Welcome to Stayache Tataland – A Beasty Fear Tail

In Stayache Tataland there lived a Jersey Heard of cows whose calves were all slender and shapely, well suited for supporting plump bovine figures. Each day, Mercedes, Lexus, Sapphire, Paradise, Champagne, and Swantina worked out on the pole to keep the hump in their rumps. These were young heifers and for them it was all about cows gone wild and partying.

Mercedes, Lexus, Sapphire, Paradise, Champagne, and Swantina were all Jersey cows. They wanted to separate themselves from other wannabe heifers in Stayache Tataland. After much cud chewing around the Versace salt lick they agreed to call themselves the Jersey Heard. The name stuck and whenever Lupo gave orders the cows would say hhheard. The girls loved to use cow slang and thought the word moo to be so 80’s barnyard. In their opinion a Heard bull sounded more sinister than a Moo bull and that was that.

The entire barnyard knew, that the Jersey Heard were udderly mafia, and had weaves and braids in their tails for gangsta swishing. The Jersey Heard operated outside the law, so they were constantly checking each other for bugs and low life insects like the cow fly. Cow flies were well known snitches: and divided their time equally between dumpster diving and spying on Lupo, the Jersey Heard bull.

However their days as paid informants for the Holstein police were numbered.  They ratted out Lupo to the cops. The media were all news hounds and turned his arrest into a circus event and sold tickets to the show. Lupo, was facing a 10 year bid in the cattle pen as the reputed head and horns of an organized crime family and had to shell out a huge pile of bull sheets to post bail. The Holstein police with hundreds of witnesses, figured they had an airtight pillow case against Lupo.  This made him as mad as a bull in a china shop and he ordered a hit on all the cow flies in Stayache Tataland.

It  was time  for some wet work and the  Jersey cows, with their gangsta swishes, wacked so many cow flies, that the few who were left had to be relocated under the GNAT witness protection program. They were moved in the dead of night by a Fly SWAT team and given new identities like horse fly, blow fly, and fruit fly. Some were so scared, they left Stayache Tataland altogether and moved to Africa using forged passports. They called themselves the Tsetse flies in honor of their new homeland.

Lupo was acquitted of all charges and his Jersey Heard bought him a platinum nose ring as a welcome home present. Platinum, was the most expensive ring that bull sheet could buy and all the cows loved Lupo’s new bling bling look.

Now as we all know, the Jersey Heard cows were udderly mafia and heavily involved in organized crime. They specialized in the milk business and had their hooves in an extortion ring that controlled milk production from Stayache Tataland to Moo York and parts of Filly.

They sold their milk at exorbitant prices to the doggie cookie manufacturers. The manufactures were all weasels and knew the Jersey Heard was running a milk and cookie rip-off. They tried to weasel out of paying up, but Lupo ordered a couple of skunks to do a drive-by one night. The press raised a big stink about the whole affair and the next day’s newspaper headlines read “Moo York Gripped by Fear as Drive-By Claims Another Weasel”. At the crime scene the Holstein police found chocolate chip spent shells everywhere. After that, the bull sheets flowed like melted butter and turned Lupo and the Jersey Heard into cash money millionaires.

The weasels had no choice; doggie cookies were popular puppy snacks, with one major drawback. They were as hard as nails. Pooches everywhere were losing teeth which is embarrassing because they looked like gummi bears.  Sales took a nose dive. In 2008 the R& D department came up with a solution. They put a surgeon general’s warning  on the package which made it illegal for puppies to buy them without I.D.  This didn’t work, some Siberian Huskies started a smuggling operation from Canada in what the newspapers dubbed the underground cookie trail.

The industry had run out of ideas. To solve the problem the weasels hired some of Stayache Tataland’s brightest minds to find a solution. They watched episodes of Jackass for inspiration, (yes they were all donkeys). They were under tremendous pressure and after the 28th episode a fight broke out. To this day no knows how the fight started, but a horsefly claims that Foo Donkey kicked Bo Donkey in the head and turned him into a Zebra. Bo Donkey was clocked cold turkey and woke up the next day, calling himself cookies and cream. Word of the fight spread and Bo Donkey now Cookies and Cream became the butt of every Hee Haw joke in Stayache Tataland.  This was a public relations nightmare for the entire cookie industry and once again the news hounds, turned the entire debacle into a circus event and sold tickets to the show.

