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Mel's New Bakery


melmck
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My marriage surived 6 years of restauraunt ownership, just :wacko: My other half has never worked in the industry and came to the conclusion every one that did (including me) was nuts. In the season the only reason we saw each other, was that if he wanted to eat he had to come to the restaurant :raz: no food in our house. Although to be honest I do not know if I still had the business how long it would have surrived as it put a tremendous strain on us. I do think that if you have a great friendship then it works out, did for me.

karen

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cg,

I wondered if you were French because your phrasing in an earlier post read a bit that way + you wrote( I think) about being in the biz from an early age.

Re: Relationships and the biz.

It works for me as a chef, etc. but it has to be ultra hard for people who own and operate and the S.O. isn't involved.

Hats off to all of you O.O.'s, especially from the bakery division.

Edited by tan319 (log)

2317/5000

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Oh boy, this can be a loaded topic.......... I struggle with balancing my spouses needs and my job needs everyday. He doesn't understand the fact that I love my job so much and I'm willing to do it 24/7. In fact because I'm usually doing something baking related off work like being here or reading pastry books, that he teases me. He complains that I'd still go to work and work too long of a day even if they weren't paying me..........unfortunately he's right (but lets keep that a secret).

I know that he can't understand the concept of staying until everything is done. How about those days where everything goes wrong and you have to remake something or have last minute work piled on you? Even though he doesn't punch a time clock either.....he thinks you can put away your work until tomarrow or that someone else should take care of it when I'm not there. And HOLIDAYS.........oh I better not go there!

It's damn hard to balance a crazy obsessive career like this with a family. God forbid being an owner, I couldn't do it. Everyone I know that works in a kitchen struggles with the hours and family life.

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I can definately relate with the "books" issue. I have about 6 sprawled open randomly on my desk infront of me. It's kind of hard not to glance down and get trapped in the text and pictures.

You definately can't put work off for another day, because thats almost a bad omen saying that the following day will be a disaster. The second you plan out finished projects for the future everything goes wrong. I pulled an 11 hour shift last night screwing around trying to make the "ultimate" cocoa-almond meringue. The more i played the more ideas kept comming in, you can't put that kind of stuff off. Ohwell.

I can't beleive I sound french, im quite curious at exactly what pinpointed me in that direction.

Fortunately I only received the swedish body. Quite sure everything else about me is Italian. I definately have a weakness for Italian red wine.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Holy crap!!! 20,000 folks reading about me is so funny. Who knew??? Man, if I could write everything that's going on it would be even more interesting--

sex, drugs, passion, betrayal, restraining orders, weird interpersonal relationships, etc...also there's a guy who comes in who sits down and plays guitar. Never asked if he could, just plays, and jerks his guitar neck at the ladies. There's the guy in rainbow suspenders who comes in and loads the 'sample' platters down his gullet! The whold damn thing! The junkie who tells my counter staff that he has an 'account 'with me and he doesn't have to pay!

I am never, ever bored.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Holy crap!!! 20,000 folks reading about me is so funny. Who knew??? Man, if I could write everything that's going on it would be even more interesting--

sex, drugs, passion, betrayal, restraining orders, weird interpersonal relationships, etc...also there's a guy who comes in who sits down and plays guitar. Never asked if he could, just plays, and jerks his guitar neck at the ladies. There's the guy in rainbow suspenders who comes in and loads the 'sample' platters down his gullet! The whold damn thing! The junkie who tells my counter staff that he has an 'account 'with me and he doesn't have to pay!

I am never, ever bored.

I'm loving this thread! C'mon Mel tell more, tell more -- or are you saving the good stuff for your book :raz: ?

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Im quite surprised they haven't done reality of the restaurant business. If they have i wouldn't know because i hate reality tv and reall any tv that doesn't begin with history,discovery, food network, or family guy. Though the realities of the restaurant business can be quite exciting for outside people. As for me i couldn't watch it because the whole point of watching tv is to escape that crap that we live in day in and day out.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Im quite surprised they haven't done reality of the restaurant business.  If they have i wouldn't know because i hate reality tv and reall any tv that doesn't begin with history,discovery, food network, or family guy.  Though the realities of the restaurant business can be quite exciting for outside people.  As for me i couldn't watch it because the whole point of watching tv is to escape that crap that we live in day in and day out.

