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Everything posted by RonThePirate

  1. I can remember so well, and so clearly, the day I walked out of Aurora--and in a larger sense, the restaurant industry. That was in 2005 and I was 21, I'd been working my way around the fine dining circuit in Dallas. I wanted to become a chef. I wanted to become a great chef. I wanted to become the greatest chef in history. I was filled with ambition and determination, I wanted to work with the best so I could be one of the best. I had great expectations for what I wanted to do in a kitchen and beyond (and still do). And one day, July 1, 2005 in particular: I quietly cleaned my station, wrote a prep list, collected my tools, books, and knives (which my chef had abused--sorry, it really irritated me how he handled them), and I walked out. Everyone in the restaurant caught on to what I was doing and said good bye, wished me well. I drove off, got a call from my chef cussing me out, but I didn't care anymore. I didn't care, I was disillusioned. I stopped cooking, except for special occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc.), and I faded away from the industry. I left the industry, and have "seen" what else the world has to offer and I understand its pros and its cons. People make any work either fun or terrible, I've learned that. Standing around, waiting to help some ignorant freak... whatever gets a paycheck though, right? An aspiring chef is a hard thing to be, we don't get paid much, and we don't go out much. Herein the problem of this lifestyle comes into play. Does 80 hours of work at a restaurant that has 5-stars from its local news paper (yeehaw) deserve $350 a week? I say yes, because I was cooking really cool dishes, mastering new skills, working with a terrific group of people that made the job fun. The chef made it hell, so much to the point that cooking was no longer enjoyable for me. It wasn't fun, it was a chore. The politics of the industry are so wayside, it's difficult to survive. And that's what's kept me out. The kitchen doesn't feel like the place I should be, and it breaks my heart because I've put my heart and soul into everything up to reach that point, and suddenly--snap--I couldn't tolerate the attitudes and treatment anymore. And yes, I was working for an over-demanding chef, yes, I was physically exhausted (slept 21 hours strait when I got home), yes, I think too much about this shit, but there's only so much one can take in the end. The pay sucked, the hours sucked, the management sucked, the location was kinda inconvenient, but the crew was unforgettable. Seems like forever ago, but still, now that I've started cooking again... why should go back? I feel like I can't work in a kitchen but I know I can cook the food. Too young? Too immature? Too soft? Too weak? Too slow? Too clumsy? Too mental? I do not know. But if any of you, dear readers, have an opinion or advice or story or recommendation or whatever your imagination wants, please do so. There's a part of me that wants to go back into the kitchen because it's what I've done, it's what I'm good at, and people realize that when I cook. Other times I think, it's only a kitchen, why don't you take on the world? You can do more when you take on the world... yes, but is it better to make a lifetime of memories or memories for a lifetime? I really needed to vent Thank you!
  2. If you can take a quick detour from Shanghai-style over to Cantonese, I'll tell you a thousand times over to visit First Chinese BBQ. There's several of them in the metroplex: Arlington, Carrolton, Richardson, and Plano. Ever since Uncle Tai's in the Galleria closed its doors, First Chinese BBQ easily took its place as best Chinese restaurant in Dallas. While I like to pretend that I'm going to try something new when I go there, because their menu is definately more traditional than, say, Cathy's Wok, I've always found myself going back to a couple of dishes time and time again. The hot and sour soup, scallion beef, orange beef, kung pao chicken, lemon grass chicken, shrimp fried noodle, sesame chicken/beef, and any kind of duck they have available. I've always been a fan of the organs they have available up front (sometimes a pig's head too!). I've never tried them (and there is a menu items that is pig's intestine with pig blood) but seeing how it's Halloween... I think I'll buy a pound or two and offer some to unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. That should make a good show
  3. RonThePirate


    I was flipping through one of my books today (Atelier of Joel Robuchon) and I stumbled across something I had never thought of before. Robuchon has a recipie for cepes and eggplant caviar, and the thing that caught my eye was that he roasted the eggplant on a rack. It makes a lot of sense in the description, the eggplants roast instead of steam. By elevating the product on a rack, there's a much better airflow and concentrated pockets of steam won't develop around the edges of foods that are round (like eggplants, potatoes, etc.). What I'm wondering now is how much of a difference using a simple wire rack when you roast foods, especially vegetables. Has anyone tried roasting on a rack to see if there was a difference than just dumping whatever on a parchment-lined pan? I've always done the entire season-oil-scatter on parchment-lined pan without overlapping-roast method. It's done daily in restaurants. Perhaps this rack-method will produce a better product? All I know is that I've got something to do tonight, and that's a good start :)
  4. You know what I just realized? There's a Japanese restaurant around Lemmon and Wycliff called "Fusion." They have to be doing something along these lines, right? :)
  5. I haven't read through this entire thread, so forgive me if this has already been mentioned. In the book Glorious French Food by James Peterson, in the begining he has several pages of french words with pronunciation guides. I learned a lot from those few pages! Of course, most of the time in a kitchen people just read it like it's English. Court Bouillon, not CAU BOO-yun. Crazy French!
