Thursday, April 23, 2009

Week Numero Uno

Well, week one is over at the new digs. I can elaborate since the previous chef is gone now. I am at a little place called Matt the Miller’s Tavern, in Dublin, Ohio. It is a new concept for one of the larger restaurateurs in the area, and is going towards the route of upscale tavern cuisine. He has some investors lined up to expand and grow the concept, but the menu and kitchen systems need to be streamlined first before we even think about expanding. We are in the process of looking at the current menu and taking it to a better place, developing recipes, and organizing the way the kitchen operates. Not that it was all bad, but there were certain things that struck me, and made me think of how we’re not running the kitchen as smart as we should be. Unvarying menus need to be engineered, and not just a list of things that sound good. For instance, when I did inventory of the product in house, I counted over 15 different cheeses that had to be stocked at all times. I am a cheese fanatic, but to run that many cheeses, in such a small kitchen was ludicrous. We need a little cross-utilization, people.

But the restaurant itself is a welcome change, although I’m not quite used to the hours yet. I only see my kids when they are on their way to school, or when they are going to bed, which is really killing me, but stepping into that kitchen last Thursday, I realized how instantly comfortable I was inside. It’s like seeing that old friend that you haven’t seen in years, but when you meet again, you pick up right where you left off…. Like when you’d been roller skating all night, (here’s where I’ve lost some of my younger readers), and you would go to the locker and put your sneakers back on…… They were all nice and cool, and felt so right. That’s how I felt being back in a restaurant kitchen.

I had been out of that environment for so long, I forgot how much I love it. I have always been a restaurant chef, and I think I always will be. Being behind the line is where I fell in love with this industry in the frst place. There is just something about getting totally wrecked on Friday and Saturday nights. The adrenaline pumping through your every pore……. the immediate satisfaction you receive from a night handled brilliantly……experiencing such unbroken focus, that even Bruce Lee would be reserved.

One of my line cooks called out on my first night, so I was forced to do a trial by fire shift on the broiler. We got crushed. I had dupes (or tickets, to some of the younger crowd) coming out onto the floor. I had a copy of the menu taped to the wall next to me for quick reference. I had food and oil all over my chef coat……I had sweat sticking my under shirt to my back……. I had food all over my shoes…… I was dirty, sweaty, smelled of olive oil, garlic and sea salt……… It was Fantastic.

Keep watching for updates to the menu and progress with the restaurant.

Notes and Observations
- Mexico City Spanish dialect is much different than that of the Central American Spanish dialect. And no matter how loud you shout an “all day” call, they will still not understand you.
- NO!….NO! Necesito tres mas pinche salmones, wey! Para vender!
- There are 1,254,945,645 things that are a better use of my time than a Sysco food show. I counted.
- Guy Fieri is not as big of a douchebag as I previously thought.
- My kids make an awesome, from scratch waffle batter. Chefs in the making, I’m telling you.
- The Liquid-Center Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding was outstanding, and will be on the new menu.
- Rolling out a sample of said dessert to my service staff is like watching the monsters from “I am Legend” annihilate a human body.


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