedback after each course. One was ecstatic the whole way and the other seemed like they could care less. Until a simple course of Chilled Hearts of Celery with a Saffron and Sultana Vinaigrette hit, he came alive. I couldn't believe it. I was beginning to lose hope in him and something as simple as celery. I was shocked. In a good way. When they left they were so amazingly thankful that it made all the nightmares of this occupation worth it. Brief instances like this are the greatest rewards for pursuing one's passions. Not the slobs who want a "big ol' plate" of food. Not the rich pricks who have all the money in the world and live for acquisition, but don't enjoy their toys. Not the families who are being reared to be complacent in their tastes but forceful in their needs. I'm talking about the people who's mind gets opened with great flavors and tactile sensations. Sensations they never even knew they had. This is when I know I've done my job well. That rare, brief instant where the reaction of the customer tells you what all your sacrifice and headaches is about. Customers that notice the details. When they tell you" You really put your heart in what you do and it shows". It can come from someone simply noticing how good the butter is or when they slump back in their chairs pie eyed, content and there's not a morsel left on their plate. They're happy. THIS is the greatest feeling. If they get it from my most envelope pushing stuff, then I have hope because I know they have open minds.

There's still the other 30 shitheads ahead and behind them though. But they don't even exist when one person notices your effort. Hope. The scourge of principled dreamers. That's all we got.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Restaurant Club

Something I was thinking about is how all of us in the business are related. Most of us have never met each other. Yet by virtue of our profession we remain close colleagues. It's like a big psychotic fraternity. we can go anywhere in the world and find comfort in a kitchen. All cooks and kitchen's run with 95% percent the same deviance, dedication and purpose. What got me thinking about this was cooking in Mexico for a couple weeks. Within 2 days, the saute guy gave me the "Psst..come here look." He then pulled out a little bag of coke and I disappeared into the bathroom. While I was cringing, I kept thinking how funny it was that we're all the same no matter where you are . The psychosis of cooking breaks down virtually all walls and builds bonds stronger than most. A bonding of souls I guess. Similar to cops, fireman and other alienating professions where only the people in that group can relate. Ever notice how uncomfortable it feels to be around the "regular"public? Maybe that's just me.
Put me in a room of non-restaurant people and I'm ready to slit my throat in 10 minutes. I simply don't know what a normal life is. Put me in a room of restaurant people and I'll laugh and party all night. This business does ruin you. I find calm, everday life incredibly dull now. I crave action at all times. I think I've developed A.D.D. from years of 60 second deadlines. But the funny thing is, I like it. I like being part of a fucked up group of people. People who I might add work their asses off, any of who's backs I've got. I don't care if you've quit on me, fucked me up somehow in this business. If you're still in it, I'm with you till death. Like one big dysfunctional family. PERFECT! Besides, we've been ruined...what else COULD we do. Personally I'd be a military sniper, but now I'm too old. Maybe freelance.

"You Know What You Should Do?"

Vomit on your shoes??Don't you just fucking love suggestions from people who aren't even in a particular field? Oh I'm sure someone will use the non-sensical argument of objectivity from a customers viewpoint, but we're all customers of lots of businesses and I never feel the need to critique them. I just leave them alone and get what I need. I'll critique a restaurant to pieces though, because it's what I know. Plus I enjoy it.
I don't mind when a suggestion is useful , and a lot of customers offer plenty. I'd be a fool if I didn't listen to some of them. I'm talking about the suggestions that only apply to an individual's spoiled neediness. When they say.."You know what you should do?"Most times what they're really saying is "Here's what you should do FOR ME". Something more than give you my life perhaps? Something more than risk an entire career's worth of work and future financial stability? Great ideas like" You should have high chairs" Why? Why would I want your spawn around screaming, puking and annoying my guests. . If I wanted kids I'd have some. I'll take everything else thanks. Another great one is .."You know what you should do? You should have specials know..two for one or something" Really? That's just brilliant. I wonder what business they're in . Maybe if they sell cars they should give 2 for one sometime. If they're a doctor, some free medical work would be great! Another good one was "you should paint the walls a deeferent color..something bright..bright greens and reds and purples!!"..Umm, you're tacky and gross, but you're right..I'll repaint everything to appeal to your lack of taste. Right after licking your ass for a dollar.
Everyone knows how everything should be done. I always suggest since they're experts in virtually every field, they should roll the dice and open their own place of business, We could all learn from them. Responder Rhonda is one of these. I'm sure she like to walk in, spend as little as possible and tell all her traditional bridge playing friends what anyplace should do. I don't go to where she works and slap the dick out of her mouth! Sorry cupcake, but you brought this on yourself and I will never, EVER give you peace.
My aunt once told me "There's no such thing as constructive criticism.Just criticism!" the longer I go on, I see where she was coming from.
(She also rebuffed the idea of running as exercise by saying " I never run. Look at animals. They only run if they're being chased!")
So please if you want to offer suggestions, take a minute and think if you're speaking from a general standpoint or if you're only thinking about yourself.

