Friday, May 20, 2016

Kitchen Life & MPW

When I was a kid I loved watching the few cooking shows available at the time like Graham Kerr, Jacques Pepin, and of course Julia Child.  I especially liked Julia because my mom had her cookbooks and I grew up looking through them (wishing for photographs) and making things from them once in awhile.  My favorite item that I still seek out today is a gateau, the simplest most wonderful cake on earth.  With Julia's recipe I killed my 7th grade French classes' buche de noel contest and having seen her make one on tv had really helped.  The best episode is her birthday episode where she proceeds to get wasted on cherry kirsch, "because it's my birthday," she slurred and took a wet slug from the bottle.  Or, am I making it all up?  When I was young any level of drunk in an adult seemed scandalizing and exciting.  Either way I loved her more and my intrigue and nostalgia for her continues.  As a kid my experience of watching Julia and the others did not match the intensity of going to a restaurant and eating.  My family rarely ate out and it was very special to me.  Hearing plates slamming together from afar and catching glimpses as the kitchen door swung open to reveal a very different room than the one I was seated in filled me with curiosity. 

ye olde spraying from afar trick
Until fairly recently you couldn't find shows with real chefs in the stressful awful habitats that kitchens are.  There definitely wasn't a level of honesty about how torturous working in a restaurant kitchen can be.  Sure there was the snapshot cliche of the cruel French chef yelling, but not the full scene.  I think 16 years ago Anthony Bourdain was the first to really share the truth of what goes on from having sex in the walk-in cooler to ever-present important issues like pay inequality for illegal minority workers.  Today we are merely imagining a new standard.  We see hyper-designed million dollar spaces with fresh open kitchens showcasing hipsters with tweezers as the norm when most of us rarely attend these beautiful places if at all.  I'd guess over half a million of restaurant kitchens are purely utilitarian.  So there you are making regular old food, or glorious fancy food, for shit wages while standing in a cramped hot room accidentally touching your coworkers' butts and sometimes even rarer parts.  Maybe you're paid well, by restaurant standards, but it's still hard to justify putting yourself through that much stress for 12$-15$. 

"...if you think this is big wait til you see my dick..."
I still have post traumatic kitchen stress dreams from these kitchens- whether they be some shit-hole here in town or some fine dining mecca in Chicago, the nightmares are the same.  So why do it?  Aside from just doing what you've known, there's a sick sick terrible draw and allure to working in restaurants.  I think many front of the house staff suffer this as well.  I'm great at generalizing so I say that it goes with a certain personality that thrives on obsession, stress and anger- where everything slows down & seems clear and right.  Getting in the zone under busy, terrible circumstances.  To be honest I have not experienced this since opening QB- I lost ALL badass line cook qualities and became a stressed out freak and stranger of another sort to myself.  But I have not forgotten!  I compare many things to being a line cook, especially if I'm under duress and uncomfortable, "at least I don't have to cook on the line!"  For example, when I'm working out and wanting to die and it just won't end, aside from designing tacos in my head, I make lists of other comparable "careers" to being a line cook that I might have chosen in order to sate that unshakable sick bring-work-home personality inside me:
1) Emergency room surgeon in a dirty hospital
2) Sniper
3) interrogation & torture
4) non-sexual dominatrix dressed in a dirty t shirt who hurts you so bad you change your mind and give up S/M.
5) Revenge consultation- come tell me your beef and I will give you a fitting solution (usually fish saucing car hood vents).
6) War- but then I think, "shut up, you don't know what war is really like!"

The point is that it doesn't go away- and recognizing this in the faces of your kitchen peers or heroes is indescribably comforting and inspiring.  You will not see this on the flaccid Food Network (unless Iron Chef America is still on).  Sure, seeing anybody do anything obsessively and well is very pleasing indeed- but if it's accompanied by misery, a certain feverish paleness around the eye socket and the smell of biology class formaldehyde, ashes, and rebluchon then those people ought to be followed around by a camera crew and put on a continuous live stream for the world to see.

Long before Anthony Bourdain, and his bad-boy mimes to follow, over in the UK was Marco Pierre White (MPW).  Youtube is a treasure trove of real life swinging door glimpses that I mine on a daily basis.  It quenches my thirst for information & inspires me because Olympia, in the scope of the restaurant world, is hicks-ville nowhere cowtown tumbleweed.  When I first ran across videos of MPW I was in awe and delighted to see such authentic intensity.  If only I could have seen these videos in the late 80's!  Maybe you've been coming to the blog for a long while and have seen the Marco Pierre White videos I posted some years back.  I recently discovered that most of them were nowhere to be found on YouTube but in a panic found a couple of them elsewhere.  Unfortunately the treasure trove of MPW videos I found years ago is no longer posted due to...copyright infringement?!?!?!?  What a shame, but I'm posting what I've found again for safe keeping and hopefully at least a couple people will geek out on them like I do-- absolutely riveting!  And doesn't he look delightfully miserable??!!!

