A Humanist Reflects on his Adventures Pursuing a Mastery in Culinary Artistry.

After I finished writing down my recollections I summarized what I had learned with the following:

What does a Respectable Mastery of Culinary Arts mean?

Now back to the fundamental question, by what rights do I proclaim I have a “respectable mastery of culinary arts”?

It begins with my experience and my understanding of food and food handling, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, basic sauces. Understanding preparation techniques, also sanitation practices, food temp awareness, food safety standards, along with other aspects of food sciences, application of heat, etc.

I also understand basic paperwork, inventory, ordering, receiving, scheduling, POS systems and such.

I understand mise en place and I understand how the restaurants operates back of house and front of house.

In my active years I could be placed into any kitchen (where we speak the same language and everyone is on the same side.) and become a valuable asset during a rush. Why? Because I understand the basics that all restaurants have in common, I can be quiet and watch, listen, learn.

Besides knowing how to graciously take direction, one must observe and communicate. Can I help you? What should I do? Is it okay to do such and such? Simple clear communication and echo, that is, acknowledging when spoken to, to make clear we are all following the same plan.

Then follow through on my assignment - if it’s helping cook, or dish, or expedite, or go back to help the dishwasher get caught up and get the line restocked, or to do some emergency prep. I know how to go and do it. By that I mean, my ego doesn’t get in the way, I’m happy being a cog in an operation focused on a common goal.

My weakness is my taste buds and palate memory. That coupled with a curious innate indifference toward food makes me mediocre when it comes to seasoning and judging flavors, or creating grand dishes and menus made to impress.

Just give me the product and I’ll process it the way you want and create a good wholesome meal, nicely plated, and served with style.


 

Definition you'll find all over: “Mise en place (MEEZ ahn plahs) is a French term for having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking. Pans are prepared. Mixing bowls, tools and equipment set out. It is a technique chefs use to assemble meals so quickly and effortlessly.”
But, Mise en place goes beyond that to include cleanliness of one self and one's station along with mentally preparing yourself for show time.

 

Culinary Service Arts

To this day when I discuss guest service my back straightens and my hands and arms become animated because I appreciate that good restaurant service is an art, a performance, a skill. A good server/host appreciates that two-thirds of what guests taste is the experience.

Personal enthusiastic service, knowledge of the menu and wines, attentiveness, when to step up or step back. Be observant, scans faces and table tops, we aware of the pace, tempo of individual tables - the server is host and responsible for the logistics of a successful dinner, which includes successfully ordering and communicating with the folks in the back of the house.

In the kitchen, cooperation and “echo!” - speak, listen, acknowledge, respond - following the rules of the house is just as important as schmoozing your guests.


 

Did I mention that liking good teamwork is a requirement for success within Culinary “Arts”?

Oh and sree, no that has not been copied out of any book.

When I write about my experiences, they actually are my experiences!

Oh man! Your technical mastery of potentially creating culinary masterpieces is laudatory. Yet I am understanding that you lack the pure gluttonous hedonistic nature for seeking the always new ultimate or the rarely achieved classical re-enactment of a most artistically divine item to be consumed.

If you could combine that with your technical forte…

You would probably be like me, and enjoy the hell out of eating, and lose interest in the technical aspects.

Hmmm, always interesting what people grab hold of.

I think it’s more a case of been there, done that, the thrill is gone.

Also there’s that minimalist attitude I developed early on towards food for fitness reasons.

I mean some people go bat shit crazy over Foie Gras, when a good slice of liverwurst is pretty near as good (and under the right circumstances better) and more satisfying and not near as guilt ridden.

Or something like that.

Obsessing over taste nuances turns into pure fluff in a hurry.

Oh and sree, no that has not been copied out of any book.

When I write about my experiences, they actually are my experiences!


I will give you the benefit of the doubt only because I don’t think you would tell lies. Still, your confession is not as convincing as Anthony Bourdain’s revelations in “Kitchen Confidential”.

Obsessing over taste nuances turns into pure fluff in a hurry.
MMmmm… pure fluffy taste nuances. Sounds scrumptious.

Tim, Well yes, it can be scrumptious, not arguing that, it’s just I can live without it. :wink: Not that I turn it down when I have the chance, but it’s not the focus of my day.

Sree, now I get it, you read a book and thought you’d test me. That’s cute. PS Part One.

