Friday, August 27, 2010
No regrets. No hard feelings....
Social House gave me a great opportunity to grow and learn about the business.
Of course, I'm holding back. If you asked some other people, they might say something different.... just saying.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Of course, this is a two way street.
If you wanted to succeed badly enough, you would show it. You would work harder than anybody else in the kitchen. You would come in early, bust your ass, and then do the work of someone else ranked higher than you in the kitchen, just so you can learn something. You would take notes, write down techniques and recipes, study, and then study some more. In the midst of your chef screaming %$^%@# directly into your ears, you would pay attention, stay focused and not fuck up again (for the rest of the night). You would TAKE IT, LISTEN and LEARN. Then maybe, just maybe, you would earn some respect from your chef. In return, the chef offers you his perspective. When I was coming up as a cook, this was the way...the only way.
So if any young cook wanted to learn and move up in the brigade, it all had to be earned. NOTHING good is ever given.
The following are some of the things that my Chefs and other chefs that I highly respect, have passed down onto me:
"It's all about excellence, or at least working towards excellence. Early on, in your approach to cooking, you have to determine whether or not you are willing to commit fully and completely to the idea of the pursuit of excellence. If you strive like crazy for perfection, an all out assault on total perfection, at the very least, you'll hit a high level of excellence. Then you might be able to sleep at night.
"You have to be so earnestly devoted that if you were any more devoted, it would be perverse, and any less, it would not be enough.
On a cook burning spinach: "You must talk to your food. Did you recognize, did you know how long the farmer had to work with that product, seeing that it grows, watering it, temperature's right, and you as a chef, dare burn that spinach?!""The total respect for food is in your hands."
"In this business, there's only time to learn, work, and make money. You better do a lot of the first two before you think about the money."
"You have to be disciplined. Cooking is an art that requires craftsmenship. You have to be true to your craft to be good."
Although I have lost contact with some of these incredible chefs who have helped shape me as a cook, I just wanted to take a moment and give thanks, my way.
and there are many others...
*A Quick Note*
When I use the word "chef", I am referring to the people I have worked for. In the kitchen, there is only one chef. That is the guy in charge. Often, the word is abused and bastardized. To me, the word has more meaning than someone who just cooks. It is title that is earned. Once I call someone "chef", I will always consider that person to be my chef, my mentor and teacher.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Here's the definition from Urban Dictionary:
Fuckin' New Guy. Term still used in the western English-speaking armed forces of the west (primarily United States, Australia, United Kingdom and Canada) to denote a new soldier fresh off his basic training. It means they have the basics but no real experience, so they do everything by the book (which is not always best) and they are overly keen and always shut down on long excersices.
Some people stay F.N.G.'s for years, however most switched-on soldiers lose the status within a year.
I remember working my first kitchen job in Boston, MA. I was still a bright eyed teenager. Those guys were great cooks, quick, precise, and each demanded the same amount of intensity from everyone in the kitchen. This group of cooks were my first influence in my professional life. They were OGs (Original Gangsters), and I wanted to be just like them. But I wasn't. I was the FNG, the "fucking new guy". I was called things like "Lala", "F* Face", "Bitch"... you get the idea. Basically, I didn't have a name. Once a new FNG came onto the team, I was out of the doghouse. The guys finally called me by my name, and I was officially one of them. This cycle kept repeating itself as one FNG got their name back as one FNG came into the kitchen.
I don't know of any restaurants that still keep something like this going, but I'm sure there are plenty. It's not a good culture for the kitchen, but it's there, and it's good not to be the FNG.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Torta de Chorizo con Huevo, weighing in at over a pound!!!
What is a torta? In different countries, the word "Torta" carries different meanings. The word torta, depending on whom you ask, can mean: cake, omellete, or even scrambled eggs. But I want to talk about the Mexican Torta.
The torta is a Mexican sandwich. It is what the panini is to the Italians or the banh mi is to the Vietnamese. This sandwich can be found all over the country in restaurants, such as La Castellana or the thousands of street food vendors all over the city. The two types of bread commonly used in tortas are bolillo (oval shaped) and toleras (round shaped). They are packed with different fillings ranging from chorizo, ham, to milanesa and bacalao. Then these sandwiches are garnished with items such as avocado, sour cream, mayonaisse or frijoles. The torta is the quintessential street food. So if the taco is the "king of street food", then the torta is the "prince".
I was looking through some old pictures in my file, and came across this picture of a T-shrit. While I was cooking at Wynn/Encore Resorts in Las Vegas, the songbird, Beyonce was invited to perform in Encore's intimate theater for one week. Of course, along with the arrival of Beyonce, were tons of memoriabilia. The pic above was of a T-shirt that read, "PUT A RING ON IT". However, the way the shirt was folded, it ended up reading as the word in the picture. It was really funny watching numerous Latinas walking by in disbelief.
Beyonce - Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) [Official Video]
Cargado por Yannicklord. - Videos de música, entrevistas a los artistas, conciertos y más.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
(at a Comida Corrida by Metro Barranca del Muerto, Mexico DF)
Comida Corridas are all over Mexico. Basically, it's a restaurant with authentic Mexican home style cooked foods. Nothing really fancy, but kind of like having a lunch over at a Mexican grandma's house. These joints are occupied by all types of customers: people in business suits, students, and entire families. They are amazingly fast and inexpensive, costing about 30-50 pesos per person (about $2.00 - $4.00 usd). BTW, lunch time in Mexico is around 2-4 pm.
The menu format is always the same:
1st: consomme or soup of the day
2nd: rice or pasta
3rd: an traditionally cooked entree (think enchiladas, pork chop and green salsa, empanadas, chicken mole, etc) some restaurants change their menus daily
4th: Jello or Fruit
Of course this isn't all that's served. Each comida comes served with corn tortillas or bread, a large array of salsas, and unlimited agua fresca (fruit water).
So if eating grandma's home cooking turns you on, then a great option for lunch is the "comida corrida".
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Joel Robuchon at the Mansion, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
I recently found this video on youtube. It's a pretty good video demonstrating what dinner service is like there with Chef Claude le Tohic running the pass. Joel Robuchon has won many of the major chef and restaurant awards, and is generally regarded as the greatest chef this century. I learned a lot and was fortunate to be part of the opening team at this Michilin 3 star restaurant. I definitely appreciated my time there.