It's 2am on Christmas morning, so there isn't going to be much substance here. Just a few videos to spread the holiday cheer.

Bon. Enough said.

We had a crab dinner this week. There was a lot of drinking and lewd humor. Joey gave me a candy bar that had bacon in it. It was amazing.

Carl is a cook at my work. I didn't know he could sing.

Rachel and Danielle talk about what they want and expect to get from Santa.



Dylan sent me this link to the new Michael Pollan essay in the New Times.  You should go read it.

5 reasons you should be a cook. And five more reasons why you shouldn't.

Cooking isn't for everyone. Long hours, bad pay, burning, cutting, yelling, absurd amounts of stress. I've seen it make grown men cry. Seriously.

So why do it?

5. You'll be a fuckin' cook man! You'll put on great dinner parties, be able to taste flavors you never noticed before, and have an absurd amount of cooking technique at your disposal. A knife and a sautee pan in hand will be second nature.

4. Your days off are different than everyone else. Cooks (the good ones) work on the weekends, and have odd days off...mine are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This means eating out rarely requires a reso, and movie theatres are typically empty. Stores are less crowded, and you can generally get more done on your "weekend."

3. You hate mornings. Seeing as how you usually won't be getting off work until midnight anyways, your internal clock switches up a bit. You can sleep in...and when your buddy hits you up for a midnight beer, it doesn't seem so out of the question.

2. You get to eat a lot. For free. Seriously, you will be very well fed. People will cook things...amazing things, and ask you to taste them. You will save money on groceries, as most of your meals will be eaten at your work.

1. It's rewarding. You're making people happy. Seeing the fruit of your labors every single day is a nice feeling. There aren't many professions that allow you to pour your passion into something and see it's effect almost instantly.

So having said that, you really need to understand--this shit is not for everyone. Here are the reasons NOT to do it.

5. You'll be a fuckin' cook man! Beyond the stresses and pains of work, when you go to dinner parties, the host will either be terrified of you, or enlist you to help out. Or, you just won't be able to ignore just how bad their technique is...and it might ruin a great many meals for you.

4. Your days off are different than everyone else's. You won't see your friends that work Monday through Friday. You won't get to go to their parties, or your family members get togethers. You'll work holidays. Oh, and you'll be so exhausted on your day off that all you'll want to do is sleep.

3. Waking up before 10 am will become difficult. You surf? Sorry dude, you're gonna miss the morning swell. You go to church? Hope they have an 11am service. Did I mention that after a 14 hour day, going to the gym the next day seems a little less important. People will hit you up for midnight beers...or 2 am beers. This will not always be cool.

2. You get to eat a lot. Maybe too much. You will gain weight. You will have to eat terrible, horrible things that people cook. Your fridge will be empty, and the groceries that you do pick up on your day off will spoil by the time your next day off comes.

1. It's not always rewarding. There is nothing more heartbreaking than pouring your heart into something, and having your guest shit all over it. They say you can't please everyone. There will be nights where it seems like you can't please anyone.

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Goals for 2008

*These are not resolutions--I actually plan on accomplishing these.

Mom always said it's important to have goals. For a long time, my goals more or less revolved around saving enough money for a hamburger or a beer. Now i'm shooting a little bit higher.

  • Read 25 Books. 12 of these can be re-reads. There are no rules about book length or content.
  • Commit to memory 15 new recipes. And be able to cook them with my eyes closed.
  • Commit to memory the metric system, and all relevant conversions.
  • Take 1200 photographs.
  • Hunt, kill, butcher, and eat an animal. Fish don't count.
  • Cook at home every week.
  • Write every day. Does not have to be post worthy.
I'm sure this list is going to get a bit longer as this month comes to a close.

2007. What happened?

  • San Francisco. It's awesome. I don't want to gush too much, but it's a nice feeling when you realize you're where you were supposed to have been all along. This isn't to say that the department of parking and transportation hasn't been a major pain in the ass...but I guess that's the price you pay.
  • Married! What they said was true--the wedding flew by, and so did the honeymoon. But we had fun, and things are going well.
  • New friends. Shuna, Rachel, Jamie. Trouble comes in threes. I feel lucky to know all of you.
  • Old friends. Dylan, Dan, Nick, Joey, Nick, Ginger, Pat, Rossi. It's a nice feeling getting to a point in your life where you realize you'll most likely know your friends for the rest of your life.
  • Cooking. I reached a new level of confidence this year...and I think my eyes got a little sharper. Instincts were also honed. But more than anything, I taught myself many, many new techniques...and also learned a few from Joey.
  • This is a small one, but South Park has been awesome this season.
  • My nephews. They're growing up quickly now...and they get excited when their uncle is around.
  • This blog. Sometimes im shocked people actually read it.
This year hasn't been without its hardships--im poor...and well, that's pretty much it. That hardly matters in the big picture though.

