Saturday, July 4, 2009

First Blog

This is the initial offering of the GastroMetrics blog.  This blog will review and rate ingredients, food products, wine, restaurants, and most importantly the tools we use to prepare and enjoy some of our most delectable treats.  
First, a little about me.  I am currently a law student in my last year of law school.  Although I spend my days reading, writing, and learning, I take time every day (usually three times a day) to enjoy the best of life has to offer- preparing and devouring delicious food and drink.  
From my first job at fifteen years old cooking in a Hospital kitchen, I have been mesmerized by all things edible.  I grew up with a Pennsylvania-Dutch baker for a fraternal grandmother and a first generation Italian butcher for a maternal grandfather, not to mention a mother whi is a fantastic all-around home cook.  Growing up, both sides of my family  were at their best at the dinner table.  These influences certainly have influenced my style of cooking in ways that present themselves daily.  
From that horrible job cooking in a hospital kitchen, I moved into chain restaurant kitchens.  The product was only slightly better that the mass produced "food" that the beaten and broken chef in the hospital was forced to produce.  These jobs taught me exactly how I didn't want to cook.  Instead, I observed by grandmothers and mother cook the food that defined who they were and where they came from.  For instance, my Italian grandmother, my mother, and now myself all prepared our gravy (pasta sauce for those without an Italian heritage to live up to) in different ways.  I would elaborate, but this will certainly be a posting in the very near future.  
By the end of high school I worked my way into the restaurant job that taught my more than any other.  It was in a chain steakhouse that is everything but the drab chain restaurant food that is probably coming to mind.  Everything was scratch-made and steaks cut twice daily in a walk-in butcher's cooler.  The ground meat was the trimmings of the whole tenderloins, rib roasts, and top sirloin.   Salad dressings, sides, sauces and gravies were all made fresh daily.  During the weekdays the restaurant was not open for lunch because the prep took all day.  Needless to say, the food was spectacular and the lines were out the door every night.  I took advantage of it all.  I learned the intricacies of butchery that my grandfather did not have the chance to teach me (he passed away before I was old enough to wield a knife).  I learned southwestern flavors from a true master, Bianca Ruiz, a quiet Mexican woman who grew up in New Mexico.  I learned how to make homemade mayonnaise with nothing more than a whisk and bowl.  In short, working there taught me that good food takes time.
After a few other kitchen jobs I moved to the front of the house, waiting tables and eventually finding my way behind the bar.  It was there that I learned how to compose a perfect Martini or Manhattan for people who had been drinking the same drink for years.  I learned which drink best complimented the meal, be it an oaky chardonnay, a robust pinot noir, a dry vodka martini, or a hoppy ale.  From that point in time I was more able to have a rounded approach to gastronomy, or the relationship between food and the people who love it. (Okay, that is my definition of gastronomy, not Webster's)  
Strangely, however, it was the time of my life spent out of restaurants that is the true drive for this blog.  For the last five years I spent time in the business world, and now back in school.  During that time, I moved out on my own (now with my lovely wife) and away from the support of my family's home cooking ability.  I suddenly realized that I was unable to reproduce what I was creating in the restaurants of my past because I didn't have the tools I needed to produce a successful dish.  It was not until recently that I have been able to equip myself with the proper tools, the best ingredients, and ability to produce restaurant quality food for my family, friends, and the occasional competition judge.  

SO, at this point in my life I have taken all that I have learned practically, all that I have read, and all that I have tried in restaurant and formed a perspective on all things edible.  I cannot exactly describe what that is to someone else, but it drives me to want to share with you what I know, what I hope to find out and what I may just stumble across.  So read frequently and enjoy.


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