Tuesday, March 28, 2006

This post made me a happy camper.



Friday, March 24, 2006

Six hours of chopping

Well, being employed by the restaurant means I have to take over one of the roles. My role, being untrained and dare I say green, is to fill the place of what is referred to as the third guy. The third guy has simple roles. I have to keep the mis en place stocked. If it gets busy, I hop up and make salads for the person on the saute station. When I'm not doing any of those things, I do prep work. However, Thursday night has a concentrated dinner rush and that's about all. Which means aside from keeping everything stocked, I have lots of time to do prep work.

Now, the morning prep chefs are very good, so I only had a few things to do. Most of those things, which were my responsibility, involved mirepoix of various dice sizes. A lot of mirepoix. I murdered so many carrots, celery (celeries?), and onions I don't even really remember what else I did last night; this is kind of sad really.

One of the few things that I managed to keep in my memory was the cleaning of the halibut. The restaurant orders halibut, in whole fish form (minus the head), filets it out and then uses the bones to make a fumet. I, living in Montana, have never butchered a whole halibut. So when the forty pound monster was lugged in through the back door I got (a little) excited. For shame, I know. Seeing Paul, one of the chefs I respect the most, whittle down such a monstrous beast into 6 ounce pretty white portions in a matter of minutes was intimidating to say the least. Someday, I'm going to have to do that. It's a forty pound fish flown in on a plane from the West Coast, which cost the owner three-hundred dollars, so it has to be done right with no waste, or the filets are not clean looking and don't present very well. Aside from the presentation effects, sloppy cleaning hurts the bottom line. I realize it sounds kind of silly, but these are the steps which must be learned for me, and under the watchful eyes of people that can do your job, and more than likely do it better, pressure builds. In something that is so important to me, such as food, I have to make sure I do the best, not merely the best I can do, but the best that can be done for a given situation. This is why we learn, this is why we try. To get better, over time, to master the fundamentals.

Speaking of fundamentals, here is a well known practice of Gordon Ramsays which I enjoyed reading (the first paragraph of the blog). Whether it be egg and butter omelets, or filleting halibut, everyone must have solid foundations to build upon. If you are preparing fois gras before you know how to make chicken stock, your product will surely be flawed.

But enough with my ideas on fundamentals. Aside from my six hours of chopping, and "the halibut incident," the only other task I recall being assigned is cutting (dare I say chopping...) mushrooms. Now, because

1. The head chef had me doing so many other projects last night (aka mirepoix) and
2. After that there was not much else to do I got sent home early

the mushrooms did not get chopped. This being said I felt a sort of obligation, a responsibility to fulfill the request of Paul before he left last night, I woke up early this morning (to beat him in) and went in to the restaurant. At 8:00 AM, I was hanging out with the pastry chef, talking about Jaques Pepin, cutting mushrooms.

At least I got to start my day out right.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A little curry goes a long way

So, in reading of my newly found Zuni Cafe Cookbook (linked below) with a little help from the Joy of Cooking (also linked below) I have started to play with couscous. A little internet reading showed me that couscous is often not cooked in the way I had always thought it to be; there are other methods than treating it like rice. Apparently. I decided to give this other method a shot.

Following the instructions of those who know better than I, my method involved adding a little water and olive oil to the dried pasta, and raking it with my fingers until it was semi-hydrated. After a quick nibble I would describe the couscous as 'slightly harder than al dente'. Which is kind of neat really, considering that a grain of couscous is no larger than a piece of coarse sand (Israeli couscous not included in this description). Now that I had my couscous, equivocally parboiled, the next step was to steam it over a broth, soup, or stew until done and then pair it with the cooking substance.

Of course, I had the soup planned out in advance. The product I would be using to serve with my couscous would be a soup made of braised beef and curried onions. Now, Judy Rogers of the Zuni Cafe stresses the importance of the braising liquid, as it is the product which imparts the flavors in the meat itself, as well as being the key component of whatever sauce is used on/in the dish. Since I knew I would be using couscous (fairly bland) and garbanzo beans (not exactly chocked full of flavor) I needed an intensely flavored broth. I decided I would strain the braising liquid and add it directly to the soup. So, Ms. Rogers, I did my best to develop a clean, yet intense, braising liquid. And with this clean flavorful liquid I would make a clean, flavorful soup. Here is an approximate recipe, completely from memory, from early this week, so take it with a grain of salt. Kosher salt.

