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  1. The CIA at Greystone (Napa campus) has a 30 week certificate program in wine and beverage studies that is geared towards professionals in the beverage industry. Might be worth checking out. http://www.ciachef.edu/admissions/news/news_story_univ.asp?iNewsID=1146&strBack=/admissions/news/news_archive_univ.asp&strlocationname=Media%20Room
  2. It's a tough life, there is no question about it. You work long hours, you get paid crap, and unless your friends are also cooks with weird schedules, then forget about seeing them often if ever. That being said, of course there is a way of making this a career and a a life without losing passion and desire. I've been cooking for about four years now (so still new to the industry), and I still love going to work every day. Now I don't love every minute of work, but I still love the work. There are lots of careers in the food industry without being a line cook, because that's not a job for everyone. I have friends that hate the pressure of working the line, so they do other things such as catering (not to say that catering is at all easier, it's just different). I have a friend that quit working in a restaurant to work for a charcuterie shop. There are a ton of options. The first step though is to actually work in the industry. Find a kitchen job, and work for a bit. You'll quickly learn whether you like it or not. If you do, well congratulations and condolences. If you don't well at least you know and you can stay in school and find another profession and cook as a hobby. To the second poster. I was 30 when I made the switch from being a. I do think I started too late to ever be the chef I want to be, but it's never too late to do what you love. It's a young persons business, but I still don't regret the switch (except when I look at my bank statement).
  3. My favorite restaurant in Calistoga is JoLe. I can't recommend it enough. Their pork belly is probably the best pork belly dish I've had in a long time. I can't comment on dinner at Sol Bar, but I have a few friends who live in Calistoga that really like the place, and it just got a Michelin Star. http://jolerestaurant.com/
  4. Greystone only has three start dates a year, so there aren't enough students to constantly rotate into the kitchen. We do get to work in the kitchen for a few months at the end of our program, but most of the time, the kitchen is staffed by the regular employees. So students will be cooking, but it just depends on when you go.
  5. We took a Field Trip there (got to love culinary school), and the market is good, but not great...I was expecting something bigger. The shops though are great. The meat stand is good, and the cheese shop is great. The highlight is definitely the Fatted Calf. The wine bar is nice though, you can eat bunch of stuff and drink a few wines, and if you like it, they tell you where in the market you can get it. We had an excellent cheese plate, and pate plate. Really looking forward to the produce stands, and the fish market. Has potential, so hopefully it will just keep getting better. And I still don't understand why Taylor's is so popular...way too much for burgers that aren't that great (the shakes are good though).
  6. Well, pretty much the only bar in St. Helena is Ana's Cantina. I've only been a few times since starting at the CIA, but it's usually pretty fun. It's about as much of a dive as you're going to get in St. Helena. Usually after midnight a bunch of restaurant workers come in. Then there's Silverado brewing company only a mile or so from the CIA. As for Restaurants. Tra Vigna is great, and does have a nice bar...and insanely good olives.
  7. I agree that chef's should only put out what they know, but I also agree that a good chef continues to learn and progress. The first chef I worked with was all over the place, and it could easily be hit or miss, either way it went on the menu (or as a special), I just wished she would pick a style and go with it. The current chef I work for, is old school French, and that's what he sticks to. He's always expanding his repertoire though, getting more into charcuterie and smoking, but he melds it to his style. I've been teaching him some Thai recipes I learned while traveling, but it's not like he's going to stick it on the bistro menu.
  8. Well I hope starting at 18 won't put someone far behind, because I started at 32, and I hope I'm not too screwed. I agree with the other's, make sure you work for a bit before making a serious decision. I worked for almost two years before making the decision to go to culinary school. The hours are long, the social life is none existent, and the pay kind of sucks...but it's the only job I've ever loved going to everyday, and for me that's enough. I have a Master's degree in molecular biology, an yes, cooking is a waste of my academic achievements for the most part, but I'm happy, and that's all I really care about right now. Education is never a waste, even if you don't end up working in your area of study. Knowledge is never a bad thing.