  6. For those in Dallas, you might have an opinion regarding Abacus and their fusion-approach to cuisine. Waka, a Japanese restaurant around 190 and the Tollway, used to do a very intelligent "Nouvelle" Japanese cuisine. Alas, the chef moved on and when I went in the week after he left (which I was unaware of at the time) there was a big, big difference in the quality. I've never been a fan of the food at Dragonfly. It's never really developed beyond it's original menu, which I hope would chance with the new chef in the kitchen. Truth is, Dallas (or perhaps Texas for that matter) doesn't have a broad enough customer base for chefs and restaurants to expand their global tastes outside of the relentless amounts of steakhouses, Tex-Mex, and BBQ we have all over the place. A shame, methinks.
  7. I don't remember who said this, I read it in a periodical. Whenever the ethical issue of foie gras arises, I'll point it out. "I'd rather be a force fed duck than a Tyson-bred chicken." Amen.
  8. RonThePirate


    I'd like to hear more from people who have dined at Aurora and I want their honest opinion about the restaurant. Flattery, in my opinion, is the sweetest of lies and since I work at Aurora, I'm trying to see through it all and find out what needs to be done to make it better than it is.
  9. I'd like to state that this style of food, the whole "molecular gastronomy" or avant-garde--whichever you prefer--is still in infancy compared to the rest of the cuisines. People know what a hollandaise sauce is. People know what they're going to get. However, this new breath of life (as I see it) is redefining what we know. The chef I work for now used to say, "Why should we change the way we've been cooking for hundreds of years?" I'm proud to say he's began to at least look into the newer methods of cooking today. If no one made progression, we'd all be roasting meats over a fire... we've gone a long way and it's natural the keep moving on. That's why I love this stuff. That's why I love this style, philosophy. It's new and groundbreaking, therefore, it's unnatural to the majority. "All great ideas were once called blasphemy." I don't remember who said that, but I agree with it. The dining public is rather clueless about what's going on at the cutting edge restaurants in the world. A lot of people I work with don't know about this (granted, I do live in Dallas). But Alinea is definately a big step for this industry. It's made a statement, and people can rave about it or complain about it. Personally, I'd kill for a chance to have an experiance like this. I think it was interesting that in this review, it was mentioned time and time again that people will either "get it" or not. Can't you say that about every other restaurant out there? How many people do you know will quiver and scowl when you mention sushi? How many people look at Indian food and think, "What the hell?" A review shouldn't judge one's culinary philosophy in mind. If you don't like raw fish, then don't go to a sushi bar. Simple as that. But for the people who are interested, and do understand the reasoning behind the food have mentioned countless times that they are blown away. From what I have read, from what I have seen, I thought Alinea would recieve 4 stars. 3.5 isn't bad, but I think the real message of molecular gastronomy hasn't been embraced enough. I think more people are more interested about what's going on at Alinea, elBulli, or The Fat Duck than whatever Alain Ducasse is churning out. Perhaps the review was too early. Perhaps the critic was ingorant about the thought process involved in the food. For everyone who has seen this restaurant's progression, you can see the logic in every little detail, from the food to the service to the flatware to the sound system. It's amazing. It's new, it hasn't been done before. As an aspiring chef myself, I've got to give all my highest praise the chef Grant Achatz for making such a bold and impressive mark in this history. Escoffier was the big guy back in the 1900s. It's been 100 years since then, we've been due for a real change in the approach to cuisine. We, as in humans, have advanced technologically and new methods are available. Keep