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dave s.

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    Asheville, NC
  1. I was about seventeen and my country-gal girlfriend showed me how to make what in Oklahoma we call cream gravy.....sausage or bacon or for that matter ground beef. Twenty-eight years later I still make it the way she showed me, and while of course my repertoire now includes all the usual sauces, I still like a good roux-based gravy best of all.....I must say my turkey gravy this Thanksgiving was really quite good-"I would eat my own father with such a sauce."
  2. I've really enjoyed some of the explanations by former servers....very enlightening. The thing is these corporate places change so frequently I have to wonder how any of their employees can keep anything straight in their heads for very long. As a longtime BOH guy, I see FOH people as no more comprehensible than space aliens. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to subject themselves to the kinds of things they do, and even as they irritate and bedevil me beyond belief, I retain a grudging admiration for them. That doesn't mean I'll put up with any crap whatsoever, but unless it's deliberate rudeness or a safety/sanitation issue I'll usually just blow it off when I'm dining out and some little thing goes wrong or irritates me slightly. C'est la guerre.
  3. That's frickin' amazing! As a former T-Towner I applaud these efforts, and as someone who cooks at a SMALL country club-we are getting ready for our BIG EVENT of the season, a 200-person golf tournament,WOOOO!-I grovel at the feet of those who can endure such madness, especially in the GODAWFUL TULSA SUMMER HEAT!!!Rock on!
  4. dave s.

