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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Chad

  1. Ingrid, lovely article. Thank you. My HOCAS experience: I used to hang out at a wonderful restaurant in Greenville, SC, called Tahoe South. The kitchen was run by chef Deron Little -- a truly visionary and talented cook. I loved him dearly. I ate too few meals and spent too much time at the bar, I now realize. But I developed a friendship with the whole kitchen and wait staff. Beautifull messes, each and every one, from Gretchen the hostess, on whom I had a wholly inappropriate crush, to Randy the waiter, who had a wholly inappropriate crush on me . I spent many, many nights closing down after-hours bars and in general debauchery with all of them. I was out with potential clients one early afternoon, trying to woo them with my suave style and sophisticated business sense, when one of them suggested that we consumate the deal over lunch and asked what I'd recommend. Without thinking I blurted out Tahoe South. It was only after a moment's consideration that I realized what I had done. This was a place where the bartender had not one but two glasses of wine waiting for me at the bar come 6:00 every day -- the first swilled quickly to clear my head of corporate goo -- to be followed by many more. They greeted me like Norm at Cheers, and I generally had to fend off a couple of bizarre and ear-reddening advances from the gay waiters before I was able to sit down. I began to sweat. When we arrived, Gretchen, the hostess, took one look at me in my suit and tie (actually tied for the first time in her experience) and said, "Ah, Mr. Ward, so good to see you again. Your usual table?" They proceeded to treat me like a serious VIP. Deron, the chef, sent out amuses and later stopped by the table to check on our meal. The staff was so courteous and attentive that you would have thought that the future of the restaurant depended on my slightest nod of approval. It was, in short, the most astounding restaurant experience that I've ever had. The food was spectacular, and the service was something you'd only ever experience in three-star places that require a Swiss bank account number before taking a reservation. My clients, needless to say, were seriously impressed. The deal has long come and gone, but I will always remember the way a group of the most twisted misfits -- my friends -- sized up the situation in an instant and made me feel like (and look like) the most important person on earth. I will always love them for that. Chad
  2. Yup, looks about like Jack & Sarah's lunch menus. We let the kids have hot lunch once or twice a week, and they generally choose crap days, but we're pretty much okay with that. Breakfasts & dinners are solid and healthy (for the most part , we do have softball, volleyball, everyotherkindoftball and Sarah's social schedule to contend with; she has a better social life than my wife and I combined!). I do have to admit to a certain morbid fascination with Turkey Fryz? WTF? Chad
  3. Howdy, Mark, welcome to eGullet. You'll find some fairly serious linguists here (as well as some of us who just dabble for the fun of it -- like me, a refugee from the Great Semiotics Scare of the mid-80s). So, what do you think? Menu writing as cultural posing? As necessary descriptor of tradition-breaking cuisine? As a substitute for a standardized cultural vocabulary of recognized dishes? Or maybe its nothing more than chefs and restaurateurs who say, "Thomas Keller does it, so we should, too" without recognizing Keller's sense of play -- with language as well as food. Chad
  4. Heretic! Bad Parent! Pawn of the Culinary-Industrial Complex! Okay, we'd all like to think we're paragons of virture. Well, I am, anyway , but Varmint does have a point. My kids are pretty active (not to mention thoughtful, funny, smart and definitely above average ), so what they have for lunch is not as critical as it might be. However, I'd still like to think that a lunch packed by a parent has got to be better than Gummint Swill, the GAO be damned. Aren't they the folks who wanted ketchup to be counted as a vegetable to cut school lunch costs? Hmmm, perhaps my rose colored glasses need polishing. Chad
  5. This would be a good name for a band. As would Pork Butt Still doesn't beat my favorite band name of all time: Sissy Boy Slap Party And, yep, the argument about what is and what isn't barbecue can be a lot of fun as long as you don't take it too seriously. It was more than passing strange to hear some members of my Kansas traveling party express surprise that NC barbecue was pork. Brooks, it would be like somebody peering into your big pot and saying, "Wow, you make your jambalaya with rice?" Thanks for the great report, Varmint. I really enjoyed it -- and I'm inspired to cook up some Q this weekend. Using, of course, the One True Barbecue Sauce Recipe (all others being but pale imitations) Now, where did I put that scroll, whose existance was revealed to my grandfather in a vision of a talking pig? I know its around here somewhere. Chad
