Sunday, March 29, 2009

#66 - 27 March 2009 - Lake Tahoe to Colorado...and home"

The snow-capped mountains literally fall into the deep ice-blue waters of Lake Tahoe. The wind whips up white caps and we motor around and then away from that high sierra gem. Out of California and into Nevada we speed along in relative quiet along I-80. There isn't too much but natural beauty out there. The landscape is punctuated every one hundred miles or so with a dot of a town. We stop for lunch in Elko and then find our way into western Utah. Our dining needs are just that. We eat to sustain our need to drive, not to entertain our palates... Utah is unbelievably flat - the Bonneville Salt Flats and Speedway are just the prelude to the Great Salt Lake Valley... Around Salt lake City to Provo, we finish the day in Nephi, exausted from the monotony of driving.

I stretched in the morning after feeling the miles in my back forming knots and tightness. Something pops and moves across my lower lumbar and nestles it's pain in my lower left back. The next 12 hours are cycles of drug-covered muscle ache to surges of muscle spasms and intense red-hot jabs of pain... O.k., maybe I over did the work thing in California and now just too much driving is causing this pain. I could drive but I could barely walk! Finally we reach Colorful Colorado, the familiar mountain communities of Glenwood Springs, Vail and Frisco. One last stop for herbal medicine (which worked great!) and we were home by 7:00 p.m. 1,600 vacation & tourist miles from the Pacific.

I know that people will ask me... "So, how was it?" I need to wrap my brain around the last two months and will report my answers to you on a regular basis. This morning is, as I hobble around in my post-drive pain, a day to shower, shave, unpack and begin my life - all over again in beautiful Superior, Colorado with my wonderful family, great friends and a slew of business and professional goals... Peace.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

#65 - 25 March 2009 - "Napa to Lake Tahoe..."

The past week has taken me from a final day as a stagier at The French Laundry to a California Wine Country tourist!

Just to catch you up - finished my "Laundry" at 2:00 a.m. on the 21st and drove to Napa, California to meet Colorado friends (Mike & Judy and I slept in the car overnight in the parking lot at their Inn!), took a shower and had breakfast with them and then it as off to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to pick-up my wife and daughter... and then off to Ghiradelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf (had a great lunch at Capurro's with owner Paul C. - Cioppino, of course!), across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and a Fika (Swedish for Coffee break with Pastry in the afternoon - around 4:00 p.m.) at the Sausalito Bakery & Deli and then back to Napa Valley.

Sunday, the 22nd we toured Yountville and had coffee and breakfast at The Bouchon Bakery. Me - and Almond Croissant. So good...! Walked the grounds at The French Laundry for the last time, as well... Took pictures of the garden and the restaurant that proved I actually was there... I will write a blog in the future to put that experience in perspective and to give my thanks to a select group of people.

Left Yountville and tasted at Stag' Leap (loved the 2004 Chase Creek Cab), gnoshed at the Oakville Grocery and then on to Opus (2003 and 2005Cab/Merlot). We lunched at Taylor's Refresher (featured in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives...) in St. Helena. Next stop was Beringer (very good 2004 Nightingale - Semillion and Sauv Blanc) and then down the road to the CIA - to walk the grounds, visit the store and talk with the desk clerk ("Sam"). As a 1987 graduate of the CIA at Hyde Park he led us upstairs and we were allowed into the kitchen to talk and take pictures. I had spent some time at CIA at Greystone several years ago... I'll have to add all those good pics in a future blog as well.

Next on the tasting trip was Charles Krug and really loved the Zinfandel Port (tasted with a Scharffenberger 62% chocolate). Dinner that evening at Barndiva in Healdsburg, California - Modern Country Food. Pretty good...had Goat Cheese Croquettes, Quail Breast, and Beignets.

