The following menu was presented on Tuesday night, July 26th, at Antelao Restaurant.
The quote from Mr. Olmstead in my profession has to do with the construction of a menu and how it somehow has to make sense and be coherent in some way. Although the items at first glance seem like odd partners I will briefly explain some reasoning as to the
sequence and what makes it interesting to the palate.
1.Variation of textures and balance of flavors in the same course.
2.Proper portion as to not dull the palate
3.No repetition of ingredients from course to course.
4.Temperature variations, notice this menu goes cold,hot,cold,hot,cold.
5.Utilize as many methods of preparation as possible(cured,poached,saute,grill,bake,ect....)
6.Never over use any ingredient that will linger throughout the meal.
This list could go on but as to not bore you, we could talk about wine pairings for a few hours if you would like, I will only add the meal was a success and enjoyed by 26 people. A menu written just for one evening brings the cooking to a different level as compared to working a menu on a daily basis. When a guest orders from a menu they control the sequence, degree of cooking, and selection of what will accompany their entree. In the chefs mind he is doing the best he can to please the guest, despite anything he may think about the selection.
I'm taking requests and playing cover tunes more or less. That does not diminish the effort or pride one takes in the cooking, you do become separate in a way emotionally compared to writing and presenting a unique menu. At that point it is much more personal, you become free of the distractions associated with what I call the "dressing on the side syndrome". The challenge of making something interesting also reminds me of why I love to cook.
Thomas is my 16 year old assistant that is enrolled in the culinary program at the Vo-tech and wants to attend the C.I.A. in two years. I fully confess dealing with young people is not my forte. I am trying. He is a very nice young man. The way my mentors dealt with me would land me in jail anyway so I am learning all the contemporary techniques we use to deal with each other.(i.e. horseshit). I do find humor in working with Thomas as he is really just starting out, and I did forget the innocence we all had at one time. Here are some questions he has asked me in the past couple of months, always when the wheel is full of course....
Something to think about until next week.