Sunday, September 30, 2007


I am often engaged in conversation with "foodies". People who love food, breath food, dream of food, and cook food. I'm a natural sounding post for foodies because they assume that being a chef I must be one also. I've got news for them, I am not. Sure I love food but it's not my hobby. After a 12 hour day of buying, slicing, chopping, sauteing, grilling, lifting, cleaning and wearing food the last thing I want to do is talk about it. Foodies have the advantage of not having to make a living with food. They can piddle about experimenting with new and exotic ingredients or go on great searches for the most unusual restaurants. They'll bend your ear about great recipes, I really don't care about the recipe for chili gravy. I hate recipes. I don't use them and most are flawed. I find recipes are dangerous. Especially in the hands of amateurs. I may not know who has the best cumin and quite frankly I don't care. Now if you can tell me where I can buy good choice PSMOs at a decent price I'll listen. Or about a produce company that's not going to screw me, I'm all ears.

I'm guessing my attitude is similar to a farmer's regarding animals. Just because he raises them and earns his living with them, he doesn't have to be an animal lover. I'd also argue that being an animal lover would be a detriment to his livelihood. Just if I were to spend my whole day in search for some exotic fungus that might be the current craze.

So next time you want to have a nice conversation with me, let's talk about the Packers, or knives, or travel. Anything but food.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Shallow Pool

Back in the day I never ran into a bad line cook. They simply didn't exist. A line cook, if you don't know are those guys (an occasional girl) that put the food out night after night. They are the backbone of this business. A good line cook is like your sergeant. Invaluable, experienced and will save your ass time and again. If I was a general and wanted to rule the world I would gather up all the best line cooks on earth and lay waste to all who dared to challenge. They epitomise what I think a human being should be. Strong, aware, emotional, smart and quick thinking. A true warrior.

Back then it was pure survival of the fittest. No other business that I'm aware of is more like living in the jungle. You do it or you're done, period. There were so many able workers back then that you didn't waste your time on the weak and feeble. This is a damn tough business that few really are cut out for. It amazes me how many try. It amazes me more how many are still employed. They may still have a job but they will never succeed. They will never fulfill their dream. They just don't have it. Over the past few years I have told more than one young line cook that they will never make it. The shock in there faces an expected response. Tears, if they already knew. I usually will try and soften the blow with "maybe you should try baking?". If you can't cook on the line then be a waiter or a bartender. This is a small club.

Line cooks are broken into three groups in my book. First, a good cook. If you aren't good, you're not employed. Second, a cook with style. Someone you know will do a good job and has made a little bit of a reputation for himself. He's learned a few tricks and can get you out of a jam. Third, the rare, "cook with class". simply put, if you still have style under pressure you got class. That guy who bales you out when you are in the weeds. He just senses it and the next thing you know he's turning your fish, or stocking your station right before you crash and burn. The dude who you love to have next to you. The dude you'll go to war with.

These days good cooks are far and few between. The ones who are out there are most likely Mexican and probably from Oaxaca. They tend to be transient and go where the money is. The white guys are either unreliable, drunks, drug addicts or all of the above.

The recent food network "chef craze" has not done us any favors. Everyone wants to be a chef. The thing is, you can't be a good "chef" without first being a good line cook. They need to learn how to cook, on the line, with your bro, in battle.

Blog Settings.

I'm still tweaking this thing and just made it so you can post a comment without logging in. I thought I did that originally but it didn't take. I'm sure it was no fault of mine.

P.S. Busy, busy, busy. If I get a chance I'll post something later.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jammin for the Arts!

Ok, this is a little advertisement but it's for a good cause. On Saturday Sept 29th there will be live music all over downtown Racine in the bars and some restaurants. Also the restaurants will be donating a portion of the nights sales to the cause. The proceeds go to The Racine United Arts Fund. Basically to the schools to teach art. A VERY WORTHY CAUSE. Without the arts this world would be a very boring place.

At The Rose we'll be having four acts. I'm especially looking forward to Dave Braun, a jazz guitarist. I'm a big fan of jazz guitar and own a few myself. (although I can't play worth crap) We participate every year but this year will be different. The bands will actually play In The Yellow Rose, where in the past they've played in The Grotto next door. The reasons will go unmentioned except to say there was a little communication problem.

On the plate.

Lots to do. Wine dinner coming up on October 19th. I have to get that menu done. We're also going to tweak the menu at C-bass very soon. I hope to add a grilled romaine salad and change the grouper. I ran a special this weekend and it rocked. I accented the fish with a julienned mango-pepper salad using hot and sweet peppers and then accented the dish with a lime butter sauce. Woah. It was way good. So I'm going to make it a permanent fixture on the menu. The current grouper is a favorite so I'm sure I'll be hearing about changing it. I tried the grilled romaine at a special dinner and it also was killer. I haven't decided to pair it with a warm Parmesan dressing or a warm bleu cheese dressing. I've tried it both ways but I favor the bleu.

The wine list also needs tweaking. We plan to shore up the reserve list. It's been taking a pounding lately. Thankfully the higher end wines have been moving. It's a good sign the economy is improving.

Heating Up!

Now that summer is over things are heating back up in the kitchen. I suspended this blog for awhile but it's back to work for me. After a summer filled with malaise I've re-dedicated myself to the kitchen and getting back to what I do best. Cook and running the kitchen. Admittedly things have slipped while I was slacking. As summer came to a close and after a nice road trip I've re-discovered what really makes me happy. So I'll be keeping anyone who reads this up to date on what's going on in my world of restaurants.

If you are not familiar with me let me give you a little background:

I've been cooking professionally for over 30 years. The last ten years has been for myself. (and my partner and wife) We currently own two restaurants, three if you include our private dining facility located adjacent to one of our restaurants. I don't intend this to be an advertisement for any of our restaurants so I won't mention them by name unless it's necessary. What and where they are is no secret.

I'm an early riser so I'll usually be blogging in the early morning hours, recapping the day before and laying out the day ahead. Anyone who's interested in the restaurant biz may find this educational and sometimes enlightening. For me it's therapy. After 30 years of this I need it.

Please forgive the bad grammer and spelling.