Monday the Corey's drove to the coast - Bodega Bay up to Jenner; lunch at River's End... Rte. 116 to Alexander Valley and found Jim's Town...10 years later. Tasted at Alexander Valley Winery. Loved their Bordeaux blends... Back to Santa Rosa and cooked seafood dinner. The last meal with P.S.(Cajun-style Catfish, Petrale Sole Meunier, Steamed Clams in Chardonnay, Shallots & Butter and Potato-wrapped Salmon - with Asparagus, Broccolini, Cucumbers, Butter Lettuce Salad, Roasted Tomatoes, Oven-Warmed Pears and Strawberries with Balsamico and Creme Chantilly).

Took the young Miss Corey to SFO on Tuesday and R & J travelled to Mendocino County and found a gem - Roederer Estates!!! The offspring of the house of Roederer Champagne in Reims, France. Wonderful. Loved the MV 2000, the Rose 2000, the 1999 Hermitage and bought several... Roederer was the first pour at my 24-course dinner at TFL on February 27th... I guess I could have bought a 1999 Cristal, but it was $595.00...

On to Mendocino, Ft. Bragg and then landed in Westport at Howard Ranch Inn at the headwaters of the Howard Creek and the Pacific Ocean and among the quail, sheep, llamas, horses and wild berries. A delightful Country Inn (which was once a 1960's hippie commune) with service provided by Sally and Sunny and a killer breakfast by CCA graduate Josh (good luck in Maui, my man!), fun, fun!

Across the Central Valley of California and up into the Sierra's... In Lake Tahoe tonight and off to Nevada and Utah tomorrow. Along the way I have been planning my April 20th Q & A event and I am re-visiting/re-reading Fernand Point's "Ma Gastronomie" with the forward by Thomas Keller. The one may be a re-incarnation of the other. My culinary hero and my culinary hero's hero....

There is much more to write, so stayed tuned. I also owe you several more commandments. I have them all planned out but I'm enjoying touring right now! I have much to say and do. To paraphrase F. Point - he said, "One must taste everything, cook everything and see everything in order to retain just a little bit." Peace.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

#64 - 22 March 2009 - "Just catching up..."

Good evening, y'all...

Yes, I've finished my stage at The French Laundry. However, I've missed a couple of days of blogging whilst dealing with friends and family flying in to California; my mother having to fly back East and subsequently become admitted to a hospital because of a fall she took (hope you are feeling better, Mom!); and then, of course, my final days at TFL \; and - now, just being a tourist in Wine Country...! I'll be back...soon. Peace.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

#63 - 18 March 2009 - "Commandment #5 for Kitchen Survival"

#5 "Get it Right." Know what you are doing at all times (at any time the Chef might just ask you what the heck you're doing). Seek out the top experts on any subject and learn everything they know. I spent an amazing afternoon with Thomas Keller today, so and I know that learning from the best is very important... Find a mentor for everything that you do. Also, remember to "Do it right - or do it twice." - Devin Knell, Executive Sous Chef at The French Laundry (and others). Peace.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

#62 - 17 March 2009 - "St. Patrick's Day"

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.



#61 - 16 March 2009 - "In The Garden"

Monday was my scheduled day in the garden...

Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson

My Sunday evening ended on Monday morning at 1:30 a.m.. One hour drive to Santa Rosa in the rain, fog and dark. I realized then, at 2:30 a.m., that I wasn't going to make a scheduled 7:30 a.m. or even 8:00 a.m. shift in The French Laundry garden. I called and left messages to say that I would be late... In bed at 3:00, I "slept" until 7:45 a.m.. Refreshed (!) from my 4 1/2 hours of REM-deprived horizontal-ness, I showered, packed for my weekend (Angel's Camp, California - home to the "Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Samuel L. Clemens - with my mother, brother and sister-in-law) trip and hustled into Napa Valley, arriving at TFL at 9:00 a.m.. Yes, I was late. I knew I had to atone for my belated start. As much as the schedule said I was to be there earlier, I didn't think that a 6 1/2 hour turn-around was really appropriate...or, possible. My apologies were accepted and I went to work. My day consisted of: trimming and scissor-snipping the green onions, removing the brown withered tops and giving them a "spikey-funky" haircut...; weed all the newly-sprouted fennel seedlings; tend the beds of micro-greens and weed them accordingly; spread the thyme, cabbage and greens beds with new straw bale for the expected weekend crowds during the Taste of Yountville; rake and keep the grassy areas between the plots clean and orderly; tend, hoe and weed the Spring Onion bed...

