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Posts posted by Brasco66

  1. Not a "clipper"....but I have a funny (strange) story to share about clippings. When I was the Head Chef of an Italian restaurant back in the 90's....I had a sales person from one of the gourmet vendors I used.....he was a strange, awkward little man....walk into the kitchen, with out being announced and hand me a fistfull of clippings (mostly from Women's Day, etc). He turned on his heals and left without a word. When I began to peruse the clippings I noticed that he had highlighted the cheese's used in the recipes and had wriiten in the margin "we sell this". Creative sales technique, perahps...I'll let you be the judge, but as a cocky young chef at the time, I was deeply offended and never bought from his company again. 15 years later, it just makes me laugh.

  2. I come from a long line of Southwestern Nova Scotia Lobstermen and it is true that lobster was once considered "poor mans food". Ironically if you came to school with a bologna sandwich you were considered wealthy!

    My how times have changed!

    On another note....did anyone see the Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares "Black Pearl" episode where Gordon infers that Canadian Lobster is inferior to Maine Lobster. I have it on very good authority that 50-75%  of SouthWest NS Lobster exported to Boston is "marketed" as Maine Lobster.

    Fisheries & Oceans says that 90% of the Canadian lobster catch is exported. Lobster quality depends on water quality -- cold, clean, nutrient-rich water can be found from Maine to Labrador and beyond. But then you and your ancestors probably knew that.

    Yes, I'm sure even the concept of "terrior" apllies to the oceans bounties. I know that Lobster Fisherman from the Maritimes would argue that their Lobster has a better taste then Lobster from another region. My Family would argue that the colder the water the better, although the problem then faced is that if the water gets too cold, lobsters stop crawling and therfore catches go down.

    On Ramsey , saying Maine Lobster are better then Canadain Lobster, I think he needs to look at a map. Lobsters from the Yarmouth area of NS are fished in the same waters as Maine.

  3. I come from a long line of Southwestern Nova Scotia Lobstermen and it is true that lobster was once considered "poor mans food". Ironically if you came to school with a bologna sandwich you were considered wealthy!

    My how times have changed!

    On another note....did anyone see the Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares "Black Pearl" episode where Gordon infers that Canadian Lobster is inferior to Maine Lobster. I have it on very good authority that 50-75% of SouthWest NS Lobster exported to Boston is "marketed" as Maine Lobster.

  4. Cooking-even at the highest levels is not Genius...it's hard work and commitment. Understand the pricipals of cooking and apply them in a relentless pursuit of excellence and perfection. This pursuit of perfection often results in the Chef being considered a genius but the reality is that the Chefs obsession often manifests itself in behaviours that many would consider insane...i.e. 100 hour work weeks, temper, socially awkward etc. There have never been any geniuses in cooking, but there have been a few who have had the drive that their efforts have created something never before seen....but that is not genius.

    Wes-If you want to work in the best kitchens, just as other have suggested, work hard, study, have passion and dedication and be willing to sacrafice some "normalcy" in your life...and you will go very far.

    But make no mistake about it...cooking amazing food is not genius.

  5. As for Fran's, I don't know if it's still there or not - haven't been by in about five years, I guess - but my Dad was convinced that it was the one decent chinese spot in the Maritimes. That was probably because it was the only place you could find ginger beef done "Calgary" style - deepfried, then stir-fried in the spicy ginger sauce. I remember their cashew gai ding being exactly like this amazing dive near our old house. Next time I'm through Halifax, I'll find out.

    Fran's is still there....if I get there I'll have to try the ginger beef.

  6. I am working on a piece for The Daily Gullet right now on what it was like in the kitchen. (I mention that we, chefs and line cooks, are all basically adrenaline junkies.)

    I look forward to this next installment. There are not too many books/articles that portray the lifestyle of "the linecook/working chef") When I meet people and tell them that I am a chef...I think in some ways the have no clue what it means to be a Chef/Cook, or what it took to get to this point in my career. This is probably a result of the food network and the rise of the "celebrity chef". Everyone thinks that professional cooking is so glamourous. Your tales will/are shedding light on this misconception.

    About that KC thing. I am probably the only person in this forum who hasn't read it. A lot of my writing covers the same turf, I am told. (For one thing I certainly don't need anyone to tell me about life in the kitchen.) I have intentionally avoided it to this point because I don't want my vision and memories of "the life" to be tainted by someone else's. When the book on which I am currently working is finished I am sure I will give it a read, though.

    I won't taint your writing with anymore comments about KC, although I would say that another book that really looks at the inner world of cooking, is The Perfectionist by Rudolph Chelminski. A very important book and a great read...insightful, inspiring, funny, sad, tragic....

