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Matt R.

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Everything posted by Matt R.

  1. Costco sells AAA and Canadian Prime beef often for less than I can buy wholesale. Quality, at least at the Langford store, is consistently outstanding. -- Matt.
  2. Fool proof creme fraiche is 3:1 heavy cream to buttermilk (make sure you use the freshest buttermilk). Mix well, cover and let stand at room temperature or slightly above for 20 hours. Mix well, and refrigerate. Whipped with a little sugar and vanilla you're set for your scones. -- Matt.
  3. I get ticked off over the slicer; it seems no one ever cleans it when they're done with it. Ditto for the wall mounted dicer- every time I close it has tomatoes all over it. Gross. ← Word. Clean as you go, mo-fo! ← Naturally. I worked at a national "casual fine dining" chain years ago, and "clean as you go" was drilled into me, which has turned into a life long habit it would seem. "Drive the CAYG" was the motto for us! I am taking care to pass that along to younger cooks where I work now. -- Matt.
  4. You took the words right out of my mouth, and I could not have said it better myself. It never bothered me as much as it does now that I am the Chef. That being said, I have learned long ago to pick my battles, and this summer there are bigger fights for me to win than that one, but we will re-visit it in the fall. -- Matt.
  5. "86'd" as in, honey we're 86 milk, I'm going to the store to buy some. Also, parcooking. I have a hard time with starch and veg at home because of the years spent cooking everything 80%. My wife teases me now, but for the longest time she couldn't figure out why my veggies and potatoes were just not quite done. When cooking at home, all my mise is done in advance and set out on little plates, bowls, etc. Good think we are getting a dishwasher soon! -- Matt.
  6. Ugh, that's extra sick. A room temperature water bath is pretty much the worst way to hold utensils, and in fact much dirtier than keeping them dry. All that is is a perfect medium for bacteria to grow, nothing else. If you insist on keeping tongs in a water bath, keep that water hot in a bain marie, or ditch it an use a proper sanitizer for storage. You'd be better off using your fingers and washing your hands once in a while. Is this really the level of sanitation and food safety in your establishment? Tasting spoons can only ever be one time use items, and then they must be tossed. Plastic spoons are a waste, just buy some cheap stainless ones and keep them separate from service utensils and wash them in the dishwasher. -- Matt.
  7. It's not the finger that's the problem, it's the mouth. If you run out of tasting spoons, buy more. They are less than $3 for a dozen, so get five dozen and go from there. Personally, and professionally, I think putting your mouth on someone else's food is disgusting and not necessary, and if I see someone doing it in my kitchen (it happens of course) I will tell them to get a spoon. We keep tasting spoons just about everywhere. -- Matt.
  8. 'Compte', from the French for account. When something is 'comped' the manager is putting it onto their account. It's not free, just someone else is paying for it. -- Matt.
  9. Freezing makes for nice clean cuts, easing removal from moulds, etc. absolutely. But that's not what was being discussed. Using the freezer as a food storage device yields one thing: frozen food. When does freezing enhance moisture and texture aside from food that's supposed to be frozen? In my experience, much of the equipment required for fine pastry work is specialty stuff. Harder to get, and more expensive to begin with. Tables and deep fryers are cheap. Four inch double sided French steel tart shells are not. You just don't find that stuff for sale used on Craigslist. As the one responsible for food cost where I work, it bugs me when people assume everything in pastry is 'cheap', when in reality, using top quality ingredients to produce top quality results is the opposite. You can cut corners anywhere you'd like, starting with cost of sales, but when you are attempting to do only one thing in your establishment, you had better make it perfect or else what's the point? -- Matt.
  10. I was under the impression that food costs for pastry are lower than for the rest of the restaurant. With the notable exception of good chocolate, the main ingredients are cheap. With most dishes there are advantages like being able to do most of the heavy lifting well in advance, and only minor assembly and plating at service. ← You are wrong about the cost of sales being low. Chocolate, butter, cream, cream cheese, commercial fruit purees, top quality in season fruit, nuts, vanilla bean, good cocoa, nibs, even flour isn't that cheap anymore. Even the tools and equipment are costly. Parchment, ramekins, little tart moulds, chocolate moulds, refractometers, ice cream machines, mixers are all costly and can even be hard to source. Low quality eggs are cheap, as is sugar. Obviously, if you cost your menu properly and sustain decent volume, you can make money selling anything, but to assume pastry ingredients are 'cheap' is just being ignorant. The idea of making 100 of something and then freezing 90 of them for weeks to come is one way to take advantage of economies of scale, but then you are serving the vast majority of your product as frozen, ie: not fresh. Fine if that's the direction you want to take, but when you are in such a small niche market, your product has to be of the highest standard, all the time. Be prepared to throw out a lot of product as you build your business. You only get one shot at the first impression. -- Matt.
