We really enjoy the CUESA classes. CUESA is the center for urban education about sustainable agriculture. They conduct classes not only at the Ferry Building in San Francisco that include beer, sausage, cheese and yogurt making as well as introduction to butchery, but yesterday, we were fortunate to be able to experience a class on bee keeping and the appreciation of the wonderful product they produce which is honey. This class was conducted on the roof of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. We were able to be to attend this class also because of the work that Urban Kitchen SF does and continues to do! http://www.urbankitchensf.org

Bees are an important part of our planets eco-system. They pollinate thirty percent of our crops we eat in the United States. They are responsible for over 14.5 billion dollars worth of crops produced in the United States each year.

There have been growing concerns about the sustainability of the bees in the last decade. Colony collapse has devastated the bee population and up to thirty percent of the bee population is lost every year. Initially, the hypothesis about the decline leaned towards a mite that was killing the bees. After gathering more evidence, they were realizing that an unknown virus was killing the bees.

One study conducted at a hive examined where the bees had left leaving all their food and brood. There were significant amounts of dead bees in the hive so they thought that maybe cell phone use or other factors played a part in the hive collapse. They then placed a healthy hive in the vacant hive and the bees died. This, with more information gathered determined it was a virus.

California has been very active in their attempts at reviving the bee population. There are many urban bee hives in place throughout the city and The Fairmont Hotel is one place we were fortunate to visit.

We able to meet to owners and operators of Marshall’s Farm Honey. I, personally am a fan of this honey. I used this product daily as the chef at The Monk’s Kettle. It went into my deserts, sauces and specials. I consider their honey to be the Rolls Royce of the honey industry.

We met the husband and wife team Spencer and Helene Marshall of Marshall’s Farm and were able to taste different strains of honey which was really fun. There were orange blossom, lavender infused, California wild flower, eucalyptus and star thistle. All were outstanding.


We had the opportunity to try specialty cocktails made with the honey as well. Here is my beautiful wife enjoying a Marshall’s Farm lemonade. It was amazing.

We were then brought out to the roof to see up close how the bees interact with each other and humans. It was quite windy and chilly but Spencer did a great job tending to the hives. He only got stung once!

Judy in a bee keeper's hat!


Next we were treated to a food demonstration conducted by the Executive Chef of the Farimont Hotel J.W. Foster. He prepared a bruschetta with pickled vegetables over Bellwether Farms fresh ricotta which was very tasty.

We had a wonderful time. It also kicked started our interest in creating our own hive in our backyard. Next door neighbors, watch out! Here is a link to Marshall’s Farm Honey.

http://www.marshallshoney.com

This has been an insane couple of days. The highs and lows I’ve experienced have been profound. Initially excited about the possibility of coming home to Cincinnati have been horribly overshadowed by the death of a friend of mine. David Hebert or who we affectionately referred to him as “Bones” because well, the guy was skin and bones. Bones was tragically killed by a Cincinnati policeman two days ago and information coming out about this horrible event has made people wonder exactly transpired that fateful Monday night.

I have a tough time coming to grips with death. It’s an integral part of our life cycle but I really never, ever enjoy thinking about it. Who does? It’s even harder to come to grips when young people die. I can count on all my fingers and toes people who I’ve lost in the last twenty years under the age of forty. Family, good buddies and close friends.

I’ve thought a lot about Bones lately. I don’t know why. I thought about him last week, even before he was killed. Someone who read my cards said I had an old soul and had a sixth sense about things. I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that I’m sad and I’m angry. Too many people close to me who have been young have died and it just doesn’t seem fair. My cousin Mark Kroger, my good friend Andy Shepard, my great friend Scott Ritter, Mark Chenault and now Bones.

The last time I spoke to Bones was a couple of years ago. He was working at The Comet and my wife Judy and I were having a drink and he was showing us his new motor powered push scooter. He was so fucking proud of that thing because is seemed to him one step closer to getting a motor cycle. He turned the damn thing on in the bar and it was god awful loud but he tooled up and down the sidewalk with this huge grin on his face. It was quite an enjoyable sight to see. Small things like that stick with you regardless of how crazy your life becomes.

I thought about him living in Portland. I tried to take that route too. Moving from San Francisco to get away from the craziness there and start a new life but found out my life was still in S.F.. I heard he was moving back to Cincinnati and I took a moment to visit his fan page which I found hysterical. I wrote something to the effect of “How’s it going BONEZES?” I then scrolled down to a post from Bones saying that he was thinking about moving back to Cincy and was wondering if he would be happy there. It broke my heart knowing what I know now.

