The customer is NOT always right….

Posted in Uncategorized on September 6, 2009 by themaverickchef

So its been a while since I posted and I felt it is time to get back on the train. This past weekend has given me a few new things to write about. Please remember that while some of these comments are negative, this blog is a way for me to reflect and gather information. I look at The Maverick Chef Blog as an extension of myself where I can talk and/or write about whatever is on my mind.

So, now to the heart of the matter. This past Saturday, a customer had returned a second time in the last two weeks after (thankfully) not coming in for about 8 months. Let me preface this by saying the last time he came in, we asked him not to return after several visits where there was just NO pleasing this person. A malcontent, bi-polar, all around jerk who never got what he wanted from service or food. The kind of guy who orders steak medium and really wants medium well, too much pepper, too much of this, too much of that, “horrible” service, and on and on and on. Frankly there were so many issues I cannot remember them all and probably do not have enough room on this post to list them all. The last time he was in, we told him “obviously we could not please him and he should probably take his business elsewhere from now on.”

So flashback 2 weeks ago. Word gets to me in the kitchen that “that guy” is back. I couldn’t believe it. Seventeen years in the business and I have never asked someone to never return. Guess he is hoping something has changed. Yes, somethings have changed. We are busier than ever and have our most solid team to date. That’s it! I proceed to debrief my team about the “mustard guy” and previous experience and what to expect. Later that evening I learn that he was told nothing has changed. We manage to get through almost the entire meal without issue. A problem with dessert, the kitchen’s fault, ruins a perfect game that night.

So with everyone at DEFCON 1, we proceed to take our chances again this past Saturday. This time everyone knows the story and is on high alert. We can’t even get past the first course without issue. I guess if the fritters are not straight out of a volcano, bathed in lava, they will never be hot enough. Fine, re-heat, return. Well, this didn’t sit well with Mr. Mustard. Manic over the fritters he demanded a whole new order. Fine. Done. Next?

    Please keep in mind it is a busy Saturday night with the restaurant close to capacity. I have about 30 assorted pieces of meat on the grill, all to be cooked to different temperatures, appetizers, sides, expediting duties and trying to watch all the other food going out of the kitchen while trying to assure myself nothing else will happen with this table. I immediately ask my intern to get me a side of mustard (he likes mustard on his filet? guess the smoked blue cheese walnut butter and violet mustard vinaigrette aren’t enough tonight). Salad order comes in, they want balsamic vinegar. Now at this point I think about being a real jerk, sending out a side of  aceto balsamico for 20$ or simply tell them we do not have balsamic vinegar, which we don’t(hint to those who like to make their own menu, if its not on the menu, chances are we don’t have it). I tell the server we have white balsamic vinegar by chance but that’s it. Done. I decide that there is no way the entrees come back because they are cold so i put the plates in the 500 degree oven until it comes time to send them. However, the filet (remember, Mr. Mustard’s I am sure at this point) comes on top of a cold salad.

   Turns out Mr. Mustard has the gaucho steak this evening and all the extra attention I payed to his paticular plate was for naught. The plates mind you, are so hot that when I place the eggplant puree on one plate, it starts to bubble. No way these come back cold!!!!!

    In a freak act of God, Mother Nature, circumstance, chance or possibly our “spirit” friends here at the restaurant, none of the entrees return. Hallejuajah!!!! I don’t think I could continue to live if they had come back. In fact, I was prepared to go to the table with the blowtorch we use for creme brulee in needed, a Catherine Zeta-Jones moment if there ever was one.

    So no dessert(damn) and the check please. Even after a cordial “goodnight” from someone, the person just ignored it and left.

   I have to tell you all, I am over-come with grief at this point. Can the restaurant survive without Mr. Mustard and his crew? Will we go down in the annals of restaurant lore as the little place that could? Will Mr. Mustard dare return? We have decided already to ask him to leave immediately as there is not one server to wait on him and I certainly will not cook for him. We reserve the right to refuse……..

