Category: food

Career Advice

My coworkers, rather my ex-coworkers, when I lost my job, their immediate heartfelt reaction was to not let this minor inconvenience get in my way of pastry domination- a catchphrase that came out of my lips multiple times on a daily basis during my reign as a Pastry Chef at two top Chicago restaurants.  Pastry domination, taking over the Chicago dining scene, being one of the best pastry chefs in the nation, making pastry relevant again, was my dream.  I worked so damn hard at pastry domination, at being successful, at making badass dishes that people loved and remembered and talked about and Instagrammed.  I was in multiple magazines, I was on television, I sold a rather large percentage of dishes, I was for a brief moment successful.

So when that unexpected ax came for my head, when my success wasn’t actually successful, I gave up the fight.

I did.  I gave up.  I don’t give up on anything.  I am a fighter, I am determined,  I don’t let anything get in the way when I have made up my mind on something.  But I did, I gave up.  I threw in the dirty towel.

I have been cooking since legally allowed to start earning money.  I didn’t have much background before that- I didn’t learn from grandma, I didn’t grow up in the kitchen under mom’s apron. But once I picked up that knife, I didn’t put it back down.  I have 19 years in food service.  I have been a part of every angle, in every corner of the industry, learning and experiencing the entire gamut of food service- fast food, catering, cafeteria, fine dining, modern casual dining, large restaurants, small restaurants, serving, busing, prep cook, line cook, pastry assistant, pastry chef, menu development, costing, management, dishwasher.  You name it, I have done it.

I thought that this would be important, I thought that this would prove to be an asset.  Everyone needs to eat, right?

Well yes, but as it turns out, people don’t really care about what they eat so much.  They care about fashion, they care about cocktails, they care about gossip, and movies, and politics, and social media.  People care about taking pictures of their food, but they don’t actually care about food.  Cooking and cleaning is a nuisance, and eating out is expensive.  So the people want something fast and cheap and easy.  This leaves me irrelevant.

Not only do I have the years of food service, I put all my eggs in one basket.  I gave up everything to pursue my dream.  I gave up making any kind of money.  I gave up having a life of my own.  I lost my friends.  I gave up holidays with my family.  I gave up on the physical self- I gained weight, lost muscle, stopped going to the gym, got veracious veins, developed asthma, had a bout of psoriasis for about 3 years, got acne, developed alcoholic tendencies, ran myself into a car on my bike which resulted in sever bruising but couldn’t take any time off work, got very sick many times but still worked my 12+ hour shifts, got burned, got cut, worked mornings, worked nights, worked the night and then the next morning, I got mugged on the way home from working a late shift, I got pink eye, I never had vacation, I could hardly even request a day off.  I had two full-time jobs at once multiple times so that I could pay rent.

I gave up my dignity- I got yelled at, verbally harassed, degraded, threatened, treated like a child.  I never got complimented, nobody ever said “good job”.  I didn’t get breaks of any sort, I ate my one meal a day standing up while still trying to get my prep work done.  I never had health insurance, (don’t even ask about dental, that’s hilarious) never had time or money for the doctor.  All for nothing.  All to be a servant.  I never made any money.  The most money I ever made a college grad would turn their nose up at, and say no way in hell would I work for so little, even at an easy job.

I thought it was worth it, but when that ax came down I felt like a damn fool.

My coworkers told me not to give up, they told me that I was very skilled, that I had something.  They looked me in the eye and said to keep going.

They still ask “where did you end up?”  I reply I am on welfare.

So I am not following their advice.  I am not following the path anymore.  I am going to carve out my clearing by giving up.

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Appetizing

Why are people eating Tide Pods? You know the dishwasher tabs, a type of soap you put in a machine that washes your dishes so that your hands don’t get wet?

And why do I even have to ask this question?  Throughout history, people consistently say that the world is the most crazy at that certain time, but does this not take the cake?

I did, I fucking googled “why are people eating tide pods?” because I was too embarrassed to actually ask someone.   I am just the type of person you would expect to ask this question: a very un-tech savvy mid-30’s lady who is pretty much consistently in a bathrobe.  Yes, I actually type into the google search box: why are people eating tide pods?  Question mark and all- I just HAD to know.

And you know what I found out?  Nothing.  I still have no idea why people are eating dishwasher tabs.  One explanation is that they vaguely resemble candy.  An explanation which raises even more questions than it proposes to answer, but I do not have time to dissect this new wormhole right now. What I do know is that I have read about it enough times to google the Tide Pod phenomena.

The Mystery will remain until someone takes the time to explain it to me.  But since you didn’t ask, here is my explanation:

“The internet is not making us smarter, and this is the evidence. Direct fucking evidence.  No need to litigate, this question is sufficient proof to win the case of “The Value of the Internet V Reading a Book.”

Smartphones are making us addicted to their bright screens and moving content, but all this fluidity is keeping us distracted enough to not actually care about the content.  We just like to dive into the internet zone- a place where we are entertained in whatever fashion we fancy,  distracted from the world around us where we can judge other people’s bad life decisions, a comforting spot where we can put off our chores and the horrors of having to take care of oneself.  Smartphones with their vivid screens are addictive- the more you dig, the deeper you need to go.

