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Edward J

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  1. I'm one of the 99% restaurant owners who just grins and bears it. Early this spring we were "love bombed" by some kind of Yelp rep. from California (we're in Vancouver, Canada). First snail mail wanting our advertising money, which we ignored. E-mails automatically went into the delete file. Then the phone calls. But when the screen on the phone reads "Yelp, Cal. USA we don't bother picking up. Whoever it was, they were persistent and kept this up for well over 2 mths. My main beef with Yelp is the reviews--they are not edited before being put on the site. Something about a "logorythm" or program that "edits" the review and decides if it's genuine or not. If the review was written by someone with no previous history with yelp, it gets taken down. My "review" as it was, was a 4 pager written by a nutbar who didn't order anything or even sit down, but everything from the door handle of our place to the neighborhood and gentrification was in the review, just nothing about food, service, or prices. Now, how do you deal with Groupon?
  2. So this is your first blush with an event planner, and it's pretty typical compared to other caterers, pastry people, and photography/videography people. In your first post it seemed your gut feeling was that something smelled--and it wasn't soap. The best way out of this--I didn't say easiest, I said best-- is to get your friend to call it off. If you do, she will never leave you alone. What comes as natural as breathing to caterers in this scenerio is the "Call", as in Poker call. It goes like this: "Hi X, are we still on for the 16th? I need to know because I'm working on another quote for the same day. I want to be fair and diplomatic about this, so the first client who can put down a 10% deposit first gets me!" Ah... but she is your friend AND she has "sent business your way". A 99% chance she'll lay the guilt trip on you and remind you of all the business she "gave" you. Your response? "But X, you never told me about this big event coming up! Providing you with ________ is definately do-able, but I need to know before hand. If you would have told me, I could have adjusted the pricing on those contracts and covered my costs for this upcoming event." Whatever you do, negoatiate your way out, and let "her" call it off.
  3. In my experience, with a fundraiser (sort of like a taste of the town event), it helps to get your name out there, and can be useful for reaching a large group of potential customers. Doing it to get contacts rarely turns up anything useful for you; it's helpful for the friend because they get free stuff. A lot of people think their event will help promote you, but typically the return on the investment is very very low. A free advertisement in the event brochure doesn't count. My experience was a bit different. If I provide food+services for a charity for free, the only contact I will get from that event is contact from other charities looking for freebies. I call it Murphy's law. When I do give freebies (items for auctions, raffles, etc) I specifically request that my name remain anonymous. If I find out that my business name was used, I will not donate again to that charity or event planner.
  4. I don't understand... You will be providing X dollars worth of food and labour. What is your compensation? If your client can't give you a straight answer and can only mumble something about "advertising" or "potential" clients or business, then it's obvious: They're just looking to get freebies. I passed up a "Golden opportunity" last year, and was contacted to contribute abut $1500.00 worth of product for "grab bags" at a film festival, to be handed out to dignitaries. I declined "What do you mean, No? "X"( big name hot-shot actor, Vancouver's no stranger to big shot actors/esses) will be there. Don't you want "X" to sample your product? And "y" too, you remember "y" in that movie where she...." I blankly told them that X and Y had enough money to buy my product, and didn't need freebies. I give a lot to charities, especially at christmas, and work for free with kids in school programs, but other than that, it's like that bumper sticker from the '70's "Cash, A**, or grass. No one rides for free"....
  5. Look, pasteurization--when used for milk for example, typically is brought to a temperature of 72 C (161 F) for 16 seconds and then brought down rapidly to 4 C (36 F). The rapid cooling is part and parcel of the pasteurization process. Even then it (milk) needs constant refrigeration at 4 C to prevent spoilage.
  6. Not flash chilling stocks is a gamble. If you cook at home and can not be held liable or responsible for poisoning someone, great, do what you like, but do respect your guests and their functioning digestive systems. If, however you cook for a living and can be held responsible for food poisoning, it is prudent to take every precaution, and flash chilling is very cheap and takes very little time to do so. Bacteria multiply at temperatures between 70-100 F. Even if you can guarantee that your stock is 100% bacteria free and leave it cool down over a 4 hr period you will get contamination--usually from air borne mold spores and air borne bacteria, not to mention foreign objects dropping in. If you think you can cool down stock by just slamming a lid on the pot and leave it to sit out on the counter for 4 hours or overnight, you will find the lid vacummed tightly on the pot and the stock smelling "off" next morning. Do NOT forget, that prior to the 1990's all labs grew bacteria cultures in petri dishes that were lined with a thin layer of protein rich gelatine--very similiar to meat stocks. Once again, it is stupid not to flash chill. It is stupid to put hot stocks into a 3-4 cu foot insulated box with airtight seals (a.k.a. a refrigerator) and expect everything in that box to maintain a 36 degree temperature, it is stupid not to expect bacteria to multiply when perishables are kept at temperatures above 38-40 F. Did I mention the word "Stupid" enough???? Ice paddles are ideal to cool down stocks when used in combination with a cold water/ice bath. Many people just fill up 2 lt pop bottles or milk jugs with water and freeze them beforehand instead of purchasing a ice paddle
  7. I've been using them for a few years now. Quality is good as long as your quantities are over 1-2000 pcs. Shipping can take some time if your stuff is held up at customs, but if not, 4-6 weeeks. We've got about 8 or 9 box mnfctrs here in Vancoouver, but they are all waaaaay too expensive r want quantitites of 10,000 per item. Oh, and thier mysterious "die set up fees"....
