The Butchers’ Wife

What had he done? Ohhh the memory, what did he do! Her name was Deidre, Mrs. Deidre Carriba and she was the butcher’s wife. He could still feel her breath, as she stroked the back of his neck with her fingers. Her hands brushed aside his weak attempt at resistance, and her lips parted in a wry smile, scornful of his cowardice. “You know what you came for” she said and came closer. “Yes, “he said quietly with the perturbed look of a young man answering his own question with another question. “Well, come inside, the air is on.” She took his hand and Theo entered the tiny living room, mindful to leave his shoes by the door, just as his momma had taught him. Even without shoes, in a married man’s house he felt his bravado return. Theo knew that her husband was at Flannigan’s and would probably spend the night in his car, too drunk to drive home. Mr. Carriba, the neighborhood butcher, was known for three things – his pastrami, his selection of house-made Italian sausages and his ability to drink. Yes he would be all right, Javier was quite friendly with Deidre, so what was he worried about. When Theo thought about Deidre, he thought about the time he stole chocolate cookies from this bakery he used to work at after school. He remembered how he had stuffed them into his pockets, still fresh and gooey from the cooling rack. He remembered how warm and comforting […]

Memorable Kitchen Dialogue

Working in a kitchen, is reminiscent of watching your favorite soap opera. We gossip, we talk, we savor the juicy details, we chew on the nasty bits, there’s always drama. We’re working hard behind the line, but our eyes see everything.

A Stab in the Heart – Wages & Salaries in the Culinary Industry

Before considering a culinary career, one should consider the following questions: a)         Why go to culinary school and what can I expect to learn? b)         What kind of job should I expect to get after culinary school? c)         Should I get a job in the industry before I commit to culinary school and why? d)         With a lot of hard work and passion, how many years should I expect to invest before becoming an executive chef? e)         Should I consider an apprenticeship instead of culinary school? f)         Should I consider a profession with higher wages and compensation and less personal sacrifice? When we think about, read about, or see celebrity chefs on TV, we romanticize their careers and assume they make a lot of money. We have questions regarding their annual income, and assume that they are paid handsomely for their hard work and talent. Our assumptions – though correct – are skewed, as celebrity chefs make up only 1% of the culinary industry. And while they do receive high salaries, the other 99% of culinary professionals do not. The average salary for a line cook is between $8.88 and $15.00 per hour.  The median wage for a Sous Chef is $32,000 Pastry Chef is $31,000.  An Executive Chef is $50,000  Food servers  actually make more than the average cook; working in the banquet department they make up to $27.00 per hour. Servers that work at high-end fine dining restaurants can easily net upwards of $50k a year. Industry professionals argue that in […]

No Windows In My Kitchen

There are no windows in my kitchen, instead passion lights the spark  A compass on the journey It burns in fluorescence, ambition so bright; we are scarred by its touch A cook’s odyssey, in this space, devoid of night or day Life oblivious to the newness of spring, summer love, fall leaves, the taste of raindrops This is our secret hive, where time passes in eight hour shifts, cigarettes and thirty minute breaks We are the worker bees without wings, deep in the belly, where the cut of a knife can sting  There are no windows in my kitchen but I am not alone A smile is my sunlight, reassuring and warm to touch Stainless steel instead of earth, it’s everywhere we look but up  Imagine stars in the sky  Wonder what is being kept out, now that we are all swiped in Water goblet reflections, distorted in this unnatural light What don’t they want us to see?  A bus, a car, Starbucks, a leaf still attached to its tree?  No window to see in the mind’s eye, what could be Imagination, inspiration, perspiration Look at this plate; it is the window of me Bursts of vivid color, subtle nuance in play, can you decipher the puzzle in a box? Ghost in the kitchen, opaque, translucent, disillusionment  Now look through this glass, magnified to the power of ten At men, women, names in history, my kitchen, our craft, collective creation No window in this kitchen, but it’s never too late […]

Menu Writing & The Smoked Duck Theory

“Everything we do, each idea, moment of inspiration, ingredient, protein, technique, which finds its way onto your plate, revolves around the menu.”