    The point of this story is that the customer is not always right. While we will do everything in our power to make someone happy, we will not bow down like slaves nor be treated as second class citizens. I understand people have different tastes and likes and I am willing to try to meet or exceed them ALL the time. However, certain individuals do not stop. Those people my friends, will never have them met, probably live a miserable life and will die alone and unhappy.

          ps. As an exclamation to this wonderful evening, we had a man order the “PORK SIRLOIN” at closing time. He proceeded to send it back(sans the mac n’ cheese which he did want?) because he “thought” he was getting New York Strip(Beef). Now I do not know about other restaurants in New Jersey, but ours is printed in the Queen’s English. Where in the world did this guy think he was and what menu was he reading? The menu clearly states pork. We have no New York Strip on the menu, no special alluding to one or anything else that would give him that idea. So what do we have to do? make him a steak of course while “eating” the cost of the pork plate, charging only for the steak he now wanted. And guess what? This jack-ass was actually upset when we charged him for the side of mac n’ cheese he took off the pork plate and ate while retuning the rest!

    I do love the restaurant business…………….

Can’t help it….

Posted in Uncategorized on March 13, 2009 by themaverickchef

     Remember a post I had a while back about a former Sous? Many of you told me not to post. One person in fact suggested sour grapes. I can assure you that is NOT my case. 

     How much is too far? I have worked for a number of chefs over the years. Like any good cook, I took what I learned from each and every one and use it to this day, embellishing as I see fit. However, I have never blatantly took an exact dish, put it on my menu, and called it my own. On top of that, is it really necessary to post on websites the obvious jealousy and envy. Our business is tough enough.

      Grow up guy, concentrate on your restaurant and don’t worry about mine, we’re doing just fine without you. While you’re at it, work on some original recipes………

Bottle Shock

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2009 by themaverickchef

       While I realize that many of you may not know about this movie, Bottle Shock, nor the true story behind it. I just finished watching it and now I would like to reflect a bit abouot that story and the current state of food and wine. Just a few thoughts really….

     This movie is about the blind wine tasting in 1976  a Brit put together, in France with wines from Napa Valley and France. Chateau Montelena took first place for Chardonnay and Stags Leap took first for Cabernet Sauvignon, much to the dismay of the French, and the shock of many others. While I was only four years old at the time, now I truly appreciate what the Americans accomplished. Not only for wine, but for all things “gastronome” related.

     Think about the major change in American dining habits and the way people are thinking about food. Think about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. Think about Wolfgang Puck, Larry Forgione, Jeremiah Tower, Jean Louis Palladin and on and on and on… Now think about Thomas Keller and The French Laundry or Ferran Adria and El Bulli. Some say these may be the best restaurants in the world, AND NEITHER IS IN FRANCE !!! 

    Think about all the wonderful artisanal cheeses made here in the U.S. to go with the wonderful wines. We used to look to France for all these things. Now, they look to us. C’est la vie!

A Wonderful Late Christmas Present !!!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 30, 2008 by themaverickchef

All the thanks in the world to the staff at Trinity and our group of ‘Friends’ who have continued to encourage me. Obviously, Thank You to Art for a wonderful review.

http://blog.nj.com/artful_diner/

Winter…. UGH!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 16, 2008 by themaverickchef

Ahhhh…. Winter is here, and I hate it! Being from the south, I have never been much for freezing temperatures. Plus, spending close to 10 years in San Diego has me spoiled a bit. Not to mention, no more farmer’s markets, no tomatoes, no corn, squash blossoms, etc… Oh, and now I can’t wear shorts in the kitchen which really sucks! 

However, it brings out the inner “braiser” in me. Short ribs, lamb shanks, pork bellies, confit, veal cheeks, and on and on. There something about a braise…… As I have said many times before, taking a lesser cut of meat and turning into something special requires more skill on the part of the cook, not to mention time and effort. Any monkey can throw a steak on the grill, even a good hamburger is not that difficult. But a braise? ahhhh…..So many layers of flavor. Meltingly rich and satisfying, “Uber” comfort food. 

Its no secret I LOVE Japanese food. Its the purest form of food I know. I like to think a big part of my cooking comes from Japanese cooking, or lack thereof. But braising makes me , I don’t know, cozy, warm. If backyard BBQ’ing is it for summer, a huge pot of pork shoulder cooking away all day is IT! Some tortillas, some salsa and a bit of lime… I’m in heaven. Recently, I wanted to try a new dish out for the winter menu. I have played with pork belly a few times before but never got it quite right. This time, with the assistance of some Boylan’s root beer I think I got it. Sweet, succulent and oh so good with a sprinkle of sea salt.

