Monday, February 28, 2005

Minor Restaurant Going Tip:

If you know the owner of a restaurant and you arrive at his or her place and they are not there: *do not* call the owner and play the "guess where I am" game, *do not* mention, multiple times, that you know the owner to staff members (cause, well, no shit. We *work* there, we know the freggin owner too, dumbass) and *do not* assume you are best buddies, either. If you really were best buds, you would already *know* that the owner 9.9 times out of 10 does not work at the restaurant in the evenings and you wouldn't be wondering where he or she was when you walked in. Lastly, when you ask who is cooking that night and *the cook* (who also happens to not be the owner) answers that he is, *do not* answer "No! [owner's name] is the cook! [owner's name] is the cook!" Oh yes, and do not do all the above with your grossly bronzed and flabby gut hanging out your too-small midriff shirt.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Minor and Random Restaurant notes:

They hired a new guy at work! Yeah! I shall now, hopefully, be randomly called in less.

Related, I now seem to finally be on a Monday, Friday & Saturday schedule.

I worked till midnight on Saturday (instead of my usual 10:30-11:00). It sucked.

That news I mentioned, way back on Valentine's Day..I found out what it is. It's bigger than a breadbox. I am still not sure what I am going to do about it. Yes, it is positive. I will hold off publicly posting about it until I've talked more with the owner and made a decision, one way or another. (Those who already know -hush-)

I am, for the first time in a long while, actually *not feeling well*. I thought I was going to puke in my coffee this morning. I believe this is the result of the constant assault of everyone else around me being sick. Even the best army can only hold out for so long. I still have to work tonight though. Bah!

Unrelated, I am tired of winter. I am tired of gray skies and mushy snow. I am ready for it to be spring/summer and to be biking and be outside.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It's been a bit since I've shared a recipe, but I made this one last night and it was not only incredibly easy to make, but very yummy.

Garlic Tomato Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
1 tbsp paprika (we used smokey/hot paprika)
1 cup of light veggie (or chicken, for you meat eaters) stock
1/4 cup of dry sherry *
2 X 28oz. cans of tomatoes, undrained, blended until smooth

parsley, chopped
cheese (feta or parmesan)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook until golden (about 5 minutes)
Add the paprika and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly (make sure not to burn it!)
Deglaze the pan with a splash (about 1/4 cup) of stock and let simmer for a minute.
Add remaining stock, sherry and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Salt to taste

Finish with a sprinkle of parsley and cheese, if desired.

* Now, before someone goes "I don't have Sherry, I'll omit it" or "Sherry is too expensive". Let me tell you: Sherry is used a lot in cooking and *it lasts*. I have been using the same bottle of Sherry that I bought for $5.00 or something many years ago. Obviously, the better the Sherry is, your dish will be that much better, but, for now, buy the cheap stuff, you'll not be missing out.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

People are cheap.

So, being Valentine's Day, I thought yesterday was going to be my "Big Tip Day" at work. My hope was this: people would be going out, having a good time with their significant other, feeling like the "man" (or "woman") and, in an attempt to show off, start throwing money around, namely in the direction of our tip jar. Shoot, maybe just feel pity on us schmucks who, instead of spending time with our lovely wives, were working all night to feed them. Sadly, we had no such luck. As Genevieve pointed out, the problem seems to be that we don't have a wait staff and that people think, unless they have someone waiting on them, they don't have to tip. Now, we *do* take your food to you, we set the table, we clear the table when you're done and we keep the pitchers of water in fresh supply. We do everything but take the order at your table. I guess this isn't enough. So, despite being pretty busy, we only made $12.00 each (myself and the head chef) in tips. That's including one large table that was generous and kind enough to leave us a $10.00 tip.