  6. Woohoo! Good read, Varmint. I enjoyed that a lot. Made me damn hungry, too. I was in Greensboro Thus. and Fri. but didn't get to eat any barbecue. You should have heard me beg to hit Stamey's drive-through on the way to the airport. Pathetic, really. I did have an excellent discussion about Eastern NC versus Western NC style, which was only interrupted by my Kansas companions' startlement that our BBQ was made from pork. When we patiently tried to explain that as tasty as hot cow with red sauce can be, it ain't barbeque, he claimed that barbecue was invented in Kansas City, and what would we know about it anyway? It took a mighty effort to restrain myself. It is simply not polite to kneecap a client in public. I think I'm gonna smoke me a pork butt this weekend. My kids have never had NC style barbecue. Take care, Chad
  7. Apparently Mr. Liberman reads eGullet. He quotes Fat Guy's post above and responds He makes an excellent point about menu language as an attempt a conveying status.I'm hoping Mark Liberman will join the conversation here. I tried to find a way to contact him through his website, but for someone who's passionate about simplicity, his site is a nightmare to navigate. Chad edited to correct spelling of Mark Liberman's name. Sorry 'bout that, Mark. CDW
  8. I'm all for identifying specially sourced ingredients if they're vital to the dish, but to cite the provenance of every last garnish is simply too much. I have read the argument (though I can't recall where at the moment) that part of the problem is that America lacks a standard vocabulary for naming dishes. So while Chef Chad might describe his dish as "Braised free range top sirloin medallions with red wine reduction and Fall vegetable medley flavored with Nieman Ranch bacon and hand-picked chantarelle mushrooms," Chef Jacques would simply say "Boeuf Bourguignon" on the menu, trusting his audience to know what it was. Chad
  9. Yep, I know I have a winner on my hands when my daughter -- a very picky eater -- requests the leftovers in her lunch. When I do the grilled sesame chicken salad from the truly excellent A Southern Palate, she glares at anyone who dares ask for a second helping. She wants to make sure there's enough for her lunch . Next question, though. Do parents really send their kids off to school with garbage in their lunch sacks? I'm sure that it happens, but school lunches are essentially free. If you're going to let your kid eat bad food, isn't it easier to have them eat the school lunch? If you're going to take the time and trouble to pack a lunch, wouldn't you at least try for something nutritious? I'm not even talking good parenting versus bad parenting, here, just simple pragmatism. Chad
  10. The American School Food Service Association claims that school lunches are healthier than those brought from home. Bullshit. I don't know who they surveyed or whose lunches they inspected, but the stuff I send to school with my kids is certainly better balanced than the hot lunches we allow them to eat once or twice a week. Generally a lean turkey sandwich on wheat bread, some sort of chips or, more often, pretzels, fruit and some sort of snack. Today's school offering for my 9-year-old? Cheese pizza, tossed salad, bread stick, Twinkie. And I can guarantee that the tossed salad will be just that -- tossed, right into the garbage. What do you think? Do you send your kids off with crap in their lunchboxes? Chad
  11. Nice find. I, too, find it extremely annoying when the menu goes into excrutiating detail, including ". . . garnished with hand-picked chervil, lightly taunted by our saucy little Equadoran prep cook." Chad
  12. The sad thing is, I could probably build this boat with just what's in my garage. Chad
  13. And, in a pretty damn funny article, Chicago Herald writer Dave Orrick actually tries the "Supersize Me" diet. Chad
  14. Another industry funded "watchdog" group is taking on "Supersize Me." Tech Central Station has a new website devoted to the movie. Chad
  15. Howdy, Chefboy. You might want to take a look at this thread on Wildfire Cutlery. The guy's got a good reputation for his carbon steel kitchen knives. The only commercial carbon steel line I can think of at the moment is the Sabatier Au Carbone line. Chad
  16. Hmmm, I'm not qualified to give substantive advice on sharpening Japanese knives. As has been mentioned before, give a good look at the Sharpening with Waterstones thread. If it's a thin double bevel like a western style Japanese, the EdgePro will certainly see you right. The best advice I can give, however, is to contact Murray Carter. Here's the email address I've used for him in the past. He's a great guy, easy to talk to, and more than willing to fill you in on any details you're unsure of. Murray is a consumate craftsman and passionate about knives. Just ask. I'm sure he'll tell you everything you need to know. Chad