Basic Braised Beef:
2 lb. braisable beef product. (I used an eye of round, not my first choice but since I didn't do the shopping I am not complaining)
1 quart beef stock (pulled from my freezer, out of ziploc baggies, so I'm guessing a quart or so)
1.5 C of red wine (a good, long pour)
Handful of peppercorns
3 Bay Leaves
4 cloves of garlic, smashed (you can leave the skins on if you wish)
2 large carrots (or if you have baby carrots in your fridge, they work too)
1 Onion

Salt the meat up to 1 day ahead to bring out flavors. Again, advice from Ms. Rogers.

Combine the wine and the stock in a sauce pan. Bring to a light boil and reduce down by approximately 1/3. This should concentrate the flavors and also help concentrate the gelatin in the stock to make it a little 'fuller'. Taste it. Depending on the stock and the wine, don't be afraid to season this. Remember, this is what flavors a large hunk of cow.

Slice the carrots, I usually go about julienne size x 2. These guys are going to be roasting in an oven for a couple hours, so no need to make them too small.

Slice the onions with the same methodology as the carrots.

Now, technically, there should be celery in this mix. That being said, a chef that knows a hell of a lot more than me once told me celery really doesn't lend much to stocks and sauces, and because of this he often leaves it out completely. So, if you have celery, slice that too. If you don't, no need to worry about it.

I like to have a little layer of the vegetable mix underneath the meat in a braise, if I can. Perhaps it adds more flavor, perhaps I am superstitious. Regardless, the vegetables (and the smashed garlic) and the meat go in a roasting container not much larger than the meat. Then add the reduced wine/stock mixture, the bay leaves, and the peppercorns. The liquid should cover about 2/3 of the meat. Mine was a little lacking...so I improvised and added *gasp* water. Stock or raw wine would probably be a better move, but I survived. This mixture gets covered tightly and placed in an oven (mine was 300 degrees F) until it is tender. To ensure the container is tightly sealed, I wrapped a layer of aluminum foil over the dish and then put the lid over that. If you have time, pull the meat when cooked and let it cool in it's own juices.

The Soup:

3 quarts (?) beef broth
2 Onions
1 clove garlic (or more depending on your palette...I used more)
Dash of cayenne pepper
a few pods of: allspice, coriander
curry powder (4 TB?)
1 can garbonzo beans (if you can find a little can use it, this had a too many beans for my liking)
I also added some fresh paper thin ginger but I didn't like it, and I would leave it out the next time I made this soup.

Feel free to experiment.

Knowing ahead of time that I will have the beefy rich sauce from the braise to add to my soup, I still needed a solid base that could stand on its own if I wanted to do other things with it (such as keep it vegetarian). Curried onions sounded good to me at the time. I like curry powder and the spices associated with it because it keeps things simple. Curry tastes good. You could probably just add curry powder to an eggplant and throw it on a barbecue grill with ketchup and it would taste ok.

Since the soup is focused on onions and couscous, slice the onions with more care than needed for the braise. They are the feature of the soup, so treat them well. I halved them and then cut julienne widths across the onion to get small half curls that were uniform in size for even cooking.

Toast up the coriander and allspice, let them cool, and grind them or pestle and mortar to your favorite consistency.

Heat up a large saute, approximately medium+, add the fat of your choice (I added canola oil for simplicities sake) and once it's shimmering add the onions. I wanted a little color on the onions so I took them a touch past translucent. Season with salt and pepper, add the spice mixture and the curry powder. I added a fair amount of curry, because it is what I wanted the onions to taste like, so don't be shy. Once I mixed this into the onions, and let it cook for a minute or two, I deglazed the pan with a little white wine (because...that's just what I do). I then stirred it up to release the fond, and added it to a soup kettle with the broth in it.

I maintained this over low heat without a lid to reduce a little more, about thirty minutes. I then added the strained sauce from the braised beef. I also took a minute to scoop out any fat that had collected to the top of the liquid; there wasn't much. Adjust the soup mixture with salt and pepper if need be.

I then improvised a couscous steamer with a sieve and some aluminum foil, and cooked the couscous over the pot (in the soup steam, in the sieve, covered with the aluminum foil) I occasionally removing the foil and broke the couscous apart with a fork to avoid clumps. Once the couscous was cooked, I added the garbonzo beans, and pieces of the thinly sliced beef. (I had about a quarter to half the roast left over, but braising a 1 pound cut of meet is silly)

Assembly was simple. I put as much couscous as I thought looked good in a bowl, covered it with the onion soup, and sprinkled parsley on top. My goal was to have a rich soup with flecks of couscous intermingling with all the parts for texture and a little bite. The soup was loaded with flavor, and as I ate more and more a little touch of heat built in my mouth. The best part is, this made plenty of soup for two people to eat on for a few days, and it got better after day 1 (as soup often does). Hence the title of the post.

