Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Fucking French

I think I've done my best to avoid this subject, but now I'm fucked. I have no choice now as I've dealt with French people since before we opened for brunch (remember that horrid subject? Throw a few snotty French people in the mix.) until they annoyed the last few customers at night( now add a French baby). First, I like to see stereotypes dispelled and not reinforced. I tried not to go along with the hip anti-French sentiment because frankly I don't care what country anyone is from. They produce beautiful models and they like good food. Good enough for me. Granted, the willingness to roll over prone is a little hard to take , but whatever. France also gets props for creating cuisine structure and kitchen structure as we know it today so I guess in a way, Careme, Escoffier, Point are all our culinary "Fathers". Ouch. Fortunately Spain has taken France's position in the culinary spotlight. Shit. They get it from all angles don't they??I wonder why.Sunday brunch....2 of 7 frogs walk in and sit down. Finally the rest show up and get a round of champagne. "Oh....first thing in the morning and we're drinking California champagne!"..Oh I'm sorry. It's free. You could always buy a fucking bottle of Dampiere if you want zee best."Oh, would you care for a wine list? We have several very nice champagnes.""I guess this will be ok"Of course it will you cheap fuck.- side note to table 18, people dont' eat green beans and eggs for brunch. Eggs come with meat, preferably lot's of it!-" I want the steak with foie gras butter in place of the sausage on the other dish"You want to substitute steak and foie gras butter for sausage. In other words you want to pay $14.oo for a steak big ass ribeye with foie gras butter is this correct? No, I'm afraid you'll pay $26.00 for basically steak and eggs. Keep it up! I like this game!"I want hot chocolate"We don't actually serve hot chocolate, but it's really not a big deal and honestly, it sounded really good for some reason so I made it. French style with milk, cream and very bitter chocolate frothed in the end with the immersion blender....it was fucking good."How much should I charge them?" the waiter asks (in a fine mercenary tone I might add)"Nothing, tell them it's compliments of --------""It was delicious, can we have some more?"No. That was called generosity, we don't ask for more you snotty, snotty drip.When all was said and done, they surpassed their stereotype of low tipping by leaving a phenomenal 10 AND A HALF percent.8:30 Sun night. Relatively slow so I decided to re-write the menu and get off line for a while. I hate cooking on Sunday nights after brunch. I don't know why, but it just really sucks. Took my seat at the end of the bar and that was the cue for the French couple with child in hand and baby in stroller to arrive. I kind of felt sorry for them. They were young and both had the exhausted look of having dragged little rugrats all over a foreign city where no one spoke French. They looked fucking beat.Things started out promising the woman ordered the foie gras terrine. See, that's what I mean about the French loving good food? The woman was very slim but felt no guilt whatsoever about ordering a 1/2 inch slice of fattened duck liver with a quarter inch of duck fat on top. And she ate the whole thing. She also ordered the White Bass "cuis en sous vide" with sauce Americaine. The guy had turtle soup and a roasted fish. They were eating very well and I love to see people eating like this. Not necessarily dining, it's more carnal than that, but eating. Then the banging started. The little girl was now bored and was banging the spoon on the table . Now the spoon and knife... Isn't it amazing how children can destroy even the briefest period of calm?She calmed herself down by plopping herself right in the middle of the floor where all the traffic is. Her and her raggedy assed rabbit doll. Just blocking the way of the waiters, her parent's oblivious. Now the shrieking starts. Awwwwww...little baby just woke up and he must be cranky!!..Imagine the loudest crying baby you've ever been trapped on an airplane with. You could hear it in the kitchen, outside, in the office..there was no escaping this noise. It's the kind of situation where everyone has either a really pissed off look or that nervous smiling. All I'm doing is watching the nervous looks on the other diners faces and telling myself.."they'll never be back...this is fucking brilliant" All I truly want to do is go" Look, I appreciate that you enjoy the food , but you gotta get those little motherfuckers out of here!"...Take the kids out back, eat in shifts, get your food to go....I don't care just shut them up! Nope. They just sat oblivious to everyone else and ordered a couple of soufflees for dessert which take about 15 minutes. I wanted to kill them on one hand and on the other, I admired their self absorbedness. After the other diners left, the kids were more at ease and calmed down...damage done for the day. After having the waiter remove all my silverware from their baby carriage, and leaving the requisite 10% tip they finally left, victorious in thair battle to uphold stereotypes, jellyfish-like backbones and dispel their mythic grip on dining and sophistication.Yes. After today I can say Fuck the French.Oh and about tipping? I don't wanna hear "Well in France, the tip is included!" Well, in America it's not. And anyone who travels ANYWHERE learns the very basic customs. I don't wanna hear this "they didn't know" shit!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Mass Feedings