Filler Vent

I fucking hate computers. I had a post and I got disconnected and lost it. Isn't technology marvelous? A perfectly good rant. Gone. I'm still on piece of shit AOL. I'll post a couple tommorow . Thanks to all who can relate to the things I bitch about. Even though none of us have met, we're all brothers and sisters in this ridiculous business. Oh and Rhonda, you're obviously the customer we all hate you pain in the ass. I can tell because you seem all riled up when your servant speaks up. Now piss off!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Prick Hit List

Here's some of the biggest assholes I've ever come across. Not all customers, but all worthy of being left alone in a room with any seasoned kitchen dog.

We once opened a restaurant in North Carolina. After a few weeks, it was smooth enough to actually get out of there after service. I was at my rented cottage when I got a call from the frantic manager. "We've run out of cheesecake and there's some asshole lawyer(surprise!) pitching a bitch about it." He demanded to speak to the Chef(tip-never..EVER demand) like I was going to go out and whip him up one. "Hello, this is Chef----, I understand your having a rather bad time, what can we do for you?""DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!!! I'M ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL LAWYERS AROUND, I GET DRUG DEALERS, MURDERER'S OUT OF JAIL!!" (He actually said this) YOUR MENU SAYS CHEESECAKE AND I WANT IT!" He already lost what little respect I could pretend to muster up so I went with it. "Look, I don't know who you are and I really don't care, as far as I'm concerned you're a loudmouth scumbag causing a scene in my restaurant. We're out of cheesecake, I'm not coming in to make you one and what you're going to do is have any other dessert on me or I'm going to call the police and have you removed from the restaurant. You're absolutely powerless right now and if you try to leave without paying, I'll have your ass arrested for shoplifting." He must have been stunned, I guess most people are intimidated by his wealth and hot air. I hate him for it. "I'm sorry" he said"No need to threaten me with the police."...what a gutless worm.

I served a piece of beautiful grouper over a Salade Nicoise once. Some group of Florida rednecks complained it was cold. It was. It was a hot night and it was a salad. He took one of the hard cooked eggs and dropped it in the waitresses hand and said "Take this to the kitchen...tell them it's cold". She was almost in tears which usually does nothing but piss me off even more, but I could tell they were tears of absolute frustration with this dick. He then made the mistake of coming into the kitchen. I guess he was going to get me straight. He was also old. An old, ignorant redneck..How perfect! It's funny when people do things like this because the kitchen becomes eerily silent. " So you're the Chef?" " So you're the asshole" " You need to go back to school" "You need to go back to Florida redneck" "Yeahhhh, I AMMMM A REDNECK" he proclaims proudly " I used to own a restaurant ( hasn't everyone?) and your arrogance is going to make you broke!!' "I'm already broke. And your being an asshole is going to get your ass kicked!" I "helped" him back out and they were simply made to pay and leave. On the way out, his wife dropped her pants and mooned the entire dining room. It was a frightening ass too. Even a sexist pig like myself couldn't see any use in it.

One time in DC, a incredibly rich customer felt the need to instruct my Latino utility workers how to clean properly.He made them clean everything again. I heard about this the next day from one of them. Turns out he threatened them with INS and all the other bullshit. They were fucking scared shitless and honestly, I don't know why he did it. I know he wanted to become a partner in the restaurant group I was with,,,but I still don't know what his problem was. He always wore a Captain's hat though. THAT should have told me something.Like he was crazy.He showed up again like clockwork the next day and I was polite to him.."Mr. Whatever, I realize you're used to getting your way because you're rich, but this is MY kitchen and your money doesn't mean shit to me. These people work harder than you ever have, and if I ever hear of you intimidating them or abusing them in any way, I'll fuck you up so bad there will be nothing but a little puddle of piss on the ground with a captain's hat on it." " How dare you try to strongarm me!" he responded. "Man, lemme tell you. If I try to strongarm you you're gonna know it Cappy!" The saddest part if came later when the General Manager told me he really respected what I said, but I can't talk to customers like that. "I know Doug, that's YOUR job!". This was a guy from the mindset that money was more important than how the workers were treated. He made me sick. I had to have him fired.