in mind, someone invited the whisk. Someone used a bain marie and it changed a lot of the ways things are done. I believe what I'm seeing is the future of food, and that's exciting. After all, don't we all want to have progression in our lifetime? Things change, and there's a huge change going on in food right now. Those who don't know/understand/get it will make a case that everything is stupid and illogical. Maybe they're right. But let's not forget, people thought that the earth was the center of the universe. There was a time when people thought the world was flat. So why can't there be a time when people stop thinking, "food is for nourishment." Food is an experiance, and I'd like to see the greater public embrace the work that has been put into the details and understanding that there's a difference between a steak cooked sous vide and a hamburger at McDonald's. I think Alinea is a turning point for restaurants and for upcoming chefs. It has set a new level to reach and definately shows they will keep pushing themselves to give people the opportunity to experiance something they never thought was possible. That's an impressive thing to do, I say.
  10. That is amazing. My mouth is still on the floor. I can't wait to see how this restaurant matures.
  11. Cheff Scott, I'm a 21-year-old aspiring chef, and I believe I've had a good start up so far. For the past few months I've been looking beyond "just cooking" and have been wanting to move up to NYC and (hopefully) work with the best there. I don't need to hear about being 100% dedicated or understand the commitment involved because I'm well aware and I don't plan on doing anything else in my life besides working with chefs in great kitchens. As I see it, I want to make sure I make the move from being a cook, to REALLY becoming a chef. I'm still banging on the doors of the best restaurants in Dallas, and I'm just being patient until one of them will let me in (at least I've gotten to know the chefs, always a plus). So, my question is more of a way of seeking advice. As you were moving forward in your career, what were some of the major obsticles you encountered and how did you overcome them? Any two cents you want to put in on the difference between being the chef and a line cook are would also be a delight to hear. Thank you for time and your words.
  12. After eating there on Saturday, and then going back to "normal" food... I'm in a bad state of food limbo right now :( The entire meal was amazing, I'd go back again and again and again...
  13. That's going to be the most annoying day for all those around me. HAR HAR HAR!
  14. I have another question Lanny... You seem to have built a solid foundation very quickly for a young chef, what do you want to do in the coming years to progress your style? What kind of goals have you set for yourself? Do you hope to win national recognition in the coming years?
  15. We've all heard a good food joke, and I think it'd be nice if we got a topic going with a bunch of jokes regarding food. Here are my two favorite: A waiter brings the customer the steak he ordered with his thumb over the meat. "Are you crazy?" yelled the customer, "You have your hand on my steak!" "What?" answers the waiter, "You want it to fall on the floor again?" -- A batch of muffins are in the oven. One muffin says, "Hot enough for you?" Another muffin says, "Oh my god, a talking muffin!"
  16. I think that if you really want to insult a chef, you should target their seasoning ability. Chefs spend YEARS developing their unique seasoning eyesight and eventually it just becomes second habit. To insult a chef's seasoning ability is like insulting a yoga instructor's breathing. That's just my opinion, I could be wrong
  17. Thanks for talking with us Chef! I'm aspiring to become a chef and I'm wondering if you have any advice for a young culinary student. Any information would be greatly appreciated
  18. Does anyone know a place that specializes in Japanese knives in the DFW area? I'm a huge fan of Korin and their line up, but I'd like to see some of these knives up front and other tools for knives. Love those knives!
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