What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. ~Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871

Ouch. I begrugingly tended gardens as a child in Sutton, Massachusetts and have home-gardened at various places that the Corey's have lived. The difference is - now I'm 50... however, I went at my tasks with new-found excitement. I really enjoyed the elements and the work. The stretching every 15 minutes or so was necessary, and saw others doing the same... "Tonight is going to be a four-Ibuprophen night", I remember thinking...and, it was. Especially after the five hours I spent night-driving south to Angels' camp. That's another story...

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler

I found myself outdoors for more than eight hours. Eight hours of driving rain, sunshine, wind, drizzle and a continous flow of passers-by who were eager to walk among the well-manicured plots and stop to, like Ferdinarnd The Bull, "smell the flowers (or herbs)", take pictures of their loved ones or aimlessly stroll from one end of the garden to the other - all with smiles on their faces. I smiled, too.

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. ~Author Unknown

I respect those that grow things. It fulfills their soul and takes all their time. Time to do it well. It takes passion. Think of the possibilities. Heirlooms. Flowers. Seeds. Earth and soil. Water. Sun and natural fertilizers. Earthworms, ladybugs and the micro-geography of the garden. The quiet solitude in the garden belies the physical effort it takes to till the earth with bare or gloved hands and toil under sun or clouds to grow the flowers, herbs and plants that we use as food. My day was just a small contribution to the efforts that are put forth by TFL Head Gardener and staff. Lovely to look at, the sundry plots of vegetables and herbs are a necessary part-of-the-whole-experience that is, The French Laundry.

It was, in spite of my back pain - a great day. Peace.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

#60 - 15 March 2009 - "Commandment #4 for Kitchen Survival"

"Beware the Ides of March." -from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

#4 Learn from your mistakes. And...every one makes them. Your smarts in the kitchen has much to do with experience and learning from your mistakes. Your intelligence is in recognizing them and doing something about it to correct them - now or in the future. Expertise often comes from having failed in small ways and using those experiences to get it right.... Peace.


It's Tax-Time! So, my available moments have been crunched; and I have family in Califiornia, my wife and daughter are coming in on saturday, other frinds (Mike & Judy) are coming in on Friday, and I'm working on plans to meet Chef Keller on Wednesday, and planning is under way for an event in April at The Art Institute for Q & A about my Stage and Sabbatical experience, and am planning events for 12 Seasons - and now I'm cooking for the Govenor and 30 of his closest friends... Oh, and I have to go to work, too... The blogs may be short in the next week, or so (is what I'm trying to say)... :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

#59 - 13 March 2009 - "Commandment #3 for Kitchen Survival"

#3 "Know what you are getting into." Expect anything and everything to happen in a kitchen, or a restaurant - every day. Have a plan. Be excited. Get going right away. Stay focused. Pay attention. And, heed these immortal words; "Work fast, but go slow." - John Wooden, UCLA Basketball Coach. Peace.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

#58 - 12 March 2009 - "Commandment #2 for Kitchen Survival"

#2 Get your ego out of the way. Athletes and high powered executives are often bred to believe that they can handle anything - no matter how difficult a situation may be. Many of us have little training to face such difficult situations. Some chefs and managers may possess the capabilities to be very good tactitions in their particular fields, but very poor in an understanding of processes and management styles. Intimidation is not a management style but more of an egotistical fault. I once worked with a wise and sage man who said to me, "Rob, you have to get out of your own way." Ouch. He was right. I learned that it wasn't always about me; issues are a larger consideration in the day to day of a business. Il Ling New, a self-defense guru, proclaimed that "You do not rise to the occasion - you default to your level of training." Remember that. You may be hard-wired to react at a perceived level, but until you are trained for that level of expertise and are indeed are met with those situations, you'll not be totally ready for success. Keep learning and hone your mind. Get trained to the highest skill levels in everything you do. Rehash events and get better at what you do... Peace.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

