Random Tastes of Tradition...

Since it has been a distance since my last post, I wanted to just push out a few random shots of things that have been happening here, there and around. There is really a lot more to post, yet I just need to find the time. As my normal position is not a full time blogger or food critic, I need to focus my energies on sometimes other things...like work, development of the craft, kids, music, the pursuit of happiness and traveling down the long road of that thing called life. What to do...At any rate, here is a screen shot of some fun things that will surely segue into my next full on food post. Until then...
Mis en Place!
sauce bottles full and ready for service

green harissa brushed lamb, polenta fries, chickpeas, fig mostarda
almonds, cumin roasted baby carrots, micro arugula, syrah salt

Truffles...oh glorious Truffles!
Perigord's finest...

a smattering of house brined, cured, cooked and almost raw pickles


In My Element...

That is what is could be said of the experience planning for, styling for, cooking for and executing for the wicked two-day photo shoot we did for our new and upcoming web site. Our photographing team was nothing short of phenomenal and inspiring! After about a total of 32 hours in two days, including two back to back chefs tables full of some great dishes and shots, I felt exhausted but so overwhelmed with greatness about what we had accomplished. This was not something one experiences everyday so to be blessed with this opportunity with the team collaborations, collective creative energy and cooking in the moment was nothing short of completely amazing! Here are a few shots of the food that was so humbling and fulfilling. I hope that our team enjoyed it as much as I did.
journey of rabbit

shigoku oysters and pearls

silky, sexy foie gras

roasted florida snapper

frozen yogurt and rosemary soda mezzo

wagyu beef loin and 8 different flavors

sous vide chicken

pre dessert of pb & j

winter symphony of sweets

Wake Up Call...

wow...long time no post. What can I say...been busy, a lot on my mind, knee deep in a cool ass photo shoot, in a funk, out of town on vacation and consumed with life on many levels. Same ol' shit, different month. However, I look ahead in a positive light, knowing that my destiny is certain, whether I know it's outcome or not, and that I have faith in a life that is good with someone even better than I. Now, this post is not what it may appear at first glance, which may read like a typical blog restaurant review. It is about the pursuit of happiness, life, love and passion, and giving all you can when at your craft. It is about southern hospitality, the care a team puts into their all, both food and service, and gracious well...hospitality; southern style. Enter Reveille (rev-uh-lay), meaning amongst others, a wake up call. This little gem was the find of the week while visiting in Atlanta, GA. Each time I visited, count them...4 times in 5 days, was great. I don't say that often, or often enough perhaps. First time was for coffee...great. Vivacious staff, conversational, excited about the restaurant, full of life. The FOH manager and I carried on a convo about grits and the love she puts into them, each and very moment. I was sold. She gave me sample. Super tasty, smooth, smoky from the gouda, well and properly seasoned. Simple and good. Inspired and promised to come in again. Day two...had the same great greeting, service and more involved convo about food, life, their jobs, et al. The passion they exuded was so evident and inspiring. For a small breakfast joint in the off-the beaten-path area was cool. I thought, why isn't every place like this? Blueberry-lemon pancakes, side of wonderfully scrambled eggs, coffee...fantastic. Day three...stuffed French toast covered with crushed up cornflakes, cream cheese filling, maple...amazing. staff vibrant, informed, well spoken, honest and oozing southern charm. Robin, the manager and her staff are awesome. I wish I could have bottled up some of that and tucked it in my suitcase for the trip home to share with my home town and team. Now, I did not meet the cooks, who I was informed are all of Hispanic descent and a bunch of solid work horses to say the least. Dedicated, consistent, committed and each holding down several jobs working several hundred hours all combined. Not much new there. Day four...on my last day before heading to airport, I stopped in with my sister to eat, have one last good breakfast and say goodbye. Nothing would disappoint. Greeted with a southern smile, graciousness and charm, this Georgia doll made us feel so welcome. I asked myself...where does all this come from? If all the restaurants in the world had half of this, the world of dining would be a much better place. Robin was swamped in the back expediting, but made certain to come out and greet us, wish us well and say adios. I saved the best for last and ordered the shrimp and grits. After the lengthy conversation the day prior and to some degree, some debate as to the process, I simply could not leave Atlanta without trying them. They were awesome to say nothing but the least! Silky and sexy, laden with spicy tasso, shrimp, tomatoes, smoky cheesy-ness from the gouda, and ever-so-correct on the seasoning. Somebody was paying attention. Way cool to see and taste from my point of view and in this business. Thank you Robin for southern hospitality and your passion! I recommend this place to anyone heading to the Atlanta area, specifically Acworth(about 30 minutes north). The moral of all this is that whatever one does, or is involved in or lives in, don't just manage your way through it...give it your all, give it your heart, give it your soul! It can and will make a difference. This was a great experience in not only dining, but also in life, my own pursuit of relationships and work and the business in general.
southern style cup of joe


