Thursday, February 17, 2011


A couple weird ingredients came to the kitchen the other day. Now, note all the following are legal, and any other effects they may have are not recommended, and to my knowledge, have not been practiced by any of the staff present in the restaurant.

The first weird thing to pop up was chia seeds. Chia seeds are also known as spanish salvia. Now, according to a friend who has more hobbies in grey areas, the average dose of salvia is 10g per hit. We're not using it as a garnish, it's not on the menu, and we've got a little over 20kg. that's a lot more than can be dismissed as "personal use." The second ingredient takes a little more know-how, but us just as good for a buzz (pun not intended.) Bee pollen. good for gourmet breakkies. Fine, but we're a lunch and dinner joint. Apparently, if you grind it with nutmeg and snort/eat it. It smacks you like LSD. Ah, the convenience store high. This was a little more reasonable at a mere 1kg. Still don't know what's up. It's probably going to be a gourmet granola or something.

Recipe: Pulled pork with cabbage

1 pork butt (that's shoulder you immature shite)
2 heads savoy cabbage
2 cups rice cooked
4L bbq sauce (recipe later)
black peppercorns
coriander seeds
pink peppercorns
fennel seeds

toast some pepper, coriander, and fennel. Grind fine. Rub the pork shoulder. Smoke for 6 hours at 180*. Take pork and braise for 2 1/2 hours, until it flakes easily. If you can, add gravy to the braising liquid or use stock for it. boil cabbage until soft. Separate the leaves. peel the stem off the cabbage with a paring knife. Mix pulled pork with seasoning and rice. Stuff cabbage leaves and roll dolmadakia style. place in a croc or slow cooker with bbq sauce and slow cook for 2-3 hours at as low as possible.


A steel is an essential part of a kitchen. You need it to maintain the edge on your knives. There`s someone in particular that this post is going to. Yes, you. There are several types of steel for different knives and purposes. they are generally  in three categories. round, flat, and ceramic. We've got a great round and a honing flat steel at home. Now, generally, a knife will need to be steeled once in a while. not every time the knife is picked up. Once in a while. And that's in a professional kitchen, where knives are going through veg by the bushel. Over steeling is very bad for the knife. It rounds over the metal on the edge, and needs to be ground off with a stone. Poor technique does this faster. using the wrong steel does this even faster. Here are a few pointers to not bugger your knives:

  • Use a decent steel. If you're getting a new one, expect to pay around $80.
  • Keep the same angle. If someone is a lefty and steels away, match the stroke, or use a different knife.
  • Speed is not better. It's a harder metal, you don't need speed to make friction. Take your time and match your strokes.
  • If it's a round steel, it's for more coarse honing. you can do more strokes.
  • If it's a flat steel, it's for curved knives and finer honing. Don't do more than 3 or 4 strokes
  • This does not apply to diamond steels.
  • You don't need the $250 Dick brand steel.

Monday, February 14, 2011


When things slow down in the restaurant, we get creative with ingredients and scraps. Try to have some fun. The boss and I wound up confiting a bison burger, almost knocking out one cook with the frozen container of beef fat. That shit gets really hard. My favourite thing is to piss off the night crew by glassing things. Glassing is when you cut something so thin, you can see light through it. Usually done with garlic and tomatoes. I do it with chicken breasts.

Lunch: pulled pork on a house-made focaccia with coleslaw


Girlfriend was sick recently. Stomach bug hit her hard, was praying to the porcelain god for about 9 hours. This basically left me to fend on fast food so I could stay with her and so the apartment wouldn`t be filled with smells. Leave it to me to get into a fight at a subway in a university. Went for a sub and the first question asked was "yellow or white?" After working out that this was what cheese I would like, I tried to figure out what cheese was what.
"yellow or white?"
"what cheeses are they?"
"yellow cheese and white cheese"
"well, yes, but yellow what? cheddar? white what? mozzarella? swiss?" (i'm a dick when I can get away with it)
The server then tried to pass my sandwich to the next person for toppings. When asked what I wanted on my sandwich, I said "cheese." Back it went.

