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gfron1

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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    http://bulrushstl.com

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  • Location
    St. Louis, MO

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  1. Jeremy and I have been friends for quite some time and watching his knowledge expand has been so inspiring. My kitchen's goal, too, is veg charcuterie, and so we're delving into the book full steam.
  2. I've gone the route of fluid gels for many of mines, which is very similar to what Kerry said except using agar as the setting agent. But ultimately it gets hit with a stick blender and piped.
  3. 🤣 Oops...yeah we were hiding it from you. Seriously though, it was set up to expedite some of the planning for our annual chocolate gathering: HERE
  4. I know there's packaging info all over in this forum, but so much of it has become dated. In the Facebook eG Chocolate page I asked who everyone is currently using, and I'm sharing it here for easier reference. Glerup Revere Nashville Wraps Box and Wrap Professional Image Duerr Packaging ASpecialtyBox BRP Boxes Chocolat Chocolat Unger Imports Modpac Graphic West ZoolyUtah Packaging Emenac
  5. Does someone know which suppliers have these boxes? I can't find them through my regular sources and want to see how affordable they might be. Thanks.
  6. @TexasMBA02 Just chiming in to say that I've had numerous issues with that book, and in particular, that recipe, so you are not alone. Clearly there are issues.
  7. Thanks @donk79. My book is much more of a cookbook than a foraging guide, and I don't focus too much on plant identification - just as necessary for my recipes. I second Pascal's series of books. All are amazing. I also love my Moerman books on indigenous ethnobotany - he has one on medicinal uses and one for food, but both are a great source of ancient wisdom that you can use for your area through the lens of the tribes that used to live off of the land surrounding you.
  8. I have some free time to post here again 🤣 🤒 My goal here was always to share with people that I consider friends and mentors, and so while sharing details is fine, for me it's always been more about what I would have talked about with you if we were having a beer on Sunday night at our favorite bar. This post is some big stuff - none of it really good, and I've been chewing on what and how to articulate any of it because this is the internet and most of you don't even know me let alone like me or care about me since for most of you I'm just a screen name (that comes off much more melodramatic than I intended.) Things were rolling along very nicely through February. From the beginning we were hitting all of our sales figures and paying all of our bills, including our first large investor payback. I had done things the best I knew how, and I remind you dear friends, that this is my first "real" restaurant - meaning, big city, food critics, large body of yelpers, scale in which I rely on others beyond myself, and lots of people making money off of my and my team's efforts. And so I rolled into March with high hopes of award season and feeling pretty good about what we had accomplished. I can think of only a small few dishes (our of the nearly 100) that we created since opening that were dogs. A few nights with complaints of over-salting, and the like. And that's a great segue into my first comment. I had received a couple of pieces of feedback on social media from followers (not friends) that I lacked humility. I know that I post a lot about what we do...and I do it because 1) I want to market to people and develop a brand and awareness of what we're trying to do; and 2) I think what we do is really cool and it excites me. I've had a month plus to think about all this and I certainly can't argue the point. On one hand I know I always give credit to staff, to farmers, to media, but I'm sure that some people don't view my bragging that way. I've tried to think about how and what I post on social media, and I've tried to watch what others do. In New Mexico the market was so small that if I wasn't constantly self-promoting we would have never made it financially because the pool of potential customers was so small. I think in St. Louis, it comes off as cocky and lacking of humility. Is this part of "Midwest-Nice?" I don't know, but it's led me to step off all social media (one of two reasons...second one coming). I'm currently operating under the thought that I don't have the skills or maturity to understand the nuance of "informing" and "lacking humility," so I've ceased my personal pages and turned the business pages over to staff. Technically this isn't the worst thing in the world. We were using my personal pages because I had established friends and followers, but now the restaurant does as well. And, it will be nice to focus my time more on running the restaurant. The second big issue was awards. I know they should never be the goal, but they were/are very important to me because they allow me to see how I'm doing. Part of that goes back to New Mexico where I never had a food critic visit the restaurant for dinner. Never. Plenty of travel writers, but never food. And nestle into that mentality the idea that I've been a student of the JBF award winners for nearly 15 years. I look at what is important to the foundation, and hence to restaurants, and integrate that into what I do. I don't do forage, zero waste, local sourcing, ethical staffing, etc because of JBF awards, but I am aware of them and integrate them because of what I've learned through the JBF awards. Does that make sense? A couple of weeks before the semi-finalist announcements I was interviewing a new PR firm and was told directly that we wouldn't get consideration because the foundation has encouraged its committees to focus on diversity. And sure enough when the list came out that focus was loud and clear in our region, and quite frankly I support it as a way to make long-term change in restaurant leadership and how the media decides who deserves recognition. Knowing what i knew I was disappointed but not upset, and turned my attention to a local ranking that was to be released two weeks later. To keep this brief because it is still extremely painful for me, the critic did not visit our restaurant despite having given us one of the highest reviews in recent years. I called my peers on the list and they all got visited for the rankings. It really took me to the lowest place I've been in my life (at least since I was an angsty closeted gay teen). I don't want to get into this much more than what I have except to say that I only know my perspective and what I learned by talking to my peers. There's always more sides to the story. And yes, at some point I need to have a conversation with the critic and find out if I did something wrong or if I just don't have all the facts on the process. Either way it's an icky conversation that reeks of nothing more than sour grapes on my part, and I am very well aware of that. The painful part of this is how I watch my peers (pre-COVID) bragging about their listing and congratulating their team knowing all along that we were treated