Exploration is the Spice of Life… PAZAZ™ Style!

In one of our favorite songs, “Moon River”, the lyrics talk about two drifters off to see the world. That’s how we feel plotting our next adventure. From the same song the lyrics continue with these poetic words:

“There’s such a lot of world to see, we’re after the same rainbow’s end, waiting ’round the bend, My Huckleberry friend, Moon River and me.”

I was able to name our street “Moon River Lane”. This coupled with my favorite number, 7 (the gracious lady at the assessor’s office gave me the home number, 177).

As we explore our neighboring towns we find gems that we would have never discovered without the inclination to change part of our surroundings. Change is the most difficult concept to grasp, especially as you get older. Many are set in their ways, but this constriction only stiffles the expansion of our horizons. The expansion of horizons can be painful but the pleasure in new discovery is the reward.

Our lives have been expanded by the area we’ve chosen to live, and the wonderful people we’ve met. Many that have chosen this as their home have the same kind of love and respect for this small town, Orofino, Idaho. Surrounded by the peaceful sounds of animals, rivers and creeks, and the harmonious chorus from crickets and frogs quite perfectly add to the sensory experience we so love and appreciate.

Then there are the stars. The sky at night is a black tarp which becomes the perfect backdrop for the light show in full display, everynight. Sometimes there are other light sources such as the moon or shooting stars that add another layer of beauty so often masked within the bright lights of the city.

Exploration can mean many different things. There is the exploration that President Thomas Jefferson tasked in 1804 which sent Lewis and Clark to explore the lands west of the Mississippi River that comprised the Louisiana Purchase. This area is rich in that important history as two of the cities sitting in two different states pays homage to their important survey.

There is Lewiston Idaho named after Lewis and then there is Clarkson Washington named of course after Clark. We would have never learned of these two towns without the urge to investigate the panhandle of Northern Idaho. We love the conservative outlook of the kind people in this region. It’s not what you have, it’s who you are and how hard you work. Refreshing to say the least.

Speaking of discovery, a couple days ago we visited the small town of Deary Idaho. The reason was to enjoy the culinary treats offered by “The Pie Safe Bakery and Kitchen.” This establishment which combines the Brush Creek Creamery (creates amazing artisan cheeses), home made pies and breads, harvested grass fed beef, and an array of hand crafted quilts and pillows.

This restaurant/bakery also has a menu that offers garden gathered fresh produce for salads, home cured bacon and sausage, farm fresh eggs, and spectacular soups and sandwiches. Wood fired pizzas complete the offerings with each product meticulously prepared and delivered to hungry patrons from all over the world. A map on the wall adjacent to the restroom shows stick pins placed to reflect the homes of the patrons that have eaten at this culinary paradise from all over the world.

The restaurant/bakery is a wonderful discovery in the small town of Deary which claims only 500 residents. Owners John and Grace French have never taken out an ad to promote their bakery and restaurant, yet people from all over the world have discovered this little slice of heaven. Apparently, Once a month a preset dinner menu is offered as a five course meal. This is a new experiment that is providing another hit for this very succussful venture.

Recently, Nancy and I had tomato soup, a homemade roll, Margherita pizza, and a cobb salad crafted by the employees at the Pie Safe Bakery and Kitchen. Each ingredient painted a culinary picture that could be the motivation for a poem. The surroundings begin with two large flower baskets framing the entrance of the brick and glass building. The floors are the most beautiful original wood accentuated with expertly and tastefully decorated walls and ceilings.  Apparently, once a month a preset menu for dinner features a five course meal. These dinners are sold out quickly.

We look forward to the many discoveries that await this part of the journey. With  a calander that does not revolve around a job, we are able to make our own adventures to wherever we want, with whomever we want, whenever we want. This freedom is the magic we’ve been seeking since we were kids pretending to build forts and explore the neighborhood in our hometown. Each day is open to the possibilities we can experience under the framework of limitless options.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic Of Cooking”, Kitchen Tools for the Discerning Chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purhcase these “AMAZING” Kitchen Tools.




Turn The Page

Every decade reveals a new chapter that is fraught with challenges that begets a miracle. These challenges help us appreciate the miracles. The vicissitudes of life become the story we write as we turn the page.

The fifties continued its recovery from WW II aided by post economic expansion. The outlook was a cross between “Leave it to Beaver” and the beginning of “Rock’n Roll”. The television shows promoted a wholesome look into the “American” way of life while the youth danced to the jitterbug, boogie-woogie or Bop.

I was born in the fifties. We lived in Fairfax, Ca. in a home that was beautiful, secluded, and a kids dream. I remember the park like setting framed by forest with a creek near-by that moved to the samba of the wildlife it supported.  The neighborhood was our playground that expanded as we left our childhood.

