Monday, November 20, 2006

A Small Victory

We're doing a different Ravioli now. Celery root and black truffles. We made a small batch to test out the filling. I thought it needed more truffles and salt. Scott who was also tasting the ravioli said that it was supposed to be subtle, like you're not supposed to be "hit over the head" with the truffles. Then I said that I could only taste the truffles when I really focused on them. To which he replied, "Its ok, you're still developing your palate". That pissed me off. There really were not enough truffles. The next day Jason showed me how to make the new filling. By the time we were finished with the first full batch of filling Jason had drastically increased amount of truffles and truffle oil in proportion to the test batch with no encouragement from me to do so.

Truffles are one of the best things in the world.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

At Nell's the prep lists are written on the backs of spare menus. Yesterday when I was taking out the trash I noticed one discarded right on top. I kept it. Now I've decided that I'm going to take and save menus from everywhere I can. Maybe I'll keep them in a binder. Only the disposable ones though. I'm certainly not going to steal menus that actually have value.

Today was the 14th consecutive day I've worked. Tomorrow I will break my personal record set last summer when I was a house painter.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Iron Chef Journal

Rachel Ray and Mario Batali vs. Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay. I've been waiting for weeks. I can't decide who I want to win. On one hand I hate Rachel Ray far more than Giada De Laurentiis but I don't hate Mario Batali at all and I strongly dislike Bobby Flay. So the question is does my combined, moderate hatred of Bobby and Giada cancel out my intense hatred for Rachel? I guess I just won't root for anyone.

12:00: I'm praying that the secret ingredient is something random and really difficult like sorrel or eel or something. I'm bound to be disappointed.

12:02: My roommate Paul remarks at the size of Giada's forehead. It is really big.

12:06: The ingredient is cranberries. Lot's of potential for hilariously awful Rachel Ray food there. Sadly I don't think Mario will let that happen.

12:15: Time out to watch Morel Orel. I wish I had TiVo

12:21: Totally worth it.

12:27: I'm disappointed that neither Ted Allen nor Jeffrey Steingarten are judges for this battle. I was hoping for some trash talk.

12:31: Its really hard to blog in real time.

12:34: Bobby Flay is using canned cranberry sauce.

12:35: Bobby Flay uses toast in every battle. I hate him.

12:35: Mario Batali takes some cranberry cocktails to the judges table. Huge surprise, the chairman decides to allow it. Just once I'd like to see him not allow something. Unfortunately that will never happen because he's clearly on all kinds of drugs in every episode.

12:45: Mario Batali is adding real, tasteless, smelless, paper thin gold to something. I don't know how I feel about this.

12:47: I've just noticed that this episode is going a half hour longer than normal. Kick ass.

12:55: The way that Bobby Flay disguises his complete lack of creativity with over elaborate plating is really transparent.

Rachel Ray's cranberry glazed pancetta wrapped sage stuffed jumbo prawns actually look pretty good.

1:04: The battle is over. Everyone finished with about 20 seconds to spare. I'm calling it for Mario and Rachel pre-judgement. I'm not sure how confident in that pick I am.

1:07: Judging begins.

1:10: Giada seems really nervous. She is not handling criticism from the flamboyantly gay judge very well. Ted Allen, your spirit lives on.

1:11: Why the hell is Mo Rocca a judge on this show so often? OMG he just said that Giada and Bobby "kind of look like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie so I'm going to call this dish cranngelina". Mo, I'm sorry I questioned you.

1:17: Rachel Ray is soooooooo not funny

1:25: Judging is finished and I think Bobby Flay and Giada have a slight edge. Should be close though.

1:27 The winner is: Mario and Rachel. I should have known better than to pick Bobby Flay over Mario Batali even if he's partnered with Rachel Ray. Giada looks really pissed. In a perfect world the winning team would be challenged by Sandra Lee and Morimoto. Sigh. I think it's interesting that they didn't show the scores like after most battles. Maybe it wasn't so close after all?