A corporate suck up manager once told me " You're a really great Chef, but you need to be more corporate." I guess he felt he was my boss. He was fired a few weeks later and I was flying with the owners to L.A for menu research.

What is with these corporate sheep???Doing and acting how society tells them . I hate sheep. They should be roasted and served hot.

Just a quick note. I've been in this business since I was 14 and have never been late or fired. I do my job above and beyond BUT I'm still true to myself, my beliefs and have never nor will never take or put up with bullshit. Especially from people so low on the stature list that all they have is money to intimidate with. All I can think of is where they keep their jewelry.

Eeeeewww ...How Can You Eat That?

I love the American palate. Numbed by years of bland, processed foods, quick monochromatic meals and virtually devoid of anything remotely ethnic or God forbid, different. This is a generalization of course as I also know a LOT of Americans with outstanding food tastes and adventurous minds. I'm talking about the people who refuse to see the greatness in in a culinary journey. They want food that is safe and familiar. Familiar is boring. Sure we all get a craving for some simple homecooking but as a way of life? Forget it.

This is a cool article.

I find very little in that article I wouldn't eat. To me, these are the things that make the activity of eating exciting. Organ meats are especially dear to me. I could never figure out why people make silly faces when confronted with the unfamiliar. You can eat one muscle or piece of flesh but not another. Why? Because we as Westerners( for the most part) have the linear Western thought process. If it's unfamiliar, it's bad. I despise that way of thinking as it not only applies to food but virtually any other area from writing to getting fucked up. I might be guilty of habit when it comes to eating on my days off as I only really want Vietnamese or Sushi but these are the cravings that have developed all week from dealing with predominantly "traditional" foods. Except of course for the duck tongues, sturgeon marrow, monkfish liver, tripe etc,,,but even these become passe when you deal with them on a daily basis. I've eaten crispy grasshoppers and found them delicious. I've had what I think was dog( My ex-Filipino sous chef brought some food from his parents, and I asked him what kind of meat it he just was kind of gamey and stringy) it was ok, but not great and I would eat it again. Worm lollipops in Mexico tasted like lollipops with a sweet, crunchy surprise center. Again in Mexico, cow lip tacos fucking rocked as did the goat head menudo brought from my host's sister. Congealed duck blood at a Chinese place in DC ( I forgot the name) was like slightly warm, coppery jello. I absolutely LOVE the taste of blood. I sometimes wish I were a vampire. No, a real one, not the "Look, I'm wearing black and haven't seen sunlight " Goth "vampires" waiting to move out of their parent's home. They kind that sinks his teeth into a vein and sucks the blood. I also think it's truly hot. Old school.
One of my favorite food movies (Asian of course, do they make great food and splatter movies or what?) Eat a Bowl of Tea.(it's been a while. Lot's of chemicals and other food flics have gone through me and I'm pretty sure this was the movie) In it, 2 characters are the ultimate foodies. Proceeding each fuck scene is an even greater food scene. The male character in the end dies, and his dying words were to his lover were "Have you ever eaten a yam from the intestine of a wild boar in Winter?" apparently the digestion and heat cook the yam, the pig's metabolism sped up from trying to stay warm in Winter.
I wanna hang out with people that into food. The pursuit of a passion so great it IS the point of living. It makes everything else seem so..ordinary.

