Line cook aspiring to become a chef by running an underground restaurant--Tournant

  • Location: Seattle
  • Favorite foods: Whatever I'm currently trying to master.

The Vegan Experience, Day 0

Wow. Considering the allergy thing, this is quite the undertaking, Kenji. I'm super curious to see how it goes. Good Luck!

Gel mats

@Mizbee- i have the exact same problem.

Gel mats

I'd skip the Gelpro and just visit your local restaurant supply house and see what they have to offer. Gelpro seems a little Paltrow-y.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Korin Knife

We Try Every Sandwich At Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich

Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich is THE SHIZZ. I'm from Seattle and i make a point of going there every time I'm in New York. I seriously have been carrying their card in my wallet for years just cuz. The first sandwich I had there led me to finding a Vietnamese chef to work for in Seattle at a banh mi shop just so I could learn the recipes. (Eric Banh, Baguette Box, Monsoon, Ba Bar)

Sauced: Béchamel

I often see a classic bechamel recipe call for hot milk as is seen here. But when I make it for whatever reason I never bother to heat the milk separately; i just add cold milk to my roux and heat it from there. Would using heated milk make nay real difference besides taking slightly longer to thicken?

Overrated, Overpriced, Overhyped !!! Rant If You Like

HA! Never thought I'd see haterade for Cakespy! Hilarious!

Cheese dip

'Never Said About Restaurant Websites,' A Blog About What's Wrong with Restaurant Websites

4chan wants their meme back.

Rib Roast Help

Kenji's got the goods, and this link has a link to a foolproof recipe.For seasoning, I like just s+p and big herbs, rosemary, sage.

Santa is the Best! What was under your tree?

The French Laundry cookbook

and a trip to Australia...

Japanese food in Seattle

Bahn Mi in Seattle

For a westernized banh mi, try Baguette Box on Capitol Hill and in Fremont. Run by Chef Eric Banh of Monsoon.

Do you have a trademark snack?

WASABI PEAS!!! I had almost forgot about them. It's seems they've gone out of style; I don't see them in the bulk bins like I used to...

Where to eat for our first trip to Seattle, WA?

Yes, go the Pike Place Market. Coming in October will help you avoid being caught up in the ZOMG THE FISH THROWING GUYZ TAKE A PICTURE OF ME WITH THEM1111 crowd, but not too much. Things to get here, tourist edition: punk rock fresh fried mini donuts, hum bao, Beecher's cheese, samples from the vendors, and if you really have to you can WALK BY the original Starbucks, but please, as far as coffee in Seattle goes, SB is McDonalds. Try Vivace or just about anywhere else.

I second the rec for Tilth. Maria Hines is the best chef in the city right now. This place is the crown jewel of the NW local/seasonal/organic/slow food movement. It's in the Wallingford neighborhood, not the University District as mentioned above. Get a reservation.

I'd say a stop by Paseo is a must. It's an amazing Cuban sandwich joint (well, two, one in Fremont, one in Ballard) that cannot be beat. On the sandwich tip, I second the rec for Salumi, but, yeah you gotta wait in line...

If Asian cuisine is your thing, you gotta hit the ID, like @czken said. Off the top of my head: Maneki- a really old and well regarded Japanese place, Samurai Noodle-great little ramen shop which is outside Uwajimaya, a big Asian market that is fun to explore in itself.

RE: Ivar's, Anthony's, touristy waterfront places
If that's your thing, great, go have some chowder or whatever. But it's like a hot dog at Coney's just a hot dog and you look like a tourist. If you're looking for the NW seafood experience, check out Etta's or Steelhead Diner in the market or..... Blueacre Seafood, a new place just opened by the same chef, Kevin Davis.

You've already got the standard Tom Douglas suggestions, so I'll give props to another great NW chef, Matt Dillon. His restaurant Sitka & Spruce just moved into a market-type space that is also home to a sustainable butcher, local cheese shop, NW wine bar and a bunch of other cool stuff. He also runs the Corson Building, which is a prix-fixe, community table, chef-cooks-what-he-wants-family-style dinner "experience". Pricey, reservations required, and I don't know if he does it in October, but worth it.