New Year's Day...

always focused...

as Bono sings~nothing changes on New Years day?...I think it does, it can and it will! For some though however, perhaps not. But if you choose to live your life in the past, in the dark abyss and in the sorrows of the shadows, then you are most likely going to continue in your downward spiral. But, if you are open minded, positive thinking, spiritual, motivated and can seek the good and believe in the hope, faith, and destiny of a great future...then you are perhaps in for a wild ride for the better! I believe this. I believe in a positive outcome in life. I have hope and faith. I try to share that and spread that wherever I go and with whom I meet. So, as my first post of 2015, I leave you all with some thoughts of the new, ideas of the possible, and missions of the to be accomplished. Wishing you all the very best in the new year with much happiness, good health, love, passion, excitement and creativeness that one can experience. I look forward with much anticipation to the year ahead and spending time with those who I hold close and dear. Today, tomorrow and always...

always fun...

DEDICATION...stay the course, follow through and be committed
MOTIVATION...each day look to yourself and those around you to keep going
INSPIRATION...seek out all that makes you get excited about life, love and your craft
LOVE...do not hesitate to express to those close each day just how much
PASSION...go after all that is inside you to be the best you can be
COMMITMENT...first and foremost commit to yourself, family, your work and your life

BALANCE...this is essential for a positive outcome in life, love and work

HARMONY...once you obtain this, life flows better and more free
GIVE...give of yourself every time you can, it will make a difference
NURTURE...don't stop trying to progress the life and craft of someone else
TRUTH...speak it, live it, set that example to all as it is who you are
PERFECTION...set your standards higher than you can reach and strive for that always
SHARE...this is a great feeling that inspires us all, especially with the one you love
LEARN...never stop for that will be the death
LISTEN...keep your ears and mind open and act upon what you hear
COMMUNICATE...tell people what you are thinking and keep it open
TEACH...the knowledge you give to another will come back a hundred fold
LIVE...we all have only shot at life on this planet...make the most of it
from my kitchen to yours...god bless you all!

always searching for perfection...


Cold December Pain...

In the food and bev industry like restaurants, hotels, clubs, and the like, especially in the kitchen or the front of the house service teams, December is usually and probably always will be for most total hell, in some way or another. And yet, it is what we do and we love what we do right? It is what pays the bills for both us and our employer. When an average work day is about a minimum of 14-18 hours, or more, and one never really sees the light of day, or their family, it starts to wear on you. And a social life...what the hell is that? Sure, maybe catching a bite at a late night hang out at 2am works, or for those that take part in the party scene...drinking till wee hours, only to come in half drunk to do it all over again is what you are after...it still gets old. Now I have had my share of wild times back in the day, but in the last 26 years...it has amounted to just sheer hard work, long, long hours, the drive to succeed and make it happen, stamina and focus, studying and researching new ideas until 3am, hugging my boys, losing a marriage and getting through the shit! People who don't work in this industry will never really understand the commitment and the need to get the job done, and why we do what we do and what it takes to do it. Perhaps they don't really care and probably shouldn't. Why should they? They just want to be a part of your life and have a part of you and not have to take second fiddle to your job. They shouldn't have to. I met someone very special and wonderful who understands what it is about, for she has worked in this crazy business in the past. She gets it. We had a great time working together. I miss those times. I miss her. I don't know if I will ever see her again, but that is another sad story for some other damn day. One has to be knee deep in it to experience it, live it, walk it, talk it and realize what it is all about...it's about supporting the team and your fellow co-worker. It is about not letting someone down, mainly yourself and about your dedication to not failing. During these long trying days and endless nights, it is difficult to get good photos of the work being accomplished as we are just barely able to keep our heads above water and stay afloat. Getting through one service and right into the next. Putting out fires, figuring out solutions to staffing nightmares, handling misunderstood directions, employees calling in sick, botched deliveries and tasks, equipment failures and the stress and frustration of a guest who sends back their steak because they ordered it medium rare, and ordered it under because they feel it always comes out more done than they like and now complains because it is too rare! Shit! Gotta love it. Anyway...the food shots are lean, and the patience is as well. Here are just a couple of dishes that I felt barely worthy of mention. I think this post is more about the rant than the rave.
tasting for 4 single malt scotches...clockwise from top left;
caramelized apple bisque, rye chips, bourbon butter, hazelnut-malt crumble, sherry pearls
pear-crepe terrine, mascarpone, duck confit-pear salad, arugula, candied walnuts
citrus glazed sturgeon, bacon jam, charred lemon aioli
scotch glazed 12 hour pork belly, butternut puree, persimmons, cacao nib crumble

north dakota bison loin, red wine farro, cassis onions, chanterelles
sous vide fennel, shaved alba white truffles, cassis sauce

marinated, slow braised pork belly, smoked popcorn, pedro ximenez glaze

rolled spanish omelette, lobster, smoked paprika, potatoes, olive oil, manchego


Before The Dawn...

