Restaurant tools that work at home – The Deli Cup

When I got married twenty years ago and went through the ritual of registering at the local department store, I had no idea that you could put a list together for people to use to select your wedding gift. I guess I understood the practice in theory, but had never been on the receiving end of the tradition.

That stated, I found that I still had very little say on what went on the list. I distinctly remember lusting after a line of cookware that resembled something one might find in the tool department at Sears; strong, heavy, riveted handles,
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That for which we are thankful

She’s got that Sinead O’Connor look going; short hair that looks cropped and intentional and not so much as a victim of chemotherapy. Eyebrows have started growing back, as have the eyelashes and, she will kill me for writing this, the other undesirable hairs that women hate to contend with. Things are slowly getting back to normal.

But normal remains a relative term these days. Dealing with her cancer, watching a son moving off to college and unleashing an overachieving daughter that spends more time at activities than at home now, Karen and I find ourselves wondering what’s next. If more »

Restaurant tools that work at home

I remember when I first saw a Danish dough whisk, I thought it had been used to clean out the garbage disposal while it was still running, but when I found its usefulness, its become one of my favorite tools in the kitchen.

I’m using it here to stir risotto, but also use it for polenta, potatoes, or other food with thick, batter-like consistencies. We use it to mix our sourdough starter each day. The design allows for adequate mixing without getting caked up and leaving more on the whisk than in the bowl.
If you have a cook on … more »

I’d like to split those, please…

I found myself paying for my trip to Denver in more ways than one this week. Taking the train out there seemed like a good idea, but when you roll back into town at 4am, get a couple hours of sleep and have to face an already overloaded week, Sunday could not come fast enough.

The common layman would not be aware of this, but an obscure amendment to Murphy’s Law states that upon return from said vacation, some form(s) of equipment is(are) required to break down, and thus seeming to serve as a type of punishment for your absence. … more »

Inspiration = the drawing in of air, as in breathing

I’m in Denver this week drawing air into my soul by eating creative food and talking with fellow chefs about their craft. Creative inspiration is akin to being physically inspired. No breath means no life. We can submerge ourselves only for so long without coming up for air.

It would seem a luxury to take four days away for the sole purpose of eating and thinking about food. I didn’t really start to relax until this morning, when I realized that I better settle down or I will have wasted a prime opportunity. So as an introvert should, I spend … more »

How to leave a job

Six years ago this month I had the hard conversation with my director of fifteen years, telling him that I was planning on leaving my job to pursue the dream of opening a restaurant. It was difficult, in part because we had worked together for so many years, but also because of the friendship and camaraderie that had developed, plus the memories of great and sorrowful moments, as well as the understanding of the task he would face in replacing me.

I wanted to leave well, which is why I planned on a seven month exit strategy. I did my … more »

It needs a bit more salt

Cooking is all about balance, and while you may not have the most balanced person behind the stove cranking out your entrée, you would not want to finish your meal without it. Fat is balanced with acid. Bitter keeps sweet from taking over. And the right amount of salt keeps flavor from being too bland or inedible.

And beyond the kitchen, life demands a certain level of balance. The Chinese call it yin and yang. Darkness is countered with light, heat with cold. You can’t have one without the other.

Being an entrepreneur is also a balance of two extremely … more »

The Secret Ingredient

My wife pointed out to me how much I seemed to enjoy handing out candy to the kids at Halloween, but that I wouldn’t admit it. I asked her to explain and she described how quickly I got up out of my seat and went to the door, and how I got down on my knees to kid level and asked each kid about the costume and why he or she chose to be that character, and when they left and I returned to my seat on the couch, I had a smile on my face.

I didn’t realize it … more »

The Push

Professional cooking is physical work. If you’re in it, you know full well what this means. If you are thinking about getting in to it, you have to understand this so you know what’s coming. Especially if you own your own place, you will be called on to perform duties that seem above and beyond your capabilities at the moment. I refer to times like these as The Push.

The push is that moment you realize you have a choice to either put your head down, plow forward and get it done, or just look for a way of escape … more »