Quote Of The Day


For the past eight years the last holiday party of the year falls a few days before Christmas with the same corporate client. We deck the halls for eighty employees at head office of this grocery/drug store chain with anticipation of their appreciation and our eminent release from party season. We provide prime rib, baked ham, turkey dinner with all the fixings. They provide a truck load of cheese/meat deli platters, dozens of sushi platters, 30 boxes of mandarin oranges, a plethora of cakes, desserts and non-alcoholic beverages. The understanding being we deliver leftover bounty to a homeless mission or soup kitchen.

So far so good, head office employees eat themselves into blissful comas, we start packing everything for the mission. Without fail a handful of vultures start to circle. Well mannered scroungers receive polite reminders leftovers are destined for charitable donation, sneaky scavengers are shamed when we point them out to corporate management. Professional temperance prevents me from shouting “What’s wrong with you! ” Truly a mind boggling spectacle to witness human nature at its worst, glutinous employees gorging on free lunch then plotting to deny the homeless.

This afternoon oblivious ignorance reached a new low. Female employee enters room, doesn’t make eye contact or say a word, starts rummaging through stacks of platters set aside for the mission. “Can I help you?” She turns to face me holding a large platter of sushi, uttering “I have a party tonight, going to take this with me”. I doubt she’ll ever know what happened next solidified her place in my ledger of shame, that her shallow insensitivity spawned Quote Of The Day ponders.

“All leftovers are going to Union Gospel Mission” I said.

“Homeless people don’t eat sushi” she replied, and marched out of the room.

WTF!!

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Huh


Never assume a client appreciation cocktail reception hosted by a wealthy cosmetic dentist is going to be dull. Swanky venue, meticulous client, ice sculpture, money no object floral arrangements and enough food to feed an army. What could possibly go wrong? We’re on our game, everything on time and in place, staff graciously passing breathtaking canapes, copious platters of stationed cheese, antipasto and charcuterie artfully woven along the spine of a central table.

Wait a minute, what’s wrong with you people? See that tiny plate on the table, small plate means small bite. No one invited you to dinner, why are you behaving like this is your last meal? Congratulations on a new set of teeth, but I’m begging you, show some self respect. Forty minutes into a three hour reception, we’re out of food – oh crap! Time to inform client, ease concerns and dispatch a chef to secure reinforcements. Momentary lapses in unabashed consumption ripple through the crowd. One of my servers reports guests ate all the garnish on his platter. WTF!

Thirty minutes later two behemoth platters of deli meat and cheese hit the table, my chef sets a timer – gone in 22 minutes. Now client wants more dessert, politely drawing the line I decline and head back to the kitchen. Along the way a guest asks for a moment of my time.”What’s your favorite colour?” she asks, clearly surprised when I answer “green”. “Oh my, don’t know if I have green” she mumbles while digging in her purse. Now she’s holding one of my hands in hers, pressing a cellophane wrapped cross in the other and declaring “close enough”.

What’s happening, please let go of my hand! A missionary you say, made this cross yourself, sent 100,000 crosses to Haiti after the earthquake?  Please let go of my hand! Propriety kept me from calling bat shit on 100,000 Haitian crosses, I heard myself say “that was a kind gesture”. Thanking her for the gift relaxed her hand long enough to remove mine from her clutches.

Never let it be said that mine is a predictable profession.

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Pondering Foie Gras


Recently work asked me to layer dry spiced cherry, pistachio, foie gras and a single fava bean flower on toasted brioche crisps.”Do you know where Foie Gras comes from?” blithered a rotund woman between exuberant returns to the appetizer platter.”Try it” she cooed to her friends. “Melts in your mouth. very expensive, did I tell you they force feed geese” punctuated goose liver bliss. Despite or because of her now brashly annoying commentary, foie gras appetizers languished in gastronomic oblivion long after guests were seated at the dinner table.

Alone in the kitchen, “fair enough” preceded popping a foie gras appie in my mouth. Pretty sure my toes curled in delight, absolutely certain I didn’t wait for the goose liver swaddling my tongue to dissipate before consuming another bite of perfection. Flickers of ethical doubt were no match for mystical properties of foie gras.

At home, foie gras research started with a history lesson (who knew the practice of force feeding ducks and geese to produce fat laden liver dates back to ancient Egypt ), meandered through pages alternating praise and condemnation, came to a screeching halt at a site promising definitive vegan foie gras replication.

Best Vegan Foie Gras

This image from https://fullofplants.com/the-best-vegan-foie-gras/ is said to show finished product with optional “grease coating” made from refined coconut oil and turmeric powder.

What the hell vegan recipe man, why foie gras? How many vegans seek deliverance from foie gras fantasies? Dream of satisfying foie gras voids thrust upon them by lifestyle choices? The answer was right in front of me – foie gras recipe man wrote –

“I’m not going to go into details, you know how foie gras is made, the ducks are force-fed with a metal tube that is inserted into their mouths and then killed. If you have never seen how the ducks are treated, make a quick search on Google images, I guarantee you will feel disgusted or might even shed a tear. It really pisses me off that some people have no problem inflicting such treatment to animals. I did eat foie gras in the past, and I really liked it but I was not aware (or maybe didn’t want to know) of what was really going on.” “Making foie gras vegan is quite a challenge, the real one has a silky and soft texture with a buttery and subtle taste. This vegan foie gras has that rich and creamy texture that melts in your mouth just like real foie gras. This recipe is the result of over 10 trials, testing with tofu, flavorings, herbs, agar-agar, mushrooms, chestnuts, and many other ingredients until achieving what I believe is the most accurate vegan foie gras.”