Interview: Michael Laiskonis, Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin

pastry chef/VAMPIRE

Whistle While You Work???...I Think Not!!!

The only real kitchen superstition I've seen cooks hold to involves predicting the flow of business before service. It's always bad luck to jinx the service by saying "it's gonna be slow tonight". Never say that. It always means you will spend the night in the weeds, especially if you've been lazy and only prepped enough for a slow service.

Molecular Gastronomy book- $625.00

@heartofglass--I have a feeling this book set would fall under the non-circulating reference section. And if not, it's not the kind of thing you could even scratch the surface of in the few short weeks of a library loan, and knowing the popularity of good cookbooks in the Seattle Public Library System, this thing will have about 1000 holds on it the minute it publishes. (it's not there yet, I looked it up) At that price I doubt the library system would purchase more than one per branch, at the most.

Can you tell I used to date a librarian?

Molecular Gastronomy book- $625.00

@simon--You're probably right. I couldn't afford it even if it was $200 right now but...damn. I went from having the skeptical attitude of the Gawker article I linked to this morning to DROOOOL I CAN HAZ NOWW????

Xmas wish list item #1.

Molecular Gastronomy book- $625.00

Reviews from the Amazon page, or rather, blurbs that will appear on the back cover, most likely:

"This book will change the way we understand the kitchen." --Ferran Adrià

“The most important book in the culinary arts since Escoffier.” --Tim Zagat

“The cookbook to end all cookbooks.” --David Chang

"A fascinating overview of the techniques of modern gastronomy." --Heston Blumenthal

"Amazing! Unparalleled in its breadth and depth." --Wylie Dufresne

The more I read about it, the sexier it seems....

I'll give it a year or two to decline in price and maybe, yeah, I'll pick it up.

Or send your donations to:

Serious Eats Savings and Loan
re: buy sailordave a really expensive set of cookbooks
New York, NY 10001

Molecular Gastronomy book- $625.00

@simon--I'm sure it would be great inspiration and knowledge for quite awhile. Having access to that kind of equipment is another thing altogether. Yeah, I'm a chef, but not one that has the clout to even dream of purchasing MG stuff. I have a hard enough time getting my GM to pay for regular old pots and pans. And to speak to your handbag/shoe analogy, I'm wondering if MG cooking is another fad or something that will integrate itself into mainstream kitchens, such as mine.

The Sweet Suprise is...

@MissBrownEyes--- I'm with you there. I don't like to worry about what I eat any more than I have to. My issue is with processed foods and their ubiquity in the American diet. Studies like this help us get an edge on reversing the attitude that chemically laden crap-food is acceptable. If we, as a nation, can adopt a better, more realistic view of food and therefore, with our buying power, force large manufacturers to change their processes and ingredients to reflect this view, then I have even less to worry about.

San Francisco recs

Flour and Water

Restaurant Nicknames


'Salon' Asks, 'Why Is the U.S. So Into Faddy Foods?'

Well, America is into faddy everything, right? So with food now being fashionable, we have fads right along with it. I'd also say it has something to do with internet/information access/short attention spans/memes, but I'm too heavily afflicted with cultural ADD to flesh that concept out.

Where to eat in Sydney?

Hey guys--I'm going to Australia to visit a lady friend in February and will have lots of time on my hands while she's at work, I'd like to give myself a great culinary tour of Sydney but I have almost no idea where to go. Has any of y'all been there and had a great meal somewhere? Any prominent Aussie chefs I should look into? What's goin' down down under?

sidenote: do you think i can effectively troll the locals by asking them to tell me where the "original" Outback Steakhouse is? lulz

Molecular Gastronomy book- $625.00

Modernist Cuisine

Not that I wouldn't appreciate having this book, or set of books, but for that much cash, I want a beginner's set of MG equipment or at least a beer cooler ala Kenji included in the price.

Is this a reasonable price for a probably artful and well presented exploration of MG technique or is it like buying the manual to a fighter jet when you're an RC plane hobbyist?

The Sweet Suprise is...


"Pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that challenges the common wisdom that all sugars are the same."

You may be tired of this debate, no matter what side you're on. But I think this report could be the start of an even larger, scientifically-proven backlash against the corn industry and their lobbyists.

