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Everything posted by mskerr

  1. Definitely want to hit up Peached Tortilla, Chilantro, and Ramen Tatsuya!
  2. I have eaten a few meals at East Side King (different locations), I definitely enjoy it though wouldn't say I've been blown away just yet... I find the ramen to be a huge portion (for me). Always some really good & interesting food for less than $10, it's just that instead of thinking "f**k this is so delicious" I always think "hmm this is interesting" - just doesn't hit me immediately as delicious, which is the reaction I'm hoping for. And cheap-ass roach coaches unfailingly provide for $5. I have to think there's heaps of great food in Austin for less than $10. I mean, it's the land of food trailers and Mex and Tex-Mex! And I hear great things about Uchi and Uchiko and met someone who cooks at Uchiko... and while I'm not exactly sure about the menu, I can say that three of the few things I don't enjoy eating are sushi, wasabi, or fancy-pants plates with paint-brush stokes of condiments. Not into it one bit, am a real down-to-earth chick and like my food extremely "approachable" as Michael Simon would say, and don't care to spend a single dollar for any presentation that is strictly about looks and fashion rather than function. (Probably dipping my foot into a much bigger debate here, but that's my taste and I would love recommendations based on it.) So I am all about the $1.25 roach coach tacos at the least romantic locations, and also, I have a tiny stomach, so I can rarely actually eat $10 worth of (unfancy) food.
  3. Have just spent 2 years living in a tiny town where I couldn't even get a decent burger (very strange, considering it was blue-collar ranching country, and there were cattle grazing on my property), let alone kimchi ramen or poached quail eggs or smoked tea or whatever. Have just moved to Austin, which I think has a pretty hip food scene, compared to where I've been living, although I guess food people here reckon it's always a few years behind NY or whatever. Long story short: what are the food trends right now? What is quickly becoming passe? What do you predict will be the next trends? Edited to add: Related info, on the hot up-and-coming chefs, restaurants, cookbooks, etc are all gladly appreciated as well!
  4. Am spending some extended time in Austin. I don't call myself a foodie, but other people do. I have been living in the sticks the last couple years while reading all about food trends and drooling on my keyboard. I am also on a tight budget and am looking for food in the $5-10 range, of which there should be plenty in Austin. On a special occasion, I will consider spending more but I don't know that I've ever ordered something that costs more than $20, and hardly ever even $15. I would prefer to eat from a trailer than brick and mortar. Whatcha got?
  5. Well, have started serving FT after only doing some temp stints over the last few years. Most of my experience has been in a (busy) small restaurant where there was no computer (just hand-write a ticket for the one cook) so it's a bit of an adjustment getting used to being in a larger-capacity restaurant with only one computer to put in orders, often with a hostess on it most of the night, and making sure the printer is working and the pasta station got the order etc. So - what to do on the unfortunate occasion when you realize "oh sh*t I just told these people their food will be up in a few minutes (classic line) and I forgot to put in their order?" I apologized sincerely (without telling them it was my fault... for reference, they saw me running around, obviously busy, but also probably saw a table who came in a bit later get their food much quicker) and brought them a free round of wine, but needless to say they weren't happy. What else could I have done to smooth things over? Sigh - feel like a noob all over again! Gotta get back in the groove!
  6. I am hopefully going to be making a big move (aka halfway across the world) in the next couple months. I've got some sorta silly questions. I have an awesome mortar and pestle (the Cilio Goliath) which weighs 11 pounds. Can I carry this on the plane? It would be too heavy for checked baggage, and too heavy to mail, and I'm rather attached to it, though it seems like a silly thing to lug around. I also have my two babies, my enameled cast iron Lodge dutch ovens - 3 qt and 6.5 qt. Again, probably ridiculously expensive to mail, and they'd probably get all roughed up in checked baggage... How do I transport these?? Is there any hope? Now, my food processor I imagine I can bring - check the bottom part in my baggage, and maybe carry the plastic part in my carry on. Or mail it, since it's lightweight. Those are the main big things I would love to take with me. The other things (chef's knife, instant thermometer, cutting board, small utensil, mandoliner...) can easily fit into my checked bag or be mailed. I am going to have some weird luggage. Or is this more common than I think?
  7. How widely is tourneeing used, and what is the point? Is it just for visual appeal? For uniformity when cooking? I never do it at home, as to me it seems a bit wasteful, cutting off perfectly good pieces of ingredients...
  8. The english muffin seems to be a debate in the burger community. (But then, what isn't debated?) Lots of places use it -Prune comes to mind - but I've also heard at least one chef say "hey! A muffin is not a bun!" It definitely works though, and usually makes me want to add canadian bacon and a fried egg to my burger. Yum.
