Thursday, July 14, 2011

Days Off, Fountain Photos, Temper Temper

Randomly the other day Doug told us the story of his visit to the Hoover Dam. It seems that there were two camps. One camp with folks who were working on the dam, and one camp with folks waiting for the folks to give up on working on the dam. The folks who were working on the Dam for the most part were carrying rocks from here to there. Apparently they only had three days off a year. I am hoping he was not sharing this with the expectation that I was going to volunteer for that schedule. Well any way, after working since the Fourth of July averaging about 15 hours a day, today I went in, did my ordering and ran for the hills. It is a good feeling time off. One of the great advantages that has been handed down by our forefathers is the 40 hour work week. I think France has gone to far and many countries have not done enough, but 40 hours seems right for how much a person should devote to earning their pay. Someday I hope to be able to join the ranks of the 40 hour week. But today I am a happy man with a few hours to rest and recuperate.

Well this is sorta what you see outside our door. Kids running around in the fountain. Everyone having a blast. I was talking with one of our servers yesterday who said it was rejuvenating just to watch.
I have seen a couple shockers including a completely naked child. Not really appropriate. This may as I stated earlier feel a lot like an extension of your backyard sprinkler. It however is not actually your backyard so you need to keep your pants on. There are changing rooms provided so lets make sure we are using them.

This has been a difficult and trying time for me. There have been a few times where I lost sight of one of our tenements, "that work should be fun". The human mind can only push so far until it pushes back, so I would like to extend my most heart felt apologies to my staff and the staff of the dinning room for those moments when my stress spilled out all over the floor, scooped itself up into a mind numbing rage and chased you from the kitchen with your third wrongly plated Chicken dish. You know who you are. Temper Temper Chef.

A little Bacon Wrapped Wild Gulf Shrimp with Slaw and BBQ to send you on your way.
Much Love Columbus Thanks for the support. Christian

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The first weekend

I am really not sure where to begin.  I should, I think, apologize in advance for spelling and grammatical errors.  I am quite sleepy and should be in bed.  We have all worked a tremendous amount of hours in the last week.  I know as an old fat man my body was in no condition to work 17 hours in one day.  But we did and we have survived and even in parts we have thrived.  We as a management team really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  When KJ said he thought we would do 700 a day in the opening weeks I scoffed at the idea.  I have no doubt that this weekend we will be hampered only by the pace at which tables turn. There was a line out the door and up to the street most of the day on Saturday and Sunday.  I expect the same to be true this weekend.  Make Reservations.  That is my tip to anyone who has read this far and put up with the late night ramblings of a sleepy chef.

I would like to give you an idea of what we are going through and how many things we are selling.  On and average day (which is on it's face sort of silly because how does one come up with an average day after being open for five days, however on an average day)  we are making 5 gallons of lemonade, three gallons of simple syrup(for drinks at the bar), we are squeezing about 175 limes (many of the specialty cocktails have lime juice and much to the chagrin of our wonderful bartenders they must squeeze the juice for each drink. I  think they will have hefty, powerful forearms before the summer is done. Happiness to their partners, lovers and friends, sadness to the folks they shake hands with.), we sold 60 fish sandwiches today, and we sold 55 Three Little Pigs, we have gone through 150 pounds of sweet potato fries and 160 pounds of regular fries since Monday.  This is nutty.  I told KJ today I have never bought so much product or sold so many things in my life.

I am not trying to toot my horn here, I am quite amazed.  I have for the most part been pleased with the quality of the food we are providing (on Sunday I was running out of things and it got to the point where we were not producing at the level of quality we demand.  So frankly we decided to pull to plug early.  As hard as that was to do I think it was the right decision.  I would rather we have everything right than Shoe it Out like a bunch of Chuckle Heads).  We have gotten good response back from the guests.  Mayor Coleman was in for at least the third time tonight and I also got to feed and meet Senator John Glenn, who is as much an American Hero as we have floating around Columbus today.  Meeting the Senator was a delight and his lovely wife Anna liked really liked the Chocolate cake which made me even happier.

