LIFE IN A BOTTLE – DON THE BANQUET CHEF
by Chef Paul Sourgle; MS, AAC CULINARYCUESBLOG
It is a story, too often in the making. A person, too young dies from self-abuse. It happens frequently in kitchens, the question is why? Now Don, the banquet chef at a hotel where I worked in the early 70’s, was not as young as some, but too young to die, catching everyone for some reason, by surprise.
Don was a real person, someone I worked with early in my career. He was unusual, but not so much by kitchen standards. We tend to attract a different type individual, sometimes introverted, sometimes not; sometimes self-confident, oftentimes not; sometimes full of creativity, sometimes lacking the desire to show what is there, underneath the crust and sandpaper personality. Don was unusual in different ways: he was a very large man (enjoyed eating) with ten kids at home. That’s right – 10! He managed to work, almost non-stop, sometimes arriving as early as 6 a.m. and in the kitchen until after 9 at night. If there was a banquet on the schedule, Don was there.
What Don lacked in finesse with food, he made up for in his ability to handle any number of guests or parties, without much fuss, ensure that hot food was hot and cold food cold, and consistently produce flavorful, attractive food. What was unusual about Don (aside from the 10 kids) was his ability to consume considerable amounts of alcohol without showing any signs of intoxication. In fact, Don drank constantly while at work (back in those days, the chef would turn a blind eye to this).
SENIOR SOUS CHEF - HIGH LEVEL CORPORATE DINING
Restaurant Associates New York, NY
The successful candidate may serve as the department head for culinary operations in the absence of Executive Chef. Duties include heavy food production of client meals and high level catering functions. Must adhere to HACCP guidelines to ensure efficient, safe and sanitary food production, preparation and presentation. Responsible for handling, preparation and storage of perishable products. Additional duties may include menu development, inventory, ordering, sanitation, and hourly associate management to include hiring, counseling, coaching and development. Additional related duties and special projects as assigned.
CHEF ESCOFFIER STILL INSPIRES AFTER 160 YEARS
By Chef Paul Sorgule culinarycuesblog
This framed picture has been hanging on the wall of my office through much of my career. It is a beacon of inspiration that requires me to self-assess and always ask, “Is what I’m doing right now, good enough for Escoffier?” The answer is usually, “No.” Back to the drawing board, work harder, research and learn more; Escoffier is the standard bearer for cooks and chefs. He has held this position for generations. Most chefs I know would consider Escoffier an influence and will likely have a copy of Le Guide Culinaire tucked away somewhere in their office.
Escoffier was born in Villeneuve-Loubet, France in 1846. This small town in the south of France was eventually recognized as the home to the most distinguished and influential chefs of all time. In fact, Escoffier is referred to as the King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings.
During his 62 year career (must be close to a record) in the kitchen, he was most noted for developing service a ‘la russe (service in courses – a ‘la carte), the implementation of the kitchen brigade (organizational chart with assigned responsibilities) that is still used today, and writing various professional cookbooks – most noteworthy is Le Guide Culinaire with more than 5,000 classic recipes. His repertoire was more extensive than the Grateful Dead’s concert sets.
There are some interesting tidbits in the chef’s history that many people are unfamiliar with. He was a member of the French army during the French/Prussian War where he served as a cook for the upper crust rank of officers. In 1911, Ho Chi Minh trained under Escoffier as a pastry chef in London. And, he learned to control his somewhat rabid temper by taking deep breaths and walking outside around his hotels. Escoffier insisted that his cooks act and look like gentlemen in the kitchen and outside as representatives of his operations. He had to set and example, thus learning to keep his own temper in check.
Escoffier teamed up with the famous hotelier, Cesar Ritz to open and operate world renown hotels: The Savoy in London, Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo, Grand Hotel in Rome, Carlton Hotel in London and the Hotel Ritz in Paris. Rumor has it that he was part of the opening team to prepare the original Ritz Carlton in Boston for operation. He was the consummate hotel chef, defining what a professional kitchen should look and feel like, and elevating hotel cuisine to new heights.
Some of Chef Len's Favorites
I have reached out to many Chefs across the country to get their recommendations on restaurants that are Chef Approved. Please feel free to respond and share your choices.
Stay Hungry and Eat Well!
Chef Len Elias
I love a first class, creative, fine dining experience as much as the next chef. But honestly like many chefs, I have a lot of food in my life so when I get a chance to go out, I usually gravitate towards restaurants that have lots of appetizers, small plates and are just plain easy. I look for a restaurant that I can sit at the bar; maybe an outside patio or it’s a unique and interesting venue. I like just about anything that is well prepared and over the top good. I love Hot Dogs as much as I love Foie Gras or Diver Scallops. I have always believed that "it’s not what you do", "but how you do it", it’s about the passion to execute at the highest level.
A few months ago I was in Saint Helena, California. I had driven by this drive-through many times, but never considered stopping to check it out. I see now that it’s had its fair share of notoriety and accolades but its all true. Point Reyes Blue Cheese Burgers, Ahi Tuna Burgers, Killer Tacos, Garlic and Parsley Fries and on and on. I would love to own Gotts (http:/gotts/.com/) and would probably be quite content cooking the best drive through food in the country.
Here are some of my favorite spots in Atlanta
The JCT Kitchen and Bar-Westside=ATL
When people come to town, I love to bring them here first. Great Gastro Pub Fare with Southern Influences amazing views of Downtown from the PatioTons of things to taste and share. Try the Foie Gras PB&J
Three Steps To Sales Building-A Blue Print For Success
Building sales in a sustained fashion involves focus on three areas of the operation- Product selection, presentation of those products and customer service. In other words provide the customer with the products that they want, position those products so they are attractive and appealing and deliver them with service excellence. All easier said than done.
Each of these areas of focus must work in conjunction with each other. The most popular product may not sell if it is not presented properly and no products will move off the shelves if customer service is non-existent.
The operator needs to take a deep breath, a step back and look at each area in an organized and systematic way. The first step is to determine product selection. This simply means to give the customer what they want. Learn what your customers want by doing your homework. Study sales receipts, quantity sold totals on your point of sale systems and simply asking your guests what they prefer. The more detailed the information you can extract from your point of sale system and the more feedback you can get from dialogue with your guests the more data you will have to make the right product decision. Tip: Have a key or code for each item you sell so you can track it more easily. Having things rung up under miscellaneous will not provide any solid information when it comes to decide on what to offer to your customers.
Culinary Director / Food Service Director / Executive Chef
Responsibilities of the Culinary Director Include:
- Assist in planning, developing, organizing, implementing, evaluating, and directing the Dietary Department, its programs and activities.
- Coordinate dietary services and activities with other related departments (i.e., Nursing, Housekeeping, Social Services, etc.)
- Interpret the department's policies and procedures to employees, residents, visitors, government agencies, etc., as necessary.