What? you must have just landed from another planet! :shock:

Have you never heard of Rocco?????....... :laugh:

I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

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Oh, I thought that was a Geico commercial. Should have watched it considering there is nothing on at that time in the morning. I guess thats why most of my posts are at 3-4 in the morning.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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I watched The Restaurant, once. I laughed my ass off the whole time! I'm not sure why- too surreal, too close to home, thank God I am not being filmed??? I have had only 2 minor temper tantrums, and that is after serious provocation. I haven't even had a good cry since opening. (British blood, stiff upper lip, etc.) I maintain my composure, which is why I was always a good line cook. Never let 'em see you sweat. Especially when you are the only woman on the line, and if they do see you sweat, well that means you are premenstrual!!! and once they know your weak spots, forget it.

OK now for the next interesting topic that's been on my mind. I had some guys come in who have worked at NYC's most famous/reputable patisserie, bring me some things to sample. peach and pistachio something-or-other. My first thought is, 'where the hell did they get peaches?' ooooohhhhh yyeeaaahhhh, they used that canned shit. Sure it looked pretty but I didn't taste one gram of peach in there. Some really mushy fruit-type substance, but nary a peach. Next I look at the thread on Jean-Phillpipe Maury's new joint with the lovely pics, and I see strawberries and raspberries and ask the question again, 'where the hell did they get those berries?' aaahhh yesssss South America. My whole life in reading about the French way of life,cooking,eating, it all sounds like it is based on cooking with what is available at the market. go with your little basket each day and load up. And yet in all of these glossy photos from the patisseries, seasons do not seem to apply. I have had several customers come in and say, 'can I get a cherry pie?' to which I say'No, they aren't in season'. blank stares, because that shit comes from a can, right???? then I must explain that fruit doesn't come from cans, it is grown on trees, bushes,vines etc...and when the sun is shining brightly we get to eat them. The quince education is case in point, and this is where Alice Waters would be proud. Educate your customers/staff/family/friends. Then I suggest something else, not no way buddy you can't get a cherry pie so you're screwed, but try this lovely quince & apple galette instead.

A huge can of worms indeed-- after all I can't get bananas, citrus, and pineapple grown locally, and apricots are the only fruit that seem to take well to the can. I am very spoiled to live and cook in the Pacific Northwest. We've got it all. In their own short seasons. But there is some part of me that just says no to tender fragile little raspberries from thousands of miles away, just for the sake of raspberries.

I pay more attention to the news now, when I see hurricanes in Florida, I say aww crap now orange prices are going to double. When you try to explain this to customers, that you must raise prices, it's hard for them to swallow. Pecan crop also damaged during storms? $$$ now I think of the tsunami in SE Asia, and I think of the coffee crops. We are used to having everything nownownow at the tips of our fingers. These fingers are eagerly awaiting citrus then rhubarb then strawberries.... oh yum the grapefruits are here!!!

Maybe I am full of it on this topic, or hippocrytical on where to draw the line on imported produce.and after all it is just my opinion. I have purveyors trying to sell me 'convenience' products all the time. and as a business owner now, I look at it and say , OK that would save labor indeed, but it tastes absolutley NOTHING like what it is supposed to. and that is where I draw the line.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Hurrah! Bravo!

Without seasonal produce nothing is fresh and exciting.

Explain that the produce is not of the quality you require out of season, and you won't compromise your reputation.

There are wonderful pastries made with preserved, dried or candied fruits for when the sun don't shine, and they are lovely in themselves and their season...even the humble jam tart with the jam just begining to caramalise around the edges...without having to resort to out-of season produce

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Next I look at the thread on Jean-Phillpipe Maury's new joint with the lovely pics, and I see strawberries and raspberries and ask the question again, 'where the hell did they get those berries?'  aaahhh yesssss South America. My whole life in reading about the French way of life,cooking,eating, it all sounds like it is based on cooking with what is available at the market. go with your little basket each day and load up. And yet in all of these glossy photos from the patisseries, seasons do not seem to apply.

