Friday, June 12, 2009

Just a little tease...

I'm in Chicago, its been a lot of fun eating so far. Last night, I hit part 1 of the Kahan trio, Avec and L2O. Today's plan: Hot Doug's, Publican and Bin 36. Late Night: Violet Hour

Here's a Food Porn sneak peek:


Peekytoe Crab in Foie Gras Emulsion


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Is Necessary In A Restaurant?

Leary's Canteen

Recently I've been trying to fine tune my concept for my own restaurant and I am starting to put my chicken scratch into a formal proposal of some sort. This is an interesting time only because reading and trying to understand chicken scratch can be a monumental effort at times. One of the more intriguing underlying questions or ideas that I have found to be common in my research is the basic necessity of service or product in a restaurant. What defines what a restaurant should or should not have? Is trend dictating a restaurant's focus and sustainability away from food?

I know the questions are ridiculously vague, but they really tie into restaurant sustainability, seating, staff, menu and almost everything else. For example, the simple idea of whether to have a hard liquor license or not is really a $100,000 dollar swing vote when you put in consideration the need to permit, space, stock, hire, and accommodate all the requirements for having a cocktail bar. Why wouldn't I simply decide to take the $6000 (not actual amount, example) that it might take to stock hard alcohol and add that into building an amazing wine list?.

And when did it become wrong to have a restaurant be primarily focused on food? Too many restaurants want to throw in big giant bars, flashy modern design and cocktails, but isn't that a problem when success is hinging on an associated bar concept. People are flocking nowadays to street food and gourmet carts for exactly 1 purpose: the food. And if you take the most fundamental of ideas, shouldn't that be the first and foremost thought for creation? I understand that people love to go to restaurants that can offer multiple sources of entertainment, but are there too many places that have deviated to this model?

When I tell people that I want a small restaurant focused on primarily the food, sometimes I can see a little chuckle coming from their faces. They're laughing inside because they think the notion of having the objective of a restaurant to be "food" is completely obvious if not downright stupid. But, if you think hard enough, there is quite a bit of complexity and inherent philosophy in that response.

A focus on food allows you to remove all the clunky, costly clutter that doesn't necessarily contribute to the diner's food experience. It also allows you to assess the focus of service from only one perspective and not three: bar service, table service, diner services (e.g. sommelier, event staff, extra FOH). And once you are able to simplify the experience to one focus, you can then be pragmatic about how to provide that service. Yes, people will tell me that service has been done a certain way for centuries, but I will counter that people also did bloodletting, human sacrifice and slavery for centuries too and only one of those things are cool (not slavery).

Sorry, but unfortunately I am not offering my own ideas on how I want to structure service onto a public blog at this moment, but I think you have an idea that things can and should be different. It's hard to describe everything in detail, but essentially the idea reduces to a single underlying core philosophy that we, as common people, have a desire and a need for great food. I feel that at this core beyond all the surrounding barriers, walls and layers of a restaurant, there should sit a foundation, a truth and a way: I am a chef and all I want to do for you tonight is cook you personal and beautiful food.



Monday, June 8, 2009

I'll Have The Drug Dealer Braised Leg with Port Reduction


From boston.com:

Suspects accused of dismembering, cooking body

WRENTHAM -- Two longtime friends today were accused of murdering a suspected drug dealer, dismembering the body, and then cooking the remains at a Walpole concrete business.

Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Robert Nelson made the ghastly accusations in Wrentham District Court as Daniel Bradley and Paul Moccia pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges and were ordered held without bail.

The prosecutor said that the victim, Angel Antonio Ramirez, was a drug dealer who obtained kilos of cocaine from the West Coast. Moccia owed Ramirez $70,000 from prior drug deals, Nelson said, and Moccia decided he was not going to pay Ramirez back and made the decision to kill him.

Nelson said that on March 20, Moccia met Ramirez near the concrete company in Walpole that Bradley co-owns. Moccia is accused of shooting Ramirez in the back with a .357-caliber pistol. The victim's body was then taken to Bradley's business where, Nelson said, Bradley dismembered the man's remains.

He said one final effort was made to eliminate evidence of the killing. "It was cooked," Nelson said of Ramirez's body.


Having been to Wrentham many times in my life, I would not characterize it as a town for a hotbed of new cuisine involving human body parts. In fact, other than an outlet mall, there doesn't seem like there's much there at all.

Wonder if the guy ever took butchering classes? Breaking down a human body is probably harder than a pig I would venture to guess...

Nothing like a deranged story with a hint of cannibalism on Monday afternoon. Anyone wanna throw out the first tastes like chicken joke?

Wednesday Night Test Kitchen - Monday Morning Food Porn

I think I thought I posted this, but I totally forgot. I figure I could slap together a Monday morning quickie here. I was doing some shopping the other day in a big Chinese supermarket and I came upon some crawfish. So I thought to do the only thing that was right and steamed them with a bunch of Lousiana spices. To pair them, I made tasty Shrimp Butter and Green Onion Grits. I think the pictures can do the talking...

On the menu:

Steamed Crawfish
Shrimp Butter and Green Onion Grits

From june5


From june5