I was also told to make sure I keep any large bills out of the tip bucket. I guess, sometimes, people will make like they're leaving a tip and, in fact, swipe a few bucks from the tip jar. (Once, this happened right in front of our head chef, who caught the guy in the act). I hadn't heard about this practice before and it pisses me off to no end. To people who do that, I want to go to *their* place of work and start taking money out of their wallet while they're in the bathroom. Then, when they come back, beat them with a large stick. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people? Here's a clue to people who do this: the restaurant industry pays infamously shitty. The people serving you your food are not driving home in their Lexus SUV to their Bay Village house. You dipping your hand into the tip jar is low low low. Now, I know that nobody who reads this blog would even think about doing this, it just ticked me off and I wanted to rant.

On the upside, I came home to a lovely surprise from Genevieve: she'd laid out a couple glasses of wine and some chocolate covered strawberries, all by candlelight. (Plus, she'd cleaned the house, which, coming home from 13 hours of work was absolute bliss). It was an awesome and romantic ending to the day :)


Monday, February 14, 2005

Sorry I haven't posted much lately. The truth of the matter is, I wasn't sure where my job at the restaurant was heading. During the week, I got a call from the owner. He had phoned my cell the night before, but it wasn't with me, so I didn't get the message till the next day. Apparently, they had been swamped the night before and they could have really used the help. So, between that and my assertion that I can only come in 3 (or possibly 4) days a week, he wasn't sure if they could use me at the restaurant. I guess he was feeling that they needed someone who could come in "whenever". This would be a reasonable assumption for a full-time person, but I have a regular job and this is only a part-time gig for now and I let him know as such. When I left the conversation, I was pretty sure that this past weekend was going to be my last.

Then, on Friday, he stops in while I am working and it's like we're buddies again. He also tells me that he wants to talk to me on Saturday and that "it's positive." So, I have *no idea* what's going on. On Saturday, he just says we'll talk about it on Monday and that it's not a big deal. But, I did see a "help wanted" sign in the window, which bodes well for them hiring another person to work the days that the other part-timer or I cannot work. We'll see.

If I don't end up working there past this week, well, I can't say I won't be upset. But, it's not like it would be the end of my culinary career, just time for a change.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

It is Ash Wednesday, the time where good little boys and girls, like Mr. Harvey shall be fasting.

In celebration of that, I would like to encourage everyone who reads this blog to post their favorite food dish, described in loving detail. Feel free to post as many dishes as you'd like. I am sure he will truly appreciate the sentiment.

One of my favorite dishes (when eating out) is El Tango's chicken quesadilla. Not something for those watching their weight, it has cheese on both sides. The center filling is all gooey and yummy, topped with a spicy, tender marinated chicken. The outside has bits of crisp cheese on it, sprinkled with "magic", a very sweet and spicy sauce and chili powder. The meal is finished off with a small salad with homemade salsa and a chipotle cream.

My favorite dish (to make) currently is a Chile Relleno casserole. Layers of homemade refried beans, marinated "pork" and roasted poblano peppers, all topped with smoked pepper jack cheese. I served this with a side salad, topped with roasted poblanos and roasted chili corn, then finished off with a chipotle cream sauce. Genevieve actually has a picture of it and, if she has it at work, I encourage her to e-mail it to me.


Monday, February 07, 2005

A few random things for today's blog.

Restaurant Stuff - I worked this past Friday (I had Saturday off, probably the only time I'll have this day off in a long while). The work was steady, until some guy decided to put in a walk-in order for 15 people (!!). You know, you just don't walk into a small, busy restaurant, on a Friday night, and ask for a take-out order for 15. As the owner later said, "that's catering stuff. If you want to feed that many people, you get a caterer." I mean, the place I work at only *seats* about 18-20 people, so you're talking about the equivalent of almost the whole restaurant ordering at once. We ended up having to call the owner in to help out on the grill. Even then, we had to tell people, who were there, that it would be a 45-minute wait for their food. To the head chef and the owner's credit, they *did* bust ass and get the orders out at a crazy rate, but still, it was not fun. On the upside, I did get a visit from Genevieve and Kerry at the restaurant. Unfortunately, they came just-in time to get the 45-minute delay, but they (or anyone else, for that matter) didn't seem to mind. I made sure to do my part and make their chips & salsa and lemonades (which is about all I could do). Either way, it was nice to see them.

