Sunday, October 19, 2008


Every year around this time, the school my kids attend has a huge fundraiser called “Marketfest/ Fall Fest.” (The name changed this year to Fall Fest, which I thought was a great idea) And every year, I make a copious amount of clam chowder to sell……. 48 gallons of clam chowder to be exact. It started 3 years ago when the task of making the chowder fell on various parents of the school. Each assigned parent made about a gallon of soup each, combined it all, and heated it up in the very small kitchen at the school. (That year I think we made about 10-12 gallons all together) I volunteered, being a chef, and they liked it so much, they asked me to take it on myself the following year. I usually get some of my vendors to donate product, and use my work kitchen to complete it, as the quantity necessary would take days to cook in my house kitchen. The three weeks prior to the event, one of my vendors, which I won’t name, but it rhymes with Wysco, informed me that they could donate all the items needed for the chowder, and it would be no problem. The week before the event, I called up my rep to confirm, and again, he said it would be no problem, and that I should get an order on Wednesday, so the items could piggy back on that order, and I would be able to start prep. Wednesday comes, and no product. I give my Wysco rep a call, and he says at that point, that they must reluctantly back out of the donation.
“Two f@#*ing days before my event? Are you f@#*ing kidding me? We give you half a million dollars every year in business, and you won’t swing a couple hundred of tax deductible dollars worth of product?”
I was pretty livid. After I slammed the phone down, I uncertainly tried to persuade a couple of my other vendors. My seafood rep, Metropolitan, and my brand new produce company, Hearn Kirkwood (we’ve only used them for about 3 weeks now) came to my aid and donated all of the items I needed. And what’s more, they shipped them all to me the very next day. A big thanks goes out to Anton at Metro, and Rick from Hearn Kirkwood for bailing me out, and taking up the slack for the jerk offs at Wysco.
I have to say, this year was the best year ever. Although, I worked a ridiculous amount of hours at work this week, and did not complete the chowder until 2:30 in the morning the day of, everything went off without a hitch. We sold all but about 8-10 gallons of chowder, which went to Cookie’s Kitchen, (they donated their time and all of the other food that was prepared and sold), and we made a good deal of money from all of the other events and sales. The kids had a great time. An athletic club down the street donated the use and labor for their rock wall, we had an Australian face painter doing all sorts of cool things, Master Lee of the A+ martial arts school did a fantastic demonstration along with his students. We had the steel drum musical stylings of a local reggae artist, Riley Hoffer came all the way from Arkansas to give a presentation on how kids can go “green.”
On a funny, side note, there was a guy who made a flourless chocolate cake for the bake sale, a school bake sale mind you, and demanded that we put a $100 price tag on it. He, supposedly, had a restaurant that closed a few years ago, that was a “Baltimore Institution,” and this was one of the most requested items on the menu. I wanted to tear it apart to see if a diamond was in there, or at least a kilo of cocaine or two. Come on, dude, are you serious? You better take that thing home and sell it on E-bay. I’m still waiting to see if it sold. With about an hour left in the event, we reduced all the bake sale and chowder prices to half price, but even then……… I don’t care if you flew all the way to Colombia to get heirloom mayan cacao beans………. If you immediately obtain total spiritual consciousness, after eating it…………If it’s 10 times better than sex…….No 8” bake sale cake is worth $100. Well, on second thought……. I might pay for that last one.
Anyway, an immense thank you goes out to all who volunteered precious time and goods to make this the best Marketfest/ Fall Fest ever. It was a great feeling to walk away feeling good about how everything went, albeit extremely tired and drained.
Now……… now comes the time for me to pass out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pumpkin Masters

Here is a picture of the first Jack O' Lantern of the season. Every Year about this time. Kevin and I spend around $200 to $300 of our company's hard earned money on a pallet of extra large pumpkins. In fact, they came in on Friday, and Kevin has already carved about 5 or 6.

While surfing the internet, looking for some new and different ways to carve my pumpkins, I came across this website: The Pumpkin Gutter. This guy is awesome. I know my kids are going to want me to carve the yoda and the storm trooper.

I actually never thought of carving them 3-D, but it makes sense. As long as you find one that has a good amount of meat along the walls, you can carve just about anything. Being that this was my first attempt, I decided to go for something really advanced. It didn't work out very well, the idea was scrapped, and I decided to go with something a little easier. Instead of throwing out the pumpkin, or cutting it up for soup, I decided to improvise. So this is what I came up with:
I wasn't very happy with the eyes, or the shape of the head, but not bad for the first one. Notice the hands on either side. It's kind of hard to see right away in this picture.

You got a purdy mouth.

I'll be trying more as the days progress. I'll be working a double again tomorrow, so I might have a little time between service to knock one out.
Here's another cool one that, I'm sure, the kids are going to want me to do.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Perfect Egg

The other night, we had breakfast for dinner, as I’m sure a lot of families do from time to time. Daddy just needed a little coffee……Mom wanted eggs, and the kids just wanted pancakes……..”Banana Pancakes, Daddy!” So I continue to fulfill my duties as short order cook for the night (Gimme’ an Adam and Eve, on a Raft, and a Heart Attack on Rack), and Xavier exclaims that he wanted another egg. “Can I make it, Daddy?”
So we go through the whole process of making a “sunny-side-up” egg, his favorite. It always gives me a great feeling when the kids want to cook. Cedrick, last week, made a Bolognese Sauce (meat sauce), that would make Molto Mario look like a chump. (okay with those clogs and that ponytail, that's not saying much, but that’s what I’m going with)

But Xavier did so awesome last night, I had to take a picture and write about it. His first attempt was pretty good, but the yolk broke from the bottom as he was moving it to the cooler side of the griddle. He sat down, devoured that one, and again, asked for another one.
His second attempt was a thing of beauty. The white was moist and perfectly cooked. The yolk, creamy yellow, and sitting perfectly round on top. It was a masterpiece. I took a bite ….. perfectly seasoned with salt ….. no pepper because “it’s hot” …. and as moist and delicious as it looked. Great job Xavier!
Next time ………. you're making breakfast.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Worst salumi, ever.
The similarities are just too great to let it go.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Magic mushrooms

Last night's ala carte service:
I carved these mushroom roses for our ala carte service. I made them for the wild mushroom stuffed chicken dish we were serving.

I figured, with all the other delicious items we were serving, those people who chose to order the chicken should be rewarded. "How many chickens are we going to sell tonight anyway?" So, I carved about 12 of these babies, and went about the rest of our garnish mis. Half way into service, were at chicken number 16, and I'm carving these things to order. Me and my big fat mouth. I hear some of you asking, "why didn't you just throw some chopped chives on the plate and call it a day?" I'm a perfectionist..... I always teach my staff, "The first plate goes out the same as the last plate." So to save face around my cooks, I carved away at the mushrooms. Just my luck.....the night that we sell more chickens than any other item........and I end up being Picasso with a paring knife.

It looks a little brown in this picture. I eventually soaked them in lime juice and water to bleach them out a bit before service.