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Rantfest 2007

Things in restaurant land are complicated right now and it's not just Christmas parties, New Years menus, and a looming January drop in business that has people talking.

With the dollar down and models demanding to be paid in Euros, where do our priorities lie as far as eating out is concerned? As the organic/local/sustainable argument rages on, and cooks continue to disappear, it would seem the TV ideal of being a chef is becoming more of a fantasy. What is it that diners want? Is it short ribs at Chow, meatloaf at Presidio Social Club, or the tasting menu at La Folie?

Now I know what you're thinking: Chow and PSC do not exist to serve the same purpose as a 4 star do. And I would agree--for most people dining at a 4 star is for a very special occasion. A steak frites is for satiety. So where is the line being blurred? For starters, if you're basing your dining destinations on the Bauer star system, you're in for some tough choices. Why go to Boulevard and pay $44 for your lamb when you could have a similar dish for a similar price in a "4 star" setting? And what makes for a 4 star setting? Are the dining rooms of Aqua, Jardiniere, Masa's, Redd, or Mina any less beautiful than the elite 6?

*A quick disclaimer: I do not to place too much importance on the reviews of Bauer--but if you're in the industry, and you work in the Bay Area, you know exactly what this mans words can do to your business. Never mind the yelpers. Love him or hate him, Bauer pretty much has this gig nailed down.

As more and more restaurants start to offer organic locally farmed produce and meats, costs are going to rise. Are those organic carrots really worth the same amount as the sand dabs you're selling as a special? Which leads me to my next point: At what point in the menu price inflation game does the diner just say "fuck it"? If the steak frites at Chow suddenly cost $30, then what? Do we need the escape of a special night out in this stress filled world? Or are we going to reach a point where we abandon the idea of treating ourselves to something as frivolous as an expensive (or even not so expensive) meal? (And just think: if I hadn't eaten at Coco500 at all last year, I would've had enough money for a trip to New York.)

Anyone that thinks getting into this industry is going to be their step into a Food Network dream life is going to be sorely disappointed.

OK, enough of that.


  • A movie stars kid is coming to work in my kitchen. This should be interesting.
  • Pot de Pho opened on Geary, where Spanish Fly used to be. It's one block from my front door. But is it bullshit to pay 10$ for a bowl of pho--even if the stock is made from kobe beef bones? Only the taste will tell, I guess. Either way, I imagine i'll see fewer roaches there than I do at Tu Lan.
  • Is Guitar Hero and Rock Band harder or easier for actual musicians?
  • Alien vs Predator 2. Who the fuck is going to go see this on Christmas Day?

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I lied.

No update today--the heart of darkness (aka Union Square SF) kicked my ass. It's time to cook with Joey for my hungry wife, and decorate our Christmas tree. Tomorrow. Seriously. Maybe.


Kitchen Life

Jamie has been shooting at the restaurant for an SFweekly ad, and also for his plog. As much as I like to take pictures around the kitchen, his are of a different quality--and by that I mean they look better than mine do. But a quick message to Jamie: Stop shooting at the restaurant for gift certificates. Time to get paid son!

Big post coming tommorrow.


I got a thing on my mind...


Controlling heat is what distinguishes a great cook from an average one. The cook that knows when to pull back on the heat, that can read the bubbles simmering up in his stock, that just knows when to flip his fish is the cook you want working next to you. A less experienced cook will go full on the heat, telling themselves that their white wine deglaze will be enough to cool that smoking hot pan. It's usually not.

Controlling the stove inside is another quality that distinguishes the greats from the rest. Everyones heat is set at a different temperature. You might be low blue flame or a wok burner...but figuring out how to control that can be difficult. Mine especially. Recently I was asked about my own temper...something I had rarely thought about. Temper. I have one. Some days it's red hot. Other days it doesn't show itself at all. But its plain to see when the heat turns on and things really start to get hot.

So how to control this? And what are the results when tempers flare, and you've got six internal stoves burning at tandoori temperatures? My temper will never go away. It's going to be pushing that heat in a different direction thats going to be the hard part.


Where are my readers from? According to my friends over at Google Analytics, the answer is everywhere. My top twenty cities people are dropping in from are mostly Bay Area and New York locations. Austin and Nashville make it on that list, but its my Hawaii, Alaska, and Central time zone visitors that are interesting to see. And apparently im becoming popular in Schaffhausen.