The innocence and childlike view of relationships and the world we lived in was magnified by the positive interactions we’d have with our family,  neighbors, and even the strangers we’d greet in town. We were all Americans bonded by our work ethic, strong Christian family values, and finally the sense of community we all shared. Then I turned the page.

I remember the sixties for many different reasons mostly related to the one thing that is constant in life… change. The decade began with my introduction to my arch nemesis, school. In all fairness I loved kindergarten. What could be better than a grade that revolved around play, food, and naps. I was good at all three of those previously mentioned tasks and felt that maybe this “school thing” wasn’t going to be that bad after all.

My illusion of school quickly evaporated in the first grade. Reading, writing, and arithmetic was just not the same as play, food, and naps. However I did understand the concept of being able to read the latest Hardy Boys book, writing down notes to girls (yes I started young), and being able to understand the numbers on a clock (because then I could tell when the next bell would ring for recess.)

The sixties was a volatile time in our country. It was a time that pitted Americans against each other for the first time I was aware of. The television showed the Vietnam war as protesters on campuses across America exploded in violence. The contrast to that was the peace and love sung by the flower children which began in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco and ended August 15th, 1969 at Woodstock.

Prior to Woodstock were the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr., April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, and the assasination of Bobby Kennedy, June 6th, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. These tragedies were the culmination of a violent decade that began with the assassination of  John F. Kennedy in Dallas, November 22nd, 1963.

Our country was struggling with its identity, predjudice, and the growing political and racial divide between races finally being recognized. With great struggle comes the evolution of thought moving towards chiropractically adjusting the chasm between races (which continues today.)

To cap off the sixties and bring some hope and light to our ability to achieve amazing feats we landed on the moon July 20th, 1969. Then I turned the page.

The seventies started with the ending of the Vietnam war, a president resigning (Richard Nixon) because of the Watergate scandal, and cultural change. The cultural change was on a musical note, (the most iconic rock n’roll band in history), the beatles break up.

The seventies ushered in the greatest music and the worst clothing choices (bell bottoms just one example). This decade also saw me enter college, Chico State University, join a fraternity (Sigma Nu), and actually graduate in 1978.

This decade holds a special place in my heart as I began my restaurant career at the Caprice French Restaurant in Tiburon California. The end of the decade saw me use my communications major earned from Chico State. I secured a job at a country station in Kings Beach on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe selling radio advertising and being a disc-jockey on the weekends.

In my infinite wisdom I chose to sell advertising to the South  Shore of Lake Tahoe in the late seventies. Unfortunately the signal didn’t reach the South Shore…This didn’t stop me as I became the number one sales person. Making a little over $800.00 a month I made another great choice which was to buy a Porsche. I crashed it 10 days later on black ice.

In the San Francisco bay area the seventies was a decade of unparalleled violence. The kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst and the emergence of the kidnappers, the Symbionese Liberation Army was just the beginning. Then there were the Black Panthers with the aid of political activist Angela Davis kidnapping and killing a judge in the parking lot of the civic center in San Rafael California. This violence reached epic proportions at the end of the decade.

In 1978 Jim Jones, an American preacher and political activist led the “Peoples Temple” (Located in San Francisco ) congregation (over 900) to their deaths in a commune in Jonestown, Guyana, November 18th, 1978 by drinking a laced Kool-Aid. Then, that same November, Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were murdered at their offices by Dan White a disgruntled Supervisor. Then I turned the page.

The eighties are also known for their extreme fashions, such as “big hair”, new wave, punk rock, funk, and rap music. During the 1980’s conservative politics and Reaganomics held sway as the Berlin Wall crumbled, new computer technologies emerged and blockbuster movies and MTV reshaped pop culture.

The eighties began as I became partners with two restaurateurs, creating a restaurant called “Epanoui” in Tiburon California.  I was incharge of the front of the house (wine list, training, marketing, etc.) Our restaurant was chosen in the top ten in the country by Time Life Books. After five years of operation we decided to go our own ways which led to me moving to Florida to become manager of the Plum Room at Yesterdays in Fort Lauderdale.

At the Plum Room I met a customer that introduced me to his property in upstate New York located in Alexandria Bay called “Bonnie Castle”. I became the Food and Beverage manager at Bonnie Castle which led to a myriad of connections in that region.

The eighties ended with me moving back to the Bay Area in San Francicso and becoming a General Manager at the iconic Masons in the Fairmont Hotel. Then I turned the page.

The 1990’s was a decade that brought big changes to me. My mom died and I got married. Two major events within a couple years of each other. Then in 1996 our beautiful daughter, Chelsea was born. Of course this was the highlight of the decade. Along the way of course there was the creation of the internet, cell phones, and the beginning of the erosion of personal freedom due to monitoring our activities through technology.

