swining and dining

Monday, March 13, 2006

Refreshed....and ready to go

Ahhhh what a differnce two days make...after the mild culinary palputation...I'm back on track.

Sometimes going to have another meal to exorcise a bad meal doesn't always work (SA... it definitely worked @ Zortiko....screw that LA place) A chef has to take the matter in his own hands. Monday was Labor Day, a holiday in the State of Victoria, Australia..These Aussies take holidays seriously....everyone if off. What better way to celebrate any Labor Day than with a good 'ol fashion BBQ or Barbie.

Sunday morning we made a trek back to the Queen Victoria Market, (A) to buy a few souvenirs, (B) to meet up with another old apprentice chef and (C) Procure mis en place for of BBQ or exorcise the meal from "MoMo".

(A) I'm gonna share a bit of personal info, I have been in 17 weddings in my life...none of them mine (though I was once engaged) best man 3 times on 3 continents...aside from my inability to say "no"...obviously, I have been honored by being asked to be the Godfather of 11 yes "E-LE-VEN", children...and with the blessing of many close friends, I've decided to at least spoil my Godchildren with gifts from my travels...everyone is !@$#@#$ out of luck (I am unemployed right now...remember sabbatical=unemployment) Actually I will comment on that later.
Mission (A) was accomplished.

(B) Another mate, Daniel Fingerhut also lives in Australia, he was my senior apprentice who looked after me at the Greenbrier, he has worked in Oz for ten years now and considers it home. Daniel was the first senior apprentice to take me under his wing and show me the ropes. I was paired up with him my 3rd night at the Greenbrier, we had the Beef Station...or known as the Station from Hell. If I haven't shared anything from the Greenbrier let me share this. The kitchen is the sized of a football field, a 60 foot line with 10 stations, a chef's office that looks like an airport control tower, and get this a scoreboard, yes a scoreboard!.... each apprentice or cook was assigned a station per night (with the exception of the Beef Station), there were no POS printers...orders were counted on a scoreboard correspondng to each station. Each station had one dish, thats right one dish, each dish was forecasted that night to the number of orders that might be ordered, could be more could be less. Everything (except starches)was a la minute "cooked to order", sometimes you were forcasted to do 40 orders and sometimes 110 orders...the beef station 275 orders..."TWO-SEVENTY-FIVE" Baby! 1300+ covers a night (by the way the Resort is a Five Star and Five Diamond) Daniel was there when I got the biggest ass-kicking of my life, he got me thru that night and the season.

Anyway, it was great to catch up with Daniel, seeing old chef friends and talking about our humble beginnings is a great grounding experience. We reminiced of old times and he shared a great story with me that I almost forgot...he remembered when I would cook for a few chefs after working 12 hours in my tiny apartment. He commented that no matter what time it was or how tired we were, I was always up for cooking, he referenced the passion I had back then, and that its in the kitchen where I shine. I thanked him for that. We met Daniel over a cup of coffee, freshly made creme filled donuts and that dam marinated lamb sandwich I can't seem to forget. We ended our conversation on the hopes he would visit me in the states and to remember always why we do what we do....because we love it.

(C) Brian wanted to do a good 'ol BBQ, once again there are no good BBQ joints in Oz...we made our way to the meat and poultry vendors, there we negotiated to buy 6 kilos of pork ribs, 4 kilos of chicken thigh meat, assorted grilled meats and sausages. We then bought amazing produce and condiments...I stumbled upon some beautiful white anchovies, a personal fav (SA there are good...) olives, this time mascarpone stuffed peaches....these were "scooby snacks". The menu was simple, BBQ pork ribs with homemade BBQ sauce, sesame and pineapple marinated chicken, warm potato salad with bacon, boiled eggs and shallots, blue lake green bean salad, mac and cheese, fresh peach creme caramel, and celeriac salad. We procured the rest of our ingredients and began a afternoon of prepping and beer drinking.

By evening time we were ready for our BBQ, it was a fun afternoon chopping, picking, seasoning, tasting, and simply cooking....we bounced ideas off one another and slowly erased the lingering flavor of the meal a couple of evenings ago. So far these past weeks have allowed me to cook, to create, think out openly, evaluate, dream, sit down and watch guiltless TV, and breathe. I have started a journal of menu ideas, new ingredients and techniques...all of which will help me create menus for my new gig in LA....yes, I won't be unemployed for long...Before I left LA, I agreed to be the Executive Chef of a newly renovated boutique hotel in Santa Monica. The kitchen (under my redesign) and restaurant will be getting a multi-million dollar renovation. I'm very excited and look forward to share more with you soon. The menu will seafood based and will have a few of my signature dishes, but moreso, the menu will reflect a renewed dedication to my art and the exciting flavors of my trip thus far and places yet to be seen.

Monday morning...10am...guests arriving in 4 hours...time to get my swine on. Gotta go. In swine we trust.


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