About 9:00pm, the place died down (except for a group of people who seemed to think that the restaurant was their own personal bar and, despite the fact we close at 10:00pm, didn't leave until 10:30 or so), so we got a chance to recoup and make it out of there by 11:00pm.

Saturday and Sunday, we kind of laid around the house. I played (too many) video games on Saturday. Oh yeah, side story: so I got this plug n' play video game system called Super Player III. It's 76 old NES games in a joystick, which plugs into your TV. Here's the thing though: it's a bootleg system and most of the games are of the older/less fun NES variety. Granted, there's some diamonds in there, including: Kung-Fu, Arkanoid (a game I used to play habitually on my old C64 when I was a kid), Super Mario and Elevator Action. But there's also alot of games like "Monkey", a blatant rip off of Donkey Kong Jr. (which is also, strangely, included), except every character only has one color and it plays some funky Kraftwerk-esque music (not that that's a bad thing ;) and "Space ET" (which is Space Invaders, except some of the aliens have a weird smile on their face). In order to supplement these games, you're supposed to be able to plug in regular NES games, using an adaptor, to the bottom. So, I got the adaptor and some games. But, trying it out on Saturday, it plain -does-not-work. So, my chances of playing Zelda and Ninja Gaiden are just thrown to the wind. Bah!

Sunday, while Genevieve worked on some resume and portfolio stuff, I watched another movie from my Sci-Fi DVD collection, "The Unknown World". A mini-review follows.

I had hopes for "The Unknown World". The blurb described a group of scientists who tunnel into the earth, with unexpected results! A big fan of "Journey to the Center of the Earth", I was thinking I might be treated to, at the very least, a Jules Verne rip-off. Sadly, the film's one "magical" scene made no sense at all. Here's the premise: It's the Atom age, mankind is set to blow itself up any day now and our only hope for survival is to burrow deep into the Earth's crust, into some expansive underground cavern (how they know it's there, I have no idea and it's never explained, but through the film, they have a "map" of an area that supposedly no man has ever been). 6 scientists develop a drilling machine to explore this new area, bringing along the playboy financier, who pays his way onto the trip. So, down they go! and down and down...
and really, not much goes on for about...45 minutes. They drill, they go out to explore, a few people die (strangely, this only mildly upsets anyone), they continue to drill, they explore, more deaths. The whole time, we're treated to badly lit shots of Carlsbad Caverns and some of the worst acting of the time. Finally, after about 45 minutes (which is somehow supposed to be like a week or more), they reach their destination. A huge underground paradise, complete with a waterfall, a beautiful ocean and....sunlight...
Wait.. a.. minute..sunlight? Yea, supposedly they are 1650 miles under the earth, but somehow it's a sunny la-la land. Anyways, their joy is short lived as they discover (through a pair of bunnies) that nothing can give birth in this area, that it makes every being in it sterile. How they come to this all-encompassing conclusion from two bunnies, I have no idea, but then again, earlier in the movie, a scientist argued that the inner core of the planet is actually *cooler* than the outside, so it's playing really loosely with science already. So, this paradise is now "a graveyard" and they gotta head back up. At first, some "force" pulls they down, beyond what their handy machine reads at "the farthest point" (point of what?). Then, miraculously, it spits them up. Straight up at what, according to the machine, would be at about 500mph or so (they can easily walk about the cabin though). Finally, they are on land again! 5 people have died and mankind is now completely doomed, but damn, are they happy! The end.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Restaurant Biz - Day Whatever

I talked to our head chef last night about, well; getting a schedule that might leave me with a smidgen of sanity. I had to be firm, as the statement "I can work 3 days a week, 4 if somebody calls off" ended up translating to, in his mind, "I can work 4 days a week." Despite my apprehension, it was actually not a big deal. As long as I agreed to work Friday and Saturday nights as two of my nights, they were fine with it. At least he seemed so, we'll see how it goes and if I'm being called again every day next week.