Cookies and cream ended up on Youtube and became an instant celebrity. The weasels knew a good thing when they saw it and Bo donkey was paid a lot of bull sheets to become the industry spokesperson. A new cookie line and marketing campaign was created. Oreo cookies became a best seller and the cookies with milk marketing campaign turned puppies everywhere into lap dogs.

When Life Sours and Tears Taste Like Limes

When life sours and tears taste like limes… CRY. Or decide that today is the day to eat pie.

I’ve been feeling like a sour lime of late. Normally, I’m an optimist who can find something positive in any situation. But somehow, my sunny outlook has gone dark, leaving seeds of uncertainty and melancholy to take root. I will not let them germinate.

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Hope springs eternal in the kitchen. Make a graham cracker crust and pat it down firmly in a pan or pie mold to keep melancholy away.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 ½ tbsp all purpose flour

 1 tbsp granulated sugar

½ stick unsalted butter (melted)

Combine first 3 ingredients. Add butter in a steady stream until mixed. Make shell in pie mold or pan, pressing graham cracker crust mix in bottom and sides until evenly applied throughout.

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My life savings paid the first year of my college tuition; the next year sort of took care of itself. Instead of believing those who cast shadows of doubt in my path, I persevered. At night while my classmates slept, I worked; and with each paycheck came the means to pursue my passion. Passion created Photochefs.com, a blog that allows me share my love of writing and cooking with you. My passion is as thick as Key Lime Pie Custard:

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Key Lime Pie Custard

3 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk

13 egg yolks

8 oz Key lime juice

Mix all three ingredients in mixer with paddle attachment; set aside and refrigerate. Pour key lime custard mixture in shell until it reaches the top of the sides. Bake at 200° F, until custard is set or approximately 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Top with Key Lime Whipped Cream, below.

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Complacency is to grow up in a small town and never leave. Like limes in a basket: sameness, roundness, green-ness, safety in being just like everyone else. But there was this pinprick in the back of my mind. Something was not right. Like the feeling of an oncoming headache, building slowly, tiny stabs of pain, immune to aspirin and water.

Many lack the courage to dream of being more, and fall to the ground and hide under leaves and grass. Away from the warmth of the sun, growing hard, bitter, resentful. But some limes are meant for greatness. They grow from seed to sapling to tree and bear fruit; hoping that one day –  somewhere, somehow –someone will notice their efforts. A lime hopes that someone will see beyond its green skin and say imagine if….

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By itself, a lime is tart and its essence is sharp and forceful to taste; but condensed milk, egg yolks, and graham cracker crust are good company. Baked in a hot oven, a lime gives its juices to balance sweet with tart, and custard adds creaminess to crispy. Left to our own selfish ways, we too become harsh and tart; but with the gift of love and warmth, a smile will emerge. The day will brighten and the mind will clear, as surely as the lime ripens.

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… But one lime heard the whispering in the wind. And listened to the buzzing of the bees. And it knew within its pith and seeds: that the day would come when it would become sublime when covered with Key Lime Whipped Cream.

Key Lime Whipped Cream

 2 ½   cups heavy cream

½ cup granulated sugar

zest of  5 Key limes, finely grated

Place all ingredients in bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside in refrigerator.

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… Until finally we are rejuvenated, for how sweet it is to be truly alive.

 

 

What did Mr. Bar-B-Q & Mrs. Deep Fry say to the Raw Vegan?

 

People in the South crave Bar-B-Q and deep fried foods like mint needs julep. Mrs. Deep Fry and Mr. Bar-B-Q are the benevolent grandparents of southern hospitality. We all love their genteel charm and easygoing mannerism . Everyone knows them; they never miss a birthday party, picnic, neighborhood cookout or family gathering. Nothing pleases them more, than to have friends and family drop in to share a good meal and catch up with old acquaintances. Mr. Bar-B-Q and Mrs. Deep Fry are home grown folk. No need for stuffy Victorian furniture, white linen and expensive silverware. When they are around, it’s okay to use your fingers, lick your lips, and flat out enjoy your food.