I get it – irony of lifestyle exuberance was lost on vegan foie gras recipe man. His self declared admission of tireless vegan experimentation to recreate foie gras majesty, plucked at my heart strings. Foie gras is a powerful master, an indiscriminate culinary demon capable of compelling fervent lifestyle opponents to fixate on replicating its glory.

Hot Dog Water


It’s street festival season in Vancouver. Yesterday, 17 blocks of Main Street welcomed thousands to annual Car Free Day celebrations. Hundreds of vendors marked twelve feet of curbside real estate with colourful tents. Block after block of inexpensive dresses made in India, food trucks, jewellery, yoga classes, political action groups, straw hats and local crafts. Lavender Kombucha in one hand, bacon raspberry chipotle jam sandwich in the other ( don’t judge me 🙂 ), an eager young man in a hot dog costume drew my eyes to the “Hot Dog Water” tent.

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Hot Dog Water CEO Douglas Bevans, mustered his inner Gwyneth Paltrow to proclaim –

“We’ve created a recipe, having a lot of people put a lot of effort into research and a lot of people with backgrounds in science really creating the best version of Hot Dog Water that we could,” “So the protein of the Hot Dog Water helps your body uptake the water content, and the sodium and all the things you’d need post-workout.”

A sign breaks down the “health benefits” of Hot Dog Water.

Scores of festival goers lined up for free samples of chilled hot dog water. Move over Gatorade, there’s a new boss in town. Hot dog water is the future of weight loss, vitality and brain function. Still skeptical? Rest assured proof is in the cost – one bottle of hot dog water sells for $37.99,  two for the Father’s Day special of $75.

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Bevans won’t say how much hot dog water he sold, but cheerfully points to a statement clearly displayed at the booth –

“Hot Dog Water in its absurdity hopes to encourage critical thinking related to product marketing and the significant role it can play in our purchasing choices.”

From Global News –

Bevans, a tour operator by trade, is also an artist, and said the Hot Dog Water concept was actually dreamed up as a commentary on what he called the “snake oil salesmen” of health marketing.

“It’s really sort of a commentary on product marketing, and especially sort of health-quackery product marketing,” he said.

“From the responses, I think people will actually go away and reconsider some of these other $80 bottles of water that will come out that are ‘raw’ or ‘smart waters,’ or anything that doesn’t have any substantial scientific backing but just a lot of pretty impressive marketing.”

Vancouver festivalgoers invited to enjoy a cool glass of… hot dog water?

Kudos to you Douglas Bevans – well played.

 

18 Minutes


Today my world wears a badge embossed with “18 minutes”, a private honour reserved for individuals who share my profession. 18 minutes is the stuff of legend, an accomplishment of mythic proportion meaningless to all but a team of elite lunatics brave enough to prove it can be done.

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So why does 18 minutes have me beaming with pride? Last night with two teams of five servers we served 180 guests the main course of a plated dinner in 18 minutes. I’m talking flawless execution, no screw-ups or dead plates returned to the kitchen for “they ordered beef not salmon”. It was 18 minutes of perfection, feathers in the cap of our existence, testament to the power of professional satisfaction. If there were a catering Olympics, my team would be standing on a podium collecting a gold medal. 18 minutes is why I get out of bed in the morning.

 

Sleepy? Don’t Blame The Turkey


This time of year, STD means seasonal turkey disorder. Popular assumption fueled by word of mouth scientific surety has solidified “turkey coma” myth as fact. Consider that myth busted.

Myth central credits amino acid Tryptophan for comatose misunderstanding. Our bodies use Tryptophan to make proteins essential to life, it doesn’t occur naturally and must be ingested. Without it there wouldn’t be Niacin or neurotransmitters Serotonin and Melatonin. Serotonin facilitates production of Melatonin, Melatonin is a sleep regulating hormone, favoured of late as a natural sleep aid, and used by some to combat jet-lag or depression. Turkey coma myth was born of Tryptophan in Turkey.

Truth is, turkey has no more tryptophan than chicken, beef or any other meat. Blaming Turkey for sudden onset lethargy, amounts to grandiose denial of excessive carbohydrates consumed, high fat content of holiday meals and alcohol intake. The average holiday turkeyfest has 3,000 calories. Stop blaming turkey for catatonic holiday trances – nobody gets sleepy after a turkey burger or clubhouse sandwich, doctors don’t advise insomniacs to eat turkey before bed – turkey doesn’t make us sleepy, and that’s a fact.

The Truth About Turkey and Tryptophan

Hating Turkey


Hate is a big word, temper that to strong dislike. Strictly a holiday meal, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter demand roast Turkey and all the fixings. Nobody plans a dinner party in May with “hey, a Turkey would be great”.

The idea of Turkey eclipses reality. There’s a reason we say “I hope it’s not dry” – everyone knows it will be. Turkey requires gravy, cranberry sauce, or mayonnaise once it lands in a sandwich. Families believe size matters, holiday Turkeys linger for days. Soup is Turkey’s greatest gift, immersing that carcass in water means the end of Turkey for another year.

Restricting Turkey to once a year wasn’t easy. I blame myself, stuffing is practically a food group in my home. Nothing fancy, half bread, half sausage meat, onion, celery, and sage. Preparing copious amounts, even though the “cavity” only holds a few cups is lost on my family. I’ve tried to explain stuffing can be served anytime, pointing out almost all the stuffing is baked far from the demon Turkey. No good.

All day “don’t overcook it”, “I hope it’s not dry”, “are you watching the bird”. It’s a damn Turkey! Have you ever had one that melts in your mouth? Turkey is an obligation, if it rocked our world we’d be roasting them all year long.