  11. It's an appealing concept, but food and labour costs (especially in New Zealand) would kill you. Pastry in a restaurant setting is not much of a money maker, and there's very little savings on labour when you scale up production, unlike the savoury side of the kitchen. ie: braising 40 lamb shanks does not take twice as long as braising 20, but baking and finishing 10 cakes takes twice as long as 5. Pastry chefs where I am from command top dollar, as they are few and far between. I doubt many restaurant pastry departments make enough to justify their existence and rely on other departments for subsidy. Freshness is also something to consider, especially when you start getting into multi-course small tasting portions. You'd have to be doing some decent volume to maintain product quality, or be willing to swallow a lot of waste. As soon as product quality starts to dip, people won't come back. -- Matt.
  12. Adrenaline. Passion/Genuine Interest. Good at it from a young age. -- Matt.
  13. If you are building your menu correctly, any portion cut meat should have the weight of the trim included into the menu price. This makes anything produced with the meat trim pure profit. In other words, if it takes you 7 ounces of salmon to make one 6 ounce portion, your guest should be paying for 7, giving you one ounce of free salmon. If you produce fish trim, save it up in the freezer and use it in a chowder, bouillabaisse, fish cake, etc. If you portion your own steaks, save up the trim for grinding, beef stew, or a pot pie. Nothing beats free money. -- Matt.
  14. Dangerous. Why don't you hire someone? I hover around the 50 hour mark, two days off. My Chef works a little less usually. -- Matt.
  15. In a kitchen with more than one cook, a standardized recipe book is essential for cost control, portion control and most importantly consistency. Freehand measurements are just plain sloppy, which is fine if that's the way you run your kitchen and how you want your product to be. The fact that minor adjustments "to taste" with seasoning are obvious, and barely need to be stated. -- Matt.
  16. 25 four tops is easier than 100 singles all at different times. Duh. -- Matt.
  17. Victoria's version, Dine Around, was a big success for us last year (and years previous) but we found the organization behind it painful and cumbersome and all too demanding. This year we have elected to beat them at their own game, and run a three month long promotion instead, offering what we want (instead of what Tourism Vic wants) how we want at a price that's fair and accurately reflects what the products cost. The three menus we have created reflect what we do throughout the year, at a pace that will be better for everyone that the fast and furious approach of Dine Around. The menu can be read here and it starts tonight. We are looking forward to see what the response is from this promotion. -- Matt.
  18. How about now? I'm bored. -- Matt.
  19. Any update as to 'when', Andrew? -- Matt.
  20. Swissmar. The only way to go. Cheap, sharp, light, easy to use, works very well on soft fruit like pears and plums and a variety of colors. Did I mention cheap? $6. -- Matt.
  21. I don't think EdwardJ's advice is very good. All of the Chefs I know and have worked for look at the Red Seal as a level of commitment, and look at it favourably. There are many well paying industry jobs out there that require it. True, it does not always mean you know how to cook like a star, but by going through the apprenticeship program or challenging your exam you are showing prospective employers that you are serious about cooking as a career. Learning to cook a menu is easy. By taking the initiative to apply to write the exam (my application was 14 pages long) and hopefully pass you are proving that you care at least that much, and this is a skill that has proven very difficult to teach. I wrote the exam in 03, and it was not true or false, but rather multiple choice and not quite as simple as other posters have implied. You will need a well rounded skill set in order to pass, ranging from food safety to business concepts to industrial cooking techniques. Does everyone remember the proper utensil to use when making choux paste? It might be on there. If your prospective employer starts laughing when you tell him you have earned your Red Seal, thank him or her for his time and excuse yourself. It is most likely them who will regret it, not you. It's an employee's market right now, and that won't change any time soon - there is always something else around the corner. Go ahead and contact the ITA, they can answer all of your questions. It might also be a good idea to ask around at community colleges etc, as they sometimes offer a short, intensive pre-exam course. I did one like this at Camosun at the time, and it helped immensely. -- Matt.
  22. You can find great frozen fries, no question, but I really don't think anything compares to hand cut, twice fried french fries. Especially with gravy on them. Peanut oils are still a huge risk for someone with a serious food allergy, even if someone read on the internet that 'it should be fine'. In reality, you will not only lose that person as a customer, but likely their entire group as well. It's easier and cheaper to just stick with canola. The results on average will have zero difference. Every time I look at this thread, I want a burger. -- Matt.
  23. You must be American, for there surely is a national standard for a cook in Canada, it's called the Red Seal, and it's the same piece of paper you earn as a journeyman carpenter, tool and die maker, line man, plumber, or any other trade. In a kitchen there can be only one 'chef', but there can be many professional (papered) cooks. They are not the same thing, and are not mutually inclusive. All culinary programs across the nation lead to an apprenticeship, which leads to journeyman (Red Seal) certification. Google it, or go to www.red-seal.ca for more info. I am very surprised that there is not a formal trade system in the US like this one. -- Matt.
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