Category: chef life

Tableside Effigy

I want to burn away the passing of the year with tableside fire.  Whatever will be served for dessert, it will be covered in flames.  I want this elemental act to physically change the dessert, to morph it into something different.  The symbolism of the effigy cleanse is translated into a better version of what was originally presented.  The dish can still subsist without the flame, just as we can subsist the way we are now, but we want to reach for something better, an updated version of ourselves.  In order to promote a better inner version, outside forces must be considered.  You influence the world and soak up what the effects have to offer.

The beginnings of the concept: fire sugar cubes over magic shell with something that will melt on the inside. I am thinking about chocolate ganache or caramel.  Cake underneath to catch the oozing filling inside the magic shell.   This dish is also preview for El Che, the new restaurant, where I really want to focus on elemental impacts in dishes.  Since the restaurant will focus largely on fire, this will be the showpiece.

Light a booze soaked marshmallow? Sugar in the raw cube?

Cherries jubilee- cherries soaked in brandy, lite that shit up.  Could be underneath like a glowing fire.

Bananas foster, think about that and rum.  The caramelized bananas are soaking in rum.

I like the idea of having a strong caramel presence to highlight the effects of high heat.  There must be chocolate, because how can you celebrate without this magical ingredient?

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Eggrageous

Eggs.  I use and eat and consume and demand a lot of eggs.  All of which are chicken eggs, not just mainly, I am talking about exclusively.  What other kinds of eggs are out there?  I feel like I am missing out on a golden egg opportunity.  The only kind of eggs available widely is quail.  Have you ever seen a quail egg? It is so tiny!  I cannot even imagine the absurdity of separating the whites and yolks!  That is hilarious.  There are duck eggs, which are much larger than chicken eggs.  The taste profile is very similar.

What about a turkey egg?  What about eggs other than poultry?  I heard ostrich eggs are delicious, and huge.

 

Actions are louder than Moments

Messing up, having bad ideas, going the wrong way on a one way street.  Making concise failures, having the abstract not the concerte, admitting the foolish thoughts.

Having the most humiliating moments in your life, thoset “I wish nobody saw that but everyone did” moments force you to remember that yes people do and will forget.  At some point, they will forget the worst thing you ever made, just like how people forget the worst pimple you ever had.  Because everyone makes mistakes.  If you are not making mistakes then you are not trying hard enough.  If you capture the stars on the first round, then maybe you should aim for the moon, or mars, whatever is your ambition.  I am from the moon, so I aim for Saturn’s rings.  Although I am terrible at basketball, why did I ever pop that shot?

Point being, people remember your spirit, not your actions.  Impression is made with invisible sounds, not always with physical acts.

Talents is louder than words, actions are louder than moments.

Twin Promises

It’s a man’s world.  Having twin older brothers prepared me well for the gender skewed adulthood.  Me vs Them, I choose to sit back and watch, rather than join right into the center of the battle. I gave up the telly, I didn’t fight to play the video games, I didn’t challenge bedtime or pick fights with the babysitter.  It is not that I am passive or not opinionated, I learned early on that is it best to opt out of playing the game rather then try to keep up with the tornado of young boys.  I largely went through childhood unnoticed, and this I carry into adulthood.

The simple fact of gender difference is still very noteworthy.  Kitchen life is boys club.   It is basically an exclusively male industry that is very testosterone dominate and aggressive.  It is competitive, stressful, and physical.  I work in an environment where men still think that they can do better job than me.  Sometimes I can do things just as good as my male counterpart, but hardly ever better.

Like a 2:1 ratio in childhood, this is how it is to be a women in a often 100 percent male environment.  I have to work twice as hard, I have to be twice as good, I have to be twice as tough, I have to deal with situations that my male counterparts are completely unaware of.

Aside from the competition aspect in the kitchen life, harassment is a big part of dealing with this macho defined environment.  I work in an environment where you have to verbally tell your coworkers that they cannot call you sexy, or beautiful, that they cannot touch you.  When you nicely lay down these rules that have been in place in a professional environment for years, they get mad at you, stop talking to you, making work very tenuous.  You have discussions about how you need to be treated the same as everyone else, and then they physically push you around because you want to be treated fairly, like a man.  In situation you have to work so much harder to gain respect because they cannot get past small hands and generous curves

There are many things that you simply cannot say.  How do you tell somebody that they cannot look at your while they lick there lips?  How do you tell somebody not to pay unwanted attention to you?  Not to stare at you?  Not brush against your butt? How do you tell people not to whistle when you walk in the room?  Say things under there breath?

What about the varieties of men who are in and out of the kitchen delivering things, how do you tell them not to stare at you, not to call you pretty, leave the room because they make you feel uncomfortable?

