Wednesday, July 14, 2010


this is the moment I've spent the entire month preparing for. Brookville Restaurant is having it's health inspection today, and there is absolutely no reason it shouldn't pass, everything is spotless, servsafe requirements are met, and everything is sparkly.

Harrison (the new chef) and I worked all day yesterday, scrubbing floors, walls, ranges, ovens, grills, storage racks, 3 compartment sinks..... you get the idea, and at the end of the day, it was soo fucking worth it, it looks spectacular.

Before yesterday, most of what we were doing was recipe development, which usually consisted of going to the farmers market, buying a bunch of shit, then going back to the restaurant and cooking till we run out of shit to try and make.

Some of my projects have included
Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee with Wineberries (ongoing, still trying to get it right)
Double Cut Porkchop with carmelized onions and an apple bacon compote (fuckin slammin)
Trout En Papillote with squash, Zucchini and almonds. (not too shabby)

Harrison has been a great mentor, showing me how to do different things and I'm really excited because he has also brought in some cool stuff like meat glue to try some molecular gastronomy stuff.

However, despite our desire to dabble into the crazy, the restaurant is meant to be a 100% local (or as close as we can get) and seasonal menu, and fortunately Harrison and I have a similar outlook on food: Put as little stuff on the plate as possible, and keep flavors pure and simple, so we get along quite well.

Opening for lunch starting monday, not sure when we're opening for dinner, all I know is this is going to be one hell of a restaurant and if you're ever in charlottesville you should come check it out.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Long Time No Blog

Hey so sorry for the rather long delay (like 2 month long) delay in posting, everything was pretty much normal and I was busy with a lot of things going on at once.

Right now I'm in South Carolina, hanging with my friends Derek and Courtney whom I went to culinary school with, just as a little vacation, though I'm going into work with Derek tonight to help him out at the Bar/Grill that he runs the kitchen at. So it's a working vacation, but it'll be fun and it's good to see old friends who I've missed dearly.

So as far as the restaurant changeover goes, I've spent two days there painting and rennovating and everything, and Harrison should have all that junk done by now, he had friends come in over the weekend to finish up all that so I'm going in next week and we get to start cooking and doing recipe development and all that so it's going to be really fun from here on out.

From what I can tell of Harrison, the food is going to be out of this world good, we've got a wedding reception or something next week that we'll prep for the couple days before and I get to actually experience his style of cooking, which I'm excited for.

I'll try and start posting again regularly let everyone know what's going on

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lazy Summer Days

The Title is a very quiet Aesop Rock shout out, we've been listening to his stuff in the kitchen like alll week, nothin like good underground rap to rock out to on the line.

Kitchen music is just one of those things that's a staple in any kitchen.
Back at Timberwood grill, my first real restaurant job, it was anything and everything, punk, ska, reggae, rap, classic rock.

At horse and hound it was either drum and bass techno, or death metal (much to my dismay...)

At The upstairs, it changes a lot, but Aesop Rock is a pretty common one.

For some reason, cooks just seem to work better when there is a beat to work to, it lets them fall into a rhythym and roll through prep or that ticket as they jam out to some tunes in the kitchen.

Just random thoughts, sorry it' not much
more will come... hopefully.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Of Recent

Hey Everyone

So it's 10:15 in the morning and I'm sitting in a coffee shop next to the restaurant.
Since my last post, a ton of stuff has happened for me.

First of all, My Chef, Jaison, recently took me out to a farm that we are buying beef from, the farm is about a 45 minute drive out of town, but it was a great experience. Upon getting to the farm, we walked around with the farmer, Peanut, and looked at the beef we will be buying, I was able to listen in on my chef and the farmer talking prices as well as the logistics of getting the animals slaughtered. First though, we got the beef started on a grain diet for the last month before we started buying them, to fatten them up and get them as close to prime quality as we can.

As far as the slaughter goes, we will need to have the beef transported to a USDA inspected slaughtering facility, and must pay their prices for the animal to be slaughtered and cut into primals for us.

While we were there, we were also able to look at the lamb, goats, and chickens the farmer had, as well as his two pigs. I found it really interesting seeing how the farm worked as well as hearing how much feeding the animals factored into the price of the animals.

By the time I leave here, I will have been able to see a lot of the beef we are buying from the farm go through the restaurant, as well as hopefully just before I leave, I will be able to see a lamb or two go through as well. While it may seem kind of morbid to talk about living creatures passing through the restaurant as food, but it'd just a fact of the business, and humanity. We kill A LOT of animals to make money and serve them. But seeing these animals alive makes me very inclined to do something special and memorable with them so that they go to good use. This is just one thing that every cook should do is visit a farm they get produce, or meats from and see the work that goes into taking care of it, and see the product itself to understand it better and realize, if they screw up, they're wasting a life, cooks will be a lot less inclined to overcook that burger just to throw it away when they do.

In other news, the restaurant I'm interning at has now opened for lunch, and Jaison has decided once he is comfortable with my abilities, that I will be running lunch on my own. I'm both excited and nervous about this. I love the fact he is eventually entrusting this to me, and I will have freedom to cook on my own and hone my abilities. But at the same time, I really, really, don't want to screw this up, because as we have just started doing lunch, it means the reputation of our lunch service more or less depends on me. This is a huge responsibility and for someone who still has much to learn, it's a little scary.

