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  1. But why not? They are just human beings who share your passion! We have such a fascination with any kind of celebrity in this country that we have our own private celebrities on such a high pedestal. We imagine them to be unapproachable. Some of them make themselves that way, but you should be aware of the ones you've made so yourself. But I digress. Yeah, just call them. I started with the person who answered the phone, told them what I wanted and they connected me with who I needed to speak to. In most cases, it was the sous chef or executive sous chef. They're usually the people with the power in the kitchen, anyway. They set my schedule and teamed me up with someone in the kitchen. And then I did everything they told me to do. I tried to be gracious and obedient. I kept my eyes open around the kitchen to see what else was going on. I asked a lot of questions. I'm sending big fat thank you gifts, too, to make sure I get to come back. I shook hands with Alice Waters and Thomas Keller, but I worked for the sous chefs, the folks who are in the kitchen everyday, making the big names look good. I also think that there are exciting kitchens to be in right now that don't have celebrity chefs in them (yet). Take a look at the Beard nominations: Michael Tusk, who makes fantastic food in a tiny restaurant; Nate Appleman at A16; Sean Brock or Hugh Atcheson or John Besh. Make your own list of local chefs, places you've had great food. They're the ones who will be the next celebrities, if not nationally then locally. Or should be. The best cooks aren't on the food network. They just have the best dental coverage.
  2. I just had a whirlwind tour of kitchens in SF last week: Michael Mina's, French Laundry and Chez Panisse. It wasn't so easy to get the stages. I had to be really persistent, and it didn't hurt that I work at a great place now, but I got them and it was really interesting. The best part was not what I learned culinarily, but what I learned about different kitchen cultures. I loved it and will definitely do it again, in another city. Just call the places you want to go, ask to speak to the right person, explain what you want to do and why, and don't give up easily! Good luck!
  3. that made me cry. I hope the Beard folks recognise that John Fleer IS the best chef in the south east. We already know it.
  4. Hey, Phoebe! You are welcome back any time! We loved having you. My staff is still talking fondly about your banana buttermilk ice cream! Yes, John is gone and it is incredible how much we all miss him. But Josh Feathers, his Exec Sous for the last 3 years is taking up where he left off. The future looks bright.
  5. That's beautiful! Yeah, I love the conservatory, too! Our village was done on time this year! on the 1st, but I haven't downloaded the photos yet. I'll try to get to that this week. Anyone have new ones for this year?
  6. We were given one by Viking to try, and I chose it over the Kitchen Aid because it's more powerful and has more capacity without taking more space. I agree about the lifting mechanism, adding that I have several times smashed my fingers in a hurry to clamp the bowl down. The locking mechanism weakens with use and has begun to fly up, usually when we're whisking meringues. Pretty fun to get meringue off the ceiling and out of each other's hair, y'know? The whisk on ours reached the bottom of the bowl fine, until the teeth or tines or whatever you call the wires on the whisk started to come off. It's about half toothless now, so we had to take the Kitchen Aid back from the savory kitchen. When we did that, a couple of pastry cooks remarked that they like the way you can feel the bottom of the Kitchen Aid bowl to tell when you're meringue's ready, which you can't with the Viking. Meringues in the Viking take longer to cool off because the bottom's enclosed int the base of the mixer. On the other hand, we tend to go through Kitchen Aids at a rate of one a year. We burn 'em up and break the whisks quickly, mostly from holding the bowl up to reach the bottom, which they never do on their own.
  7. Well, yeah, it certainly did occur to me that I shouldn't be pissing this guy off, but he was very aggressive. I sure do hope I don't have to depend on him, or those like him in the future. I've never had one offer to call later at a better time or another number. They've pretty much all been like the most recent guy: I've got a job, do you want it? Do you know anyone who does? I just wonder at the etiquette. Who would want to talk over a possible future job at their present job? If I caught one of my employees doing it, I'd be angry. Anyway, I was just wondering how others felt about it, what they've done to handle it.