Now, with any other job (and I've worked PT jobs that did), requiring me to work every weekend would be a no-go. But, I'm going into the restaurant business; I prepared myself to lose my weekends a long time ago. I'm suprised it is so soon, but it was simply a fact that it was going to happen.

So, last night. I really felt like I got my first real taste of the pace of a kitchen. It was just the chef and I and, around about 7pm, we got hit. Now, the more things I learn to make, the busier I get at these times, so I was trying to balance: taking orders, dealing with the increasing pile of dishes, refilling prep trays and putting together people's chips and salsa, guacamole, nachos, drinks, etc. I handled myself pretty well, I thought. The only times I got screwed up is when I didn't have a guacamole ready by the time the rest of the take-out order was and when I completely blanked on which of the tables out there were supposed to get an order of chips.

Once the rush was over, it wasn't too bad. I pounded out the dishes that were sitting there, got the dining area swept up, shook out the rugs (I am *still* picking grit out of my hair from that one) and started helping get the place closed up. I also made a few bucks in tips, which was nice. Someone also left an unopened Pacifica Beer at a table, which was even nicer :)

I'm heading back in to work tonight. I believe there will be three of us working tonight and, if so, and we reach a point where they want to send someone home, the person I've been working to cover for this week better *not* raise her hand. That's all I got to say.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

I know I usually don't post twice in a day, but I was given this link by Mr. Harvey. It's an excellent page, illustrating the knife techniques used to cut assorted produce. Most of this I learned in my Knife Skills class, but if you don't want to slap down the cash, check out the site. Really, anyone that cooks at home, no matter how much or how little, can benefit from a little extra knife skills. If anything, it'll cut down on the time it takes you make dinner, besides the other benefits of a uniform cut/cooking, that will make your meals that much better. So go already.


Informal Semi-Rhetorical Poll - please leave votes in the comments

I have been asked to work my restaurant job every-single-day this week. Originally, they asked me to work till close on Monday. No problem. Then, on Tuesday, they ask me again to work. Eh, I would have liked to have known ahead of time, but, I didn't have anything to do, so no problem. Then, yesterday, Wednesday, I call to get a schedule and they ask me to work that night! I decline, saying I have plans. When I call later that night, to find out if they have a schedule for me, I get asked to come in Thursday, Friday & Saturday. I agreed to come in tonight (and will work tomorrow, as well) but said we'll have to talk about the weekend. Now, is it just me, or is this a bit unreasonable on their part? It'd be one thing if it was my full-time job, then yeah, I'd expect to be working most every day. But this is a part-time gig.

So, is it so out of the ordinary to ask, when I go in today, to be scheduled for 3 days a week (they are only open 6 days)? I figure, if there is an emergency and they need me to come in for a fourth day, every so often, no big deal. But, average around 3 days each week.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

So, you may have noticed the lack of "Restaurant Biz - Day XX" posts lately. This doesn't mean I haven't been working. In fact, I worked till close on Monday as well as yesterday (though we did close early). The thing is, ever since I got hired in, I have been unsure if it's a valid thing to post the adventures of the day, since it's ceased being an experiment and started, truly, on the road to being a career. I mean, I could tell everyone about the glories of sweeping and mopping the kitchen or how I can now take orders and run the register or even how pressing 10 cups worth of limes assures that lime juice will enter any and every crack in your hands and feel damn uncomfortable. I could even mention how I now know how to make one of the restaurant's specialty drinks (unfortunately, I only know how to make a "restaurant quantity" of it) and about half of their soups.

But does any of this make for interesting blog reading? I'm guessing not.

So, what do you say? Do you want me to continue on with the Restaurant Biz posts, or have they worn out their welcome?