Saturday, November 11, 2006


First off it felt very strange to not be the dishwasher. When I heard dishes being washed my first instinct was to go wash them. I kind of felt guilty that someone else was washing the dishes and I had to tell myself over and over again "The dishes are not your responsibility. The dishes are not your responsibility."

They mostly had me doing the boring prep jobs. Chopping vegetables, picking and chif-ing herbs, etc. I didn't really mind. Those are actually the things I rarely do at The Jones because Ravioli and Timbale take up so much of my time. It gave me a chance to work on those knife skills. The only thing I really didn't like was prepping plates for the beet carpaccio. That involved slicing beets ultra thin with the deli slicer then carefully laying them out around the edges of the plates so that they look pretty. That one was kind of a pain in the ass.

There were four people working the line. A 6'5" 275# man named Elwood and I worked the pantry station. We were responsible for starters and desserts. Almost all the orders we got were from the 25 for 25 menu. After all, the main reason they need me is the bump in volume that the 25 for 25 promotion gives them. There were 4 starters and 3 desserts. The starters were an arugula salad, a mixed green salad, kohlrabi soup, and beet carpaccio with scallop sashimi. They were all pretty straight forward. The most difficult part was keeping what bowl went with what dressing straight. All 4 of the starters required at least one bowl and the carpaccio needed 2. Next week I think I'll label them. The desserts were a brownie with ice cream, some kind of crisp, and a brulee. I did a few Brulees but for the most part Elwood took care of the desserts.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nervous for Nell's

I bought a whetstone and steel today along with my very own copy of "The Joy of Cooking". The first two in large part because I'm as sure as hell not showing up at Nell's without my own knife and a dull one one would be almost as bad as no knife at all. It looks like I'll be working there Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the rest of November. That means my next day off will likely be Thanksgiving. Working long periods of time with no days off is something most cooks have to do at some point in their careers, some more than others.

I'm not saying I have to do this. I don't. However there are multiple reasons I want to. Nell's is a very nice restaurant where lots of people who could potentially benefit my career work. Jason told me, "Phil [the chef] knows a lot of people" and I believe him. Second, at Nell's the food is pretty. Not that it isn't at The Jones, but I've mostly only worked the pantry station (and about 35 minutes on the grill spread out over 3 days) and the plating for the food is comparatively inexact and I still manage to fuck things up more often than I should. I think I'll learn a good bit. Third, I'm feeling the need to test my stamina. Oh, I heart money as well.

The reason Nell's needs me is because they're part of something called the "25 for 25" promotion. Apparently there are 25 restaurants in Seattle that offer a $25 dollar 3 course menu during the month of November. This causes them to do a lot more volume than what's normal for them this month. And I think they might have lost a few people. You can see a complete list of the restaurants here. When I was told about it I really wanted to try a couple but now I've realized that will be impossible. Oh well.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sad Things and Happy Things

We got a new dish washer and I hate it. It doesn't fit the stock pots, it doesn't start automatically, it will only fit one sheet pan at a time, and it doesn't even clean much better than the old one. So that sucks.

Some good news however. Jason used to work at Nell's. A pretty fancy place. He got a call from them the other day asking if he had anyone that could pick up a couple shifts there. Looks like both Joe and I are going to do it. I wasn't sure I was ready for line work at a place like that but Jason assured me that I was. He also expressed serious concern that they would try to steal one or both of us. That was very flattering. Also it's plunged me into internal conflict over whether I would allow myself to be stolen. The menu on their web page looks pretty incredible. I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I said to myself today, "Why not treat yourself to a new cookbook? You're awesome. You deserve it. Its an investment anyway". So I log onto Amazon and search for "cookbooks" figuring that would be a good place to start. 6 of the first 10 results were cookbooks by Food Network personalities that I hate, including 2 by Rachel Ray. I really should have seen that coming. But still, someone shoot me.
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