Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Another Fabulous Finals at the Napa Valley Cooking School

We enjoyed the hard work of a fabulous finals which consisted of a coursed out meal prepared by students who were bound to externships at establishments like Gary Danko, L’Atelier Crenn, BENU, and La Toque to name a few. See Pics HERE!

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Aged Gouda & Chocolate?

Well, our friend Jeremy in the cheese department at the local Nugget sampled us a very interesting combination that just transformed in the mouth. He said, ‘here, try this piece of aged Gouda’,  and then right after that he gave me a piece of good Scharffen Berger chocolate. All of a sudden the cheese transformed into deep intense caramel and it was like eating a really good caramel filled chocolate bon bon. WOW!~ He explained it was the chocolate reacting with the aged lactose in the cheese giving it that caramel flavor. AMAZING! Try it.

Red Wattle Pork from St. John’s Farm- Dutch Oven Callin’!

When I saw the deep coloration on this pork shoulder I thought, mustard, herbs, and Dutch oven! What resulted was so far from the other white meat that the American Pork Board would do back flips! Here is what was for dinner!

 

When in Honolulu- make sure you go the Wong way

Being in Honolulu on business has its perks, driving in Honolulu is a different story, and I was about to take a Wong turn that turned out so right. Okay, enough of the play on words- as I entered Alan Wong’s, one of America’s Top 50 Restaurants and the namesake of one of the fathers of New Hawaiian Cuisine, I was about to embark on a dining experience that I had been anticipating for a long time. (It’ funny that the cooks actually wear caps that say ‘The Wong Way’ on them)

Right off the bat I must say that a cliché really was reality……READ ON

 

The Day The Earth Stood Still

I must diverge completely from the culinary beat and say how disappointed I was that they remade a true classic film, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, and did a complete botch job of it. Not only did the film lack continuity it completely fell apart at the end, unlike the classic, and left gaps as far as the conclusion being reached by Klatu which was played by Keanu Reeves (perhaps because their first names are similar). He was bringing destruction on a world beyond reform and sees a mother hugging her child and comes to the conclusion that the entire human race can change. Evidently the producers ran out of film so could not develop this sudden change in emotion and purpose by witnessing one hug.

I wish they would just leave the classics alone or at least leave the story line alone as there was absolutely nothing wrong with the original and very little right about the remake.

Chef Roland Passot – The Interview

Legendary French Chef Roland Passot was gracious enough to buy a few moments from his busy day at La Folie in San Francisco to share his story of growing up in Lyon and cutting his teeth during the rise of nouvelle cuisine in it’s birth place. There was not a dull moment in our 2 hour meeting. Enjoy!

Roland Passot Interview

Celebrity Chef Facade

Well it has finally happened, the Chef has now climbed the status ladder from blue collar worker to full blown celebrity. Thanks to The Food Network and the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, etc…, and let’s not forget the pioneers, Julia Childs, and Graham Kerr. The Chef now is this sort of Michael Jordan figure who wows foodies with seared this, emulsified that, and crusted whatever in the breath taking fashion of MJ’s top of the key, airborne, slam dunks. Audiences eat it up. (No pun intended, OK maybe a little pun intended.)

Be that as it may, with the exception of the Emerils, the Flays, and the Pucks, the chef, I mean the hotel or restaurant working chef, for all his/her hard work is making relative ‘peanuts’. For a profession that takes the skill, education, and the long hard hours of very intense concentration you’d think that the wages would be comparable to let’s say an entry level computer analyst, or business consultant. It is in most instances not even close. And let’s not even talk about the lead line cook, who does all the stuff that wows people on TV a hundred times over every night, who may not even be making $15 an hour.

Does the general public understand that all the glitter and glamour of the TV Chef does not translate into real world working situations? No, not in general. Oh, there may be a few that are related to someone who is a chef and get an earful every now and then about the ”real chef’s job”. Or the unfortunate guest of the local ‘Vacation Lodge Hotel’ who makes a wrong turn and walks into the main kitchen during the banquet rush and realizes this is not what he sees on TV. No, in general people see glistening chef coats and chili pepper baggies, top of the line equipment that is spotless, and one dish being prepared at a time by chefs who always have a big Hollywood grin on their face and make lots and lots of money. It is a facade, albeit an appealing one, but still a facade. Then there are shows like ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ where novices are thrown into high pressure situations that really seasoned professionals would be handling in the real world- again, another façade. (I’m getting really tired of ‘unreality’ TV, aren’t you?) There are shows like Next Food Network STAR and Top Chef that I think are a little more realistic although remember these shows run on drama- elimination drives that, if it didn’t the general public would pack their collective knives and go. For example I stepped into the kitchen at the French Laundry one evening and if it were a TV show it would be on PBS right after Charlie Rose- no drama, just precise execution and still the cooks there on that line, except perhaps for the chef de cuisine and sous chefs, are not making enough to dine on the cuisine they prepare, yet they will springboard with TFL on their resume to more lucrative positions for sure.

There are moments in a chef’s life when a bit of that glitz is enjoyed, but in general it is hard ”blue collar” work that requires a ”white collar” education, work that deserves to be acknowledged for how much sweat and sacrifice goes into each dish by talented professionals. Recompense should reflect the work in wages that are fair for the job description. If a kitchen turns out big profits for the establishment then the talent involved needs to be fairly compensated. Unfortunately, sometimes restaurant and hotel owners are living in the same facade as the general public, except when they write out the checks. Unlike the general public, they should know better.