That special time of year is here and I don't know about you, but I'M certainly giddy! I'm talking about the Holiday Season! If you're like me, the thoughts of the Holiday season always bring such joy! The hordes of people in last years Christmas sweaters, the shellshocked look in dad's eyes when he's dragged from store to store....grandma and grampa all made up in their best wax museum finery...Grandson Bobby with the " Give me my present so I can go back up to my room look"... I hate cooking for groups of familys. The concept of an entire family that wants to go do something together is kind of frightening, excusable only if certain family members get waaayyy too drunk and start shit with one another.This all gets nullified if more than two members are wearing Christmas sweaters. There's just waay too many rules around this time of year! My mind is reeling with how much there is too be annoyed by!. But let's not forget the most joyous of events. The abandoning of all dignity and resorting to scoop 'n pooping about 95-100 fucking turkey dinners. Yep, all those poor traditional souls are going out en masse looking for bird stuffed with bread. Writing the menu for Thanksgiving is particularly shitty because you know all they want is turkey. Doesn't matter what else you put on, everybody wants turkey. And good o'l pumpkin pie too!! Nothing you can do, no way of getting out of standing there pumping out these plates of traditional silliness. " Well, why do you serve Thanksgiving if you hate it so much?"...(had to get that out of the way)

For the money. Same as brunch. I hate Holiday menus every bit as much as I hate brunch. I do them for the money only. I'm a whore on Sundays and Holidays only.

Tradition. Fuck traditions. I like to celebrate the Holidays the way I want. I don't want a plate of turkey. I'd rather have a huge Vietnamese feast, but this is the time of year that makes non-traditionalists cringe, so we serve food assembly line fashion. A hundred plates of waayyy too much boring food. It's kind of sick to see so many people who are hopelessly bound to tradition( not so much by the tradition of Thanksgiving, but by eating the same fucking thing every year!) eating like this. Let's celebrate the holiday by going out and eating cafeteria style! It's 10 hrs. of mind numbing repetitious boredom...then WE get to sit down and eat. After prepping for days, serving hundreds of people " a traditional Thanksgiving dinner", we get to cook for ourselves!!! I seem to have lost my youthful enthusiasm about this meal. I just want to go home for the most part. The sight of turkey makes me sick. The thought of eating cranberry sauce is revolting and all I can think is just three more Holidays to go until the horridness of the Holiday season is gone for another year. Being in this business is like being on a nuclear sub for months at a time. We don't come up for air much and we most times just don't get what's going on on the surface. What do Holidays mean for the majority of us? Not a godaamned thing except the absolute distillation of everything I've railed on up to now. So when you're on the way to work(while others are sleeping late, enjoying their friends they haven't seen since last year) to slop out yet another Holiday feast for others, and someone says...'Hey Smile, it's the Holidays!!!"....please...do SOMETHING to them or their property.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Your Foie Gras Has Been Terminated

