Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Leaving The Jones

I put in my notice at The Jones. My last day will be in mid September. I'll begin the search for a new job soon, probably in a big hotel downtown. I made this decision because after 2.5 years working more or less the same station I've started to resent many of the things like chopping romaine, making crustini, making Caesar dressing, slicing tomatoes, and making fritter batter that I find myself doing almost every day. I realize that endless, often mindless repetition is a major portion of being a professional cook but I need a new set of prep jobs that I have to do all the time corresponding with a new set of dishes on a new station so as to broaden my skills and such. That can really only happen at a different restaurant. What's more, the chef who has taught me virtually everything I know is leaving at the end of the week and the kitchen will simply never be the same without him.

It occured to me yesterday that I've been working at The Jones for about a 10th of my life. which is weird.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Free Cake!

One of the best perks of my job is getting to take home cosmetically damaged or barely unserveable deserts. Just the other day Joe made the ganache for his Boston cream pie too thick so he had to spread it on rather than pour it so instead of being perfectly smooth and glossy like it is supposed to it was full of rippples and matte. Basically it looked like a cake that someone's mother had made rather than a cake produced by a professional kitchen. That is very important. Jason made a new one the next day and I got to take home the ugly one.

When you make a chocolate ganache for a cake be sure to make sure that when you put it on it is just thin/warm enough so that you can pour it over the top of the cake and it will fall over the edges but still cling to the sides. Ugly things just never taste quite as good as beautiful ones.

Friday, July 25, 2008


My favorite restaurant I've eaten at in the past year or so is Elemental at Gasworks. Its tiny (five tables), hidden at the end of a dead end residential street, open five days a week, and the menu is different every week. It is better however if you don't bother to look at the menu and simply place your self in the capable hands of the husband and wife duo of owners. They will bring you a parade of simple yet flawlessly crafted dishes and unsolicited wine pairings with each course, multiple pairings for some courses. When I ate there we left stuffed and drunk for right around 60 dollars total per person. Which is a fabulous deal. Also there's no tipping at elemental. Since only 3 people work there they make the cost of service included in the food prices. I think that's a pretty awesome idea.

Overall best foods ever

The 10 most delicious things in the world:

foie gras
braised pork belly
duck confit
braised short ribs

As near as I can figure, those are the most delicious things in the world. I won't bore you with the details of the sophisticated algorithm I devised to whittle it down to those 10, but rest assured, it exists.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Former Jones sous chef and current Sazerac sous chef Jeremy called me a couple days ago and asked me if I wanted to be a breakfast cook at Tulio. It was pretty tempting since my time on the line seems to have shrunk from 5 days a week to 2 days on the new schedule to accommodate the training of the 2 new cooks hired ahead of me plus Scott the owner also working in the kitchen. I'd have to wake up within an hour or so of when I'd normally go to bed though. I told him I was not open to ditching The Jones in the middle of this delicate transitional period but he should give me a call in mid September. In the restaurant industry this is called poaching. Like I'm a threatened species with a fashionable hide or something. Its flattering none the less.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A New Era

I hope I didn't mislead everyone to badly when I said that I am the sous chef. What I was trying to get across is that I'm really the interim sous chef by default. That period is coming to an end. Like, today. Beginning this afternoon it's seems I'm going to become the 4th-5th most experienced person in the kitchen as new senior talent trickles in to fortify things against the potential disaster of chef Jason's resignation in a little over a month. I think the kitchen will be pretty overstaffed between then and now. The next few days will see 2 new cooks in the kitchen and a new host. We haven't really had a new person in the kitchen in over a year and the front of the house crew has been relatively static as well. Now everyone has to establish or reestablish their place. With Joe only working 3 days a week, Kyle the dishwasher's impending "poached" status, and 2 new, more experienced cooks, plus Scott the owner joining the kitchen I'm concerned that I'll end up doing more dishes than I'm comfortable with. I'll be pretty upset if that happens.

Oh, and apparently we're bringing those goddamn fritters back too.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mexican Restaurants and Guacamole

At The Jones, our primary purveyor is Food Services of America who distribute to a large portion of the restaurants in the area. We buy most of our meat, produce, dry goods and other basic restaurant necessities from them. They charge us 12 dollars for a box of 10-13 avocados so they cost a little more than a dollar each. Restaurants that do higher a higher volume of business tend to get slightly better rates on things they go through cases and cases of every week i.e. Mexican restaurants and avocados. So maybe I'm way off base here but I'm assuming that in general they get better rates than we do on them. So one would think that a 4 dollar side of guac should yield you a serving size of 2/3rds of a cup or so especially since the bastards always bulk it out with a bunch of sour cream, and yet there has not been a single time in my life when I have ordered a side of guacamole at a Mexican restaurant and not been disappointed by the portion size. I bet the more corporate leaning chains like Azteca and such don't even make their's in house so its even cheaper. WTF Mexican restaurants? I find it really hard to believe that you are all costing your guac at an honest 25%.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Chantrelle and Gruyere Corn Fritters with Cayenne Honey Butter

Those were one of the original items on the happy hour menu when we started it about a year ago. They were popular but eventually discontinued for a number of reason including but not limited to corn going out of season, they had to be made almost every day and when they didn't sell we'd throw a lot of batter out, when the fryer oil was getting old they came out looking like little black pieces of shit, and they caused me to get burned by fryer oil all the time. That being said, they were really tasty and several people have inquired as to whether or not they are going to come back. Hopefully they never will. Those things were a huge pain in my ass. But for all those people here's the recipe as best I can remember it.

1 cup dried chantrelle mushrooms soaked in water and chopped
3 eggs
3 large ears of corn
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbl salt
3 cups shredded gruyere
all purpose flour as needed

oil for frying


Cut the corn off the cob and add it to a blender with the eggs and puree. Pass the mixture though a fine strainer, preferably a china cap, into a large bowl pressing through as much liquid as you can. Add the gruyere, baking powder, salt, mushrooms and just enough flour so that the mixture is thick enough that you can make heaping spoon fulls without it dripping too much.

At The Jones we made very large batches of cayenne honey butter, a half gallon or so at a time. You probably won't want to do that. We use 2 pounds of butter to 5 pounds of honey so 2 parts butter to 5 parts honey and as much cayenne as you're prepared accept and a little salt and black pepper. Heat it all together whisking occasionally until all the butter is fully melted. Cool the mixture in an ice bath whisking every couple minutes until the mixture is cool. If you don't cool it in this way the mixture will separate.

Heat about 1/2 inch to 1 inch of vegetable oil to 325 degrees and carefully drop roughly tablespoon sized globs of the batter into the oil and fry them until lightly golden brown on all sides. Drizzle with cayenne honey butter and if you're feeling extra showy garnish them with some chives.
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