  9. Maybe I am hung-up the usual round burger shape. It makes sense to just get the best roll for the job and work around that, huh?
  10. I've looked for these at a few supermarkets but no luck! Is it more of an east coast thing? Or do I just live in the boonies?
  11. That's exactly what I do and what I've been telling others to do, and will keep doing it. (Apparently dough scrapers work well too) I have never read or seen anything by Jamie Oliver, but yesterday I was watching knife skills videos on YouTube, and he said to drag the knife across the board, as did some other random chef... I was extremely skeptical.
  12. More questions: 1- I shudder when someone drags my knife across the cutting board (say, to move ingredients over to the side), but just saw some knife skills videos where famous chefs recommend doing exactly this. Does it or does it not dull the knife? 2 - Really really stupid question - what size/shape should I be chopping my lettuce and veggies into for a salad? (Like carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, cucumbers...) Or should I be tearing lettuce by hand into bite-size pieces? Sometimes my salads are very ungraceful to eat because there's the pieces are too long or big, other times, it ends up more like a chopped salad because there's so many small pieces. Not that this bothers me at home, but I applied for a job involving making salads, so I need to know the more proper way to make them. 3 - In a country obsessed with burgers, why can't I find a decent hamburger bun that doesn't fall apart or get soggy? I don't live near any artisanal bakeries or anything, so I am limited to a small but good supermarket. The supermarket doesn't carry Arnold's, which I've seen recommended a lot. (I usually make double-double style burgers, but also lamb burgers and other types.) 4 - You know when businesses sell sandwiches that are like five inches tall, or burgers that are seven inches tall, or ridiculously wet, messy, dripping sandwiches? How is anyone supposed to eat one of these? Why would you sell a sandwich that has to be completely reconstructed to fit into the customer's mouth? Or a sandwich that is going to fall apart after two bites? 5 - Is there a difference between stuffing and "savory bread pudding"?
  13. What is the difference between all-meat Texas chili and Chili con carne? Is there any?
  14. If you're seeing a dramatic flame up, then water is not what's being used to douse the grilling food. I'm pretty sure it's water because it looks like it creates a lot of steam... could the flare up be from the water making contact with hot fat drippings? Edited cuz I put "flame" instead of "steam"
  15. Inspired by the "absurdly simple cooking questions" & the couple other iterations on the topic... I have heaps of simple-bordering-on-stupid restaurant questions. I usually forget to write them down, though... they will come back to me though! To start: I thought with proper BBQ/grilling, you didn't want flames to touch the meat directly - just the smoke. Is this so? I've seen at BBQ restaurants where they keep dousing the meat with water, and you get a nice dramatic flame and lots of smoke, but is this mostly for effect, and does it actually dry out the meat?
  16. Luckily, I spend wayyy longer on cover letters and resumes than OPs! Though they often both take me a ridiculous amount of time.
  17. Great input, cheers! Luckily the woman training me seems like a great server, so I am trying to learn as much as possible from her before she leaves soon. I myself prefer very friendly, very casual service, as I am not a fussy person and feel uncomfortable/bad having anyone do something for me I can do for myself (like when people at a hotel open the door for me). I don't need to be fussed over at all, just to have things arrive in a reasonably timely matter with sincere friendliness. I can't stand when really grumpy servers/employees in general pretend to be smiley and their smiles just look aggressive and you can tell they're actually really miserable and would way rather not be interacting with you. So easy to see through! And, you know, a good sense of humor goes a long way, and just in general being down-to-earth. So, I think this is the baseline I strive for when serving, and like everyone has been saying, I just gotta read tables individually and see whether to tone down the friendliness a bit and mostly leave them alone, or whether to interact a bit more... Good fun. Luckily, it isn't life-or-death. If I unintentionally peeve someone, well so be it. I just hope to not commit any unintentional serious faux-pas, but you know, it isn't brain surgery, no one's going to die if something little gets a bit fudged. Well, I certainly hope not anyway!
  18. Guaranteed that if I ask for the check and it doesn't show up for another 15 minutes your tip has just gone down. If the place is insane busy I'll take that into consideration, but if it's a normal night you just lost some tip money. No worries, that is not a problem for me. Probably because I am used to busy restaurants where we need to get the people who are waiting for a table and getting increasingly edgy seated before the next tip starts to drop before service has even begun. Also, why make people wait? It seems pretty simple to get it done... although there can be delays I suppose if the computer is backed up or if you're working in a restaurant that still does everything on a calculator (!), but I will still try to get everything out as quickly as possible.
