Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Knife Set

I've been in touch with a few chefs and hopefully I'll start doing stages soon but the chefs have asked me to bring my own knives (which I didn't have).. So today I got my first Knife Set ! I have to admit that these aren't like the best knives ever, but considering that they will be used for staging they'r ok, someone advised me not to take my best knives or the expensive ones when doing stages because they tend to disappear (hahah) besides I will be doing basic tasks so the best of the best is not really required

I got the chef's knife, utility knife, pairing knife, boning knife, carving knife, bread knife, cleaver, kitchen fork, knife sharpener, and not in the picture but also, kitchen scissors, fruit baller, zester, peeler, whisk.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Catering Motley Crue - My first stage

- Cater Pass -

Motley Crue offered concerts here in Mexico and I did a very interesting (and first) stage. They brought their own catering service for the crew. I was a runner for them, assisting anyone who needed help, I was given mostly basic tasks. I wasn’t really involved in the actual cooking but I got to observe the whole time. That worked great for me because I learned a lot in their kitchen.

- Chef Steve -

The chefs were really nice (there were two), my first task was picking Chef Steve up at the hotel to go grocery shopping for the day. So, at 5:45 am we were on our way to the market. Meat, dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables, pastry, and many other things would fill our market carts. We had to go to many different cause we wouldn't find everything at once. After buying the food we went to the vinoteca to get the wine.

At the venue the real work starts, the catering service has multiple dishes offered in a buffet style for the crew. The chefs would spend practically all day cooking, they had just finished lunch when they had to start with the dinner menu already.

- This is the other Chef -

(sorry I don't remember his name 'cause I mainly worked with Steve) but the question here isn't what his name was but, why is there an airplane in the kitchen?? hahah

They prepared a lot of stuff, chicken stew with biscuits, roasted beets, fruit salad, vegetable salad, delicious simmered green beans, and many other things.

There was something I found very interesting: The kitchen equipment. We have to consider that this is a moving kitchen since they cater people on tour, so the equipment is quite different from the fixed kitchen.

- What's in that case? Pots !

- Portable oven -

And of course at the end of the day, after the hard work backstage, I would go to the front of the stage to enjoy the concert which was awesome. A lot of big noises, a lot of fire, a lot of screaming and a lot of girls flashing Tommy hahaha. I really enjoyed myself.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My culinary passion started many years ago, although back then I hadn't even considered making of it my profession. My first cooking lessons were taken at home as a kid and my first cooking teacher was my mother. Even though I come from a family of four (mom, dad, my sister and I), most of the time there was more people in my house visiting like friends, aunts, cousins, guests or so. And my mother cooked lunch for us every single day and often dinner, except for the days we went out or she felt sick. Milanesa, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, cortadillo, mole, mashed potatoes, chicken with vegetables and all sort of Mexican food I learned to cook from her. My favorite was without any doubt: red rice. I don't really know why, may be it was the first thing I learned or perhaps it was the safest for her to let me prepare by myself, but for many years I would be in charge of the rice. Not only was I introduced to the kitchen by my mother but I also inherited from her the art or hosting. My mother would turn any simple reunion into a nice, cozy environment and made sure everyone felt welcome by taking care of the smallest detail. Now imagine what she would do for Christmas! That was my favorite season and of course my favorite meal of the year. That was the only night of the year we had turkey for dinner. My father would buy a big frozen turkey when he wasn't given one as an incentive from the company he worked for. And we started with the prep work the day before when we began the defrost and bought all the ingredients for the rest of the dish. Each year, since I was a kid, my family gathers at my parents' to celebrate Christmas. There are many duties to complete for that day, decorate the tree (and the entire house as my mother would), buy presents, call guests, etc. But the most interesting was cooking the Christmas dinner which took almost all day and for which a lot or effort was made watching details and ingredients. Every year my mother offered the same menu that all my family loved: Roasted Turkey filled with a Two Meat Stew and topped with Mushroom and Bacon Gravy. Sided with Spaguetti (red or yellow), Mashed Potatoes and French Baguett Bread. And Apple with Marshmallow Dessert. Eventually, when I grew up, paired with a good red wine.
That was the fanciest dinner we had at home each year. All the decorations, the Christmas embroiled plates, glasses, napkins and table clothes, the lighting, the music and the house full of friends and family made of it one of my favorite celebrations at home.

From my father I would learn everything about the grill (from starting charcoal fire to grilling all kind of meats), we had the most amazing barbecues on the porch pretty often, I could say that almost once a week. Beef, chicken, vegetables, my father would grill everything, and I would always help.

After high school I went to the Political Science Faculty in a public university in Mexico and completed an International Relations program. The last couple of semesters before graduating were really busy, besides classes and school homework I also spent time on two other activities: teaching English at a private school and completing my externship at the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico. I graduated from the University on December 2000 and got a job two months later at the import department of a dairy company. I spent those two months after graduating at home, mostly feeling bad for not having a job yet, but I also finally had time to do what I had enjoyed so much: watch all the culinary TV shows going on at the time in my city. Back then we didn't have the Food Network nor the Gourmet Channel in Mexico yet, so I remember entire afternoons of repeated (and Spanish translated) episodes of The Two Fat Ladies and The Naked Chef among others. I used to take what I considered the most delicious dishes and bring the recipe to the kitchen, sometimes it worked well sometimes it was pretty awful, but anyway those were my first times cooking something not learned by watching my mother and that was indeed the only thing that kept me away from my frustration of not having a job related to my career. A few days later when I got my job and wasn’t able to watch each episode I taped them to watch them later and reproduce the recipes that watered my mouth. After 4 years working on import / export I knew that I had had enough of an interesting but underpaid job where I had no direction at all and no opportunity to grow. I decided to take an opportunity given to me by one of my dearest friends to teach English again, except that this time I would have to move to the other side of the country, which I did. I lived in Cabo San Lucas for a year, and that brought me closer into cooking because now there was no one else to do it for me. It was either cook or hunger, except for the days I would go out (which was pretty often anyway because I wanted to try all kind of food over there). Although Cabo does not offer quite a culinary experience I did try almost everything. But I would crave for my town's food most of the time.
-Enchiladas - one of the dishes I missed the most-

Cabo is a hundred percent tourist spot which hosts many wealthy people therefore you can find a lot of hotels with an excellent dining service. My being an English teacher in town gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people including a few chefs who talked to me about their cooking methods, ideas, and food proposals. It is then when I realized I wanted to do it for a living. And I started a research on culinary schools. I went to San Francisco and got information about the California Culinary Academy, I contacted the Orlando Culinary Academy whose people nicely guided me into understanding the international student enroll process. I found out that my biggest problem would be monetary (quite a detail) since I have to cover all the tuition before even going there, but that's not stopping me.
I came back home from Cabo on December and the first thing I did was eat the good stuff here, cabrito, barbacoa, carne asada, tacos de bistek, and of course my mother's food. I keep experimenting with food in the kitchen and trying to figure out which way to take.
Next week I'm heading to Canada for a couple of months and I hope to find a culinary experience that allows me to get direction and clear my mind to continue my journey into culinary.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Under Construction

Please come back later..

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