I really like to joke around and to talk to people, I care about people deeply.  But yet this is often mistaken for flitting and interested, so I have to keep my mouth shut, not talk to anyone more than what is needed.  Honestly, I don’t feel like I can be my true and charming self because this only brings about harassment.

You wear sweaters that cover your butt so that hopefully people will stare less.  I want to look nice at work because I am a professional, but because these guys act like they have never seen a women, I feel like I have to hide behind baggy cloths, mismatched outfits.  I do not dare wear make-up to work.

There are many accepts to my daily struggle that men do not understand, but I wish they would be a but more sympathetic to the only woman’s struggle and how much of an impact this still makes.

I prefer to go unnoticed, I prefer to work autonomously, I prefer to be alone, letting my work speak for me.  I am not brazen, and my sensativies and emotions are not a shortcoming.  I am not part of the club and I don’t want to be.  I did not sign up for this egotistical measure of success.  No I don’t want to compete in your silly games.

At the end of the day, and at the beginning of the day, I get to be a female, and I get to be me.  That, ladies and gentleman, is reward enough to keep putting up with charade, to keep my heart strong and my verbs soft.

Gooey Galaxy

IMG_0727

Rich, warm, sultry.

Dense like an imploding star

Dark like the depth of winter’s charm

Crunchy like the frozen ground underfoot

Tart like the twinkle in a lonely star

Creamy like the lost milky way.

Come and find, indulge your intrigue.

The Poor Man’s Slow Hustle #4

True confessions of a chef #1

After 10 years of cooking professionally and trying with all the might my small yet determined physical self can offer, with all the passion in my glowing heart, and with all the smarts in the multiple folds of my brain, I only make a few dollars (literally a few, this is not a dramatized statement) more an hour than when I graduated from college.  10 year of toil, turmoil, and complete dedication.  I make less than I did before pastry school.  I make so little that I was upset when minimum wage got increased.  I make so little that I got a pimple of stress when my great job offered its shiny spot to me.

Eating is the number one necessity to living, but the work involved is not valued.  Like teaching your children, these building block of society our overlooked and negated to the needy.

I have preached it before and I will continue my soapbox speech.  Tipping is ridiculous and at this point it proves nothing.  You tip because you have to, not because you want to.  Since the industry has exploited the goodness of your dining generosity, it needs to be restricted.  Servers, food runners, hosts, cooks, dishwashers, and bar backs, we all deserve to make a living wage, and just like a capitalistic system, the wages should not be so binary.  Front of the house makes it rain, while back of the house is in the drought.

The system is not working, and this in turns makes it very difficult to want to go to the kitchen day in and day out, taking that precious passion and putting it towards you.

We are the overlooked crowd.  You read about running a restaurant, and the service  involved in making the guest have such a grand experience, and the struggle or impute of the chef is never mentioned.  It’s all about that happiness in the dining room, the articles never mentions the that person under the bandana.  It is starting to get to us.  I see a lack luster in cooks because we are not getting enough out of this bargain.  Someone has to speak up, and it will be Marigold and her golden wit.

Exploiting Passion and Accepting Settlement

I am so sick of justifying the pay cut to work in the kitchen because of passion.  I am irritated with hearing that cooks have this great passion, that we work these crazy long hours in non temperature controlled environments, that we are so tough because we do not take breaks, and contrary to many people’s opinion, we often don’t have time to eat ourselves. I am sick of hearing that we have more than it takes to put up with the demands of a fast paced and never ending physical workload, that we are mechanical in our need to not need sleep, to sustain solely on PBR and hidden whiskey, to live with your coworkers because its not like you ever have time for the house anyway.

Do not call me passionate, now that has become an insult.  Many people are in positions that makes them happy that have nothing to do with making zero money.  Why is it ok that cooks makes less than half of that of front of the house?  The hours are longer, the job is physically tougher, it is dangerous, and you need a high degree of skill and education to fill the role.  Food born illness and not properly handle food can cause serious problems.  Not to mention, that you need to eat to live.  Why do you trust the most underpaid people in America to sustain you with live giving nutrition?  Good thing that you are tipping so well to keep that water glass full.

This portrayal of the passionate chef is not only demeaning, it supports the macho driven ideals that are already so deeply engrained in kitchen culture.  If you cannot physically keep up with this near impossible work schedule, you do not have the beef to make it into the stew.  This is an aggressive environment, where emotions and stress run very high, competition is fierce like a lion continually proving his Alfa status, but you are not allowed to show an sign of weakness, hesitation, or second guessing.  It is this framework of egotism that exploits youth in the industry and keeps the kitchen testosterone heavy.

I am fed up with being exploited for my passion, I am fed up with portrait of the iron chef.  Like this heroic portrayal of the daily struggle makes us better people.  It makes us suckers is what it is.  This is poetic rhetoric is keeping us all down.  Keep your literature for fiction, this shit is real.