We often only think of creativity in the artistic sense, but our current economic situation (along with the state of bedlam our foodways are in) are slowly yet urgently forcing us to think in different directions... looking past the plate, and past where our focus generally lies.
Cutbacks are inevitable during hard times. Today, there are many ways to make a living as a chef without working in a restaurant kitchen and driving to a set location everyday. Some of us don't even where chef jackets or any other traditional or modern chef attire. We have several friends who have taken these new roads, and I wish them the best during these economically hard times. Yes, I love my bi-weekly paycheck and the fact that I have company insurance and other benefits, so creativity flows in other directions now. How can we save a buck? Chefs have always closely watched the food cost... especially in larger operations or hotels where you have an accounting director, purchaser, and food cost controller emailing you numbers every other day. We focus on the traditional ways of utilizing and saving food product. Now, to think further.
Going green has been a trendy choice for some time now, but we've turned a corner where it is an economic necessity. Our F&B director recently nixed employee bottled water for employees. Fortunately this is both a green and economic decision. We've expected some degree of conflict in this area, but people seem to be content with preserving their paycheck and giving up such luxuries. Our kitchen staff has gotten creative with making their own 'water bottles' with plastic containers that they've labelled and repeatedly use.
We've looked into other areas of saving energy, resourcing ingredients, and trying to get more people spending money in our property. We are fortunate to have tapped into a slice of the European market and certain South American markets, but this hasn't resulted in a landslide of business. We have looked even more seriously as our PR roles as chefs. This is something we've always done of our own accord... especially when it involves charitable events which make it more satisfying. We've started using our Paradigm venture as a means of generating buzz and getting press... albeit mostly cheesey misinterpreted condensed summaries of what we are attempting to do. But, they say that press is good, so I guess we'll keep pushing it. What do we know anyway? We're just cooks, and as long as we can continue to learn and experiment then it's definitely all good.
Having these pieces means a lot considering their history at Alchemy with Kevin. I'm sure he's had many 'cool' moments with them. Our only negative view towards them is an obvious one... how do you create food around crucial detail Alinea serviceware without having it look like a Grant Achatz rip-off? The unfamiliarity of them as food delivery takes a little extra thought.
My monstera delicioso has started to ripen. For those who expressed interest in this peculiar fruit, this is what happens when it gets close to the edible phase.
Notice how the monstera 'undresses' itself to reveal the sweet tropical fruit underneath. In the second picture, you can see the banana-like pulp of the fruit which will eventually be scraped off and used for whatever I decide to at that moment. The monstera should not be eaten before or at this point. Wait for the scales to peel away on their own from the stem side all the way down before consuming.
And still yet in other news... We want to wish good luck to our friend, Jeff McInnis, who is battling it out on this season's Top Chef in New York (although it's already a done deal, and Jeff didn't seem overly enthusiastic about the experience when we talked to him recently, even though he's sworn to secrecy... what do they do if you let the cat out of the bag? Does Padma hunt you down and give you a spanking?). We first met Jeff through Star Chefs, then again at local events. I'm sure the outcome of the competition will be satisfying no matter what. Either Jeff remains in the running for a while and makes Miami proud, or he'll be booted out early and we can stop watching... and not have to endure future weeks of Team Rainbow and the European chefs telling Americans they don't know what a vinaigrette is. A lot of ego this round.