20 minutes later, back and forth, I end up with the yellow cheese. Turns out they are both cheddar.

lunch today: meatball sub with yellow cheese

Monday, February 7, 2011


My boss has a new nickname in the kitchen. CabrĂ³ne. I'm not sure if he knows what this means. I rather hope he doesn't find out for the sheer hilarity of it. This came about with a brainstorming session for the restaurant about new ways to attract customers. Somehow stripper Saturdays came up as an idea. The boss, who is happily married for over 2 years, mentions how you need a licence to have strippers, as well as the strippers themselves having a licence from the city. The other owners in disbelief, the boss proceeded to speed dial a stripper and lay the phone down on speaker. After a confusing conversation with a Hispanic stripper girl insisting that she "didn't know no guy," the boss then said "It's me, CabrĂ³ne." "Oh, ci, ci, how are you?" Once the laughter died down and the jokes about the boss' stage name were done, we found out that there is indeed a licence needed. That idea wasn't totally serious anyway. Good thing too, they start at $300 annually.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Everyone who's been in a kitchen knows there's a unique language between the chefs. This is the beginner's guide to the lingo thrown about. Most are totally immature. 

mustard - bastard, balsamic vinaigrette - bal sac, aioli - a hole, nuker/juke - microwave, get the glutes - gluten free thing, drop/dunk it - deep fry, jane - no sides or toppings, colour - done to order, poke - knife, all day - everything on the board, tits - chicken breasts. It's always fun to yell "bring me more bal sac" to a new waitress. Especially when things get busy on the line. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011


It seemed to be his day today, as everything that could go wrong, did. Things that weren't supposed to even be on the menu yet somehow kept being ordered., the bread that we bake in house daily didn't turn out. Apparently they weren't rolled tight enough, resulting in the center rising and the base spreading. These are affectionately referred to nipple buns. Everyone in the restaurant either burned, cut, or somehow injured themselves. I burned my hand getting the buns out. Not as bad as a couple of days ago. That was a good one. I felt a light splash hit my arm as I dunked fries into the deep fryer. Oil cools fast, so I thought nothing of it. After feeling the burn a few seconds later, I looked and found a fry stuck to my arm. I brushed it off and it took the skin with it. Fun.

Lunch today: tortilla omelette with baby spinach, arugula, radicchio, beef, and cheddar.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Corn is in pretty much everything nowadays. It's a not so fun fact. And it's quickly screwing up our health and economy. I've been thinking. I've seen the local food challenge, where you eat nothing that came from more than 100km away, and this has gotten me to wonder if a corn free week is possible. The rules are simple. no corn, products, derivatives, or chemicals. No corn fed animals, grasses only. That means no pop, no jello, no yogurt, artificial sweeteners, enriched flour, all purpose flour, you can't even have worcestershire sauce.

Anything that contains: High fructose corn syrup (or just HFCS), glucose-fructose, corn starch, modified corn starch, citric acid, ascorbic acid, thiamin mononitrate, dextrose, TBHQ, BHT, protease, cellulose gum, lecithin, monoglycerides, diglycerides, maltodextrin, and a crapload of other chemicals and compounds has corn in it.

After a rummage through my cupboard, I came down to rice, oats, oat granola cereal, sea salt, and hot sauce.Everything else had corn in it. Can it be done? Yes, but I'm not trying it any time soon, that's for sure.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Seems to be a new term that's cropping up more and more in restaurants now. Let me make it easy for everybody. It's mayo. Plain and simple, egg, oil, water, seasoning. Do it right and it can come out like Helman's on steroids. do it wrong, it won't last five minutes without breaking into an oily mess. Along with most sauces and emulsions, there are a bunch of myths that go with making it.
The following are false:

  • you need lemon juice to start the emulsion
  • you need mustard to hold it
  • adding salt after it's finished makes it gritty
The following are true:

  • the stronger the base, the faster you can add oil
  • water makes it look whiter
  • if you use a blender, it'll cook the egg
  • standing water can make it split. dry the container thoroughly before storing.
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1L veg oil 
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dash of worcestershire
  • dash of tobasco
beat oil slowly into egg yolk, season.


