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Everything posted by alanamoana

  1. i've heard good and bad about maya, but that was a year or so ago when i was living there. i guess you'll have to report back to us after your dinner
  2. i guess i figured i would touch a nerve (or two ) by broaching this subject on-line. i apologize to the non-professionals out there (but you should read this to gain a little insight into our "ghetto-ized" ranks). wow, sinclaire, i couldn't have put some of that better! so, to pose another question which steve and "fat guy" answered a little already...what can we do as professionals to make this better?! i have to admit that i don't help the situation very much. i have been working in the business since 1995 (which really isn't very long) and due to the overworking scenario, i've ended up quitting every year and a half to two years to take anywhere from 3-6 months off before starting another job. it's the only way i can unwind. i really take my hat off to those of you who continue to work without vacations, time-off or a "normal life". another problem is the quick promotion. just to toss this in...it is much more difficult to become a sous chef than it is to become a pastry chef. the pastry chef quits/gets fired/whatever and the next person in the department regardless of qualification gets "promoted" to pastry chef. most of us aren't smart enough to say NO. we think it's a great opportunity, but what happens when this goes on and on and the person in charge ends up having less experience than the people we hire to plate desserts?! ugh...talk about a catch 22. i know i jumped into being the boss way sooner than i should have. now it is much harder for me to go backwards and take a job as a line cook to work for someone i really admire (of whom there aren't many, unfortunately) where i think i can learn more. this just gets deeper and deeper...
  3. in the case of the restaurant you went to john whiting, it seems as if the point is mass production. however, there is the case to be made for sous vide "cooking" (or whatever one would call it). at some fine dining establishments, the food is sealed in these bags and slow cooked for a specific effect. i'm sure you can find more information on this on the net. i have read about it in art culinaire and other food related magazines. i'm neither for nor against, but if restaurants are just storing tons of stuff in the freezer, then that's not my idea of "a la minute" cooking.
  4. if you're looking at lunch...you may do better at Hawthorne Lane (if they're still open). overlooked because they used to be much more expensive, they've toned down prices have very professional waitstaff and the place is perfect for business meetings. you'll definitely impress the people you're with.
  5. Ever since I got into pastry I realized so many of these problems. I wanted to be the crusader, super-pastry-person who did the things to make us recognized...but then...I got bogged down with work and the same ole' s**t that happens all the time. Being marginalized by the entire management team in the restaurant, etc. etc. etc. You all know what I'm talking about. I guess in reality, I'm just too much of an underachiever But I think talking about this helps to see that I'm not alone, that we're not alone. Steve, you're absolutely correct when you say that there are certain pastry chefs that have a particular niche sewn up. They leave little room for others. I would have to say that the organization "Women Chefs and Restaurateurs" also does this in a subtle way. It seems to me that the same people who started this organization are continuing to be the ones recognized by it. Where is all the new blood that they are supposedly mentoring and helping to lift above the average?! But I think this is more of a feminist issue. Back to pastry... I think so much can be said about the quality of the professionals (or lack thereof) in the business, but what about the customer whose taste hasn't evolved past the brownie sundae? I think "chefette" is correct in saying that pastry tends to get pushed aside and people do think that they should be cooking meat and don't see the challenges of pastry. Maybe more places like Chickilicious in NYC will open to showcase desserts. Let's hope we can adjust the palate of our customers to a) order dessert and b) try something new. An afterthought: What about the chef's whose portions are so huge that nobody in their right mind (or stomach) has room for dessert?! Then we get blamed (or our egos get crushed) when sales are sub-par and we don't feel like we're earning our salary?! UGH
  6. i agree with you 100%. but when the reviewer does take the time to write something positive, then the person behind it should be recognized. i've read too many reviews that spend the first half of a review disparaging the customers in a restaurant, or how uncomfortable the seats are (i won't name names, but Michael Bauer of the SF Chronicle). also when you say "de-ghetto-ize" themselves...i can't imagine what you might mean mind elaborating for the laymen out there?! p.s. sorry to the northeast for the power outage
  7. p.s. excuse the misspelling in the title, you can't edit that, or can you?! I don't know if anyone has started a similar topic but this is a little bit of a rant, so bear with me Does it bother any of the professionals out there when they read a restaurant review and the pastry chef's name isn't mentioned?! I understand that some restaurants don't have a true pastry chef or the executive chef does the desserts as well, but don't you think that it is worth mentioning in the review? It is difficult enough to get the same recognition that the executive chef gets and I know there may be some competition, but pastry chefs are running their own departments and have some of the same pressures to be creative as the chef. Similarly, when you read Food and Wine's "Ten Best New Chefs" every year...the fact that there are few women and fewer pastry chefs boggles my mind. I know women are a minority, but that's changing and I think pastry chefs deserve some kudos if what they're doing is worth praising in a review. My mentor (who happens to shy from the limelight) has consistently received better reviews than the chefs of the restaurants where she's worked. Granted they mentioned her name in her reviews, but I'm talking about people just starting out...it's the ego boost they need to stay focused in this game where burnout rules. (you can read into this as much you like, it may be a bit close to home ) I'm not sure if this is the right section of the forums to start this, so if I'm off target, please let me know. I'm new and slightly addicted (as I'm on vacation). Anyone have opinions? Qualifications?