  9. The only thing I disagree with is the cold butter comment. I love cold butter on warm bread. There is something about the contrast that I just find so satisfying. It does have to be at a temperature that sames it somewhat easy to get out of the dish, but I want the butter sitting onto of the bread, not melted into the bread. If the bread is not warm though, then I do like a softer butter. As for how much bread to give...I think the one piece at a time thing is crap, and I can't stand restaurants that do this. The first restaurant I cooked in did one roll per person, and you pretty much needed to ask for more bread if you wanted it. since most of the time each roll was heated to order, if you asked for more then it took a bit of time. I always hated this and thought it was quite stupid. The restaurant I cook at now though gives a basket of two kinds of bread, and usually a few pieces of each, and is always willing to refill. We do have a bread warmer with works well to keep the bread warm for a while at the table. This has always made a lot more sense to me...we also serve our butter cold (along with a spread of some kind) There has never been a time where too much bread being served has kept me from eating things off the menu because I was too full. Well maybe at university where we would fill up on soup and salad at East Side Mario's, and take most of our entree home, but that's because we were cheap ass students.
  10. The best I've ever used was from Baldwin and Sons extract. I had never given much thought to extract until I tried this brand, and it's made just 20 minutes away from me so it's also local.
  11. I was reminded of this thread the other night as I was working. It's Berkshire Grown week here in the Berkshires and participating restaurants are featuring a three course menu for 20.07, with the courses being made from locally grown or produced food. anyway it makes us busy, but the nightly receipts usually are poor due to the low cost. Now it's not too big a deal, it's only for the week, and it highlights local farmers and producers so it's kind of fun (the wait staff might have a different opinion though). Anyway the point of all this is that a four top comes in, and after eating the mains, complains a bit to the server that the portions were a little small. Now at our restaurant mains are usually $20-30, so for $20 I don't know what they were expecting. The chef got a little mad at the comment but bit his tongue. The funny part was when the server got back and said he people had ordered 2 cups of coffee and were sharing them among the four. We were laughing our ass off over that one. Are they cheap, not too thirsty, or afraid of too much caffeine? who knows, but it made up laugh, and was the joke of the kitchen all night.
  12. My Mother is hearing-impaired, and has had a service dog for 7 years. She has no problems most of the time. Sometimes she is told the animal can't come in, but once they find out it's a service dog, it's usually not a problem. In our town most of the restaurant s know her and never give her a problem. There is one place, who really don't like the dog there, and I'm convinced they have denied her a table because of it passing it off as "we're full" The only place she's ever had a problem is in NYC. It was some big deli (not Katz, but one of the other big ones, Carnegie perhaps?), and she got into a big argument with the person, and threatened to phone the cops. I think a lot of her problem stems from the fact that most people only have heard of seeing-eye dogs, and are fairly ignorant of the other types.
  13. Sometimes restaurants get slammed, sometimes ordered get misplaced, but there is no good excuse for being neglected for an hour. At the restaurant i work at sometimes things get way too crazy, but we always try to communicate with the wait staff so they can tell their customers. Most of the time everything turns out fine as long as the wait staff keep the customers informed. The problem is that most of the wait staff is so afraid of being chastised by the customer that they just ignore them and that makes everything worse. I find that people can handle most situations as long as they are updated (and buying they a drink, and bringing plenty of bread helps too). You were totally right to walk out, and the fact that you did it without insulting anyone and causing a scene shows the amount of class you have. Normally I'm not a fan of stiffing the waitress, but in this case she was definitely part of the problem.
  14. I almost always let the butter brown (sometimes unintentionally), and I love the flavour. I've always done it for omelette's, and agree the results are great.
  15. That's what McGee's says as well. Now that milk is pasteurized, scalding isn't needed when making custard unless you're doing flavour extraction. Just adding the milk to the eggs cold will still lead to the same texture and consistency. I've tried this with Creme Brulee, and it works well when I'm not using fresh vanilla beans.
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