Maslow and Food – Forward (part 1)

I was sitting at the bar a few nights ago, decompressing after work, when I was asked by someone how old I was.  The woman seemed to think that there was no way that I was old enough to be sitting in that bar drinking that martini legally.  I had to actually show her my license to prove to her that yes, I am 29, and yes, that is my real age.

She got up and went to have a cigarette and came back, again looking quizzical. She proceeds to drag me (unwillingly) back into conversation:

So how is it possible that you are 29 and look like you’re 18?

I was kind of taken aback.  Usually people just tell me that “you’re so lucky to be such a babyface, you’ll look young forever” and leave me alone.  But no, this woman needed an answer.

I’m only 24 and I look 35 already.  It’s not fair, you must tell me your secret!

So, I took a second to consider it.  What is it that I do that makes me any different from this woman? The only answer that I could come up with is this:

I do everything that makes me happy.  End of story.  My job sucked, so I quit it and became a chef because I love food and cooking makes me happy.  I just got engaged to someone who makes me happier than I’ve ever been at home.  I walk my dog at least three miles every day so I get a lot of fresh air (and perspective when I need it).  I quit smoking, do my best to eat well, try to stay in shape and laugh every day.  I do the things that make me happy. Yeah, that must be it.  Happiness keeps me young.

I think she expected me to tell her to go buy some crazy expensive face cream and get a massage or something.  This was definitely not the answer she was looking for.  She just kind of said “oh” and walked away to have another cigarette (“could you watch my drink again honey? I’ll be right back”).  Sure, lady, go smoke another butt.

She came back long enough to tell me that “that is the best answer I’ve ever heard” and pound the rest of her wine before paying her tab and heading out.  I couldn’t figure out if she had simply had enough, couldn’t handle the answer because it made her think too much about her own sad life, or if she just got lost in her own head and needed to go home.

Either way, the whole interaction got me to thinking; what is it that makes me so genuinely happy? Why is it that I can be so happy doing this thing, cooking, that so many people hate? And then I came around to thinking about food in general and why it is the centerpiece to so many happy memories for so many people.

Then I remembered something my dad used to talk to me about a lot (particularly in the less-happy times in my life): Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

stay tuned – more tomorrow!

The one with the puddles

– An anonymous contribution to the Knockers on 32 series –

One night, we had some of the runoff from a big event nearby – men in tuxes and women all done up to the nine’s.  They came in after their charity event or whatever and were having some drinks.

I spotted her around eleven, she was hard to miss… Gorgeous, Dior dress, Jimmy Chu’s, sparkling from everywhere with perfectly cut diamonds, glass of champagne swinging wildly in her hand as she talked to her friends, dripping with new money and class.

Around midnight, I see her again.  Sitting in the barstool, halfway passed out.  Wobbling back and forth a bit, eyes unfocused, some guy (not in a tux) kissing her neck and trying to get her to stand up.  As any good restaurant manager would, I took it all in and realized that this was all wrong.  So, I went over and shoo’d the creep away and talked to the girl.  She agrees that she wants to go home and has, in fact, had a bit too much champagne and not enough to eat.

As we are talking I walk her to the front door and hail a cab.  We say good night, the taxi pulls away and I turn around to go back into the bar, which has cleared out a bit.

I look down the path from whence I came and what, to my wandering eyes did appear, but ten tiny puddles leading up to where I stood.

That chick peed herself, starting at the barstool, and continuing until just before she got in the cab.

I guess that you can dress them up like dolls and give them everything in the world, but you can’t instill class or control.  The best looking girl in the room, made her exit by getting hammered and pissing all over her thousand dollar shoes … and my floor.

Chew On This! How palatable is your social media content?

I have worked in places that both succeed (righteously!) at this and fail miserably at it. Seems like a great article to get you started regardless of your business niche, but especially in food!

purduesocial

The golden age of traditional marketing for restaurants and food industry businesses is quickly dissolving into the distance. Therefore, the industry has started to embrace social media as a legitimate tool. According to AIS Media, 89% of diners research restaurants online before visiting in person. What does this mean for your restaurant, food truck, or craft brewery?

Simple and plain, it means an establishment’s website, landing pages and social media presence are becoming main hubs for hungry patrons on a mad dash for their next meal. Regardless if you own a large restaurant chain or a small successful hole in the wall with a cult following, you NEED a social strategy coupled with attention grabbing digital content. If you are just getting your establishment off the ground then an “in house” social media representative, maybe a current employee who has a hard time putting their phone down, is the way to…

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That time the affair was CALLED OUT.

A joint effort with our sister-tumblr KItchen Wisdom – another entry in the Knockers on 32 series.

“I guess I have a tendency to work in open kitchens.

In one kitchen, you could see the whole dining room, but not the bar.  Interestingly, they could hear you if you were talking in a normal voice, but they had to be yelling for you to hear them.  Something to do with the way the vents worked. I don’t really know.

Things you should know about working in hotels:  It’s like being back in highschool.  Rumors abound, as well as backstabbing and undermining.  But, the pay is better than most and you get health insurance and disability. Sooo….

One server, he was married.  I never met his wife, except for this night.  We all knew he was having an affair with the hostess.  Everyone talked about it all the time, except for them.  They were both in their 40’s, and she was single (I think, all of a sudden I’m not sure anymore).  He always hung out next to the hostess stand, it’s not like he even tried to be discreet about his interest in her.  They would both park in the unnecessary depths of the parking lot and walked there together at the end of the night.  They had been ‘seen’ making out by his car more than once.

One night, it all came to a head. With a bang.

In the middle of service, out of nowhere, you just hear this awful screaming.