#57 - 11 March 2009 - "Commandment #1 for Kitchen Survival"

This blog may sound somewhat like the Biblical Moses (with apologies to all believers...) descending from the mountaintop with tablets denoting moral and ideological codes for social behavior. However, the following Decalouge is inspired by an article that I read in The San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, March 8th, written by Tom Stienstra. His musings contemplated the rules by which backwoodsmen and outdoor enthisiasts should follow when trekking into wilderness areas - survival training, if you will... He opened his article with a first paragraph recitation of an old Waylon Jennings song, "If you live on the edge, You can be subject to a fall." I have adopted his 10 Commandments and modified them for cooks and chefs. In other words "Kitchen Survial". I will be using these as a basis for the next ten blogs (one Commandment per day - it's heavy, man...), which will bring me to the end of my time in Napa Valley and at The French Laundry.

#1 Never hope. Crisis in the kitchen? Never try to hope your way through it. Take complete command of the outcome. You have to be in control of yourself, your emotions and others around you. Put out the fires and get back on track. Peace.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

#56 - 10 March 2009 - "Italian Inspiration" - Dinner for 9

Buongiorno! Preparations have begun for the next dinner party in Santa Rosa, tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. It is Italian-inspired and is based on some of the favorite items from past events through 12 Seasons Personal Chef & Sommelier Services ( Here is the menu:

“Italian Inspiration”
11 March 2009

Fried Hen’s Egg and Prosciutto Sandwich on Focaccia Bread
with Gremolata, Marinara & Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Spinach Ravioli filled with Roasted Butternut Squash Puree
served with Browned Butter, Hazelnuts & Sage

Seared Tuna Steaks in Lemon & Mustard Caper Sauce

Veal, Pork and Beef Meatballs and Sauce Tomate with Pugliese Toast

Spring Greens, Heirloom Tomato & Basil Salad
with Roasted Garlic & Balsamic Vinaigrette

Macerated Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries & Blackberries
with Lemoncello Zabaglione & Polenta Crostata



Monday, March 9, 2009

#55 - 09 March 2009 - "The Commis Kitchen" - Pictures

These are pictures of the Commis Kitchen (just off the main kitchen at The French Laundry) and the interior garden that is visible through the windows from our workplace. Enjoy. I do, everyday...

This just in: Jacob Harkins has written a very nice piece on the stage experience. Check it out @ Look for the article and pictures featuring yours truly... Peace.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

#54 - 08 March 2009 - "Carpe Diem"

Seize the day.

Very busy dinner service last evening. I even got going earlier than usual yesterday afternoon, however, I didn't get to start my own prep list (I was by myself in the prep room) until nearly 10:00 p.m. I loved the interplay between the Chef, Chefs des Parties and myself, for when someone needed something done at the last minute - ta da! That's my bag, man... Service finished, clean-up was complete and meeting ajourned around 2:00 a.m. The hour drive home became a leisurely 75 minute tour and by the time I hit the pillow, I think it was 4:00-ish. Then the time change... Slept until noon. So I'm a bit groggy, achy (remember the old bones!), and in need of coffee!!! Today will be short and sweet as I still need to wash my chef pants and get on the road by 2:00 p.m. So, to everyone out there... Carpe Diem. Sieze your day. Peace.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

#53 - 07 March 2009 - "The Task at Hand."

So, your blogger experienced a magical evening at The French Laundry, last night.

It was the quintessential perfect dinner service. Very busy yet extremely quiet, focused, professional and on-task. This kitchen brigade is a team working seemlessly together, with no mental or physical mistakes, and the food looked gorgeous. It was halfway through the evening when, in the midst of working through my prep list (as the only stagier on duty) when I had a mini-epiphany, of sorts. I realized how close I was to leaving TFL and finishing my commitment on the stage. Yet, I also realized how close I was to leaving TFL - and leaving the experience behind. So, now I need to stay even more focused on the task at hand, continue asking the probing questions of chefs and cooks and stay determined in my goal of gathering as much knowledge and experience as possible. The thought echoed in my mind - "I'm close to leaving The French Laundry." How could this time have gone by so quickly...

