keeping up with the times is not as easy as everybody thinks. i do my best to keep up with my profession and craft but time does not always permit, so i have learned to count on the publications, websites & media for my eyes & ears. today starchefs.com did a story on the culinary mecca of america – “chi-town” – and a certain restaurant is making new waves that actually had a serious influence on me.
i remember looking at the website and seeing live fish swimming around the base of tartare, painted purees of avocado & cavair staircases! if u have not guessed yet, im talking about tru “tramonto unlimited”. when i first got the invitation to come stage at tru i jumped on it. i was on the next flight out of texas with nothing on my mind but learning. little did i know that i would be meeting some of the most influencial people of my career. i met jason robinson (chef at dos brisas) for the first time and well, lets just say, i did not care for this guy too much. I thought, here i am working my ass off for free and this guy is telling my mise is not good enough. what an asshole is all i thought! this would be a huge lesson for me in the very near future (too be discussed later).
i learned later his stern ways where a large reason for the success of the restaurant. he was much bigger back then and much more intimadating. cooks didnt really fear him but they respected his need for perfection. right then and there, i learned a very important thing that really put my world into perspective, “cooks make the chef de cuisine look great, the chef de cuisine makes the chef look great & the chef makes some money…”
i do recall the chef who i worked “with”, he was a young & passionate guy who really impressed me right off the bat. one of my first tasks to do was to sear off mushrooms for the terrine and i can still remember his utter joy when he realized i know how too. soon after my mushroom mise i found myself in this guys back pocket. he had me doing everything with him, he gave me a great tour of the restaurant and he showed me chef tramonto’s armani china. after 1 hour we where carring on a dialog of two cooks that had worked next to each other for years. one of his tasks thoughout the day was to make mise for the bar snacks. he told me he was always looking out for new things to make chips out of. i looked at him and rattled off 10 or 15 things i had done before. the ideas of avocado, artichokes & taro really made him leap with excitment. i felt pretty cool at that point but that was right before chef robinson came to the garde manger and did a line check (this happens every shift, everyday & the kitchen is sweeped and mopped on the hour, every hour also) and he took one look at my citrus vineigrette and dumped it, told me to be more precise with my olive bruniose & reminded me at least 5 times to remove the plastic from the octopus carpaccio before i put them on the pass.
the entire experience was very impressionable on me. everyone treated me like a guest and made me feel very welcome. i was amazed! i remember thinking how lucky i was to simply spend a small amount of time in that kitchen, much less have the opportunity to move to chicago and work amongst these cooking machines!
remember the cook i was telling you about earlier? the one who the chef de garde manger? take a look at what his hard work and dedication has done for him….