Here I sit, at the end of 2009, and it feels like everything is different.  None of the details have changed;  I still live in San Francisco, and I still cook at Nopa as a sous chef.  I'm still writing this blog.  But when I look in the mirror, or have a quiet moment to myself, things feel different.  2009 was a crazy year for me.  It was a good year for me.  In 2009 this blog seemed to find its place.  Through things that seem as trivial as a twitter account, or a podcast, I met people and made friendships that are deeply important to me.  Through countless emails I was able to connect with cooks from all over the world.  As everything seemed to be expanding and moving towards one big interpersonal disconnect, the opposite ended up happening.  My world got smaller.  Then I turned 30, and came to realize that I needed to take life a little more seriously.  Soul searching, introspection, whatever.  I made some decisions, and decided to stick to them.  Then I woke up one day, and wow.  Things had changed.

2010 is a little scary to think about.  A friend of mine said to me "2010 is the first year I haven't been excited about."  I had never thought about it like that, and im not sure that's my sentiment.  But it does feel like a giant, scary beast that I have to tackle...like im getting into the ring with a faceless terror.  In the following year im going to to be faced with figuring out whether im a better writer or a better cook.  There's a chance that this blog could end in 2010.  There isnt an infinite amount of topics for me to write about here.  Sometimes I feel like im just regurgitating the same old garbage.  Add to that the fact that im going to be a father, and want to open a restaurant this year, and things start to get very cloudy and scary and im suddenly very aware that nothing feels perfect or right, but things just are.  It's an amazing thing to be faced with the rest of your life.  I thought I knew what it would feel like, and how I would deal with it.  I don't.  And I suspect that's perfectly normal.

The thing is, its not like anything is actually ending.  If anything, things are just beginning.  After a year like 2009, where things were so good and changed so much, I can only imagine what's coming.  It's possible that just being daunted about knowing that you have to make something for yourself is enough to leave you shaking...but maybe its better to try to run through all of the insecurity and bullshit now, before everyone is toasting at midnight.

So whats next?  What's going to happen come July, or next December?  Shit, what's going to happen next week?  Does the fear or uncertainty ever go away?  Do things ever start to feel right, or perfect?  Or is it more important to just let things happen?

My Best Meals of 2009:
  • Coi
  • Flour & Water, every time
  • 5 Points
  • Ippudo
  • Freeman's
Places I Ate At, Often:
  • Flour & Water
  • Fish & Farm
  • Out the Door
  • Katana - Ya
  • Nopalito
  • Arguello Market
Stuff I Couldn't Live Without:
  • A good pen
  • The iphone
  • My pocket knife
  • A Moleskin, even if it is falling apart
  • Friends
  • The Pixies, TV on the Radio, Old Outkast
  • Access to Twitter
  • Flickr
  • My Macbook
Culinary Fantasy League:
My Team:
  • Raw - Michael Black
  • Garde Manger - Jon Smulewitz
  • Pasta - Micheal Tusk
  • Veg/Garnish - Mourad Lalou
  • Fish - Stuart Brioza
  • Meat - Ryan Farr
  • Sous Chef - Daniel Patterson
  • Chef - Thomas Keller
Eddie's Team:
  • Sautee - Charles Phan
  • Veg - Jeremy Fox
  • Garde Manger - Taylor Bottechier
  • Grill - Ryan Farr
  • Pasta - Tom McNaughton
  • Sous Chef - Me (haha!)
  • Chef - Jacques Pepin
Mer-Mer's Team, based solely on looks:
  • Michael Black
  • Brandon Jew
  • Tom McNaughton
  • Jay Foster
  • Mongoose
quotes and conversations:

Me:  There's snowmobiles.  And guns.
Kitty:  Can we shoot guns while we're on the snowmobiles?
Me:  I guess so.
Kitty:  Wow.  It's like a Mariah Carey video.

(Merrell is hitting me in the shoulder, over and over again)
Paulie:  Isn't Savannah a pornstar?
(The hitting continues)
Me:  You know Paulie, not everything has to do with porn.
(More hitting)
Me:  What?!?
Merrell:  It's Ryan Seacrest on seat three!
Me:  Yeah.  I know.  Anyways...

Me:  Do I look like a botanist to you?
Gerardo:  I don't know what a botanist looks like.

"Mer-mer, if I gave you a titty twister and asked you to name five candy bars, could you do it?"

Dega:  You're the boss.
Me:  That's right.  I am the fuckin' boss.  I'm the fuckin' Bruce Springsteen of this kitchen.  And you're my Courtney Cox.  I'm gonna dance with you onstage, which is then gonna turn into a lucrative sitcom career in the nineties, only to have you marry David Arquette and have it fall to pieces in the two-thousands. 
Merrell:  And don't forget the numerous miscarraiges.
Me:  .......

"I thought of that old joke, y'know, the, this... this guy goes to a
psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a
chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?"
The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's
pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally
irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep
goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs.
" -Woody Allen, Annie Hall


What is bad cooking?

