Chef Shannon, or Tristan Gets Fat.

I know I haven’t posting anything in quite some time, and quite certainly there is a lot of stuff that has happened over the last 3 weeks!  Visitors, job stuff, weather, NY chaos… etc.  These will all be addressed over the next few days, but for this post I would really love to highlight one thing: Talent.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights have become quite crowded around our apartment.  Shannon has now been fully immersed into culinary school and we are reaping the benefits usually two-three servings at a time.  After every class she attends you can find us all huddled in the living room waiting for clock to strike 11, the door to swing open revealing a pastry toting chef, and for the feeding frenzy to commence.  Luckily Shan gets to bring home everything she makes in class from cookies to tarts, they make their way home in a huge cake shaped carrier, think pet carrier but cake shaped, and then they are quickly devoured.

Shannon obviously has a flair for the craft as everything she brings into our home appears professional, and tastes better than everything I have had in a professional kitchen.  It has been incredible watching the evolution of her food as she tinkers with crusts and is slowly given more and more artistic license.  It seems like every time she comes home she completely outdoes herself… again.  Also amazing is her growing excitement for the processes she is learning.  Everything is always better when someone is doing it simply because they love it, it shows in the quality.

Come on over Monday, Wednesday, or Friday and join in to the fun!  It’s funny watching everyone oooh and ahhh over the delicate fruit tarts.  Don’t be surprised if next time we see you we are twice the people you used to know.  Here are some of the exquisite delicacies we get to sample (Unfortunately the light is not great at 11 PM and leaves the pictures somewhat orangey)

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Got a break we can catch?

Finally the update I wanted to give!

Culinary School.

For the last 2 Months I have been working with the French Culinary Institute to find a way for me to attend.  I have always been drawn to culinary school and now that I have been in touch with the food industry in so many capacities I know that’s where I am headed.  As soon as I made the decision to attend school I began to attempt to secure the financing to enroll.  Turns out this is not exactly an easy thing!  Now, I have very good credit, but if you have lived in a new state for only 3 months, and have only been employed at your job for 1 month… good luck getting a loan, even a student loan.  The lovely people at FCI have been trying every single avenue to give me the opportunity to attend, and finally we thought we had the answer: one small loan, and a 20k scholarship!  SO once we had assumed that I had secured financing I enrolled and began classes!

What an amazing thing it has been so far!  I bundle up in my entire ensemble of chef’s attire and march down to Soho every other night.  It is amazing the layers of clothing I wear in those 85-90 degree kitchens…. chef’s coat (embroidered with my name), t-shirt, check pants, apron, hat, neckerchief, clogs… Quite the outfit.  I also lug around with me my whole suitcase of knives and tools!  Honestly there is something hilarious to me about carrying around a suitcase of knives right through the bustling crowds on Broadway.

Day One: We did not mess around when starting class.  Our Chef Instructor: Chef X (Xavier) is a feisty and driven Frenchman, and is a firm believer in results and not wasting time.  We picked up our knives almost instantly and began to learn every single french vegetable cut that we would ever need, all the while Chef X is walking around criticizing our lack of skill, 20 mins into our first ever class.  It was an eye opening first day, and honestly quite reassuring, because it became apparent that we were there to learn and not be coddled.  It is extremely nice to know that you were going to get your moneys worth of education, there simply is no fluff involved.

Day 2,3,4,5: Everything is going so fast!  After stumbling through day one and barely escaping with all of my fingers I buckled down and made sure I was prepared for all of the upcoming classes.  We have amazing text books which I have been pouring over in order to make sure I am ready for classes.  As it turns out I am one of the least experienced chefs in the class, but with every single dish we cook I am able to prove myself to our chef and classmates.  I may not be extremely versed in technique but when I cook, I can cook!  It feels so good to be challenged, and every single minute of class is exhilarating and a learning experience.  I am absolutely in love with creating something with my hands, and being allowed to show a little creativity.  Chef X’s militant instruction has eased slightly towards the students who have shown to be committed and competent, and already I feel the class has formed into the classic kitchen brigade helping each other out in order to put out great food and gain good results.  Learning learning learning… I feel like my brain is going to be saturated in no time.

It has been pretty challenging working 50 hours a week, and then Monday, Weds, Friday nights spending 5 more hours on my feet in the kitchen, but man it has been exciting.  It is that kind of satisfying exhaustion that I have mentioned on here before.  Feeling tired for a good reason feels so validating.  It feels so great knowing that the effort you put in is returned to you.  Although sometimes I feel like Shannon is going to forget what I look like.

I am now convinced that this is a very worthwhile endeavor, worth the price, the time, and effort.  I will absolutely be able to call on these skills to succeed in the culinary industry.  On that note, it is going to have to wait.  As it turns out the scholarship didn’t work out.  Instead the financial offices attempted to rig together a systems of loans to make the money available for me to attend, but in the process created such high monthly payments that I will be unable to afford going.  So.  I have had to withdraw (hopefully temporarily) from school.

The plan is to work, work, work… save save save.  Hopefully over the next year I can put away enough money to make the payments I need to attend school.  It is hard to get a little taste like this, like a teaser trailer, but I think it will keep me fueled and pumped up to achieve that ultimate goal.

I don’t know what this may entail or where to start, but I am determined to continue my culinary education outside of the classroom.  I hope to find a chef or organization to mentor me so that I can gain more and more experience.  It may come down to me simply going through the text books they gave me page by page until I learn every single term and technique in it.