At one point I worked with the Pastry Chef on some ideas and questions on specific methods and techniques pertaining to a new dessert idea that was being worked through. One thing I love about this experience is engaging true professionals on questions of the character of a dish, methods, textures, appearances, techniques, colors, flavors, experiences, and the proposed taste of a finished menu item... I also had the opportunity to work next to Chef Keller and he agreed to schedule our one-on-one meeting next week. I will have some time to sit and speak with him privately, as I have a decade of questions for him (if you also have something you'd like me to bring into my conversation, just reply here or e-mail me)!

Later, I in casual conversations with two Chefs des Parties (who I agreed to keep anonymous in this blog), some very clarifying comments came to light:

First, from "B" - this Chef stated in a conversation that "in order to find your greatest learning you need to get out of your element, get out of your comfort zone and test yourself." Brilliant. Push yourself and test your mettle. Get away from the ease of your normal work occurances (specifically in the kitchen but worthwhile in all phases of life) and find the depth of confidence in your ability. Get better at what you do by being pushed. Raise your own expectations and standards. The key is the "comfort zone". It's warm and cozy there, isn't it...? Get away from that place and the steely winds of change begin to blow hard in your face - so, it's a new challenge, a new horizon that needs to be conquered.

Secondly, from "J" - I asked this chef, as I do to everyone I meet at TFL, "Why are you here and what excites you about working here." The response in this case was short and sweet; "Sure, it's hard and the hours are long but it makes me happy." That was perfect. Peace.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

#52 - 06 March 2009 - "The Look"

So, I'm watching the Food Network yesterday afternoon - taking a day of leisure, working on the computer, etc. - and "Semi-Home Cooking with Sandra Lee" was on. Now, it's not the show I usually watch and I'm not sure that is even the name of the show. The point of my story is that an amateur cook was making some sort of lemon curd cake topped with a baked meringue and Ms. Lee asked if she could taste the cake. And here is my point - the young lady with the recipe...her face lit up with expectation as she watched HER FOOD being tasted and eaten and loved and appreciated. The thing is - she knew her food was good, you could tell. She was expecting affirmnation of it's deliciousness and she got it. How cool was that! She was proud of her food and seemed to truly enjoy what she had made for someone. To be able to see the response that your guest has when you've made something incredible is vefry gratifying...hence, the proliferation of open kitchen restaurants. Of course, that architectural feature is more for the guest to see all the action, but chefs and cooks like to see people enjoying the fruits (and meats) of their labor. I especially enjoy the close interation in a private home when guests are feasting, gawking and extolling the virtues of a private chef...Cooking for a response makes you pay attention to details.

As we get one year deeper into the new millenium and the IBM population is "building a smarter planet" and CNN is alerting the American workforce that there are energy jobs available in Colorado and retirement companies hiring in Florida (can you tell I worked on the computer in front of the television...) I realized that I've never been out of a job... The food industry is 365/24/7 with a myriad of possibilities for the adventurous cook. So if you are a Culinary student heed this - as the band Green Day sings on the "Nimrod" CD and in the song "Good Riddance", "I hope you had the time of your life" - when looking at your life and your experiences, make today a learning day, enjoy it for you will be the product of your efforts and make the school experience a great time for you, "the" building block of your life.

Since I'm on the subject of Culinary School, I must give due recognition to the Apprenticeship System. Neither is better than the other - I am a product of both - yet, there are aspects of both that may be more applicable for an individual over another. What they both take is: Courage. Courage to make that first step, the result of an epiphany that led the cook to the gastronomic land of plenty. Then, with a diligent work ethic you can have the "time of your life" and then, maybe you'll have a the lifetime luxury of seeing your guests happily eating and enjoying your food... Peace.


