I know I have been absent from the blog lately, but other than a bit of a writing block I have no excuses. Fall brings my favorite flavors and produce to the plate, not to mention my favorite weather. The restaurants slows from a relentless pace to a much more manageable one, so in order to keep busy we get hit pretty hard with events that we need to attend and cook for. I love it as it keeps us busy, and is a chance to show some skills that i don't get to show off in everyday restaurant menu stuff. I also have the chance to really hit the restaurant hard, working on cleaning, menu development, administrative stuff. In short it is a really good time of year to be Josh. In the very near future I hope to talk about some of the cool fall produce available and how you should be approaching it, but while I gather my thoughts on that I wanted to talk about some of the other cool things I get to do in the coming weeks, and in the past few.
Harvest Dinner- In early October the chef team for the company (there are 4 of us) got to do a collaborative dinner at one of our restaurants that turned out to be a really good time. Keeping with the Oktoberfest theme we did a four course dinner that included German beer pairings for each course and was a benefit to the Cannon Beach Elementary Schools backpack program (which insures that every child has a backpack and every supply they need). Stationary apps were a apple fennel slaw on a crostini, black forest ham and dijon cream with a homemade relish on a rye crisp, and caraway rye pastry twists. First course out was table set with three different German cheeses, brats, cured brats, and home made sauerkraut (really, really easy to be making at home). Next course was a German potato soup with a steamed dumpling. The entree course was a jager shnitzel, spaetzle, wild mushroom sauce, beets, carrots, braised greens, and turnips. Then for dessert a Lindzer tort- a shortbread crust filled with fall raspberry preserves. We paired it with a frozen custard, and a touch of caramel, and homemade almond roca. All of it turned out great and it was exciting to cook with the whole group of chefs, as i interact with them daily, but we rarely hit the kitchen together.
My cioppino class went well. It was nerve racking and consumed my entire thought process for what seemed like a month. I need to be prepared before I talk, I am not one of those people that can ramble things off the top of my head. I rehearse conversations in my head, so that in turn I don't sound like a blubbering jerk. In those situations my mind tends to work about 400 times faster than my mouth, and there is nothing I hate more than walking away from a conversation feeling like I said something I shouldn't have, and that only ever happens when I am ill prepared. First class had 8 customers, and the second that I taught was sold out at 16 ppl. I had fun doing it and am prepared to answer any cioppino question that will ever be asked.
Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association- For the last few years we have been asked to cook the Oregon Restaurant Associations yearly shindig. This is really cool stuff. The list of attendees in invite only, and these guys know their stuff. They are owners and operators of some of the biggest restaurant empires in the state. This year they have merged with the Oregon Lodging Association so attendance should be up from the 70 or so for the last few years into the 100 person range. The food is all donated by a few different purveyors, so there is no budget when we write the menu. A situation which will lead any good chef over the top, traditionally it is a really high end event so our owners really wanted us to push the limits of what a person can eat. The resulting spread is always amazing, if not a bit on the gluttonous side. We strategized on the menu for weeks and finished it last week. 6 courses plus some really serious appetizers. If it is controversial, and expensive we used it. Lobster carpacchio on a salt block, porcini mushrooms, veal medallions, fois gras, duck consomme, terrines, galantines, etc. Some stuff you don't see very often anymore, a lot of it very traditional French stuff, but if you ever were going to justify this sort of thing then these are the people to feed it to. The dinner is on the 15th of November.
CCA- My local county food bank has decided to have a invite only fundraiser to the tune of $150/person, for about 150 ppl. We were asked to host it in our ballroom as its the nicest place in the county to feed that many people. We as a company were asked to do one course of the 4 course meal as well as one of the hand passed appetizers. I was nominated to be the chef from our company to represent. This is a collaborative thing so chefs from other area restaurants will be involved in the other courses. I am paired with another chef as well, and we have chosen to do dessert (the gutsy chefs pick dessert). Think we will end up doing a apple tart/turnover thing, with a coriander ice cream, and sour cream chocolate cake. A great benefit that I hope will have a decent turnout, and raise some much needed money for the local food banks. This dinner is on the 18 of November.
Prostart- Soon we will head back to the high school in Seaside for our annual prostart competition which involves kids who are interested in cooking as a career. We will turn out a three course menu, then practice it approx 400 times, and send them to cook it in a competition. All the menus have to be costed and have recipes, and have to be cooked with nothing more than 2 butane burners. A great chance for us to get out of the kitchen but a huge time commitment from what is sometimes just some high school kids who are trying to get out of PE. It is a practice of patience for me, but in the end I am always amazed at the progress we have made.
Iron Chef goes Coastal- a benefit for the United Way that is growing every year. My boss Will is the defending champion so will cook in Iron chef format in front of an estimated crowd of 1000. Restaurants from all over the county will attend in hopes to be the winner of the people choice award to cook against this years winner next year. Since Will is cooking, I don't have to cook anything so I will most likely help at another restaurants booth. A really cool event though if you find yourself wanting to attend tickets are available for $35 at the door or $30 ahead of time at any US bank in Clatsop County. For your $30 you will have the chance to bid at a silent auction, and eat bites from what will be at least 20 different restaurants. Last year the event raised over 20k for the United Way of Clatsop County which filters money down to all sorts of worthwhile causes. The event is on November 2nd.
The restaurant- My restaurant will undergo a huge remodel just after Thanksgiving that will make us close for about a month, opening back up right before Christmas. While the remodel will update the dining room and lounge area, the kitchen will remain mostly unchanged except for a bit of cleaning, painting, and a slight equipment remodel. The best part about this is we get a chance to work on the menu conceptually, and hopefully there will be some big changes. We are hoping to revamp some of the menu stuff, to reflect a more direct approach to food. Less clutter, more sustainable, etc. We will see on all of this, and I will keep you posted.
I am keeping busy, again fortunate to work here on the coast, for a company that will not only allow me to do all of this stuff, but to promote it as well. Every day i get to do something new, work on something different, or cook something I have never cooked before. For the dinner special tonight I am cooking venison ossobuco, I cant pull that off in August. Like I said, its a good time of year to be me.