  19. Everybody understands that when you're approaching a table engaged in lively conversation, you make a choice. You decide whether to behave in a considerate manner as you would if those people actually were your "guests"; or to aggressively stride right up and start talking as loudly as possible in order to shut them all up, even before your second foot is firmly planted tableside. Right this is what I'm trying to get more details on... the second "choice" is not a choice for me, as I'm just not that assertive or arrogant (I hope!) and again, want patrons to have a great time. And I'm nowhere near that important that I can't forego time to ensure someone has a good experience. SO, say that people ARE boorishly talking on and on - say they're twentysomething suburban yuppies trying to prove their foodie credentials to each other and talking non-stop about every little foodie-approved dish they've ever eaten (sweetbreads! cherrywood-smoked duck!) and just showing off obscure knowledge on all sorts of topics throughout the ENTIRE 2+ hours they are at the restaurant. Say, to illustrate their self-absorption, they have to be regretfully informed that the restaurant is closed because apparently such intelligent, perceptive up-and-coming dining experts such as themselves cannot ascertain this simple fact from the many, many clues over the past hour or so, nor the stated hours of operation. Say that these people make no effort whatsoever to acknowledge the server at any time during service, and are probably the fussy types who, even if the server stood there for 60 seconds unobtrusively, politely waiting for a story to finish, would go online and right some yelp review about how the server was overbearing and constantly hanging around the table while we were trying to converse with each other. What is the considerate way to proceed in a situation like this? (Granted, most tables seem to be a lot simpler, this was just a particularly self-involved table while I was trailing during my training shift the other night. I figure it's a good cast-study for tact in somewhat tricky situations and need some specific advice from people more experienced than I!)
  20. Great way to succinctly say it all, Mjx, thanks again for your great input.
  21. Nice. Yes, for a while I wasn't sure at all how to present my work history in a flattering light, since as you say, it can sound flaky - or it can sound like a well-rounded person who has experience in many different areas, is adaptable, and is as comfortable, say flipping hash as helping teach college courses, and who not only serves wine at work but has worked on a vineyard, and so on. (I suppose it also does show a wee bit of intelligence if a person can spell out what they learned from different experiences, and how they all contribute so some sort of trajectory, rather than just saying "this is what I've done dude," and presenting a resume that looks like a bunch of random stuff thrown together on a page.) So, yes, like you say, I emphasize that I worked a position for the whole season, rather than just putting down 6 months; or that I worked all sorts of different short-term jobs while traveling; or different assigned positions while in college. I also write about how every job, no matter how seemingly unrelated, has taught me different skills that I can bring to my current job, and similarly, having worked different jobs in the food industry ultimately helps me be a better, say, server. (I understand what's going on in BOH, and don't think food magically appears on the pass - this is not how I word it on a cover letter, by the way.) I also am glad that my references would happily say that I came into different jobs with no previous experience but learned quicker than most/all of the other people with no experience... and the chef on my references would probably say I was the most helpful server he worked with, as I would happily & voluntarily do anything I could to help him when he was in the weeds, including washing dishes for him, plating, etc. Of course, if people understand his accent over his babies screaming in the background is another matter SO I guess back to my main question: what sort of resumes do hiring managers encounter? (Again, not for the French Laundry...) I take it from what you're saying, pastrygirl, that a couple of short-term stints need not be held against me, so long as I make the legit reasons behind them obvious - whereas a resume that was a laundry-list of very short stints, where the only reason is "better money" or "the boss sucked" or the like, would not look very flash to any but the most desperate hiring managers. In general, I suppose the benefit of cover letters and resumes is that, to an extent, you can interpret your working history and make it work for you, as opposed to the generic application form where the manager is just going to see 3 months here and 6 months there and assume you're not a very serious employee.
