Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chef's Dinner March 28th

Chocolate mousse in profiterole with butter pecan frozen custard between soft ginger snap cookies.

Seared foie gras with apple and clementine compote, touch of demi on toast round.

Baby red carrots fresh from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.

Baby candy striped beets and the baby carrots. Both harvested two days before delivery.

An old favorite, Beef ala Charlamange, Tenderloin with a truffled mushroom duxelle between the slices. Topped with Hollandaise and gently sauteed baby red carrots.

Oh my god, it doesn't get better. Season opening Alaskan halibut, sauteed, served with a slightly piquant beurre blanc with micro chervil. Served with caramelized baby candy stripe beets and jasmine rice.

Washington State razor clams topped with a blend of micro mustard greens, red amarinth, micro chervil and authentic French dressing.

Smoked duck breast with grilled pineapple chutney, 25 year old balsamicglaze, petite red amarinth leaf amd micro chervil.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Halibut Season

Alaska Halibut
"America's favorite fish"

Halibut are among the largest fish in the sea and the largest of all the flatfish. They can grow to more than 8 ft long and 700 lbs. Halibut weighing in at more than 100 pounds are often called "Whales", "Soakers", or even "Barn Doors", while smaller halibut, less than 20 pounds, are often called "Chickens". The largest halibut ever caught while sport fishing was 459 lbs. in Unalaska Bay.

Halibut is prized for its delicate sweet flavor, snow-white color and firm flaky meat. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein and minerals, low in sodium, fat and calories and contains a minimum of bones.

Halibut is very versatile in the kitchen, as well, with many recipes for baking, broiling, pan-frying, deep-frying, poaching or barbecuing.

A fletch refers to a large halibut fillet. One halibut will yield four fletches. Halibut also yield roundish cheeks which are extracted from their head area. Halibut cheeks are sweet flavored and are considered a delicacy.

The season started Saturday and those of us in the lower 48 started seeing it on Wednesday. It was questionable when we would see it. Evidently there was a volcano erupting in Alaska that was keeping the fresh halibut on the ground. How frustrating is that. Tons of fresh fish waiting for a flight.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

From a thread at Knife forums:

I'll tell you why I hate cutting carrots.

After 12 years of cooking professionally I decided to take a big pay cut and be a fireman. I was also putting my wife through college and just had a baby. I moonlighted cooking on my offs. Money was short so when I got a great part time gig at a cool little restaurant in the chic part of town, it relieved the pressure. On my first night I sliced off the top of my knuckle cutting carrots. It's still the worst I have ever cut myself. I was trying to impress the boys with my skills. Back then you didn't carry around your own knives from job to job. You used what was there. Needless to say it was a bad knife in the hands of a journeyman.

One thing was certain, I was going to finish that shift.

To this day every time I cut carrots I think of that night 20 years ago.

Creative Rut

Can't cook, can't write, can't paint, can't play.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Warren Cook, my first Chef. This was back in 74. My buddies John Horn and Tim Fabatz worked at Merrill Hills Country club.There was an opening in the "dish tank". I finally turned 16 and could get a real job making real money. John was a DW and Tim was a busser. I jumped at the chance. My first restaurant job. woohoo! We had a blast working there.

The Chef's name was Warren Cook,(Yep,"Cook"). He had to be pushing 70. He spent most of his time sitting in his chair at the end of the line nursing a beer and quietly keeping an eye on things. He would sip on that beer all night and when the head would die down he'd salt the beer to bring the head back up. (Don't ask me?) He spoke with a severe lisp he obtained from a stroke he had suffered previously. His nose looked like a battlefield, pocked, pitted, and stained red from years of heavy drinking. His age showed as he'd tire easily and spend more and more time in that chair. He ran a good kitchen there was no doubt about it and the members loved him. And when it was time to move the old dude could move. I would work the outdoor grill with him for "Steak Fries" and that sucker would dance around that huge grill and manage a hundred steaks at a pop. Slicing prime rib? It looked as though he could do it in his sleep. He wasn't big on endurance but that old son of a bitch could cook if he had to. He's also the man who taught me one of my most favorite phrases in this business. Like most young cooks and chefs full of piss and vinegar the sous chef and others would make fun of the elderly Chef and his old school ways and his chair sitting. One day I was assisting him with the steaks outside, (I did the heavy lifting) he was standing in front of the packed grill and out of the blue mumbled. "That fuckin Banning, I've forgotten more than he'll ever know." Banning was the young "hot shot" Sous Chef. I laughed and didn't give it much thought.

I think about that statement more and more these days. In this world of hot shot wannabe super star chefs who can't figure out why they aren't famous or rich and look upon the old timers with disdain and disrespect. It's amazing how much you can forget in 35 years. I also contend that for everything you forget a little seed remains dormant and can sprout when watered with a reminder or just be part of that little voice that tells good chefs what's right and what's wrong. No matter how many forgotten things flourished in the gardens of old chefs heads the remnants of those ideas remain and nourish the soil. There is no substitute for foundation.

At 70 Warren Cook was a badass Chef. I wish I knew him as a younger man. I would have liked to pick up some of that shit he forgot.