IndyFoodBlog's Profile

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Ideas for homemade salmon stock?

Now that's a chowda.

May 12, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in Home Cooking

Does Race Matter in the Kitchen?

The paragraph above about white boys, sickness, etc, was part of the Bourdain quote; it wasn't entirely relevant to the conversation, but as I was doing a copy/paste from an e-version of the book, I left it in.

You're right, the larger point I was attempting to make was hard work, dedication and sense of pride.

The even larger point than that though, was that many people of many enthnicities work in all types of kitchen, and that being good at their job is what makes them valuable in a professional kitchen.

May 12, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in General Topics

Ideas for homemade salmon stock?

I endorse this idea too.

You could use the stock anyplace you'd use a veg or chx type stock.

May 11, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in Home Cooking

Ideas for homemade salmon stock?

I endorse this idea.

May 11, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in Home Cooking

Enough with the 'green juice'!!!

Green juice or not, juicing has definitely caught on.

I've tasted some good juice concoctions, and some that were, well, less than good.

I "get" that it's arguably the best way to get the vitamins from many vegetables, but I haven't gone and bought many either.

As for doing it at home, bah, can't be bothered.

May 11, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in General Topics

Long cooking shellfish - doesn't make them softer?

You understand correctly. Overcooking any mollusk will toughen them, which is why scallops (for example) are seared for a very short time, oysters are often eaten raw on the half shell, etc. (Raw scallops at a good sushi restaurant shouldn't be missed. Sweet flavor with a very slight saltiness.)

May 11, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in General Topics

Does Race Matter in the Kitchen?

From the responses my original post got, I guess I shouldn't have quoted Anthony Bourdain...

The point still stands that race/ethnicity in a kitchen doesn't matter. Any properly trained cook can learn to cook any type of food, and it's common in the industry for line cooks to be of many different ethnicities, and those ethnicities often don't "match" the type of food they are cooking.

That was the entire point I was trying to make.

May 11, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in General Topics

Does Race Matter in the Kitchen?

Of course not every nonwhite is an immigrant. Would be ignorant to think so. And, as Chemicalkinetics points out, there are white immigrants too.

There were a number of older guys at the cigar store I hung out at who assumed all the Mexicans were illegals. It pissed me off no end, and I regularly reminded one guy in particular that he was an idiot to say and think that. Ironically, he loved going down to the Mexican grocery store & buying food from their little taqueria. (Of course, then he would grouse that they "didn't speak English" and claim they were all illegals and should be deported.)

(That cigar store was in an area that is seeing a lot of Hispanic residential and business growth. The owner retired and closed the store, hence the past tense "hung out at".)

May 10, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in General Topics

Does Race Matter in the Kitchen?

Of course not. I wasn't saying race matters at all. Point being, they're willing to do the work as they were taught. They're willing to learn how the Chef wants the food prepared, and that's how they do it. The do it with pride. I was attempting to make the same point Bourdain did as to how immigrant line cooks can be relied on to learn and execute the recipes. (Pick the ethnicity that most populates the kitchens in your area. It just happens that the majority in Indy are Mexican.) If we had a lot of Chinese line cooks in Indy, I'm sure I would be saying exactly the same thing.

For the sake of simplicity, I was lumping "owner" and "head Chef" together.

Here's a related article from a couple of weeks ago about pizza makers in Italy. They're probably Egyptian immigrants, not Italian. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world...

May 10, 2013
IndyFoodBlog in General Topics

Does Race Matter in the Kitchen?

The ethnicity of the person cooking your food doesn't matter in the least. Sure, if you're in a Chinese restaurant, it might be surprising to see - say - a Hispanic guy cooking your Dim Sum, but any person has the capacity to learn to cook any type of food.

In Indianapolis, a large number of working line cooks are Mexican. And, from my experience, they tend to be some of the best line cooks in the business.

I will grant that if the owner of an ethnic restaurant isn't of the same ethnicity as the food, then you might not have the best experience. For example, a Chinese owner of a Turkish restaurant might not be able to produce the best Turkish food you've ever eaten, but even that isn't a hard and fast rule. After all, Rick Bayless is considered one of the best Mexican Chefs in the US; and, obviously, that gringo isn't Mexican.