Uh... New Zealand. :unsure:

Actually it's more of a Vegas/big resort/catering-to-rich-people thing. yeah, the strawberries we get are pretty and have very little flavor, but the other stuff we have flown in is the best - great raspberries, huge blueberries, ripe cantalope and pineapple. I'm actaully proud to say that the restaurant team never, ever uses canned fruit of any kind. The fruit tarts are made with all fresh fruit (though I had to laugh at the little tag that labels them "seasonal" fruit tarts :laugh: ), and during the summer we had to peel and slice fresh peaches every day (what a pain the ass!) for the Fix fruit cobbler (which was actually a crisp, but you can't tell French chefs anything about American home-style desserts). Even the fruit fillings for the crepes in the new shop are made from fresh, including mangos, pineapple, papaya, blueberries and strawberries. We are using IQF sliced apples in the cobbler for winter now, but the quality is very good.

If I were a chef working on a smaller scale, my preference would be for fresh in-season fruit. Someday I'll be back in the NW and have access to beautiful local produce, but of couse Vegas is in the desert and nothing is grown locally, so it has to be shipped in from somewhere. Does it really matter if it's from California or Peru if the quality is good?

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I can surely see where Mels coming from, but does Neil have a point?

If it's in season somewhere, is it ok to use it?

Strawberries...they were driving me crazy!

I was getting fruits and stuff for the bakery and sometimes the strawberries suck and I just want to scream"CAN YOU USE SOMETHING ELSE FOR CHRISSAKES????!!!!!!!!

And I'm sure they would say "But , ze AMERICANS, zey want nothing else, zey are so spoiled", to which I would say, "FUCK ZE AMERICANS< WE'RE FUCKING STUPID!!!! :laugh:

REally, ridiculous length to have the same thing everyday.

However, if price is no object, like a Neils place, and the clientele demands it, well then...

RE: Pecans, Thru the roof, 160 a case the moment.

Timesaving ingredients: I hate fake chocolate, fake whipped cream, margerine, shortening (in most cases) Cake mixes, bleeeeeaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2317/5000

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Do you really pit your own fresh cherries for multiple pies? I sure as heck don't, I could never charge the money it would take to recoup that cost. You can buy them frozen from Michigan and WI orchards all year round. For a fruit pie and cobblers IQF fruits are as good as using fresh and in a lot of cases better.

I live in the Midwest. At no time of year can I go to my local market and buy good tasting peaches, plums and dozens of other items. They come in so under ripe and they never ripen with any flavor, they just ripen into rot. We have no season for many items.

I believe with today's global economy that it's good to buy produce from other parts of the world when it isn't available locally. I can't see anything wrong with it. I also think it's good to support our local orchards in March by buying their frozen products.

If you want real quality and taste grow your own produce and fruits. You can beat the your local orchards and farm stands, I have. If your going to be a "gourmet" then go all the way. You can buy local in season produce that stinks. I've had years where the weather made my apples gross, but since they're local and organic should I use them? Is that better then using IQF apples that taste great? I don't think so.

It's too late, you can't put the genie back in the bottle. I can understand businesses and people that have standards, that's great, I do too!!! But make sure you've actually tasted the stuff you've pooh poohed, some of it is surprisingly good.

*note, I'm not advocating canned fruits. Don't you dare bad talk my imported groites...........true.

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it's fun to discuss, right??? and cool to hear other people's point of view on such topics.

I didn't mean to insult, Neil. The quality is visible. Glad to hear you are can-free.But I have indeed experienced blah bleecchh stuff that was out of season ANYWHERE in the world, just for the sake of having it. I would luuuuuv to come to Vegas and experience in person!! It looks awesome.

