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Everything posted by piperdown

  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.
  16. We stopped at a rest area on the NY thruway, and the McDonalds there was selling water from Pepsi Co in bottles. It seemed odd, that they wouldn't sell the coke brand water. What was also weird was tat it was in a tub in front of the counter, and wasn't actually being dispensed from behind the counter.
  17. It might not work, but the worst thing that comes out of it is that you have Bacon, and a non-seasoned pan, so it's worth a shot just for that. That being said, I've done the criscco method in the oven, and never really had a problem, so it really is a mystery as to why it's not working.
  18. Serving a cheaper wine than ordered. I don't know what's in it for the server, but the restaurant would save on cost if the person didn't notice. Oh course this is usually only true if the restaurant has a lot of wines by the glass. Personally, I always like to see the bottle before I get a glass, and this is the way we do it at the restaurant I work at. Sometimes they pour a taste, and sometimes not (depends on the server, although if ordering at the bar, this is always done).That way the customer knows they are getting the right wine, and also so they can see the bottle if they are interested in the brand. If I had been poured the wrong glass before, I could see wanting to see the bottle in future restaurants because it just saves the hassle of possibly complaining, and makes the situation easier for everyone, since I hate having to complain about something in a restaurant, it just sets a tone I don't like to deal with.
  19. If Chamia is like Halwa Chamia, then it's a candy made from a mixture of tahini and nougat. Halwa Chamia
  20. The problem I have with NECI is that the focus seems to be on real-world cooking situations, which is great, but I don't feel like paying 25,000 a year for that. I might as well just stage and travel (which is still not a bad idea, and would be my choice if younger) I've pretty much decided to go to the CIA. The connections and facilities seem to be what I need, and it seems like the right choice. I'm still thinking about moving to California for the New program at Greystone, but since the associate degree is so new there, I've been having a hard time finding out information about it. I'm hoping to visit in a month or so, but until then I wish I knew someone who went there. I know Greystone is smaller, but if it's up to the CIA's standard then that's good, if it's CIA in name only, then the money would be better spent in Hyde Park. Right now I'm in the process of switching restaurants. I got a job at a local French Bistro, that hires CIA and J&W externs, and are giving one of those places to me. It's a small place, and I've been told I'll get to do a bit of everything, so I think it will be a great experience. The chef is tough but nice, and I think that's what I need to learn. It will be like doing my externship before I even get to culinary school. I figure if I can survive this and still love it, then I'm truly ready to commit to culinary school.
  21. We'll that's a very valid point. He's paying very little, and there isn't much labour involved, so it does seem like a rip-off to charge a lot for them.
  22. but if they're really good, up to Keller's standards good, does it really matter? I was just watching the rerun of No Reservations: Vegas. Where Tony eats at Bouchon, and he admitted that Bouchon fries were better than his, and he considered his the best in NY.
  23. Here's a link to the article Frozen Fries My opinion on it it that, if he feel's there good enough for is restaurant, then it's OK with me. I think if a lot of people were complaining aobut it, he wouldn't use them. That being said, giving recipes and directions on how to make fries in the Bouchon cookbook is a little disingenuous, but I can also se why he didn't leave that out.
  24. A bunch of years Loblaws (largest Canadian grocery store chain), started their PC organics line, with not only organic produce but also organic pastas sauces and other products. My father was one of the people that were really pushing this development at Loblaw's and he got a lot of resistance from the higher ups. They just didn't think that people would pay a premium price for organic food. Today the line keeps growing and growing, and has urned out to be quite successful. I think their biggest problem was finding sources that could fill the need of a chain of grocery stores, but not more farmers are turning organic so it's been easier. I think this is one of the benefits of chains going organic, it allows farmers to see a wider market, and therefore see a profit from the added expense of using organic production methods.
  25. I was in somewhat the same position as you last year. I had just finished my Master's degree, but really wanted to try cooking as a career. So I just started going to kitchen's and asking of they were looking for people. I got a bunch of nos, but one place did say yes. It wasn't my favourite restaurant in town, but the food was good, and everything was prepared from scratch, so it was a good learning experience. I'm still there now, and am thinking of going to culinary school. You just have to willing to work hard and learn. Since everyone else in the kitchen had been cooking for over 10-15 years, I had a lot to learn, but I just paid attention, and read a lot of books at home. Get a bunch of books on techniques, and such and study what you're working on in the kitchen, and never be afraid to ask. I never thought I'd be doing this a career, but as you said I didn't want to look back on my life and regret ever trying. Now I can't imagine not doing this. So if it's something you want to try, then go for it. If it doesn't work out, then you can always quit and do something else, but at least you tried.
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