Monday, October 1, 2012

from the book: rules for drinking.

Drinking: cooks drink, and I let them, they all get the same warning, “you get drunk, and I remove your balls with a dull steak knife”. If I go to the cooler and notice that corona is low, I 86 it in the dining room, my cooks are as important as you, and I will have cold beer for them no matter what. I have a few stipulations when I take a chef job, pay me on time, let me run the kitchen, and I get 2 beers at 7pm every night. Bring me Heineken and I go home. (even if im on fire, and you wanna use Heineken to put out the fire, id rather burn than have that crap anywhere near me) A stressed uptight cranky chef is gonna ruin your day (we’re cranky, we work 70 hrs a week, make shit money and are blamed for everything. no one gets us except other chefs) on the other hand a slightly buzzed, loose chef that can really get involved in running his crew while having a lil fun with the guests, is best. 

YOU on the other hand, need a set of rules for drinking in a bar or restaurant.

#1 cash bar tip is at least a dollar a drink, (bartenders remember 3 kinds of people A: their regulars, B: people they detest, and C: people who stiffed them)  amazing how long you wait for a cocktail when your bartender remembers your last shitty tip.
#2 if you are drunk, go home!
#3 don’t ever touch my servers, flirt and smile, but be respectful. Chances are her boyfriend is my 6’4” grill cook that outweighs you by 40 lbs with not an ounce of fat. His free time he spends fighting in the octagon for the UFC. Keep your damn hands to yourself. I can take apart a carcass in 20 minutes but I’ve never had to put one back together before, so mind your manners.
#4 pace yourself at an open bar, its not a race. You wouldn’t want to pass out, miss the wedding, and wake up with no eyebrows and “douchebag bestman” written on your forehead in sharpie
#5 buy the chef or your bartender a drink, amazing how far that goes.
#6 NEVER and I mean NEVER ask for a buy-back, this is a drink the bartender buys for you because he thinks you deserve it, (you’ve had a couple and tipped decently) if they thought you did, it would be in front of you
#7 if the bartender is your friend, try not to cost them their job by asking for free stuff. It’s my stuff to give not theirs. If I catch them I will ban you and fire them. Over a $6 beer, doesn’t really seem worth it.
#8 this ain’t the damn swap meet or a yard sale, there is no bartering. The prices are on the menu, that’s what we charge to stay open.
#9 ask someone before you buy them a drink “hey, can I buy you a drink?” its simple, what’s not simple is having an ice cold beer set in front of you after 3 months of sobriety, and deciding not to drink it.  
#10 order your drink regular, asking for no ice or ice on the side is cheap. (unless you are Canadian, they rarely drink anything with ice) You think you are getting a stronger drink. NEWSFLASH YOU"RE NOT!  it’s the same 2oz of booze but now the rest is all juice and a very weak drink. Soda too, my pops always orders ice on the side, “they put too much” he says. “pop” I say “all that soda isn’t good for your diabetes”… “its diet” he says….  “oh ok, you wanna trade high blood sugar for a liver and kidneys that resemble old wallaby from all of the saccharin and aspartame?” awesome pops!
#11 if you order a Jager bomb or a long island iced tea, it’s a BIG FAT RED FLAG, you might as well tattoo “asspipe” on your forehead, because that’s what we think. Worse yet is asking my barkeep or myself what you should drink, “uh, what is really good?”, if you don’t know what you drink, you get a Heineken, and your tab.     

Thursday, September 27, 2012

IS IT GOOD? when you grow up on burger king, you might not like foie gras

             I've just come out of the kitchen, slowing down for the evening, giving the reigns to my END ALL, NUMBER ONE, NUMERO UNO SOUS CHEF IN HISTORY. Mario Gonzalo Cuenca from Cuenca Ecuador, but we all called him Cuenca. Now I've spent my life working with Latino cooks, mostly Mexican, but a wide mix of nationalities. Each one proud and reverent about their culture. Ecuadorians absolutely have an advantage, they are taught English in school. Cuenca not only had great communication skills but amazing chops (kitchen skills) and the whole staff including myself, respected this guy like a demi-god. SO, ANYWAY (sorry ADD) I am perusing around the dining room asking my guests if everything is ok, and I see a new table sit down. It’s a party of 5 and they are well dressed and look like they might enjoy something other than a burger. So I make my way over to the table and say hello, and go into specific detail about one of my specials. I explain how I went to the fish market at 3 am and picked out the nicest fish in the entire seaport myself. then spent the afternoon at the farmers market to select by hand the beautiful vegetables that will accompany this glorious piece of fish, and yet another two hours making the perfect sauce and hand shaving the lemon peel and part of my knuckle for the candied lemon garnish. So after that whole shpeal about how much effort went into it and the care I took to make it perfect, and the sleep I missed to make sure you had an amazing dinner, you look at me with a crinkled up nose and say “is it good?”  
did someone drop you on your head?  
…there’s a reason my sous chef won’t let me bring knives into the dining room… 

thanks Cuenca!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

uh, waiter, uh, get off of the phone!