  8. The pros use shellac--a totally organic type of varnish (bug guts and 200 proof alcohol). It doesn't remove odours, but it seals odours into the wood so they don't transfer. Furniture pros use tis to block off smoke and perfume odours in furniture and pet urine dours on hardwoood floors.
  9. From the view of any producer looking to export their goods: U.S.A. = 1 (one ) country E.U = what, 27? Countries? Don't know if Croatia currently is or not. So here's a decision to make: Adopt one standard for one country, or adopt 1 standard for 27 countries. Does that make sense?
  10. Cold water and a cheapo plastic pastry scraper. These are typically given by pastry suppliers to commerecial kitchens as a freebie/advertising gimmick.
  11. I thought we were talking about food products from mainland China? The restaurants in Vancouver, as with the stores, are buying a lot of fresh produce and products locally. For instance Wing Tat grows quail and black silky chicken, there are many local fresh noodle mnfctrs, the same with soy products. Beef, pork and chicken are local. But when you're here, you HAVE to check out the mooncake selection at T & T supermarkets, Lee Kum Kee used to have, don't know if they still do, a mnfctring palnt in S'pore, on Pandan Loop where all the other big mnfctrs are.
  12. I spend quite a bit of time in Chinese food stores. I don't know about your city, but in Vancouver a large portion--well over 50% of the store's inventory is not from mainland China. Most of the fresh produce is locally grown, true, the giant 2-lb carrots, garlic, and ginger are from China, but most of the other produce is not. Fresh meat is local. Many of the specialty meats (Chinese sausage) are local made. Frozen seafood can come from China, but also Vietnam, Thailand or the Philipines. Most of the soy products are locally made. Bottled beverages from all over Asia. Many bottled condiments are from Lee Kum Kee (S'pore) or Yeo Hap Seng (S'pore) Maggi and Knorr products are manufactured in other parts of Asia. The ubiquitous frozen won-ton wrappers are not from mainland China, and Taiwan is supplying quite a bit of high-end value added food products. Look, right now is Moon cake festival. The Asian grocery chain that I supply my stuff to (30 stores, bought out by Loblaws two years ago) is now featuring a mind-boggling display of over 200 different types of moon cakes, it's is just wild, and I really suggest you check it out at some of your Chinese stores. Look at the labeling, many are manufactured locally, many from Hong Kong, and many from S'pore, and Taiwan.
  13. BBC = British Broadcasting Corporation, aka "Beebs" CBC = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Sample size? Are we conducting an authorized or paid for survey? Did you want to foot the bill? How many Chinese nationals do I speak to? On a daily basis? Maybe 4 or 5. Monthy? Maybe 40 or 50. I o/o a chocolate and pastry business and I deal with customers daily. I don't speak Mandarin or Cantonese (there is no such thing as "chinese". but my partner does. Where do Chinese nationals do grocery shopping? Wherever they want to, I guess. They buy chocolates and pastries from me. Many of them also swear up and down that they won't buy any Chinese food products. What does the fact that Chinese nationals reside in vancouver have to do with food safety? Many customers I've spoken to tell me it was either move out of Beijing or become chronically Ill, as with many other large cities.
  14. For a manual citrus juicer made of robust materials and costing in the neighborhood of $250.00 It should last at least 10 years. I gotta admit, they look classy sitting on a back bar. The lever operated one has no moving parts. True, the levers rotate on pins, but there's no rack and pinion to wear out. The Orange X is also made of enameled cast iron, I think, and is a bit heavier and more robust than the H.B. If you want to "kick some tires" so to speak, go to any restaurant supply store and I can almost guarantee you they will have the H.B. model on display with all the bar stuff.