I want to take a moment to talk about the fountain.  I looked out on Sunday, the sun was shining and hundreds of the children of Columbus were running through the fountain.  There were people on bikes, people pushing strollers, walking hand in hand, and frankly a few folks who may need to reevaluate their fashion choices( I am not judging, but this is a public park and you don't want to scare folks).  My point is that this city has come together in this park.  There was so much joy and happiness on display that it makes you forget the 100s of pounds of fries and the miles of tickets and pressure.  There was a city running through the sprinklers of their collective backyard.  Families camped on the lawn.  A true expression of what Civics really means.  Public and Private money coming together to provide a good for the population that created both.  This is a huge step forward for Columbus and all involved should be proud.
Good Night Columbus.  Christian 

Monday, July 4, 2011

First Practice Dinner

The Chefs were in by 8:00, I joined them at 9:00.  It was a tough one getting up and I stopped to check email and do some organizing before I rolled.  Was not able to bike in since I knew there were a few holes I was going to need to fill from Kroger and riding a bike with four gallons of milk is a silly proposition. We brought in some of the AM cooks to get us a jump on the prep.  We were closed two days for Red, White and Boom, which is the annual fireworks display in Columbus and is in our front yard.  Catching up from being closed  can be a bitch so we were at a run most of the day.

One of my favorite things in Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook is the prep list at the end.  It is all scribbles and on a beat piece of paper.  It is also one of the more authentic artifacts from what I have seen of restaurant life.  Late night post 14 hour shift, beer, the back side of a menu and a note to the guy coming in in the morning.

So with the prep cruising along we, the management team sat down for "pit stop".  Many of us are Cameron Mitchell alums and this is a hold over from that time.  We went over the last few days and talked about what to do if the printers don't work (they did), what glasses were getting cleaned in the bar and which in the tank.  Pretty mundane stuff.  The Chef's cut out early and jumped back on prep.  I was shooting for about 20 of everything.  we were expecting 150pp and it seemed like nothing was going to push past 20.  Walleye needed to be cut, Pollack needed to be marinated, cakes to be frosted, lemon parfaits assembled.  I still needed to set up expo, make soup of the day (Watermelon Gazpacho with Avocado and Shrimp) and really get my mind set.

Vicente was on Saute, Nick (our Sous Chef you can see him in the background) was working grill because I had a few cooks out for a wedding.  Lilly, who wont pose for a picture, does not have a computer or the internet and seems pretty happy about that was working with Nick.  Out front Matt had Eric and Cesar. 

Myself (Christian) and Stacy were going to Expo.  I get little tickets out of a printer and coordinate the cooks activities by calling out orders, while Stacy receives the plates from them wipes the rims and gets servers to run them to guests.

About ten minuets before service I changed the presentation on the calamari. My friends in Georgia might recognize some aspects of this one.  Deep Fried Calamari and Jalapenos with Oranges, Cilantro and Sweet Thai Chili Sauce.  I had the boxes and wanted to find a spot for them on the menu.  One of our themes is the park so this makes me think of getting carryout and eating it in the park.  
A stretch? Maybe but it is fun and makes me Happy.

 After the Pollack was marinated (Ginger, Garlic, Scallions, Sambal, Lime, Nuac Mam and Sesame Oil) it was battered in Tempura and served with Diakon Radish Slaw, Siracha Mayo and there is a wedge of Lime skewered on top for squeezing.
  229 Burger- Ohio Proud Beef, Roasted Peppers, Mornay, Bread and Butter Pickles and Fried Onions

Three Little Pigs- Seared Belly, Pulled Pork and Really Good Bacon with Slaw, Pickles and BBQ

The Mac and Cheese comes in a skillet and is served with Bacon, Scallions and Tomatoes as garnish.  There is a bit of panko on top as well.  The boys had the salamander (that is what we call the broiler like thinnk you can see behind Vicente above) kicking and this one got darker and less uniformly toasted then one might have wished for but there you have it.

This is a real simple banana pudding that went over with all but one person who did not like the jar.  As you will see below I am a big fan of the jar so it is unliklely that I am getting rid of it now.  I actually had a group of ladies who ordered five to go and we sent them home with the mason jars with lids on them.  Really cool perp.

