Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why cook?

I started off my restaurant career as a server. Which from my perspective now, is the easy route. When I switched from serving and making on average 14-20 dollars an hour, to 10, people would (and still) ask me why I switched. I joke around saying, "Oh, I've decided I was making too much money." But really I decided I want to do now, what I plan on doing the rest of my life, and I love it. Sure, I'm living less than paycheck to paycheck, but I for sure don't dread coming in to work every day for long hours and hard work with minimal pay. I would say its an even trade.

It's not only a passion thing, its also the fact that I look up to so many Chefs, I follow their ever
y blog p
ost, every tweet, every news story. Below are a list of just a few Chefs that I see as role models and strive to be.

Grant Achatz
Pronounced to rhyme with "rackets" this Chef has some story about him. He's the single fastest rising chef, working at the culinary Mecca called The French Laundry at age 22, and owning his own restaurant at the age of 30. Shortly after his restaurant opened, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 tongue cancer, there is no stage 5. He was given only months to live, but underwent an experimental procedure involving Chemotherapy radiation, as opposed to losing his tongue and part of his jaw.
This Chef creates the most outrageous gastronomic creations in the country, with influences such as Thomas Keller(French Laundry), and Ferran Adria (El Bulli, Spain) breaking down and reassembling simple meals into complex works of art. From what he's been through, to the food he creates, every ounce of his lifetime effort saturates each plate that walks out of his kitchen.

Anthony Bourdain
The culinary badass and creator of Kitchen Confidential, the book that tells the real story of what goes on in a kitchen, from the 'left over bread' conspiracy, to the brunch fiasco. To explain what I'm talking about, you will have to actually purchase the book, and it is well worth the read. Chef Bourdain has the life I want, traveling to all four corners of the world at least twice all while eating local cuisine, no matter how crazy or taboo, and drinking local adult beverages (copious amounts to be exact)
Aside from writing the single most accurate book about a kitchen, I wouldn't say he's done anything "majorly groundbreaking" in the culinary world, but I would without a doubt say he is formerly known as the best line cook, EVER. Working at a restaurant, open to close, while tackling over 1500 covers on the day; Oh and by the way a cover is a single person, no matter how many courses/plates they order.

These two are the ones I've looked up to most, I'm not looking to follow in their footsteps, I plan to create my own path so I can one day write a book about my journey and inspire someone in my position.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Take #2

I've totally forgotten about this thing!
Well lets start off with a how-to, shall we?
This one started off a couple of days before St. Patricks Day. I was bored and so far doing nothing on my day off; I've come to feel more useless when I do nothing on my days off so I always have a project lined up usually food related. This time, I decided to try to smoke something. Not having smoked anything animal related I researched how to do this. Below I'll show you how to create a makeshift smoker.

Things you need:
Oven safe brownie sheet that you don't mind ruining (its still useful afterwards though)
Bag of woodchips, your choice (I used appplewood, really good for pork
Propane grill

Fill the sheet tray with the wood chips and water. let them soak in there for a good 30 minutes. Drain half the water so much of the chips are exposed, place on grill. Turn the grill on to low heat and make sure your tank is filled, because smoking takes at least 3 hours. Place protein of choice on top rack. I used a 5lb corned brisket so I had it on for about 4 hours til it hit 165F.

For the brisket, I wanted to play it safe in seasoning so I used equal parts of cinnamon, thyme, chili powder, salt, cracked black pepper, deli style mustard, and a little horseradish.

This is the messy part:
Coat the meat with a generous portion of the mustard and the horseradish, 100% coverage
Take the seasoning blend (for me it added up to about 4Tbsp of the blend) and rub it all over the meat.

And you're done, its weight determines the cook time, for pork and beef it should be 165F which is well done but dont worry, it will be fork tender.

Hope you enjoyed this post, better planned and more interesting posts to come!