Since moving to the South I have grown to love fried chicken, hush puppies, beer battered onion rings, deep fried catfish, pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, baby back ribs, collard greens, grits, candied yams, sweet tea and my new favorite dessert,  peach cobbler mmmmmm. It’s on the menu at work and at least once a week at the end of my shift or on a slowwww night; it’s time to indulge my inner fat boy.

But this post is not about me or my love affair with southern cooking. In my restaurant, where cooks subsist on a steady diet of hamburgers, chicken wings, french fries and coca-cola, Sous chef Wayne Delattiboudare is an anomaly. Mr. Bar-B-Q and Mrs. Deep Fry were so concerned about this wayward son of the kitchen; they sat him down for a heart to heart talk.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: Chef Wayne, what’s that on your cutting board?

Chef Wayne: Jicama, green papaya, limes, cilantro and avocado. I’m making a salad for dinner.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: You know that salad would go great as the slaw for a pulled pork sandwich, with some french fries. Goodness ! Chef Wayne we never see you anymore!

Chef Wayne: Laughs, looks at them and laughs again. As tempting as that sounds, thanks, but no thanks, I’ll stick with my salad. I enjoy eating raw foods, it’s healthy, it’s better for digestion, and it’s free of hormones, antibiotics, and all those nasty chemicals you find in processed food.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: You can’t blame us for trying.  Chef Wayne (a puzzled look on their faces) what  made you decide to become a vegetarian and ultimately a raw vegan?

Chef Wayne: Cooking is actually my second career. For sixteen years I was a paramedic, which meant I came into contact with people  who had all kinds of medical issues. I was always telling my friends “they are what they eat” and “informed food choices increases life expectancy.” I also questioned my own eating habits at that time, and decided to practice what I was preaching.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: Be honest, don’t you miss hanging out with us?

Chef Wayne: Sometimes, but before I decided to become a raw vegan, I would wake up each morning feeling lethargic and tired. I felt horrible. Discovering the raw vegan lifestyle was a spiritual connection that has made me feel better about myself, both physically and mentally.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: Raw Vegans? You keep mentioning those two words. Is that some kind of fad diet?

Chef Wayne: No, raw vegans are people who consume plant based foods and their by-products. Raw vegans believe that the enzymes in plants are alive and active. For this reason we do not consume foods heated above 118F, because these enzymes die when heated above that temperature. This change however was not instantaneous; initially I started eating a raw diet in small amounts; gradually increasing until my diet was 80% raw and 20% meat.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: So raw vegans are people too lazy to cook? But collard greens taste horrible raw! – Mrs. Fry, groans in exasperation. You need some ham hocks in there chef ! Mr.Q – Do you save money on groceries as a raw vegan? With the economy as it is, must be a smart way to eat?

Chef Wayne: Contrary to what you may think, becoming a raw vegan is challenging and expensive.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: It should be easy! Raw vegetables are everywhere, in grocery stores, at the farmers market; even McDonald’s sells salads!

Chef Wayne: This is true, but foods prepared for the raw vegan consumer must meet certain criteria before it can be termed as such. It has to be all natural and organic, and it cannot be pasteurized. My diet usually consists of raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, sprouts, root vegetables, fresh herbs and seaweeds like Irish moss.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: Where do you shop at?

Chef Wayne: Usually special health food stores like Sevananda. I also shop at Whole Foods and Krogers, it depends on what I’m looking for.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: So why is it so expensive?

Chef Wayne: Because raw vegan foods tend to be boutique products which are not mass produced and therefore more expensive. To make coconut milk, a regular store bought coconut would cost between 99c and $1.05. To make coconut milk for a raw vegan an organic coconut from Sevananda would cost about $4.05.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: You explained how following this lifestyle can be expensive. Explain some of the challenges you face in being a raw vegan.

Chef Wayne: If I wanted a bowl of cereal. I would make my own granola. I also make my own milk because regular milk is pasteurized. Making my own milk from nuts (nut milk), is a time consuming project. Nuts such as almonds or pecans are soaked in water for several hours. They are then drained, blended and strained through cheesecloth. I have to schedule my time wisely to be able to prepare my meals as a part of my daily activities.

Mr. Q and Mrs. Fry: Chef Wayne, this was an interesting conversation. With the risk of heart attack, hypertension, diabetes and obesity among some of the major health issues affecting us today; maybe you’re on to something. This eating healthy idea definitely has its merits. You’ve given us something to think about until our next conversation. Chef Wayne, once again thank you.

