Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I start my stage with Maura on Tuesday! She sounds so sweet on the phone and very excited about it. While looking for organic baking opportunities in SF I found a program in the Ferry Building, 3 months, 15 hour/week. Which is great, cause I'd have something to do concrete to get me out there and plenty of time to work for actual money.

The place is called Miette and they say:

We offer 12 week unpaid internships to culinary students and people with at least one year of restaurant or bakery kitchen experience. We require a 15 hour per week commitment in which the candidate will train in all areas of our production kitchen and retail shop. You will spend 2 weeks in each position of the bakery with a shift length of either 3 or 5 hours depending on the station. Externship length can be increased to meet the needs of culinary school externship programs. Please send a cover letter detailing your experience, availability and preferred dates along with your resume to

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Chez Panisse is hiring and Slanted Door is hiring. And I need to stop looking at restaurant listings in other cities if I'm not ready with bags packed to go. Tomorrow I've got a phone date with Maura at Oleana to set up my stage...the chef network's already landed me in the only kitchen in town I really wanted to work in--still want to see Clio's kitchen though--although for no money, and I'm sure it'll get me somewhere else when I'm ready to go there. Citizen Cake or Orson or even the places mentioned above.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Michael Ruhlman

In preparation for my CIA dinner in a few weeks I picked up Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef (as well as The Reach of a Chef, his new one) from the library. I didn't expect it to be a gripping page turner that had me also laughing out loud and sighing in recognition, but it was. To wit:

(And I keep turning this one over in my mind, because it's an intellectualization of cooking I admire): ..."Caramel is a really complex action of sugar. When it starts to caramelize all sorts of molecular things happen....[when you eat raw caramel, versus raw sugar] it's sweet, but there's something else going on in there. It's differnet, more complicated. Maybe there's vanilla flavors, maybe there's spicy cinnamon flavors; you can get all these different flavors that occur when they start to caramelize..." (33)

"You can't eversend a product out of it's not right...It doesn't matter how busy you are. Your reputation is on the line every time you send a plate out. If you get into the mindset that I don't care what it looks like, I'm too busy, just take it out, maybe they won't know the difference, then that's the kind of restaurant you'll work in the rest of your life. You'll never work in a really great restaurant and you'll never be a really great chef...Because that's the mindset of a mediocre chef:I'm too busy to do it right; get it out of my face!" (52)

"As I listened ot Mr. Metz speak I sensed--as I had sensed in every kitchen I'd attended at this school--that how one cooked potatoes was a link away from a moral value judgment. Mr. Metz had told me one puts one's values on the plate; in fact, he suggested that this was the final and distinguishing element one beought to the basics of cookery." (274)

"In baking, there were so many things you had to be able to see that weren't visible--moisture in the air, yeast, the components of flour. You never heard a cook complaining about how humnid it was in the kitchen. If a consomme wasn't clear you could fix it by making a new clarification, this time with more acid and protein. Baked stuff was harder to fix. The pressure in baking was all beneath the surface, within the crust, and would remain there until you hit the thermal death point. If the pressure ever became visible it was too late. If you scaled your dough right, you were fine, but if something was out of balance, what you had on your hands was a disaster, because there was not time to mix, ferment, scale, rest, shape, proof and bake more. The pressure here came from within and, in a bakeshop as in bread, the secret was to create and maintain that pressure" (198-199)

"A whole system of gears is gradually ratcheted in and, suddenly, it engages. And there it stays, in the kitchen and out, no matter where you are. The experience is difficult to describe...Something clicked and you knew everything that was happening in the kitchen. Some people called it kitchen sense. It's like something living that jumped inside you. A physical correlation might be this: you are carrying several heavy pieces of luggage through O'Hare Airport, walking as fast as you can to make a plane. You step onto an empty moving walkway--you are walking just as fast as you were, but, suddenly, space and time fly over you at double the rate and
with ease" (293) and for what kind of person is this life the only option?

CIA should be fun, if 8 years late. I think I have a longing to have gone to CIA but why? Just to spend 2 more years in po-town? I likely would have just hung out with Jes and Steve if I'd done so. Because it's supposed to be the best? Because I love the Hudson Valley? Because I know that I'm less of a chef having gone to 9 months of school even if Delphin was amazing?

savory desserts

Mostly the savory desserts I'm finding seem to be vegetarian--except for the disconcerting bacon trend...

but Yvonne Gatt at 9 Park is not only doing a fancy candied celery szechuan thing, she's also doing a beet cake! w/ mascarpone and fennel brulee

AND pain perdu (which also seems to be big, at least at Craft, which features pain perdu and olive oil cake and pumpkin ice cream (a la sundae bar fashion of course)...but Yvonne's pain perdu is with heirloom squash and fig. I liked Yvonne, when I trailed there--but they pay nothing (oh well).

Citizen Cake has buckwheat financiers with white chocolate-miso ice cream and some other things, and a kabocha squash (or is it pumpkin?) chestnut tart, AND some sort of mushroom ice cream(huh?) AND soba noodles in i think they win the competition.

Eleven Madison Park has french toast (which may as well be pain perdu) w/ apples and bacon streusel.

I think we've already discussed Clio's hokkaido squash sorbet and chicory creme caramel...

I went to check out Rialto's menu but apparently they're closed and reopening with a new look and new style ("eat like an italian" the website boasts!?!) That just sent me racing to the James Beard site to see if they'd warned us of this new twist. I didn't much love the old Rialto--though I did relish seeing Cornel West out with a much younger white chick--but Italian?

I kind of want to learn from someone innovative. Though today I made tons of caramel--pistachio brittle, honey-pistachio brittle ice cream, lavender sauce, Ana Sortun's caramel popcorn with chili and nuts...I dirtied every pot in my kitchen and thought nostalgically of Cheffy and how we'd always brush down the pan, always clean the bubbles, adn how no one I've worked with sicne does those things. Dirty sugar, the shame. Though if I ever start baking naughty cakes, it'd be a good name.

I felt the spirit of Alice Waters guide my hand today as I shopped for my ridiculous Chez Panisse dinner party. The Shaws produce wasn't good enough. Everything came form Whole Foods and I almost--but didn't--bought Meyer Lemons for it because I know that's what Alice would want me to use.

Oh, Chez Panisse. A bientot, j'espere.