Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Podcast Six

Podcast Six is now published and ready to go.  This week topic's include Sara's Pass Over with her family,  Jeff's trip to KC.  There is a discussion on KC BBQ and importance of twitter and complacency in the kitchen and how to deal with that. We also talk about food blogs and you know just general kitchen life.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

the catastrophe of complacency

I have found that as of late you are becoming more relaxed and, yes, even lazy in your duties at the restaurant. Anybody who knows you would most likely tell me that when it comes to work, you don’t like excuses; and its true, you really can’t stand them. And yet, I see that you are giving more and more of them to yourself and everyone else as the days of poor leadership and management at what could be a very, very good restaurant continue.

You work in an environment that breeds conformity to a very low set of standards. A very low set of standards that I try to break for myself and, more importantly, for you. For the longest time I have seen nothing but struggle in my kitchen. I am at a loss as to how in the world I can make things more manageable for my crew, but I have come to realize that, despite your abhorrent protests to management changes, procedures, and even product received, you are very content in staying right where you are. My wanting something cleaned more or more efficiently is always met with the ubiquitous rolling of the eyes, so common of a teenager being told that they need to clean their room before going to that movie. “Hey, lets keep the chatter down and focus our attention on making this food great” is countered by, “I’d rather keep my balls down and in your mouth.” I get it. Its good for a laugh. Hell, I even chuckle sometimes. But recently it occurs to me that I am starting to respond in the same way. And I can’t stand it. I hate to put the blame on my environment, but people really do take on the characteristics of those they hang out with–especially when they hang out with those people for 15 hours a day…

Is it really that shitty of an economy that you must be completely miserable where you work? I know that there might not be many cooking jobs out there and that cooking might be your only interest, but what about taking a job at the local butcher to learn how to better fabricate your meat since we can’t order primals anymore? What about going to the local salumi shop and learning the wonderful craft of charcuterie, since we are not able to “waste” any product on frivolous passings of time like education? Take a part-time at the bakery and learn what fresh bread looks, smells, and tastes like–learn how to make it! Work on a farm and find out what grows in summer and what tastes better in the fall. Like Gandhi said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Whether it is cleaning harder or faster, or reading more books, or staging, or moving to another fucking city to work under a better chef who can actually teach you something–who actually gives a shit about his employees–in order to succeed or to fail, first you have to actually try. You have to actually do something to fix your situation. 

If you can’t find a way to fix your situation, or at least to try and make it better, then shut the fuck up about your so-called professionalism because your attitude is wearing very thin.

But know this: I am not just speaking from the heart, but to mine, as well...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

what's all the hype really for?

I spent this past weekend in Beverly Hills, Ca with a bunch of my girlfriends for a bachelorette soirĂ©e and had a blast!  We walked around Rodeo drive, danced on the street with a crazy street performer,  took a pole dancing class(which was loads of fun and now my body is in pain) and we went to several restaurants, among them the famous Ivy on Robertson (apparently all the celebs go there... whatever) the food was ok... however the service was excellent and the setting is beautiful.  So what is all the hype?  This "hot spot" cannot be so popular just because the service is good... the food would have to be superb... right?.... The meal was nothing get excited about.  The scallops in the seafood risotto were way overcooked, the "homemade" tortillas were not, a T.V. dinner version of the mushroom pasta would have been more flavorful... so why is this place so damn popular... ?
I was very impressed(perhaps because the service in San Diego is less than stellar) by the overall service of the hospitality industry during our stay in Beverly Hills.  Everyone was very accommodating, friendly, polite, ... everything one would expect when being provided a service.

Friday, April 10, 2009

ratio and scale giveaway

JSB Project friend (well, not really, but sometimes its fun to pretend!) Michael Ruhlman is offering a everybody a chance to benefit those in need and possibly get something really cool in return. the benefit is for Share Our Strength, which is a national organization that works hard to make sure no kid in america grows up hungry. 

lets face it, even if we dont win the contest, helping those who are unable to help themselves is a good and a wonderful thing. even if we cant give but a few dollars, it is still a few dollars that will help feed those who, i am sure, need to eat a lot more than we do.

thanks for the time

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If the food comes out slow

It’s not always the kitchens fault...

There seems to be a lot of blogs lately about poor service and how to deal with it.

 Andrew Knowilton posted recently with “5 tips for handling a Bad Waiter.”  

I want to address one statement that was made.  “The long wait for food is most likely the kitchens responsibility”....  

Now don't get me wrong there are times when the kitchen is at fault and when I am running the line I take full responsibility for the error and or mistake and my Sous Chefs do the same.  I only wish the the waiter (server ) would  explain rather then play the blame game. (But if that were to happen it might result in a smaller tip.  I feel that honesty is the best policy and who knows being honest might even enhance the tip)  But just to assume and automatically find and place fault with the kitchen is just not fair.

There are so many things that can slow down your food coming out in a quick manner,  Lets start with the server and their many mistakes on the ticket.  How about they told us the wrong temp for the steak, or how about don’t put the mushrooms on that dish the person is allergic... of course this information gets to the kitchen just as the table is about to be plated, now we have to star over.  Does that information get to the table... probably not and if it does  the blame is placed on the kitchen.

Andrew brings up another point, but only in regards to getting drinks.. how about the “cute” (after all is that not the reason she was hired) little hostess who just triple sat about six servers and for some reason ALL the orders come to the kitchen at the EXCAT same time. (I know servers never hold tickets...) now the kitchen is buried  (fucked) and they are doing everything they can to get themselves un-fucked.  Because we know that when the kitchen is fucked it will definitely spill out into the table.  And trust me ( someone who has spent a  few nights fucked in the kitchen) I as well as the rest of the kitchen staff don’t want you the customer to be fucked. Yes the kitchen staff cares about your dinning experience.

You know most of the time all the cogs work together nicely and the whole experience is a pleasant one for all involved.  But just remember in the rare times when it does not, the kitchen should not be the first place you look to as the cause of the problem. 

Things to ponder:

  • A line cook barely makes enough money to stock his/her fridge, but will have in their possession about $1000 dollars or more worth of knives..
  • The average temperature on  the grill station is about 120 degrees on a slow night...
  • There is nothing more beautiful then a fully synced line on busy Saturday night...let the good times roll..
  • Local and Organic is truly better...
  • Water rationing can’t be a good thing...
  • Wow over five hundred words...

Veal Stock....

Monday, April 6, 2009


Why is it so fucking hard to find a bakery in San Diego that delivers a consistent product?!?   I currently work at a sandwich shop in Pacific Beach (we serve ridiculously tasty sandwiches by the way) and we've 'fired' several bakeries since we've opened... and all for the same issues.  When the sales rep comes by and shows us their product it is perfect.  The taste is right on, the size and shape are exactly what we are looking for... however, once we start receiving the product on a regular basis the quality and consistency are lost.  Some bread is lopsided, has flour pockets, is 2oz instead of 4oz... (over half of today's order, in fact, was way too small for me to use).  And then when you try to get things fixed and get the product you expected to get in the first place you get excuses... "the delivery guy must have given you the wrong order?...", "well, they must be packaging it wrong..."  I don't want or need to hear the excuses, or the guy trying to "explain"  why it is so fucking hard to deliver the bread I sampled in the first place.  I just want it fixed.  I want the bread I ordered, sampled, approved of...  I know that there are thousands of variables in this business, but if you are going to provide a product or service, make sure it is what you said it would be every time.  Train your people to have pride in what they do.  Train them to understand that your customers expect consistency (if that doesn't work make them understand that their paycheck depends it)....  maybe it's the beach, or the sun...  who knows... just give me what i ordered!