Thursday, October 29, 2009


Click the photo for a close-up

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Captain Robert Paul

Another Fireman Story

I was sound asleep at Engine 23's when we got a run for a MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) with injuries just down the street. As we boarded the rig the night watchmen said he heard a car racing down the street just before the alarm came in. "This is going to be bad", he said.

We were on the scene in less than a minute. A car had been traveling down the road the road at a high rate of speed, lost control, went airborne, struck a huge oak tree, split the car in half spewing it's contents in every direction. We found four victims over a 40 yard radius. All were high school kids, All were critical. Very critical.

The boss that day was Capt. Bob Paul. As we approached the scene he immediately called for additional units including every Paramedic unit available and Flight for Life. It was a daunting scene. It was late night and raining, the car was in two pieces with many smaller pieces scattered about the front lawns where it landed. The kids were all over the place so we had to split up and share one med kit. Captain Paul kept us calm and organized as we triaged the patients. It was a few minutes before we got additional help. It seemed like hours. The scene soon became controlled chaos as we treated the kids, loaded some into ambulances and others in the the helicopter.

Kids are the hardest, as you treat the trauma you can't help but think of your own children and subconsciously work that much harder and faster. Bob Paul was a family man and perhaps was thinking of his kids when he was directing us at the scene that night. I know I was thinking of mine.

As usual an hour after the run it was as if it never happened.

Captain Paul was an unassuming man, not the swashbuckling firefighter type. He looked more like a math teacher than a firefighter. Yet he was a very competent fire fighter and an excellent boss. I liked working with him alot. He was good on runs and in the fire house. He was a good man.

I relayed this story to his teen age daughters shortly after his funeral. Bob died too young as many firefighters do. I explained to his kids that on that rainy night their dad took control of that scene and probably was the main reason those four kids are walking around today, most likely with kids of their own. I explained you don't have to run into burning buildings to save lives. Coming to work every day and doing the job to the best of your abilities will save lives. Bob Paul never earned any headlines in his career but I'm sure he was responsible for saving many lives.

Those four kids will never know of the man that saved them that night but I wanted Captain Paul's kids to know of that man. A fireman's fireman.

I developed a habit of saying a prayer when I was working on patients that were either dead or were about to be. I've said this prayer hundreds of times. This one is for Bob Paul.

May God embrace your soul and welcome you into his kingdom of heaven.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hope Safe House Auction Dinner

Hope Safe House is an animal rescue organization here in Racine. One of my favorite causes. We donated the seven course dinner as part of a fund raiser.

I've included a couple photos from the dinner.
(Click on photos for close-ups)

U12 Gulf shrimp, ruby grapefruit, orange and lime supremes, cilantro, poblano, golden pea shoots, red kaiwaire shoots.

Tuna and beef rolls tataki.

U10 dry sea scallop, lardon steeped in in chicken demi, maple accented sweet potato.
(Ah, killer.)

Olympic Bay Steel Head, pearl onion supreme, caramelized fennel, roasted wild rice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Depth of Knowledge

It's very common these days to see young chefs with glowing resumes. It's typical to see: graduate high school, go to culinary school, stage in impressive high-end, preferably famous restaurants then land a job cooking and cheffing in top notch, high-end restaurants. It seems like a logical progression. Upon viewing one chef's resume I mentioned, "you've only worked in fancy restaurants?" He proudly said, "yes, nothing wrong about that." I replied, "it's about depth of knowledge", it's useful to experience different types of food-service establishments, how things are done outside the foodie world. You can't help picking up some useful tools for the future. Not everyone lands a job in New York or Chicago and understanding the preferences of a broader range of customers will pay off. Not to mention the capabilities of the available staff.

As a result young chefs tend to be inflexible in their idealistic beliefs and frown upon methods that are perceived as less than the way they've been taught. It reminds me of the saying, "young chefs know the rules, old chefs know the exceptions to the rules." These young turks may not understand the value of a diverse food-service background now but if they are still in the biz 20 years from now they will. I've tried to explain this over and over again to the noobies and they all look at me like I'm crazy.

Give me a guy who started flipping burgers, found he loved this crazy business and then worked his way up the culinary chain. He will be more open to alternative methods and products, be more tolerant and will most likely last longer in the business.

