As spring approaches the restaurant has to begin preparing for the busy season ahead. This is a good time of year to look at our staffing, menus, and purchasing to see where we can improve. We have a new leader at the helm as well, as General Manager but it is a tad to soon to see how that will work out long term. He is a great guy that has been with the company for a few years so we are excited about that. The opportunity did come up for me to go through the interview process for that job, and even though I honestly feel that my good standing at the restaurant could've got me close, after a few conversations with my operators and controllers I decided not to pursue it. A bit of a downer as the money would've been much better as would the hours but in my core I feel like I need to cook. As with any great company we always try to hire from within, and I am pretty close to the top of the list of people needing a promotion. Through the grapevine I hear there are some things in the works, but I will wait and see and in the meantime keep my head down.
Thanks to a tip from an angry server that was fired last fall we also got to experience a federal labor audit this winter. A huge elaborate investigation was done wasting thousands of tax payer dollars, and at the end of the day there was only one violation found......me. This idiot auditor has decided that my contributions to the restaurant don't justify my salary and should therefore classify me as an hourly employee. His argument is weak, and our system is exactly how kitchens (brigade system) have run for hundreds of years. I am furious about the whole thing as it has the ability to change the hours I spend in the kitchen and the money that I make there drastically. Luckily I am confident the company will make it all work but it has put a huge stress load on me, and my employer. A perfect example of bureaucratic bologna trying to fix a situation that isn't broken, and a whole department that is redundant against it's state department. All while we have migrant workers with zero rights, and immigrant workers in restaurants in my own community that are taken advantage of on a daily basis. This guy has to intervene where no intervening is necessary. I am happy with my work, and my pay. The company is happy with the agreement as well, he is wasting and in turn making us put a ton of resources at bat to fix this issue. The real kicker is the original server whom we have to believe tipped these guys off was friends with me. Any one (including the company) he was looking to get has skated without incident, fine, or violation, and instead the whole process screws me. Thanks for that.
We are looking to get a spring menu published soon, with some small changes from what we are running now. Searching for cooler food cooked in a cooler manner consumes a bit of my day everyday. We also are busy getting menus written for Easter, and Mothers Day. Last week to celebrate the Cannon Beach Wine Walk we offered a genius four course menu, each course featured with a different Zerba wine (Walla Walla WA) It was a great opportunity for us to step out of our box. The offerings- 1- olive oil poached halibut over spring greens with a tapenade vinaigrette. 2- local potato hash with seared veal sweetbreads and a poached egg. 3- local lamb ribs over organic white polenta with a "hunters" sauce. 4- pear and gorgonzola beignets with ganache, and honey ice cream. It was quite the task to get it all together as we offered all of this with our regular dinner menu over busy Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights last week. More food to prep, more courses to time, and less room to store it all always creates some issues, but all in all I know it was well received.
At home I am continuing trying to keep things new, and encouraging the boys to try new foods and flavors. We are struggling to eat more sustainable things, and less crap which even at my house can be rough. I am also hoping to get a new load of soil into the garden this week, and am struggling with ideas on what I should plant in the coming weeks. As much as I would love to grow some heirloom leafy greens, and other lettuce things in the whole thing our weather I don't think will allow me as good of a yield as I want, so I continue to work through what I want versus what I think we will eat, versus what will actually be productive. The city has decided (as has Melissa) that I cannot have egg chickens in the back yard, but most of the guys I work with have cages now and a few birds. Will even has ordered turkeys two of which are earmarked for me, one hen will be ready for slaughter around October or late September and a tom turkey will be ready in time for Thanksgiving. He will feed and raise them but the actual harvest is up to me, and I go back and forth with how much I want the boys to be involved in that. I think they are old enough to understand this is the system we go through to get the food on our plates, but also somewhere I worry it may be too much for them, and my intentions could backfire. The poultry additions to the cooking staff at work are nice as we are sending leftovers and scraps home to feed the different chickens and soon turkeys around, making the amount of food waste in the kitchen much much lower, and I feel good about that.
In preparation for James Beard we are also working on a few very different things and ideas about showcasing some of the things we as a kitchen staff are growing are in the works. Plant it, grow it, harvest it, prep it, and then cook it seems like an idea worth showcasing in that forum. We also are working on a few over the top ridiculous things that may or may not work, but I will keep you all posted if they do work out or on my progress to get them to the point they are serveable in NY.
All in all I keep pretty busy, regardless of what happens at the restaurant with the Labor audit I feel like I am in good standing there, and am proud of the work that I do. Any less effort would be unacceptable for me, and the way it sits now I sleep well at night knowing our relationship works well on both ends. At work we continue to strive for excellence, treating our customers and staff better than anyone around, and I am proud of that. At home I continue to work towards being a better cook, and keeping my family full of healthy, wholesome, non processed crap. It is always a battle, that is never really finished. Thanks again for increased comments and reading in general. As always- anything you want to know more about or have questions about please don't hesitate to ask. I appreciate your support in this outlet for my general knowledge, creativity, and in some cases just a forum for venting.