  • Im thinking about making a "People Hate Me On Yelp" t shirt for my cook friends Christmas gifts.
  • My paypal account got frauded. So much for being tech savvy.
  • Why is giving advice so much easier than taking it?
  • Next time: issues facing restaurants (the dollar, labor costs, missing cooks, the organic argument, etc)

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Today was our one year anniversary at the restaurant. It went by very, very quickly. We had this bottle of champagne courtesy of one of the servers from the opening team.

Raiders vs Broncos at work. I'm a 49ers fan.

Some people really love their staff meal.

Rossi and Angelo's new dish. Skate wing with celery root/pear puree, pistachio and garlic.

This was lunch today. The satsumas are amazing right now.

Compressed celery'

Compressed celery.

foie 12/1
The new/old foie. This is an old plate up for the foie called "mirepoix." It's onion jam, this time with Pedro Ximenez Noble Sour onion jam, ginger carrot puree, compressed celery salad, and fines herbs.
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This past weeks Tuesday dinner was Moules Frites...with the PEI mussels steaming in local bitter beer. Yum.

I swear i'll get around to actually writing something soon.



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Originally uploaded by linecook
I feel like a fuckin million bucks right now...but if you want to know why, you have to ask....

On a seperate note, here is the hamachi/cocoa/white chocolate/caviar dish I made this weekend. Sounds gross. Tastes good.

If it were easy, more people would be doing it...

Some scenes from kitchens i have worked in...

PAV - Friday Night - 2 Angles, shot at the same time.

VDV - Saturday Night. The Fantastic Four hard at it.

Chef Mavro - Honolulu. Stage in summer 2006.


The only thing that's spoiled in this kitchen are the cooks...

First things first: One of my best friends for fourteen some odd years is a to-be father. Congratulations Nick. I hope Uncles Dan, Dylan, Casey, Pat, and Rich all get to be present for that kids first beer.

My spice rack is blowin' up.

First Gelatin Clarification

Grilled Escarole. Not popular.

Not sure if this was bluefin. It tasted frozen.

CFL's. Trying to go green.(er)

It's been foggy. I love it.

This was a big ticket.

Polyscience Ciruculator and 45 min Egg Movie on Youtube soon...

Frisee au Lardon. Everyone loves this salad. These are the afforementioned eggs.

Sometimes it seems crazy that we get to see so many pristine ingredients every singe day.....

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Plate Up: Orange Julius and Fennel.

I've been slipping...as the plate-up feature on this blog has been missing. I've been changing the foie so frequently, it's been hard to keep up. It's been interesting...as some nights, every single plate will go out differently...as we try to feel our way through the plate up. Heres a quick recap:

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We needed an amuse for my chef when he came in with the food editor for Diablo magazine. I had a 9 pan of terrine that was extra, so spooned that, bitter orange puree, and foie powder in a bowl and foamed coconut milk and mandarin orange juice over it. A new dish is born--foie gras "orange julius."
The bitter orange puree is simple...three oranges, in sous vide at 210 degrees for an hour. They're then pureed with a cup of sugar and half a cup of fresh orange juice, and passed through a tamis.
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I also wanted more coconut than just the foam...so we took coconut milk with just a bit of sugar and gelled it with genuvisco J carrageenan.
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The orange puree gets dragged up the side of the plate, then topped with the foie powder/effervescent powder mixture.
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Next, the foie is added, and topped with the coconut sheet. On top of the sheet is diced mandarin orange supremes and grains of paradise. The dots are minus 8 vinegar.
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Next the foam is added (stabilized with versawhip @ 1%) and topped with a nasturtium.
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In the end, it looked like this.
Foie Gras Orange Julius

Even before the orange julius, there was the fennel plate up. This also had the foie powder/effervescent component. Surprisingly, our guests really liked the fizz they got from it.
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Admittedly, there may have been way too much mise for this plate up.
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New Foie
This is the honey cake...same as the tea time plate up.
New Foie
At first, foie and a piece of cryoblanched fennel would go on. Eventually, this switched to a sauternes cracker and sous vide baby fennel.
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New Foie
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The sauces were pretty simple...rhubarb cooked sous vide with sugar and lemon, and caramelized fennel. The minus 8 vinegar also shows up again.
Foie Detail
The final garnish is fennel fronds, fennel stalks, and some micro greens. As per usual, this plate up changed, and added some more fennel.
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Back to the drawing board.
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