  22. I couldn't agree more. I hate arrogance, period, and especially in servers (since our job is about SERVING, and hence is about the customer, not about ourselves and our overblown egos - BIG pet peeve), as well as diners, whether I'm the server or a fellow diner (just because you're paying for dinner doesn't make you the Queen of England, don't get carried away thinking the entire world revolves around you.) Granted, when I'm the server, it's my job to try to deal with arrogant diners as tactfully and cheerfully as possible and to try to give them a good experience. (When I'm a fellow diner, it boils my blood). While I am pretty impatient and have a quick tongue in my normal life, at work I try to be really patient and seriously do care about providing good service and that the customer has a great experience - if I didn't, I wouldn't be spending my non-working hours asking about server etiquette online. I cannot recall ever being rude to a table, or interrupting them loudly, or showing that they are wasting my time, etc, etc. So, I think we're on the same side. I ranted a bit about a separate pet peeve, which is that since working as a server, I can tell when I'm dining with people who have no idea that they're wasting the servers' time - and I'm thinking specifically about the lovely, unobtrusive servers that give exactly the great, thoughtful service you want, Jaymes, and who are way too polite to interrupt or do anything other than stand there politely and wait. Of course, some people just don't realize that the server does, actually, have other things to do than politely stand there for minutes. I really don't think they are trying to wasting the server's time or being intentionally rude, I honestly think, having not worked in restaurants, they really have no idea they're doing it. So that was just a sort of unrelated tangent. My question still stands: What is the tactful way to interact with a table when they seriously never stop talking??
  23. What if someone has six-month cooking stints (thus not meeting your one-year criteria) because the restaurants are in a resort town and are only open 6 months of the year? While I might SOUND flaky, it's not the case, as anyone who knows me well would attest. I don't aspire to have heaps of 2 or 3 months gigs. At this point, I have a couple 6-month gigs, because as noted above, the restaurants were only open for six months a year, plus two weeks at a job before I realized I didn't want to get yelled at in Turkish incessantly for the next six months (also, the visa limited work to six months), and one month at a job before I decided, despite my best efforts, that I could not work for such a crazy boss. Those last two I consider extended job trials, and will take the skills I picked up from them and happily leave them off my resume. Now I am at a job which I expect to only last a few months before I can move to somewhere with lots of restaurant jobs and ideally find a cooking gig to stay at for a while, as I would love to have a cooking mentor and learn as much as possible. SO my question isn't "hey, man, will I be sweet with like lots of 2 month jobs cuz like everyone does it?" but rather, will ONE or at the most, two, 3-month stints on a resume necessarily be strikes against me, or is it pretty normal (though as you point out, not necessarily desirable) in the restaurant business? My natural impulse as a non-flake is to leave jobs off of the resume that aren't for, say, half a year or so, but after reading several threads on here, including the recent "rethinking tipping culture" one where many people talk about how FOH & BOH will often jump ship in a second for greener pastures at the slightest sign of more money, I got to wondering how many resumes must have heaps of short term gigs and, perhaps, in comparison mine is no big deal. I would think there are lots of good reasons for a short-term job: in college here in the US, we were usually assigned work-study jobs every term. Terms only run 10-15 weeks. Then there's summer break which is like 4 months. Then, being a seasonal town, there's lots of jobs that only run for 6 months. Then there's jobs while backpacking, which are assumed to be short term. Or if you have a family emergency and have to go home for a few months, and need to make money while you're there. Etc etc. Also, I would note that one person may learn more in 6 months at a job than others would in 2 years. On a random note, in an ideal world, perhaps there would be some sort of +/- rating, gauging how you compare to the average employee at a particular restaurant. While I only worked 6 months at a previous job, that was approximately 5.5 months longer than the average employee, and at my current work, if I stayed 3 months, there'd be a good chance I was the senior employee by the time I left. The two weeks at the Turkish restaurant is probably about average, and the one month at the other cafe is certainly pretty normal as well. Edited to add: To help clarify more - in the title to the my post "Are frequent FOH/BOH jobs normal?" - I wasn't referring to myself. I don't have may different FOH/BOH jobs at all. I was asking, since I am naive as stated above about the restaurant business, is this what hiring managers often encounter? What is the norm in the business? What does the competition look like? Make sense?
  24. Yes I can, actually. Question though: what if you're serving a table where the people are ALWAYS talking and there's never a good moment to ask a question, and you don't want to hover around awkwardly? Actually, when I'm dining out, I have the reverse pet peeve - when the server is standing there obviously ready to take our order and the people at the table - the more, the worse - just keep blabbing on about silly sh*t to each other and don't even acknowledge that she's standing there politely waiting. It's like, this woman has other stuff to do rather than watch our silly antics. Similarly, when people make the server stand there while they peruse the drink or food entire menu when they don't know what they want, instead of just asking for a few minutes. Or any iteration on the "wasting the server's time" theme. Not because I have worked FOH and think I'm all-important, but because I empathize with how busy servers can be and find that some people just have no awareness of the fact that the server does have heaps more to do than simply attend to their own table. I know the job of a server is -duh - to provide pleasant and efficient service, and to help create a good dining experience for patrons, but it's also nice if patrons realize that by monopolizing their server's time, they are detracting from their fellow patron's dining experiences.
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