He was such a sweet kid when we were at Mullanes. He was just getting into tattoo’s and it seemed like he has a new one every week. The guy was addicted. He was never late, he never called off his shift and he made the kitchen bearable. Now this. I heard he was working at Northslice and was back in town and I was excited to say hello and this will never happen.

One thing this tragedy has done is make me appreciate my friends, family and my wondeful wife. Life is fleeting. In a flash of an eye, poof, it’s over. Everyone, appreciate who you have in your life. Count your blessings daily and give someone close to you a hug. We need to be kind and considerate to each other in these fucked up times. Pray that the truth comes to light. Bones needs justice as well as just us now. I am eager to see all my friends and family. One friend will be missing though. Have a good trip Bones. We all miss you dearly.

I’ve seen a lot of press lately in the blogosphere about my mac-n-cheese from sites like Yelp, MissionMisson and Chow. In a past blog, I submitted a recipe on how to make mac-n-cheese for the home cook. Comfort food can be luxurious. The results can exceed the expectations of your local diner fare and if you have the right ingredients and to do it with love, the outcome can be a hit with not only your family and friends but with your customers! I’ve been selling this dish at The New Taste Market Place at St.Gregory’s in Potrero Hill and it was a huge hit last month. The market attracts about 500 hundred visitors and is great for families and features awesome home and professional chefs, brewers(hi Jesse!) and food artisans. You would be missing something great if you did not attend this market which is held every month.

I’ve had good mac-n-cheese. I’ve had bad mac-n-cheese. It’s the rage now but I make this great pub dish a little different from most cooks do. I incorporate beer with the sauce. I am participating in another great New Taste Market Place event Saturday April 2nd and I decided to document the steps in creating this great dish that was a hit at the last market. As a bonus, I also documented the process on how I make my chocolate pop rock bars! I’m so excited. Hope to see you at the New Taste Market Place. St.Gregory’s Episcopal Church, 500 De Haro San Francisco CA 4/2/11 4 pm to 9 pm

The process I am sharing is for a market that would sell about 80 orders of mac-n-cheese. If you follow the recipe that I previously posted with these pictures of the process, you should be able to create a great mac-n-cheese dish for your friends and family. Don’t forget the beer!

The first step is to choose the beer for your cheese sauce. I prefer a weissbeir like Franziskaner Weissbeir. It has a great floral flavor with hints of banana that really makes this dish stand out from other mac-n-cheese dishes.

First, I start out with a crazy kitchen. Yes, my crazy kitchen but it works for me!

The next step is a 5 gallon stock pot. Stainless steel is the only choice for making sauces. If you use aluminum, you risk leaching aluminum into your sauce giving a metallic flavor. I was able to get an inexpensive pot at Economy Restaurant Supply in San Francisco.

The next step is pouring all three bottles into the pot. I don’t cook off the beer. I prefer to let it incorporate itself into the sauce.

I then pour 4-1/2 gallons of 40% milk fat heavy cream into the pot. Do not use anything less in fat content or your sauce will never thicken into that silky consistency that makes a great mac-n-cheese sauce.

The next step is to thicken the sauce. I create a roux. It’s equal parts butter and flour. You melt the butter and fold in flour and stir on low heat. The tell-tale sign of a roux finishing is that it smell like popcorn. Yes, popcorn. Here are the steps. Melt butter, add flour and stir on low heat until it start bubbling. If you do not continue to stir it will burn.



The next step is to heat up the cream. I like using beer in this dish not only for the flavor but also for the fact that alcohol stabilizes the cream and helps it from scorching.

I then add small amounts of the finished roux to the hot cream. If your cream is not at almost boiling level, your sauce will not thicken. When you start to see the edges bubble, slowly add small amounts of roux and whisk the cream until you achieve the desired thickness.

Next is the cheese. In this dish, I use three types of cheese. Tillamook cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack. This makes the flavors luxurious and gives a nice sharpness to the sauce.

The result is a very nice sauce. Continue to whisk so you can ensure there are no lumps left over from the roux.

I use simple elbow macaroni which is perfect for this dish.

End result.