  7. Thanks for the kind words. I was beginning to wonder where all those who are/were line cooks went! You're the only one who has admitted to it so far. 

    My days as a Line Cook have been over for some time...I'm in the corporate world of restaurants now...which is a bit easier on the head, back, knees.....etc, you get the point. I do miss the "rush" of being on the line as the printer spits out the chits and the line fills with orders. Chefs and cooks are quite a sub-culture aren't we! As much as I dismissed AB's KC as so much over the top BS, it did touch on the unique character needed to work in the fast paced environment of a busy restaurant kitchen.

    I really look forward to more of your story.

    Thanks Again.

  8. Hi Chef: I really have enjoyed this article and your "tidbits" from your past.

    I can relate to the "terrible towel" story. When I first started in the business one of the first lessons I learned was how to stockpile side towels in unique hiding places so that I was never caught by the Chef with out a clean one. Punishment for not having a side towel or God forbid being caught "abusing" a side towel usually warranted some dirty kitchen job....you know, grease trap duty or cleaning the hood filters. As an aside....I worked in a place that provided our chef jackets/pants. The laundry would come in in the morning so the lunch shift would have first crack at the unifroms that came in. The savvy among us knew that if you worked a night shift you needed to stash an extra set of uniforms whenever you could so that the lunch guys didn't get all the best uniforms...everyone wanted to avoid the ones with missing buttons and busted zippers. Since those early days I have had to "referee" many a line cook spat over side towels and uniforms.

    Great stuff chef...keep it coming.

  9. Thanks Maggie....great article. As a newbie to egullet I really like your prose. Every Canadian kid can relate to the one inch between the boot and snow pant and that nasty shark bite! I have had this dish before but have never made it myself. That will change this year as I will definetley be making the tourtiere.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. I think that the rules have changed enough that there really are only a handful of hard and fast rules left in cooking. The rest is just opinion and preference. If you are an accomplished home cook or a professionally trained chef you typically know what's right and what's wrong and can therefore form your own thoughts on the use of garlic powder and canned chicken broth.

    Having said that...I do refer regularly to some of the classics, such as Larousse, Escoffier and Child to ensure authenticity when my cooking calls for it. Everyone needs a base of knowledge and skill to start from but individuality is what makes cooking fun!

  11. I am from Toronto but I worked in Montreal for about 5 years before I came here to Fredericton. I worked in several places, alot of restaurants and I was the opening pastry chef for the W hotel in Montreal.

    Fantastic....welcome to the maritimes. I look forward to my next visit to Fredericton!

    When I was home in 2004, it had decreased in quality. I think the old owner had retired and the kids took over, and replaced the hand-cut fries with frozen ones. Travesty! Is this still the case? Anyone looking to give their cholesterol numbers a hit and try it out?

    I have not been to John's in a number of years...but I'll try to get by in the next few weeks and report back.

    How's this for debate: What's the best Chinese food around? When I was there, my parents and I practically lived at the place next to the bridge - Fran's, I think it was called. Is it still there? My Dad grew up in Hong Kong, and he had pretty high standards for Chinese food. I remember him lamenting when I was young that we didn't have any real Sichuan restaurants in Halifax.

    I have eaten at Fran's and it is pretty good, however I don't eat Chinese out very often because I would rather make it at home. Perhaps others have comments?

  12. Has anyone tried the desserts at the Crowne Plaza Fredericton? I am the pastry chef and I have been there for about 6 months now. Everyone tells me I am the only pastry chef in Fredericton and I have been getting alot of great response to my desserts so far.

    Sorry haven't been to the CP in freddy....but it's nice to know that they have a Pastry Chef...so many Hotels no longer have on edue to the preponderance of ready to serve IQF desserts and sauces.

    Where were you before? Where did you train/go to school?

    Good luck.

  13. sorry for asking a possibly stupid question soupcon but what is the difference between stewing and braising?

    The amount of liquid. Stewing is cooking in liquid. Braising is more like pot roast, starting with a small amount of liquid on a bed of vegetables - more will be released as the meat cooks.

    Another aspect of braising is that it can, and usually is, done in the oven in a covered dish at 275-300 degrees for anywhere from 2-1/2 -4 hours.

  14. Hey Forest: I would echo the comments not to flour the beef before browning. If you must thicken I agree with someone's comment to use a buerre manie(equal amounts of butter and flour creamed together and added just prior to service)

    I add a lot of herbs to my stews such as rosemary, thyme or sage and of course fresh bay leaves.

    For a simple Asian twist...and some minced ginger with your garlic and braise with orange juice, beef stock and a few shakes of quality soy sauce.