Question of the week: What is bad cooking?
@linecook, Bad cooking is usually doing something with little regard to the final outcome, but just to mark it off the prep list.
SpecialDark @linecook What is bad cooking? Not shaving a second off a tedious task. Not learning anything new. Losing respect for the craft.
zellicious@linecook bad cooking-when the food tastes bad and you expected it to be good. chains etc, you know what to expect, bad is unexpected ick
jrnavlag@linecookBad cooking when U not only not care abt wht U're doing, but U dont care abt the outcome. lk getting "steamed" fish frozen inside
ingridc@linecook agree with @Tanukipdx re: bad cooking. Also, for me, cooking and intent have always been connected. Poor intent = bad cooking.
Tanukipdx@linecook BadCooking? It's cooking without thought or care, soul or emotion.Bad cooking & bad fucking have much in common.
swedishmike@linecook Taking good ingredients and making them taste bad.
JessPav@linecook Bad cooking is canned corn, canned green beans and being told "If you don't like it, DON'T EAT IT!"
cloudsandcoffee@linecook when you're in a foul mood and all your negative energy goes into the food... then you eat it. bad cooking!
addycat@linecook bad cooking lacks heart
CraigHatfield@linecook Not honoring the ingredients. Loss of good technique in the face of flash technology.
jcooks@linecook bad cooking is cooking without love or care for the ingredients, the consumer of the food or yourself.
janessao@linecook Mine. ;)
MatthewSievert@linecook"bad cooking" You know the right way, but you skimp and don't give the ingredient, specifically an animal the respect if deserves
KitchenEntropy@linecook bad cooking is lack of passion, care, and self pride. usually found in burn outs and money chasers. oh and applebees and chilis.
ChefinProgress@linecook Bad cooking is when you cease to care what you are doing.
swedishmike@linecook Taking good ingredients and making them taste bad.
pleddy@linecook When you are focusing on new flavor combinations or plating without mastering basic cooking techniques.
laurafrofro@linecook Often it involves underseasoning.
fallwitch@linecook Bad cooking = cooking w/o heart. You don't need passion but you have to want to make the best of the ingredients in front of you.
savorykitchen@linecook Bad cooking is cooking w/out care: either bad ingred, not tasting, forgetting the person who will eat the food you prepare.
m_twang@linecookOr as a very good saucier once told me (repeatedly) "garbage in, garbage out". But he said it with a heavy NY accent which is a +.
m_twang@linecook Bad cooking is a lack of uderstanding. It's the easiest equation quality ingredients and a bit of care equal good results.
swedishmike@linecook Taking good ingredients and making them taste bad.

It's a cold Tuesday night, and you're on a cook's night out; something your crew has looked forward to for days. The plan is to hit a string of new restaurants, eating as much as you can, then topping it all off with bourbon and shameful behavior. Rules are in place: no eating anywhere that anyone has been before. And no salads, pizza, or fancy renditions of mac n cheese.

Things started out well enough. There were some tasty fried bits, the required offal dish, a polite terrine. But the in the past hour, things have taken a turn. There was raw fish paired with fried cheese. There was a risotto that was so rich and salty that your fish cook polished off the wine, straight from the bottle. And the lamb saddle was so over-techniqued that your best-of-friends hot apps cooks started screaming at each other over which part was the meat, and which was the marrow-wrapped tongue and kidney croquette. And it was cold. The night ends with you and the grill guy sitting on a stoop, having a smoke, wondering what happened.

"Maybe they were having an off night..."
"It's only their second month. Did you hear the chef de cuisine came from Mugaritz? Maybe they're just settling..."
"Remember that case of nasty chicken bones we got last Wednesday? Maybe there's an epedemic of bad stocks sweeping the city..."
"I saw that dude Damien in their kitchen. I hate that guy..."


  • sometimes indie music is indie because it completely sucks
  • something I did not anticipate about losing weight: none of my clothes fitting anymore
  • food inc. show it to someone that loves mc donalds.
  • just when you think the tattoo is done, you decide to fill in the rest of your arm.
  • cold. so motherfucking cold.
  • a rabbit's scream is terrifying.

quotes and conversations.

Ponder: Dude dude dude dude. I had a dream I got a tattoo of a purple boa constrictor on my back. It was the gayest snake tattoo ever. I had to wake up and check my back.
Dega: I wasn't going to tell you guys, but I had a dream that Richie put me and Ponder in a muffin making contest.

"I know what a safety word is. I don't have one, but I know what it is. And knowing is half the battle."

"Sometimes a dude's just gotta bone down and make chili dogs."

"The bacon does not have the drip. Unlike Dega."

(Eddie tells me his girlfriend has a crush on Jake Gyllenhall.)
Me: Jake Gyllenhall? Really? He's such a pussy.
Eddie: (Laughs, shrugs, and points to himself.)

Gerardo: You haven't seen my sex tape yet.
Me: Does it involve you getting your asshole eaten out?
Eddie: ...I want to go home.

"I ate a valium one time and pooped my pants. It was awful."

"I make sex jokes and stuff!"

Me: You know what bad cooking is? When shit falls out of balance.
Merrell: Did you just say shit balls ass?

Merrell: This is a stupid conversation.
Me: We're cooking. What else are we supposed to talk about?
Merrell: Sex.

"If you were a boy Gerardo, I might've molested you by now."

"What's that Steven King movie? Sleep Walkers? Where they turn into cats and are fuckin' all over the place?"

Me: If she had her way, there would be a 50 foot high fence between here and Mexico.
Merrell: Who, me?

"Are you too sick to tell me inappropriate stories?"

from top: clementine, radish, service, a cold restaurant, bully, aaliyah's text, missed connections, cara cara, duck