Culinary journey update – New Job!

A little over a month since I left Sur La Table, I’m officially hired as a banquet chef for Fairmont Hotel.

I start on Wednesday, March 16th at 10am.

The two on-site interviews with the head chefs were eye-opening. There’s so much more to working in the kitchen of a hotel than I ever imagined.

There are Fairmont Hotels all around the world and they all build up their employees and hire from within.

I’m so grateful to have made a good impression, with how little experience I have.

Luckily, I have the weekend to buy a knife kit and some white shirts. And probably some more black slacks.

I feel like my life is finally in my hands. I don’t need to rely on anyone, I’m ready to be a grown up… at 36.

So tonight I’m going to celebrate my achievement and possibly my last free weekend for many years.

Cheers, y’all!

Culinary journey update

It’s been a little over 6 months since I got my first kitchen job at Sur La Table.

I’ve learned so much about my capabilities, my place in a team setting, and what more I want to do.

Confidence about my decisions and skills was never something I felt in tech. But in the last 6 months I’ve gained a kind of pride in my work that I’m so happy to have finally found.

Leaving the kitchen at the end of the night knowing I did a great job, that I supported my coworkers and made customers happy. It feels good.

Six months ago, I never wanted to work in a restaurant kitchen. I thought it would be too hard or too macho and I was afraid I’d fizzle out. But now I feel excited to keep pushing my limits, to see where my little journey takes me.

So I gave my notice at Sur La Table, took a week off, and started applying to restaurants.

Let’s see where this goes.

Weeknight Meal Plan #2

This week I wanted to make Rick Martinez’ Tacos Nortenos as soon as possible. Monday done.

Then, I bounced around my stand-bys but the menu didn’t seem right.

Sometimes when I’m putting together my weeknight meal plan, I take a look at what is in season in this handy little chart wheel I found:

Corn is in season! So I go back to my recipes and look for corn, boom, Ajiaco from Kenji Lopez-Alt.

Okay, so now I have two days left to fill. Both of those recipes I notice have some ingredients that I might not use all of in the week and I can’t have food going bad. Off to finding more recipes that include these ingredients and only one or two more things.

And I come across Steak Chimichurri. I’ll already have cilantro and parsley, onions, vinegar, garlic, etc. I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled for a good, cheap steak.

I’ve got one night saved for leftovers or dining out, so I’m all set this week.

Meal Plan for August 9th, 20201
Meal Plan for August 9th, 20201

I’ve made the ajiaco recipe multiple times and absolutely love it. Reminds me of the first time I made Caldo Verde from Foodwishes or Charro Beans from Rick Bayless, I made them once a week until I ruined them for myself.

I’m really excited for the tacos, which is why I couldn’t wait to make them later in the week.

All done. 👋

Weeknight Meal Plan #1

Every week I put together a meal plan for Monday through Thursday, sometimes I know what I want to make on Friday and the weekend, sometimes I don’t. I like to leave the weekend open for whatever. Maybe I’ll get invited to something!

I found a great notion template a year or so ago and it’s been so useful in managing my recipes, ingredients, meal plan, shopping list, and recipe ideas. I can’t find the original template, but I’ve altered mine quite a bit, so it’s not even the same anymore. If you’d like to duplicate mine, here you go:

Here’s this week’s meal plan:

Meal Plan for July 26, 2021
Meal Plan for July 26, 2021

This meal plan started with the Salisbury steak. Since I knew I’d need ground beef, the rest of the menu developed out of uses for it. I don’t need a pound of meat for two steaks, and that’s typically how it’s sold, so I figured I’d work with the larger portion to make several dinners.

I have some frozen Thai basil in the freezer I want to use, so that was easy.

Then, I looked at listicles for ground beef recipes and found this one, which is pretty useful:

There I found kofta kebabs, but I looked around at different recipes and found the Spruce Eats one listed above.

So I had three beefy menu items, I needed some veggies. In notion, I have a gallery called “Old Stand-bys” were I keep recipes that I use at least a couple times a month. I grabbed a couple go-to vegetarian dishes and boom, my meal plan was complete.

You can see a range of influences in this menu. That’s fun. To see where I’ve picked things up.

I’m really excited for the kebabs, I’ve never made them before. And also the Salisbury steak because it might be my favorite childhood dinner and I haven’t made it in years. I look forward to dressing her up with my new skills.

All done. 👋

Tuna Salad

Tonight I made some tuna salad in the style of Alison Roman, my recently discovered cooking mentor. You can check out the recipe on her newsletter.

A cutting board topped with toast, lettuce, soft-boiled eggs, parsley, celery leaves, sliced red onions in a bowl, dill, a sliced lemon, and a dish of capers with a bowl of tuna in the background.

I did a couple things differently. I added a bit of dijon and some cayenne pepper, which I always call Kanye pepper because my brain is broken. I also messed up a bit and didn’t add the onions until the end, so I had to pour out the delicious liquid before adding it to my already lemon-ed tuna mix. So sad. In the recipe she only calls for dill at the end, but I used dill, parsley, and celery leaves, too. And a soft-boiled egg.

Plated tuna salad with lettuce leaves, toast, soft-boiled eggs, and an iceberg lettuce salad topped with parsley, celery leaves, sliced red onion, capers, and dill.

This meal was as well-rounded as Alison Roman’s Slow-Cooked Tuna recipe, albeit less savory. That recipe changed how I understood a meal. What I considered a balanced meal was a meat, starch, and veg with some different colors and flavors. But there’s something more going on there. The next time I make it, I’ll go in-depth about my culinary awakening.

Okay, so this tuna salad is good. What makes it great is the textures and harmonious flavors of the fixins. Sliced red onion gives fresh crunch, capers lend a briny pop, the buttery toast, the creamy eggs, the crispy lettuce. Each bite was interesting and melded perfectly with one another.

Last night I tried making the date and lemon chicken recipe, but my ratios must have been off. I’d like to try it again sometime, but there’s so many new things I want to make while I have all this enthusiasm.

Next week I hope to move on to a different influence, as much as Alison Roman is a great recipe developer, I want to keep pushing my comfort.

All done. 👋

Rather be cookin’

I spent all day redesigning my website and it’s midnight already and I’m tired and I have nothing else to say.


All done. 👋