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Everything posted by Malawry

  1. Malawry

    Steven Shaw

    I owe so much to Steven. We all owe so much to Steven. He will be missed.
  2. I'm a professional chef, and a woman. I don't have the books. I am interested in reading them but not ready to make the investment to buy. I was more interested in the photography than anything else from what I saw about the book in the press. I cater as my primary line of work and would have to invest such a large amount in the equipment to produce some of this type of food--for guests who largely don't really care about it--that it seems a little silly to go play in the modernist cuisine pool. I've eaten some avant-garde food in restaurants but haven't been impressed enough to experiment in my own kitchen. But sometimes I wonder if there's a whole world leaving me behind because of my general disinterest in the ingredients and techniques involved. Maybe I can't sell it, but does that mean I shouldn't learn more about it? I'm open to persuasion here. I have chef and passionate amateur friends, including female friends, who are comfortable with modernist cuisine...but I haven't been convinced yet.
  3. I'd also add that people eat less cheese if you serve really good ones. Lesser cheeses encourage people to eat more because they're chasing the sensation they get from eating something with real integrity. I can eat a lot more industrial cheddar than I can of a high-quality aged farmhouse cheddar.
  4. Sorry, should be 2-3oz. You do NOT need 9lbs of cheese for 50 folks!
  5. I don't pre-portion cheeses for catering unless they're for really large events where it would create the probability of a line for people to have to cut their own pieces. I have beautiful cheese knives that I set out and I find people enjoy using them to select their own cheeses. The only drawback is that lots of people will just hack at the cheeses. I know other caterers who preportion everything, but I find it hard to do so attractively, and I think it will result in needing more cheese on offer and having cheese deteriorate more quickly (more cut surfaces and all). Also, no runny cheeses. They are delicious but also impossible to finesse for people trying to stand up and juggle snacks and a wine glass. Putting together completed canapes in advance leads to deterioration of the base (it absorbs liquid/fat and gets soggy/stale). Plus, lots of people really prefer to assemble their own. I only do canapes if servers will be passing the finished product on a tray. If I am stuck with serving more ordinary cheeses, I try to at least offer a special garnish with them. I make brandied fruits and also have a lovely sour cherry chutney I put up last summer that makes a commercially produced brie feel a lot more special. You can also pick up some kind of delicious and Kosher honey or jam to set out with the cheeses. I'd recommend 3-4oz per person. You can supplement with nuts, olives, pickly things along with the bread and crackers.
  6. I am actually a proponent of culinary school for some people. The school I attended was not a LCB school--I'm a graduate of L'academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD. This was a one-year certificate program, with six months of classwork and six months of paid externship in a restaurant kitchen. I already had BA degree and was switching careers, so I saw little need for an associates degree or for investing 2-4 years in culinary education. I liked that I was in and out fairly quickly. I worked every angle of the school as much as possible to juice as much from the experience as I could. I continue to connect with my fellow graduates, some of whom continue to work at food-related jobs. I am a big believer in learning the hows and whys of food--I think both are extraordinarily important. I got a lot of both from L'academie. What I didn't get was the sense of urgency that restaurant apprenticing is so good at developing--or at weeding out, in the case of those who don't have the ability to work both quickly and precisely. But I got a lot of the sense of urgency when I worked at that externship. I have continued to ask for advice and stay in touch with my alma mater in the years since I graduated. The fact that L'academie is so well-connected in my area to the restaurant scene is vital. There are other schools in the DC metro area, but none are as in touch with the food community as L'academie. Some of the really well-known schools like J&W and CIA have similar networks that can help you get the resources and access you need, if you work the network. I've had L'academie students ask to come extern with me, which I take as a sign of mutual respect and connection between me and my school. I mention the fact that I am a L'academie graduate as a shorthand for "I have spent time learning intensively about many aspects of food." I don't think it makes me any better than people who didn't graduate from school. I run a small, successful catering business, and I write about and teach food and cooking. A lot of my competition in catering, writing and teaching lack the background afforded by a culinary education. I work this advantage shamelessly. School would be far less important than experience if I wanted to run my own restaurant someday. You can read about my experience at L'academie in the eG Fridge here.