As you can see another jar.  It is a bit different then the other one so I am going to run with it.  Lemon Parfait- Lemon Curd, Whipped Cream, Lemon Soaked Pound Cake and Blueberries.  Gotta Like Lemon for this one.

Service went well.  Ticket times were good, only one recook.  There were some issues with salt.  I have some issues with salt which I will try to tone down.  There were a few Plates that still need some work but overall really a great first practice.  So at 11:00 the cooks went home, at 11:30 the chefs said good night and by 11:45 just shy of 15 hours I checked with Danielle and Stacy who were working on Liquor Inventory and left for the day.  No note for the AM guy, no menu to scribble on, but I am rolling back in this morning to check on things and get the whole thing started back up.  Christian

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Red, White, and Boom at Milestone

Jeannie, Doug and I climbed the fence at Bicentennial Park for Red, White and Boom last night.  Well really I just convinced the police that I belonged in the restaurant.  After a bit they, the Police, knocked on the door and said there was some man trying to get in.  They were wondering if that would be OK with me.  It turned out to be my Boss Doug Griggs.  For a brief second I thought, "maybe I don't know him".  But no, I told the Policeman that yes it was ok to let Doug into his restaurant.

Things at the restaurant are really picking up speed.  At first it seemed to me that we had plenty of time and that we would be able to get everything done.  Now I have 130 people in for dinner tomorrow, and what I would like is just a few more days.

The Printer in the kitchen has a ghost in it.  Or maybe more truthfully the wires have some gremlins running around in there and they are not the nice fuzzy ones.  On thursday we were getting partial orders, double orders, sometimes it was printing in red and a couple times it sure seemed like it was printing in 1-point type.

I also am wishing I had spent last month writing recipes and not tasting wines.  We are going to get it together.  Don't get me wrong, it will be a push right up to the end but we are going to look at either rerouting computers or printer cables, I spent the day organizing and when I left Nick had just arrived to put in some work on his day off. 

There is Old Nick and Matt right there.  Not the greatest shot, but they are working so I don't want to
distract them.  Nick is on the right.  He worked at Ocean Club and was most recently KM at DVT.  He is working his ass off right now getting this thing opened.  He will be on grill tomorrow if you are coming in for dinner you should order off his station so he can get the practice.

Matt is on the left.  He is our sensitive Sous.  Dedicated, hardworking, always in good humor Matt has been, and continues to work some silly long hours for our company.  Matt came from CBC where he was Sous Chef for Brian Cook.  He gives us continuity to CBC.  Matt is our roots player.  He is going to be out front looking pretty for the people.  All salads, pizza and deserts will pass under his eye.  He also gets to have a radio in his ear that is attached to me.  One could only be so lucky.

All the sudden my camera and computer decided to start talking again.  So I have a few things backed up to share. So without further ado:

Chairs with a Backdrop of Miranova. Creative. Artistic. 

Cool looking lights from Brent and the boys to prove they don't just love black.  
These ones did not need any Scotch Tape.
One Martini, Two Martini, Three Martini, Floor
That's for Dave Snyder gotta know where you come from.

I thought we had more than enough.  These are all full.  I am wondering if I might be able to borrow some?  Any one who brings a five gallon bucket tomorrow gets a free tour of the kitchen.

All but one of our Tap beers are from Ohio.  We love Craft Beer and we love Ohio.  
Think Local. Drink Local
 Well it is not super clear but you get the Idea.  Next year this is going to be
the best spot to watch Columbus blow stuff up.

Even Columbus' finest took a moment to enjoy the show.  Very nice folks, thanks for your service.
Doug and Jeannie were enjoying the front row seats.  Jeannie is from New York and is Matt's Mom and Doug's wife.  She has a lot invested in our success.  She also has a very nice New York accent and a really cool daughter who is getting married soon.  Jennifer is the GM at CBC so if you see her congratulate her on her upcoming nuptials.
Opening day is right around the corner.  I hope to see you all in the restaurant soon.  That's all for now.  Christian