Service personnel; Waiters, barkeeps, and bussers – for the most part I hate them all, but there are a few I must thank publically, for without them I would have never made it. Sammy (hands down #1 what she did to help me was not only life saving but completely selfless), Noelle (sunshine face), Alice (pastry extraordinaire) Kermet (spent 3 days unpaid painting and readying bluestar, I bought beer and pizza and we worked for 70 straight hours), Lindsay G. (what an amazing woman), D.J., Dan, Subic, Arielle, Shana, Guia twins (RIP Vicky), Weiner (my rock), English Jill, Haley, Melissa, Heather Who Dat, Van the incredible, Jake, Noel, Haley, Matt, Kelso, Weber, and both McElroys and along with this motley crew there are a handful of others that are great. With this I must mention a few that were less than fantastic servers but more than made up for it with attitude, drive, and trying really hard to get better. Lydia Popper, Stacy Ullman and J Flo (Jessica Flores) thanks for the great effort. Lydia went away on a soccer scholarship, stacy went away to school too and J Flo Runs cobble hill Brooklyn.
But for the most part, they suck, and they don’t have to. The problem is they don’t know their menu, because facebook is more important. You have worked here for 2 months and you don’t know what the seafood is in the chowder? REALLY??
I don’t just hire people and throw them into the fire, they train for 4-5 shifts and then get the annotated menu breakdown verbally from me of every single ingredient and technique, with a copy in front of them to follow along and take notes. 1-2 shifts helping me expedite while looking at the plates and a shift behind the bar, running ice and chilling beer. So by the time they get to you hopefully they have some idea what the spicy is in the jalapeno chorizo tater-tots. Or what makes the miso-honey sauce sweet. If you learn the menu and sell my food.... me love you long time. 
”you guys ready to get excited about some great food”  or “ive got some ridiculous specials tonight, chef worked on ‘em all day” (Melissa Klein would say that, she is a star)  that’s what I wanna hear my servers say, not “ready to order?” I work hard, I make this stuff so someone will buy it, so I can pay my bills allowing me to stay open and for you to have a job and pay your bills. YOU’RE AN ACTOR, RIGHT??  LETS SEE IT!! Act like you give a FUCK please. All in all, as a whole, I pity their job because they have to deal with YOU!  I choose to, they have to! WORSE THAN THAT, THEY DEAL WITH ME!  


Before I continue on my rant, get this straight, the perspective from where this comes is a frustrated sometimes angry one. But in hind sight I find a lot of humor in my stories, they just weren't so funny at the time. As I've assimilated into this world, I've learned to take myself a little less seriously.  The point isn't to upset anyone just to open their eyes. so let us continue.

from the book: you are fucking joking right?

            Bring in food to a restaurant – some kinda chutzpah it takes to bring in your own food to save money.. a ham sandwich wrapped in foil? REALLY??  
ME:“excuse me miss, you cant bring in outside food, im sorry”  
HER: “I keep kosher and cant eat from your kitchen, but my friend im meeting loves this place”
ME: “now im not the Lubavitch Rebbe, but im pretty sure that ham isn’t kosher” 
HER: “ok ill eat it fast”
ME:”can I at least get you a cocktail or a glass of wine?” 
HER: “no, but you can bring me a warmed mug that I can pour my starbucks into?” are you joking?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

im not your grandma

            Grandmas house – I appreciate your business and need your money to stay afloat, but lets get this straight, I’m not your grandma, I won’t stop what I’m doing and make u a grilled cheese in the middle of dinner service on a packed Friday night, because that’s what you want. I start writing my fall menu on the debut day the summer menu, so you see about 3 months of tasting, building and testing go into every dish I serve. I care, and I put every ounce of effort I have into making sure every bite is amazing. If you fancy yourself as the next Bobby Flay, go buy 2 squeeze bottles and go make a mess in your own kitchen. Until then, order what I’m serving, how it comes, how I’ve designed it, how hundreds of people have had it and loved it.  Or, go to your grandma’s house.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

from the stupid are you?? can u cross the street by yourself????

 Waiter: “hey chef, the guest says the tuna tartare’ is too rare ”
me: “Cuenca, gimme my knife…what table?”
Cuenca: “no way chef”
waiter: “table 31 chef”
 so I leave the kitchen with 28 tickets on order and one cook short for service (Jose Luis was on a plane to Guadalajara to attend his abuelitas funeral, I bought his tickets, he was one of my best guys and I loved that kid like my own son), I make my way to table 31..
And with a fake smile I say: “yes ma’am is everything ok?”
her: “ the tartare is too rare can you make me another one medium?”
me: “uh.. yea, uh tartare means raw, why didn’t you inquire with your server about the dish?”
her: ”well my friend ordered it and said it was really good, so I did too”
me: “did you taste it?”
her: “no, humans aren’t supposed to eat raw fish” 
me: “oh maybe Japan didn’t get that memo, you do understand that people were eating meat and fish for thousands of years before they discovered FIRE… DON’T YOU?????”
her: “what are you going to do?”
me: ”im going to go back to my now SLAMMED kitchen and help my guys get out of the weeds you put us in, while I enjoy eating your delicious tartare’ with a glass of Muscadet” …
her: ”what about me?” 
Me: “you? Oh, you mean your tuna?  I’m pretty sure the tuna you are looking for is made by Starkist, its good with a little celery and mayo!!!!” BYE!