Torture Redux

Here's a few things I had to deal with from Fri-Sun

Fri night....3 top walks in and announces "We're here for shrimp!" ( we don't have any shrimp on the menu) again.."We're here for shrimp!"..great! You're here for shrimp. I guess they thought they walked in to Captain D's. "We're here for shrimp!" a third time to the waiter. By this time I wanted to pound shrimp up their asses and they've lost all possibility of receiving anything more than a cursory glance and a refill of their sweet tea. Being in a tourist town, these situations are more common than one might think. Other than those tacky Parrotheads it was a fairly uneventful night.
Sat lunch- Dead until a quarter till we close ( classic are you still open scenario) about 10 people walk in and I had to leave, leaving my sous chef to deal with them. I simply cannot deal with people who know your hours and show up to keep any-nighttime prep from getting done. You know what? Fuck off. I can't force joviality or even tolerance for that matter. I think we all should make a point to find out where these people work and go there 1o minutes before they close. Then keep them until long past closing.
Sat PM- decent night until......"There's a party of chef's from New York on 63 and their ripping the menu apart. When people have to announce what they do and where they're from, they're usually pricks. "We're from San Francisco." Oh. Well I guess whatever we do won't be good enough. Say, could you live in more of a police state? "We're from New York and we're very picky" Did you say pricky? Yes. You certainly are. Getting back to the assholes on 63, they asked the waiter his name and he told them. They decided he looked more like an Alan so that's what they were going to call him. Along with every other possible nickname. Chief, friend, pal, know, endearing terms from slobs. At this point I asked my wife for permission to turn their table over and throw them the fuck out of's all about respect. If you act like that big of an asshole, I won't hesitate to ridicule you to the point of turning you into a little, quivering mass of protoplasm. This is especially good in front of all present, AND they still have to pay. If they want to get uppity, I'll be glad to throw them through the front door and kick them until they cough up blood. I'm working on my temper. The next group of 4 came in and sat for 20 minutes asking if we had chicken. Do you see fucking chicken on the menu? They don't eat seafood. They don't eat pork. They don't want duck. Whatever. They just left which gave us all a sigh of relief. Trash. Go to the Colonel's.
SUN BRUNCH- Suprisingly, not that horrible. I didn't actually cook it so I just walked around, avoided interacting with the customers, drank coffee and read the paper and ate lots of meat.
Sun Pm- 4 top of fat, overly made up ladies in cute little appliqued sweaters decided to leave because we didn't have " a big steak". Fuck them too. I decided to do some paperwork at the bar, which was promptly interupted by " Some friends of a friend" who suggested they come by and annoy me. I hate idle chit chat and smalltalk. I don't want to hear about your boring, drug-free life, your dull touristy activities or especially your kids. I want to do my work undisturbed. Ever been forced to feign interest in someone so unbelievably dull, that you actually start to fall asleep when they talk? I looked down at my legal pad and noticed I had to write their names down because I forgot them as soon as they told me. I walked outside to smoke a cigarette when I was immediately accosted by a piece of shit asking if I had an extra cigarette. "Yeah, this pack had 21 in it" I said, followed by a " Go buy a pack shithead!"

Here is the ultimate dilemma. I am in a business and city based on sociability. I am the most anti-social person on earth. I could live my entire life with no human interaction at all. Ok, some..I like my friends. We have the same interests. I wish I had an invisible suit so no one could see me. I love making them happy with my food, but I want no fanfare, a simple thanks will do. Honest understanding and appreciation. I hate strangers coming up to me, looking in my grocery cart and asking me what I'm making for dinner. None of your fucking business. I'll talk about food with food people I respect other than that, please, don't speak to me. I'm surrounded by people 24-7 and my only pursuit these days is solitude.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Are You Still Open?

Here's a question. Does anybody own a Godamned watch anymore? And if so, do you ever look at the fucking thing? What's up with people walking in at 5 minutes until a restaurant closes? What fun is it being the object of ridicule and scorn from the kitchen( who have been cleaned up 20 minutes before you got there) and the waitstaff who really love to wait around for you to decide what you want 10 minutes after the restaurant is closed. I'm not talking about if it's busy, when everything is going at full pace anyway, I'm talking about a Wednesday night, in the slowest part of summer. Or my personal favorite, people who run late for their reservation at 9:00. You know the ones. They call and say they'll be a few minutes late (which inevitably turns into 20-30 minutes). Is it really that fucking hard to meet a deadline? Everywhere you look there are timepieces. Watches, clocks, on your cell phone, pda and on your computer. EVERYWHERE! The absolute favorite are the people that decide they need to not only place their order after the restaurant is closed( OHHH THE POWER!), but decide they need to ask every single question possible about the menu. All questions answered. Then they have whatever it is they didn't want to know about. Or better yet. "We'll just have some soup.".
Soup. The restaurant has been waiting for your ass to show up and you have the balls to hold everybody up for a bowl of soup. Here's the actual translation of what the waiter says.."Not a problem"= "Go fuck yourself you cheap, self-important prick" then it's back to the kitchen. "They're just having soup." "WE WAITED AROUND FOR THESE CHEAPASSES" "WHAT A COUPLE TURDS!".