#51 - 05 March 2009 - "Moving Forward"

“Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." -Sir Winston Churchill

I am starting to feel the itch of returning to Denver. In conversations and e-mail discussions with family, friends and business associates, I have begun to feel the transformation from eager culinary adventurer to the seasoned Chef and Educator that I have grown accustomed to being...

I have been asked innumerable times - "Do I miss my family and friends? Will I miss Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and California? Will I miss The French Laundry? Am I excited to return to Denver and Assignments Restaurant?" Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

I'll not be able to put any closure on this experience as it will never be "closed" to me. I assume that I'll be gathering and ruminating upon bits and pieces from this stage and sabbatical for some time...

I will continue the webblog long after I have departed from California for I find it cathartic to write and enjoy the responses from a variety of people from my past and present. It has been a useful tool to document my experience and coelece my thoughts. Yet, by no means am I completely finished here in California. I have a big week coming up at TFL, I will be hosting and catering another event in Santa Rosa next week and then a succession of family members and friends are streaming into California. So....I'll be tour guide in my adopted state for about ten days. JoAnne and I will be auto-touring Northern California and then heading east to Colorado at the end of the month.

There is still much to see and work with at TFL. I have finally compiled all my notes into folders and recipe files. There are over 100 new techniques and methods in my repetoire. The images of TFL are burned into my memory and the lessons learned here in California are completely applicable to me wherever I may land. I look forward to sharing the journey with everyone. That was the intention of this adventure... Peace.


Monday, March 2, 2009

#49 - 03 March 2009 - "Inspiration"

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer.

I received that quote as a measure of thanks from a fellow instructor at The Art Institute and it was overwhelming to know that I made a difference in someone else's life. Isn't that what our talents are to be used for...? Whether student, client, guest or cohort - I strive to bring my best qualities to the classroom, home, restaurant and office. Hopefully - every day...

Who inspires you? Your Mother? Father? Spouse? Children? Your teachers, your boss or your neighbors...? Nature - the ocean, the mountains, the plains or the desert? Yes, to all? You never know where inspiration will come from. Just be open to the possibilities. I gather strength from family and friends, for they know me best. I have several chefs who "live on my shoulders", like angels who remind me to work clean and cook with my heart. There are memories of long ago instruction and lifetime of restaurant experiences that I relive and rely on EVERY DAY THAT I COOK. Certainly, for me, my professional inspiration comes from the place that I have toiled for the past two months - The French Laundry. - as it has for the past ten years.

I suppose that one is inspired when they choose to be inspired. I am always thinking about food, looking for new things and re-imagining the old. I try not to stagnate, love a new challenge and happily read about what is currently brewing and simmering in the kitchens of America and beyond. Ultimately, it comes down to method, technique, the quality of your ingredients and your desire. Inspiration, by itself, can't cook - it can't delegate, organize or clarify. The end result of our labor is a direct result of who we are. Get inspired. Peace.


#48 - 02 March 2009 - "It's Simple..."

It's simple for me to be motivated. I'm working at The French Laundry! That thought is, in itself, quite exhilarating and completely daunting at times. But as I think and write I look out into the population of cooks and chefs and wonder about everyone else... What about the student that is logging onto this blog working for eight dollars an hour and not sure about the rest of their life? Or, think about the graduate that is in the working world and has succumbed to the monotonous daily grind of an establishment that doesn't seem to care about cleanliness and inspiration? And lastly, consider the individuals reading these words that are not in the food industry and may not understand the passion and commitment that we possess and endure - how is all this relative to them??? It's simple...

We all need to harness our inner strength. It is there in all of us. It starts with pride. Pride in doing a job and doing it well. It helps when there is a receptive audience, I'll grant you that. So, foster that ambiance. We all have so much power and don't use it to our advantage. Walk with your held high, be confident and shake hands like you mean it. Little things. Go the extra mile. Do it for yourself and someone will notice. And in that one singular minute, you will have succeeded in being the best you can be. Don't do anything for the reward - do it because it is right. Pick up the trash in the driveway or the paper on the floor. Straighten the chairs, the pots, the rugs, etc., because it looks better. See things through the eyes of your customers, clients and guests. Serve. There is such joy in making people happy.