Before the dawn...I think...I dream...I contemplate...I create...I write...I plan and I imagine all things good in my life and the amazing experiences, love, good times and emotions that have been presented to me and that I have been so gratefully blessed with along the way. There was a special person that I was so fortunate to have met and who changed my life for the better forever. I am blessed to have been given the ability to be a parent and a father to two wonderful boys and I am so grateful for the passion and ability to cook in which god gave me. I also think about the pain and sadness that my life has encompassed and that I have experienced in it. It helps me in a strange, sick way. It keeps me balanced and helps me to dig deep for the thoughts and ideas that are created from within. I have a dark side, no denying it. But it is that dark side that makes me who I am. Good, bad or indifferent. I like to believe I am a happy person with passions and ambitions to have a great life, have fun, keep a sense of humor and continue to strive to make people happy through my cooking and provide for them the many wonderful experiences that I believe that I have. Folks will ask me when I am cooking for them "how long did that take to think of that"? or... "How long have you been planning this meal, dish etc"?...Usually, my answer is the same~ I plan things as I cook, as I drive to work, as I listen to the crazy music that I do, as I think about the the good times and as I am staying up late into the wee hours of the morning..."before the dawn". This is for you d...Cheers!
compressed apples, curry steeped celery, cranberry gelee, celery leaves, smoked pecans
spiced pumpkin seeds, cider pudding, gingerbread streusel, maple-bourbon dressing

flat iron of beef sous vide, pepper crusted, brussels-walnut-potato hash
juniper roasted carrots, chanterelle-quince-parsnip pastie, micro arugula
pomegranate sauce


Luxurious White Heat...

Several things might come to one's mind when thinking about fresh white truffles from Italy~descriptors that tantalize and tease...provoke and stir thought...excite and exhilarate...I will let your mind wander and dream
. We have been getting in a couple small shipments of these prized Alba beauties lately...still developing ideas of what to do next...

shaved alba truffles with pappardelle and chanterelles
warm salad with porcini and alba truffles, saba-hazelnut dressing
seared scallops, alba truffles, farro risotto, shaved lomo
veal loin sous vide, pumpkin gnocchi, alba truffles, quince essence
silky celery root-alba truffle "cappuccino"
warm toasted brioche, alba truffles, truffle honey, soft robiola
alba truffle-white chocolate ice cream
potato-alba truffle-duck tongue ragout with caramelized garlic
hubbard squash-escarole agnolotti, oca, alba truffles, veal-crème fraiche lacing
alba truffle butter poached lobster fricassee with carrots and salsify
what's next???


Carpe Diem Baby...

When all is said and done, one must feel good about what they have accomplished, or they must keep pushing forward towards perfection, satisfaction and completion in all that they are and all that they do. Redemption of self worth is so important. One must feel like they have a purpose and a meaning, a sense of fulfillment in their journey. Along that path, we must go after what we desire, whether it be our career, our craft, our passions or our hearts. To seize the day, the circumstance, the moment...is what we should always aim for in life, for if we don't, we risk stumbling and fumbling our way through our existence without that sense of fulfillment...only to become a bleeding soul crying out for that redemption. I try hard to seize the day in all that I am and all that I do...thank you d for all your inspiration and for showing me this importance! I will always do my best to make the most out of life.
smoked rabbit roulade, slow roasted cepes, smoked pecans, saba,
apple salad, red ribbon sorrel, mustard dressing

spiced foie gras torchon, gingerbread streusel dust, beet paint, persimmons chutney
pomegranate gel, duck spice powder cassis reduction,
toasted brioche rubbed with hazelnut-cacao nib honey

grilled cobia belly, sautéed oca, roasted monkfish, bucatini pasta
roasted maitake mushrooms, white truffle-oxtail dashi

american wagyu beef loin sous vide, pumpkin, matsutake mushrooms
brussels sprout-walnut-onion hash, date puree, arugula
braised quince-cognac essence