With that being said I have lost my tolerance for arrogant hot shot chefs who were born after I got my first chef's job. I actually had one start explaining to me how to cost meat portions. I was like, "you must really think I'm an idiot, do you think I'd be operating a profitable restaurant for 15 years and not know how to cost meat? Tell about me something I haven't been practicing for 35 years kid." I've also been cutting meat for 35 years, do you think he'd be open to suggestions on how to utilize more product and cut more efficiently? Hell no, he knows everything already.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mashed Potatoes

A few weeks ago Mat asked for a new chinoise to replace our old handle-less one. It seemed a reasonable request so the next time I'm at the "Depot" I pick one up. The new version. A plastic one. Great, I wonder how long this will last. Anyway, I've noticed Mat using it for the mashed potatoes. He's running the mashed potatoes through the chinoise to produce a very fine creamy texture. (A chinoise is a very fine sieve shaped like a "China-man's hat used for straining soups, stocks, sauces, etc.) It's a bitch to pass mashed potatoes through it. It got me thinking about how Mat and I approach cheffing. There is no freaking way I will ever put mashed potatoes through a chinoise. No freaking way. I appreciate the effort and the final product but it's an example of how our styles differ. Not only how we approach food but the job as well. Mat loves to cook. He gets to work early every day because he just likes to be cooking. He has the passion and energy and loves the work and the food. I don't anymore. After 35 years it's extremely difficult to keep that edge. Even in my personal tastes I have come full circle and prefer a simple straight forward "comfortable" dinner to the multi course extravaganza. They almost seem silly to me now. 20 years ago I might have gotten satisfaction of putting potatoes through a sieve but now that seems silly to me too. Is it because I'm burned out after 35 years years of an intimate relationship with food? Or because of that long time relationship I've become so familiar with food that I've grown to recognize the essentials in good food and dining and realize it's not about awards, fame, money and the latest trends. Much like life, as you age you understand that it's not about the short term satisfactions you get along the way, it's about the core principles of love, family and peace. You can apply those same basics to cooking and dining and you'll recognize the final product and most of the people you cook for will too. It's old school but I think old school is the next new school.

As a kid we ate alot of boxed "mashed potatoes". Mom was busy and had six mouths to feed. We always knew if the potatoes were lumpy mom made real mashed potatoes. She took the time to make them, not perfectly but she made real mashed potatoes because she loved us. After many years of mashing potatoes she would cut a corner or two and leave some lumps. You may find a lump in my potatoes but that's ok because after mashing my share of potatoes I've grown to love the lumps.

I also give that new plastic chinoise three months. A fifty dollar plastic sieve. Sheesh!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recent Shots

House made Frozen Custard, Fried to Order Doughnuts

Grasshopper Shooters

Papaya Grilled Shrimp

Miso Grilled Salmon

Twin Filets with U12 Gulf Shrimp

Saturday, October 3, 2009


In an effort to bolster Friday night business in this dismal economy (16% unemployment locally) we have been running three course specials on Friday nights. I've post ed some photos of the pasta being prepared for one of last Friday's specials. It was made Friday afternoon and served with a ragu of beef tenderloin tips, the last of the garden peppers and tomatoes, pearl onions and fennel. Topped with shaved Parmesan.

Included are soup or tossed salad, a starch, vegetable and dessert. Below is a partial list of some of the things we've done on Friday. The price is $19.95.

Broiled Algoma Whitefish with fresh tarragon beurre blanc and pearl onions.
Broiled Algoma Whitefish ala Grenoble.
Grilled Mahi Mahi Kabayaki
Skate wing with lemon beurre monte and 10 YO balsamic.
Lobster Chapchae
Lobster risotto.
Traditionally broiled lobster (Every Friday, 6 oz. Maine)
Texas style prime rib.
Smoked beef brisket.
Roast tenderloin of beef with smoked mushroom jus.
Garlic and tomato braised 12 count gulf shrimp.
Foie gras and truffled meatloaf.
Hanger steak with demi, bearnaise and pomme frites.
Flank steak au poivre.
Cedar roasted salmon with garden fresh chive butter
salmon sous vide
Beef short ribs sous vide
Braised short ribs
Barbeque Beef ribs, Korean style.
Apricot and goat cheese stuffed loin of pork with apricot demi.
Apple and cornbread stuffed loin of pork with apple demi.
Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin with apple-maple jus.

Those are just some off the top of my head. Although we've done pretty well with it, (The specials account for 70% of dinners served on Fridays.) people should be lined up to get in. I don't know of a better deal anywhere. We use good quality products, often from our garden and everything is made from scratch. Three courses for $19.95!

Dough ball before kneading. I use Marcella Hazan's (Sp?) recipe for pasta. She says two ingredients only unless you're coloring it. Eggs and flour.

Roll out very thin.

Dust with flour so it doesn't stick together.

Cut your pasta. I like a fettuccine size. I don't worry if it's not perfect. I like the rustic look. Plus the customer will recognize it's handmade.

A little space is good. I like long pasta.