Cold December Pain...

In the food and bev industry like restaurants, hotels, clubs, and the like, especially in the kitchen or the front of the house service teams, December is usually and probably always will be for most total hell, in some way or another. And yet, it is what we do and we love what we do right? It is what pays the bills for both us and our employer. When an average work day is about a minimum of 14-18 hours, or more, and one never really sees the light of day, or their family, it starts to wear on you. And a social life...what the hell is that? Sure, maybe catching a bite at a late night hang out at 2am works, or for those that take part in the party scene...drinking till wee hours, only to come in half drunk to do it all over again is what you are after...it still gets old. Now I have had my share of wild times back in the day, but in the last 26 years...it has amounted to just sheer hard work, long, long hours, the drive to succeed and make it happen, stamina and focus, studying and researching new ideas until 3am, hugging my boys, losing a marriage and getting through the shit! People who don't work in this industry will never really understand the commitment and the need to get the job done, and why we do what we do and what it takes to do it. Perhaps they don't really care and probably shouldn't. Why should they? They just want to be a part of your life and have a part of you and not have to take second fiddle to your job. They shouldn't have to. One has to be knee deep in it to experience it, live it, walk it, talk it and realize what it is all about...it's about supporting the team and your fellow co-worker. It is about not letting someone down, mainly yourself and your co-workers and about your dedication to not failing. During these long trying days and endless nights, it is difficult to get good photos of the work being accomplished as we are just barely able to keep our heads above water and stay afloat. Getting through one service and right into the next. Putting out fires, figuring out solutions to staffing nightmares, handling misunderstood directions, employees calling in sick, botched deliveries and tasks, equipment failures and the stress and frustration of a guest who sends back their steak because they ordered it medium rare, and ordered it under because they feel it always comes out more done than they like and now complains because it is too rare! Shit! Gotta love it. Anyway...the food shots are lean, and the patience is as well. Here are just a couple of dishes that I felt barely worthy of mention. I think this post is more about the rant than the rave.
tasting for 4 single malt scotches...clockwise from top left;
caramelized apple bisque, rye chips, bourbon butter, hazelnut-malt crumble, sherry pearls
pear-crepe terrine, mascarpone, duck confit-pear salad, arugula, candied walnuts
citrus glazed sturgeon, bacon jam, charred lemon aioli
scotch glazed 12 hour pork belly, butternut puree, persimmons, cacao nib crumble

north dakota bison loin, red wine farro, cassis onions, chanterelles
sous vide fennel, shaved alba white truffles, cassis sauce

marinated, slow braised pork belly, smoked popcorn, pedro ximenez glaze

rolled spanish omelette, lobster, smoked paprika, potatoes, olive oil, manchego


Up Before the Dawn...

Before the dawn...I think...I dream...I contemplate...I create...I write...I plan and I imagine all things good in my life and the amazing experiences, love, good times and emotions that have been presented to me and that I have been so gratefully blessed with along the way. I am blessed to have been given the ability to be a parent and a father to two wonderful boys and I am so grateful for the passion and ability to cook in the way which god gave me. I like to believe I am a happy person with passions and ambitions to have a great life, have fun, keep a sense of humor and continue to strive to make people happy through my cooking and provide for them the many wonderful experiences that I believe that I have. Folks will ask me when I am cooking for them "how long did that take to think of that"? or... "How long have you been planning this meal, dish etc"?...Usually, my answer is the same~ I plan things as I cook, as I drive to work, as I listen to the crazy music that I do, as I think about the the good times and as I am staying up late into the wee hours of the morning..."before the dawn"...Cheers!
compressed apples, curry steeped celery, cranberry gelee, celery leaves, smoked pecans
spiced pumpkin seeds, cider pudding, gingerbread streusel, maple-bourbon dressing

flat iron of beef sous vide, pepper crusted, brussels-walnut-potato hash
juniper roasted carrots, chanterelle-quince-parsnip pastie, micro arugula
pomegranate sauce


Luxurious White Heat...

Several things might come to one's mind when thinking about fresh white truffles from Italy~descriptors that tantalize and tease...provoke and stir thought...excite and exhilarate...I will let your mind wander and dream
. We have been getting in a couple small shipments of these prized Alba beauties lately...still developing ideas of what to do next...

shaved alba truffles with pappardelle and chanterelles
warm salad with porcini and alba truffles, saba-hazelnut dressing
seared scallops, alba truffles, farro risotto, shaved lomo
veal loin sous vide, pumpkin gnocchi, alba truffles, quince essence
silky celery root-alba truffle "cappuccino"
warm toasted brioche, alba truffles, truffle honey, soft robiola
alba truffle-white chocolate ice cream
potato-alba truffle-duck tongue ragout with caramelized garlic
hubbard squash-escarole agnolotti, oca, alba truffles, veal-crème fraiche lacing
alba truffle butter poached lobster fricassee with carrots and salsify
what's next???