Friday, November 27, 2009

¡Aye, Los Pinche Flatbreads!

One of the menu items that we introduced when designing the menu at MTM, are the flatbreads. We take a yeast dough, roll it into an oblong shape, pile it with all sorts of different ingredients, and bake in a 450° oven until the crust is super crispy. The absolute responses from these have been overwhelming. On “Flatbread Thursday”, as we lovingly call it (we do a ½ price flatbread for ladies night), and the record for one night is 118…..I think. When you take into account the number of seats in the restaurant, and the fact that each flatbread is hand rolled, that’s a lot of trabajo, seƱor. Our flatbread guy, Colin is a powerhouse, and probably one of the most even keeled sons-a-bitches around. Even on flatbread Thursday, he’s so calm and collected……… he makes me look like Gordon Ramsay. Props, Colin.

We do a special flatbread Thursday through Saturday, and can be anything from a “Pepperoni and Sausage,” to a “Fig, Brie, and Prosciutto, with Toasted Almonds and Lemon Arugula.” We have been toying with the idea of doing one every single day, but the pressure of finding enough space on that station is always an issue. One of the problems (I brought this upon myself), is that there is absolutely no cross-utilization of ingredients on any of the flatbreads. When developing the menu, I wanted each one to be unique and a little out of the ordinary. The Chipotle Shrimp for example has a cilantro pesto as the base, chipotle seared shrimp, tasso ham, pepper jack cheese, diced roma tomatoes, and a key lime sour cream. The Pear and Gorgonzola has a gorgonzola mousse, roasted Asian pears, smoked provolone cheese, and baby greens dressed with raspberry vinaigrette. So as you can see, these are not your average “pizzas.”

Last week we ran a special one that will be going on the new winter menu. It is absolutely a thing of beauty………a masterpiece if you will. Yes, yes…….you may bask in my genius-ness. The Ahi Tuna Flatbread has a little Asian flair, and combines a creamy miso mousse, topped sliced fresh avocado, a mildly spicy Asian slaw, rare-seared and sliced ahi tuna loin, Guinness and soy reduction, wasabi aioli, and toasted sesame seeds. At $14.95, it comes with a higher price tag than any of our other flats, but when you take into consideration the high quality fresh tuna we use, the imported, Japanese ingredients, and the sole fact that you achieve spiritual enlightenment in the first bite, I think it’s a pretty fair price.

Tonight’s special was an All-American Cheeseburger Flat, that blends a American cheese mousse, seasoned ground beef, sliced roma tomatoes, shaved red onions, beer battered pickles, shredded iceberg lettuce, and a “special sauce,” which is basically a variation of McDonald’s “secret sauce” without the relish. Awesome. So, you can see, even with something a little more “low-brow,” we try to make it as out of the ordinary as possible.

Notes and Randoms:
- My Birthday is Monday. I’ll be turning 30……………...... again.
- Rob Hoersdig is our general manager and a really cool guy. Shout out for ya', buddy.
- “Black Friday” was a little red for us (meaning low sales)
- Best prep music: Beatles.......or Floyd.......I just can't's Beatles.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I’m back……….. I have taken a brief sabbatical, from the blogging scene to get back into the swing of restaurant life. It has certainly been a long haul. In April, I received the Executive Chef position at a restaurant in Dublin, Ohio, Matt the Miller’s Tavern. Henceforth to be known as “MTM,” since I type slow already. Anyway, I have been working 12-15 hour days, for the last 8 months, and have finally reached a place where, I feel, the success of restaurant is definite. The staff I have in the kitchen now, are genuinely good cooks, and probably most important of all, take pride in their craft. I think I’ve got some pretty good loyalty brewing in both the Front of the House and the Back of the house, and have a experienced Sous Chef that I can count on to do whatever is necessary at all times.
There was a lot of re-learning that had to be done with the old staff that remained, and there were a few people I had to let go. At one point, during our crusade to hire on some experienced cooks, I received some serious bashing on the employment section of Craig’s list. I don’t know……..something about how I’m a lazy, incompetent douche bag……. that only weighs 65 lbs…….. because I sling too much coke. ….yada, yada, yada. Anyway…….you make some enemies. But there’s also the chance you meet some fantastic cooks along the way.
Such a cook goes by the name of Alvaro (last name withheld for reasons that must remain unknown). Alvaro one of my AM cooks, came from one of the owner’s other restaurants down the street, and also has been there from the opening. When I first arrived in the kitchen, there were no recipes… specs…….not even an ingredient list on a beverage napkin…..….Nothing. Alvaro was always the one I could go to, to find out what goes in what, and how much. As time went on, I started noticing the intense calm in which he operates behind the line. Never a negative comment (In English anyway), always upbeat and level headed, even under severe pressure. The absolute proficiency that expelled from his body was impressive. I have never seen, in my 17 years of cooking professionally, anyone so efficient and resourceful. Multi-tasking isn’t even the word in this instance.
Just 2 weeks ago, I had the very unfortunate news that Alvaro would no longer be able to work with us. It was a legal/commuting issue, no need to say more. The first week he was gone, his absence was felt by all in the kitchen. I always looked forward to Thursday mornings because Alvaro was back from his days off. I knew that no matter how busy we were the night before, the prep list would get done. That Thursday morning, after realizing that he was not there, my heart could do nothing but sink.
After two long weeks, Alvaro has come back and in full swing. He said that all was taken care of, and I didn’t have any reason to question any further. As I was talking with my Sous today, he had a great thought. He said, “It just feels like everything is right with the kitchen again.” And indeed, the delicate harmony of the kitchen seemed to be repaired, and balance, once again, has been restored to the force.

Notes and Randoms:
-There was a chef bio in one of the local circulars, “This Week”. I guess I’m going to be in the recipe rotation of local chefs. The link can be found here:
Beware of the very large headshot.
-I’m working on another song called “Runner”, referring to the reoccurring problem of getting somebody to take hot food from the kitchen, out to the dining room. In the preliminary stages but I got some great/ funny lines so far.
-A slew of leftovers + 10 minutes = great fucking soup. Every time.
-Mayonnaise is awesome. It is a chemistry miracle, and it is delicious. Rob is a mayo-phobic nut job. Nuff said.
-New Menu rollout on December 1st. Watch fo’ it.