This is a very long winded explanation of my process but I'm hoping by talking through my thoughts and steps that maybe someone will see something new and say "hmm, that sounds like a good way to do it." Even better, maybe someone will see something and say "this is a different/better way to do it" or "try these flavors next time" or "you have no idea what you are talking about." Besides, if you wanted a list of ingredients, there are plenty of cookbooks out there. This is me really cooking, learning, and experimenting.

If I were to do this soup again I think a small sprinkling of super fine diced shallots/onions as a garnish on top would be tasty. I would also use less couscous in the bowls, and get a roast with bone-in qualities. I was also thinking that adding some fennel bulb to the braise might add another layer of tastiness to it, and I would add turmeric to the onions if I (or the store I tried to buy it from!) had any in stock.

Off to the restaurant in two hours, really looking forward to it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Playing with new ideas

My goal has been, for as long as I can remember, to run a successful restaurant. When it came time to pack up and move forward, did I make a trek to the coast and go to Culinary school? No. When was the last time you read a book about a restaurant failing because the chef couldn't cook? That's what I thought. You, nor I, have read a story like that. Restaurants, or many of them, fail because they cannot be handled at a business level. So, like any good Socrates, I obtained a business degree. Now I'm working on the next part, getting some culinary ideas and a little exposure to the business at a higher level of quality than I'm used to.

Which brings up my current situation. I was, as of last week, in the process of a stage. In case you don't know, a stage involves a person wanting to get some experience in the culinary field working for 'free'. By free I mean no monetary compensation but in the place of money, the worker gets access to knowledge that would otherwise not be accessible. However, as of last Thursday, I am officially getting paid to do work for my current employer. I am in, as the phrase goes.

So what did I do the first weekend of my employment? The same stuff I did for free. I sliced carrots, cut chard and arugula, blanched asparagus, did a little saute work when it was slow, diced onions, all of the things that so much of America shuns today; but the select few of us (we know who we are) are content to whittle away an entire weekend building a culinary masterpiece of our own creation. (Both words - culinary and masterpiece - are in the eyes of the creator)

This restaurant experience and business knowledge still are means to an end for me. And that end is, as I said, a place of my own. My most recent thoughts have been trying to find a solution to what I believe to be the number one barrier to entry in the industry: up front capital cost. This is a serious issue, especially for someone of my character (aka my bank account which, by the way, is not followed with the necessary zeros for this kind of thing). I was lucky enough, during a wine tasting dinner, to sit across from another restaurant owner, which I discussed my dilemma in great depth. By the end of the evening, and the 6 courses, the consensus was this. Use a $100,000 restaurant to fund a $200,000 dollar restaurant. Use a $200,000 restaurant to fund a $300,000 restaurant. And so on. Capital for a $100,000 business enterprise is easier to obtain. So, for the past few months I have been bouncing around ideas in my 'spare time'. I would like to jot a few of them out here, but I feel I have to have a much more concrete vision for myself first. Such is the life.

Monday, March 13, 2006

About the gnocchi

interestingly enough, Judy Rogers doesn't add any flour to her dough. Mine stayed together well enough - although they seemed so rich. I wonder if the no-flour bit is a common practice.

Weekend shifts

So the weekend went by in a blur, as they tend to do. Now that my shift at the restaurant has changed to Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday morning, this leaves Saturday night as the only time I have to stay up late without the consequences of being tired at my day job. Which, as I'm sure you can imagine, only goes slower if I am behind my computer heavy-eyed. Which is where I am today, as I couldn't handle just one night of selfishness. But with a little caffeine I'm making it through just fine.

Friday night was busy, as expected. I'm starting to see a pattern develop though. When the place starts hopping with hungry patrons, the chefs there get so busy serving food I am sort of on exiled. Obviously, this is what has to happen, and should be expected to happen, but I am finding myself doing more and more shift work and less and less learning. Which is very exciting mind you, but considering the fact that I am still in a stage - and therefore unpaid - I am finding it a little difficult to keep my motivation up while making dozens of salads and mopping floors. I am sure this feeling will pass with a little time.