  8. This would really be applicable to the savory side chefs, too, but I just have to get this out there, and I know it must be happening all the time to sweet-side folks like us. They call me at work, and tell me about new jobs and blahblahblah, and when I tell them no, I have a great job, they ask me if I know anyone else and I say no, and they say (okay, it was this one guy yesterday, but he really pissed me off!) "You don't know anyone?" I hung up on him. But it was his second call in a week, and there have been others. I guess I should be flattered that they think it's worth their while to call little old me, but I just think it's incredibly rude to call people at their jobs, on their employers' phones and ask them if they'd like another job. They're aggressive little buggers, and I guess they have to be, to be in their line of business, and maybe one could say, how else are they going to contact someone, but I just don't like it. I guess that's why we call them headhunters.. How do you feel about this?
  9. Way to go! Do not be nervous! You're going to be the one who will care the most and work the hardest, because you're the one paying the bills, making the sacrifices and knowing why you're there. You will be amazed at how well you will do! I started culinary school at 38, and 11 years later, I'm working at an amazing place with a great staff and a lot of talented co-workers. You might not be invited to the parties or show up to class "totally wasted, dude!" but that will definitely work to your advantage. Good luck! A blog of your adventures would be fun to read, if you have the time.
  10. Maybe he could simply recite it, then. I have to admit that most of my contact with John T. has been with one or both of us under the influence. He might have sung and I missed it.
  11. John T., you should rewrite that in lyric form and set it to music.
  12. alanamoana, do you hold in the blue valve the entire time? or can you control the texture by holding it in varying amounts of time?
  13. I've used that recipe for years, and freeze it often. It has to be room temp to serve, though. A wedding cake made of it would weigh 4 million tons and a couple bites layered with ganache could put Granny in a coma. I would suggest Susan Purdy's Mocha Fudge Cake from the original Piece of Cake. It's not in the new edition, The Perfect Cake. That cake freezes very, very well, is not so dense or heavy and is delicious. The ingredients are much cheaper, too.
  14. Okay, I happen to be the (self-proclaimed) expert on the Elvis Poundcake. Stand back, take notes! Just kidding, but I love that recipe. Here's what I do: Get mise en placed, completely. When the recipe says "room temperature," it means it. You can double it, quadruple it, eight times it, doesn't matter. And you must sift your flour! Are you using White Lily? 'Cause you need to. I suppose you could use ordinary cake flour, but this is a southern thing, y'know. And you definitely have to sift the flour before you measure it, then sift it again with the salt. Cream the be-jesus out of the butter and sugar, until it's so white, it almost looks gray. Then add your eggs, one fourth at a time, beating for at least a minute between additions, scraping the bowl completely between each addition. Then, add the flour and salt in three parts, with the heavy cream. Beat for a minute between each addition, scraping the bowl down completely between each addition. After the last of the flour and cream are added, you must beat the batter for five minutes, just as the recipe says. There is no leavening in this cake, so the beating is what's creating your structure. I have a suspicion that the reason your cake is falling at work and not at home is the amount you're beating it. The size you're making at home is small enough for the kitchen aid to get the batter strong enough, but the 30 qt. isn't, especially when you're multiplying the recipe. How many times are you multiplying the recipe? I tend to multiply in 2's, because I once read that you should, something about the odd numbers throwing things out of whack. It doesn't make sense, but I do it, just in case! We make this every week, for two different things, and it never falls. We make it in the 7qt Viking and in the 30 qt. Hobart, depending on the quantitiy. We use loaf pans and half sheet pans, depending on the use. We add vanilla bean scrapings at the beginning with the sugar and butter, or lemon zest or just vanilla extract, but always at the beginning. We also add 1/2 cup of cornmeal to the one we use for lunch buffets, without adding anything to counteract the dry ingredient, because this cake is so moist. Good luck! Let us know how it works!
  15. So is it only used in ice creams? If you made a "pretty gel" with it, could you use it as a gel? Flavor it and use it as a garnish? What other uses has anyone come up with? Photos, perhaps?
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