Author Archives: janloov

About janloov

A swede working as a Chef de cuisine at one of the most prestigious hotels in Dallas. Love to share photos of food I make and stories from the kitchen and more...

About working ….

I have noticed recently that a lot of cooks/chefs and everything else in between are writing so called open letters to ….I don’t know who ,in regards to working in a kitchen.

Lets get one thing straightened out and made very clear from the very beginning…it is hard work and dedication that will dictate how far a newborn cook will go in the culinary field. Nothing else.

Working in a kitchen is hard physically and mentally and it gets harder as you get older. It is hot , stressful and sometimes ridiculously monotonous . It is not a place where someone can walk in and demand something from seasoned cooks, cry a river when things don’t go their way and have an attitude that says “look at my degree and I should be in charge”. No it is quite the opposite ,starting from the bottom in a kitchen and doing the chores that are assigned to you is a must and has to be done. So if you don’t like peeling potatoes or onions or just don’t like being told what to do you will not last very long and eventually hate everything in a kitchen. Showing an attitude of entitlement will only last until your first paycheck and that will probably be your only one as well.

But …if you put your head down, listen to senior members or the Chef of the kitchen brigade and follow their instructions there is a chance you can succeed. Doing what is asked and not argue will ensure your learning curve stays on the up and up. Walking in to a kitchen and stating I am not doing this or that because it is beneath me and I have a degree will almost certainly guarantee a miserable existence. Working hard , wanting to learn and just paying attention , never saying no will get you so much further and eventually to where you want to be.

It is not an easy job , but nothing is easy if it was easy then it would be no fun.

So my advice to young cooks wanting to succeed in a kitchen and move up the ranks is quite simple..

-you are not entitled to anything ,remember that.

-work hard

-be dedicated

-stay focused

-stay energetic

-never say no

-don’t limit your self “saying I cant work this day or that ” will make sure you become the last person to move up.

If this seems impossible then a kitchen is not a work place for you , if any of it seems unreasonable working anywhere will become very hard.

Remember you have to start with something somewhere .

Work hard, be dedicated and success follows .

 

Ohhh please stop…

I just finished reading yet another article or open letter explaining to the uninitiated about the dangers and the hard work that goes into being a chef or a cook.

I know that it is tough job and like President Kennedy said “we don’t do it because it is easy …we do it because it is hard”.

I just wish that the people writing these open letters and articles about how hard it is to be a chef should just plain stop and stop having the poor me syndrome. I have yet to find an open letter from a fireman or police office or soldier that writes about how hard their job is.

Cooking food in a hectic environment is hard and there is not enough coffee to go around to sustain this lifestyle for a lifetime of working in this industry. I just think that the “rock n roll” stamp that Chefs have nowadays has gone a bit too far and personally believe we are just a hardworking bunch of people who don’t want your sympathy for doing what we do. I mean I have cut my self and burned my self so bad that I needed hospital visits for that ..I don’t want sympathy for that. I get the idea that we should shine a light on an industry that touches everybody in some way daily and the people working in it. Just drop the poor me syndrome and just respect the job for what it is …back breaking and sometimes downright dangerous.

When I read the open letter written by a supposedly famous Chef my stomach turned. How desperate does one have to be for attention? It is just a job, a highly satisfactory job , but in the end I go home just like everybody else who is working. I know I will never be a millionaire by working as a chef and  never set out to become one either but I will never seek your sympathy for working hard or working on your birthday, Christmas, new years ,thanks giving  or any other major personal event that is a choice I made and one that I am happy with.

So please stop with the poor me syndrome and ragging that stuf on everybody else,just respect what we do daily and move on. We as chefs are no better than any other manual labor job out there and I despise those who seek fame based on a profession that simply just deserves respect..I don’t care about how hard or how long or how many burns, cuts or bruises you have as a chef..you can always leave the business.

However if you are unsure about what to do I would not recommend working in a kitchen because it is hard work and very stressful and that’s the truth. You have to work many years in order to progress but that same idea applies to any job you do.

Stop romanticizing the Chef profession, just respect it and stop writing articles about how hard it is to do…we all know it is.

A new year

With the end of 2015 that came to fast here is to a great new year with fresh insights and some recipes and predictions..

I really do hope that the next diet fad that comes along is a reasonable one and one that works without making it really hard for “normal” people to have the diet they need. I am of course referring to the gluten free craze that dominated a lot of diets in 2015 and ruined it for people with celiac disease. All the ignorance the it brought and the sometimes lackadaisical attitude towards a gluten free diet made it very hard for a chef to work and serve gluten free food. Very hard. Now some will say we have to serve what the guest wants/needs and that is true but if you go to a pizza place and expect to have a 100% gluten free pizza/meal..are you kidding me. This has made it so hard for people who have gluten intolerance since a lot of kitchens have become less “gluten free” clean. It is really hard ,doable but hard and not a fair expectation from the guests. I have learned to read labels ..and that’s good.