 

MAY 4, 2020 A humanist's adventures in culinary arts. (1of4)

 

[But first a few words …]

It is indescribably frustrating trying to have a constructive dialogue with Republican trumpster types. Diversions, distractions, derision, topped off with dripping belligerent and grotesque Willful Ignorance, seems all they are capable of delivering.

Ask for a little substance and it’s crickets, or worse. Most recently, at my virtual corner pub, the Center For Inquiry Forum, rather than keeping on point of the thread I started, looking at the contemptible Dorr Bro’s fraud:“The Dorr Brother Scams Exposed – denying physical reality in action” and their descent into Fascist behavior. It’s been the usual disingenuous diversion, one after another. From attacking the right of the medical staff to stand up to those malicious protesters who are intent on increasing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus, to dismissing the news stories because the reporter has a bias. When I try to discuss bias, Sree comes back with another diversion, this one with slander in his heart. All in order to pretend away the facts and the harm the Dorr’s are causing for personal financial enrichment.

Long story short, though the following was motivated by getting irritated by a clown attempting derision, it’s actually a project I’ve often dreamed of doing and it is written for my kids and family and friends, some of whom are curious about my travels and confused about how all those experiences were achieved. This is concentrated on my culinary experiences, but can’t help but drift into occasional glimpses into other aspects of my adventures.

sree writes:
Thanks for showing me your blog.
Master of culinary arts?
How about a throw down with me?
Which cuisine are you masterful at?
I don’t mean rib tips and stuff. I am talking international.

For the sake of accuracy what I wrote is that I have a “respectable mastery of culinary arts and framing construction.” :wink:

When I accepted his offer and tried engaging, by asking about his own experiences, the joker goes crickets on me, the way they always do.

That’s because he’s down to vapors while I have substance.

What get’s me is that liberal progressive rational types keep rolling over for those same juvenile tactics a thousand times over, which is why we’re in this downward spiral, but enough of that.

[now that that’s out of the way, lets get to the meat and potatoes.]

This is about me and a young man’s path to a mastery of culinary arts.

In the beginning. …

https://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com/2020/05/humanists-path-culinary-arts-1-4.html

 

 

You know, I knew when I was writing it that “indifference” was a lousy word though I couldn’t really come up with a better one.

It’s not that I have an indifference to food or its processing, it’s all the taste nuances and the strong opining I’m indifferent to, but a guy like Chef Abrell needed to be extremely opinionated regarding the slightest nuances that fly right past most palette’s - because people are emotional creature and all you need do is capture their imagination and it tastes awesome. Wine tasting gives great examples, but that’s enough yapping for now.

MAY 5, 2020 A humanist's adventures in culinary arts. (2of4)

(continued from part one) My German culinary experience.

Mittenwalt, Germany.
That sent me back to Germany, where my “Has Been German Citizen” legal status gave me the right to apply and receive work permits. Finding an apprenticeship was another matter. Winter was coming and I needed to find some work, which I did at the Hotel Gasathof Mühlhauser in Mittenwalt, Bavarian Alps. …

Eventually I found an apprenticeship way up north in the medieval town of Stolberg, Germany … Problem was I came to Germany to learn how fresh food was prepared the old world way, not to do the same shit I could have done in America. …

By chance, I read an article about this Hotel Hirsch south in Bad Wurzach, Allgaü, Germany that had just earned a Michelin Star along with this fascinating article I was reading. It seemed exactly what I was looking for. So I did a Hail Mary and wrote them and was astounded to receive a favorable response with an invitation to visit for an interview.

 

http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com/2020/05/humanists-path-culinary-arts-2-4.html

I remember seeing something about wine tasting being all in your head. In that if you weren’t told anything about the drink you were having you wouldn’t be able to tell between 100 dollar and 6 dollar wine.

That and humanism is a flawed philosophy.

I remember seeing something about wine tasting being all in your head. In that if you weren’t told anything about the drink you were having you wouldn’t be able to tell between 100 dollar and 6 dollar wine.
Well, that's you. Even my dog could tell the difference between a 100 dollar and a 6 dollar wine.

No it’s the truth. The story behind an item or food affects how we taste it, hence the way restaurants describe food on the menu

Guess you haven’t read a word.

hmmm.

Why am I not surprised.


Regarding the 100 v 6 dollar bottle.

If you have little understanding of wine, you could totally miss it.

But with a little familiarity one should be able to tell the difference. I could, there are definite tells.

But, put a bunch of 30 to 90 dollar wines together and it gets increasingly difficult.