Sometimes being late is unavoidable, but 9 times out of 10 it's because shitheads didn't want to rush. Or they forgot. You forgot? Well, if remembering your dinner reservation isn't important to you, then I guess you don't care about what you're going to eat. All the high wire, envelope pushing food comes off the menu and you get a steak. If you don't care, we don't care. It's all about mutual respect. I've always held that restaurant staffs are the last whipping boys for the statureless. How important you must feel after having spent all week following your orders like good little sheep, being able to be a thorn in the side of somebody who has to try to make YOU happy. If that's how you feel, if you feel we're your slaves. Take a running fuck at a rolling doughnut. Respect us, show up on time and don't act like a pretentious jerk and you'll get our best. Treat us like shit and all we'll do is wish you were dead. Blunt but true.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Another Great Ted Line

It's been raining non-stop for the last 2 days and I love it. I hate the sunlight and much prefer the dark. Anyway, here's another great Ted statement about vegetarians.

" I love vegetarians. They're all I eat."
-From Ted Nugent's Kill It and Grill It Cookbook-

My kinda guy.

Monday, September 06, 2004


I love money. I love material things. I love getting into a tricked out Camaro and smoking the Yokahamas down to the rim. Then I'll buy some more. Unfortunately, I'm usually broke because of this.

Wish I could sell out, but I love what I do too much. I blame a tasteless society for all my financial woes, but I know they're all my fault. I just can't do something "just for the money". I envy and pity those that can.

Food and Wine Snobs

I ate a bunch of Valium last night each followed my a shot of tequilla. I forgot that your body only processes one at a time and basically holds the others in escrow.When I finally woke up, I started thinking about assholes who could never admit to the joys of a fast food burger, a bag of chips or a candy bar. Yeah. Food and wine snobs.
I'm not talking about the palateless walking tragedies to whom food is simply energy. They're a lost cause. But at least they don't make conscious decisions to be pretentious. They're just boring.
I'm talking about the people who are so elevated in their tastes that they would NEVER admit to a secret craving or ingesting something less than impressive to their social group. I deal with caviar, foie gras, the best meats and fishes money can buy. My table butter is beautiful artery clogging stuff from Australia. I provide luxury. It's my job my passion and it occupies almost every waking second. When someone says "It must be great to be a Chef." I think they're thinking it must be great to eat only the finest foods obtainable. Well, the sad fact is that most Chef's have probably the worst food cravings imaginable. I used to get off work and head to 7-11 for a Nestle's Quick and a microwave burrito. Or a weed induced raiding of Taco Bell. It's not that I don't want a steak tartare sometimes (raw meat? how could you ever turn down raw, dead cow?"), it's just that I have to switch gears for a minute to regroup . Thomas Keller once said that to appreciate the very best you must experience the very worst. It's true. For me at least. I might be guilty of taking this statement to the extreme, but that's me. I'm a creature of bad habit. I love junky burgers and my favorite snack is frozen Kit Kat bars. I once heard a food critic dolt remark how people that eat that stuff don't respect their palate. Please, the only temple my body is is the Temple of Doom. I put anything I want in it. No, maybe I don't respect my own palate but I respect immensely the palates of my diners and am developed enough to separate MY personal pleasures with what I do for a I am in fact most times 2 entirely different people. Conflicting duality. It drives me insane.

Wine snobs on the other hand are another bunch. They are actually more annoying than lawyers, who's company is usually present out of shear necessity. I don't drink that much wine ( The horrors!!!!) as the sulfites and tannins give me raging headaches. I can pair it with food but for the most part I prefer to drink water. I don't like alcohol unless I'm getting drunk. I've never been a social drinker. Ever been around a bunch of snivelling wine geeks? Not people who like it, drink it and appreciate it, but the people who make this great ceremony over it. People who go on and on about the virtues of the terroir. The people who walk in with their own Riedel glasses with balloon bowls bigger than their heads. Jerk-offs who frown upon anyone who drinks anything but wine with a meal ( I don't normally drink soda, but make an exception when surrounded by these people). People who place the pomp and circumstance of drinking wine above the actual wine itself. I hate these fucks. You know the types. They're the ones with the silly misconception that "everything's better with wine."or the "Save The Terroir" bumpersticker on the back of their Escalade. My personal favorites are the descriptors; "Tarry", "hints of lead pencil" "leathery"" hints of old cigar box""smokey bacon". Yummy!! I'll eventually develop my own wine dictionary that will have less subtle descriptors. "Laurel without being Hardy""playful without being ostentatious"" hints of young girls panties" "snakelike" traumatized""sketchy". My theory is that eating and drinking are subjective. If you prefer iced tea with your meal, it will taste better TO YOU than if you if you're brow beaten into drinking what someone says you should. They've imposed a rule on your likes and have negated the rules of dining pleasure. It's about what an individual likes. I want you to drink wine with your meal too. And lot's of it. But then I love high check averages. These people have their own passions and are welcome to it, but like any like or dislike, don't shove it my face! At least they have passion in something though.