We use our smartphones for everything and all the time.  It has become an extension of the self to such an astonishing degree.  One does not do anything without the phone in hand-eat, poop, socialize.  ne does not leave the house without the phone in the pocket, one does not ride the train without eyes glued to the glowing screen, one does not waste time in any other way besides the comforting hand-hug of that indispensable phone. Many people sleep with them in bed at night.  When was the last time your trusty phone has left your side?  When was the last time you left it out of arm’s reach intentionally?

It’s like why read Shakespeare when there is Netflix?”

-Marigold

One Year In, Self-Reflection And Confection

I know the right thing to do.  I know by now that I should have the confidence to do whatever I want do.  I mean, come on man.

I know I am not an expert, but I know that I an more than competent.

So what is holding me back from like truly believing in myself?  Why do I insist that I have so many short comings and so much to learn?  Why can I not after a year of being in leadership throw my weight around?  I constantly resent people because they do not respect that fact that they should listen to me.  I never demand that they listen, which is my problem, they just don’t get it.  My advice is not an negotiable item at an auction, it’s a highly refined opinion that you really should do.  I mean, come on, lady.

Anyway, harmonizing the nonchalance of adaptation with the hyper sensitivity of precision can be a bit of a tight rope stroll, if you catch my drift.  I gotta say, I feel like I have I met my match.  I work in a kitchen that has a strange balance of personalities and attitudes.  Maybe never has so many different people cohabited that same space and time, with timidly snarkly me caught right in the twilight.

A Good Day To Eat

So many tasty things went into my mouth today, and the ironic thing is, that this is me trying very hard to eat healthy, to get ready for summer by watching the foods I consume.

Breakfast:  Green Curry Soup.  Yeah that’s right, green curry soup.  No it was not leftovers, I purposefully cooked that this morning for no other reason than that is what I wanted.  I like soup for breakfast, its hot and satisfying. If you have stock on hand, which I do because I work in a commercial kitchen and there is always no less than 12 quarts lying about, and you keep it veg (or use quick cooking meats like chicken and/or bacon), the time commitment is minimal.  Chop some veg, sauté in butter, and the spice, the stock, coconut, cook until the potatoes are done, about 20 min.  In that time you make a list, set up you station, then you are ready to sip down as much soup as you like while starting out the day.

Lunch:  Family style served at the restaurant for the staff.  Today’s lunch included kale salad with poblano buttermilk dressing, radishes and pumpkin seeds, tomato soup, mashed potatoes and chicken with gravy.

Dinner: a late night dinner that used many leftover ingredients in the fridge.  Arugula salad with strawberries (going bad, mind as well mince them up) with olives and crushed cashews, dressed in fresh lemon and olive oil.  Pan fried flounder (in the freezer, wild caught from Aldi) topped with a sauce made from onion, cumin, tomatoes, mushrooms, and coconut cream.

Today was a good day.  Its times like this that I look forward to tomorrow, and all the deliciousness it holds.

Downsizing

Narrowing down the list of prospective concepts down to a more approachable number than 11, we are down to 4 (not counting the cookie), thanks.

Fire Cake: dulce de leche cake, caramel, fire ancho marshmallow, magic

Smoking Pionono: Tamarind Cake Roll, Crunchy Fluff, Smoking Cashews, Hot Cajeta Drizzle, Roasted Banana Ice Cream

Carbonated Chocotorta: Chocolate Maciena Cookie Stack, Cannoli Crema, Fizzing Strawberry Meringue, Chocolate sorbet, Carbonated Strawberries, Pistachio

Argentinean Float: Fernet Ice Cream, Mexican Cocoa Cola, Rum Cherries, Candied Almonds, Milk Foam

Alfajore de Macienca: shortbread sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche

Additional Items, not listed on the dessert menu:

Potato Focaccia with Malden Salt and Olive Oil

Dulce de batata: a sweet potato candy offered with the dessert menu

Ok, that is all for now…

 

The Year of the Garlic Clove

It’s the small details, those things that you take for granted, that seem so commonplace place, that you never think about where is comes from, but yet you put inside your body, use everyday in every meal, everywhere, so ubiquitous that you don’t even consider the source.  Today’s eye opener is about garlic- where it comes from and why the self life is so long- why all the garlic cloves look exactly the same, why all the pockets of hidden garlic cloves are the same color and same shape and same size.  These manufactured monsters seem more like robots than food.  I have never consider the fact that all the garlic I eat and all the garlic I handle comes from China, from the other side of the globe, with a shelf life that is so long that the bulbs do not have to be date.  Yet here we are, in the middle of cold America, trying to call ourselves as local as we can be, but we cannot even manage to keep an easy crop like garlic on hand.  It looks like the garden is going to get a new addition this year.

Hands Off Magic

“There is something cathartic about making bread.  I think it has to do with the process of creating a dough and then leaving it alone to do its thing.  Even though you may have brought it to life, what it does most of the important thing on its own.” –Ideas In Food

 

Yeast is magical and delicious, and the best part is that the magic of bread making happens on its own, the synergy and the interaction of ingredients that happen in between the baker’s input.  There are just a few steps, simple yet very precise, and then the dough takes on a life of its own, and does the caterpillar thing to transform to a whole new creation.  Yeast, protein structure, fermentation, air, salt, with a high dose of heat all together form a completely new and totally phenomenal monster.