  15. Had a Hamilton Beach manual one, used it commercially for about 4 years. Rack and pinion work well, but they are moving parts and will wear eventually. Biggest damage I did to the juicer was to knock it off a shelf, it pushed the rack and pinion a bit out of alignment and it wore the rack prematurely. Thing about Hamilton Beach is that you can rebuild the juicer, all parts are readily available. If I have to buy another juicer, it will be a lever type.
  16. Yes cast iron absorbs heat, and so does copper, as does heavy aluminum. But heavy copper ware doesn't "respond quickly". Think about it: Copper is a heavy, dense material and takes time to heat up, so it will also take time to cool down. Thin materials will "respond quickly": Put them on the heat and they heat up immediately, take them off the heat and they cool down immediately. Responsive. Let's say you're sauteing off beef chunks for stew in a copper frying pan, and you want a nice gold brown colour on the meat. You can load the pan to maximum with meat chunks (but not overcrowding the pan) and you will get consistent browning with no "hot spots" (right around the heat source) or "Cool spots" (away from the heat source). Do this with a thin frying pan of almost any material and you will get hot spots and cool spots, and once you load the pan with meat, it will behave much differently from a heavy copper pan, taking much longer for the same effect. Heavy copper pans are used for consistent heating, which is why they are so popular for cooking sugar. You can find small 2-4 qt sauce pan style copper pans made specifially for sugar cooking in mst pastry kitchens, as well as large "Bowl shaped" pots with handles that sit on an open burner like fudge makers use. The reason copper is chosen is specifically because of even heating with no hot spots or cold spots.
  17. Think of a copper pan like a battery--but instead of storing electricity, it stores heat.
  18. Of course not. But if regulations are agreed upon and then disregarded at least you have a reason to ban imports, or to persue legal action. What regulations are in place currently to prevent food adulteration?
  19. Forgot the last question. Why? Because China DOES export a lot of food. At any grocery store here in Vancouver, I can buy the enormous 2 lb carrots, chinese garlic, ginger, Lytchees, logans, mandarin oranges, etc. If I choose to. Should there be a food scandal with Chinese fruits and vegetables, or meat, poultry, or poultry products in the future, importing countries will want some kind of a guarantee that guidlines and procedures are being adhered to. I could have written that China would adopt USDA regulations, but these regulations only deal with one country, EU regulations cover many, many countries.
  20. Firstly, I lived in S'pore from 1991-1996, and have gone back for visits every 2-3 years since then. I also worked in Hotels and private clubs as a Chef (that is, one who does ordering, purchasing, sourcing, and dealing with purveyors), so I have a good idea of what foods are available in S'pore. By "WE" I mean the e-gulleters who have subscribed to this thread. My "Sources" come from: BBC radio news CBC Radio news First hand accounts from Chinese nationals who are now residing in Vancouver. (Vancouver has an extremely large concentration of mainland Chinese) Firsthand accounts from S'porean nationals who lived/worked in Beijing during the summer Olympics. All of these sources agree on three items: The first is that the milk powder was intentionally adultered, it was not contaminated through ignorance. The second was that it was adultered to boost the vitamin content. Not all sources agree that higher prices were commanded for milk powder with higher vitamin content. And the third is that at least one suicide from the milk powder plant management is attributed to the scandal. What does this have to do with the Olympics? Quite simply, Prestige, reputation. I have many humerous anecdotes from S'poreans that relate to the "education" of Beijing residents a good year prior to the Olympics reminding them not to expectorate or urinate in public areas, and of "food police" cracking down on questionable eateries. Most of the "sources" agree that the scandal was hushed up until after the Olympics to avert a world-wide publicized (and televised) scandal. Many of the dried foods (i.e. assorted fungi, dried vegetables, and various herbs) are viewed as medicine. Virtually every Chinese family has "recipies" of "tonics" that are made from stewing chickens (or meaty pork bones) with assorted herbs for most common ailments. Vancouver and suburbs have thier share of TCM 's (traditional Chinese medicine practitioners) who diagnose ailments, and subscribe and dispense the various herbs. An increasing number of Caucasians are using these services, and there are an increasing number of Caucasian licensced TCM's. Most of the herbs and fungi available in both Vancouver and S'pore orginate from mainland China. Why this is so, and why many people believe that dried foods from China are somehow immune to food poisoning is beyond me. Drying foods is one of the most ancient, basic preservation methods common to virtually all peoples. The methods First Nations people (U.S. American Indian) use to dry salmon is eerily similiar to the methods Chinese use. Deliberatly adultering dried foods after processing for the purpose of resale is difficult to do. Water is life, and if you remove 85%-90% of water from foodstuffs, even the most basic forms of life like bacteria, can not spoil food. A fact virtually every army and explorer around the world has taken advantage of.