The other is a lamb shank braised “Mole Poblano.” With close to 40 ingredients involved, there is considerable layers of chilies, aromatics, spices, and even a little chocolate. Its almost like eating a great big Bordeaux.The dish is soul stirring and completely satisfying.

I guess I will find some other foods to keep me occupied this winter. Maybe I will try lamb shoulder, marrow bones, sweetbreads, chicken livers, or some other underutilized and under appreciated cut of meat to enjoy while its cold outside.

Birthday Blah Blah Blah

Posted in Uncategorized on November 26, 2008 by themaverickchef

Dear diary……

Oops. Just Kidding. 

I have had so much going on lately that I have totally neglected this thing. What to report? I had a birthday excursion to NYC, plenty of food stuff there. I have had the chance to revamp the wine list and enjoyed several new bottles. And it seems like I just changed the menu and am ready to do so again! Jesus, does it never end?

 

So, on the birthday excursion we first went to Mitsuwa in Edgewater past the fairy landing. It is a Japanese Supermarket that I adore. This location in Edgewater is the only one on the East Coast(Sinatra Drive). The place is cleaner than any hospital I have ever been to. All the aisles are clear, clean, concise, like you would expect something else. So what do we buy there? Mostly dry goods since we always seem to be going into NYC shortly thereafter. Oak aged soy sauce, expensive but wonderful. Yuzu in many guises (Japanese citrus). Furikake, a seasoning mix used on just about everything. It can be made from a variety of foods but I like the veggie one with pumpkin, sesame, egg, seaweed, etc… Brown Rice Vinegar, again expensive but so worth the flavor. a few other odds and ends. But what I really go for? The Japanese Junk Food! Peking Duck Flavored Doritos! Little baby sugar doughnuts, Amazing Jellies/Gummies, Candies, Cookies, and a serious energy drink that makes red bull look like kool-aid! As always, I get a snack for the ferry ride over, usually a cold seafood/seaweed salad and something fried.

On to NYC! I know I gush about the city all the time, but for me it’s a real treat. So many things to do, so many foods to try. It’s like a giant playground for me and I love it!

For lunch, Artisanal. A French brasserie type specializing in one of my food groups, CHEESE! I sampled 10, yes, 10 different cheeses for lunch along with two great Spanish wines (will post later). All were very good except one. This cheese, maybe, could be, if it were dipped in chocolate and topped with a chili, would be my perfect food, You see, Fosterkase tastes like BACON!!!!!!! Yes, BACON!!!! OH MY GOD!!!!!! Need I say more? 

For dinner (only a few hours after my cheese-o-thon) we went to Asia de Cuba. It has been on my wish list so I loooked forward to some different and what i hoped wasn’t confusion, Fusion food. Beautiful space, very NYC I’d say. Service was very good and friendly. The idea here is to share multiple plates. Seeing how we had gorged ourselves earlier, we weren’t too hungry. OK, we went all out again, you got me!

Pan roasted Scsllops with habanero crema and plantains was nice, though i prefer my scallops almost raw if not raw. Their take on “ropa vieja” which was duck confit, shredded tableside, with julienned vegetables and napa cabbage leaves. Could have been outstanding if there was a better and more sauce to accompany the duck. The dish wound up being very dry. For the entree, we shared “short ribs” char sui with mofungo. Now let me say this; when the plate came out I was so taken back by the presentation that it almost got cold. I had never seen anyone slice short ribs and fan them out on a plate. They were good with a nice chinese “bark” on one side but again, dry.

Not that i had room for dessert…………….but I took one for the team. Fresh sugar doughnuts with chocolate and caramel sauces. The doughnuts were great. I also enjoyed an aged rum from Anguilla, Pyrat Cask 23, $45 a shot. It was like drinking Cognac, not rum. Amazing stuff, will have to splurge on a bottle when I have a few hundred bucks to spare.

Next up…..

Early Winter Menu, Wine List and new Cocktails!

