Archive for November, 2008

Happy Cornless Turkey day

November 22nd, 2008

So I just started reading this blog post from and thought it interesting…

The ripple effect of corn’s being funneled to ethanol production instead of turkey feed has forced at least four huge turkey-processing plants to shut down this year, the government says.

Things will turn bleaker after the holidays, when the industry nationwide will reduce production dramatically, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That’s bad news for U.S. consumers. In 2007, the average American ate 17.5 pounds of turkey, according to the National Turkey Federation.

And this could be the last holiday season for some processors.

Holiday turkeys enjoy a daily feast of corn and soybeans to plump them up just in time for the table. But even soybeans have fallen prey to the push for ethanol.

Soybean production is down in response to demand for corn to make ethanol, which also drives up soybean prices, the USDA says.


The article goes on to lament President-elect Obama’s ethanol policy in a rather dramatic way.  I do actually agree to some extent, but I think Barack Obama had to concede to subsidized corn to get elected.  I think he understands not only the immorality of using food for fuel when it is unnecessary, but also what a huge waste of resources that could better be allocated.  

Fill in your own enthusiastic plan of getting off petroleum dependancy.

November 19th, 2008

So I launched the website I have been working on.  It took me longer to get this project running than it did for me to graduate from Willamette University.  Now the real work commences.

As I was going through the recipes that I filmed with my dad I realized more fully our culinary background…French and filled with fat.  Butter is such a vital part of a classic kitchen.  Chicken stock and Beef stock and salt.

In order to widen the appeal of the site I need to begin focusing on eating habits and food cultures that are outside my norm.  I need to visit more vegetarian fare, more vegan fare, more gluten free recipes.  Fun stuff!

Thanksgiving Dinner

November 8th, 2008

Have you ever had a job you so enjoyed that you wanted to spend holidays with the other employees?  (I realize I just lost 75% of you…)  Perhaps because I grew up in restaurants my thoughts are irretrievably bent.  Please allow me a moment of bent thoughts.  

In many restaurants there is no bond between the guest and the employee.  The elaborate dance which brings the processing of food from the seed to the table (genetics, composition of soil, proper blanching etc…) is garnished with pretty people in front who sell these gustatory dreams.  But oftentimes these places are purely a manifestation of capitalism (there went another 10% of my readers I imagine): they are clinical and superficial and do not speak to the human heart.

I like it a lot nowadays that the cooks are on stage.  My dad had an open kitchen at the Red Dog Saloon in Junea, Alaska in 1987.   That is were I learned about integrity.  I prepped food during the day (50 gallon buckets of live crabs that needed to be cleaned) and waited tables at night.  Ultimate confidence in the food I was serving to people changed me.

So I passed up the offer to lose the thanksgiving dinner shift, after, of course, checking with my mother and father.  I know what goes on in the kitchen and it is really fun: brining turkeys and smoking pork cheeks and duck legs gently sizzling in confit.

There are many beautiful people out there who don’t have family, or can’t be with family, or anything else that really want to be a part of the community celebrating the bounty of the earth.   It is a peculiar and precious joy to be able to provide that to people.  

I’ll quit bending your ear.  

I’m working Thanksgiving dinner and hope you all all have a special, and beautiful Thanksgiving. 

The recipes they are a changing?

November 4th, 2008

The restaurant paradigm has shifted since the current economic miasma took effect in September. Restaurants have had to adapt or go out of business.  Many restaurants are going out of business.

Previously successful brand statements have seen significant losses and have turned to revamping their identity.  The New York Times recently noted that “even restaurants that say they are doing fine…” have started adding “value meals with phrases that evoke the Great Depression.”  Yet folks are still eating.

The lowest quintile of households spent 37.3% of household income on food while the highest only spent 6.6% (  Married couples are still spending 40% of that dining out.  But where are they going?

Somewhere between man’s fight or flight response lies an oasis.  From the first boulangerie in Paris in 1792 people have sought out restaurants for gustatory meditation.  For peace, for a moment outside the “real” world, to allow the body to enjoy the fruits of the earth.  

People are going to restaurants that make them feel good, and have a high perceived value for the plate.  There is always going to be the need for the human animal to spend a little social time away from home.  

In times of worry folks will go where their money is well earned and where the tradition of celebrating the bounty of the earth is kept alive by folks who understand that a restaurant is not merely a business.