Home Made, PAZAZ™ STYLE!

I think that all of us have fond memories of those home made dishes that remind us of our childhood and those simpler times. For me its the barbecues, holiday dinners, and the everyday comfort food that really sends me back in time.

Last night I made a beef brisket with my mom’s homemade barbecue sauce. The sauce was a staple during the many grilled chicken outdoor social events my mom and dad were happy to host. The events would start off with music from the phonograph and evolve into a full on feast.

Usually, no always, there was the jello salad, of course the chicken, green salad with either blue cheese or thousand island dressing, green beans with bacon, and home made desserts. The desserts were brought by the neighbors, family, or musician friends eager to participate in the fun fest. My mom and dad made everything else, because at that age, and at that time, working in the kitchen was not my forte. It’s funny I really didn’t even think of helping in the kitchen as that was my mom’s domain.

The smell of the barbecue sauce transports me to the laughter and joy of those simple dinners. It really wasn’t about anything else but enjoying each others company. My uncle Jack and Aunt Marianne were staples at those events. They were funny, gregarious, and always willing to help my mom and dad execute the perfect social gathering/dinner. The jokes, laughter, and smiles were contagious. The happiness is what occasions centered around food should be.

That is perhaps why I chose the restaurant business as my occupation. I see the surprise and joy from guests when expectations are exceeded. I don’t take that lightly as I remember my parents genuine surprise and smiles the first time I cooked for them. Those memories are etched in a very special place that lights up the inner smile that goes beyond the moment and lives in a place I will never forget.

Recipes of the past connect generations of the future to those moments in time shared through stories and tales of jubilation centered around family and friends. Then there is the spin off anecdote which ultimately ends in chortling, guffawing, or simple giggles.

Certain recipes either created by family, copied from a chef of notoriety, or simply an old cookbook long forgotten all have there place in this evolutionary process. The right of passage becomes a culinary note in the annals of family history. Then, the connection brings about a memory that lives in the hearts and minds of all of us for as long as forever is.

My daughter Chelsea loves my recipe for spaghetti I copied from my mom. Nancy makes an enchilada dish that is spectacular. The list of family members that make their own special dish becomes a catalog of go to culinary treats that becomes the family’s epicurean heart and soul. When you think about it the same is true for most successful restaurants.

At Jean George Steak House at the Aria in Las Vegas (where I work) there are several dishes that help create that magical experience. In the appetizer category it would be two dishes:

Bacon wrapped shrimp wrapped in a Nueske bacon with a flavor of smoke and maple finished with a papaya mustard marmalade.

The Wagyu beef carpaccio where the beef is sliced very thin draped over a cheese truffle fritter topped with Perigord black truffles and surrounded with a four leaf balsamic vinegar.

Entree specialities include the Sea bass roasted in the oven and finished with a miso glaze accompanied with a maitake mushroom. Finally, the short rib. Prime beef braised for 12 hours served with an apple jalapeno marmalade topped with julienne apple and dusted with rosemary bread crumbs.

The art of cooking is about giving and sharing. You give of yourself to produce a meal that brings joy to all those you serve in a world that needs that spirit to thrive.

Unforgettable, PAZAZ™ Style!

Perhaps it was the wakening sunrise on Maui viewed from the east volcano known as Haleakala (House of the Sun), or the magenta sunset gazed upon in Uruguay from the beach in Colonia del Sacramento… those “unforgettable” moments in our lifetime that have taken our breath away.

“Unforgettable” takes on many different forms. There are the natural wonders as described above that etch a place in our memory but there are a host of other moments that are significant that cannot be dismissed as “unforgettable”.

The humanity of connection that lifts your heart to a place its never been… or the out of body experience you wish in that moment would never end. Fill in the blanks for all those wonderful moments that shrink the universe into a simple equation that fits in your breast pocket close to your heart.