Anyways, Shannon is going to start at FCI soon!!!!  We ultimately are both going to be the ultimate knife wielding duo!  Shannon starts there in a few weeks, and I after getting to know the school I am so excited for her to dive in!  She is going to rule the pastry scene!  I am going to have breads, cakes, chocolates, candies, and everything wonderful that ever grace an oven come pouring into my home… world get ready for Tristan the 6’6″ 650 lbs behemoth.  I will let you know how her adventure goes when it kicks off, and how my belt line is fairing.  I am a little sad not to be there with her, but with some time and maybe an extra job, we’ll get there.

So that’s what has been on our plate out here for the last 2 months.  It has been quite the roller coaster.  Hopefully we can sort everything out over the next year…

My sister is here owning New York.  She has apparently decided to rule the city and secured a job at Pure Food and Wine, a really cool raw food restaurant that attracts all of the biggest names in the city.  She has seriously just showed up here, landed and her feet, and just hit the ground running.  It has been a blast having her here.

Upwards and onwards from here.

I wish I had the words to title this blog post.  I wish I had the words to describe what I experienced last night.  I almost wasn’t even going to write about it in fear of not being able to do it justice, but as it figures into my future in such a strong way I feel like I have to include something of this magnitude on here.  It is funny how an event centered around food can evoke so much emotion.  Eating is something I do every single day, and yet unlike an album played on repeat for two weeks, or even a run done repeatedly every day, eating is never worn out on me.  I haven’t been so excited or nervous for something in a long time, and it was just dinner!  I had dinner yesterday and I will have it again tomorrow, but not like this… this was more than just a dinner, it was an event through and through.  The fact that we were there from 6-11 speaks to that by itself, but ultimately this was a celebration of food.

Per Se.  Arguably the top culinary experience achievable.  Dan, Amy, Shannon, and I met up in a rather large mall, Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle, and headed up to the fourth floor.  It is an odd thing that this restaurant is located in the heart of what can only

The funny thing is that the doors don't open, it's the two automatic sliding glass doors on either side that you enter through.

be described as a shopping mall.  Amidst the like of Hugo Boss and Williams-Sonoma are two great big beautiful blue doors.  These wonderful doors truly separate the chaos of New York and a shopping mall from something pristinely calm and surreal.

So we enter through the doors.

As we enter we are greeted by the hostess and led immediately to our table.  I will let you discern the interior from the pictures to be posted later today after I get them from Amy and Dan, but ultimately is was simple and elegant.  We sat next to the floor to ceiling windows that gave us Central Park and a New York skyline.  Up against our back was the fireplace encased in glass.  We definitely had the premier table in the house, front row and center to everything that was happening in the restaurant.  Dan immediately picked out a stunning bottle of champagne for us to sip on as he browsed the wine menu picking out our selections for the night with his knowledge and pallet recently honed from his wine trip through France and Italy.  Needless to say the choices were incredible, a sentiment echoed by the house sommelier.

We were presented with menus to read over, but as you have two real options: vegetarian menu or chef’s tasting menu, it was more of an insight as to what was about to head your way.  Three of us went with the chef’s menu while Amy indulged in the vegetable tasting menu, which allowed us to see both sides of things.  The menu is 10 courses, with each course chosen to impeccably follow the last and set up the next.  I am not going to dive into every course but I have posted our personal menus (sent home with us in a folder at the end of the night) to illustrate the food.  After the server took our order, everything turned into a perfect ballet for the next four hours.  Course after course slid in front of us all perfectly dressed and stunningly prepared.  Simple foods based on quality products and not showmanship.  Yes, every dish was beautiful, but the focus really was on the ingredients.  For example, when the pickled beets came out, they were the epitome of pickled beets, they executed in the best way to possibly do pickled beats.  The same went for the lobster and lamb and sorbets… etc.  You could not have improved on each dish.

After the wines, the courses, the endless desserts, morsels, sips, scotches, ports, grappas, cookies, coffees… we sat back in wonder in order to marvel at what the evening had given us.  This moment didn’t last as long as I would have liked as we were promptly whisked out of our seats, and into the kitchen.  Ushered into the kitchen by our amazing host we entered into a stunningly clean, well lit, perfectly organized world of cooking.  Chefs were spinning here and there with hot pans, some were painting chocolates onto a plate with brushes, others dotting liquefied beans onto scallops… it was beautiful!  Everything was just so precise and everyone moved only with exact intent, and yet everyone in there welcomed us and smiled!  We barged right in being pushed right up into the belly of the kitchen!  Insanity!  It was simply inspiring.

All in all the night was indescribably amazing.  As I write this all down I feel like it is simply a babbling of nonsense.  I can’t write accurately about this, and my brain is way too jumbled around everything to convey anything resembling the night.  Most importantly is solidified in my mind the importantly it solidified in my mind the potential that is embodied in the restaurant industry.  What an opportunity it is to be able to host that many people every night, and night after night give someone a “once in a lifetime” meal.  It is surreal.

I don’t have all of the pictures I want to put up on here yet, but they will be coming very very very soon.  They more coherently describe the evening.

Finally, most importantly, thank you Amy.  Thank you a million times over.

The Beautiful Girls!

Simple Settings.

Goblets the size of a man head.

The Demartinis!

Outside at Columbus Circle