If you are a cook, cook for yourself but cook for your guests. Put yourself in their shoes. Cook with soul. Put something of you on every plate. You are a crafter of experiences and memories. Make the memory of your food a positive one. By all means work clean...! Be the cleanest one in the kitchen and you'll get noticed. Go the extra mile - not to get noticed, but because it is right, and you'll get noticed. Start creating an attitude within your kitchen. Start becoming positive even when others aren't. Stand up for what is right instead of following along with the crowd. That is a lesson in life, as well...

Step out of the crowd and be an individual. Then return to the crowd and fight the fight. The fight against all that is wrong with society, from biases and hatred to selfishness and greed. Be an individual but be a leader for the team. Stand out as a shining example of the power of the human mind and spirit. Lift yourself up out of the masses and be someone! Lead, follow or get out of the way. Do it all and do it all with a smile. Look people in the eyes and speak to them don’t just talk at them, Engage everyone, everyday and always with meaning in your words and in your actions.

The personal power that we all have can make us more successful than we ever thought. It just has to be harnessed. It's simple. Be what you want to be. Reinvent yourself right now. Start now. Start thinking and doing it right now. Why wait. Failure! Who cares! Again, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail..." Worried about what other people will think? How do you know what they are thinking? Don't worry about it - don't worry at all. There is already so much negative worrying in the world. Go back to the "Attitude" blog. Did you go back? Do it, I'll wait. O.k., now what does it say to you (did you really go back and read it...?). YOU ARE IN CHARGE. It's simple. You have to commit to a self-based mind thought that, when done correctly, can begin to change the environment around you. "Pay it forward" is more than Hollywood theatrics. It is a mindset of how to live your life. "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail." Power words. Really powerful in action. It's simple.

Nike says, "Just do it." Man that is so simple. Think it. Do it. Do it again. And again. Repetition is the single most simple concept I can think about to improve one's station in life and become a more powerful person. "Just do it." Then do it again, and again, and again... I know it sounds trite. I know it sounds like a late night tele-evangelist or an info-mercial for self-help. It is what it is. Go forth and conquer, everyday. Conquer fear and fright. Conquer demons and dragons and dark days of failure. YOU ARE IN CHARGE. It's simple.

Millions of people can have millions of reasons to not do something. It takes ones person to stand up and say "I'll do it - because it's right". Start a revolution. Start small and get bigger. Start working clean. Start smiling and look people in the eyes. Start making it real. It's simple. Just do it. Peace.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

#47 - 01 March 2009 - "Random Thoughts on Food..."

In the year 2009 you can turn on your television and change the channels to find Wine TV, The Food Network, PBS Broadcasting, HGTV, The Travel Channel, Bravo, the morning news stations and specialty Cable Access Stations - these are all places that you can find full-time or part-time cooking classes and lessons, food-science related shows, men-who-eat-everything shows, interesting restaurants and chefs from around the world, food competition shows and chef biographys... Geez, it wasn't like that in 1974...

In 1906, in the forward to his 2nd edition of Le Guide Culinaire, August Escoffier wrote about what he expected from the cooks and staff under his tutelege. He required them to wear ties and jackets in public and to cover their heads with a hat. In the early part of the last century, men dominated the kitchen brigade so he was only gender specific towards one sex. He demanded that his staff deporte themselves professionally in public, as well. That if they were to go out and enjoy themselves about town, they were to demonstrate a level of civility.

Lessons learned... All cooks make mistakes. All cooks have their "off" day. Not all cooks just try to rumble through their day "hoping" that they get it right... Good cooks recognize their mistakes and take the right course of action to rectify them. That may be to ask a question of the chef or sous chef to clarify a bit of expertise on a cooking or science matter. One must have the discipline to ask the question and have the humility to receive the answer. If something isn't right - after you have tested your dish or practiced a course - change it, fix it or modify
it. But, get it right. Your reputation is on the line. Peace.