Saturday morning turned out to be a really great refresher for me though. The day shift was a nice change of pace, and I also get to work with the most seasoned chef of them all. Too bad he will be leaving soon...but that also presents opportunities in the future.

The first thing I noticed was a reinforcement on an idea I already had: there is a rift between day shift and night shift in a kitchen. Always. Or so it seems to me. I have not been in a single kitchen where this was not the case. And although everyone gets along just dandy, dare I say everyone is friends, anyone with a piece of common sense can see what I am talking about.

The beginning of the shift was stuff I've already done before. Pick spinach, clean and cut arugula, similar tasks that while not exciting are crucial to the fundamental products in a restaurant. Tasks I don't mind doing most of the time. I knew it would be a great day when the chef, we will call him Paul, told me, "I'm going to pay attention to you because I think you are hear to learn. I am going be on your case when you do stuff wrong, because if I don't tell you then you will not know. I'm not sure what they are able to show you at night as to how a real kitchen works but, today, you will."

And then my favorite part of the day - "I have interest, in your interest."

Paul was telling the truth. I spent the majority of my remaining day focusing not so much on tasks, but on philosophies and ideas. This is how we do the stock here, and here are some more ideas on stock making. This is how I would do the stock, and this is why. This is why I am here working without monetary compensation, this is the magic I wanted to see, the concepts behind the food.

I left Saturday with the feeling of empowerment and energy that I had when I started there what has now been over a month (!) ago. This motivation spurred me to read a large chunk of my recently acquired Zuni Cafe Cookbook. I cross referenced the pasta section with the likes of The Joy of Cooking and Harold McGee's classic. The ricotta gnocchi which followed was an amateur endeavor, but I still ate every bite of it. I think I want to go somewhere with this pasta bit.

This is the 'and more' stuff

Ok. Take this for what it is. Here is a 9-11 video, documentary style, which despite it's length held my interest enough to watch the whole thing. Pick a side, any side. If nothing else, it's interesting.

Google Vids

Friday, March 10, 2006

Get your daily dose of humor

While I am trying to get out of the field...I am still an IT guy. And IT guys do IT guy stuff. Like read web comics. Like find videos. Computer related videos. I found this one very amusing.

I personally do not think macs suck. I do not favor them either. I am pretty impartial to the whole Mac Vs. PC bit really. This is great either way. Enjoy

Why Macs Suck

Giving a piece of myself

Literally. This time, it happened to be a small triangular section of my fingernail and the tip of my pinky. Nothing quite says 'you need to hire me' like cutting yourself. Now, if you've ever handled a knife, you should be asking 'how in the fuck did you cut your pinky'. My response is...I don't know. It was my own fault really...I mean I'm dicing an onion not drinking Earl Grey. But the night picked up after that. It was my first time back in nearly a week and it felt good to have a hand in putting out good food again.

Aside from a little blood and me forgetting the anchovies on caesar salads, it was a good night overall. I love the feeling of teamwork; the correct orientation of everyone in a restaurant seamlessly putting out happy customer after happy customer. Speaking of happy customers, the local newspaper put out a really nice article on us yesterday. It can be seen here. The article focuses mostly on the service, but it's nice to see good press in any form.

My personal highlight of the night involved making the staff meal. I can't help but go to Thomas Keller's story in The French Laundry Cookbook, where he describes the staff meal. It's how he got started in the business, and look at him now.

About the staff meal. It generally involves taking something that you have left over, (little scraps of this, that sauce needs to get used up, these asparagus are going to waste if we don't use them) and putting it together in edible format. Personally, the most intimidating factor is knowing that the people eating these bits and pieces know food. They also realize that it's made from odds and ends, but regardless if it's haphazard or flat out bad, it's going to go noticed.

Looking over what I had to work with (ok...asking the head chef what i could use) I had some leftover shitake mushrooms from the night's special (potato and mustard seed encrusted tuna with carrot ginger broth, mushrooms, and pineapple curry aioli) to utilize. We also had a few odds and ends of house made spicy Italian sausage, and a few pieces of red bell pepper left over. Seeing I had Italian sausage, bell pepper, and mushrooms to use up, and furthermore not fully knowing what I could use and what I could not, I stuck with something safe: pasta.

