Feeding Frenzy

A professional gastronaut feeds the blogosphere with tales of his culinary adventures - sometimes on-the-job, sometimes just-for-the-hell-of-it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A New Direction

I've decided to post some of the recipes I've developed or adapted in my professional life in the food industry. I've decided to do it here. I'm hoping that this will, among other things, jumpstart some serious "research and development" time in the kitchen as well as give new life to my food writing.

For those of you who don't know me well, I have co-owned two restaurants and a catering company. The first restaurant was a Brazilian restaurant - the first in Seattle. It was called Brasil. This was in the latter half of the nineteen eighties. The food was as authentic as we knew how to make it. My partner in business and life at the time was the late Romilson Medeiros who was originally from Rio de Janeiro. It was his taste that guided us. There were other chefs in that kitchen, from the US and from Brazil, but mostly it was Romi who was the arbiter of what was representative of his Brazil and what was not.

My role, predominantly, was to adapt Romi's vision of "Brazilian-ness" for the commercial kitchen in the United States with the ingredients I was able to cobble together - some of which we imported ourselves. We made relatively few concessions to American tastes - but were well-recieved by the Seattle food press (who knew little of Brazilian cookery at the time). I still have Brasil's "recipe book" and will quote from that. I also have a fairly large collection of both historic and modern Brazilian cookbooks in Portuguese and in English. I expect that I will be sharing some experiments from these as well.

We also served some Portuguese cuisine at Brasil (Caldo Verde, Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa, Coxinhos de Galinha). My experience with this cuisine, though, was mostly informed by the fact that I lived in Portugal for some time right at the close of the eighties. I will certainly be sharing some Portuguese recipes here.

My other restaurant was called Hot Dish. I was executive chef there from April, 2006 (we opened in May, 2006) until July 2007. This was a different kettle of fish entirely. Our intention with Hot Dish was to create accessible, middle-American comfort food with the best possible ingredients. I created the menu and the recipes that we opened with myself. I tested the dishes on my friends and at "soft open" events. We got some pretty good press - but the important part is that I was (and am) proud of the food we created there. I have the Hot Dish "book" as well. I'll be quoting liberally from that. I'll also be presenting some adaptations of Hot Dish recipes that I've had rattling around in my head for some time.

By the way, Hot Dish closed in December, 2007 - five months after I left. In those last months, the recipes I created for the restaurant were significantly altered for cost-and-labor-saving reasons. Those changes will obviously not be reflected here.

Finally, I'll be posting recipes from the Feeding Frenzy files. Feeding Frenzy was the catering company I started with Craig (my life partner for the last 15 years) in 1999. Together we ran it (with me as chef and Craig as "project manager") until we were offered partnership in Hot Dish in 2006.

Feeding Frenzy was a dream project in many ways. It was just Craig and I doing the work so we never worried about labor costs. We heavily promoted small dish foods from all over the world - tapas, mezze, antipasti, salgadinhos - even dim sum. Samosas and pakora. Nibbles of all kinds. These are all notoriously labor-intense preparations but, as I say, we didn't care about that much. We also did a huge amount of big entree work (because you have to do big entree work if you're a caterer) and most of those recipes just fell out of my head as we were working the jobs. It was a high-wire act a lot of the time and that made it a delightful experience.

Anyway. Stay tuned. This should be fun. I won't say I'm not nervous about posting this but I've decided that the fun of sharing recipes far outstrips their value as intellectual property. I hope to hear from you as you try things out. Or perhaps you have some special requests? Give me a shout.


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