    For additional twists you could finish your stew with a heaping spoon full of horseradish or whole grain mustard.

    Have fun!

  15. While I agree that wasting food, such as broccoli stems or asparagus ends is wasteful...I think that sucking on chicken bones and chewing orange pith is a bit obsessive. To imply that others should follow suit is a bit sanctimonious.

    hey, I don't think sucking on chicken bones and chewing orange piths is considered obsessive. I was taught at a young age that the marrow in the beef and chicken bones was very delicious and nutritious. I am part korean so this may have a lot to do with it. You don't eat bone marrow? My friend does a lovely appetizer at his restaurant of roasted bone marrow with maine sea salt. very simple and very delicious

    Hi SheenaGeena: In the context of your orginal post I thought you were implying that these choices were motivated by a need to not waste food, and that to not follow these examples was somehow wrong(Sinful). Now that you have clarified the personal and cultural reasons for your choices...I completely see your point.

    It's actually a very worthwhile topic. If more people thought a bit more about how they utilized their food(trim and waste) then we would all be a bit better off.

  16. Probably not. Shawarma is cooked on that vertical spit roaster that was shown above. Were the ones you had cooked like that or simply grilled on a charcoal fire?

    Actually it was on a spit and sliced off with a knife. It was served with this wonderful little pickles....like cornichons.

    Some of the best food I have ever had is street food from around the world.

  17. Meals in Atlantic Canada recently....

    "Rouge" in Moncton, NB-New place opened in November. Young, cocky chef, cooking , relatively uninspired, but well executed contempary cuisine. Good wine list and "nice" servers. Something new in Mocton which is a bit of a wasteland for cuisine...

    "Restaurant 21" St. Johns, NF. Nice spot near the harbour serving contempoary Cuisine with lots of seafood with a regional flair. Although not on the menu the Chef was able to pull together Cod tongues and scrunchions with out any hassle. Standard wine list, good service.

    "Talay Thai" Halifax-Amazing Thai food being offered here. Simple decor, but not tacky, decent service....but amazing authentic tastes at very reasonable prices. Good portion sizes.

    The Thirsty Duck-Halifax-Under new ownership(again!) Decor has been up scaled to a very comfortable high end pub. Great apetizers...Calypso Wings, Duck Spring Rolls. Enjoyed it very much! Great new private room for parties etc.

    Not the "Duck" of old, but definetly worth trying. What's old is new again!

    BTW...in case you havn't heard....Tempest(featured in Opening Soon) in Wolfville NS had a devasting fire about a month ago. Chef Michael Howell has vowed to rebuild and reopen in the spring of 07.

    Also..The acclaimed Dayboat in PEI, also featured on Opening Soon will be losing Chef Gordon Baily....yikes!

  18. To suggest that people are being sinful if they don't suck the marrow from their chicken bones is really unfair.

    I suspect use of the word "sin" was an example of hyperbole?

    As far as bones go, making stock out of them would seem to be a good allocation of resources?

    SB (although my dogs might not agree :wink: )

    Agreed.....I'm taking this a bit personal for some reason. Perhaps I felt like I was being "taken to task" for not chewing on my orange peels and that I was "bad".

    I'll lighten up....I'm still new.

    BTW....my dog is always miffed when the bones go into the stock pot! :rolleyes:

  19. There are many foods that are consumed by different cultures that may be considered out of the ordinary for others. My "by product", "trim" or "waste" is your everyday preference or delicacy.

    We should all strive to utilize the most of our raw materials and compost what is left.

    To suggest that people are being sinful if they don't suck the marrow from their chicken bones is really unfair.

  20. Great discussion...I have learned alot...

    Here on the east coast of Canada(Nova Scotia) Lebanese immigrants introduced a Pita sandwich called a "donair". The donair is heavily seasoned ground beef that is formed into a spit and cooked vertically the same as the photos in this thread. The meat is shaved/sliced off the spit as it cooks and is served in a warm pita with onions and tomatoes and the most amazing sauce that is made with condensed milk, vinegar, sugar and garlic. I have to assume that these "donairs" are a derivitive of a Shwarma?

    Interstingly enough I ate at a Lebanese restaurant yesterday and ordered chicken Shwarma. It was ok....however quite bland and dry. It was served with a chunky tomato and cucumber sauce as well as french fries and hummus.

    Years ago when I was in the Navy....I was in the Persian Gulf(Dubai and Bahrain) and ate "street food" that was cooked lamb and chicken stuffed in Pita with a white tangy sauce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. Really amazing flavor! Were these Shwarma?

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