Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011: "ON THE RAIL"

Its all about the food. That is something that we are working on daily. We work toward developing better knife skills, organization and approach to food. There is a good amount of information and culinary theory that has yet to be applied in out kitchen. So before we get more in depth into the culinary philosophy as a team, we focus on the fundamentals of cooking. We focus on the basics like blanching, caramelization, knife work, understanding mise en place and its importance. We focus proper, roasting, sauteeing, grilling, braising and sauce making. Adhering to culinary principles like making fresh pasta or fresh potato gnocchi, teaches my cooks the basic technique and from there the many different types of pasta and gnocchi are then possible.

On a daily basis, we are now making chicken stock, the right way. Blanched chicken bones, washed and cut-for-stock-mire piox are basics we now utilize. The staff are used to relying on chicken/beef bases and I explain that by simply devoting the time to making quality stock, it improves all the foods in the kitchen from soups to sauces, while also setting us apart from many other kitchens in our region. The next step will be to begin roasting veal bones for veal stock, and this makes me very excited. The long and careful process of making a good veal stock is very rewarding for me as a chef and it is my hope that the cooks will understand this long process that also improves the quality of the cooking in this humble kitchen.

I have also been training the cooks to work with a chef expiditer at the pass. The process of calling orders, the difference between, "order in", "order up", "order fire!", "on the fly", and time honored phrases like, "in the weeds" are important to learn. The line cooks have adapted to me barking orders and verbaly giving instructions on how to cook and plate dishes. Sure, we have been in the weeds and the cooks have been really stressed under the new system, but they are getting visibly stronger daily and setting up their staions faster each week. So, because they are getting stronger, I can now begin doing daily specials and changing the menu more often. We still have a lot to learn, but we are on the right track and I am proud of my line cooks. Watching the culinary development of cooks is amazing and it is my responsibility to guide them along their path as we work as a crew.

Very soon we will be producing some very intricate, yet simple plates for tasting menus that showcase Native American Cuisine prepared by an all White Mountain Apache culinary team!

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