This is the term when you're working the whole line alone. I've been doing this a lot recently, as January is usually a slow month for restaurants. Soloing tends to have a strange effect on people. It makes them grumpy, but not mad. They get blunt, rough, direct, and often yell incoherently for no reason. People have limits when soloing. This refers to the amount of covers they can handle by themselves at once. The intensity gets more severe the closer to the limit. I sit around eight, if there aren't serious modifiers. Kitchen people come to expect that if you're alone in the kitchen, crazy shit happens. I've told my boss once to "get your fucking head out of your ass and fix these chits" when certain requests weren't getting through or were forgotten when the order was punched in. The perfect picture for someone on line is a hamster on coke, with random battle cries.

Soloing tomorrow from 10 to 6. Should be fun

Lunch today: Kangaroo with spicy pesto, carrot caliente

Thursday, January 27, 2011


No kitchen is complete without a stereo blasting Alice in Chains with chits streaming in and one worker whining because he listens to rave music and I've got nothing but metal and punk on my ipod. Ok, I admit that's a little specific, but honestly I've never worked in a kitchen that hasn't played the Rooster or Would at least once a week. I don't know what it is, but everyone in a kitchen listens to the same music... or at least tries to fake it. My ipod was playing alphabetically and made it to the s' when the new guy (the one rave guy) punched in. He must have heard a couple of names from a friend because a little while in, he turns to me and says "do you have any Slipknot? I think I like them." "This IS Slipknot. they've been on for half an hour." It was fun watching him stumble around trying to cover his ass with things like "maybe I've just heard their old stuff," while the first album was on. He also mentioned System of a Down. I'm going to load my ipod tonight and see if he actually knows any. This'll be fun

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Truffles are basically the standard for gourmet. You want to look snobby? Black truffle. You want to look really snobby, like massive food wank snob? you get white truffles. You broke, but still want to look like a foody? DON'T GET TRUFFLE OIL! It does not make you look fancy, it doesn't taste like truffles rung out over your plate. It tells everyone you paid way too much for olive oil and you scared it with the presence of a truffle to cover your own ass. Yes, I know the oil is a third of the price, but it's totally useless. If you can't afford the real thing, just use some fresh herbs and make it taste damn good. If it tastes amazing and it looks pretty, no one cares what's in it.

Speaking of massive food wank snobbery, do us all a favour and don't put truffle all over foie gras. They don't go, they don't like each other, and and we don't want to know this meal is costing you $100 a plate. You want to look amazing? keep them separate. Be really fancy and throw a little caviar with toast into the mix. Make it h'ors d'oeuvres.

Here, I'll do it for you. Beluga caviar with lightly buttered toast, then black truffle on vintners cheddar on a crustini, then foie gras cut thin on top of a lightly fried gaufrette. And use russets, sweet potatoes are a lame trend started because they are good for your pancreas and because everyone is a starch and carbophobe. Seriously, they are getting fried anyway, all health value is out the window. Might as well pair it properly.



One upside to January is that I'm off until Wednesday. One downside of January is that I'm not working for four days straight. During these days off (started Sunday), I shall relapse into my addiction of Minecraft, building outlandish cubed buildings and things, stay with my girlfriend, cooking her favourite meals, and finish painting a dresser. Maybe on the dresser.

I picked up a new book while waiting for the girlfriend to finish wandering through the aisles. The Omnivore's Dilemma. It explains where our food comes from now and why that's such a hard question to answer nowadays. It's almost required reading for chefs. there's a great section that goes over how supermarkets give you the illusion of choice, where most products have almost the same ingredients, and most things only come from about four or five different big producers. I highly recommend that along with Food Inc.

Had fun cooking with the girlfriend tonight. Made her favourite. Roasted mushrooms, garlic, and carrots with thyme, and sauteed lamb chops with scallions, rosemary, and thyme. Fairly simple home cooking. toss veg in olive oil, sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper, roast for an hour and fifteen at 350. Put pan on medium heat, add in lamb chops, season with salt and pepper. If you want a touch of fancy, crush up some dried parsley flakes, and use it as a light crust for a touch more colour. once you turn the lamb over, add in brunoised scallions, garlic, and onions, with fine chopped rosemary and thyme. OM NOM NOM

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Everything done in the restaurant is done from scratch. the sauces, the toppings, the sides, everything. Today I did onion rings. My girlfriend always says "to make something from scratch, you must first create the universe." I took a few liberties with the rings. I didn't grow them or mill the flour ourselves. but other than that, I did everything. After working on these for four hours, I got to hear from one of the servers that a family came half-way across Canada just to eat here. Suddenly, the monotonous act of onion rings seemed a little more bad ass. Oh, and we made the top 10 list for restaurants in the city.