The garnish I use is a Parmesan and toasted bread crumb mixture. I toast the panko bread crumbs on the stove in a large saute skillet. You can purchase these bread crumbs at Whole Foods. Here is the process on how to do this. Place the bread crumbs in a skillet and toss every few seconds on a high burner until the bread crumbs are browned. Transfer to a sheet tray to let cool. When cool, fold in Parmesan and then transfer into deli-cups which can be purchased at Cash-n-Carry.



The wine is for the chef!

I sell chocolate pop rock bars at the market. We tried a similar bar at Molly Stones and I thought our product would be better. We start by tempering chocolate. You place a stainless steel bowl on a pot of simmering water. I place 2 cups of E.Guittard 61% chocolate in the bowl. I reserve about 1 cup of the chocolate to cool it down.

You will need a chocolate thermometer. The target temperature for your melted chocolate is 116-118 degrees. If you reach 120 or higher, your chocolate will be ruined and you will have to start over. You will also need a high temp rubber spatula that is available at Economy Restaurant Supply.

You will also need an ice bath to cool your chocolate to a target temperature of 80 degrees. I use chill blocks and water but simple ice and water will suffice.

When the water comes to a boil, turn off and start melting your chocolate. Make sure you keep stirring and scraping with your spatula so it does not scorch.

Look for that 116 degree temperature on your thermo and when achieved, add the remaining chocolate to cool down and pull off heat.


When your chocolate pieces have melted, transfer your bowl to the ice water and bring the temperature to the 80 degree mark. You are giving stability to the sugar in the chocolate so it can coat and have sheen as well as snap when cooled.


Once your chocolate has reached 80 degrees, put the bowl back on the hot water and bring the chocolate back to 91 degrees for dark chocolate. At this point is when I fold the chocolate pop rocks into the chocolate. Any hotter, it will actually activate the pop rocks thus ruining your result.


I use a 2 oz ice cream scoop to transfer the mixture to chocolate molds.


End result. Great bars ready to wrap!

I’ve worked in restaurants for almost 30 years. Everywhere from fast food to fine dining and from Cincinnati to San Francisco. I’ve seen it all in those years as a cook. What I haven’t seen until about a two years ago was a chiropractor. I’ve never really understood the science and frankly was a bit intimidated by having someone move bone around to align your neck, spine and hips. I’ve always been a bit paranoid about the medical industry. This all changed when I had a terrible back spasm one day at work. I couldn’t lean forward a few inches without literally buckling in pain.

I was fortunate enough to be given the number of a local chiropractor in the Union Square area. His name is Dr.Christopher Arroyo. I was able to get a last-minute appointment late Friday evening and within five minutes, I was walking without pain and have been going back regularly for spine and neck adjustments. The back, neck and hips are very important to us chefs. We rely on them to keep us in business and if they are not in alignment, it can have devastating effects on our prosperity. I just wanted to thank Dr.Arroyo for seeing me that day and for his continued treatment that is keeping me doing the thing I love most. Cooking. Any cook out there suffering from neck, back or knee problems, I encourage you to visit their practice. They have helped me tremendously! Congratulations for winning Best of Bay for best chiropratic practice!

http://www.arroyoandshpritz.com/index.html

I was fortunate enough to have my dishes featured in a segment on the Cooking Channel that highlights gastropub cuisine and beer when I was Chef at The Monk’s Kettle. The show was filmed last fall and unfortunately I was not able to be interviewed as I was out of town but the crew did an absolutely fabulous job showcasing some of the dishes that I loved creating and cooking. Take a look and let me know what you think.

We were given the opportunity to participate for the first time at the Marin Homegrown Market which is another monthly market in the bay area that gives folks the opportunity to sell their homemade creations in a fun community setting. We met a lot of new vendors and customers and the event was very fun. I took some time to take some pics which I would like to share with you. Enjoy!!

2010 in review

January 3, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 16 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 126 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 248mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 15th with 230 views. The most popular post that day was North Coast Brewing Beer Dinner….the Finale..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were forums.firearms-source.com, facebook.com, sf.eater.com, twitter.com, and healthfitnesstherapy.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for grippos, diamond steel, dexter knives, grippos chips, and dexter knife.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

North Coast Brewing Beer Dinner….the Finale. November 2010
4 comments

2

De Proef Beer Dinner September 2010
9 comments

3

About June 2010
2 comments

4

My Mac-n-Cheese Made Simple September 2010
2 comments

5

How I Decide What You Should Eat August 2010
10 comments

I like beer. If you asked anyone who knew me if I liked beer, they would give you a resounding yes. We travel north in California very frequently. My birthday was coming up and it was time for us to make a change. We’ve been camping to San Luis Obispo before but never have taken an extended trip south. Our route was from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, squirreling through small towns and experiencing California first hand via our car. I conducted a beer dinner at my former employers restaurant and wanted to stop by for a tour. The beer is wonderful, the staff was very friendly and we had a great time, albeit a tad sick but beer has healing qualities aka feel no pain so here are a few pictures of our tour. I apologize in regards to photo quality. We aren’t photographers and being under the weather that day. I was shaking like a leaf. Enjoy. -Chef Kevin.