If a preserved product is 100% insanely good, then I am all for it. Regional specialties from around the world, love it!

Yeah, I pit my own cherries- well I have the dishwashers do it;blanch, peel my own stone fruits. Berries, right off the vines! OK I am a spoiled brat to have it all right here apples pears nuts berries wild mushrooms salmon venison lamb ummmmm good stuff. I am from the midwest also, and even then I only eat corn and tomatoes in peak season. My mom and I go to the Amish country, which is close, and load up on good stuff.

Yeah, I have tried IQF, canned, convenience, you name it. So I am not poo-poohing what I haven't tried. That would be silly. I am a big one on doing side-by-side comparisons. Ask anyone who has ever worked with me! We taste, chew,discuss. And after all as I said before it is just my opinion. I love Boiron fruit purees, I buy the tropical ones, but I do my own berry thing when it's in season and load up for the coming months.

Here is an intersting point--- last time I was in Hawaii, at a very fine restaurant, the meal was superb, but when I looked at the dessert menu I couldn't believe it-- heavy bread pudding, cheesecake, and chocolate mousse tortes. No papaya mango passionfruit pineapple macadamia nut guava etc. !!!!! whaaaaa???

Now that just made no sense to me at all.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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I like IQF stuff too.

Red currants, any fruit as long as I'm not using it for fresh(ie. toppings for tarts, etc.)

I've never tried IQF apples.

Don't like IQF mangos.

Cherries are hit

and miss.

Sometimes they're incredible, you can really undersand what the fuss is all about.

Usually I use griotte, loved them in Kirsch.

The thing about berries, Sraw or others, is that crossover period when they kind of suck no matter where they're from.

Interesting(?) thing I've noticed:

Both in El Bulli's and The Ducasse/Roberts book(SPOON also) they prefer IQF fruits for some items.

2317/5000

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I made my husband go to the farmer's market on Saturdays to load up on a week's worth of stuff at a time,for the bakery. Remember the very beginning of this story, how I expressed that we do it all from scratch, as much as is humanly possible...we are so depressed November-May when the market is closed...sigh, grocery stores....

here's the good news!! Portland is soon to have a new, year round permanent market just like Pike Place Market in Seattle. It will be in Old Town off Ankeny Square and is the brainchild of my former boss, Ron Paul, who got out of this crazy biz and is now in the crazy biz...of politics, working for the city commissioner. I hope I can get space in there to hawk my goods, and become a part of it. That would make me soooo happy as I have always loved the vibe of Pike Place.

Crisps, cobblers, dumplings, all that jazz, I love it. That's what I make (made, when I was there..)at home. "What eez thees shit??" yeah, Ted I've heard it plenty. Don't forget the sneer upon delivery!

I loved looking at my Mom's old cookbooks when I was bratty little kid, seeing recipes/dinner menus from Martha Washington passed down through generations. ya know, thinking of Mom in this thread, and going back to the beginning of the story-- it must have all started with her. Mom goes to Georgia and the Carolinas to get her peaches, upstate New York for strawberries, Montana for Flathead cherries, comes to see me for berries and hazelnuts...Michigan for blueberries, and so on...I guess, ha ha, the fruit didn't fall far from the proverbial tree...

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Oh lord, living in North Carolina can be a treat, especially if you like tobacco(which i don't). But in the summer all you need is 5 bucks and any size container you can hold in your arms and fill it up with fresh strawberries. We've got fresh markets everywhere, i don't mean trade markets. I mean these people own the farm and run it in which all the fruit they are selling at the market. Great watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc....

But I see no reason why you can't buy fruit that has been shipped, just as long as it's a good company that takes care of there product.

I mean, I grew up as Schreiber rep, we get all our products from around the world (except our bases) and i'll stand by every last product they sell. Vanilla comes from Madagascar; Saffron, Pepper, curry, cumin, and other spices come from India, and alot of the pods and things come from Asia, but thats fine. New Zealand has one of the greatest(if not the best) climates around for fruit, especially grapes. So why is it a problem if we have wonderful fruit grown there and shipped here. Were in a very high speed world, there is no need to constrict it because the world is definately not backing off. Everyone will just have to accept it and embrace it.