Rings recipe:
  • 20 lbs onion rings
  • 6L buttermilk
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • breadcrumbs
  • flour
cut onions into rings, dredge in flour, dunk in seasoned buttermilk, cover in breadcrumbs. deep fry at 350.

Lunch today: tomato sandwich with bacon, ale and cheddar soup.

Friday, January 21, 2011


In a kitchen, everyone is accountable. It doesn't matter where in the food chain you are. If you screw up, you get reamed. One of my bosses does the ordering for supplies and food. The past two times he's ordered, he's gotten gloves that are too small for anyone in the kitchen. One perk of my job is being able to yell at my boss. One of the owners came into the restaurant and walked into me handing my boss a glove, asking if he can get into the ones "he stole from the oompa-loompas store room" and asked if "the supply company was based in the land of Oz, cus only a fucking munchkin could wear these."

Once they stopped pissing themselves with laughter, my boss, T, ordered a case of large gloves. Problem solved.

Lunch today: Wagyu on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and wasabi aioli

Thursday, January 20, 2011


We boil beef stock over night for our gravy and sauces in the restaurant. The person closing is supposed to turn the burners down really low so it doesn't boil down. This didn't happen, so today I walk in to find my boss swearing a blue streak over a black pot. It didn't just boil down, it burned, caught fire and bellowed black smoke for a few hours. the fire got so hot inside the pot that the bones actually popped and cracked. We let the night guy clean the pot. Bugger left a tar mess in the sink. Out of everything the only thing the boss was angry about was that the bones can't be salvaged, we have to start over.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Prepped a whole suckling pig last week. Took off the trotters, spread it on the baking rack, scared the hell out of the waitress. Asked her to come into the kitchen for a sec, facing the baby pig towards the door. She came around, screamed and ran o the front of house. The usual stuff done with whole animals. Draped the pig in a wet tablecloth and tried to get it into the oven. apparently the head on the pig was rather large, and prevented it from fitting. The Boss said we'd need a saw to get the head clean off. I bet him $20 that I could do it with any knife. 5 Minutes later, I had it off with a paring knife. Another kitchen worker proceeded to split the jaw and hold it over his head like a helmet, chasing the Waitress around the bar. The Boss still owes me 20 bucks. took the head and trotters and brined them for head cheese. The pig roasted nicely and another catering event went without a hitch. The waitress will never eat pork again.


Got the details for a catering event today. Staff party, 25 guests, godfather theme. Knowing the people are from another kitchen and have a unique sense of humor, we ordered a horse head. Menu and decor ideas have been flying all day. charcoutrie, antipasto, Calebrese salad, pasta, veal. Prep starts in a couple of weeks. Should be fun.

Lunch today: Wild boar crumbled and sauteed with onions, on a bun with kale, radicchio, baby spinach and arugula


Spent the weekend with my girlfriend. She never buys bacon because she's afraid of eating the whole thing by herself. Apparently love means sharing a rasher of bacon.

Bacon seems to be one of the foods where everyone has a different opinion on how to cook it. Render it slowly and turn only once, keep it moving on high heat, layer it and bake it, I've seen it cooked dozens of ways, once with a propane torch, and it all just seems the same. add heat, rotate until white foam appears, dry, serve. it's all good.

pork belly, sugar, salt, pink peppercorns, thyme, zip lock bags, smoking wood ( apple or cherry),

  • trim the pork belly to size
  • combine equal parts salt and sugar, a handful of pink peppercorns, and a bunch of thyme for cure
  • pack on cure heavily and evenly on pork belly
  • place in zip lock bags and refridgerate
  • turn over once daily for 12 days
  • smoke at 180* for 6 hours