I'm excited, are you?

Carnivores Feeding the Vegan Masses.

So, quick background here, I'm lead cook at a small private college in Seattle. I just had the chance to meet the class of incoming freshman this last week and cook for them during our registration/tour/meet'n'greet extravaganza. It turns out many of these incoming students are vegans, enough so that we'll have to make some serious changes in the next school year in the way we cook our three meals a day for 400-500.

Our services break down like this: We'll have two "mainstage" items. This will be the featured entrees for that service. One of these items will always be vegetarian. They might be variations of same thing, like a meat lasanga and a veggie lasagna, or completely different, like a chicken marsala and a pasta primavera. On top of this we run a grill for burgers and chicken and such and a giant pizza oven for pizza, of course, and whatever else we can fire in a high-temp oven, along with several grab n' go items and a salad/deli bar.

My first idea on dealing with our vegan uprising is to make every vegetarian option a vegan option. This would take care of the "veg" crowd a a two-birds-one-stone kind of way. (although that crowd would unhappy with that analogy!) Another idea is too make the salad/veggie bar and grab n' go items much more vegan friendly. Why not do both, you ask? Well, I could, and I should, but (and here's the heart of this post) how?

I don't want to rely on fake meat products. They ones that actually taste good are very expensive and would kill my food cost. I can't do tofu/tempeh all the time. I hate hate hate with a passion fake cheese products. Nutritional yeast smells and tastes like jock strap. So I'm left with veggies and grains.

Vegans out there: what do you suggest? What would you like to see if you were a student at my school? What do you like that could be made on a large scale? What are you sick of seeing on menus as vegan options? Any cookbook suggestions?

How to Run a Restuarant For Dummies

Hey all, does anyone know of a good how-to book on starting out in the restaurant business? AKA How to Lose All Your Money and Be Miserable in Several Difficult Steps? I want to learn how to run my supper club like a real business so when I do eventually go legit, I'm more prepared. Any advice?

Super Delicious Ingredient Force

Yes, it's a rip-off of the adult-swim-style-old-school-cartoon-hero thing and I pretty much hate fast food chains for several reasons but this Taco Bell ad is kinda funny:


Just a few gems from this Twittter meme/trend...I believe it was started by @ruthbourdain....

@bearsdada--Rachael Raydon

@Foodie_Dudi--Marco Pierre Shite

@mamasolskitche--Giardia De Laurentiis

@phillygirl6--Mace of Cakes

@Frodneso--Heston Blumpkinthal

@tournant--Grant Auschwitz

@phillygirl6--Great Britain's Test Kitchen

@SteveJerma--Anthony Boy-R-Dain

@kelleil--Todd Spanglish

@SteveJerman--Wolfgang Wiffleball

@sharonjoy76--The Birkenstock Contessa

@elutz--Julia Toddler

@AKesq--Luigi Batali

Industry-centric food sites?

I love Serious Eats, I really do. But I'm in search of a food site that focuses on the professional side of things. A forum where chefs and cooks who work in the industry can get together and talk about everything from recipes to equipment to kitchen politics and management to industry buzz, etc, etc. Is there a good place on the tubes to do this? That's NOT Chef2Chef? Because Chef2Chef is weak, ugly, and poorly maintained. It looks and feels like MySpace for chefs.

My V-day menu

10 courses for 8 people. Thoughts?

The menu, in order of service:

Brandy Chicken Liver Mousse

Local Mussels with Fresh Pico

Bacon Candy

Baby Red Garlic Potato Fritters
/bearnaise sauce/

Local Braised Winter Greens
/pinenuts/parmigiano reggiano/

Handmade Quail Ravioli
/green pea puree/truffle/ricotta/

Chocolate Milkshake Shot
/creme anglaise/dark chocolate/

Roasted Bone Marrow
/parsley salad/crostini/

Class War Madelines
/cornbread/caviar/creme fraiche/

and to finish...
Housemade Basil Ice Cream

Tea, Earl Gray, hot.

So MIT has come up with a "food printer". The article doesn't go into how this damn thing works or provide any pictures of the printed "food", and makes the claim that this could be the most "green" way too cook....err, print?