It is the slide projector of life that plays each “unforgettable’ encounter, acquaintance, involvement, and participation in a reel that is called upon either when you’re awake or in a dream state that beckons an inner smile or a gasp for air. In either case we learn and take notes so that we can either duplicate or run from that episode. Sometimes, by chance, (when we live in the moment) an unsuspecting incident triggers a sequence of events that opens or closes a door. It is within that

framework we build upon our character to strengthen our resolve as we find the meaning connected to that event.

Certainly the birth of a child ranks at the top (for most) of those “unforgettable” moments. The first cry of that baby, the first time you hold your child, the first time you see your parents glow with the love for that new family member. What a wonderful moment to play back in time. That moment is especially significant as you come to realize the unconditional love your parents had for you (if you are so blessed) now transferred to that little baby.

Then there are the near death experiences. One step either way or being in the wrong place at the right time to escape by the skin of your teeth. Or, (as in my case) driving off a cliff and surviving. That was certainly an “unforgettable” moment. Then there are the first time moments that seem to be significant as discovery and exploration can lead to the promise of delight.

The first time you taste a wine from the Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC), Kobe beef (from Japan), or the Tristen Lobster Tail from off the coast of South Africa as your taste buds explode with the delight of an experience by which all others would be judged. Now that is ‘unforgettable”!

“Unforgettable”

By PSoMAS Wiafe

Why is it titled;

Unforgettable?

Will it be a poem that

Brings forth memories?

Or is it to instill

Sorrow and sadness?

Perhaps its to reflect.

To gaze into the poets

mind.

No no,

It can’t be.

Can it be to relate with us?

As we pass each other as

drones.

Doing what we know;

Work,

Eat,

Sleep, and

Dream.

Does it traverse deeper

then that?

Unforgettable.

Such a compelling word.

At times quite daunting.

Now back to the question

at hand.

Its nothing.

Its not a poem for one to

relate.

Not to omit feelings.

There is no purpose.

And yet I wrote and

You read until the end.

A poem of nothing.

Yes yes,

That is quite unforgettable.

The best part of things that are “unforgettable” live in our memories to garner strength, delight, and wisdom. They are the notches in life’s belt that takes us off the Ferris Wheel for that brief moment. That is when we experience the delight in our lives that makes each breath a significant step forward that leaves a footprint that will last a lifetime… Or for as long as forever is.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking” Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

Contrast to Conformity

In music the low notes turn high notes into show notes. In food the contrast of spice, sweet, savory, soft, and crunchy turn ordinary into the sublime. It is contrast in almost everything that brings that sensory experience to life. It energizes the music and brings excitement to the culinary dish leaving your taste buds begging for more.

Listening to Dizzy Gillespie with Charlie Parker turning “A Night in Tunisia” into a harmonious interlude that weaves the rough/sultry staccato beats of Dizzy’s trumpet with the perfectly timed alto sax riffs of Charlie Parker. These two will take you to another dimension. A dimension of light and sound that plays upon your intellect and dances across several mood swings into the totality of an alternative universe that is genius.

Down Beat Magazine gave Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker the distinguished awards of Best Trumpet player and Best Alto Sax player in 1951. The two of them performed “Hot House” when accepting their awards. They were encouraged to speak but instead Charlie Parker said, ” Music

speaks louder than words.” Then they went on to play (standing next to each other) synchronized, astonishing, note for note, a perfectly timed exhibition of the same notes from two different horned instruments morphing into trading fours. Trading fours is an extended acronym known by musicians when one player plays for four counted measures and then the other seamlessly takes the mantle for another four. This contrast of elements seems to pit one instrument against another but becomes as one when the goal is perfect harmony.

In the culinary world grilled F-1 Steaks (50% Wagyu and 50% Black Angus) expand the horizon of flavorful beef. This wonderful product accompanied with sauteed spinach over a nest of creamy parmesan mash potatoes delivers the flavor profiles of three different elements moving our taste buds from contrast into conformity. This perfect harmony blends a host of components that include the unami flavor, almost sweetness from the Wagyu beef to the bitter spinach and then the dry hard salty parmesan mash potatoes. Contrast to conformity is the substantive dialogue that makes the epicurean journey a path only taken by those that are open to the road less traveled.