I have also learned that Jaison is loaning me out to another NECI alumni, Lyndon to help him with his burrito cart for concerts at the Charlottesville Pavilion. I'm actually really excited about this, because it's something I've never done before, and it should be interesting and a new experience..... not to mention I get into the concerts for free :)

well that's just the update
talk to ya'll later.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

5 Reasons to love oysters... yes, including that

Hey everyone who actually reads this :P
I haven't posted in awhile cuz I haven't really had much to post about, it's been business as usual at the restaurant for the most part, and I'm not one to write just to write. I write when something comes to mind or I'm inspired by something, or I learned something really fucking cool.


5 Reasons to love oysters

1) They're simple.
Oysters don't really need anything with them, at the restaurant we serve them with horseradish, cocktail sauce, and shallots and parsley in red wine vinegar on the side, as well as a lemon wedge and a schezuan berry (look those up, they're cool, there's kind of a electric sensation to them). But the dont really need it, they're beautifully tasty on their own, you don't even need to cook them.

2) The Preparation. Oysters are one of those interesting items that while it doesn't take much to prepare and plate them, it's strangley cathartic to do. It takes both patience and a kind of aggressiveness to open them and do it right. My chef, my first night opening them told me something I found kind of profound "Remember that they're still living creatures, don't attack them, treat them with respect" (or something close to that) You've got to be patient, wiggling the knife in carefully so you don't jam it in stabbing the oyster, but you've got to be aggressive enough to put the force behind the knife to get in there and be able to pop hinge.

3) There's many different types; Each with a different flavor to them. Oysters absorb what's around them in the ocean, making different oyster from different place taste completely different. At the restaurant we use Stellar Bay Oysters, which are the best oysters I've ever tasted, they have that saltiness that all oysters have to them, but they are cut by this almost honeydew like sweetness to them that is just outrageously good.

4) They're elitist; raw oysters aren't for everyone, they seperate the men from the boys, the consistency is weird, but it's something you can learn to love, and it's soooo worth it when you can get past it, and just enjoy the flavor (see above)

and.....5) They're sexy; Everyone who loves them knows them to be an aphrodesiac, and theyre just one of those sensual things that are fun and enjoyable.

They're right up there with foie gras for my favorite food, if you've never popped an oyster, try it, and just go with it, you'll hate the consistency of them the first time, but try them another, you'll know what to expect, it'll go down easier, and you'll focus on the flavor you completely ignored last time.

Later ya'll

Friday, March 5, 2010

The art of quiet nights

Tonight was a quiet night, we only did like 20 covers or so. But I've found you can get a lot done... Today I did everything from scrub out the hood vents to finish preparing a foie gras torchon and kept myself busy with prep and such. I have figured out that part of being a chef is always keeping busy and finding something to do.

I try to spend every minute of my downtime doing something productive, whether it's scrubbing out the low boys, the counter tops, the walls, the stove, the sinks, or even taking a couple pans and scrubbing carbon off them, or reading the cookbook my chef gave me to read through to get a better understanding of a technique, or some part of cooking (The French Laundry cookbook is awesome for that)

Don't get me wrong, I can't wait till we get busy and I have to cook my ass off to make it through, I love the thrill of being in the middle of a shitstorm rush, and knocking food out, there is no better sense of fulfillment than that for me. But, I'm taking this one day at a time trying to learn something new each day, both about food, and about myself as a cook, there's plenty to discover in both.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Learn it up

So this is my first post, after my first day working at my first internship, after my first year of Culinary School at New England Culinary Institute. Seems like a lot of firsts eh? To me its something comforting and familiar, like an old friend.

I've worked kitchens before, even at the kitchen I (re)started in today, I've been a cook since I was 14, and I don't regret a single day of it. I'm a line rat, through and through. As I said, I just finished my first term of culinary school, and in retrospect, it probably counts as the best 6 months of my life so far. It was a full six months full immersed in everything culinary, it's what I lived and breathed day in day out, whether I wanted to or not, and it not only taught me a lot, but let me grow up a little and just realize I need to absorb EVERYTHING. That's the number one thing I can say I learned, is that watching everyone around, asking everyone questions, not just the chef instructors, or the chef you're working for, EVERYONE, will get you much farther much faster than anything else ever will.

Even just talking about food with friends I learned a lot. I have a lot to thank my friends for, including much of my knowledge, they're some of the best teacher's I've had. All year, pretty much all of my conversations got back to things we could do with food, or what beer we liked and for what reasons things in the industry are done a certain way. Specifically Derek, Courtney, Pete, Aaron, Mikey, and Jamie I am indebted to for a long long time for all they've taught me.

This takes me to where I am now. Tonight was my first night interning, and we didn't do many covers, but I worked my ass off. I prepped out a couple basic things, then started scrubbing everything in sight, just because it has been written into my programming. While it may not seem like much this is something significant to me. This is the first time I've found myself doing it automatically, like it was a natural process to me. This would not have happened if you had seen me six months ago, or even 3 months ago, and it shows me how I've grown and learned what I need to do to become a chef and make it to the the top.

All I really need to do is learn it up.