Monday, May 16, 2016


Yesterday I woke up thinking about noodles and the rotating noodle dishes I'm fantasizing will replace the pork belly pad thai from Ye Olde Brunch circa 2014.  So I made 3 batches of noodle dough- 2 were failures.  I boiled the noodles and made a dish with black garlic, beef rib meat, and chilis.  I dislike, or am extremely underwhelmed by, 99.9% of the food I make- so I am on a constant search.  I more than liked it so I made Jessie eat a noodle and she even agreed to eat a small piece of beef I'd hidden in the noodle!!  I learned the hard way that you should not fuck with vegetarians by sneaking shrimp into their spring roll because they can't stop loudly saying, "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT," over and over and over again really loud in front of all the employees.  With fair meaty warning she agreed it was good.  So I called my mom to come over immediately and fed her a bowl while she answered all my annoying questions.  She really liked it and agreed she wanted more and would definitely go to a place just for them.  I ate noodles for all three meals yesterday trying to improved the dish each time- so now I'm sick of them but have one dish down.

Last night I laid awake wondering if I'd burn the motor out on the food processor with all the lemongrass for a curing salt experiment. I woke up at 4:22a.m. thinking about my brining pork belly crammed into buckets down at work in the walk-in and its future, tried to remember how I pickled some pineapple a couple months ago and wishing I'd write things down and keep them instead of throwing all my scraps of paper and half filled notebooks away.  I went and did life things for awhile but now I'm waiting for my next food project of the day- it's too early to smoke the culdesac out and smoke my chicken so here I am obsessing in a different way.
this is my thinking lair

I ruined Jansen, the kitchen manager's, life and QB morale when I took brunch out in a field and immediately shot it.  It seems like forever ago but it was what...a year ago, two years ago?  It's good to see him happy again- scheming, testing, and practicing over brunch.  Last week he gave me some incredible pastrami he's brined and smoked, then a few days ago he gave me perhaps the best bacon I've ever had?  If not so close!  I think we work well together and his excitement makes me want to work harder and do better so that everyone is inspired and happy.  I'm not a stand on the line and cook for people every day type owner, I like change every day.  I burned myself out on the line a hundred years ago working for other people.  But I find my perfect creative stressed-out frantic place in coming up with new things at home and trying to bring them in to QB in some way.  QB is not my restaurant, figuratively I mean, and never has been.  The second we opened it was a huge uncontrollable wave of employees, Department of Revenue, and a twin mattress to flop on up in the office when I wanted to die from stress.  So it became Olympia's and the employees and I've come to accept that- but I am always trying to improve and change every single aspect of the place in tiny increments over time toward some unobtainable vision.  If I could I'd take our current menu out in a field and shoot every single item on it and start over.  Brunch is my attempt at that- by experimenting, not getting attached to menu items, and trying not to compromise too much maybe my long game will work out in a few years and Olympia will be right there with me handing me the gun to kill what it is today and forcing us to do "brunch" every day!

9am to 3pm
JUNE 25TH & 26TH 

Saturday, May 14, 2016


A couple years or so ago, in a crazy midnight self-conscious fit, I erased every last somewhat personal or opinionated post I'd ever put out.  Which was really dumb but not surprising.  I've been burning and burying half started journals and juvenile artifacts since the age of 8 when I made the mistake of reviewing a tape recording I'd made of myself singing to the high school girl I loved in my best romantic Elvisy voice.  That would be incredible to have today!  While there is certainly no loss in killing my 2008 QB blog rants on how much Rachel Ray sucks, videos of Marco Pierre White in 80's, or how cool microplanes are-- but it's kind of a bummer.  And for someone who's secret dream job is to write their own tv show it's probably a good idea to collect and save every dumb idea and sort through it later when you realize your boring life only fills up 30 minutes!

Annnnyways I'm back to blogging about food, QB or whatever- and if I find myself writing about how much I detest, oh I don't know...Tyler Florence, then I'll suffer the midnight consequences.

Buuuut none of that's even the point!  I'm just giving context for what would seem like a completely random post to the new customers out there who've never endured my past posts but come to the blog expecting its usual post-apocalyptic state and wonder what is going on down there?!  I just want to see the delivery menu, not a video with some old guy!  
I just was driving around and remembered this old guy and laughed out loud and thought, that old guy is so fuckin cool, he doesn't give a shit!  So here's that old guy: 

Monday, May 9, 2016

BRUNCH, coming soon!

The rumors are true!  We're starting off with irregular hours due to prior events but mostly to get back in the groove of switching QB in to a completely new restaurant twice a week.  This time around we'll be doing brunch from 9am-3pm and closing for an hour afterwards to reset - we'll reopen with the regular menu at 4pm.  
Here's the brunch schedule:
JUNE:  4th & 5th, 25th & 26th
JULY: 9th & 10th and every weekend thereafter forever and ever and ever and ever...
213 East 4th Avenue
Olympia, WA 98501