New Fall Menu

Posted in Uncategorized on October 15, 2008 by themaverickchef

 

Autumn 2008

In The Beginning

 

Jumbo Lump Crab Cake over local apple/sweet onion slaw and wasabi dijonaise

Mi Padre’s Poppers smoked chicken & manchego stuffed piquillo peppers, lime crema        

 

Grilled ‘Feng Shui’ Prawns spicy chili sauce, sweet soy, sour thai glaze, salty sweet potatoes

Hauser Hill Farms Beet ‘Carpaccio’ great hill blue cheese brulee, applewood bacon lardons, micro beet greens, maldon sea salt   

Catalan Style Clams with chorizo, spanish peppers, cilantro, white wine and a touch of cream

Hudson Valley Torchon de Foie Gras hauser hill farm apple compote, ‘gingerbread’ funnel cake, truffle greens and hawaiian black salt

Braised Wild Boar Arepas colombian corn-cakes, ’guacamole’ mousse, queso fresco, parsley/oregano salsa and pimenton oil

Local Butternut Squash Bisque creole crawfish fritters 

Broad Street Baby Spinach Salad with shaved apples, candied walnuts, fresh goat cheese with blackberry champagne vinaigrette                  

Chef’s Artisanal Cheese Plate 3 selections of cheese, pecan-raisin bread, fig/almond cake, seasonal fruit and nut garnish 

All entrees served with a petit side salad and red wine vinaigrette

Out of The Fire 

‘Re-Constructed’ Veal Marsala grilled veal porterhouse, sautéed wild mushrooms, truffled parsnip puree, demi-glace/marsala reduction

Filet Mignon grilled 8oz steak with bleu cheese walnut butter, port wine syrup, gold potato puree and seasonal vegetables                                                                                                    

Gaucho Steak – 16 oz grilled flat iron served with chorizo chorreadas and chimmichurri sauce 

“Prime” 14oz Pork Chop macaroni and cheese, spicy sautéed seasonal greens and house made barbeque butter                                  

American Kobe Trinity Burger with foie gras, onion marmalade & truffle cheese, homemade ketchup, and fresh french fries           

Revelations

 

Seven Spice American Kobe Short Ribs braised in bolgogi sauce, ginger sweet  potato puree, roasted spaghetti squash

Pan Roasted Halibut local butternut squash ‘risotto’, wild mushrooms and lemon chive beurre blanc

Seafood ‘Acqua Pazza’ shrimp, monkfish, and clams, spicy tomato broth with garlic, capers, olives, potatoes, and ditalini

Wild Mushroom Risotto carnaroli rice, four year aged gouda, fresh herbs, and a touch of white truffle oil

Local Monkfish ‘Saltimbocca’ prosciutto de san danielle wrapped & roasted monkfish, spaghetti squash, pedrona lentils, and sage brown butter sauce         

Casino Royale shrimp scampi meets clams casino over linguine with applewood bacon, fresh herbs, garlic, chili flakes and butter      

Sides

seasonal vegetable saute

sautéed greens with chilies and garlic

baby spinach with garlic and e.v.o.o.

loaded mashed potatoes

white truffle risotto

ginger sweet potatoes

chorizo chorreadas

macaroni and cheese

Pure & Simple

 

All served with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables

*Except where noted*

 

Grilled Shrimp with extra virgin olive oil                                                           

Broiled Monkfish with fresh citrus and herb oil                                                  

Broiled Halibut with fresh citrus and brown butter                                               

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with grain mustard cream                                           

*Shrimp “Scampi” with lemon, garlic, parsley and linguine                                

*Linguine Alla Vongole white clam sauce and fresh littlenecks                        

Grilled 8oz Filet Mignon & house made steak sauce                                 

Grilled 16oz Flat Iron Steak with lemon and olive oil                                         

Grilled Pork Chop and homemade apple sauce                                             

Grilled Veal Porterhouse with marsala reduction                                               

Roasted Lemon & Herb Bell & Evans 1/2 Chicken                                                 

Surf And Turf “a la Rock” roasted chicken breast & jumbo lump crab cake          

American Kobe Burger served with french fries & homemade ketchup               

                  add white cheddar                            add applewood bacon