  7. The element of catering that I did not anticipate when starting out was the headache of rentals. Figuring out what we'd need, how it would fit into a vehicle for delivery, how it would fit in the space, how we'd move them around, how we'd process them, how we'd control the costs--all of it was a nightmare. Cleaning rentals, in particular, can be pretty awful if you don't have a plan in place. I've been catering for 5 years off-site and it's still one of the hardest parts of the job for me. If you're planning to do only dropoff/corporate type catering or if you have your own venue, there are other logistics that replace the rentals issue. I'm a really small biz and I still don't own much stuff--it doesn't seem worthwhile to invest in things like wineglasses or forks at this point in my growth. I only invested in my business as I started earning money. I even rented my chafing dishes for the first year or so. I've never borrowed money from anybody besides myself, and I pay off my credit card bills in full each month. You don't have to invest $1000s to get started--although if you expect to make a living quickly, you may be better off doing so. (My business was more like a hobby for the first couple of years. I now earn a tidy living, though.) I wish I'd known more about managing rentals before I started doing it. I relied heavily on a friend who used to run a successful catering business to guide me through my first few gigs. Try to enlist such a friend, or spend some time working for off-site caterers if you'll get into that sort of work to see what it's like. Also, try to learn as much as you can about a venue--visiting if you can--before you start writing a contract or proposal for a client. There's a world a difference between a hall with a 7 hour rental window--4-5 of which are taken by the event--and somebody's house where you can deliver and take away at will. There's an even bigger world of difference between catering in a field with no electricity or running water and catering someplace indoors with a full-service professional fully-equipped kitchen. Personally, I enjoy figuring out the logistics of these sorts of issues--and I learn something new from every single gig. Sometimes it feels like we're reinventing the wheel every weekend, but through experience we've gotten pretty skilled at it. You will too.
  8. I had a wonderful time eating, shopping and cooking in A2. If you can believe it, Tammy and I found the stomach capacity to return to Zingerman's Deli for tasting a bunch of stuff--the $150 balsamico, jamon iberico, assorted oils, vinegars, syrups, and about a dozen cheeses. Then we went next door and tasted chocolates. And then we had a cocktail and a salad at Zola nearby. I'm done eating for the next month, at least. I was moved by the passion for food in Ann Arbor, a city I've passed through but never really visited. I appreciated Tammy's work in putting the event together. Also Lisa and Joe's organization of the Sichuan meal was great--my mouth was tingling for hours. Kerry, it was great to work with you on the chiboust dessert--and thanks again for all your help with the bunny dish. (It was only bunny 2 ways, btw...) I think I'm done with excess for quite some time. Good thing I get in $150 worth of produce tomorrow because I think that's the only thing I'll be eating for some time. Thanks again for everything, Tammy.
  9. I'd be interested in the coffee thing if it's Friday morning. Not so much Sunday afternoon, since like Alex I need to avoid caffeine after lunchtime.
  10. Baltimore Coffee and Tea is pretty good. It's in a new strip behind the big shopping center at Westfields. There's some really cool other food stuff happening in Frederick these days. Downtown, there's the new Lebherz Oil and Vinegar Emporium (LOVE) a few doors down from Volt. There's also Zoe's Chocolates on N Market--check out their Mediterranean flavors like pomegranate, lemon wall and baklava. Around the corner on Patrick St there's a new classic candy shop called Sweet Memories. If you get towards the Shab Row area, you must get some of Randy Olmstead's truffles from The Perfect Truffle--he really is a perfectionist and he produces chocolates that will satisfy both passionate chocoholics and people who just really like a good chocolate every now and then. These businesses join existing resources like the Firestone's gourmet foods shop, The Common Market with its outstanding cheese cooler, and Knifeworks for all your cutlery needs. Acacia is owned by the same guy as owns Isabella's, Brewer's Alley and one or two other places in town. All are worth a visit.
  11. Kerry, I can bring a blowtorch in my car. Actually I have a new one, never used. Let's go torch some food!
  12. I live 30min from Frederick and freelance as a food writer for the Frederick News-Post. The Frederick scene is growing but still nascent from a serious food lover's standpoint. Will you have a car? If so, the field expands somewhat. Try to nab a lunch at Volt. If they don't have a res available, come for the lunch deal at the bar: three selections for I think $14, from a list that usually includes a cocktail, two wines, a beer, a few starter/side dishes, several sandwiches, and one or two desserts. Only available at the bar or lounge area. You should hit the Tasting Room, also on Market Street in Frederick. They have this chowder that is really wonderful and filling enough for dinner with some bread. By the same chef, try Black Hog BBQ down the street a little ways. If you have a car, get a reservation for dinner at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, VA, about a 20 minute drive from downtown. Most of the food served at the farm is grown there. Chef Chris Edwards worked at El Bulli with old-time eGer Louisa Chu. His food is wonderful. Also, if you have a car, try to get to Sheppard Mansion in Hanover, PA--I think it's about a 40 minute drive from Frederick. Chef Andy Little's cuisine de terroir is muscular and whimsical all at once...classic and contemporary, and fully seated in Pennsylvania traditions. Enjoy your travels!