I'll flip flop in a second when it comes to well done meats and overcooked foods, but this is the nature of a truly hypocritical iconoclast. Besides, everything goes better with pharmaceuticals.

Wine And Cheese Security Threats

Here. Thank God the Department of Homeland Defense is looking out for our "safety" by creating more stringent import laws thereby depriving us of the best imported cheeses, wines and other foodstuffs. Punish the artisinal producers and the threats to national security who place pleasure over politics

I feel safer already knowing Pierre's cheese is sitting in a loading dock rotting. Of course this means nothing to the Department of Home Confinement. I'm sure they're happy with good ol' American cheese and some sweet tea.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Another Brunch

This was even more excrutiating than normal. It was slow. Labor Day weekend and the elite have retreated to their safehouses for their 3 day weekend. So slow in fact if I could pull my own head off I would. But made it even worse, was I could hear the band. First off, I hate jazz..not all jazz , just the stuff that makes you feel like you're watching some black and white TV show with your parents WISHING you could escape outside to get high (of course you can!). You know, mellow "old favorites", requests from 75 yr old ladies. Men who in their mid 50's decided to "come out" which to them means turning up the collars on their polo shirts, losing their socks (WOW! talk about carefree!) and requesting something from the good ol' days. Jazz makes me feel old and the people that eat brunch out of tradition make me feel older. I hate anything that makes me feel that way. I want a metal brunch. I want L7, Blackflag and Suicidal Tendencies screaming and making people cry. I'm only 39 for Christ'ssake. I get younger every year actually.
I decided to actually cook myself something to eat and sit down and read the paper. Rice, black beans, 2 fried eggs, sausage and Latino cabbage slaw. It hit the spot hard. Then it happened. The sound that can make blood pressure squirt through your eyelids. Somebody had to bring their fucking spawn and it started it's bawling. Why do people have to bring their goddamned babies everywhere? There like little baubles these days. "look at MY baby!" ushiwuushi wushi wush..."He's so cuuuute" ...bbbbbb..... " awwww baby went potty'.." Baby's getting sicky"....Leave that filthy little thing at home until he's at least old enough to control his bowels!
I like when people breastfeed at the table. Ladies, please go to the bathroom . Nobody wants to see this when they're eating and believe me, we're all watching and making jokes about it. " I want some of what HE'S having!" "Do we just help ourselves?' are some of the better comments.

But Brunch is sooo fun! All you friends sitting around drinking cheap champagne!!! It's fun and sooo traditional! Fun?" Fuck fun! I quit school because of recess and my idea of fun isn't toe tapping tradition! Virtually everything I consider fun is illegal, immoral or boring by people who find fun in crowds!

This is what makes brunch so glorious. It is composed 95% of the worst of every social group. If you truly enjoy brunch, truly enjoy making people slaves to your sloth whimsy then I'm sorry, you're just an asshole. Trust me, it's not just me that thinks this. I just write it.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

This Isn't About Food, But Still Vomit Inducing

What is everyone searching for? Life is shit. Is there really some "great elusive meaning?" I read this and actually felt nauseous. Find something you feel passionate about, pursue it with every fiber in your body and that's pretty much it. The rest is just distraction.

The theory? Helps restore a " touch deprived society". What happens if you touch someone in our society nowadays? I can't even lust after waitresses anymore without fear of getting sued.

My solution? Fill these freakshows with chronic ejaculators.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The Lowly Mackerel

Every day I wonder why I do what I do. The hours, the predominantly unappreciative dining public, the endless five minute deadlines, the constant employee turnover, equipment breaking, the sacrifice of friends, family and celebration. The list goes on forever. But tonight I realized one of the most addictive reasons for me. Perfect natural products. Fruits, meats and fish that are so unbelievably perfect and beautiful, that when you experience them you connect not only with the product itself, but with every person involved with it. You form a deep bond with total strangers because just by seeing what they provide, you know where their heads are at. Being a perfectionist is isolating. Few care about perfection. For me it's everything. It gives you hope to know others are out there.The relentless drive of principles and true work ethic.
Good enough is easy and easy is just that. Simple and lowbrow. I won't waste my time on it.