As Bourdain pointed out in 'Kitchen Confidential':
"... But who's actually cooking your food? Are they young, ambitious culinary school grads, putting in their time on the line until they get their shot at the Big Job? Probably not. If the chef is anything like me, the cooks are a dysfunctional, mercenary lot, fringe-dwellers motivated by money, the peculiar lifestyle of cooking and a grim pride. They're probably not even American. Line cooking done well is a beautiful thing to watch. It's a high-speed collaboration resembling, at its best, ballet or modern dance. A properly organized, fully loaded line cook, one who works clean, and has 'moves'-meaning economy of movement, nice technique and, most important, speed-can perform his duties with Nijinsky-like grace. The job requires character-and endurance. A good line cook never shows up late, never calls in sick, and works through pain and injury.

What most people don't get about professional-level cooking is that it is not at all about the best recipe, the most innovative presentation, the most creative marriage of ingredients, flavors and textures; that, presumably, was all arranged long before you sat down to dinner. Line cooking -the real business of preparing the food you eat-is more about consistency, about mindless, unvarying repetition, the same series of tasks performed over and over and over again in exactly the same way. The last thing a chef wants in a line cook is an innovator, somebody with ideas of his own who is going to mess around with the chef's recipes and presentations. Chefs require blind, near-fanatical loyalty, a strong back and an automaton-like consistency of execution under battlefield conditions.

A three-star Italian chef pal of mine was recently talking about why he -a proud Tuscan who makes his own pasta and sauces from scratch daily and runs one of the best restaurant kitchens in New York - would never be so foolish as to hire any Italians to cook on his line. He greatly prefers Ecuadorians, as many chefs do: 'The Italian guy? You screaming at him in the rush, "Where's that risotto?! Is that fucking risotto ready yet? Gimme that risotto!" . . . and the Italian . . . he's gonna give it to you . . . An Ecuadorian guy? He's gonna just turn his back . . . and stir the risotto and keep cooking it until it's done the way you showed him. That's what I want.'

I knew just what he meant. Generally speaking, American cooks-meaning, born in the USA, possibly school-trained, culinarily sophisticated types who know before you show them what monter au beurre means and how to make a béarnaise sauce-are a lazy, undisciplined and, worst of all, high-maintenance lot, annoyingly opinionated, possessed of egos requiring constant stroking and tune-ups, and, as members of a privileged and wealthy population, unused to the kind of 'disrespect' a busy chef is inclined to dish out. No one understands and appreciates the American Dream of hard work leading to material rewards better than a non-American. The Ecuadorian, Mexican, Dominican and Salvadorian cooks I've worked with over the years make most CIA-educated white boys look like clumsy, sniveling little punks.

In New York City, the days of the downtrodden, underpaid illegal immigrant cook, exploited by his cruel masters, have largely passed - at least where quality line cooks are concerned. Most of the Ecuadorians and Mexicans I hire from a large pool - a sort of farm team of associated and often related former dishwashers - are very well-paid professionals, much sought after by other chefs. Chances are they've worked their way up from the bottom rung; they remember well what it was like to empty out grease traps, scrape plates, haul leaking bags of garbage out to the curb at four o'clock in the morning. A guy who's come up through the ranks, who knows every station, every recipe, every corner of the restaurant and who has learned, first and foremost, your system above all others is likely to be more valuable and long-term than some bed-wetting white boy whose mom brought him up thinking the world owed him a living, and who thinks he actually knows a few things.

You want loyalty from your line cooks. Somebody who wakes up with a scratchy throat and slight fever and thinks it's okay to call in sick is not what I'm looking for. While it's necessary for cooks to take pride in their work - it's a good idea to let a good cook stretch a little now and again with the occasional contribution of a special or a soup - this is still the army. Ultimately, I want a salute and a 'Yes, sir!'. If I want an opinion from my line cooks, I'll provide one. Your customers arrive expecting the same dish prepared the same way they had it before; they don't want some budding Wolfgang Puck having fun with kiwis and coriander with a menu item they've come to love. ..."

That's working and cooking in a professional kitchen.

A good cook needs to be able to produce the menu items as the Chef has taught them time and again.

I just worked at a restaurant in Louisville for the KY Derby; saute station was manned by a Hispanic male, veg/mid station was (wo)manned by a Hispanic female. They never fell behind, never had any question as to what they were doing. They knew they job, and they did it extremely well.

Immigrants aren't the only ones who can do it, but they populate the kitchens in restaurants of every variety. They DO show up - hungout or hungover - and they do the job.

The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of immigrants working at all levels in the restaurant industry, and without them, a lot of restaurants would need employees.