I carmelized some julienned onions and the red peppers. Since the mushrooms were already cooked down, I added them just a touch before the garlic, to get some crust on them. This was followed by butter, mushroom stock to deglaze, and white wine. Once the moisture had reduced down and started to form a sauce, I added a handful of blue cheese crumbles to melt, followed by a touch of heavy cream, dried basil (it's all I had to work with and it's better than nothing), salt, and pepper. Once this reduced down to the consistency I was looking for, a taste left me looking for something a little more, something with a little sweetness and acidity - so I added a splash of balsamic vinegar. I tossed this on top of the penne, sprinkled a little asiago, parsley, let the starches of the pasta do it's magic, and served along side of the charbroiled sausages (this keeps a couple vegetarian staff we have happy) and some herbed olive oil.

There are no amounts listed, not a cup of this a tablespoon of that. I merely cooked with what I had, but it came out tasty nonetheless. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I enjoyed making it. Tonight I go back, and Fridays are very busy, so tomorrow morning when I am scheduled to go in again I'm sure I'll be tired. I still think I'm getting the better part of the deal.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

If it has to be done...

This is how you do it.


See, posting my own thoughts about bullshit food writing did nothing more than ignite a fire to FIND an exception. So, in slight contradiction to my own words, if you are going for art, do it like Tea does it.

Most importantly, it's about the world, not all about the food. I think this is a key concept from keeping it away from being silly.

Tomorrow night I start my new schedule and go to work again. As of last week I no long cook on Tuesday nights, but instead I go Thursday Night, Friday, and Saturday morning. Two nights in a row will be excellent as the guys (it just happens to be guys this time) that work these nights are the best in the whole place, I will learn a lot. Having two nights in a row also means repetition, which means I will probably retain more. The saturday morning edition (yes i spelled it wrong) was to get me in the kitchen with the head prep chef, who is leaving in three weeks. I hope to soak up loads of information from him before he wanders into his own place...just down the street.

It has been almost a week since my last fine dice in a kitchen and I can't wait to get started again. Who knows what awaits?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The ground I stand on

A little nudge from my friend over at Celeb Chef Report got me thinking (that's twice this week - I think I'm starting to owe him something). In my mentioning of the intellectual insults I feel often radiate from many name-sake bloggers and chefs, I may have clouded the clarity my definition of 'useful cooking'. So let me explain. First, my impressions for 90% of the celebrity chef market are bathed in a negative light. I think that when cooking is taken under the parental wing of the television market, it is changed. It becomes something less of a science, a craft, something that is removed from its proper environment, and continues further removal as the network increases its own stock value. Television cooking often devolves into a kindergarten-esque display of cute kitchen aprons, aesthetically driven house parties, and corny interactions with someone's daughter/friend/wife/husband involving an overwhelming ineptitude of rolling pizza dough. Simply stated, television cooking is not about the food. It's about making the food, and the process of the food, look good on TV.

That being said, there is still a lot of good stuff out there. I personally still watch FoodTV, probably a little bit too much. There are a few shows I really like on there, and a few of the celebs catch my attention when I get the chance to watch them (Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Iron Chef of both countries). But we can see as the network grows in popularity (and overall monetary value) it has to serve a customer base that piece by piece is less interested in food. Now we see a slew of reality television series, among other things, and frankly that's not what I look for in Food TV. However, regardless of my personal take on the national television food scene, I think any exposure common joe-not-in-the-kitchen gets to food only helps us further American cuisine as a whole, even if the message is perverse. It's great a ten year old kid knows what an emulsion is, even if it comes from Everyday Italian (a show which I think is glamorized beyond the point of disgusting). I generally agree with Anthony Bourdain's take on celebrity chefs, only without so much atrocity. Does that make me a hypocrite? Using a celebrity chef to explain my own take on celebrity chefs? Quite possibly.

Second, and the original aim of my post: the bloggers. Ninety percent of the food blogs I come across should be moved to the creative writing department. They spend four paragraphs coming up with clever adjectives and witty, oh-so-cute phrases to describe some endeavor of their own making. These articles are often followed with oohs and aahs of their comrades, and many pats on the back are exchanged. GIVE ME THE GOODS MAN! I am looking for philosophies, mtehods, thoughts of your own. What are your ideas of this dish? What did you do wrong? What could you change? What should you have changed? If I wanted cute food writing I'd turn to Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Seuss does it better anyway.

When I post something edible on here, if you (whoever you are at this moment) look at it and see something wrong, I expect to hear 'hey, you fucked up on point A.' You can even point it out as a comment so the whole world sees it. I'm glad you saw it, glad you connected to it, and I'm very glad you took the time to show me something about it. I guess I'm most interested in growth as a culinarian, not in tricking people (or myself...hmmm) into thinking that I'm some mastermind. Food is not about that.

