Monday, March 01, 2010

Cookin No. 46- Peek-a-boo

Still alive and cooking. Slightly more experienced, and once again unemployed! You may ask yourself, what is it about unemployment that makes this chick suddenly appear... well i can tell you. funds are dwindling, and i have already glued little plastic cowboys and indians, (like the little green amy men), all over the apartment. So that when you walk through my apartment, you will be confronted with battles from the times of the wild west. Now that I have finished with my boredom, I have decided to write a little bit about what has been going on since Sweet Basil, and the Chocolate Lab.

I should point out that this unemployment is temporary, and I should be back to work in a few days. Or perhaps in a few more weeks. The restaurant I am currently employed at is moving to a new location. So pending inspections, finishing touches to structure, and decorating, I am waiting knife ready, to jump back in.

However first things first. We need to start this story where we left off... The Chocolate Lab. Things went really well there, I was able to put in a line of chocolate that I had created and it sold really well. Things like pink sea salt chocolate caramels, white chocolate bark with toasted hazelnuts, honey and cardamum. Dark chocolate lemon cordials with lemon zest inside, and spicy orange cordials with orange zest and cayenne pepper. Then I got the call, the dream job call. Ocean, a popular restaurant in Easton, needed a sous chef, and my culinary instructors knew that I was looking for a job so they dropped my name. Next thing I know I’m working at the hippest restaurant in the valley. Cooking under a very talented chef, Jake, who let me exercise some creative freedom. I learned an awful lot about jerry-riggin there, the damn place was practically falling apart. But we made some awesome food out of that tiny kitchen. This was the kitchen that really gave me my chops, and lots of crazy stories. But I was working 70 some hours a week for peanuts, and an opportunity came my way... The Lovin Oven, in Milford, NJ.

The Oven is a very hip, comfort food type breakfast and lunch joint, that was looking to make dinners something more than pizza and quiche. So they offered me more money than I ever made in a restaurant before and the possibility to take charge of the line with my own menu. This is the type of restaurant that you go to and feel like you may not be cool enough to be there. But in fact you are, so don’t sweat it. The staff is comprised of hippies, punks, and other experimental lifestyle users. The menu tackles all popular food diets, like carnivores, vegetarians and vegans. Its a place where all three diets can sit down and enjoy a yummy meal together without asking the server for a “special” order.

The owners, Mike and Julie, are a husband and wife team who started the place by themselves and then finally needed to hire some kids to help out. Both Mike and Julie do all the baking, Mike is a vegan, so he makes all the vegan treats that even non-vegans love. He also manages the front of the house, ie: servers. Julie, when she is done baking, cooks the line, and until I was hired cooked all the shifts. I came in as their first professionally trained employee, and being that they were not used to someone who doesn’t need a recipe to make pesto, didn’t relinquish many responsibilities at first.

The other employees are a mix of kids in high school washing dishes, servers who are young mothers looking for some extra cash, or servers who already have careers and are helping out. Well, we only have one of those, Kristy, she and her boyfriend work/run a farm in Asbury, NJ that produces vegetables that fill my heart with love. Seriously they grow some of the most delicious and beautiful vegetables I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. They are at the Flemington, NJ farmers market in the summer, so if you are around you should have a carrot and see what I mean. The other server who is not a mother, and not otherwise stuck to a career in the food industry is a student. She is now my best friend, and room-mate.

Yes, another change of events for me, I moved out of bethlehem and into my parents house for a few months, then N and I moved to Chalfont, Pa. Its a suburb of Philly. I love living so close to a city. And there is a train station 4 blocks away! So now all my grocery shopping is done at the reading terminal market, and china town. Plus, my other best friend who lives in Mt. Airy is only 20 min away.... And she’s dating a guy who brews his own beer, so that makes it even better!

Ok, ok... Back to the oven. So after putting in a year and a half at the oven, getting up at 5:30 am to cook breakfast, then lunch, then dinner. I will now be doing just dinner! How did this little hole in the wall restaurant of chaos make the leap to real restaurant? Liz Gilbert. I’m sure you have heard of her, she’s the superstar writer that wrote Eat, Pray, Love. Its gonna be a movie, Julia Roberts is playing Liz Gilbert... Well anywho, I did not meet Julia Roberts, but Liz Gilbert lives in Frenchtown, NJ which the next town down the river from Milford. She became a regular customer of the Oven, loves it so much that she is building a new restaurant for Mike and Julie in Frenchtown. Well, she and her man from Bali, own Two Buttons, an import store where you can buy big Buddha statues. Two Buttons is in a large warehouse, and they are giving part of the space to the Oven. Not only is this new space bigger and better, but dinner will be served every night, in a real kitchen with real equipment! I will never have to light a burner with a lighter again, from now on I just turn a knobby, and BAM! Flames appear!

Lets just say that the old Oven was very make-shift. The walk-in was outside and a hike away. The freezer was an old refrigerator turned freezer in the basement. The basement aside from being creepy, would drop dust and other nondescript pieces of foundation on you when someone from upstairs walked over head. The dishwashing area was just a 3-bay sink and kids using elbow grease. The oven rattled and had to be kicked regularly. And the other appliances came from hell, I had a emersion blender shock me while I was making soup! So this new space, with its new equipment and walk-in inside the kitchen, is a relief.

And now I have arrived at the end of this story. Sitting in my kitchen with nothing better to do. Well I do need to go buy a new tea pot, and wash some dishes too. So I think that I will sign off.

Wishing you all good food and good company.

Buone Appitito!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool! ~ Your cousin, whom also sells fresh produce!!

10:03 AM  

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