I had several jobs that tested my knowledge and work ethic. First there was my job which offered the opportunity to be in charge of all the restaurants, room service, and the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins hotel across from the Fairmont in San Francisco atop Nob Hill.  In the late 1990’s I designed and opened the “All Seasons Groveland Inn”  in Groveland California  moving away from my beloved bay area. The main reason was because of divorce and the feelings that go along with that experience. Then I turned the page.

In the year 2000 I opened another Inn the “All Seasons Sugar Pine Resort”. The opening featured the original Drifters. I sold the Inn in 2006 right before the global financial crisis caused in 2007-2008 by the collapse of the US subprime mortgage market.

Of course most people living in that time, around the early 2000’s, will remember the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack on New York City and the decimation of the twin towers. The war in Iraq, global recession, papal transition, hurricane Katrina, and the war on terror were the events that framed the first decade of a new century.

Personaly I moved on to Las Vegas where I began a new chapter in 2002. This led to being re-introduced to the restaurant business and my new relationship with Nancy Sullivan which continues to this day. I met Nancy in Groveland and she came with me to Las Vegas to begin our new adventure. Then I turned the page.

I worked in fine dining from the moment I came to Las Vegas as I was introduced to union jobs giving me stability and the all important health insurance.

In 2011 my dad died. This meant that as an only child I am working without a net. This is a big thought changing event that makes you realize how precious life is.

I worked at Jean George Steakhouse from 2009 until my final day August 31st, 2022. Along the way I had a home built in Orofino Idaho which was finished in early 2022. Now we summer in Idaho and winter in Henderson Nevada where we own a second home.

We are offically snow birds looking for our next adventure on our own schedule (not wearing a watch) with the peace and tranquillity that comes with freedom. Now we look to the future to see what is revealed on the next page we turn.

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






Cooking, Music, and Poetry… PAZAZ™ Style!

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In the tumultuous reality we create, the curtain rises revealing our needs wants and desires. Within this fabric of complex twists and turns our instincts gravitate towards that which stimulates our talents. These interests are accentuated by what we do well and how others respond to the gifts we are blessed with.

To take advantage of our gifts we have to work hard. Without the hard work that goes into creating the recipe that will add interest and value to our talents we only have a whisper of what pleasure we could ultimately achieve. Learning through practice and dedication we can hone the skills that will serve us well.

The skills I speak of initially focus on our job. However, beyond the job the things that stimulate our “Right Brain” are the big picture, free thinking intuitive and creative nuances. I find that cooking, music, and poetry are the trifecta of creativity that enhances the experiences I wish to create.

In my job revolving around hospitality I was able to absorb the techniques from both chef mentors and managers that added value to the guests dining experience. Many years of training and teaching both administered by the restaurants I worked in or the knowledge I pursued emboldened me to paint a verbal picture. Communicating the essence of the food, wine, and liquor available at that time in that place gave the patron a wide angle view of the experience they were looking for.

Each restaurant had a different cast of characters, different menu items, and different wine and liquor menus that expanded my horizons. This “expansion” has led to my ability to take the most interesting pairings of food and wine and use those tools to entertain the people I love and care about.

Starting with the ingredients in any food, wine, or liquor endeavor is paramount to success. When cooking we must use organic, farm raised, wild caught, free range, or any other synonym to describe food sourced quality. After pursuing the ingredients necessary to assemble the menu you so desire the combination of flavors properly constructed will help you achieve the desired outcome.

This outcome begins with the aperitif (to stimulate the appetite), the food, then the wine to be paired with said food. If the pairing is properly administered then the food will taste better and the accompanying wine will also reach another level of flavor.  All of this is orchestrated by the chef, sommelier, and the server. In this case (with a little knowledge and on your home turf) its one person, you.

Integrated into this can be another level of communication. Music sets the tone from aperitif to dessert (classical, jazz, or whatever your heart desires). Of course this is based upon reading your audience  and the mood you wish to create.

Baking, grilling, poaching, sauteing, or even sous vide style preperation will be more successful when you use the best kitchen tools available. My PAZAZ™ products gives you a greater vehicle for success as you realize consistent temperature radiated through the highest quality baking tools available on the market today.  This equates to music being produced by a Bang & Olufsen stereo system or poetry read from the book penned by Pablo Neruda (100 Love Sonnets).

As with anything in life when you reach for the stars those around you realize your commitment to quality. Embarking on a journey of discovery with a basis of knowledge makes the hobbies and intellectual pursuits a lightning rod for the happiness we aspire to. Writing poetry, playing the music yourself, and engaging the guests we entertain is another level of hospitality that makes our inner smile a beacon for the life we dream to live.

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.