A blank parchment is lifeless until a pen generates a melody or a chef creates a recipe. The contrast of thought that leads to a miracle is the simple first measure of a song or the vision of a dish that inspires the gastronomic expression that becomes a signature dish.

The contrast of “Blue Rondo a la Turk” written and composed by Dave Brubeck with its 9/8 time with one side 4/4 time is a perfect example of chaos and contrast. However, the results live in a harmonious tune that has become a trenchant expression reveling in this case in the conformity of the driving piano backed by the pounding of drums and the blaring sax, supposedly contrasting sounds.

Within that road of contrast we see music and food bringing different groups to the proverbial table. A table that includes all people with diverse backgrounds enjoying the skill set performed by artists that paint a musical or culinary picture on a blank canvas. This cacophony of sound becomes a rich musical dialogue that expands the horizons of possibility. Those willing to open and discover the richness of diversity through contrast often results in the conformity of appreciation.

This conformity and appreciation is the substance of peace that applauds diverse expression. Food and music should be the dialogue that connects us. Perhaps we can’t agree on the flavors or the sound but we can agree that there are dishes that we have eaten that we wish would never end. There are also songs that take us to a place and a time that infuses us with a soulful feeling we could not live without.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking” Kitchen tools for the discerning Chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING tools

Visionaries In Our Lifetime

Since the 50’s our country has led the way in technological advances the world has adopted. There has been the television, computer, cell phone, and who could forget the internet. Thank you Al Gore!

This leap in technological adaptations has morphed luxuries into necessities. Can you imagine in the 70’s needing anything but a calculator and a rotary phone? Now, we need the computer to access limitless data so that information can be realized in the blink of an eye.

When I was growing up the typewriter was the only way to produce a (legible) report for school. Then they introduced typewriter paper that you could erase mistakes. When I was done it looked like someone had physically assaulted the paper. There were so many visible eraser marks it looked like a tattoo gone horribly wrong. This led to me taking a typewriter class so that my mistakes could potentially be cut in half or visibly eradicated. I barely escaped that class with a passing mark. You’d think that playing the violin would help my fingers glide across the keys like Chic Corea or McCoy Tyner performing rippling signature runs with harmonic brilliance. That was not the case!

Other technological advances in security, headphones, and Alexa where you can ask a question or request a song… is mind blowing. The visionaries that have produced these technological advances stand on the threshold of a precipice that teeters on the edge of societal evolution.

Here is a short list of some of those innovations:

The Internet (1990)

Photoshop (1990)

Portable GPS (1990)

Caller ID (1990)

Cloning (1996)

Email and text messaging (1992)

Netflix (1997)

Drones (1994)

I Pad (2010)

Google (2011)

Amazon Alexa (2014)

If you put all the innovators/visionaries side by side (the who’s who of technological advances) the one name that stands out from the rest is Robert Elliot Khan an American electrical engineer who along with Vint Cerf first proposed the Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol, the fundamental communication protocols at the heart of the internet.

In the course of IT history certain men have breathed life into groundbreaking technologies that most users now take for granted. In addition to Robert Khan here is a list of perhaps a more obscure group of innovators/visionaries in the last three decades that have produced innovations we now take for granted:

Douglas Engelbart – Inventor of the mouse

Norman Abramson – Inventor of the first wireless local area network (in Hawaii)

Jack Nilles – Creator of the “work from home” Telework model adapted by millions of businesses around the world.

Marty Cooper – Inventor of the Motorola Dyna TAC mobile phone that has led to the smart phone

Gerald A. Lawson – Created the first cartridge-based video game system

Nathaniel Borenstien – Inventor of the e-mail attachment

Robert Metcalfe – Inventor of the ethernet transmitting data at a much higher bandwidth and speed

Tim Berners- Lee – Inventor of the World Wide Web to communicate with one another instantly by computer.

Dr. Fujio Masuoka – Inventor of Flash memory. Flash memory now accounts for 95 percent of the blank storage media market.