When the Kitchen Slows Down

Friday is my favorite day to walk to work.

Peachtree Marta Center

As I exit the Peachtree Marta Train station, up the escalator and past the Peachtree Center mall; I’m in my own insulated world. Black tinted sunglasses, and my MP3 player, acts like a screen, offering a voyeuristic view of people going about their business.

In front of me a woman on her motorcycle come to a stop as the light turns red.
A young woman dressed in casual business attire heads into the 191 building, clutching her leftover lunch in a to go container.
A homeless man, pushes a baby stroller .
The waitresses at Hooters in neon orange shorts and tank tops chatting with each other as they wait on tables
People in their everyday lives some at work, some transient, as mindless of me as I am observant of them.

I’m dressed in my usual street gear, (cotton t-shirt, cargo shorts and sandals), perfect for Atlanta in August, where the average daytime temperature creeps upwards of 90 degrees. For someone who works in a hot steamy ass kitchen this is as comfortable as it gets.

It’s already 2pm and I clock in, slip into my chef whites, stash my personal stuff in my locker and ride the elevator upstairs to the main kitchen. Stephen the sauté guy is already there and he waves his sip cup at me in casual greeting; before heading to the dishwash station for the usual assortment of nine, third and six pans for his station. Duff and Angie two of the cooks from the morning shift, are in a heated discussion (something about the Miami Heat and the NBA finals) by the soda fountain, and I nod in their direction as I fill my sip cup with a mixture of sprite and lemonade. Yes! I know water is better, but I like water for showers and washing my hands and flushing, which suits me just fine.

It’s hot outside and in the kitchen and although I would prefer a cold Stella Artois, it’s the soda fountain or critical mass meltdown from dehydration.

There’s a pre-season football game tonight between the Falcons and the Chiefs which means it’s going to be slow. Twenty-three on the books so far, which means that we’ll be lucky if we do fifty.

A slow night can be a good thing or punishment depending on the chef in charge of the kitchen.

Slow nights can  mean, – busy work- and lots of it. Suddenly the chef remembers that the freezer needs to be cleaned and picks you for the job. Smart cooks can smell a slow night coming from a mile away. Prep for their station becomes an all night project, it takes two hours to peel and blanch a case of asparagus, one hour to shuck three dozen oysters, twenty minutes to cut a nine pan of chives.  Better to prep in slow motion than let the chef catch you munching on french fries. I remember once the entire night crew had to take all the shelves out of the produce cooler, pass them through the dishwasher, scrub the walls, and squeegee the floor. Then put everything back, dated and labeled because of ………. a slowwww night.

A Glass of Wine

Duckhorn Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

A glass of wine enhances a sumptuous feast with good cheer and fond remebrance

Made from grapes with care and attention tastes of noble men

Fills the soul with longing for bare feet in garden grass

And friendship

 And love

And butterflies

 A glass of wine in its most sublime form sets the tone for romance

Nurtues young love to full bloom

With gentle thoughts and clear conscience

As an aperitiff with cheese and fruit

Decadence

An elixir after work

A glass of wine for your thoughts

And sentiment feeling

A kiss for you my love

Omelets vs Osso Bucco

It all started last night with a conversation between myself and another cook. He had worked a few days on the breakfast shift and during a lull in dinner service, began to reminisce about his experience.

“Dude,I wish they would schedule me for more morning shifts, it’s soooo reelaxing.

 I get to come in…… drink a cup of coffee …… look at the schedule ….. and it goes by so quickly.

Lunch is a breeze, clean up, wash my tools and I’m coasting out the door by two.” 

I tried, really tried, really hard not to roll my eyes while peeling asparagus for my station. His mindless banter was annoying and I pretended to listen while mentally zoning him out.

To you my dear reader, I apologize

I couldn’t help myself , this was too much , I gave him a dirty look which  cut him off mid-sentence.

 “Are you crazy!  ! Why would you want that? You have no idea what your’re talking about ! 

 And I proceeded to tell him why. I think I hurt his feelings, I didn’t care. At some point in my explanation, I looked at his face and realized I had lost him.His eyes had widened and he looked like a deer caught in a car’s high beam.