This is the outside of the brewery. It was friggin’ freezing that day.

Here are the grain holders. Only those containers hold the grain to make the beer. They were huge.

The beer list was comprehensive.

They offered plenty of S.W.A.G. and reasonable prices.

Various views of the bar and surrounding areas.


Shots of our wonderful brews including a sampler and the 14th anniversary. I bought a bottle there. Finished it last night. I don’t lay anything down but wine unfortunately. Cold beer is like a sirens trance.




These were the FSW DBA tanks we got to walk through. They produce 75% of the beer consumed in the central coast and they are by far the most productive of any brewery in that area.

Here are some pics of the machines that crack the grain used to make the beer. There is also pics of barrel fermentation. They weren’t aging the beer in the wooden barrels but simply fermenting it in the barrels to extract some of the oils but not in an aging process.

everything is automated






This is a very interesting read from a yahoo blog.

My menu at The Monk’s Kettle has morphed over the last two years. I’ve grown exponentially in regards to how I approach food, how I design menus and what people should eat when they enter the restaurant. I’ve also watched many documentaries on food, have researched animal husbandry and why people buy organic. Here are some of the products that I chose and why I chose them.

The approach I took with how I created the original menu at The Monk’s Kettle was the ingredients had to be natural. I’ve not always been able to do this in past restaurants because I was really never in the decision-making position to have these items available. There were always obstacles which were mostly surrounded around budget. I would see chefs I worked under being given direction to steer away from higher end products in order to keep their food costs in line. We took a different approach at Monk’s. We provide the best product that is available and the cost was passed along to the customer. They know what they are buying and will pay to have the best products presented to them.

I always used natural proteins like Creekstone, Naturewell and Premium Gold angus beef. There was never any other option. It had to be hormone, chemical free and humane cattle raising practices had to be in place in order for them to be able to sell the product to my restaurant. Our chicken, pork and lamb all followed suit. In my strive to keep moving forward with natural products took a turn when I watched the documentary Food Inc. I learned during the viewing of this film that beef cattle in the vast majority of ranches across the country were fed mainly on corn. This was not ever to ensure they had a vegetarian diet but was merely a way to increase the weight of the cattle to give the purveyors of this product a higher yield. Actually cattle cannot digest corn at all and have to be given antibiotics because of the acid produced trying to digest something that their stomachs are not designed to do caused ulcerations in their stomaches which could kill them so they were pumped full of chemicals to keep them healthy and keep them eating corn.

This practice raised serious questions in my mind so I made a call that evening to my meat company representative asking him what feed my steer were given since he said it was a vegetarian diet and low and behold, corn was used as a finishing feed to fatten them up right before processing. I immediately removed this product from my menu and went with two different types of grass-fed only beef. Estancia Beef from Uruguay and Humbolt Grass Fed beef from Humbolt County family farms in Northern California. There was no other choice. The bi-product of serving corn-fed beef to Americans has also helped in the increased obesity problem not to mention the resistance to antibiotics many Americans face from the diet they choose.

I take what I serve very seriously. If there is organic produce available, I will only buy organic. Chefs I don’t think are outspoken enough about the importance of buying grass-fed beef, organic produce and using products that do not contain trans fats. My olive oil I use in my vinaigrettes is thirty dollars a gallon. The honey I use for my cheese plates and dressings comes from a family owned California bee farm. Again, only the best for my customers. My eggs are cage free, my milk and cream are all natural. I recently read a food blog where the question was who had the best french fries and the overwhelming majority said McDonald’s. Do they know how many chemicals go into the making of those things including the use of beef fat? High fructose corn syrup? It is absolutely never to see my kitchens dry storage. I encourage chefs and restaurateurs to re-examine what they put on people’s plates before they serve it to them. It speaks volumes on their own philosophies on the appreciation of good, wholesome food.