The Caveman Diet

Heard about this in a tweet from @linecook "This is just stupid. Hipsters need to lay off the Geico commercials."

I'd like to see these fools and a gang of vegans in a big 'ole "who has the cooler diet" brawl."

From the NY Times:

Xmas menu help?

Hey, guys, I could use some ideas for my family xmas dinner this year. Since y'all are so great at brainstorming about what goes with what I thought I'd ask! (this is a dinner for 15 ppl btw)

What I'm for sure doing:

Prime rib the Kenji/Alton way with horseradish sour cream sauce

Chantrelle risotto

Jalapeno cheddar corn bread

Garlic mashed potatoes

Maybe some minted peas?

This is all I have so far. I obviously need more veggies, and also app type stuff to have out as family arrives. What do you think? Too much starch with the risotto and potatoes? I'm putting the menu together tonight and shopping tomorrow.

Serious Efforts: Cassoulet

This xmas dinner I'm doing a from-scratch cassoulet for 20+ people. I've been looking at some recipes today and I can't decide on exactly what to do.

I want it to be traditional, made with authentic ingredients, and, of course, blow-your-mind amazing. But, it also needs to be somewhat "do-able" in the sense that I can find all the ingredients I need and it doesn't require a through knowlegde of french cuisine and mastery of obscure techniques. I'm a professional cook, but I'm no Escoffier or Julia.

Of the recipes I've looked at I like Bourdain's and a few others. Should I take bits and pieces from recipes I like and make my own adaption or just follow a solid recipe? I also looked into buying the cassoulet kit from D'Artangan; has anyone used it?

What do y'all think? And damn I'm probably gonna need two large dutch ovens, right?

[Serious Efforts guidelines »]


Study shows our friend high fructose corn syrup is linked to hypertenion.

Pro style pot pie

I'm going put individual size pot pies on the menu at work and i'm wondering what the best way to handle storage and service. When i make them ahead, what's the best way to store them? I'm afraid that long-term refridgeration will make my bottom crust soggy but freezing them will make my fire time too long. Has any of you done this before?

Dumpster Diving: Yea or Nay?

Back in colllege I loved to go dumpster diving. It was fun, it was dirty, it felt revolutionary and it always resulted in loads of free eats. We'd hit the alleys behind grocery stores and restaurants (mosty pizza places) and carry home days worth of meals. The dumpsters around the dorms at the end of the semester were especially fruitful. Kids would throw out EVERYTHING THEY HAD before heading home for break. Shoes, furniture, brand new razors; I even got a brand-new printer in the box, and of course, lots of food, mostly packaged grub.

Now that I'm a professional cook, I have little reason to dumpster dive anymore. But I still think about it sometimes. How about the rest of you? Have you tried living off the dregs of society? What do you think?

Tiny kitchen frustration. Ideas?

This one is going out to all y'all in NYC and to folks with small apartments eveywhere.

I love to cook. I really do. But I have this problem where my kitchen at home is so damn tiny that I can hardly do anything in there without becoming frustrated and semi-claustrophobic. Nd this is really holding me back from improving my skills and expirimenting with new recipes. It's like riding a bike with a flat tire; it's just not that great.
Does anyone else have this problem?

Now, this isn't just me wishing I had more counter space, etc., it's more about dealing with a small kitchen and the limitations it places on you as far as wanting to really cook vs. Frozen pizza and the like.

Any great motivational ideas out there?

Tipping out the kitchen?

I'm wondering what you industry and other folks out there think about servers tipping out the kitchen. Where I work now as a linecook the kitchen gets a tiny amout of the servers tips. (Really almost nothing, like $30 a month)
I've also worked at places where it wasn't unusual for me to walk with $50 at the end of a shift on the line.

I know that in some states, such as CA, it's illeagal to make the servers tip out the kitchen. But I can't help but feeling that a kitchen deserves it. Yes, cooks make a higher wage than servers, but it's often the case that a server will make more in a shift than a cook. A cook works just as hard, if not harder, during a rush and yet, if the kitchen isn't being tipped out, he sees nothing for the extra blood, sweat and stress.