I have promised my self to write more on this site and learn to write better blogs. I do like to write and share my opinions of which I have many.

I am going to expand my social media reach and publish more.

Exercise. We all say it, we all mean it, few are still doing at the end of January…I intend to be doing it for my health. I will succeed.

As some might know I write for a site in Sweden http://www.dinvinguide.se and I intend to keep writing there as well and I enjoy doing that as well. Great site run by some really great people whats not to like about that.

I have a few plans that I want to achieve and accomplish for the restaurant where I work. Tighten my connections with all my vendors. Work more closely with all my farmers who deliver products to me. I want to create more breakfast, lunch and dinner specials and align the restaurant to its true roots which is farm to table . Making sure each and everyone of my guests are aware of what we are and do as a restaurant.

It is going to be a great year , an interesting year , a productive year and last but not least a very fun and exciting year.

I cant wait to get started…

 

 

 

The change

It has always been said that change is good and yes it is true…to a certain degree..for some it is the most gratifying thing that could possibly happen and for some the most devastating thing that could happen. We can all relate and I am sure that you all agree.

I think changes are a necessity for growth and if you go with it life becomes easier ,accept it and embrace it ,but fight it and life becomes misery and for what it is worth you could loose everything you have been working for your whole career .

I have experienced many changes in my life and I am positive there will be many more and I have learned the hard way to go with the flow,in the end I am not always right and I have to learn just that in order to progress not only in my chosen field of culinary but also in my private life.

Change is inevitable, change will always be there and change will always happen. It is how you deal with it that will shape who you are and what you do with the rest of the day ,week,month and years.

I hope you all agree, change is good, change is for the better, change will drive success ,change will make you better..but you have to be willing to change your ways as well.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 630 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Achiote chicken

This is a new recipe I have for my new menu at work. It combines a lot of flavors and the end result is simply spectacular. The Achiote paste should be available at your local grocery store , hopefully . There are no substitutions available to my knowledge, and if you don’t have Achiote paste find it since you will not be disappointed .As a matter of fact you will probably start finding more uses for it and it will be a staple I your kitchen much like it is in central and South America .
Basically it is a paste made from anatto seeds and spices . Anatto seeds are used a lot as a food color and depending on where you live ,it has a different name , still once used properly it is just simply divine and the aromas the paste releases are not easily forgotten …
Here is my recipe:
1 whole chicken
3 oz Achiote paste
1/2 cup orange juice
1 onion, puréed
3 fresh garlic cloves puréed
Salt and pepper
Start by pouring orange juice in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling add Achiote paste and turn down the heat and simmer until Achiote is dissolved add onion and garlic purée and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside and let cool. Make sure it has the consistency of quicksand.
Truss the whole chicken and rub the Achiote Orange onion paste and massage it in.
Roast the chicken in 350 degree oven about 24-35 minutes until done.
I serve it with roasted potato and seasonal vegetables , don’t really need anything else….

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Band of brothers..

Chefs are a band of brothers on many levels.
We are in the same trade for the same reason. The love of food!

a bad joke I heard which is sort kind of true is
Q” how many chefs to unscrew a light bulb?
A:”six.One to unscrew the light bulb and five to tell him how they did it at their other job!.”
That is so lame but at the same time so true. Get a group of Chefs around a table and you will hear stories about what ,how, when ,who ,where, why and so on. They will think the stories they tell are immensely funny and hilarious ,so do I , because we understand each other and that’s what creates a bond faster than in any other trade I know of.

We all go thru the same coming of age going up in the ranks and growing as a chef. We all had the hardest meanest, baddest, chef ever to walk this earth ..of course. So did I ,not only once but several times ….of course…
We care for one another in a way that it very hard to find in any other profession , that is partly because we see each other more sometimes than we do our spouses and family..chefs become your family, and as with any family there are fights but in this kind of family the language will put a pirate to shame and he would leave quiet.
Chefs will do anything to help each other out even if it is for the competition, we all know the pain of not having everything or needing something special or just needing to talk about food for an idea. We are their to help each other all the time.
Friendly competition at its best!
The camaraderie that exists among chefs are one of the most enduring and loving in a carefree way.
To be a part of al that is truly an amazing experience that has to be felt in order to fully understand.

The one thing that is always around is the ego, usually the ones who are a little bit insecure or new to the business will always try and show in what ever way they can that in fact they are the best. Seasoned chefs will see that and play along for a while and then let them know that NO they are not the best at what they do… Their ego is writing checks their culinary skills cant cash in. That person is quickly relegated to the bottom of the totem pole. However still part of the brotherhood of chefs.

Chefs thrive under pressure and the pressure is brought on to being the best in the brotherhood at cooking the best out of all…