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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Pazaz Premium Bakeware

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.

 

Simple Solutions and Recipes PAZAZ™ Style!

 

In that instance when you find a guest coming to dinner that was unexpected… What do you do? It depends on the time frame. Any notice within a three hour period and it is door dash or one of the other quick fix solutions which takes the presure off. But what if you live in a rural area where there is not such animal? Panick time? No… here’s the formula.

Of course lets face it, every guest has a different set of strategic cooking formulas. Kids are spagheti, burgers, or hot dogs. Unless they are this generation and it becomes more complicated. Now there are gluten allergies and a host of other allergies associated with food. Now there is the all too familiar, “I don’t eat that”, “I can’t eat that”, and the standard go to ” I don’t like that.”

When I was growing up you ate what was on your plate and if you keeled over you were excused from the table. If you began to froth at the mouth and couldn’t breath you called Aunt Marianne. Simple… not so much now. I digress.

If you are entertaining friends you probably already know what they like. If you have the ingredients for executing their preferences you are ready to start preparing. However if you don’t have certain items needed for the meal you just made up you can always ask them to pick up certain items you may need to pull this dinner off to the best of your ability. This brings me to my first important point which has only taken me approximately four paragraphs to get to.

First and formost you must have the PAZAZ™ kitchen tools to perform at the highest culinary level. The heavy duty sheet pan, cooling rack, and silicone baking mat make the probability of success increase exponentially. I have researched the temperature capability and quality to exclaim, “There is no other product on the market today that can come close to the PAZAZ™ kitchen tools… for the discerning chef.” These tools help create the “Magic” that is necessary to attain culinary perfection.

Keep in your refrigerator the following items: 1. Organic salad mix. 2. Some type of protein you can pull from the freezer that will thaw in a microwave without affecting its composition. Usually, chicken, steak, or lamb will suffice. 3. Keep dried cranberries, pistachios or cashews, and mandarin oranges to add flavor to your salad. 4.  Keep an exotic vinegar or two with exotic oils to make your own salad dressing (simple and impressive). 5. Jasmine or Basmati rice which you can form by buttering a glass placing the rice within the receptacle and plopping out a perfect form. 6. Usually we have some type of vegatables which can be prepared in a myriad of ways. 7. The most important item… wine, liquor, or beer.

If the guest is someone you want to impress and the bombshell of them coming to dinner just exploded in your perverbial lap. Then, you will have to use the classic “look over here, not over there” trick. That is you need to dress up the table with cloth napkins, napkin rings, candles, placemats, show plates, and if you have them handy (look to the garden) flowers arranged in the center of the table. This will impress them before the dinner and if you serve enough of wine or other alcoholic beverage then none of the above really matters.

However, in the event your pride dictates you perform at the highest culinary level, then you must adapt simple sauces, techniques, and go to recipes, you’ve executed over the years. Here are a couple examples: 1. Whole grain mustard mixed with heavy cream gives a wonderful flavor to lamb and steak. 2. 2. Manchego cheese grated into heavy cream for a wonderful spin on an alfredo sauce. 3. Red wine reduced and then using the dripping from the steak or lamb whisk into a pan with sauted garlic. 4. Carmalize onions using Madeira wine or Port wine to place over the protein thus adding another layer of flavor.

Beautiful table setting with excellent wine highlighting wonderful conversation with an effort that appears to be thoughtful and well intended will convert the guest (if any conversion is necessary) to exhalting the experience to the plateau of a memory they will never forget.

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.

 

Which Road will we take?

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If we had a crystal ball, everything would become clear. Which road to take and which path would lead to our final destination?

If we could only view our life before it unfolded and see mistakes before they happened! Our vission would be 20/20 and that view would include our health, relationships, investments, career, and of course where we chose to live. If only…

The path less traveled has been a mantra of mine since I was knee high to a grasshopper. This “mantra” has led to some crushing defeats and some wonderful victories. I wish I’d focused more on others while listening to those with vast more knowledge and experience to determine which path to take.

In our youth many have wasted those years in self medication and other indulgent expressions. We ebb and flow as the sands of time erode our constitution and leave us with an aging perspective of what could have been. But through this veil we see the blessed moments that bring everything into a clearer view, like the adjustment of the rear view mirror in our car… but different.

Our blessings are counted with family and friends that we have planted and harvested along the way. Relationships of any kind take time to cultivate and become stronger as our trust builds into foundations of love.

The paths we travel are simply the magnetic pull of the universe stearing us in one direction or another providing trials along the way, testing what we’ve learned and how we apply it. Any path begins with one foot forward into a faith driven abyss based upon the knowledge we have accumulated up until that moment in time.

As we get older our vision goes from years ahead, to months, to days, to moments. But with most of us the ethos of discovery and the latest adventure is what keeps our soul vibrant, young, and interesting. These characteristics unfold into an experience that translates to expanding our layers of wisdom.  By not only reading about a place or person but going there and meeting those different people in different cultures we give ourselves a greater perspective of the world.  We also can see how truly similar people are within the context of family and friends.

Each road we travel has curves and bends to the samba of lifes challenges. These challenges make the gifts we receive that much more satisfying. For without conflict, disappointments and setbacks our comebacks, triumphs, and rewards would not be quite so sweet.

“The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both, and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.  A poem by Robert Frost

Which ever path we take, we end up in the same place… the end of the road. But that ending can be the beginning for whatever lies beyond our understanding of God, the universe, and what part we play in this drama we call life.

This blog has been 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.