The better you understand wines, the more nuances you’ll be able to pull out.

Do some tasting with a pro describing what’s happening and you learn to appreciate it’s real, but the nuances get ever slighter and slighter.

And add to that is the entire emotional aspect, which is part of the mix.

It’s legion, vacation with your wife, great wonderful spot, simple local wine that simply tastes out of this world. You’ve discovered something extra special, buy a few bottle and bring ithem home only to find they disappoint, can’t live up to the expectation. Because you’ll never create the atmosphere at that night after a relaxed day, romantic in the air, a wonderful dinner with a fun waiter, next to a moon lit beach, etc., etc.

Quality matters - ability to appreciate quality also matters - emotions also matter no matter where you’re at on the palette abilities spectrum.

 

Oh practice and repletion, much repetition, is required to develop a keen palette awareness.

Oh practice and repletion, much repetition, is required to develop a keen palette awareness.
Its actually not. The experience between two people is more subjectivity and personal taste, not refinement or practice. It’s been proven.

Yeah, yeah, you know it’s been proven that global warming is a chinese hoax too.

Don’t believe everything you read.

There are qualitative differences and there are subjective differences - the one does not eliminate the other.

Oh practice and repletion, much repetition, is required to develop a keen palette awareness.
Of course, some have more innate talents to develop than others.

 

And before you go thumping on your chest too much beware of Dunning Kruger Syndrome.

 

Guess you haven’t read a word.
Of course, I have. And I am following along with your presentation till you are done. It's just good manners (on my part) to shut up and pay attention. You are very detailed and thorough in the recount of your development in the restaurant industry. Very Germanic. I am partial to German beer.

Let me say the good stuff about you first. You have a good writing style and I have a hundred bucks here that say you can write better than you can cook. You went into the culinary world from the ground up and couldn’t hack it even as an apprentice. You can blame this on your American stain that Hitler spat on. Bourdain could hack it but - being an American like you - made it up to a point: he made it to chef (the guy who runs the kitchen) only because, as an apprentice, he was inspired by the chef whom he saw banging a bride of the wedding party in the back of the restaurant. Even a rat can cook, and so could Bourdain; but it takes a fanatic to achieve mastery of the culinary arts.

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_wine_tasting

No, it’s quite literally all in your head for the most part.

Xain, how many times must it be explaining: “Everything is ALL in your head.” Mindscape that is :wink:

You love that study because of the headline, but do you know anything about how the test was actually conducted?


 

And sree you got nothing but slander in your heart. Do you?

Yeah, my Chef went through all that (and he was trapped like one of those Milk Calves) a monster too much of the time - other half the time there was this wonderful person wanting to come out. The job was aging him early and the sous chef, I won’t even get into that wonderful souls hideous struggles and hatred for a job that he was awesome at.

Xain, don’t give me shit for not wanting to commit my life to 12 hour split shifts, while living passing me by. Just like you can’t give me shit for growing out of my love affair with Jesus saving me at about 13. Then going off to learn about God for myself, through living and my senses and what God was able to toss at me. Remember Jesus did promise us, seek and ye shall find.

 

We can’t all be the same.

 

After my mom died recently, I received an envelope of old postcards and now writing this bio sketch, gave me an excuse to rummage through it. It’s wild the memories flooding in, forgot all about Mittenwald and Walensee, but there they are real as hell and I was there and did those things for real.

Can’t get real experiences through your books, even if I didn’t live to your expectations, which I reject anyways.

Past days I’ve had time to go back in my memory like never before in my always busy life. I am very comfortable with my choice. You haven’t an actual clue of what I’m talking about - I’d be surprised if you ever done any hard skilled manual labor for any length of time. Books and books. Xain, you do know what they say: Buy 'em books and buy 'em books and all they do is eat the covers.

All you have is what others have written. You are in no position to judge and doing so simply relieves how clueless you are.

Xain, you live in a world of make-believe absolutes, life is not like that at all, it’s all about the struggle and the constant tug-of-war. Be good, but not too good. Be true to yourself and respectful of others. But you choose not to appreciate any of that. So sad.

at #327846

Was referring to snowcity.

 

Oh and I don’t even know who Bourdain is so please stop using him as some sort of goal post or whatever - oh and given you’re introduction, I’m not even curious enough to look him up.

Wasn’t it you who was supposed to be “throwing down.”

Have you ever worked in a real and happening kitchen? Or up front for that matter?