differently. It's immature of me. It's petty. But it's also a real emotion that I've been struggling with, feeling black listed or grey listed, and yet knowing it's very possibly all just made up in my head. So thank god for COVID to distract me because at least now I can apply my knowledge, skills and effort to maintain my business, whereas with the other situation I feel completely out of control and defeated. Again, way more drama than I prefer to share this publicly. And it's with all this in mind, partnered with my previous issue, that led me to get off social media - a place that used to be my refuge from the long hours of social isolation in the kitchen, which has now become painful and disheartening. For now I've had to give up that social network as well. And finally we get to COVID. We're closed until further notice. I got my PPP funds on Tuesday night after the application went live. I've been focusing my staff on specific research areas since they're still on full payroll. My sous and I still go out and forage a few times a week because otherwise we'll lose a season of ingredients. And I'm strategizing about what we look like once we get on the other side of the pandemic. To that end I sent a short survey out to our mailing list and receive amazing feedback that we'll use to tighten the program up even more. I'll stop there. Take care everyone. I'm still very raw. And I hope this was (or will be) a bit useful to someone in the future.
  9. My 2 cents 1 year into a new place - How loyal and established is your existing cliente, and will they still be there in 3 months, 6 months and a year - meaning, if you're in an established neighborhood then they should be there. If you're in a business district, maybe not. All restaurants have learned in a very short period of time how large and how loyal their customers are. We've closed temporarily but I just came back from doing some work in my kitchen and saw 38 missed calls from the weekend. Some are surely marketing but that's a good sign to me that people were trying to support us over the weekend even though we've been closed a few weeks. My second question, and the one that is the most important in the best of times is how much capital do you have banked? I had a year in the can before I ever opened and I'm damn glad I did. I just got my PPP loan earlier this week, and between that and my own funds, we're good for 4-6 months (hopefully). But as many can tell you, if you don't have the capital banked you increase your risk of failure and losing it all. I can say that 4 months of funds scares me, and my 6 months gives me no comfort. I sure wish I had much more especially when I'm trying to do right by my staff and keep them on payroll. (I have the "luxury" of having research work they can all be doing from home which has value to our model.) And this brings me to the last point - can you create an operation with minimal staff - one that can gear up to larger menus and larger staff when the time comes, or is it an all or none operation. I have no leeway in my model because we already operated on a minimal staff, but I'd sure prefer to be a 3 or 4 person staff instead of 7 when we re-open. I also wonder...not to kick a guy when he's down, but if you have a new bargaining power with the current owner. Might be worth considering.
  10. Ah. Good question. This is for the base of the ganache. I'll use something much less distinguishable for the shelling. And this will be very small batch. I likely won't even make 50 boxes (if I have my way). They want to charge very high end premium.
  11. I've got a client who has an open purse. We want to source 5 amazing, unique (single origin or micro-batched or ?) chocolates for me to ultimately work into bonbons. I haven't kept up, so my list is Domori, Cluizel, Pralus, Patric and Askinosie, but those names led my list 5-8 years ago. With all the micro-batching going on I'm sure there a gazillion more higher on the list. Who are you favorites? And just to give you a sense of the possibilities, I suggested Valhrona, to which they responded Dandelion. So to me that means anything is fair game. This will small batch and all about the flavor pairings, so commercial blends is not what we're looking for.
  12. @Haley, Would you mind linking your source for the packaging? Thanks.
  13. Here's my Spring collection: Pecan gianduja & orange Lemon caramel French lavender & honey Verbena & olive oil Espresso & green Szechuan peppercorn (not spicy) with a milk crumb insert
  14. To answer your first question, and pull in Jim and Kerry's comment - it doesn't really matter how you do it - just as long as the mold is truly clean. I believe an impeccably clean micro fiber can do the same as cotton and alcohol. And Jen Caldwell is correct...if I could have perfect temper and scraping skills as her I would likely not need to ever clean my molds...but alas. I store my molds stacked vertically on a shelf. Not wrapped nor covered. Just vertical. I'm in a clean commercial kitchen though so our dust level is low since we're in constant clean mode. My heart molds that only get used once a year get wrapped in cling film between seasons. And I've used both alcohols. They dissipate regardless. This picture is a good example of what I"m talking about. This is from my work in the Andrey class. Look at the variation between the different colors (and hence the molds and their cleanliness). In my last Coppel class she had us all clean molds. When she got to the ones I cleaned she held them up and said, "Oh, we missed this one." I hadn't missed it. Now, it could just be how bad my eyes have gotten since I turned 50, or I often blame my big fingers for making it difficult to get into the mold to give it a really good shine, but it made it clear that what I thought was clean, wasn't. And that was with the molds in her shop, not my shop (worth considering when we think about Jen's technique.) So, I look at it this way - the alcohol and cotton is about doing the crude work of removing cocoa butter. The micro is about finishing the job. In this picture I only cleaned the red mold well...the rest would pass by my old standards, but not anymore.
  15. Great job and great summary of all the tips posted here for so many years! My two comments. First, I agree with Kerry that I never heat before backing off, and I keep my room colder than most in this forum so I don't feel it is a necessary step. Second, i'm not sure you were crystal clear on your polishing. I used to use cosmetic pads, and at Melissa Coppel's suggestion, went back to cotton balls. I use two balls at a time and do at most three cavities with them, flipping it over at some point. Melissa corrected me here too on my last workshop saying that if you keep using the same cotton then you're just moving the cocoa butter from one cavity to the next. She says one ball per cavity...I'm too cheap for that, and I'm not the top chocolatier in the world. I'm not sure why you prefer vodka over alcohol, but I use alcohol only. I think with those two tips you'll see your shine become perfect on the next round. FWIW, after I do the alcohol thing I do one final rub down with THESE fluffy microfibers that I keep fastidiously clean (no fabric softener).
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