Thats Why America is known for it's fusion food. We wouldn't be able to bring in so many different kinds of foods from around the world in the fresh state if we didn't have the wonderful technology and shipping capabilities that we have and are ever getting better.

They have machines out, well they have been out for a couple of years but the price is dropping now, that sends gamma rays into food before they and sealed that kills 99% of all harmful components to the food without affecting the food itself. That is amazing technology.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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So I found this on a New Zealand website, sort of ironic. trying to get New Zealanders to buy their own stuff locally,

"""Buying local is an act of enlightened self-interest. How we spend our money, where we spend our money and what we buy with it are all decisions vital to the continued well being of our communities.

Why buy local food:

because this supports our growers and local economy;

because fresh is best, and long distance transport increases time from farm to fork and reduces nutrient value;

because fresh, locally grown produce hasn’t been fumigated with ozone-depleting methyl bromide on entry into New Zealand;

because buying food produced in New Zealand instead of the ‘cheaper’ imported food reduces FOOD MILES, and hence the environmental cost of that food – the burning of fossil fuel and subsequent climate change effects and pollution makes garlic that travels 13,000 km from China very expensive ecologically;

because many consumers don’t want local growers and industries undermined by ‘cheaper’ imported produce: the Chinese garlic has decimated our garlic growers;

because of unnecessary biosecurity risks from, for example, importing fruit from fruit fly prone growing areas;

because some countries use unacceptable animal practices from a welfare perspective, e.g. confining cattle to beef feedlots;

because more pesticides are used on some exported products for quarantine reasons;

because of concerns about microbiological contamination in countries about whose quality assurance systems consumers know nothing. """

that high speed world is also contributing to hello, The Ozone Layer!!! Lest we forget why-- we had an ice storm one day, and it was 65 degrees the next day???

I have been to farmer's markets in Raleigh (got butter/cheeses from an independent producer.yum!!)and many, many a roadside stand throughout the South where toothless old farmer's sell me the best things I've ever tasted.Come on acolytes of Alice Waters,, back me up here!!!

I see both sides, as always. Just look at the tsunami disaster, and we realize the rest of the world needs to help others' with their basic livelihood. However we also need to support our local farmers, artisans and community. Balance would be the most fair compromise, and I suppose that is what I am trying to achieve. I started out in the bakery saying, "Oh yeah I want to do as much organic as possible, 100 % recycled paper everything." shhhheee--it that stuff is expensive! Now it's more like "give me the cheapest thing you got that wasn't actually touched by slaves"hmmmm slaves... that would help my labor problem! kidding....

Before I opened the bakery, I communicated with every major chocolate company to find out about their child labor policies/slavery/fair trade agreements.

there are some things I will not skimp on, no way.I buy non-GMO products, non-irradiated, and I buy good flour. Bob's Red Mill, a local stoneground miller. Or Giusto's when I can't get Bob's.

ahhhh ok here's where you will shout Hippocrite!!! damn you ! I have been getting amazing, and I mean amazing, butter from Chile through Peterson's. $1.80 a lb., versus $2.65 local. It's 82% butterfat, clarifies in an instant, and is maleable right from the hunk.(55#) My danish and croissant are tender/shatteringly crisp from it. and it's sooo yummy. I struggled with that one, butter from South America???how could I??? :unsure: I watch the local prices to see, when will they drop back down??? helloooo?? they haven't!! damn Tillamook cows....

PS- I will always admit if I have been found to be talking out of my ass....

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Haha.

Melissa, i've noticed you can't do a single thing in this world without be being portrayed as something you may not want to be. All I do is make the best decisions possible by canceling out pro's and con's. If the product is from Bangkok Thailand, or ten miles up the road, it doesn't matter to me. All I want is the Best all around product, thats been handled right, produced legitimately, and has reasonable cost-to-value.

If I get through life without being called a hippie that will be fine with me.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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