Holiday Weekend as a Chef

This is how my Memorial Day weekend starts, which is only one day, but nonetheless, I’ll treat it like a holiday. Putting this big pork roast in the smoker this morning and letting it go low and slow all day for our staff to enjoy tonight. This is a cut from a Berkshire hog from TD Niche Pork and please don’t let Travis hear you call it “The Other White Meat.” As you can see, this heirloom breed has a darker color, which translates to richer flavor. This is what pork should look like, and how it should taste.

Thanks … more »

A New Chapter

My dad had a saying when I was younger; “Son, into each life, a little rain must fall.” That’s a nicer way than saying “No one gets through life without having to take a bite of the shit sandwich.Our portion came in the form of a diagnosis this week that my wife has ovarian cancer.

This is the “worse” part of the, “for better or worse” promise we made to each other 20 years ago.

Last Wednesday, during her annual medical exam, her OB detected a mass in her lower abdomen and investigated further with an ultrasound. He … more »

How much longer…?

It was one of those nights you can’t plan for; you just tighten your belt, grit your teeth and plow ahead.

It started when my prep cook called in sick earlier in the day, and so I adjusted my prep schedule to get a few more things done before my afternoon break. But when my sous chef called saying he was throwing up, that left me to get the whole list finished.

So I 86’d a few menu items and simplified the options a bit, enlisted one of my assistant managers to help out in the kitchen, and when the … more »

What I like about cooking from the Market

Enjoying a few minutes of calm this morning while listening to the hum of activity produced by my great staff as they carry out the tasks of baking, frying our new Black Pepper Bacon, brewing Jon Ferguson’s obsessively fresh roasted Cultiva Coffee and greeting the early bird customers. I will make my rounds at the market soon and continue on with my day.

Years ago I read a book called The Paradox of Choice, and I was fascinated by the thought that multiple choices actual can make our lives more stressful rather than delivering on the promise that more … more »

25 cents a bale

The point of the last 13 posts was two-fold. One was to give my reader a glimpse into how a restaurant kitchen works and its many details that need to be accomplished in order to make service. The second, however, was for my observance.

My initial undergrad training was in exercise science, and part of that included fitness assessment and exercise prescription. To aid in losing weight, I would have clients do a food inventory of everything they put in their mouth for a 7 day period, be it a hamburger, stick of gum, candy bar, carrot stick, whatever. If … more »

The Road to Market to Table

Looks like my day can end now. Three guests invite me to sit down with them for a glass of wine and unwind. I gladly accept the offer. Another Market Meal complete

The foursome arrives for the Hog Head Feast. Guests like this are the best; eager to try new experiences and trust the skill of the kitchen to entertain. I explain why the use of the head is no different than eating the meat off a any other bone, like a chicken leg or rib.

Seems slower than I would have thought. Graduation weekend is hard … more »

The Road to Market to Table

Finally a little slower in the dining room for this last hour and a half of prep. Greens are washed, rhubarb is cooked down, the gimlet tastes perfect, the meatloaf is going in the smoker, radishes shaved. Still need to make Caesar dressing, rosewater vinaigrette, and rhubarb crisp still needs to go in the oven. Hoping the pork shoulder breaks down adequately in the next two hours. It’s my favorite dish, one that put us on the map with the Omaha paper.… more »

The Road to Market to Table

Finalize menu to print. Four and a half hours to get 10 dishes complete to serve by 6PM. Not my preferred method of operating, but I keep my eyes on the finish line around 10pm tonight, as well as the folks who are looking forward to a memorable meal this evening. I will steward that trust.

The surprise find of the day was a bag of hickory shucks, the hard outer covering of the hickory nut. We will smoke the meatloaf with those this afternoon. As I’ve always heard it said, “It’s the wood that makes it good.”… more »

The Road to Market to Table

The first of two graduation caterings has left the building. Second one in an hour. Take a moment to sit down, go over the lists, check them twice. The lunch crowd has arrived earlier than our normal after-noon bunch. For days like this to run smoothly, it requires a lot of coordination, a ton of hard work, and not a little good luck.… more »