  13. Oh, I'm cooking all right. I see bunny writ large. I see a duo of bunny with a confited leg (I can start Thursday) and some dish with the saddle inspired by the market. Does that sound good? I'd also be into making a pasta dish of some sort. Or maybe putting the confit in the pasta and letting somebody else take the saddles. Hm.
  14. I personally was astonished that any food writer would so casually dismiss the possibility that it is possible to find a decent caterer who provides interesting and delicious food. I'm sure Ozersky didn't bother to find any such caterers, since they probably would have charged him a pretty penny for the type of food he wanted at his wedding. But maybe I'm just experiencing sour grapes because I am a caterer. (And a food writer.)
  15. I'm in for: Thursday night Szechuan Banquet at Chia Shiang Friday breakfast at SELMA Friday afternoon Foodie Field trip... depending on the final itinerary Friday night dinner at Grange Saturday Evening Feast Sunday Bacon Tasting & Brunch, depending on timing Thanks, Tammy, for planning this!
  16. Thanks, ya'll, for letting me come poke around and ask questions for a few hours on Saturday morning. It was nice to meet some new people and see some cool chocolate stuff. I also learned a helluva lot in a very short amount of time! I'll try to come back and post a link when the story I'm writing about the conference runs.
  17. I'm about halfway through the month now, and things are still pretty packed in the pantry and freezers. We keep plugging away at the stores of food. I'm starting to (dare I mention it) reconsider the notion of buying some of the food for my son's birthday party the weekend after this one. I have so much food on hand, surely I can kluge together a menu based on the stuff in the freezer and pantry. Hmmm. I have continued to blog about not shopping, including a column in today's Frederick (MD) News-Post in which I quote Fat Guy.
  18. I'm going to try for a month, but I'm following my own rules. (I don't conform as well as some.) Read more on my blog. I have turned over the idea of doing this for many, many months. Why am I saving all this food? What am I waiting for? I'm an excellent and creative cook. It seems silly that I can't come up with a use for all these ingredients I have squirreled away.
  19. Just a note that I am the freelance food writer in question--I know many of you will recognize me from my long history with the community here. No guarantees of coverage are offered or implied, I just think a story on this gathering would be of interest to my primary paper's readership.
  20. Probably not. These are all music students, a few of whom are not travelers beyond the previous departmental trips to London, Pennsylvania, and last spring's trip to Germany and Austria. I personally am an adventurous eater, and willing to commit the resources to try new things. However, I don't think these kids are going to be interested in investing a lot of time and energy around getting to and from a restaurant, or trying something exotic. They are not foodies. Some of them are likely to have completely undeveloped palates. I am thinking of this meal as an opportunity to give these kids a few things: 1. A taste of New York inaccessible at home, a memorable experience to recount later. Some of these kids may never return to NY, and if I don't plan a meal, I think some of them may eat only at cheap chains during our visit. 2. Food that is delicious and fresh, but also recognizable and affordable. 3. An opportunity to socialize with one another against the backdrop of this meal. I will be compiling dining suggestions near our hotel for them, including some more adventurous choices--and I sincerely hope some of them get out and try something different. This meal will be part of the package I'm assembling for them, though, so it ought to be something that nearly anybody can enjoy. Right now I'm thinking of Otto, which can accommodate us on our preferred dates and which is only slightly above the $30 price point I suggested.
  21. Yeah, I love BBQ, but as a native of NC it seems silly to visit NYC and eat BBQ.
  22. Do you have a specific suggestion? I have no idea who might be able to accommodate a group of our size, having only been in Chinatown a few times myself.
  23. The new location of the Shack has a private room, yes. It would be perfect if it was large enough to hold us--exactly the sort of thing I would like to do. And I really do want wherever we go to be somewhere in Manhattan or else really, really close to Manhattan and the subway. I don't want the kids to spend a lot of time in transit.
  24. I'm bringing a group of college students to NYC this fall. I expect there to be 40-60 of them. It would be nice to organize some sort of group meal for them while we're there, probably on a Sunday or Monday night. These kids are on a tight budget. We're staying close to Times Square, but I really don't think we need to stick to that nabe for this meal--they should all be conversant with the subway and cabs by the time we meet for dinner. I'd like to keep it to under $30/head if possible, not including drinks. And I'd like it to be a quality dining experience of some sort--something they won't get at home. If I can't find something decent, we simply aren't planning a group meal. I refuse to take them to Applebee's. I already tried the UWS Shake Shack, but their private room only seats 40. Any other ideas? Do any of the new pizza places have the space to accommodate us?
  25. So...anything new in the last year or so? I am often on HHI for my wedding anniversary, so my husband and I are usually on the lookout for that so-far-elusive knockout experience.
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