Ken Thompson – King of the operating system technology. All operating systems are built on this mans legacy.

Normally we would think of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and others that have paved the way through technology to affect the way we learn, produce, and purchase. The above list are the silent giants that have brought us to this point of technological adaptivity.

Perhaps there will be an innovator that re-connects humanity through the application of contact. It seems that without contact (which invigorates our souls) we are left without the compassion that is necessary to form the communities that strengthen our family units as a basis for our inner resolve.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking” Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

Spring Is About To Spring, PAZAZ™ Style

spring is about to spring pazaz style

Across the world the beauty that is Spring will bare it’s magical fruit. From the wildflowers that blanket hillsides and valleys to the pungent, tropical, and citrus smells that add to this sensory experience… we welcome Spring.

The envelope opens from a harsh Winter that encased us in blankets, coats, and gloves to the unveiling and wonder of natures bounty. I remember from my days in California the roadsides covered in golden poppies, lavender, and lupin. Then, in the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma rows upon rows of bright yellow mustard in contrast to the budding grapevines laced in green leaves and white blooming flowers.

In contoured gardens there are tulips, geraniums, daisies, Easter lilies, and the first vivid recognition of Spring, the daffodil. This multitude of colorful expressions beckon one to stand in awe of God’s artistic palate. Every neuron explodes into action as our receptors take in the sounds of birds, the smell of flowers, and the sunlight that brings this all to bare.

This wonderful time of year also sets the stage for ingredients from food to wine. This procession of nutrients provide the building blocks for our anatomical structure. All of a sudden and yet with a predisposed conclusion the culinary landscape vaults into view like the small framed Cirque du Soleil acrobat that briefly disappears from sight… then reappears in the blink of an eye.

Framed with an expression of disbelief we trust our memory that this will occur and yet are still captivated by its grandeur. Farms, wineries, and all other manufacturing facilities leap to service unwinding from the hibernation of Winter. Restaurants fulfill the expectations of their patrons by unveiling culinary treats only days before plucked by the roots and served farm to table.

To pair with these fresh fruits and vegetables are the wines that compliment and enhance the dining experience. White wines for the most part feature subtly. To give you examples here are the most popular white wines:

The composition and variance of the varietal Riesling (from dry to sweet).

The sometimes austere Sauvignon Blanc with nuances of grass and lemon.

The vanilla and buttery oak enhanced Chardonnay witnessing a spectrum of flavors that compliment any light spring food offering. These are but three (all be it the most popular) white wines out of literally a thousand different white wine varietals.

To build upon the Spring theme of variety and new beginnings are the red varietals that also compliment the bounty of this new season. Like the white wines described above these are but two of thousands of varietals of red wine. Perfect pairings which enhance the wine and food include red wines being paired with mushrooms, pastas, game, and cheeses. These red wines span the gamut from the lighter Pinot Noirs to the full bodied Zinfandels. Each flavor in every wine reveals its terroir, climate, and grape clone origination adding fine drawn delicacy that paints a flavorful picture on a blank epicurean canvas.

Simplicity is the key word to produce excellent Spring cuisine that show cases both the food and wine. Wild Caught Sea Bass pan seared (using the PAZAZ™ kitchen tools) topped with a home made mango salsa placed over a nest of greens with heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and artichoke hearts lightly seasoned with a cranberry/pear vinaigrette. This will send your palate into its happy place where meals become memories.

The ingredients are the most important factor as you delve into the many recipes that feature soups, salads, pastas, and proteins. Of course since you are taking time to carefully pick out these culinary delights you must also take care and time to research the wine selection that will bring this dish to life.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking” kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

Days Of Future Past

Days of Future, Passed

When we look at our lives there are certain intervals that stand out for the way those moments shaped whom we are. And, as we progress in life we witness sheer joy, tragedy, and everything else in between. This helps create what they call a “base line” for reaction, interaction, and the wisdom we gather from those events.

The joyful times are births, promotions, trips, and living in the constant mode of discovery. The tragic times usually involve loss. I contend that while losing our parents is horrific… the time we come face to face with our own mortality is when a close friend of our generation dies. This blog is the story of two such dear friends/brothers that helped shape my life and contributed to the joy in so many other lives.

