Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Twenty Years (Five Years Later)

Only a man who’s been burned knows what hell is truly like - Sandor Clegane

Twenty years ago today, I almost died.

I came home from presiding over a successful meeting of my Masonic Lodge, did some work and went to
bed. I woke the next morning in the Intensive Care Burn Unit of the Erie County Medical Center. I wasn’t expected to survive the first twenty-four hours. Ten days later I was released.

It is that simple, and that complex. It was the worst nightmare that you can imagine. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. It almost killed me, but it saved my life.

To understand how I can look back on a traumatic event as a blessing, you have to know my life as of April 21, 1994. I was wretched.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Elegy From a Cook (revisited)

My first (and only) shot at moving from Sous Chef to Chef at a another restaurant came at the urging of Fred Rzemek. I had known Fred for years, starting as one of his Lawyers (we even held our holiday parties at his various restaurants). He is the one who first induced me to enter cooking as a career, and when he decided to open Fredi, I was on board. Fredi was located in the quiet village of Clarence Center, part of the Town of Clarence – the next town east of here. Fred, and later Fred and Maggie lived in the coach house out back. The slogan “City Chic, Country Charm” summed it up.

My tenure there didn't last long – several issues had been building, including health and family. I would still pop in for the occasional shift when Fred needed me. At least until it caught fire a few years back, and Fred and Maggie moved back downtown.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Eighteen Years

ElliePepperI like children, if they're properly cooked. - W.C. Fields
Eighteen years. I was sous chef at a lovely suburban restaurant called DACC’s (I have mentioned it before, but the name was an acronym for Dan and Alice Welch, John “Crash” Cracchiola and Caren Ashkar– the owners. (Alice was out of the picture by that time.) I was having a hoot as a cook. It may have been the first time I was really happy in a job. Ever.

When I left the Law, I had no idea of how my career would change. I had no idea I would finally marry. Even then kids were not part of the equation. Then Trish got pregnant. We lost that one, but the idea of being parents had planted its seed in our brains. In 1998, we found out Trish was pregnant again. This time, it took.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Tale of Two Dinners

It was the best of Dinners, it was the worst of Dinners – apologies to Mr. Dickens.
Today’s Buffalo News carried two stories about dining. The first, in the way I read the paper,  was about the new Coach of my Bills entertaining some our best players from the Glory Years, at a downtown Steakhouse. I can only imagine the discussion.
The other was a review of a long standing Southtowns Beef on Weck institution. It was a gathering of friends and family. I was at the latter. As much as I would have liked to have listened in at the former, the latter provided a much more satisfying dining experience.
I’d take it anytime.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

In For A Nickel

Some dishes are of such indisputable excellence that their appearance alone is capable of arousing a level-headed man's degustatory powers. All those who, when presented with such a dish, show neither the rush of desire, nor the radiance of ecstasy, may justly be deemed unworthy of the honors of the sitting, and its related delights - Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
I have often described the Western New York restaurant community as small and incestuous. It is. But, at the time I started my cooking career, there were few opportunities to hang with other cooks. They’d gather after shift at places like Mother’s, a downtown location. That included my Chef, Dan Welch. But I lived in the suburbs and was a cook at suburban restaurant. I often walked to work.

My after shift activities with local co-workers was heading to Rooties for beers and Wings (and to my mind they were the best Wings in Buffalo – and there was a really HOT bartender)

Friday, April 1, 2016

An End To My Cooking Career

indexI have decided today to cease my 20 plus year cookery career. It is a thankless job, filled with low pay, long hours, idiot bosses, even stupider customers never happy with what they receive. It is a world of fools who think that food is a medicine – an anodyne for all their  ills. The Glutards. The Kale fanatics. The people who think “organic” = good for you, even if it is over processed crap. The Yancey’s Fancy fans who think that’s what “cheese” is. The MSG haters. Those who think a Fish Fry is a proper way to enjoy a fish.  The vitamin supplement freaks. The people who think “may” fix something means “will”. The people who think macaroni salad is gourmet – and easily replaced by a prepared product.

The people who put Ketchup on a hot dog.

And so, I am giving it up to my first true love: Country Music. Appropriate when a Hank Williams biopic appears.

I love the twang. I love the whine. I want my dog run over by a car, my wife to leave me, the transmission to drop out of my pickup. I want to wear a big hat, as if I’d ever been closer to a real ranch than T-Meadow farms.

I want to bitch about everything.

So, look for my first single release: You Can Pry My Foie Gras Out Of My Cold Dead Hands, You Petaphile. The B-Side is: Bone Broth Cured My Herpes.

"I was born a duck minders daughter . . . "

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Dear Alton Brown

The only unitasker allowed in my kitchen is a fire extinguisher - Alton Brown

Dear Alton:

May I call you Alton? I feel like I know you. After all, you spend a great deal of time in our home, via a variety of media.

Alton, you recently did a video that is everywhere on the Internets, regarding the dumbest kitchen gadgets of 2015. I also heard the guest spot on NPR. I am with you (mostly) on unitaskers, and I agree there are a lot of useless hardware on the market. That egg extruder? Yep. Banana slicer? Ditto. But, there are some items that deserve a second look.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -