On my first day of culinary school, the Basic Skills instructor warned that when we worked in restaurants, we would spend our holidays with co-workers, not our families.
“Get used to turning to the guy beside you on the hot line at midnight … to say ‘Happy New Year,'” Chef Graham said. “Get used to taking your wife out for Valentine’s Day some other day in February … Tell your mom you will be cooking her Mother’s Day feast on some other day of the week … Forget about seeing Churchill Downs on the first weekend in May ever again …”
Continue reading Now comes the lean season
Before I joined the restaurant industry, I often felt awkward when I was being seated at a restaurant. Is it OK to request a specific table? Is it OK to ask for a four-top when there are only two of us? Would it be OK to ask to sit by the fireplace? Good news: It is, it is and it is! The key to getting the table you want is knowing the basics of how tables are assigned to guests in most dining rooms.
Continue reading Your table is now available
Foodie: Someone who cares about food, takes pride in the variety of his eating habits and enjoys getting quality ingredients for his home cooking. Did you know you can buy many of the products we use in the restaurant business without ever setting foot in a retail grocery store?
Continue reading Don’t get all your ingredients from one store
In my last column, we visited the restaurant kitchen that lies behind the dining room access door and found it to be bright, hot and noisy. But who’s cooking your food?
Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) simplified the elaborate and ornate kitchen brigade first popularized by Antoine Careme, one of the codifiers of French haute cuisine. The 21st century kitchen brigade has been even further distilled, personnel-wise. Who’s cooking your food? A little bit of everyone. Let’s look at the Brigade de Cuisine in the modern restaurant kitchen, shall we?
Continue reading Industry Standard: Behind the Kitchen Door: Part II
Even if you’ve never worked in a restaurant, you’ve probably found yourself contemplating the kitchen door, wondering: What exactly is back there? How many people? How roomy is it? You have a right to be curious: They’re making your food back there.
Well, follow me. But I warn you: The kitchen in a working restaurant bears little resemblance to standard, shiny FoodTV kitchens or those “set kitchens” on the latest foodie reality TV offerings. Restaurant kitchen doors mark boundaries both geographic and symbolic, and they always lead into a totally different world from the dining room, whether the latter was cool and serene, hip and trendy, or hushed and formal. That’s all behind us now; here — put this apron on.
Continue reading Industry Standard: Behind the Kitchen Door: Part I
A friend of mine recently told me she had to cut short a restaurant visit because her godson couldn’t find anything on the menu that he wanted to order. “Why didn’t you just get him a grilled cheese, or a kid’s pizza or something?” I asked. Her answer? “Those weren’t on the menu.”
All of a sudden, I realized she didn’t know about The Invisible Menu Page. I found myself wondering how many other people are unaware of this glorious restaurant phenomenon.
Continue reading Industry Standard: The Invisible Menu Page