I first met these two brothers when I pledged Sigma Nu fraternity in Chico California, in the mid seventies. They were carefree times when we all lived in the moment in a time free of the enormous complexity of seemingly living under a microscope. Today, every deed is recorded to either confirm or deny the participation in interactions preferably kept on the QT.

The first brother I’d like to speak of is John Lentz AKA JL. John was a larger than life fraternity brother (a founding father to our beloved Sigma Nu). His smile could light up a room and his frown could suck the air out of that same room. When I pledged the fraternity in the spring of 1976 John was a sheriff candidate during the legendary Pioneer Days. Pioneer Days was a time when the fraternities, sororities, and others clubs would participate in a themed expose of a pre-selected time period reflecting the history through a multitude of artistic expressions.

Those “expressions” were the building of a pioneer town, costumes to portray the clubs chosen theme during that period, presents (elaborate choreographed musical numbers, two to be exact), a float, and finally the voting on the sheriff candidate representing the fraternities and the little nell candidate representing the sororities. These two candidates would be honored at the parade on the final day of pioneer week.

JL was our sheriff candidate highly respected by all the brothers. His charm and intellect drew even the most reluctant pledge into our fraternity. JL was a throwback to the days when men kept their word, honored their commitments, and lived larger than life. He was one of those guys that always had a saying appropriate for the moment that captured the room and left most speechless.

One time a couple years after I pledged JL and I had become dear friends. We decided to go out to the river during a driving rain storm and smoke a little ganja. The whole time I’m telling him that this wasn’t the best idea and he just looked at me and said, “The squad car has never been stuck.” Well, as the squad car sank in the mud just below the door handles I looked at him and exclaimed, “The squad car’s never been stuck.”

He just looked at me and said, “JJ, there’s always a first time for everything.” Shrugging our shoulders we climbed out of the car to safety and walked back to the frat house some four miles down the road. This was before cell phones and so there was no life line to shimmy out of that situation. Years later we laughed about that night and that precious memory we would never forget.

JL had an air of confidence that was contagious. He was a history teacher, a great salesman, and one of his passions was building rockets he would periodically launch with this two sons. His love for the brothers was a gift he gave to the very few that became lifelong friends.

Sadly he passed away several years ago but will never be forgotten. His legacy remains enshrined as his sherif candidate picture hangs (to this day) in the Oassis (a favorite watering hole) in the town of Chico, California.

And then there was the “Stump”, Steve Welch. Steve was another founding father that was a legend amongst many of that group of brothers that founded Sigma Nu Iota Kappa chapter #194. He was a mountain man that was cantankerous while spewing out witticism’s that left his audience wanting more.

I met Steve when I pledged and became good friends with him many years latter. When I was president of the fraternity I tried to have Steve kicked out for not paying his dues. This didn’t sit well with the brothers and so others jumped to his defense to pay his dues. Then, a year or two later we lived together (which wasn’t the best idea.) For some reason (I’m sure I provoked him) he came at me with an axe and cut me right below the knee. Even though all that happened Steve was a great brother that grew on you and became a legendary figure in our fraternity.

I submit that some of my favorite people are the ones I’ve had the most trouble with, sorted things out, and became the best of friends. Steve’s background included a stint in the Navy where he received a purple heart while in Vietnam. After Vietnam Steve became involved with the fraternity which continued until he wasn’t able to walk. Few have given as much as Steve for our beloved fraternity. Though a little rough around the edges he had a heart of gold. When Steve believed in you, you had a friend for life.

Steve passed away a few days ago. I will never forget his kindness and his love for the brothers lucky enough to call him friend. The reason I am writing this blog is to illustrate two points:

One. Always take the time to reach out and tell someone you care about how much they mean to you.

Two. These are just two examples of the close friends I’ve lost. As we get older these loses illuminate the fact that as we look in the mirror we now reflect on our own mortality.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking”, Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.