His wife had shown up.

She was screaming at the hostess, on the other side of the dining room.  It continued as the hostess ran away, through the dining room, weaving her way through the tables trying to get into the relative safety of the back of the house.  “You whore, you slut, you homewrecker.“  A great many other expletives and the like. About halfway through the room, he sees what is going on, and starts chasing after the two women… “baby, no, it’s ok, just stop, why are you doing this” etc. etc. etc.

All the way through the rest of the dining room, and into the back kitchen.

The cat was officially out of the bag.”

That time the hooker got stood up.

A joint effort with out sister-tumblr Kitchen Wisdom, another installment of the Knockers on 32 series.

Have you ever seen a high-class, high-price escort get stood up?

I have.

It’s hysterical, and sad, and you can’t stop watching it.  Kind of like a car accident.

One night, I’m standing at my station in my exceedingly open kitchen, and watching the bar crowd come and go.  It’s a steady night so I don’t get to watch it too closely, but closely enough to follow the plot.

Close up on the ‘butherface’ smokeshow in the red dress, nursing a belvedere and cranberry.  Banging body, tight dress, long weave with bangs to cover her moderately ugly face.  I don’t mean to be judgemental, I just have to paint the picture.  This woman is SEXY from about 15 feet, but once you get closer, ehhhh.  I can tell you pretty definitively that this is the M.O. of most ‘escorts’ in my city… at least the kind that show up a few nights a week in our 5 star hotel …

anyway

She has a canada goose jacket draped casually on the corner of her chair at the bar, and an iPhone 5 in her hand.  She kind of dawdles aimlessly with the garnish on her glass, her hair, her dress, the napkin, her dress, checking her phone and the door every few minutes.  She says “oh no, I’m sorry, I’m waiting for someone” to four or five people who try to sit next to her, as it is getting late, and it is now the only open seat at the bar.

An hour or so passes, and no one has shown up.  Her glass is empty, the bartender asks if she wants another, she orders it but doesn’t touch it.  Not yet.

Eventually, a well dressed man in maybe his late 20’s shows up and sits next to her.  At first you think that this is him, the john.  You write him a quick story in your head; He’s probably new money and single and needs some ‘company’ because he works so much he can’t maintain a relationship.  Then she notices, and tries to shoo him off.  He says something to the effect of “I’m waiting for friends too, I’ll move as soon as yours gets here.”  And your story drifts away like a cloud and everyone recommences the waiting.

Eventually, the guy’s friend shows up.  They are both attractive men, both clearly have money.  You see the woman go from annoyed and lonely to working in about 5 seconds flat.  She has finally given up on whoever was supposed to meet her to begin with.

She talks and flirts and tosses her hair around…. adjusts the top of her dress and drops something on the floor to bend over for.  She worked hard, let me tell you.  But, the guys weren’t budging.  They held conversation and had small talk with her in between, but never really showed interest.

About half an hour later you see why: their girlfriends show up.  Now, there was zero noticeable tension.  Good for these guys and girls, that even though the guys were talking to an obvious hooker, the girls were able to dismiss it – or maybe they just didn’t realize?…  Either way, they even started conversation with the woman.

By this point, the bar had filled up so much that I couldn’t hear what was being said anymore.  I am curious though, if the girls figured out that this woman was a hooker.  What kind of questions do you ask if you are standing next to “pretty woman” at the bar?   And I wonder if the boys picked up the tab that she so expertly walked out on.

1,000 dollar extensions, and she couldn’t pay 30 bucks for two drinks.  What a roller coaster it must be to be one of those ‘ladies of the night.’

Sound.

To an average outsider (that is, non-chef) the kitchen is a cacophony of noise. Things banging and clanging and loud and hot everywhere.

To a chef, though, it is a symphony.

The sound of knives chopping, slicing, the tip tracing a line on the cutting board then the back of the blade gathering a pile of freshly cut herbs.  Pepper cracking in a handheld grinder – fresh on every item.

Saute pans going down on the stove…. bang

the electric lighter on the burner…. click

the flame catching … woosh

product going down in the pan … sizzle

bangclickwoosh

bangclickwoosh

sizzle

crackle

sizzle

crackle

it’s my favorite symphony and it changes every night.  I am my favorite composer but what I write is dictated by the ticket machine, in a rhythm that is ever changing and unending.

clickclickclickclick clickclick clack click clackityclack

The sound of butter as it hits the pan, and how it settles in as the water evaporates and you get to pure butter.

splattersizzlesizzlesettle

The pitter spatter of bursting cells as fresh herbs go into the hot butter and release their water, flavoring the fat for the

light scratch

of the basting spoon, like a stick across a snare drum.

Risotto pans

scraping around and around

never stopping for fear that they will stick.

The bubbling of water, the sound when it’s about to boil.

The way meats sizzle so hard at first and then ease up as the fat renders out and a crust develops or the skin becomes crisp.

Spoons going in and out of bains, the tap tap of water being knocked off before something new gets stirred.

Drawers opening and closing. Product going in and out.

It’s primal, beautiful. Like listening to evolution: new things being created from old things. Growth. Development.

Hardly noise.

A symphony.

What’s your ‘Knockers’ story?

Knockers on 32 is my favorite story from my adventures in the kitchen.  I have so many others but this one stuck with me in the most vivid fashion.

What is your ‘knockers’ story? The one that is the first story you tell when you get around a group of chefs or restaurant people telling war stories?

Share it with us – we will be sure to give you credit (if you want it) and add it to our series. Just click “knockers on 32” on the header and you’ll find a submission form there 🙂

Or, just tag it #knockerson32 and add it to the collection!