  17. Use it and enjoy it. Carbon steel knives can take a screaming sharp edge and are easier to maintain than stainless steel knives. You've been told a half-truth about avoiding certain foods. Acidic foods such as tomatoes, oranges, meats (oddly enough), etc. will put a patina on your knife. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The patina (a mostly benign form of rust) can actually prevent the more harmful types of rust from taking hold. Things to keep in mind: Rinse your knife regularly during use, especially when cutting large amounts of acidic foods. Wash your knife after use -- do not leave it covered in food goo or sitting in the sink. It won't wait 'til tomorrow like your stainless knives will. Dry your knife thoroughly after washing. Carbon steel can rust astoundingly quickly. Learn to use a steel. Carbon knives will take an amazing edge, but the wet, acidic environment of the kitchen can dull them quickly. The steel is your best friend. Learn to use a steel properly and you can go months between sharpenings. Relax. If your knife takes a patina, don't go nuts trying to get it off. A patina is in no way unsanitary, and as mentioned above, can protect the blade from more aggressive forms of rust. You don't have to baby your knife. Just take some basic care and it will last a lifetime. You might want to see the eGullet Culinary Institute class on Knife Maintenance & Sharpening for more information. Chad
  18. Chris, I think you've got your back up unnecessarily. Dumbing down Food Network is not about foie gras (which I've never had, either), truffles or not appreciating good barbeque. It is about losing shows like Rosengarten's "Taste" or Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour" in favor of "Top Five," "Best Of" and other PM-Magazine-type crap that has little to do with understanding, appreciating or enjoying food. Some of the new stuff, "Date Plate," for instance, only uses food as a pretext. The new stuff is cheaply produced, designed to attract the almighty 18-24 demographic and generally witless. THAT's what we're bitching about. Now, I'm off to grill some hamburgers and drink a beer or two. Fly safe. Chad
  19. I'd buy that. I use chipotles in adobo quite a bit, but I almost always puree them together. A tube would be infinitely more convenient. Oh yeah, and could you stock it at the grocery store in my mayo-on-whitebread neighborhood? Had to drive 20 minutes to a grocery store in a Hispanic neighborhood yesterday just to pick up some. Chad
  20. I believe someone has already mentioned this, but balsamic vinegar -- the cheap (fake) stuff just doesn't cut it. The real stuff is sublime. Chad
  21. Damn, that Thermapen is just cool. I think I need one. Now, if these guys would just do a timer/probe thermometer like the Pyrex/Polders we'd be in business. Chad
  22. Is this happening elsewhere as well? Can the rest of us expect increases? Chad
  23. Hey, Matthew, good to see you here! I know you're kind of limited in what you can and can't say about FN, but can you offer any insights into whether Brooke Johnson might be better for the network? Is there anybody inside who recognizes the difference between delivering a large demographic and a smaller but higher-spending one? Chad Edited to add: For those just tuning in, Matthew Stillman is a former producer and Program Development Manager for Food Network. He did a great Q&A with us a while back.
  24. Yup, all stations (and all newspapers and magazines) exist to sell advertising. We feel that they are delivering us a product -- news/entertainment/etc. Not true. We are the product they deliver to advertisers. With that said, advertisers are looking for a well-heeled demographic, especially one they can slice and dice into easily definable categories. Women 18-25 is a pretty good demo, but Women 18-25 who spend more than $1,000 a year on cookware is an even better one. What I'm hoping Brook Johnson brings to the mix -- via her experience with A&E and the History Channel -- is a recognition that food programming is a niche market. If FoodNetwork tries to overly broaden the programming to draw larger audiences, they run the risk of alienating the hard core foodies. Us, in other words. She just might have figured out that the smaller, hard core audiences is more likely to shell out $4,500 for a Viking range than the Dweezil & Lisa crowd. We're smaller in number but vastly preferable in purchasing habits, at least from an advertisers perspective. If they can figure out how to quantify that -- and can sell it to advertisers -- we'll have a lot better network on our hands. Just my theory. Chad
  25. Scripps has named Brooke Johnson as the next president of Food Network. Johnson joined Food Network in May 2003 as Senior Vice President and General Manager. She succeeds Judy Girard, who earlier this year was assigned to the Shop At Home Network. Scripps VP John Lansing said in the press release, Okay, so Girard is responsible for lobotomizing Food Network? Glad she's gone. Please make sure the door hits her in the ass on the way out. Repeatedly. The new president Okay, seeing how much we're talking about Iron Chef America, maybe she's got something going for her. She's also headed up A&E and launched the History channel, so I'm willing to give Ms. Johnson the benefit of the doubt. How about y'all. Do you think she'll be able to bring Food Network back up to snuff? Or is that even her mandate? Chad
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