It’s been a while since I’ve worked on this blog and it’s time to kick start it again damn it! Here we go!

I am a proponent of on-going education regardless of how old you are. Gaining knowledge by learning new things keeps you young and in my field it is also important to your longevity as a chef. I briefly went to culinary school in the 80’s but paying for an education on minimum wage which was $3.35 working in restaurants couldn’t sustain my own on going education so I decided that a hands on degree was more ideal for my situation and learned as my career progressed. 4505 Meats offers different classes for different applications. Their approach to animal husbandry is vital to sustainability not only to the meat industry but also to the restaurant industry. They believe in local product that is free of chemicals and antibiotics. They offer a premium product that is not only good but good for you!  I just finished the sausage making class and now have whole hog butchery and whole steer butcher classes coming up.

The sausage making class was very fun and very educational. This will allow me to make sausages in my restaurants kitchen where before I had to rely on my meat purveyors to supply the product. Fun and cost-effective at the same time. We made three different types of sausages. A classic Marguez sausage, a chicken, Dogfish Head Festina Peche and apricot sausage and a pork and pecorino sausage. They were all delicious. Working with the other students was also enjoyable. We were all equals regardless of our backgrounds and everyone was very nice and fun!

I am posting various pictures of the class with descriptions of what were involved. Enjoy!!

http://4505meats.com

Chicken thighs sent through a huge grinder. It took less than 20 seconds to grind 12 lbs of chiciken!

Chicken thighs sent through a huge grinder. It took less than 20 seconds to grind 12 lbs of chiciken!

Adding all the ingredients to the ground chicken.

Adding all the ingredients to the ground chicken.

All ingredients ready for mixing!

All ingredients ready for mixing!

Korbin working his magic.

Korbin working his magic.

Pre-mixing instructions.

Pre-mixing instructions.

Greg mixing the Marguez batch.

Greg mixing the Marguez batch.

Ready for mixing.

Ready for mixing.

Kent is testing the mix to see if it's ready to stuff.

Kent is testing the mix to see if it’s ready to stuff.

Testing the Marguez before stuffing.

Testing the Marguez before stuffing.

This is a table mounted crank stuffer. Recommended because electric stuffers do not allow to slow down or back up if gravity takes hold and pushes too much product out at once.

This is a table mounted crank stuffer. Recommended because electric stuffers do not allow to slow down or back up if gravity takes hold and pushes too much product out at once.

F. Dick are a German knife and kitchen hardware manufacturer. Insert inappropriate joke here--->

F. Dick are a German knife and kitchen hardware manufacturer. Insert inappropriate joke here—>

Another angle.

Another angle.

Prepping the table. Water is your friend. If not, the casings will stick like glue and tear.

Prepping the table. Water is your friend. If not, the casings will stick like glue and tear.

This is a pork casing going on the "horn" that feeds the product into the casing.

This is a pork casing going on the “horn” that feeds the product into the casing.

Filling the bin with product. No air is permitted because it causes bubbles in the casing.

Filling the bin with product. No air is permitted because it causes bubbles in the casing.

Different grinder sizes and blade.

Different grinder sizes and blade.

Stuffing a small amount of meat to enable us to tie a knot in the casing.

Stuffing a small amount of meat to enable us to tie a knot in the casing.

Pork sausage stuffing.

Pork sausage stuffing.

The beginning of pork stuffing.

The beginning of pork stuffing.

Forming coils to increase table space.

Forming coils to increase table space.

Finished lamb Marguez sausage.

Finished lamb Marguez sausage.

Finished product. Pork and pecorino sausage.

Finished product. Pork and pecorino sausage.

Wrapping product.

Wrapping product.

We rock!!

We rock!!

4505's famous hot dogs!!

4505’s famous hot dogs!!

2012 in review

December 30, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Eat Your Beer!

October 2, 2012

The East Bay Express recently featured an article that highlights chef’s who cook with beer. This was something new to me in 2007 when I started at The Monk’s Kettle. The learning curve was steep since I like to drink beer but wasn’t entrenched in the whole culture of beer, beer pairing and the brewing of beer. I’m now a home brewer and really appreciate the whole process of learning and loving beer. Enjoy the article.

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/eat-your-beer/Content?oid=3346872

2011 in review

December 31, 2011

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My dad is a tough cookie. He worked for 26 years as a Cincinnati policeman. He was a great cop. He was a peoples cop. You recognized his face, you knew his name and you knew his style. If you respected him, the respect was returned.

He knew the true meaning of the balance of justice and bad people were dealt with and good people in need were taken care of. He had the opportunity to retire at 51. After his retirement, he also found out that he was one restless cuss.

Work is a part of his fabric of life. Soon after retiring from the police department, he joined the St.Bernard police department where he has worked for over 18 years as a police dispatcher and mentor for younger cops. That is about 43 years total in police work in one aspect or another. It’s in the mans blood. He loves the comradery, the brotherhood and even the stress of the job because it makes him feel alive. It’s his connection to life.

My dad is also battling cancer which has gone on for a while now. I took a leave of absence from life in Oakland to take care of my dad because I love him and he needs his family there for him right now.

I don’t have a crystal ball on how much time we have left together but I am going to appreciate every minute I have with him this summer. My Uncle Neal video taped a ceremony for my dad on his almost two decades of service as a dispatcher in the St.Bernard police department.

I wanted to thank Neal for taking the time to put this video together and I also wanted to share this with all my friends, associates and family. Please enjoy.


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.