Wednesday, December 26, 2007

360mm Masamoto Yanagi, Hon-Kasumi Shiro-Ko

I've been asked why such a long yanagi? In the video on the bottom of the page you'll see I use every inch of it in that particular application. Slicing beef tenderloin to order on the line. Sure it's tender and easy to cut but that almost works against you when you want to complete the task in an efficient manner. Tenderloin can be delicate, so a long sharp knife is very useful.

I did alot of these for private dinners over the Holidays. Sliced at service for up to 80 people. Once you get a rhythm down you fly through the tenders with this yanagi. One stroke per slice.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Or Happy Holidays. Which ever you prefer.

The madness of December is over. Now it's on to New Years Eve.

I hope everone has a wonderful Holiday season.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I finally figured out how to manage my videos and You Tube. I've included a tour of #2 at the bottom of this page. Forgive the soundtrack. It was handy and the perfect length. Also somewhat fitting.

#1 is on there now as well.

Also a brief look at the staff at our "Thank God Christmas is finally here party."

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Weeds

Anyone who is in the business knows what I'm talking about. It's inevitable, no matter what your job is sooner or later you'll be in "the weeds". Simply put it's being overwhelmed with time sensitive tasks. Pressure personified. I've seen people just say "fuck it" and walk out and quit on the spot. Countless numbers of waitresses break down into tears. Chef's losing it and throwing plates. (I won't mention any names) It's a bad place to be. A very bad place to be. If you watch Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares (I do not) you'll probably see it often. A cook being in the weeds can have a snowball affect. If you're unable to get the food out in a timely matter it puts the servers in the weeds, which in turn can put the Host in the weeds, which can compound the server's weeds which compounds the cook's weeds and the bartender is probably in the weeds too. It's not pretty.

Young cooks need to be exposed to it for educational purposes. Once you're in the weeds you need to get out. In a word, survive. Experience is really the only teacher. I have a favorite phrase after surviving being in the weeds. "Pressure makes diamonds." It's true.

I got in the weeds big time last week. It was a very bad day. It doesn't happen that often. I can usually control the factors that lead to it. I let my guard down and trusted an employee too much and I ended up suffering for it. (not to mention another 5 or 6 people I was working with) I find as I age I'm not quite as good dealing with it as I used to be. That's one of the reasons I keep my line work limited these days. It was however a reminder to be ever vigilant when prepping, scheduleing and booking tables. The weeds is a place I don't like to visit and hopefully I won't be back there soon.

If you're a civilian and can't figure out why your food is taking so long and why your server has that "deer in the headlights look" and then disappears, chances are the restaurant is in the weeds. Be patient, you'll get served sooner or later. Probably when your server feels safe going back into the dining room.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tactics aka Menu

I heard from some military general that tactics are wonderful but it's logistics that wins wars. I have the same philosophy when it comes to menus. If you can't serve the menu properly you've lost the war. I see many menus while dining out or surfing the net. Some sound incredibly good. It's also not uncommon to see those same restaurants out of business within a year. I've noticed the shi-shi menu craze really geared up in recent years with the celebrity chef craze. It seems more chefs are interested in showing off how great they are rather than concentrating on what this business is really about. Being successful, making money, keeping the employees employed and making a livable wage. If you can do all that AND show off you are ahead of the game.

I have spent a good portion of my career dealing with logistics. If you can't realistically serve that fancy menu what good does it do you? If you can't get that exotic ingredient it won't impress anyone. If the chef is the only one skilled enough to implement the menu then you're going to crash and burn sooner or later.

As a result my "style" is keep it simple, serve a quality product, accent it in a positive manner and don't screw it up. The "don't screw it up" part is all about restraint and logistics. I think you'll find that most places with similar philosophies do pretty well. You may not find corn fungus on the menu but the odds are the customers will appreciate it.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I mentioned in the post I deleted that one of the things that keeps me sane this time of year is food. Preparation of great food. The downside to that is this time of year many of the additional customers that we are serving are "special occasion" customers. Also the crowd around here in general is a less discriminating customer. I don't mean that to sound critical it's just a fact of life. When I want to let my hair down I have to be careful I don't loose money doing it. If the crowd wants the Rolling Stones I shouldn't give them Mozart. I love the Rolling Stones but playing Mozart is my passion, if ya know what I mean.

So this week I went from one end of the spectrum to the other. I flew in some gorgeous seafood from Hawaii and smoked some equally gorgeous (well, not really) beef brisket. Our seafood is always fresh and excellent but the stuff I get from Hawaii is especially beautiful. It's brought to the piers a couple hours before I order it and shipped shortly after that. It's overnighted to me and I get it about 24hours out of the ocean. This week it was Big Eye tuna, Blue Snapper and Kampachi. I did some sushi, sashimi and tar tar with the Big Eye, ceviche with the Kampachi and the snapper wrapped in cedar and grilled. It all was "world class. This was a big hors d'oeuvres week so I was also smoking beef brisket "low and slow" with cherry wood and a dry rub for mini brisket sandwiches. I also cut alot of tenders this time of year and grind up the trimmings for micro burgers. Both the brisket and burgers are served on little buns that I baked fresh just hours before. The fish sold ok but the little sandwiches were pounced upon. As I said, it's a Rolling Stones crowd and I didn't mind doing some "covers".

I'm taking some video around the restaurants this weekend and hope to put together a little video I can post here.

Hopefully I can direct all my attention to #1 today. Two big parties at #2 yesterday so I was there all day. When I got to #1 last night the boys were in the weeds. I walked in the kitchen and the servers were hovering in front of the line like a bunch of vultures waiting not-so-patiently for their food. I'll be there tonight to expedite, back up any one who needs help and to keep the vultures at bay. Their impatience pisses me off. They are spoiled rotten. It's not often the boys get in the weeds. The servers aren't aware of just how good those guys are. The cooks are also very nice guys and let them slide on the snide remarks. Me, I'm not so nice. they'll be getting snapped on tonight and the cooks are going to love every minute of it. It's been a long week, I'm going to make sure we have fun tonight.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I decided to delete the "Days" post and replace it with a less scrooge like tone.

A hard day. A good day. All things considered it went well. Our days have been busy with Holiday parties, some easier than others. We did an event for a local business. All appetizers, cash bar. We started the day a tad behind. My day cook was dragging and was ten minutes late getting in the kitchen. The weather has slowed things down lately and Fridays are usually slow and steady. We ended up getting our asses kicked. A couple weeks of complacency showed. Day cook's primary responsibility is to set up the line and be prepared to get through the lunch with the prep on hand. Sloppy set-up and short on a number of things. We pushed through a good rush doing a little prep on the way. (I absolutely hate that) I'm proud of the job Day cook did after a slow start. We jumped right into prepping the app party. It was something like 48 dozen pieces of hors d'oeuvres. Very time consuming. We had to have them out by five pm. Mad dash between 4 and 5. Everything came out great. From the smoked brisket on freshly baked mini buns to the tuna tataki.

Best of all get to go home tonight.

New Knife!

The other thing that keeps me sane this time of year is acquiring little rewards for the hard work. I just received a new yanagi, (long Japanese knife for slicing raw fish or cooked meat. Mostly used for sushi)It's a Masamoto 360mm KS series. It's a monster. It came gift wrapped but I couldn't help take a peak and wrap it back up again. I'm going to try and leave it alone until Christmas. I have another yanagi on the way as well. A very special one that is currently being made in Japan. If I ever find my camera I'll post some pics in the slide show.