I recognized the signs of his affliction 

It’s a peculiar virus that affects cooks early in their career. That wide eyed expression. His desire to join the breakfast shift. The desire to leave work early. The easy way out! He had caught the “lifers bug”  as surely as powdered sugar on french toast.

N.B. I shall refer to staff that work the breakfast shift as Lifers. 

Lifers have a certain unmistakeable look that makes them stand out in any kitchen. It’s  a look that says I’m gonna grow old in this kitchen. They’ll name an omelet in after me. Don’t mess with me, sonny, I’ve seen you come and I’ll be here to see you go. Chefs love lifers. They are dependable, competent and show up for work everyday exactly on time (rain or shine). A lifer on the schedule is every chefs dream, it’s like owning a casino where all the games are rigged. A sure thing. Eureka !

If you want to find a lifer, look no further than the breakfast shift. It’s easy to see why; come in early, poach some eggs, flip omelets, make a few pancakes, cook bacon and breakfast sausages . Lifers like the familiar routine of the breakfast shift, it never changes.

The breakfast shift is about eggs

Liquid eggs, and lots of it. You know the kind, unmarked and in a five gallon bag  with a spout at the end. It’s about volume and speed and omelets, three or four cooking at the same time. If that’s the type of cook you aspire to be, then go ahead and work the breakfast shift. Hell, the most challenging  thing a lifer  has to do is make hollandaise sauce for Eggs Benedict.Then switch from breakfast mise en place to lunch.  If your only mission in life is to be top chef at an IHop,  Dennys or Waffle House, then bully for you.

I have three words to describe working lunch time; SOUPS , SALADS , SANDWICHES.

The sole purpose of the breakfast cook is to serve memories.French toast, omelets, grits, blueberry muffins, crispy bacon are foods we all ate as children. It is familiar to us, it takes us home, it reminds us of those we love , it is what we ate then and what we are still eating now. Breakfast is the only meal that is  ate entirely in the Past………tense. If the sight of oatmeal gave you the heebie jeebies as a child, chances are, you’ll walk right past it on the buffet line every time. Breakfast is the only meal where grown-ups become extremely polarized, petulant  and finicky. A special request from a guest as told by the cook who prepared it ,” I would like two eggs over easy, no salt no pepper, a side of wheat toast with the crust cut off, extra crispy bacon and please make sure none of my food touches each other.” Translated into kitchen speak ” though you are a nameless cook, I am going to pretend you are my mommy, because for the next thirty minutes I’m a kid again. ”

Serious cooks come out at night.

Technique, passion , seasonal ingredients, creativity, promotion. If these words inspired you to be a professional cook, then NEVER STAY ON THE BREAKFAST SHIFT. I’ll eat this page with ketchup between a hamburger bun and love it, if you can name an executive chef that owes his position to working the breakfast shift. The night shift tests the true measure of a cook. It is here that mise en place, speed, good knife skills, and attention to detail become  an integral part  of a cooks repertoire. Guests expect to be excited, by what they see on a dinner menu. They expect to dine, and dine well without hurry or pressure until sated. A glass of wine, an appetizer, oxtail ravioli with truffle beurre blanc sauce , this is the magical hour. This is the meal at which expectations are highest. It takes all the skill and knowledge of a good chef to heighten anticipation and confirm that expectation with each morsel, each  forkful; a promise delivered.Dinner service starts at 5:30 pm sharp. Be ready !

The pressure is on , it’s an adrenaline rush – typical prep for the night shift

Lightly dust  lamb shank s with flour and season well. Sear shanks in a large roundeau until brown on all sides. Cut mirepoix, carrots, shallots, celery, maybe a few cloves of garlic, a sprig or two of garlic, some peppercorns. Sear well with the mirepoix and soon the kitchen will smell of good things to come. Add Port and good red wine to give your sauce a vinted flavor. Braise your shanks on a medium flame, slowly, it must not be rushed. Cover gently with a round of parchment paper,   and let the flavors intermingle and coalesce, until the meat juicy and tender almost falls of the bone. Is it done, hardly? The sauce has to be strained and reduced to 1/4 of itself . It must be tasted and seasoned then kept hot and waiting for service.