Here's a brief rundown of what came into my kitchen today; Spanish Mackerel, Sea Urchin, Fluke, John Dory, Bronzini , Hawaiian Opakapaka, (now that I'm writing this, I just realized my Sand Dabs didn't show...I totally spaced) Hand Harvested Abalone, Wild Alaskan Salmon. Each and every one of them was so perfect I had to stop and just look at them. Touch them. Think about them. I wondered if people are truly deserving of such perfection. They made everything I do seem somehow blasphemous. As if anything I could do could improve them. Cooking ANY of them seemed contrived. I wish I could just eat them raw. Take a whole side, raw, out to a table and have people eat it in it's absolute perfect state. Maybe a little fluer de sel, but THAT'S it.
Take for instance the mackerel. A marvelously unappreciated fish.I once had a customer say " Mackerel? We use that for bait." I wanted to kill him and use him for chum but then I thought fish are far too superior to eat shit like that. The Makeral's shape is sleek and it's skin silver, smooth and scaleless. Built for speed with little water resistance. It's like a little natural torpedo. Perfect in form and function. It's flesh rich, firm and ever so slightly tinted from it's natural oils. Only Japanese steel touches them. Perfectly forged razors are the only tool worthy of it. The combination of feeling hundreds of years of traditional Japanese steelmaking effortlessly slicing through a perfect example of natures handiwork makes everything seem in perfect harmony. Swordmakers tested their blades on cadavers so the whole thing seemed natural and not the least bit wasteful.
Another example is a perfect peach. Most of my stone fruit comes from Mariani Farms. I wonder after tasting their fruits if anybody has ever or WILL ever know what fruits taste like. You can smell them from across the room. They're like the most perfect little present you could open. Their juice is sweet and syrupy, fully developed sugars. You can taste them on your mind's palate before you even get close to them. Go into a grocery store's produce section and what do you smell? Nothing. There you are surrounded by mountains of innocuous products. All empty and devoid of any character. I like to equate these with the majority of the human race. When you deal with Mariani fruits, you also deal with principles. They're treated like little children. Nurtured on the tree to develop to their absolute potential. A picker then carefully cuts them by hand and then carefully places each one in it's own little cradle. No tree rake shaking them off by the dozen onto a tarp, so hard they won't bruise from the fall. Pump gas over them to speed up their "ripening". Sure they're just fruit, but it seems as though they appreciate the extra care. Children should be so lucky.
So this is one of the greatest reasons I do what I do. I deal with things most take for granted. I get to play on a whole different level. And it's more fun and in a way, elitist, than you could ever realize. The 20 Creme Brulees to 2 Roasted Doughnut Peach withVanilla Bean Ice Cream keep me grounded unfortunately.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

There's No Such Thing As A Stupid Question

Who came up with that line? Of course there is. Here's one; Why isn't red blue? Because it's fucking red! I ran my finger through a meatcutting saw one time, giving my index finger a nice Y shape and some moron asked me if it hurt.No. It felt fucking great, you should try it on your dick! Here's a few more actual questions from the dining elite that I've collected over the years.

" Do you take reservations?"
"No maam, I'm afraid we don't"
" Well if we call ahead, could you just hold a table for us"
" How much is your house salad?"
"And how many does that serve?"
" Does the whole wheat/green olive crust taste different than the regular?
" I'll have a house salad plain, no dressing"
salad arrives
"WHAT, NO DRESSING?!" ( what the hell is up with salad people?)
" Are you a non-profit organization" (the Langioule steak knives must have given it away)
response? "Only at lunch"
" Is it cold in your dining room? Do provide shawls?"
Shawls? What the fuck is next? Catheters?
" Can the Chef make me a steak Diane?"
Can you take three at the same time? Exactly! You probably can, but won't
"Does your coffee have caffeine in it?"
" Do you take cash?"
No. I prefer to get ripped off by the credit card processors

These are just a few true examples of just how fucking dumb the average diner/consumer is.
They never ask really good questions.
" Are the back of your toilets smooth enough to do coke off of?"
" Do you have a lime-pit outback?"
" Do your waitresses drink a lot?"

Nope. Always the same bullshit. Brief snippets of idiocy that run rampant in diners.
There IS such a thing as a stupid question and every other customer asks it!

A Chef's Arch Enemy

Think vegans and vegetarians are a pain? They are, but when I calm down I can almost tolerate uhedonistic-pleasureless existence. As I said before I'm all for personal choice and honestly I welcome the challenge when assaulted by them. Some of my best friends are vegans and/or vegetarians. I just don't go out to eat with them. But THESE people are who I have to draw the line with.