Now, it would be very easy for me to sit here and tell you what's wrong with the food world, without giving you a feel for what I think is right. However, since I'm not a politician, I'll give you my take on a few things; it would be a spineless act for me to do otherwise.

Celeb Chefs I like: Anthony Bourdain, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Michael Chiarello, Jamie Oliver.

Food Blogs I like: Ideas in Food, Celeb Chef Report, occasionally Obsession with Food, A Chick in the Kitchen.

On a closing note, I don't want people to think I discourage folks from watching the food network, or reading blogs where the authors go ridiculously over the top. I encourage everyone to watch and read everything we can get our garlic-laden hands on, but make sure to absorb the useful, and leave the rest of the crap alone. Skip the introductions if you have to, use the mute button, whatever it takes. In the end, it comes down to the ground you stand on.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Of all the places...

It was a full weekend. Friday night I cooked. One of my tasks at work was to make the house fettucini for the evening. So, I got to use (for the first time mind you) a pasta machine. For those of you who perhaps have not made fresh pasta, it involves rolling out a line of dough thinner and thinner until, after 6 pressings or so, it is thin enough to cut into whatever shape you want. In my case fettucini. Since the pasta portions are 3.5 ounces, the two ounces left over ended up in my belly with a little browned butter and asiago cheese. I decided making pasta was a fun and worthwhile task, so the next day I purchased my own pasta machine and put it to work.

(Insert cheesy *ack pun intended* picture that I don't have right here)

I spent Sunday watching the state swim meet. I really, really dislike swim meets, but when your little brother-in-law makes state and the event is in your town, you have to go. Normally, this would have been a somewhat painful endeavor, but in this case, I managed to meet someone that made it much more worth my while. Of all the places to meet a person who has traveled the country as a chef, and now resides in little Montana... Johnnon her name was, and a resume she did have. She graduated from the CIA, worked in the industry for a couple years, and then moved on to take the two year pastry course through Johnson and Wales in Providence. Those two schools are (arguably) the most famous culinary and pastry arts schools in the country. Wow.

The conversations which ensued were very intriguing to me and hardly seemed a work of chance. I prefer to think fate played a role. Johnnon played the common 4-6 months at varying restaurants game. It's the kind lots of folks read about in books, the free spirit. Pick a spot on the map, and go to it. Cook for six months, get tired of it, move on to your next spot. She actually graduated with Bobby Flay, and happens to be in the same year book. She has worked for Emeril and Wolfgang, and attended Johnson and Wales under when it was freshly under the direction of Peter Rinehart. It was quite a conversation...which I would love to write out...but it would be much too long so instead, I will use bits and pieces in the months to come.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Sometimes it takes so little

Often times, a little nudge from an unseen force is all that's needed to start moving in a new direction. At the time I started writing this - sometime last year, it was more of a therapy thing. I had so much going on in my head, so many thoughts and wonders, I needed some way to get them out. Writing them down somewhat 'anonymously' seemed to be the best move at the time. My material needed to be something consistent, and something I loved. Food was of course my source of inspiration.

Since then a lot has changed for me, for the better. The best, biggest change is I'm actually working in a nice restaurant now. I'm a full time IT guy in the day, and a part time chef-in-the-making at night. I'm just waiting to draw the right cards before I show my hand and make the plunge. Things are really looking up. But that is another post, for another day. A day that's coming soon.

As for today, I almost feel dirty about blogging my thoughts. I would be lying if I told you I didn't care whether or not people read it, thought about it, connected to it. I do want that. Hence, when I write out my mind, and take pictures of pasta and peppers, I get the same dirty sensation I get by knowing the fact that I actually like some radio-released, studio-tuned music. Blogging is the thing to do if you're a foodie. However, reading many of the famous 'celeb' food blogs leaves me with a taste of artificial over-the-top writing on my cerebral palette. It is a taste I don't care for.

So my goal is this. To produce real writing, true thoughts, good whole-hearted 'soul food' on e-paper. Think Harry Chapin songwriting, only about food. Should I falter on this, for instance by ever quoting that Italian lady from the food network, someone should call me on it. I'll thank you for it, I really will. It's true, blogging about food is somewhat 'Emeril-esque', but at the same time, I'm actually in the kitchen. I'm busting my ass in a kitchen putting out good food, learning from truly talented people, and trying to grow for the culinary better. If that's not keeping it real, then I don't know what is.