Fire  3d course , Osso Bucco  on table ………….A good cook will place a large spoonful of creamy herb polenta in the middle of a  warm plate. Remove the Osso Bucco  from its’ braising liquid and rest it gently on top of the polenta. Coat it with a spoonful of jus reduced to syrupy connations of wine and lamb  and herbs and spices. Garnish with a teaspoon of gremolata to add depth and contrast to the meat. Place your dish in the pass. One last touch before it goes out to the diner. Carefully the expediter wipes the rim with a small towel soaked in hot water and vinegar. An additional garnish of a sprig of thyme and rosemary is stuck into the bone marrow and out it goes. It will be delicious and it is.

 

The Passionate Chef

This letter was written almost a year ago from one cook to another. I have taken the liberty of blotting out some names, and deleting the names of restaurants mentioned . I am publishing this letter as it was intended to be read , and how it was intended to make the reader feel. I have left the typos to rest where they lay because this letter is not about grammatical content. It was written from the heart, and it’s heart that matters. I think it’s a damn shame, you decided to stay at the Hotel after what they did to all of us, and not to mention the way it is run and the product you are putting out. I also find it funny, that they let all of us go and then The Restaurant Group pulled out, kind of a kick in the ass if you ask me. I once remember you saying you were upset and wanting to quit, because of only ordering from a Food Service Company and that is what you’re working with now. So why is it ok now? I also remember the day I hired you and interviewed you at a Fine Dining Restaurant. You said you understood the business and as a line cook knew you weren’t going to make lots of money and respected and accepted that. For myself it was a blessing what happened at the Hotel. I’m glad I’m out of there because I found myself loosing passion and turning corporate which I never want to do. Nor did I have the choice, we had no guests to cook for, and that’s what the Hotel Owners wanted a corporate chef. Sure I miss the money but that’s not what I’m in the business for, I do it because I love food and love cooking. If I was in it for the money I would have changed paths long ago. I also look like an ass for speaking highly of you to the chef and the staff at the  Bistro, and promising them you would come. I thought I knew you and again was trying to do a favor for cooks that I believe will one day be a great chef. It will be hard for me to ever do a favor or pull strings for anyone again. Even after you committed to coming and gave the F&B manager your 2 weeks and then backed out its a shame. What happened did the F&B manager bribe you into it? He is just as bad as the owners… you still have lots to learn bro and if you don’t jump on the band wagon you’re going to find yourself stuck. You would have learned more at this Bistro in the 2-3 months if you were there, than you would have for one year at the Hotel.  We are doing 500-700 covers a day with great products and techniques it takes more than an average cook to keep up with that. Do you wake up every day happy to leave for work? And do you think those other line cooks and people respect you? It’s a joke bro. I mean if that’s what you’re into good luck man. The way I look at it, there are great chefs out there and real legacies like Jean Louis Palladin, Ferdinand Point, and Auguste Escoffier. Those were real great chefs and icons. It’s up to us, it’s up to us as young chefs to keep them alive, recreate there philosophies, inspire others to be like these great chefs, and evolve into the future. One question, if we don’t represent these great chefs who will? You think staying at the Hotel  will represent those chefs? I know you’re making $15 per hour and are trying to save but is it really worth the extra couple bucks? Do you think working for places other than Jean Georges, Gray Kunz, Michel Richard, Boulud, Keller, and Delouvier with great passion, technique and classical procedures will bring you to the top or boost your career and profession? I doubt it! This is all just a thought, something you should think very hard about. SO what, if you would have made $10 per hour at the Bistro, you would have been working for a renowned restaurant, learning a great chef’s  technique, working with other passionate professionals, getting over time, handing up to 400 covers a shift, and being recognized as a great cook by other great chefs. Do you think saying you worked at the Hotel and were the so called chef will help you get a great job? I guarantee a guy from a reputable restaurant will get the job before you because it’s well known for a reason. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I’m just very disappointed in some of your choices as a young cook. Take it or leave it, it’s just my 2 cents. To be honest you don’t have much more time to learn what you need to learn to rise to the top. I hate to say it bro but this industry loves young hungry professionals, you have no choice but to work with the best if you want to get there before the youngsters do! You’re a great friend and a great cook. You need to be with the best don’t put up with the average Joe’s especially not people who have no desire to have a restaurant nor know what the f@#k is involved with creating a great one. I’m  looking out for your best interest. Hope this helps your mind set! Don’t forget where you came from bro…