  8. as with any other discussion, it comes down to individual preference. your feet are different from anyone else's. i have wide feet and thus like the birki professional clog. it is loose, but doesn't come off. the inserts are replaceable (which you'll need to do every 6 months or so for support) and not too expensive $19.95. the shoe iteself is virtually indestructible and costs about $75. i used to use dansko clogs but the leather is more difficult to keep clean than plastic. also, if your toenails are even slightly too long, your feet slide forward in clogs and the pressure can be unbearable. i have heard that people with high arches prefer clogs. there are a lot of copies of the birki clog out there that i'm sure have different pros and cons. unfortunately, i don't know of a store that sells only to chefs (besides chef-wear, and they only sell their own products). so trying them on before buying may be a little difficult. you'll be limited to birks, dansko and ecco type shoes.
  9. This is the Zagat disease. Once, when I was in a particularly bad mood, I referred to Zagat as the collective wisdom of the starfucker unwashed. yeah, as most people in the restaurant business would recommend, use the zagat as an address book and VERY general guide to dining out. don't take it too seriously. but we're all human and entitled to our opinions and MOODS
  10. i think, going back to the original question, the main reason it can be considered illegal is with regard to accidents. i'm not a lawyer, this is just my hypothesis. if an unpaid worker is injured while "on the job", they can sue more easily because they really weren't on the job. if you're staging because you're "trying out" for an open position that's one thing; if you're staging because you're interested in learning something about restaurants that's another thing. the restaurant is more likely to be sued for loss of wages from the former rather than the latter who has only something to gain from the experience.
  11. LuLu is within walking distance of the park (on folsom between 4th and 5th? 3rd and 4th? been a while, i used to work there and next door at Azie, now in nyc), just got a fairly positive write up in the chronicle. tasty food and good wine list. not too expensive and fairly casual without being burgers and fries before the game kind of food. yes on bizou 21st amendment has great burgurs and some good specials (good beer, shouldn't be ignored) acme chop house was supposed to be getting help from tracy des jardin, so i'm not sure what that means, only that she has a good name in the bay area and it is connected to the ball park
  12. cca's my alma mater, and although i'm glad i went, i don't think i'd recommend it...nothing personal , just not the nicest neighborhood. definitely ton kiang...FRESH dim sum lulu just got a really nice write up and if you guys like wine, they have about 72 by the glass and over 300 on the list...the food is homey and tasty (the chef is a friend of mine). in napa, there is now the wine center in old downtown called COPIA which is home to "julia's kitchen" homage to julia childs. my mentor is (the best) pastry chef of julia's kitchen and of pinot blanc, also in napa. i don't know about the food though. there are a lot of new/lower priced ethnic (think unusual latino cuisine) in the mission on valencia and mission that will probably do you better than a gut busting burrito. buy the burrito from el farolito (the al pastor) and take it with you on the plane to make everyone jealous on your flight home. check out www.sfgate.com for the bay areas up and coming chefs and their restaurants. seems to be some interesting action there. also, note on fringale (that's hirogoyen isn't it?), anyway, i think he just opened another NEW restaurant at the site of his not so popular pastis on battery street. it's gotten favorable reviews. I LOVE SAN FRANCISCO!!
