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  1. I hate to be a lone dissenting voice, but there is an incredibly shortage of skilled cooks in this city. Although training programs like VCC, PCI and the like may be 'churning' out wanna be feenies and failing to give adequate 'real world' experience, they are no different than any law school or business school churning out wanna be Matlocks, Gordon Geckos and the like. The talent needs to be cultivated, and if it means a few kids have higher expectations coming out, so be it. Optimism is what fuels ambition, and without that ambition we'd never grow. We have to fall to grow, we have to make mistakes to learn, and if these kids are doing it in a safe, controlled environment, and not with my guests food, all the better. Let them graduate to the deep end of the pool once they've got a little more confidence in their craft. "Behold the turtle, he only gets ahead when he sticks his neck out" Let's not forget where we came from, some take the path through the pit, some through school, still others learned their craft from Mom, or Dad, or foodtv, whatever it is, we all come from ignorance into knowledge, and hopefully, from knowledge to wisdom.
  2. At the risk of turning this into a JB love-in, I have to chime in. There is a very real and easy mistake to make in our business to love the craft beyond the people in it. I've caught myself in this many times, and have found myself a willing student of Barber's mantras. When we forget to pay attention to the true reason we 'break bread', we get lost in the details and minutae of it. We begin to start celebrating the garnish and lose the point of the meal itself. Food and drink (wait for it) are only a foil for socializing. We gather at restaurants and friends tables and eating is the excuse. Look up from your plates and love the company your in. Be it a date, a wife, a cook, a lover (copyright?), they are the main course, and the food is a conversation piece, a memory shared, a connection to the past or the present in some surreal, tantalizing way that only shared experiences can define. Good food, really good food is truly best at its simplist, most honest state. Mr. James Barber reminds us all what this is all about. Awards, tv shows, press releases, all the bullshit we entertain ourselves gossiping about doesn't compare to a great meal, simply prepared, with fantastic people. I heard a great story about how he learned to cook in the army, now that's a line I wouldn't want to work. Hey Arne, maybe a new thread, sorry, but as I grew up and searched this city for a mentor, there were few who could represent an unpretentious, unfussy and unapologetic approach to cooking as he does. If he hasn't been seen lately, perhaps he should be seen more. I'd love to have a bistro with him cooking in my neighbourhood.
  3. Well, I'm not sure if i can add relevance to the out of town areas, but perhaps I can shed some light on our part. Price is very much an issue, here. If you take into account the labour costs on top of the food costs and understand that each percentage is vital, not to profits, but to prices, you might see why this industry is so grossly underpaid. dish = $10.00 product cost = $3.00 or 30% labour cost = $3.00 or 30% fixed business costs = $3.00 or 30% profit before taxes = $1.00 or 10% Let's assume that this is the industry standard for the breakdown. . . Regardless of the fluctuation, lets see what happens when you go from $10./hr to $15/hr on your staff. product cost = $3.00 or 30% labour cost = $4.50 or 45% fixed business costs = $3.00 or 30% profit before taxes = (-.50) or -5% Obviously the business owner will pass on the costs to the consumer, to make the numbers work, so now the dish will have to cost $12.50 Most, if not all business owners want to make sure they can stay competitive with their counterparts, and, ultimately, we all want to feel like we can offer a good value. I can't speak for anyone else, but the line we walk everyday is trying to get the best possible experience for the lowest possible price. I for one will attest that this business only makes millionaires out of people who started as multi-millionaires. Of all the cooks that I've met, very few have been able to get to the top, and even there met challenges they'd never faced before. Our business is humbling on all levels, that is part of its allure. Some of us, when faced with a difficult decision, strive to make the best decision. Typically, it's the hardest path to walk, and walking down that path with you will be a few cooks. Be nice and they'll let you buy them a whiskey. The rewards are out there for the right mixture of talent, attitude and fortitude, but the mix is rare. I hope one day we'll see a day that our cooking programs get the same kind of government support as our hockey programs. I guess only when a bocuse d'or win gets thousands of people rioting on Robson will that happen though. . . just my 2