Now, you could turn that argument around and say that cooks get paid the same whether the restaurant is empty or not while servers only make signifigant $$ if the place is busy. To that I'll say that, current enonomic climate asisde) most restaurants can at least ball-park estimate how busy they'll be on a given night and staff the FOH accordingly.

What do y'all think? Do cooks deserve tips or should we be happy with our higher wage and the fact that we don't have to deal with the throbbing hordes?

Gnocchi help!

I need serious help with gnocchi! I've tried making it several times and have only met with failure. I'm using a basic potato gnocchi recipe,with egg. Most recipes I've read say to only use as much flour as is needed to form a decent dough. So I use as little as possible. After I boil them, they tend to fell apart, either right away if I'm setting them aside or as I'm cooking a sauce with them in it. A friend suggested immersing them in an ice bath immediately after boiling them, and that helped them hold together. But when I cook them in brown butter and sage, they again disintigrated. AAAARRRRRGGGGHH!!!!
My first thought is: maybe I need to use MORE flour? And knead that dough more to help develop gluten? Would that help? Maybe they wouldn't be so so light and fluffy but actually hold together?
Any ideas?

The mini-burger: off limits?

So we've all seen the ads. Burger King is doing mini burgers aka "burger shots". Jack in the Box just started doing the same. McD's is probably not far behind.

My restaurant has been serving mini bugers for a few years. They're awesome. I love 'em. They sell like crazy. They're 2.5 oz each and you get two per order for $13, with "frites". They come with gouda, dijon aioli, pickled jalapenos, and remoulade.
I hate, hate, hate the fact that you can now get the same basic thing at your local shitty corporate fast food shack.
My question: Should we take them off the menu? Should we switch to a fancy regular size burger? If we do that, considering cost, is 5 oz big enough? I think a $12 buger should be more like 8 oz. Raise the price? Am I being crazy? Is this no big deal? Or should I lean on my chef to change things up? Any opinions?

I heart NaCl, but...

My doc says I gotta cut down on the salt (high BP) . I know the easy ways to cut down, i.e ixnay on ossessedpray oodsfay, use less in my cooking, etc., but what else? Anyone out there in the same sitch? What kids of spices do you use to sub for good ole salt?

Everyone loves _____ but I hate it.

Is there some type of food ot there that everybody you know swears by but that you can't stand? A tried and true classic that has a gross taste that you hate?
Mine: tomato soup. I've tried several different commercial brands as well as home and restaurant made but never found one I liked. Not even with the world's best grilled cheese sandwich.
What about y'all?

Guide to Grilling Great Burgers

The last large hurrah for grilling this season is upon us. If you're anything like me, that means you'll be manning the grill and flipping burgers for a hungry crowd depending on you to make the best of their day off from work. With failure not an option in the high stakes of backyard cookouts, some grilling burger tips are in store to ensure bovine excellence. While a few of these tips will likely be a recap of knowledge already dropped, there are a few specifics for burgers done over the flames that are worth bearing out. More

Carnivores Feeding the Vegan Masses.

So, quick background here, I'm lead cook at a small private college in Seattle. I just had the chance to meet the class of incoming freshman this last week and cook for them during our registration/tour/meet'n'greet extravaganza. It turns out... More

Barbecue: Dr. Pepper Baby Back Ribs

The official start of the outdoor cooking season calls for some classics, and I can't think of anything better than these Dr. Pepper ribs. My most favorite of soft drinks served as the base of this sauce, which offers a tang and depth that will have everyone asking, "what's in this?!" More

Serious Heat: My Love for Mojo Sauce

My first introduction into the wonder of mojo sauce was one of the early seasons of Top Chef, where a contestant (the always entertaining, Howie from the Miami season) braised pork shoulder in a mojo sauce to rave reviews. But that's only the beginning of mojo, which I've discovered since then has many uses and variations. Mojo does triple-duty as a fiery marinade, a condiment, and as a tenderizer for meats, seafood and poultry. More

How to Make Fresh Pasta

Fresh pasta is made from a few simple ingredients, using a straightforward method. But getting it just right requires some coaching, a lot of practice, and a few good tips. This primer from expert pasta-making chef Anna Klinger of Al Di La in Brooklyn can help get you started or put you back on track, and inspire you to make this recipe for casunsiei (beet and ricotta ravioli). More