  21. It's a bit more complicated than that, Pedro. Not all States in the US have a "tipping wage", but the ones that do have it set waaay below minimum wage, and in some States is it well below $3.00/hr. But think about it for a minute. In order to get a tipping wage you have to acknowledge that a minimum wage exists before you can go below it, and then you have to lobby to get it made into law. Who holds such clout? Secondly, you have to realize that serving is not a "real" job in N. America, it's just something to pay the bills until something better comes along. Because of this attitude, there is no standard/benchmark for servers--unlike most parts in Europe where a server completes a (usually) 2 year apprenticeship. No standards/benchmarks for the profession, no salary scale. Hence the (successful) lobby effort to get a tipping wage. Things are different in Europe.....
  22. Thanks for all the replies. I still have some fondant left over, had a peek this morning and it is still very pliable and has a smooth, almost plastic mouthfeel to it. It's been close to a week now since I made it, and have it stuffed in a 1 ltr honey pail and tight fitting lid. I don't have much use for fondant, but now that I have made it, I'll be doing it again--in the 30 qt. Thanks again, I'll be checking out the chef eddy site.
  23. Every year I get an order for 150 Napolian slices, and since it is for Swiss customers, they are very specific about how a "real" napolian slice should be. This means among other things, it should be glazed with white fondant and streaked with dark chocolate lines. In previous years I could order fondant in 2 lb containers, now it is only available in 20 ltr (5 gal) buckets, waaaay too much for me to use, even in a year. I figured what the heck, I'll make some. Took a recipie out of P. Grewling's "Confections & Choc." and followed it all the way up to slapping it around with a spatula by hand for 20 mins on a marble slab. Yes, I am lazy, and I was also seriously concerned about breaking the spatula, that stuff gets very stiff, even before it turns white. I have seen commercial fondant mixers, kind of two marble wheels slapping the fondant around. I don't have one of those, but I do have.... I figured, what the heck, and scraped the whole mess into the 30 qt mixer with the paddle and let 'er rip on first speed until it stiffened up and turned white--10 mins. I put this in a bucket and let it "ripen" overnight. Next day I heated some up with a bit of syrup, and glazed my puff sheets. It behaved very nicely. I put the napolian "logs" in freezer to firm up before slicing--the fondant behaved like a gentleman and did not weep or melt. I saved some scraps and stuck them in the fridge for two days, the puff obviously sogged up and the cream filling dried a bit, but the fondant was still in great shape. So why does Grewling insist on slapping the fondant around by hand when you can do it in a mixer?
  24. Can't say about H.K. or Macao, as I have never visited those islands (well, excluding a few 4 hr stopovers in H.K., but I never left the airport...) I did say most of the dairy avialable in S'pore comes from Australia and N.Z., as these countries have a somewhat cooler climate, a lot of beef, lamb and mutton is imported from there as well. True, some dairy does come from neighboring Malaysia, but the milk cows there are usually kept in a/c barns and the overall quality of dairy products is not the same. Actually, my father in law had one of the last farms in S'pore, the Gov't bought out /kicked him out in the early '80's. They raised duck, chicken, and fish, nothing is grown in S'pore now. Most produce, poultry, meat, and dry goods in S'pore comes from Malaysia, via the bridge in J.B. (Johor Bahru), the very same bridge the Japanese used in WWII to enter and occupy S'pore, and a lot of produce comes from neighboring Indonasia as well. While working in the hotels in S'pore, I had the luxury of ordering just about any ingredient I wanted--with the exception of poppy seeds and bubble gum. No tariffs or import duties on food products from Europe, N.America, or any other place. I could get USDA prime 109a's (prime rib) Avoset cream, HaagenDazs icecream, Swiss joghurt, French cheeses, German bakery products, etc, etc. These products are widely available in NTUC and other grocery stores as well.
  25. Having lived in S'pore for 5 years, I can't agree with that statement. Dairy almost always comes from Australia or N.Z., with some coming from Malaysia, produce comes from Malaysia, Indonaisa, Taiwan, Thailand, and yes, some of it comes from China, meat and poultry coming from the same sources. S'poreans have the same negative reaction to mainland Chinese food products as we do, although dried foods and herbs/medicines are viewed much differently. I really think we have to look at the whole picture of food production and inspection in China. The melamine in milk powder was a classic example. Doctors knew there was poisoning, and knew it was coming from the milk powder. They took their findings to the Gov't, they were told to shut up (with the usual threats and consequences) until after the Beijing summer Olympics were over. Many infants died and many more still suffer from internal organ damage. Relatively innocent companies like "White Rabbit" candies suffered immense damage. For the Chinese Gov't to impliment E.U. standards on export food products is very difficult, if not downright impossible.
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