    Sysco Food

    I work at a country club where we use Sysco for much of our stuff and a couple of local vendors for fish, produce etc. For some reason-I don't do the ordering-sometimes we get part of our produce from Sysco instead of the local guys-and I have to say with some things Sysco does a surprisingly good job. Their bagged green onions and herbs are always nice and green and fresh, while the locals try and pawn limp bedraggled crap on us. I suppose that being a huge corporation they have specs for all that sort of thing, which is definitely an advantage. As far as their providing precut stuff, so what? We certainly don't use it, but lots of fast food and fast-casual places sure do. It's loads more cost-effective than training people to use knives properly, and cuts down on injuries too, and when you have a 300% turnover rate these things become vitally important.
  5. My advice would be: do something else for a while. Don't go into the business at a very young age. Work in a hospital. Do social work. Join the Army. Do something that will give you a sense of proportion so that later in life when you ARE a cook or chef or manager or whatever in a restaurant you won't think it's so damned important.
  6. Beyond the whole intelligence/common sense issue I would say that a more unfortunate and growing trend is insularity....so many people are getting into the kitchen right out of-or in some cases while still in-high school. And the only work environment they'll ever know is the kitchen, with all its eccentricities and dysfunctions. So while I seldom meet anyone in The Life who is downright stupid, I encounter many who are terribly limited.
  7. Well, I like it....of course it's faddy and perhaps it's pretentious. But I'd much rather have an infused oil, even if of comparatively low quality, than what passes for butter in many places....anything from Butter Reddies nice and chilled straight from the reach-in, and tasting like the inside of the reach-in, or the whipped.....ah, butter-like substances so unfortunately common these days.....as Bourdain says, you can't believe it's not butter? I can! As far as good bread needing to be eaten plain, I agree in theory, but in practice I seem to have a pathological need to eat grease. So I dunno.....I think this trend will pass, but what shall replace it I can't predict.
  8. Sort of , which came first, the demi-monde or the attitude? Hard to tell, but one thing is certain: the restaurant atmosphere in general, especially BOH, does very little to discourage forms of behavior not often seen in other work settings. I had to listen to a young garde-manger all day and night...the kid is only on drugs some of the time, but he is full-time crazy...his bizarre stream-of- consciousness rantings and random loud noises and singing etc. would have seemed right at home in an asylum. Or a restaurant kitchen. And why not? He does a pretty good job, after all. And that's it for this kid. He's in The Life now-'cause any foray he makes into the straight world will seem like a repressive hell to him after this.
  9. Ooh la la aside, while one can sub "world" for "monde" and perhaps still retain the same meaning, "demi-monde" means exactly what it means-try saying "half-world" and see if anyone has any idea what you're talking about.
  10. Well, the Cool Whip story illustrates the kind of person I was referring to in my previous post when I said "Joe Average." Like CKatCook, I'm from Oklahoma, a place not known for fine cuisine-I was brought up on casseroles in which Campbell's Soup figured prominently, and I don't think I tasted real mayonnaise, or butter or whipped cream until I left home and joined the Army. I'm sure many of us did not spring from the womb with the rarified tastes we now possess. But the difference between US and THEM is that we tasted, believed and never looked back. And a lot of people taste, and say "ICK!" or "EWWW", and go buy the Cool-Whip. And these folks might as well belong to that alternate universe, because I do not understand them at all. So why does so much food suck? Well, it doesn't, to a lot of folks. It's real good. It's what they're used to. It's convenient, it's hygienic, it's attractively packaged. It comes in big sizes too-crates, vats, barrels-which is good because the nation of BIG PEOPLE we're becoming needs BIG FOOD. And it sure as hell is cheaper-try the value menu at Jack in the Crack, Burger Despot, Kentucky Fried Critters, or McGoogle's. So, OK-the aliens outnumber us a zillion to one. Let them have their sucky food. Stay close to home, and if you have to venture out, pack a lunch . Don't watch TV either-the aliens are using it to try and convert you-ever noticed that the ONLY food commercials on The Food Network are for the absolute suckiest of sucky food? And if you do watch TV and see a commercial for a restaurant, AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS-restaurants that can afford TV time are Corporate Hellholes staffed by can crackers, microwavers and shoemakers and frequented by aliens only. Be warned.
  11. As LB Howes said above, it all has to do with how one defines "chef." The popular perception for instance is that graduates of culinary schools are chefs, which as most of us know is bunk. Another example is myself-I cook at a certain level, and most civilians regard me as a chef. Well, I'm not currently in a management position, but on the other hand, when people see me after work at the grocery store or whatever and ask me if I'm a chef, I usually say , yes I am. Because by their definition, I really am-in that I can take all kinds of raw unprocessed ingredients that many people have never even heard of and transform them into beautiful delicious food. And that is the essence of a chef in this day and age. So I certainly do not feel the least bit guilty about wearing chef coats, pants or what have you, and NOBODY who is a dedicated professional cook-or baker, for that matter-should, either.
  12. Yeah, shoe or shoemaker is a great one but I've always used and heard it to mean someone who CAN cook, but is a hack-lacks any kind of passion or finesse. A couple terms I've heard lately are "cock sauce" for sriracha-because Tuong Ot brand sriracha has a rooster on the bottle, and it's fun to say. Edamame is "eatcha mama"-for no good reason at all, except, yes it is fun to say. Asparagus is "assbag-" balsamic vinegar is "ballsack." Do we see a bit of a pattern here? but wadda ya gonna do.... In a less profane vein, "flash" means to briefly heat something in an oven or salamander to bring it up a notch or two-there's another one-"bring this steak up to medium, please." Or "get some heat on this, chef!" The title "chef" itself is used a lot, sometimes VERY sarcastically, between cooks-" Hey Dave! Your pico de gallo needs a little salt, don't you think?" "Yes chef. Thank you chef. I'll get right on that, chef, ya damn shoemaker!" Equipment is funny too-a flexible fish spatula is sometimes a Peltex, even when it's not made by Peltex. A food processor, as mentioned by someone else, is a Robot Coupe-generally mispronounced like "coo" instead of "coop"-but big immersion blenders are sometimes made by and referred to as Robot Coupes. Usually, however, these are "beurre mixers" or "boat motors,"and the small versions are "beurre sticks" or even, if the speaker is a real geek, as "emulsifiers." I don't have any insights into its origins, but I HAVE heard the term "all day" used in one other , but similar context-when playing Horse, a poker-type game played with dice which are shaken in a cup and WHANGED down on the bar-so you might say, " I got a pair of fours all day,"and you really mean right then-ish.
  13. Wow, this is interesting! As an occasional soda drinker who dislikes too-sweet beverages I'd like to try some of this stuff-I live in the hinterlands so probably I will have to wait a while before it becomes available here....Hearing about the Meyer lemon flavor reminds me of Schweppe's Bitter Lemon-it used to be sold in the mixer section of grocery stores but I haven't seen it in years.
  14. dave s.

    Unripe mangoes

    Green mangos are kind of an east/west thing, enjoyed in south and central America as well as the Orient...my favorite way to eat them is a riff from a Colombian friend of mine with a bit of an Eastern spin- I shred the mangos with my cheapo plastic mandoline, toss the shreds with olive oil, rice vinegar and a bit of salt and fresh black pepper-just a bit of sriracha or Tabasco is good, or hold the hot stuff and it makes a nice foil for spicy foods-it's pretty as well and makes a good garnish!
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