Wednesday, May 28, 2008


A little olive oil....

...some anise...

...some sea salt...

...some cracked black pepper...

...some lemon juice...

...and a smoky BBQ...

...and you're all set for some awesome grilled veggies!!


Actually, it isn't really all that pretentious. It just sounds fancier than it actually is. If you strip Bouillaibaisse down to it's bare essentials, it's just a variety of seafood cooked out in a tomato broth. Add some vegetables and a potato to it and you have a complete meal. That's it! Pretty simple, huh?

Last week my son, Garret turned 10 and we celebrated his birthday at my house by spoiling him as usual. He asked me to make a lobster dinner for him, so I did. This was his first lobster dinner. It turned out that he didn't like lobster. Expensive mistake I know, but I want my kids to experience the things that grab them and I'll comply with their wishes whenever I can.

Anyway, I had the shells of three lobsters left over from the dinner that I used to make a stock for a Boiullaibaisse. As you can see from the photo below, I threw the shells in a pot with some onion, garlic, celery, carrot, anise, paprika, white wine, lemons and water. I cooked this out until the perfume permeated the house and the stock was quite flavorful.

I must apologize for not taking as many shots of the process as I normally would, but I was enjoying some wine at the time and I managed to get side tracked.

I added some crushed tomatoes to the stock as well as some sea salt and pepper to season. I cooked this out for a while and then strained the stock into another pot. I returned it to the burner and brought it back to the boil.

After the stock hit the boil, I added carrots, potato and leek. I cooked this out until the potato and carrots were tender. Then I added the seafood.

As you can see, I added prawns, scallops, salmon, talapia and mussels. I cooked the stew out a little longer until the seafood was just cooked and then I served it immediately.

As you can see, there is a ton of seafood swimming in a rich, flavorful tomato and anise scented broth.

This type of seafood stew can be made with any variety of seafood you happen to fancy. I added what I like. And you don't need to start with lobster shells either. You can start with fish stock and tomatoes, or for that matter, straight tomato juice with aromatics and fish boned added to flavor it. The important thing to remember is that you must have the stock to a point where you are satisfied with the intensity of flavor it has before you add the seafood because the seafood is cooked just briefly and won't infuse much flavor into the broth.

By adding a crust of bread and perhaps a salad, you have a meal fit for a king, or even a seafood loving birthday boy!!

I love you Garret!!! Happy Birthday!! XOXOXOXOXO. I love you Kaitlin also!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


This is the Dancing Bull Zinfandel label. Perhaps nothing really all that spectacular to most, but I have a fondness for bulls - especially the ones that fight for their lives in the ring. I route for the bulls to win in these unbalanced contests because the odds are definitely against them. When a matador gets gored, I think he deserves it. It counts as payback for his past "victories" against opponents that have been set up to lose so that he will look brave. And it also proves the old adage that says, "no matter how overwhelmingly the odds are in your favor, never underestimate your opponent!"

But this little label inspired Lola - my girlfriend - to paint a picture for our living room that has nothing to do with fighting. She did this for me because she knows I love bulls and because I have an interest in Latin culture and music.

I think she did a great job capturing the image and the spirit of El Toro, who dances, what I say, is most likely the Mambo.

Significant only to us, this picture means so much.

I sometimes feel as though I am like a bull and that's why I identify with him rather than with the matadore. It is truly better to be the matador because he and his team mates get so much glory. But the bull has such pride, determination and strength, and yet he stands alone. And, the bull fights honestly and in plain view, while the matador is deceptive, relying on others to wear the bull down for him before he can make an impressive kill with his hidden weapon.

Were it not for deception and the aid of others, the bull would always win the fight, for the matador is outmatched in strength, character and will. It's sad that the bull doesn't even realize how unfair the fight is for him as he enters the ring. He just lets his heart take him and he fights with passion and without fear. But...unfairness is the way of the world sometimes, isn't it? That's why I always cheer the underdog!



Friday, May 16, 2008


Here's the chef I apprenticed under - Steven Treadwell. Even though that was a lifetime ago, I still have many fond memories of working with him. He is a great chef and was a good mentor to me.

Chef Treadwell has his own restaurant now. Treadwell has been up and running for three years and chef tells me that things are going well for him. This month Steven appears on the cover of Food Service and Hospitality Magazine.

Here's wishing Chef continued success and many thanks for his role in my own successes as a chef.



Here, I show the method used to make a ring of pomme gaufrettes. This is a potato I developed at another competition when I wanted a starch that would contain a fricassee of Chantrell mushrooms. This ring came to mind. I have never seen it anywhere else so I claim it as my own creation born out of necessity, however, somewhere I may have a comrade who has made this delicate potato ring as well. Regardless, it's a real showy spud.

Here I set the depth of the cut on the mandolin. The cut is a lattice chip potato that is classically known as "gaufrette."

Fine craft wire is used to hold overlapping gaufrettes tightly around a ring (in this case a tuna can) in preparation for deep frying.

The chips are laid over the can in an overlapping pattern. It is important to poke a hole in the side of the can and insert the end of the wire into the hole before this process otherwise the chips will fall when the can is rotated.

One by one, the chips are laid in place and held in place with the wire. Once the ring is complete, the wire is twisted tight to hold the gaufrettes in place.

The ring is fried for a few moments until the starches in the potato binds the chips together.

The ring is then removed from the can and is returned to the fryer free-form to finish cooking the inside of the ring. And that's all there is to it.


Team 4 at the Chef's Conference - Chef Mark Livingston, Chef Brian Messenger and Chef Marcello Marano.

Marcello and I discussing...

and discussing....

and discussing.

Brian discussing.

Whew, that's a lot of discussing!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Dorky hat, huh?

Last week I was required to participate in a little cooking contest with 28 other chefs. We worked in teams of three. My team took the bronze medal. Considering what the judges said, and what the guests said about our dish at the reception afterwards, I know we had the best tasting dish that day. But as with many things...there's more to it than that.

Anyway, congrats to all the chefs that competed. They all worked hard!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


As you know, I'm a fan of German varietals. What can I say, I like the sweet whites! Anyway, here is an awesome Riesling I just stumbled on. Angel's Gate from Ontario.

This is super fruity and it has a nice acidity to balance out the sweetness. Notes of citrus jump out at you on the finish. This is a winner!!