California has banned the sale of foie gras. Yep. The Governor who made his career pumping iron, groping women and making movies about killing anything and everything that moves ( has he had a great fucking life or what?), has suddenly buckled under to the animal rights activists and his string pulling wife, and decided to eliminate hundreds of years of culinary bliss and tradition. The thing that really pisses me off is that do you think Kindergarten Cop won't get it and eat if he wants? What the Hell is going on in California? Everyday it's turning more and more into someone's sick version of Utopia. Oxygen bars, a Nazi-(oops...sorry Arny)like war on smoking( which everyone realizes is a foul, disgusting and deadly habit...BUT it's still personal choice) and now you can't eat foie gras?
Let me say for the record I've spent a lot of time in California and I love it. I can tolerate the smoking issue because I simply go smoke when I want to. I just break the laws I don't like. But the foie gras thing has me really shaking my head in absolute dis-belief. Few things in life are better than George Morrone's Yellowfin Tuna with Seared Foie Gras, but it's not even that one dish. It's foie gras itself. It's fucking great. It is such an integral part of traditional cuisine that who actually thinks they have the right to say we can't eat it? WHO? You're meddling and tampering with culinary tradition. No one has the right to do that! Not me, not any other twisted culinarian and certainly not an ex-bodybuilder! This stamping out of pleasure in our society and replacing with FORCED compassion is another small right stripping that really bugs the shit out of me. Wanna have a safer society? Why not pull out the Declaration of independence, pull out a pocket knife and cut out the parts we don't like? Smoking and drinking kill millions of people each year. Period. Yet because of the sickening amount of money the tobacco industry generates ,well, we'll just put up some more warnings and let the legal murder continue. Let's get rid of cigars Arnold, would that be ok with you? Of course not! You should be allowed to smoke your expensive turds if you want. It's basically a " Fuck people, let's focus on a duck" mentality and I think it's warped. I like animals as much as anyone, in fact I prefer my dogs to most people, but I also have long ago accepted that in the food industry, animals are treated as inhumanely as they could ever be but that's how it is. It's not right, but that's how it is. This position of " until we find a more humane way to produce foie gras" is asinine. How are we going to do that? How are you going to force a living creature's liver to become swollen humanely? I was thinking about this today and I though well, an alcoholic's liver swells..so why don't we turn the ducks into alcoholics. Let them drink nothing but Port and maybe their livers will swell from alcoholism. Also think how fucking good it would be to be marinated with Port from the inside!.
No, why don't we just do this. Why don't we just eat foie gras if we want? Why don't assholes like Hizzoner focus on the true problems in our society and stop trying to pin the blame on everything that has some slight sensuality to it from sexual preference to luxurious food. The problem isn't the poor ducks. The problem is laws being enabled by people who live in gated community fantasy worlds who have no earthly idea what anyone wants. I say we as chefs create a national foie gras day. An unofficial holiday celebrating the glories of this insanely delicious product.
Hasta la vista freedom. Right Arnold?

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Side Note...Pour Out A Little Liquor

For Ol' Dirty Bastard. Wu Tang's founder.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Wacky Chef Clothes

Today's the day when the new Chef Revival wear catalog shows up. All I can think is "What the fuck? What a bunch of shit!" Don't get me wrong, they have nice coats and all, but when and WHO more importantly, all of the sudden thought we needed "wacky" chef's clothes? Scarves, 25 different styles of coats, tunics, jumpsuits(fucking jumpsuits man?), bakers hats, beanies, bandanas, baseball hats all in every tacky, garish and hideous patterns, each one worst than the one before it. I hate them. I hate them all. I like black/checks and whites. I mean when did cooking food become a fashion movement? And a dangerously bad one at that. Black/White. Simple. I mean what is the point of all this foppery? "Look how wacky I am! I'm an individual!" No you're not. You're fucking annoying. Wacky. Don't you just love wacky people? Get back in line, keep your wacky individuality to yourself and show me how you cook! What corporate twat actually turned us into fashion dummies. Muted pink chef's coat( for her) Denim chef coat( for him) how sickeningly "cute". Where did this shit start? Did someone actually complain about...
"This dumb old coat.......cooking's fun and all....but the outfits are so boring!"
Pretty revolting isn't it? How we're pictured in catalogues like this. Silly little fashion puppets. I really do despise them. But what's even worse is this entire line of everyday items given some mythical status by applied "chefdom". Here's a couple favorites: The "Sauce Bullet". It's a thermos. The "Line Spoon". Yep. It's a spoon. Personally, in all the places I've worked, I've never actually seen something called a Line Spoon. I have about 2 dozen big, cheap-ass soupspoons I use. Guess I must be missing something. The "Drizzler". You might know them as squirt bottles. The "Tastermate". It's a spork. My personal favorite the"Bonetector". A stainless steel device that clamps on rack bones. Kinda like foil, but fancier. When did all this nonsense come about? When did what we do for barely a living ever become so fucking accesorized? I'm serious! Did it come about the same time that ridiculous rim garnishing shit happened? Seems to me like it did. I'll bet...I'll bet, that if you show me someone in a bright wacky chef's costume, with those goddamned chili peppers on it, I'll show you someone who puts shit on the rim of the plate! And baby chef wear? BABY CHEF WEAR???!! What is that about? Some corporate Mooney who thinks a baby would look "really cute" wearing a cooks outfit?. I think we should find the offspring of these marketing thinkers and force them to spend their lives in kitchens. Think of it..
"I had no idea...(sobbing)...I just thought he would look so cute in that outfit. I just wanted to cater to some (sobbing) neurotic moms!" "I had no idea the chefs would come and take him!!! THEY TOOK MY LITTLE SKYLER THOSE BASTARDS!!!"

What is actually happening to the job of cooking? Has it really become so glamorous? It's pretty much the same as it ever was to me. I must have missed that whole era of the chef thing. I was probably lighting the water heater or pulling out Rockfish guts. Not to mention this minor thing which is why we do WHAT we do. For the food.