Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The best decision I made all summer was to work for myself. To cater events, to cook private dinner parties, to not get a conventional summer job. Not only have I made more than I have any other summer, I've enjoyed my summer much more. I've had much more free time. While my friends slaved away working every day for summer camps, I stayed in my house, plotting spreadsheets to determine food costs and profits and cooking. This isn't as true for catering larger events, but I still can't believe I get payed for cooking private dinner parties. It's always so much fun and generally relaxed, and I get to cook and interact with the customers and such. Catering is a little different. Those events are fun, but by nature (large amount of people) are more stressful.

But really this job is great. I run it like a business. I'm always on the lookout for potential clients. I've started to make comprehensive spreadsheets that detail each dinner (how much did I profit, did my projected profits meet my actual profit aka did I meet my budget, how much did I spend for each dish, where can I cut costs in the future, what were the guests' comments, what will I change next time). I have control. I have the power to run this into the ground or to build it up. You don't get that from a job at the ice cream shop.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Webchat with me!

Tune in here http://www.whyy.org/community/fit_chat_gettingstarted.html tomorrow, Tuesday August 17 at 12 and ask me anything about anything (but mostly cooking) on an online web chat hosted by WHYY!

Friday, August 13, 2010

What am I doing?

Oh yea, that's right, I'm doing me.

Props to anyone understood that pop culture reference. I thought that some of you might be curious about what's going on with me. What's the next step?

Well I don't know what I'll get. I do know what I want, but I'm not sure what will come out of it. I want to go to Wharton (the business school at the university of Pennsylvania) damnit. That's where I will go. That's where I must go. I love business. I love management. I love running shit. I love that whole deal. I want to have experience in business so that I can open my own restaurant. I feel that a lot of restaurants fail because chefs know how to cook and nothing more. They lack acute accounting skills. I want to run a tight ship. I want to know my finances. That knowledge will make me comfortable cooking. I will be on top of things. I hope.

I love Wharton. I love the curriculum. I love Philadelphia. I love the campus. I love the thought that I could be going to one of the best undergrad business programs in the country. But what if I don't get in? See, basically I'm doing exactly what they tell you not to do in regards to college hunting. I'm putting all my eggs in one basket. I really want Wharton and if I plan to purchase a punching pag perchance I don't get in. But if I don't get in, I don't get in. I have to make due. I'm stubborn though, and pathetic sometimes. I think a lot of things aren't worth doing if I don't have the potential to be the best. That's why I quit basketball. That's why I cried when I lost a spelling B in second grade. I'm a baby. But if it's not Wharton, it'll be Lehigh business, or  Michigan business, or Virginia business, or Penn State business. And I'll mope for a little while, but then I'll be fine. And I'll move on. And I'll still run a tight ship when I own a restaurant.

But if anyone knows the admissions officer at Penn, put in a good word for me wont you ;)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Food Shows Today

Is it just me, or is food in pop culture getting kind of boring? It feels like it's all the same. It isn't evolving. It isn't expanding even as the public grows accustomed to what's on television. I used to really enjoy watching Barefoot Contessa and Everyday Italian and others (actually now that I think about it I do still enjoy watching Everyday Italian, but not for the food) but now they're just boring.

I mean every show is kinda the same. Giada boils pasta then tosses it with pesto then makes some wonderful biscotti, "which means twice baked in Italian," Paula Dean makes "good ol southern fried chicken" for dinner and butter for dessert.  It's funny how well I can sum up their shows with two dishes. After watching these shows for years they're getting kinda dull. They seldom offer information to help me elevate my cooking and I don't really learn anything new by watching them.

This isn't true for everybody I'm sure and I would think that, for instance, my mom disagrees. She probably learns a lot from each episode of Rachel Ray or Everyday Italian. A lot of people do. A lot of people are fascinated by what the hosts do on these shows, and I argue that that is because the viewers have little background in technique. They understand how to read recipes, but don't comprehend processes.

And who can blame anyone for that? Food culture these days is based around recipes. On every food show, a recipe is offered, hardly does a show zero in on a technique that will alllow you to create a recipe over and over again with different ingredients. Why would they? Then you wouldn't need to watch their show.

You should buy Ruhlman's Ratio and learn the basic methods that govern the creation of everyday dishes. Then, every new show may be entertaining, but it certainly won't be revolutionary and over time, the individual shows will begin to blend together as you realize that all the mainstream food shows use a series of basic techniques with different ingredients and some flourishes added on.