  13. one more tip along with breaking up into more manageable pieces...this may seem obvious but using your serrated knife, always cut on the corners. so, if you have a rectangular piece, cut one corner until it gets a little awkward, move to the other corner and create a point, then cut that point down...i guess what i mean is that it's easier to cut on the smaller angles, don't try to cut the entire length of the bar at once. and, as everyone else has already said, get pistoles! so much easier.
  14. if you're making the mozzarella yourself, you can spread it out on a piece of plastic wrap, spread pesto or a sundried tomato paste or something like that on it, roll it up. slice it and eat it on crostini. it's just another version of caprese i guess, but it's a little different looking. i guess if you're buying it, you can do the same thing by slicing it thinly and layering it?!
  15. most restaurants get reviewed by the third month that they are open. the reviewer can come in any time once the doors are open. they usually do eat there two to three times before writing the review. they hope to catch the chef "out" (coming in on a sunday at least once). this makes opening a restaurant particularly painful. while waiting for the review, employees (particularly management) rarely get a day off until the review is in the paper. i worked at a restaurant with a total of four days off the first two and a half months we were open until the review was written!
  16. i used to buy peaches from "fitzpatrick" farms at the ferry plaza market in s.f. i would have to say that they are pretty good. i was buying them for a restaurant, but fitz was great about talking to all his customers, making you taste the peaches and then educating you on what to buy. that's the great thing about the ferry plaza. don't be shy about talking to the farmers or purveyors (you can get good information on these forums, but it doesn't beat talking to the person who grows the peaches). fitz always sold me what i asked for. almost ripe, high acid, sweeter, whatever. he took the time to find out what i needed and i always talked to him.
  17. although the cake bible is a great reference, beranbaum tends to make the instructions/methods a little more complicated than they need to be. once you get better at things, you can figure out how to work around them. i think the advice regarding nick malgieri's books is great. he had a book out a long time ago called "perfect pastry" or something like that. i haven't seen it recently but it is a great reference. pictures, techniques, basic recipes. everything to give you a great foundation. maybe he revised it and it is now the book "how to bake", i'm not sure. one thing i learned from peter reinhart (as a student, not from his books), is that most bread recipes are "dump"-able. you can dump everything in the mixer at one time (unless you're making a starter), mix until the gluten is developed and voila! proof (slow rise) and bake! it is a lot easier than you think.
  18. alanamoana

    Military Kitchen

    i work in a professional kitchen and this is definitely an interesting topic...i could go on for days, but i guess i'll spare everyone and just add my two cents: 1) a lot of this comes from the european tradition of apprenticing in kitchens. you don't touch the food or think to cook until you've peeled ninety million cases of asparagus and have learned humility, respect for your chef and respect for ingredients. you accept it because you know the chef came up the same way, and now look at him! 2) there's no such thing as an apprentice in the united states. people go to culinary school never having worked in a kitchen before...just because they "love to cook" and "love food". they graduate and are confused when they aren't immediately given a restaurant to run. what do you mean i make $7/hour for the first three years?! these people have a false sense of entitlement and they need a little bit of "tradition" drilled into them! 3) there are chefs that like to degrade other people because they have their own inferiority complex. it makes them feel good to be able to make someone else feel bad. no one should put up with that, but unfortunately, people do because now that they've spent $30,000 dollars on culinary school...they need that $7/hour job! I personally have done the yelling. luckily, i've rarely been yelled at. my advice is: don't be an idiot, do your job, do it well, keep your mouth shut except to ask intelligent questions, work clean. as in every aspect of life, common sense can keep you out of a lot of trouble. unfortunately, common sense just isn't as common as it used to be.
  19. some of the best jackets i've used were actually fitted. i'm not a seamstress, but i think the term is darts?! particularly for women to bring the jacket in a little below the breast and in the back. this way, you don't have a lot of material which does catch on things when you least expect it (the walk-in refrigerator handle, thus exposing you to the frigid air ). i also remember seeing a well-known female chef who was rather larger than curvaceous. her jacket was cut shorter than most (tailored for her), so that it sat at her waist and didn't have to go over her hips and look tight. make sure the sleeves are not wide, but can be rolled up. roll them down when you're reaching into the oven. good luck.
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