1.10.2009

What you want.



I used to think I knew what I wanted.   A four star restaurant.  The finest equipment and ingredients.  A hand picked team of the finest cooks I worked with on my way up, doing it our way, creating the best food.  The next big thing.  I cooked and read and cooked and read even more.  I experimented and tasted and probably freaked my peers out a little bit.  And in the end, I felt completely disconnected from cooking.  Almost a year later i'm neck deep in Nopa's style and simplicity, and basking in that has been beautiful.  And at times, very difficult.

You see, when you're coming up as a cook, and the process of learning the ins and outs of the kitchen are behind you, you start to think about your future.  What's your style?  What do you like to cook?  When you plate something you created, does a person look at it and see you?  What is it that you want out of all of this? 

For me, trying to stay at the forefront of all the new cookery techniques was one of my favorite hobbies.  Photocopying art culinaire, trying to find cooking videos on youtube, asking many questions at le sanctuaire...I thought it was all a means to an end.  Then after a late night meal at Nopa, when I had a "oh my god this is the fucking best duck i've ever had" moment, it all seemed so silly.  I was worried I had a broken skill set.  After settling in, I realized it wasn't that my skills weren't there--they were.  But the road I had been going down wasn't even running parallel to Nopa's--it was in a different part of the country.  Bringing an idea to the table, or plating up, or trying to resist the idea to puree everything...these were the hard parts. 

A year in, i'm reflecting back on this point last year, and this point the year before that, and so on.  Every year has brought amazing change so far.  Every year I get closer to realizing what I want, and subsequently get more and more confused.  Looking through all the new books I have (picured above) has been inspiring.  And it made me realize that I do miss that style of cooking...in a certain way.  So the question, and goal now is how to apply the flavors and techniques learned at Nopa, while using the new cookery building blocks i've gathered the past few years.  And I think that answer is simple:  practice constantly on my own time, re-focus and try to absorb EVERYTHING at Nopa, every day.  (ill have plenty of time to do that, as i have no plans to leave.  shit, i feel like i just got there.)  And mostly, just cook the food that I enjoy--new techniques or not.




notes:
  • bourdain is wrong.  the best cook isn't necessarily Mexican (although they are very good.)  the best cook is simply the best cook.
  • the pictures violet blue takes from the mezzanine make me realize just how bald im becoming
  • tina fey = my crush
  • brandon jew.  super nice guy.
  • biting your tongue during service makes expo-ing hard
  • you still have time. 
  • try not to flush your sharpie down the toilet, like i did
  • asking if a dish "needs this" is the wrong question.  you should ask if its diminished by adding to it....
  • paul keeps fries in his front pocket
  • this blog is written by a french laundry and mugaritz stagiere.  and she has a crush on corey lee.  and she knows how to make proper labels.  must read.
  • i hate fish with rigor mortis.
  • im going to start saying interweb instead of internet.

quotes and conversations.

Me:  It's just salt cod.
Amy:  Yeah, why don't you go smear it all over my back table?
-on making messes


Me:  Corey, you remember that show Designing Women?
Corey:  Hell yeah dude.  With that slutty old bitch.
Me:  No dude, not Golden Girls.
Merrell:  With Burke.
Corey:  Yeah dude, Delta Burke.  Bitch is thick as hell.
-on television


Me:  You can also call me Lord Vader.
Corey:  Call me Han Solo.
Merrell:  I'm Princess Leia!
-on what Maritess should call us during service.


Girl:  Hey Claire, this is my friend Miguel.
Alejandro:  Um, I'm Alejandro.
-on language barriers

Me:  Would you bone down with Stevie Knicks in the seventies?
Corey:  Fuck yeah cuz she had a lot of cocaine.
-on fleetwood mac

Me:  OK, you're going on a donkey ride through the grand canyon...
Corey:  I've done that.  Shit was scary as hell.
-on donkey rides

Corey:  Aren't you supposed to eat just one?
Me:  I dont know...are you?
Corey:  I dont know.  I'll tell you what--i'll eat that one, and you can have an Aleve.
Me:  Cool.
-on medication.


"The restaurant is called King of Siam or something like that...and it looks like a Thai restaurant...but it serves Polish food."
-Amy, on her dream restaurant.

"I don't think boning down with Corey would be that bad....more funny than anything."
-Merrell on how sexy Corey is.




from top:  rolo's, duck breast, sturgeon, fire, pancetta window, chef looks like a pro wrestler, corey is sick, to do list, black widow, firecrackers






11 comments:

foobella said...

May I come work with you guys? You have the best conversations.

Lisa said...

I now must use interweb because it makes me laugh my ass off.

Mr_J said...

I too just got Under Pressure. While i am into simplistic cooking, that book makes me want to try every recipe it contains.

Keep up the good work.

Not The Rockefellers said...

Welcome to my world, minus all the cooking.

"Every year I get closer to realizing what I want, and subsequently get more and more confused".

Amen, Brother!

I love the banter in the kitchen. It drives you crazy but at the same time keeps you sane.

Peace - Rene

myself said...

why don't I have conversations like those at work?

And the spider? ughhhhh

Sarah said...

donkey ride...lmfao...

perfection. right. i don't think any of us actually can envision EXACTLY what we want. we build something close and work towards that; perfection is subjective. i think there's room for a broader motive/mind in anything we're working towards.

have a fantastic day!

-s

Flamedrinker said...

Its hard for me to remember back when I started out. But what I do remember is that learning when to hold back was the hardest lesson in the kitchen. When you're new(ish) to it, you want to hit it with all the newest gadgets and bells and whistles. Sometimes a chicken should taste like just chicken.
:-} cheers
~S~

Ron said...

what is a Stagiere? I tried to look it up and didn't find anything that defines it

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craigkite said...

No pictures or mention of the bunny in this entry? How do you avoid the conflict of having such a tasty morsel as a friend and pet when you are a well-trained carnivore? The rabbit is cute as hell and as I remind my cats daily - probably tastes like chicken.

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