  4. A quick note to let you all know that we are now open for lunch. The website should be loaded up shortly, and you can peruse the menu anytime at www.centuryhouse.ca Just in case it doesn't load, I'll give you copy here. Wild Boar Consommé Roasted jalapeño and apple gelee 9 Hand Picked Organic Greens Pomegranate vinaigrette, fresh jicama, and spiced croutons 8 Caesar Salad Fresh crisp romaine, quail eggs, fresh avocado, and traditional dressing 9 Plantain Fritters & Pork Bellies Crispy plantain cakes with cinnamon maple braised Kurabuto pork bellies and a petite herb salad 10 “Empanadas” Wild mushroom, Spanish chorizo, and brandade Filled puff pastry turnovers 10 Mains All mains are served with our guacamole mousse and pico de gallo sorbet and chips The Cuban Serrano ham, roasted pork loin, with melted Cabrales cheese, spiced pickles and chili mayo on a grilled baguette 10 Century’s Latin BBQ Slow cooked kurabuto pork and oxtail on fried egg bread with a fresh vegetable slaw 13 Braised short ribs Pickled onions, and fried corn cakes 14 Roasted chicken braised white beans, with a mole poblano sauce 13 “Crepe”dillas Oaxacan cheese filled crepes grilled and garnished with your choice Chicken, chorizo or roasted squash and 13 “Burritos” of the Sea Crab, shrimp and brandade filled crepe style burritos With fresh goat cheese and a chimichurri sauce 15 I've been waiting and waiting and waiting to try Remi's pork sandwich, finally the day is here!
  5. FYI, the rules have actually not changed in essence. The vancouver city liquor licensing regulations allow for an area or 'designated lounge' area within each restaurant which applies for it on an individual basis. Regular dining rules still apply in the regular dining areas, i.e. if you go to your local cactus club/earls etc. and sit at a table you are required to eat. The regulations also state that no longer is the 'intent' to eat enough, now it is considered contrary to one's food primary license to serve liquor without also serving 'a meal'. The common misnomer is that provincial 'adjustments' of the liquor act trickle down to municiple levels, when in fact, the act states that individual municipalities control their own regulations with regards to liquor service. That is. . . the province made adjustments to loosen things up, but the cities are under no obligation to follow suit. In the big picture, has anything changed? not really. Old rules that went unenforced have been replaced by less ridiculous rules strictly enforced. i think this was mentioned in a previous thread about a year or two ago, with the same effect. Don't ge me wrong, though. The city works very hard to create a suitable arena for doing business in the city, but you can sympathize, I'm sure, with how local politics can become quite contentious, what with competitive interests, NIMBY residents and all sorts of different interests tugging at the shirt-tails of local politicos. It will be interesting to see if the Olympic fever will loosen up the local regulations any more. . . .
  6. We had a fantastic dinner at Rare the other night, the service was flawless, the food was outstanding. Ironically, the photographer from the Globe was there, damn he's a nice guy. We call him 'the cleaner'. He has to go in after the hatchet jobs. I have to say, rarely do we find ourselves truly impressed with another restaurant's execution of its dishes and service details. This dinner was one of those times and Mike, Tom and myself all felt that Rare is the type of restaurant that this city needs more of. Thank you once again for an excellent dinner, an exceptional experience and an unforgettable birthday. Cheers, Sean
  7. Yeah, memo, I think you said it well. I personally spent a lot of time with the crew detailing the concept's nuances, histories and geographies, but I found most of the relevant details were lost on the cutting room floor. They tricked me with the whole 'MLC' 5 times fast line. It just goes to show, reality TV is simply unpaid actors following a script they haven't read yet. I would love to get the entire episode's footage and see a different edit that focussed entirely on the food, the design elements and the philosophies, but I'm not sure they would release the footage to me. This episode, I'm told, represented a clear shift in production styles from their previous episodes, focussing on the human stories behind the opening more so. All in all, let's be honest, it's a fantastic medium for exposure regardless of which editorial slant is there, so I won't complain. Not only that, they never really asked me for my opinion on the editing. I wonder if a different program will pick up where OS seems to miss some people, in the focus on the other details we're all so interested in seeing. You can't imagine that I like watching an episode of me and Mike being 'bitchy' to eachother, it's much further from the truth than I would like.
  8. Ironically, I found the experience akin to listening to your own voice doing karaoke. I found the episode entertaining to say the least, but I was also expecting much more focus on the room, and less so on myself and Michael. I felt there were many other really good storylines that got cut, but hey, with 50 hrs of footage cut down to 22 minutes, I can understand. It has been a great response so far, and everyone has been very polite in assuring me I didnt look completely insane. Thanks for that. Mike and I had a great time, and besides all the continuity issues that probably only I can see, I think they did a great job. The crew was fantastic throughout the experience.
  9. Good luck on the new venture! We've just transformed our vault into a private dining room, but drilling through the 17" concrete walls was a bit ridiculous. Next time we're out that way we'll check it out. Great to hear about the prairie bounty getting utilized by a great chef.
  10. Durbach's mushroom risotto. dang. so tasty.
  11. Wow, been a while, but I have to jump in...... Ok, so OG feels under-appreciated at work, I get it. He's also correct, our asessment of our almost-project up there cited staffing as the number one challenge, ahead of money, the municipality and competition. 2nd to HR was HR accomodations. I have to agree with him that those issues will create crisis situations if not addressed. That being said, my line of the moment is this 'Optimism builds restaurants, pessimism keeps them open' The entrepreneurial spirit that inspires is what causes us as a region to host the Olympics, not the bottom line, nor the ease in achieving it. Hosting a winter Olympics will be a difficult challenge, but one that we have no choice on, so best get started planning. OG, if you're correct, then best take your 'sky is falling' sign and move to Cowtown now, because these two towns have a lot of work to do to get ready, and they could sure use someone like you contributing to solutions to these problems. Like it or not, it's happening, and it's up to all of us to make it happen well. Communication, inspiration and perspiration are far more effective than aggravation. I have a ton of pride in this industry and the people in it, some of them won't cut it, others will rise to the challenge. The question for all of us will be, which one are we?
  12. exaxctly why I don't write the menus anymore.. my smelling is better than my spelling unfortunately.
  13. Nice call, To clarify, it has not been hand massaged by Japanese virgins, nor has it been fed a strict heineken diet. Often we've had to resort to identifying the wyagu beef as the same used as Kobe as most don't realize what wyagu is. This is organic, grass fed wyagu from a ranch in the Okanagan. Goin' down to Aurora for my red meat fix later, is Sammy working tonight Kurtis/Jeff?
  14. I haven't plugged myself for awhile, But if you can wait for a Sunday night, at the Fiction Winebar we do a Kobe tenderloin and 6 garlic prawns for a pornographically low $15. I wont be undersold.
  15. Hey all, Thought I'd let you know that we've been resisting OT's advances for quite some time now, mostly due to the forever and ever monthly charge. Ever thrifty. We are rolling out Micros' version of reso book and db software which is designed to rival OT in every way except for the central online website. The best news for us is that there is no monthly charge for our system. As we are their first install here in BC, we'll be guinea pigs for the rest of you, but feel free to check in from time to time and I'll boast/vent about the system to you. I love the idea of a convenient, easy to handle reso system with the benefits of online reservations, but we still prefer the hands on approach. It also helps that Michael (Mitton) is arguably one of the best maitre d's I've ever seen, and he refuses to to give in to a machine. . . To answer your question Neil, if micros didn't have this option available, we'd have gone with OT as well, and reluctantly paid the fee. I do think our guests have been interested in online reso's, in fact, I still take so many online reso's directly from my email, so maybe it's just a matter of having that available. Good Luck!
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