Simple Recipes, PAZAZ Style!

pazaz premium bakewareWhen I was much shorter I saw my mom had a couple cook books. I figured that (at that time) she wasn’t using them too much. She’d gone from using them alot, to some, to not at all. After I was out of highschool (other than special occasions) she would open a can of Campbells soup and pour it over whatever protein was on the menu for that night. It was actually pure genius and nothing could have been simpler than that.

The cookbooks she had were everything from good houskeeping cookbooks to “The Joy of Cooking”. I took one look at that book and decided that at that time I would have to defer that semblance of creativity and enthusiasm for another date and time. There were items in that cookbook I couldn’t pronounce, and even if I could, I didn’t know what they were.

The idea of me learning how to cook started when I worked at the French restaurant, The Caprice, in Tiburon, California. This overture into the unknown was the first interlude I had with fine dining and the desire to actually cook myself.

Fast forward to now and we are inundated with cooking shows. The formula of conflict, competition, or pre-prepared meals being magicaly pulled from an oven has run its course with me, especally having been in the business my whole life. Within the confines of our own home we can have the tools needed for the preperation of an exceptional meal. Those restaurants and cooking shows can never replicate the love that we have for those we care about and how that translates from the plate to the stomach.

Keeping food simple is the key to a duplicatable experience, and one that is much appreciated. There are several million options but I will focus on just a couple easy to prepare dishes that don’t take all day to prepare. First we have to pick the protein keeping in mind what preperation we will choose and the skill set we have to execute the dish.

Before we start keep in mind that the success of any dish depends on the ingredients we choose. Wild caught salmon versus farm raised, and organic vegetables versus greenhouse are important distinctions that will help elevate your dish from the ordinary to the sublime.

I will choose Salmon for this example. Of couse we could grill it, broil it, poach it, saute it, smoke it, or even cook it sous vide style. However in the spirit of keeping it simple we will grill it. Having said that, now comes the choice of what type of briquettes, flavored wood chips, or even hardwoods. Cedar plank has become popular but for my taste I prefer apricot wood to reveal other subtle flavors in the fish.

The fish should be properly cleaned and prepped prior to placing on the grill surface. Lightly salt and pepper the fish always placing the salmon on the grill skin down cooking the thickest part to 120 degrees for approximately 12-14 minutes. I like to place a little oil on the grill surface to make sure the fish doesn’t stick. Then upon retrieval from the grill let the salmon rest. After plating the salmon drizzle a little dill oil and lemon over the top.

Prior to “letting the Salmon rest” there is the starch and the vegetable to consider. Many restaurants prefer mashed potato to rice as an accompaniment to the protein. Not I. I prefer Jasmine rice with its nutty and floral character accentuated with a fluffy texture. Served with this would be several different vegetables that are easy to prepare and yet set a standard above the usual afterthought.

Poach brussel sprouts in boiling water with a little sea salt and pepper. Take out when they are lovely bundles of delicousness and place them in an alfredo sauce you have already prepared. The textures consisting of the salmon, rice, and vegetable morph into creamy and course, complimenting the flavors a reflection of salty, savory, and sweet.

The interesting mosaic of color paints the canvas with a landscape that creatively reflects the love and thought that went into this culinary expression.

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

Jack’s Story

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Pazaz Premium Bakeware

How PAZAZ Came To Be

I’ve been in the restaurant business most of my life. I started working at a French restaurant in Tiburon California (The Caprice) when I was very young. Years later, after college, I became a partner in a restaurant (Epanoui), also in Tiburon. While I was there, Epanoui was voted as one of the top ten restaurants in the entire country by Time-Life Books. Following that unique experience, I left California on a new culinary journey.

After working as a manager/maitre’d in south Florida (The Plum Room) I went to upstate New York and worked at L’uberge Du Cygne in Manlius New York. I heard of a chef in upstate New York with a famous reputation and that is when I went on a quest to work with one of the greatest chefs in the world. This is when I met and worked with chef Joel Chenet who had been the Chef at the French Consulate in Paris France and prepared food for the President of France.

Missing California and my family I traveled back home and got a job working as the lead captain at Amelio’s under executive chef Jackie Robert in San Francisco (check out New York Times article in 1987, “ FOOD; KNOWING NO BOUNDARY”).

I had the pleasure of working with chef Jackie Robert whom prepared one of the inaugural dinner’s for President Ronald Reagan. With that experience I then eventually became the General Manager at Masons in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. After that I was in charge of all the restaurants at the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill, including room service and the Top of the Mark.

Now I work for Chef Jean George Vongerichten in Las Vegas, and have decided to take my culinary expertise into the very products that help produce “World Class Cuisine”.

The Heavy Duty Aluminum Baking Sheet Pan, Non-Stick Baking Mat, and the Steel Mesh Cooling Rack are examples of my exhaustive search for quality merchandise. I had these products custom made to my specifications, with the knowledge I have attained over the years through my apprenticeship with world-class chefs and the focus associated with every aspect of the creation of a dish.

In the world of the culinary arts the tools that you use help produce the “Magic” associated with dishes that captivate the mind, stimulate the palate, and test the very boundaries of the “dining experience”. It is with this attention to detail and commitment to excellence that I bring you my brand, “PAZAZ”.

About

PAZAZ TM is more than a brand… it’s a lifestyle.

The “Magic of Cooking” implies the creation of something special in the kitchen, a transcendent experience by which all other experiences are judged. 
Music and Cooking are very similar. Both require passion, attention to detail, and a love that transcends the musical score or the recipe.  As you are the conductor of your life, we take very seriously our responsibility to give you the greatest kitchen equipment to help create your culinary experience.