Yep. Fucking Breatharians. They claim to dismiss ALL food and drink. ALL OF IT!
They claim your body doesn't need food or drink. You get all your nutrients from the sun and air. Also claim it will lead to immortality. Who on the fucking planet would want to live forever denying yourself the pleasures of food and drink?
Maybe I'll install a few oxygen tanks at my place. I can't even rant on these people because to me, it would be like beating up a retarded person.
Personally I believe we get all the nutrients we need from steak and cigarettes.
There's no way I'm from the same species and does anybody know when we gave the inmates the keys to the asylum?
I guess it's again that annoying personal choice thing, but personally I'd choose to draw and quarter these freaks!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Glory Boys

Anybody know where this is going? That's right, it's going out to the motherfuckers in starched white coats and camera ready hair who are so far removed from what the basis of what we do it's sickening. I'm talking about, of course the media/press minded Chef. Not the Chef who realizes you have to work the press to support your restaurant, but the Chef who places his own image and ego above all else when his food flat out sucks. He absolves himself from the responsibility of overseeing his cooks and food while he prances around the dining room, air kissing the socialites and pumping the hand of anybody who might know somebody with a camera. I fucking hate those shoemakers. Go to fucking Hollywood! I'll cook fucking circles around any of them in a second. Shit, most of my line cooks can (if they're not whining about hard work and quitting).Why? Because I'm first and foremost a cook. I've never lost sight of that ( believe me, at this stage of the game I wish I could!) Not Thomas Keller who is in his kitchen every fucking day working with his crew and has done so every day of his career. So much so, that he has to tape his knees up to make it through most shifts. He's never lost the food first mentality. Not Eric Ripert who should be a fucking model( God I hate that guy!) but his approach is..fuckin' first and it shows. His food rocks. No, you know the people I'm taking about.
Here's a little story about a very exposed and recognized "Chef". I was the Chef at a restaurant in Maryland once and I was given notice that -I'll create a name similar and you can figure out who it was-Robbie Gray was at the bar. Cool I thought, I'll go over and talk Chef shit with him. He was pretty famous and I guess maybe I assumed he was one of us.You know..a cool misanthrope. I intoduced myself and the first..THE FUCKING FIRST words out of his mouth was.."How's the press around here?" What the fuck? What a dick. I just shrugged my shoulders and said " I don't know man, I cook for my customers." and walked away. Dude, this guy needed to die! It was almost like an epiphany that entrenched me further into my beliefs that no matter what your silly "title" you must remain true to your craft. I've always been a working Chef. As owner I'm constantly faced with the choice of participating in some great gathering of culinary geniuses who are willing to share with the world how great they are, or making sure the food that has my name and reputation on it is as perfect as it can be. I always chose the latter. Believe me, I'm constantly wishing I could have one thousandth of the bank these cocksuckers have but the only way I could ,without giving myself the old buckshot mouthwash, is to undergo an ethical bypass. Again, this isn't about the Chefs who work in their kitchens AND work the press. No. This is about the assholes who goes and rips his line to pieces because somebody's fucking venison was a overcooked. Well, where the fuck was HE? In his kitchen.Fuck no. Maybe he was in the dining room taking credit for the work of his cooks.Chances are he's not even at his fucking shitbox.
My work has been featured in every local mag. and newspaper wherever I have reaked havoc on. Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Wine and Spirits, I'm on the "Star Chef's" site, a bit on the tv Food Network...blah..blah...fucking blah . All of this means nothing if my food sucks. They came to me. I didn't chase after them like some starstuck little bitch. I got my props by cooking. Side by side with my kitchen. I still work saute, break down the fish, clean the line and unclog the fucking toilets if I have to. The discipline to stay focused on the food has not only rewarded me with emotionally and spiritually empty media rewards, but the confidence to know that on this never ending journey of learning and respecting food and technique...I sail right past these shitheels.
And that's what makes a Chef a Chef. I cook. Like a motherfucker. People always ask me what my definition of a definition of a chef is. A great cook with bigger headaches.
So Glory Boys, get your shiatsu'd asses back in the kitchen and realize that you have a greater responsibility than your fucking egos. Your first and foremost obligation is to the food. The damage you create from your "look at me" bullshit, which fosters a generation of cooks who wanna be rockstars but can't do ANYTHING with skill, precision or the discipline for repititous tedium, keeps them from learning the full potential of themselves OR their craft!
Cooks, keep your knives sharp and cook.Everything will come.
(You'll still be broke though, sorry)

Next time you're out to eat, and you see the White Knight in the dining room for a great length of time ask him"Shouldn't you be in the kitchen?" And just for shits and giggle tell him everything was cold.